Fiction Friday, or What I've Been Reading Lately

I started this year by setting a reading goal on Goodreads to read 100 books in 2015. I'm pleased to say I am ahead of schedule, having finished 12 books this month. If you use Goodreads, I'd love to follow you! Leave me a comment so I can find you; I'm listed as Julie Sawyer.

So, in no particular order here a few of the books I've been reading lately!

This is actually my second time reading The One and Only Ivan; this time I am reading it aloud to my class. I'm loving Ivan's story as much, maybe more, as the first time I read it. That's because my students are enthralled with it. I have a student who came to me in August speaking absolutely no English; now he is telling me and classmates how much he loves Ivan! He is so disappointed on days when we don't have time to continue the story.

Oh my goodness! I loved this book about a young lady who wants to become a pirate. This story has a strong female lead who has to overcome gender prejudice to follow her dream. I raved about it to my students and now some of them have checked it out of the media center. And, I'm going to cheat a little with this book: 
The second book in the series is sitting on my shelf, just waiting for me to finish one of the other books I have going! I can hardly wait to get into this one. As soon as I finish:

Eleanor and Park by Rainbow Rowell, a YA novel that I am loving. I'm almost done, so I expect to get back to the world of pirates this weekend.

I recently ordered the first five books of this series with some scholastic points, and have started the first book. I'm reading this at school during those independent reading times that come up during the day (not as often as I'd like!). I'm about 4 chapters in and enjoying it so far. My kiddos have picked up all the other volumes (they went on the shelf Wednesday) to check out. Don't you love the opportunity to to influence readers?!

I could go on and on, but will save the others for next time. Happy reading!


Math Lit: Rodeo Time

I grew up in small town Vermont, and every September we had two school days off in September for our county fair. Today I live in Osceola County, Florida, and we have a Friday off in February for Rodeo Day! I love it -- our county still has many cattle ranches, so it's a piece of history. Now in case you are thinking we have an extra day off, we go to school on President's Day when the districts around us are off :)

This year I am planning to use another of my Stuart J. Murphy books during that week:

The math concept for this one is reading a schedule, and it is a good springboard for elapsed time -- always a problem for my thirds -- as well as other time concepts! Our timeline for math instruction leaves time until the end (March), so I'll be previewing and reviewing that week with the new product I have been creating with a rodeo theme. As part of that, I put together a little time matching activity which I want to share with you. Click here to download it for your use.

Now to get back to work on my elapsed time task cards! Enjoy.


Using Our Brains - Mindsets at School Part 1

Have you been doing any work with mindsets this year? My school has had a focus on learning about our brain and how to develop a growth mindset. I've been intending to blog about it, so here goes. It started with this book:

Mindsets in the Classroom takes Carol Dweck's research and transfers it into our classroom with a focus on helping students understand how important their mindset it. This is a brief description from Amazon:

When students believe that dedication and hard work can change their performance in school, they grow to become resilient, successful students. Inspired by the popular mindset idea that hard work and effort can lead to success, Mindsets in the Classroom provides educators with ideas for ways to build a growth mindset school culture, wherein students are challenged to change their thinking about their abilities and potential.

We are working with our kids this year to help them grow and stretch their brains and especially develop positive ways of approaching learning. If you are not familiar with Dr. Dweck, check out this video of her with Sal Khan of Khan Academy:

I'll be posting again about some of the things I have been doing in my own classroom. My kids have been loving learning about the brain!


Math Lit: 1001 Things to Spot in the Sea

I realized I haven't posted about a non-fiction text for awhile so this week I want to share with you this book:

Usborne has a whole series of "1001 Things to Spot" books, and this is the one in my collection. Each page lists things to search for in the picture, and tells you how many of each to find. It can be used for as many math activities as you can think of! Counting, tallies of creatures on a page, addition, place value, develop word problems about a scene . . . 

This is a book that is appropriate in both primary and intermediate classrooms. If you have never seen it, check out this book trailer:


Math Lit: Game Time

I recently picked up another Stuart J. Murphy MathStart book, this one covering the concept of time. We wrap up third grade math with a measurement unit, so I'm looking forward to using this story in March.

Game Time involves a championship soccer match between the Huskies and the Falcons. Throughout the book are numerous examples of measuring time. Time is measured in weeks, days, hours, minutes, and seconds. The book also demonstrates the relationships between various units of time. The story of the game is engaging, with the two teams battling right up until the end. I definitely recommend this one for your study of time.

Here are some other good books dealing with time concepts:

And, a link to my elapsed time game available in my Teachers Pay Teachers store:


Monday Made It: January 2015

I don't seem to get this post done when school is in session, but with a couple weeks of vacation under my belt I decided that I'd give it a try this month!

In third grade we don't have a lot of time for craftivities, but during December I always try to fit in something. This year we made paper bag gingerbread houses. My students enjoyed it so much!


When I went to Alaska in July I brought back one piece of fabric from a local quilt shop. It has pictures of southeast Alaska. This fall I decided to make it into a wall hanging for my in-laws, who were also on the cruise.

For my grade level team, I always make chocolate fudge. This year I considered not doing it (it's my Kryptonite!), but one of my friends would be SO disappointed so I went ahead and did it anyway.

Fantasy Fudge recipe

 I also made one of these fabric ornaments for each member of my team. There are 9 of them, so I was scrambling a bit at the end!

I did not do a lot of school preparation during the break, but I did complete some fraction games for the first week back. We spend the next two months working on fractions and I wanted something new to use while teaching about unit fractions.

Much to my surprise, I actually came up with five things to share! I'm looking forward to seeing what you made.


Math Lit: Snowmen at Night

Who doesn't love snowmen?! Even here in central Florida, we love our snow friends at this time of year. That makes this week's math lit text just about perfect.

I used this book with my third graders are a few weeks ago during our multiplication unit. It was a springboard for problems with a factor of 6 -- the snowmen had 6 buttons -- and after working together they wrote story problems in their journals. I'm planning to revisit the book in January using this video:

Link to Video:

I'll be giving students one of these snowman pictures to glue into their math journals and write a problem for. I also have a page of snowmen without buttons so they can design their own.

Click the picture to download this freebie.


Fraction Fun


From January 6th until March 6th my district math timeline specifies fractions standards be taught in third grade. I've been gathering ideas for my lessons, and decided I wanted to have some quick partner games as part of my lessons covering NF.1.

In my classroom, students sit at rectangular desks, two by two. I have them grouped with three desks put together into a large table. Having students work with their shoulder partners is a natural with this style of seating. I've been working on some mini matching games for them with the plan that I will use them as practice after instruction. With nine pairs of students I have printed and laminated a set for each pair. I have five different games, with just ten cards for each game. That way they work for quick practice or sets can be combined to make a larger game.

I'm sharing one of the games as a freebie; I'd love some feedback if you try it in your classroom. I intend to offer a larger set in my store very soon. Click the picture to download from Google Drive.

If these work well with my kiddos I'll be posting again with more. There's lots of fraction work to be done!

Four Top Posts From 2014 -- on the 4th!

Just for fun I thought I'd look back at 2014 for the top posts from my blog. Monday Made - It posts are always the winners, so I eliminated them and chose four others. In no particular order, I present:

(click on the pictures to go to the blog post)

This post on rounding, with a freebie tool that I made, got a lot of pageviews back in June. I hope your students have benefited from this as much as mine did.

This place value product update received a lot of attention back in May. I kept it as a freebie - if you missed it, check it out.

I was surprised to see how popular this little foldable idea was from last January! I chalk it up to the interest this year in interactive notebooks -- I use them for both science and math.

And finally, another post about interactive notebooking, also from January 2014. This came from my need to streamline some of our foldables so that students could do them without taking a whole class period!

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