Diary of a Not So Wimpy Teacher: September 2013

Math Flaps for Interactive Notebooks!!!

I am using some of my fall break time to get caught up on lessons I have been wanting to create but have been too busy to finish! And I am so excited to announce that my 3rd grade math flaps are done!!!


I love using interactive notebooks! Although, there are many different things that my students put in the notebooks, the flaps are a favorite because they are so simple to use. Students just cut, glue and then write samples under the flaps! Use them to supplement to your 3rd grade math curriculum!

There are flaps for just about every 3rd grade math Common Core State Standard! There are a total of 48 flaps in the unit! I also included labels and table of content for their notebooks.

Each of the flaps has a 3rd grade Common Core math standard on it and an “I Can” statement.




 Here is a sample of what the flaps look like inside the notebooks...


You can get these HERE in my TpT store!

Don't forget that I also have 3rd grade language flaps!


I hope these flaps help make notebooking more meaningful in your classroom!

Since I am on fall break, I have had a lot more time to work on my products so stay tuned for more classroom resources!

Sticky Note State Reports

The Common Core has put an emphasis on informational reading and writing in every grade. Teaching students to do informational writing using informational books can be a challenge. We will be working on informational writing and reading all next quarter in my 3rd grade classroom. And I am so excited about it! I LOVE to mix in some Science and Social Studies into my reading and writing workshop!

One project that we will be working on throughout the quarter will be state research reports. Each student will be assigned a state to read about during our weekly book club. Then they will write a report about their state using THIS fun kit that I put together.



Am I alone or do all students just LOVE using sticky notes?! In this lesson students will research a state, take notes using sticky notes, turn their notes into a report, illustrate, reflect on their writing and critique a partner's report. You can also have your students create a Table of Contents and Sources page if you choose. 

The writing pages will help keep writers organized!

They will love the process while learning about states, note-taking and report writing! (Hello Common Core Standards!!!)


After the students have written their reports I am planning to teach them how to use PowerPoint to make a presentation for the class! PLUS, they are going to use shoe boxes to make mini parade floats to represent their state. Then we will line them up and and learn about lots of states! 

Also, check my store for my Sticky Note Animal Report! My kids had a blast with this report last year so I plan to use it again when we get to our aquarium unit!


More sticky note reports will be added VERY soon. 

Did you know that I offer my new products for FREE for a couple of hours to my Facebook fans? Follow me HERE.


Informational Writing Goals Clip Chart

I have been sick since Saturday night. But I had too many important things happening at school to be able to stay home. After taking my cuties on a field, trip yesterday, I was a mess. So I wrote sub plans on the bus ride back and spent the day at home coughing and sneezing. Oh.... and doing grades, report cards and working on some resources for next quarter!!! I can't just rest! I must work or I feel guilty!

The good news for you is that I finished my Informational Writing Goals Clip Chart unit!



This product is exactly what you need for differentiating goals during writers workshop! It is perfect for working on your common core informational writing standards!



Here is how it works:

You print the goal posters and display in your classroom where students can see them. Each student will have a clothes pin.

After your students have written an informational piece, conference with them and set one goal you want them to focus on. Move their clothes pin to that poster so that they have a visual reminder. I also give my student a small version of the poster for them to keep in their writing binder as a daily reminder.

I explain to my students that at their next conference I will expect them to show me evidence of how they have worked on their goal. For example, they can use a highlighter to highlight capital letters if their goal was capitalization. If the goal has been met, we set a new goal together and move their clip to the appropriate poster. 

In order to increase accountability, I have students attach the self reflection form to the top of their completed writing pieces. This helps to guide their future conferences.

Lesson Includes:
4 title sheets for your display (Choose the one you like best!)
8 informational goal posters: punctuation, capitalization, introduction & conclusion, using facts, organizing writing, using text features, focusing on one topic and organizing writing into paragraphs.
Smaller version of every poster (4 of the same goal per sheet) to give to students to keep in their writing folders.
Student reflection sheet


You can find this product HERE in my TpT store!

I used the Narrative Writing Goals Clip Chart this quarter and I loved it. Students knew exactly what I was asking them to work on and the mini posters were a constant reminder to them. The large posters made for a great display!


Make sure you follow my TpT store because I will be making persuasive goals soon!

Only 1 more day until fall break!!! And it's a half day! WooHoo!

Constitution Day!

I am actually a certified Secondary Government teacher. I have a degree in Political Science and before I had kids, I worked for the Arizona Supreme Court as a lobbyist.  But I just love the little guys and so I decided to that becoming an elementary teacher was my calling. Just because I teach Third Grade does NOT mean I can't teach about government! In fact, the little guys eat it up!!!

I wanted to give you a little peak into what we did to celebrate Constitution Day in my class. We actually start a couple week before Constitution Day.  I used a couple activities from THIS kit.

Our first lesson is a simple, and fun one about what the Constitution is. I divided the class into 4 groups and gave them the materials for a game they had never seen before. I did not give directions. I just tole them to start playing. They looked at me like, "Mrs. Sears, you have officially lost your marbles!" But soon they started trying to play. A couple groups started arguing right away about the rules. One group just started chatting about recess, friends, etc. My fourth group was so cute. They actually nominated a leader to make decisions for them. WHAT?! How brilliant! After they did this for a while, I called them all together and asked if they had any problems with the game. Of course they did! Everyone said "We didn't know the rules!" It was so perfect. It was almost as if I had given them a script. Too darn bad I wasn't getting an observation! So I told my kiddos that the early Americans didn't have any rules. And just like playing a game without rules, everyone was doing their own thing, their was confusion and their was fighting. They needed rules. And that is why they wrote the Constitution. I told them the rules to the game and gave them time to play with the rules. When we came back together, one little girls loudly announced "Playing with rules is so much more fun!" Dang, where is my observer when I need him! ;-) We wrapped the lesson up by having the kids write a sentence and draw a picture about playing the game with rules and then playing the game without rules.

Th next day we talked about the three parts of the Constitution: Preamble, Articles and Amendments. I read them the book We the People and we broke apart the Preamble to really understand why the Constitution was written. And then we listened to THIS song. The kids loved it. So we listened again. And then I had a crazy, but brilliant, idea. We need to learn this song and perform it for parents! The kids were thrilled. I broke them into 2 groups and we practiced a little each day. More about the singing in a moment...

The next day, the kids went on a scavenger hunt...kinda! I gave them a worksheet with 10 questions about the Constitution. Some of the kids knew the answers right away. Yay! After they tried to complete it on their own, I posted the answers on pieces of paper around the room. They got out of the seats and roamed the room looking for the correct answers to each question. It was a fun and way to jazz up an otherwise boring worksheet.

The next day we talked about the 3 branches of government. My neighbor and I came up with this cute craft to help the kids remember the jobs of each branch.


We just took a brown paper bag, crumpled it up a bit and cut two slits down the top to make 3 branches. Then they cut tree pieces out of construction paper and wrote some details about each branch on them.

The next day we made a class list of all the reasons the Constitution was important. Then the kiddos picked one and finished the prompt. "The Constitution is important because..." Finally, we made this adorable creativity from the kit I linked above.


To make our paper dingy, we made some coffee and had the kids paint it on white construction paper. The good news is that the room smelled of coffee and so no one fell asleep. I may have to try that technique during math...

Our final lesson was the toughest. We talked about how a bill becomes a law. I made a simple PowerPoint to show them. But the highlight of the lesson for the kids was when we watched the Schoolhouse Rock How a Bill Becomes a Law video! I really think it would be fun to split the class into the House and the Senate and have a mock session to show how a bill becomes a law. Sadly, I just didn't have the time. :-(

And that brings us to Tuesday...which was Constitution Day! Only a few nerds, like me, celebrate this day. And even fewer of those nerds have trouble sleeping the night before because they are so excited! I had my class dress in red, white and blue. And they were great by this great big sign!


Everyone was excited! We began our celebration by writing a class constitution. First, we decided why were writing the constitution and wrote that in the preamble. Then they each wrote down a couple of rules that they thought would be good. And together we wrote this beauty...


And the best part...I gave the kids feathers and they signed with ink! They LOVED it!


Our celebration continued with a performance of our We the People song. We had invited the principal to come and watch. (Parent performance is tomorrow night!) The kids were amazing! They brought tears to our eyes. So the principal asked us to wait a couple minutes. She went and got our Super Intendant and other administrators. The students performed 2 more times while they were photographed and video taped. They really were incredible! I am super proud! (And after those mini performances, the principal asked if our classes could learn another song and perform at a large celebration our school does in January. Fun!)

We finished our celebration with some patriotic treats and the kids worked on this mini book that I found HERE for free.



One girl said, "That was the best party ever." WHAT?! A Constitution Day party was the best party ever?! New nerds in the making. I am proud. I went home from school that day feeling exhilarated...and exhausted...but mostly exhilarated!

Subtraction FREEBIE

My kiddos are going to be working on subtraction with regrouping this week in math. So I put together a simple and fun scavenger hunt. They need a reason to get out of their seats during our math block!



Would you like my scavenger hunt for free? Of course you do! You can download it HERE.

Have a great week!

Reading is the Goal!

Many third graders still need some practice with reading sight words. But sight words can be so boring to practice. So I made these game boards...

Students roll a die and read the list of sight words that coorspond to the number they rolled. The game can be played independently or partners can compete against one another for a little added fun. The game works great in literacy centers, reading groups or as a fast finisher activity.

This is perfect for differentiating since the file includes 12 game boards that are leveled. Each student can work on the board that is appropriate for their level! The bundle includes the first 300 Fry words.

Check it out HERE in my TpT store. 

And while you are there...download my new FREEBIE! I made a subtraction with regrouping scavenger hunt!

Have a great week at school!




Game Day Geography

When I think about fall, I think about football!!!

This year I am capitalizing on my students' interest in football with this fun geography activity and game.



Each week we will find out where our home town football team is playing. We will use a map to determine which direction they will be traveling and which states they will fly over. This is good practice for state reconition and using the compass. (You can extend this into a math lesson on Mondays. Go back and compare the scores and find the difference between the two teams!)




Then we will practice state recognition with this fun football themed game. Students will draw a state card and find it on the map. If they are correct, they roll a die and move forward that many spaces. The first person to the field goal will win. This game can become more challenging for high grades by using the map without states labeled!



You can even give the state cards to fast finishers and ask them to put the states in alphabetical order!

You can find this kit HERE.

Are you ready for some football?!

Reading & Writing Workshop- Interactive Notebooks

In previous posts, I wrote about my reading and writing workshop procedures and my mini lessons. Today I want to share with you a little about my interactive notebooks.

Last year I did a lot of flip books and flaps, but I was never really organized enough to have the interactive notebooks. This year, I just knew I had to make it happen. I thought they would really help me to be certain I was teaching each of the Common Core Standards and it would give my students a wonderful reference and hands-one, creative practice.

I knew right away that I wanted to start with interactive language notebooks. Grammar is so tricky for 3rd graders!!! Last year we did flaps for nouns and for prefixes and suffixes. They were simple and yet VERY helpful. So I decided to make flaps for the majority of the 3rd Grade Language standards!

The kit comes with labels for the front of the student notebooks and a table of contents to help keep the notebooks organized.
There are 30 different flaps in the kit! Each flap is aligned to the 3rd Grade Common Core Language Standards. Every flap has the standard and a student friendly "I Can" statement. My school requires that the students understand exactly what skill they are working on and so this was a crucial element for me!


The idea of using flaps is nothing new. I have used flaps for science for quiet a while (Hmmm...maybe I should share as a FREEBIE....). The great thing about flaps is that they are so darn simple to prepare and use! It just take a few cuts and some glue along the edge and they are ready for the writing. In the kit, I included pictures of many of the flaps so you could see what I have my kiddos write!
The topics covered include:
Common nouns and proper nouns
singular nouns and plural nouns
Rules for making nouns plural
Concrete and Abstract Nouns
Singular pronouns and plural pronouns
Action Verbs and helping verbs
Action verbs, helping verbs and linking verbs
Adverbs and adjectives
Adverbs: When, Where and How
Verb Tenses: Past, Present and Future
Verb Tenses: Regular and Irregular
Subject-Verb Agreement
Comparative and Superlative Adjectives
Coordinating and subordinating conjunctions
Capitalization Rules
Writing Addresses (with commas)
Dialogue- using commas and quotation marks
Singular and Plural Possessives
Simple, Compound and Complex sentences
Types of Sentences: Statement, questions, exclamation and command
Types of sentences: Declarative, Interrogative, Exclamatory and Imperative
Subjects and Predicates
Simple Subjects and Simple Predicates
Complete Subjects and Complete Predicates
Synonyms and Antonyms
Prefixes and Suffixes
Prefixes, root word and suffixes
Common prefixes
Common Suffixes
Dictionary: Guide Words, Entry Word, Pronunciation and Part of Speech

You can get you Third Grade Language Flaps HERE!

Another GREAT resource for Interactive Language Notebooks is THIS product.Nichole Shelby did a fabulous job making this product. It is creative! My group this year  loves art and so they like to put these pages in their book and spend time coloring them! And it is also Common Core aligned for the 3rd Grade! Score!


I use the flaps early in the week to introduce the topic and then the other pages are used at the end of the unit to reinforce the skill. It is working wonders! Kids don't groan as much during language time!

Go get some composition books and take the plunge!

A binder for everything...


I am pretty certain that I am OCD. I absolutely love labels and having a place for everything. Piles are my enemy. Keeping it all organized as a teacher has been a challenge for an OCD person like myself. Last year I had file folders for everything. My file drawers were stuffed full and I could never find the file folder I was looking for. So this year, I am using binders. A LOT of binders! 

 All of the binders have covers and spine labels. And don't they look pretty on my Ikea book shelf?! It sits right behind my desk. While I am writing my lesson plans, I can just swivel around and check my reading workshop binder or multiplication binder. It's awesome. So far!

On the bottom of the book shelf, I have Ikea book boxes that hold my read alouds and some of my favorite teacher books. I have them organized by topic/theme. But I am still working on getting them labeled. Shame on me! I may even decorate them with some sports paper or ribbon. Too much white for my liking!

On top of the bookcase, I have 2 sets of Sterelite drawers to hold my papers and supplies for the week. All I need is a label that says "Newt Week."

So here is the BIG news for me...I bought a new computer last night! I have been using an ANCIENT laptop. Now I have a MacBook Pro. It is my first Mac. I think I will catch on quickly but it may be a bit before I feel comfortable!

I'll be back later with my newest product....something for your language interactive notebooks... :-)