Diary of a Not So Wimpy Teacher: February 2013

Pot O'Gold St. Patrick's Day Fraction Fun

Do your kiddos need more practice with ordering and comparing fractions? My kiddos are getting better with it, but could still use the practice. So I made THIS bundle. It includes a fraction ordering activity with a recording sheet, a few fraction word problems and a fraction War Game. PLUS, it has a St. Patrick's Day theme that helps to get the kids excited!

I think that my kids will really like the war game!

Play Ball!

Spring is just around the corner...and that means that state standardized testing is just around the corner for my kiddos! Yikes! My next door neighbor and I decided to make our test prep into a baseball theme! So when the kiddos come back from Spring Break, we will be starting Spring Training! We will be practicing and strengthening our brain muscles as we get ready for game day.

Everyone knows that players do better when they have a strong fan base that is rooting them on! So we are sending a letter home to parents and asking them to write a note to their child for each day of testing. We will tape the notes onto our students' desks! Here is what our note looks like...
 And page 2 is where they write their notes...

We have plans to teach our kiddos some basic test taking strategies. We decided that they needed someplace to record these notes and so we made them a Play Book!
Do you want a copy of my play book? Download it for FREE here!

During the week's leading up to our AIMS test, I plan on having lots of test prep games and centers. I made THIS one to help students review for the math test!
In this game students will answer a math question and provide evidence for their answer. If the answer is correct they will roll the die. If they roll a 1 or 2 it is a single and they move forward 1 base. If they roll a 3 or 4 it is a double and they move ahead 2 bases. If they roll a 5 or 6 it is a triple and they move ahead 3 bases. Every time they pass home plate, they receive a point. The player with the most points is the winner.

The game covers the following skills:

Comparing fractions
3D Shapes
Adding and Subtracting 3 digit numbers
Elapsed Time

It is the perfect game for any 3rd grade classroom as they prepare for standardized testing! Click on the picture to be taken to my TpT store.

Stay tuned for an ELA version of the game!

How do you review for standardized testing? Leave me a comment!

Math Workshop and links to FREE math games!

I am really excited about my new Math Workshop that I started this past week! I team teach with my next door neighbor. She teaches the on-level/reteach group and I teach the enrich group. It's fantastic for both of us! (Although I may have the better end of the deal. Shhhhh! Don't tell her!) However, we only have an hour for math and it can be hard to fit everything in. I almost never have time for hand-on activities and I thrive on being a hands-on teacher! It was bugging me! So I thought and thought...and I came up with a plan!

Here is what my math workshop looks like:
15 minutes: Whole Group Lesson
30 minutes: Students will complete 2 centers (1 a skill center and 1 a fact practice center)
15 minutes: Closing and going over the Side A of their worksheet (Sadly, we do Saxon Math.)

I have 24 math students and I split them into 8 groups of 3. We have math class 4 days per week and they go to 2 centers per day. So I made 8 centers- 4 are for multiplication and division fact practice and 4 are skill practice. They will get to each center once per week.

This was the first week and it was awesome!

This is my Math Workshop board....
I named each of my groups after a shape. Then I used a pocket chart to tell them which center they do first and which center they do 2nd. (The fact cents are the even numbers and the skill centers are the odd numbers.) I got the cute numbers from HERE. Then after math, I just move the group names down one spot so that the chart is ready for the next day. The numbers in the pocket chart match up with the numbers on my centers which I keep in a rolling cart. I got the cart at Wal-Mart.

I assigned one student from each group to be the group captain. They are responsible for coming and getting the box for their group and then returning it when the center is over. I love that it takes very little space in my classroom!

 The kids loved it!!! They are used to doing centers in reading and so this came very naturally and required very little extra training! Yay!

This group is practicing adding and subtracting 3 digit number with a fun money game!

This group is practicing area!

 This group is working on multiplication and division using a game that I had donated to me through Donors Choose!

While they are working on their centers, I focus on the 3 groups that are doing skill centers. I sit with them and check that they are understanding. I ask questions and have them explain their strategies. It is so much easier to see who gets it and who needs a reteach when I meet with just 3 students at a time!

And the BEST part...Almost all of the center games were FREE! I am crazy about games and I spend WAAAY too much time browsing TpT and Pinterest. Do you want links to some of my favorite FREE games? Of course you do!

My class is working on fractions right now.
I like this center on the fraction of a number using QR codes since kids just love technology! I stick my iPad right in the center bin for them to check after they complete the questions!
My kids love games of war and so they are excited to do this fraction war and it is perfect for working on comparing fractions. It even has improper fractions! (You could take those cards out if you haven't taught that skill yet.)

Practicing equivalent fractions is so much fun with this Go Fish style game with a Star Wars theme!

In Math Workshop the kids are also working on their facts. I just introduced this cute multiplication game and they seem to enjoy it!

My students will soon be using the similar game board for division.

How do you run your math workshop? Any insights for a newbie? Leave me a comment!

It's a Circus!!!

I'm sure that every teacher feels like they are running a three ring circus from time to time! That is where the inspiration for my classroom circus theme came from! Several months before I was even offered a teaching position- I had planned out a circus theme classroom! If you have not already done so, take a tour of my classroom! It is a continuous work in progress!

Some of the decor in my class was bought from other talented teachers. But lots of it, I made myself! And I am super excited that my circus printables are FINALLY in my TpT store!!! Check it out HERE or by clicking on the pictures.

The bundle has 28 pages of circus cuteness! It includes:
Binder cover
Everything you need for a class job bulletin board
Daily 3 and Daily 5 signs
Desk name plates
Classroom rules
Labels for supplies, cubbies, book boxes, etc.
Teacher directions

I hope I have inspired more circus classrooms!

Base 10 Block Games!

I thought my kiddos had Base 10 blocks down...and then I gave an assessment. Oops!!! Some of my lower kids were still struggling! Since I am a firm believer in hand-on teaching- I made a set of 3 different games involving Base 10 Blocks! The games include War, Go Fish and Memory.

I love that I only need to make the playing cards once and have three different games they can play with them! That makes it quicker and cheaper to keep my kiddos engaged in their math centers!

But the best part about these games is that they are so easy to differentiate with! There are 18 cards that are 4 digit numbers. There are 18 cards that are 3 digit numbers and there are 18 cards that are 2 digit numbers. I can give my intervention kids different cards to work with than I give my enrich group! OR...you can use different cards at the beginning of the school year than you do mid-year! 

Click HERE to purchase the set which includes teacher directions, student directions for each game and 56 playing cards!


Valentine's Day Rockin' Sock Hop!

I have been hard at work today preparing for my class Valentine's Day Sock Hop this week! I thought I had  it all planned, and then yesterday I got crazy and decided that I needed 50's themed math and literacy centers to get the kids pumped up for the party on Thursday. Luckily, I found some great resources on TpT!

I found a bundle that has great review activities for literacy, writing and math! We'll be doing Boogie Woogie Addition, Doo Wop Subtraction, Smokin' Synonyms and much more! Check it out HERE.

After we do these fun centers, we will be ready for the big party! I have 4 stations planned: a soda shoppe (with floats), a match-box car race, hula hooping and dancing to 50's music. I got the ideas, signs and even awards for winners from THIS freebie!

Today I picked up some fun decorations. Now I can't wait to see how cute my kiddos look in rolled up jeans, slicked back hair, poodle skirts and pony tails!

My class will also be working on a Valentine's themed poetry unit during Writer's Workshop this week. On Monday, we will be learning about metaphors. They will be making a "Love is..." metaphor book to give to their family. Check out THIS cute freebie that I am using. On Tuesday we will be working on Diamante poems and on Wednesday we will be writing "I love you more than..." poems. I love the planners and publishing papers in THIS kit.

It's going to be a fun week! I'll post soon about my President's Day plans!

Noun Review Flap Book

I am very excited to announce that I have my first lesson for sale on TpT!!! It is a noun review flap book!

My kiddos get so confused with pronouns, plural nouns, proper nouns and possessive nouns! Why do they all have to start with "p"?! So I made this flap book to help them review before standardized tests. Now they keep it in their desk folder so that they always have a resource to look up.

I had the kiddos write a definition on one side of the flap and examples on the other side of the flap.

It's simple but effective!!!

If you are interested in this noun flap book, you can purchase it HERE.

Happy Groundhog Day!

Yesterday we had a very long assembly and so I ended up only getting an hour and a half with my kiddos. We used the time to learn a bit about Groundhog Day!

We started by doing a Close Read of the Groundhog Day Legend. We have been learning about different kinds of legends in Reading so this fit in really well. The kids led their own discussion about whether or not they thought a groundhog could accurately predict the weather. Then they walked around the class taking a survey of the class predictions: Will the groundhog see his shadow or not?
They used the bar graph from THIS lesson.

Our class prediction was a dead tie!

Next the kids made a cute little craft. It was super simple, which was good since we had so little time. They turned out cute. The kids colored THIS groundhog and cut it out. They glued them on craft sticks and we stuck them in a cup of dirt.

I gave my fast finishers the fraction challenge from THIS lesson. We are starting a big fraction unit next week and so I wanted to offer a challenge to get them thinking. Several kids were able to figure it out! Yay!

I had a couple activities that I really wanted to do but there just wasn't time. I thought my kids would love THIS Shadow Detective lesson! And I found THIS generic game board that could be used for math facts or a grammar review. Maybe next year!

When we go back to school on Monday, I am going to have the kids watch the video of the groundhog so they can see if their prediction was correct. Looks like Spring is coming early!

Are you ready for some football?!- Part 2

My class had a BLAST this week celebrating the Super Bowl! I had parents email to thank me (which never happens!!!) and more volunteers than I have ever had. Plus, my kids were completely engaged and learning! I couldn't ask for a better week.

The Reading Super Bowl was the biggest hit! The game was very close all week! But in the end, the 49ers pulled off the win! Here is my winning team with their medals!

My kids read for almost 5,000 minutes this week!!! AMAZING! One parents emailed to say that her child never loved reading until this week and another said that her daughter insisted on bringing a book to the restaurant! And a bonus- they learned how to multiply double digit numbers this week when we were tallying their totals! The 49ers are excited to join me for a pizza lunch Monday to celebrate!

The football themed writing was a lot of fun this week too!!! We started by making some boring sentences into scoring sentences. My husband made an adorable bulletin board for me! I tried to get a good pic but because of a wall, I couldn't get far enough back to get the whole thing in.

 I digitally made this sign for the wall...

The kiddos did a pretty good job with the sentences. Here is my favorite...

 They make me laugh!

Here is the sign I made to describe our writing...

My kids also had fun being Super Bowl Party Planners during their Work on Writing center! One of the pages asked them to make a menu for the their party. Check out what one of my sweet students wrote...
Sounds good! Lol!

Also, during centers the kiddos did a football subtraction game. It was tough as the beginning of the week, but I noticed that they were much faster by the end! Growth!

Besides, the Reading Super Bowl- the other hit for the week was their Super Bowl party! They had to earn the party with good transitions, participation and behavior. The earned the party at the very last minute!

I originally planned to have 3 centers- but the morning of the party I decided to add a center. I am the queen of changing my mind at last minute!

Center 1: Football Compound Word Memory game

Center 2: Been Toss Game. They had to toss the beans into cups that had point values marked on them. They then had to add up their points to determine the winner.

Center 3: (The last minute addition!) Multiplication Super Bowl! I found a free game board on Teachers Pay Teachers. Then I just made multiplication flashcards. They took turns getting a flashcard and answering the fact. If they got it right they would roll a die and move forward on the board. The first person to the touchdown would win. I plan to use this game board more! I am thinking about doing some grammar review cards for it!

Center 4- The kids sat in a circle with a football. I would give them a category and they would have to come up with a word. They had to the count of 5 to name a word in the category of they were out. Then they tossed the ball to someone else. They couldn't repeat an answer given by another student. Categories were things like cartoons, candy bars, adjectives, plural nouns, multiplication facts, etc. They LOVED it!

After the games, it was time to eat! I had a parent bring in cute snacks!!!

Football cupcakes and Oreo balls...

Football Rice Krispie treats...

Football pizza pockets...

My class also made predictions for the big game on Sunday.

If my class is right- it looks like the Ravens are going to be the winners!

It was an awesome week!!! Fun had by all!!!

If you are interested in the resources and games that I used, check out THIS post.

Groundhog's Day post coming up next!