Diary of a Not So Wimpy Teacher: November 2013

Teaching Elapsed Time with Reindeer Games

Elapsed time is my least favorite math concept to teach to third graders. They just don't get it! Many of them still struggle with telling time and basic addition and subtraction. They just don't seem ready for elapsed time. But I plug on and teach it. Over. And Over. And Over AGAIN! Please tell me I am not alone!

Since students struggle with the concept, I have seen them get frustrated and give up. In an effort to keep motivation high and frustration low, I like to use scoot activities when we practice elapsed time. I often allow them to work in partners or teams. I think this allows them to learn from one another and have some much needed success. I also think that getting out of their seat and movie makes all the difference.

Since I am a holiday LOVER, and so are my students, I knew we needed to use this excitement to practice our elapsed time. So I created THESE reindeer elapsed time task cards. It comes with a recording sheet and I plan to use it like a scoot game.

I mean, the reindeer are so darn cute! How can the kids not LOVE this?! Plus, the cards are kind of humorous. Hopefully we will have smiles instead of frustration! You can find this product HERE in my TpT store.

Any brilliant ideas for teaching elapsed time?

Holiday Writing and a Freebie!

I was really in the holiday spirit yesterday. I had a huge list of holiday lessons that I wanted to make for my class and I made a dent in the list! Still more in the works. Make sure you follow my TpT store so you get notifications when I add them. They just MIGHT be on sale during the first couple of days. HINT HINT

I love using holidays to get kids more excited about writing! The Common Core writing standards focus on three types of writing for the third grade: narrative, informational and persuasive. I made THIS cute gingerbread writing unit with a prompt, graphic organizer and writing paper for each type of writing! SWEET!

If you are planning to build gingerbread houses in class, then the persuasive writing prompt is a MUST for you! Students will have to convince you to let them build the houses! Make them work for it!

I also put together THIS holiday writing menu. And it's FREE! Please leave some feedback if you download.


Getting Crafty in Math Class!

We have been getting crafty all week in math! The crafts have been the perfect way to engage my kids (especially since we have math at the very end of the day!) and reenforce the foundational skills of multiplication. I got many of these projects from Amy Lemons.

Here is a peak into our week:

On Monday, we worked on groups of two. Students were given a math fact on a post-in note and they used the fact to fill in the rest of their word problem. They traced their hands and glued on equal groups of cotton balls.

On Tuesday, students used beads and pipe cleaners to make bracelets with equal groups. I thought this activity was really helpful. My students were calling the groups by their color. (ie. yellow group, purple group, etc.) Sometimes it is hard for kids to see a group and this made it very clear. I didn't let the kids keep the bracelets. Instead, I am keeping them. I will be pulling them out as a math center later. Kids will get a few bracelets and write the fact that the bracelet represents. We can even use them to show division facts!

On Wednesday we made these cute equal group mushrooms. My kids are excited anytime they get to use their glue sticks!

On Thursday, we made these adorable arrays of sunshine. I got the idea from Fourth and Ten on TpT. She sells her templates, but I just made my own. (I WON"T be selling them though.) The kids got a real kick out of the play on words. And this was a great practice since I had them write the multiplication and division sentence shown by the array. We still need more practice on division, but I am proud of where they are already. It's only November! Yay!

Our projects were so cute, that I had to make a display on the wall. I titled it "Multiplying our Success." I am not very good with butcher paper and wall displays so this wall was  quite an achievement for me!

I am really looking forward to math this week too!

Since I had math art on my mind and we just put up the Christmas tree today- I was inspired to make some holiday math craftivities for my TpT store. I had never made a craftivity before, but now I am hooked. These guys turned out so stinkin' cute!

And the curly beard? It is actually multiplication facts!!! The kids will be having so much fun making this project, that they won't even realize that they are working on math facts!

I made a kit for multiplication and another one for division. Click on the picture to see the product in my store.

Don't forget to follow me on Facebook. The link is on my sidebar. I OFTEN offer freebies to my fans!

Delicious Thanksgiving Products!

I have already started celebrating Thanksgiving with my kiddos! We have been taking a trip around the world to learn how Thanksgiving is celebrated in other countries. The kids get so excited when I say, "Get out your passports! We leaving for our next adventure!" I am using THIS product by Little Red.

This fits perfecting with my reading curriculum since we are focusing on informational text all quarter. The kids love the fun facts and the cat and paste activities. They are doing an amazing job writing post crds from each country to tell their parents what they learned! I am looking forward to continuing this activity this week!

I just LOVE all of the products by Little Red! I use lots of their informational text kits in my guided reading groups. An for the next week and a half, I am planning to use THESE passages as my bell work. The topics are so fun and a few are really unique!

I am so excited about my plans for the short week of Thanksgiving! We will be using a couple of products that I made!

I have been working on teaching my students the scientific process. The week of Halloween we used THIS kit to do a pumpkin seed science experiment. It was a hit! So for Thanksgiving, we will be using THIS product to do a blind taste test. Our question is: In a blind taste test, can a person taste the difference between a store-bought and a home-made pumpkin pie.

The unit includes full-color posters for you classroom to help students remember each step in the scientific process.

It also includes a booklet for students to record each step in the process, informational text and a survey graph to use for research.

I already have parents lined up to bring the different pies in!

I also plan to have my students use THIS scoot to help practice elapsed time. This is a very tricky skill for 3rd graders! But I think that making it about Thanksgiving dinner will keep kids motivated and engaged!

The unit includes 20 color task cards, a student response sheet and an answer key. My kids love an excuse to get out of their seat and move so this should be lots of fun!

My students will also be doing a special Thanksgiving poetry reading for their Kindergarten buddies and their parents! I am excited for students to practice their speaking skills and build fluency as they practice their poems this week!

What are your Thanksgiving plans?

Veterans Day

Sorry to have been MIA for so long from my blog. School and a head cold have been kicking my butt. I recently did some thinking and realized that I was doing too much for too many people. And without much of any gratitude most of the time!  I had to look at my priorities and decided to put my family and students first. I feel much better! And I have lots of time this weekend for my family and some fun! I haven't had a weekend off in a month!

Now on to the sharing...

My class spent this past week researching and writing about Veterans Day. They loved it! I heard one of my students say, "I learned so much. I always thought Veterans Day was something to do with animal doctors." Lol!

Now I would LOVE to share pics of everything my sweet kiddos did...but my iPhone (what I use for pictures in my class) took a dip in the toilet (Don't ask! lol) yesterday. So no pics for me :-(

But I will share a little about what we did and what resources I used. It is not too late to learn about Veterans Day next week!

The main project that we worked on all week was researching and writing a report about Veterans Day. I was able to mix Social Studies, Reading and Writing into this one project. Score!

I used my Veterans Day Report Unit.

The unit includes an informational text passage with text dependent questions. I used these in reading for research. Then, during writing time, the students used their text to take notes on post-its and attach to the subheading on their sticky note research. They learned what a veteran is, what Veterans Day is, the history of Veterans Day and how people celebrate. After getting lots of details on to the sticky notes (in their own words), they worked on a first draft using the paper included in the unit.

By the end of the week, students were using their Good Informational Writers See... check lists to edit and revise their writing.

On Friday, they wrote it neatly on the fun final draft papers to make a report!

They were super proud of their hard work! So we needed a special way to display the reports! You can get the informational text and writing unit HERE in my TpT store.

Were made THESE adorable soldiers to hold on to their reports. As soon as I get a new phone, I will update with a pic of our finished products!

The kids were just putting the finishing touches on their craft when our guest speaker arrived. Mrs. R. is our school curriculum director and her son is a Navy Seal. She came and shared stories and pictures with the students. They asked such smart questions since they had learned a lot during the week! She was very impressed. THEN, we had a second speaker (somewhat of a surprise to me!). My parent volunteer that day happened to be an army officer! I had no idea! The girls especially loved to hear her stories!

Finally, my students went to visit their Kindergarten buddies. They told them a little about Veterans Day and helped them make THESE simple flip books!

Next year I hope to have some wall space for a display about the veterans my classmates know. I want to send home little cards that parents can fill out about every veteran they want us to remember and we can collect them all. I think that would be powerful!

I hope everyone has a safe and happy Veterans Day weekend. Thank you to all the veterans were have served our great country!