Diary of a Not So Wimpy Teacher: August 2015

5 Reasons Centers Work in my Classroom

I am passionate about using guided reading and math small groups with centers. I just can't imagine teaching diverse learners any other way. I have had lots of followers and colleagues give up on centers, especially math, because they didn't work in their classroom. I did a guest blog post for Rachel Lynette's Minds in Bloom site. I share 5 of the ways that I make centers work in my classroom. I am confident they can work in your classroom too!!

Read the post by clicking HERE.

FREE Addition & Subtraction Interactive Notebook!

I hope that the title of this post caught your attention! I am so excited to be able to give ALL of you my newest interactive notebook for FREE!

The notebook includes fact flaps for 2 digit and 3 digit numbers. I included sets that require regrouping and sets that don't for both addition and subtraction. 

There are a total of 8 different math fact flap pages to choose from!

The notebook also includes word problem flaps. I included one for addition, one for subtraction and one with mixed operations.

I think that these activities would be great practice for 2nd and 3rd graders. They may also be useful for the beginning of the year or intervention 4th grader.

And they are FREEEEEE!

All you need to do is sign up for my email newsletter using the sign up box below. I will email you shortly with your notebook! You will also receive occasional emails from me with freebies, classroom tips and discount codes! 

So what are you waiting for?! Just enter your personal email address in the box below. You'll get an email from me shortly with the link to the notebook! (If you don't see it, check your junk mail!)

Sign Up

If you are looking for more notebooks, then you will want to check out my math bundle!

If you have questions about how I use interactive notebooks, check out THIS post.

{Week 4} BTS in a FLASH! Student Engagement

It is our final week of the Back to School in a FLASH blog linky! This week we are blogging all about student engagement. I have some great ideas for you!

Student engagement is my number one goal in the classroom. None of the academic goals can be achieved without student engagement. It is essential! My biggest advice to you is to decrease teacher talk and the time students spend in their desks. I use guided reading and math groups to help create an engaged atmosphere where students are moving regularly and I am not lecturing all day.

I want to share five more ways that I keep my students engaged in our lessons.

I LOVE this quote by Eric Jensen: "If you don't have time to play music when you teach then you talk too much." TRUTH! There is so much research out there about how music lowers anxiety and nerves and releases endorphins that make you happy. Music wakes you up and makes your body move! Use music to increase student engagement. Get them ready to learn by playing fun music as they walk in the room and unpack. Play soothing music while they write. After a test, play some upbeat music to reenergize them. Play fun music while they are packing up  and cleaning the classroom. Use music as a reward. If my kids get compliments in the hall, they get a song and free dance during snack break. So easy and so fun.

The simple truth is that when you are happy, you are more engaged. Music makes us happy! I will be blogging later this week to share my favorite songs to use in the classroom. Make sure you are following me on Facebook so that you don't miss the post!

I have found that students are more engaged in my lessons when they feel like they are working towards a tangible goal. In my classroom, students have math fact, reading, behavior and other goals that they are continuously working to achieve. Motivation and engagement is high because I reward them with brag tags for meeting these big goals.

When I notice that a student seems distracted or sluggish, I can remind them of the brag tag they are working for. They perk right up!

You can read THIS post to learn more about how I use brag tags in my classroom.

A lot of teachers use pair share from time to time. I use pair share about 5-10 times during every mini lesson. I actually use the Whole Brain Teaching Teach-Okay for my pair shares. I tell them something and then they teach it right back to their accountability partner. Students are hearing what I say and then repeating it to a partner. It increases memorization. I also find that students are more tuned in and engaged during my lesson because they know they are going to have to teach regularly. Giving students lots of opportunities to talk helps to decrease the chatter during quiet work times too. I highly recommend that you watch this video to see how this works in a classroom.

There are times when I notice that my kids have been sitting for too long or are getting antsy. That is when it is time to get them up stretching, dancing and moving. Go Noodle is a free website that has tons of video brain breaks for kids.
They are so fun for the kids. (But I must fess up- I do them too. Great exercise and catchy tunes!) Our favorites include: Pop See Ko, Go Bananas and Roller Coater. After we do one of these guided dances- then we do one of the Go Noodle stretching activities to calm the kids down.

The kids are happy and their blood is moving again. They are ready to think and be engaged in your lesson! (Plus- they think you are the coolest teacher EVER!)

Worksheets are NOT engaging! I very rarely ever use one in my classroom. Students still need to practice key concepts that I am teaching in my mini lessons. I use interactive notebooks to give kids the opportunity to practice skills while keeping engagement high. They get to cut, glue and fold. They are moving and creating. 

My students take pride in their interactive notebooks and pay close attention to detail while they work. They actually look forward to notebook activities. There is no doubt that my students are engaged! You can read a lot more about how I use interactive notebooks in the classroom by reading THIS post. You can shop for interactive notebooks in my store by clicking HERE.

Now it is your turn! Blog about your favorite ways to engage your students and link up with us.

My Focus Board!

I am really excited to show off my new focus bulletin board! 

I use most of Whole Brain Teaching rules. I did opt to exclude "Raise your hand for permission to leave your seat." I have a student led classroom. I show students where to find supplies and discuss when they can and cannot get up. They don't need to ask me for a new marker or permission to get a drink. They know when this is allowed. I use the other four rules and LOVE them! You can grab my rules in by store by clicking HERE. The letters that I used for this board came in an old scrapbook kit that I purchased at least a decade ago.

I am required to display "I can" statements for the core subjects. I chose to keep mine very general so that they will not need to be switched out too often. You can purchase them HERE. The statements are displayed in dry erase pockets. I got mine on Amazon but many people have posted about finding them at Dollar Tree. You can download my headings for free by clicking HERE.

My school has a reading curriculum. I don't use much of it because I use book clubs. Students can choose to read the story of the week during their read to self center. I display the title on our focus board. Some of the vocabulary words come from the story and the others come from our science unit.

I am focusing more on character traits this year. I bought THIS product from the talented Blair Turner. I display her monthly traits and quotes on my board.  I am using it in conjunction with my character trait brag tags.

I am loving how clean and neat our focus board looks! And it has so much valuable information for students. I already had an administrator stop by to compliment the board!

I hope to post a full classroom reveal VERY soon!

iPad Giveaway!!!

I am so excited to be collaborating with all of the iTeach teams to offer you an amazing prize as you prepare to head back to school! Who wants to win an iPad Air 2, an adorable case and a gift card to iTunes?!!

Of course you want to win! So click on the picture above to get entered. Be sure to share with you teaching friends. Maybe if they win, they will let you bottom the iPad from time to time. ;-)

Also, don't forget to go back to my last post and get yourself registered for a chance to win a shopping spree on TpT! Good luck, my fiends!

{Week 2} BTS in a Flash! Curriculum Must Haves

Welcome back for our second week of the Back to School in a Flash blog linky series! I had a great time reading all of the posts last week about Teacher Faves. Click HERE if you missed it!

This week we are talking about Curriculum Must Haves! 

Curriculum is the perfect topic for this week because TpT is hosting their back to school sale and everything is discounted 20-28%!

Here are my must have products...

My first must have product is one that I made. I use a guided math format in my classroom. While I work with my small groups, my students complete different centers. One of the centers is independent work. This is a center where students show me what they can do on their own. I wanted students to be practicing skills that we have already covered in class. I didn't want it to be a boring worksheet. It needed to be hands-on. I wanted my independent center to change once per month, but to always have the same format. And that is how this series of math centers was started...

The back to school centers have 10 math centers that review skills that students should have learned in third grade. It is a good review and makes it easy for me to informally assess my new students. Students choose the order of the centers and they love to have some choice.

We will be spending a considerable amount of time working on writing about math during the year. Read more about that HERE but it is fun to see where they start at the beginning of the year.

Many of the centers include sorts and task cards. This makes the centers more hands-on and engaging for my students.

After I teach them the basic concepts for completing these centers, I will just change out the skill once a month. I won't waste time every month teaching student HOW to do centers. If student finish early, they will work on enrichment projects. 

I have been using the Distributive Doctor for three years! It is an exceptional product that allows students to use maninpulatives and pictures to practice breaking a multiplication fact into pieces. 

I like to increase student engagement by giving them all masks and craft sticks that I call scalpels. They have blast! The creativity helps to reenforce this tough concept. 

The product on my wish list that I am most excited to purchase is the Multiplication Stations by Shelley Gray. 

I love that these stations focus on strategies rather than speed and memorizations, You can read more about how I am using Shelley's addition station in my math centers by clicking on the picture below.

Would you like an opportunity to win sensational products from some of my very favorite teacher authors? Enter to win a bundle from iTeach 3rd, iTeach 4th or iTeach 5th. Who doesn't LOVE a shopping spree?!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Now it is your turn! Use the picture below and blog about your favorite TpT products! 

Add your blog post to our link up!