Monday, July 29, 2013

Monday Made It=) and a Freebie

Hello everybody.
Today we are linking up with Tara at 4th Grade Frolics for Monday Made It!

For this Monday Made It, we have been busy bees getting activities ready for the school year. Sometimes, it feels like there just isn't time to cute-ify things. But the kiddos deserve it. So that is our focus!

First Up- We finished our Third Grade Daily Morning Math Unit 3 (Weeks 13-18)
Click this pic to grab it!

Second Up- QR Code Centers
Synonym QR Codes, Antonym QR Codes, and 3D Shapes
Tina loves making these for our kiddos and I love using them=) We just needed to jazz things up a bit!
In these centers, you can use them as a self checking center or students can turn in their work to be checked. 
Click pic to grab the Antonym QR Code Center

Click pic to grab 3D Shapes
Our Synonym QR Code Center is a Freebie=)
Just click on the pic to grab it! 
Last Up- (And my favorite). I made a Where Are We Clip Chart. It is monster themed and I made it in bright colors and black and white. If you would like to grab it, just click on the pic!

Last year, I made our whole grade level "Where Are We" signs. But honestly, they were massive kinds of ugly. This monster clip chart just makes my heart happy. I love the clipart!

We still have lots to do before school starts but we are taking a break on Thursday. Tina and I are driving up to Phoenix with our some of our best school buddies. And what are we going to do in the great city of heat? We are going to IKEA (I've never been and can't wait), to The Container Store (again, never been to one and can't wait), lunch somewhere new, and then to the Outlet Stores. I don't usually like to shop but all of my buds love it and I get to spend some fun time with them=)

Friday, July 26, 2013

Mystery Walkers and Third Grade Morning Math Unit 2

Can you believe that summer is almost over? I can't. For some teachers, it's already over. I'm so sorry! I only hope that means you end your school year earlier than I do. I officially start in 3 weeks but I need to start getting my classroom set up in 2 weeks. Oh, the horror =(

Before the school year starts, I want to share some classroom management ideas that I love.
Here is the first one-
Have you ever heard about the Mystery Walker?  I saw this on Teacher Tipster last summer and it worked extremely well in my classroom. 

Every morning ( sometimes afternoon because I'm forgetful), I pick a mystery walker. The students don't know who it is but they know I'll be watching everyone like a hawk.

The mystery walker has to follow all of the rules (otherwise known as steps) while walking. We repeat the steps before we leave the classroom- "Step 1- Line up in a straight line, right behind the person in front of me. Step 2- Zip it, lock it, put it in my pocket (the kiddos zip their mouths, lock their mouth so they don't talk, and put the key in their pocket). Step 3- Hands at my sides or behind me." Then I say, "Don't forget, I am watching everyone especially the mystery walker."

At the end of the day, if the Mystery Walker did a great job, then I give them a Dum-Dum lollipop and a new pencil. (This year, I'm going to drop the candy and give the kiddos an eraser or sticker with their new pencil).
If the Mystery Walker didn't make it, then I let the class know but I don't tell them who it was. Some kids always thought they were the Mystery Walker and blew it. And they never let me forget to announce who the Mystery Walker was.
Sometimes, my BFF (Tina) will walk my students or I will walk her students. We pretend to whisper to each other about the Mystery Walker and the kiddos buy it every time!
 But honestly, we walk them together most of the time because a girl has to gab.

 I love Teacher Tipster- if you haven't seen the videos, you should! 
You will be entertained and hopefully get some great ideas!


Just click on the pic =) 

BTW, we finished uploading our Third Grade Daily Morning Math Unit 2.
You can click on this pic to grab it!

How do you manage your students as they are walking around the school?
Lisa =)

Thursday, July 25, 2013

10 Things I've Learned From Teaching by Tina

I am linking up with Miss Kindergarten because Lisa is making me.  She says I have not been blogging enough this summer.  It has been a VERY busy summer.

Here goes:
1.  When you teach next door to your best friend- there will never be a day without laughter!

2.  When a student says they don't feel well- Do not hesitate- send them to the nurse.  Otherwise you will be cleaning your reading carpet for years.

3.  Don't be afraid to ask others  for help.  When my students "don't get it", I ask for help.  I ask others how they teach that concept.  I have learned so much from my colleagues.

4.  Test scores aren't everything.  We have all had those students that will fail a standardized test no matter what interventions we do.  Celebrate their individual growth.  Success is not a number on a data sheet.

5.  Classroom pets are not for everyone.  Unfortunately, my classroom has been called Death Row by some of my colleagues.  But what a good opportunity it was to teach about obituaries.

6.  Read the book to yourself before you read it aloud.  I made the mistake of reading So B. It to my students without reading it ahead of time.  I did not get to finish reading it aloud because I was crying uncontrollably.  One of my students had to finish reading it to the class.

7.   Take the time to listen to your kiddos.  You will find out many interesting and sometimes heartbreaking things.  This will help you understand (and love) them even more.

8.  Have fun! Let loose and dance with them, sing with them, be a little silly at times.  It keeps you young!

9.  Sometimes the best lessons are unplanned.  Go with the teachable moments.  You don't always have to be on schedule.

10.  It is okay to cry in front of your students.  They need to know that you have feelings just like they do. Don't be afraid to tell them why you are sad.  Sometimes they are the best medicine for what hurts.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Monday Made It- Wednesday Style!!! and a Freebie

Hi- I'm linking up Tara from 4th Grade Frolics for her Monday Made It!

I found this on Pinterest by Artsy Fartsy Mama. It's easy banana bread using cake mix, 3-4 ripe bananas, 2 eggs, and chocolate chips.
Can't tell you how many bananas I have thrown away in my life because I was too lazy to make "real" banana bread.  Now I can just throw these 3 ingredients together! 
 It looked so good in the oven. I didn't have yellow or white cake mix so I used butter pecan =)

We couldn't wait for the picture. It's delish. Especially after being refrigerated.

I wanted to get my clips ready this week. Last year I painted clothespins bright green and bright blue to go with my colors. This year, I wanted to find an faster way to make them. So I used some Tulip Fabric Dye in turquoise.

Well, I'm not too sure if I like the finished product. I'll decide later.

Tina and I worked on math this week too!

We finished a 3D Shape QR Code Center.
Click on the pic above to grab it.

We also finished our Third Grade Daily Problem Solving Unit 1 (Weeks 1-6).

Click on the pic above to grab Unit 1.

Here is a Freebie- Week 1 from our Third Grade Daily Problem Solving Unit 1.

Click on the pic for the Freebie!
 Thanks for making it through this post!!!
Have a happy week =)

Sunday, July 21, 2013

10 Things I've Learned From Teaching

Miss Kindergarten is hosting this fabulous Linky Party-

This is such a fun idea so here I go!

1. I've learned that nothing stays the same . We have to keep adapting and learning. Just when we think we have a handle on the new curriculum, it changes. So just grin and move on.

2. Embrace teachable moments, go with the flow, and have fun. 

3. Kids tell us everything we don't want to know-
I'm your kids teacher..... I know what you did last night and so does the rest of the class!!!

4. In the classroom, everyone is a teacher and everyone is a student. I learn from the kiddos all the time! I have learned to give the students a chance to teach the class about a topic they are interested in. This year, it was mostly technology. They even gave a couple of lunchtime trainings on using the iPads =)

5. I've learned that the funniest thing to an 8 or  9 year old is the word "fart". They also love "boogers" and "burps".

6. If I can teach something using a rhyme or song, I know it will stick much better. And dance . I teach them it's okay to be silly and get the wiggles out.

7. Share, share, share . I learn so much from my colleagues. I hope they learn from me too.

8. Love your class with all of your heart. They know when someone cares for them. I hug my students first thing in the morning and at the end of the day ( and during the day if they need it)- for some kids, those are the only hugs they get.

9. Make learning fun and memorable . This summer, a former student was the valedictorian for her high school. She sent me an invitation and I made sure to go. Afterwards, she told me that her best memory from elementary school was when we made s'mores. It was her first s'more . Those are the memories I want my students to have =)

10. I love when my students call me "Mom". I don't like it when they call me "Grandpa"! Yes, it happened all year with that kiddo.


Friday, July 19, 2013

Freebie Following Directions

I love not having to know what day it is =)

I have been busy, busy, busy stalking reading blogs. So many great ideas out there! And I've been doing some serious pondering about the first week of school. We hit the ground running curriculum-wise. It is a huge transition from second grade to third grade.

I want the kiddos to know the importance of following directions. It is so sad when a student has done their work but they did it wrong. If I were to grade it, they would have an F! They have to do it again. Once we get into the school year you might hear me saying, "Do it right the first time or you'll do it again!" or "Do it right or do it again!" I know, it sounds mean.

Following directions is even one of our classroom rules. On the first day of school, I discuss the importance of following directions correctly. On the second day, I teach a mini-lesson about following directions. We make an anchor chart as well. We also discuss what to do if the directions don't make sense or if someone is confused. On the third day, I give the students an easy handout that requires them to follow directions. I saw this at a workshop once, but I did not want the students to stand up and say, "I'm almost finished" or hum, "Happy Birthday". That's embarrassing! So they just "complete" the handout, turn it in, and read. I give them about 10 minutes to finish and then I explain that if they only wrote their name and date, they followed the directions. I ask them what would have happen if I graded this handout. This lesson hits home for many kiddos but I still will have a few who are just plain stinkers!

Freebie Following Directions

Click the pic above for your freebie!

How do you teach the importance of following directions?

Monday, July 15, 2013

Monday Made It for the first time =)

Hi friends. Today I'm linking up with Tara at 4th Grade Frolics for Monday Made It! This is the first time I am linking up but I have been inspired and creating since last summer. I did not have a blog but I followed each Monday Made It.

I was inspired by the many projects and these are a few of the things I made last summer:
1. I bought the letters to spell READ and painted them in my classroom colors (bright). I love how the letters look above my library.
2. I covered most of my blackboards in bright fabrics and love it!!!
3. I made a Dum Dum bucket for my classroom and for Tina.
4. I made Daily 5 signs, CAFE signs, and the Whole Brain Teaching Rules.
5. I made "Where Are We" signs for my grade level- I'm going to redo these now that I cute clip art.
6. I painted my boring clothespins to bright colors (and the kiddos loved them)!

This summer, I began this blog with my best friend and teaching buddy, Tina. Then we began revamping our units on Power Point- so much easier that on Word. We also decided to open a TpT store . (We have been fans and supporters of TpT for such a long time .  Every time I talk about creating lessons or finding lessons, I talk about TpT. At trainings, I ask teachers and presenters if they know about TpT, Pinterest, and teacher blogs. And during the breaks, I use my laptop to show anyone who is interested in knowing these things.)

Anywho, this is what we have created this past week!

First up, our First Day Jitters Unit that goes with the book by Julie Danneberg. We read this story the first week of school! 
 I created a freebie graph to go along with First Day Jitters.

Second, I love using the Friendly Letter Song. A teacher at a workshop introduced this song to me and I have used it ever since . A few weeks ago, I read about the movements that Jennifer posted about at her blog, Mrs. Laffin's Laughings. So I decided to update the song and modify her movements to go to the tune and here it is.
Friendly Letter Song Freebie
Thank you Jennifer for sharing =)

Lastly, we have been revamping our Third Grade Morning Math. We created this years ago when we noticed that our curriculum needed more spiraling review time. Each year we tweak it up a notch!  We give the students 10 problems each day to solve . After 15 minutes or so, the students switch their papers and we check the work on our document cameras. Each student graphs their results in their math folders. Then we figure out the percentage of students who passed the review. We uploaded the first unit (6 weeks) and a freebie (week 2).

 Third Grade Daily Morning Math Unit 1 (First 6 Weeks)

Freebie Morning Math Week 2

Thank you Tara for hosting this linky. I have been so inspired by you and all of the amazing teachers in blogland =)

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Freebie Daily Morning Math Week 2

Hi everyone! Lisa here.

I have been so busy blog stalking, learning how to blog, and updating lessons so they are  much cuter  more engaging for the students. It has been a ginormous learning curve on my end but extremely fun!

Well, Tina and I have been updating our Morning Math reviews for the first half of the year. We started off with headaches (18 weeks of morning math in July???), got excited, bought some clip art, got  more excited, got unexcited when it didn't come together, got more headaches, got excited again, etc.  Like I said- learning curve.

I keep telling myself that if I get all of the kinks out now, it'll be so much easier when school starts =) Yeah, my cup is always half full. And I'm a dope!

Click the image above if you would like this freebie. It is week 2 of our unit.

We also have the first six weeks completed and uploaded to TpT.

Click on the image above if you would like to see it!

Now I'm off to make breakfast. I've had some nice family time in my house. It's rare when all three kids are here at the same time. You know, college kids. My niece (also a college kid) and mom were here yesterday and we had a great time laughing, making food, eating, watching movies, etc.
 I love summer time =) I hope everyone else is having a wonderful summer vacation!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

Freebie for First Day Jitters

Hello all!

I have been working on our back to school unit for First Day Jitters. Have you ever read this book? It has a surprise ending and is fantabulous! Tina and I began using it about 13 years ago. We absolutely love this story.

I wanted to recreate the different activities we have done over the years and put them into one unit. Well,  I am done!


This unit contains-
Vocabulary Cards
Story Map
Character Trait Map
Venn Diagram
2 Different Writing Prompts
Word Search
Making Words Activity
Acrostic Poem
Missing Poster
Advice Letter for Sarah
More suggested activities

If you are interested, just click on either image above=)

Freebie Activity- First Day Jitters Graph
This recording sheet will allow your class to record how everyone feels on the first day of school. They will tally every student's choice and then color in a bar graph.

 Just click on the image above for this freebie!!!! Hope you can use it =)

Friday, July 12, 2013

Classroom Website

Hi all! This is Lisa blogging today.

Last Saturday,  I read the post by Ladybug's Teacher Files,  "Using a Blog/Website for Parent Information Night." It is part of Kristen's Optimum Organization Linky Party that she is hosting with Elizabeth from Fun in Room 4B. I have loved reading these tips on organization this summer.

In her post, Kristen discusses using a class website/blog for parent night and throughout the year. This is genius. Am I the only person who has not thought of this? Seriously. I have a class website on Weebly. The only problem is parents cannot subscribe to it. Blogger is blocked in our district so I need to use Weebly. At my last parent night, I made magnets with my info. for the parents. I included my email but not the class website . What was I thinking!!!!

This year I will utilize my website differently. In the past, it was just to showcase what the kiddos were learning during the day. This year, I will use it for parent night and all year with homework information, the schedule, our calendar, etc. At the end of last year, my kiddos began blogging about their learning. We will continue that and the showcase too! Maybe parents will even bookmark the website .

Here is Kristen's button if you would like to visit her post.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Freebie- Parts of a Friendly Letter

Hi everyone! Today we have a freebie for you.

In our last post, we discussed how we teach the parts of a letter.Here is the song and the modified movements to go with it. If we can sing and dance as we teach, we are happy teachers.

Just click HERE  or on the image above to get this freebie!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Parts of a Letter

Hi everyone! Lisa here .

Today I wanted to post about writing letters. Not the letters in the alphabet but letters to people .

In my classroom, the kiddos write letters to everyone- me (about their reading), characters, authors, teachers, friends, etc. It used to drive me crazy when they would turn in their rough draft and it would be missing the date or the closing or the signature . I made anchor charts galore but some still would forget. I made a checklist, but they would still forget. What drove me completely bonkers was that they would forget on their final copy too!

Quite a few years ago, I found a friendly letter song on the internet. It goes to the tune of "The Adams Family". It is awesome and easy to remember. The kiddos put a copy of the song in their Reading Notebook. And when they forget on their rough drafts, I just hum the beginning of the song. They fix that puppy up lickedy split!

Last week I read Mrs. Laffin's Laughings post on friendly letters. She teaches her students to use movements. So cool!  Now we can sing and dance so this lesson just got kicked up a notch!

I did not create any part of this song and dance . I'm just sharing. If you want to see Mrs. Laffin's post just click HERE. This is the song- with the movements modified to go with the tune =)

5 Parts of a Letter (to the tune of "Adams Family")

The five parts of a letter     (hold up five fingers)
Are easy to remember       (point to your brain)
Heading                            (pat the top of your head)
Greeting                            (move your hand from your mouth outwards)
Body                                (wiggle your body from shoulders to hips)
Closing                             (pat your knees)
Signature                          (stomp each foot)

Parts of a letter                 (snap, snap)
Parts of a letter                 (snap, snap)
Parts of letter, parts of letter, parts of a letter    (snap, snap).

Later this week, I will post a freebie- this song!

Friday, July 5, 2013

About Tina

I am finally jumping in now that I have some free time this summer.  I have been busy babysitting my grandson and chauffering my son to baseball games and driver's ed.

This is will be my 21st year of teaching.  I taught fifth grade for one year and have been lucky enough to be in third for 19 years.  I began teaching in a dual language class.  I taught the English component of the curriculum for 7 years.  I loved it!  But I needed a change so I packed up and moved schools.  I was fortunate enough to get a third grade position at an AWESOME school where I met my very best friend, Lisa.  We have been together now for 13 years and we are inseparable.

Teaching is a family profession.  My husband, daughter, son-in-law, twin sister, 2 brother in-laws and a few nieces and nephews all teach.  You can imagine the discussions at holiday get-togethers.  I think my father started it all, he was a community college teacher for many years.

I am a very family oriented person.  Because most of my family members are teachers we spend a lot of time together during the holidays and summer.  I am a very lucky person!

Monday, July 1, 2013

To Homework or Not to Homework

Hola everyone! Yesterday I read Lindsay's post (My Life as a Third Grade Teacher) about homework. She brought up a hot topic in my grade level.

Every year I tackle this topic with Tina, the co-author of this blog. Do we want to give homework? And how much?

About 9 years ago, we changed the way we assign homework. We began giving weekly homework. It was sent home in the homework folder on Monday and  turned in on Friday. Over the years, our weekly homework has evolved. Now, we hand it out on Fridays and it is due the following Thursday. That way, the kiddos can get it done on the weekend if needed. Parents are grateful but we still have problems. Some kiddos don't have anyone to go over their work. Some kiddos don't have anyone making them do their homework. And some still don't complete their homework or even do it at all!

We give the students a reading passage with 4-6 questions (starts off at a second grade level at the beginning of the year), 2 review pages of math we have already learned, spelling words (they can use spelling city or practice in a number of ways), daily math fact card practice, and daily reading.
Inside of their homework folder, we clip in examples of how the homework should be done. For reading, we expect the students to underline where they found their answers and justify their answers. For math, we expect the students to show all of their work. Homework is always a review of what we have already practiced!

But I am sure we will ask this question in August- Do we want to assign homework this year?
It's a lot of work for us. It takes a lot of time to prepare. It takes a long time to check.
 We have a fun activity on Friday afternoons for those students that did complete their homework correctly. Like I said- lots of work.

How do you handle homework?