Friday, August 31, 2012

Scoot! Renaming Numbers

I just stumbled on the game Scoot the other day and can't believe I'd never heard of such a quick, easy, and fun review game! Apparently, it's been all over the Internet for ages. How did I miss it? Oh well, I know now! It's very easy to play, and I've created a version for you to use to review or preview place value relationships below.

If you've never heard of Scoot, here's how you play:
  1. Give each child a recording sheet. They will keep their sheet and pencil with them during the game.
  2. Place a task card face down at each person's seat. 
  3. When you say "Go." students turn over the card at their seat and write the answer on the appropriate square of their recording sheet.
  4. When you say "Scoot!" students move to the next seat (cards stay--kids move) and do the next problem.
  5. At the end of the game, review answers.
Since I know we have a tough lesson Monday (renaming thousands as hundreds) I wanted to build my students' number sense and sort of preview the concept, so I made this game:

Click here for a copy.

My kids really enjoyed playing this game today and it seemed to help them understand renaming numbers a little more than they did before. That should really help next week when we do numerical representations and larger numbers. I hope you enjoy it!

This game correlates with Common Core standards 4.NBT.1, 5.NBT.1 and 2.NBT.1. You can find this game and other great Common Core lessons on these blogs:
Common Core Classrooms  Common Core Kids

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Race to 100 Place Value Game

Looking for a great way to practice regrouping ones, tens, and hundreds? Here's a fun and easy game that only requires a die and some base ten blocks. If you've read some of my math posts you know that my district has adopted a new math series this year. I think its going to be really great once the students (and we teachers) become accustomed to the program and learn how it all works, but for now I'm having to really back up and teach some prerequisite skills so that my kiddos can be successful in our new program. Enter the Race to 100 game:
Friendly reminder-Go to File and Download your copy.

All you need is a die and some base ten blocks. Players take turns rolling the die and collecting the number of cubes represented on the die. As soon as a player is able, he exchanges 10 cubes for a long. The first one to exchange 10 longs for a flat is the winner!

If you want a variation, I've also included instructions for Race to 1000! For an additional level of difficulty, add a die and have students collect two-digit values. For example, if they roll a 4 and a 5, they'd collect 4 longs and 5 cubes...or 5 longs and 4 cubes if they're thinking strategically. 

I don't think this is a "new" game. I read something similar in a book I borrowed, and adapted it to fit my needs. I hope you enjoy it!

Parts of this post are also featured on these blogs:
Common Core Kids  Common Core Classrooms

Friday, August 24, 2012

First Week Whirlwind

What a great first week of school! I've sooooo enjoyed getting to know my new kiddos and starting a brand new year. My brain is in such a whirlwind right now that I don't even know if I could string together more than two or three coherent sentences, but here's a breakdown: (Remember the song in Home Alone when everyone's rushing around? Yeah, that's my theme song this week).
smiling faces
eager learners
first day pictures
new math program
hallway procedures
AR testing
order faculty shirt---Where's my checkbook?!
out for recess
computer lab
lost my phone (found in purse)
name art
stolen items--yes, already :(
kiddos love the ActivExpressions
board marker missing
forgot to eat snack
finally finished PD plan
making copies
writing receipts
calendar math
desk piled high
"Have a great weekend!"
leaning on coworkers
Thursday night HS football...
totally skipped science today
lesson plans done!

Can you relate? Sometimes it can be pretty crazy, but I couldn't imagine doing anything else. Teaching is my passion and my calling. 

Sunday, August 19, 2012

A Teacher That Cares

Image Source

Last Friday I got a shock as I drove upon a wreck on my way to lunch with a coworker. As I got close enough to see the vehicle and the person standing there, I saw that it was my 16 year old son! Praise God, he wasn't hurt in any way, even though he flipped his vehicle. I held it together, grateful to God that he was okay.

Of course, my family and friends were concerned and have come by, texted/facebooked, or called to check on us, but today I got a heart warming surprise---from Kyle's band director! He called my cell, not once, but twice just to check on Kyle. I've always known that he cared about the students. (Anyone who does the job as well as this man has GOT to love it!) But the fact that he took the time to place a call and check on my son  meant a lot to me. It really reminded me of how much he cares, and made me think about how we, as teachers, should take that small amount of time to let our parents know that we really do love and care about their children.

One of my prayers this school year is that my parents and students will know how much I love them and care about them. I hope that I will find ways to show them, just as Kyle's band director did today. What a fine example that I hope to emulate this year. As I write this, I keep hearing that old adage in my head:

"People don't care how much you know until they know how much you care."

Friday, August 10, 2012

Classroom Reveal, Part 2

My room is done! Well, as done as a classroom ever is, anyway :) I still have some pockets to make, and am waiting on my new math manipulatives to come in so I can organize them, but other than that my room is clean, decorated, and organized. Here's my favorite shot:

Have a look around at the rest of the room:

Now that I'm done with the physical space, I can get started on the planning.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

DIY Chair Pockets!

If you give a teacher a table, she's going to want to find some chairs.Once she finds the chairs (from a friend across the hall), she'll start thinking about organizing student supplies. Thinking of student supplies will lead to various storage ideas...such as chair pockets. And she'll just have to make a class set! Measuring, cutting, and sewing the chair pockets causes dear teacher to be exhausted... and need to rest her head. Looking for a clear area to lay her head down, the teacher thinks, "Gee, I really need a table!"

Here's how I went from this:
Yes, there are two sewing machines here...Trust me, you don't want to know. I'll just say, "Thank goodness for my sweet MawMaw!"

 To this:
Looks funny on my sun room chair, but really great on my classroom chairs!

Before I go any further, let me say that the only part of this idea that is mine is that I wanted chair pockets! My good friend, Charlotte, came up with this awesome DIY and just showed me how to do it! I'm sure she won't mind me sharing it with you:

There's a little bit of sewing involved--4 straight seams. If you don't sew, maybe hot glue would work. I've hot glued curtains before, why not chair pockets? Here's what you'll need:

  • Sturdy fabric-We (Charlotte and I) used window shade fabric from Hobby Lobby. Its vinyl so we're hoping it will hold up pretty well. We'll soon find out. 
  • Quilt Binding (Double Fold Bias Tape)
  • A working sewing machine! (Or hot glue gun, I suppose)
  • All the usual sewing utensils: scissors, thread, measuring tape, PATIENCE. Okay, that last one was just for me.
And here are the steps:
Measure your chairs. I have different kinds, and each one had different measurements. I'd highly recommend making ONE chair pocket and trying it on your chair before doing any more. My cut measurements wound up being 31" by 16" for my red chairs and 31" by 18" for my green chairs. 

Sew the quilt binding along the short edges of your fabric:

Fold your chair pocket to the desired length in front and in back. You can use actual measurements for this, or just play around with it until you get it the way you want. 

Pin your quilt binding to each edge. This will hold it in place as you sew. 

Sew the edges, and you're done! Again, let me say that I had nothing to do with the planning of this project. It all came from Charlotte. I'm just glad she was willing to share! And I really like the way they turned out. I never, ever, in a million years would have thought to use quilt binding on the edges, but I think that just really makes the whole project! What do you think?

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Classroom Reveal: Part 1

Well, my classroom is almost done! Whew! Thanks to all of you who posted ideas on what to do about my group table dysfunction. I decided to fix it by adding a table or two. (No I'm not crazy). I've been hoping to make the switch from desks to tables, but chairs are at a premium at my school. Here's my compromise:
This is the view from the front of my room, looking towards the back. I (and when I say I, I mean hubby) took out twelve desks and we moved that table from the front of the room. I also added one. 

Here's a view from the side of the room, sort of looking towards the front corner. See the round table? I plan to lower it a little and make crate seats to use during small group. You can see the shelf with the manipulatives on it, too, within easy reach. Yay!

Here's that front area where my table used to be. Thanks to the carpet (which we salvaged after redoing my son's bedroom), I'll have a great meeting area that the whole group can fit into. Here's a better view of that corner area. It's hard to see my CRAFT board in this pic because of the lighting.
So, that's round one, folks! I hope to finish everything up within a few days and I'll post the completed classroom pictures with several close-ups. What do you think so far?

Monday, August 6, 2012

Small Group Table?

It's crunch time (T minus fourteen days and counting) and I need some advice from my bloggy friends! Here's the issue: 
See that table in the left corner? That's my small group table. As you can see, it is scrunched into that tiny space beside my closet doors. There is a book shelf behind it that houses math and reading manipulatives. 

The problems:
  • It doesn't work. When all of my kiddies and I are there, its difficult to get to the manips. Or have enough room for books/supplies. Or move. 
  • There is not another place I can find to put it in my classroom. I have connected desks, and they take up tons of space. The only other places are in front of shelves, built in cabinetry or high traffic areas. (Middle of the room?!)
  • Please forgive the blurry picture, but here's a shot of the back of the room:

  • Get rid of the table and meet with groups on the floor, at my Jack's booth, or at desk groups...?
  • Keep the table and make crate seats so there's a LITTLE more room to move...?
  • Suggestions, please!
What do you think, bloggy friends? Do you meet with small groups in places other than the 'small group table'? Does it work? Any suggestions would be helpful!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Mission Organization: Science Materials

Whew! I just spent two days finally getting my science materials organized in a usable way! I went from this (cue sad face and slightly higher heart rate):

to this: (cue AWESOME music)...

I just got a little tired of KNOWING I had (insert various items here) and not being able to find them because they're in the "Chapter 1" bag of tub 1. Talk about frustrating! Plus, I am not one of those people who can go right to the pile they left something under and miraculously find it...I'm the kind that if the peanut butter which is supposed to on the middle shelf of the pantry is moved to another shelf---there's no peanut butter! Don't judge. It's why I must be organized. I can't even remember where I set my coffee cup! (Thank goodness for my observant little kiddos!)

Anywho...if you'd like to know how I accomplished this organizational goodness, here goes:

  1. Pilfer left over crayon boxes from a friend down the hall who doesn't want/need them for your small items. (At least that's how I got mine). Get bunches of clear shoe boxes for the larger items.
  2. Dig in! One tub at a time, I started pulling things out and placing like items together. I didn't always know if my stuff would end up in a small or large container until everything was out, so a few things I had to rearrange.
  3. Download Ladybug's awesome basket labels. Here's where it gets fun.
  4. Notice how I have green boxes in the front? The green is for life science stuff. There are black behind them with items that don't really fit in a category, and pinkish red behind them for physical science. They're this way because this is the order in which I teach them. The large white boxes are done the same way. Each label's text is color-coded as well. You might be able to see them here:
I used the font Smiley Monster. Each word has a white outline and the fill is based on which unit the item belongs in (Example: Seeds label has green filled text to go with life science). You might want to save your document as a PDF. This may make it easier to print.

5. Print your labels. I used full sheet label pages and cut each label out. For the labels on the white boxes, I told my printer to print two pages on one sheet, so the result was 4 labels on one sheet. For the smaller ones I told my printer to print 4 pages on one sheet, so the result was 8 small labels on each sheet. 

6. Cut out, affix, and place your containers where you want them! You're done!

I gotta tell you--I am sooooo excited this! No more hunting for things, giving up, and going next door to see if my coworker can find hers :) Want more great organizational goodness? I'm linking up with Asheigh at One Extra Degree for her linky party. Come check it out!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Guided Math: Putting it Into Practice

Better late than never, I guess! I'm finally posting on Chapter 9 of the book study (12 days late). Why so late, you ask? Well...our system recently purchased a new math curriculum and we just had our training today. I didn't realistically think I could make any plans for putting GM into practice until I had an idea of how our program would run. All through this book study I've been *hoping* I'd be able to implement some of the things I've been learning with our new curriculum, and I'm happy to say I will!

We've adopted Go Math! and the structure of the program pretty much follows the GM format using whole group and small group. Here's a rough outline of what I'd like to implement next year:


  • Calendar Math (not included in GM, but I'm hoping to pull something together from all the great resources I've stalked found this summer!)
  • Fact Practice: (Using sheets and manips/games I've accumulated) I've just really seen in my experience that about 5 minutes of practice each day is a must, especially multiplication and division in fourth grade.
  • Check last night's homework: My grade level coworker and I plan to do this differently every day. Some days we'll check the whole paper and give kids a treat for getting x% correct. Some days we'll just check a few problems. With this program they'll all be the same skill as opposed to Saxon's 30 different skills in each lesson, so we can get away with it. Some days, we'll just check to see whether it's done...Kiddos won't ever know which day is which. We like to change things up like that to keep it interesting and keep them on their toes.
During Lesson: 
  • Short Whole group minilesson: Go Math is designed for this, but I'm really going to have to practice to make it "mini." We'll see :) After the mini-lesson comes independent practice and formative assessment. There are two problems in each day's lesson already built in for formative assessment.While students work I'll go around and check those two problems. And here's an awesome tip I got from our presenter today:
    • Carry a purple, green, and orange pen or highlighter with you when checking. If a kid gets both problems correct, give a purple check. If he misses only one, give a green check. If he misses both, give an orange check--now your groups are made! How awesome is that?! 
  • At this point I'll pull small groups and follow the lesson plans prescribed in the program (at least until I know a little more about what I'm doing). I LOVE that the groups are truly fluid and flexible! 
  • I also plan to conference with individuals during this time. 
  • While I'm meeting with groups and/or conferencing, the other kids are: finishing independent problems or beginning homework page, doing center activities, reading math readers, playing math games, or doing something on the computer related to the lesson.
After Lesson:
  • Journals: I plan on incorporating our math journal here. There's a prompt at the end of each lesson and I may use it until I build a database of other prompts. 
  • Whole group meeting: I envision this as the time for students to share what they've learned or what they have questions about and what strategies they've used that day. 
Well, that's the plan anyway. I know that when I dig in and get my hands dirty I'll have to adjust, especially once I get the curriculum under my belt. Sorry this post was so late! If you'd like to read more about implementing Guided Math, check out some of these great posts and the bloggers who linked up:

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