Sunday, May 14, 2017

Field Day Survival Guide

I am not a huge fan of Field Day.

There. I said it. I know I'm probably in the minority here, but it is not one of my favorite days. Yes, the kids have fun. Yes, they run around and get their energy out. BUT they also act nutty and don't listen and I lose my voice by the end of the day. Hmph.

So, just in case I'm not the only person who is a Field Day cranky pants, I came up with a Field Day Survival Guide for all of us.



Ok, ok...I know. Not possible. So, let's get real.



Tip #1: Get Comfy
Luckily for me, my principal is totally cool with us getting comfy. IF you can, make sure you have a floppy hat, your most awesome pair of sunglasses, and your comfiest pair of shoes. I prefer tennis shoes, but flip-flops seem like a good choice too.

Tip #2: Stay Hydrated
Even though it might be tempting to fill that water bottle with margaritas, that is probably not a good idea. Since you don't want to get fired, make sure you have a water bottle full of cold water. Staying hydrated makes me much less cranky AND saves my voice a little. (Don't get too carried away though, because you know you can't pee until Field Day is over.)

Tip #3: SUNSCREEN
This one is in ALL CAPS for a reason. It's because I always forget. Every. Single. Year. And then I am even more cranky because I'm hot, tired, no voice AND sunburned. Don't forget the sunscreen. And if you have Field Day for the WHOLE day, don't forget to reapply. Maybe twice, just in case.

Tip #4: Popsicles
Our PE teacher makes "Popsicles" a station. Because she is awesome. I used to feel a little guilty getting a popsicle, since I am NOT a 5th grader, but I've gotten over it. So, tip #4 is - get yourself a popsicle. Relish it.

Tip #5: Let It Go
This tip is the hardest for me. If you are anything like me as a teacher, I like it when it's quiet. When kids are working and learning and things are pretty under control. I'm not saying I don't like having fun - and we have plenty of it - but chaos is not my thing. Field Day feels like chaos. Over the years, it has stressed me out and freaked me out to the point of exhaustion at the end of every field day. So here's tip #5 - LET IT GO. (You can sing it, if you want to.)

Lauren is bonking Xavier on the head with a rogue pool noodle? Let it go.

Manuel cheated at kickball and never touched homeplate? Let it go.

No one knows the rules to the game in the gym so they are pretty much just running around like crazy people? Cover your ears and let it go.

Everyone is running amok and dumping water on each other's heads? Let. It. Go.

Once I realized that there is no point in trying to wrangle 25 5th graders who are intent on whacking each other senseless with a pool noodle, Field Day was a much better day. I decided it's a great day to talk to parents, play with younger siblings and just generally make sure no one punches anyone or gets seriously injured. (Side note: There is no crying on Field Day. This is an important rule for students AND me.)

Last, but not least...be prepared. We only have a half day for Field Day, so I always like to have something planned for the afternoon that keeps kiddos busy and lets them rest and relax. (Because they are tired, cranky and sunburned too...)

You can check out the activities I use to keep kids engaged after Field Day right {here}. Or click the pic below...


I hope everyone has a great, stress-free, not-too-hot, delicious popsicle, hydrated, no sunburn, no tears Field Day. If you have any great ideas to keep sane on Field Day, please leave them in the comments!

Monday, March 6, 2017

Using Sorts to Improve Sentence Writing


If you know me, you know that a good sort is one of my favorite instructional strategies. I actually think my grade level colleagues get sick of me saying, "Let's use a sort to start that lesson!"

BUT I really believe in the power of classifying to help students develop their ideas and hone their meta-cognitive skills. (If you haven't read Classroom Instruction That Works: Research Based Strategies for Increasing Student Achievement, I highly recommend it. This is an affiliate link!)

So when I realized a few of my students were struggling with writing complete sentences, I immediately thought a sort might help them identify what a run-on sentence is and then we could work on fixing it!

To do this activity, we used a set of cards with examples of complete sentences, run-on sentences and sentence fragments. (You can make your own, or you can grab the ones I used in this resource.)


Set Up
First up, I spread all the cards out on the table. Instead of telling my group the categories ahead of time, I asked them to read the cards and see if they noticed anything they might have in common. They took turns reading each card aloud. The kids noticed that there were some cards that were "missing something" and some cards that were missing punctuation. They weren't quite sure about the others.



Discussion and Naming Categories
After reading aloud each card and sharing what they noticed, I asked them to think about how they would group the cards. They settled on "missing something," "missing punctuation" and "not missing anything." As a group, they sorted all the cards into their chosen categories. Once they were finished, I helped them name the groups with the "proper" names for each: sentence fragments, run-on sentences and complete sentences.


Fixing Up Some Sentences
At this point in the lesson, I was able to tailor it slightly toward the specific students in my group. This group happened to be writing lots and lots of run-on sentences, so I chose to focus on that skill for the group. (Depending on your students you could focus on fragments at this stage or a little of both!) We chose one of the run-on sentences from the cards and I wrote it on my mini-whiteboard. The group discussed where the punctuation should go to make it "sound right," and then fixed it up.



We did two examples together and then I asked them to fix two with their partner. (In the resource, there is a page for practicing correcting fragments and run-ons that you could use!) Reading the run-ons aloud really helped them to hear where the punctuation was missing. They even created some compound sentences using conjunctions once they got the hang of it!

Independent or Partner Practice
On this particular day, we were writing a response to some articles and videos about our science unit on weather. I asked the group to go back to their writing, look for any run-on sentences and use what we just learned to fix them up. And luckily for me, Google drive saves any and all changes the students make, so I was easily able to see if they could apply their learning!

I noticed that this student was able to find some lengthy run-ons and add the correct punctuation! Certainly not perfect, but I was happy to see some transfer into their everyday writing.

Wrap Up
Since this lesson, several of the students in the group have reminded me about their learning and shown me how they are using their new skill in their writing! I'd call that a win!

If you are interested in using this resource in your own classroom, you can check it out on TpT! There is also a Back to School version if that suits your needs! Just click the pictures below.

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Sentence-Sort-Activity-Pack-Back-to-School-Theme-2700799?utm_source=craftofteaching.blogspot.com&utm_campaign=Winter%20Sentence%20Blog%20Posthttps://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Winter-Sentence-Activity-Pack-2281319?utm_source=craftofteaching.blogspot.com&utm_campaign=Sentence%20Sort%20Blog%20Post

Happy sorting and happy sentence making!

Friday, February 17, 2017

Things We LOVE Giveaway!

Did you have a nice Valentine's Day? Luckily for me, my 5th grade students decided to have "Electronics Day" instead of a traditional Valentine's Day party, which made the day a little more awesome!

Another awesome thing about Valentine's Day is this amazing giveaway that Kelly at An Apple for the Teacher has put together! We wanted to share some of the Things We LOVE for our classrooms and give YOU an opportunity to win them. Check out each awesome classroom supply below and then enter to WIN!



http://amzn.to/2lnDPGx
Mr. Sketch Markers, anyone? These are my favorite anchor chart markers, by far. They are bright, colorful and they smell great. (Except black. Licorice. BLECH.)

http://amzn.to/2kEt6TM
I refuse to grade unless I have my Flair pens. Actually, I just hate grading. But these pens are fun and that makes me happier when I am grading.

http://amzn.to/2lsrCAm
Does every teacher need his or her own laminator at home? Yes. Really?? Yes, really. It's for all those times when you want to laminate but don't want to stay at school until all hours of the night waiting for the the copy lady to leave and you can laminate all by yourself. You all know what I'm talking about.

http://amzn.to/2lsU71a
These dry erase pockets are such a versatile classroom tool! My kids all have one in their desks and we use them for math all the time. One of my favorites!

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What would dry erase pockets be without dry erase markers?? You can really never have too many of these around...I even have a secret stash since we

http://amzn.to/2kHFVgf
This is the BEST paper to print all the wonderful things I find on TpT. I especially love to print task cards and classroom decor! This is also a great way to save on color ink.

http://amzn.to/2kHwzRS
Best. Pencils. Ever. Enough said.

Last, but not least....who couldn't use $50 to clear out their shopping cart on Teachers Pay Teachers??

If this looks like a prize pack that you want to win, check out the giveaway details below and enter to win!



GIVEAWAY DETAILS:  
Prize: Things We LOVE prize pack including: Mr. Sketch Markers, Flair Markers, Personal Laminator, Dry Erase Pockets, Dry Erase Markers, Astrobrights Paper, Ticonderoga Pencils, and a $50 Teachers pay Teachers gift card.
Co-hosts:   An Apple for the Teacher
Rules: Use the Rafflecopter to enter. Giveaway ends 2/21/17 and is open worldwide.
Are you a Teacher Blogger or Teachers pay Teachers seller who wants to participate in giveaways like these to grow your store and social media?  Click here to find out how you can join our totally awesome group of bloggers!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Top Teacher Gifts and a Giveaway!

Whether you are a teacher, parent, or student, Christmas can be a tough time of year when you are looking for that perfect gift. Here are a few fun ideas for that special teacher in your life!

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https://s3.amazonaws.com/new-cardcash-images/images/merchants/barnesandnoble.jpg1. Books: Any additions to the classroom library are always welcome! Parents, you can always ask your child which book they would like to have in their classroom library and pick that one. Another great choice would be a Barnes and Noble or Amazon gift card. These help teacher round out that library with new and fun titles for the whole year!




Click to see full size image2. Personalized Notepads: If the teachers you know are anything like me, I love a cute set of stationery or an adorable notepad! Having extra notecards around the classroom is handy and helpful when you want to jot a quick note of praise or a thank you card. Personally, I think the notepads from Doodlebugs Paper are so adorable!




http://s7d1.scene7.com/is/image/officedepot/573020_p?$OD-Dynamic$&wid=450&hei=450 



3. Fun Post-Its: You can *literally* never have too many Post-Its. We use them for EVERYTHING and it doesn't hurt when they are in a fun shape!







4. Dry Erase Markers (the fun colors): In my classroom, I end up "loaning" all my pretty dry erase markers to students and pretty soon they are nowhere to be found. Your teacher friend would probably love to have a dry erase recharge in the middle of the year!





5. Stickers, Stickers and more Stickers! Cute stickers can always find a good use - from the top of papers to the bottom of a planner! I happen to think the little round ones are the best!




6. Target Giftcard: Any teacher will tell you, Target is the best place to get, well....anything!




https://images-na.ssl-images-amazon.com/images/I/51E6t49pzEL._SX258_BO1,204,203,200_.jpg


7. A Good Book: If you are looking to buy for a colleague, think about your favorite professional development book and give them a copy! Mathematical Mindsets by Jo Boaler has been a game changer for me.










8. Handmade Gifts: My absolute favorite gifts? The ones that students make. The love and care that students show in their gift making and gift giving always astounds me. And years later, these are the gifts that always bring a smile to my face and a great story to my lips.






9. Teachers Pay Teachers Gift Card: Who couldn't use some money to spend on TpT during the Cyber Sale this week? Make sure you enter the Rafflecopter at the end of this post to enter to win your own $10 to spend!


10. A Wishlisted Item: So many teachers have huge wishlists on TpT. Maybe you could find out something they have been wanting to grab on TpT and send it to them? Or you could share that $10 if you're the winner. The most wishlisted item in my store is linked up below! You can see how I use this daily routine in my classroom by clicking here.



Good luck on your holiday shopping this season! Don't forget to enter the Rafflecopter below and then hop to the next blog for another chance to win!



a Rafflecopter giveaway


Are you ready to keep hopping for more chances to win? Click the button below to visit Kovescence of the Mind!




Sunday, July 17, 2016

Oceans of Steals, Deals and Giveaways {Week 2}

Did you get a chance to participate in our Oceans of Steals, Deals and Giveaways last time? If not, no worries! You have a second chance. Week 2 is here and you are going to love some of the great deals you can snag during this week.


In this post, you can get a preview of what's happening all week long! 

Monday is another Monday Madness sale! Tons of dollar deals will be happening. Just search for #mondaymadness on Teachers Pay Teachers to see all of the awesome deals.

My #mondaymadness deal will be one of my favorite products! These Questions to Encourage Mathematical Thinking have been a great addition to my classroom. You can read my blog post about asking questions here. This resource will be just one dollar for all of Monday! 


Tuesday will be another 2 for Tuesday! If you are the kind of person that plans ahead, you won't want to miss this 2 for Tuesday. It's like Christmas in July! Two of my seasonal resources will be half off, and you won't have to worry about finding a great activity when winter rolls around. Restate the Question with CSIQ: Christmas Edition and my Winter Sentence Activity Pack will both be on sale for 50% off on Tuesday.


Wednesday is going to be wacky with some Flash Freebies! If you aren't already following me on Facebook, you might want to do that here. I will be announcing the flash freebies throughout the day over there!


Thursday will be an even better deal when you can get bundles at an even bigger discount! My 2D Shape Sort Bundle includes my 2 best selling products - the Quadrilaterals 2D Shape Sort and Triangles 2D Shape Sort. If you teach geometry concepts in 3rd-5th grade, this is a bundle that can add a lot to your instruction! On Thursday, the bundle will be on (even more) sale for $4.50! (That's going to save you $3.50 over buying both products separately!)


Last, but not least, is Free Stuff Friday!! You can enter this awesome giveaway by visiting our stores and giving us a follow. There will be SEVEN gift cards up for grabs! Check back on Friday to enter this awesome giveaway. :-)


Tons of bloggers and TpT sellers are participating in great week of deals, so hop on through to check them out!




Mathematical Mindsets Book Study - Week 2

Hey everyone! I'm a little late to the book study party this week, but I wanted to share some thoughts on chapter 2. I'm loving this book more and more, and I hope that you will get something out of what I share here!


I got busy reading chapter two while I was on a plane coming home from Orlando and it was the perfect way to end my 2 inspirational days at the TpT Conference. It solidified many of the things I had been thinking about and learning while I was there! LOVE it when so many things come together.

Chapter 2: The Power of Mistakes and Struggle

Chapter two focused on how vitally important mistakes are to the learning and growing process - and how our brains don't grow if we get everything right all the time. It also discussed the importance of helping students (and ourselves) to view mistakes differently, and how we can help students get there.

My Big Takeaway

When I was getting my masters, I remember discussing the power of struggle and the importance of letting kids struggle without jumping in to "rescue" them. This was a huge lightbulb for me at the time - I mean, I just wanted them all to be successful and I could totally help them do that! But letting students wrestle with problems and "get their hands dirty" really does help them grow, and this chapter reiterated that for me. Mistakes shouldn't be viewed as bad, but as ways that our brains are creating connections and growing. This new view on mistakes is going to be the forefront of my classroom this year - in all subject areas! 


I think the first part of that quote is what got me - "If we believe that we can learn.." I want every student to feel that they can, and especially in math!

3 Ideas to Bring This Chapter To Life

1. Change our message. In math, I think it's really easy for us as teachers to unintentionally focus more on correct answers vs. incorrect answer. In reality, we need to be giving kids the message that mistakes are important and they grow your brain! If students are consistently getting the message that they are failing, what incentive will they have to want to move forward? By changing this one message, students will know that their mistakes are helping them grow, not making them failures.

2. Keep it visible. So often, we start something in our classrooms and then things get crazy and we forget about it. But I don't think I can afford to go through that cycle with this. I think keeping our messages about mistakes at the forefront of our teaching will help remind students (and US!) about the power of mistakes. There were some great ideas in the book that I think I will try - like having students draw and write about their favorite messages about brain growth or having students identify their feelings about when they make a mistake and reflecting on how that makes them feel.

3. Let them struggle. This chapter did a great job of talking about students being in a state of "disequilibrium." This is the idea that when new information is presented and doesn't quite fit, that students have to find a way to make it fit into their mental model. The only way to reach a new state of equilibrium is to fit the new information that doesn't fit yet into the puzzle. Until they do, they are in a state of disequilibrium. I hadn't really thought about Jean Piaget for awhile (ahem - since college? - ahem) but his theory was that disequilibrium "leads to true wisdom." Even though students (and adults) are uncomfortable when they are in this state, it's the brain's opportunity to find new pathways and ways of putting pieces together that leads to new learning. If students are never in this state, they are not learning! We have to help students start to get comfortable with the struggle and let them know that if they aren't feeling a little bit uncomfortable, they aren't learning anything new.

Wrapping It Up

Chapter 2 really helped me get focused and challenged my thinking about how I approach mistakes in my classroom. Even though I believe that struggle is vital, I don't think I'm doing a good enough job helping students see mistakes as learning opportunities. I need to do a better job of this! Putting these practices into action is going to be a priority for me when school starts in August. 




How do you feel about this chapter? What does it look like when students make mistakes in your classroom? What do you think you might do differently to let kids struggle? Let's chat in the comments!

Thursday, July 7, 2016

Mathematical Mindset Books Study - Chapter One



Today is the first day of our collaborative online book study on Mathematical Mindsets by Jo Boaler. I am so excited to be reading this book and to hear/read what others are thinking!



Have you ever picked up a professional book and immediately started nodding your head at everything you were reading and/or furiously started scribbling sticky notes? That is exactly what happened when I began reading. I was even reading passages out loud to my husband while I was reading. (I'm sure I wasn't annoying him, AT ALL.)

I want to start out by saying that math is my THING. It wasn't always my THING but it is now. I can relate to so many things in this book simply because I feel like I have lived them myself! My mathematical journey hasn't been easy, but it has been rewarding and I'm glad that I get to share that with my students every year, and now with you! You can read a little bit about my math journey here.

Ok, let's get on to the book!!!

Chapter 1 - The Brain and Mathematical Learning

This chapter focuses mainly on giving a short overview - the author discusses new research about the brain, as well as gives a little heads up about what to expect in the upcoming chapters. She also talks about how we can use the new information scientists are learning to inform and change instruction for the better.

My Big Takeaway

I think what really struck me from this first chapter was damage that can be done when teachers and students have a fixed mindset about mathematics, BUT that when the right conditions exist - when we CREATE the right conditions - that our brains CAN change and grow. My favorite quote from this chapter:


This quote actually gets me a little teary-eyed. EVERYONE. This is the message I desperately want my students to hear every single day. "You can do it. You are a hard worker. I believe that you can learn this!" Even though many of the statistics quoted in the first chapter are pretty scary and sad (40% of students surveyed believed that intelligence was a gift - you either have it or you don't), I have hope that we can all do a better job of helping each and every student that walks through our door be successful in mathematics.

3 Ideas to Bring This Chapter To Life

1. Choose our words wisely. Students, especially girls according to the chapter, are looking to connect with their teachers. When we say things like "I was bad at math in school" or "I never liked math either" we are inadvertently giving them a pass on being a successful math student. Just being aware of our words could have a huge impact. We can also work on how we praise students - instead of telling them how smart they are, praise them for the hard work they put in. {More on this in future chapters!}

2. Be open to change. I think that the rest of this book will be eye-opening and I need to be ready for some big ideas to come my way. As teachers, we need to be open to thinking about things differently. We need to give up the idea that some kids are "wired" for math, while others just don't have "it," whatever that means. We might have to expand our thinking to new ways of doing business in our classrooms, and that means an open mind to new ideas.

3. Learn more about the brain. I found the research in this first chapter fascinating! I had no idea how our brains' plasticity worked. Boaler cited several studies where individual's brains were able to grow and change - even adults - when they were learning new things and creating new pathways in their brains. Check out this story about Cameron Mott for a pretty amazing look at how the brain can learn and develop new connections in order to grow.

Wrapping It Up

This chapter just barely scratched the surface! I can't wait to read more and learn strategies to be a better teacher for my students. I can't wait to help them discover everything that lies within them, just waiting to be tapped into! 




Have you read this book? What were your thoughts on the first chapter? Did you see something different? I'd love to chat about your thoughts in the comments!