Thursday, March 29, 2012

Fraction Frenzy *Freebie

Fractions? Still?
I know.

We're about to move on from fractions.

We've been in fractions overkill overtime.

I still have to finish up fractions on a number line and measuring to 1/4 and 1/2 inch.

Oh, we'll be back. We'll be back to compare them and make some equivalent fractions.

But not yet.

These are some of the activities we did this week to work with fractions.

Pizza Fractions
I didn't have enough of the right colors of construction paper handy, so I had the kids color the pieces. (FYI, construction paper copies are obviously WAY faster and I really wish I'd had the construction paper lol). But they colored away for a while, and then we used the pizzas for my pizza fractions task cards. Kids had to use the toppings like manipulatives to build different fractions on the pizza.

Then they made their own fraction pizzas and identified the fraction for each topping. (2/8 mushroom, 1/8 peppers, 2/8 pepperioni, 2/8 olives, 1/8 onion)

Fractional Parts of Shapes using Pattern Blocks
At my guided reading table, I worked with groups of students to identify fractional parts of pattern blocks. Students had to use the pattern blocks to fill the shapes, and then identify the fraction of each one.

At the front of the room students used fraction pictures, names, and numbers from my Furry Friends Fractions Pack (on sale at TPT and Teacher's Notebook) to play a matching game. 

In another part of the room (the nonfiction nook) students read Hershey's Fraction Book and used the manipulatives below to build the various fractions.

Grab the manipulative pieces free at TPT.

Pick up the Pizza Fractions Craftivity Pack (includes craftivity pieces and instructions, 12 task cards, recording sheet, and bonus comparing fractions with like denominators sheet) at TPT or Teacher's Notebook!

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Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Fractions Foldable Freebie!

Awww, look at my title. I heart alliteration.

It's nice to know we all feel similarly about testing. 
The word to describe the feeling shall not be written here, but you know what it is. (There are actually more than one. I think George Carlin said seven)

We have been working away with identifying fractions and applying that in different contexts. Yesterday, we worked with fractional parts of a dollar, and since we made this simple foldable, I decided to link up with for Corkboard Connections her foldable linky party!

We took a piece of green construction paper and cut it in half. Each student had two pieces. Then we made it into a flap book and added the outside labels. I included half-dollars, quarters, and dimes.

On the inside, we cut between the coins to make flaps. For the quarter, for example, there were four flaps; one for each quarter.

We wrote the fractional part of a dollar that each coin represented, identified the value in cents, and named the coin.

We put it into the fractions section of our math notebooks. On the output side, we added a few statements identifying the fractional parts various coins represent.
Grab the this instruction page and the labels from TPT or Teacher's Notebook for free!

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Monday, March 26, 2012

Testing Blues

Just a mini-post to say good luck to fourth and fifth graders in Texas on the STAAR!
No one knows exactly what it will look like.
No one knows exactly how hard it will be.
No one knows what the passing rate required is.
No one knows because the people who make it are creeps.

But, all that mess aside, good luck Texas teachers! 
I hope tomorrow (and the next day) aren't too too too terrible and that your students surprise a good way :)

I'm going to put together a little cookie treat for our fourth grade teachers (I taught fourth grade for years and know how ugly it is to watch kids take the writing test) and add on a little poem. I'm thinking,

"Hip hip hooray! Today is your day!
Your kids are all writing! They're on their way!

I know that it's stressful
to watch your kids stress
so just eat a cookie
and hope they do their best!"

I dunno. Maybe I'll change it. But so far, that's the plan.

My kids are taking a practice STAAR (amazing that we put one together, given that TEA has released all of 13 questions in math and about 15 in reading) tomorrow and the next day. So I am prepared to spend hours on end crying and drowning myself in margaritas. After school, of course.

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Sunday, March 25, 2012

Erupting with Science! *Freebies! And Winners!

First of all,


These are the three lovely winners of my 200 follower giveaway!
Natalie from Teacher Tidbits with comment #12
Staci from Let's Teach Something with comment #33
Misty from Think, Wonder, and Teach with comment #48

I'll be emailing you ladies so you can choose any two items from my TPT store! 

And on to the new news. 
This is the post I've been promising for, like, a month. Our fast changes to the earth unit took forever. This is because I don't know how to keep things simple. I group as many millions of standards as possible together and teach stuff into the ground. You're gonna learn the heck about volcanoes! Until forever.

So these are some of the things we did. At the bottom of this post is the product where you can do many of these activities, too, including the writing pieces, and a freebie! So stay tuned, at least till the bottom of the page.

We started off by watching (of course) a Brain Pop and using the basic information there to identify the causes of changes to Earth's surface. Plate tectonics. The kids had some background knowledge from when they did their whole continents hoopla (you can read about that here), so they at least remembered the terms "continental drift" and "tectonic plates" and "Pangea".

Then we introduced some of the changes that these shifting plates can cause and recorded them on a foldable about volcanoes, earthquakes, and landslides. This foldable is included in the pack below.

We read several articles about volcanoes, including this one about Pompeii. We practiced identifying important ideas and using context clues.

Then I thought, "Hey! I have to teach all these poetry standards. Why not do it in a poem about..." you guessed it. Volcanoes!!

So we read a poem from a Safari reader called "Lava and Ash." we used it to identify stanza, rhyme pattern, rhythm, meter, and poetic language.

We made a poster of all of that here:

We labeled the different characteristics of a poem and identified the main ideas of each stanza.

This is our figurative language foldable. On the outside, there are lines from the poem.

On the inside, we used specific language to talk about
why the poet chose to do different things with language.

I didn't include the poetry stuff in the pack, because I didn't think I could use the poem! obviously - I didn't write it, lol.

nope, still not done yet. never gonna be done with these darn volcanoes and stuff
we did a TON of activities with earthquake and landslide vocabulary and causes and effects. You can see these here, where we glued them onto posters.

Each one includes the title, diagram of a volcano (see freebie below!) most devastating earthquakes chart (included in pack), causes and effects of landslides (a different version is in the pack) earthquake vocabulary foldable (included in pack) and types of volcanoes foldable (a different version of this is included in the pack; it's a chart instead of a foldable).

Earthquake vocabulary foldable

Types of volcanoes foldable

Not done yet! I still had to stretch it into a three-week-long writing project! So, here's what we did. We started out by charting the positive and negative language used to describe volcanoes. This is what we noticed through our wide reading and video watching.
 Then students had to decide: do volcanoes save the world or destroy the world? We planned out our writing using this graphic organizer
This is also included in the Science Pack at TPT or Teacher's Notebook.
After we planned, I noticed some students were having difficulty staying focused within their paragraphs. Some of their paragraphs were also redundant, or repeated. So I had them cut and glue to reorganize based on main ideas. It helped. 
This is what that looked like:

First draft writing is never pretty. We cut a sentence at a time and marked their main ideas in a color so they could make sure they were connected.

They drafted, revised again, using STAR revision (see post here) and edited.

Then we published! This writing project is all included in my Science Pack.
After that, I had my lovely intern stick it all up on the wall in the hallway with the creative *sarcastic* title "Volcano World" that I came up with. Let's just say that by then, I was kind of done.

She did, however, make it more creative than I would have by making the letters look all lava-y. I can only imagine how much time that took.

The kids had a blast 
no pun intended
well, yeah, I guess it was a little intended
once I realized it was a pun
and you can do a lot of these activities, too! 
Just grab my Fast Changes to the Earth Science Pack at TPT or Teacher's Notebook!

At least grab the freebies at TPT. Both pages are part of the same document. Leave me some love, here or there!

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Saturday, March 24, 2012


Hey! I just noticed this is my 100th post! WOW!

I wonder how long it will take me to finish this very large bottle of wine
I buy double sized bottles of white zinfandel. I'm gonna drink it, anyway.
with this very tiny glass.
I'm at my hunny's house and he broke his normal sized wine glass. All that're left are the glasses from the wine fest. tiny.
Unfortunately, I think I'm gonna find out how long, because I'm well on tiny glass # 3. And I fill it 

We had Saturday school today. Not a bad morning, considering we're there cause we're terrified the kids are going to fail the test. 
What made it easier?
Some of my most struggling students didn't even show up.
Isn't that awful?! I called moms but still, no-show. So instead of making a difference for those two kids today, I was actually able to make a difference for some others. 

We worked on identifying the meaning of unknown words. All morning.
We're doing a rotation between the four monolingual third grade teachers. It helps us actually prepare well for one thing. We have each group of kids for about forty minutes before we send them to the next teacher. These are the four groups:
*word study (me!)
*reading comprehension strategies
*math skills review
*problem solving

It is nice to not have to plan everything.

Ok, so I just went into an angry rant about The Test and Teacher Quality and then I deleted it. That's not what I'm here for today, I guess. Also, I have to go to the bathroom
did I mention the wine
and I'll end up sitting here for a WHILE if I start to talk about The Test. 

All I'll say is
1. our Fourth and Fifth graders test next week.
2. We (third) test in April.
3. Fourth and Fifth also test in April. Again.
4. I hate it.
Today, the hunnybun and I took his parents to see La Case de mi Padre; the new Will Ferrel movie.
It was funny. And it was one of the few times we could all actually enjoy something. See, Fernie's parents speak Spanish. Almost exclusively. They have slightly more English than I have Spanish, which isn't much. My English is really exclusive. I can understand some Spanish, but not much to have any kind of intelligent (or even ignorant) conversation. 

So to see a Will Ferrel movie in Spanish with subtitles in English was kind of great. We all laughed a lot. Sometimes, we were laughing at different things, I think. 

And it's never fun to see Will Ferrel's bottom fill up a big screen with your hunny-in-laws sitting next to you. But other than that, we had a good time. And ate lots of popcorn. Which was funny to see because Fernie's mom is only, like, 4 feet. Maybe. But she can shovel it in, boy.

Hey! Guess what my hunny said when he read my Channing Tatum post! He said, "So, I have something to talk to you about," in his DAD voice. Then he said, "Channing? Tatum? Really? That's what I get for letting you girls go by yourself," and I laughed and he said, "Hmmph," and I said, "What?" and it was over. So we're good.

It's not too late to enter my giveaway - I will draw (lol, not exactly) a winner at midnight tonight (again, not exactly cause I'll be sleepy sleeperson at midnight. I'm old.) But totally get to it, cause if you win, you get to choose ANY TWO units from my TPT store! So yeah! Go for it!

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Friday, March 23, 2012

Sigh. *3D Shapes Freebie

This is a weird post. Hodgepodge.
Some gems from my classroom this week.

During our conversation about new students
Teacher: We're going to have a new student tomorrow, so I want to remind you to be kind and welcoming! It's scary starting at a new school! Help her out at PE and lunch, especially.
Kid 1: Yeah. Like, at my church, they say, "Don't scare away the new people!"
Teacher: Yup. But be extra extra nice, cause even if she's scared, she can't leave, cause this is school.
Kid #2: Yeah! cheerfully School is kind of like a learning dungeon!
During Math
Kid: So, estimate is kind of like a math-y word for predict?
During Reading Tutoring
Teacher: So read the words on your cards and sort them by suffix. 
Kid: Mine says cigarless.
Teacher: Cigar-less? Like, without a cigar?
Kid: I guess.
I took a look at the card. 
During Science
Teacher: What do you guys want to know about the solar system?
Kid: How do people get around Neptune's rings?
Ummmm.... do I need to clarify this? Why it bothered me, that is?
Which people?
Why are they there?
What are they doing?
Why do they have to go around the rings?

This left me very confused.

Don't forget my giveaway that ends Sunday! Click the image to enter!

And link up with the 3am Teacher for your own March giveaways, OR check it out to find out about awesome giveaways in March!

And check out my newest product with Ginger Snaps cute clipart!

Grab it at TPT!

And grab this superfun freebie: building marshmallow toothpick models of 3D shapes!
Grab it at TPT!

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Wednesday, March 21, 2012

Anchor Chart Linky Party! *Freebie Repost

I haven't had too much time to stalk blogs lately.

between you and me, I'm running up on a little burnout and I have to save my energy for my little beasties who need me to be excited all day long
But I did want to take a few minutes to link up with Ladybug's Teacher Files for her Anchor Chart Linky Party!

So I took some pictures at school.

Needless to say, I'm embarrassed. 
My charts are never cute. 

I'm just not good at cute charts! Cause I whip em up super fast as needed, and we share to put them together, and I'm not cute in the moment. I'm only cute if I've planned to be.
Cute takes planning.

These are some of our charts that have been up all year (and will remain!)

I introduced this during reader's workshop, but this chart is on our Writer's Wall. I use it for reading and writing interchangeably. If students can understand the structure of fiction, it's easier for them to read it and write it. We reference this chart frequently.

Our comprehension strategies chart is behind my Guided Reading table. The left column is what is going on in your brain, and on the right is the way to verbalize it, in speaking and in writing. It's really helped my students talk and write about their thinking.

This is a simple summary structure that I have my students use to write summaries of fiction. It's not perfect, but they really struggled with writing a decent summary at the beginning of the year, and this helped them get into a summarizing groove. All of our summaries follow this structure. 
__main character__ is a ____ who __character trait that drives the problem__. Then, __problem__. Finally, __solution__. They write a summary of their independent reading daily.

These are our expectations for independent reading. We repeat them every day before we start. 

This is a veeerrry basic way that I introduced fluency. We practice this with weekly poems.

In math, I really want students to understand some basic actions that represent operations. Operations are just mathematical ways of representing actions. 

If we're combining different amounts, we're adding.
If we're taking away an amount, looking for a missing part, or comparing, we're subtracting.
If we're taking away the same amount repeatedly, we're dividing,
and if we're combining the same amount over and over, we're multiplying. 

We have specific motions to represent each action and use our hands to act them out. I try to keep language and actions consistent.

At the beginning of the year, students seemed to think that I was a magician, performing magic, and they were watching for enjoyment, but not really required to do anything. 

This was terrifically frustrating, and kids don't learn from watching - they learn from doing!
So we charted a few things for them to do to help themselves. When someone was staring blankly, I referred them to the chart to remind them of ways they could help themselves. I would only help them after they tried something on their own first.

It's so neat to see how people chart things - head over to Ladybug's Teacher Files and link up!

Oh, and in case you'd like a copy of the Problem Solving Song (the one taped to the corner of the Math Actions chart,) I put it up on TPT here as a freebie. It's not pretty or fancy, but the song is there, to the tune of "Found a Peanut". 

I also put up my Easter Vowel Sorts: a vowel sort activity for a,e,i,o, and u, with recording sheets. Great for file folder games or centers.

Grab it at TPT or Teacher's Notebook.

And don't forget about my 200+ follower giveaway! Check it out to win.

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