Saturday, May 26, 2012

Fraction Fanatic

So I know I've posted about fractions before, and the stations I used to work with the kids and develop the concept. 
But I feel the need to spend more time here.
Why? This conversation:
Student: "Oooo, I know one third is less than two twos because two twos are one whole!"
Me: "Two twos?" hoping the kid would see his error and say two halves
Student: "Oh, sorry. Two twoths."
However, I am celebrating that he knew two twoths make one whole. That's a pretty good start.
That's not the only reason I'm still writing about fractions. This time, we had to go a step (or several) further. We had to find equivalent fractions and compare them using pictures or models. I'm not sure why, but I kind of love finding equivalent fractions. Comparing them, though, is not fun. I'm not sure why this is such a difficult concept, when the kids are using models! But it always is, and I kind of hate it. 
First, we made an equivalent fractions foldable to identify the fractions equivalent to 1/2. 

*Found in my More Furry Friends Fractions Pack!
Could also be done with any other fraction to record equivalent fractions.

To force help myself to like comparing a little better, I came up with these stations and put together a Equivalent and Comparing Fractions Pack, with a theme that has been pretty popular: furry things. This is a long one, but it has pictures, which helps. And, as you are so very nice, there is a freebie waiting for you as well.
Cuisenaire Rods

At my Guided Reading table, I worked with students to identify fractional parts of different-sized wholes using Cuisenaire Rods. They're an interesting way to have conversations about half being half, and representing a relationship between the part and whole of something, regardless of the size of the object. However, some halves are larger than others, if they object is larger. 
In case you're interested in reading about cuisenaire rods, this page has some general information and some activities as well.

Comparing Fractions with Pictures
Students used this mat to compare fractions that were circles and rectangles. They moved the cardstock symbols on the brads to make =, >, and <. Then they recorded it on their recording sheets. *Found in my More Furry Friends Fractions Pack!

Comparing Written Fractions

At another station, students compared the written fractions using manipulatives. They had to build each fraction pair and compare. Then they recorded the fractions. *Found in my More Furry Friends Fractions Pack!

Comparing Fractions Task Cards

Students drew a card from the stack and built the two fractions described using their manipulatives. They recorded them and compared them. *Found in my More Furry Friends Fractions Pack!

Equivalent Fractions Memory Game
Students played memory with the cards (found on SuperTeacher Worksheets) and made matches of equivalent fractions. This is the only station they didn't have a recording sheet for.

Equivalent Fractions & Comparing Fractions in Textbook

And last but not least (except for possibly least exciting) was a page from the textbook. Students compared fractions and found equivalent fractions using their fraction manipulatives. 

Overall, students gained an understanding of comparing and equivalent fractions, but they're still developing in their mastery. Different-sized wholes are still confusing, so we're attacking that again tomorrow!

And if you liked some of these activities and want to do them with your own kids, grab the pack at TPT:

Freebie for you! Grab it at TPT!
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Friday, May 25, 2012

Juicy End of the Year Activity

Today my kids worked with their buddies to make their Watermelon Memory Book Craftivity. 
They had a blast. The third graders (my little people) helped the second graders and they wrote about things they did together this year, but you could write about any memories from the year. 

Remember when we made those little snowmen? You can read about it here. They turned out a little funky lol.

And, if you want to do this with your kids, you can get my craftivity at TPT! It's only $1.00 :)
Thanks for being a buddy :)

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Thursday, May 24, 2012

Summer Reading Log Freebie

All right, people. We're in it to win it. I still have 8 days. E.I.G.H.T. days left to make these kids smarter.

I don't know if I'll make it.
But the terrifying good thing is I'll have them again next year, when I loop up to fourth.

Ah, fourth. Comfort zone.

To encourage kids to read this summer (and not drop back to atrociously horrible reading levels that we have only just managed to escape with hours and hours of guided reading), we're going to have a fun summer reading program. I'm super excited. We haven't done this before! 

We're going to have a parent meeting next week and kids (five struggling readers from each class) are going to get a canvas bag to decorate for their summer reading books. We are loaning about 3 - 4 books for each student and providing them with a summer reading log (freebie below) and some fun activities to do with their parents. Then, in July, we're going to have a three-day half-day camp with fun activities for reading! I'm super super super excited. 

Here's the calendar reading log. Grab it for free at TPT.

And, if you like the reading log calendars, grab my Monthly Printable Calendar Pack for only 1.50 at TPT or 1.25 Teacher's Notebook! Great for calendar math, reading logs, behavior or homework records! I left the number dates off so you can use them year after year!

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Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Bad Idea

Law and Order SVU should come with a disclaimer. It should read, "Do not watch more than two episodes at a time. Watching entire seasons at once can prove harmful to your sanity."

I know this from personal experience. I have misguidedly watched more than three complete seasons of Law and Order SVU in the last three weeks. How is this possible? I watch them constantly. I play them while I clean, while I grade, while I plan, while I blog, while I stalk. (ew - stalk - bad choice of words) 

And this was a bad idea. 

I have had sleeping issues. I am thinking of filing a suit against the Law and Order people for disturbing my sanity. Every step of the cat is a masked man; every swish of the dishwasher is someone climbing in through a window. Every noise in my fifty year old house (which makes a lot of noises) is enough to cause me a mini heart attack. I've cried, I've been terrified, and overall, I've gone nuts. 

I should've known this would happen when a blog buddy commented, "Yes, one summer I watched all the Law and Order SVU seasons and I started carrying pepper spray."

Pepper Spray!

And I still kept watching. So now I'm a nutjob. 
I'm going to rewatch Sherlock instead. He solves crimes, too, but his deep, resonating voice and piercing stare distract me from my terror.
As does Martin Freeman. Cause he's just so huggable.

I haven't forgotten my promise. I am planning my 300+ giveaway, but I want it to be great, and that takes time, people, so stay tuned.
In the meantime, enter my Teacher's Notebook giveaway for my 
and follow me on facebook!

I also plan on Linking up with my Bucket List. The list has begun, but it is not completed.
The game is afoot!

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Tuesday, May 22, 2012

Cute Stuff in the Mail

What can be better?
Cute stuff in the mail is one of my favorites. It can be anything, as long as it's cute.
Today it was this cute thing:

Where did it come from? you ask.
Well, it came from Canine Closet, as the tag reads. They have tons of cute tags for your puppers.
I didn't buy it myself - even better - I won it in a linky party giveaway from Sandy at Soaring Through Second! 

Check out her party here
and check out the post about my little animals here.

I tried to take a picture of Lucy with her tag on, but all pictures of Lucy are action shots. This is as good as I could do.

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Saturday, May 19, 2012

Ms. B is on Facebook

Okay, I finally bit the bullet.
I mean, I have a personal facebook, but everybody seems to be setting up a facebook to talk about their blog and promote it.
But I think I felt like I would have one fan. Me. 

You notice I didn't say 'my mom.' That's because my mom doesn't really follow my blog. The first time I posted, I made her read it. She said, "I like it. You sound smart. If I had a kid in your class, I'd think you were smart. I'm impressed you can do that. I'm never going to read it again." 
I'm not exaggerating.

So I'm really putting myself out there. 
This translates to Please follow me on Facebook so I'm not my only Fan!

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Friday, May 18, 2012

Three Yays and Three Boos

This year has been a bit rough. I love my kiddos (90% of the time) but it has been a rough transition for them me us to move to third grade. I am spending some serious time thinking about next year. Guess why. Because my naughty little buddies are moving to fourth with me! I bounce back and forth between excitement about being back in fourth grade and terror at bringing my best buds with me. They are a lot of work and I have found patience that I didn't know I had.

Amber from Adventures of a Third Grade Teacher is hosting a great linky party. She's asking us to reflect a little on this year and blog about three things that were yay and three things that were boo. 

Here's my overall reflection: 

Some days I left work and thought, "YAY! I'm kickin' butt!" as I skipped to my car at 5:30, and some days I left work and thought, "Today kicked my butt! BOO!" and I crawled home, hanging my head dejectedly. 

These are some of the great things from my butt-kickin' days:

1. Guided Reading.
I kicked guided reading's butt this year. I was more consistent than I ever have been. I had kids reading at a kinder and first grade level and they've made lots of progress. We still have a lot of work to do, but we got a good start. You can see how I organize guided reading here.

2. Math Stations
I don't usually use stations. I generally work with a group of struggling students who needs a lot of support to work through content, and letting them loose too early causes real problems. They needed a lot of direct instruction. However, this year, I set up a variety of math stations to use in a specific way and I'm really happy with the way they turned out. I used them as a review after the content had been introduced and practiced until I thought kids were ready to help each other. They rotated through several stations in teams no larger than three (four = mayhem) and I stationed myself at the most difficult station and worked with students through the content. When I had special ed. support, I stationed that teacher at another station, and students had a nice teacher-student ratio.
This is a post I wrote about math stations for fractions:
Fraction Frenzy

3. Integration
I have a real problem when it comes to teaching all the standards in my grade. There are, like, eight thousand social studies standards and is hard to squeeze them all in to any real level of mastery. Why waste my time with fly-by instruction? So I integrate to give kids the multiple exposures they need. I blogged about one of these muy integrated units here: Erupting with Science, and Earth Day Every Day! In science, we were working with fast changes to the Earth's surface (earthquakes, volcanoes, tsunami, etc.), and I integrated it with expository writing, reading nonfiction articles about volcanoes, characteristics of poetry, and map skills. 

And now for the boos. 

Boo # 1.
Boystown. I need to do a WAY better job of this next year. I started out the year okay, but I didn't follow through on teaching all of the social skills, and boy, do my naughty babies need them. This summer I'm going to put together a proactive plan for rolling them out with time built into my schedule (I don't know when! There isn't really any extra time!) to introduce the skills and practice them. I also need to schedule time with the counselor to meet with some of my naughties on an individual basis consistently. Key word: consistent.

Boo # 2. 
This may seem a little redundant, but I need to be great about consistent positive consequences. I'm pretty decent about class-wide consequences that are positive (we earn time to work with our little buddies in other grades) but individual positive consequences are what my naughties need and what I need to be more consistent about. I started out with a sticker reward system, but I flaked out partway through the year. I've been pinning and hunting for great behavior ideas for individual stuff, because I tried the green-yellow-red thing and I'm not crazy about it.

And since I have a bee thing, everything will be bees and hives. Cause I'm a stickler for a theme.

I'm interested in filling buckets. 

Behavior Bingo. Maybe my naughties will like it.

Boo # 3.
Collaborating. I love my grade level. I've taught with some of them for years - nine, to be exact, and we work very well together! We share, we talk, and we help each other out. We were even fruit for Halloween.

I was a pineapple! My hunny called us Fruit of the Loom rejects. Aww. He's mean.
But being fruit for Halloween doesn't help you plan! LOL. We do share a lot, but I think we need a dedicated time to plan. It was difficult - all of us are on different campus teams, and we're called to work with them, work with parents, work with kids, but next year I really want to establish a specific, consistent time to meet to plan and share so we can really do some different, creative ways to meet our kids' needs.

So now it's your turn. Think about your Yays and Boos, and go link up at Adventures of a Third Grade Teacher!
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Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Earth Day Every Day

I feel like I pet a porcupine.

My fingers are full of stickers. I was pulling weeds from the front yard, and they had already gone to seed. And how do they protect their seeds? Stickers. Yowza.

Anyway, as I complain about the healthy weeds growing in my front yard, I would like to share with you our Earth Day writing.

WHAT?! Earth Day! That was a month ago!

Well, that's why my title is "Earth Day Every Day." Sheesh.

Anyway, we started our pieces in response to our school-wide April Picture Prompt back at the beginning of April, but we didn't get ours done until the week after Earth Day. For more information on our school-wide picture prompt and other initiatives, click here.
And then I had two kids who were absent
and I didn't want to take the picture with their writing missing!
So anyway, everything is on the wall now, and we're ready to share what we did.
This is the wall:

This is the article on the wall:
It's a Scholastic News about recycling shoes, which apparently is a thing now.

These are some of their writing pieces. 
I'll share our persuasive writing format as a template below.
These are some of the pieces the kids wrote in response to our monthly picture. The picture was a little girl (or maybe a boy from far away) who was walking in a green, green environment full of grass and trees. 
The kids wrote about persuading someone to do something good for the environment. They had to identify the action that people do now that is a problem, a couple of reasons that it was a problem, and what they wanted people to do about it.

Then, because it was the day after state testing and Ms. Beltran was depressed, they made these! They're from the Lesson Plan Diva and the kids thought they were so cool.
Grab it for free.


To grab the template for the persuasive writing plan, click here to get it from Google Docs.

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Monday, May 14, 2012

Teacher Appreciation Week

I am prefacing this (belatedly, so I guess I am epiloguing a time machine) with my link-up! I'm linking up with 3-6 Free Resources for Show Me Sunday (if you haven't been there, please, go to there, to quote Liz Lemon) and writing about Teacher Appreciation Week!

We received an email from our principal last week. This is a summary:

We know it's Teacher Appreciation Week. We would like to appreciate you this week, but everyone is too busy. Instead, we will appreciate you in three weeks. We'll have a luncheon. Find a parent to watch your kids while you eat.

Obviously, it was far more upbeat and punctuated with a whole lot of ! ! ! But I still think it's funny. We're too busy to appreciate you now, so we'll do it later. LOL This is my school exactly. 

Don't get me wrong. I really really do appreciate that we're going to be appreciated at all, and a luncheon is nice. Especially because they usually have the office staff put together door prizes and stuff :). At Christmas I won a jar of nuts, but I traded it for a cute Christmas-y thing. 

I know my kids appreciate me, but I had a few actually give me stuff this week. Don't lie. You know it's nice. I usually don't get gifts. Fourth graders don't give gifts as much as third graders, I guess. Of course, most of these came from teacher kids. Kids of teacher parents. 

This is how my kids appreciated me this week (even though my boss was too busy lol):

One sweetie pants gave me this:

A star necklace "Because you're a star teacher".  Awww.

A giant coffee cup! with owls! It holds, like, eight cups of coffee. Just enough to get me through the morning.

These cookies were Mrs. Fields! I had to teach Saturday School this weekend. We did fractions with the cookies. And what did we learn? The more people you share with, the smaller each piece. A valuable lesson. I ate about four cookies. I finally had to share them with my brothers, because they were dangerously delicious.

One little guy gave me this:

It's full of glue, glue sticks, pencils and Kleenex! His mom made it. She wrapped it all up in a cool way and put yellow ribbon around it with little bee stickers glued on. So thoughtful.

And perched on the very top was this precious little guy! At first I thought it was a changepurse, but it's a cute little nail kit!

Do my kids know me or what?

So to give back a little, we made these for Mother's Day:

I hot glued popsicle sticks together to make little picture frames. Then I busted out my Dollar Store puzzles and the kids went to town. A few found buttons and other doo-dahs in my craft box and glued those on as well. 

They turned out pretty adorable. I took a picture of each kid and glued it in - bada bing. Happy Mother's Day.

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