Thursday, August 18, 2011

Many, many thanks! And good news to share!

I know I have been MIA...but getting ready for this school year has been chaotic {as well as trying to enjoy the last few days of summer!}. I first wanted to thank all of you - in my absence my follower count has EXPLODED and I have now passed 300!! To celebrate {and apologize for my absence/ lack of creating a store} I am sharing my "where are we" poster. I have had so many requests for it and it seems to be the perfect freebie! I also wanted to share some excellent news! My donors choose project was funded! Whoooppee! It was my first time to post a project and it was super simple to do {I encourage all of you to write one!} I am so thankful for generous people who are willing to give towards the education of children! With that said - I hope you have a terrific start of the year!!! I have meet the teacher on Friday and classes begin on Monday. I will do my best to post pics of my classroom this weekend {its turning out AWESOME!!!} as well as pictures of the computer lab that I've redone! Til then...........

CRwhere Are We Poster

Monday, August 8, 2011

Organizing Word Sorts

Word Sort

This year our district is getting a new spelling adoption. Word sorts are a big part of the book {which I love!!} The sorts are differentiated and have 3 different levels for each unit. This summer I printed all of the sorts on color paper, laminated them and cut them out so I am ready to go for the year. At a GT training that I attended, they said when you differentiate lessons, you want the lessons to look the same for everyone - so that no one knows that another student is doing something different. So I printed the entire unit on the same color of cardstock. I was trying to find a way to organize all of the tiny cards!

I originally took file folders and stapled up the sides. I put the cards in little baggies and labeled them, then put them in the little file folder sleeve. These were great - however the folders were so thick, and I honestly don't have the space for them!

File Folder

When I was cleaning up my craft/office/work room, I found this container that I had used to hold my thread. I originally purchased it for my son's matchbox cars when he was little. I know I've seen them in Walmart's craft section, but I did have trouble finding it online. I know I paid no more than 10$ for it! I knew it would be perfect to organize the sorts!!! Especially since there are 3 rows across {the same number of levels for each unit}

Word Sort

I pulled the sorts out of the bags and used a binder clip to hold he unit together. I just slid them into their slots. I'm holding on to the bags so that I can keep them together when they go into my word work center. I made a label for each side of the container...and there you go....the perfect way to organize word sorts that doesn't take up a TON of space!

Word Sort

Thursday, August 4, 2011

Math centers for the upper grades...

In the past, our 3rd grade team has always focused on the concept currently being taught for students to practice while we conduct guided math. Basically while we worked with a small group of students, the other kids would play games that focused on our current concept. It worked out, but I always felt like the kids weren't getting enough practice of the other skills. I want to revamp the way I do guided math. I am thinking I want to do centers of some sort. I also want to make sure that I make it that there are a variety of things the kids can do so we avoid them getting bored doing the same thing over and over. Here is what I was thinking:
  • Skill builders - Work on any current and previously taught skills/concepts. I thought I could also incorporate creative ways to work on word problems since this is a big struggle for my kids.{still working on this!}
  • Fluency {drills} - flashcards, memorizing facts, I want to start something where the kids master their addition/multiplication facts and we chart it on the wall. I found a great website that has timed tests! Unfortunately the kids usually come to us without any facts memorized and struggle to memorize multiplication facts.
  • Computers - The kids will play computer games on current/previous skills.
  • Games - Misc games on current and previously taught skills. I would have to continue to change these out and add to them.
So what do you think? I like that there are only 4 centers, because we usually will only have time for 1 station a day. I also like that I've broken them down into centers so they can be more manageable {it was a sort of free for all last year - craziness!!!!}. What do you do? How do you manage your centers with upper grades? How do you keep them fresh so kids don't get bored? I welcome ANY and ALL ideas!!!

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

Where we are...classroom sign

Don't you hate when you know what you want - but you can't find it anywhere! That's when I decided to just make it myself.

I wanted a way to display where we were when we weren't in the classroom. I searched all night {really all morning - I've been up since 2am because my little one got sick}. My theme, well it isn't really a theme, but I will be doing bright colors {pink, blue, green, orange and purple} along with polka dots. Here is what I came up with!

Where we are

I created the poster {using powerpoint...thanks to Teaching in Flip Flops for the tip!} and laminated it. Then I added ribbon so that I could hang it. I plan to put it on our outdoor bulletin board so everyone will always know where we are!

I don't know about you - but I always forget what special areas we are supposed to go to {especially on Mondays!} So I made this sign as well.

Special Areas

Now I will never forget where we go each day! I was going to decorate a clothespin to move up and down - but I just couldn't get these adorable, giant paperclips I found on pinterest out of my mind! I think they add that finishing touch!! Of course mine didn't come out as cute as the original, but I had to trim the ribbon!

Giant paperclip

I need your help! I have a small bulletin board that is right outside my classroom door. I usually have a welcome of some sort along with a list of kids in my classroom. I was thinking about this doing this bulletin board, but I really want to use dots instead of puzzle pieces! Here is my dilemma, I need a catchy saying. I was thinking "Welcome to 3rd grade - we saved a spot for you!" And then have the students names on polka dots around the board. Can't wait to hear your ideas!!

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

I'm all about cooperative learning!

I love cooperative learning! I was fortunate in college to have a professor {for 2 semesters} who was also a Kagan trainer. {they have amazing resources - go check them out!} I truly had the best of both worlds - not only was I introduced to the basic concepts of coop. learning, but it was also modeled to me at every class meeting. We constantly did coop. structures for all of our learning {and I saw the proof of how powerful it can be}. Of course we are filled with all of this wonderful knowledge in school, but when we get into our own classroom we can't always reproduce what we were taught. However, I have tried to hold onto my coop. learning strategies and implement them whenever possible.

I find that science lends itself so well to coop. learning. I created these cards to assign jobs to each group (table) of students. I assign students a job for each experiment and then rotate roles. Most of my students sit in groups of 4, but a few have 5. For the groups of 5 I have 2 material handlers. I can't tell you how this has saved me from discipline problems during science. The students don't fight over who gets to do what - or not getting a turn. It also prevents from having 10 students coming up to me at once (since only directors may come up to me with questions/problems). This also allows me to move around the room to have discussions with the children. It also allows students to problem solve within their group!!
  • Print a set of cards for each group (table) on different colored cardstock and laminate.
  • Cut the cards out and then use the bottom portion to remind the groups of the expectations for each job.
  • I keep the job cards/job explanation card in a plastic baggie that gets passed out with the experiment materials. (I prepare experiments by placing everything in tubs for each group)
  • I have each student within a group numbered 1-5. This makes it easier to assign job roles each time. I just assign each job a number...this make it so easy to switch jobs each time.
  • I have used these cards with both 3rd and 1st graders. It was a breeze with 3rd graders...however 1st graders need modeling to u

I hope that you enjoy these and they are helpful in your classroom! On a side note, I'm realizing that as the start of the year gets closer it is getting harder and harder for me to get on and blog (I have so much to do and not enough time!)

*Somehow when I converted to a pdf it changed moved the picture for investigator - I'll have to fix it another time - sorry!

Science Cooperative Jobs