Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Whole Brain Wednesday: More Super Improvers

Hey everyone, I'm finally back with a WBT Wednesday... it's been WAY too long! Today is a quick tip for you Whole Brainers out there...

I want to share a really great idea one of my co-workers is doing with her WBT Super Improver Wall. If you don't know about WBT's Super Improver Wall, please click the pictures below to check out my posts about it. It is a FABULOUS motivation for students in my room and in many other WBT rooms!

So back to my co-worker... she turned her classroom over the WBT after I did a few informal PD sessions for my district early in the year. She was seeing a lot of success but wanted the super improver wall to be even better. So, she attached an individualized improver goal to each students' pencil box to remind them what they can do to improve in the classroom. SUCH a great idea, I especially love it for those tough kiddos because it gives them a focus throughout the day and they are reminded of it every time they open their pencil box!

I'm thinking I might need to put some individualized goals on my kiddos book boxes! How do you keep your super improver wall goals on your students' minds?

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Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Solve the Room

I'm sitting here on this snowy afternoon adding to some of my TPT products, and thought it would be fun to talk about Solve the Room in my classroom.

You might call it Scoot or Read the Room or Write the Room or Roam the Room... in my room we call it Solve the Room.

I have created and downloaded lots of these activities and my kiddos LOVE them! I am all about learning while moving and motor breaks and brain breaks and lots of transitions to keep them up and moving. I usually make Solve the Room a rotation during math Workshop. It is usually the favorite rotation.

Right now I only use Solve the Room for math, but I'd love for any thoughts you wonderful readers have about using these types of activities in reading or writing!

I want to share some of the products I've created and are tried, true and tested in my room and my grade level partners' rooms!

Solve the Room Addition...
Solve the Room Subtraction...

Solve the Room Money...

Solve the Room Time...

 Solve the Room Place Value...

Check these products out! My kiddos love them and they align with CCSS standards in our math units that I use them in. I hope you either like these products or are motivated to create your own to get your kiddos moving around the room and doing math at the same time!

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Monday, January 26, 2015

Non Fiction Text Features

I'm super excited to share a sequence of lessons that I co-taught with our amazing reading teacher at my school! We were working on nonfiction text features...

We called each of the lessons a "mission" so here's Mission 1...

The kiddos were read the Mission 1 sheet that is in my TPT product (click product image above). It basically told the kiddos that they would work in groups to go on a scavenger hunt and create a nonfiction text feature poster.

We had 5 groups of 3-4 kiddos and myself and our reading teacher walked around, talking to the kiddos about what they were noticing.

Some of the kiddos were super insightful saying they found lots of headings because there were so many different articles or that they noticed that almost all the photographs had captions. There was also a lot of discussion about the nonfiction text features they couldn't find and why.

They loved the freedom they were given to explore nonfiction text features. Their finished products were pretty great too!

Mission 2

For mission 2, we gave the kiddos 1-page articles with all the nonfiction text features blocked out. I used Times for Kids articles, but you could use anything that is short. You could even retype the article if that was easier.

The kiddos' job was to figure out what they thought was missing which led to a discussion about WHY they thought these text features would be important.
After this mission we had a class discussion about how each of the text features would help the reader and I revealed the original articles to the pairs.

Mission 3

For our last mission, which I used as an activity AND an assessment for nonfiction text features, consisted of kiddos looking for nonfiction text features and explaining why they are important. Each kiddo picked out a nonfiction text, and recorded 4 nonfiction text features they found and why that text feature was important.

Students then paired off and shared what they thought about the nonfiction text features. I loved how when they got to the sharing part that many of the groups actually went into the text to talk about the text features they chose.

The kiddos had a lot of fun with these "missions" and it really helped them to learn the nonfiction text features. The only other suggestion I have that I think helped the kiddos a lot is that I've had them give me a thumbs up during every nonfiction read aloud when they saw a nonfiction text feature. I would stop after every page or so and call on a student with their thumbs up and ask him or her to explain how that text feature helped us as readers.

I hope you can use one or more of these ideas to teach nonfiction text features in your classroom!

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Saturday, January 17, 2015

You Oughta Know About Classroom Websites

I'm linking up with Buzzing With Mrs. McClain for another You Oughta Know Blog hop!

This month, You Oughta Know about Classroom Websites!

I am so excited to tell you all about the classroom website I created. It was originally for a grad class assignment but I've kept it going and it's been a big hit with the parents & students this year!

First, sign up for a Weebly Education site. A normal free Weebly site will limit the number of "pages" your site can have, but free education sites are not limited.

Once you sign up, you'll have to pick a "theme" (there are LOADS to choose from!)

Then you should think about what you'd like to include on your site. These are the pages I have...

Some of the pages have "sub pages" that open a drop down menu...

Once you have an idea of what you'd like to have on your classroom website, you can start to create pages...

An important component on this page for me is if you click advanced... you then have the option to make the page "unsearchable" I select this for EVERY page of my classroom website. This makes it impossible for someone to search my name and find the site. It makes me and my students' parents a lot more comfortable about having their children's pictures online. You can also change the visibility (above) but that means you have to give your website a password.

After you have your page set up, and set to your preferred privacy, click save & edit (bottom right) and you'll be headed to this page...

From this page, you "drag and drop" components onto your page, whether it be text or a document or photos. Some of the features can only be used if you pay for your site, but this hasn't been an issue for me yet.

The only drag and drop that I wish I could use is the HD Video, however, you can upload to Youtube and set your video as "unlisted" and then it cannot be searched on Youtube.

Once you have your site set up, you can add sites for you students too. I haven't experimented with this yet, but I hope to (and will certainly post about it!). Right now, I have a few "blog" pages set up on the site and log in and let students post about our day or post their published writing. I've only had the site for a few months and have LOVED it as a connection between school & home. I don't print out newsletters anymore, I just post them on our website. I no longer email photos home, I post them on our website!

I would love to share the link to my website, I'm really proud of it, but I'm uncomfortable posting the site link for the whole world to access. If you'd like to see my class website, email me and I'd be happy to give you the link on  a more personal basis. Weebly is SUPER user friendly, and I think you'll find yourself able to catch on to the tools very quickly!

Be sure to check out other blog posts on today's Blog Hop...

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Saturday, January 10, 2015

Hello New Year!

Well I haven't blogged since before our winter break... but I'm back! Anddd linking up a day late to Doodlebugs Teaching for Five for Friday!

New Year's Resolution time... My teaching resolution is to work even harder to get Whole Brain Teaching techniques into every lesson and into our day more often. This means... more gestures, more use of the scoreboard, more references to our rules & more consistent use of the Super Improver Wall. If you want to know about any of those wonderful WBT goodies, check out my WBT tab & hop into a WBT Wednesday (which I PROMISE I will get back into!!! especially now that I "met" fellow WBTer Heidi over at Droppin' Knowledge who also does a WBT Wednesday.

I'm so excited to be working with one of our amazing reading consultants & my fabulous teammates & one of our special education teachers to start a new fluency block during our week. We sorted our second graders into types of readers and are each taking a group of 10 or less kiddos and teaching fluency geared at the types of reader we have.

Our reading consultant introduced this awesome fluency book that is really guiding us through this process. Right now we are meeting 2x a week for 15 minutes and will reassess in 6 weeks to see how much our students' fluency has improved.

I've had the somewhat bad habit of coming up with math games on the fly lately... but this one was a hit for working with double digit subtraction WITHOUT regrouping. Grab it for free...

To play, just have your kiddos roll a dice 3 times (I had them roll a double dice and a 12 sided dice - 10, 11, 12 kiddos picked any number). They fill in the boxes with the numbers they rolled, being sure they create a larger number on top.

I also created this one this week to practice counting back by 10's before we delved too deeply into double digit subtraction. It was a nice little refresher on Monday to get back into school mode.

This was a little less "last minute" and even has directions right on the top of the page for ya ;)

We've been working hard on nonfiction text features. The kiddos loved this super simple activity this week. We had a shortened amount of time due to our new fluency rotations so I gave each partnership a nonfiction book about animals (National Geographics for Kids series) and 4 pieces of highlighting tape. Their job was to try to find a heading, a caption, a map and a label and they only had 5 minutes to do it. They did SUCH a great job. Every group whose book had all 4 of these features found them. A few of the books didn't have maps, but those groups found the other 3 without a problem :)

And finally, I just can't help but share the AWESOME gift my students' families got for me... talk about the coolest teacher chair ever!!! I am so lucky for the group of families I have this year!

I hope you all had a great holiday and are starting the New Year off right!

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