Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Best Year Yet Blog Hop and Giveaway!

I can not believe that 2013 has come to an end.   With each New Year I find myself excited to make new goals for the upcoming year in order to help myself continue to have something to strive for.  Usually my first goal is to work out more, eat better, think of an amazing invention to come up with so I can strike it rich!  Have you decided on a New Year's Resolution yet?  Is your health, fitness, or job related?  Well, whatever it is, we're here to help you...although we all think you're perfect just the way you are! 

Once again, I have teamed up with several fabulous teacher bloggers, and we are here to bring you The Best Year Yet Blog Hop and Giveaway.
From New Year's Eve until January 2, you can hop around our blogs and grab a FREEBIE from each of us. Be sure to enter the Rafflecopter at The Teaching Tribune for your chance to win one of these fabulous prizes:
Today I am offering the product below as my freebie. Simply click on the picture to take you to my store to download it.
If you're on the same schedule as I am, we begin fractions as soon as we get back from winter break, so I thought this would be a great product for you to introduce fractions to your students.  

While you're at my store, you may also want to check out these other fraction products, just perfect for those first few weeks back at school.  

Be sure to continue the circle on the blog hop by clicking the button below.
We truly hope that 2014 is your best year yet and that it brings you good health, happiness and many other good things.

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Blog Makeover!

I have been wanting to get a professional blog makeover for a while now.  I am not an expert with design or blogging, so I enlisted the help of a fellow teacher/blogger/designer extraordinaire to give my entire blog a fresh new look.  Christi Fultz from Ms. Fultz's Corner and Design by Christi has worked her magic and taken many of the colors and concepts from my old blog and whipped them up into a brand new look.  She does an amazing job and is wonderful to work with.  If you like what you see, check out some of her other work.

I hope you like the new blog and if you have any comments/feedback, please leave it!

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Remembering Sandy Hook

As educators, we remember and honor our fallen colleagues and their students from Sandy Hook School.  We honor them each day in our classrooms in which we continue their dream of teaching our children.  We honor their memory with our service.  Join with teachers everywhere in committing random acts of kindness to show our love for Sandy Hook.

Thursday, December 5, 2013

Real World Math: Dividing Decimals

I have decided to start writing posts about how you can incorporate real world skills into your math class, depending on what standard you are working on.  One major aspect of really providing rigorous learning for your students is to take the everyday skills you teach, and connect them to something useful in the outside world so that they will understand why they are learning them and how they may use them in their future.

This week we finally moved into decimal division.  I like to begin this with whole numbers in the divisor.  In this case, students simply move the decimal from the dividend straight up into their quotient.  Next, I like to move on to decimal division with whole number divisors that do not evenly divide, so my students have to learn the concept of adding zeroes to the dividend to continue dividing.  Third, I have them divide two whole number, the smaller number being the dividend so that they learn the skill of adding a decimal and zero to the dividend.  Finally, we finish up with dividing a decimal by a decimal.  Having a decimal in the divisor is incredibly tricky, especially in Common Core.  They must learn the concept of multiplying the dividend and divisor by the same power of ten, until the divisor becomes a whole number.  This is very difficult for students to grasp.  The easiest thing to do is to just tell them that they need to move the decimal to the right in the divisor until it becomes whole, and then move the decimal in the dividend the same number of places.  Unfortunately, teaching the trick is no longer a best practice, and it is important for students to understand WHY they are solving problems in the way that they are.

Sounds confusing, right?  Try teaching it!  I have yet to find a truly groundbreaking way to teach decimal division, but I am definitely working on having my students practice with real-life examples.  Here are some life skills that you can incorporate into your lessons:

Dividing Decimals by Whole Numbers

  • Provide your students with restaurant bills and have them decide how much each person would owe if it was split evenly.
  • Create a yearly salary for your student and have them figure out what their monthly income would be.
  • Create an amount of some type of cupcake mix that has to be split up evenly into 12 or 24 cupcakes.  Determine how much batter will be needed for each cupcake

Dividing a Smaller Whole Number by a Larger Whole Number

  • Have students find the batting averages of baseball players - divide the number of hits by the number of times at bat (you can include real examples from professionals).  For example:  Derek Jeter had 56 at bats in his last 25 game.  If he had 28 hits, what is his batting average?

Dividing a Decimal by a Decimal

  • Take an amount of food, and divide it up into portions that weigh a certain number of pounds, ounces, grams, etc. (that isn't a whole number)  For example:  I had 25.2 ounces of cupcake batters to separate.  If each cupcake gets 1.2 ounces, how many cupcakes I you make?

If you have other examples of real world problems that can be used for dividing decimals, please reply below.  I would love to continue adding them to this post so that you can incorporate them into your lessons.

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Winter Holiday Ebooks Are Here!!

I'm so excited to share that I am a part of the Teachers Pay Teachers Winter Holiday Ebook for grades 3-6. Each Ebook contains 50 sellers' holiday tips and freebies, which were generously compiled by Rachel Lynette. If you're looking to find some fantastic ideas and activities for your students as the holidays approach, download this free book **HERE**.  Flip through and see if you can find mine!

There are also versions for PreK/K, grades 1&2, and grades 7-12.  You can find the links for these in the description for the 3-6 Ebook.

Enjoy this amazing resource and Happy Holidays!!!

Monday, November 4, 2013

Name Tag Math Centers

I am always trying to find new and creative ways to have my students practice the skills we are learning in math.  Worksheets are incredibly boring for kids and I try to use them as little as possible.  Task cards have been increasingly popular for me in the last year, but these can also become somewhat monotonous if I use them too often, so I came up with a new partner-type center that I call my Name Tag Math Centers.

I have the following sets available:  one for all of the Numbers in Base Ten standards, FractionsFraction word problems, Measurment, and the 12 Days of Christmas with Decimals.  I like to use these when we complete one of these groups of standards, or they can also be great as a review just before state standardized testing.  It's a fantastic review.
I also have these available by unit to go along with my states's curriculum map and scope and sequence, which really works out perfectly as a review activity for my 5th Grade Math Test Bundle
The units I have area:

You can buy them in a BUNDLE and save, or individually below:



Here's how it works:  Each sheet has two problems on it.  You print the pages on heavy cardstock (for best results) and fold the paper in half.  This creates a name tag style.  You place each "name tag" between two desks and pair students up with a partner.  

Each student sits across from their partner at each station and complete the problem on their side.  I have labeled them Player A and Player B to make it easier because I made the problems on Player B's side slightly more challenging.  Each student writes their answer down on their recording sheet and then shows their partner their answer.  

Each person has their partner's answer on their side, so they can easily check their partner's answer to see if it is correct.  If it is incorrect, I encourage them to help their partner try to find their mistake and work to get the correct answer.  You want to pick the partners carefully so that the experience will be worthwhile for both students in each pair.
I was very impressed with my students' enthusiasm for working through these with their partners and their willingness to work together.  It was a great way to change up our usual routine for review.  


Saturday, October 26, 2013

Halloween Decimal Task Card Centers

This week I have been working on comparing, ordering, and rounding decimals with my class, so I would like to give them some additional practice next week as we head into adding and subtracting decimals.  I'm finally starting to get in the Halloween spirit, so I decided to make some themed task cards for decimal practice in my classroom.  You can get this entire pack {HERE}.

On Thursday, I gave my students a Halloween activity for ordering decimals that I created.  They are given a page with 2 grave stones (with decimals 1.0 and 2.0) and 10 pumpkins, all with decimals on them.  They place the graves on either end of a sentence strip, and have to order the pumpkins from least to greatest between the values of the two graves.  (This activity is also included in the Halloween task card pack).
coloring the graves and pumpkins
ordering the decimals from least to greatest
Below is a preview of some of the task cards that are included in the pack.  I plan to spread out the different sets over a couple of days leading up to Halloween on Thursday.   The task cards are placed on desks around the room, and students are given a recording sheet to write their answers.
I am so excited to celebrate Halloween in math next week and have an opportunity to observe and assess my students' mastery of decimals.

Happy Halloween!!!

Monday, October 7, 2013

Writing Activity Using "The Chronicles of Harris Burdick"

October is one of my favorite months for teaching narrative writing.  For the past two years, I have had my students create an exciting narrative writing piece using the photos from The Mysteries of Harris Burdick by Chris Van Allsburg, award-winning author and illustrator of Jumanji and many others.

I got the idea for this assignment from a fantastic website that provides lessons and questions for teachers to use with Chris Van Allsburg's photos from The Mysteries of Harris Burdick.  You can find it here.  There are also several other websites that have great tips and lesson ideas for using the illustrations from this book as writing lessons.  I'm going to share with you exactly how I use it in my classroom.


To get my students engaged and excited about the writing activity, I read some of the short stories from Allsburg's The Chronicles of Harris Burdick where famous authors, such as Lemony Snicket and Stephen King have created their own stories based on Allsburg's illustrations.   My students really enjoy seeing how the author manages to tie the photo and caption into the story.  I have purchased the book on Amazon and here is what it looks like:
I print out the photos from this story (along with the titles and captions) and display them in my room for my students.  Each photo is a unique black and white, charcoal drawing.  My students chooses one of the iconic photos from the famous collection and must create a narrative around it using the writing techniques I have taught them through our Empowering Writers program.  Within the story, the caption that goes with the photo must be used and make sense within the context of the story they create.  The sentence can come anywhere in the story that they would like (it could be the first sentence, the last, or somewhere in the middle).  We usually work on this story for the entire month of October.  Since the photos and captions are somewhat mysterious, I tie it into Halloween by having them make their story somewhat spooky and mysterious as well.

Here are just a few of the photos included:
When my kids publish their stories, I have them write it on special final draft paper, and also create a cover page with an illustration to go with their narrative.  On Halloween, the stories are due and we have a special celebration for sharing them.  I have parents send in the ingredients to make s'mores (except for fire) and we sit around with the lights low, eat our s'mores, and share our stories.  Since we can't have an actual campfire in school, I project one from Youtube on my Promethean board to give it an extra special effect.  Here are some of the ones I like for the best campfire experience:   a long-lasting outdoor campfire and an indoor fireplace video.

You don't need to use this resource just for writing.  You can also incorporate the stories from The Chronicles of Harris Burdick into Reading by using discussion questions from Chris Van Allsburg's book,  here.  It's a fantastic way to expose your students to several well-known authors and compare how different authors can create a completely different story using the same exact photo that they are using.

I hope you like this idea and can maybe even use it in your own classroom.  If you also use some of Chris Van Allsburg's stories and illustrations for reading or writing with your students, please comment and let me know how.  I'd love to get even more fantastic ideas for incorporating great literature into my classroom.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Using a Jeopardy Review

A few years ago, I stumbled upon a fantastic site for creating Jeopardy games.  It's called Jeopardy Labs.  I absolutely love it because my students are ECSTATIC when we get to play one in preparation for an upcoming test.

We recently finished our unit on The Civil War, so I made a Jeopardy review with questions that address most of the key standards in our curriculum.  You can project the game onto a Smart Board or Promethean Board and choose any number of teams you have.  As you go through each question and point value, you can either add or subtract the points, depending on who answers the question correctly.  You click on a + or - and the score automatically changes so that you don't have to write it down at all.  It's a great engaging way to do a review with your kids, and you can even give them the link to it so that they can practice at home with their family or friends.

Definitely check it out and give it a try!  You will love it!

Monday, September 9, 2013

Quick Check Board for Forming Small Groups

I have been working really hard to get better at grouping students during math in order to really meet everyone's needs in terms of skill.  A great and easy way to do this was suggested to me by my co-worker, Monster Wrangler Mike.  He has been using it since last year and has seen great results with helping to create differentiated groups and help students that are struggling to master our Common Core curriculum.

I introduce to you......

Each morning, a mathematical problem is posted on my Promethean Board.  The problem may be a skill that I have already taught my students, or a new skill.  Either way, this is a very simple way to quickly see who has mastered the skill and who needs a little re-teaching with a mini-lesson or small group activity.

Each child gets a sticky note on their desk.  When they enter my classroom, they unpack, get ready for the day and begin the Quick Check as a morning work assignment.  They complete the problem showing as much work as possible, and place it on their designated student number spot on the chart.  This is also fantastic in quickly seeing who has completed their morning work and who has not.  

Since I have math in the middle of my day, I have time during lunch to go and quickly put a "check" or "x" depending on whether it is correct or incorrect.  
This morning's quick check asked students to write an expression for the problem:  11 times the difference of 12 and 5.

When our math time comes around, I will typically begin with a mini-lesson and then separate my class into groups based on previous pre-assessments.  When the groups go to their tasks, I pull the small group of students who missed the quick check, go over it, and usually work on a mini-activity with them to clarify the skill.  

One of the reasons that I love this is because it really does allow for flexible grouping since the student mastery changes day to day.  It's the perfect daily assessment tool that is easily manageable.  Thanks, Monster Wrangler Mike!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Order of Operations and Algebra Task Cards

I am so excited to introduce my newest creation for my classroom.  I am currently in our Order of Operations and Algebra unit in Math, and I wanted to create a great set of task cards to get my kids out of their seats, while still having the opportunity to assess their mastery of the common core standards, 5.OA.1, 5.OA.2, and 5.OA.3.
You can find these task cards HERE.  There are two sets of task cards

  • a blue/green set that has 20 different problems pertaining to 5.OA.1 parentheses, brackets, and braces
  • a red/purple set that has 24 problems to go along with 5.OA.2 and 5.OA.3 - a variety of algebraic expressions that the student must write in words and vice versa, word problems in which a student will have to create an algebraic expression to match, and input/output tables.  
Each set of task cards in the product comes with a student recording sheet and an answer key.  Here's a small glimpse into some of the cards in the file:
I can't wait to hear what you all think of them!