Saturday, December 21, 2013

Spark Student Motivation: Christmas Caroling

Happy Saturday! I think we're all on break now! We made it!
I know how busy and hectic this time of year is, so Spark Student Motivation will be closed for the next two weeks and will resume on January 11th. However this link will be open until January 10th, so feel free to link up anytime during the break.
Now time to share how I motivate my students to motivate others!
Every year I meet my class at the local nursing home to spread our Christmas cheer. It's such a memorable experience for my students, parents, and the residents.
I have a class set of Santa hats and they dress up real nice for this special event (they look so adorable!). I print song books and I also bring props (12 days of Christmas posters, bells, Rudolph noses).
We sing in the nursing home dining area first, then we carol through the halls to visit those residents who can't make it to the dining area. We pass out cards to all the residents.
Each year I choose someone to dress up as Santa, he has to be outgoing and entertaining (and withstand the heat of the suit!)
After our singing, we have hot cocoa and cookies out on the patio with our friends.
It's a great way to share our holiday spirit and a terrific community service project.
My students' parents are very appreciative of me organizing this event and appreciate their child participating in such a humbling experience.
I hope you had a wonderful week! Please link up any lessons, ideas, tips, tricks, incentives, ANYTHING you do get your students motivated or excited!
Don't forget to grab my button and link back to this post!
Check out all the wonderful ideas from my friends who link up and don't forget to leave some love by commenting....we LOVE comments!


Saturday, December 14, 2013

Spark Student Motivation: Polar Express Party

Saturdays are SUPER because we get MOTIVATED!
I wanted to share an idea I used last year in case you can use it next week!
A Polar Express Party!
I gave each student a boarding pass (ticket) the day before to bring back to school to get on our "train".
They all wore their pajamas and slippers, which is a special treat all by itself!

As they entered the door I hole-punched their ticket. (I'm not talented enough to hole punch "BELIEVE" in each ticket, so they got one hole punch.) LOL!

I served hot cocoa and they brought in treats/snacks to share. 
Add some marshmallows to some hot cocoa and you're a hero!
I also gave each student a bell at the end of the movie. You can find them at my favorite...Dollar Tree!
We had a visit from Mr. & Mrs. Claus to top off our celebration!
If this is something you'd like to use in your classroom, grab the boarding passes below: 
I print the tickets on gold paper (2 to a page) and back the ticket with the details of the event. Click the image to download.
This is the back of the ticket: (this is a Word document so you can fill in the date, time, etc. with your information). Click the image to download.
 Very simple and memorable for your students! I know a lot of students have seen this movie, but it always captures their attention and they haven't watched it with all their friends in their jammies! 
***I also use this same ticket/idea for my neighborhood too and host a Polar Express movie night!

I hope you had a wonderful week! Please link up any lessons, ideas, tips, tricks, incentives, ANYTHING you do get your students motivated or excited!
Don't forget to grab my button and link back to this post!
Check out all the wonderful ideas from my friends who link up and don't forget to leave some love by commenting....we LOVE comments!

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Workshop Wednesday: Christmas Graphic Organizers

Sorry I'm late to my BBB Jivey's Workshop Wednesday! This time of year gets so crazy!
I wanted to share some seasonal reading activities I've been using in my classroom: Christmas Themed Graphic Organizers For Reading!
We completed these Stocking Stuffers for Brian from Hatchet (we're in the middle of the novel). What would Brian want to see in his stocking? I thought for sure some students would say cell phones or video games. They came up with very practical items and supported their thinking-I think they're becoming critical thinkers!!!
(Oops-this one says Brain! haha) I love the insect repellent! Brian gets eaten alive after he crashes. 
We analyzed Wilson Bentley from Snowflake Bentley-perfect story for this time of year. I blogged about this book and additional resources here.  
Look at some of those traits: tenacious and bright with quotes for text evidence! Yay!
The student featured below told me she tried to think "out of the box" with her traits! (so cute)
Mature, tolerant, determined, and honorable (all with quoted evidence). I think they were motivated to do well on this assignment because I told them they could color/outline their gift packages when they finished!  
I have these "gifts" displayed out in our hall way-I love showing off their hard work!

Go check out Jivey's Workshop Wednesday for additional goodies!

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Math Mentor Text: Perimeter, Area, and Volume

One of the things I'm working on this year is incorporating more math literature/mentor texts into my math block-I have a great one to share on the Must Read Mentor Text Linky with my cute friends Collaboration Cuties!
This book is a great introduction for perimeter, area, and volume concepts with monster characters. These monsters take a journey to the movies and explore all these concepts along the way. The illustrations are bright and colorful, making this book more appealing for students. I think this book would be a great hook for a math lesson.

I'm going to show you two ways I use graph paper in my classroom:
You know how I feel about Post-Its right? They are the perfect size for graph paper! Students can calculate perimeter and area with this activity. Have an assortment of sticky notes (size and colors) for students to select a given number to place on their graph paper. They can record their calculations right on the graph paper. It's the perfect visual for them to see the difference between perimeter and area. If your students aren't ready to multiply big numbers yet, they could determine the area by tracing the sticky note and then lifting it to count the squares.
I blogged about this activity last year, but it's a little more advanced because they have to calculate 1/2 shaded squares as well. I had my students trace their foot on graph paper, shade in the whole squares one color, and the half squares with another to make is easier to calculate. I assigned this for homework, so they had the whole week to finish.
I can't wait to share this new book with my students! My buddy Jennifer hosts a fun linky to look ahead at the week. Check out what everyone's doing at the Peek at my Week linky party!
Last day to enter this INCREDIBLE giveaway! Everybody wins! It's like Christmas!
Click here to start!

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Spark Student Motivation: Homework Pennant

It's Saturday! Let's get each other and our students motivated! What tip, trick, lesson, or idea have you used or plan to use in your classroom that motivates your students?
Do you ever have some students that aren't motivated to complete their homework or turn it in on time?
Me too! It seems likes you get at least one every year right?
Well, I added a whole class incentive several years ago to give some of those students a little "peer pressure" to complete their homework.
This idea is simple and easy to keep track of (my favorite):
Every day EVERYONE completes their homework, they earn a letter (spells HOMEWORK).  
If they spell the word HOMEWORK, the entire class has no homework the following week!
Sounds like an awesome incentive right? It's pretty hard-I've actually only had to award this a few times in all the years I've been offering this coveted prize!
Why? If even ONE student forgets their homework or doesn't complete it, all the letters come down and they have to start all over again. :(
*I don't accept late homework for the incentive. 
There's only 8 letters, so I tell my students if they all encourage each other they can have no homework after every two weeks!
*Don't panic if you HAVE to assign homework or if you have a class that always completes their homework. As I mentioned earlier, it's difficult to attain this goal for most classes, but you could offer an extra recess or computer time instead. This motivational tool is to persuade those reluctant homework finishers to get on the ball or for classrooms that need a little spark.
Make this a class job-have a student hang up or take down letters. I have mine at the front of the room so it's a great visual and reminder. 
I sometimes offer an extra letter if everyone brings back important forms or returns their report cards the next day.
We also talk about how we should act if someone causes the letters to come down. How can we help that student? They come up with great ideas and it motivates the student to try harder.
This might be great to introduce when you get back in January to start the year out right!

Would you like a copy of my Homework Pennant? I'd love to share it with you! Just leave a comment with your email (if you're not a blogger) and I'll send it to you this weekend!

I hope you had a wonderful week! Please link up any lessons, ideas, tips, tricks, incentives, ANYTHING you do get your students motivated or excited!
Don't forget to grab my button and link back to this post!
Check out all the wonderful ideas from my friends who link up and don't forget to leave some love by commenting....we LOVE comments!

Wednesday, December 4, 2013

Workshop Wednesday: Mystery Math Pictures and a Math Freebie!

Just a quick link up to share a colorful way to incorporate math during the holiday season with my BBB Jivey for her Workshop Wednesday!

Each picture needs a blank grid paper to start. 

Each mystery picture has a color key at the top of the page. Each line on the grid is colored according to the key. For example, the picture below shows all 11 boxes will be shaded green on the first line. On the second line, the first three boxes will be completely green, the next box will be 1/2 green, 1/2 white box, then one full green, etc. Students think coloring is easy, but these can be tricky if you're not paying attention to detail.

When they finish coloring, they discover what their mystery picture is!

I have used these since my first year teaching (long ago!) and my students have loved them every year! I have them for all holidays and some other non-seasonal pictures too.
Don't worry...I found a few samples for you just in time for Christmas!
Includes directions and two mystery pictures.
Click here.
Perfect for homework, early finishers, and on the last day before school gets out for winter break...nice, quiet activity! (You're welcome!) LOL!
I also have a FREEBIE in my TPT Store for fact families and factors!
Click the image to download-feedback is always appreciated! :)
Hope these ideas come in handy for the upcoming weeks!
Have a great Thursday & Friday!

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

Tried It Tuesday: Non-Fiction Text Practice
Linking up with my sweet friend holly for her Tried It Tuesday linky! And, guess what I tried this week??!! A product from the linky hostess herself! She's amazing!
I used this text with my small groups: 
They had to write the question number next to the answer they found in the text. Some of my students were surprised to find multiple locations for answers to the same question. They really had to read closely!
Also included in this pack are two short response questions (using claims) that require students to "dig deep" and cite evidence from the text.
Living in Florida, most of my students have never seen snow, so this passage was of great interest to them! (Did I mention is has answer keys??)  I love a lesson that is little prep for me!
Perfect for the season, perfect for text complexity, perfect for rigor, perfect for high interest reading, perfect for small group instruction, just...perfect!
Snatch this goodie up while it's still on sale! Click here!
My store is on sale! 28% off!! Hurry the sale ends tonight!

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