Tuesday, April 29, 2014

Tried It Tuesday: Balloon Birthday Door!

I'm excited to finally be linking up with my sweet buddy Holly (I've missed her) for her Tried It Tuesday for a quick idea I just tried to celebrate my son's birthday.

After your birthday boy or girl goes to bed, be a ninja and carry out your plan!
Here's my son's door before...you can't even tell it's his birthday can you??

I first started by adding a row of streamers (optional).
Then I used masking tape to tape up this drop cloth. I folded it in half then taped both sides and tucked the bottom under so the balloons wouldn't fall out. You need to leave it a little loose so you have room for the balloons. I'll give you one chance to guess where I got the drop cloth! (Alison and AMC you can't guess!) Yep, that's right, DOLLAR TREE!
After the drop cloth was secured, I stuffed it full with balloons.
**TIP: Get husband or significant other to blow up the balloons! :)
This was two large lawn garbage bags filled with balloons.
So, for about $3 (drop cloth, $1 and 2 bags of balloons, $2) you get a great reaction from whoever you're surprising!
My son loved it, but there was only one problem...he woke up in the middle of the night to go to the bathroom so I didn't get to video his reaction. :( I asked him if it scared him when he opened the door and he said no, it made him happy! :) Still a success!
If you haven't had a chance to check out the survival tips, freebies, and 3 great prizes to win, you still can! Start here for lots of great ideas to survive the end of the year!
And, in other amazing news...two of my best blogging buddies are having an amazing 1,000 follower giveaway! I'm so proud and excited to be a part of their special milestone.
Head over and enter today with AMC at Looking From Third to Fourth and Emily at I Love My Classroom for a chance to win some fabulous prizes!

Saturday, April 26, 2014

Spark Student Motivation: Student Created Lesson Plans

 You're going to be so excited it's Saturday and what we have in store for you!!

We all know how this time of year gets for EVERYONE, so several of my BBBs have come together to share some tips of how we can make it through the rest of the year. PLUS, each blog will have a freebie AND a chance to win THREE TPT Gift Certificates and a Classroom Friendly Pencil Sharpener! Isn't that exciting?
We know this time of year gets a little crazy, so why not release control of your class and let your students do the work??!! Yes, they TEACH the class!

An activity I have used successfully, is to have my students create a lesson plan to teach the class. I use it the last 1-2 weeks of school, having 2-3 students present each day. Each student is designated a 30 minute block of time (if it’s a math lesson, I try to schedule it during my math block). They can teach ANY lesson they want, funny thing is, they always teach real core subject lessons! I would let them teach how to make a paper airplane, the “Cup Song”, origami, etc., if they wanted to, but they always choose core subjects. My only requirement is they complete the lesson plan template. (It’s up to you if you want to tell them they can teach ANYTHING and give them easier suggestions). So even those last days, they’re still learning! And, by their peers!
Best part aside from you not having to create lesson plans...they are really well behaved for each other! They love their "friends" being the teacher!!!

Be prepared to see how you look, sound, and act when you teach because they will copy a lot of what they see you do every day! I hope you and your students enjoy this fun activity and it relieves a little stress for you at this busy time of year!

To download this freebie click here, (your feedback is greatly appreciated)! I hope this helps you in your classroom! Be sure to "follow" my store for other freebies and new product alerts.

After entering my secret code (up above in the summer pic) in the Rafflecopter, be sure to HOP on over to Fifth in the Middle to see Diane!
Fifth in the Middle 
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!
***Please include the topic in the link up with your blog name.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Freedom Summer-A Must Read Mentor Text & A Peek at My Week!

 Linking up with some fabulous ladies for Must Read Mentor Text and A Peek at My Week Linky Parties!
I present to you one of my very favorite mentor texts...
. The story is set in the South in the early 1960's. John Henry is black and Joe is white, but they are best friends. Even though the color of their skin is not the same, they are the same in many ways. The Civil Rights Act was passed and the two boys are so excited to swim in the town pool together. Segregation was supposed to end, but it didn't in many towns, including the one that John Henry and Joe live in. They go to the pool only to find it being filled with tar. They leave heartbroken and confused. It ends with the boys using the strength of their friendship to enter a store together.
 This picture book sparks great discussion and emotion. It's a powerful, but simple story. 
So many lessons to be taught with this inspiring book! So many lessons, I decided to create a Freedom Summer Literacy Unit for this book that has such a special place in my classroom!
I will be using these resources during my reading block this week. I will be using several of the activities during centers (some independent and some cooperative group).
I will use the discussion cards during my read aloud and for my cooperative groups to have meaningful discussion. I can't wait to make a bulletin board with illustrations of how my students think John Henry and Joe view the world! I love when a small picture book has such a BIG impact on reading and my students' lives!
If you don't have Freedom Summer, you MUST add it to your classroom library!!
I'd like to give one of these units away! Simply pin one of the images above, copy the URL address, and paste it in the comments. Don't forget to include your email if you are not a blogger. Winner will be announced on Tuesday. Good luck!
*If you don't want to wait, click here to grab it on sale until tomorrow night!
Go check out all the other texts at Collaboration Cuties and ideas linked up at Mrs. Laffin's Laughings! 

Saturday, April 19, 2014

Spark Student Motivation: Eggcellent Ideas!

Let's share some ideas to help us stay positive through the end of the year!
We had our state testing all four days this week, but we're finished and my students tried their best! (Now to wait for those anticipated scores that won't arrive until the VERY END of the school year!)
I had to create fun and creative ways to get them excited about reviewing and doing test prep, so I used Easter Eggs!
I cut up test prep questions and placed one in each egg and hid them around the room while they were at lunch (I'm a Ninja like that). Each student had to find one egg and return to their seats to solve the problem. Then the partner sitting next to them had to come over and solve their problem to make sure they got it right (answers were on back to self check). It's funny how doing math problems out of an egg is more fun than out of a packet!! :) Do you see the smiles??
On Thursday. I had a real Easter Egg Hunt with prizes. Each student was allowed to find one egg and return to their seats. After all students found an egg, the prizes were revealed...
I had something different in every egg and all prizes were little or no cost (less than $3 total!). I wrote all the prizes on Post-its, so they all felt the same weight, and not all prizes would fit!
Full size candy, homework pass, skip an assignment, use pen and stamp pad all day, lunch with the teacher, 10 tickets, free draw, prize box, etc.
The students below won sit next to the teacher, Scan to Win, and full size candy. The young lady who won sit next to me is so excited for Monday (isn't that the sweetest?)! Such a simple prize, but very appreciated!! I'm sure some kids would rather have a full size candy, but this egg fell into the right hands!
I know Easter will be over when you go back to school on Monday, but I PROMISE you, there's NO student who would mind if you wanted to have an egg hunt for review or prizes after Easter!!! Plus, all plastic eggs and candy will be on CLEARANCE Monday!
I wanted to share the following idea in case you wanted to try this idea at home tonight! I started this in my neighborhood a few years ago when some of our neighborhood kids were getting too old for the traditional Easter Egg Hunt on Sunday morning. We have a Nighttime Easter Egg Hunt where they hunt for eggs with their flashlights! They love it and think it's the coolest ever! I've seen glow in the dark eggs that you could use too! Puts a fun twist on the traditional egg hunt and makes it exciting for ALL AGES!
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!
***Please include the topic in the link up with your blog name.

Saturday, April 12, 2014

Spark Student Motivation:SHOWDOWN!

It's S-A-T-U-R-D-A-Y!!!

I hope you had a great week! We have our state testing next week, so we've been doing lots of review! ! I try to change up our review as much as possible to keep it fun and interesting!
But, I have to make sure that ALL students are engaged, so I want to share a simple Kagan structure I use called
We had Kagan training last year and it's one of the best trainings to increase engagement and to ensure all students are participating & learning. I put a little spin on this structure to fit my needs.
Showdown, the outcome is active engagement for every student! In Showdown, each student does each problem on their own before receiving help. When “Showdown!” is called (by their team captain or myself), each student shows their work, and they begin the process of checking, coaching, and celebrating.

If you follow my blog, you know I always allow "doodle time" for one minute before we start our lesson to get it out of their systems.
I have SHOWDOWN for doodle time too! :)

I like to keep them guessing of when and who I will call for "Showdown". This is "Whole Class Showdown":
Sometimes I pull sticks for an "Individual Showdown": 
The other students share at their groups and coach if necessary. I love hearing the conversations between my students of "how" they arrived at their answers and their justifications for their thinking!

 And, other times I call a specific "group(s), girls, boys, students with 2 syllables in their first name, etc. Showdown". Just a simple thing like this keeps them focused and on their toes!
Guess what?? "Showdown" works at home too! I had a mini-review for the 4th graders in my neighborhood for testing next week. Of course, my 4th grade son didn't think this was going to be fun, but he loved it too!
It was about almost an hour and they were disappointed when it was over, which equals a score for the teacher neighborhood mom! :)

  In Showdown, no student can slip through the cracks. Everyone has to participate and work together. It's a quick assessment tool for me and excites my students! It's an opportunity for me to assist other students while some of my "experts" coach their group members. It build trust and community in my classroom, we use our strengths to our advantage.

*If you don't have dry erase boards you can use a piece of paper or cardstock in a page protector sheet. It works great and students can keep them in their desk to take out in seconds.

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!
***Please include the topic in the link up with your blog name.

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Spark Student Motivation

I feel terrible, but I will not have a post today. When I went to write my post last night and insert my pictures from my phone, they were gone! All the pictures I took yesterday were deleted, all 11 of them! I spent hours trying to figure out how to retrieve them or figure out what happened, but with no success. My husband said, "Just write about something else or just don't have pictures." My motivational idea this week is all about the pictures, you have to have them. And, my future list of ideas needs pics too. I'd rather wait until next week, then just throw something together. I barely slept last night because I was stressed about "my party" and having to cancel it.
But then I thought it's just like show business, "The Party Must Go On!"
I know some of you already have your dress or suit and babysitters lined up, so PLEASE come to the party, even though the hostess doesn't have any entertainment. This is the time of year we need as many ideas as possible to keep our students motivated!

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!
***Please include the topic in the link up with your blog name.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

Workshop Wednesday: Math-Area

It's Workshop Wednesday and I'll be focusing on AREA today! I have lots of fun and engaging ideas to share with you today!

Did you know you can teach area with Post-Its?
**Disclosure: I promise I do not work for 3M, although I would like to!
Post-Its fit PERFECTLY on graph paper making it a great manipulative for students! I placed 5 different size sticky notes and numbered them on the graph paper. They had to calculate the area on their own paper. If you look at the picture on the bottom left you see a student using the "array" method to calculate the area. The student on the bottom right lifted the sticky note to count the boxes. When I observed this, we discussed different strategies for determining the area.
MORE Post-It uses!!! Do you know that chart paper that has the squares (close up on bottom)? This paper holds those sticky treasures perfectly too! This is a great model to break apart the shape.
As a challenge (and one more use of sticky notes!), I gave my students two different size Post-Its and a specified area to find. They worked in groups to solve. Most groups had different shapes or different amounts of each size of sticky note, but they all arrived at the same area. Again, a teachable moment to demonstrate shapes can have the same area, but not look the same.
A really cool observation I made was students realizing the 3"x3" sticky notes had an area of 9 and the 2"x3" sticky notes had an area of 6, so they just used multiples and factors to determine how many of each they would need to get the specified area. Much faster and smart thinking! That makes me an excited and proud teacher when I see math transfer over to different concepts!
One of my favorite ways to teach area of an irregular shape is to have students find the area of their shoe! First of all, they think taking off their shoe and tracing it is fun! haha! After they trace their shoe they shade in all the "whole" squares one color and shade in the "less than one whole" squares another color. I have them count all the whole squares, then count all the less than whole squares and divide by two, and finally, add the two numbers together. We discuss when measuring irregular shapes it is an estimate and they will answer with "about _____". There are some squares that are almost filled and some that are barely filled, so together they almost even out (which is why count them as half).

Some students wrote the numbers in each box to keep track, and others just placed a dot to count.
Of course, I have to model this lesson, so I traced my heel! :) Notice the difference between their shoe drawing and mine? I don't have as much to count!
*Just another reason to wear heels!
For fun, I thought I'd have them find the area of their name...it was much harder to make those letters than they thought! If you want a challenging activity, this is it!

Our students have to be able to "cut" a shape apart and find the area. I made some shapes for them to physically cut apart and measure the area of each shape, then add together. This hands on activity helped them to understand the "cutting apart". This help transfer to the shapes in their book that you can't cut. Score!
My students love Scoot, so I created this Area Scoot for them. It's a compilation of all the skills we've covered and learned, a perfect assessment!
To further my students understanding and offer them a creative challenge, I'm using my friend Matt's (Digital: Conquer & Divide)  Zoo Design Area & Perimeter. One word: AMAZING! Such a thorough resource with two levels (both look the same, so you're struggling students won't know the difference!). It's such a great culminating project to finish up our unit!
I hope you can use some of the ideas to teach area! I'd love to hear from you, please leave a comment! :)

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Tried It Tuesday: Bulletin Board Organization

Happy April Fool's Day! Did any of your students play a prank on you? OR did you play a prank on your students??!! I used my friend Nick from Sweet Rhyme & Pure Reason's April Fool's word search (which did not have one single word to be found the word search!) and it was PRICELESS! I could barely contain myself! I have some very competitive students and I literally thought they were going to have a stroke because they couldn't find a single word! They were seriously sweating and looking around the room nervously! I told them it was a contest to see who could find the most words in five minutes. I kept calling the time...3 minutes left, 2 minutes, 1 minute, and with 30 seconds left, one of my students said I think you made a mistake on this Mrs. Miller and I busted out laughing! They laughed too as they threw their crumpled up papers at me! :) So fun!
Now I'd like to share why I'm linking up with my sweet BBB Holly for her Tried It Tuesday...an easy and efficient way to store signs and letters for bulletin boards.
All you need is a binder, page protectors, and some labels.
Here is the easiest idea...
I only store letters for bulletin boards I use year after year-saves so much time! I hate having to dig through all those letters to find each one! I just label the corner of each page protector so I know what the letters spell out. 
It's also perfect to store bulletin board signs-all stored in one handy location. I don't hole punch the signs because I don't want them to have holes, so I put them in page protectors. 
Just add your goodies for the bulletin boards you want to use (recycle) year after year! I love that it's stored all in one location and I know exactly where it is! (which can be half the battle, right?)
Hope this little tip helps!
Check out all the great ideas linked up at Holly's Tried It Tuesday!

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