Saturday, February 28, 2015

Spark Student Motivation: Building Math Problems

Bring on the weekend! We had our big field trip to St. Augustine yesterday and I plan them on a Friday on purpose so I have the weekend to recover! It's a great field trip and the kids loved it, but for teachers it can be stressful ( I think we make it more stressful creating in our minds the millions of things that COULD go wrong!)

Well, today I bring you something that motivated my students and me! Florida is giving a brand state test this year and unfortunately we have very little practice materials or resources to work with. I got my hands on a practice book and it had addition and subtraction problems with missing numbers. We haven't practiced adding and subtracting larger numbers with missing numbers, so I wanted to make it fun and interactive for them. I made a worksheet so they could "build math problems", just like they build words in our classroom. They were very motivated to solve these problems!

It's definitely challenging because of the amount of missing numbers, but I made the number boxes 0-9 at the bottom to manipulate the problem so they could use trial and error and different strategies they've learned about numbers (borrowing and carrying, etc.). Each number can only be used once. This challenging style of math is perfect to align with the mathematical practice of perseverance.
I allowed them to work in partners or groups. Most started with the addition problem, since they felt it would be the easiest. They realized some columns had more than one solution, which is the best part of the "movable" pieces, no need to keep writing and erasing. The conversations I overheard were awesome! I love when they work collaboratively on challenging projects!  

**My students found another solution as well!
It took most of my students between 15-30 minutes, not a quick lesson, but a great lesson! After they solved this "puzzle", they asked for more! This is the part where they motivated me...I'm going to create some additional math problems for them to build! It could also be used for early finishers, enrichment, or a math center.
Want  a copy to challenge your students? Leave your email in the comments and I'll send it to you. :)
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.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Superhero Products Linky: Guided Reading Questions

With the upcoming TpT sale, we want to help you find "heroic" products that have helped others in their classrooms. I have received wonderful feedback on my Guided Reading  For Fiction & Non-Fiction: Before, During, & After. This resource will be at your fingertips for EVERY reading lesson! I printed on different colors for before, during, and after questions for fiction and non-fiction making it an easy visual for me and my students. The beauty is it's always ready (even if we're not! LOL)! Works with every text, just pick a before, during, and after question and you're set!
(I love what this buyer left for feedback about her principal!)
Click on the image above or {here} to go to the product.

Large posters (above) can be used with a mini chart stand (DIRECTIONS INCLUDED) for display at your reading group, center, or used for whole group. Also, a smaller version can be put on a book ring for teacher use, used at a center, partner work, etc. These are great for higher level open ended questions to get your students to think critically. Sometimes I like my students to practice their written responses, so I created a template to record their thinking.

Once it's assembled and printed, you're set for years! :)
Take advantage of the savings during the big sale!! 
Browse around the linky for other heroic products, or feel free to grab the graphic and link up your own! Link to a post containing one heroic product and its feedback. Use the graphic if you wish. (No direct links to stores or products, please.) Include the linky button and link it back to this post so others may find great heroic products.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Spark Student Motivation: Student Name Picker

Happy Saturday! I hope you had a great week and want to share something you did to motivate your students! I appreciate all the link ups and comments! It keeps everyone motivated!
How many of you use the popsicle sticks with the names to call on students? I do, too! And, I still like that method because it's quick and always readily available, but doesn't this app look like fun??!!
Imagine everyone sitting at the edge of their seats waiting to see if they get picked!
My students love it! When we're doing a lesson, they're asking if we can spin the wheel! I don't use it all the time, but it definitely adds interest and excitement to any lesson!
I love when it lands on a student and they say, "YES!!". What I don't like is when they see their name pass and say, "Phew", like they're off the hook (which is why I wouldn't use it all the time).
However...I have tricked them! After the person is selected on the wheel, I tell them to pick someone else in the class!! Tricky, right? We have to keep these kids on their toes!
The possibilities are endless...class rewards (shown below), assignment choices, next read aloud, decision breakers, class jobs, amount of minutes to spend on a fun activity, etc.
These wheels are very quick to make, so it's perfect to collect student input for decisions and assignments! I love student collaboration and giving them choices. You get "buy in" because THEY made the choices. :)
This is an app called Decide Now, I paid the $0.99 upgrade to have more features, there is a free version though. Because it's an app, I have to hold the phone under my document camera so everyone can see it. However, it's nice to be able to "carry" it wherever you go!
It's perfect for home too! It can be used for chores, plans for the day, how many minutes can be played on video games, lunch choices, tonight/not tonight! :)
 (Again, lots of possibilities!)

I also like this wheel from This can be displayed on your smart board so everyone can see! Quick and easy...only takes seconds to input your names!
 The spinning and sound effects make these tools for your classroom SUPER FUN!

I'd love to hear what you think about it! How would you incorporate this in your classroom or how do you already use this gadget?

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.

Monday, February 9, 2015

Monday Made Its: Valentine's Day
February Made-Its! Just in time for Valentine's Day! Linking up with my friend Tara for her fun Monday Made-It!
First up is a simple and cute project: personalized bags. You can type names, quotes, or anything you'd like to make regular lunch bags special! I bought the red and white bags at Target.
Step1: Set your page up for the size of your bag. You can do this with any program.
Step 2: Type the special message you want to appear on the lunch bag (using KG Fonts of course!). Center it on the bag so it prints out in the right place and will leave you room to fold the top of the bag over.
 Step 3: Tape the flap on the back of the bag down and the top of the bag to prevent your printer from jamming. Press the tape lightly so you can easily remove it. (I don't always tape the top and it still works). 
 Step 4: Feed through printer just like regular paper. Only feed one bag at a time.
 Step 5: After you print, fold the top of the bag over, hole-punch and thread ribbon through.
 Voila! Aren't they adorable? I love them! My students are excited to give me their "orders" for their bags! It's also cute to send your child's lunch to school in one of these personalized bags! :)
My students love my Valentine Reading Wreath and I do too. It's a fun way to assess my students' understanding of their reading and it makes a great decoration for your hallway or bulletin board! I guess technically my students and I both made this one!
Each wreath comes with templates for fiction and non-fiction that can be used with any text!
Save money and buy the growing bundle! Adding the Spring Reading Wreath tomorrow, so snatch up the bundle for today's price-great value for 8 different reading wreaths!
Spread the Love! Perfect for Valentine's Day and Random Acts of Kindness. My students wrote sweet messages and compliments on several Post-Its for others who walk by to take and give to someone else. They came up with some pretty thoughtful messages: You sparkle everyday, you're special to me, you are as sweet as candy, thank you for being you, you look nice today, etc. Imagine getting one of these notes unexpectedly...{insert big smile}.

The directions instruct anyone can take the notes and give to someone to make their day! We had several customers are first day today! :)
  My students are excited to fill the wall back up so we can "Spread More Love!".
My last made-it was for my niece's engagement party. I designed a count-down subway art for her to put in her bedroom as a wonderful reminder of how many days until she "ties the knot"! She loved it! All she has to do is use a dry erase marker on the glass (write the number in the heart) and wipe off each day!
 Hope you have a LOVEly week and Happy Valentine's Day!

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Spark Student Motivation: Pick Me! Pick Me! Student Engagement

If you follow my blog, you know how I feel about DOLLAR TREE! Well, they've done it again! Another item we can use as an effective engagement tool in our classrooms!
My friend was so excited to share this with me because she couldn't believe she found something at Dollar Tree before me! (I practically work there!) Now, we're sharing with you!

Want to get even your reluctant learners to participate? These flashing lights will get ALL your students excited to share their thinking!!

 They're actually flashing stickers, just don't peel the back off if you want to use them over and over again. There were a few different designs to choose from. (They were located on a freestanding display in front of the checkouts.)

 The flashing light signals me that this student wants to participate and she's ready to share!

 In order to activate the light, you must be an active listener so you can answer the question correctly or cite evidence from the text. And, you KNOW they all want to activate the light, so they're ALL listening! :) We're so tricky sometimes aren't we??!!

 After a student answers, I like to see if my students have anything else to "add on"...these lights are the perfect tool to see who has more  to share.

Sometimes we have those quiet students who know the answer, but are sometimes reluctant to share or other more vocal students take over the discussion. This "silent" gadget allows everyone to participate and is a quick tool for me to assess their learning and understanding!

So, for a dollar a piece, definitely a great investment! :)

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.

********This linky will be open for two weeks since I will not post a new one on Valentine's Day.********

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Hands-On Reading Comprehension

Are you looking for reading comprehension that can:
  • be interactive?
  • engage all your students?
  • liven up your guided reading group instruction?
  • be used small group or whole group?
  • assessed with a quick glance?
  • include graphic organizers?
  • be used as a visual aid for your students?
  • be used with ANY text?
  • impress administrators?

 Here you go!
One of my favorite reading tools to use during small groups is my Interactive Reading Comprehension key rings! My students love it too! They come to group asking if we will use the triangles! :) The best part for me is that it's interactive, they're fully engaged, and I can assess their learning with a quick glance! My administrators have observed me using this and are very impressed.
 Graphic organizers for each skill/strategy are also included. These can be used to track their thinking, to help with struggling students who need another modality, and/or to use later in a written response.
 Another feature is that it can be used with any text. If for some reason you didn't get your copies ready or your morning wasn't going as planned, you could whip out your key rings and have an effective interactive reading lesson immediately!
The key rings are color coded to match the visual posters with definitions for students to reference if they get "stuck" or forget what a cause or effect is. I keep mine at the front of the room, which is located next to reading group table, so they can look up and use their resources to find the answers.

This tool can be used all year and both you and your students will enjoy the "fun" of using the triangles! Once you cut and make a few sets of key rings, you're set!
Click here to purchase.

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