Saturday, February 14, 2015


Shut the front door, I'm blogging! I wanted to stop by and talk about some things we did this week in 3rd grade to learn about fractions. Now this is the first year that I've had quite the struggle teaching this topic because they no longer teach fractions in 2nd grade. So they come with very little knowledge about what a fraction even is.  I used ALOT of manipulatives: fraction circles, counters, and bars just to name a few.

One area the kids struggled with was fractions on a number line. We used fraction bars and sentence strips to practice creating a number line and identifying missing fractions on a number line. I modeled how to create a number line on the sentence strip using the whole fraction bar. Then we used the fraction pieces to divide each number line. Here are a couple of my kiddos in action:


After they had gotten some practice with that, I created a number line on my sentence strip and they had to copy it and identify where a given fraction was located. Three whole number lines fit on each side of the sentence strip. The kids loved this so much that they wanted to wear their sentence strips as hats. Ha!

To do a final review of number lines, I took string and hung a 0 and 1 index card on each side. Then I had kids come up to the string and place their fraction where they thought it belonged. This led to some great discussions about placement and equal parts.

To review all the main fraction concepts they rotated through different fraction games. Most of them were from Lakeshore but I added my own game too. It's called Fraction Fortune. When I was explaining the directions and telling them that each team needed a banker, they were hooked. I had to settle them down to finish explaining the games because they were busy trying to figure out who the banker would be. They had a blast playing. 

We ended our fractions unit on Valentine's Day Eve and I found the perfect activity! Nicole from All Things Apple in 2nd has a great fraction activity where the kids figure out fractions of a group using Hershey kisses and it's a freebie in her store! I placed a group of kisses in the bags and taped Nicole's labels inside. They had to turn over the bags and figure out the fraction of red, pink, and silver kisses. They recorded them on the sheet that comes with the activity which I printed on pink paper since it IS Valentine's and all. They were completely engaged and I gave them kisses to eat later because what fun would it be to work with chocolate and not eat it?!

This won't be the end of learning about fractions. We didn't spend as long as we should have on it. Our state test is only 17% fractions so my team decided to cover it but then return to it later in the year. We can go more in depth later on and not have the pressure of the test. 

Thanks for reading! If you are interested in Fraction Fortune, just click on the picture below. Happy 3 Day Weekend!

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

Christmas Student Gifts

Stopping by during this fun but crazy week to share the student gift I am giving my kiddos for Christmas. And no wrapping is required! I put mine together this morning and they are ready to be opened on Wednesday which is party day.

Buying for 14 kids can get expensive, especially on a teacher budget. I went to the Dollar Tree and picked up bubbles which come 3 in a pack. Then I put together some Frosty the S'more-Man treats. Now the Frosty treats are not my idea. I orignally found it on the Dixie Delights blog. Aren't they so cute?! 

I put the bubbles and S'more-Man treats in treat sacks I got from Hobby Lobby. (They are 50% off right now!) I just trimmed the top of the sacks a bit so they were smaller and wrapping was a breeze! 

I made the bag toppers to fit snack size baggies but they would fit regular sized sandwich bags as well. (The original one I found was a bit small for them.) You can download it here if you'd like to hand out some S'more-Man treats too. Enjoy these days of fun and crazy with your kiddos!

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Practice Cards for Classroom Management

I can't believe it's already November! It's that time of year where the kids have learned the routines and procedures and KNOW the rules really well and what is expected from them. I have been using Whole Brain Teaching's classroom management system and have loved it. You can read all about WBT in this book Whole Brain Teaching for Challenging Kids. Chris Bifle also has a website with tons of free resources.

I started off the year with happy face/sad face for the whole class. I then added the Super Improvers Wall which you can read in my post here. Now it's time to add some more individual accountability for breaking the rules. That's where the practice cards come in. I took my rule posters and saved them as pictures so I could re-size them in PowerPoint. Then I printed them on card stock and glued them onto popsicle sticks. 

I made this very unfancy pocket chart that is numbered with the students' numbers. (I'm not happy with the way the title came out but it will have to do for now.) I placed the practice cards nearby on my library shelf. If a student breaks a rule after a warning they get a practice card placed in their pocket. During recess or free time, anyone with a practice card in their pocket needs to practice that rule by doing the hand motions that go with it and saying it quietly to themselves. 

The practice card is removed after the student practices the rule and they get to start all over. If a student continues to have trouble with that same rule, they get a note home asking the parent to help them practice. They need to get it signed for the practice card to be removed from their pocket. Unfortunately I left that file on my flash drive at school but will upload it soon. Check back later this week if you want it. Here's a pic of what it looks like.

I would love to hear how you incorporate Whole Brain Teaching methods in your classroom. Do you have any tips?

Monday, October 27, 2014

Update and a Freebie!

It's been a while since I last blogged. I had some health issues that are now taken care of and I am recovered. I have been posting pics here and there on Instagram so at least I haven't completely gotten away from sharing what's been going on in my classroom. This week will be a crazy week. First up is a field trip to the IMAX to see a 3D movie called Under The Sea. The kids of course are pumped about it and it should be a fun time tomorrow.

Friday is Halloween and this is the first year we've had a full day for it. Since we have a school parade in the morning, I've pretty much settled on the idea that there won't be any new learning going on that day. I planned a big chunk of time for the kids to play October themed math games. I've rounded up a few I found online and created one of my own. It's called Candy Corn Wipeout. The object of the game is to be the first to wipe out all the candy corn from the board while adding, subtracting, multiplying or dividing. It's a freebie if you'd like to play it too! Just click on the picture.

We've been working hard on understanding multiplication so I just updated my More and More Multiplication Fun Pack so we can play the games to practice. I will be doing a blog post on that soon but if you already own it, make sure to download it again. Click on the picture to get to the file in my store.

I always love to hear new ideas for teaching on a holiday like Halloween. What do you do at your school to keep your sanity?

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

My Current Word Study System

Word study in my room has evolved over the years. The past few years we did word study during Daily 5. This year, I have a 20 minute block of time at the end of the day for it and I love it. I love giving them consistent practice with their words. 

Planning and Prep: 
I use Words Their Way for my spelling program. The program comes with an inventory to assess the students at the beginning of the year. Today I realized that I could just put the inventory word list on Any time I get a new student they can take the test on the computer so I don't have to keep giving it over and over. Duh! I wish I would have thought of that much sooner. 

After grading the tests and using the WTW evaluating system, I group them into 3 groups. Each group has a color assigned because that is the color paper their words are copied on. I copy all the word cards for one quarter and file them by weeks so they are ready to go when I need to hand them out.

Our Schedule:
I don't do the traditional Monday-Friday schedule. I stopped doing that a couple of years ago because I wanted the kiddos to have more time with their weekly words. This year I am giving them their new words on Thursday. They have to write their words in their agenda, cut the words out and try the sort out. While everyone is doing that, I pull groups to the table and go over their sort for the week. 

Friday, Monday,  and Tuesday are dedicated to practice. Each day, they need to do the Must Do on the poster. 

Friday- Written Word Sort: They sort their cards and write the sort in their word study notebook.

Monday- Speed Sort: They use a sand timer to do a speed sort 3 times with their cards. 

Tuesday- Graph Sort: They sort their word cards and graph the word patterns. 

After they complete the Must Do for the day, they can choose an activity from the list. Right now their only choices are dry erase boards and Rainbow Roll-N-Write by a Cupcake for the Teacher. I will add more activities to the list as the year goes on. I also try and call groups during their practice days and play a game with them for practice.

On Wednesday I give the test. I call out 10 words for one group at a time while the rest of the kids read a book. Then they glue their word cards into their word study notebook. It goes quickly once they learn the routine.

To help them remember what they need to do each day I made posters that I put on the board for them to refer to. No more, "I don't know what to do." If you'd like the posters I made click on the pic below.

I'd love to hear how you run your word study time. I'm always looking to freshen things up with new ideas!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Super Improvers Wall

We're in our 7th week of school and fall has officially started. Time sure does fly! I posted this picture on Instagram a while back and have been meaning to blog about it.

The Super Improvers Wall is one of the levels from Whole Brain Teaching's management system. I want my students to take pride in their work and the behavior they display in my class. I have a lot of boys so I used the sports theme that WBT suggested in the book and they all start at the bottom level as a fan. (I did leave one of their suggested levels out.) They each have a card with their name that matches the color of the level they are on. Anytime they make an academic or behavior improvement, they get a sticker to put on their card. 

Once a kiddo reaches 10 stickers they can turn their card in for a coupon of their choice. They also move up to the next level with a new card that matches. Anyone that makes it to the top level becomes a living legend in my classroom. That means I will be taking their picture and displaying it in my room for future classes to see. They were all over that part! Who doesn't want to be a living legend?

I cannot wait until someone gets their 10 stickers and moves up. That will be motivating for everyone else. If you'd like the wall level titles and name cards, just click on the picture. How do you promote academic and behavior improvement?

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Classroom News and Graded Work

Happy Weekend! I stopped by real quick today to show you how I manage graded work and keeping the parents up to date on what's happening in the classroom. At our school we have Tuesday folders because that is the day we are supposed to send home any flyers the school hands out. So to coincide with that, I send home graded work as well. I only do this bi-weekly because it is much easier to manage. I use a mailbox to sort my graded work throughout the two weeks.

Every other Tuesday, I take the graded work from each child's slot and attach a newsletter that includes news on what we are learning and important dates. I also circle the child's work habits and behavior score. (Sometimes, if needed, I will add a note regarding that specific child.) Here is a pic of the one I sent home this past week. 

The kids bring this home and parents are supposed sign the newsletter and send only that sheet back in the Tuesday folder. I've had parents tell me they love this system because they get to see what is happening in class, not only by what I state in the newsletter, but also through their child's work. After the top sheet is returned, I check off that I received it and file it away in the individual student files. I am sharing an editable version of the newsletter so if you'd like it, click on the picture below. (You will need PowerPoint to add the news section. I used Kristen ITC font which is on most computers.) 

Hope this was helpful to someone. Have a great weekend!