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.

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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.

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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 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! :)
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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 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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Sunday, March 30, 2014

Peek at My Week and Winners

My spring break is over...{insert crying face}, so I'm linking up with my buddy Jennifer for her fun linky, Peek at My Week to share what will be happening in our classroom!
We have our 10 countdown days until testing when we come back! Stress is on! We're going to be doing a lot of review and revisiting topics my students struggled with this year.
One fun game we will be playing is Area & Perimeter Scoot-my students are addicted to Scoot, and lucky for me, because they don't realize they're still working while they complete these task cards! It's more fun when they get up and move around! As a teacher, I love this concept because EVERYONE is engaged! I have a couple of students who aren't big fans of math and even they LOVE Scoot! If it's a newer concept or a difficult one, I allow them to work in partners. 
I will also be using my friend Jivey's Diving for Decimals-I want to make these next two weeks fun, but with an academic focus! There's a couple of games that will fit perfectly with my review!
And, you know how this time of year goes...after spring break they can get a little crazy! We will have to review our classroom procedures before we start anything! If you don't have a copy of these, grab them free here.
My second son will be turning 10 this week! Double digits! He's grown up so fast, how does this happen? You're changing diapers one minute, then sending them off to college the next!
I'm very excited to wear my newest addition to my shoe family this week: 
Aren't they adorable??!! Shut up, right?? :)
The winners of my Pin It To Win It contest for my Testing Goodies Pack are:
Congratulations to Angela and Hope! Check your inbox, there will be a goodie waiting for you!
Thank you all for pinning. They'll be on sale until tomorrow evening if you want to grab them and get your students excited about testing!
Hope you have a great week! I know some of you will be enjoying your spring break! Have fun!

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Saturday, March 29, 2014

Spark Student Motivation: Test Taking Goodies

Happy Saturday Friends! My Spring Break is coming to an end even though I'm still in denial!
When we get back we will need to be super focused because we have our big state testing in 10 DAYS!
To get them excited about test day, I have created many goodies over the years. The first thing we will do is start our countdown. Each day we will flip a number over (I hole punched the cards and put them on book rings to hang in the front of our classroom). It's a great visual to remind them we need to be serious and every second we have to review is valuable!

I will have them sign a pledge after we have a discussion of the importance of showing how smart you are on the test! I love hearing their thoughts on testing (good & bad). Each student signing the pledge makes it a team effort, we're all in it together.  I made posters for attendance too-I want them to know I appreciate everyone being present and on time! I know there are several acronyms for testing, but I wanted something to match my style and my classroom, so...I created SPARKLE! Sooooo excited about this! (Do you see the sparkle paper to match??!!)
Acronyms have always been a great tool for me to remember important things!

To make testing review fun, each student will use their response cards to show their answers. Quick, easy check for me too! And, of course I like the little incentives to help distract their fears and nervousness! I send home notecards for parents to write words of encouragement for the day of the test and my students write each other words of wisdom too. Again, it's a TEAM effort! Parents getting involved helps prepare them at home (I also send home a parent test taking tips).
They will also get a door hanger to tell everyone they're going to bed early to be ready for testing-they like this because it keeps their siblings out of their room! :)
I know many of my students will still be a little nervous (I get nervous too), but at least we can make these next ten days fun and motivating! What do you do to get ready for testing?
Want to win this 70 page Testing Goodies Pack? I will pick two winners!
Pin to win! Pin any of the images above, copy and paste the URL address in the comments. Please your email if you don't have a blog. Happy pinning!
If you don't want to wait, it's on sale for 20% off here!
 Get those carts cleaned out!!! So many stores on sale!

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.

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Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Workshop Wednesday: Poetry

It's Wednesday, which means two things: my spring break is half over (boo!) and it's time to link up with Jivey for her Workshop Wednesday! This week's topic: poetry.
 Amelia from Where the Wild Things Learn is creative, sweet, and beautiful, and I have the wonderful opportunity to brag about one of my buddy's poetry products today!!

There are so many activities and resources in this unit! I'll share the first few I plan to use when I return from spring break next week! Because you know what next week is start of right? Yep, poetry month! I like to give each one of my students a file folder to keep all of their poetry writing in until we publish our final products. Amelia's flipbook of poems is perfect to glue in the inside of the folder. Super cute isn't it? :) It's the perfect introduction to poetry and each page has the requirements for each poem, plus space to for students to write their own.
I'm super excited about this next lesson! Anything that incorporates music is very motivating and engaging to students! Students will identify the figurative language found in Katy Perry's song "Firework".
And, of course, we will have to listen to it several times just to be sure we heard ALL the figurative language used!

These next two lessons will be used at centers. I've taught figurative language all year, so these activities will be perfect "projects" for my students to complete on their own.
First up...Alluring Alliterations...students will each be assigned two letters to write and illustrate an example of alliteration.
Second...Write Your Own Idiom...this one will be really fun for my students because we worked on idioms ALL year and they love them! I can't wait to see what clever idioms they come up with!
These student created idioms would make a great class book. Our class books never collect dust, my students are always looking through them! :)
I can't wait to update next week with student work pictures!
I also have two products in this bundle, you can read more about them here.
You can grab this goodie plus ten other products for the unbelievable price of $10.99!! That's 75% off!!
This is the steal of a lifetime!! Head on over to Educents to pick up this steal of a lifetime!
And if you have never purchased from Educents before.. they always have a great deal for your first purchase.  Click here if you are a first time purchaser to take advantage of a  special offer just for you!
You can also take peek at some of the other products included in the bundle at any of the links below!
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