Friday, November 29, 2013

Five for Friday: Parent Teacher Conferences, New Math Centers and a Freebie!

Hi, all!
Aren't short weeks the craziest?  I truly feel like I packed an entire week into three days!

1.) My kindergarten boy had half days for three days because of parent-teacher conferences.  THREE DAYS!  Luckily my guy still had some vacation days left, so he was able to take the week up and pick up our little guy at 11:45 each day.
On Tuesday, we went to my kiddo's parent-teacher conference.  I have to admit that it was pretty fun being on the parent side of the conference.  I truly love his teacher and I am so happy with the progress he's made this year.  She showed us his writing portfolio and it was adorable! She showed us a piece of writing from September with no finger spaces and one that he wrote last week and it was night and day!  Hats off to you kindergarten really pack in the content!
The one on the bottom is my little guy.  <3

2.)  The fifth grade held a debate competition this week, hosted by our public speaking teacher.  This is the first year we've had that position in our school.  This teacher works with my group twice a week on, well, public speaking.  The class engages in really deep conversation about interesting topics.  The debate topic for the competition was "Should animals be used in medical research?"  Each class selected two students to participate in the debate, one for the pro side and one for the con side.  Our administration and coaches were the judges.  I am so proud to tell you that it was my two students who won the individual awards for best speakers on their teams!  I wish I could take all of the credit, but they did a great job collecting and synthesizing their research :-)

3.)  This is the first time in our lifetimes that Hanukkah and Thanksgiving are at the same time.  Since my husband's family is Jewish, we celebrated Hanukkah and Thanksgiving with them last night.
My daughter always insists on wearing "a hat."

4.) I took some time to myself today!  So what if it was at 7 am?  I went to my favorite exercise class in the world: Soul Cycle. 

 Every time I finish a great workout I always think of Legally Blonde: "Exercise gives you endorphins.  Endorphins make you happy.  Happy people just don't shoot their husbands. They just don't."  And so, my husband gets to live another day!

5.)  I just uploaded a set of Christmas Centers.  I also bundled them with my Winter Math Centers.  Both products will be on sale until Sunday night :-)

Grab a free printable page from the centers right here:

Hope everyone is enjoying their time off!

Wednesday, November 20, 2013

Winter Math Centers and a Division Freebie!

Hi all!

Just popping on to share my newest set of math centers: Winter Math Centers!

This set of centers is on sale for $3 until Sunday night!

Also, be sure to check out this FREE self checking division practice!
Enjoy!  And have a great week!

Sunday, November 17, 2013

Getting Ready for Thanksgiving!

A few years ago, I had a writing calendar for my students to use for homework.  One day in October, most of the class didn't complete an assignment because they didn't know what a Jack-o-lantern was.  In fifth grade.  I was floored.  Of course, I had ass-umed that upper elementary kids would know what a Jack-o-lantern was and of course, once I showed them a picture, they immediately recognized it.  Now I know better than to assume anything about my students and I make it a point to infuse the season into my classroom, just like my lower elementary colleagues do so well.

Another positive aspect of using seasonal practice is that it keeps the activities feeling fresh.  I am definitely guilty of allowing my centers to linger a little too long when they aren't seasonal.  As soon as Halloween was over, I knew I needed to begin refreshing all of the centers.

With our new literacy program, I find it a lot easier to celebrate the season during math than I do during our morning block.  {In literacy, we are currently reading nonfiction with a focus on ecosystems.  Certainly we can tie in turkeys into that discussion, but our book is about the rain forest!}  Check out what we are doing in math to celebrate Thanksgiving!

Self checking multiplication practice - putting two parts of the turkey together.  This is actually differentiated practice. You can't tell by glancing, but the two girls above are working on two different levels of multiplication practice.  One girl is working on the fourth grade standard, while the other girl is working on the fifth grade standard.  I also included the third grade standards for students who need remediation and for my third grade friends!

Mixed Review Poke - My students love this one :-) Makes me so happy to have spent so much time punching holes!

 Not specifically Thanksgiving, but fun fall practice nonetheless!
 We just started these centers last week.  We aren't ready for multiplying decimals just yet, so we are focused on reviewing addition and subtraction!

In art, we will work on disguising turkeys and then write a bit.  BTW, art is quickly becoming my favorite period of the week!  My class is SO creative!

Take a look at this multiplication table from my student's notebook.  She found one error and I found another.  Can you spot the error?  The first two people who leave a comment with the error and their email addresses will get a copy of the Fall Themed Math Centers emailed to them!

Tell me: how do you celebrate the season in your classroom?

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Student Led Strategy Groups

Our class has been working hard on learning how to quote from text when answering text based questions. I've really focused on this skill with my struggling readers.  I have a group of 8 kiddos who really need intensive support in order to be successful this year.  Together, we are reading Because of WInn Dixie (love!) and answering text based questions using Lovin Lit's Citing Text Evidence Notebooking Lesson.

Here you can see some of the work my kiddos did with this notebook (although, I had to tweak the lesson because I didn't get all of the copies I needed from the office in time!):
Here you can see how the student applied the same strategy in his independent response during our literacy program:

After several sessions of practice, I gave this group of kids the chance to show off what they know to their classmates by running strategy groups!  I wrote the names of each "expert" on the SMARTboard and the rest of the students write their names under the expert they wanted to work with!

The experts used their notebooks as the model and taught each one of their "apprentices" how to cite text in their responses. They did an amazing job!

This was Halloween.  Just in case you were wondering about the fashion sense in the classroom.

By working with their peers, my students had the opportunity to see a model up close and ask questions in a completely risk free atmosphere.  And my experts (who usually need the most help) got to show off all they know!

Tell me: do you creating opportunities for student led experiences in your room?  What do you do?  (Feel free to link to any blog posts you have!)