Saturday, January 14, 2017

New Google Classroom Feature



Hey y'all! It has been a long time, but shew wee things have been busy for me here in Kentucky. Winter break is over and its back to the grind for me, how about you? 

One of the biggest things for me since returning back to school is that I am now a 1:1 Chromebook classroom! I cannot explain how happy I am about this. Up until now 3 classes have shared a Chromebook cart of 30 computers and it worked well, but I am thankful to finally be 1:1 all of the time! 

While playing around with Google this past week I noticed a new, and very exciting, feature. Teachers are now able to upload assignment and only assign them to specific students. Before on Google Classroom all assignments where uploaded to all students, which made group assignments and differentiation difficult. 

This new feature is super user friendly. When you go to upload an assignment you just have to click where it says "All students" and then a new window with a list of your student names will show up. From then you just check which students you want to assign this activity to. 



One great thing about this is that the default feature is for all students to get each assignment that you upload. So, you don't have to worry about using this feature unless you want to assign an activity to a selected group of students. 


I can't wait to use this feature in my classroom for small group work and differentiation. Let me know how you plan on using this tool in your classroom! 


Saturday, November 12, 2016

Math in the Real World

Lets face it, sometimes its hard to show students why we need to learn math in the real world. I'm not 100% sure when students will need to know how to calculate the volume of a rectangular prism, but I do know why students needs to know how to add and subtract decimals. Today I've got two ideas for you on how to show students why they really do need to know how to add and subtract decimals. 


My frist idea came to me one day in my own classroom. Students were so excited to get their November Scholastic Order and I heard a conversation between a few of my students on how much their parents would let them spend and how many books they would be able to get. Then it hit me, why was I not using this as a resource in my classroom? Quickly I created a graphic organizer for students to spend a fictional $50 on Scholastic books. 

After students spend time looking at the order form and picking their books, they have to total up their order, which means they have to add decimals in a real world setting. After they tally up their order they must then answer a few questions about their order which requires them also subtract decimals. One tip that I have with this activity would be to require students to use the "actual price" in the scholastic book, otherwise they won't be using decimals. If you want to try out this activity in your classroom, just click below to grab my freebie graphic organizer. 


My second idea came while I was planning out my Black Friday shopping list. I realized that I was using math and actually analyzing my math. This year I have LOVED using Google Classroom and I knew that students would enjoy looking at the Black Friday adds. So I created a Google Interactive math activity that also relates math to the real world for students. 


Students are asked to look at three different Black Friday ads and make their Christmas list. While making their Christmas list they must show the price, discount and discounted total for each of their wish listed items, for each of the three stores. After creating their list they are asked several questions about their list, and asked to analyze which store their parents should shop at. Can you say engaging, real world math? I can't wait to try out this activity with my students. 


What I really love about this activity is that it can be used in a 1:1 classroom or a classroom with just a few devices. All of the links for the Black Friday ads are provided and students can record their data on paper recording sheets or interactively on Google Slides. If you are interested in this product try it out at a discounted price until Monday by clicking below. 


Sunday, October 9, 2016

Peek at My Week

My fall break is coming to an end and I'm trying to gear myself up to get back in the classroom! October is one of my favorite months and I'm excited to get some of my Halloween goodies out when I get back to school. Here's what I've got planned for next week. 


For morning work this year I've taken the idea of Daily 5 and put them into center options. My kiddos have a schedule that they follow and they can have one of five different options for morning work. my favorite to get organized each week is word work. This week students have the option to choose from Jennifer Findley's Halloween Language Task Cards or her Pictures to Review Halloween activities. 

Reading RTI is a little different for me this year since its been incorporated into my reading workshop time block and I'm working with Tier 2 students instead of my usual Tier 3 kiddos. This year we've been using our treasures books. Since we are learning about Native Americans in social studies building their schema during reading RTI is a must. 

During reading my kiddos will continue with their book clubs within our Interpretation Book Clubs unit for Lucy Calkins. If you would like to read more about how I implement Lucy in my classroom you can do that by clicking here. 

I have a love/hate relationship with writing. I'm really looking forward to teaching dialogue on Monday. My students are knee deep in their personal narratives and one of the biggest struggle that I've found so far for my group of kids correctly using dialogue.  I did some googling and found this awesome idea for  Halloween themed dialogue activities. First I plan to have a mini-lesson on when, where and how to correctly use dialogue in writing. Then have students practice with partners writing dialogue with Halloween knock-knock jokes. Next, since its October, I knew this would be the best place for a "Said is Dead" lesson to make our writing more interesting. 


I wanted something for my students to have in their writing notebook to go back to when they were using dialogue in their writing, so made this "Said is Dead" anchor chart. You can grab this freebie by clicking here or the image above. 

The rest of the week we will be continuing our narrative writing unit with Lucy Calkins. Again, if you would like to read more about Lucy in my classroom, click here! 


Native Americans is one of my favorite units to teach in social studies. This week we will focus on the Plains Native American Tribes. I'm going to be using a website that I found called Pear Deck to make my introduction PowerPoint more interactive for students.  This will be my first time using this website and hopefully everything will go as planned. I'm also excited to use my Native American Exit Slips product as well as my Native American Task Rotations.  I find that my kiddos really love the task rotations because they can show what they know in a variety of ways! 

Math this week is an intro to multi-digit multiplication. We've spent the first 9 weeks of school working with decimals so it will be a nice change of pace to work with whole numbers. I'm going to be using Jennifer Findley's The Complete Guide to Multiplication for most of the week. This is a wonderful product for so many reasons. I have 27 students in my class and I'm the only 5th grade teacher in my school so I have a wide variety of learners. This product is differentiated in so many ways that I can easily fit the needs of all of my students. We will work this week with spinners, word problems and self checking exit slips! I'm also excited to use her Spin a Word Problem Math Centers at the end of the week! 

Finally, Math RTI. I work with Tier 2 and 3 kiddos every day of the week. For my Tier 2 kids we will work on review skills and for my Tier 3 kids we will use Number Worlds. Everyone else will rotate through 5 centers during the week. Again, I had to find a place to incorporate my Halloween centers. You can find all of my 5th grade Halloween activities by clicking here or the image of my newest Halloween addition below. 



I'm really looking forward to using this Halloween resource in my classroom next week. Anytime that I am able to engage my students in learning while providing review and problem solving skills I am a happy teacher! 

What do you have planned for this week? 

Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Lucy Calkins Newbie

Happy Fall Break to me! Anyone else out there get a fall break this time of the year? It has been a life saver for me this year, I feel like I've never needed a Fall Break as much as I've needed this one. One of the many reasons why I've been looking forward to fall break this year is so I can devote some time to Lucy Calkins. My district adopted Lucy Calkins for reading AND writing this year and its been a pretty rough transition for some of us (cough, cough, me). 

In past years I have taught reading and writing in the workshop model, just not specifically with Lucy lessons. I've found it to be overwhelming trying to implement both. I've read blog posts from other teachers and talked to a few teachers on Instagram and had many discussions with my school curriculum coach  so I wanted to share some tips for Lucy Calkins Newbies like myself. 


There are so many resources out there on the internet when it comes to how to use Lucy. I began by watching some of the videos provided by Heinemann. You can check out these videos by clicking here, or just by searching around the Heinemann website. To watch these videos you don't have to have any special code, just add in some information about yourself. 

One of the things I  was struggling with as a 5th grade teacher was that my students didn't have the schema that Lucy was referring to in her books from previous grade level lessons. By watching the videos I discovered that Lucy actually suggested going back to 3rd grade resources before teaching specific reading and writing lessons for those 5th grade students who hadn't had those lessons before. I learned so much just by watching these videos. 

Planning can be time consuming. I don't just teach reading and writing. I also teach math, science and social studies to 27 kiddos AND I'm the only 5th grade teacher at my school. This means that I can't spend hours planning each day just for reading or writing. To become knowledgeable in Lucy for my students I had to come up with a better way to plan. After talking this over with several people I cam up with some planning tools. 

These tools are super quick and easy to use. I simply jot down a few notes to keep myself on track for my mini-lesson. I've found that this helps keep me focused while teaching, since Lucy has a lot of detail in her lessons and it gives me a place to keep conferring notes to go back to each day. 



These planning tools really made a difference in the amount of time I was planning each day and kept me more organized. I wasn't meeting with the same kid two days in a row, unless I needed to, and I always have something to go back to if I forgot what I said to a student while conferring. 
If you think these planning tools will help you as well, they are FREE in my store! I have two different planning tools for both reading and writing. I've been printing off several at a time and keeping them in a 3 ring binder for storage and easy access. 


We all know time is very important and nobody has enough of it. Lucy has an insane amount of anchor charts to keep up with. I've found that I've had to pick and choose which ones I was going to actually use because I didn't have the time nor the space to keep these charts. 
I knew that this wasn't beneficial for my students, and we were always flipping through anchor charts in my room trying to find the right one that we needed so over Fall Break I've been working on a project. I've been recreating the Lucy anchor charts for writing where from year to year they are easily printable. This saves me time AND space in my classroom. My plan is for students to glue these anchor charts into their writing notebooks so they can easily flip back to the ones they are looking for. 


Hopefully this will save time and space for me in the future. I'm even thinking about printing them full page to hang in the classroom while we are in each writing unit. If you are interested in these printable anchor charts you can find them here. You can purchase each individual unit or save $2 and purchase the whole bundle, click the picture below for details! 


I'm planning on doing the same thing for the reading units as well. So check back soon for details on that! 


Last but not least, you know your students the best. What I've found in the Lucy reading units is that some of my content isn't being covered and I'm having to supplement with my own lessons. From other people that I've talked to that seems to be what they are doing as well. Just remember its our job to TEACH students, not just go through lessons in a book. I hope that somewhere along the line I've relieved some stress of a Lucy Newbie and if you have any questions let me know. 

If YOU have any tips for a Lucy Newbie comment below, I would love to hear them!

Wednesday, September 28, 2016

RTI Organization

Shew! This year has been nothing more than a whirlwind! With only 2 days until Fall Break, I'm finally getting some time to relax and blog. 
Since my school year has been super busy already this year, I've found that I've been spending more time trying to keep myself organized. One of my many struggles as a teacher is finding time to do it all, and RTI is one of the many things that I'm struggling to keep ahead of. That's why this year I've decided to create RTI folders for each of my Tier 3 students who I meet with the most. 

For me, organization serves two purposes, to keep me from digging around in a zillion piles, and to be cute functional. Luckily I found 3 matching pocket folders with prongs and some full sheet Avery labels and RTI folders were quickly made! These full sheet Avery labels have been a huge time saver for me this year, I can't believe I never used them before! 



Inside of the folder I spend a full planning time making weeks of Number Worlds copies. (Number Worlds is our district Tier 3 RTI program) I've found that if  I spend the time now making RTI copies that it saves me time during the week. This way I can devote more time to the many other teacherie things I have to do. 

If you are want your own copy of the RTI folder covers you can grab them here, or click below to get your own editable copy. 



I hope this little bit of organization saves you as much time as it does me! 


Saturday, August 13, 2016

First Day Activities

Let me start off with pointing out how FAST summer went by! It doesn't matter if we get out in May or June, the summer seems to always seems to go by too fast!
My first day of school was on Wednesday and I wanted to share with you some of the activities that we kicked off our school year with. 
The first activity that we did this year was the toilet paper activity. You should see the students faces when their new teacher is asking them to take toilet paper for no reason! After everyone gets settled in, I have them write one thing about themselves for every square of toilet paper that they need. In the past I've found that its difficult for them to actually write on the toilet paper, so this year I made a sheet for them to write on. 

Kids love the chance to share about their summer, or something about themselves and its an easy ice breaker as well as sets limits for students to share. 
Next up was getting our class mission statement and rules started. This is one of the first things that I do each year because it can really set the tone for the entire school year. I started off by reading a really cute book to my students. "Mrs McBloom, Clean Up Your Classroom!" by Kelly DiPucchio is a funny book about a teacher who is retiring and can't figure out how to clean our her messy classroom. Click here to purchase the book! 
 
After I read the book aloud, student then had the chance to write about their idea of the perfect classroom. Once everyone had thought about how their perfect classroom would sound, feel and look students got into groups and shared their ideas. Each student had 1 minute to share about their perfect classroom. 
This activity lead into the groups making our class mission statement, each group made their own mission statement and then we complied the best of each one into our final product. Even though this activity is very time consuming it is worth it in the end. 

My FAVORITE activity to do on the first day of school is making goals. On the first day everyone is excited and eager to learn so it seems to be the best time to talk about goal setting. This year I found an awesome book "Salt in His Shoes" By Deloris Jordan and Roslyn Jordan. This is a story about Michael Jordan and how he worked hard to meet his goals. Click Here if you are interested in purchasing this book. I really liked this book because it appealed to my boys and they could relate to Michael Jordan and his goals. 
After discussing goals and what a good goal looks like, students were set free to plan out their goals. I directed students to include at least 2 academic goals and 1 personal goal for the school year. Once everyone had their amazing goals, we created our art project to display our work out in the hallway. 

Aren't these just the cutest things you've ever seen?!

I love having something from the first day of school to display out in the hallway that is so meaningful. 

Finally to end the first day of school was homework! I have done this activity every year and I've never had a student forget to do this homework. 


The Brown Bag Activity is always a hit in my classroom, even if it is homework. The kids really love getting to share about themselves and bring in some of their favorite things. I love that is works on students speaking and listening skills early on in the school year! 


If you would like any of these activities, with lesson plans, for the first few days of school for your big kids, just click here! 

I hope that you have an awesome first day of school and a great school year to follow! 


Tuesday, June 21, 2016

June Show and Tell Tuesday

Summer seems likes its just getting started but its already June 21st! Time is flying by and I've been pretty busy this summer. I'm excited to link up with Forever in Fifth Grade for my first ever Show and Tell Tuesday. 
I've spent most of my summer so far at county fairs here in Kentucky. My husband drag races ATV's and it seems like every night I find myself at a different county fair. Recently we took our child  dog, Ruger, to a race and he loved it from he trailer, but the closer we got to the track the less he seemed to enjoy himself. 
I had been wanting to go to the Zoo for awhile since the Louisville Zoo recently had a baby gorilla, and lets face it they are the best. We went with a group of our friends to visit the baby gorilla and it was HOT that day. A lot of the animals were not that active because it was so hot, but we did get to see several of the gorillas and even the baby! 
The baby gorillas mother died giving birth, so the zookeepers have been taking extra steps to make sure the baby gorilla lives. If you look closely you can see the baby laying on the chest of the zookeeper.