Sunday, December 6, 2015

Multiplication Properties the Fun Way

Teaching the properties of multiplication is not one of my favorites. Let me clarify that. Teaching the Distributive Property is not my favorite to teach. It's the when, not the what - the first month or two of third grade when my students are still trying to get their brains around what multiplication actually is.  I firmly believe if I could wait until December or January, it would make much more sense to them.  That's why spiraling is such a great practice! So, I designed a game for my students to play to review the Properties of Multiplication.

When you are working with a difficult concept in math, making a game of it helps kids learn while they are playing. So I created Link 4 Dinosaurs which works similar to the popular game Connect Four. Basically, students must link 4 really cute dinosaurs by matching a multiplication equation and the corresponding one on the game board.  I have used primarily the distributive property, but also included the zero, identity, commutative, and associative just to keep them guessing and thinking! 

So, that you can use it whole class or just in a small group, I have made 4 game boards of different colors.  Each board has 16 cards and an answer key. 

The different properties are randomly placed so students are continually challenged.  My students loved this game and their conversations were amazing! They would talk it out as they tried to figure out which equation matched their card. This teacher was so proud!!!

All you will need for this game is one die, place markers like Unifix cubes, a game board, and the cards.  2 - 4 students can play at each board and begin by rolling the die to decide who goes first.  Then each student takes a turn choosing a card and matching it to the dinosaur equation on the board.  When they find it, they place their cube on it.  The first student who links 4 in a row either vertical, horizontal, or diagonally wins!  If no one does, the cards can be shuffled and students begin again.  

Meanwhile, major understanding and practice of the Properties of Multiplication is taking place!

Link 4 Dinosaurs is available in my Teachers Pay Teachers store at 20% off December 6th - 9th only. I think you will love the results and it might make teaching the properties a little bit more fun

Monday, October 5, 2015

How to Change Student Seating Without an Achy Breaky Back

Happy October! How can that be? September flew by and I still have not caught up! But I'm checking in today to talk about changing students seats. In my classroom, I use Kagan seating groups of 4 or 5. Each student has a shoulder partner and a face partner. We use collaborative structures in all academic areas, so kids are working together a lot. I used to dread having to move students around when they grew tired of each other or when I felt that they needed new partners. Moving desks made my back hurt and even worse, it seemed to totally disrupt the class. So noisy, but necessary.

Now, I move my kiddos every 4 weeks to keep partners fresh and give everyone a nice change. How do I do it?  Students move, not desks.  In order to reduce the trauma, I announce "Moving Day!" and everyone clears out their folders, pencil boxes, and any personal items - but leave the textbooks. They stack their stuff on their chair and wait until I tell them where they are moving. They get so excited! Plus, they know that if they don't like this seating assignment, it's only for four weeks. This fact seems to reduce the struggle to get along with a possibly difficult partner and sometimes the new partnership turns out better than they thought.

This is a win-win situation. I don't have an achy back and the transition is pretty smooth - with zero racket.  So, the next time your students are getting on each other's nerves, just announce "Moving Day!" and give everyone a new location! You'll be pleasantly surprised at how the whole atmosphere and attitude changes.  

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Fall in Love with Teaching

I am beyond excited to be taking part in the Third Grade Tribe's Fall in Love with Teaching Blog Hop! These ladies and a few gents are amazing! I have learned so much since I joined this tribe! They are inspirational and so knowledgeable. I hope you will keep hopping through these amazing blogs! Many of these bloggers are having giveaways (including me!) and our tribe is having a HUGE giveaway, so keep reading!


One of the things I truly love about teaching 3rd grade is watching my new kiddos start to really think deeply about text. When they come into 3rd grade, they are just beginning to be able to talk about their reading. When you add partner talk and collaboration into your reading instruction, their thinking just explodes! I love that!
When I began to use constructed response questions paired with our reading series, I could see the level of comprehension rise immediately. No longer were we looking for the correct response to a multiple choice question. Now we wanted to express our thinking by restating the question and supporting our answer with text evidence. This type of activity really lent itself to partner talk and collaborative practices during our language arts block. By encouraging our students to answer questions with a partner, we are giving those struggling readers a huge boost. On the next question, they are ready to tackle it themselves. Not only that - those good readers are modeling how to do it! 
Definitely not the prettiest picture,
BUT look
at all that amazing writing!
Everyday my kiddos are responding to text
and the difference from the
first week of school to now is pretty amazing!
In order for my students to have this opportunity consistently, I began creating my supplemental materials for Reading Wonders during the past school year. As time went on, I realized how valuable this daily practice was for all of my students.  Using the questions stems for Common Core, I created a comprehension question and a word work question for each day of the week.  

I use these constructed response sheets for exit tickets after my reading lesson.  I can quickly see who got it and who didn't.  Then I take a quick classwork grade.  Super easy, super quick!  If you teach using the Reading Wonders series, you might be interested in my constructed response resources.  Because I have included the standard for each question, I have separate resources for Common Core standards and Florida LAFS standards.  You can take a look at these products on TPT by clicking here AND you have the chance to win a bundle pack for Units 1 - 3 by entering the Rafflecopter below!

Reading Wonders 3rd Gr Constructed Response Bundle Pk UnitReading Wonders 3rd Gr Constructed Response Bundle Pk Unit

**Also available in individual units.**

Here's a little peek.....

Even if you don't use a reading series, constructed response is the way to go for deeper thinking about text.  Use question stems with any text.  You will love it too! (If you enter my giveaway and don't need the Reading Wonders Bundle Pack, I will let you choose any product from my store!) Just sharing the love!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Then enter to win a $50 TPT Gift Card at the Rafflecopter below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Don't forget to keep hopping! Teaching with Team W is next! Just click below!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

#Third Grade Tribe Dollar Deals on TPT - This Weekend Only!!

Did you know that if you type #thirdgradetribe into the search bar on TPT, you will see a whole bunch of dollar deals?  Yep, that's right! This weekend only, lots and lots of third grade TPT Sellers are offering dollar deals on Teachers Pay Teachers.  All you have to do is search using our hashtag - #thirdgradetribe!

So, what am I offering??? All three of my True or False - Prove It Math Centers are only $1.00!  So, third grade teachers, aren't you getting ready to start teaching multiplication? I have a center for that. 

Multiplication True or False? Prove It!

Then around Thanksgiving, it will be fraction time - I have a center for that. 

Finally, January or so comes the dreaded Elapsed Time. Guess what?  I have a center for that.

The best part is that my centers include constructed response through error analysis which takes our little mathematicians into higher thinking territory. All for $1.00!

I am also offering my Florida Teacher buddies, the Florida LAFS and MAFS Standards Checklists. 

Florida LAFS Standards Checklist
Florida MAFS Standards Checklist

Don't forget! Just use #thirdgradetribe to find all the amazing dollar deals...but hurry! Cause the sale is this weekend only!

>>>> Make sure you leave feedback for the TPT sellers! You receive TPT credits and they love to see what you think about their products.

Friday, September 4, 2015

Peeking into Classrooms - Go ahead and LOOK!

Hi Friends!  I feel like I have been M.I.A. lately!  Oh, the Back to School blues, right? One minute it was July and I was leisurely working on BTS tasks at home and the next BAM! It was Orientation and I was NOT READY!!!

Part of the problem was my sweet daughter who finished up her summer term at FSU on August 7th. We had to move her and all of her stuff back home and then get her ready for her departure on August 26th for London Study Abroad. In between August 7th and August 26th, this mom wanted to spend major quality time with her (priorities). Also, there was the situation with our school under major construction this summer and let's just say, things weren't exactly rosy (or finished) when we returned. However, here we are 2 weeks in and I'm finally gettting back to blogging.

I've been drooling over all these before and after photos of beautiful classrooms and wishing mine was picture ready - but it's not.  It doesn't feel "pretty", but it does feel like enough - for now.  Again - priorities. HOWEVER, I do have some "purdy" ones to show you!  My teacher bestie Heather has an adorable room and I can't wait to share it!  She graciously sent me lots of pics for you to ooh and aah about and maybe get an idea or two!


Love the pops of color everywhere!

Classroom Library all tucked into this corner.

I just love all the color!  Of course, not every surface is covered yet - need to leave a little room for student work!

Another wonderful teacher friend is Christine, who teaches in Okinawa.  Her room theme is Mrs. Hecox' United Nations. She has had this unique theme for quite awhile and it is perfectly her!  Here is a few of her awesome pics!

Loved the chevron and pops of color on the lower cabinets.
The students will put their buckets
there for drops from others.

See the blue United Nations flag on the right?  

Love these table desk thingys and the carpet (so quiet!).

Also, a little jealous of the lanterns hanging from the
ceiling - no fire marshall there!
Hope you enjoyed this little tour of my teacher besties classrooms!  I LOVE peeking into other classrooms, don't you?  Both of these are amazing and perfectly perfect for each of my friends.

Hope you enjoyed that little peek and maybe got a few ideas!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

It's BTS - 5 Things I'm Doing Right Now to Be Ready

It's Back to School time whether you are ready or not! So, what can you do to start out on a positive note this school year?  Prepare. Prepare. Prepare.

Here are the 5 things I'm working on right now to be ready for those cutie pies when they walk through my door.

1.  Classroom Management - Procedures

A few years ago, I made a list of all of my classroom procedures.  Then, I sparsed them out over the the first week of school by priority.  First, I taught the procedure, we practiced, then I reminded, etc., etc.  Does that work? Kind of.  Some students get it the first time and others not so much.

This school year, I took a cue from some very smart teacher bloggers and made a procedure manual for my kiddos. It's still a work in progress, so I'm going to copy it right before the first day. Then, I'm going to make that the focus of our first week of school - setting up those procedures and routines. Each student will then have their own copy to use as a reference. I think my 3rd graders are going to really like that.

2.  Curriculum 

  I have printed all of the curriculum maps that my county provides for us so I can start thinking about what I'm teaching in the first month of school. This is my 6th year in 3rd grade, so I know what we are teaching, but I always want to try new things to keep it fresh for me.  As Angela Watson says, "Find some bright spots in your curriculum to look forward to". That's my goal for curriculum this year - keeping it fresh and interesting for both students and this teacher! 

3.  Classroom Decor

 At my school we take EVERYTHING down in our classrooms before we leave for the summer. So, classroom set up is kind of a big deal and takes quite a bit of time.  Even if you have your stuff ready to go - borders bought, signs printed and laminated, baskets labeled, and so on. During the summer, if I am changing my room decor, I work on lots of this kind of stuff while I have the time.  Then in August it just has to be hung up, stapled, or hot glued where I want it. I know there are teachers who walk in on the first reporting day and start thinking about this stuff but - I DON'T KNOW HOW THEY DO IT!! Sounds terrifying to me. It's such a better feeling to be ready even if you give up a little time in the summer.

4.  First Week's Plans 

 That first week is a killer!  Exhaustion, sleeplessness, hyper-multi-tasking...all these things converge and by Friday, everyone stumbles home in a daze.  So, in order to survive that week, I'm getting all my first week's plans done and ready to go before returning. It's one more thing I don't have to worry about.

5.  Personal Goals 

 One of the hardest things to do after we return to school in August is to balance school life and personal life.  That first month to 6 weeks is overwhelming and it's hard to just go home and leave things undone.  But you have to. You have to have a life, so make a plan to do that. I like to stay in shape by running and I will admit I let that go last year.  So, this year my personal goal is to run 3 times a week. No matter what.

Teaching is a tough job, but I love it and I would not want to be doing anything else.  So, if doing a few things before we return to school helps me be a better teacher or a more balanced human - it's totally worth it.

What are you working on?

Saturday, August 8, 2015

Teacher Time Savers Linky Party

Timesaver ideas for teachers. Now that's a list I would be pretty happy to have!  There are a million things to do and very little time to do them.  So, when I started thinking about a timesaver to share with you, I thought about classroom jobs. Because this little change in your classroom job routine will make a huge difference. Almost every teacher has classroom jobs, so this is a universal teacher timesaver.

Soooo, what is my super helpful time saving tip? First, the disclaimer:  this is not my original idea, but an idea I found on Pinterest a few years ago.  I tried it and it was pure genius!  My super helpful idea is.....classroom jobs are kept for 4-5 weeks at a time, not changed out each week. How does this save time?  

1 -Students get really good at their job, so I don't have to train, retrain, remind, or in the end - do it myself.  


2 - They train their replacements.

Now I know most teachers will tell you that they want their students to be able to do all the classroom jobs sometime during the year, and that would be nice for them. But honestly, the real reason we do classroom jobs is to help us. We just can't do everything. This method gets all those little tasks taken care of, allows students to become proficient at their job, and SAVES us time. All you have to do is change the jobs at the interim report card and the 9 week report card. Your students will do the rest.

So, that's my teacher timesaver.  I hope you try it and enjoy the extra time it gives you to do the important stuff - teaching!

If you are looking for a quick math center, check out my True or False? Prove It! Centers. They are perfect for 2nd - 4th grade and they are so easy and fast to prepare plus they get those little mathematicians writing about their math thinking!


Thanks to Tammy from Literacy Loves Company for the fun and helpful Teacher Time Savers Linky Party! Make sure you check all of the timesaving tips from teacher bloggers on this link up!

Saturday, August 1, 2015

What's in Your Cart? BTS Linky Party

I'm so happy to be joining up with other TPT Sellers/Buyers to share what's in my cart for the upcoming TPT BTS Sale on August 3rd and 4th! This is such a great time to buy the goodies you need for your classroom - up to 28% savings!!

But first! Here's what you need from my store:

Fluency Bundle Pack - This bundle pack is all you will need to help those struggling readers gain fluency. For just $10.00, you get 308 flashcards that cover syllables, blends, phrases, and pyramid sentences.

Smarty Pants Reading and Math Goal Setting - Start your kiddos out thinking about their learning in reading and math by setting goals! Last year was my first year goal setting with my 3rd graders and I cannot wait to do it again! So powerful!

Reading Wonders Constructed Response Unit One - If you use Reading Wonders in your classroom, you know it leaves a lot to be desired. This resource gives you that extra something to get those 3rd graders thinking at a higher level. This is the complete Unit 1 pack to start your year out with higher order thinking through Constructed Response. 
 *Also available for Common Core.

Resources in my cart:

Interactive Anchor Chart Start Up Kit from The Applicious Teacher

Detective Clip Art from Whimsy Clips - thinking about using for an upcoming TPT resource!

Math Class Clip Art from Whimsy Clips - another possible project in the works!

These are just a few of the goodies I'm looking forward to buying during the sale - can't wait!

Thanks for stopping by! Make sure you check out the rest of the linky party! And don't forget to use the promo code: BTS15 so you get the extra 10% - Happy Shopping!

Friday, July 31, 2015

Beliefs to Action - We Are What We Think

With Love from Texas blogger Whitney Alexanderson challenged teachers to put into writing what their beliefs were and what actions they are or will put into place as a result of these beliefs. I have accepted this challenge and here is what I believe.

All educators have beliefs about their profession and about their students. It goes with the territory. 

Here's mine:

I believe every child can learn & I believe that I should have high expectations for all of my students. These two beliefs go hand in hand.  When a child walks through my classroom door, this is my truth. I don't let anything get in the way of this - not family situations, not economics, not disabilities, not perceived intelligence. Every child can and should learn.


I believe that the relationship I have with my students has EVERYTHING to do with how much they learn when they are in my classroom.  High expectations, respect, love, a belief in them, and a safe and happy classroom create an environment that supports their learning.


I believe it takes a village to raise a child.  This is an old adage, but I believe it's true.  Parents, teachers, lunchroom ladies, librarians, bus drivers, are all important to this education equation. We need to support and respect each other in this process. It's what is best for children.


I believe kids learn best when they are having fun.  Isn't that what childhood is all about?  Fun? Let's not take the fun out of school. Give our students reasons to smile, laugh, and play. They will learn so much more!


I believe that teaching and learning are constantly changing, so my teaching methods have to change with it.  Investing time and energy in staying up to date is absolutely essential to my value as a teacher. This ever changing environment and my attitude about it is why I love this job.  Everyday is different and with kids you never know what they will say or do! It keeps it interesting! This is why I think I have the best job in the world!

So, these are my beliefs - what am I going to do about it?

Thank you Whitney for this challenge! It really got me thinking and excited about the new school year! And I believe we are what we think.

So let's keep this hop going! Lori at Keeper of the Light and Love and Learning is up next sharing her beliefs!

Keeper of the Light and Love of Learning