Saturday, July 19, 2014

Making the Most of your Blooms Posters!


Super excited to be doing another Bright Ideas Linky!  This one will be short and sweet but oh so fun!  How many of you out there have those silly (but useful) Blooms Taxonomy posters?  Oh, they are cute to boot - flowers, oranges, lots of adorable clipart with those powerful verbs we use everyday.  So what do you do, hang it up and hope you remember to glance at it while teaching?  Try this...

Make your poster into a magnetic dart board!  I couldn't find my darts to put them in the pictures but I'm assuming you all know what darts are yes?  ;)  

It was super easy and quick to make and I can take it and use it anywhere with me in the classroom.  And.. my amazing husband even designed a way for it to hang on the wall for me.  Now, I don't know the names of those tool pieces (girly girl here!)  I think its some wire, an eyebolt? and a few nuts.  Ha!  Very industrial!!  Take a look at the pics to see how we put it together.  




And obviously this can be done with any kind of poster - not just Blooms Taxonomy ones.  So basically what I've done with it, as we're in guided reading or whole group - the students take the dart and throw it.  Where it lands is where either I get the verb and ask a question or they use the verbs to generate a question.  There are so many other ways you can incorporate this 'bright idea' into your routine.  I hope you like it!!  Make sure to check out the other bright ideas below!







Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Christmas in July Dollar Sale!

     I know we all <3 a bargain!  And with.... dare I say it... BACK TO SCHOOL right around the corner for some of us (12 days left of summer for me), there are bargains to be found all over the place. Well, the bloggers from good ol' Indiana want to help you with that even more!  Presenting...


We have all linked up to give you some MAJOR savings this July, so make sure to check them all out and save, save, SAVE!  Here's what I'm putting up for sale!

Since it is "Back to School" season - I thought a few B2S items would be fitting :)  Two of my most popular back to school items are my Cootie Catchers and my Roll & Cover games.  Take a look!  

My cootie catchers are GREAT for back to school - there are many to choose from.  Some of them are even interactive where the students have to fill in answer to the questions before being able to play (seen in picture on the left below).  There are some for 'get to know you' and then some even for classroom procedures!  Make sure to check them out :)  Click on any of the photos to grab them for $1!  



     

If you're like me, the first week of school is filled with get to know you games, procedures, read a louds, etc.  When you're getting to know your kids, its hard to do any kind of academic 'teaching' because you're just now learning their levels and abilities.  So for math - I focus on facts!  Whether its review for higher grades or introduction and practice for lower grades - facts are great for back to school.  My kids love Roll & Cover games and I have some cute back to school themed ones!  Take a look!




There are 4 games in the packet - one for each of the 4 operations.  They look great in color and in black and white.  I have mine laminated and ready and easy to pull out and use every year for back to school!
Click on either of the photos to take a closer look and to grab them for just $1.00!!

     Now, if you're REALLY wanting a back to school deal - I have all of my back to school themed items in one large bundle at a huge discount of 25% off!  And what's even better is if I ever make any other back to school items (which I definitely will be) and you've already purchased the bundle - you get the add on products for FREE!  So right now, there are 7 products in the bundle.  The two products shown here (roll/cover & cootie catchers) plus
  • Talk Like a Teacher - a Context Clue Activity
  • Going for the Goals - a Classroom Procedure Goal Setting Mini Book
  • Heard it Through the Grapevine - Craftivity/Bulletin board set
  • Back to School Word Based Fun - lots of games/activities great for morning work and fillers for b2s
  • Race to the Rules - a classroom procedure board game 
So that's 7 different back to school items for the bundled price of $12.00, which is 25% off if bought all separately.  And like I said, I'm in the works of making another b2s item that will go into the bundle when done, so if you've purchased the bundle before hand - you'll get it and any future added items for free!  :)  Definitely something to think about.  Click on the photo above to check it out!


Ok - back to the $1.00 sale...

If your kids are like mine, any time I can get them up and moving during a lesson - they are hooked!  They LOVE my 4 corner games and are always asking when we're going to play one next.  I recently added two of them to my store - the Probability Polka and the Author's Purpose Promenade (all of my 4 corner games are dance themed)  

If you're not familiar with the 4 Corner game - basically you display a question and 4 options in the 4 corners of a piece of paper.  The kids read the question and then move to the corner of the room that matches their answer.  Instant feedback for the teacher, the kids are up and having fun.  Sometimes I even add music to the 'moving' time and they can dance as they move around.  Fun, easy, quick - and did I say fun!  I currently have 6, 4 Corner games in my store.  I thought you might like to try out the Author's Purpose one for just $1.00!!!  Click on the photos below to take a peek!

(While you're looking at them - make sure to check out my 4 Corner game bundle too - LOTS of extra savings and again, access to any future games for free!)



And last but not least - Fall is right around the corner and we all love themed centers yes?  One of my biggest sellers is my Apple Rounding game.  It's easy to implement and there are 2 versions of the game included for differentiation - one where students are rounding to the nearest 10's and 100's and the other takes it to the 1,000's.  There's also a recording sheet included to help with accountability!  Again - it's yours for just $1.00!!  Take a look!  Click on any photo to take you to TPT.  








Alrighty peeps - there you have it.  Now the sale is only for TWO days so don't miss out on all of these savings.  And make sure to check out the other Indiana sellers and their $1.00 deals too!  I hope you're enjoying your July!









Monday, July 7, 2014

Guided Math Conferences - What are They? (Freebie!)


I'm so excited to be apart of this book study this summer.  Not just because I love to further develop my professional self, but also because I've hit the Pregnancy Insomnia stage and I need something quiet to do in bed while the hubby sleeps :)  Haha!  I was up last night reading the first chapter while he snored away.  And no, I didn't fall asleep while reading! (Which I normally do)  I guess that just goes to show you how exciting and interesting this book is!  

So I'm linking up to help inform you about chapter one:  "Conferring with Young Mathematicians"  

If you haven't read Laney Sammons' first book:  Guided Math, you'll definitely want to pick it up!  OR you can check out our book study from two years ago!  Click on the picture below and you'll want to scroll to the middle of the page to find the links to all of the blogs and chapters :) 


So the basis of Guided Math is VERY similar to Guided Reading.  You have your whole group instruction, small group, mini lesson, etc.  Our book study this summer is going to focus on one small but very important piece of that structure: Math Conferences.  Just like in reading, we get to know our readers better when we are one on one with them - asking questions, listening to them talk and think out loud.  We have time to get inside their brains!  (insert Frankenstein laugh here)  That's the gist of Math Conferences as well - but what I'm learning while reading this book is how to make them purposeful.  

One big concept that really stuck with me is when Laney compared reading to math.  Yes, as a teacher  I knew there were lots of similarities on how they should be taught - but not to the level she describes.  She goes on to describe reading as this:

  • "Reading is the act of constructing meaning."
  • "Reading is a process."
  • "Reading is deeply personal and, therefore, varies from reader to reader."


If you stop and think about those points individually - they all apply to math as well.  There is so much background knowledge that takes place when it comes to learning math.  I can't tell you how many times when teaching the concept of money, I've thought to myself - haven't they been to a store and BOUGHT something (referring to making change).  I teach in a high poverty/low income school district - so a lot of my kids lack that piece of important background knowledge.  Just like we 'access prior knowledge' in reading lessons - its important to think and do the same in math.  But when we're given 30 minutes, 60 minutes, or somewhere in between on a time limit to teach such important skills - its hard to find the time to squeeze everything in.  

This is where guided math conferences come into play!  They help us develop those important bonds and access each students' thinking and prior knowledge one on one.  In order for conferences to be meaningful, Laney states that they must have the following characteristics:

  1. ..have a purpose
  2. ..have a predictable structure
  3. Lines of thinking are pursued w/ students
  4. Both teachers and students each have conversational roles
  5. Students are shown that teachers care
She goes on to state that the "major function of the conference - assessment, feedback, and instruction - all are entwined."  

Things starting to click now?  I definitely had some "ah-ha!" moments last night while reading it all :)  

One big piece of chapter one that I loved was the fact that Laney took the time to compare/contrast guided math conferences with two other important structural pieces to show and tell us the difference between them:  small group instruction and math interviews.  

Basically - to break it down:  Math interviews are more for assessment - there is no guidance at the end and no feedback given to the student.  Small group instruction includes focus on the group as a whole instead of each individual child's needs.  Guided math conferences are geared more towards the student being allowed to work through a problem while the teacher listens and guides, gives feedback, asks questions, gives suggestions, sets goals, and takes notes.  There's a lot of difference between each one of these important pieces of instruction.  The time they take to implement is also different:

*conferences are about 5 minutes
*interviews are about 10-15 minutes
*small group instruction is about 15 - 20 minutes

(AH!  So much good information!)

Laney ends the chapter with a nice visual on the structure of what a Guided Math Conference should look like.  I would almost consider this my 'checklist' as I met with each student.  

I need to:

  • Research the student's understand and skills
    • Observe student
    • Listen as student answers questions
    • ask more questions to get further information
    • student does most of talking
  • Decide what is needed
    • what should be the student's next step
    • what has the student done well?  (give feedback) 
  • Teach to student's needs
    • use demonstration or guided practice to teach to student's needs
    • briefly practice
  • Link to the future
    • Set goal for next meeting
    • student shares/reflects on their learning

If you think about it, that's a lot to do in about 5 minutes and then a lot for the teacher to remember (especially when having 20+ students to do it with each week!)  So to help, I've come up with a quick and easy data form that address all of the needs of a guided math conference.  It's nothing fancy, but I thought it would help those of us who plan to do guided math and conferences to make sure we're getting in what's important in the conference and also being able to remember what happened at each conference with each student.  I plan to print these off ( about 20 per student to begin) and put them in a conference binder with a tab for each student.  Easy access and organization and what great data to use and share with parents!  Click on the photo below to grab a free copy! (please let me know if the link ever stops working!)



Well, that's chapter one for you!  I'd love to hear what your thoughts are!  Make sure to leave a comment :)  And stay tuned for chapter two soon!  Also, check out the linky for other bloggers' takes on Chapter One!  Lots of great info to share!









Wednesday, July 2, 2014

Conference Fun & Much More!


If anyone out there is a mother and has been away from their children for a 'long' period of time, you can definitely relate... but I'm SO glad to be back home!  Don't get me wrong - I had a BLAST in New Orleans at the Reading, Writing, Math & More conference but I missed my babies!!  Four days away was just way too long!  :(  But alas, I'm home now and can't wait to tell you all about my trip!  

If anyone's ever been to an SDE conference, you'll know what I'm talking about - but I got to meet so many amazing and fantastic teachers this week.  It truly re-inspired me and reminded me of why I'm an educator.  For these teachers to take time out of their summer to come and learn and develop when the sun/pool is calling is just truly selfless.  The passion throughout the building just radiated throughout.  I wish I was able to attend the sessions - I head they were amazing.  Instead, Brenda from Primary Inspired and I made the courageous decision to set up tables in the exhibitor hall.  Take a look at our display!


We got a lot of great compliments on our display.  "Very eye catching, very professional, draws you in"  We were very pleased with the feedback we got!  We even had two special visitors drop by to say hi!


Ms. Amanda Nickerson (One Extra Degree) and Ms. Jennifer Smith Sloane (4MulaFun)!  (Please excuse the belly - 7 months preggo!)


And the one, the only - Miss Deanna Jump!  Two of my idols in the blogging/teaching world.  Believe me folks - they are JUST as nice as they seem!  

While we were there, we had planned to get to see as much of New Orleans as we could - neither of us had been there before.  But instead, NOLA had other plans - RAIN!  It rained each night we were there.  One night we were having dinner and a monsoon came through!  Puddles up to my ankles.  Luckily the restaurant sold ponchos.  Check us out rockin' those!  


So 3 1/2 days in NOLA - most of the time working, networking, working some more, but I wouldn't have changed it for anything.  And I'm very happy to say I have a new good friend - Ms. Jennifer Smith Sloane.  She is SO nice and we really got to know one another over those few days.  This pic is seriously one of my FAVES!  We all look so good!!  (Eating at The Butcher - if you're ever in NOLA, make sure to check it out!)


So while working at the conference I was kind of taking mental notes of the comments some of the teachers would make as we would talk about the products in our store.  I have a lot of great blogging ideas that will be coming soon.  I'm going to do a 3 part series on the Gradual Release Model - I had a lot of questions about what it was and how to implement it, so make sure to keep an eye out for that.  

I also had a LOT of interest in my Fantastic Five Word Problem Unit.  (Sneak Peek Below)


The Fantastic Five is a researched based work problem strategy that can be implemented in any grade.  I've used it the past two years.  This last year, I had 8 of my students get Pass+ (which is the highest level possible) on their math standardized test.  So proud!  I contribute a lot of that to using The Fantastic Five.  Teachers at the conference were really impressed with what this unit included.  

*Anchor Charts
*Pre/Post Tests (3 versions)
*Rubric to help grade
*Example Answer Key
*8 Detailed Lesson Plans 
*I do, We do, You Do printables for each lesson
*Bookmarks
*3 end of the unit games/activities

Teachers walked away with THREE weeks of math already planned and ready to go for the upcoming school year.  They were so happy!  

I always start the year off by teaching the Fantastic Five - therefore I can use the strategy all year long.  It's a great beginning of the year, back to school unit.  Almost like my 'anchor' to begin math with.  I've done it for the last two years and I wouldn't start the year off with anything else.  





Don't let the black and white fool you - this unit is 70 pages of amazing lessons and resources that truly do work.  Great for grades 2-5 - 1st grade - you COULD use the strategy, but the word problems may be a bit hard (just to be honest!)  Make sure to click on the photos to download the preview to take a closer look. Or click HERE!

 And let me know if you have any questions!  

I hope you are all having a great summer.  And I leave you with a photo of these adorable little ones - see why I missed them so much!? 


Saturday, June 21, 2014

Setting Up a Guided Reading Basket


Guided Reading is one of my favorite times of the day.  Getting the kids excited about diving into a book and using lots of different tools to do so makes our job and their jobs so much more fun!  But it always comes down to the big question:  What to put in my tool kit?  Well I'd love to share with you today what I put in mine!  

I don't always use every tool each time I meet with a group, but I like having it all in one location ready to use when the mood strikes.  We all know how planning goes.  We can plan one thing but in the middle of the lesson something else end up working better - so its nice to have every tool you could possibly need right there at your finger tips.  Let's take a dive into the basket and see what we've got!  (I'll do my best to explain how I use each item, but please let me know if you have any questions.  I'll also include links to certain items so if you're interested in where to find these to purchase, you have a lead)  

I've numbered the items.  If its hard to see what the number is covering, just refer back up to the original photo at the top of the post.  :)  

1.     A Star Light:  I've used my light for two main reasons.  Every time I meet with a group, I always model the concept I'm focusing on for that lesson.  To help the students visualize when I'm modeling and when I'm not, I use the light.  When I model - I act like a student.  I talk like one, I refer to myself as Mrs. Harris, and I say and do think I know my 'kids' would do.  So the light helps them know when I'm "Mrs. Harris" and when I'm a "Student". I call it my 'thinking' light.  I've also used it to show the other students in the classroom who are not with me, that I'm working and they need to hold all questions until the light is off - this helps keep my group interruption free :)  You can find these lights at almost any store - Wal-Mart, Dollar Tree, Target...

2.     Very Small Index Cards/File Folders - These are first and foremost adorable!  Colorful, small, file folders. They are only 4x6 in size and are great to help keep small files readily available to take notes for all of your kiddos.  I usually use a packet each nine weeks.  I write the student's name on the top and on the inside I keep running record notes, fluency notes, etc - whatever I need!  These are great to copy for parents and to keep in their file for the year as well.  And did I mention they are cute!?  Click here to buy!


3.     Reading Comprehension Dice - I have a feeling a lot of teachers out there use these because the kids love them and they are easy!  Have 2 extra minutes at the end of your lesson and don't know what to do?  Roll the dice!  They come in both fiction and nonfiction so it doesn't matter what genre of book you're focusing on.  These are also good to use when you're getting yourself settled in and the kids are all ready but you're not.  Tell them to each grab a dice and a post it, roll once and answer the question silently.  A great introduction to your lesson, keeps the kids quiet and focused and you have a few extra seconds to get yourself focus and organized or deal with that one student across the room who isn't focused..  :)  Click on the photo to check them out!


4.     These don't need much of an introduction - pointer fingers.  These are great to pick up at Target around Halloween for a buck or two.  Kids snap them on and follow along!   

5.     Number 5 is actually a few items in one bucket:  flashlights, magnifying glass, sunglasses, and highlighter strips.  All of these items have pretty much the same purpose as the fingers do, but they can do a bit more and are a little more engaging too.  Instead of just having the kids follow along when reading, we use these to help 'find' different skills and concepts in our lesson.  The kids might use the magnifying glass to be a detective and search for a word with a long vowel sound.  They might use the flashlights to 'spot' a compound word.  The might use the sunglasses when they are the one reading out loud to help keep their eyes focused (yes, it really does work!).  This hodge podge cup is great to keep handy because the kids love using all of these materials!  The highlighter strips are basically like the fingers too.  We use these a lot when we're focusing more on the text as a whole rather than word work because you can 'find' more if that makes sense.  Click on the photo to find them!


6.     Mini Motivational Cones - Love these and love even more that they are just a DOLLAR!  Yes,  $1.00!  Dollar Tree all the way!  I use them to help spotlight students who are doing a good job, answered a question correctly, read fluently, etc etc - you get the picture.  At the end of the lesson, anyone who has a cone gets a prize!  Sometimes I even have the kids give them to one another and make them give each other feedback.  This makes them focus even more on what their peers are doing right and wrong and why.  Great learning tool!  Click on the photo to find them!


7.     Post-It's.  Shall I say more?  If I'm now on post-its in my basket I immediately make a student get me more because heaven forbid I run out!  These have unlimited powers when it comes to guided reading.  I use them a lot for "Stop & Think"s.  Where in the middle of reading we stop, I ask a question, they take a post it and think and write their response and we discuss quickly and continue reading.  It helps the students understand that we as good readers always need to stop and think about what we're reading.  They can be used for exit tickets.  The smaller ones can be used to have students identify pieces of their text.  "Find me evidence to prove the setting of the story.."  Boom - Post it!  You gotta love them!

8.     Colorful Hair Ties - Just in case your hair falls down..  Just kidding!  I use these for grouping.  Even in a small guided reading group of 5-6 kids (sometimes bigger unfortunately) I want to group my kids into pairs or smaller groups for discussion or an activity.  Yes, Its just as quick to say "You two together and you two together"  But where is the fun in that!?  Using these makes grouping 'random'.  I put "'s around that word because you can make it random by letting them pick or you can make it look random by placing a colored band in front of their seat before they sit down.  You've previously chosen the groups because of XYZ but they don't know that!  


9.     Highlighter Tape - The 'repositional' kind!  This stuff works great to have kids identify pieces of the text while working - and unlike all of the other tools that do the same, this will stay in place!  I love using this when switching books around or having the kids leave their text behind for me to 'grade'.  I hope I'm making sense with this one - I may have the students highlight the clues when making an inference.  Then switch books with another student and then they have to use what's highlighted to make the inference the person before them already made.  Or I'll have them make an inference and highlight the clues before leaving as their exit ticket.  I can easily open their books and see whether or not they can identify the clues in the text.  Do you see what I mean now it stays in place!?  


10.    Stickers!  You always need stickers!  You ARE a teacher right ;)  

11.     More pointers - you can never have enough!  And letting the kids choose their pointer...  motivational!  

12.     Smencils!  Just another small way to help motivate students - let them write with a smencil! (sorry for the icky black line around the photo..)


13.     Blooms Taxonomy Question Flip Book - I love having one of these on hand.  I feel like I'm pretty good with pre-thinking up my questions I want to have answered as well as coming up with others on the spot.  But sometimes my kids either struggle with something I didn't foresee or they catch onto something that I thought they'd struggle with.  So now I'm caught on the spot in a place I didn't plan for!  Hence - the book!  Grab it, open it to challenge or remediate your questioning to help guide your lesson as needed!  I even use the verbs to have the students generate questions in specific blooms categories for one another to answer (this takes practice!)


14.     Guided Reading Question Cards - These cards (like the dice) are great to use in a lesson if your lesson as gone quicker than expected.  OR you can plan to use them too!  They have them for both fiction and nonfiction.  What I love about them even more is they are geared towards "Before, During, and After" reading so you can really use them at specific points in a lesson.  


Things that are usually in the basket but aren't pictured:

*  Pens/Pencils
*Popsicle Sticks w/ Smiley Face post its on the end (Smiley on one side and sad on the other)  These are great for question/answer sessions!
*dry erase markers
*Small anchor charts (as needed)
*High frequency word flash cards
*Extra mentor texts on hand (just in case!)

And there you have it!  Whew!  :)  That's a lot to cram in that little basket!  I'd LOVE to hear what else you have in yours (that I just may have to put in mine!!)  I hope you found something new to put in yours!  Let me know what you think :)

For more Bright Ideas from over 100 other great blogger authors - Make sure to browse through the link up below!









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