Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Tried It Tuesday {Organizing Nooks}

Life has just been crazy busy (I know you can relate!). I hope I will soon be able to manage more than one post a week. Last weekend I was at a karate tournament all weekend and was so wiped out by Sunday night. I really enjoy it though and that's what counts!
It's Time for Tried It Tuesday! 
What have you tried at school or home?
If you've never linked up with Tried It Tuesday, just link up any idea school or home related and what worked or didn't work. Simple! 
My Tried It:
Organizing Nooks 
 Last year my system for organizing my book nooks was too much work on my part. I kept track of who had each nook each week and changed out my board. 
Last year:
This year, I decided to try a much simpler system and it is working beautifully so far!
I have four book nooks (blue butterfly chair, purple fuzzy floor pillow, and two blue husbands. Here are a couple pictures from my classroom last year (I forgot to take a picture yesterday).

I teach three blocks of math this year and instead of using the book nooks for reading, we now use this area for our math meeting everyday and students can sit here during math workshop rotations.
I use the same numbers for all three classes and just mark an A, B, or C on their book bins for math depending on what block they are in.
Here is a picture of my math bins for all three classes.
On Monday of each week, I draw four numbers and those students get to choose a nook to use for the week. There is a student in each class with that number, so the same numbers apply for all three classes. If there isn't a student with that number, then that class just has three students with nooks for the week. This week there is no #18 in block 2 since there are only 17 students in that section. I write the numbers on the board on Monday so everyone can see what numbers I drew in block one.
 I made these dual colored sticks three years ago and use them all the time. There are only two sticks left with the green side up. That means only two students have not had a nook yet this year and their sticks will be drawn next week. Then, all the sticks will go back to the green end.
How do I keep track of which nooks students have chosen? The blue chair is the most popular and it wouldn't be fair for students to get that nook two times in a row. I'm not keeping track this year! I have students record the date and nook or choice on the back inside cover of their math journals. When their name is drawn next time, they will have to choose a different nook until they have used all four! I am really loving this different system. Less busy work for me. :)



Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Tried It Tuesday {Class Yes!}

Happy Tuesday! We are starting the third full week of school and I think I am finally getting into the swing of things. I hope your week is off to a great start!
It's Time for Tried It Tuesday! 
What have you tried at school or home?
If you've never linked up with Tried It Tuesday, just link up any idea school or home related and what worked or didn't work. Simple! 
My Tried It:
Class Yes  
I have heard of "Class Yes" from Whole Brain Teaching for awhile but never tried it until this year. I can't believe how easy it was to implement and how much it REALLY grabs the students' attention!
The website above describes "class yes" so well. Here is their description:

How many times have you started class, called for your class to get quiet, only to have a few kids comply, and several others continue chatting, apparently oblivious to your request? You ask for their attention again, a bit louder. At this point you can feel your blood pressure rising, right? After all by this time they should know how to follow procedures. They have certainly been trained in procedures similar to yours for years by the time they get to you ... well, depending on what age your students are.
Then why don't they listen? Why don't you already have their attention? You have teaching to do. They doggedly hang onto the conversations they are in, even as your voice rises ...
Now you are headed into a bad mood and the darned class is only just beginning. To top it off, some of your lovely moppets are acting as though giving you their attention is a gigantic imposition. Now both you and your students are in a hostile mood, and no one has learned anything yet.
Does any of this sound familiar? If you would like to change, then read on.
Whole Brain Teaching is educational tomfoolery based on brain based learning. The technique to consistently catch the attention of your class is simple. It is so simple, and effective that I kicked myself for not having thought of it myself years ago, and have lamented many times since the instructional time I lost for not having known this.
To get my classes’ attention I simply say ‘Class!’ and then they reply ‘Yes!’. Next is the catch, the hook that makes this fun, and gets them invested in it in a way that has them looking at me and grinning rather than continuing their conversations.
When I say ‘Class!’ and they say ‘Yes!’ they have to say it the way I said it. If I say ‘Classity-class-class!’ they have to say ‘Yessity-yes-yes!’. If I say it loudly, they have to respond loudly. If I whisper, they respond in a whisper. They have to match my tone and intensity.
Simple, huh? It is amazing how effective this approach is. I used to be the teacher I described above. With middle schoolers in particular it was almost impossible to get their attention. Too often, I would find myself frustrated by my students’ behavior.
Whole Brain Teaching uses a very simple and effective approach to overcome this resistance. Whole Brain Teaching injects fun back into the classroom for both you and your class.
Why is the Class-Yes, in terms of brain structure, so effective?  The neo-cortex, the part of your brain behind your forehead, controls, among other things, decision making.  Think of the neo-cortex as an executive, organizing other brain areas for complex tasks.  When the teacher says, "Class!" and students respond "Yes!," you have, in effect focused your students' neo-cortices on what you're going to say next.  In other words, their brain's executives are ready to take directions from your brain's executive.  That's wonderful!  Your neo-cortex is the CEO of all your kids' neo-cortices.  We call that, Teaching Heaven. 
Here is a videoclip and introduction to whole brain teaching. I am looking forward to trying other WBT strategies!


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Tried It Tuesday {Buddies}

Hey everyone! I hope your week is off to a great start!
It's Time for Tried It Tuesday! 
What have you tried at school or home?
If you've never linked up with Tried It Tuesday, just link up any idea school or home related and what worked or didn't work. Simple! 
My Tried It:
Buddies   
Each fourth grade classroom at my school voluntarily participates in a buddy program with a younger grade.  Throughout the year, we meet with our Kindergarten buddies for activities.  We used to meet once a month, but now that we have departmentalized, it will probably be only about five times that we will meet with our buddies during the year.  Our schedule is just so tight with the blocks.

I just love watching the students interact with their buddies!  The biggest surprises are always the  students who are potential behavior problems and how they just SHINE in this environment when they are given the opportunity to be a role model.  It is a great motivator for all students and an excellent way to teach them to be a role model for good behavior. I really see a different side of so many students come out when they are the "big kid".  

We use this Getting to Know you activity that you can download for FREE here as a Facebook Fan Freebie. Just look for the the blue "Fans Only" button.  I copy the two papers in different colors.  
My 4th graders completed the orange paper, answering questions about themselves before we met our buddies last week. Here they are working on their questions:
Then we take a clipboard with the purple paper to meet our buddies. The 4th graders ask their Kindergarten buddies the same questions and record their answers for them on the purple paper. The 4th graders share their answers from the orange paper with their buddies. When they are done, the 4th graders take home the purple paper with information about the Kindergartner and the Kindergartners take home the orange paper with information about their 4th grade buddy.
Here are a couple other pictures from last year with our buddies working on a Valentine's Day card holder and on Dr. Seuss hat day reading with our buddies.

If you have never tried buddies, think about joining a classroom for the rest of this year or put it on your to do list for next year.  You won't regret it and the students will thank you!


Tuesday, September 9, 2014

Tried It Tuesday {Math Meeting}

I am off to a great start on my first full week of school and back to teaching my favorite subject all day...Math!!
It's Time for Tried It Tuesday! 
What have you tried at school or home?
If you've never linked up with Tried It Tuesday, just link up any idea school or home related and what worked or didn't work. Simple! 
My Tried It:
Math Meeting
You may recall that my team departmentalized for the first time last year and I taught all the ELA. Since then, one of my teammates retired and the teacher who took her place (Emily from Style Closet to Classroom!) loves ELA, so I made the switch to my first love...Math! I already miss parts of ELA but if I had to choose between the two, math wins. Today I am only starting my fifth day of school, but I wanted to share with you how I am starting my three 80 minute math blocks everyday.
This summer I read a lot about the math meeting. We used to have a math meeting everyday with the Saxon program, but now we are using a combination of NYS modules and the Go Math series. I read a post by 4th Grade Frolics here that was inspiring and I love the thought of a quick math meeting everyday to get everyone started on something right away as the class filters in.
I wish I had whiteboard space but two of my walls have chalkboards and bulletin boards and there is not much room for anything else unless there was a whiteboard put over top of the chalkboard or bulletin board.
Here are a couple views of my room when I was getting ready for open house.

Anyway, this is what my math meeting looks like at this point. The categories are "Add It", "Subtract It", "Place Value", "Multiply It", and "Number of the Day".
There are many pieces to the math meeting that I will be switching out throughout the year. I bought the Pink, Turquoise, and Lime theme from 4th Grade Frolics. I love that I can control the type of problems that I think my students need the most practice on each day and start the class with those. It is so valuable to have that ability right at your fingertips without having to look for a worksheet or make one!
 For now, my students are recording their math meetings starting in the back of their math journals and working their way to the middle. Class notes and lesson practice are in the front of the journal. Here are some sample pages of what it looks like. The first day of school we did the math meeting together.
After the first day, students were instructed to get their math box from the bookcase immediately and begin working on the math meeting. They used the example from the first day as a reminder of how to set it up. They have about 5-10 minutes to work on it and then we go to the carpeted area to check out work. Students "star" the answers they get correct and we celebrate with a little cheer. I have students show a quick raise of hands if they answered correctly so I know what skills need worked on the most. Students correct their mistakes in their journals while we are going over the answers.
This is my bookcase with the math boxes for all three blocks but there are about six boxes on top of another shelf that wouldn't fit here. I have had to replace some book boxes with white ones if they were falling apart after last year. However, for the most part, these boxes are on their second year and some are on their third year!
 In each math box is a student composition book, Go Math consumable textbook, Go Math consumable student practice book, and pencil slider case with an extra pencil, eraser, and highlighters.
Do you do a math meeting during your math block? I would love to hear about it!

Sunday, September 7, 2014

The Sunday Scoop!

I am linking up with Teaching Trio for a fun new Sunday linky. 
Sometimes it is nice to focus and reflect on what you want to accomplish. :)

I have a busy day planned! Have a great week everyone! :)

Tuesday, September 2, 2014

Tried It Tuesday (Amazon Prime!)

Did you hear that?!
It's the world's tiniest violin playing a sad tune for everyone that is finally starting back to school now that Labor Day has come and gone! Ah well...by Friday it will seem like we all never left. I'm looking forward to a routine as cliche as that sounds. But really, I'm more productive when I have that structure.

It's Time for Tried It Tuesday! 
What have you tried at school or home?
If you've never linked up with Tried It Tuesday, just link up any idea school or home related and what worked or didn't work. Simple! 
My Tried It:
Amazon Prime Membership
I haven't started back at school yet, so I don't have any action shots but I thought I would share my thoughts on my Amazon Prime Membership that I have carried for about two years now. I live in a small town and the nearest WalMart is about 30 miles away. Even in that town, there still aren't many choices for shopping. Therefore, I have to rely on online shopping quite a bit. My favorite place to shop is Amazon!!
I think Amazon has just about ANYTHING I might need!

If you don't know what Amazon Prime is, here is a brief description:
Receive all the benefits of Amazon Prime including FREE Two-Day Shipping for eligible purchases, unlimited streaming of movies and TV shows with Prime Instant Video, and the ability to borrow books from the Kindle Owners' Lending Library for $99 a year.
 Here are the main benefits of Amazon Prime:
My favorite benefit is the FREE Two-Day shipping! Most items I buy have this option and who doesn't love FREE Two-Day shipping!?! This benefit easily makes the membership ship fee each year worth it. I save much more than $99 in a year. Today I just ordered some pet stain removal for my area rugs (darn little Porter!) and I just click FREE Two-Day shipping! Love!!
I just recently started using the Prime Movie benefits too and this is awesome!
Here is a screenshot of "popular" Amazon Prime movies:
 If I click on a Prime movie, I see this and can click "watch now" for free. If you have internet on your TV, you can watch it on your TV too.
My kids both have Kindle fires and they watch cartoons all the time on Amazon Prime. They also like to listen to music for free on Amazon Prime. Here is a screenshot of the music page:
I haven't borrowed a book for my Kindle yet but that is also a benefit!
There are also Amazon Prime Mom Memberships with these additional benefits:
Just look at the diaper discounts:
I know there is a free trial period. Sign up using my referral link and I will get credit! :)

Disclaimer: Amazon did not contact me to write this blog post. I am not being compensated for writing this post. I just really love my membership and wanted to share with you what I love! If you order on Amazon as much as I do, it might be worth it to become a member. :)

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Monday Made It {New/Old Math Bins, Spray Paint, Schedule Cards}

I have been working like crazy trying to get things ready for next week when students start back at school. I am embarrassed to admit that this is my first Monday Made It all summer! The summer has just flown by and I didn't get nearly what I wanted accomplished but having two kids of my own and trying to make the most of vacation will do that to ya!

So, I am linking up (late!) with my friend Tara at 4th Grade Frolics
I "inherited" this awesome storage unit for bins from a retired teacher. It is filled with math manipulatives and I am teaching three blocks of math this year! I cleaned it out, put some new dollar tree bins in it and added labels. This will add to my organization and help students access the tools they need easily at centers.
These School Supply Labels are by 3rd Grade Thoughts. Find them on TpT HERE. The last page is an editable file and I made these labels based on my needs for the math bins.
Here are some close ups:

I finally updated my boring BLAH plastic file holders with spray paint. It was so easy and quick!
I used this spray paint:
I also updated this dates but very useful metal organizer. I painted the middle pink and the sides purple.
I updated my class schedule cards since our schedule was tweaked slightly. I print the strips in color from my power point file, cut it out, place it on colored paper and laminate. 
Here I am using a class schedule card from last year to cut the same size paper for this year.
 I use my Creative Memories corner rounder for rounded edges.
 Here are some laminated cards (I rotated the picture but it imported wrong).
 This is the updated schedule that is hanging on my board.
I have these editable class schedule cards for $2.00 in my TpT store here if you are interested in checking them out. I used the font A Truer Blue by Kevin and Amanda fonts

I have so much more to do but I know I will get what I absolutely need to get done for the first week somehow. However, it will be a push between now and Tuesday! Have a great weekend friends!
 

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