Tuesday, May 12, 2015

Tried It Tuesday {Pencil Challenge}

Time is flying! I can't believe that we are well into May. ELA and math state tests are done and we only have science to go. We still have almost 40 instructional days to go…but who's counting?! :)

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:
Pencil Challenge
Our fourth graders are OUT OF CONTROL this year with pencils!!
Last week mechanical pencils were officially BANNED from the grade. We always write on the school supply lists "no mechanical pencils" please. Now I remember why! We started getting relaxed on this rule and before we knew it, students had mechanical pencils everywhere!! I wish I had taken a picture of some students desks filled with them. There wasn't just the issue of them constantly breaking and students playing with the lead. I had the problem of about five boys who would crowd around each other's desks anytime it was time to line up and look at each other's pencils! One boy said he bought pencils himself at Walmart with his own money. However, he bought the wrong size refill lead and that was another issue, trying to find pencils and trade to match his lead! Ugh!

So, now with mechanical pencils gone, we are focusing on another pencil problem! Since we are departmentalized, students from two other homerooms come to my room everyday for math. I keep book boxes of math materials in my room complete with a pencil case to store a "back up pencil" and highlighters. Students should just come to class with their homework folder and a pencil. Lately it seems that half the students never have a pencil (or a back up one in their box in case one breaks). Students can only sharpen pencils during morning work time, snack time, and at the end of the day for management issues. We all know students who would sharpen pencils all day to waste time. :) I've had these containers for two years, but with 50 students in and out of my room everyday, students just take pencils to borrow them and never return them! I can't keep extra ones in there!
Possible solution? Start a pencil challenge! I read about pencil challenges in the blogging world last year. This is the deal:
I gave everyone a pencil with their number written with a Sharpie on a piece of duck tape wrapped on the end.

The picture above is actually for my block 2 class and the picture below is block 3. I had to use different tape for each block because the numbers repeat three times for each group. I used another different tape for my block 1 but I didn't get a picture before passing those out last week.
The students can save their pencil and not use it or use it everyday. They just have to still have their pencil by "pencil reward day" which is Wednesday for my homeroom.  They received their pencils last Thursday. Today I asked how many still had their pencil and EVERY student raised their hand! I didn't tell them what the prize would be, but said there would be a reward. I'm going to mix it up a bit and sometimes give lunch in the classroom or outside time and other times a prize from my prize bin. It's close enough to the end of the year that I think I can keep it going all year and it will save my sanity these last weeks!!
By the way, my Classroom Friendly Supplies pencil sharpener I first blogged about in January 2013 here is going strong! Here is a picture of my pencil sharpener yesterday. I had it wall mounted in a creative way.

These are my pencils sharpened with the Classroom Friendly supplies sharpener.
These were sharpened with the electric sharpener. :(
I will update on the pencil challenge soon and let you know how it is going. 
Have you ever tried a pencil challenge?

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

Tried It Tuesday {Math Review for Testing}

Well, I almost forgot about Tried It Tuesday in my sickness slumber. Taking a break from my nap to try and get caught up with my neglected blog. My daughter caught this virus over a week ago and she was stuck on the couch for FOUR days (very unlike her!). Fever, vomiting, diarrhea, AND she got pink eye. Now I have it and haven't eaten since Saturday. This is day two home from school. The temps reached over 70 here yesterday for the first time since last year sometime and I was stuck inside in bed all day. :( This too shall pass I tell myself but I wish it would hurry!

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 Review for Testing
We are in full state testing mode here in New York. The ELA exam is this week and next week is the math exam. I thought I would share some resources that I have found for review.

This Fourth Grade Math Year in Review resource by Ideas by Jivey is a great handout for students and parents! Shown below is the first page of the ten page handout.
It is a study guide that give examples and definitions of all fourth grade Common Core skills in math. There are even options of pages to send home for multiplication depending on how your students learn the skill (partial products and one for the lattice method).

Of course, what test prep would be complete without more practice solving word problems? Our state test is comprised of almost all word problems. These Multiple Choice Task Cards Whole Number Operations by Coffee Cups and Lesson Plans are a great way to amp up your review of word problems in a fun, engaging way!
I have also been using Math Moves: Daily Spiral Review by Fun in Room 4B. Each spiral review page covers all 5 domains every week. I started using this late in the year but it could be used all year. There are also separate weekly assessment pages covering the same standards from the daily work for the week. I am using it right now as spiral review for homework but would also work great for morning work. Check it out!
Our district also purchases the Common Core Coach books by Triumph Learning and I have pulled a few lessons from here to cover standards that I thought were lacking in the GoMath series.

Do you have other resources that you have found to be great for review of skills from the year?
I would love to hear your thoughts and comments!

This link up will be open for the month! Link up once or more than once! Thanks friends. :)

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Tried It Tuesday {Math Workshop Games}

Happy Tuesday friends! I hope your week is off to a great start! I am in countdown mode for a two week spring break. We have this week and next week, then a two week spring break! Wahoo!!

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 Workshop Games
I have blogged about how I started using math workshop this year during my three 80 minute math blocks a day here and here. During the "Hands On" rotation, students work on centers from my math bins. I have eight drawers in this cart from Lakeshore Learning.
Students absolutely LOVE the math "games" hands down more than any other center choice. They are so excited when I introduce a new game as a center. They are allowed to play the games at center time but also have to work on the other independent activities. They would only play the games if I let them though! Students who are fast finishers on our daily math meeting that I open the class with, have anywhere from 5-10 extra minutes and during that time, they can grab a quick game to play.  

We just finished our fraction unit, and students loved the matching/go fish game that I made several years ago as part of four fraction math centers.

One way I have found to help organize game pieces is to make two copies of the cards and laminate the cards onto a colored sheet of paper. 
I use two different colors and it is super easy to keep the stacks together!

This is the "Monster Half Smack" game from Monster Fractions. Students compared fractions to the benchmark fraction 1/2 and are able to keep fractions equivalent to 1/2 if they "smack" it first. The other cards go on the game board next to < or > than 1/2.
The concept we just finished last week was 4.NF.4 multiplying fractions addressing:
CCSS.Math.Content.4.NF.B.4b: Understand a multiple of a/b as a multiple of 1/b and use this understanding to multiply a fraction by a whole number. 
CCSS.Math.Content.4.NF.B.4c: Solve word problems involving multiplication of a fraction by a whole number, e.g., by using visual fraction models and equations to represent the problem. 
The students are in love with this "Monster Land Race to the Finish" math game where they must find a fraction of a whole number to determine how many places they move on the game board. If they answer the problem incorrectly (partner checks using the answer key), they don't move on that turn. They start to master this concept quickly when there is a game for it! Here is the bin I have this game in with two sets of cards (two different back colors to keep packs organized). 
This is part of this math pack and also includes another center with word problem task cards.
During the last Teachers Pay Teachers sale, I snagged two great game packs by Angela Watson. I'm really excited to use these geometry partner games.
I laminated game directions and put pieces in baggies to place in bins later.

What have you tried recently? I would love to hear about it!

This link up will be open all month. Link up anytime! 
New link ups posted the 2nd Tuesday of the month.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Superhero Product: Line Plots with Fractions

With the upcoming TpT sale, we want to help you find "heroic" products that have helped others in their classrooms. I recently received some wonderful feedback on my Line Plots with Fractions Math Center. This center provides a fun way for students to practice that Line Plot standard with fractions (4.MD.B.4 or 5.MD.B.2). Jamie K. said the kind words below and I know that my students enjoy the pizza game as well. Seriously, how many students don't like pizza??
Click on the image above or {here} to go to the product.
Here is an image of what is included in the math center:

Browse around the linky for other heroic products, or feel free to grab the graphic and link up your own! Link to a post containing one heroic product and its feedback. Use the graphic if you wish. (No direct links to stores or products, please.) Include the linky button and link it back to this post so others may find great heroic products.

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Tried It Tuesday {Blog Design}

Happy Tuesday friends! 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:
Blog Design
I am in love with my updated blog design, and although I didn't make it, hiring a professional to design it for me is something I definitely TRIED! It is worth every penny in my opinion. When people stop by your blog, you want to leave a good impression. The design is the first thing people see before reading your post. I couldn't be more pleased with Megan at A Bird in Hand Designs. She couldn't be easier to work with and asks all the right questions before starting. It couldn't have been any simpler!
Since Megan's designs are so amazing, she has a waiting list posted on the sidebar of her blog. I was put on her waiting list back in the fall and December was here before I knew it!
Before Megan begins, she sends many links to color schemes, paper collections, etc. so you can pick exactly the theme and colors you like. The best part was she sends you a few choices of designs for your header and asks you what you want changed once she finishes that. I'm not a designer so seeing the different options made it so much easier for me. Megan didn't make me feel like an inconvenience when I would ask questions. She was so helpful and works fast once it is your turn. I can't imagine the hours she puts into it but for even a "Luxe" package at $140 it was SO worth it!! I don't even want to think about the headache I would go through to try to design my own! You can see the detailed information about Megan's packages here.
Of course there are many blog designers out there. I can just tell you from my experience with Megan that she is one of the best! If you are on the fence for hiring someone to design your blog and you are not sure how to do all the "tech" yourself, I highly suggest it. Someone like Megan will take your unique vision and do all the leg work for you!

This link up will be open all month. Link up anytime! 
New link ups posted the 2nd Tuesday of the month.

Sunday, January 25, 2015

New Look and Top 5 Posts of 2014!!

Notice anything different? It was about time for a blog makeover!!! I was THRILLED with what Megan from A Bird in Hand Designs created! 
A Bird in Hand Designs
She was so easy to work with and tolerated all my questions. :) I am in LOVE!! I love the unique feel and it's so ME! :)

I've been a terrible blogger lately and I'm not going to make excuses. If you follow Tried It Tuesday, you can link up here all month. Here is the new Tried It Tuesday button for the next time you link up. It will be official with the new link up of February (second Tuesday of the month!).
So, I'm finally linking up with my BBB, Jivey from Ideas by Jivey to share my top 5 blog posts of 2014. Better late than never! Thank you Jivey for keeping the link up open all month! :)
This post was all about using Post Its in graphic organizers for ELA. Now that I teach only math, I would like to find some more creative ways to use Post Its in math. I would love to hear how you use them in math!
This was a post from last January about New Year's Resolutions that my class made. See the post here for details on the great product I used by my BBB, Joanne at Head Over Heels for Teaching!

In this post I shared how I teach Folktales in my ELA classroom. 
It included links to many resources that I used!

In this Tried It Tuesday from last June, I shared about how I used a book challenge throughout the year in my ELA classes. 

The most visited blog post from 2014 was focused on teaching Text Structures. This standard seems to be weak county wide on our state assessment. We spent a lot of time on it but it is still tricky! Check out the post here for some links to text structure resources!

Have a great week everyone!