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Thursday, January 31, 2013

Super Sale Weekend!

I am so excited to do some sale shopping this weekend at TPT and TN!
Who doesn't love a great sale?

I am linking up with Keepin' It Kool in Kinderland to promote the sales:)  My TPT shop will have 20% off with an additional 10% off (total of 28% off) with the promo code, SUPER.

Here are some items that you may want to check out in my stores:)

 Class Schedule Cards (editable)

 My TN shop will have 25% off the entire weekend, Feb. 2-3!

You don't want to miss out on Storie's 300 Follower Giveaway!!  Head on over to check it out!

Also, don't forget to enter my giveaway for the Quietest Pencil Sharpener and one item from my TPT/TN store!  
The giveaway ends on 2/7/13.

This was the view from my classroom window when I left school today.  We are supposed to get 13-24 more inches in the next "24-hour event" with white out conditions as seen here.  Dare I hope for another snow day???  The 40 mph winds will be a huge factor....we shall see.  This would be our third snow day this year (the first was a "hurricane" day for Sandy).  
I think we are making up for last year when we had ZERO snow days and only had about 100" total (average is about 200" with a record of just under 300" not too many years ago!).

Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Giveaway for "THAT" Quiet Pencil Sharpener!!

A few days ago, I posted about THAT pencil sharpener in my post here.  I am thrilled to let you know that Classroom Friendly Supplies is giving away one of these beautiful, quiet, perfect pencil sharpeners to one lucky winner!!   Can you sense how excited I am over this little addition to my classroom?  Who knew a pencil sharpener could make me so happy?  For a chance to win, enter in the Rafflecopter at the end of this post.  What color would you choose?



Speaking of lucky, I won a giveaway recently from Jane at Learning in the Little Apple!
I am one lucky girl who won a $25 gift card to Lakeshore Learning, $10 Starbucks gift card, a 2D quadrilaterals shape sort from Nichole at the Craft of Teaching and "Snow your Multiplication Facts" from Heather at Kickin' It With Class!  Yep, I am a lucky girl:)  

I had a difficult time deciding what to use the $25 at Lakeshore for.  Decisions, decisions!!  I didn't have much extra cash to spend, so I decided to buy something that I wouldn't normally splurge on.  My students love to play with hands-on building games and I don't have many on hand.  Our science kits have to be sent back after the unit is over.  So, I saw this gadget for $29.99 and got 20% off!  I know my students will love it!   
What a great splurge on a fun activity for my students!!  Thank you so much for the awesome giveaway, Jane!  Check out her adorable blog here!

Don't forget to enter the Quietest Classroom Pencil Sharpener Giveaway!!  You can also win an Item from my TPT store.  Some popular items right now are Monster Fractions and Line Plots with Fractions centers:)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, January 25, 2013

Friday Linkies, THAT pencil sharpener, and Freebie:)

Happy Friday!  I am linking up for some Friday fun with the wonderful Amanda at Teaching Maddeness and the amazing Doodle Bugs blog:)  Check them out!

1.  The HIGHLIGHT of my week was when this little treasure arrived on Thursday!  

I have been eyeing this pencil sharpener since I started blog stalking last summer and just had to see for myself if it is really THAT good!  Well, to put it simply, YES!  IT IS THAT AWESOME!!! 

It was so easy to use and my students were in love!  I cannot believe how excited they were to have a pencil sharpener in the classroom that actually works.  One little girl had the biggest wide eyes staring at the newly sharpened, perfect pencils.

Did I mention how quiet it is?  I sharpened the first pencil next to a pair of students working on a math center and they said, "I didn't even hear you sharpening that pencil!" 
The students were asking if they could stay back from RECESS to sharpen pencils for me!  Of course, I said, "Sure!"  
You have to check out their website where this pencil sharpener comes in four colors.  They even accept school purchase orders and offer discounts starting at an order of just three sharpeners.  The teachers on my team were gushing over it.  They couldn't believe it! 

2.  On Tuesday we had our first "snow day" of the year!  It is always a nice treat to have an additional day off after a long weekend:)  The village where I live got 21" of new snow but my school district got 36" in two days!  Sometimes that is not enough to close school but the wind chill and cold temps gave us the right magical combination:)  
My side yard:)

3.  We continued working on our Motion and Design unit in science.  This is an activity where students investigate the effect of load on motion.  The students plotted data of how fast their vehicle moved with two wood blocks (green dots), one wood block (blue dots), and no wood blocks (red dots) while the force (washers pulling the vehicle) remained constant.

Our vehicles with two blocks for a load:

Motion and Design student investigations book that comes with our kit.  It says, "National Science Resources Center."
The directions are given to the students in an easy to follow step-by-step description with pictures in the book.  We went over the directions together but I told them afterwards that I might as well been speaking another language because there was only ONE group out of seven that started the investigation according to the directions and my demonstration.  I have used this kit for five years now and there really is no easy way to teach the students how to follow directions!  They took the books with them to their tables but getting them to look at the directions again after my demonstration is nearly impossible.  I think I would be better off not demonstrating any of the steps because then they would be forced to actually read the directions themselves slowly.
The students had to first figure out how many washers would be needed to pull the vehicle with two blocks on it.  The washers are added to a paper clip that is hanging off the edge of a table tied to a string that is hooked on the other end to a paper clip attached to the front axle of the vehicle.  I forgot to take picture of the students' vehicles set up with the falling weight system but will (try!) to remember next week to take some and add to this post.
Anyway, the students had a timer to track how long it took the washers to hit the floor with the three different loads.  So, most groups were timing the vehicle moving before figuring out how many washers would be needed to just barely move the vehicle with the heaviest load.  
They get a timer in their hands and all other reason flies out the window!  
Who is going to be the first person to work the timer?  
What are all these buttons for?  
I want to push them!  
Some were even timing the vehicle moving with no load when they first started!  Ugh!!  I would ask them, "What are you investigating?"  Hmmm...  Next week we will be working on energy, specifically rubber band energy.  I will post how that went and try the "You read the directions yourself one step at a time with your group" method and see how they do.  Fingers crossed...

4.  I finally laminated some materials that I downloaded last fall for Author's Purpose.  I love these P.I.E. posters by Love 2 Teach 2.  Unfortunately, I cannot find this product in her TPT store or blog posts and do not remember where I originally found the link.  If you know the link, please send me a message and I will update:)
This is a fun game from Debbie's Dabblings for a center on author's purpose.  The theme centers around Thanksgiving and it is now January, but who cares!  The kids love a game anytime.  Sorry about the sideways pictures.  IPhoto was not cooperating!

5.  I love observing my students play these fraction math centers.  These girls are playing a version of "memory" where they match cards that show equivalent fractions.  My struggling students sometimes use the fraction bars to help them find which fractions are equivalent but I am encouraging them to do some mental math too (What can you multiply the numerator and denominator by in 3/5 to make 6/10?).  Today I heard this conversation at the end of math AIS (academic intervention services) by two students who struggle with math:
"I love playing memory," said student A.  "Yeah, me too. Memory with fractions is awesome!" said student B.  I love that they are having fun practicing concepts instead of being frustrated!

Here is a little freebie for you today.  Click the picture below for links to more freebies from fellow teachers!
I often have students find information online about a topic we are studying and answer questions that I have written on a worksheet.  This is a valuable skill because the internet will be the number one resource of information for our students.  
From the Common Core:  CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.4.7 Interpret information presented visually, orally, or quantitatively (e.g., in charts, graphs, diagrams, time lines, animations, or interactive elements on Web pages) and explain how the information contributes to an understanding of the text in which it appears.

It is amazing how much my students improve at this skill as the year progresses.  They begin to become more independent and confident in their ability to navigate websites to find, read, and interpret information.  This worksheet my students completed using a website about the solar system.  
I like this website because facts are presented in an easy to read format and students who are struggling readers can listen to the text on their headphones! 

I wrote the name of the website on this copy of the worksheet for your convenience but you may want to edit it and just have the students access the link from another page for easy access.  I keep an account and website through www.quia.com ($49 a year) to provide links to websites and games for my students to play for review.  I just bookmark my Quia page on all the computers and they can access my links that way.  

Thank you for making it all the way to the end and have a great weekend!

Sunday, January 20, 2013

Testing, Testing, 1...2...3...

Modules, Domains, Elements, Components, Rigor, Story of Units, Close Reads, CCSS, APPR, PDP, PBIS, DASA, AIS, IST...did you get all that?  It is clearly a miracle that I am not in the looney bin!  Check out the ONE module that is released for 5th grade math here.  It is 276 pages to be exact (the ONE module) and there are SEVEN modules for 4th grade (none of which have been released yet...).  Oh, did I mention that our math textbook is outdated and we just found out that next year out "textbook" will be the modules printed off online?!?  Um, IF they are released...Can you sense my enthusiasm??

Attempting to maintain some degree of sanity, I am doing the best I can with the materials I have.  Fourth grade has the ELA, math, and science state tests.  The talented, sweet Laura from Love to Teach has these amazing task cards to review for the science state exam.  I can't wait to print these out and use them for much need science review as the test gets closer.
I also have been dissecting the math CCSS and trying my best to cover where our textbook is lacking.  If I had the time, I would create my own worksheets and homework every day but I do not have the time...which is why an updated textbook would be nice to at least refer to and use for lessons, guided practice, homework, etc...
One area that our Saxon curriculum lacks in is line plots.  We use line plots with whole numbers but the CCSS states:
CCSS.Math Content.4.MD.B.4
Make a line plot to display a data set of measurements in fractions of a unit (1/2, 1/4 1/8).  Solve problems involving addition and subtraction of fractions by using information presented in line plots.

I wanted a fun math center activity using line plots and fractions and could not find what I was looking for.  So, I made a center over the past couple days and posted it to TPT today:)

I love the adorable pizza graphics by KPM Doodles and they worked perfectly for this center (can you say pizza party)!
I will send the Line Plots with Fractions set to the first three people to comment on this post.  Don't forget to leave your email:)  
Thanks for listening to me vent!  I feel better already:)

Saturday, January 19, 2013

iPad Help!!

Help!!  I recently received ONE iPad from our tech budget to use in my classroom!  Yay!!  You can imagine my excitement in getting one iPad to use with my class:)

However, the number of apps available is overwhelming me.  I started with four math apps and one ELA app for the students to take turns using on a rotating schedule during math center, math AIS (academic interventions services), and Daily 5 centers (I use more like a Daily 4).  The apps I downloaded so far are:

The students that have had the chance to use it this week really have loved it but I am not sure what apps I should really be using.  Please...does anyone have some good recommendations for fourth grade apps?  It would save me some legwork if I can hear from real teachers what has worked in their classrooms:)  

Also, I have been nutty about letting students use the iPad anywhere in the room except for a table where the iPad can be propped on this cover set up that came with it.  I told the students that they cannot carry it around the room.  You see, I also have responders in my room and it never fails that someone drops the responders when they use them.  This could be deadly for the iPad.  Am I being too paranoid?

Any help or advice you can take a moment to offer is greatly appreciated.  Thank you:)

Update:  Thank you for the comments so far!  I can't wait to check some of these out!!  The iPad I have has the otter box on it (thank you to Shasta Looper for your comment reminding me what that thingy is called) and my tech guy didn't say anything about the iPad being replaced if it is damaged in the otter box.  I guess I am paranoid they will take it away if I can't take care of it.  Also, the apps don't have to be free.  I am not sure how much I could spend but right now I only have 5 apps and am allowed to send some requisitions to the tech dept.

Friday, January 18, 2013

And the Winners ARE...

Yay!!  Congratulations to the winners of my 300 Follower Giveaway!

Rachel M. won the grades 3-5 Rafflecopter with all these amazing prizes!  
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Melissa R. won the grades K-2 Rafflecopter with all these amazing prizes!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Congratulations girls!!  Thank you to all the AMAZING bloggers who helped me out with this giveaway!  I am so blessed:)

Sunday, January 13, 2013


Sister Teachers is having an amazing 300 Follower Giveaway that you have to check out!  There are prizes from 11 bloggers (including me:) and that famous pencil sharpener is up for grabs!!
Sister Teachers

Also, don't forget to enter my 300 Follower Giveaway that ends on January 17th.
Sister Teachers is one of the fabulous 19 bloggers giving away items from their TPT store
and there are other cash prizes up for grabs too:)

Friday, January 11, 2013

Five for Friday and Freebie!!

This week just flew by!!  It was really refreshing to get a whole week in the classroom.  I had to take two sick days (one on 12/21 and one on 1/2) and it was so exhausting being out.  We got a lot accomplished this week and I am linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for her "Five for Friday" linky where you share 5 random things about your day or the past week!

 1.  State testing seems like it is just around the corner!!  We are so lucky (insert sarcasm) to have THREE state tests in 4th grade:)  One thing I started this week is a measurement station for students during our morning math meeting.  This helps prepare them for the hands-on portion of the state science test.  I post a math meeting every morning and, as students arrive, they work on the questions and record the answers in their notebooks.  For the "measurement" portion, I post a question like "find the mass of the object at the measurement station."  Students take turns going to the back of the room and using any of the measuring tools to answer the question.  Then, we go over the math meeting later with a math meeting "helper" at the SMART board.

2.  We also started really getting into our science motion and design unit.  These are our vehicles that we will use to explore concepts such as force, friction, load, inertia, speed, work, energy, and simple machines.

I am loving the Force and Motion Lapbook and Foldables from Amber at Adventures of a Third Grade Teacher!  It has added some new excitement to this unit:)

 3.  In ELA this week we were working on the them "The Earth and Sky".  We read nonfiction material about the stars and solar system as well as Native American myths of the sky. I love "Glow in the Dark Constellations" because it has a picture of various constellations (and they glow in the dark!) with a thorough but not overwhelming description.  "They Dance in the Night Sky" is a great resource for Native American myths dealing with the stars and solar system.

Students researched a constellation using this website.  They answered some questions on the front of this paper and then wrote a summary of information about their constellation on the reverse side.  It was difficult for many of the students to not use words like "my constellation" or "I" in their summaries.  I wanted them to focus on writing an informational summary.  The highlighted colors below are topic sentence and conclusion (green), details (yellow), and explanations (pink).  We use the Step-Up to writing model.

4.  I put to use the fraction centers I made.  Here the students are working on them in a small group math intervention class with my guidance.  They can also work on them during morning work time when they finish their math meeting.  

5.  Random....My hubby texted me today and said there would be a surprise waiting for me at home on the porch.  You can imagine my excitement when I found TWO boxes of cupcakes...not just any cupcakes...GEORGETOWN CUPCAKES waiting for me at home!!  Yummy!!  They were having a 40% off sale and he said he just had to order:)  This is coming from the guy who complained the entire time I made him wait in line with me in DC for over an hour to get them for the first time.  The same guy who then ate EIGHT of these cupcakes that night in the hotel room!  I think he loves them more than me:)  We have some quite serious sweet teeth in our house!!

This one already has one missing...guess who ate it before dinner?  YEP, my hubbie!  Maybe this wasn't a surprise for me...haha!

My personal favorite (if I had to choose one) would be the peanut butter fudge.  They are pictured below as the two middle in the top row.

Now, I have a freebie for you and am linking up with Teaching Blog Addict!  
Freebie Fridays
My students really enjoyed the fall story starters that I got free from the generous Tara at 4th Grade Frolics.  I decided to make some new winter story starters.  
You can find them FREE here.

You also have to check out this HUGE giveaway by Rockin' Teacher Materials!  One lucky winner per grade level will get a flash drive full of teaching resources for their grade!!!  How awesome is that?

Don't forget to enter my giveaway that ends January 17th.  There are many prizes being offered by 19 amazing bloggers and two winners will receive an additional $20 of educational resources.