expr:class='"loading" + data:blog.mobileClass'>

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!


  1. 36" of snow?!?! Us Georgia folk would die!!! :-P and clearly I'm going to need to get one of those sharpeners. I see them all over blog-world!!

    ideas by jivey

  2. Congrats on your snow day! We got one, too! We didn't have snow though only ice. 36 inches would shut down school in KY for a month!!


  3. The teacher across the hall from me last year got one of "those" pencil sharpeners. I was jealous but thought it costs wAy too much $.

    My classroom pencil sharpener just stopped working this week. I never realized how affordable those kinds are! Thanks for sharing the link! It is definitely on my wish list!

    The Frizz

    The Frizz in First Grade

  4. Wow youve been so busy !
    Can I say I am jealous of you with the new pencil sharpener. LUCKY !
    Great post and I am your newest follower!

  5. I was at a Common Core workshop last month that talked about how we need to really give kids opportunities where they must READ to figure it out. That sounds so simple, but it is so hard to do!

    I have a manual sharpener in my room I love, but not THE sharpener. I may have to break down to try it!

  6. I really need to check out that pencil sharpener. I am your newest follower.

    The First Grade Princess

  7. I love that pencil sharpener! Thanks for sharing!

    Sally from Elementary Matters

  8. I just got THAT pencil sharpener this year and I love it!

    Sara :)
    Smiling In Second Grade

  9. What a busy week for you! You will LOVE that pencil sharpener...for real!! I can only imagine having that much snow!!! And to think we had a half-snow day for a little sleet later in the day!

    Teaching Maddeness

  10. Um, 36" of snow? I can't even fathom that or how cold that would be. And you go to school in that??? Yeah. All of Georgia would be shut down and they'd probably have to call the President in because people would PANIC!

    My students LOVE that pencil sharpener. They get so excited to sharpen pencils. It's so funny!!

    Thank you for sharing the website with the solar system sheet. :O)

    (And in response to your comment, I'm FREAKING out that I still have to get through the Revolution, New Nation, Westward Expansion, and Women's Sovereignty before the 3rd week in April. Do you have to get through all of that in SS too? Not to mention how behind I am in math....shudder).

    Just keep swimming, just keep swimming, swimming, swimming, swimming...
    Amanda ;O)
    Collaboration Cuties

  11. Wow! I can't imagine that much snow! I, too, am a little jealous of your pencil sharpener. I have been wanting one, but I just haven't given in to spending that amount. I know it would be well worth it. I just wanted to stop by to say hello.

    Teaching Fourth

  12. I must order that pencil sharpener!!