March 27, 2015

The Gallon Guy...or Girl

I'm sure MANY of you have used the Gallon Guy/Man/Girl in your classroom. Me too! I use it to teach the awesome concept of capacity in the customary measurement system. But I do it a bit different than others because I don't use a template that is copied. I simply use half sheets of construction paper and we fold and cut to get the right amount. Everything is cut out of different colored half sheets. I (over) emphasize that all the measurements are equal to a gallon. Since each different measurement is cut out of a different colored sheet that is the same at the beginning, the students are able to see how many quarts/pints/cups are in a gallon. I don't know if I am making sense. Let me show you what I mean.

We started with 4 half sheets of different colored construction paper.

The first we left whole and wrote:
1 Gallon
=4 quarts
=8 pints
=16 cups
(no picture, sorry)

Then we took the next color, folded it into fourths, and wrote 1 quart on each fourth. Then we talked about how this is the same capacity as 1 gallon (because the papers are the same size). Then we cut it and place it on top of the gallon paper.

We did the same to the pints, but cut them in eighths :)

And then we did cups, but I didn't get a picture. Sorry.

Then we glued the dude together! The students LOvEd it!

Oh! Everyone got a "head" for their little guy that was 1/4 of a piece of construction paper. The students immediately made the connection to a half gallon. It was awesome!

And here are the finished product before I put them in the hallway. 

I love incorporating hands-on activities! How do you teach capacity?

March 15, 2015

Peek at My Week - 4th Grade Lesson Plans

I haven't linked up with Mrs. Wills' Kindergarten for her Peek at My Week linky in a long time. I LOVE this linky and am happy to be linking up this week!!

I went through the Lucky You! Blog Hop and I seriously felt LUCKY! So many awesome bloggers with amazing freebies. (If you haven't hit it, you better hurry fast!) Anyway, these freebies are going to be added to my week as soon as I get to school and have access to my printer and can laminate :) So, here are my plans (so far) for the week. Click no the pictures to view.

Have a fabulous week!

February 16, 2015

Different Ways to Learn Vocabulary in the Classroom

Graffiti Word Wall 

Graffiti Criteria
1- Word is drawn using bubble letters
2- Definition in own words
3- At least three images representing vocabulary
4- All white space colored in

I like the idea of a Graffiti Word Wall! The creativity is a great way to promote learning. The only thing I don't like is the fact that I would like each kid to do each word to help their understanding, but who has time for that? This might be a great activity to do after the vocab has been learned or at the end of a unit.

Crossword Puzzles

I REALLY like this idea! Have the students use their own definitions for the words and create their own styled puzzle.

This is a fun idea from Devoted to Vocabulary Development

February 7, 2015

Multiplication Facts Practice

Hey, hey awesome teacher blog world! I am dropping in today to tell you about our fabulous facts practice and linking up with Joanne from Head Over Heels for Teaching for her helpful Spark Student Motivation linky.

 Every term we do a different celebration for students who are passing off their math facts. Some of my students are working on addition facts still, most are on multiplication and a few are on division facts. During the 2nd term we were working towards an ice cream sundae party. This term we are working towards a movie party with treats (pictures to come).

Each student received an sundae page that was their ticket to getting some goodies. Every time they passed off a fact I marked the fact off and they were able to color it! They LOVED coloring in each section!

Some students passed everything off and some only passed a few off. All the students passed off at least enough to get one scoop and one topping.

I created a Google Doc where parents could sign up to bring certain items for our celebration. I have awesome parents and everything was donated! I even had three volunteers come in and help serve up the sundaes. It was a blast!

Now, to the particulars...
My students have a "Math Facts" rotation in our Math Groups where they practice the fact they are on or review their facts EVERY DAY! This has helped my class tremendously. In years past, I have never made my students practice daily and I can really see a difference this year. To practice we use the site, flashcards, and math fact card games. 

Every Tuesday during our intervention time the students have the opportunity to take 4 math fact timed tests. I use the drills from Multiplication and Division Boot Camp by Teacher Chick to have them practice.

I give the students 45 seconds to complete the drill. They have to pass it off starting at the top and then pass it off again starting from the bottom. This way they can't just memorize the order :) The set also come with a BUNCH of fun games for the students. We actually started the year off by going to "Boot Camp" and used this. It was a blast and set up our math practice for the rest of the year.

December 1, 2014

December Currently

Oh Farley, how I love your currently!

November 29, 2014

Thanksgiving Math Fun!!

I was absolutely stumped as what to do for math on Tuesday. There are usually quite a few students missing, but I wanted to do something meaningful. The BEST idea popped into my head in the middle of the night (do you ever have that happen?) and so off to our local small town grocery store I went before school started.

The students LOVED the activity and asked do it again!

Here is the scoop...

12 grocery store ads (Thanksgiving edition) + Paper and Pencils + Thanksgiving Dinner List = Math Funness

We made our list of our Thanksgiving favorites and how much 1 person would eat of each item. Then I told the students they needed to plan a Thanksgiving feast for 10 people using the store ad. I told them they had only $50 and needed enough of each item for each person. Every student was required to do the math.

It was a blast! We were dividing, multiplying, adding, subtracting over and over again. The conversations that were going on were priceless. And the real-world application was perfect.

A couple groups finished early and I told them they have 5 more people coming, but they only get $60. Off they went with determination.

We all loved it and the students asked if they get to plan a Christmas feast! 

November 12, 2014

Genius Hour Every Friday is a MUST!

Oh my! It has been a looonnnnggggg time! Sorry everyone. I do have a great excuse though :) I am expecting baby #3 in May! These last 3 months have been...well, lets just say that I have been loving my saltine crackers a lot. Haha!

Well, every Tuesday I think of my BBB Holly and her fun/awesome Tried it Tuesday linky! I have a bunch of catching up to do, but I will take it slowly.

I read about something called Genius Hour over the summer and knew I had to try it. Click here to learn more.

Every Friday I give my students one hour to study whatever they want. They LOVE this time. I've even had students not go on family trips so they didn't miss Genius Hour (not even kidding). They use their Chromebooks to research, keep their notes, and all that jazz. The requirements were to present 10 new facts they learned, 10 facts they already knew, and to have at least 5 visuals/models.

Today, we had our presentations and they turned out great! Here are a few pictures...

A student presenting

I had a couple students build models. This student actually built a snake robot. It slithered, hissed, and reached out to bite if you walked in front. I had another student make a very detailed model of the solar system. Both were very awesome. Wish I would have taken more pictures!

More presenting going on.

I had the students grade each other based on a 1, 2, 3 scale and also grade themselves. Genius Hour is definitely a keep in our classroom! 

July 14, 2014

Bottle Cap Multiplication Game

At the beginning of June I was stalking looking at Tara's amazing blog and saw her amazing Pop Top Math game for multiplication facts. I am ALWAYS on the lookout for multiplication fact games! So knew, KNEW this one had to join the ranks. I called my mom, my grandma and my mother-in-law and told them to start saving all their lids.

Well, fast forward a couple weeks and I was at a conference in Park City, Utah and the people catering the event gave us Stewart's Root Beer for lunch one day. Ummm...YUM! As I went to chuck my trash the boys serving the food were just about to throw away a cup full of the bottle caps from the root beer. The crazy teacher in me immediately stopped them in a 'I am a crazy person' way and I ended up with the caps. Do any of you ever do crazy stuff like that? Anyway, all the teachers around me groaned because they KNEW I had scored on this one! One lady even offered me $10 for my 50 bottle caps, which was kinda weird. 

This is good stuff.

In my Math rotations I use the letters M   A   T   H - go figure :) The M stands for Math Facts. During this rotation the kids are always working with facts. Always. 

So, I made my game own Pop Top game and here is how it turned out...

I like it...a lot!

Make sure to link up with Tara for today's Monday Made It!

July 8, 2014

Table Signs and Alphabet Display

I'm double dipping today. Hope you guys are okay with that. I am linking up with Holly for Tried it Tuesday and with Tara for Monday Made it!


So, have you heard of Well, if you haven't then you need to go check out Melanie's amazingness

I waited and waited this year to see the fun classroom styles she would create and I wasn't disappointed! I had a very hard time deciding what my classroom was going to look like for this next school year. Finally, I decided upon her Blue Paisley Pop Classroom Theme!

Isn't it gorgeous! The pink has been taken and the yellow will be an accent. The main colors will be the blue and green. I even talked to our school secretary and she ordered the lime green butcher paper for me! 

So, here is what I have made so far. The colors are MUCH MORE vibrant in person. Trust me. They match the colors from the above picture!

This is my alphabet banner that will be hung on my wall. I made the whole alphabet, not just the first 4 letters :-) I haven't found the perfect ribbon to string it up with yet, but I will!

These are my table signs. A-F...six tables. They will hang from lanterns with the cute ribbon I mentioned above. 

So the "Tried It" part of this post is the yellow and making my own decorations. I really tried adding more yellow into these but I just can't do it! I am loving the blue and green together!!!!!!!

I have been using my Cricut and stamps to make these. 
I love my Cricut! My stamps too! 

Make sure you check out the linky parties! Have a great day everyone!

June 26, 2014

Virtual Field Trips = AMAZING!

My fourth grade team has 4 teachers and this past year we each had around 25-28 kids. We were able to take our kids on one field trip (this one was paid for through a grant) that involved an hour and a half bus ride (both ways), one field trip to the dinosaur museum in town, and then we went bowling at the end of the year. When these were over we didn't have enough to get a bus to go anywhere especially since we live in a remote part of Utah.

Enter virtual field trips.

In February I was approached by my district's amazing instructional technology leader and he asked if I would be interested in doing a virtual field trip. Ummm...yes! So, looking through the Center for Interactive Learning site I selected a trip and away we went. The article below is from our district web site.

Originally posted on SJSD Blog on February 11, 2014

Something fairly amazing happened yesterday at Blanding Elementary School. Mrs. Tina Crofts and her fourth grade students spent time in the morning learning about the water cycle. (At this point you are probably thinking “Well, that sounds like a pretty typical topic for an elementary science class...” but keep reading because what they were learning about isn’t nearly as amazing as where they were learning about it.)
Mrs. Crofts and her class took a field trip as part of their study on the water cycle. So where did they go? They went to the Texas State Aquarium. In Corpus Christi. And they were back before lunch. Really.

So how did they make it to Corpus Christi and back again in time for lunch and with time to learn about the water cycle and see sharks, dolphins, and alligators (oh, my)?
British author Arthur C. Clarke once stated: “Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic.” Thanks to the district's commitment to providing the best technology it can, having a resident distance education magician, Wesley Hunt, and the power of technology, the students in Mrs. Croft’s class were able to take a live, virtual field trip to the Texas State Aquarium. It was an amazing opportunity for many of the students (and staff present) to see the kinds of marine life that many only get to read about and to ask questions and receive expert insight from the tour guide at the aquarium. A truly amazing experience.
In what may have been the first virtual field trip like this to occur in the district, these fourth grade students were able to see a Sand Tiger Shark swim across the screen from the comfort of their classroom (and learn why--for the most part--it doesn’t eat the other fish in the tank!) along with seeing other aquatic life while having their understanding of the water cycle solidified in a truly engaging way. Below is a short slideshow you can watch (you may want to hit the "full screen" icon) that may give a sense of the magic that was in this classroom yesterday. We hope this is simply the first of such magical moments via virtual field trips to occur in the district…

Keep learning.


June 25, 2014

100 Minutes - Chapter 9 & The Conclusion

Thinking of Teaching

Chapter 9 is already here! I have loved this book and am very excited to incorporate the ideas into my classroom. I am very excited to host this last chapter and the conclusion! As a teacher who has an entire set of Chromebooks in my classroom, I totally and completely connected with this chapter. Now, on to the good stuff!

Integrating Digital Technology and Media Literacy (page 139)
--"Technology should support and expand students' learning and directly connect to the content and skills that are being taught during other instructional times." Such a fabulous thought. Too many teachers use technology as busy work and don't understand the power technology has in educating children.
--The main advantage of technology is the fact that it will "connect our students to the world" and "remove our classroom boundaries."
--"Digital tools are not a new element in teaching; in reality, they are no longer even considered optional." Oh my! Such an awesome thought! The entire educational community needs to believe and act upon these words. Too many teachers are still teaching without any technology and don't realize the world we live in is so very much a technology age. Don't get me wrong, I firmly believe some things are better done with good old fashioned paper and pencil, but not everything!
--"By integrating digital tools into our classrooms, we allow our students to apply their reading, writing, speaking, and listening skills in authentic learning situations." I am such a believer of this!
--By integrating technology we are helping our students become "globally aware, more proactive, and more engaged." Who wouldn't want that?

Lisa goes on to introduce us to The Six Cs of Digital Literacy (pages 140-144) and I love down-to-earth common sense of these!

1. Connect - students are able to connect to the outside world through virtual field trips and images. They no longer need to be passive observers.

2. Communicate - "Communication in the 21st century seamlessly flows between face-to-face interactions and online communications." Many educators don't use technology because the technological world is a scary place to them. My advice is to just start simply; use one aspect of technology and build from there.

3. Create - creativity = inspiration, inspiration = engagement. "Through the use of digital tools, students can synthesize and integrate their learning in creative ways."

4. Collaborate - Student collaboration is a must in the learning environment. Using technology enables this aspect in such a simple manner by using Google Drive, blogs, Edmodo, etc.

5. Consolidate - "Learning is most powerful when studnets are able to apply it and transfer it to new situations."

6. Critically Analyze - Using technology helps students learn to be "critically literate" and as teachers we need to educate them.

Working with What You've Got
-"Whatever the challenges you face, the solution comes with creativity and flexibility." Amen, amen. Flexibility is the key to challenges. 
-Lisa continues by giving suggestions on how to use a few devices during the 100 Minutes. She suggests having the kids take turns by assigning them a day. This way they will have enough time to actually log in, and get enough quality time to work.

On Lisa's blog she, which she quotes in the book, talks about Kinetic Learning. I LOVE this part! I was at some teacher conference somewhere and someone replaced the word 'kinetic' with 'real'. So kinetic learning=real learning. Lisa has 5 Principles of Kinetic Learning and they are:
1. Kinetic Learning focuses on skills rather than content.
2. Kinetic Learning is forward-thinking.
3. Kinetic Learning is authentic and purposeful.
4. Kinetic Learning is multi-faceted.
5. Kinetic Learning is why and how based.

-I am loving this conclusion. It struck me as amazing and brilliant! The awesome presentation of the conclusion was perfect to wrap-up this great book. 
-Lisa encourages us that "the simple establishment of a routine is not sufficient to keep it going." We need to keep things exciting and interesting. "All routines need maintenance." Make sure to keep your students interested so they will be motivated to be successful!

Thank you Lisa Donohue! This book was exactly what I needed to improve classroom.

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May 24, 2014

Balanced Literacy - 100 Minutes

Thinking of Teaching

I am SO excited to be joining in on this book study! I have been read the first few chapters of Lisa Donohue's book and now that school is officially out (hip-hip!) I can sit down and devour the rest. Hope you join us in the awesome book study!

Students need time for:
-explicit teaching
-guided learning
-independent work

"Technology should never be an additional thing to teach...but instead be an integrated component of daily instruction." (p. 14) Love this! I get asked all the time by other teachers how they should teach their students to use a computer program or an app. I constantly tell them "don't" because all they need to do is show the kids what they should be doing and the students will catch on (with a few exceptions) and run with it. Our students know how to use technology better than we do most of the time.

"The concept of anything other than the 21st century is ancient history to our youngsters." (p. 14) 
Enough said.

"...routines need to continue to deepen and become richer as the year progresses." (p. 15)  This was an "ah-ha sentence for me. I constantly revisit our Daily 5 routines, but I seldom deepen them. Lisa Donohue, you are brilliant!

"Once routines become stale and mundane student engagement quickly decreases." (p. 15) Students need a variety of choices with "familiar routines."

Lisa goes on to talk about "The Basics" of the 100 minute literacy block. I loved this part of the book because I love, love, love seeing into other classrooms and that is what this section felt like to me.

100 Minute Literacy Block

Reading Time - Whole Class - 20 to 30 Minutes
(this is what I think of as Shared Reading in my classroom)
-introduce strategies
-model thinking
-student discussion
-question students (Blooms Taxonomy)

AWARD Time - Individual/Small Group Work - 40 minutes
-students work individually on skills or with the teacher

Writing Time - Whole Class - 20 to 30 Minutes
-introduce writing strategies
-model writing
-discuss writing

"Blessed are the flexible, for they shall not be bent out of shape." (p. 18)

Lisa ends with a section titled "100 Minutes in Action" that gives us a glimpse of this process over a couple months. This part is priceless! Can't wait for more :)
How to deepen my routines. This part made me think so much. I've started to come up with some ideas that will be shared later on!

I don't have a "100 minute" block of time next year. Sad, right? So I will have to figure out how to break this up in two sections. I can totally do it, but I wish I had that 100+ minutes.

-How do you all "deepen" your routines?
-What do daily schedules of other teachers look like with the 100 minutes built in?

Make sure to link up with Beth over at Thinking of Teaching with your thoughts and follow along with us on this awesome book study journey!