Saturday, February 22, 2014

Food Chain and Habitat Vocabulary

That 4 day week was the longest of my life !! :) Last weekend we had two feet of snow -- today it was 67 degrees! Gotta love VA ! Anyone else feeling the pain of having to be back at work?!  My students were.....BIG TIME!  I gave a SUPER easy quiz this week (I had a more difficult one planned before almost 2 feet of snow, but I made an easier replacement for when we returned.) We have been doing our habitat unit for some time now in science, and we are almost done! (Rainforest and Forest to go!!) I have short quizzes on several habitats, and a big unit test at the end. I made a super simple quiz for Grasslands and Deserts for my students, thinking it would be an easy transition back into school. W-R-O-N-G!!! The quiz was very easy, fill in the blank with a word bank. Each word was only used ONE time too! Sample questions were things like, "The ____________________ is what the weather is like in a habitat." with climate being the correct answer. Some of the answers were COMICAL! I mean, I swear they didn't even READ. One answer was, "The root system is what the weather is like in a habitat." 
So, to review with my students so that I could sleep at night knowing they remembered the vocabulary, I created a vocabulary booklet. Inside the booklet, students have a place to write the definition, and draw a picture for important vocabulary for habitats as well as food chains. Check out my kiddos working on their books.
( I am LOVING my newest App -- "Photo Grid" on my Samsung. It allows me to make a collage of photos and use stickers to cover students names all in about 30 seconds! It exports directly to Dropbox, Pinterest, Facebook, etc)
When the books are finished, we are going to staple them into our interactive notebooks! The booklet is in my TpT store for only $1!!!! Click the picture to head on over. 
Tuesday, February 18, 2014

Tried It Tuesday- Fraction Tiles and Car Organization Thirty One Style

 I am linking up with Fourth Grade Flipper for Tried it Tuesday! I'm very proud of myself because I'm actually writing on Tuesday! Ya'll just don't understand.... Today my Principal stopped by my room, and gave me a hug (she's just that kind of awesome about that stuff), and told me I looked very pretty today and that something looked different. It was that I have had SLEEP! All the snow days have allowed me to catch up on SLEEP. So here I am, blogging ON TIME :)
First -- for my Tried it Tuesday, I organized the backseat of my truck. Now - the hubs and I don't have any two legged children, but I do drive my niece to school every day, so M-F she is in the backseat. I am in LOVE with the new spring patterns and organization that Thirty One has. With all this snow the south has been seeing, I really want to be ready if I ever get stranded in my truck. So, check out my organizing solutions! 

Now -- on to school things. I'm STILL on my fraction unit. I should be on to graphs, but I CAN'T do that because we have only had ONE full week since Christmas. Since we have lost so many days, I have to condense some lessons. I usually do a comparing fraction introduction that last 2-3 days where students use fraction tiles to make comparisons with like denominators and unlike denominators. We always use the tiles, and just do some illustrations on paper. I knew that I needed a VERY structured lesson to get my kiddos through this lesson in half the time. I created a worksheet to guide my students through comparing fractions using the tiles. I have students trace the fraction tiles onto the paper because this is an easy transition to drawing their own fraction bars. My students LOVED the structure and organization of this lesson, and they did awesome. (This wasn't their first experience with fraction tiles - and it won't be their last!) I am so excited to move into drawing their own fraction bars tomorrow. Check out a few samples of my student work below:

Best of all -- this Comparing Fractions printable is available for only $1 in my TpT Store
Check out all of the link ups in the Tried It Tuesday over at Fourth Grade Flipper!
Sunday, February 16, 2014

Sparking Student Motivation after the SNOW-MAGEDDON!

I am linking up with Joanne over at Head Over Heels for Teaching for Sparking Student Motivation Saturday!

If you live in the south, you probably can't remember the last day you had school! Our district closed last Wednesday in anticipation of the Snowmageddon storm, and we haven't been back since! Thankfully, we were already closed Friday and Monday! To make up our missed days we have some bank time, some teacher workdays that will be turned into school days, and other options to explore. The teacher workdays will be turned into school days, and we will have to have an "at home" workday on Saturday....which is basically what most teachers do every Sunday! Although the snowstorm disrupted our instruction, Valentine's Day party, and about 1,000,000 other things,I was happy to have it come when it did. My Aunt has been in the hospital, and I live within walking distance. (Only about 3/4 of a mile to a mile there from my house). Even though my 4WD truck was STUCK in our driveway (when they plowed the road, they blocked my truck in with about 3 feet of snow!!)- I was able to walk to the hospital to be with her and my family. 
So, now the question becomes HOW to get my students motivated when we return on Tuesday! We are in the MIDDLE of our fraction unit in math and our habitat unit in science! Two of the largest units taught all year!! I WAS on pace with our county pacing guide until missing several weeks of school due to snow! So now, my students and I must really work hard to catch up with where we should be. My motivational trick for my students is money! Now -- before you all have a heart attack and freak out -- I'm talking about CLASSROOM money. I have been teaching for 7 years, but have been frozen on step 2 on our payscale, and my hubby has not started his new job and has been unemployed for a month now. We are B-R-O-K-E. However, I started a classroom management system earlier in the year that revolves around MONEY! My students came up with consequence and rewards - or payments and penalties based on the idea that being the best student they can be is a JOB. The basics are: 
1) Students earn 5 cents each day they are present. If they are sick and have a doctor's excuse, they can still earn their pay for that day. 
2) For each "mark on the chart" (My weekly behavior chart is a freebie that you can grab here!) students must pay a 5 cent penalty. They also lose their pay for that day. 
3) If you go all week without a mark on the chart, you get a 25 cent bonus, AND earn extra recess. 
4) For progress reports and report cards, As, Bs and Cs earn bonus money. Ds don't earn any money, but they don't have to pay a penalty either. Ns (what our district calls Fs) must pay a 5 cent penalty. This was my STUDENTS' IDEA!!!!! They said that with all the help everyone has access to, there is no reason why anyone should fail. And you know what -- participation and grades have both INCREASED since this went into play. 
Now - to keep all of this straight, I just pay my students at the end of the week on Friday. It takes about 10 minutes to pay everyone and sign their planners for the day. I complete this during their AR time. It has been AMAZING. My group of students have learned to quickly count their money, and to trade coins for larger coins. They all LOVE to earn $1, because that allows them to shop in the prize box! $2.50 is lunch in the classroom with the teacher and a movie (usually Magic School Bus -- on Halloween we watched an Addams Family cartoon). $1.50 buys a homework pass, and $2.00 buys an extra 10 points added to an assignment. 

So, when my students return on Tuesday, with Valentine's craziness, and snow on the brain, I know that I will be giving out "bonuses" for students who are on task and focused. My teaching partner Joanne actually started the money system after she saw my classroom behavior improve and we compared scores on counting money and making change. The economic lessons are SO powerful, because my students really treat their learning as a job they must do. We have great parental support for some of our students, but not all, and this has taught my students to self motivate, and to give themselves some confidence. They feel like more of a classroom community -- each person has to do their own part,or it will not work! 

I am looking forward to reading some more motivation tips (I already read one about having a mystery student to watch during review-- and if they do well the class gets candy...I'm SO going to adapt that to money and my classroom!) 

I'm going to include some pictures of my 4 legged babies enjoying the snow. This was Wednesday evening, we only had about 6-8 inches. Once we went over 12, the dogs didn't have nearly as much fun playing in the snow because our youngest dog was just too short and chunky! Once Angel ran some circles and flattened the snow out - they continued to run and play! 
Here's the hubby playing with the dogs-- they were SO excited-- we don't get much snow! 

Hope you all enjoyed!! Don't forget to check out the other awesome entries on the linky! :)
Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Currently February

Ummm....It's FEBRUARY!!!! Where did January go?! I'm linking up with Farley over at Oh Boy 4th grade for my Currently!!

Listening: Seriously....have you heard this song?! I am OBSESSED..... actually obsessed might not be a strong enough word. I LOVE the funky beat, and I love that more and more musicians are introducing some woodwind and brass instruments into their music -- enough techno-keyboard junk! (That's the band geek showing). 
Loving: My Keurig. My hubby gave me money for Christmas to get a Keurig. He said there were too many for him to pick out - so I should pick out the one I wanted. I got the Platinum series-- 5 cup sizes, water filter...and ooohhhh sweet baby Jesus the coffee that I can make on demand has been AMAZING. 
Thinking: Thirty One Valentine's Day special!!! I LOVE that I am part of an amazing company like Thirty One! In February, the new Zip Organizing Utility Totes are only $10 when you spend $35! Plus only $5 personalization cost! AAAHHHH....the organization possibilities :) So, anyone who orders from my website between now and Valentine's could win a $25 gift card to Thirty One! 
Wanting: I made a BIG mistake. On December 16 (yes - I remember the day because my birthday is the 17th) I made the mistake of telling my BFF Candice that I had been so lucky and hadn't gotten bronchitis or some other lung sickness this year! (I have scar tissue on one lung and always get something during the winter!) Shortly after midnight, I woke up with a violent sickness! On my birthday no less!!! It was AWFUL! I was sick through Christmas (norovirus, strep throat, and pink eye all at once!!). Then, my hubby got sick New Years, then I got sick with bronchitis in January, and currently I have an ear infection! My poor puppy also had an ear infection!! 
Needing: Prayers! Whatever your faith, please take a moment to think of a dear coworker of mine...we'll call her "S". Her husband had a brain tumor removed, and it was cancerous. The prognosis has not been good -- 6 months to 18 months to live. I can't even imagine. I am also asking for prayers for my hubby -- he has lost his job :( It's going to be a rough month trying to make ends meet without his paycheck, but hopefully things will work out. 
2 Truths and a Fib: 
Truth: My dog is named after a Drake Song....her name is Yolo, as in You Only Live Once. The story behind that is, when our friend Anita at the shelter asked us to take her in (we had 2 pit bulls already, and live in a TINY house) - my husband and I said, only live once- help as many as you can! Now-- almost 2 years later, she's a huge part of our family! 
Truth: I started blogging to teach myself -- I had read LOTS of blogs, but I hadn't designed any. Then, as part of my summer technology work, I was asked to teach a class on website design and blogging. Website design, no problem....blogging.....let me learn that! :) 
Fib: I'm allergic to cats -- FALSE-- although - we could NEVER own a cat because my dog Angel does NOT like cats. I'm not exaggerating. At the shelter, she escaped her run, and went straight into the cat room, picked up a cat and took off. She was cornered by staff before she could do anything, and dropped the cat. She's broken 2 leashes/collars chasing cats on our walks. (We now use the double fail method for her walks!) 

I've got some great fraction lessons coming up --so look for those to be up with explanations and pictures!!