Sunday, October 28, 2012

Tell Me Something Good

This is year has seemed busier and more difficult than previous years, but there are still great things going on in my life.

Something Good at School:
I have had a blast teaching science to third graders this year.  We have learned about the difference between vertebrates and invertebrates and the muscular system.  We have been focusing heavily on vocabulary instruction.  My students have grown so much this year in their knowledge of science vocabulary.  As part of my instructional coaching position, I test a strategy before having the other teachers implement it in their classrooms.  On the pre-test, three students scored basic and sixteen scored below basic.  On the post assessment, I had five students score advanced, seven score proficient, four basic, and four below basic.  The students who were still in the basic and below basic category increased their score by at least 15%.  I am so proud of them!

To learn more about how we are teaching vocabulary, check out Tales from Outside the Classroom where I did a guest blog feature on Interactive Vocabulary.  In this feature, I layout the strategy and give you a link to my pre-assessement and a packet about the interactive vocabulary strategy.  If you are interested in the first unit I taught in science where I embedded the vocabulary instruction, check out my Teachers pay Teachers store for my Vertebrate and Invertebrate Classification Unit.

Something Good at Home:
My husband and I have been bonding over Doctor Who.  I hesitated for the longest time thinking I would not like the show.  I was oh, so wrong.  I am in love with Doctor Who!  The Doctor is one of my favorite characters on television.  I have only seen the three current doctors (nine, ten, and eleven), but we are trying to find the old episodes to see Doctor Who from the beginning.  I think I may have an obsession because I even created a Doctor Who pinterest board.  Some of my favorite pins so far:

I love this second one so much of because I love the song Sheldon (from Big Bang Theory) has Penny sing to him when he is sick:  soft kitty, warm kitty, little ball of fur, happy kitty, sleep kitty, purr, purr, purr.

Something Good in the Bloggy World:
I don't even know where to begin here.  I found a fabulous community in the teacher blogging world.  Everyone is so supportive!  To all my Top Teacher friends, I love our group and hearing about your joys and upsets.  One of the best things about being a teacher in this day and age is teacher blogs.  I have found some fabulous resources that have made my life as a teacher so better.  One of my favorite blog posts recently was from Runde's Room:  A Little Big of Blood and Gore.  She shared how she made blood with her students.  As soon as I read it, I knew that I had to make blood with my third graders.  We have been studying the muscular system and the heart and it was near Halloween.  They loved it!  We did it right before parent-teacher conferences, so they got to take their bottle of "blood" home with them that night.  They were excited to explain to their parents all the components of blood.  We are currently writing a two paragraph piece about the heart and blood that we will finish next week.

What is going well in your life?  I would love to hear in the comments below.  Then go check out Rowdy in First Grade's linky party:  Tell Me Something Good.

Sunday, October 14, 2012

BOO! Favorite Things Fall

Fall is here or so I am told.  The trees are still green in my little corner of the world.  I love where I live but I want the trees to start changing.  To me, that is the real change to the fall season.  I am a little worried that we are going straight from summer to winter this year. 

Jake Olsen Studios shared this picture on his Facebook page with permission to use.

With the fall season comes Halloween and Thanksgiving.  Halloween is one of my three favorite holidays (Christmas and Independence Day are the top two).  I love to decorate the outside of the house (haven't done it yet but plan to work on it next weekend) and always have candy ready for trick-or-treaters.  One day (hopefully) I will have my own children to go trick-or-treating with and it will make the holiday even better.

I have been boo-ed by the fabulous Denise from Sunny Days in Second Grade. It is fun way to share resources blog-style.

How it Works:
If you've been booed, copy and paste the above pic and these "rules" into your post.
  1.  Give a shout out to the blogger who booed you and link back to their site!
  2.  Share 3-5 October activities, books, products (yours or someone else) or freebie(s) that you love!
  3.  Share the Boo love with 5 bloggers- make sure you check this link to make sure you don't boo 
       someone again:  Tori's Teacher TipsAnd don't forget to tell them that they have been BOOED!
  4.  Link up {here} so that others can find you and read about your October ideas!  And while you 
       are there... check out the other great blogs!

Favorites for the FALL season

I Need My Monster by Amanda Noll is a great twist on the "monster under the bed" story.  One of my favorite things about this story is that it is a great Halloween read but never mentions Halloween.  So if your school does not allow holiday parties/activities, you can still read this book!  I found an YouTube video of the book also.

My students LOVE the drama circle activities created by Runde's Room.  We started the year with her Back to School drama circle and a few weeks ago did her Any Day Fun drama circle.  They beg me to do these.  She even has one for Halloween!  We are going to do this one, you probably already guessed, on Halloween to kick off our party.  

They are very easy to prepare for:  print the cards and cut them out.  Each student gets one-two cards (depending on the number of kids you have).  I give them time to read the card and think about what it is asking them to do.  Then I let them talk to a partner about what the card is asking them to do.  If they still can't figure it out, they can then ask me.  We get in a circle and the student with the first card (they are numbered) steps into the circle and preforms the task on the card.  That student steps back and the next student steps into the circle to perform.

Ashley Hughes from the School Supply Addict and Krista Wallden from the Creative Chalkboard have some really cute monster graphics.  Ashley has a set called Monsters and Krista has two sets called Monster Mash and Monsters Under the Bed.  I own all three sets because they are so adorable and colorful.

Looking for more places to get great graphics?  Check out Second Grade Math Maniac's blog hop:  Where do you get your Graphics?

Now for some FREEBIES!!!

Denise from Sunny Days in Second Grade makes fantastic Bump games to go with everything.  She made one for October that has students practice addition using three numbers.  This would make a great center activity.  I would also use on Fridays as a reward game because it is FUN to play.

 Stephanie from Teaching in Room 6 shared homework passes she plans to give her students instead of candy on Halloween.  Fantastic idea!  I know that some schools do not allow candy to be given out, so these are an excellent alternative.

Mary from Sharing Kindergarten shared a fun comprehension game for the book Too Many Pumpkins by Linda White on the new blog Freebielicious.  The game includes a cute game board of pumpkins and 36 question cards.  There is an answer key included also.

Sharing the BOO!

Here are some fabulous bloggers to follow.  I love going to their blogs because they all share great teacher ideas. 

A French teacher from Canada sharing her love of teaching.  Even if you don't teach French, she shares ideas that can be adapted to other subjects.  She has a beautiful blog design also!

A homeschool mama that shares everything she does with her littles for FREE.  She has a fantastic preschool curriculum that she adds to as she creates it.  I love it so much I added a preschool resources page to keep everyone up to date on the lessons she has posted.

A blog full of ideas, ideas, and ideas on how to keep students engaged in all things school related.  I shared her homework passes above.  Another great recent post is about how to use all those Scholastic book order forms teachers get to have students practice adding, subtracting, and multiplying with decimals.

Innovative Connections

Innovative Connections is not only a blogger but she also creates fun border graphics.  She is always sharing the great things others are doing.  She is a Mississippi State fan, but what can you do.  :)   I probably shouldn't say anything because they are doing much better than my favorite team, the Razorbacks.


Debbie is author/performer who shines happiness.  She loves connecting with children through song and literature.  She shares all the wonderful ideas she sees through her school visits.  She is also a Pinterest queen and you must check out her boards.  Wow! is all I can say about them.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

A Magical Day

Today is a MAGICAL day across blog land.  A group of teacher bloggers got together, led by the lovely Jessica from Mrs. Standford's Class, to swap products and share our thoughts on those products with our fantastic followers.


I had the opportunity to partner with Heather from Teach It Today, where she blogs about tips and ideas for busy teachers.

If you are new to my blog, I am an instructional coach for grades PK-4th grade.  I have been working closely with a third grade classroom and a split 3rd/4th grade classroom.  When I saw "You're One Smart Cookie," I knew immediately this is what my students needed to practice what they have been working on in math workshop - multiplication, division, and word problems.

multiplication and division word problem activities

There are two different activities included in this packet:  Cookie Jar Multiplication and Pigging Out Division.  Each activity is great to use during small group math or in a math center.  They also copy great in black and white, so you can use it with your whole class.  I assigned my students partners so they could work on the problems together.

The first activity is Cookie Jar Multiplication.  This is how I store it:  plastic pencil boxes.  During the back to school sales, I was able to get a ton of these really cheap.  I like the plastic ones because they are durable, stack neatly, and are semi-transparent (so I can see without labeling what is in the container).  The cookie jars fit nicely in the box.  I fold the word problems for two reasons.  They fit nicely in the container folded up.  Once the students take the cookies and jars out of the box, they keep the word problems in the box, close the box, and shake it up.  Then they take turns picking a word problem to solve.

Once a word problem is chosen, the students read the problem to each other and act out the problem using the manipulatives (the cookies and cookie jars).  Then they agree on the number sentence to write and record it and the answer on the recording sheet.

multiplication activity with cookies

The second activity is called Pigging Out!  I stored it the same way and the students used the same procedure of choosing a word problem.

Division activity

Once my students are confident solving these problems, I am going to mix the two types of problems and put the piggies and cookie jars together.  That way students will have to choose the correct manipulatives to use.  I will also add additional word problems as the year continues.

Make sure to hop over to Heather's blog and check out my "Making 10" activities.  Heather and I are giving away the products we blogged about today.  Use the Rafflecopter below to enter.  There will be THREE winners!!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Also, don't forget to head over Jessica's blog to see all the other great blog posts today in her Magical Swap Linky party.


Wednesday, October 3, 2012

Currently October

Currently, currently,'s time for Farley's 
Currently for OCTOBER!

Seriously, I LOVE my third graders this year.  They are teacher's dream group.  There are 21 lovely ones and there is not one that I would trade.  Every time I come to teach science, they greet me (very polite).  When I leave and tell them I won't be back for a couple days, they groan because they don't want to wait that long.  They try hard during every activity and are always paying attention.  They make teaching fun!  I look forward to every day I am able to teach them.

Tonight I am vegging out in front of the TV trying to not feel guilty because I am not getting things marked off my to-do list for school.  It is like the never ending list.  One day I want to mark everything off and not have anything to put back on it because I am ahead.  I know, dream world, but I still have the dream. :)

I Need My Monster by Amanda Noll is a neat twist on the monster under the bed story.  The little boy's monster goes on vacation for a week, but the little boy can't sleep without his monster.  He interviews other monsters trying to find one to take his place, but no one can replace Gabe.  What is he going to do?  You will have to read this cute, funny book to find out.

Thanks for checking in with me for the month of October's Currently.  Head to Farley's blog and take a peep at what other bloggers around the world are doing.  Add your own.  I would love to check out your currently.  Leave a link to your currently in the comments and I will come for a visit.


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