Thursday, December 12, 2013

Making Simple Machines Simple! : )

I absolutely LOVE teaching science! It's the one subject where kids can really get right in there and get their hands dirty (especially when we study worms!)  What I have noticed is not every teacher shares my love of teaching about simple machines….soooo…I thought I'd make a little post here with lots of my favorite links, and games for simple machines, plus an anchor chart that could help out a little. So…I hope this is helpful!

For great simple machine games and activities 

This site has a simple machines game, quiz, word scramble, word search and more.

Oh My Goodness! This is a fun one from the Museum of Science and Industry! This would be a good one to do with the class!

Terrific site that includes links to great simple machine sites!

Need some good Web sites for Simple Machines? Check these out!

If you would like to check out my Simple Machine resource on TPT called "Simple Machines, Task Cards and More:

If you are interested in the coordinating PowerPoint resource check out:

Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Documentation and a FREEBIE

Documentation can be SUCH a pain. Principals demand it, school psychologists ask for it, and parents want to see it. Even thinking about it can make any teacher want to pull their hair out!   It can drive any teacher a little insane (a lot actually), but it has to be done. Teachers must prove to principals, parents and the psychologist what students actually do and do not know. The "test" at the end of the year is only one small piece of the puzzle, although some people think it is the entire puzzle. Save me from those people!!!
    The trick is how to document in a way that doesn't drive us all totally nuts, ruin our home life, but still gives useful information that we can use.

So, why is documentation so important?

  1. documenting what standards your students have mastered allows teachers to know who can move on and who needs remediation. This leads to more effective differentiation.
  2. With students who are having great difficulty, documentation shows clearly what the problems are, and the severity of the problems. This leads to more productive IEP meetings.
  3. Parents what to know exactly how their child is preforming. What do they know, and where tdo they need more help?
  4. When grade card time rolls around, documentation is very helpful in determining a grade that really reflects what the student knows.
I have found a few really good articles on documentation that are especially good. Have a look!

This one is done in bullets, so it is easy and quick to read!

I like this one too. 

This pdf on documentation from Australia is wonderful! Don't miss it!

I have just finished a documentation resource that will help teachers not only document progress of individual students, but for their class as well. That scream will become a sigh of relief!! It includes 137 tests, checklists and grading keys, documentation forms, and organizational materials (437 pages).

To give a try for free, try out the freebie below. It is everything you need to test your students for common core standard RI.3.1. It includes the documentation form for the class (if you have more than 18 students...(OMG-of course you do!!!) copy two pages. Two tests are included with answer keys, one test is shown below. Click on the link below the freebie pictures.

                                               3rd Grade Documentation Freebiie

Friday, September 13, 2013

A New Teaching Paradigm

I have just seen the very best video on how to teach that I have EVER come across! It is only six minutes, and should be shown to every school staff everywhere. The discussions that follow could change your classroom, your school, and maybe even your district! Wow!

I know we all do many of the things shown, but to see everything in one cohesive school environment is mind-blowing.

Thursday, August 29, 2013

Use a "Wow Book" to Create a Positive Classroom Community!


When can reading and and writing change behavior? When you use a Wow Book, that's when!
I totally believe that you get what you reinforce. That sword cuts both ways. Some kids are more than happy to get attention by acting like fools. When they get that negative attention, it's just as powerful as a pat on the back....only in a bad way!
    So, what to do? I have noticed that when kids get an unexpected positive note from me, or from parents, it really makes their day. In fact, it changes behavior. To harness that power I made "Wow books".
    How does it work?
   There are two notebooks (click below for the freebie covers), one for the teacher, one for students. Each book is for writing about the positive things kids do during the day. The teacher may write about how Fred shared his pencil with a neighbor and made him smile, or helped a teammate out during cooperative learning. If one or two students get a positive note each day (keep track, so you get everyone included), the Wow book will be the first thing kids look at each morning, hoping they are the one caught being good. Then other kids in the class can add their comments about that great action.
    The students' notebook works the same way. Kids keep a lookout during the day to find other students doing positive things. Then they can write about them in the book. Other students can add on with their comments.
     The classroom community grows stronger because kids are focusing on positive behavior of others, rather than finding things to tattle about. Plus they get the glow of being the one found doing positive things.  All the while, they are reading and writing. If you want to know what spelling words you need to work on...check the students'
book. That's their authentic writing.

Wednesday, August 28, 2013

Get Parents On Your Side...All It Takes is One Phone Call!

          There is nothing more important, at the beginning of the year, than getting parents on your side. If you get off on the wrong side of one of your parents, you know what will happen! They will be a thorn in your side all year long, plus they will pull your other parents right along with them. I have seen it happen all too often. After being the "shoulder to cry on" for one of my grade level friends who was having this very problem, I went to a county in-service talk given by Harry Wong. Wow! He said that every teacher should make a short, positive phone call to each and every student in his/her class during the very first days of school. NO negitive comment should be made. What should you say? Say how happy you are to have the child in your class, ask if there are any questions about proceedures or other things in class, then give a positive comment about something (anything) that child did that day. Harry said to say something like, "Ask Sam about the wonderful thing he did today!" then say how how much you are looking forward to this school year with their child, and hang up. It is true that the child will be at a loss as to what he/she did that day, but obviously they did something good. The teacher said so!  As a third grade teacher, I wanted to be more specific. I went down my list and called 5-7 parents each night from the second day of school on. The day of their call I kept a few notes on little things the chosen students did that were good. Some shared supplies with others, some welcomed a new student in a nice way. It doesn't matter what thing you share, it's only important it be positive.

    Now, what about that pain in the neck that you know from day one is going to drive you insane. For that child it is especially important that you find something, anything, that is positive. There have been some students I have had to watch for two or three days to find one nice thing they did. I can guarantee you, it is the first phone call from a teacher that parent has gotten that is positive. I had one parent say, "Yea, but what's he really doing?". I just replied that it was early in the year, and I was calling to just "check in" and see if there were any questions. NEVER get negitive on that first phone call. So, what is the result? I can tell you that the children whose parents you call come in the next day elated! They are so happy a teacher called and said something good about them. The problem students are often just confused. It is a totally new feeling for them. It really does help behavior. No, it doesn't change it right then, but that child knows you are on his side. More importantly, his parents know you are on his side. You can't work with parents to change behavior unless they KNOW you like their child. That first positive phone call really does make a difference. I can say that since I have made those first phone calls, I have not had any problems with parents. In fact, when I need anything, they are right there. All I can say is, "Thank You Harry Wong!"

If you are interested in one of Harry Wong's books, I suggest, "The First Days of School: How to be an Effective Teacher".

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Times Tables the Fun Way...Serious Learning!

   Seriously, I'm not making a cent on this post...I'm talking about this amazing product because I love it! Teaching multiplication is always a chore, not only for kids, but for teachers too! I looked for a long time for something that would make the whole process easier...for me and for my students. Then I happened across "Times Tables the Fun Way". I sent for the basic set, and didn't follow the directions as I taught it the first year. To my amazement, kids loved it. Better yet, they learned the facts I taught really well.
   Well now! That was pretty cool. The next year I sent for more of the set, and this time I read the directions and followed the program to the letter. By the time I finished, EVERY kid in my room knew their multiplication facts. Seriously....they did! I followed their progress the following year as they went into fourth grade, and teachers told me all of my kids knew their facts. (See a happy face here.)
    My kids did so well, and had such a fun time learning their facts, that the principal decided to buy the program for the grade level. Now, some teachers let it set on the shelf, but the ones who used it, loved it.
    What really amazed me was that when my new kids came to Meet and Greet each year,  they wanted to know when they would start that "fun multiplication stuff" they had heard about on the bus.
    Bottom line, it works. Take a peek at the YouTube video for 4x4=16.  The price is $82.12 for a class set. I guarantee you, it will be the best money you ever spend on your classroom.

To order go to City Creek Press:

That's my advertisement for the year!

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Summer's Coming…and Freebie!

Here it comes! Every day it gets closer! Yes! Summer is almost here! Those last few days of school can be a little crazy, and can leave any teacher with frazzled nerves, and even a big headache! To help make those last days of school a little easier I have a freebie for you! It's a great activity to start the day. There are five graphing posters, one for kids to fill out each of the last five days of school. It includes questions to ask about the graphs each day, as well as a suggestion as to how upper elementary students can use the graphs as well. Just click on the link below the pages! Hope you enjoy using it!!

Click on the link below to get the freebie!

If you are interested in lots of fun activities for that last week of school, plus a great "good-by" gift for your students, check out my end of the year product: "Ants In Their Pants".  Just click on the link below:

Sunday, April 21, 2013

Rocks and Minerals FREEBIE and more!

      Whenever I teach rocks and minerals, I always do "Peanut Butter and Jelly Geology" with my students. They love it and it really teaches them about sedimentary rocks, and fault lines. But one thing always dives me nuts! Whenever I look around the net for good information on teaching peanut butter and jelly geology, it says, "allow students to make their sandwich any way they choose". NO! It costs over $10 to do this with a classroom full of kids, I'm not about to lose most of the lesson by letting them make that sandwich any way they choose.
       Making the sandwich is most of the lesson. It teaches how sedimentary rock is formed for crying out loud. What kids need is an interesting story about how their little piece of land changes over millions and millions of years. So....I made up my own...based on science and how sedimentary rock is formed. THEN I go on to teach about fault lines. So...long story short....I have included that story and the directions for doing your own peanut butter and jelly geology project in my freebie below. Just click the link below the picture to download the resource. I hope you enjoy it! I've also included some other great rocks and minerals links that you might find useful

This is a link not to be missed! It includes 12 study jams that range from the rock cycle, to soil, to weathering and erosion and so much more!! don't miss it!

Don't miss this terrific site that includes 14 wonderful rocks and minerals videos, plus quizzes and more!

Here are some great links for Rocks and Minerals that you might like:
My favorite is Rock Hounds…kids love it too!

You will not believe this site! If you teach rocks and minerals, don't miss this one! There are 11 links to activities from rocks and soil, to fossils. VERY kid friendly and easy to use!!!

I LOVE a good Web quest! This on about rocks will be one of your kids' favorites!

Great video on the layers of the Earth and the rock cycle

The king of science himself!

If you are interested in some task cards, classroom activities or a rocks and minerals PowerPoint, check out my resources below:

Sunday, April 7, 2013

Make Math Games Successful In Your Classroom

Math can be the spark that excites students into learning and solving problems, or it can be misery. It all depends on how math is taught! The old way of drill, drill, drill, worksheet, after worksheet, after worksheet just doesn't cut it.

The answer is math games. Adding fun to the whole element of learning math excites areas in the brain that keeps kids on task, and makes learning easier! There are lots of math games out there (check out Pinterest!!!).  Finding games isn't an issue, but what really makes a game successful in a classroom?

How do you make sure math games are successful in your classroom?

1.  Make sure you are using games for a specific purpose. They should not be simply time fillers.

2. Find games that match the mathematical objectives you are working on.

3. Once a child (the class) knows a game well, send it home for homework. Simple math games used with a deck of cards are really good for this. Many math games are printable, or only use pencil and paper. They are perfect to send home.

4. Look at the game carefully. Is there an element of chance? If so, even weaker students will think they have a chance of winning. That means they won't give up!

5. Keep the number of players for any game at four or less. The fewer the number of players, the more each child gets to participate.

6. Games should be short, under 15 minutes for sure. There's not much more time for that anyway in a classroom.

7. Students get overloaded when they have to learn many rules for many games. Keep the type of games to five or six. Then you can swap out concepts, but keep the game structure. For example, the simple card game of "War" can be used for any mathematical standard in almost any grade.

8. Give students the opportunity to make their own games. I used pizza boxes to keep games in. The students covered the top with fadless paper (wrape it like a present that can still open), then decorate with the name. Includes rules to attach to the inside of the lid of the box, and use a gameboard made of tagboard to construct the game. Show students a number of boardgames first to allow them to discuss what makes a good game, and good playing cards. If you base the game on one they already know (i.e. Candyland), it also makes it easier.

Try this Freebie math game that gives kids lots of fun practice!  I hope you enjoy my  multiplication game called "Feed the Chickens".  It's designed for two students at a time, and lots of fun! I've included the facts through 12 to make the game useful for older students who need some extra practice. If you teach younger students, just pull out the facts you don't yet need. Just click on the link below the pictures to download the game. I hope your kids enjoy it!