Monday, September 29, 2014

The Book Whisperer : Chapter 2

Missed Chapter 1?  Read it here!

The Book Whisperer.png

Are you ready for this Book Study Blog Hop? This week, we read Chapter 2 : Everybody Is a Reader and it's fantastic! Read on for my thoughts and then follow the links at the bottom to read more from other fantastic collaborators.

Everybody Is a Reader

In this chapter, Miller explains how she starts her classroom off on the first day of school to make sure that reading is at the forefront of everything they do. She allows students to explore the classroom library by hosting a book frenzy.  Students, as well as Miller, spend time looking, sharing, reading and recommending books from the library. 

In her classroom, there is no mention of not wanting to read.  She doesn't acknowledge those comments - everyone is expected to read.  There is a book out there for everyone, and if a student picks a book, starts reading it and they don't like it, they are more than welcome to pick and read another one!  Easy as pie!

One thing that I've never understood is why we read to developing readers (struggling readers).  These students need to read even more, but yet we are so quick to offer them reading software and programs that read for them to allow them to "succeed" in school, without realizing the detrimental effect this has.  In the book, Miller mentions a study that shows that these developing readers are reading 75% less than their peers! 75% less!  That's absolute craziness.  These students need to read, and need to read because they want to.  The key?  Choosing the right book and setting up the right classroom atmosphere.

On top of the book frenzy, Miller has her students filling out various interest surveys to get to know them a little better.  This information is vital to what happens next : personal recommendations by the teacher.  Miller takes her observations from the book frenzy as well as these interest surveys and will make individual recommendations for every single one of her students.

She will find a book that she believes will suit a student, write a post-it note as to why she believes they will enjoy the book and leaves it on their desk.  There is a book for everyone, she just has to find it!  Children love stories, Miller just helps them bridge that gap and show them that books have the same magic that video games and TV shows have.  

In my classroom, one thing that will be implemented immediately will be this open relationship with the classroom library and books that Miller has in her classroom.  To start, students will definitely be filling out interest surveys and I will do my best to start recommending books!  

For the next 6 weeks only, these Reading Interest Surveys are available to you for free.  After that, all products from the 7 chapters will be bundled together in one paid product, so head on over to my TpT store now to get your copy today!

Read Chapter 3

Friday, September 26, 2014

5 Great Thanksgiving Activities

I know you guys are thinking I'm a little nuts to talk about Thanksgiving right now, but in Canada, our Thanksgiving is in two weeks!  So I figured I'd write this post now and you can simply pin it for later use :)

Thanks to Doodle Bugs Teaching for always hosting such a wonderful linky party!  Clicking on the logo above will bring you to a multitude of other fantastic Five for Friday blogs.

You know how you're always racking your brain and searching Pinterest for ideas on gifts students can make for their parents, or crafts they can do?  Well, now your search is over! 

This Thanksgiving Crafts & Gifts set from Bryn Even at The Primary Patch is perfect!  In this packet, you'll receive the black line master copies of :

12 different Thanksgiving Coffee Cup Sleeves

9 different Thanksgiving Coasters

5 different Thanksgiving Cards

1 Thanksgiving Bulletin Board Craftivity

This is the ultimate perfect resource for many years to come! And I 

know your students will love working on the coffee cup sleeves for

 their parents!

This next activity blends art and writing in one!  It's If I were a Thanksgiving Turkey by Mrs Beattie's Classroom.  

These turkeys are so darn cute!  This activity is full of templates to bring your students through the whole writing process (on being a turkey! haha) and then have a very fun turkey craft at the end to bring it all together.  

Do you love interactive games that you can play with the whole class?  Then head on over to Pink Cat Studio to pick up this wonderful resource!

These Interactive PowerPoint Games are sure to make any subject fun and interesting for your students!  There are 4 fun games that you can use with any review questions :

Game #1: Gobble Gobble Run! - Turkeys compete in a foot race

 to reach the finish line first! 

Game #2: Turkey Tower – Stack the turkey chicks the highest to

 win the game!

Game #3: Top of the Pile – Roll your cute leaf character to the top

 of the leaf pile to win the game!

Game #4: Pie in the Sky – Catch falling pies from the sky and

 balance five in a stack to win the game!

Here's another great product from Diamond Mom that is sure to be a hit as well!  It's Give Thanks Math and Language Activities.  Over 10 activities, from writing poetry to charting what your students had for supper, that will have your students enjoying this lovely time of the year.

There are even some pumpkin cookies and muffin recipes that I might try soon ;)  I'll let you know how they turn out!

Finally, I have uploaded my own Thanksgiving product - an original poem that students will read (and re-read!) and then using the templates provided, go through the writing process to write their own Thanksgiving poem.  

The poem focuses on rhyme and repetition and also has students discussion narration and point of view.  It is available at 50% off for the next 24 hours, so grab your copy today!

Have a great weekend!  Don't forget to head on over to Doodle Bugs Teaching to read more Five for Friday wonderfulness!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Number Sense Games!

Another Wednesday linky with Mrs Plemons' Kindergarten! I love Positively Pinspiring, it gives me a chance to let you know what I've explored in the world of Pinterest this past week, and we all know how amazing Pinterest is!

This week, I've focused on number sense.  Number sense, to me, is so important and every teacher should be working on that right now in their classrooms (and one day, I'll explain why in a blog post). To help you along, I have found 5 pins this week that will have your students developing their number sense in fun and creative ways!  Read on and enjoy :)

Step Into Second Grade

Now THIS is such a fun game, I wish I would have thought of it!  This is an anchor chart, laminated and every day, the teacher thinks of a number and have students ask questions to try and guess the number!  At the bottom of the anchor chart, you can see where they discussed what makes a good question and gave examples as well.  

I love this.  Easily adaptable for older grades (questions such as "Is it a multiple of 3?", "Is there an 8 in the thousands place?", "Can it be divided by 4?"), especially if you start working with large numbers.  Don't start working with large numbers if students haven't mastered smaller numbers yet!!

This can also be adapted and worked into one of your math centers.  One student picks a number and have the others guess.  This works on their math skills both ways!  The student picking the number must be able to properly answer. This is where differentiation works its magic and you could have smaller groups working on different sets of numbers.
I love Bingo games to practice and develop different math concepts (as you can tell from my Fraction Bingo game and my Place Value Bingo game in my TpT store) and this one is so easy to do!  The template is free from, all you need to do is sign up with them to download your template (signing up is free).  But if you decide to make this yourself, it doesn't really seem that hard to do! Grab some Bingo Templates online (that's my google search for you) and write down some numbers!  This way, you can make it work for younger grades as well as older grades!

Math Coach's Corner

Now for this great game from Math Coach's Corner, you do need two different coloured dice, but that shouldn't be too hard! Other than that, I absolutely LOVE this game!  It's great to add in your math centers, and she's giving it to you for free!  There's even a blank template for you to create your own, which is great for you to adapt for your own grade level!

When a student works on representing a number in different ways, they are making connections in their brain and really solidifying that number.  They're seeing the number one way, then seeing it being used another way and then making the connection between the two.  4 and four are now the same thing, as is 2x2 and 3+1 and 2^2.  Very important to work on this skill!

Pre-k Pages

The Ziploc Quilt Math Game.  I was blown away when I saw this!  First, I was just so excited to find this Ziploc Quilt because it makes ANY subject more fun and interesting and you can adapt it to anything you're teaching. 

But since this post is about number sense, I'll explain to you how this particular game works.  First, you must create your quilt. Made from Ziploc (or no-name cheap sandwich bags), you lay them out, however many you wish (although don't do too may or it won't be manageable!) and then use duct tape to stick them together.  Leave the back open, so you can easily insert new cards and really make this quilt adaptable!.  

Then you work on creating your cards.  This particular set of cards features dotted domino and the numbers written in standard form.  The students must flip a card and "swat" at the number in the quilt that corresponds with the number they flipped over.

I'm pretty sure most students are going to love swatting at this quilt and for older grades, you can place them in pairs and see who can swat the card first (and that person wins the card - and see who has the most cards in the end).

Now just take a moment to start thinking about all the possibilities... Q&A from Science, Alphabet recognition... ahhh!  Isn't it amazing!

Last but not least, this is something that I do in my own classroom every day as part of my math block and I really do enjoy it - Number of the Day!  You can read more about it here.

I print out this page (double-sided) and it's enough for 4 days worth.  I pick a number and students must work with that number in different ways.  They work in groups of twos (usually, although if someone wants to work alone, that's fine too).  We do go over this quickly afterwards, and students absolutely love sharing the word problem that they came up with (sometimes they're very unique and quite funny!)

The Purple Teacher

I have created this template and am giving it away for free!  You can grab it here.

And there you have it!  Number sense is so important in your classroom, I'd love to hear your tips and tricks!

Have you ever thought of buying or selling on Teachers Pay Teachers and finding great ideas for your classroom?  Use my referral link today!

Monday, September 22, 2014

The Book Whisperer : A Book study

This is the first blog of the series talking and discussing the book The Book Whisperer by Donalyn Miller.  Follow the links at the bottom to read more about Chapter 1 from some amazing bloggers and teachers!

The Book Whisperer.png

I was really excited when I saw a lovely blogger asking if anyone wanted to do a book study on the book The Book Whisperer.  I had never read the book, nor had I ever heard of it, but I absolutely love reading, and this book was full of promise!

Immediately, Donalyn grabs me by touting that she's no researching, expert or have her Ph. D.  She is a reading teacher who inspires her students to read a lot and to love reading.  Isn't that what all teachers aspire to do in some way or another?  We can have all the letters behind our name, that doesn't mean anything.  What does are the results in our classroom, how we inspire students, whether through reading, writing, math or even science.

The second thing she says that really grabs my attention is When you take a forklift and shovel off the programs, underneath it all is a child reading a book.  Ha.  We work so hard in our classroom, and the magic key is there all along.  A child reading a book.  I am really into this book now!  I love reading, and frankly, strongly believe that reading is the key to success in all other subject matters (well, that and a few other things).  But if you can't read, life's going to be a little tough!

The last thing she said in the introduction that really had me thinking was I needed a book that showed me how to connect my love of reading to my teaching of reading and how to use what I already knew about being a lifelong reader to encourage my students to read... This is me, to a tee.  I love reading, but I'm not sure how to transfer my love of reading to my teaching of reading.  I've been trying for 7 years, some years are more successful than others, but I'm still searching for that magic wand!

There and Back Again - Chapter 1

Think of the way you teach.  Is it anything like the way you were taught as a child? I know my first year, that's exactly what I did.  I taught the way I knew how, the way I was taught.  Teaching Reading was done with the whole class reading a book (that I chose, of course), having a few questions every chapter or so and then a test at the end.  We sometimes read out loud in class, I sometimes assigned it as homework.  Sometimes, I threw in "fun" activities like vocabulary crosswords or a fun book report along the way.  Exactly the way it was done when I was young.

In her book, Donnalynn talks about how this system fails our students.  Becoming independent readers and writers is a journey that is theirs alone, and although you can teach them how to read, it's a cognitive and emotional journey that is theirs alone.  Your job is to equip them with everything they need, but let them figure it out.

What does this mean?  It means you give the students the proper tools to read, but you let them pick how they are going to learn.  First step to do this?  Let them pick their own book!

I'm excited to be diving into the next few chapters of this book to find out more about her reading workshops and how she sets them up to inspire her students to read and read and read.

To go along with the book, I have created a product that will help your students determine just what it is that makes them love a book!  Critical Analysis at its best!  It's free for the next 6 weeks only, and then they get bundled into one larger file, so get it now while you can (and it's always nice to leave feedback!)  Click here (or the image) to download the file.

Happy reading!

Read Chapter 2

Friday, September 19, 2014

5 great FREE math apps that you need to use in your classroom!

Yay!  It's Friday!  This week on Five for Friday with Doodle Bugs Teaching, I have found 5 absolutely-fantastic-must-have math apps that are simply wonderful for your classroom (or even your own kids!)  

Oh - and they're all FREE!  

In this app, you create your own rocket and you complete missions that deal with numbers, telling time, money (US currency), 3D shapes and arithmetic. 

The game is to keep your rocket in the air as long as possible by completing math challenges.  The current version is rated 4 1/2 stars on iTunes and is only available for apple products (iPhone and iPad).  The app states that it's for kids 9-11, but one reviewer stated that her 5 year old and gifted 10 year old enjoy this game.  

Math Puppy is a free app for apple users that allow kids of all ages to practice their math skills.  They  have two different games :  Bingo and Challenge, 3 different difficulty levels and 5 game modes : Add, Subtract, Multiply, Divide and All-in-one.  

This app is like flash cards, but to the extreme!  Plus, with the Bingo game, it's fun trying to fill in a line to win!  Or try and challenge yourself by answering 5 correctly to move onto the next level.  

Considering all of the different options, I'd use this app from grade 1 to grade 8 and allow students to work at a level that challenges them.  

Ok, so their name can be a little more creative but this game is absolutely perfect for kids who are just started to learn how to count and recognize numbers!  Compatible with the iPad only, this app provides different levels of difficulty (from Counting up to 5 and Counting up to 20).  

The app will show the number as well as pronounce it when kids tap on the image, and when they get the right answer, the app will cheer them on for some great encouragement.  

Cute images and sounds make this game a perfect one to help students count and recognize numbers - a definite skill to build number sense!

In this game, students learn how to solve equations by dragging balloons into desired locations with numbers or operations and earn points!  But you must be quick because the balloons fly away!
It's also a great way to have students understand what the equal sign actually means.  

Designed for the iPhone and the iPad, this game has 5 difficulty levels and is perfect for many age levels.

In this app (again, designed for apple users), students can practice their adding and subtracting skills in a fun game that seems engaging and interesting.  When the right answer is clicked, the bird drops the apple to feed the "math bug". 

Easier levels also include a visual to help students count, and once a certain number of correct answers are reached, the app will automatically advance to the next level.  It also states that the app is designed to track users ability and become progressively more challenging as skill's increase.

How have you used math apps in your classroom?

Have you ever thought of buying or selling on Teachers Pay Teachers and finding great ideas for your classroom?  Use my referral link today!