Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Technology Tuesday

It's "Becky Techie Time!"  (I only wish my name was Becky so that I could really make this work!)

The piece of technology that I whole-heartedly recommend is great little app called Museum Box.  This is an app that allows students to "curate" what they find during research (i.e. photos/images, sounds, videos, PowerPoint presentations, weblinks, etc.) and share their findings with the world in a cute little "box" that has multiple cubbies.  Each cubbie holds a cube, and it is on the sides of the cubes that the research is stored.

One huge plus to this is that the teacher must approve the box before it is finally published, so accountability runs high...and you, the teacher, have a ton of control!

I tried it out on my fourth and fifth grade research class during the last trimester of school and the vote was unanimous:  they LOVED Museum Box!  Many students said that having a place to "store" their ideas and research finding was really helpful to organizing their project.  One student asked if they could use their Museum Box as a bibliography (makeshift, but it worked!).

This app takes a little bit of time to get approved and it is a British site...so set it up for your next class of kiddos sooner rather than later.  With your sign up (which is free), you also get access to other great learning apps on this site.

Simply...the best kept secret out there for intermediate students and their teachers who love sharing with them!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Monday Made It #2

Oh...popsicle sticks!  These really great tongue depressors left me a little "down in the mouth."  I'm dying to do something really great, and a wonderful idea does not even pop into my head.

What has been percolating in my head is that I teach fourth grade and our district's math program is Everyday Math.  For those of you who teach using this series, you know that the very first unit in the book is GEOMETRY! My kiddos love it and we all spend plenty of time learning to identify polygons.  We master identification of polygons, and then we take our first MAP assessment.  For those of you who aren't familiar with the "Magic of MAP testing," let me tell you...it's completed on the computer and the teacher just "surfs" the room, looking over shoulders and watching her sweeties do some pretty amazing things...and, at times, some pretty unfortunate things.

So...how does all of this play into my Monday Made It?  Well...even a mere two weeks after the infamous GEOMETRY unit, where mastery reigned supreme, the brain trust in my classroom will identify a five-sided polygon as an OCTAGON!   ARE YOU KIDDING ME?!  As I walk past these testers and see the mistakes they are about to make, there is a smallish part of me (this is a lie, since I have to hold myself back with my entire being!) that wants to jump toward the computer, child, and the offending finger that is about to push the "enter" key and stop the madness while providing a quick refresher course on GEOMETRY.

Trust me...the winter and spring MAP testing is remarkably the same...including the ugly GEOMETRY responses.

My partner-in-crime, the Wonderful Linda, and I have since decided that we must provide copious amounts of GEOMETRY to just about everything we do.  We need to constantly have GEOMETRY activity centers and reinforcement games in place throughout the year...so there will be no more misidentification of polygons.

This is where the popsicle sticks/tongue depressors come in really handy.

Using my handy-dandy hole punch and a few decorative brads, I was able to put together some swell manipulatives that will allow my students to explore the "Wild and Wonderful World of Polygons" using some pre-fab polygons that can be manipulated into a multitude of polygons, both regular and irregular.

Here's a look at what I did...

These are pretty versatile and can be used "differently."  For instance, the five-sided figure can be manipulated into a trapezoid.  Play around...I know that you'll find other polygons that your students need to be able to identify!

I know...geoboards are terrific for activities like this and I adore them in the large group setting or when I am working in small groups with my sweeties.  Everyday Math has a love affair with straight straws of varying lengths and connected with twist ties.  Again, this is terrific in the large group and with smaller groups that I am working directly with.

I have other things in mind, like smaller centers where students can work independently or in pairs.  In fourth grade, we have a name for things like straws, wires, and rubber bands...weapons!  In the wrong hands, these well-intentioned manipulatives and stations can become treacherous...not to mention a parent phone call away from ending the day on a high note...

So, the picture is pretty self-explanatory and it partners nicely with the handouts that I have created and stashed for you to use.  My guess is that is you are a scrapbooker like I am, you'll have the brads and hole punch on hand and at the ready.  I was really pleased to be able to raid my stash and keep the cost low.

Wild About Polygons

Don't forget to make a set for you and a set for a friend (like the Wonderful Linda).

P.S.  If you came up with another great way to use these sticks, please post and link back here!  I'd love to see what you came up with!

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Wet and Wild in Florida

I'm here in sunny, scratch that, VERY RAINY, Orlando for the 2012 Model Schools Conference. Our group scheduled in a day to relax by the pool...but that was modified to be a nap in the villa instead. (Thank you, Tropical Storm Debby!) One thing about educators is that, as a rule, we are rather stunning with the modifications! Can't wait to apply what I'll learn to my classroom in the fall!

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Saturday Show and Tell

Just wanted to share a really cute little craft that I did with my sweet friend Tracy.  It's right in time for the 4th of July, and it so ridiculously easy...just needed a few 2x4 scraps, some pieces of scrapbook paper, a little Mod Podge, and some brown ink for the edges.  A yard of ribbon wraps the whole thing up and you have a little flag that is just so stinkin' cute!

No measuring...just eyeballing!  Lots of fun...really quick!

Pinterest...of course!

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Remains of Monday Made It + Sharing Is Caring

Tara over at 4th Grade Frolics put together these really cute little "Puddlies" (sniglet for glass PUDDLES plus SMILIES), and she inspired me to put together my own little jar of happiness.

These didn't take long and each jar of happy smiley faces cost a total of $3.00...thanks Dollar Tree!

I made two jars, one for me and one for my partner-in-crime, Linda.  I figured that each of us could have one of these sweet little jars on our desk.  Because we co-teach, we share kiddos all day long and send our little sweeties back and forth through the wall of the classroom.  When a kiddo has a great class, we often walk into the other's room (through the wall) and share the great news.  These sweet little Puddlies can now travel back with the sweet little kiddo and be given to the proper classroom teacher for a reward (being moved up to blue or super purple on the classroom rewards chart).

Anywho...that gets me to the idea of SHARING IS CARING!  I have the awesome good fortune of teaching my little heart out with a wonderful friend, mentor, and most AMAZING teacher of all time!  Linda is just this outstanding human being who teaches in the classroom all year and then takes her classroom gig outside to the local pool where she keeps young lifeguards in line by teaching them life lessons and keeps a watchful eye on the children of our community as she shares the lifeguard chair with the young people she mentors.

The only drawback to the Wonderful Linda, as I shall now refer to her, is that she is "craft challenged." Her creativity in the classroom is unmatched, her crafty creativity, well...we're not sayin' anything!

So, I've been stalking blogs since the holidays and pulling in the amazing ideas that are out there and making centers and other fun classroom stuff for both of us.  I figure if I can make one Synonym Shaker, then I am certainly capable of making two.

This has not only made the Wonderful Linda smile and shake her head a time or two, but I think it has padded my "emotional bank account" so-to-speak.  It also takes away this line:  "How come Mrs. L's kids get to do the fun stuff and we don't?"  I would give anything to keep our kids from comparing, but there is nothing we can do about this!

So...if you have a teaching buddy who is even half as amazing as mine is, then MAKE TWO CRAFTS/STATIONS/NEAT THINGS FOR GOODNESS SAKES!  If you like the competition between neighbors, then might I suggest doing something like this for a teacher who needs a boost of confidence, a colleague who is drowning under a gigantic pile of worksheets, or for "the new kid on the block?"


Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Technology Tuesday

It's Technology Tuesday!  I'm a closet tech geek with an Instructional Technology background.  This makes me the "cool teacher" who knows what to do with technology.  It also makes me the person that people come running to when something isn't working correctly (i.e. cell phones, SmartBoards, digital cameras, printers, etc.)...

I've decided to devote my Tuesday posts to great technology ideas, sites, or apps. 

Today, I used www.fodey.com with my Geek Squad students in our summer school class.  They loved it!  This site is a generator that allows the user to create newspaper clippings (see my sample), movie clapboards, talking tomatoes, and lots of other small products.  I can see a kabillion uses for these products...great ways to share smallish research projects and short bursts of student learning. 

An interesting feature is the "cigarette packet."  After asking my first Geek Squad group, they said that this would be a great final product after their unit on drugs/alcohol...the package could reflect all the bad stuff about cigarettes.

I'm using this as a way to apologize to my lovely mother-in-law...I really did forget her birthday!  So sorry Mary!

Monday, June 18, 2012

Monday Made It #1

I just love digging around at my favorite store, The Dollar Tree.  Saw these cutie patootie Coconut Drink Cups (SKU 39277 77901) and knew that they would make an intriguing learning center...but I just wasn't sure how to use them.

My kiddos seem to struggle with the concept of FACTORS in multiplication, so I am always looking for a fun way to reinforce this concept.  After a lot of thinking, I pulled together a game that has shades of "Memory" plus a little of the Ravensberger game "Buggo" from my son's younger years.  Mix those two together with some multiplication, and you have "Pucker Up!"

I created 40 "lime wedge" shaped cards with factors 1-9 on the back.  There are four of each number plus an additional set of four with the words "Pucker Up" on them!  You could create any kind of card you'd like, but I thought that I'd follow Harry Nilsson's advice and "put the lime in the coconut."  Using nesting circle punches made putting these little cards together a breeze!

The instructions can be run off and put on cardstock to be laminated at your leisure...perhaps after "drinking them both up?"

Pucker Up Directions Here

I tried this game out on my 11-year-old and he really liked it.  In fact, he was a little surprised that his mom was capable of making something that was really, really fun.  He's asking when the online version will be made available to the public!

For my next Monday Made It, I'd like to try out these great tongue depressors that I picked up at Michael's over the weekend.  I'm hoping that something will inspire me...quickly!

Saturday, June 16, 2012

Yeah! I Have a Follower!

Yep...it's true!  I actually have someone following me and I hope that I might gain another follower or two along the way...I guess it helps to actually post something of value (in the way of great ideas, PDFs and links), so I promise Molly at Lessons With Laughter and all other potential followers that I will begin to pull together "ideas of substance" to share with all of you who have helped me to squeeze more of the creative juices so-to-speak!

Friday, June 15, 2012

Following...and a Giveaway

As Farley over at Oh Boy 4th Grade would say, I'm in the "Giving it a SHOT" stage of blogging.  I've been dying to get out there and I know that I don't have much to offer yet, but I'm adding this every day and I think there could be a lot of potential here.  I'm an idea person and I plan on putting not only great ideas but also some cool tech solutions and Common Core Station stuff in the coming weeks...again, the word POTENTIAl rings true here.  So...with that said, I'm looking for a follower, and I guess a little validation...and I'm willing to pay.  I have a small incentive ($5.00 Starbucks card) burning a hole in my pocket so-to-speak, for the first person to follow this blog.  Desperate, I know...but I hope someone will start following soon!

Thursday, June 14, 2012

The Book Whisperer

The Book Whisperer, by Donalyn Miller, is the study group choice that I'm doing with my friends over the summer months.  I think that Donalyn and I must be twins separated at birth...because everything she says in this book makes me want to get up and yell "Amen sister!"  The Book Whisperer isn't offering me much in the way of "new ideas," but it has served to remind me about the importance of knowing our readers and being prepared to offer students books that really speak to them...hence, the whispering...

I'm reminded that I need to make sure that I continue to be "readerly" and keep abreast of the newest in literature.  I really haven't read a great children's/young adult novel in quite some time, so I've challenged myself to read and journal using "Lit Logs" over the summer months.

Just finished the 2011 Newbery Award Winner, Moon Over Manifest, by Clare Vanderpool and I MUST GUSH!  This book is an extraordinary piece of historical fiction that I can't wait to "whisper" to a student!

I have started the 2012 Newbery Award Winner, Dead End in Norvelt, by Jack Gantos.  So far, I know I have some boys who will really get into this (including my own 11-year-old son!).

I can't believe how far behind I am in my own reading...YIKES!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Reading Rockstars

A good teacher is a great thief, I always say.  I'm a novice blogger and a bit of a stalker...and I'm not afraid to "snag" a great idea.  Tara Eiken from 4th Grade Frolics shared this fun quilt made out of gallon-sized baggies and patterned duct tape.  

I had my own readers create a "square" about what reading helps them to accomplish and put together a quilt that will hang in my classroom to inspire my next class of super-readers.  

Since our school is starting the 2012-2013 year with a "Rockstar" theme, I used fluorescents and zebra patterns to bind the quilt (this kind of reminds me of the 80s musicians of my youth!)

Here's my classroom "cover" of Tara's project:

 Love that Sadie and Hailey really "get" why they read!

 Vocabulary building...good stuff!

I absolutely LOVE Jessica's square!  You can tell what a great reader she is just by her responses to this project!

Oh...if they could all just get into the "character's world!"

I can't wait to put this up for my new crew! It will be going up on the wall in my classroom library, sending a clear message to my kiddos that "We are readers!"