March 31, 2013


I'm linking up with Farley at Oh' Boy Fourth Grade for her monthly Currently!

**Top Gun has the best music (and I really don't like listening to music from the 80s, but Top Gun is an exception!) Not to mention--it is a really good movie :)

**Spring Break ends on Tuesday--Wednesday is going to be tough! haha

**My formal observation is the week of the 8th and we're kind of in between units to teach test taking strategies. I don't really want to teach test prep for my formal observation. Not sure what to do...yet!

**The weather is getting warmer and it's nice to be outside (not to mention it tires my two and a half year old twins out!!) A garden would be fun for them :)

**My last manicure was in December!! I miss being pampered!

**Advice--success isn't overnight--it's a slow process that needs attention (blogging more frequently; adding more products, etc). For newer bloggers, you have to put in a lot of effort and work in the beginning to gain a following and have people trust you and your products. Once you have that, things will fall into place :)

Off to finish the movie :)

March 30, 2013

Must Read Mentor Texts Linky--Ugly Fish

I love finding new books to read and purchase for my classroom! Amanda and Stacia of Collaboration Cuties are having their first ever linky party on mentor texts. I'm so excited to join them!

My Mentor Text: Ugly Fish by Kara LaReau
Ugly Fish is about a fish that is mean to other fish introduced to his tank--he chases them, refuses to share his tank with them, and eventually eats them. Ugly Fish realizes that he's lonely and wants to share his tank with others. However, a new fish is introduced to the tank and treats Ugly Fish the same way he treated the other fish.

I love this book because it shows bullying in its simplest form--how being mean to others leaves the bully with feelings of loneliness and remorse. I read this book to 4th and 5th graders--usually really slowly so they can predict what happens to the little fish introduced to the tank. The text is simply written and the illustrations are entertaining, so even the youngest of readers can understand what's happening.

After reading, I ask: "Why did I read this to you?" They discuss the possible reasons and we have a deep conversation about the book and bullying and how to treat others. (The students really facilitate their own discussion off of the book--adding on and supporting their thinking. I merely jump in every once in a while and ask questions based on their remarks and to bring the discussion back to the book.)

This year, since my curriculum revolves around Social Studies, I find it difficult to bring back literature, such as Ugly Fish, because it doesn't fit in with the SS topics. I do have about 20 minutes in the morning for Positive Discipline, which is where I'm going to add my favorite read alouds to teach different themes and issues. Here's an activity using Ugly Fish  I'm going to try with my students when we get back from Spring Break:
To get this freebie, click HERE

What are some books you love that teach themes and issues? Link up with Collaboration Cuties  :)

March 28, 2013

Preparing for the test & a Spring Sale

Many upper grade bloggers are starting to feel the pressure of the test--me being one of them! (Especially now, since our governor decided to make test scores 20% of our teacher evaluation--which is a whole other can of worms!)

In all honesty, the last thing I want to do is teach towards a test (it helps that I have no idea what this test looks like haha!) 

In preparation for the unknown, I've been working on teaching strategies to help the students tackle the test.

This chart to show the strategies students need when taking a multiple choice math test. 

I really wanted to show the students what to do when they take a test--so many students just read the question or math problem and circle an answer. They don't really know what else to do!

This chart shows the strategies for taking a reading multiple choice test.

With both the charts, we practice how to do each strategy. I take copies of old tests and make packets for the students. I model some of the strategies using a model text and they try out the same strategies on another text.

I start slow (usually in November) and practice each strategy in isolation. As the test gets closer, I model how to use more than one strategy at a time.

Right now, we're working on pacing. I teach a Saturday Test Prep class for my students. The first session, I gave them 50 minutes to complete 5 passages with 30 multiple choice questions. No one finished--the highest question number being #19! Yikes!

To practice pacing, I assess the length of the text and the number of questions using one passage at a time. I give the students an idea of how long it should take and I set the timer. As they work on the passage, I remind coach them into doing some of the strategies from the chart, as well as give them an idea of where they should be (finished reading the text; beginning to work on multiple choice questions etc.) at a given time. They're slowly getting better :)

On a side note--there's a huge spring sale happening:
You can visit my TpT store or my TN store for 20% off :) 

Thank you to Tonya from Tonya's Treats for Teachers for creating this super cute graphic :)

Happy Spring :)

March 26, 2013

Tried it Tuesday Linky

Holly at Fourth Grade Flipper is hosting her first ever linky party--Tried it Tuesday!

What is 'Tried It Tuesday'?
1.  Write a post about any"thing" you have...TRIED!
2.  Describe what worked and maybe what didn't work.
3.  Keep it simple and focus on one general topic. 
You can link another idea next week:)
4.  Link your post back to this post.
"Tried It" Ideas....
  • instructional strategy
  • teaching product/resource
  • management strategy
  • technology tool
  • recipe at home
  • personal interest/hobby
  • website 
My Tried it Tuesday: Partial Quotients Division
So...we are in a mad rush to try and teach a lot of the concepts the students need for our state test--division being one of them!

With any new concept, I give the students a teaching point and model how to use the strategy (that is the first part of my chart). I give the students a new problem to try and I coach them through it (this is when we write the steps to the algorithm). Finally, the third problem is independent. 
                  ***all of this is done in the meeting area with students copying the notes into their mathematician's notebook***

Here's the charts for partial quotients using a 2 digit dividend and a 1 digit divisor:

I always have  something for the students to do after the lesson. In some cases, it's a few problems from the workbook. Usually, it's a fun activity that the students can do independently!

During the independent activity, I keep students with me who still need help with the concept. (A word of caution...the kids in your group will usually be the same with the exception of some higher functioning kids who need a little bit more attention! I don't do this all the time because I need to meet with everyone, but I really needed them to master this skill.)

One independent activity my students tried was my Springing into Division Pack: 
The ones who felt confident dividing worked in groups using this pack. While I worked with my friends, we used the task card problems and solved them on slates.
I taught them to write out the multiples of 10 or 100 while multiplying it by the divisor. It makes it a lot easier, especially if they aren't fluent in their multiplication 

We worked on checking our work using an inverse operation, which in this case is multiplication. The students have been working on multiplying using an area model.

 The students transferred their work from the slate onto their recording sheet. 

 Here's an example of one of my independent workers---he did all his work on the recording sheet. 
**The pictures in this post were taken over multiple days--the division pack also covers 3 digit dividends by 1 digit divisors.**
Overall, for the amount of time spent working on division (about 7 school days), the majority of the students understand how to divide using partial quotients. Now onto the next concept...

As a special thank you for reading, I'm offering 15% off the Springing into Division Pack for today and tomorrow :)