Teach With Video!

Monday, August 29, 2016 / Leave a Comment
Teach With Video!

Want to engage your students?  Use technology. Well...there's more to it than that.  You can't just plug kids in or turn on a program and walk away, but there are thousands of ways to use technology to make your lessons and assessments exciting and engaging.

I've blogged about countless ways to use technology in the classroom from using a green screen, to using lessons planning and delivery Apps like Classkick and Seesaw, but there are so many more!

Today I will focus on using video.  The online tool is called My Simple Show.  You can visit, register, and begin making your own tutorial video in no time.  Best part???? It's FREE!  Yes ladies and gentlemen...FREE!  (I tend to focus my sharing on FREE items, so no worries.  If you like FREE, than you might want to click to follow my blog.  I tend to share various FREE tips and tools here often.)



My Simple Show is a video creating web tool. You can go there by clicking here.  The site provides step by step video tutorials and is a piece of cake to use.


This is how it works:
1.  You choose a presentation type.
2.  You type a script.
3.  You choose from their preloaded pictures or download your own.
4.  You format it and preview it.
5.  Add your own voice or choose a voice from their selection.
6.  Finalize it.
7.  Save it or upload it to YouTube or other video sharing sites.
8.  Done!

Here's a short video I created introducing Questioning to my students:
video



I can think of multiple ways to use this in my classroom:

Teacher Use Ideas:
1.  Use as introductions to new strategies, novels, lessons, units.
2.  Use to develop classroom procedure videos.
3.  Informational videos for parents.
4.  Use as an announcement video for students or parents.
5.  Use to share student achievements.

Student Use Ideas:
1.  Show understanding of math concept.
2.  Show understanding of a vocabulary word.
3.  Show understanding of a book read.
4.  Show understanding of a science experiment.
5.  Show understanding of an event in history.
6.  Practice writing and speaking skills.
7.  Show parents understanding of new concept.
8.  Writing steps in a process.
9.  Create a story map of a story read.
10.  Create pictures of visualizations from reading and record explanation.
11.  Create a report on any topic.
12.  Share a book review.

I could go on and on...but I'm sure your mind is overflowing with possibilities now too!

Let me know what you think and how you decide to use this amazing FREE tool in your classroom!

Happy video creating!!

Note: I am not affiliated with this company in any way.  I'm simply sharing great resources I have discovered to hard-working teachers. :)



Community Building through Shared Music

Tuesday, August 23, 2016 / 1 comment
Happy Tuesday!

Today I am going to share one of my favorite ways to build classroom community:  creating a classroom playlist.

Here is what I had on our whiteboard when my third-graders entered Room 21 on our first day:


I had placed an index card at each student's seat, and pencils were in the caddy in the center of each table.  I told students they were welcome say things like, "That Taylor Swift song where she..." or "Anything by Twenty One Pilots."  We have specials first thing in the morning (about 15 minutes after the bell rings), so I collected the cards as everybody lined up for Art.  What a treat to read everybody's responses!

I downloaded music from Amazon Prime (it's free!  Yay!), making sure that the versions I downloaded were clean (free of offensive language or content) and appropriate for the classroom.  When my young scholars came back, we moved on with our day, often working with our favorite songs playing in the background.

I can't even express how happy I feel when my whole class is singing together while they're working on a project!  I think the first time that happened, I realized what a community-builder shared music can be.  Another eye-opener for me regarding the community-building qualities of shared music was when one of my students last year proclaimed that a particular song was "our class theme song"!

Students often have additional songs that they think of later, or that comes out mid-year.  I keep a notepad and pencil on our table next to the bathroom sign-out log so that kids can add to it as ideas occur to them.


This particular notepad is the one I have out for book requests; this is what I refer to when I order bonus point books!  (I had this photo but not one of our song request list - they are very much the same though!)

One of the bonuses is that these song requests reveal a bit about each student.  While most requests were pop chart favorites, I did get some interesting digressions - The Chicken Dance, Spring from Antonio Vivaldi's Four Seasons, and The Star Spangled Banner, to name a few!  One sweet request came from a little boy who shared that Peter, Paul, and Mary's Lemon Tree makes him happy!

And really, I couldn't ask for any more than that!







Indoor Recess Ideas for the Classroom Teacher

Friday, August 19, 2016 / Leave a Comment
This is a great list of ideas for indoor recess time in your classroom!

Lately, I've been seeing a lot of questions about what everyone does for indoor recess in the teacher FB groups I'm in. I thought it'd be a good idea to share some the things I liked to do when it was too rainy, too hot (in Florida I've been told by my administration some days that it was too hot for us to go outside to play at least a few times each year!) or too cold- for all you snowbirds!  


This is a great list of ideas for indoor recess time in your classroom!  GoNoodle is #1!

I think this is most teachers go-to for indoor recess. It's free. It's easy. They have soooo many fun things to choose from for your kiddos. They even have an indoor recess channel that has longer videos (about 10-11 min.) that are perfect!  I think all kids like GoNoodle- even my 4 year old will do it at home watching on our TV!


I don't know about you, but I remember playing lots of indoor recess games when I was in elementary school! These classic games don't get old. My students still loved playing them.

1. Heads Up, 7 Up- Basically, the teacher picks seven (or however many) kids to start, everyone puts their heads down and thumbs up. Then, the original kids quietly sneak through the room and tap one person's thumb to put down. When everyone has picked, the class puts their heads up and each person that was tapped has to try and guess who it was. If they guess correctly they get to go up to be the next picker.  If not, they sit down. Then it all starts again.

2. Kings Corner/4 Corners-  The teacher picks one person (I usually started with my Student of the Week).  They close their eyes and count to ten out loud. Meanwhile, everyone else is silently moving to one corner of the room. By ten, everyone should be in a corner and the main student picks one corner (make sure you number corners before you start). Everyone in that corner is out and sits down.  The game continues until there is one person left and then they become the "King" and you can play again.

3. Eraser Tag/King Chases Queen- Pick one boy and one girl and have each put an eraser on top of their head.  Begin the game by saying "King chases Queen" or vice versa. (If you say King chases Queen then the boy will tag the girl, or the other way around.) The students WALK around the room and try to tag the other child while the eraser stays on their head. The first child to be tagged or drop the eraser is out. You can control the pace of the game by reversing the Queen chases King at any moment. When the child is tagged out they just give the eraser to another person to continue the game. Of course you could always play this by just using a child's name instead of "King" or "Queen."

4.  Silent Speedball- Okay, so I used to play this during dismissal a few days a week when they would call kids via our TV. The kids LOVED it and it was always silent so everyone could hear when their bus was called or they were being dismissed. You just need to make sure you have a SOFT ball (like a foam ball or nerf ball). All the kids would stand behind their desks and spread out around the room accordingly. Then they would toss the ball to each other. Everything was done silently, so they had to pay attention and make eye contact so the student knew when the ball was going to be tossed to them. If they caught it, they tossed it to a new person. If they missed it, they sat down. The game was over when there was only 1 person left. My only other rule when playing was that you couldn't throw the ball back to the same person that threw it to you. You do have to somewhat monitor this game because if there is a really bad throw, and it wasn't caught, I would have the thrower sit out. After we played this enough times I was able to set up a monitor and they did the job of being the judge, so I was able to get other paperwork things done during dismissal or indoor recess time.


1.  Board Games/Puzzles- If I chose to use board games and puzzles, I would usually set them up as small group centers to keep the voice level and mess to a minimum. You can find lots of games to use for this at garage sales or have them donated by families from students.

2. Legos-  Everybody loves them!  Again, usually in small groups and I would find them at garage sales and put them in a huge bin.

3. Math Manipulatives-  My kiddos loved be able to use and play with all different kinds of math manipulatives. I could just give free play with geoblocks, square tiles, pattern blocks, cubes- they would play with them all! If you want more direction you can have pattern block design sheets (you can find lots on the web) or design sheets or idea sheets that go along with the different manipulatives.

4. Math Games-  I don't know about you, but I used A LOT of different math games throughout the year. Almost any math game you've already taught could be a fun indoor recess. The kiddos can grab a partner or two and find a comfy spot in the room and get playing. A lot of my math centers have fun games that you could use too!

I hope this helps you fill in the time and have some fun the next time you have indoor recess!




15 Must Have Chapter Book Series

Monday, August 15, 2016 / Leave a Comment
One of my all time favorite things to do as a teacher is buy new books!  I thought that over the years, this habit would slow down...but it doesn't!  I could spend hours in a bookstore in the children's section!!  Third grade is a big year for reading because students start to really get into chapter books! And what better way to hook students into reading than with a series!!  We asked fellow 3rd grade teachers in our Facebook group what were the best series for 3rd grade and this is just a few of their suggestions!


Big Nate

15 Must Have Chapter Book Series for 3rd Grade Students www.allabout3rdgrade.com

 The Boxcar Children


15 Must Have Chapter Book Series for 3rd Grade Students www.allabout3rdgrade.com

Cam Jansen


15 Must Have Chapter Book Series for 3rd Grade Students www.allabout3rdgrade.com

 Clementine


15 Must Have Chapter Book Series for 3rd Grade Students www.allabout3rdgrade.com

Diary of a Wimpy Kid


15 Must Have Chapter Book Series for 3rd Grade Students www.allabout3rdgrade.com

Geronimo Stilton 


15 Must Have Chapter Book Series for 3rd Grade Students www.allabout3rdgrade.com

I Survived


15 Must Have Chapter Book Series for 3rd Grade Students www.allabout3rdgrade.com

 Judy Moody


15 Must Have Chapter Book Series for 3rd Grade Students www.allabout3rdgrade.com

 Little House on the Prairie


15 Must Have Chapter Book Series for 3rd Grade Students www.allabout3rdgrade.com

American Girl



15 Must Have Chapter Book Series for 3rd Grade Students www.allabout3rdgrade.com

Magic Tree House


15 Must Have Chapter Book Series for 3rd Grade Students www.allabout3rdgrade.com

My Weird School


15 Must Have Chapter Book Series for 3rd Grade Students www.allabout3rdgrade.com

Ramona


15 Must Have Chapter Book Series for 3rd Grade Students www.allabout3rdgrade.com

Stink


15 Must Have Chapter Book Series for 3rd Grade Students www.allabout3rdgrade.com

Who Was?


15 Must Have Chapter Book Series for 3rd Grade Students www.allabout3rdgrade.com

What are some of your favorite chapter books series that are not on this list?

15 Must Have Chapter Book Series for 3rd Grade Students www.allabout3rdgrade.com





5 Back To School Night Ideas You Need In Your Life

Tuesday, August 9, 2016 / 2 comments
Hello teacher friends! I don't know about you, but I have been busy in my room the last few weeks! Next week marks the official start of school as well as the "dreaded" back to school night. My school calls it "Open House" and families meander into the school and visit their classrooms. It's fairly informal. 

This year I wanted to make sure it ran smoothly-- so I did a ton of idea hunting on Pinterest, Facebook, and Instagram! Here are 5 ideas I found that I think everybody should know about:

Right now is the PERFECT time to stock up on folders for super cheap! I bought a class set just for our open house (and I bet I get a lot of them back and I can reuse them next year). First, I created a simple cover to print on Astrobright paper. 
Next, I glued a cover on each folder. Then, I printed out labels for the inside pockets ("keep at home" and "bring back to school") Here's a handy tip I learned this summer: Double up the words on your labels and cut them in half! It'll save you time and money! 
Now I can sort my students' paperwork so easily-- and parents won't have to remember what to do with everything!

This is one of my favorite back to school night activities! I set out little tags and pieces of lined paper that invite parents to leave a note for the "first day of school". I put that note on the student's desk on our first day! They love it! 
This particular set came from my "Nautical Open House" set-- but you could easily create your own version!

Set up an area of your room for a wish list! You'll never get something you don't ask for! I saw this oh-so-adorable idea on the Sweet Tooth Teaching blog! 
She even has the printable note for free! I have seen wish lists done in many ways. I think I may even offer free little cupcakes to tempt my parents ;)

For many years I just let my students stand around and watch their parents fill out paperwork. *yawn* Well, not this year! I've got some activities planned to keep them (hopefully) entertained! 

First, I created this large photo prop (as show on Teach, Create, Motivate's blog) for my kids to take pictures with! I'm going to change out the top line of text for occasional fun days! 
I also found a free editable scavenger hunt through Pinterest! So I will set out clipboards and pencils for my kiddos to use while their parents are busy. I already cut out and hung large orange numbers around my room for their hunt! 
Also, be sure to check out That Teaching Spark's "Editable Open House" resources for more FREE goodness!

This year I went the sensible route! 
Read all about my students gifts via my blog here (You can also get the tags for free via that post) 

I hope these tips help your back to school night/open house/meet the teacher night go smoothly and fantastically! 

Math Group Rotations Made Easy- Why I'll Never Teach Whole Group Math

Sunday, August 7, 2016 / 31 comments

I created my own version of math Rotations a few years ago when I just couldn’t meet the needs of all of my students doing whole group instruction.  I found that my high kids were bored and not listening, my middle of the road kids were mostly listening (I mean, I was teaching to them!!), and my low kids were staring off in space.  Not good.  That’s when I did some research and decided to do Differentiated Math Rotations.  Here is a quick overview of what I do.  I am NOT claiming to be an expert at all!! This is just works for me (and my kiddos’ state test scores)

I will also add that I DO NOT do rotations EVERY SINGLE DAY!  I still find it incredibly valuable to have students participating in Math Talks, completing Performance Events, playing Games, and figuring out difficult problems with students who are not on their level. Their conversations are so important This blog post describes the majority of my time.  


So.. how does it work you ask?  I pre-assess my students at the beginning of each unit.  Make it easy on yourself and just give them a five question multiple choice sheet that covers the topics of the unit.  That way you can QUICKLY assess their strengths and weaknesses.  I have to use our district Common Assessments, but it accomplishes the same thing.

Next, I group them according to the results.  I use the Cardinal Directions as groups because it is a Compass Rose, shaped like a cross.  There is not really a top or bottom because all four sides are important to find your way. 

       All 5 correct:  West   (advanced)
       3-4   correct: East
       2 correct:      South
       0-1 correct:    North (low)

I usually play around a little bit with the East and South groups to even out the number of kiddos.  I also assign each student a partner who is in their group to play at the game station.

Now remember, these groups are flexible.  I am constantly monitoring my students to see if they need to change groups.  I will usually get a few kids who can move up to West (advanced) and some kiddos who move up from North.  I have had a student or two who has moved down to North for a few lessons.  You are meeting your kids where they are.  I also DON’T do stations EVERY Day.  I do it MOST days!! 


Notice that North group begins with the Teacher.  This is so your low group is the first group of the day and they go directly to their desk to practice after meeting with you.

West group on the other hand, meets with you last.  The first thing that they do is practice. These kiddos can usually start an inquiry based activity alone and then meet with you later to discuss it.  Or you can have them practice something from yesterday’s lesson.

 Since the groups are flexible, I use a sticky note to record the group members’ names.  I also use pencil so that I can erase. Your groups will not always be even.  You may have to have two low groups for example.


I hot glue the other labels to a white board.  I write the materials needed and assignments students will complete at each station.


Once I have all my little honey buns in groups, I teach them about the rotations they will be making each day. Each rotation is "supposed" to last for 10 mins.  I have been "flexible" with my timing for each group, depending on their understanding of the lesson.  There are four rotations: Teacher, Desk, Game, Fast Facts. While I don’t do a whole group lesson at the beginning, we do come back for share time to talk about our new learning.


This is when the kiddos come to me at the carpet or small group table for the actual lesson that is presented on their level.
Your middle groups are easy to plan.  You just use your Math Program.  North and West are more tricky.  You have to plan specifically for them. 
I do A LOT of hands-on activities with my North group.  While I am teaching a modified version of the curriculum, I am still expecting to get them to be successful on the grade level assessment.  This takes flexible planning on your part. I KNOW my end goal and how I need to get them there, but I have no idea if this group will “get” the lesson or if I will need to reteach in a different way. I am prepared either way.

West group needs a challenge.  These are most likely your gifted learners.  They do NOT need MORE work.  They have already proven to you that they have met the grade level expectation.  These kiddos can work on performance events and projects.  You will still be teaching them, but something more advanced. 

Where do I get my resources?


At practice kiddos work on the practice assignment at their desks after the lesson.  This is usually a worksheet that students work on to continue the learning they just had.  (West group starts here first since they are the advanced group.  They get an assignment before the lesson.)





I have a game for each skill.  I usually keep the same game for one week so that I only have to explain it once. Some games are differentiated and some games are not.  We may play a game from the current unit or we may play a game from a previous unit to review skills.  






I play around with a couple of different activities for Fast Facts and what you do will depend on the availability of technology in your building.  If you have tech, keep reading, if not, scroll down.

For those with tech I HIGHLY, HIGHLY recommend Prodigy!     It is AMAZING!  My kids beg me to play it and they even go home, call each other, and play online!  This is a computer program that allows you to choose the standards, assign quizzes, and it grades it for you.  The kids love it because it lets them create a wizard avatar and they go around a magical world battling and earning coins and pets!  It’s free unless parents want to pay for their kiddos to be able to “win” more things.  Some have purchased it but most have not. 

I have also had students use www.xtramath.org for math facts.  I highly recommend this site.  We use it for homework now instead.

Before Prodigy I would have recommended www.frontrowed.com This site is AMAZING!  It gives pretests for all CCSS standards and builds a program for each student!

If you do not have technology, We create these Fact Folders.  We create them at the beginning of the year and use them for Fast Finishers.  Watch this ten second video.  You can pause if you need to!






I really hope this helps give you some ideas for Math Rotations!  If you want the already created board, check it out by clicking the pic below!

Have a great year!

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