Thursday, June 30, 2011

Guided Math

I dabbled with this whole idea of Guided Math last year and love the bits of it I did. I'm planning to go full force with it next year and this is the book I'm reading to get a better handle on all of it.
Has anyone out there read this? I'm going to pick up the Diller Math Stations Book too. We only have an hour scheduled for math next year and it is at the end of the day right after recess. Yikes! I must not run over on recess time and will be fighting the afternoon slump myself!

Last year I started organizing my math games/stations by math strands. I used this drawer set from Target. They were actually only three to each so I took them apart to stack by four. I might go back and stack one more shelf per unit since my floor space is limited.

Would love to hear from other third grade teachers running guided math next year!

Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Love This

I love this....want to post it in my classroom next year!


I'm in an RTI inservice for the next two days. Does anyone out there do RTI and use AIMSWEB?

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Word Walls in Third Grade

I'm wondering how other third grade teachers handle all the words we teach. I have multiple word walls up in my room. I like the idea of my content words being grouped according to unit or theme. I think this helps students connect certain words. Here is my social studies words to know board. I have it set up like a tree map with topic specific words falling under each branch.
We play "Search and Find" or "Twenty Questions" with these words as you would with any word wall. Kids have to know these words to do well on state tests so we refer to them as often as we can.

Here are my "No Excuse" words for writing. They are the trouble makers as we like to call them. My kids are taught to use this reference to check spellings. If I find these words misspelled on papers, it goes right back to the writer with NE written in the margin by the line that includes the mistake. It's about accountability, kids!

This final poster of words are our "JUICY" words. We follow CAFE and are always on the look out for pizzazzy words when we read. This poster is pinned to my blinds and is right next to my reading chair - hey, I use any space I can get! We gather here for shared reading or read alouds. I like to have them up close to me. The sheet of paper has been blocked into squares for each letter of the alphabet. When we get to a great word, we write it on the post it along with a kid friendly definition and stick it onto the appropriate square. My kids really used this poster during writing time to make their sentences sparkle!
So how do you handle word walls in your room? I'd love to hear!!

Monday, June 27, 2011

Science Experiment

I was at Five and Below the other day with my kids and found some growing animals. You know the kind that grows huge after being in water. I started to think of how I could use these in the classroom and decided it fit nicely into my unit on Matter. During this unit we learn about how we can describe physical characteristics of matter and also how matter can change. I love experimenting with kids and believe in teaching the scientific method. I figure this is time well spent since I know my high school son is still working through this sequence in science now.

Click on the links below to get the experiment to go with these animals. I run the two pages back to back and then have students fold to make a lab report! Happy investigating!

Matter Experiment Page Two

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Shared Writing

I believe in doing alot of shared writing. Writer's Workshop is great and I use that too but for some third graders, WW time is HARD! They need support in organizing ideas, formulating sentences and composing paragraphs. One way to help them along is with thinking maps or organizers. Here is an example of a shared writing we did about the Declaration of Independence. We first used the mind map and then took those basic ideas to create a paragraph using the hamburger template.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Five Finger Retell

By third grade much of our reading time is focused on comprehension. I'm constantly checking to be sure students are reading for meaning and one way we do this is with the Five Finger Retell. Here is my retell glove. It was simply a winter mitten that was missing its match. I used velcro to attach the pictures that represent the parts of the retell. Someone put back on the wrong way, the correct sequence is characters, setting, problem, events, conclusion. I introduced this during shared reading and then it moved to the guided reading table, then finally students were able to use this strategy independently during reading response time.

Friday, June 24, 2011

Making Math Real

So much about third grade math involves building upon what students already know. In the beginning of the year we will extend their understanding of place value by crossing over to the ten thousand and hundred thousand place on a place value chart. Students have had experience working with the tens, hundreds and even thousands place value blocks but ten thousand seems out of reach. To make it more real we build the ten thousand. We take ten of the thousands cubes and duct tape them together. (Told you duct tape was a good thing! (: ) For the hundred thousands we take our ten thousand and place it on the rug and mark it off with yard to build it. What is neat too is for kids to see the pattern of the cube, rod and flat repeating in the thousands period of the chart. Those are some big numbers!

Thursday, June 23, 2011

To Do List

Remember my "to do list" from yesterday? Well nothing got checked off today so this is my new story, and I'm sticking with it! (:

Vocabulary Vine

Words, words and more words! Did you know that research is saying 8 plus meaningful exposures to new vocabulary is really needed before students will truly be able to remember and apply it? I needed even more than that for those students with learning disabilities last year. I immerse my students in language and vocabulary. I explicitly teach it and then consciously reinforce it. One way to keep my math vocabulary in students' sight is with the vocabulary vine. As we learn a new math term, we post it to the vine so that the vine is constantly growing. I cluster similar words together so my students can keep them connected in their minds. The vine is simply colored duct tape that I stick to my wall at the beginning of the year. It comes off cleanly and easily at the end of the year. Duct tape, it's a good thing!

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Kid Made Reference Posters

I'm sharing at a mini language arts conference next week with a friend and some of the visuals I am bringing with me are my kid made reference posters. I have very few commercially made posters and such in my room. I have my students make them, use them and then we post them for reference. So here is a simple literacy station on nouns. My kids made the picture cards during whole group lesson time, then we placed them at the literacy station for them to sort and match along with books on nouns. After that, they can make additional sorting cards. When everyone has had a chance to use that station , the cards get glued and the poster hung. I then call it their learner's responsibility to refer to it if questions come up. No fuss, no muss on my part and they feel ownership of what we place on our class walls!

Monday, June 20, 2011

Guided Reading

I have witnessed how powerful a solid guided reading program can be in helping students develop their skills as readers. I am never done learning about this topic. I have read all the gurus and still hunger for more. A stand out in this group for me has been Jan Richardson and The Next Step in Guided Reading. I love her no nonsense approach to the teaching of reading. She has come out with a set of dvd's that show her working with guided reading groups. Watching her in action is inspiring!

I have tried setting up our guided reading area many different ways and then decided a table plus two student desks at the ends gives our group enough room and the two desks gives me some storage for books, the magnet, board etc.

I also have played around with the management piece but stuck with the wheel system all of last year and loved the result. My kids were trained on it and it ran like clockwork!

Sunday, June 19, 2011

CAFE anyone?

Our county runs a basal reading program, Houghton Mifflin to be exact. We have some freedom in how we use it and I chose basically to use the basal anthology stories as a shared reading component of my day. The stories are, for the most part, examples of high quality children's literature. You can't really go wrong when you are reading stories written by the likes of Tomie DePaola, Patricia Polacco and Dav Pilkey. I chose to use these stories as a way to teach reading strategies and skills. I found the CAFE board helped as a reference for these good reader strategies. I introduced each as suggested in the CAFE book and we posted them as a class. We referred to them OFTEN before independent reading and certainly during guided reading group time.

Friday, June 17, 2011

Engage the Learner!

On my list of summer reads is Marzano's The Highly Engaged Classroom. I've read his other work and have enormous respect for his research. I've read through this new one quickly but want to go through it again more slowly to truly digest what he has to say. In it he explains ways to get students more engaged in their learning. One way he suggests is incorporating physical movement. I love allowing my students to move away from their desks and try to engage students in movement when I can. One way is to use word cheers to help them with new vocabulary. In doing this I write a new word on the board or show it on a card. We do the chunky monkey and break it into word parts. For instance: if the word is "representative", we would break it into syllable chunks: rep re sent a tive. Then we would take out a word cheer from the bin. I have many different ones. For instance: basketball dunk Students would dunk each syllable into their imaginary basket as we practice reading the word. We always end with a final reading of the word fluently as it was meant to be read and swish our hands like a rollercoaster at the end. I must say students are into the cheers and everyone participates!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Are Third Graders Too Old?

I saw the beanie babies used as a reinforcement/teaching tool for reading decoding strategies in the younger grade. I knew that many of my kids still needed reminders with "flipping the sounds" or getting mouths ready when they attempted to decode multisyllabic words. What I didn't know is if my third graders would use the stuffed animals or just laugh at them! Let me tell you, third graders are NOT too old for them. My kids used them and referred to them all year! One of their favs was "chunky monkey". Our class monkey was used not only to help them read but also to attempt spellings of unknown words. I think by this age, kids get what they are intended for and can apply the strategies they represent more effectively. So let them be the kids they are and get yourself a set of beanie babies!

Science Stations

Do you have a favorite subject? I can't imagine being just a reading or math teacher. I guess being an upper grade teacher and specializing in a subject area has its advantages but I love being able to dabble in it all. I particularly enjoy teaching science maybe because it lends itself to hands on, interactive experiences. Here is my science area. I house some of my science materials like scales, magnifying glasses etc. here. I'm working on a collection of science lab reports for my students that relate to the science objectives we teach in third grade. Aims materials are a favorite resource. So what do you love to teach?

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Reader's Workshop

We have Reader's Workshop for thirty minutes daily. The kids love reading books that THEY choose. I work hard to match kids up with the right books for them. I believe ALL children would love the reading experience if we help them find books that interest them in their independent level. We call them "good fit" books and I teach students how to find just the right books at the very beginning of the year. I also reserve a few minutes at the end of our reader's workshop time for kids to do reading commercials on the books they are reading or have finished. They love this! I use Beth Newington's idea of book nooks in my room. Students are eligible for a Book Nook if they do "real reading" for the full thirty minutes. I pull random clothespins with names on them and assign them to various book nooks so they can get away from their desks and just get comfortable. They may also sign up for AR tests during this period. This is a relaxing and meaningful time of the day for third graders. It also gives me a chance to meet up with my students and have mini reading conferences or run interventions. After reading workshop, my students will often tell me, " I got lost in my book today!" Don't you love it!!

Teacher Desk

I got a chance to see Debbie Diller at her conference in Richmond last spring. This past year I decided to take her advice and get rid of my teacher desk. Instead I used this shelving unit for my desk "area". Never did mind not having a formal desk but I did like having a place in the room for my stuff.

Volunteer Thank You Gift

I've discovered chalkboard paint! It's so fun and easy to use. I bought this inexpensive pot from Walmart and painted the bottom portion with two coats of chalkboard paint (also from Walmart). I wrote Thank You on the front and let the kids sign the back. I made up a thank you gift card holder and put a ColdStone Icecream gift card inside the pocket. Got the giftcard and plant from Walmart too! No running around from store to store. Cute and personalized...aren't you glad when you can check things off your list of end of the year jobs? Now what to get the third grade team?

End of Year Gifts

Do you struggle to figure out what to give kids and volunteers at the end of the year? This year my 10 year old daughter came to the party store with me to lend her advice. She actually picked out all the decorations and planned my end of the year party. When I asked her what the kids wanted to do for fun she said, "Get Wet!". So we came up with some water relays and played sharks and minnows on land. She was right, the kids had great fun. I made up this party bag that says, " You worked hard all year, so have a ball this summer." I found mini blow up beach balls, a ball toss game, a pin ball game and put in some candy. I love my class this year because they are always grateful for the little things they get. I know they will love these!