Sunday, March 31, 2013

Sunday's Words for the Week

The clouds covered the sun here today but it could not keep the joy of Easter from shining through.
I enjoyed my day and am looking forward to my spring break this week.
Wishing you all a week of fun and relaxation!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Sunday's Words for the Week

Love this quote and this attitude!

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Sunday's Words for the Week

My daughter is playing this song on her guitar this evening. I can hear her from down the hallway. There is something so touching about a young one singing a song like this. I pray she carries this message in her heart always.

Aren't these lyrics beautiful. 
Yes, let me be singing when the evening comes.  

Each evening I write down the blessings of my day in a journal. So many blessings to count.   Does anyone else do this?  You must try this for it will change your attitude and the way you approach your life. You will begin walking through your day noticing the little blessings that before you would have taken for granted.
10,000 reasons for my heart to find.
Gratitude breeds happiness.
Wishing you a blessed week.

Saturday, March 16, 2013

Writing A How-To Through Game Play!

It's almost spring!  With spring comes thoughts of flowers, birds, Easter, and yes, unfortunately state tests.
I detest them.  But they are our reality and so we must deal with them the best way possible. To relieve some anxiety and to make the review somewhat tolerable, I say why not play a game?
A little while back, my students finished their unit on Ancient Greece, Rome and Mali.  We were working on the reading skill of Reading Directions and the writing skill of Writing A "How-To".  I love when I can integrate so I had them create an Ancient Civilization board game. The board game they created  had to show evidence of their learning. They needed to include at least 10 facts through pictures or words to reflect what they knew about these civilizations.  I provided the question cards that they had to include as part of the game.  They had to supply the answers by writing them on the back of the cards.   
Here a student is recording answers on the backs of his question cards.  I checked these answers  and then used this as a quick assessment. 
Here a student is creating a board game. This allows students to show their understanding of the content material is a creative way.  Again, here is an alternate way to gauge student understanding. 
Some showed evidence of learning by including the Parthenon, Mediterranean Sea, shipbuilders, farmers, etc. on their gameboards.

This child created a game about Mali called Mali-opoly.  It was based on the game: Monopoly.
Clever!  Lots of evidence of learning on this one!

Loved seeing the variety of boards that were created!  Kids were very motivated and engaged!

Since we were also working on the writing focus of "Writing a How-To", I decided to have them write a set of directions to go along with the board game.  Our mentor texts for this writing were actual games and direction sheets from games like: Monopoly, Scrabble, etc.  I projected these onto the smartboard and we analyzed what needs to be included when writing directions.
I believe strongly in having students engage in what I call: Oral Rehearsals before writing.
Since these directions are sequenced, I had them make sequence word cards to use when orally working through the steps on how to play their board games.  I also gave them a flow chart sheet to record steps in quick pictures and word phrases. This set prepared them for actually writing the directions down.  With the flow chart complete, they needed only to rewrite the steps in complete sentences. Prewriting is extremely important.

We had already done whole group "How-To" writing so they were familiar with this format:
See file below if you wish to access these materials to use with your students.
After successfully writing their directions to their game, students were allowed to play games with a partner.  They loved this and this provided the study for their Ancient Civilization test.  I kept these games and we can now use them with different question cards on other topics that I can easily make up and give to them. We will be breaking these back out prior to the spring tests for sure.
So instead of the teacher making the game, why not allow your students to do that? I  have done this activity before with a Government Unit and an Animal Science Unit.   You will be amazed at what they can come up with!
I have posted this new Writer's Workshop file on TPT.  It has materials for you to use as you scaffold the process of writing a set of directions.  Included are ideas for you to use as you model and write collaboratively with your class and then ideas for your students to write a How- To on an independent level.
Interested?  Check it out here:

So now I'd love to hear from you!  How do you make reviewing and preparing for state tests fun?
Email me!

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Multiplication Division Problem Solving with Explorers

We finally got a great big snowfall and I awoke to this scene out of my front door. 5 inches of the most wonderful snow. Oh joy!
I was SO in need of a day off to just hang out with my family and play.  That is just what we did.


I made the most of the day and we lazed around for awhile and then got busy making this snowman. It was perfect snowman making snow.  Heavy and wet.  Even the dog got into the act.

I'm taking a quick minute to post about the math problem solving we are doing in class lately.  We have been working on multiplying and dividing for a few weeks now.  I'm trying to give students many opportunities to apply what they are learning in problem solving situations.  In an attempt to review our Explorer history content along with some math practice, I made up the following math problems.  Students use the little explorer cut outs as manipulatives to show the math before recording the problems on the problem sheet. Working out their math thinking with the pieces allows them to "see" if they are combining groups and multiplying or breaking groups and dividing.  Too many students tend to just grab the numbers and slap a symbol of operation without thinking it through. 

If you are interested in the explorer problems, email me and I'll send them out to you.
My students all have math journals and I'm having students work with problem solving partners almost every day now.  They get a typed problem that is glued to the top of their journal page.  Then they meet with a partner to discuss and solve.  The problems I give them can be tough and students will at times struggle as they work toward a solution.  But isn't that when some of the best learning happens!  We always go over it immediately after and students come up to share their solutions.
check out all the different ways this student was able to show his thinking!
Awesome stuff!
Another example:
OK- so finally here is a set of ten  Pyramid Problem Sheets that I use with my third graders as "check ups". 
I find my students need constant review of the old math concepts along with repeated exposures to the new math we are currently learning. These are cumulative review sheets to use as warm ups or homework sheets. 
Check out my TPT page if interested:

Sunday, March 3, 2013

Sunday's Words for the Week

I'm looking forward to watching the History Channel's The Bible which begins airing tonight.
Anyone else watching this?
I've been trying to salvage time in my hectic life to spend reading the Bible. We can easily get caught up in the must do's of the day and then there is little time left.  My pastor recently made this excellent point:
You are too busy NOT to read the Bible.
Can I get an AMEN on that?
Yes, it is when our lives are the most out of control that we need the Word the most.
Let it bring comfort and peace.