Thursday, June 30, 2011

Classroom Computer Management

I have 3 classroom computers and always found students would clamor to grab one.
I'd see them hovering around just waiting to be next. Sound familiar?  It drove me crazy. This past year I introduced my "Computer Wait List" notepad and it was a lifesaver.  What are ways you deal with computer use management in your classroom. I'd love to hear your ideas.

Tuesday, June 28, 2011

Some PE Please

I have a confession to make.  I LOVE teaching PE.  Most teachers either 1.)  Have a PE teacher and don't have to wonder how to fit one more thing onto your teaching plate  or 2.) Try to fit PE into an overloaded schedule, and rarely get to it. I'm in category 2, but I make PE a priority and have such fun creating engaging lessons. My efforts do pay off, because my students show such appreciation for our PE time. I've even had coworkers jokingly ask me how much they could pay me to teach their classes PE.  I spend tons of money at my perfect PE supply spot..... Dollar Tree.

This is only part of my PE shelf. Two more shelves are beyond view. And, believe it or not, I even have some of my PE equipment at home due to fire code regulations at school. It's a good thing I have a huge 3 car garage!  I've organized my shelves at school with Dollar Tree goodies like koosh balls, frisbees, badmitton sets, marbles, Nerf footballs, and chalk.  I admit I've been looked at strangely by the cashier when I buy loads of nonstandard items that I create a PE game for, and quickly have to explain that I'm a teacher.  For instance I bought soft drink coasters in bright colors and have used them for  Grab, Tag, or Sort PE games.  Bath sponges and pool noodles can be used in PE too. For instance I took Pool Noodles, cut them in half, and used them as swatters to hit balloons, play Noodle Tag and much more.  Check out my Spelling Relay post too. If you teach PE, let your creativity soar the next time you step into Dollar Tree. Got a classroom shopping story? Join Ladybug's Teacher Files linky party.

Monday, June 27, 2011

Organization Madness

Can I just say something has to give!  I've spent the last 2 days on and off organizing all my out of order documents on my computer into tidy folders. I think my hands are going to fall off. This is the second summer I've been in this spot. Hopefully, someone has some Mac tips for me. My Document folder now looks all organized like this.

The problem starts for me when I go to save a downloaded or new document. When asked where to save it I choose "Documents", but my whole list of folders doesn't drop down to put the new item in. The only option I see is the top 4 "Recent Folders". So my normal plan of attack is to save it to Documents with a "good plan" to move it to the correct folder right away. Does that happen? Sadly, not.  So I had a huge mess of loose documents not in folders that I just finished moving.  Macs users, can you give me any sanity tips for this? Is their a simple solution that will give me an Aha moment?  Pretty please, I hope so.

**Update: Mrs. Kincaid saved the day and found the answer for my computer struggles. See her comment below.  A HUGE shout out is called for.

Now after all this organizing, Kinder Kraziness, got me thinking of backing up files. She started a Data Saver Linky. I have a Macbook Pro and I backup all my files authomatically with Apple's Time Capsule. No worry or fuss now over losing my stuff.


Balance Scale Math

Get multiplication into "balance" with this math lesson I created. Balance Scale Multiplication is played in partners with a scale, dice and counters. Each student rolls the dice, multiplies, and places the counters in their side of the scale. They record their equations for each turn on the worksheet below which is available on my {website}. At the end students compare their side of the scale as being heavier or lighter than their partner's.  This game makes multiplication a blast. This same game is also available for addition.
Do you have more ideas for games using dice? Join Little Miss Kindergarten's Dice Linky.

Also be sure to check out Math Monday Blog Hop every week for great lesson ideas.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

News For You

Reading expository text is an important testing skill.  I found a resource that reinforces this concept.

Education World provides printable "News for You" nonfiction reading passages with follow up questions in multiple choice format.  A complete lesson plan is also provided with teacher information and national standards.  Handy, dandy don't you say?


Saturday, June 25, 2011

Mystery Worker

Do you want a classroom management tip that will solve "The Case of the Noisy or Unfocused Classroom"?'s a CLUE, it involves a little mystery. This past year I had teams of teachers from other districts observing my teaching techniques for collaboration, ideas and professional development. The common observation by all of them was always, "How do you get your class to behave so nicely and stay on task?" Well the Teacher Sherlock in me shared the all powerful "Mystery Worker" technique.

I have "Mystery Worker" reward cards always on hand to use and as needed I say, "I'm watching a Mystery Worker".  That phrase works like MAGIC.  Students quiet down and get to the task at hand. Then for a brief amount of time, usually for 10-15 minutes, I observe my target student. At the end of my "sleuthing" I decide whether the student earned the "Mystery Worker" honor. If they did, I hand them the card with a note explaining how they set a good example. If by chance the honor was not earned, I never reveal who I was watching. I do keep a running checklist of who I've targeted, so I can be sure to try and honor every student at some point.  Many of us have probably used the "Mystery Walker" in a similar way to target line behavior or transition times. I just took the idea a step further and brought it into my regular classroom teaching routines. Give it a go and see if it cracks the case of the craziness that can hit your classroom sometimes. Wondering where I made got my mystery worker cards? I created them on Vista Print business cards.

Find more great ideas on my Pinterest page or TPT store

Friday, June 24, 2011

A Spin on Squiggle Writing

Raise your hand if you've done Squiggle Writing at some point in your classroom.  If not, then you've got to learn about this "oldie but goodie". It's been a standby, staple lesson in my classroom for years (18 years to be exact). Here's the nitty gritty directions. Basically you draw a random squiggle on paper and let students create an illustration out of it. Then they follow by writing a creatively, cute story.
Now, here's my spin on the traditional Squiggle writing.  Instead of having it be an independent activity, I've made it interactive and called it "Swap the Squiggle". The low down here is students start with their own squiggle for a brief amount of time to begin decorating and on a teacher signal move/swap their squiggle with another classmate. Ideally, you would swap the squiggles several times and then end by returning it to the original squiggle owner. Then the story writing begins! All of my classes have  L-O-V-E-D my "Swap the Squiggle" because it's a team effort and the end illustration ends up being a squiggle surprise. This is another one of those easy "Sub Tub" activities for substitutes too.
For my faithful followers, here are printables for it. I've included squiggle writing paper templates for writing fun

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

Lunch Box Notes

Let parents surprise their child with some "Lunchbox Love". They can tuck one of these notes in their child's lunch once in a while and make them smile. Special notes written will be sure to delight them. In addition, the notes reinforce reading skills and the power of writing. Enjoy and then eat up!

 Click image to download freebie

Find more great ideas on my Pinterest page or TPT store

Monday, June 20, 2011

Power of Praise

As teachers we are put in a profound position to use praise in powerful ways. I ran across this poem that is a great reminder of my role in a child's life.

Give a Child

Give a child a great education
You give them the world
Give a child science and math
You give them access
Give a child a sense of wonder
You give them joy
Give a child poetry, paint, aluminum foil and sparkles
You give them creativity
Give a child accountability
You give them integrity
Give a child an understanding of spirit
You give them faith
Give a child an entire community
You give them responsibility
Give a child your undivided time
You give them security
Give a child a life by example
You give them a map for success
Give a child hugs
You give them love!

Author Debora Short

Grab a copy of "Words to Praise" and remember a pinch of praise packs a powerful punch!
How do you use praise in the classroom?

Book in a Can

Looking for creative ways to do book reports.  My grade level does this one every year and all you need is a great book and a can. Start collecting those coffee or baby formula cans! After reading their book, students decorate the outside of the can to resemble their favorite character or scene from the book. Then on index cards they write the following information with 4-5 quality sentences. The cards are stored inside the can.

Card #
1. Describe main character
2. Describe the setting
3. Describe the beginning
4. Describe the middle
5. Describe the ending
6. Describe your favorite part
7. Compare and contrast yourself to the character

Students then do presentations of their cans which turn out "Can"didly cute!

Magic Treehouse Pirates Past Noon and Bunnicula

Find more great ideas on my Pinterest page or TPT store

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Fact Monster

Have you heard of Fact Monster?  It's an online research site that is very useful and I've used it the past few years with my students.  I have links on my classroom website with webquest style questions to use with Fact Monster.  The sheets are courtesy of Education World.  Go hunt those facts down!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

A Few Favorite Things

Loves of Summer

It's summer and what's not to love about that?  You can see I've included blogging as one of my summer favorites. As a fairly new blogger myself I stumbled across a wonderful blog last night that is now one of my favorites. Here's a shout out to a new blogger, Mrs. Lemons.  Check out her site and her first giveaway.

Another favorite of mine is Linky parties.  Have you linked up yet with Little Miss Kindergarten? or Math Monday Blog Hop? I have a Linky party too. Join us in some linky fun.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Coffee Table Comforts Linky

Come share your coffee table comforts in a fun linky party.  I'll start.  My coffee table comfort is all about hearts.  I have the cutest little book called Heart Stones which started my stone patrol. At first I simply had the book on my table to inspire me. The author took photos of heart stones she found and  labeled them in this book with a feeling or emotion like "intrigue" or "strength". Eventually, I started my own collection. Now, whenever I go to a beach anywhere on vacation or locally I hope to find one to bring home. My hearty little coffee table collection continues to grow and warm my heart. What are the delights of your coffee table? If you don't have a coffee table, you can still share any cozy comfort of your  home!

Monday, June 13, 2011

Word Clouds on ABCya

Wordle seems to be the most familiar word cloud generator that many teachers use in the classroom.
I've used it in many ways. My third graders this year did parts of speech clouds for nouns, verbs and adjectives and for Open House each student did a descriptive cloud of themselves. I only wished there was an option to save and print the Wordle files easily. So I was very happily surprised when I was browsing the site ABCya mentioned here.  ABCya has a more kid friendly word cloud builder that allows saving and printing. I think I've found a new love for my word cloud projects. Font choices are more limited on the ABCya site than on Wordle, but the pay off is the saving and printing is quick and easy. Give it a try and share what you think! Here's my sample:

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Grab the Vocabulary

Do you need to liven up your teaching of vocabulary? I've got just the thing to do it!
An online visual thesaurus called Vocab Grabber is an amazing tool to use in the classroom.
Basically, you copy and paste any text into their generator. I used one of my blog posts as an example:

Then you "grab/generate" the text into a visual representation like this:

It's way cool because every word in your text can be sorted in different ways by part of speech (each part of speech is a different color), occurence, familiarity, A-Z, subject area and more. If you click on an individual word it will show a visual illustration of synonyms that are color coded by parts of speech.  I created a worksheet to use in conjunction with this amazing website. I hope you enjoy it!
Add your own technology ideas to Cara's Digital Learning Linky too.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Blog Button

Yeah, I now have a blog button.  I got a creativity burst and just went with it.  After some  LOTS of frustration and trial and error I created a button on Wordle.  I LOVE Wordle, but never thought to use it to make a button until my lightbulb moment  hit me. How do you like it? You can grab a copy of the code just below or over in my right sidebar.  Hope it works for you, because I admit I am not super tech savvy especially when it comes to html button coding!


Friday, June 10, 2011

For the Love of Literature

"Outside of a dog, a book is a man's best friend. Inside a dog, it's too dark to read."
Groucho Marx

If you have a love for literature like I do then I'm hoping you'll love the oodles and oodles of resources on these websites. I just spent the last 2 hours + searching and bookmarking them! And yes, I am on summer vacation. I just saved all my blogger friends that much more time to enjoy your summer.

Click on each screen snapshot to go to each site.

Happy, happy reading!

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Zoom Around the Room Category Game

This is a must have game in my classroom. Students don't even realize they are learning in this fast paced category game.  Students compete in pairs to name a category answer. The winner gets to race/advance around the room until beat by another opponent. It's a great listening skill game as well.  The 100 + category cards I've made are open ended making this a game to come back to AGAIN and AGAIN. It's perfect as a quick time filler which my students beg for.  I always leave a copy of this game in my sub tub and I don't know how many "Thank You's" I've gotten from appreciative substitutes! Sidenote: I also modify this and use it for transition times like waiting in line. When I do, I just call off a category and call on random students to share their ideas.  Do you have more great transition tips?
                                        You can RACE to grab your copy here.

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