Tuesday, April 30, 2013

Favorite TpT Products

Hey everyone! It is time for Too Much To Talk About Tuesday! I have been wanting to talk about TpT products! I have fell in love with TpT and making products for our store. I would love to hear about some of your favorite products. I want everyone to share their links to their favorite products. Tell us why its your favorite? Has it been a big seller? Let us know about it! :)

Our current favorite product is our Time Review Foldable. This product is new to our store. Steph used it with some third grade students that were struggling with telling time. It is a great review for telling time and even includes an assessment. I have provided a link to this product (Please do this when posting about your favorite product).

Thanks everyone in advance for telling us about your favorite products! :)


Monday, April 29, 2013

Review, review, review!

It's Monday again..we're getting ready to wind down the school year. My 1st and 2nd grade kiddos are getting ready to take the district's version of the CRCT (a really heavy, thick benchmark that encompasses the whole year basically) so I'm working with them to piece together any missing strings before then. My 3rd and 4th graders on the other hand are done with testing. We are working on reviewing the weakest areas for the group to help prepare them for next year. I wish we could get stuff together for the summer to bridge the gap, but the truth is it wouldn't do any good. I wish it weren't the case, but the students I work with don't have the support they need at home. They wouldn't be held accountable for doing it during the summer. The school is offering a paid summer camp for $15 per day which will include some summer school/tutoring sessions, but unfortunately none of my students will be attending this either.

On the math topic, my poor third grade babies are struggling with memorizing multiplication facts. They do timed drills daily, but this week we're going to work on delving into number sense and different strategies.

My second grade loves focused on reviewing money today. We will be hitting the different standards to refresh their memories.

I'm only with these kiddos three more weeks. I'll definitely be visiting the last week of school to participate in field day and end of the year programs. It's definitely bittersweet right now. Here's to hoping something comes along for next year!


Friday, April 26, 2013

Writing Test

Yay it is finally Friday!! I am so glad it is time for the weekend. I hope everyone has a wonderful weekend! Although since it is Friday it is time for Friend or Foe Friday! I wanted to focus on writing test and wanted to find out if these test are your friend or foe?
We have discussed writing prompts in past blogs and about how many papers our students write. All those paper are mainly preparing them for these big writing test. I mean don't get me wrong it is important that our students learn how to write a paper. They will use this skill throughout their life but preparing them for the test is definitely the short term goal for teachers. We need to prepare them for all types of paper and help them understand all types of prompts. We are teaching them how to write a successful paper but we are thinking about what they will need to know to write a successful paper on the test.
What do you think about these test? Are they your friend of foe? Do you think they help you by showing how your students did on the test? Does it help you strive to teach them better or worry you that you aren't teaching them enough?

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Great Depression

Hey everyone! I hope everyone is enjoying their week. Its time for another Through Time and Space Thursday. This week I have been thinking about students and social studies. There are so many students that only remember what we tell them about history long enough to take the test (if that long). Teaching history to young students is so hard because it is so many people, places, and dates that they just all run together.
As I have discussed before, I love social studies and history. I love teaching it in a way that students will not just remember history but enjoy learning about it. If students really get to experience the lessons then they are more likely to remember the information than if they just read about it.
One example for letting students experience a lesson is something I did during student teaching last year. While teaching about the great depression I did a lesson about life during the depression. I researched online and found that some students built their own Hoovervilles. So during my lesson my students split into families and we played a survival game type lesson. My student's "families" lost their homes and had to build a Hooverville to live in. We used actual cardboard boxes and newspaper. My students had a blast and it just helped all the information about that time in history for Americans make so much more sense.
What lessons like this have you done with your students? How do you feel about teaching social studies?


Wednesday, April 24, 2013

How to Make a Glogster

Since we have finished up our series on podcast we figured we would talk a little more about one of our topics from the series, Glogster. Like we talked about, this is a great alternative to the usual poster board. This week I thought I would share a video I made in school that explains how to make a Glogster and shows some of the key features.

Hope you enjoy and learn something new! :)



Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Homework Debate

So here goes...we'd love to hear your opinion on the topic of homework. That's what we've decided to to discuss this week. Let's look at both sides...

All of these points are arguments we've heard, but not necessarily do we agree with them all. 

Giving Homework
-Students need to practice what they've learned at school.
-Meaningful practice will make a stronger student. 
-Spelling/vocabulary practice has to be done at home.
-Unfinished classwork needs to be completed at home. 
-Projects and papers cannot always be completed during class. 
-Middle & High school students will always have homework so they need to learn the habit in elementary school. 

No Homework
-If they can't do it at school what's the point in sending it home.
-Most parents don't help complete homework, don't know how, or won't because they're too busy.
-Teachers shouldn't be given the right to dictate how a family/student spends their evening at home.
-How do you know if the student did the work instead of someone else at home?
-They spend 7-8 hours at school; kids should be able to have play/free/family time at home. 


Monday, April 22, 2013

Place Value

Happy Monday friends! As you know, I work with struggling students. My second and third graders struggle with place value. What's so funny, I don't feel like struggle with the "place" part as much as they do the "value" part. There can tell me where the digit goes in the number, but struggle to understand that a 2 in the tens place has a value of 20. We've worked on reviewing it for the last two weeks with different activities. I decided they needed a bit more practice with the different forms of numbers and place value (standard form, written form, expanded form, and base 10). I searched and searched for what I wanted. I decided to make some task cards to use with them. I paired them up and had them work together to do the task card practice, but each student had a recording sheet to complete. Their partner was more so there to help if they were completely stuck. This way I could move around the room to help, but they could ask their partner too. They did a great job, and I feel like it really helped to put it all together.

Here's the packet you can check it out in our TpT store (click image below):
It has 4 task cards; each of the cards has one form of the number. The students have to complete the recording sheet by filling in the corresponding card number and all four forms of the given number.

Hope everyone has a wonderful week! We're back to state testing tomorrow...two more to go!


Friday, April 19, 2013

Spelling and Vocabulary Test

It's finally Friday! It felt like it was never going to get here this week! And we had crazy weather all day to top it off! As you head off into your weekend here's you Friend or Foe topic to ponder over...

Depending on what grade you teach, your students are expected to learn sight words, spelling words, vocabulary words, etc. Is this done in class, at home, or a mixture for you? I guess part of that could depend on your take on homework, but that's another topic for discussion on a different day! (Hint, hint come back Tuesday for that!)

When it comes to your spelling or vocabulary practice, do your students use them in classwork and practice them during class? Or are they expected to take the list home and practice them. Do you test at the end of the week? How do the parents respond to your methods?

I remember when I was in school, we were given 10-20 words that we were to memorize for the week. Then we came in on Friday and took the test. This year our son started spelling words, but the grade level team decided not to do lists and spelling tests this year. I'm still not sure how I feel about it though. For the majority of the year we didn't even know what words they were working on for the week and he never practiced them at home. I mean I can't say that I mind not having to get him ready for a test every Friday. Now they send home the list of words with the homework for the week and the students have to complete two given activities with the words. There's still no weekly tests that we know of.

So tell us, how do you do it? In class practice and/or at home? Weekly tests or not? If you don't test weekly, how do you monitor whether a student has mastered the given words for the week? We'd love to hear your experiences!

I hope everyone enjoys their weekend! We're headed to Atlanta tomorrow for a dance convention. Our little man keeps us busy!



Hey everyone! This week has been so crazy I am so glad it is Friday...that being said here is the post that should have been up yesterday. Sorry it is late!
This week we are focusing on Science and I wanted to share another fun activity that I've done in this subject.
I love teaching Science! It is so much fun to watch students as they explore so many abstract concepts. In science we study planets and the solar system. How do you teach students about something that they can't actually see or experience? One activity that I have done with students really helped students understand how far apart the planets are for each other. In this activity we used register tape and some planet pictures to place the planets in order. We also used a chart with the measurements of the planets and their distance from the sun. Students had to convert the distances on the chart to millimeters and such so that they would fit onto their register paper. My students could observe what planets were closer together and which ones had lots of space between them. It also helped my students remember the name of the planets. I think this activity really helps give the students a visual for Planets.
What types of lessons do you have for covering planets?


Thursday, April 18, 2013

Podcast pt. 6: Skype & Google Earth

Hey everyone! Sorry we're a day late again; state testing is so draining! This is our final "episode" to our Podcast blog "series". This week we are talking about Skype and Google Earth.

What Steph has to say:
So my last topic for our Podcast series is Skype. I really like the idea of using Skype in the classroom to connect students with others outside our class. You could take pen pals to the next level with Skype by having your students "meet" and talk to their pal on Skype. Collaborative projects with other students/classes/schools would be a great opportunity as well. I also like the idea of using it to interview people. For instance, maybe you've done a huge author study and love the idea of being able to have your students meet the author. Well let's face it, authors travel and work all over the place...so see if the author would be willing to set up a Skype meeting with the class! Like I also said, this could be a great tool to communicate with families outside of school. Have a student who can't come to school, but the family wants to help the student stay caught up on work. If you were to use Skype, you could talk with the student and help them if they needed instruction in order to complete it at home. These are just some of the ways I can think of to use Skype in the classroom. Have you ever used Skype in your class? What other ways can it be used?

What Manda has to say:

My last topic for our Podcast series is Google Earth. I have loved using Google Earth in the classroom. I have used it several times to take my students on a virtual field trip. When teaching a pre-k class about their city, I tagged several important places in our town. We then "visited" and discussed the different things in our town. I also used it to show them the difference in their town, state, and country. I have also used it to show students places that we are discussing in history. I like being able to give the students a visual of things that we would never be able to show them otherwise. It is so cool to be able to let students "visit" so many places we would never be able to actually take them to. Have you used Google Earth in class? If so What have you done with it? 

FYI: On our Facebook page, we are about 7 likes from doing our 3 giveaways! If you haven't 'liked' our page yet be sure to and feel free to share with friends and colleagues!

~Steph & Manda

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

Field Trips!

Do you still get to take your students on field trips? I know so many schools and districts have stopped approving field trips for one reason or another; so we're curious who still gets to take them.

At SCE, most grade levels are taking one this year. Kindergarten took an all day one, first grade took a short one and is getting ready to go on an all day one this week, third grade will be going on an all day one at the end of the month, and fifth grade will be headed on their "senior" trip to Washington DC at the beginning of May! The district requires that teachers write up a form for approval and submit evidence of how it ties to the curriculum and how it will be tied back into the instruction upon return to school. For instance, first grade will be going to the Atlanta Zoo this week. This will be part of the conclusion to their unit on animals. What better way to finish off this unit?

What's the most educational field trip you've taken a group on?


For the Love of Pi

Hey guys sorry its a day late but this week for Maniac Math Monday I want to discuss calculating with circles and pi. When I student taught last year circumference was a huge topic. One of the hardest concepts when discussing circumference or the area of circle is pi. Pi is such an abstract concept for students. Most just don’t understand why we have to use a random 3.14…blah blah… number to find the area or circumference of a circle. Well we did an activity that showed students why pi was “3…and a little”.
Students were given circular objects and given yarn. The students then had to take yarn and place it around the round edge of a circular object and cut it so that is it exactly the length of the outside edge of the circle. Then the students had to find the diameter of the round object with a ruler. Once finding the diameter the students take their yarn and measure off the diameter and cut the yarn into however many “diameters” they can. If done properly all students will get “three and a little” (pi = 3.14) to show why we use pi for calculations with circles.
I enjoyed doing this activity with my students. It helps pi make a bit more sense and helps them remember what number pi is.
Have you done an activity similar to this? 


Friday, April 12, 2013

Reading Groups & Leveling

Happy Friday! I'm so glad the day and week are over! This week has been insane with the CRCT-M going on. Today I tested a group (math), and we had to stop between sections and eat lunch before going on to the second section. Needless to say most of my day was spent testing...and it had to be read aloud on top of it!

This week for our Friend or Foe topic, I want to talk about reading groups and reading levels. Do you do guided reading, literature circles, something else, or maybe a mixture? How do you feel about groups and leveling?

There are so many methods to "level" our kids, what method do you prefer? Or does your school/district have a required method? How do you feel about these methods? Our district uses STAR Reading to determine a students level. Some schools in the district use Read with Sarah. The schools do use GRASP along with STAR, but only once a 9 week period. STAR is done monthly. I think that progress monitoring our students is very important, but I think we need more to go on.

Let's just take our son for example...he is in first grade and despises the STAR test. Until recently, the AR tests have been read to the first grade students. STAR they have to do completely on their own. It times them and if they spend too long on one question the timer starts flashing and then it moves to the next question. The timer makes him a little anxious...Well he has been getting a score grade equivalent to 0.6-0.8 (Kindergarten) most of the year and recently got a 1.4 on it. However, he actually reads much higher than this and comprehends even higher. We read Percy Jackson (4th grade) books at bed time. For a while his teacher kept him in the lowest reading group in the class. When he would say "this book is so easy" she would tell him he needed to work harder on STAR so she could put him in group with a harder book. I feel like if we place students like this when we know they perform higher we are doing them an injustice. I'm not just saying this because it's my kid, there are several students in the same class and other classes in the school that are being done similarly. What do you think?


Thursday, April 11, 2013

Social Studies Review Game

Hey everyone it is time for Through Time and Space Thursday! This week we are focusing on Social Studies. I wanted to talk about an activity that is a fun way to review and gets the students out of their seats. This activity may seem a little crazy but my students loved it and it really helped me see what social studies things they remembered and what they did not.
My supervising teacher and I called this a Social Studies Snow Ball Fight. The first thing we did was put the students into pairs and give then a social studies term. It was a range of people, battles, and key terms. The students had to use two scrap pieces of paper. One sheet had the term on it and the other had a definition or explanation of that term. Once all pairs were finished these pieces were taken up and then passed out to random students. This way each student had a piece of a pair and then the students were split in half and put on opposite sides of the room. The students were then ready for the snow ball fight. They got to ball up their paper and throw it at the other “team”. Each person only got to throw their “ball” once and then they were to pick up a “snow ball” and their job was to find the other person that had the snow ball that matched theirs. Students were helping each other find their match and we played several rounds so that I was able to see what terms gave students the most trouble. It was a fun activity and the students enjoyed it so much I don’t even think they knew they were reviewing. I think it is a great way to review a wide range of topics and keep the students involved. 
What kind of crazy review games have you tried? 


Wednesday, April 10, 2013

Podcast pt.5 Glogster

Hey everyone it is time for Tech Wiz Wednesday and that means it is also time for Part 5 of our Podcast series. This week we are both going to talk about Glogster.

What Steph has to say:

I talked about Glogster in my podcast…if you haven’t ever used it you should really check it out! I LOVE it! I mentioned that I would use it as a different medium for my students to present work. I also love the idea of using for a information source for my students or as a WebQuest, an inquiry-oriented lesson format in which most or all the information that learners work with comes from the web. Here’s a look at a couple of Glogs that I created for some of my college classes (some of the links/info may be broken or outdated).

Social Studies: Juan Ponce de Leon
This was more designed with teachers in mind. It was a resource of a variety of information on the topic.

Science: Sound
This was a WebQuest for 4th grade students. Includes: essential question, vocabulary, discussion/notes (powerpoint), video, and short review quiz

What Manda has to say:
In my podcast I focused on how Glogster could be used as a virtual science fair. It is hard for some students to be able to make a science fair project and even harder for teachers to plan a science fair. With Glogster your students can research a topic and make a Glogster with their research. They can have links to informative websites, pictures, or even videos. Then the students could present their Glogsters for a virtual Science Fair. It is a great way for students to explore science topics as well as work with technology.
Have you ever used Glogster in your classroom? Would you use Glogster for a virtual science fair? What types of things have you used Glogster for?

Here is a Glogster page that I did for a college course that would be an example of a virtual science project.  Light Project

It could also be used for a Social Studies project. Give each of your students an important person to research and have them create a glogster about them. Here is a Glogster I made about Elizabeth Stanton.


Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Next Stop... Testing!

Hey everyone it is time for another "too much to talk about Tuesday"! The thing that is being talked about in our life right now is the end of the year testing. Everyone in the school is getting ready for the test. While administration is planning for the test and getting proctor training and things sorted out teachers are fitting in as many reviews as they can. What is your schools doing to prepare for end of the year testing? What types of reviews are you doing? Does anyone have a really great review activity they would like to share?
This is a short post for such a stressful topic but I want to hear from everyone and hear how everyone else is handing the end of the year stress?


Monday, April 8, 2013

Probability Possibilities

Hey guys! We are both sorry for not posting last week but it was spring break here and it was a crazy week. Did anyone else have an insane spring "break"? We will be back this week so keep a look out for our daily post. To kick of the new week here is the new Maniac Math Monday!
Steph talked about her behavior system with Skittles recently and it has got me thinking about one of my favorite activities to do with Skittles. I have used Skittles when introducing and discussing Probability. Probability can be an abstract concept for students and it helps to have a hands on activity to discuss. In this activity each student would be given a certain amount of skittles (fun size bags work perfect for this) and they would sort them by color. As a class we would discuss how to calculate the probability of getting certain colors in a bag of skittles. I would have each student find the probability based on what they were given. Then as a class we would discuss it and find the probable percentages based on the class totals. It is fun to see what colors occurred the most and compare individual results to the classroom results. Students love this activity especially the part where they eat the skittles at the end! ;)

What activities have you done for Probability? What activities have you done with candy?


Monday, April 1, 2013

Time and Time Again

Remember me telling you how all my kiddos were learning about time to some extent? If you missed it you can read about that in our Time post to see who is learning what this year.

Well, here's a question for you. What do you do when you realize you're 2 weeks away from the state standardized test and they know nothing? Yes my kiddos struggle, that's why they come to my class, but my 3rd grade babies are suppose to be dealing with elapsed time. They can't even remember how many hours are in a day. I was worried about my group so I met with one of the 3rd grade teachers at the school, and apparently mine aren't the only ones having a hard time with it.

I've been trying to review elapsed time with them like I was asked, but I realized they just weren't getting it...no wonder! During a whole group "quick review," I asked my 3rd graders how many minutes had passed if the start time was 2:50 P.M. and the end time was 3:20 P.M. None of them seemed to know where to start so I led them along by drawing a 'timeline' on the board and starting at 2:50 P.M. I asked them what time it would be if I added 10 minutes. After a moment or so I had one student yell out 2:60. My response was "Ok well yes that's close, but..." and another student says "Oh 2:75." So I decided we needed to back up for a minute and discuss clock/time basics really quickly. Only this "quick" discussion took the rest of our class time and I think only confused them more. These babies were so lost! I just didn't understand! So now I'm trying to get some stuff together to help them understand all the way from the basics to where they should be.

What would you do in this situation?