Thursday, April 9, 2015

Spelling Games over at Who's Who

Hey there!  If you're looking for some fun and EASY spelling games for your kiddos to practice their skills as the end of the year draws near, check out my post over at Who's Who.
http://whoswhoandnew.blogspot.com/
There's a few fun game ideas and a freebie - if you really want it.  Bunnies, anyone?
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Saturday, March 28, 2015

Five for Friday - Money, Easter editing, Research and CHOCOLATE!

I really think this whole Five for Friday thing should be renamed "Six for Saturday."  I just do not know how anyone can get these out on Fridays - and yes, I know you can schedule your posts, but how am I supposed to write a post on Tuesday about my week if I haven't done it yet?  So, here we go with a little Doodlebugs linky (late again, of course) but still fun!
http://doodlebugsteaching.blogspot.com/2015/03/five-for-friday-linky-party-march-27th.html












This is without a doubt my favorite picture from the week.
Yes, that is a chocolate fountain... with wonderful things to dip.  I may or may not have had fruit for breakfast... Every month one of our units hosts a breakfast for the staff.  This month it was the Instructional Assistants who fed us.  Oh my.  I love them... enough said.



We started our money unit this week.  Umm, excuse me people who put together the Common Core - can you please explain to me why money starts in second grade?  And they are supposed to be able to solve problems up to a dollar... when they DO.NOT.EVEN.KNOW.THE.COINS??  We spent lots of time this week learning to identify nickels, pennies and dimes and their values.  The foam dice helped.  They worked with a partner to roll the dice 3 times and take that number of pennies, nickels and dimes and then figure out the value. The partner with the greatest amount of money got a point and the first person to 10 points won.   I had to explain this was not a math equation and please do not write 5 + 25 + 30 on your board and try to solve it.  Sigh... I can tell you that by the end of the week we got much better!



We did a little editing with an Easter theme.  I have hardly done any Easter activities.  This year it just really snuck up on me.  This was a good way to get a little assessment as to what we still need to work on for the end of the year.  I can see that plural spelling patterns will be on our list.  If you'd like the editing activity, it's a freebie in my TpT store.  Just click HERE to get it.



I admit - this one is from last week.  We've been busy researching our famous Americans and writing informational texts, planning speeches and getting ready for our wax museum that we'll be opening this coming Thursday.  My kiddos are beyond excited about this.  They each researched a famous American and will dress up as that person.  Then they'll come to life when our visitors press a button on their hand.  This has been a great way to integrate topics - math, social studies, geography, reading, writing... you name it, we did it.



Another part of our research project is to create an interactive timeline, complete with videos of everyone dressed up as their person, telling about their life.  To get ready for this, we had to first practice making videos.  O.M.G.  They were hysterical.  The kids thought it was hilarious to see themselves and they noticed A LOT of things that needed to improve for the next time!  We created our top ten video tips that we discussed and implemented the next time around.  The second videos were sooo much better!  We are ready to videotape the famous American "chats" this week!

Next week is a four day week and then just one more week until spring break!  Have a great weekend!

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Sunday, March 22, 2015

Four Square Facts, PebbleGo and a Giveaway!

UPDATE:  Congratulations, Laura!  I'm emailing your copy of my Character Graphic Organizers now :-)

Well, that was quick... in my last post I shared with you a fun competition I was part of with some bloggy buddies:
Annnnnd.... I'm out.  Yep, out in the first round.  Sigh... bad news for me, but good news for YOU because that means I'm giving away a copy of my Character Response Graphic Organizers!  (You can check out the details in my previous post HERE or by clicking on the image below.) 
http://2gradestories.blogspot.com/2015/03/march-blogger-match-up-fun-and-giveaways.html

And because I'm not feeling so hot today (those kid germs got me despite my efforts to keep them away!), let's make this easy - comment with the name of your favorite NCAA basketball team (even if they're not in the tournament.)  I'll choose a random comment on Wednesday evening and that person will win the resource.  Don't forget to leave your email!

Now on to something school related.

We spent A LOT of time this week doing research for our biography project.  I found a fantastic site full of information not only about famous Americans, but also animals, science and social studies.  It's called PebbleGo and it's amazing for primary students! (I am in no way affiliated with PebbleGo and the opinions expressed here are my own)
pebblego.com
I need to be honest - PebbleGo is a paid by-subscription site, but I signed up for a 2 week trial that lets me use the whole site for free.  My kids were hooked the minute they logged on!

There are four libraries, as they call them: animals, science, social studies and biographies.  Navigating the site is easy for young ones and the text is written at a level pretty much all my kiddos could read and comprehend.  There is a text-to-speech feature as well, which was perfect for those who needed a little more support.  We worked with the search bar, navigated through the tabs for each article and used the multimedia options (videos, maps audio and timelines) for more information.

pebblego.com
During our research time, my kiddos only used the biography section, but we had other times in the day when they could just explore.  And they were sooo engaged!  At first you could hear a pin drop as they read and listened to information about anything and everything they were interested in.  Then the excitement began:  "Did you know....?"  They were so excited to share what they had learned, I decided on the spot to create a "Fact Board."  Everyone was allowed to choose one fact they wanted to share and write it on the whiteboard for everyone to read.  We did this each day for morning work for a couple days.  By looking at the picture below you can see that one day everyone must have been interested in how big/heavy/long etc. things are!


As we finshed up our research, I had some students who were done before others.  All they wanted to do was explore the site on their own, so I came up with a Four Square Facts sheet to put a little direction into their exploration.  The first one is based on reading coding we do (check out more about that HERE), the second one is 5W based and the third one is for them to practice using the search function.  Confession:  I just wrote these quickly on my Smartboard and my kiddos could choose which one to do.  They folded a scrap paper in fourths and wrote their facts on that.  Apparently I never took pictures of them, so I created these nice ones for you to have.


https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B2ize_mAbVGMUktRQjhNT2lULW8/view?usp=sharing
Just click on the image to download your copy.  You can use them with any informational text.

I'm excited to spend this coming week finishing up our project with our big "reveal" hopefully on Friday.  It's supposed to involve dressing up, speaking and listening and an interactive timeline with videos!  We'll see how far we get!

Don't forget to enter the giveaway for my character graphic organizer before you go!  (Scroll back up to the top if you forgot!)  And I thought I'd leave you with a little sign of spring I found outside our building:
(Jut ignore the piles of snow everywhere else... :-)

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Thursday, March 19, 2015

March Blogger Match-Up Fun and Giveaways!

Bring on the basketball!  I'm not a huge college basketball fan, which is kind of crazy given that I live in CT and the men's and women's teams are usually tearing up the hardwood.... but I do like a good match-up in any sport. 
I'm getting together with some of my bloggy friends for a March Blogger Match-Up, hosted by the wonderful The Creative Classroom.  Here's how it works: 64 bloggers have been randomly paired with a 2015 NCAA bracket team.  We cheer on our team and hope we make it to the next round.  Each time a team loses, that blogger shares a product from his/her TpT store with the blogger they competed against.  And here's the best part - that person also has to give away the same product to one of their followers! 

Here's how our bracket looks. I'm rooting for Indiana, which may be short-lived because I checked with some sports guys and they're pretty sure Wichita is going to win.  Bad for me, but good for you, because that means the giveaway comes sooner than later!


I decided to share my Character Response Graphic Organizers - almost 80 pages of response sheets of all kinds, focusing on characters - character traits, character response, character changes, etc.
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Character-Response-Graphic-Organizers-1329702

The organizers come in lined and unlined versions, and there is a whole set to use with sticky notes, which is my favorite way to use them! And I use them all. year. long!

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Character-Response-Graphic-Organizers-1329702

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Character-Response-Graphic-Organizers-1329702
 
Soooo... even though my UCONN Huskies (men) are not even IN the tournament this year (oh how far we have fallen), 64 other teams are - and that means someone has to win and someone has to lose - so YOU have a TON of chance to win!  Check out the blogs of all 64 friends and be sure you're watching for a chance to win some great products! 

Right now I'm still on the winning side (my game kicks off tomorrow afternoon), so no giveaway from me yet - but stay tuned!  And go Indiana!

Learning with Mrs. Langley cheering on Belmont
Second Grade Stories cheering on Indiana
The Neat and Tidy Classroom cheering on UC Irvine
Live, Laugh, I LOVE Kindergarten cheering on Coastal Car.
Miss Johnston's Journey cheering on Maryland
The Creative Classroom cheering on San Diego State
Fifth in the Middle cheering on Wichita State
Lessons with Coffee cheering on Arkansas
The Kinder Garden cheering on Notre Dame
Exploring Elementary cheering on NC State
Inspired Owl's Corner cheering on Oregon
Frampton's Fundamentals cheering on New Mexico State
Learning in the Little Apple cheering on Michigan State
NC Teacher Chick cheering on Utah State
A Tall Drink of Water cheering on Baylor
Sara J Creations cheering on Oklahoma
ELA Everyday cheering on Duke
The Blessed Teacher cheering on Lafayette
Mrs. 3rd Grade cheering on VCU
Rock & Teach cheering on Albany
Create Teach Share cheering on North Dakota State
One Happy Teacher cheering on Gonzaga
Fern Smith's Classroom Ideas! cheering on Iowa State
First Grade Roars! cheering on SF Austin
The Learning Chambers cheering on Hampton
Teaching is Sweet cheering on Eastern Washington
Sounds Like Fun cheering on Louisville
Confessions of a Teaching Junkie cheering on Cincinnati
Year2tastic cheering on Kansas
Sparkling in Second cheering on Wyoming
Making Meaning with Melissa cheering on Purdue
One Sassy Teacher cheering on Villanova
Brittany Kiser cheering on Texas
Coach and Teach 24/7 cheering on St. John's
Hardcore Teacher Resources cheering on LSU
The Whole Wheat Class cheering on Oklahoma
Mixing It Up In The Middle! cheering on Mississippi
Teaching Maddeness cheering on UAB
Its Elementary My Dear cheering on Ohio State
Live Love Serve Teach cheering on Providence
 Education Kingdom cheering on North Carolina
A Dab of Glue Will Do cheering on Dayton
Learning to be Awesome cheering on Kentucky
Technology Timeout cheering on Harvard
Kovescence on the Mind cheering on Butler
Blossoms of Blue in 2 cheering on North Eastern
Mrs. D's Corner cheering on Robert Morris
Where the Wild Things Learn cheering on Buffalo
Bright Concepts 4 Teachers cheering on North Iowa (UNI)
A Trendy Teacher cheering on Valparasio
Lucky to Be In First cheering on Wisconsin
O-H So Blessed! cheering on Virginia
Tales of Teaching with Tech cheering on Woffard
Very Perry Classroom cheering on Arizona
A Kindergarten Life for Me cheering on Georgia
First Grade Buddies cheering on Iowa
Miss Case's Classroom cheering on Georgetown
A Grace-Filled Classroom cheering on West Virginia
Third Grade Cupcakes cheering on SMU
The Class Couple cheering on Xavier
More Time 2 Teach cheering on Georgia State
Owl-ways Learning cheering on UCLA


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Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Subtraction with Regrouping - Transition Boards, Part 2

It's that time of year!  No, I'm not talking about leprechauns and rainbows... and it's not spring yet (in this neck of the woods I don't think that's happening for quite a while!)... Nope, it's time for some addition and subtraction with regrouping in second grade.  Help. Me. Now.  The addition part usually goes ok, especially since we've begun teaching it in January instead of earlier in the year.  Most of my kiddos get a handle on that pretty quickly.  No... it's the SUBTRACTION with regrouping that makes their little heads spin.

Thankfully, I have a great tool that I use to help my kiddos really grasp the concept of subtraction with regrouping.  It's a type of base-10 board called a "Transition Board" - and it works beautifully!  (You can click HERE to see my post on using the boards for addition with regrouping and on how to make them.)

 
Here's how it works for subtraction with regrouping.  Start with the board held so the sticker is at the BOTTOM.

We'll work through the steps to solve the problem 82-47 = ?

Show the top number with base ten blocks in the first row of the board.

Then use number cards to show the second number in the problem underneath. (I printed out squares with numbers 0-9 and had my kiddos cut them out.  Nothing special, although I did have a laminated set I used for a few years.)

Now start with the ones.  Here we have 2 - 7.  Do we have enough ones to do that?  (I always have my students talk through how they know if they have to regroup or not.  Many of them will regroup for EVERY subtraction problem they see now, and it's important for them to stop and think about what they need to do.) The number cards are in the red area because that is the "decision" area - we have to decide if we're going to regroup or not.

Since we do not have enough ones, we need to regroup.  Take a tens rod from the tens column and move it to the ones column.  (I have them move the ones that are already there up a little so they don't get them confused with the regrouping that's abut to happen!)

Now take ten NEW ones and line them up above the tens rod.  (This can be tricky - make sure no one is using the ones already on the board.)

Slide the tens rod off the board.  How many ones do we have now?  Do we have enough to subtract now? (I will also ask my students to tell me how much I have on the board now,, so they can see that even though we traded, we still have the same numbers we started with, just looking different.)

Since we now have enough ones to subtract, put 7 ones on the number card.

Slide the ones (and the card underneath) off the board.

Move the remaining ones down to the bottom of the board in the answer area.

Go back to the top and look at the tens.  Can we subtract?  In this case, yes.  Place 4 tens on the number card.

Slide the tens off the board.

Move the remaining tens down to the answer area.

Ta-dah!  We have our answer!

Honestly, the first we do it there's a lot of confusion and jumping ahead and mixing things up.  That's ok.  I try to have students work in small groups and we go ONE step at a time.  By the time we get to the third or fourth problem, many of them have caught on and know exactly what to do.

After most kiddos can easily solve problems using the board, we move on to seeing how the algorithm matches what we did on the board, then finally to using just the algorithm.  But that's another post!
If you have any questions about how to use the boards for subtraction, just ask!  Some kiddos only need the boards for a few problems - others continue to need the support for a bit longer.  Either way, I find that by having students using the transition boards, they have a better understanding of the regrouping process and are not just going through the motion with the algorithm.

Give these a try, either with your whole class or just a small group and see how they go.  We teachers ALWAYS need more tools  in our toolbox!

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Sunday, March 8, 2015

Using Music to Inspire Writing - a leprechaun chase!

I really have been trying to add more "pizazz" into my lessons lately. I mentioned that in my last Five for Friday post when I shared a quick pic of my Math Missions.  That lesson (and the ones after it) have definitely been more engaging, motivating and just plain fun!  And it has been more fun for me to teach, as well!  I am trying to add a "hook" or something special to at least one of my lessons every day.  And it hasn't always been anything big - a colorful anchor chart, a partner game, a special prop, or music.  Music always gets kids' attention.  I have always been a big fan of playing some classical, light jazz, piano... while we write.  But my favorite writing piece of March uses music to inspire the writing. 

Now of course, what would March be without a little leprechaun fun?  This time around we're writing a narrative piece on catching a leprechaun.  It is so much fun to write about the events of seeing, chasing and catching (maybe!) a leprechaun and my kiddos get so involved in this piece.

We start by reading all sorts of leprechaun books and charting what we know about leprechauns.  You can't catch one if you don't do some research!  These are my two favorite books to start the unit with. (Links to Amazon below each one.)

        Tim O'Toole and The Wee Folk                                      The Luckiest Leprechaun

I also found a pretty good reading of The Luckiest Leprechaun on YouTube.
(Here' the link if doesn't show above: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=38W1aVFOdQE)

Here's the chart we started this year (before all the delayed openings last week!).  I do charts like this on my Smartboard.  We asked 3 main questions: What do leprechauns look like?  Where can you find a leprechaun?  What do leprechauns do and like?


Now, before we get to the story writing part, I usually add another piece.  We take some time to write about HOW to catch a leprechaun.  My kiddos make their plans, draw their traps and write a "how to" piece so they're ready to go. Here's what it ends up looking like:
The flips and flaps and folds add a little more excitement - and the most important part is the leprechaun finder!
 
If you're interested in adding the "how to" part to your writing, you can find this HERE.  Some years I've done both parts, others just one - it depends on the time (and how many snow days, delayed openings etc. we've had!)

But now - cue the music!!  I love to add music into what we do, and we get our inspiration for this narrative writing from a piece called, "In the Hall of the Mountain King" by Edvard Grieg. I have an mp3 of it that I play, but this would work just as well.
(and again, here's the direct link: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dRpzxKsSEZg)

Here's what we do - I start by turning the lights off and dramatically glancing around the room on m way back to the carpet.  I look under my chair, move a few papers around... you get the idea.  The questions quickly come up: "What are you looking for?"  "Is there something there?"  "What are you doing?"  I explain that we're going to start writing about chasing a leprechaun and I wanted to make sure none were around.  That one line, along with the lights being out (for no real reason other than to ramp up the excitement!) always gets them engaged!

Next, I ask everyone to sit quietly and listen to some music.  I ask them to listen and be ready to tell me what they notice about the music.  Then I play the piece for the first time.  LOTS of engagement here - heads moving, hands orchestrating the music, bouncing and moving - and a huge "Play it again!" at the end.  I do, but first we talk quickly about what we notice.  The main things I want them to hear are the 3 different parts (which is really pretty obvious that no one misses it!).  First the music is quieter, then it gets louder and faster, then it ends with a bang!

Now that everyone gets the structure of the piece, we're ready for a second listening - this time with a different purpose.  Now I ask them to listen and imagine they are trying to catch a leprechaun.  What do they see?  I play the music another time.  As soon as the music ends, my littles are dying to tell me and everyone else what they "saw" when they visualized!  "I caught him!"  "We were running really fast!"  "I was sneaking up on him and then he ran away!"  After a little sharing, we listen one more time just for fun - and to really solidify those ideas in their heads. We talk specifically about what they saw happening in each part - the beginning, where it was slow and quiet and they were creeping up on the leprechaun... the middle, where it got loud and fast and the chase was on!... and the end, where something happened to end the chase - Did you catch the leprechaun?  Did he get away?

After hearing the music a few times, they're ready to "draw what they saw!"  Sometimes I have them draw on a structured sheet with a beginning, middle and end... sometimes we just fold a piece of scrap paper into thirds and start drawing! 

I usually ask them to add some writing - speech bubbles, labels, something to tell more about their picture.  Then we do a partner share and a few with the whole group.  We play the music one more time and we're ready to start writing!

You can do the writing in whatever format works for you.  Now that everyone has an idea of what happens at the beginning, middle and end, adding the details comes more easily!  If you'd like a few sheets to use in your classroom, I whipped up a drawing sheet, writing plan sheet and writing paper you can use.  Just click on the image below to download.
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B2ize_mAbVGMaDQyUFlfME0wMWM/view?usp=sharing
Using music to inspire writing is just one way to add some "pizazz" into your lessons.  Sometimes the simplest idea can be the best.  Have fun catching a leprechaun!
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