Sunday, January 26, 2014

...and the winner is!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thank you all so much for entering! And Bee, please send me an email to claim your prize or comment below with your email address! :)

Tuesday, January 21, 2014

Tried it Tuesday: An engaging way to check work!

When I first got home today from school I was all blah.. tired, grumpy, and sad. {My husband is deployed. I think it's allowed in small amounts. Just like chocolate.} But THEN, my husband got to call a little while ago and I'm suddenly in such a happier mood! Happy enough to not feel tired, grumpy OR sad anymore! With that being said, I'm linking up with Holly from Fourth Grade Flipper for one of my favorite linky parties, Tried it Tuesday!

As teachers, we always create super engaging lessons where every student in our class can't help but pay attention and hang on every word we say. Right? Ha! In reality, we try our best to create lessons that are as engaging as possible, because most of the time it isn't our instruction that's lacking--but students who aren't engaged can't exactly learn.

There are times when we have to put games aside and have students show us what they know in a written form to prepare for a test. Times like these don't seem to interest my students too much.. until today! I made a deal with my students that if they tried their very best on their review activity, I would bribe reward them with Hollywood bucks, our classroom economy. {I have a group of serious money lovers! They get to buy classroom coupons and occasionally a little candy, and it makes their hearts smile!}

So, how did this work?
1. Students were given time to work independently on a show what you know type of activity.
2. When it was time to check their work, each student was given square tiles that would "show me" if they got the answer correct, or "show them" if they needed to correct it (immediate feedback and learning!!!).
3. For each question they answered correctly, they got to either cover that question on their math paper with a tile or move a tile from the left of their desk to the right side.
4. Then, they wrote a FRACTION for the amount of questions they answered correctly, and got PAID!

See how that works? Students were engaged during the show what you know, because they wanted money. Then, while we were checking their work they were practically forced to pay attention so they could hear the correct answer to be sure they could cover a tile. It was seriously a light bulb moment in my head for sure!

Have you entered to win my 200 follower giveaway?! Click on the picture below for a chance to win a $50 amazon gift card and a pair of Brandy Bell Design earrings!

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Monday, January 20, 2014

Mathematical Monday: Valentine's Fraction Freebie!

Hi friends! Anyone else have the day off to relax and delay the inevitable for one more day? My day was glorious, and I hope yours was, too!

Tomorrow in 3rd grade land we dive into the wonderful world of fractions. Since Valentine's day is approaching soon enough, and I love all things with hearts and the color pink, I went ahead and made a quick concentration game for a math center.

This is an easy prep math game for a center to practice identifying fractions. Students match the fractions to their corresponding pictures, and record on the recording sheets. Easy peasy! An answer key is included.

Would you like a copy? Just click {here} or on any of the pictures to visit my TpT store. 

Aaaaand? Have you entered to win $50 and a pair of Brandy Bell Design earrings? Click on the picture to enter my 200 follower giveaway! :)

Be sure to visit Jess's blog, I {Heart} Recess to view more Mathematical Monday Freebies! 

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Sunday, January 19, 2014

Want to win some prizes? 200 follower giveaway!

200 follower giveaway!

Okay, I know 200 followers isn't colossal to those who have thousands of followers, but man, when I woke up and saw this:

...I was pretty darn excited! I haven't been blogging for all that long, so having 200 people following my blog is a big deal to me!

In order to celebrate and say THANK YOU, I've teamed up with the extremely talented Brandy Bell from Brandy Bell Design and we are offering you some great prizes! One lucky winner will win:

1. $50 Amazon gift card

...because really, who can't find SOMETHING like they on Amazon?


2. Earrings from Brandy Bell Design

These 3-tier leather earrings are hand cut, measuring approximately 1.5" wide by 3.5" long. 
I have TONS of earrings from this lady, even ones to match my classroom t-shirts because you get to pick the colors you would like and she makes them! 

So... here's how you enter to win. Good luck! :)
If you are sharing the giveaway, feel free to grab the button at the top of this page and share away! :)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, January 17, 2014

A Day Our Way: My Classroom Schedule

I always find it interesting to hear how others spend their days. How much time they allot to this subject and that. With that being said, I'm linking up with Amelia from Where the Wild Things Learn for A Day Our Way: A Classroom Schedule Party!

8:00-8:30: Arrival

During this time, students unpack, make their lunch selections for the day, and turn in their homework. They then raise their hands to show me they got their planners signed, and in return I give them $1 for getting it signed. {You can read about this here.} This is a great means of communication between me and parents, and ensures I see any notes they may have for me. I give them $2 each Monday if they have gotten their planners signed over the weekend, because let's face it--as soon as school dismisses on Friday afternoon, kids throw their book bags aside until Monday morning.

8:30-10: ELA Block

During this time I try reallyyyyyy hard to only spend 30 minutes in whole group, and then move on to station rotations. We have 3, 20 minutes rotations with a total of 4 stations. This means kids don't go to the same rotations every day.

10:00-10:10: Snack & Restroom

I personally love snack time. I never did this when I taught 4th grade, but my third grade team does snack, so I do, too. I eat a snack as well. 

10:15-10:45: Social Studies or Science

I would love to fit in both science and social studies every day, but it's hard to find the time. We've been doing 2 weeks of one subject, and then 2 weeks of another. 

10:50-11:35: Music or PE

We have PE every day except for when we have music. Music is usually only like 3 times a month, so my kids get plenty of exercise!

11:50-12:20: Lunch

We always have a duty free lunch because we have very special ladies who watch the kids. Bless them.


Rarely do we teach whole group math. Since we co-teach, we have more of an opportunity for small group time, so we take advantage of that.

We actually just started doing math test prep as a station since we have FCAT approaching in April. I find resources with sample questions online and we usually only get to 1 question a day. We really get in depth with that one question, though, and show different strategies for solving. Math small group is the direct instruction of our day, and seat work in the independent practice. Math fact fluency is differentiated by their group level and what they need review with.

1:30-2:30: Writing/Catch-up/Recess/Misc.

This is the hardest part of the day for me. I have from 5-6 kiddos who get pulled out from 1:30-2, so I find it hard to introduce anything new. We usually play catch-up for 30 minutes until they return, then squeeze in writing and recess, and then begin packing up at 2:30. Now that I look at it, I really need to make better use of this time. Ideas?!

2:30-2:45: Write in planners and pack up

2:45 Dismissal

We hardly ever have meetings we have to attend, but do have to stay until 3:25 each day. This is usually just enough time to prepare for the next day, relax and eat a snack.. again. :)

I'd love to hear about your schedule... go link up! 

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Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Tried it Tuesday: Teaching Text Features through a {Project Freebie!}

I try to get my kids to recognize text features in all non-fiction texts we read. My favorite teacher moments are when I hear my kiddos say, "Mrs. Lopez! Look! It's a diagram!" Makes my teacher heart happy! I simply typed up these text features and printed them on colored paper. Click here if you'd like a copy.

I tried to hit it really hard this year because I think if kids can understand the purpose of text features, and then they use the text features, it makes a big deal in their comprehension. So, to start, I made an anchor chart as a giant, colorful visual. Making this also made my heart happy. :) Then, my students made these mini versions of anchor charts...

To start, they cut out a quick text feature sort I made and printed on purple and green paper. (You can get those here!) They had to match the text feature with its purpose, then use Time magazines to cut out the text features they found. I loved that they randomly got out of their seat to go look at my anchor chart to ensure they were cutting out the correct features. 

Once my kids had these beauties finished, I gave them a project to complete the next week during station time. Man, did they love it! 

 I gave them a rubric (which we thoroughly discussed--for the entire 10 minutes they listened)...

And a blank template (two options) and they had to:
1. Pick an animal
2. Go to the library and check out a text about that animal
3. Create a magazine filled with information about the animal--and of course, include text features!

I created an exemplar to show my kiddos, using this pack from Creekside Teacher Tales. I just printed one of the many non-fiction pieces she created to save myself some time. It was the sea otter article she wrote. Sorry, I can't include that for you, but I highly recommend this pack--it's wonderful! Then I simply created a front cover for my magazine project and filled out an example of the recording sheets. 

Here are a couple examples of projects a few ladies in my class made! I really think this project was beneficial for my students, so if you would like a copy, just click here! This is the powerpoint version so that you can edit anything if you'd like. I myself changed the grading rubric around a couple times, so I thought you might like a version to do the same with. Enjoy!

Now.. go link up with Fourth Grade Flipper and share what you tried! 

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Giveaway Time!

Let me just say I am JEALOUS of all of you lucky ducks who are still at home in your PJ's. It is currently 28 degrees here in Florida, and will be 16 degrees when I leave for work but we still have to go. No delay or anything! Wahh! Now that I'm done with that, onto the good news. :)

I'm sure you've heard already, but just in case you haven't, two fabulous bloggers, Holly from Fourth Grade Flipper, and Joanne from Head Over Heels for Teaching, both reached 1000 followers on their {super cute} blogs. Both of these ladies post frequently with extra creative ideas and fun pictures, and each host weekly linkies. It's such an honor to be part of their giveaway!

To help these ladies celebrate, I donated my Task Card Bundle
You will get 5 sets of task cards, including Author's Purpose, Sequence of Events, Cause & Effect, Main Idea, and Making Inferences. That's 152 task cards in all, with a variety of question formats!

What exactly does each pack offer, you might ask? Well... :)

Is this resource something you're interested in? Great! Head on over to either of these blogs and enter to win!

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Sunday, January 5, 2014

Mentor Text Linky: Amos & Boris with free resources!

This is my first time linking up with Collaborative Cuties for their Mentor Text Linky, so I'm pretty excited! I read all the fabulous book recommendations each Sunday and always think, "Man, I should write a post!" and then yeah.. I go back to sitting on the coach being a lazy bum. BUT--my lesson plans this week lend perfectly to this so I'm sharing!

Before leaving for Christmas break, my team and I decided to read Amos & Boris starting the week of January 6th (tomorrow--super sad face!). It came with our reading series as a trade book, meaning EVERY KID IN MY CLASS GETS THEIR OWN COPY. I, like most true teachers, put off my planning until the weekend before. So, Thursday night I sat at my computer (from 9PM-2AM) and did the logical/lazy thing--googled the book to see what resources I could find and therefore would not have to create myself. The first beautiful piece of information I came upon was this... a PDF file with vocabulary words, text dependent questions, standards to teach with, among other amazingness. This file got my brain working!

Here is the description provided by Amazon:
Amos the mouse and Boris the whale: a devoted pair of friends with nothing at all in common, except good hearts and a willingness to help their fellow mammal. They meet after Amos sets out to sail the sea and finds himself in extreme need of rescue. And there will come a day, long after Boris has gone back to a life at sea and Amos has gone back to life on dry land, when the tiny mouse must find a way to rescue the great whale.
This book is said to be for grades 2-3, but can be used in upper grades 4-5 easily because of the rich vocabulary. Seriously, some of these words are insane and add great value to this super cute, RICH story. My focus for this week is describing characters (traits, motivations and feelings) based on what they say or do in the text, and how that contributes to the sequence of events. I created a few pages to use as resources for myself and am offering to guys for free if ya want! Click here to be taken to be Google Drive to grab the freebie or on any of the pictures below!

Just to be clear, I created the graphic organizer and the original text that supports determining character traits, along with the accompanying questions, but DID NOT actually write all of the text dependent questions on the task cards below. Those I got straight from the website I shared, I just typed them up.

We will be describing both Amos and Boris using this easy graphic organizer. Once my students are familiar with this process, they will then describe a character from another text to ensure they got it. 

There are 5 pages of questions, meaning 20 questions total. I printed these out, cut them out, and have students work in groups/pairs to answer on their own notebook paper--in complete sentences. I will be pulling some of my special friends to work through these with me. 

One thing I like to do with any skill I teach is show my students how future end of the year testing questions may look, in relation to that skill AND how to go back IN THE TEXT to find the answers. So, I whipped up this one page text with 4 questions asking students to decide their character traits. An answer key is included. 

I hope you can find this useful! Go link up with Collaborative Cuties to share your great finds!

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