Friday, March 28, 2014

Five for Friday: A Celebration!

Happy Friday, friends! I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for the weekly linky Five for Friday.

This week was my Spring Break, and oh did I enjoy it! I can't say I traveled anywhere special, but with my husband being on leave as well, we spent lots of quality time together and kept Lilly home from daycare with us. 

I did have time on my break to work on a couple TPT products. I finished up a labor of love, my ELA Stations for Bigger Kids, Rays of Sunshine: Notes of Encouragement for Standardized Testing, and Monthly Themed Behavior Charts. They're all on sale! 

 My girl, Jess from I Heart Recess is having a giveaway of her Test Prep ELA Review Game. Click on the picture for a chance to enter to win! You'll also get a free copy of her SQ3R reading strategies poster when you stop by. 

Have you heard of the spring cleaning sale? There are a lot of  TPT teacher-authors throwing a big sale in their shop. My shop will be on a 20% sale now until Monday. Check it out! 

...and lastly, the reason for the celebration! 

I got into grad school! I'll be starting in May, and finishing in hopefully 18 months. Then I hope to finish up with my doctorate. Goodbye, life. :)

I'm off to enjoy the last day of my spring break now. Enjoy your weekend!

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Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Tried it Tuesday {ELA Stations for Bigger Kids & a FREEBIE!}

I love the fact that it's 9:05 am and I'm still rockin' my pjs, hanging out with my baby watching Gabba Gabba while writing this post for Tried it Tuesday with Holly. Happy Spring Break to me! I'd like to say I'm going on some special getaway, but really we're just hanging out around home, getting a little work done and otherwise being lazy. Prime example below. I do live really close to Destin, Florida, so I guess you could say I can just drive to a vacation whenever I want.. except for the fact that it's only going to be in the 60's today. All you people who get spring break in April will have warmer weather, but I would have died if I had to wait that long! Seriously!

I took advantage of my first free day yesterday to finish up some ELA centers I've been working on FOREVER. I'm so excited for the final product! I've already been trying these out as I made them in my own classroom, and let me tell you... total engagement!

These centers include practice for bigger kids with ABC order, synonyms, antonyms, homophones, and guide words. I teach 3rd grade this year and realized that just like with my 4th graders last year, they need help with ABC order. I wanted it to be more authentic than a (cute) picture of a squirrel with a word written on the card to alphabetize, so I made file folders with peoples' names on them. They have to put these in order by last name and then first name.

I've included practice with synonyms and antonyms as well. I tried to make these interactive, but rigorous at the same time. Instead of just "find the synonym," students have to read a sentence with an underlined word (that they probably don't know at this age), then use the context clues within the sentence to figure out a synonym or antonym for that word. They get to cut out words and paste them where they belong. No work for you other than making copies for the students, and possibly laminating the sentence cards for durability if you choose. Page protectors work well, too!

Homophones... this is probably my favorite part! Students will need a bag of "phone cards," (get it, homophones--phone cards?!?), a sentence card and a recording sheet. On the sentence card I give a sentence that included 2 homophones. For example--"Alex grabbed his pale/pail and left for the beach." The students would find the 2 phone cards with pale and pail on them, read the definitions on these cards, and use those definitions to help figure out which is the correct homophone. They circle the answer on their recording sheet, and then write an original sentence using the word they did NOT choose. I love that they must use the definitions and think for themselves!

And lastly, guide word practice. There are 2 interactive pages included (one a little harder than the other), where students cut off the bottom portion and glue the words in the boxes where they belong based on the guide words on the top. 

You can check out these stations in my TPT shop {here}. Want to win a FREE copy?!PIN any of the pictures above, COPY the link and paste it in the comments below. Don't forget to include your email address! ;)

And now for a FREEBIE! With the weather warming up, sometimes a little switch in behavior management is necessary. Click on the picture below to grab free behavior charts from my TpT store. Be sure to FOLLOW ME for updates when I post new products and freebies!

Be sure to link up with Holly for ideas you've tried either at home or school!

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Sunday, March 23, 2014

Has the "crazy bug" hit your class yet?

My spring break starts this week, praise the Lord! Are my kids the only ones who have been slightly crazy?! If your kids are slightly cray cray as well, I've got good news for you! I uploaded my newest product last night to TpT for behavior management that can help you out!

Sometimes a fresh behavior system can be a good switch when kids need something new to motivate their behavior. These are currently {FREE} in my TpT store, so go check them out!

Also, let me share my good news..

Happy Sunday, friends!

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Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Paying out for Test Prep

I've mentioned before how I use a classroom money system in my room, and how much the students LOVE earning their Hollywood Bucks. It's gotten to the point where I have to stop kids from selling their real-life items for those laminated pieces of card stock! The kids use their Hollywood bucks to buy classroom coupons, and very rarely (only once this entire year) will I throw out some dollar store items. Anyway, with FCAT looming for my 3rd graders in April, it's about time for dreaded test prep. Yes, we've been spiraling math and reading throughout the year, but sometimes you want to get down and dirty and go back to skills you taught in September, in a small group fashion. 

What better way to review than to make HUGE packets of math word problems that target every standard they need to know, right?! Now, I can't begin to tell you how happy my teacher heart was when I discovered that Discovery Education online offers probes that can be printed specific to skill deficits. We use Discovery Education for our DEA testing, which shows growth from the beginning, middle, and then end of the year. 

I already know my students would not be so excited about a huge packet of word problems, but I wanted a way to review and just practice solving word problems, so I thought I'd jazz it up a little by adding 2 things 3rd graders love.

1. Colored mechanical pencils
2. Classroom money

That's all! And man, was it successful! I told my students they would earn $1 for each correctly answered problem, and I don't know that I've seen them so motivated before to find the right answer. I had students who never re-read ANYTHING, read these questions 4 times! Seriously!

Students would read the problem, read again and take notes using the stop sign strategy or underline important information, solve, and give me a thumbs-up when done. We would check/discuss, and then students got to add a check or "X" on their "payout" sheet. 

When it was time for our math rotations to switch, they neatly put their gi-normous packets in a pile and kept their payout sheets. One by one they proudly showed me their sheets and I exchanged those for money. I don't think I've had a small group where they all walked away smiling!

**I realize not everyone has a Hollywood themed classroom like me, so I also offer the same packet of classroom money and reward coupons in a non-Hollywood format. You can check that out here. :) 

Now.. I was very sure to remind my lovelies of my number one class rule, just in case they happened to answer a question incorrectly and have to record an "X"...

And that, my friends, is test-prep that doesn't bore! Add some simple incentives to motivate your babies and keep your sanity!