Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Field Trips (Oh so fun!) & Writing

Can you believe tomorrow is ONLY Wednesday?? We had a great field trip today (minus lunch - short supply meant my lunch was no longer mine) to a nearby camp that provides educational day trips every fall for schools.  This year we investigated the differences (mostly in weather and climate) of countries around the world.  We traveled to Costa Rica, Alaska, Brazil, Japan, England, and Africa, gave weather reports, and learned about weather sayings/myths (the fish always bite before it rains, red sky at night sailor's delight, red sky in the morning sailor's warning, etc.).

The kids had a great time, learned a few new things, and got to use some of their knowledge from a couple of our past reading stories (which I was thrilled to see them do)!  To make this experience even more meaningful, we'll be using it as a starting point for our next piece of writing - a brochure to share information about the locations we "visited" at camp!

How many of you have used Jog The Web?  It's a great resource, especially for those of us with elementary age kids!  You can create "webBOOKS" that include specific websites that your students will need for research or other purposes (maybe educational games for centers) and keep the kiddos on safe sites!  You can "jog" the one I made for the kids to research the different locations before writing their brochures by clicking here.   I made graphic organizers for kids to record their information.  They are specific to the location, so probably not useful to many, but this is what they look like.  You can leave me a comment if you'd like the power point version.  I used the fonts SF Orson Casual Shaded and Annoying Kettle.

I also made 2 different brochure templates (hopefully they'll work when I print and fold)!  Each has picture boxes on each panel, one also has lines for writing while the other doesn't.  You can download them here.

Brochure Template - Blank and Lined

Don't forget, I love to hear your comments and suggestions! Let me know what you think!

If you've used jog the web in the classroom have you had success with it? any problems? Would you like to use it?

Monday, September 26, 2011

Math Fact Fluency & A Giveaway You Don't Want to Miss

I don't know about you all, but fluent and quick recall of basic math facts is a bit of a problem with my kiddos!  They're always counting on their fingers!  Neighbors (doubles + 1) and even doubles and sums of 10 bring out their little hands...So how can I get them to memorize the facts and know them fluently?  I've told them how important it is.  I've told them they should be able to tell me those answers as quick as they can snap their fingers.  So far, telling them just isn't working.  Last year we did timed multiplication tests, and I was really impressed with how hard the kids tried to pass each level.  So this year, I'm thinking we'll start now with timed addition tests.  Not only with their fluency hopefully improve, but they'll hopefully become more comfortable with timed situations and working under (a little) pressure.

To get us started I've been working on some timed tests.  I've made three versions of each to avoid those crafty ones just memorizing the answers.  I haven't printed them out to check the size of the text and writing spaces yet, that's the plan for tomorrow - - Okay, I printed these out today and the text and spacing look fine for my third graders!  Hopefully they'll work for you, so here are my timed tests for adding zero (easy-peasy, right? you'd be surprised how long they still have to think about it), adding one, and adding doubles.  Each test has 75 problems.  Right now, I'm thinking that the kids will have to get 70 (93%) or at least 68 (91%) to pass, and I'm undecided on the amount of time I'll give them (maybe 1 min. to 1.5 min.).  I'd love to hear your comments, ideas, and suggestions!  Please tell me your thoughts!

Timed Addition Tests

Now for the REALLY exciting news!  Ashleigh at education journey is having a great giveaway!  Head over to her blog for your chance to win an Amazon gift card!  Bonus: entering is super easy!

Ashleigh's Education Journey

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Reviewing content with games

Don't we all love to make learning fun?  "I have...who has?" games are one of my favorite ways to engage the kids in a fun review of content!  I have several versions that I've bought about money, geometry, time, and a couple of other topics.

We finished up rounding to the nearest ten and hundred yesterday (no school today!) and I was looking for a fun review to do before our quiz.  Not finding what I was looking for, I decided to make my own "I have...who has?" game for rounding.  This was the first time our new third graders have played this type of game, and they love competing to try to get the best time out of the four homerooms!

We also just finished the first unit in our reading series (Scott Foresman Reading Street), so to review those past vocabulary words I made another "I have...who has?" game.  We are currently working on nouns, so I chose the vocabulary words that were nouns, and identified them as nouns as part of the game (they can't hear it too much, right?).

If you can use either of these games in your classroom you can download them here from Scribd.  Let me know how it goes if you play the games!

Rounding Review (I have…who has) Game

I have…who has_ nouns and vocabulary unit 1

Thursday, September 8, 2011

A Monster-ously Fun Project

To go along with our frightfully fantastic theme this year (monsters), we made our own monsters during the first full week or school! I got the idea for this project from pinterest (where else?) and changed it up a bit to make it work for us! Thriving Third Graders posted a great blog post titled "Snow Art" showing off her students' shaving cream/glue snow men. Here they are!

The more I looked at these adorable creations, the less I wanted to wait until winter to make them. After thinking about how I could make this project unique for my classroom, I decided to try it out with some food coloring in the mix! From that, our shaving cream and glue monsters were born as was a great writing opportunity and a lesson in adding details! Take a look at them, and don't forget to check out the "snow art" blog post at http://thrivingthirdgraders.blogspot.com for her directions on how to make your own!

I hope everyone had a great long weekend! I know I enjoyed mine!

Saturday, September 3, 2011

aROUND and aROUND we go

We have been in school for just over 3 weeks now...so far, so good!  My reading group is going strong!  We completed a great social studies unit, and we've spent the past week in our first science unit investigating the world around us using our 5 senses!  My little detectives tried to determine ten different concealed objects using only their sense of touch, different scents using their sense of smell, and the objects creating different sounds in closed containers using only their sense of hearing.  We also observed for details using our sense of sight.  But I think their favorite by far was exploring their sense of taste!  Little secret - it was mine too!  Don't we all love a good snack?

Place value was a huge success!  Our first chapter in math was place value - ones through thousands - and all that it entails.  Well about 14 or 15 out of my 19 homeroom students earned an A on the chapter test!  The other three homerooms had good reports from their math classes as well!  Now that we have mastered place value we're moving on for a unit on rounding to the nearest ten and the nearest hundred.

We started out by coloring this hundred chart from "super teacher worksheets" that shows which numbers round up (we colored them blue) and which round down (we colored them yellow). The kids will keep this in their binders that they take home.  Then we colored a blank hundred chart to match.  We used the second chart to make a foldable.  We cut out the square chart, folded it in half, and cut it to the crease between the numbers that round down and those that round up to make a simple two tab book.  We glued this book to the bottom of a piece of construction paper and labeled each side with round up/down.  The kids then took a blank piece of paper and created another two tab book.  We labeled this one with "Rounding to the Nearest Ten" and "Rounding to the Nearest Hundred".  On the inside we wrote our rounding rules - "I look at the digit in the ones/tens place" (respectively) and "If it is 1, 2, 3, or 4 I round down.  If it is 5, 6, 7, 8, or 9 I round up."

The foldable was a good interactive project to introduce the subject and I love the original hundreds chart we colored.  Both will be great reference tools for them as we go through this unit.  Most of the kids seem pretty confident with the basic rules of rounding.  The trouble starts when they don't have answer choices.  My kids are having a hard time figuring out which two numbers they should choose between for their answer.  In rounding a number like 26, for example, I might have a student say it will be either 20 or 60.  Another might say 20 or 10.  Of course there were those who got it right away and know that it is 20 or 30!    Super teacher worksheets has a couple of number line pages for rounding I plan to use, but I created my own for some extra practice for our kiddos too!  If any of you can use it, feel free to borrow!  You can download it from google docs here or from scribed (I'm trying it out since I can never seem to get google docs to embed right).

Rounding - Finding Your Choices

Everyone have a great Labor Day weekend!  Enjoy the extra day off...I know I will!