Saturday, August 27, 2011

Writing in Math

I have been considering using math journals or notebooks for my third grade classes, and I have recently had two big pushes in the write right direction!  This summer I was fortunate to attend my local National Writing Project summer institute!  It was so beneficial learning from other talented teachers from my area.  Our focus for the summer was of course writing, and we spent a good amount of time discussing writing in the content areas.  The institute really gave me some good ideas to get started.  I saw more great information and ideas for math notebooks at Tales of Frogs and Cupcakes!  When I went back to her blog today, I saw something so exciting!  (Probably not to most people, but I am a teacher!)  She is starting a math and science notebooking series on her blog!  I can't wait for post number 2!  Go by and check it out!

Tales of Frogs and Cupcakes

Since these math journals have been on my mind, I had planned to share a free vocabulary printable I created last year for a geometry unit for Blog Hoppin's Free For All Friday yesterday.  Well all I could think of after a long day at school was a nap!  I'm not doing much better tonight!  But anyway, back to my ideas.  I plan to divide my math notebooks into three sections - calendar, vocabulary, and journaling.  I'm hoping to start them with the start of our second chapter in math this week.  You can get a copy of the vocabulary page here from google docs or from scribd.

Vocabulary Notebook Page
For this vocabulary page I encourage students to write their own definition!  I show them examples and we discuss what the word means, but after modeling it a few times I no longer write down my own definition.  Then they draw a picture to show what the word means (they could also write an example here).  Finally, they use a specific color (I used red last year) to color in the thumbs up, thumbs down, or 2 thumbs down, to show how well they understand what the word means.  As we continued through the chapter the kids could add new info about the word that helps them remember what it means.  When reviewing for the chapter test, we come back to the vocabulary pages and use a second color (I used blue) to color in the thumb(s) that shows how well they understand the word now.  Hopefully some of you can get some use out of this or at least an idea for something you might like to create! 

Do any of you have any pointers for the successful use of math notebooks/journals?  Don't forget to head over to Blog Hoppin' and check out all of the great posts from the past week!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Where I Spend Most of My Day

My third grade team and I change classroom themes yearly, so there's always a fun little addition of some sort to my classroom!  If you've seen my blog before, you know our theme this year is monsters!  And I am loving those cute little things!  I made some big changes in my classroom this year, and so far I'm really liking it!

I switched out some of my desks for tables, so now I have a mix!  I had to gather up the leftovers, but it works for me!  I'll take what I can get and make it work!  So after looking through my bag (even emptying it all out) I seem to have left my camera at school.....So check back tomorrow for pictures of my tables!

Here are my old well loved desks last year!
Excuse the racing room was in progress!

I'm trying out the token system this year (from The Cornerstone).  Here is my token box!

Check back tomorrow for more substantial pictures...when I locate the missing camera...I"ll add more photos of my room to this post!  Don't forget to check out Blog Hoppin' and join some of their teacher week linky parties!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Yes, I'm still here!

So the first week and a half of school have (obviously) killed me worn me out!  I have neglected my blog, and I just got it started!  Shame on me!

Before school started it took us a good hour of planning to come up with a daily schedule!  Make that 4 different daily schedules!  And...good planning period for Wednesdays is changing now....I teach third grade with 3 other teachers in the same grade level.  We have common planning twice a week.  Well, figuring out a schedule that would work for all of us (due to reading groups and RTI groups and of course recess!) was difficult to say the least.  Mondays and Fridays are the same...every other day is different.  Needless to say, I HAVE to have that schedule!

So, after leaving school at 6:45 tonight, to get my mind off of school things for a while, I'm going to blog (YAY!), and I'm going to enjoy the linky party at Blog Hoppin' where this week is teacher week!  I had my Monday (meet the teacher) post about half way ready last night and fell asleep...oops!  Sad, I know!  But I am really looking forward to tomorrow (where it all goes down Wednesday)!  I changed my room around a bit and am excited to share the photos!  Not to mention, I LOVE to see pictures of other teachers' classrooms!  I will tell you that I am sooo jealous of all of the huge rooms I see, ours are quite small!  But anyway, today is Teacher Talk Tuesday (advice for new teachers), so I'm going to link up my advice post from a few weeks ago - you should do the same, join the party!  On Friday (Free For All Friday) I'll be sharing a printable I use for math vocabulary!

I'm starting a new classroom project (pinterest inspired of course) this week!  I made one clothespin project already, but to have room to hang more, I'm making another!  I'll be making chalkboard clothespins inspired by these from Create-Teach-Share!  Guess where she got the idea to make hers!  Yep, pinterest!

Hope everybody has had a great Monday Tuesday!  (Let's not go backwards....PLEASE!)  And I'll be back tomorrow with classroom photos - that's the plan anyway!

Thursday, August 4, 2011

What advice do you wish you had gotten?

Cindy at Fun in Fourth Grade is having her first linky party!  She wants to know what advice you would share with new teachers.  While I'm not far from new (this is my third year) I do have some advice I'd like to share!  My school hired 3 new teachers this year.  After seeing them set up their first classrooms, remembering me & my first room, and setting up my classroom this year, my advice for them is that you and your room don't have to be perfect!  Trying to be a perfectionist will only drive you crazy (trust me, I know)!  Another piece of advice I would share is to set up a schedule and routine in your classroom...and stick to it!  It will be the best for you and them!  And take the time to enjoy the kids, don't get caught up in trying to please everyone and do it all...neither will happen!

Go over to Cindy's blog and join in on her first linky party!  Check out her cute new button while your there!  What advice could you share that maybe you wish someone had given you?

Wednesday, August 3, 2011

More of my Room!

So I've been working hard in my room for about 3 days now and I decided to take the day off to go get my hair done!  I'd hate to scare any of my new kiddos when I meet them!  I do have a few more things from my room that I wanted to share with you though!

This picture shows a little bit of how I organize my reading materials.  Our reading series is Scott-Foresman Reading Street.  There are 6 units with 5 stories each.  I have organizers to hold all of the materials for each story and each drawer is labeled with a story's title (it's a little hard to see that for the glare...).  Leveled readers, words to know (vocabulary) cards, and any activity pages we use for a story are grouped together in one of the plastic drawers.  The containers themselves are numbered on top from 1 to 10 so I can keep them in order easily.  The drawer holding the first story in each unit is marked with that unit number as well.  I just started doing this last year, and I love it!  I take the one organizer I need for that week to a shelf behind my desk and leave the rest on top of the cubbies and out of the way!  Everything I need is at my fingertips!

Coming into my room I have a big storage cabinet on the left right by the door.  Last year I sat it with its back to the wall.  This year I decided to turn it with the side facing the wall and the back toward the door.  This picture shows what I did with all of the space on the back of the cabinet!
I have a stick on dry erase class calendar at the top along with 4 class jobs.  This year I chose to assign only 4 class jobs for a couple of reasons.  First off, my behavior management system that I'm trying out this year (I'll tell you about it in a couple of minutes) will be used for some class jobs, and secondly, because my 6 or 8 jobs last year were just more trouble than they were worth.  I made my monster themed job cards and then attached them to two library pockets.  The pocket on the left will hold popsicle sticks with the names of students who haven't had that job yet.  When I draw a stick out, that person has that job for the week and I will attach his stick to the velcro dot above the card.  At the end of the week I will move his stick into the pocket on the right and draw again on Monday morning!  I will probably have 5 sticks in each set of pockets at a time and then rotate them clockwise after 5 weeks so I don't have to be wasteful and make 5 sets.

In the middle of the cabinet I have my hall pass, office pass, nurse pass, and "It's My Birthday!" cupcake necklaces on the schoolhouse holder.  I bought these from Debbie Spence at Teacher's Edition before school started last year and I love them!  The kids love to wear them too, especially the cupcake necklace - even the boys!  Debbie sales handcrafted wooden classroom materials of all sorts, and they can be personalized!  I know I love a good monogram!

And I saved the worst of that picture for pitiful little bookshelf.  That is a portion of our classroom books.  They are obviously not organized.  There is no question about it...I NEED HELP!

Now this next picture is maybe my favorite thing I've done so far!  I LOVE IT!  I even brought it all the way back home to show my husband...he wasn't quite as excited as me for some reason....
This is the box I am using to keep and organize my tokens for the behavior management system I'm trying out this year.  I want to focus on positive behavior and reward those that are doing right and remind and encourage those that aren't quite on track.  I read about "the world's easiest token system" on Angela Watson's website the cornerstone for teachers (which by the way I love) a year or two ago and decided to give it a try this year.  She has a lot of information about using this system here at her website.

I used a tackle box to organize my tokens.  Here is a peek at the inside.
I added the explanation page so a sub can fairly easily continue using the system if I am out of school.  The longer slot on the right side will be where I store my bag that holds the tokens.  Each set of tokens is numbered and each slot in the container is numbered on the bottom.  I will pull tokens form the bag to determine some class helpers (such as messenger, paper handler, etc.) or to give small rewards occassionally (a new pencil or eraser, eating lunch with the teacher, choose your seat for the day, etc.).  Once a token is pulled it goes back in its slot - not back in the bag.  I plan to empty the bag of tokens every Friday and we will start fresh on Monday.
Has anyone else used the token system before?  How did it work with your class?  Any pointers?

Tuesday, August 2, 2011

A sneak peek at my room

I've been working in my room a little here and there for a few days now, but today is the first day that I have gotten really excited about my room and our new theme!  As a grade level we change our theme every year, and I am loving the monster theme we have now!  I've also made some other changes in my room. 

Today I switched out some of my desks for tables.  We had the middle and high school type desks - one piece with the slanted desktop and the basket underneath the chair...ugh.  They are not kid friendly!  Don't even try pushing them together to play a game or do a group activity - nothing sits flat!  So I scrounged up tables that were no longer wanted or needed ( I got 3 to go with the 2 already in my room) and chairs to go with them!  Nothing matches, but I'm just glad to have them!  I also found out that I'll be getting 5 new "elementary" desks (you know the type), so I'm thrilled about that!

Well here are a few things I worked on today that I wanted to share!  First off is something I made just for fun!  It is a pinterest inspired project (of course).  I got my idea from What The Teacher Wants.  Here is my lollipop tree!  I didn't have an empty pot at home so I used a cute desert bowl that was part of a gift from a great little girl last year, and I love how it turned out!
Another pinterest inspired project are my clothespins outside of my door!  (You can find the source on my pinterest post.)  I painted two yardsticks (not really - they're actually 48" long each) and my clothespins then just hot glued...simple but time consuming!  Right now it is holding a welcome sign.  On the first day of school it will hold 20 different monsters that will help the kids find a seat (I'll post some pictures and let you know how that works out)! 

I made this I'm Done jar after seeing one at (I had to pin it first though...I think I have a problem...nah!)  It holds sticks with different activities for those early finishers.  Some will always be there...draw, write a note to a teacher or a classmate, practice your cursive, etc.  Some will change with the content we are learning...dice addition games will turn into dice multiplication games, tangram puzzles will replace place value activities, etc.  They can only pick once!  No putting them back to try to get something more fun!
I'm sure you could guess our school colors by now! haha

And now my smarty pants!  Special thanks to a great friend with a growing baby for the little jeans and Abby, from the Inspired Apple for the idea and printables!

I hope you enjoyed seeing a few of my projects - who knows...maybe something I've shared will inspire someone else!  (We can dream, right? ;))  I'll be back tomorrow with some pictures showing how I organize my reading materials, plan to keep track of student helpers, and tackle classroom management issues.  You'll never guess but I'm trying a couple of new things!

OHHH! And DON"T FORGET!  There's only a couple of hours left to enter the giveaway at Thoughts of a Third Grade Teacher!  She is giving away a $20 gift card to Baffin Bags (an etsy shop that sells adorable baskets, bins, key fobs, and more) and a 12 x 18 fabric covered magnet board by Livy Lou Designs (another etsy shop with great stuff)!  To head her way now just click on the link above (to go to the giveaway post) or her button (to go to her blog)!

Lutton 519