Friday, November 29, 2013

Five for Friday: Thanksgiving Week

I needed this week for sure! I cannot say I have done a lot, but I think that is what I needed. This week's Five for Friday post is more about life and less about school. 
Obviously, my boys needed the down time too because 2 have been fighting off a bot of some sickness. That is typical this time of year since my youngest has asthma and my two youngest are prone to ear infections. Just like normal, a week of vacay meant a trip to see our favorite group of pediatricians, and a trip to the pharmacy for some meds. Why break away from our fall traditions? Ha ha! 

But hey, no complaints from me because I could mend the ill from home and not have to write any sub plans. 
My youngest and me, as you can tell from the hair it is tough to keep a squirmy 4 yr. old still during pics.
Our Elf arrived and I was so excited at my sons' reactions. They are excited about the magic and the season. 
Our elf is named Poochuk, yep named by 3 boys! He is a simple elf ,no crazy mishaps -
I don't have time to clean up after another elf! 
I have been wondering if my oldest is starting to wonder about Santa, but it seems like he is still in on the fun. My youngest is no longer afraid, which means I need to seize the opportunity and plan for some Santa encounters. I think I need to get some pictures of all 3 with a really good looking Santa. 
This is huge because last year the youngest refused to step anywhere near the big man. He looked from afar. The year before my middle son would not even walk in to the workshop area and cried at the mention of pictures with him. The year before we had our funniest picture moment. Santa tried to lure him in to the picture by asking to see his lovey (a pooh bear blankie) and instead of walking it over he looked at it and threw it at Santa. We had to hold back our laughter, and be content with a picture of just 2 on his lap. This may be my last year getting all 3 in a picture with the magic in their eyes. 
I love to bake and enjoyed the time to make some yummy treats for our families. The boys were great taste-testers and very encouraging. Yummy!
Cranberry Orange Bread
I found the cranberry orange bread recipe through Pinterest, here is the link to the original site. It was a dense bread, not crumbly, probably because of the yogurt. The fresh cranberries and orange zest made a great flavor. It cooked in an hour and the recipe is easy to follow. 
I also made a spinach artichoke dip, which was a huge hit with my husband. 

Easy recipe in the crock pot! I let the spinach thaw over night in the sink and then threw the rest of the ingredients in, letting it cook for 2 hours. 
I also made chocolate chip cookies, and because I love them so much I made sure to leave most of them at our parents' houses!

I worked a little on some things for my classroom. I finally completed a set of task cards for decimals. I started the set a while back, but just never found the time to finish it up. The cold, wet weather this week was a perfect excuse to finish out the set. I plan to use them as part of a review center over the next few months to help them practice their decimal skills. 

Although I was off, it felt good to finish something that has been on my to-do list for a while. 
My school/district is encouraging us to use Math Talks in our classes. I plan to use these cards and the journal cards I made to go with the set to launch some math discussions. My group really needs some practice and confidence in the area of number sense, the visuals and straightforward style questions will be a great launchpad for our talks. 
 Shopping. Something that the media is pushing and my inbox is loading me up with things to buy, buy, buy. I did some shopping this past week, but it was for clothes and more practical things. As for holiday shopping, I have no idea what I will be purchasing this year. The kids have some grand ideas of their own - oldest wants a go cart, middle wants so Skylanders for the game they recently acquired from grandma, and my youngest wants everything he sees and a dog. 
Because I am indecisive, I did not engage in any Thanksgiving or Black Friday shopping. Instead I am mulling over ideas. Crazy me, even mentioned the idea of the dog and making the boys thrilled beyond belief, but am I ready for another responsibility? 
I am geared up for the Cyber Monday sale on Teachers Pay Teachers. My shop is on sale today, and then again on Monday and Tuesday. 
I made this banner with some graphics from The 3AM Teacher and Graphics from the Pond. If you want to use this on your blog or for your store you can download it here

Hope you are having a great Friday! 
Don't forget to check out the other posts for Five for Friday at Doodle Bugs Teaching

Thursday, November 28, 2013

Happy Thanksgiving

Happy Thanksgiving.
I am writing this as we embark upon the highway for the second stop along the tour of parents (Grandparents). Having my mom and in-laws both in town means having to split the day between both families. We are thankful for this dilemma and will happily get up early to make the trip across town.
I am thankful for the opportunity to learn from all the teachers in the blogging world. I have learned a lot from all of you and really appreciate the support you provide me. It is a supportive network of caring people who seem to want everyone to be successful. I love the collaborative efforts and the kindness that people show. If you stop and think about it, how many other professionals build blogging networks in which they share best practices and tips to help each other be the best they can be? Lesson plans, decorations, tips, and support flow freely amongst the community, something I am truly thankful for!
While talking about being thankful, I am of course thankful for my family. My boys are big blessings in our life. They teach me new things about myself and give me a perspective that has made me a better person and teacher. My husband and I have had to work through tough and trying times and together are a strong team.
In addition I am thankful for the opportunities we have in our lives. A great school to work at, wonderful educators for my children, phenomenal doctors and healthcare for my families' needs. And of course the things no one shall take for granted like a variety of food for our table, warm home, and a closet with clothes. So as I think about all we have, I wish for others to find the things they need around them.
I am hoping that everyone has a restful day, spending it with people you love. Happy Thanksgiving to you. Thanks for all you have done for me this year.

Saturday, November 23, 2013

Slowing down to Spark Student Motivation

In this day of education everything seems to be fast-paced.

  • Push your students to read sooner. 
  • Get them to write sentences younger. 
  • Count farther in earlier grades. 
  • Tackle higher level thinking earlier. 
  • Write long essays in elementary school. 
  • And perform under stressful constraints. 

Let's also not forget high-stakes tests, time constraints, connecting student performance to pay, surveying students for their opinions and pay teachers based on what ego-centered kids think of their teaching styles.
All of these things add up to tough times for teachers and students. It also means there is lots of pressure to work and the emphasis on tackling a lot in short periods of time. 
I am not complaining. I am more stating reality. I see the importance of many of the things we do, and agree with the need to dig deeper. I just don't always see the efforts paying off and I feel that stress is causing some major anxiety. {Kids in our county really dread 5th grade because we have a high stakes writing test. That is sad!}
I also see the looks of being overwhelmed on the faces of my kids. So I was relieved and excited to learn that my principal was supporting us in slowing down. Ok, so before you all rush to transfer to our school, I should probably explain further. 
This past week we had a professional development day with a special guest who came to talk to us about writing. He lead a presentation on how to approach writing for our state writing test so that the kids would be successful. He is an expert on the topic and spent some time getting to know us. And he never rushed us. It was refreshing. 
He got to know us first, learned our names, answered our questions, and listened to our thoughts. He did not have a secret agenda and was very supportive of us. What he did most of all was he inspired us and got us excited about teaching writing by showing us how we can do more by asking the kids to do less. 
We discussed the different genres and how the common core is slowly changing writing. He modeled his technique and had us play along by getting us to write. We shared with the class and built up our writing in steps. 
We also looked at DBQs and how to tackle them with our students without overwhelming the kids. Because let's be honest, some of the DBQs out there are enough to overwhelm adults let alone elementary age kids. 
His advice, take each DBQ and break it apart in to steps. Break the question in to one sentence questions asking for one sentence to walk the kids through the steps and at the end they will be amazed (as will you) at what they can produce. As you add a sentence lead them to add more specific details to support the first generic sentence. Simple and brilliant! 
By tackling paragraphs and DBQs in this manner, kids feel more capable and will actually produce more. 
After we spent time discussing this method he then modeled it for us with our 5th graders. They produced some awesome sentences which lead to very detailed and specific paragraphs. It was exciting for the kids and for us. 
  • The topic the kids wrote to was something they want but do not have the money for. One girl wrote about wanting an iPhone because of the cool apps and features. She talked about the games she would play and who she would call, her teacher. 
  • Another girl also wanted a phone and wrote about how she would find a way to pay for it, "by doing dreadful chores and helping to clean other people's houses." 
  • A boy really surprised us by writing about a Rolex and clearly described the specific one he wanted. 
The workshop was amazing for the kids and us. We all felt super excited, ready to tackle our curriculum further, and best of all were thrilled to know that we have been doing the right things and with a few tweaks, we would be able to accomplish a lot more. The perfect formula for motivating our teachers! And we all know, a motivated teacher has a huge impact on students. 

Aside form all the great things I learned at the workshop I was secretly proud of myself. I had recently run across a method for helping students cite text and add evidence to their writing. I mentioned the idea to my co-worker and together we both decided to try the method with our classes to see if it helped our students. We are still working with our students on the technique, but both agree that they are more aware of the need to cite text and add evidence to support their writing. The method is neat, straightforward, and followed along the lines of the highly recommended process of our guest speaker. 
A few weeks ago I ran across this awesome interactive notebook lesson by I'm Lovin' Lit. The ACE discussion questions are part of her Interactive Notebooks ~Sentences and Paragraphs for the Common Core pack. Or find it in isolation in the Citing Text Evidence Bonus Lesson
Read Erin's post about this method here

The method is perfect and can be easily differentiated for your kiddos. A: Students answer using the question in in their response (a skill I am still practicing with my kiddos in every subject - they so much prefer 1 word answers). C: Cite text to support your answer. When I practiced this with my kiddos I gave them sentence starters for their notebooks and encouraged them to start with that and to focus on citing text (we are practicing quoting and paraphrasing). E: Explain the text evidence to support your answers. And voila, you have a solid, well stated, well-supported, and specific paragraph! 
Some of the things the kids said in response to the lessons with the ACE technique: 
  • IT is easy! 
  • Wow, we only have to write 3 sentence. 
  • OOOH, I can do this! 
  • Here, read mine!

Both of us love the lesson so much we incorporated it in to our formal observations by our administrators and both of us received excellent reviews. My AP really liked the crafty cards and interactive notebook action. 
When responding to the DBQ each child received 1 of these templates and filled in 1-2 sentences in each section. 

The kids think we are asking less of them, but what they don't know is we have are tricking them in to working slightly harder and producing better results. When we point it out to them, they seem surprised at what they have come up with and are more excited about their work. 
Image courtesy of Amazon

The other day we used the ACE cards to share our response to a DBQ on the book "Tight Times" and I seriously had to hold back the kids as they rushed up front to share with the class. {Sorry they worked so quickly, and were so excited, that I did not get pictures of them sharing their work with the class.} I had also written out my answers and they were so excited when our answers were very similar. I was really impressed when I read sentences with the following phrases:
It is evident from the text...
You can clearly see that...
The author stated...
You can tell that the character wanted....because....
I was able to quickly assess who understood the text, who understood the DBQ, and who understood how to cite text. A quick assessment that was completed while I walked around the room interacting with the kids. A double bonus for me! 

If you are looking for a technique to elicit more specific responses and for students to cite evidence as is promoted by the common core I highly recommend checking our Erin's lessons as I'M Lovin' Lit. They are are awesome and doable in the eyes of the kids. It is one of the ways I am motivating the kids to produce more writing, detailed responses, while making it seem like I am asking for less. They are becoming aces in writing and responding to text. 
Don't forget to check out other ideas at Head Over Heels for Teaching

Wednesday, November 20, 2013


It has been a tough couple of weeks. Weeks that teachers can really understand and empathize. It has been an awakening that it was time to find the balance. Finding the balance meant saying no to some things, putting aside ideas, getting up from the computer, and taking a brief break from blogging.
Teaching is a job that consume you if you let it. It is a job that you never really can say you are caught up and finished with everything. Deadlines are always looming, email always trickling in, and tons of hours are put in outside of contract hours.
So as these looming facts and realities peeked their heads at me, I had to slow down and take a breath. Take time for my family. Take time to help my boys build friendships. Take time to rest and recover from long challenging days. Tonight I took some time for my family, walked out at a reasonable hour, and let the work stay at work! I am thankful I did because I feel refreshed and energized. I will make it 2 more days before a well deserved break.
I hope you are striving for that balance as well and finding those moments to help you make it through the long days and weeks. May your last 2 days this week be wonderful!

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

More Fun with Fractions

Last week, I blogged about using fraction tiles and Kidspiration with fractions as we started our fraction unit and began with reviewing the skills related to simplifying. In class we are moving forward in our fraction unit and I wanted to share a fun way we discussed looking at parts of a group and writing our answers as a fraction, parts to a whole. 
To introduce the concept of expressing an answer in a fraction form we talked about the number of girls in the class as compared to the total in our class. Then as we looked at the fraction, I asked them what the fraction meant. This might seems like a silly questions, but I wanted to emphasize that it wasn't 10/18 of a girl, it was 10 out of 18. When phrased that way they chuckled and started to catch on to what I was talking about. Then we talked about how we could find the number of boys in the class without counting them and instead using the fraction we already had. I was thrilled when they caught on to subtract to find the other fraction. We did a few more classroom related problems to help them connect to viewing fractions as ratios. (If you want a great fractions in the classroom activity, check out the one Joanne blogged about on Head Over Heels for Teaching.) 
Then, using a PowerPoint projected on the board, we practiced a little more using scenarios similar to ones they might encounter on a test. To personalize the problems and maintain their attention I used my students' names in the scenarios; that was a huge hit with my crew. As we worked through the problems I reviewed simplifying and used lots of math vocabulary.
Some problems were straight forward based on the details in the story, the others required subtracting to find the amount remaining. In the second set of problems instead of just asking them to write the answer in lowest terms, I asked them to explain how they knew it was in lowest terms.
During the review of the problems we talked about importance of where I place my numbers and that order is important. The 4 simple stories lead to a great class discussion. 
To wrap things up students were given a half sheet of the frames and wrote their own problems with a partner. 
Here are pictures of some created by my mathematicians. 

 You probably cannot read what the first one says, but it is one that elicited a lot of giggles, made me blush, and had me shaking my head. So here is a recap, "Mrs. Henderson has 3 kids and she wants to have 5 kids {gasp!} in total. How many more kids does she need? {Answer: 0, my kiddos are great but man they keep me busy! More = institutionalized My hubby had a good laugh at that one too. His answer about insanity was equivalent to mine!} They earned credit for their creativity and trying so hard!
But that wasn't it, they had more wonder up their sleeve. Here was their follow up. 
T was making a fundraiser for Mrs . Henderson's future five kids. She got $1,260 and she needs $2,000. How many dollars does she need to collect? 
Loved it! 
They really did well with their story writing and the conversations about their problems were authentic learning and I know they are going to remember how to solve this type of problem because they had to think through how to write one. 
To finish off our lesson I projected their problems and had them read them to the class and then the class solved to find the answer. We ran out of time but I have promised them that they will see the stories as morning work and for once I might not have to remind them to get started. 
The simple frames and sample stories turned in to a really great lesson with lots of smiles, math talk, a few giggles, and lots of learning. 
If you are looking for some other math ideas check out I Heart Recess and the M is for Mathematical Monday links


Wednesday, November 6, 2013

Fun with Fractions

I am linking up tonight with Ideas by Jivey for the Workshop Wednesday link about fractions. 

In 5th grade, we spend a lot of time talking about fractions. I actually like having the entire quarter to cover fractions requirements because it helps us develop number sense, clear up misconceptions, and practice, practice, practice! As any teacher can tell you, students do not necessarily retain all the fraction concepts previously taught. We have a lot to teach with regards to fractions, but it is the one unit I feel like we really dig down a little deeper. 
We started our unit this week, slightly behind the specified timeline but we are off to a great start. Before starting the unit,  I took time to work on divisibility rules. It is easy to teach and helps with number sense. It is another math super power I bestow on the kids and having taught it allows us to discuss it throughout our fraction unit. Knowing the rules helps the kids figure out the factors by giving them a place to start, otherwise they are just hopping around guessing and often leave numbers out. 
I always arm them with a divisibility rules chart for their notebook to refer back to throughout the unit. I like how some kids start to grasp that all even numbers are divisible by 2; how 2,3 and 6 go together just like 2,5, and 10, and 3 and 9. For some of the kids they still won't see it, but they will hear it repeatedly which helps them eventually make that number sense connection. Even if they catch on to just 2 or 3 of the rules it has an impact, especially when simplifying and finding common factors.   
Once divisibility rules are in their brains, I move on to factors and factoring rainbows. I watched one child work on prime factorization but I noticed she kept stopping after finding 1, the number, and then the basic fact. Many times she left out the other factors. If left uncorrected, she will miss the common factors between some numbers. After a quick review and reminding her to keep going until all numbers are prime, she grasped it. Showing them how to find factors before we even dive in to fractions helps, and arms them with more vocabulary to continually reference. 
After factors, common factors, and a brief rendezvous with greatest common factors, I pull out fractions and we explore equivalent fractions. I encourage the kids to talk about how they find the equivalent fractions. We take a few notes on finding equivalent fractions, often starting with multiplying by the power of one and talking about a/a is equal to 1. 
At this point I don't expect all of them to understand, I just want to have the seeds planted, so as we explore they will notice the pattern and make the connection. I like to have them armed with the vocabulary, so they use the correct words when explaining their work. 
I always project my notebook and we write the notes together. I also allow the kids to borrow my notebook to catch up on what they may have missed and it works wonders for those who are absent.
Finally, they get to "play." Fraction tiles are dragged out and they work to line up equivalent fractions. They mostly know 1/2 but cannot always explain why they are equivalent or how to get to that equivalent fraction. 
A few dabbled in it before, but they always need more practice. We will spend 3-5 days upfront and still have to review throughout the whole unit. 
Those who can get the basic fractions and equivalents will sometimes be stumped when working with a numerator higher than 1. 
Using the manipulative helps a lot. We will eventually make fraction bars for them to manipulate and keep in their notebook, but at the beginning having sets helps them feel comfortable and ready to dive in. 
Fraction tiles really help them see how they are equal when the tiles line up and are equal in size. Students who are impulsive and call out 1/4 is equivalent to 1/12 will see that is not true. Students with spatial issues will not draw disproportionate fractions making them look equivalent when they really aren't (and hum, helps me not make that error with my crummy art!). 
After spending a day exploring the tiles I project Kidspiration on the board and they use their fractions tiles to find equivalent fractions for fractions with numerators greater than 1. 
Walking around seeing their work helps me know when I can line up the tiles on the computer and can help clear up the misconceptions some might have with their tiles. They can sometimes manipulate the tiles to look like they are equivalent but on Kidspiration it will not line up and will visually be clear that they are not equivalent.
To help make the connection to multiplying by a power of 1, I will fill in the multiplication sentence in the space next to the tiles. Then they look for patterns (some really start to notice now that a/a = 1). They also start to notice fact families. 
At their desks they are working with the tiles, I talk them through and write the multiplication sentences on the board to keep modeling it. 
Some kids were not catching where I was getting the numbers from. That is expected. So on this problem I lined up the equivalent fraction and then took the 1/3 tile and put just 1 below the twelfths. Then I had them count how many twelfths equaled a third. Then that light-bulb started to flicker, "Oh, 4." 
After a few more days with equivalent fractions we will dive in to addition and subtraction and making sure that answers are in simplest form. We will continue to use fraction tiles and fraction bars to help the students grasp it visually. The math tools reinforce the skills and clear up confusion. 
As they gain confidence, some won't need them, but they will be available to everyone as often as needed. As we move to paper and pencil students may start to struggle, so the tools will help those who get lost or confused along the way.
Hopefully spending enough time on equivalents, practicing with the tiles and visual models will help students as we work toward addition and subtraction with unlike denominators. Throwing in extra steps is where students start to lose their confidence and "forget" that they really can do it. Taking time up front is important because fractions requires lots of processes and steps. Keeping it fun, making connections, and giving ample time to play and practice are the key. 
If you are teaching fractions during the month of November there are really cute turkeys and pies available from Pink Cat Studio
I also use these fraction match up cards to match fractions to words to numbers. This is a freebie by Rachael Parlett 
This month I will give out my half off and quarter off homework passes throughout the month. 

(Giving 1/2 off requires math to know how many to complete and they often don't catch on that they did a math problem to get out of some of the assignment!)

To keep with the turkey theme and continue the fun, we will use the turkey task cards to add and subtract. 
 There are tons of ways to work with fractions, and to practice. The more practice, the better they become at it. 
What great ideas do you have for working with fractions? If you are looking for more ideas, check out all the great links at Ideas by Jivey

Monday, November 4, 2013

M is for Mathematical Monday: Fall Candy Corn Math

I am excited about linking up again with I {Heart} Recess for M is for Mathematical Monday. Make sure you check out the links, there are always great ideas shared by some fantastic teachers!  

Last week I mentioned that I used Fall Candy Corn Math created by Diane at Fifth in the Middle. I loved it! Better than that, the kids enjoyed the activities a ton. 
Even though it is called Fall Candy Corn Math, I think you could adapt it for any time of the year, especially since they are selling candy corn almost year round. 
If you missed out using it in October, you could fit it in during November or in December using red/white/green candy corn, or even in February when they sell pink candy corn. 

To prepare for class, the night before I filled snack-size baggies with about 2 fistfuls of candy corn. Each group received 1 bag. It is best to not count out the amount per bag and vary the amount in each bag so the graphs show a varied amount. Varying the amount will allow you the opportunity to teach graphing intervals. 

I told the kids they would be using the candy corn and couldn't eat any of it until after the whole activity was completed. I probably could have used a little less per bag, but in total I used a huge (4 lb) bag of candy corn, packing up 40 baggies, plus a little leftover for my co-teacher and my sons. 

I grouped my math class in groups of 2-3 and before we dove in to the tasks we read through the first section to make sure they estimated before finding the actual amount.   
Not the best picture, but you can see some of the notes we jotted on the board to help the kids find the range and how to set up their graphs. Each group wrote their number on the board so the other groups could record their data.
Graphing skills are taught heavily in 3rd and 4th grade and are not emphasized nearly as much in 5th. I suppose those who wrote our curriculum believe they retain all of their previous knowledge (ha ha),  so I took some time to review how to set up the graphs (x and y axis, title), and most importantly how to set up range and select an interval. This turned out to be a necessary review lesson, as some just randomly assigned an interval of 5, then others shouted out 2, but couldn't explain why. Eventually, after looking at the data, they selected an interval of 2 or 3 based on the number of groups that had a number divisible by 2 or 3. 
Since all of the groups had more than 20 candy corn in their bags we also talked about how to show a break in the graph. Many thought it was a cool trick. It was a great chance to talk about needing to plan ahead before graphing. This helped avoid the "I can't fit it on my graph" comments. 
The kids colored in their bar graphs and finished off the front of the sheet. Most did really well with just a little bit of review. A few others needed a little more guidance, so I rotated among the groups to lend a hand or catch them before making huge errors. 

In addition to graphing the number of candy corn in each group, the packet includes some other fun activities. Students sort the candy corn in to rows of 10 and look at how many is leftover. We just discussed divisibility in class, so students talked about if the number in their bag would divide evenly and if they would have any leftover. I loved overhearing the math talk between the partners.
Some really had fun finding the length of their thumbs with the candy corn. They also discovered how many candy corn in a foot (excellent review of measuring with a ruler and the number of inches in a foot). 
Love the use of the rulers!

Another fun activity was using the candy corn to measure the sides of their desk. This could lend itself to a discussion of perimeter and area. I didn't seize that learning opportunity since some of my kiddos were about to depart for their pull-out language arts class, and I think  others were on a little overload of opening old brain files. 
The students also compared the amount of candy corn between the groups. 
My students apparently need a refresher course on averaging since some simply added all the data together. We were short on time, but when I told them they could estimate the average many successfully found a reasonable answer. If you want them to be 1000% accurate, I highly recommend reviewing averages prior to the activity.
The  back of the sheet appealed to my students because they love to color. They had a chance to design their own candy corn and then create a pattern with the colors. A few need to review how to draw patterns, but overall they did really well independently. 
The final task was surveying the class about who actually likes candy corn. Only 2 of my whole math class said they did not like it. For the sake of time, I had a student ask the question and then they raised their hands to vote yes or no. Some needed a quick reminder about tally marks, but others quickly recalled how to tally and record data. If you have time, it might be interesting to send small groups out to survey other classes and then let them compare their results. 
All in all, the tasks in the packet were fun, easy to implement and lead to great mathematical conversations and review of skills. You can prepare in advance by reviewing graphing skills, or you can complete it with mini-lessons throughout the class session. I would recommend giving yourself about an hour to complete the tasks and to handle questions. 
As they handed in their completed sheets they were rewarded with a snack bag of their own candy corn. I was rewarded with lots of smiles, a well behaved class, and a load of thank yous! 
If you are looking for something fun to do with your class I highly recommend you check out the packet at Fifth in the Middle's store on TPT. If you are completing a graphing unit, this would be a perfect activity to close up your unit. I do not have her other sets, but she also has a Lucky Charms activity and a Conversation Heart set. I bet they are just as good and the kids will have a blast with the tasks. And if you are looking for a language arts center set check out Educents, Diane's Apple for the Teacher set is available right now for free. 
What fun stuff do you do with your class as part of graphing units or to keep their interest in math? 

Friday, November 1, 2013

Five for Friday: Halloween Week

Hooray! I made it to Friday! The week has had it ups and downs of fun, frustration, and loads of excitement.
With it being Friday, it is time to link up again with Doodle Bugs Teaching for Five for Friday, with lots of pictures.
It was time to get back on track with a normal schedule, but honestly with a mock writing test, 2 IEP meetings, Halloween, and an end of the week fundraiser walk, how could the week be considered normal? Being that it was a week with interruptions, it was time to get the kids moving through some centers. 
Early in the week we played "Pop! Eye need a comma." I projected a few cards from this great set and they "popped" out of their seats when they knew the answer to the question on the task card. On Halloween it was one of many centers the kids rotated through. Love the eyes on this set and the kids easily understood how to complete the answer sheet. Also led to a quick discussion of puns and palindromes. This activity was created by Catherine Reed - The Brown Bag Teacher
If you can't beat them, join them! Candy, candy, candy corn. I rarely pass out sweets in my class, but this week I made an exception and the kids loved the treat. One made a point to say thank you at the end of the day, loved that! 
Diane at Fifth in the Middle created this awesome Candy Corn Math set and I could not wait to try it out, apparently I was so excited that I requested copies the day I downloaded her set and filed them away. Being that was a month ago I forgot, and requested them again, so I am prepared to run this activity for next year and I will most definitely! I plan to post more about it soon, so for now I am just posting some pictures. 
Measuring the length of the desk with the candy corn.
How many candy corn in a foot?
Groups of 10

The kids had a lot of fun with the activities and was a perfect activity for my restless natives. 
When I say it was a hectic week, I mean hectic, which meant my desk and working area was a mess, something of a teacher horror show. Many days of my kids going bonkers, the witching hour has set in, and I need to get out of my windowless dungeon meant leaving before things looked perfect. Time for a "let's get real" picture.
Papers needing to be sorting and removed from my working area. 
Piles of papers to put away.
Centers waiting to be finished
I am so thankful for Teachers Pay Teachers. Not only do I now have a few dollars stashed away for our spring break trip but I also have some awesome activities by other teachers to work with my students. I used many TpT teacher created activities this week and it made for a better Halloween and a break in the monotony. 
I have a student who does not celebrate holidays so I planned to respect that and stick with only fall themed things this week. I was excited to use the Fall Language Arts Centers created by Diane at Fifth in the Middle,  but when she was out on Halloween, I added to my centers rotations with some great freebies I found on TpT. 
Wow, what a glorious day! The kids rotated with a partner (I was nice and let them select a partner - only 2 groups caused any issues) for about 8 minutes to complete several tasks. We will finish up the rotations today and Monday to help them during their post-candy consumption withdrawal period.  
Halloween Idioms matching
Idioms are still tough for my kids to comprehend, so I loved the Halloween idioms set by SLP Madness, where they matched the idiom to its meaning. This activity produced many giggles. 
Sort Similes and Metaphors - created the mat with a cute graphic from Graphics from the Pond. 
Halloween similes and metaphors by teaching with a Mountain View. were also a hit and the discussion amongst the partners were fantastic as they debated the difference. 
Here are some pictures from the awesome ELA Centers set created by Diane at Fifth in the Middle. 
Antonyms and Synonyms
Making words with "October"
Sentence Shuffle
So we made it through the beginning part of our day with very few issues. Well, keeping them settled in the last part of the day was my next big task. Traditionally post-recess they are off-task, interrupt my lessons, chit-chat, and do not want to take notes or work. That meant, I could not plan a lesson that would be anything but engaging. Time to get out of the microscopes, and it worked magically!  

I cannot sign off though without sharing a picture of my own little goblins. 3 boys means there are no tutus. This year my oldest showed me how much they are growing up. "Mom, boys like scary, please just let me do this." 
My youngest brought a few tears to my eyes as he wore the costume that was purchased when he was born. The costumer was for his then 2 year-old brother. My  now 6 year old, was obsessed with Where the Wild Things Are and he wore that costume the year, and a few years after, his younger brother was born. This year the youngest combined a Batman mask with the Max suit as he squeezed his body in and showed me this is the last time one of my sons will wear it. Here they are as they are about to collect their loot...

Hope your week was full of mostly treats!