Sunday, January 25, 2015

Celebrating Chinese New Year with Word Work Activities

I just wanted to post a quick line to let you know I updated my Chinese New Year ELA pack to represent 2015 and The Year of the Sheep.  I won't be doing a ton of activities with Chinese New Year this year because it falls right around Mardi Gras and well.. living in the mecca of Mardi Gras I need to put in some serious time celebrating a new culture.  BUT I don't want to forget about teaching my students a little about Chinese traditions so I'm going to use my ELA pack as my Word Work review in Febrauary.

Included in my ELA is a Cloze Reading activity for students to practice fluency.  I also have the passage set up as a Close Reading Activity with comprehension activity.  There are several sets of Word Work Task Cards that include practice with Homophones, Pronouns, Sentence Combining, and Synonym vocabulary.  These will be a good way to get in a little extra practice

If you are looking for a way to get in a little word work practice and teach your students about Chinese New Year, my pack may be the asnwer for you.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Using Interactive Games for Whole and Small Group Fraction Work

The main focus of our Fraction unit is to teach students how to interpret and compute quotients of fractions and solve word problems involving the division of word problems {isn't that a MOUTHFUL!} These Smarties have to understand how to read and draw models that represent their work.  In order to be successful at drawing division models, students need to be successful at understanding equivalent fractions.  Recently, I wrote a post about creating your own fraction bar kits and using them to find equivalent fractions.  You can go {HERE} and check it out.  This type of work is really important in getting your students to understand the need for finding equal fractions and common denominators.  In order to maintain the solid grasp of these concepts as we moved into model division drawing, we play Fraction Pop Ups.  I had a few emails asking me to share a little more about this interactive game, so I've written this post.  Hopefully, it will help you out!

First I play this game as an entire class.  I project one set of cards onto my smart board, and students use dry erase boards and markers to work the problem, talking in pairs as they go.

I love the organization that my students have.  I think it is really important to play interactive center games with students first before setting them free in groups.  They get an audio version of the directions, I can clarify any misconceptions, and they have a chance to see what my expectations are for the game.  As we play the game together, I always point out when I see a student who has organized their work in a meaningful way.  It helps my students who seem to always have organization issues get an idea of how to manage their white boards.

Fraction Pop Ups helps students reduce fractions to lowest terms, so it reviews GCF, and then students must solve several addition and subtraction problems using a common denominator.  This helps me out when I ask them to create equivalent fractions in model drawing.

Once we have played the game together as a class, I set it up as a center during my small group time.  Finally, I have students complete a pencil and paper set as a formative assessment.  You could also use this as a bulletin board display, or as another center.
This game can also be played in teams.  Sometimes I break students into groups and line them up with their white boards.  The first person starts and must answer the first question, then he/she passes their answer to person 2 who must use the answer to finish their question, and so on.  The team that finishes first with all the correct answers is the winner.

Interactive Games always provide lots of options for play.  They keep students moving, and more importantly TALKING to each other about MATH.  If you are interested, I have several interactive games you can check out:
Fraction Pop Ups
S'more work with Combining Like Terms
Algebra Cool Down
Hoppin Round the Hundreds Board

Saturday, January 10, 2015

My First Stitch Fix-- A Fun Way to Shop

In late November as a present to myself for an amazing month on TpT, I gifted myself with a Stitch Fix box.  I am NOT a shopper.  Seriously,  I get HIVES if I'm in the store too long.  I am very grateful that I have sisters who love to shop or I would never have any new clothes.  I've read about several bloggers who were checking out Stitch Fix, and I figured I would give it a try.  There is a $20 fee when you schedule  a fix, and if you purchase any of the items, the $20 is deducted from the cost.  Shipping and returns are at no cost to you.

I logged into Stitch Fix and set up a Style Profile.   I was really looking for casual weekend clothes.  Apparently the South doesn't wear yoga pants and hoodies on the weekend!  I'm not that big into fur, or animal prints, or leather or big flowery patterns.  But guess what!  I could tell them all of my likes and dislikes from the privacy of my own home computer.  I'm pretty nonconfrontational.  Sometimes my sisters buy me things that I never wear because I can't tell them I don't like them. <EEK> #introvert.  But on the computer profile I could be honest because I could TYPE and not TALK about my likes.
After spending about a half hour filling out the profile, which seemed like a long time for me, but again, not a clothes person, #agonizesovereverythingIwear, I was set up and ready to roll.  My Fix arrived in early December, and well friends, this may just be the shopping for me!
Here is a look at what I got in my fix:
#1:  Colby Houndstooth Print Infinity Scarf (Look By M)

I LOVED THIS!!  But alas, I didn't purchase it.  NOT because I didn't LOVE it, but because, well, in Alabama I won't wear a scarf that is so thick.  If I was still living in NY, this would have been a keeper.
#2:  Ivy Abstract Floral Print Blouse (41Hawthorn)

I LOVED this blouse.  It was navy with orange flowers, two of my favorite colors.  This is a perfect work shirt.  Definitely a keeper.
#3: Sherwood Faux Leather Detailed Cardigan (41Hawthorn)

Ummmm... Faux Leather?  Not for me.  I didn't even take a picture of myself wearing it.   This cardigan was open and flowy in the front, but if felt really big on me, and well, I like things more structured. Outcome-- Return
#4 Ferris Mixed Material Collared Blouse (Skies Are Blue)

This was my favorite shirt in the box.  The simple black style and open collar were a perfect style for me.  My kids liked this shirt the best too.  I can see myself wearing this to both school and on the weekends when these lovely Southern women I'm becoming friends with make me get out of my yoga pants and hoodie. ;)
#5:  Reggie Skinny Jean (Henry & Belle)

These jeans were pretty good.  I'm wearing them in the picture above.  I liked the way they looked on my legs, but I thought they were too low rise.  I'm not usually a skinny jeans girl, more of a bootcut, but I asked to try a few different styles since I'm on the hunt for that really great pair of jeans.

My overall thoughts?  I think Stitch Fix is pretty cool.  Especially if you are introvert like me about shopping.  All the work was done for me!  This being my first fix I think it's pretty great I picked 2 of the 5 pieces, and the scarf, well that would have been the third one if I didn't live in the hot weather.
I can't wait to get my next Fix which is scheduled for the end of the month.  I think I love shopping from the comfort of my home!

Have you ever gotten a Stitch Fix box?  Are you interested in checking it out?  You can go {HERE} and sign up through my affiliate link if you are interested in checking this out.

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Using Manipulatives for Fractions, Equivalents, and Error Analysis

Lately we have been working on Fractions, Fractions, and more Fractions!  I found this year I needed to start with manipulatives.  We needed to be able to touch and move pieces to see how fractions with different denominators were equal.  I started by having my Smarties create their own fraction kits.

I used different colors of construction paper and worked with my groups on making the kits.  I wanted to spend time reinforcing the equivalent pieces, and thought this was best in small group.  Could I have used the standard fraction kit that is found in many of the math manipulative boxes?  Sure!  But I wanted each student to create a set to keep in their Interactive Math Notebook.  I knew I would be using them for more than one lesson, plus the power of making and discussing the fraction bars was something I needed my group to hone in on.   Once everyone had their kit created I hung anchor charts around my room and gave my students 5 minutes at each chart to create as many equivalent fractions as they could without duplicating.  They took their kits with them so they could use the manipulatives to make the fractions.  Kind of like a big kid rotate the room.

It was amazing watch them manipulate the fraction bars and explain to each other how 1/4 + 1/8 + 1/16 + 1/16 could be equivalent to 1/2.  The math conversation just made me giddy. I mean hello-- finding common denominators without even realizing we were finding common denominators, and being able to model draw the process.  This teacher was in her happy teacher place!
But wait!  That wasn't even THE BEST PART!  After we finished putting as many equal fractions as possible on our anchor charts.  We went back with our groups and found the errors on the charts.   Some of the fractions were not equivalent and we used our manipulatives to prove it to our group.

We crossed out the incorrect fractions on the charts, discussed, and then wrote about why the fractions were not equivalent.  This was great practice for our spring assessments.  Students will have to do some error analysis with explanations on the assessment, and we need to kick our writing into high gear.  It was an amazing way to get started on fraction work with hands on materials.  Were they perfect?  No....Did they find all of their mistakes? No... But all the better because they charts stayed up in our room, and as they become better with fractions, they are still finding them, and talking about them, and reworking them in their fuzzy little brains!  WOOT WOOT!

When we return from break I'm going to use my Fraction Pops as a review center.  Students have to work together to find equavalent fractions and add and subtract fractions with like and unlike denominators.  Each skill is written on a piece of popcorn, once one problem is solved students use the answer to help solve the next problem.  There are 6 different sets included plus a page for a formative assessment or interactive notebook.  I'll probably use this for 2 weeks worth of group work.  which will really help with center planning.

Do you use fraction bars with your "Big Kids?"  I would love to hear your ideas.  Feel free to leave a comment below and let me know ways that you help make abstract thinking more concrete.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Positive Thinking Thursday 1.01.2015

Happy New Year!  I felt one of the best ways to start 2015 off on a positive note was with a little positive thinking, so I'm linking up with Jennifer over at Mrs. Laffin's Laughings for Positive Thinking Thursday.  I'm going to be POSITIVE, and not think about having to return to school on Monday.
Make today a great day!

Tuesday, December 30, 2014

One... Little... Word

Good morning!  I was up fairly early today pouring over a few of my favorite blogs via Bloglovin', and read about this great link up party via Primary Powers.  My friend Kim over at the Finding Joy in 6th Grade (great gal... great blog... go follow her if you aren't) was sharing how hard it is to pick just one word.  How you have to mull it over a little and think about how it will stay with you.  Last year, my one word was easy:  FAITH.  I knew there would be a lot of changes for my family in 2014.  We would be living in a new state, with new jobs, and a new home, new schools.  I needed Faith a lot in 2014 with all those life changes.  Now in 2015, I've had to think a little differently about my new word.  It's had to roll around a little in my head.  What do I want to accomplish this year?  What will settle me when stress wants to take over?  Here is what I think will stick with me this year:

I've listened to The Secret and The Power while making my morning commute to work in December.  I know that some people think it's hokey, and a pile of junk, but it came into my life at a time when I needed something to grab on to.  With the stress of holidays, EQTs for my own children, and my husband up to his ears in Marching Band- Bowl Game planning, I needed something to set my soul for the day, and these books did the trick.  I found myself waking in the morning and projecting gratitude outward into my life.  Thanking the universe for the health of my family, and the love I had for them.  Thanking the universe for the prosperity of my TpT store and the abundance of success I was having at school with my class.  And, well, it came back to me.  Here is one example:
If you read about my crazy December {HERE} you know that I took my daughter to New Orleans to play in Tuba Christmas in Jackson Square.  The rehearsal was at Loyola University.  No problem getting there, great parking spot up front, beautiful area.  I had to ask someone how to get to the French Quarter.  A mom who was there waiting for her husband and son started to give me directions, then realized they had changed some of the street names.  Because her family was already going to be heading down there, she jumped in the car WITH ME.. gave me directions to get to the French Quarter, showed me where to park, invited my family to eat lunch with her and her family, and kept track of where we needed to be in Jackson Square.  Random Act of Kindess?  You bet!  But I firmly believe it was because I projected gratitude and kindness out into the world, that when I NEEDED it, it returned to me.
Ok... I'm done.. THAT was a lot for ONE. LITTLE. WORD..
but hey, if you are at a crossroad, and need a little nudge, then maybe my story will help you!
Happy New Year!

Friday, December 26, 2014

December Review: Camellia Bowl and the Dr. Who Geek in Me

Happy Holidays!  I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas.

December has been a crazy month!  I'm guessing you can figure that out by my lack of posting.
My Smarties were busy with all kinds of fun and celebrations this year.  We start band in sixth grade, so this year was extra special with their first concert.  They wanted to perform for their peers so we did an impromptu concert in our quad.  I got to play band conductor... good thing I married one, and somewhat know what I'm doing... NOT!

We also somehow managed to get a free Sunday, AND it also happened to be Tuba Christmas in NOLA! We did a quick road trip so my "24" could play in Jackson Square.  Check out this fun video.


Of course, the day would not be complete without a trip to Cafe Du Monde for coffee and beignets.

We started our Christmas vacation with a weekend trip to the inaugural Camellia Bowl in Montgomery.  It was a rainy parade and pep rally, but it didn't stop me from scooping up these awesome Post-It Notes that they were throwing out in the parade.  Once a teacher, always a teacher.

The Camellia Bowl was a great time.  That is a nice perk to my hubby's new job.  Go Jags!
I loved this show because I am a big Dr. Who Fan.  My hubs wrote the Tardis onto the field.  It appears, disappears and then appears again.  Very Cool.

Check out their halftime Sci Fi Show opener:


Event though it was a tough loss, the game was really exciting, and I know our  Jags will be pumped for next year.

 I'm looking forward to spending a little time with friends and family over the next few weeks off.  I've got to catch up some blog reading, and blogging in general.

How do plan to spend your vacation?

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