Sunday, October 4, 2015

Divisibility Rules, Prime Numbers, GCF, and LCM

Can you believe it is already October?  I am amazed that in just another week our first quarter of school will be over!  It seems like yesterday was Meet the Teacher.

We spent a ton of time this week reviewing divisibility rules and prime numbers.  My students have REALLY been struggling with this, and I knew I had to take a week from my normal sixth grade curriculum and do a quick review.  I started by having them put a foldable in their notebooks that gives the divisibilty for 2,3,6,9, 5 and 10.

After my students got a little more comfortable with divisibility, we took on Prime Numbers.
First in the lesson I showed my students a video of Eratosthenes.  He is teh Greek philosopher who is credited with finding that all numbers can be factored into primes.  The video focuses on Eratosthenes as a whole person.  He is also credited for finding a very accurate measure of the circumference of the Earth using a sundail.  Here is the video:

We use a hundreds board and divisibility rules to find all of the prime numbers from 2-100 and color code them on the board.  

We add the hundreds chart to our notebooks and complete a sorting activity for prime and composite numbers.  

We had to relearn GCF in order to be successful using this concept with combining like terms and the distributive property.  I teach LCM and GCF using the prime ladder method as well, so we spent the rest of our week practicing this new concept.  I think that combining like terms will be so much easier next week!  When I teach LCM and GCF I use a foldable as well.  You can read the original blog post I wrote about this lesson {HERE}  If you are interested in any of the foldables you can go {HERE}.  The lesson plan I use to teach finding the prime numbers on a hundreds chart is also included in the packet.

I would love to hear how you teach these concepts!  Please feel free to share below!

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Great Graphic Novels for the Classroom

I'm linking up with the wonderful people over at the Nerdy Book Club to blog today about amazing Graphic Novels that I have in my classroom.

One of the best items I've added to my classroom in the last few years has been graphic novels, and I'll be honest, at first I was a skeptic.  I thought that having them would make my kids grab them more over the traditional novel.  Now, get beyond the whole, "Well, they are still reading" thing.  I still want my students to read that traditional novel.  They need practice making visual cues, and they need to work on stamina and context reading long term.  But graphic novels have surely won me over.  They are an amazing way for students who struggle to feel like they fit in with your star readers.  

Rick Riordan is one of my favorite authors for sixth grade.  My students devour The Lightning Thief series, and if I can get them hooked, they usually read The Kane Chronicles as well.  


I know that my struggling readers want so badly to read these series.  I've suggested audiobooks in the past, but graphic novels are SO.. MUCH.. BETTER for them!  I use The Lightning Thief graphic novel in my classroom with students to teach reading strategies.  It often gets the point across quickly within my small groups because my struggling readers can use the picture clues to determin character traits. Analysis becomes easier for them.  Then they can transfer their information into the lengthier traditional novel.  I use the Lightning Thief when I teach about the concept of The Hero's Journey.  If you teach this as well, you can go {HERE} to Google drive and download the organizer I use.

I love that the Nerdy Book Club has decided to devote Thursdays in the month of October to graphic novels.  When I head to the library this week with my kids, I'm going to look for a few more interesting GN's to share.  If you know of any I should check out, please leave me a comment below!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Celebrating Individuality

I wanted to pop in quickly on this busy Sunday to share this amazing poster and book that my son recieved in the mail for his birthday.  My sister and brother-in-law sent him this awesome gift that shows what a unique individual he really is.

Check out the prototype (names etc. have been changed)

It was created as a custom design by Messare Clips and Design.  He received a poster and a notebook for his birthday, but I'm thinking how awesome this would be not only for a birthday or a holiday gift, but what about a gift for a student teacher?  It would be so thoughtful as an idea notebook.  Or, what about a poster in your classroom for a character you are studying?    You can go {HERE} to inquire about the Custom Design.  The graphics were amazing and high quality.  It was a perfect way to give something with flare!
Have a great weekend!!

Monday, August 31, 2015

Teacher Week: Five Fun Facts about Me!

Hi friends!  With classroom routines starting to settle into place, I wanted to try and get in a little more blogging.  I love being able to connect and learn from other teachers.  I'm linking up with the girls at BlogHoppin to this week.  Today I'm sharing Five Fun Facts About Me

#1:  I'm a New Yorker living in the sweet South.  I was born and raised in Upstate New York, and I'm currently learning a little Southern culture in my sweet home of Alabama.  I'll admit, I'm not 100% sold on all things southern.. I mean I still think my teeth will crack from all the sugar in the tea, but I will admit I do love the weather.  This time of year I miss the NY apples, and the State Fair, but I do love that it's still 90 degrees every day and I don't have to worry about finding a winter coat! The picture below is from Mardi Gras 2015.  I'll take shorts and short sleeves in February any day!

#2: Converse sneakers are a little bit of an obsession.  I have pairs of black, blue, red, brown and purple.  Gray will be my next pair.  I'm hoping I get them for my birthday.

#3:  This is my 22nd year of teaching. I've spent 16 years teaching sixth grade, and I love this age group.  They are finding their sense of humor, beginning to understand puns, but still haven't become jadded and snarky.  I mean how can you not love these faces!

#4:  I have a bit of an obsession with The Tonight Dough ice cream.  If you have read any previous posts, you may have known this already.  One night in a moment of weakness my daughter and I scoured the local Walmart and bought out all they had.  I'll be eating it for weeks!

#5:  I'm shy and quiet until you get to know me.  I love to read books and listen to all kinds of music.  My family is really into music, my husband being an Assistant Director of Bands, my daughter the principal chair tuba player in her Wind Ensemble, and my son, principal bass chair in the Mobile Youth Symphony Orchestra.  ME?   I used to play the saxophone, and the drums, but now I'm content to clap and cheer from my seat. 

Thanks for letting me share a little about me!  Have an amazing Monday!!!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Sparking Student Motivation: Back to School Activities to Keep Students Engaged

Phew!  I MADE IT through the first week of school!  WOot WOot! I had a great opening week and I am already loving the intelligence of my new sixth graders.
Today I wanted to link up with my BBB Joanne at Head Over Heels for Teaching to share a few activities that kept my students motivated on the first week of school.

In science we spent the week learning about safety and the scientific method.  As exciting  boring as that sounds, I knew I had to end the week with an activity that would keep my students thinking about science, and sharing it with their parents.  Have you heard about Saving Fred?  I first heard about this activity from some of my BBBs.  My friend Jivey has a great post about it {HERE}
One of the things I loved about this activity was that it needed very little prep. Gummy worms, plastic cup, peach ring and paper clips.  All things easily picked up in a quick shopping trip.
The premise behind this experiment is that Fred (our faithful gummy worm) has been trapped in a storm and capsized his boat (the cup).  Our job is to get Fred, into a life preserver and back in the boat using only the paper clips provided.  No hands touching the cup, or any of the materials.

What I particularly loved about using this with my sixth graders was what I had them do BEFORE they made their attempts to save Fred.  I call it a THINK TANK.  I gave them two minutes to THINK about how they would solve the problem on their own.  They could not share, touch or make eye contact with any group members.  Then I gave them 2 minutes to SHARE their ideas with their partners.. again, no touching, but the sharing had to come from NO talking.  They had to communicate their movements with gestures.  It was a great way to watch where frustration levels occurred and who would want to try and take over the group.  Next, I allowed them 2 minutes to share their ideas verbally, again with no touching the materials. Finally, I gave them 10 minutes to get Fred in his life preserver and back in the boat.

All of my groups but one was successful in that 10 minutes.  They had a blast attempting this activity!  Look at those silly happy faces!
Here a few FREE resources I found and used with this activity:
PowerPoint to set up Saving Fred {HERE}
Scientific Method worksheets for our Notebooks {HERE}

I used the PowerPoint to explain the scenario behind FRED, and the printed the worksheets 2 per page, had the students cut them out and make a booklet.  When we finished the activity we wrote a summary using sequence words and put this in our notebooks, gluing only the bottom page.  (Sorry I forgot to take a picture of that).  This helped us save space in our notebooks.

The second activity that helped keep my students motivated this week was in math.  I taught them a quick game I call Sum of the Dice.  Students get a game board that is numbered 1-9.  They need a pair of dice, and bingo chips.  Students take turns rolling the dice and covering up the sum on their board.  

For example if Student A rolled a 9, they have the option of covering the 9, 1 and 8, 2 and 7, 6 and 3, 4 and 5.  Once a number is covered, they cannot remove it. Then Student B rolls the die and covers his/her sum.   If the student rolls and the/she cannot cover any more numbers his/her turn is over.  You count up the uncovered numbers to get your score.  The person with the lowest possible score wins the game.  You can see that the boy in the picture below has all of his numbers covered except the 3.  This is his final score for the game.  He was a happy winner! ;)

This is a VERY VERY basic game for sixth grade.  But it does get them using mental math right away on the very first day of school.  It is also a great way for students to get to know their peers, AND it is easy for an older sibling to play with a younger one!  I always tell my students it is a good way to earn brownie points with their parents when they have to play with a younger sibling.  Any child that is learning or knows their number families can play this game!

Thank you so Joanne for hosting this great linky.

  I'd love to hear how you motivated your students this week!

Friday, August 14, 2015

Meet the Teacher Night in Sixth Grade

Yesterday we had Meet the Teacher Night at our School.  This was a new concept for me last year.  My students came in a few days before school started to bring in supplies, meet me, and get a feel for our classroom.  When I was teaching in a middle school our principal would do an orientation with our class for the afternoon, but we did not participate.  I wanted to share a few things that I did for Meet the Teacher in hopes that you can get an idea or two.

1)  Greet your families when they come through the door!  I stand near my door to greet families as they enter and start them off on a path around my room.  This also helps to prevent being cornered by a single family who feels they need to monopolize your time. On a table right near the door I have our sign-in list for Title One.  With our Title One list I have an email list to get parents emails, and a Remind101 sign up.  Of course, everyone needs a little something-something while they are signing all of those papers, so I had a bowl of mints with this sign:
You can grab it for FREE by going {HERE} if you need one 

I also had these "parent extras" hanging up on my dry erase board.  They are for supplies that I didn't ask for, or that we do not have enough of... extra items like ziplock bags, chlorox wipes, sharpie markers etc.  If parents are able to, they grab a hand (which I bought at the Dollar Store) and send the supply back to school with their child the following week.

2) My student desks are labeled with name tags.  After greeting my families I ask students to find their desks and then put away the supplies that they have brought.  Most of these go in their desks, but I keep a few things back.  I made signs that look like this:
These are placed around my room along with some empty milk crates.  When the night is over I put all of our extras away.

3) On my student desks I had a folder with items for students to take home with them.  These included our school calendar, permission forms for our quarterly field trip, school policies and a letter introducing myself.  Since I was new to the school last year, many of the parents don't know me.  I think it is really important for your families to see you as a person right away.  

This is really important if you are the first grade level in a middle school.  Parents and students alike are nervous about this big step. They may have heard gossip or other nonsense about teachers in the middle school not being as friendly or caring as an elementary teacher.  Prove them wrong!
My teammate and I would also post these types of pictures outside of our classroom doors when we were in the middle school.  It let the kids know a little about us, and showed our love of coffee!
4) This year I also created a Thinglink to display on my smartboard. Thinglink is an site that allows you to take a picture and make it interactive.  I read about my friend Sabra creating a Thinglink, and knew I have to give it a try.  

5) Lastly, I wanted my students to go home with a little something.  I used my Back to School Goody Pack to create labels for water bottles and microwave popcorn.  This way they could have a fun snack as they think about the great year they'll have in sixth grade!

What are some activities that you use to start your year?  I would love to hear about it.  Have a great day~ the weekend is almost here!

Monday, August 10, 2015

Finally, It's Monday and I Made it!

Happy Monday friends!  I'm linking up with Tara at Fourth Grade Frolics to show off some of the things I made for Back to School.  As many of you know, I'm totally NOT a crafty girl, but I've seen a ton of great posts this summer from crafty people, and I had to through in my two cents.

For my first Made-It, I was a guinea pig for my BBB Joanne.  She is pure inspiration, and Head Over Heels for Teaching is full of amazing ideas.  I read Joanne's post a few weeks ago about "fancifying" your name calling sticks.  You can read her post {HERE}.  She was super crafty and created colored paper to cover her craft sticks.  Joanne printed out her student's names and is using them when she has to call on students in class.  We spent a few days talking about this crafty project, and I volunteered to be her guinea pig for reading and following directions.  Here is my project:
I didn't print names on mine because I'm going to use them as a chore chart.  

Basically you print out the sticks that are already sized for the jumbo craft sticks. and use your paper cutter and scissors to cut them out.  Then you modge podge them to keep the paper on the sticks.  Super easy, even for the non-crafty type like me!
Instead of printing student names on mine, I glued names and numbers to the tops so I can put them into library pockets for jobs.  I haven't quite got that set up yet.. so I'll blog with pictures when I do.

You can go to Joanne's TpT store {HERE} She is posting these bad boys early this week!

My second Monday Made-It project was inspired by the first.  I found super jumbo craft sticks at Hobby Lobby,  AND sparkly duct tape.  I covered the sticks with duct tape and again, used my class numbers on the end.  I am going to put these as book holders in my library.
My library is currently a COMPLETE MESS because I have no book shelves.  I was granted a Donor's Choose project for two books cases, and I'm currently waiting for them to come in.
Next I put together the goodies for my Meet the Teacher night.  I always like to have a little something when my students come in to meet me and drop off their supplies.  First I made signs so they would know where to put everything.

I also created a sign asking parents for a few extras.  Things like Ziploc bags, and extra paper.  I ask my parents to "Lend a Helping Hand" and take a hand if they can send something extra in.

Then I used my Back To School Goody Pack and printed labels for water and popcorn.  I'm going to put these on my student's desks.  It will be a great snack for them later at night.

Thanks for sticking by me through this LOONG post.  It's not often that I'm crafty. Thanks also to Tara for hosting! Make it a great week friends!

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