Archives for August 2013

9 interactive tech tools that can help your child in the classroom

Thought this might be helpful… :)

signature

Teaching Math with Movement

Our year is off to a great start!  Even though I feel a bit rusty with my math teaching skills, my students are (so far) really interested in learning and I’m seeing progress already.

We began this year with place value.  Our 4th graders are expected to read, write, and understand numbers through 999,999,999.  In 3rd grade, they are only expected to go up to 999,999.  For many students, the transition to millions is very simple, but for others, it’s a nightmare!  Seeing that many numbers all squished together makes them cringe.

I’m lucky enough to have in-class support from one of the best Special Education teachers I know.  Today she gave me an idea about using some simple movements to make this place value concept more concrete.  Boy, am I thankful, too!  This one, simple little trick made a WORLD of difference in the understanding today.  Curious yet?  Good.  I’ll let you in on this little “secret.”

Total Physical Response.  This is a term that has been thrown around quite a bit, but I just seem to forget about it at times.  TPR is basically putting movement to words to make certain concepts more concrete for kids.  When we talked about place value, we discussed how each set of numbers (hundreds, thousands, millions…) is read in groups of 3.  I told the kids that if they can read a simple 3-digit number, that they should be able to read any number, as long as they remember the “family” where each group of digits belongs.  When we see a comma in a set of numbers, it represents a family (hundreds, thousands, etc.).  When we see the comma, we make a large gesture with our hands like a comma in the air while saying the family name.  Then when we get to the last set (hundreds), we make a signal like “safe” in baseball so that the students know not to actually say that family name.

Here is an example for 789,646,210:

789 (big comma gesture while saying, “Million”), 646 (big comma gesture while saying, “Thousand”), 210 (“safe” gesture).

After doing this, 100% of my students actually understand how to read those numbers.  No longer are they saying those wacky numbers.  It’s amazing what a small gesture like this can do for struggling learners (and those that think they already know it all!).  Try it–you WILL see a difference!!  😉

Is there something that you do to make your students understand this concept even better?  If so, I would LOVE to hear your suggestions!

I’m hoping to be able to post more freebies over the weekend, as well as more pictures of great things that are happening in my classroom.  Stay tuned for more!

signature

First Day of School 2013

Whew! It’s over! And everyone for home to the right place. That is enough to call it success, right?

I’m extremely tired and ready for bed, but I thought I would drop in to say that the first day back with kids was really good. I only had to move one student from his original seat (I let them choose the first day–I’m crazy, I know) due to excessive talking. Both of my classes almost got finished with our Social Contracts. All that is left is signing our names and adding borders to make it final.

Most importantly, these students were very respectful and listened as I stated my goals for us this year. I told them that I don’t expect them to LOVE various subjects, but I want them to have the confidence and willpower to try new things and all challenges I put forth.

I told them that it is ok to not know, but it is not ok to not try. I also made it a point to explain that it is ok to make mistakes–EVERYONE makes mistakes (“…except Jesus!”–from a few kids), but it’s what we learn from our mistakes that makes us stronger.

Hopefully they take the message to heart because I meant every word of it.

As I said yesterday, this is going to be a great year! I have lots of sweet kiddos, and I’m looking forward to learning and growing with them.

That’s all for now. Going to bed. Need to be ready for another day tomorrow. Until next time…

signature

Kids Tomorrow!

Eek! The kids come back to school tomorrow! Summer is officially over. *sigh*

This will be a great year. Tomorrow marks my sixth seventh first day back! I can’t believe it. Wow, how time flies when you’re having fun!! 😉

My goals for this year:
1. Be organized every day! Take the time to clean up, put away, and sort things in an organized way.
2. Remain patient. I usually do a great job at this, but there’s always room for improvement.
3. Stay positive. I get in ruts sometimes where it feels like the world is caving in. You know, after the kids bomb that test you just knew they would ace or administrators tell you that you aren’t working miracles need to do more. It’s hard not to hang my head, but it always works out in the end.
4. Listen more. I like to talk. I come by it honestly. (Sorry, Mom, but it’s true!) I want to make an effort to shut up and listen to others.
5. Enjoy it. I haven’t had trouble with this–well, other than having to leave my newborn to go back to work–but I want to continue to enjoy my job, have fun with my students, and soak up their innocence and love for life. I don’t want to become one of those sour old teachers who despise every second on the job. (You have one of those in your head right now, don’t you?! We all know at least one!)

Tomorrow I put these goals into action and begin a new journey with new kids. And it will be great. :)

signature

2013 Classroom Reveal: Inside My 4th Grade Classroom!

I finally did it.  I cleaned up my room and snapped some quick pics before I left.  Warning: I make all of my anchor charts and rules and wall decor with my students, so the walls are very bare.  I’ve covered my bulletin boards, but there isn’t anything else on the walls.  You at least get the idea of what my “home away from home” looks like.  :)

Here goes:

photo 1(8)This is a picture of the wall/bulletin board/shelf behind my desk.  I put pictures of my family at the top on the shelf, along with some keepsakes from past years.  I also put up all of my class pictures on the side of the bulletin board.  I have my own references and books on the shelves, and I figured you didn’t care about that stuff, so I cut it out of the pic.

photo 4(5)This is my whiteboard easel that holds the Writing Binders that my students will use to publish their writing, along with posters and chart paper.

photo 4(6)These are my classroom computers and my ELMO (document camera).  I have a Promethean board in my classroom and my projector is mounted in the ceiling.  You can see that from the whole classroom view.

photo 2(9)My mom made me some awesome curtains this year!  I love them very much!!  I used to have boring green ones, but luckily she was willing to help me give my room the facelift it needed.  This window is right by the door and looks out into the hallway.

photo 1(9)This is the sign-in area set up for Back to School Night and for parents to fill out on the first day of school (for those that missed B2SN).  I found that cute little whiteboard/chalkboard at Hobby Lobby for $5.99.  I just HAD to have it!!  :)

photo 3(8)At the front of the room, underneath the Promethean board, I have just enough room to have a small shelf to hold materials that the students will be using on a regular basis.  I’m teaching math and writing this year, so it is a mixture of both.

photo 1(10)These are the table cubbies that I bought at Dollar Tree for $1.  Some of my students have already claimed their desks, so pardon the papers and names on them!

photo 4(7)Here is a closer look at my desk/teaching table.  I don’t have a “real” desk because all I do is junk it up!  😉  Instead, I just have a small table for my computer, a bucket of supplies underneath, and a small rolling cart with drawers to complete it.photo 1(12)A view from my teacher space.

photo 3(12)And last but not least, a look into my classroom from the door.

I’m super tired from my first week back.  The students come on MONDAY!  Where has the summer gone?  I’m signing off to enjoy my weekend.  If you are already back at school, hopefully all is going smoothly.  For those of you receiving students on Monday like me, good luck!  And for those of you who start even later, I’m only a little jealous…  :)

Done for today!!

signature

Technology For Teachers

At our training today, we were given quite a few apps and websites that I’m going to try out this year. Hearing about so many in such a short amount of time was a little overwhelming, but I’m going to take it one step at a time and really get comfortable and knowledgeable about one or two at a time before moving in to the next one.

Here is a list of some of 5 of my favorites:

1. Teachnology – A website full of critical thinking activities and printable pages for students.

2. Storybirds – Short, visual stories that you make with family and friends to read, share, and print.

3. ZooBurst – A digital storytelling tool that lets anyone easily create his or her own 3D pop-up books.

4. Pics4Learning – A website with thousands of copyright-friendly photos to use in your lessons.

5. Moglue – Interactive eBooks for iOS and Android.

Hopefully you can use some of these in your classroom, too. I love incorporating technology whenever I can. I’m always looking for new websites and apps that will increase student engagement and performance.

What is your favorite new website? Please share!!

signature