Sunday, December 2, 2012

It's Gingerbread Time! {Fabulous Follower Freebie}

We are beginning our gingerbread unit this week, and I am so excited!  This is one of my favorite units to teach.  I will have more gingerbread goodies to post later in the week!  

I want to thank everyone who supported my Teachers Pay Teachers store during the Cyber Monday + Tuesday Sale!  I purchased some fabulous products that I will share in a later post!  

For all of my fabulous followers of my little blog and my Teachers Pay Teachers store, I have a sweet little freebie to say thanks!  We will be using it during our gingerbread unit.  Click on any of the pictures below to download.

Thanks to Pink Cat Studio for the adorable gingerbread clip art!

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Monday, November 26, 2012

Cyber Monday (and Tuesday) on Teachers Pay Teachers

Cyber Monday is here! Everything in my Teachers Pay Teachers store will be 20% off and if you use the promo code: CMT12 you can get a whopping 28% off!

Happy Shopping!

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Friday, November 2, 2012

Beginning Sounds Baby!

I just realized that I had posted some beginning sound activities on Teachers Pay Teachers and never posted about them!  We are hitting beginning sounds hard!  Not all of my little lovelies know all of their letters yet, but they are getting there.  We have been using our Itty Bitty Beginning Sound Books as we have learned the letters during our literacy workstations.

We have also been using activities from my Beginning Sounds Bundle during literacy workstations and in small groups.

As with everything I post on TPT, I have to give a few away.  If you would like a copy of Itty Bitty Beginning Sound Books and Beginning Sounds Bundle, enter below.  I will pick two winners on Monday morning!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Saturday Snapshot...Apples, Pumpkins and Fall

A Peek at Quite a Few Weeks...

We began by reading Apple Farmer Annie.

Each day we were studying apples, we tasted an apple food and graphed our results.  We tasted red, green, and yellow apples and graphed our favorite.

For the remainder of apple tasting, students showed their response with a thumbs up or down.  

If you would like to download printable thumbs, you can grab them by clicking on the pic.

We also added an apple poem in our Poetry Journal, circled the letter A, and added a cute torn paper apple.  

The poem and torn apple came from Mrs. Meacham's site.  You can find it here.

We also made individual "apple pies."  I have tried mamy different ways to make apple pies in the classroom, but this is by far my favorite!  I saw the idea online a year or two ago, but I can't remember where.  If you know whose fabulous idea this was, let me know so I can give them credit!

Begin by peeling and coring the apples.

Next, give each student 1/4 of a pie crust.  They make a small pile of apple pieces in the center of their pie crust.

Sprinkle a small spoonful of sugar over the apples and top with a dusting of cinnamon.

Pull up the edges of the pie crust to the center and pinch closed.  Place on parchment paper on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for about 20 minutes or until browned. Cool and enjoy!

While one group was peeling their apples and making their individual apple pies, the rest of the kids were rotating through apple investigation stations.  We used Mrs. Lee's Apple Investigation Sheet.  

We did lots of activities with pumpkins, most of which I didn't get pictures of.  We made our annual trek to the pumpkin farm and did our pumpkin investigations with our pumpkins when we returned. You can find an investigation sheet that we have used the last few years here.

Growing pumpkins in a pumpkin has been my absolutely favorite pumpkin activity EVER!  The idea came from Growing in Pre-K.  It has been absolutely amazing to watch.  Here are a few photos of our experiment in action!
Our first signs of growth, about a week after adding the soil.
About 2-1/2 weeks after adding the soil.
3-1/2 weeks later!
The kids are having a blast watching it grow and recording their observations in their science notebook.  I am even more amazed that it's doing so well in the florescent lighting.  I don't have any windows, and we aren't very good about remembering to put it outside for some natural light on the warmer days.  I'm hoping that we can keep it going indoors throughout the winter months and then plant it outside in the spring!  I'll let you know how it goes!

One last little fall project to share...

Inspired by this pin
Fingerprint Tree; free template...

It was designed to be a fingerprint tree for wedding guests, but with a bit of twist, it was a perfectly simple fall project.  I printed the tree and then instead of fingerprints, we dipped the eraser end of a pencil in tempra paint and dotted our fall trees.  I love how they turned out!

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Friday, October 5, 2012

Thinking Technologically...Wordle

After school, I am running a Tech Club for 3rd-5th graders at my school, along with our fabulous library technology educator.  We meet once a week for an hour.  At our first meeting, I wanted to assess the kids basic tech skills and have an easy project that they could complete in the first session.  Our focus in tech club is to have fun, while secretly building their tech skills.  Unbeknownst to my little techies, we may even sneak in a few Common Core Standards to support their regular classroom instruction as well :)

Believe it or not, none of the kids had ever used Wordle before! We started by typing our list in Word, and then we copied and pasted into Wordle.  After a quick tutorial, they were off and running.  The idea was for them to create a Wordle that represented people and things that were important to them.  This was an excellent way for me to get to know the kids and find out about what is important to them.  

I scanned all of their Wordles and saved them as png files.  Then I opened up a PowerPoint, inserted their Wordles, resized them, and arranged them to create a mock Wordle.
Ignore the gray blobs...just wanted to cover last names!

Did you know you can create your own graphics and images in PowerPoint that you can save as jpeg or png files?  It's super easy to do. If anyone is interested let me know and I will create a quick tutorial.

There are so many uses for word clouds in the classroom.

Here are 10 Ideas For Using Wordle into your classroom:
1.  Create All About Me Wordles.  Create one at the beginning of the year and include student names.  Create one mid-year or at the end of the year without student names.  How well do you know your students and how well do they know each other?

2.  Create a Wordle with students' anonymous compliments to one another.

3.  Create a Wordle with the text you are going to read.  Use the Wordle to preview/review high frequency words before reading the text.
Text of The Cat in the Hat

Text of Green Eggs and Ham

4.  Create Wordles to display key vocabulary for a content area or within a text.

5.  Create synonym Wordles for tired, overused words like "said" and "love."  Brainstorm as a class and then post as a reference for students.
Synonyms for said

6.  Create character trait Wordles.  You could also create Wordles that compare or contrast 2 characters within a story or from different stories by using the advanced settings to color code each character's traits.

7.  Create sight word Wordles to play I Spy.
Dolch Pre-K Wordle

8.  Create word family Wordles.  Have students sort the words into the correct word family.  This idea would also work with concept or category sorts.
Word Family Wordle

9. Create root word Wordles to study and reinforce the meaning of the root.

10. Use Wordle as an alternative way to display data or survey results.
Results of class graph

Results of a class survey

If you're not using Wordle, I hope you try it out.  If you're already using wordle, maybe this will give you a new idea to try out in your classroom.  I would love to hear how you are using Wordle or other word cloud tools in your classroom!

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Sunday, September 30, 2012

Sunday Funnies!

A few of the appropriate things that made me laugh this week...

Math problems? Call 1-800-[(10x)(13i)^2]-[sin(xy)/2.362x]

Pinned Image

Have you ever noticed, in traffic, anybody going slower than you is an idiot, 
and anyone going faster than you is a maniac! 
-George Carlin

Please tell me you have this problem too...
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Thanks to technology rocks. seriously. for a long, hard, desperately needed laugh!

Here's to a week with a few good funnies! Pin It

Saturday, September 29, 2012

Introducing...Thinking Technologically

One of my new roles this year is to help facilitate personalized learning networks in our building.  At this point my role consists largely of supporting teachers in my building as they integrate technology into their classrooms.   I am excited about this new role, and I am also excited to be able to share here too!  I am planning on making this a regular, weekly post on Thursdays, but I am impatient, and I couldn't wait until Thursday:)

Before school started, I shared Socrative, one of my new favorite Web 2.0 tools, with our staff.  
Socrative is so easy to use, and best of all it's FREE! Here are just some of the perks:
  • Socrative can be used on any device with an internet connection - laptops, netbooks, tablets and smartphones - There are even free apps available for Android and iDevices for both teacher and student versions of Socrative!
  • Students do not need another login and password, they only need to know your "room number"
  • Offers options for multiple choice, true/false, or open-ended questions
  • You can monitor student progress in real time
  • Upon completion of the quiz you are emailed results in an excel file - excellent for data tracking or to save time grading
  • Quizzes can be shared - meaning your whole team can benefit from the quizzes created in Socrative
  • Socrative can be used with an entire class or small groups
Possible uses in your classroom:
  • Quick exit ticket
  • Review
  • Traditional quizzes or tests
  • Reading Response
  • Listening Center Response
During our training, I had our certified staff take a Tech Survey, so they could experience Socrative as a student and then I showed them some of the features in teacher-mode.  I have the Socrative Teacher app installed on my Android phone and I administered the quizzes from my phone, but you can also administer the quizzes on your phone through a browser window also.

Here are a few screen shots to show you just how easy it is! Well, actually it's quite a few, but I hope that seeing it will encourage you to give it a try and share it with others!

1. Go to and click the Sign Up button.

2. Enter your email, a password and click Create Account.

3. Enter some easy, peasy info.

4. You will be taken to the main screen. In the upper right-hand corner you will find your room number.  Here's the really exciting part...this 5 digit number is all they need to access the quizzes or exit tickets!

5. To begin creating a quiz, click Create a Quiz.

6. Give your quiz a name, and check the enable sharing box if you want to share this quiz with others.  Then select the type of question you would like to add to your quiz. You can have multiple types of questions within the same quiz.  You will make this selection for each question you add to your quiz.

7. Below is a screenshot of what it looks like when you enter questions into your quiz.  Simply type your question. Now you will begin entering the possible answers and checking the box next to the correct answer.  You can have up 5 possible answers.  You can also enter an explanation that students will receive as feedback after they answer each question.  Below are sample screens from our staff survey, so explanations were not necessary, but this is a powerful tool to provide instant feedback for your students!
Continue adding questions by choosing either Multiple Choice or Short Answer for each new question.  After you have finished, click Save. 

You can always to back into your quiz and edit it at any time.  To edit your quiz you simply click Manage Quizzes on the Main Screen.  Then choose the quiz you want to edit from the drop down list and click Edit Quiz. Question 1 will automatically be inserted at the top:  "Please enter your last name, first name".  You can leave this question if you want to record and grade specific student responses.  If you want it to be anonymous, as I did for my staff survey, simply delete this question.  Sometimes anonymity provides some wonderful results!

Now that you have created your quiz, let's look at how to administer it.  I am going to show you what you see as a teacher and what your students will see.

1. From your Main Screen, click Start Quiz.

2. Select the quiz you want to give from the drop down menu.  At the bottom, under advanced options, you have the option to disable right or wrong feedback (lets students know immediately after answering a question if they got that one right or wrong), hide the explanations and randomize the question order (if you're afraid they may be peeking at each others screens).  After you have made you selections, choose either student paced or teacher paced, and click it.

3. Students will open up a browser window, go to and click the Student Log In button.

4. This is where they will enter your room number, and click Join Room.  This is the only information they need to enter to get to the quiz.

5. This is the screen your students will see until you start the quiz.  Nowhere to go, nothing to do until you actually start the quiz.

6. Here are several stacked screens that show what it looks like for the student when they are taking a quiz. First they enter their name and click submit.  For multiple choice, they simple click on their answer, and they type their response for the short answer questions.  When they are finished, they can click Finish Quiz.

Here's where another amazing feature comes in...
If you don't have a class set of devices (who does all the time unless you're in a 1:1 environment), your students can take the quiz in small groups.  You simply start the quiz, and when a student finishes they click Let another student take the quiz.  This records their responses and resets the quiz for the next student to use the computer.  This one little feature provides so many options: response to literature, listening center response, exit ticket from a small group reading or math lesson.

7. Meanwhile, while your students are taking the quiz, you can monitor their progress on your teacher device.  You can see how many students have logged into your room, and how many have completed the quiz.  Once everyone is done taking the quiz, click End Activity.

8. You will be prompted to select how you would like to receive your report: emailed to the address on your account, download it, or no report at all.  Your results come in a lovely little Excel file titled with the quiz name and date given.  Each of the questions appears in a column, and student names are recorded in rows. You have an instant grade and you are able to see the exact answers students chose.  This makes it so easy quickly see misconceptions across the class, or areas that need further instruction.

I want to show you one last feature that is particularly fun and engaging for primary can run a quiz as a Space Race!  For a space race you create a multiple choice quiz, and instead of clicking Start Quiz, you click Space Race.  Students enter the room the same way as normal, except they choose a team color.  Students then race against one another to complete the quiz.
Below are some screen shots of what this looks like.  The first one shows a student on the yellow team, the second shows a student on the red team, and the last one shows the teacher device.

How much more fun would it be to practice Doubles Addition by racing against fellow students.  For our staff training, I had the primary teachers on one team and the intermediate teachers on the other, and I displayed my teacher screen on the projector so we could all watch the race unfold.  In case you were wondering, the primary teachers won :)

I hope that you try Socrative and share it with other teachers in your school.  There are so many applications, depending on your grade level.  One of our 5th grade teachers used it with his kids to do an interest survey at the beginning of the year.  He said it was some of the best information he has ever received with an interest survey because the students were so engaged with Socrative.  He has continued to use it in his classroom regularly, and the students are loving it as much as they did the first week of school!
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