Saturday, April 12, 2014

Five For Friday/Saturday

I did start this post last night, but my hubby came home with The Book Thief on DVD so I saved it and stopped for the night. (BTW... have you seen it?! It was awesome!)
This was a great week! I'm linking up with Kacey at Doodle Bugs Teaching again for her Five For Friday Linky!
I took the class to the fire hall across the street from our school this week. The fire safety program is reserved for even-numbered grades, so it is the first time I've participated! I always taught grade 5, so having a 2/3 was my ticket in. The kiddos loved every minute, and we even got to climb aboard the brand-new fire truck!
Who is having the most fun?!
I shared the math site Prodigy with my class this week. If you missed it, I blogged about this amazing FREE online game HERE. The kids are already talking about our next computer block next week!

We've been recognizing Autism Awareness Month at our school. We "Lit It Up Blue" last Wednesday for World Autism Day, and over the past week have created a school mural in one of our main foyers. Each of the students in the entire building received a puzzle piece (symbol for autism) and the decorated pieces became the leaves for our autism tree!
This Tuesday is our long-awaited District Review... duh, duh, duh! (Click for the real sound effect!) It is also my day with no planning time. And it is a full moon. AND a full lunar eclipse - that should really bring the crazies out! Enough said.
I am VERY excited to finally have my "Good Readers" Mini Books BUNDLE completed! It is 25% off at my Teachers Notebook store this weekend! Click below to check it out!

Tuesday, April 8, 2014

Do You Teach A Prodigy?

Nah... me, neither, but just this week I've started using it in my classroom!! Prodigy is an online math game for grades 1-6, and the best part.... it is FREE! (Actually, for me the best part is that it is linked to the Ontario curriculum!! It is linked to Common Core as well, but that's not meaningful for this teacher!)

Prodigy believes in equal access for all, so their product is free FOREVER! (This makes me happier still!!) The game is in the style of that other video game that the students love to play... the one with wizards and duels and powering up and all those other kid-things I don't understand, so my kiddos LOVED it!!

The classroom set-up is extremely easy:
They begin by creating their own personal wizard avatar:
They are then sent into a magical fantasy world and asked to help with a quest. (I am especially impressed that all the text is read to the kids. Even my nearly-non-readers were able to participate without my help!)
The game shows the students clearly what they are to do next. Did you notice the yellow box around the "Next" button? That pulses to show the student where to go or what to do.
Students travel through this magical world completing a variety of activities. They can visit locations, play with their pets, interact in a controlled way with other anonymous players, and engage in challenge duels to earn XP points and levels. The students win these challenges by answering math questions!

Prodigy gives teachers the option of setting the grade level for the students, or having the program diagnostically set them in the level most appropriate for them based on their results.
I left mine open, but I may play around with these as I look at the results. (BTW... did you notice the spot where you can assign a level based on the Ontario EQAO assessments??)

Speaking of results... they can be filtered by topic,
or by strand.
These results for one of my Grade 2 students don't impress me, but I think they were so excited about the game that they didn't realize they were working on math. Next week when we play again, I'll let them know that I'm tracking their results.

What are you waiting for? Invite Prodigy into YOUR classroom! :)

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Technology-Rich Classrooms - with a FREEBIE (or two!!)

It is no secret that our students spend a ridiculous amount of time in front of one screen or another. Video games, television, computer... it has become harder and harder to grab their attention in the classroom. For this reason, I have worked hard at integrating technology into my classroom.

I have been lucky to have a SMART Board for the past three years, and I use it in a multitude of ways:
For daily attendance.
To keep track of our achievements.
Interactive math lessons in last year's 5th grade classroom.
Daily calendar & math activities in this year's 2/3.
Brain Breaks and DPA
And the occasional rainy-day movie! ;)
I wouldn't be at home without my SMART Board, and I'm sharing a tip for making your SMART lessons interactive in a new (and FREE!!!) Tech Tips For Teachers Ebook at Teachers Pay Teachers! (Just don't run away yet... there's more!)
Compiled by Laurah J at Tools for Teachers, this book is packed with ideas from 47 tech-savvy teacher-authors!

In addition to the great tip I've shared in the Ebook, I recently heard about a great app for the iPad... be sure to read about it by clicking the image here (but keep going!):
Finally, to thank you for making it this far, I'd love to give you the chance to win your choice of my new "Good Readers" Mini Books Products!!
All you need to do is:
  1. Click the image to visit my store.
  2. Find out what the sample book is for the product you'd like.
  3. Return and leave a comment below with the answer to your choice! Easy peasy! Don't forget to also leave your e-mail address!
I will choose a winner later this week!

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Inclined Planes and Dancing Shoes

Today I'm tipping my hat to a couple of teachers for sharing some great resources.

First up is Erin at Once Upon a Classroom. She's a fellow Canadian! We've never met in person, but have connected on Facebook, and she's become my best product proof reader! :)

Earlier this week I used her new Simple Machines Interactive Reader with my grade 2s while my 3s were gone swimming with another third-grade class.
The kids absolutely LOVED it!! Just look at the focus in these photos!

I'm hoping that Erin completes Interactive Readers for ALL the science topics I have to teach! Hint, hint...! ;) Love them, Erin!

If you haven't already checked out her blog, you must. Check it out here:

The next great find this week comes from Christi at Ms. Fultz's Corner. She blogged a few days ago about a website that I'd never heard of before - GoNoodle. It is a great site full of fun Brain Breaks. The kids choose a Classroom Champ who joins them in their journey and grows with the minutes of activity completed. I used it today with my class, and they are completely hooked. We started with a stretching activity with Maximo:
It was hilarious! (He's got a little Antonio Banderas going on... quite the accent.) "I am tingling with excitement to be with you here today...!" Awesome! Take a look at the kiddos getting into this one...

After our stretching we did a little Zumba.

I wish I could show you the video I took... I can't tell you how many times they asked for another Brain Break!! Methinks I have some negotiating power.... :) Hoping to use this once a day to keep them motivated, but I'll certainly pull it out a second time if needed!

Go check out GoNoodle for yourself. What a great find!

Before you go...  you've got a couple of hours left to enter to win two of my newest "Good Readers" products! Follow THIS LINK to get in on the fun!! :)

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Daily 5 Checking In

Those of you who have been with me for a while know that this is my first year as a primary teacher. There are tons of things I'm still figuring out, but every day feels a little better!

I've been using a Daily 5 organization during my literacy block, but I've struggled all year to find a good way to manage checking in.

Take One: Early in the year, when my students were first choosing their centers, I was having them put their two choice cards next to their name in a pocket chart. (We are fitting in two rounds on a regular day, and sometimes get in a third.) I soon came to realize that there were a handful of students who were not getting to one part over the course of the week, or visiting the same activity over and over. Scrap that system.

TakeTwo : Next, I tried continuing to give them choice, but I tracked them on a paper in my CAFE binder. That became far too time-consuming and annoying. Scrap that one, too!

Take Three: My third attempt was to take away the daily choice (which I hated, because choice really is powerful), create a regular schedule, and rotate groups of students. It worked for a while, but this made it difficult to have flexibility in my groups. Guess that one is out...

So... you know what they say... Fourth time is the charm?! I was inspired by a Blurt Chart I made for a group of fifth graders a couple of years ago to come up with this:
It consists of little Daily 5 tags printed onto heavy paper, laminated, and attached to small self-adhesive Velcro circles.

Student names will be written in the blank spaces next to each group. As the week progresses, each time the students choose a Daily 5 activity, they will remove the corresponding symbol from the chart next to their name.
When they've visited all five activities they'll start placing the tags back on to indicate their choice. I think it is going to work beautifully and I can't wait to use it!

If you'd like to try it out in your own classroom, you can grab the symbols at my Facebook page under the Fan Freebies tab! While you're there, there is still time to enter to win my newest "Good Readers" Giveaway!! Click the Giveaway tab!