Sunday, December 30, 2012

Wrapping up Christmas

Before Christmas gets too far behind us, I wanted to share a few of the holiday happenings in my classroom.  

 First, we made these adorable ornaments!  You may recognize them from Pinterest!  They turned out so cute!  The reindeer's head is the child's thumbprint.  The eyes and antlers are drawn with Sharpie.  The nose is a tiny drop of red glitter glue.  On the reverse side, each child wrote the name very neatly and the year, 2012.  The did a super job!  

In my Dec. 7th post (Meet Jingles), I introduced you to our classroom elf.  I just have to share the rest of Jingles's visits with you.  And while I'm at it, I'm linking up with Mel D. at Seusstastic Classroom Inspirations.  Here we go!

First, Jingles drew on my family pictures with (gasp!) Sharpie! The kiddos were genuinely sad that my pictures were ruined.  I told them that I was sure Jingles had a magical way of removing the Sharpie!

 Next, Jingles set up a Holiday Kisses Booth (I found this free printable at Living Locurto).  The kiddos were really begging me for the kisses (we are not allowed to give out candy).  I told them we would work it out the next day but.....

Oh no!  Jingles ate all the kisses!  

And while she was eating them, she read our book "The Secret Life of a Snowflake" and made some snowflakes for our classroom!

What a mess she made!

The next day, Jingles delivered a letter to us from Santa.  It said that he gave Jingles permission to give us some Magic Elf Seeds to grow in our classroom since all the children were behaving so nicely.  We were to place the seeds in sugar and sprinkle them with a tiny bit of salt.  In 2 days, we would get a magical surprise!

Day One

Day 2 - We are beginning to see something!

Day 3 - We have a magical treat!

The next day, Jingles took one of our bags of marshmallows (for our Polar Express hot chocolate later in the week) and decided to make a "snow angel".  

I am very sad to say that I forgot to take a picture of Jingles on her last day with us. She left us with a basket full of Reindeer Food (one packet for each child) to help Santa find his way to their house.

Jingles was super fun!  I hope she comes back to visit my classroom next year!  

Hope you are having a wonderful holiday vacation!

Thursday, December 27, 2012

Want More Followers?

We've all been there.  The beginning of a blog.  Thoughtfully planned.  Looking Pretty.  Lots to say.  But...

NO....   ONE...  TO...  LISTEN...!

Starting a teacher blog takes a lot of courage, especially with so many talented and creative teachers out there.  The good news is there is room for everyone, as no two blogs are alike.  Each blog is unique and has something wonderful to offer. 

I was reading a post earlier today from Jess at I {Heart} Recess At this writing, Jess has 24 followers.  Jess had posted the following New Year's Resolution for her blog:

To get at least 200 followers :) PLEASE HELP ME WITH THIS GOAL! THANKS!

I remember feeling the same way when I first started blogging.  I became especially anxious when my friend's blog (we started together) was nearing 500 followers while mine didn't even have 100!  I almost hung up my keyboard for good!  Instead, I decided to blog for fun and the followers will come! 

Here are a few additional tips that will be sure to bring the followers your way:

1.  Be yourself.  Share yourself.  Be friendly and positive.
2.  Follow others and they will follow you. 
3.  Help your fellow blogger(s) when you can.
4.  Throw a freebie in now and then. 
5.  Give credit when credit is due. 
6.  Participate in the Blogging Community.
7.  Observe successful bloggers.  Many have some sort of a niche  
     that draws followers to them.   

And so, my fellow bloggers, as you are perusing all the wonderful blogs during the holidays, be sure to take a peak at a blog's "number of followers".  If the blog is new and you are feeling the holiday spirit, give it a boost by becoming their newest follower.

If you are looking for a place to start, please check out Jess at I {Heart} Recess!  I know she would be thrilled!

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

2013 Resolutions Linky Party!

At this time of the year I am always inspired to start-over or re-do something that isn't working for me.  Do you feel the same way?  Then let's inspire each other by sharing our New Year's resolutions and potential solutions at a Linky Party!  

Here are the guidelines:

1.  Share your 2013 New Year's "Classroom" Resolution in a post.
     Grab the button above and include it in your post.  
2.  Add you post to the Linky Party (please make sure the url links
     directly to your resolution post).

3.  Comment on the resolution posted in the blog behind you and      
     the blog in front of you.

4.  If you're feeling full of holiday spirit, pin this post on Pinterest 
     so we can all encourage each other in our resolutions.  

Here is my 2013 New Year's "Classroom" Resolution.....

When I'm teaching, I get so involved with the lesson(s) that I sometimes always lost track of time.  Passion is good, but poor time management is not.  In 2013, when I write my lesson plans, I am going to write specific times for each part of the lesson and adhere to it.  Whew!  I feel better already.  Now all I need is a little timer for some accountability!  

Happy New Year!

q Diane r 

Tuesday, December 25, 2012

Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas to all my blogger friends!  I just love being part of this community.  Despite one of my sons being very sick (with bronchitis AND the flu), it's been a wonderful holiday.  

This is the first year I've participated in the Holly Bloggy Christmas and it was a blast!  

Holly Bloggy Christmas

The theme this year was "your favorite things".  My exchange partner was Laura at Kinder Kraziness.  She is expecting her first baby in March (which is beyond exciting)!  I couldn't resist incorporating this exciting event in our exchange, so her first gift was the Classic Edition of The Night Before Christmas by Clement C. Moore.  It was my children's favorite on Christmas Eve when they were little.    I hope her little one will enjoy it, too.  I also go her a Snow Family Christmas Clock. I have one that I put up every year in my kitchen.  It plays a different Christmas carol at the top of every hour.  It is light activated and stops playing at night when the lights are off.  I hope you enjoyed them, Laura!  I can't wait to here about her blessed event.  

Laura sent me a wonderful package full of things to pamper myself...Margarita lotion & foot scrub, peppermint eucalyptus sugar scrub (heavenly!), and an H ornament.  

I really loved these nail art owl decals.  I LOVE owls!  

What a treat!  I needed it in the worst way.  Thank you SO much, Laura!  

Enjoy the remainder of the Christmas holiday!

q Diane r


Saturday, December 15, 2012

Picture of Innocence

I lived in Connecticut for 14 years in a community that was very near Newtown.  We have friends there. We attended swim meets there.  I always loved their beautiful library.  My husband was responsible for the safety and maintenance of natural gas pipeline station that was just down the road from the Sandy Hook school.  We often went to the beach at Lake Zoar in Sandy Hook. It is unfathomable that a tragedy like this would strike this beautiful town. 

I am filled with grief.  As a teacher, a mother, and a friend, I am devastated beyond words.  It hits home on so many levels.  But it  really became personal when my friend posted this picture that her 1st grader drew while on lockdown yesterday in a nearby school. Thank God, her daughter is safe.  But when I think of her angelic face, it is more than I can bear.  

To me, this picture represents the magic and anticipation that every child feels at this time of the year. It represents the hope and joy that those innocent angels woke with yesterday morning.  The only solace I can feel is that my faith assures me that they will be celebrating Jesus's birthday with him in heaven.  

During this holiday season, with our families near to us, I hope that more people will begin to focus on and appreciate what they have, instead of what they don't have.......because, you never know when what you have can be taken away from you. 

May God comfort the parents and families of the victims. May he wrap them in love and peace in the days to come. 

Friday, December 7, 2012

Meet Jingles!

The other day I got a little surprise from one of my students.  He walked up to me holding a beautifully wrapped present and a big grin on his face.  "I got this for you!" he said.  He was so excited he was about to burst.  As I started to unwrap it, he could no longer hold it in.  "I GOT YOU AN ELF!!!!!"  

Pandemonium ensued among my normally docile group of of 8 years olds.  What is a teacher to do?  "I picked her because she looks like you!"  Now that was a first.  I've never been told I look like an elf.  Yet, I was flattered.  I've heard how much kiddos love their elves.  There was no way I was going to squash this holiday spirit!  Like it or not, I was about to jump onto the "Elf on the Shelf" bandwagon. 

Meet Jingles.....

My boys are 17 and 14, so they missed out on this phenomenon.  I needed to catch up in a hurry!  I found a cute freebie from Brenda featured in a post at Teaching, Dreaming, Learning.  Here are our Elf Diaries.

The diaries were a big hit!  Each day they record where Jingles shows up and what she's doing.  But the best part is the questions that they ask Jingles.  Here are a few.

Do you know my elf at home?
Do you leave your spot when the teacher leaves?
How old are you?
Do you have a husband?
Can you get me a picture of Santa?
Can you leave shoes at a fireplace and get candy?
What do you do at the North Pole?
How do you get from place to place?
Can you tell me if I'm on the "Nice List"?
What do you do on the weekends?
How old is Santa?

Aren't they priceless?  I may have been a bit apprehensive about this new tradition, but I am lovin' our little elf.  There is nothing like experiencing the joy of children.  

On Monday morning, my little friends will find that Jingles got into our dice basket...

I am totally embracing Jingles as my alter ego.  I am officially having too much fun!!!

Monday, December 3, 2012

Snowman Place Value

A couple of weeks ago, I read a review of a book called Math Sense: The Look, Sound and Feel of Effective Instruction by Donna at Math Coach's Corner.  Using an activity in the book called "Name That Plant", Donna created a Christmas-themed version that showed different ways to represent a number.  You can read about it here.

I loved the idea, but I needed it to work for numbers in the thousands.  So..........

I created the "Hundred Thousands" Snowman!  

Each child chose a six digit number and wrote it in the brim of the hat in standard form.  The number was written in word form on the top hat.  On the vest they were asked to find the "place" and the "value" of different digits within the number.  On the bottom part of the snowman, they wrote it in expanded form, on a number line, and compared it to a smaller and larger number.  The number line was especially challenging and opened a great discussion about counting backwards with large numbers.  

The icing on the cake was decorating the Snowmen (or ladies!) and decorating our hallway.  It is festive and shows that  "math is happenin'!" in our classroom.  (Did I just put 3 punctuation marks in a row???  You can tell I teach math!).  Take a look at our lovely Snowmen!

You can find a blank copy of the snowman here.  I can't wait to do it again next year!

Sunday, November 25, 2012

Lovin' the Leibster

Over the past few days, I have been nominated three times for the wonderful Leibster Award!  Wow!  Since I've been awarded it previously, I'd like to introduce you all to the ladies who nominated me.



Please visit these ladies and support their blogs.  In the spirit of the nomination, here are my answers to Miss M's (Teaching Is A Gift) questions.  Have a great week!

The questions for my nominees are:

1. List five adjectives that describe yourself.

dedicated, innovative, compassionate, congenial, loyal

2. What are you currently reading for enjoyment?

The Christmas Jar

3. When did you decide to become a teacher, and why did you choose this field?

It came very naturally to me and I wanted to have 
an occupation that allowed me to contribute to society.

4. What do you want to be doing in five years?

Watching me oldest son graduate from college 
and my youngest son start college.  

5. If you could have only one powered appliance at home/work what would it be?


6. What is your favourite subject to teach? Why?

Math.  It was so hard for me when I was in school.  
I find it a challenge to find the right way to reach a student.

7. What is your least favourite subject, and how do you overcome your indifference toward it to teach it well? having a very good lesson plans and good support on my team. 

8. What do you think is the funniest word in our vocabulary?

This is very childish, but I can't hear the word 'fart' without giggling. 

9. What is the greatest success you have had in teaching?

It's hard to pick just one, but the recurring theme is 
making an important difference in a child's life. 

10. If someone wrote a book on your life what would you like the title to be?

My Life as a Roller Coaster.

11. What would your students say was the most important thing that they had learned after spending a year in your class?

It's okay to make mistakes if we learn from them and to never give up. 


Sunday, November 18, 2012

Three Ring

It's Share Day #2 and I'm excited to share this new resource I recently found.  It's called....

Three Ring is a website that allows teachers to easily document student's classroom work.  It allows you to take photos of any paper, drawing, or board work.  You can record presentations or discussions with audio or video.  Or, students can upload their own work from any mobile device or computer.  With its supporting iPhone/Android app, the possibilities are endless.  

I've been using it to capture and collect examples of students work.    This helps me to.....

  • Keep work samples for re-teaching.  
  • Collect documentation for RtI or parent conferences.
  • Easily file students' work rather than creating piles or running back and forth to the copier.
I recently had an experience where I was very thankful I was using Three Ring.  As I was grading an assignment, I saw that I needed to keep a copy of "Tommy's" work on Three Ring so I could review his mistakes with him.  I quickly snapped a photo with my iPhone and uploaded it. 

After I was done grading everyone's work, it went into the students'  mailboxes to go home that night. Yippee!  Marked that off my to-do list!  No piles!  No trips to the copier! 

The next day I got an email from Tommy's mom.  She wanted to know why he missed #9 and #10 on this assignment.  Thanks to Three Ring, I was able to find the assignment easily and answer her question.  And, I was able to sit down with Tommy to talk about his mistakes. 

Check it out!  It's free and it might make your life easier, too!


Saturday, November 17, 2012

Math Resources for Teachers

Oh, how I love to share!  It is, honestly, one of my greatest pleasures in life!  It's also one of the reasons I'm such a Pinterest and blogging addict.  

Today I want to share a resource that I created on my school website for other teachers in my district.

I am the upper-elementary math leader in my school.  After years of attending staff developments and hearing about all kids of wonderful math resources, my bookmarks were getting out of control and I was spending too much time looking for things.  To make things easier for myself and the math teachers in my school, I decided to organize the resource links all in one place.  Today, I'd like to share the page with you.  Here it is:

Just click on the image to take you there.  I'd love to hear about any math resources that you can't live without so I can add it to my list. 

Happy sharing!


Monday, November 12, 2012

Better Late Than Never!

I'm hooking up with my friend, Kelly, at Teaching Fourth for a Fun Friday Linky Party.  Show your moxie and join us, even if it is a little late!

Have a great week!!!


Saturday, November 10, 2012

Using Xtra Math to build Fact Fluency

Last year I discovered an awesome and FREE fact practice website called XtraMath.  XtraMath is a nonprofit organization dedicated to math achievement for all.  Their goal is to develop effective, efficient, adaptive, and intrinsically rewarding supplemental math activities and make them available for free.  The website has lots of information about the program and how to get started using it. I want to share how I am using it in my math classroom

I teach third grade. Theoretically, the students should know their addition and subtraction facts when they come to third grade.  Since they have been taught operations concretely, pictorially and abstractly, it is time to move towards mastery.  Therefore, I have required my students to complete XtraMath as homework five out of seven days a week.  XtraMath sends me a weekly report that tells me who completed their assignment.  Parents are also able to track their child's progress.  

Another feature I love is that, if the child's second grade teacher was using XtraMath, their account will link up to me when I add them to my class in third grade.  

In order for a child to get a mastery score of 100, students need to answer every question two out of the last three attempts cumulatively over several recent sessions.  After completing the session, the students are shown a colored dot which represents their progress.  Here is an example of the calendar snapshot that I am able to review for each child:

What do the dots mean?  Green means the student got less than 10% wrong.  Yellow means between 10% and 25% wrong.  Red means over 25% wrong. Blue dots indicate an incomplete XtraMath session.  

Above is a more detailed report that shows me how a student is progressing.  Our classroom goal is for everyone to master addition and subtraction by our holiday break.  

This is part of the weekly report I receive.  We all know that students perform at different levels and XtraMath has helped me to differentiate with each student. There are a couple of things I had to address based on this information.  First, Aidan only practiced 2 of the 5 required days.  I recorded this on the student's Weekly Conduct Report that goes home to each of my student's parents (love the accountability!).  Second, Ashley had moved on to multiplication after she mastered subtraction.  She's not ready to do this yet as we will not start our Multiplication Unit until January.  I asked her to stop for now. Avery moved to our school this year and is a very motivated, above-average student.  She had already learned her multiplication facts and her performance has proved it.  She is almost at mastery.  Note that Alison is not participating in XtraMath.   It was not the right solution for her.  Instead, her parents and I decided on an effective alternative.  

I am so pleased with my student's progress with this program.  The children like it and it only takes them about five minutes to complete.  For those who do not have internet access, they are required to complete XtraMath on our classroom computers when they first enter my class.  I have also placed a bright note on their desk to remind them.  We will begin using the multiplication portion once we complete our multiplication unit.  

I'd love to hear your experiences with XtraMath!  It's really working well for my kiddos!


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