Saturday, January 26, 2013

This Week's Teaching Strategies

Well, I am going to rewind the week and show you what kinds of things I encountered in teaching this week and the kinds of strategies I incorporated into my subjects.  We worked on adjective review, music fun, balancing experiments, and identifying numbers to 1,000 in expanded form and adding and taking away from the hundreds and tens place.

Language Strategy for Adjectives: Well, thanks to our adjective dress up show, students seem to get the concept of what an adjective is.  Once students watched classmates present their costume, they started calling out so many adjectives that it was hard for me to keep up.  This week we focused on using adjectives tell how many with exact numbers and with words such as many, some, a few, etc.

Adjective Teaching Strategies

Adjective Show
Little Joe Dirt
Reading Strategy: We used reference sources to identify ways to find information.  Students took notes in their writing journals and identified the latest and greatest sources like I-pads, various tablet devices, and of course the Internet.  I wasn't surprised that they even identified Google as a great source of information.  They learned that you can search for just about any kind of information when we did animal reports a few weeks ago and did our research in the computer lab.  I also introduced them to the age old Thesaurus, the outdated encyclopedia book we all grew up with, a dictionary, and an atlas.  We had a great class discussion and then did some cut and paste resources to their meaning.  I failed to take a picture of this activity.

Reference Sources
Click here to download cut and paste activity.

AMSTI Science Activity Balancing

AMSTI Science Balancing

AMSTI Science Activity Balancing

Science Strategies: students enjoyed getting their balance on!  Students enjoyed activities including balancing a paper butterfly, and using a beam, fulcrum, and unifix cubes to create balance.  They discovered that moving the fulcrum was a must when trying to balance cubes that had a lot more on one side than the other.  All of our supplies came from our wonderful AMSTI (Alabama Math, Science, and Technology Initiative) kit.  We are so blessed to have this resource!!  I had planned to let them build mobiles Friday, but we had a 3 hour delay because of expected icing on the roadways.  We will just have to pick up next week!
AMSTI Science Balancing Butterfly
AMSTI Science Balancing

 Math Strategies with expanded numbers in math was our focus this week.  My student teacher did a fabulous job with a lesson for us this week.  She really emphasized standard form and expanded form.  With our new common core standards, we are learning more and more how important vocabulary is to our students' understanding.  Students are going to see this vocabulary in standardized tests as well as upper grade levels. Students have been building numbers to a thousand all week.  Their major problem area has been what to do when they do not have a number in one of the place values such as the tens place.  Some students want to leave it blank or put the number for the ones place in the tens place.  We have been doing intervention to correct this misconception and as of yesterday, they now seem to be making the connection.

We had our 100th day this week too.  So, we had all kinds of math fun with 100.  Students drew themselves now and when they are 100, counted by 100 using objects brought from home, wrote 100 words, explained what they would do with $100, showed ways to make $1.00 or 100 cents, and told their favorite 100 things.   

100 days smarter
My second graders were greeted with a 100th day  poster as they entered the classroom.

100th Day Items
Students brought in lots of candy and other objects of 100.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Texting Thursday - Reader Leaders - 7 Habits

Texting Thursday - Reader Leaders - 7 Habits

What is a Reader Leader?

In my classroom a Reader Leader are students who read their Accelerated Reader books on them, test and make 100.  I want students reading as much as possible at their independent reading level.  I also want them comprehending what they read.  So, after students read picture books 3 times, take an accelerated reader test, and make a 100, they get to place a sticker on their Reader Leader chart.  Each time they get a line filled, they get a piece of candy from the candy jar.  Each time they fill the entire chart, they get to go to the treasure box. This has been a big reading motivation for my students.  Students who are reading chapter books get 2 stickers if they make a 100.  As students gain more charts, I just place the new one on top of the old and at the end of the year, they get to take their charts  home. I also give awards for those charts.  

The big chart int the middle is used to record weekly class points, and reading levels.  I purchased it from the Accelerated Reader company several years ago.

Why 7 Habits?

At my school this year, we began The Leader in Me program.  So, I tied in my title: Reader Leaders to our school theme with the 7 habits in mind.  If students are leaders in reading, they can be leaders in all other subjects as well.  Miles on their tongue will take them places throughout their lives!

Great Idea from Kinder Craze:

I read some fantastic tips at Kinder Craze on getting more books in your classroom through Scholastic.  Click on the button above to read more about how Maria uses Scholastic book orders and Storia.

What do you do to promote reading in your classroom?

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

A Happy Teacher, A Healthy Teacher - 4 Tips on Staying Well This Winter

A Healthy Teacher is a Happy Teacher - 

4 Tips on Staying Well this Winter

Keeping a teacher healthy is not always easy, but it makes this teacher happy!  Do you remember how sick you became when you first started teaching?  Boy do I!  I remember a few Christmas vacations in the beginning of my teaching career that lead to bed rest and no family get togethers.  So, I thought I might share with you how I now stay well through the winter months.  There are a few simple tips that I have learned over the years.

A Healthy Teacher is a Happy Teacher!!!
1) Probably the best tip: Take vitamin C every day! I may go to the extreme, but I take 1000 mg in the morning and 1000 mg at night.  It is a vitamin, so what your body doesn't need, it gets rid of.  There is no one certain kind to take, but I do love the flavor of the Vitamin C packets.

I also like these other vitamins: D-3, Prenatal - even if you're not planning on you know, and Ultra CoQ10.
A Healthy Teacher is a Happy Teacher - 4 Tips on Staying Well this Winter

2) Get rest, extra if you need it.  I try to take a nap on Sunday evenings for sure and other days if I can grab a little snooze, I feel better.
3) Eat veggies and salad.  Eating right is not always easy, but if you could just add 1 or 2 different good for you things to your diet each day, think about the difference it would make!  I know this sounds corny, but veggies are good for your system.  Yes, listen to your mom!  Don't forget the water!  I carry a 32 ounce jug to school and only drink about 10 ounces while I am at school.  Then I chug the rest on the way home.  Needless to say, I give the ladies room a workout after school!
4) Exercise - If you can't do a lot - do 15 minutes of walking.  I promise, it's not so scary.  A little each day gives you extra energy later.  I can tell a difference!!

Tuesday, January 22, 2013

12 Reasons Why Teachers Need the New Surface Tablet: Product Review


A week ago I purchased the new Surface Tablet from Microsoft.  I had been watching the commercials on tv for quite some time and they always got my attention.  So, I began some research online to find out more about them.  I had been hunting a tablet for a while and thought I would probably go with a different brand until I saw this one.

12 Reasons to Love the Surface Tablet

  1. I really liked that it had this kickstand thing on the back and could stand up on its own.  
  2. I also loved that it could click in place magnetically with the keyboards.
  3. Keyboards come in fun colors.  I chose pink. :) (Keyboards do have to be purchased separate.
  4. The keyboard has a second function as a cover for the Surface tablet.
  5. It can be touch screen or easily snap the keyboard in and use the keyboard.
  6. Keyboard is light and thin.
  7. It is easy to carry and hold.
  8. Battery life is good.  I used it several days without charging.
  9. You can use Microsoft products easily.  They are already installed - Microsoft Powerpoint, Word, and Excel 2013.
  10. It has tons of great magazine articles from your favorite magazines categorized under your News like People, Forbes, US Magazine, Sports Illustrated, and ESPN.  There are lots more.  I just listed some I really like.
  11. It features Games, a Camera, Music, and Video.
  12. The Surface is easy to navigate as you slide the pages and interact.

My video review of the Surface Tablet


Do you use a Tablet in Teaching?

What tablet do you use and how do you use it as a teacher?

Monday, January 21, 2013

Math on Monday: Common Core with Number Talks

Thousands: Place Value

Number Talk
We worked on the thousands place on Friday.  We did a number talk to see what students know about 1,000.  Students helped me with our anchor chart throughout our discussion.  I was excited that the remembered skills that we have covered.  They brought in looking at the ones place to determine if the number is even or odd no matter how big the number.  They remembered the greater than less than sign.  They are beginning to recognize that even though you have a bigger number, you don't forget about the hundreds, tens, and ones.

Place Value to the Thousands

After our Number Talk, I gave students a piece of construction paper and had them fold it hotdog style twice.  Then students drew lines down the folds.  At the top of each column, I had students write thousands, hundreds, tens, ones.  Then I called out different thousand numbers.  I emphasized using the comma with the thousand.  It was fun to see students start to understand when I would throw a tricky number in with zeros. 

If you would like to know more about the Number Talk book, it is a great teacher resource. Number Talks is a great way to incorporate mental math strategies and see your students start to really communicate about what they know.

Saturday, January 19, 2013

Weekend Teacher Planning and Organization - Top 5 List

Planning for the upcoming week is always something I look forward to.  I know that's weird, but I am a type A personality.  There are several steps to the process to ensure the week is going to be up and going by Monday morning.

Here is a list of tasks that must be completed prior to students entering the classroom along with some of my classroom organization supplies:

1) Reading and math work stations must be out along with a rotation chart.  My station rotation chart does not change every week.  If students seem to be working well together and things are flowing smoothly, I just let them keep the same partners and rotation schedule.  If you would like to see my rotation chart, click here to download: Reading Work Station Chart
I also have one for math here: Math Work Station Rotation Chart  Students go to a different station each day once they finish their math lesson for the day.  I put different games, flash cards, and activities that students can use review their standards.

2) Reading study guide needs to be copied on the back of my weekly newsletter.

3) I have to look at my pacing guide to see what concepts and themes I have planned in my teacher planning calendar for the week. Lesson Plans need to be completed and emailed to my principal, accompanied with state standards.  I haven't used a teacher planning book in years.  Once I started doing my plans on the computer, I just use that to revise each year and add to.  It really helps when you can change the date, adjust your lessons to your kiddos and be done.  Of course, I can't do the exact same thing every year.  I keep the best lessons and change up to add new and improved.  This has worked well for me.

4) Test papers for weekly reading tests need to be copied and placed in Friday's folder and an art or fun activity needs to be planned for students to do when they are finished with testing.  This will keep students quiet and engaged while others are given time to finish.

5) Read Alouds need to be planned and put in Monday-Friday folders. This week it will be finishing Stone Fox.

Friday, January 4, 2013

Welcome Back Class - New Year 2013

I just can't start the new year off without talking a little about one of my new year's resolutions - getting myself more organized at school and home.  Yesterday was our teacher work day at school.  I spend every minute, besides a 1 hour faculty meeting, cleaning and organizing my room.  I will have to say I made a huge dent.  One of my favorite things was getting a 3 week set of files - 3 different colors to help me visually with the weeks.  I now can plan up to 3 weeks at a time.  This can really help a teacher when getting things copied and ready for the coming weeks.  I am still thinking I may add 1 more week.  I put these in a handy tub that I can grab and go with if I need to around the classroom.  I also tried to help myself out at the end of the day today by filing and putting things back that I used today.  The paper trail is so hard to maintain!  One day can get you behind!

Another exciting project that my wonderful hubby did for me is paint an old no-back book shelf.  I will post pictures this weekend!  I'm so excited!!!  He put a back on it and painted it black.  I'm thinking of transitioning into a black and white color scheme for my classroom and adding some curtains and quotes around the room: Resolution #2!!  I'll keep you updated!

Well, we hit the door running this morning.  It was a short Christmas break this time - less than 2 weeks.  I was a little sad about not getting the customary full 2 weeks off, but then again I was glad that we were starting back with only 2 school days as opposed to a full week.  It has given me time to step away from the normal reading routine that takes up the morning and get more creative with my teaching. 

Arctic Anchor Chart

Students really enjoyed our lesson this morning about the Arctic.  We will have 5 days of in depth study.  Today we mostly talked about the climate, location, and what they already know about this region of our earth.  We created our anchor chart for day 1.  Then I read the fictional book The Little Polar Bear to wrap up the lesson.  Students started making real connections even though it was a fictional Arctic story. 

7 Habits 7 Goals for the New Year
My second graders absolutely love, love, loved getting to chew gum in class today to go along with their 7 habits display they created today.  I made sure they spit it out prior to leaving the room for lunch this morning - trying to avoid any kind of trouble.  They had such good responses to each of the 7 habits.  I guided the students step by step as they reflected and wrote a resolution with each of the 7 habits.  They had a blast!!  This is definitely a craftivity I will use again next year. 

Blowing Bubbles to ring in the New Year 7 Habits Style!

After lunch, my read aloud was The Snowy Day.  Prior to reading, I introduced students to onomatopoeia words.  They quickly caught on to this new language concept and enjoyed listening for them when I read The Snowy Day.  I had students hold their hands to their face Home Alone style each time they heard and onomatopoeia.  Following the story, students wrote connections they made with the story to themselves, another book, and the world.  I was amazed at the discussions that took place as students shared their thinking.  A lot of students made connections with The Little Polar Bear that I read this morning, even thought that was not something I even thought of when I planned today's lessons.

Our wintry day started and ended great and I can't wait to get on with more fun tomorrow!  It sure is fun celebrating in second grade! :)