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Thursday, July 25, 2013

Throwback Thursday: Edmodo & Book Clubs

Time for a little Throwback Thursday....

This originally "aired" back in October of 2012 but I was reminded of Edmodo at Urban Boot Camp For Educators, a wonderful professional development that I have been attending this week. (Seriously, such a great and affordable conference. If you are in the Bay Area check it out!)

 Anyway, I  thought it would be fun to share again.  Edmodo is such an engaging website for students and really creates communities for students to share, discuss and interact. (So Common Core!) Have you used Edmodo????

I wanted to share s fun little resource that kids L-O-V-E. It's called Edmodo. Have you heard of it????

I actually first heard about Edmodo at a technology conference over the summer. It is basically like Facebook but can be used for communicating with your students online. If you check out the image below you can REALLY see the similarities to fb!

It is a secure site, password protected and nobody else sees the info posted so there is a lot less to worry about than some other sites. To be honest, I don't remember all of the security details because the conference was in July but I do know that it was approved for our school and we are kinda strict about all that stuff!

Anyway, our 7th grade teachers have been using Edmodo with great success. They even post assignments online and the students turn them in via Edmodo. Since it's just like Facebook, you can use it to facilitate peer to peer discussions as well....

Which brings me to the book club. Our teeny tiny school is filled with some reluctant readers. We are using this fun Edmodo site to get them excited about reading. The 6th grade teacher and myself are hosting an all girls book club for 6th, 7th and 8th graders.

The sixth grade teacher picked our first book Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker. It tells the story of a 12-year-old girl during Hurricane Katrina. Our shipment hasn't come in yet, but I really can't wait to start reading it next week!

And the best part: the girls are super excited, too! We weren't sure how much interest this book club would generate since it requires the girls to do a lot of extra reading outside of school. They also have to post and discuss each chapter in addition to their normal nightly homework for school but so far the response has been great! 

We've already had more than half of the middle school girls at our school join our  group on Edmodo. They've  all commented on the authors introduction which was posted on our Edmodo page and watched a video clip from youtube.

The girls are already using strategies (predicting, building their schema), searching out their own info (several have commented on googling the events of Hurricane Katrina) and chit chatting about the books with their peers. 

I can't wait to see where it goes from here! I am all for any tool that has our students excited about  reading and discussing books --even on this three day weekend! Love, love, love! 

If you would like to here more about our school's use of Edmodo for book clubs, CLICK HERE! :) This post discusses our experience using Edmodo when reading City of Orphans by Avi.

I am looking forward incorporating more technology, including Edmodo into my classroom this year! Especially after attending this conference for a second time.

How 'bout you??? How will you be using technology in your classroom this year? I'm hunting for more ideas. :) 

Friday, July 19, 2013

Favorite Pins Friday

This was the first full week of my summer vacation that I have been in town.  I thought it would be my week to catch up on housework and organizing....turns out it was actually my week to catch up on all things pintrest and Target. So much pinning going on in my house this week. (Also, a little to much shopping!)

I am linking up with First Grade Parade to share my favorite pins of the week. Such a fun linky idea, by the way!

First up...
Siracha, honey, Lime Chicken Skewers    Ingredients    3 tablespoons soy sauce  2 tablespoons honey  1 tablespoon vegetable oil  juice of one lime  2 garlic cloves, minced  1-2 teaspoon Siracha  red pepper flakes, to taste  2 tablespoon cilantro  1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts  Instructions    In a small bowl, combine your ingredients,
Siracha, Honey, Lime Chicken Skewers
These are so yummy! I made them last night with some grilled veggies and rice. Perfect summer meal! 


Love this idea!!! build a library for a new baby!
Adorable Baby Shower gift idea! 
Now I just need some of my friends to start popin' out babies! :) 

Alternative to putting down name tags!  So LOVE this! @Stephanie Close Close Swims @Jennifer Milsaps L Baker

Paint Pens instead of Name Plates 
Love this idea from Timeouts and Tootsie Rolls! I too, despise name plates....they always seem to be more trouble than their worth.

If You Cant be Kind....
Direct...but still sweet. 
Love this! I will definitely be hanging up this signage in my classroom!

I also really love this: 

be a leader, not a boss

Leader Vs. Boss 

I couldn't find the original source but I think that it is brilliant! Such a tricky concept to learn how to be a true leader. I plan on using this as a lesson starter the first week of school. Just gotta pretty it up a bit! :)


And finally...
I can relate, Sista! 

If you don't already follow me on Pintrest click HERE and follow along! Leave the link to your pintrest in the comment section and I'll follow you too. You can never have enough boards to follow! 

Have a great weekend! :) 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Throw Back Thursday w/FREE Back 2 School Forms! :)

I'm linking up with The First Grade Parade for Throw Back Thursday. 

Time to REWIND......Since back to school has really been on my mind, here's a post from last September at the very beginning of this little old blog.

Hi all! And happy Friday!!! So glad it's the weekend. That being  said, this is the first Friday that I am not completely EXHAUSTED. I feel like I am starting to find my stride (and I am hoping I didn't just jinx myself!).

I went to a  professional development meeting yesterday and the presenter was great. We were discussing starting the year off and the importance of  creating strong relationships with our students and their families in order to have a year that runs smoothly.

 It got me  thinking about  how my own approach to creating relationships with parents has evolved over time. I am still new-ish to teaching (this will be my third year) and the longer I teach the more time I spend reaching out to parents.

I have such a great respect for my parents! I teach at a charter school in a very urban community in a low income neighborhood. All of my parents work very hard to provide for their children and for most their child's education is a BIG priority. I am lucky in that regard! I want them to know how much I care about their students and want to keep them informed in regards to their child's progress academically, behaviorally and socially. But with all of the other demands I face as a teacher coupled with the language barriers and crazy work schedules of my parents, building a relationship takes a conscious effort on my part.  I do not work at a school where students are walked on to the schoolyard and parents are waiting after school to speak with the teacher. That is just not reality for me.

Anyway, I just wanted to share a few ways that I  found to build a relationship with the parents...

1) "Getting To Know Your Child"
Along with the traditional parent letter, I send home this form at the beginning of the year. I was really touched by the thoughtful words from many of the parents. I was truly able to get to know a different side of each student and it really opened the lines of communication with parents. Click HERE to get your own copy! 

2) Weekly Reports
I send home these quick little reports every Friday.  This little check-in totally prevents any big surprises when grades come out/parent conference time.  I love, love this resource from Stephanie at Teaching in Room 6. You can find this freebie in her TpT store here. Added bonus---Stephanie has a Spanish version as well! Really helps me since at least half of my parents speak Spanish and I do not.

3)  Good Notes Home
I am sure there is a cuter name for these little guys but in my class we call them good notes and you would be surprised at how hard my big bad 5th graders will work to earn one of these little things!
I use a clip chart for behavior management and when I child has an excellent day and makes it to the top of the behavior chart they receive a note to take home to their families. About half way through last year...after 6 months of scrambling to complete notes before the 3 o'clock bell, I came up with these little guys. I usually try to add a little more of a personal note on the back but this little template  is a huge time saver. :
 Of course, if they have a hard day they also have a note that they take home for their parents, too. I have designed this "Think About It" form as a reflection for poor choices.

To get a copy of the notes click here.

These little notes will work with any behavior chart but if you are shopping for a new behavior chart you may be interested in this little guy in my store. Only $2.00!

What do you do to make contact with parents and families at the beginning of the year????

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

5 DIY Math Games for Under $5

I was lucky enough to "preview" my next years' class by teaching summer school. At our little charter school summer school is HIGHLY encouraged and about 90% of my new students attended. They are seriously the sweetest bunch of kids! I can't wait to have them in my class for real.

Over the course of our month long summer school session, I was able to get a pretty good idea of my new students' skills. They are smart little boogers and their 4th grade teacher is amazing so they are pretty well prepared for 5th grade but some students are still struggling with mastering their multiplication and division facts.

As far as I am concerned multiplication and division fluency are nonnegotiable for 5th grade. Without fluency in these facts fractions, long division and all things fifth grade are way harder than they need to be.

During summer school I also noticed that they were highly motivated by games and any hands on activity. (No big surprise there!) So a I set forth on a mission yesterday to create a few new  games and activities that I can use in small groups, during centers or during after school tutoring to help build fact fluency with my students.

I'm on a budget (aren't we all!) so I used a lot of what I had on hand and got the rest at the Dollar Tree and the Dollar Spot @ Target.

1: Multiplication Beach Ball 

An oldie but a goodie! I have used a variation of this game for many different subjects and skills

Variation 1: Silent Ball 
Perfect for rainy day recess!
Students have to be silent (duh! Silent Ball!) and toss the ball to classmates. When a classmate catches the ball they find the equation closest to each thumb. That way the students will have two multiplication sentences to read and solve. For example, a student may catch the beach ball and find 12x2 closest to his right thumb and 7x9 closest to his left thumb. He reads each number sentence and tells the answer
If the student  is  incorrect or if he speaks, laughs, make any noise while he does not have the ball he must sit down. The last man standing wins.

Variation 2: Rolling Beach Ball
Same scenario as silent ball but students sit on the floor in a circle and take turns rolling the ball  across the circle to one another.

Variation 3: Hot Potato 
Play like a regular Hot Potato Game but  the student holding the ball when the music stops, must read two of the multiplication problems and tell the answers.

Bonus: I also sometimes use this as a different way to excuse my students for lunch. I toss that ball to students who are ready for lunch and sitting quietly. They catch the ball, read and answer their two problems and go to lunch. It's amazing how quickly this quiets the rest of the kids down and encourages them to be ready to be excused too! :)

Total cost: 0.99 

2. Multiplication Memory 
Such an easy DIY and a familiar game to all.

I found these memory cards in Targets dollar spot a couple of weeks ago. In order to make them 5th grade friendly I just used a sharpie to add a math fact to half of the deck and the product to the other half. So simple!
This activity is a little easier because the pictures give a big hint but it will be the perfect game for a couple of my struggling kiddos who are really lacking confidence in their ability to be successful in math. These self -correcting matching cards will be great for these students and provide the challenge of memorizing the location of the cards on the board.
Total cost: $1.00

3. Multiplication War 
I have the store bought version of Math War and my students were slightly obsessed with it over the summer. At under $3.00, it's definitely worth the money to pick up a couple of sets for your classroom. My own sets have lasted for at least 2 years.

If you are looking for an even more economical way to play Math War make your own cards! At the end of summer school my students were still crazy about Math War so we set out to create our own war cards. Each student made their own set to take home for the summer. ---------->

Each set required 50-75 index cards depending on the number of facts that needed practice. There favorite part was creating the Wild Cards. Not sure what is so exciting about that, but if it gets them excited for practicing multiplication facts I am all for it!  Hopefully they are practicing as we speak!

I made my own back up set with these fun neon cards I found at the Dollar Tree.

                                                                                                                                       Total cost: $1.00

4. Zap It!  
I found this fun game via pintrest. Here is the original pin.

 It's so simple and I know my kids are going to love it! You only need popsicle sticks  and a jar to make this one. You can find the adorable label at Mrs. Young's Explorers. So cute!

She also has a great explanation of the game on her blog as well. Basically students take turns pulling sticks and reading and answering each multiplication fact. If they get the answer wrong the stick goes back in the jar. If they are correct they keep the stick. But watch out! If a "Zap It!" stick is pulled, all of the sticks must be returned to the jar. 
                                                                                                                                      Total Cost: Free 
(I had all of the supplies!)

5. Multiplication Checkers 
Another pin-inspired game...Here is the original pin. Obviously I modified it to use multiplication facts.

Same rules as regular checkers for this one, except that each time a player makes a move they must read and answer a multiplication problem.

I used a dollar store checkers board. Not gonna lie, it's not that sturdy but I think if I cover it with contact paper it will last through the year. 
Total Cost: $1.00

So there you have it! Five multiplication games/centers for under 5 bucks ($3.99 to be exact!). Now that I have my activities set up, I am planning on making variations of each game. I'll be making division games and maybe finding ways to adapt these games for other math concepts too. Oh the possibilities.....
Now that was a long blog post!  I hope that you found something useful here. What do you do to improve math fact fluency in your own classroom???? Please share in a comment below. I am always looking for new ideas! 

Monday, July 15, 2013

Summer Days & Monday Made It

Hope your summer has been going well. Mine has been excellent! :) After teaching summer school for the first month of summer, I took a physical and mental break from all things teacher and spent a week doing a whole lotta nothing. 

I spent my relaxing time in this beautiful place with my beautiful family. 

My grandparents, mom and uncles have been coming to Clear Lake, CA since they were babies and now the fourth generation of our family is enjoying this special place. We spent a week in cabins lakeside with 25 of our closest family members. Lots of time floating, boating, talking and laughing. 

And with my family, lots of wine drinking is also a given......Of course we also had to find a lakeside winery to visit. (Pretty sure this is one of the ONLY wineries you can boat to!). 

We just docked our boat down on the lake and walked up to amazing wine and a great view! Gotta love that! :) 

We also did a whole lotta eating too. Take a look at what my uncle whipped up: 

These were amazing grilled chicken sandwiches with Saracha sauce and avocados with a side of grilled corn on the cob and grilled nectarines for dessert. He even grilled lemons and limes to squeeze over the top. Delish! Obviously we don't mess around when it comes to food! :) 

Speaking of food.....Time for my Monday Made It! I'm linking up with Tara from Fourth Grade Frolics for her adorable linky! :) 

Today, I want to share my favorite salads. Now, I am NOT creative or even skilled when it comes to cooking, but I can slice and dice and I do know what flavors I like. And I L-O-V-E this salad. 

It is a standby in my kitchen. I made it last week to share at the lake. I also love to make a big version and keep it in the fridge for a quick work lunch. Being as I am not a fancy-smancy cook, I don't really have a recipe but still wanted to share. I hope my directions make sense! :) 

Quinoa & Veggie Salad with Cilantro Lime Dressing 
Here's what you'll need: 
    1 cup uncooked quinoa 
    1 can black beans (rinsed and drained) 
    1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn 
    1-2 limes (depending on how tangy you like your dressing) 
    Olive oil 
    1 bunch of cilantro
    A generous helping of a variety of veggies (I have used red peppers, bell peppers, cherry tomatoes, cucumbers, and red onions and what ever else I have laying in the fridge that day.) 

Here's what you'll do: 

Cook the quinoa according for the directions on the package and let cool in fridge. 

Rinse and drain the black beans. Defrost corn if using frozen. 

Slice and dice the veggies. I used 1/4 of a red pepper, a couple tablespoons of red onion, a handful of cherry tomatoes tomatoes, 1/2 a cucumber and chopped the cilantro for the dressing. You can add or sub any vegetables you have on hand.  

Mix the dressing using olive oil, salt and lime. I do all of this to taste. Then I throw in the cilantro at the last minute. 

Toss the salad. Combine the quinoa, beans, corn and veggies in a large bowl. Add the dressing.


***PS sorry for the poor quality photos. I am definetly NOT a food blogger. Hahaha***

Now that I am back from my teacher break, I am eager to get busy and start dreaming about my classroom. I am off to Target and Michael's to get the creative teacher side of me revved up again. I'll be stopping by some of the other Monday Made It posts for some inspiration too

Have a great day! :) 

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Blog Lovin'

So apparently I have been living under a rock (or just spending all of my time locked in my summer school classroom) and didn't know much about Blog Lovin'. I had heard it mentioned here and there but had not yet investigated or jumped on the Blog Lovin' bandwagon.

That is until this morning! I just signed up with Blog Lovin' and am already seeing such value in this feature. So nice to have all my favs at my finger tips. I am also loving the app! This is perfect for summer travel. I will be hanging at the lake next week and thanks to the app, I will now be able to access my favorite blogs with my ipad and won't have to lug around my laptop to do some blog reading in the evenings.

To follow my blog on Blog Lovin',  click below.

Follow on Bloglovin

I'm linking up with Laura Candler's Corkboard Connections  as she hosts a blog hunt! Such a fun idea and a great way to find new blogs. Don't forget to follow your new blog finds with Blog Lovin'!

Let the blog hunt begin! :) 
Click on this cute little bear to link up too! 

Monday, July 1, 2013

Made it Monday (And a FREEBIE!)

I'm finally linking up with Tara from Fourth Grade Frolics for my first Made it Monday of the summer.

Is it just me or is the summer flying by???? I have a feeling that teaching summer school has something to do with my feelings! But now summer school is now officially over. I t was a fast and furious three weeks! I really had a sweet, sweet class though, and we were busy every hour of the day.

Now that it is over, I am finally getting a chance to pretty-up some of my activities from our quick three weeks. Although I have about 3 million products in the works, I only finished one in time for this linky and its FREE!!! :) 

Clickity-Clack on the image and download a way! 

I hope you can enjoy using it in the fall! 
Until then enjoy your summer, teacher friends! 

PS Don't forget to link up with Tara, too!  

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