Sunday, July 26, 2015

Assess Me Linky (Yes or No)

I am linking up with Rachel from The Tattooed Teacher today for a fun back to school "get to know you" link! This one is a quick and easy yes or no assessment!

Here's my assessment:

If you haven't already, go link up with Rachel for this fun back to school linky!

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Creating Digital Exit Slips Using Google Forms

Hi Everyone! I am popping in real quick today to share how I make digital math exit slips using Google Forms. As some of you may know, I am a 1:1 Chromebook classroom. Last year was the first year my district piloted 1:1 Chromebook classrooms with about 40 teachers. At first I was skeptical about the Chromebooks. I struggled with learning how to implement them, especially when it came to math. However, after a year of trial and error, I, not only LOVE my laptops, I finally figured out  a great way to use them in math: digit exit slips!

Creating digital exit slips is super easy! You can even do it with exit slips you already have. All you need to do is take a screen shot of the pdf page you want, crop it, and TA-DA! It's ready to go!

Step 1: Determine what exit slip you want to use. For today's example, I am going to be using one from my new Place Value Exit Slip pack.

Step 2: Open up Google Drive. Select "New", "More", then "Google Forms."

Tip: This is on my personal Google Drive account; however, if I were doing this on my school account, I would create a folder for all of my place value exit tickets. This way it is organized and all in one place. Then, before following step 2, I would click on my "Place Value Exit Ticket" folder.

Step 3: Add a space for the students to type their name. To do this, click on the "Add Item" drop-down menu and select "Text". In the "Question Title" box, type in "Student Name". Then, click "Done".

to. . .

 Tip: I would double-check, maybe, even triple-check that you have added a spot for the students to type their name; otherwise, it is a mess! Trust me! I have done it more times than I would like to admit!

Step 4: Once your Google Form is open, enter in a title and, if you want, a description.

Step 5: Click on "Insert" then "Image". Once you've click on "Image", you'll get a few choices. You can upload an image, take a snapshot, pick an image by URL, find an image in your albums, get an image from Google Drive, or search for an image on the web. For our purposes, we are going to upload an image by dragging and dropping then hit "Done".

to. . .

Step 6: Now, we are going to add spaces for the students to type their answers by typing in "Answer #1:" in the "Question Title" box and selecting "Paragraph Text" from the "Question Type" drop-down menu. Then, click "Done".

to. . .

Tip: Repeat step five as many times as needed until you have answer spaces for each question on the exit slip.

(Optional) Step 7: Once you have added all of your answer spaces, I like to add a space for my students to reflect. To do this, click on the "Add Item" drop-down menu and select "Multiple Choice".  Now, you can type in the reflection question and multiple choice answers (mine is shown below) then click "Done".

to. . .

(Optional) Step 8: Before sending the form to your students, have some fun and change the theme! Click "Change Theme" at the top and then select the one of your choosing from the menu on the right-handside. 

Step 9: Now that you have changed your theme, you are ready to send it to your students. Just click on "Send Form" and type in your students' emails.

Here is what the final product looks like: Identifying Place Value Exit Slip Google Form!

If you have any questions, please let me know. Otherwise, good luck!

Monday, July 20, 2015

Monday Made It - July 20

Hey everyone! I am excited to be linking up with the amazing Tara for Monday Made It again this week! This week is all about math workshop!

(NOTE: Only four of the ten games are shown in the picture.)

My first made it are the fabulous "I Can" 4th Grade Math Games created by One Stop Teacher Shop. I am so excited to use these games year round to help my students prepare for our new end of the year tests that we started last year! I also love how engaging they are and that I can differentiate for my students needs. If you haven't checked these games out, I highly suggest you do. One Stop Teacher Shop has them for 1st through 5th grade and they are all aligned to the Common Core. You can find them here.
My second made it are student rings that will help my students prove their math answers with color when they visit the word problem center.

Using these cards, my students will have to explain how they found their answer, what their answer is - in a complete sentence, and how they know their answer is correct. They will also need to show their thinking with math vocabulary and their work with number sentences and labeled pictures. Each of these steps will be underlined, highlighted, boxed, and/or circled in a different color. If you are interested in checking them about, you can find them in my TPT store here.

My final made it are my Back to School Math centers to help my new fourth graders review third grade multiplication and division skills. My students will complete all of these centers during the first few weeks of school!

Center #1 - This will help my students write multiplication sentences for specific arrays.

Center #2 - This will help my students identify what type of division problem they are solving.

Center #3 (And my favorite!) - This will help my students solve for unknown factors.

Center #4 - This will help my students solve division problems.

Center #7 - This will help my students build arrays based on two factors.

Center #5 - This will help my students identify properties of multiplication.

Center #6 - This will help my students list multiples of a number.

Center #8 - This will help my students write fact families based on three specific numbers.

I hope my kids have as much fun playing the games as I did making them! All of my centers will be stored in my rolling cart, so that students can easily grab them and find a quiet spot around the room to play! 

That's all from me today! Now, it's time to really dig into my planning. I only have three weeks of summer left! Make sure to stop by Tara's blog and see what everyone else has been up to!

Thursday, July 9, 2015

Learn Like a Pirate: Active Learning

Hi everyone! Welcome back to our Learn Like a Pirate book study hosted by the one and only Primary Gal! I am so excited to be linking up today for our discussion on chapter 6: Active Learning. This has been by far the most applicable chapter to my classroom and my teaching beliefs. So, without further ado, let's talk about active learning in the classroom.

Paul starts out this chapter by saying, "When students actively participate in class, they are more likely to take on leadership opportunities." Throughout the chapter, he talks about five different ways he brings active learning into his classroom. 

Today, I am going to be talking about the three I plan on incorporating into my classroom this upcoming school year.


The first topic Paul talks about is simulations. He explains that many students struggle with history because it doesn't always feel relevant to them when they are listening to lectures or reading out of textbooks. Instead, we, as educators, need to make the subject come alive by having students participate in simulations. Instead of listening and reading about history, the students actually EXPERIENCE history. Throughout this section, Paul discusses three of the simulations he does in his class: the Revolutionary War, Learning Law in Outer Space, and the Westward Movement. 

Next Year's Goals:
As I read about how Paul actively engages his students during these units, my mind began racing. I started asking myself: "When could I do simulations in my classroom? What units would be appropriate for this type of learning?" As I thought more about it, I realized that I could do simulations when we learned about Utah geography, plants, and animals, Utah's Native American tribes, the Mormon Pioneers (Paul's Westward Movement unit, which is on his website for FREE!), the Transcontinental Railroad, Utah's immigrants, and so much more!

Now that I have a better understanding of how do simulations in the classroom, I am going to start planning my units. My first unit will be on Utah geography, plants and animals, where the students will be asked by our Natural History Museum to create a new wing in the museum that will have exhibits on Utah's regions, biomes, plants, and animals. Throughout the unit, students will answer questions by reading, discussing, researching, and through inquiry events. They will reflect each day on what happened, what the group/class decided, and the results of that decision using their Chromebooks. (I am going to have my students start creating ePortfolios just like Paul suggests!)

One of my main goals throughout these simulations is to integrate my Chromebooks in all of our daily lessons and to get students familiar with using different types of web tools during the lessons and in their reflections.


The second topic Paul discusses using debates in the classroom. He states, "Debates are a fun way to get students researching, planning, and speaking in front of others." However, he also cautions that debates need to be set up properly to be a success. Paul walks you through his process step-by-step by showing you how his students did the Alternative Energy Debate. 

Next Year's Goals:
As I thought about how I could use debates in my classroom, my first thought went to the Native Americans. I am thinking that my students could research, discuss, and, finally, debate on which tribe had the best survival methods based on several factors. 

Project-Based Learning:

Another topic Paul talks about in this chapter is project-based learning. He starts off this chapter by stating, "I strongly believe in the value of learning through projects, rather than learning about a subject and then doing a project." This quote really resonated with me. Too often, I teach my students all about the subject and then ask them to do the project; instead, of giving them the opportunity to learn the content by doing a project. 

Next Year's Goals:
One of the first things I did this summer was sit down and create a scope and sequence for my year in all of the subject areas that I teach. I decided that each month we have a major science and/or social studies topic to discuss. For example, in August and September, we will be focusing on Utah geography, plants, and animals. In October, we will be studying Native Americans. In November, it will be about the other settlers, such as explorers, Mormon pioneers, and immigrants.

After doing some research, I have decided that one of the literacy centers my students will do each month will be a project-based learning activity that is centered around our monthly topic. I will be doing a future post about how I have set this up in my classroom because there is a lot involved with it, but it is definitely worth it!

I am so excited to start using more active learning in my classroom. These were three of my favorite ways to bring active learning in to the classroom. What were yours? How do you turn passive learning into active learning? Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, July 6, 2015

Monday Made It - July 6th

I am so excited to be linking up today for another Monday Made It! I hope you all enjoy today's post. I know it's a long one, but it is an exciting one for me!

My first made it really started last year when I switched from desks to tables. I made the decision for a number of reasons. First, I can be a pretty OCD person and seeing the constant mess in my students' desks was getting too much for me - I also had no tote trays or any type of containers to hide the mess. Second, I wanted my classroom to have more of a collaborative type feel where my students could sit at different tables and feel like they belonged. So, I made the switch! 

However, I soon realized that I had to come up with a solution for storing student materials, so I began surfing the web and came across Really Good Stuff! When I saw their bright and colorful bins, I knew I had to have them, both for storing student materials and for organizing my classroom library. I bought 30+ bins in green, blue, and pink. I labeled them with my students' numbers and stuck them on the counters in my classroom. My students stored all of their materials there. It worked really well, but I knew that, if I had the bins closer to my students, it would cut down on transition time. 

I thought really hard about how I was going to solve this problem, when the idea came to me: BOOKSHELVES! My next problem, though, was how to pay for affordable bookshelves. Everywhere I looked the bookshelves where $20-40 a piece. I couldn't afford four of them at that price. This was when the secretary at my school suggested I build them myself. 

One of the first calls I made when school got out was to Home Depot. I got a hold of the manager at my local store and asked him if Home Depot would be willing to donate wood. To my surprise, he said YES!!! I was so excited. Not only did they donate wood, but they donated high quality wood and cut it all to the measurements I needed it. I got $200 worth of wood for FREE. Yep, FREE! I cannot begin to express my gratitude towards Home Depot right now!

Once I had the wood, my husband, my brother, and my brother's friend, who is a carpenter, began building them.

After about three hours of labor in the hot sun, they had built and sanded all four of the bookshelves.

Next, I needed to paint the shelves, so I called up Lowe's - are you seeing a trend here? I got a hold of the head cashier, who after talking with me, said that Lowe's would give me a gallon of high quality paint at cost. At cost is what Lowe's pays for the paint, which is about half of the cost their customers usually pay. So, my total cost for all four bookshelves was $30: $20 for the paint and $10 for food for my three wonderful builders! 

The very next day, my husband and I painted all of the bookshelves, painted the backs, and then nailed them all together. Today, we went into the school to set up the tables and shelves. Here are some pictures of the shelves completed and in my classroom: 

Just looking at these pictures makes me so excited! If you are looking to do something similar, I highly suggest you contact Home Depot and/or Lowe's. Without these two companies, I never would have been able to complete this project!

My second made it goes along with my first. Once I had my tables and bookshelves in my place, I made spots for each of my students using black Gorilla tape. I prefer it to duct tape. Then, I taped down my Kagan Cooperative Learning table numbers. These numbers allow me to partner up my students easily and allow for a variety. 

I got my inspiration for these table numbers after reading a post by the Brown Bag Teacher. Catherine has a freebie on this post with her table numbers; however, I wanted to change my from saying "Table 1", "Table 2", etc. to "Gryffindor", "Slytherin", etc. Yes, my students are divided into the four Hogwarts Houses. I even have the Sorting Hat to make the process more fun!

Here is a closer look at how I divided my tables and used the table numbers. Sorry for the poor lighting!

My third made it goes along with one of my favorite purchases I have ever made on TPT: Jen Jones' Shades of Meaning literacy center. I purchased this resource last year as a way to get all of my students, including my gifted students, to think critically and learn how to collaborate and cooperative with each other. I was a bit nervous when I first introduced it, but after seeing my students in action with it, I knew that it was one of the best teaching decisions I have ever made.

How It Works:
This center is all about fostering critical thinking, collaboration, and cooperation skills. To participate in the center, students gather together to order eight words from most _____ to least _____. For example, one week the students need to work together to order eight synonyms for happy from most happy to least happy. The students have to work together to come up with an order and JUSTIFY their thinking. Yes, they have to explicitly state why they think their order is correct or why one word is higher or lower on the list. It is amazing to hear their discussions and, yes, their arguments. 

To help the center run smoothly, Jen uses two posters, Code of Cooperation and Guidelines to Critical Thinking, as well as some explicit rules. I have taken her two posters, which you can find for FREE on the links above, and printed them out so that all my students can see them and use them for various activities throughout the day. I love the rules that Jen has included in this resource, so I decided to take those rules and create a Shades of Meaning bulletin board with them. These are the rule cards I will be using:

Now all I need to do is put them up on my bulletin board!

My fourth made it is also a vocabulary resource. Last year I started teaching my fourth graders two to three root words every two weeks. We would study them, play games with them, and use them to define unknown words. My students and I both loved it! I knew that I wanted to continue teaching root words this year, but I wanted to change it up by introducing one root word per week. That's when I came across Hope King's new blog post series, Set the Stage to Engage. One of her posts was on teaching Greek and Latin root words and, boy, was I hooked on everything she did to make vocabulary engaging for her students.  I knew that I wanted to implement the activities she was doing, especially her song, which teaches 36 root words. I decide that those would be the root words my students would learn. 

To help my students become familiar with how roots can help us break down a word and understand its meaning, I have created posters for each of the roots that contains an example. My plan is to constantly have these hanging in my room, so my students and I can always refer to them.

Here is a closer look at what each poster includes:

The roots included are: min, mort, tele, opt, geo, bio, bene, ject, dict, fac, graph, scope, spect, vid/vis, vac, polis, pose, ped/pod, meter, loc, astro, aud, chron, gon, grad, junct, manu, mis/mit, mega/magna, form, phon, port, struct, script.

If you are interested in picking up this resource, you can find in my TPT store here: Super Roots Posters. It is currently 20% off until Thursday!

Last week I posted about the exit slip bulletin board pieces I made, this week I want to share them with you as a freebie and show you how I put them up in my classroom. I don't have enough bulletin board space to put it on one, so I put it below one of my boards on the wall. 

Not as cute, but it is definitely easier for the students to reach. The pockets are mini file folders that I found at the Target Dollar Spot last year. If you are interested in snagging your own copy, you can download them here at TPT for FREE.

Thanks so much for stopping by even though it was such a long post! I hope you enjoy your freebie. If you want to see what other bloggers have been creating this week, stop by 4th Grade Frolics.

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Learn Like A Pirate: Responsibility

Welcome back to the Learn Like a Pirate book study, hosted by the Primary Gal! Chapter five is all about responsibility!

Paul starts off this section by stating, "Students need to feel needed and relied upon. And they need to know what tasks need to get done each day and week, as well as how to do them." To do this, Paul assigns some jobs that need to get done every day in order for the classroom to run smoothly and effectively; however, most responsibilities he keeps free for everyone to share. This way students share responsibility for the classroom.

Ever since I moved to fourth grade, I have always struggled with classroom jobs. I have tried assigning jobs to each students. I have tried having group jobs, like "crews". Both had some success, but, in reality, they created more problems then they solved. Students often forget to do their jobs and didn't truly take responsibility for them, while, other times, certain students did ALL the jobs ALL the time. Often times, I spent way more time after school, cleaning up the classroom and getting it ready for the next day. After reading through this section, I know I need to make some changes next year!

Next Year's Goal:
The first thing I need to do is decide which responsibilities need to be done every day so the classroom will run smoothly. As I think about it, some of these jobs will include:
  • Mail Distributors: Pass out all flyers, packets, homework, etc. that get sent home each day or week.
  • Absent-Minded Professors (Paul's Title): Responsible for collecting work for students who are absent.
  • Lunch Helpers: Take and collect the lunch bin from the cafeteria. 
  • Laptop Cart Monitor: Passes out the Chromebooks each morning, collects them in the afternoon, and makes sure everything is charging correctly.
  • Recapper, Evaluator, and Announcer: Responsible for different parts during our end-of-the-day meeting.
The second thing I need to do is decide which responsibilities ALL students can be in charge of, such as putting classroom library books away, wiping down the whiteboard, emptying the pencil sharper, wiping down countertops, putting away center materials, etc.

The final thing I need to do is make sure that everyone gets a change to lead and be responsible. To do this, I am planning on doing lessons throughout the year about what makes a good leader. One of the lessons I know that I will be doing can be found on 3rd Grade Thoughts called, Bosses and Leaders.

One of my favorite sections in this chapter was on rituals. Paul states, "Our schedule is posted for all to see, and, for every reoccurring activity, we have a ritual to guide us through the process. So from walking through the door in the morning to going home when school ends, they know what to do, when to do it, and how it needs to be done. These rituals make it easy for students to lead." Rituals are not routines, though. Rituals are activities that follow a similar pattern each day, but are motivational in nature and are anticipated by students because they know what to expect and can take charge without being asked.

Last year, I really struggled creating a consistent schedule due to all the interruptions that would occur throughout our school day. My school is not on a master schedule, so we constantly had programs happening at different times each day. Sometimes it was for fifteen minutes, others forty-five. It was inconsistent and took away from being able to create rituals in my classroom. 

However, I was able to create rituals in reading. My students knew what to expect when it came time for our literacy centers. They knew where to find the directions and materials, could get started on their away, could ask and answer questions of each other, and didn't need my help. Our centers aways ran smoother than any other part of our day and the students and I both enjoyed them! 

Next Year's Goals:
In order to create rituals in my classroom, I first have to have a consistent schedule. As of right now, I have created a schedule for Monday-Thursday, with most of my specials (once or twice a month) happening on Friday. My plan is to post my schedule in my room with the correct transition times, so that my students can be in charge of letting the class know what it is time to change activities. While this is scary to be, because I am somewhat of a control freak, I know that it'll make my students more responsible and allow me to focus more on my teaching, instead of keeping time. So far my schedules looks something like this:

Math Workshop: 9:00 - 10:20
Mentor Sentences: 10:20 - 10:42
Recess: 10:42 - 10:55
Reading Workshop: 10:55 - 12:15
Lunch & Recess: 12:15 - 12:50
Picture of the Day: 12:50 - 1:00
Paragraph of the Week/Essay of the Month: 1:00 - 1:10
Writers Workshop: 1:10 - 1:55
Vocabulary: 1:55 - 2:12
Recess: 2:12 - 2:25
Science/Social Studies: 2:25 - 3:10
Read Aloud: 3:20 - 3:30
End of Day Meeting: 3:30 - 3:45

I am sure I will make some changes as I refine it a bit!

Once I have my schedule posted, I need to make sure that students know what is expected of them for each activity and be consistent with it. This way students will be able to lead the transitions and help their peers. I can't wait to really start digging into this! I know it will transform my teaching and classroom management next year!

Thanks for stopping by! I know that was a lot to take in. I would love to hear how you encourage and teach responsibility in your classroom in the comments below?

If you want to hear from others, please check out more posts on the Primary Gal! Next week we will be talking about active learning! Yay!