Sunday, January 18, 2015

MLK JR. Day: Celebrating Change by Saving You Some (SALE)

I don't know about you, but we have tomorrow off from school. Before we left on Friday, we watched a Brain Pop Jr. video on Martin Luther King Jr.'s life and had a discussion on why we had Monday off. The sad reality, is that we still have space to grow in the fight Dr. King started nearly 70 years ago with a letter to an editor stating the need for equality. I look out at my class and think of all the amazing experiences I'm gaining by working with such a diverse population. Each of my kiddos brings something everyday that teaches me to not only be a better teacher, but a better human being. They teach me compassion, humility, kindness, empathy, and hope. I couldn't imagine not having such a melting pot in my room, where we teach one another about our different beliefs, goals,  and families. Because of my students though, I still see the injustice we have yet to overcome. We've seen improvements, but we have a long road ahead still.  Having courageous conversations with our students and shedding light on our past is giving us hope for our future.

It's also important that teachers are equipped to teach their students and create an environment that fosters growth in all mindsets. And for that, my store is on sale for Monday only! Stock up on some materials to help your students succeed while we celebrate a great leader!

Note: My Sale is Monday Only! Do some shopping on your day off!
Whether you have school tomorrow or not, I hope you take the opportunity to reflect on your students and the impact you are making in their lives; and think about what they are teaching you as well. :)

Monday, January 5, 2015

Plicker- Formative Assessment with a Scan of your Smartphone

I don't know about you, but our school/district is a little behind with getting technology in the hands of our students. I have mixed feelings about it. For example, we do have SMARTboards. And today, my bulb decided to die. And they didn't have anymore in stock. So now I have to wait for who knows how long. Looks like I'm going back into the old days of chart paper and overhead projectors until I can get it fixed. Is it weird I'm kinda excited about it? I have to say, I feel a little liberated!

However, technology can be crazy cool too. There are so many fun, educational apps out there that I don't really get to use because we don't have any tablets in our school for students to interact with. So when The Brown Bag Teacher posted on her Facebook about another blogger, Katie over at Simply Creative in Kentucky, and an app that only requires a smartphone (hey- I have one of those now!), I had to check it out!

I could do a super elaborate post, but honestly, Katie did such a fantastic job with pictures and explanations, so you need to go over and read her post on how this app can give you instant feedback on your students' progress. Just look at this data I got today as we learned how to use this tool while also having some "back to school" fun! Here is a very simply run down on the process.

1) Create your questions!

2) Post your questions and have your students select their answer with their cards and begin scanning! (again, visit Katie's blog for what I'm talking about).

 Or... switch views for a graph that is created "live!"
3) Review your data!

I'm excited to begin to include this throughout our day and collect data on my students' understanding of a variety of things! My team and I are already brainstorming some ideas.

Oh- I almost forgot! I selected a winner of my Making Change pack! Find out if you are the lucky one here!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Game Boards (plus) Task Cards (plus) Practice = Progress

Yesterday, I shared my new Practice = Progress tub that I'm rolling out after winter break to get to those kiddos who are still needing practice with standards we've already covered this year. I love the scrapbooking project bins from Michael's for these, because they are a great size and I can keep everything I need organized and in the same space. The giveaway ends tonight at midnight- stop by that post for great odds to win the resources in that tub!

Well I found an even slimmer bin and I had the idea of using it as game board storage system to use with all the task cards I've gathered and created over the last year on various skills.

There are lots of options that might work for you and your classroom as well, so I thought I'd share how I put mine together and give you some ideas on how you can replicate it in your room!

[1] Storage

Like I said, this container/tub/bin/ thinger is from Michaels. I guess they call it a case on the website. And I got it on sale... score! It fits normal copy paper size (but it isn't tight). Here, I store all of my game boards I made in the bottom half. I put them in plastic sleeves so I can save on laminating. I remember reading our staff handbook one year and our principal wrote a comment about how lamination sits around in landfills for over 100 years; followed by the statement, "Is this really something I want to last that long?" So now, I try to find alternatives to lamination because a) no, I don't want this stuff for 100 years, b) I don't have the patiences to wait to get things laminated and refuse to spend more money on my own personal laminator c) I don't want to get yelled at at school for laminating too much

On the lid, I have plastic hooks for the player markers. These will be laminated though (they're small). Yes, they sometimes fall off when I close the lid, but when I open it and place them back on the hooks, I can see if we are missing a set. I also have some task cards in here (more on that later).

[2] Game Boards

Game boards are easy and fun to make! I have so much clip art, especially from Creative Clips where theses circles are from, to allow me to make a variety of boards. I have some very basic ones to very elaborate ones. I'm all about choices! This way, students can choose one that interests them or I can guide others towards boards that I think are best suited for them. I wanted boards though that were pretty self explanatory to students. I will slip in an index card into the back of the sleeve to explain any special spaces if necessary.

Pond Clip Art from Teacher's Gumbo; Mouse Clip Art from Graphics from the Pond; Dinosaur and Bubble Gum from Creative Clips.

I used some of my other favorite clip art from other talented artists from TpT to make "themed" game boards too.

[3] Player Pieces/Markers
I have a sleeve on top of the lid too for students to slip their game board in and play on top of the case.
These are not necessary- but they are fun! I just made little player pieces and put them in a binder clip upside down. I made 6 different sets- some go with the theme boards (but can obviously be used with any board). However, you don't have to use them! Do you have counters? Have students write their initials or classroom number using a dry erase marker and use that! Connecting cubes? Have each student pick a different color to represent them. There's tons of options for player pieces.

[4] Cards and How to Play

Grab some task cards and a dice and you are ready to roll! One player starts and picks a card from the pile of task cards (face down). They read and answer (either verbally or write it down on a personal whiteboard). If the other players agree they are correct, they roll the dice and move that many spaces. If they are wrong, they don't get to move. Next person's turn! Simple!

And you can give choice to which task cards they use or assign them. I made these above task cards to fit our first MN Math standard for Number and Operations. There are 5 benchmarks in this standard, so I color coded each standard and labeled it to help keep them organized. But I'll also use other task cards I've bought on TpT and continue to make others to fit my students' needs. To keep them engaged and save on paper for recording pages (and the fact that I stink at keeping up with copies), these game boards are a great solution. Not to mention, you can use task cards that cover a range of content areas and students can focus on the content and not on how to play since they will be familiar with the game boards.

I'm excited to get these rolling for early finishers and for practicing those skills we haven't quite mastered yet! If you make your own game board storage system, I'd love to see it!