5 For Thank Goodness it's Finally Friday

What a long week! I guess it felt so long because it was the first (well.. besides a half day PLC for me) full week of school since before winter break. Woof. I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs.

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We do a 6-day rotation. Every day 6, we are suppose to do a lesson, activity, discussion all geared towards preventing bullying. This week, I had nothing prepared, but my knight in shining armor (aka- my teammate Kate) sent me some quick slides with some quotes all about the "think before you speak" idea. She was going to read a book; I didn't have the book, so I quickly remembered my latest Olweus Lead training meeting where I wrote down many websites to use and found some simple and short videos. We started the lesson by discussing some of the quotes that Kate had in her slides and what they meant. We then watched the videos, and every time someone said unkind things, they would crinkle their heart (there was 1 heart for every 2-3 kids- they took turns). We then looked at our hearts at the end. I told them to try to get them smooth again. Of course, they couldn't. We tied it back to a few of our quotes about how our words are powerful and we can't take them back. I then had a parent volunteer write some of the quotes onto the hearts and I created this display just in time for conferences next week!



Click on the picture below to go to the website that has a ton of short video clips that you can use in your classrooms as well! For 3rd grade, I used the cartoon videos. They start on the third page.


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We've been celebrating I Love to Read Month. This week, one day, students got to bring a stuffed animal to have them as their "reading buddies." I was shocked at how well the students did with having their stuffed animals. They still did great work and it was so cute to see them snuggle with them. Some animals even were very helpful, as you see in one picture- the student has his bear holding his writing utensils for him. Too cute.

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Line designs are almost done! They have taken the entire trimester. With all the cold days, and sub days (I didn't want the sub leading this project), and only having art every 4 days, they took a while. However, I'm very proud with how this first art unit went... it was my first time teaching art! Here, students met while they were about 3/4 of the way done to confer with someone else. They switched designs and examined each others.
 Then, they gave each other feedback and how to "balance" their project... use more detailed textures vs. simple textures; stay in the lines better, smooth out their values, etc. I was very impressed with the feedback they gave each other. 
 After they met, they went back to continue working on their designs. I am making this project be done before conferences on Tuesday. I am also trying to squeeze in a little writing prompt with it explaining the process. 
 Here are students back to work on their line designs.
 Checkerboards were a very popular value to incorporate. 
 The planning pages were an extremely helpful reference for students throughout this project. 
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As I've said, conferences are next week. We started to decorate our folders. My other teammate, Scott, had the idea to brainstorm all the things we've learned this trimester to decorate our folders with. It was great to have a focus. I told them they could draw pictures representing their learning, or pictures of them learning, or even pictures of me teaching them. Many saw that last one as a challenge. Check out some of their drawings of me below:


Some noticings:
1) Bad day to wear a striped shirt. I look like Waldo.
2) My kids certainly know my love for my mustard yellow knit hat.
3) My kids also know my love for wearing scarves all the time. 


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On a much more serious note, we had a lock down this week. No, not a drill, an actual lock down. During our morning arrival. Image the chaos. It was more of a precautionary step than anything else, but the initial shock of hearing the announcement over the intercom during such a busy part of the day was a rough way to start the day. I'm just glad none of our students were in real danger, but it was a good reality of how to handle something like that. 

Check out what other teachers are up to this past week.




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Liebster! Liebster!

I gots to be honest. I've been nominated before for a Liebster Award.

 And it was when I was completely swamped and was quite neglectful towards this lil' blog. I'm not saying it wasn't an honor, but I just felt like I had bigger tasks to tackle because these Liebster Awards are very intense! A lot of work goes into them and I wanted to do it justice. So when the lovely Angela form Southern Friend Teachin' nominated me this time around... I felt ready (and honored!). So thanks very much Angela! I loved checking out your blog as well as the others that you nominated! It's always a blast to find new blogs to follow!

(to visit any of the blogs, simply click on their buttons)



So now... for the rules:
1. Link back to the blog that nominated me
2. Nominate 5-11 blogs with fewer than 200 followers (this part is at the end)
3. Answer the questions posted for me by my nominator
4. Share 11 random facts about myself
5. Contact my nominees and let them know that I nominated them

Here are the questions from Angela at Southern Fried Teachin!

1. What is one of your favorite teaching memories?
Hmmmm this is hard. I've got a lot! Do I go the funny route? Do I go the proud mama route? We'll go with the funny route: One kiddo (I call him my lil' gummy bear because he reminds me of one) told me a joke, this is how it went:
Student: Mrs. Olson, I wish I had a beaver named Justin.
Me: Oh really? Why is that?
Student:Because then when people would come and ask me, "What's your beaver's name?" I would say, "Justin Beaver."
He then couldn't stop laughing, tripped on his snow pants, fell to the floor, and continued laughing. It's these moments that I remember how little they are so and full of life.


2. What is your favorite school lunch?
Easy. Cheesy Bread and Tomato Soup.


3. What do you enjoy doing in your spare time?
I enjoy creating things- either for my classroom, my home, my family/friends... I also enjoy watching Law and Order: SVU (It's quite an obsession really), trashy reality (can you say The Bachelor and Real Housewives?? I can) and just relaxing. I hope once I get more settled in my career I can have more time for other hobbies.


4. What song gets you up and going and puts a smile on your face?
Oooooh it depends on the time... I'm a product of 'N Sync and Backstreet Boys battles, so really, any song by either of them

5. If you had to give any advice to a new teacher, what would you say?
Go with your gut, stand your ground, and be open to making mistakes. With my teacher prep program, I was constantly observed, and it really helped. I wasn't as nervous when people were observing me and I was open to hearing feedback. I grew so much faster and deeper by being open to the feedback from those more experienced, but I wasn't scared to share my own ideas and stand up for what I believed in. I'm still considered a newbie (only in my 2nd year) but I'm feeling much more confident with just being open.

6. What is a simple review activity that you do in your classroom?
Hmmmm, I often add some review into our morning message. I leave blanks where they have to fill in the blanks or I pose a question that they have to discuss with a partner. I also use white boards a ton to do quick reviews, and then I say, "Chin it" (which shows me they are ready), and then "Spin it" (to reveal it to me), or play simple games like Password at morning meeting or Scoot games.

7. What is the best teacher gift you have ever received?
For this past Valentine's Day, I had a student who noticed other kids were bringing me chocolates and presents. She came up to me, pulled a sucker out of her candy bag, and walked up to me and said, "We don't really have a lot of money, so all I have for you is this sucker." I gave her the biggest hug and explained it was the perfect gift.

Also, last year, I had a great parent volunteer who coordinated a class gift. She took a picture of our class at a field trip and then put it in a frame and had all the students sign it without me knowing. She delivered it with a lovely note thanking me for the year and saying that she hoped I would never forget my "first" class. I have the picture by my desk with the card still attached. :)
 
8. What is one piece of advice you really wish you could give to parents?
What a great question! I have lots of advice... easy coming from a young teacher with no kids herself. However, I'm sure some of my ideas may change once I become a parent myself. However, my one piece would be: "We are a team- trust me here at school to do my job with your child and I'm going to trust that you are at home doing your best job with your child as well." That meaning, I'm going to hold your child accountable at school to do to their best work, to grow, and learn and I expect them to support their child to the best of their abilities (knowing that every family is different) and hold them accountable as well at home.

9. What do you love about blogging?
I love not only sharing ideas to make life a littler easier for others but also to get ideas to make my life a little easier. Sometimes, blogging can make me feel inadequate by some of the amazing things everyone is doing, but I'm learning not to compare myself to other bloggers but to be inspired by them.

10. How do bring laughter into the classroom?
Oh goodness... I can be such a goof in the room. I use different voices when teaching, actions to go with teaching points,  get up and share ideas through movement, just dance videos to have some fun, and play fun games at morning meeting like "Joker." However, I also hold my kids to pretty high standards and they know I can change on a dime if they loose TOO much control (every now and then we all gotta loose control right??)

11. What is your favorite book to read to your students?
I haven't found a favorite yet. I've enjoyed reading Jigsaw Jones books during our mystery unit. My kiddos really love Jigsaw and his humor. I also enjoy reading The Memory String because it has great character trait work.

My Rando 11 Facts:

1. My hometown was listed by National Geographic as the 23rd most historical town EVER!! (Maybe an exaggeration?)... I bet your dying to know where it is! Ok, I'll tell you- Red Wing, MN. Look it up. :)
2. I use to drive a blue moped with a rainbow helmet when I was in my college years (a whopping 3 years ago).
3. I worked at a pool for  3 summers just out of high school over the summers. Not as a lifeguard- because I really can't swim all that well, but as a monitor. I still had to wear those swimsuits that left awful tan lines though. 
4. I love mac and cheese and hot chocolate.
5. I convinced my family to get a family dog 5 years ago... best decision ever. I love Charlie our cavapoo.
6. I married my high school sweet heart this past July after being together for over 8 1/2 years.
7. I'm going to Italy in July. It's the first time I'm going abroad. I've only been as far as Mexico.
8. I bought a yellow knit hat this winter and wear it ALL THE TIME. I made the mistake of telling some staff that I wear it extra long if I didn't shower that morning and was hiding my bad hair day. Let's just say, that was a bad choice- I now get teased. (All in good fun, don't worry you defenders against bullying!)
9. I hate washing dishes. Period.
10. I have toes that are shaped like frog toes (or so I think).
11. I hate wearing socks.


Now for the 5 lovely blogs that need some recognition for being awesome!
I gotta do my team mates blog. She just started blogging. People- she is an amazing teacher and was my mentor; (and although she isn't paid this year to be my mentor- shucks for you, Kate) she is still one of my go-tos when I need someone. Check her out!

Over at Mrs. Bentin's Blackboard, you are bound to find many strategies to get students actively engaged. Check out her Bentin's Bucks!

Kay loves a good linky (just like myself) and has many great ideas that she has shared through Holly's Tried it Tuesday linky parties. I love her detailed posts.

Karri at One Sassy Teacher (who doesn't love that name?!) has some great posts. Her latest one is all about student accountability and it sounds AMAZING!

Mrs. Palmer's teaching blog is new to the blog circuit but 1) it's super cute and 2) she has some great pictures of student's working in action! I personally love the way she is doing a paper collage with the president's faces. 


Here are my questions for my nominees: 
1. What made you start a blog?
2. What strategies do you use to keep your students engaged in their learning?
3. Hot Chocolate, Coffee, Pop (soda), or other as your drink of choice?
4. What piece of advice would you give parents?
5. What is your favorite subject to teach and why?
6. First thing you do when you wake up on a school day?
7. First thing you think when you wake up on a school day?
8. What advice would you give to a first year teacher? (or second year teacher...hello.. me!!)
9. Which task/teaching responsibility do you dread to do the most and why? (example: taking attendance, passing out papers, making copies, etc.)
10. Have you had any weather related school closings this year? How many?
11. What is the best part about being a teacher?

Thanks again, Angela for the nomination and giving me a good kick in the butt to do it! It's been fun! :)

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Have you heard?!?

I'm sure you have heard, unless you live under a rock.... or in my case, under a snow pile that is higher than a 10 story building.

(For realz... I saw this on my drive home. It is probably even higher than that... I'm really bad at estimating.)

TpT hit a major milestone and is throwing a site-wide sale! I'm participating, so stop on by and stock up with 28% off!! Make sure you use that promo code at check out!


Some of my favorite products in my store include:

Center Ideas



Pick 6: Multi-Skill Practice Centers



Art Basics for Non-Art Teaching Teachers :)


Goal Setting Bundle


I'm off to start moving things from my "wish list" to my cart so I'm ready to go!


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Five for Friday: Ruler Breaker Edition

Here I was...

Thinking I'd finally get at least 4 consecutive days with my students.

Then the snow happened.

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(side note: We had our 3rd grade choir concert last night and they DID not cancel it. I was shocked... the roads were awful. But the show went on. My team mate Kate and I went to go get some dinner at Green Mill before hand, since we both live too far away to drive home and come back to school, which is literally like 2 blocks away. We got stuck in front of something that looked similar to this... and it was a tad scary. It took us 15 minutes to get there.)

Well, I'd have to say that this picture isn't entirely true. Yes, the plows did a relatively good job, but they were no match for the blizzard conditions and layers of rutted ice buried beneath 8 + inches of snow that fell yesterday afternoon and evening.

SCHOOL WAS CANCELLED! For the 6th time this year. Last year, I don't think we had one snow day (and yes, I'm in the metro area of Minnesota). This time, it is an actual "snow day." Our other 5 have been "cold days." Looks like another day will be added to our calendar. :(

Let me put this into perspective for you... I have not had a full, 5 day week with my students since before winter break in December!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Between snow days, holidays, and professional development... not one full week. Yikes!

So... it was kinda hard for me to come up with 5 things since we only had 3 days together this week!

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Speaking of missing so much school, it's gotten me a little terrified of testing that will be here before I know it! 


(I thought this was perfect for my teammates new linky...check it out)


Third grade is the first year that students take our "big" state test. We have to do a lot of test prep on just how to take a test- strategies, perseverance skills, stress management... not to mention the actual content. 

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I'm breaking down our standards a bit more thanks to my teammate Kate who reminded me that our math curriculum does have some material that is not third grade standards. Yes, we will teach it, but it didn't make much sense to try to teach area when the kids still didn't know their facts. They could set up area problems in no time, and then spend way too much time trying to figure out 7 x 6. We need to work a bit more on our facts and using them in contexts that are third grade standards, such as function tables. Kate pulled out some resources to use and I added them to Mastery Connect to further gather some data. I've talked about Mastery Connect before here, but that was more so from a teacher's stand point. Here is what it looks like to the students in 3 steps:

(I also had some written response problems on the back... I don't want them to just do multiple choice, so I had them do 6 and then some open response type on the back. I did not put the open responses into Mastery Connect, but I can still look at them and notice inconsistencies.)

They know not to line up and wait. They work on other things at their desk if they finish and wait until the computer is open. Usually, everyone gets theirs scanned in within 15 minutes, and since students don't finish all at the same time, it works pretty well.

Their score also goes into my trackers so I can print class reports! :)

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My husband also had no school today. We are about to head out to start digging our cars out... we have to be out of the lot by noon to let the plows in. We're going out to lunch while we wait. :)

My poor, little, mustard car.


I'm breaking the 5 for Friday rules and only doing 4 today.... blame it on the Snow Day :)



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Flash Freebie: Math Madness

I love basketball. It is by far my fav sport. Especially college hoops. So what does basketball have to do with this quick post?

I've graded my students Unit 7 test (which was their first exposure to multiplication and division)... and we took our first timed math facts test (we use Nancy Nuttings layout, which gives you a clear glance as to which types of facts your students are strongest at)... and let's just say- it wasn't too pretty.

I've been preaching every night, "Practice your facts for 5 minutes every night," and preaching every morning, "Practice your facts for morning work today."

It ain't working. I do think taking our first time test was a wake up call for many of them that, man, these multiplication facts are not going away. Especially with the fact that our next unit is more multiplication and division. Mainly with larger numbers. So I had to create some fun games for them to work on these.

Here is where my basketball love comes into play. I wanted a game to focus on the type of facts I saw the least automaticity with: 6, 7, 8s. So I created:


I also wanted them to practice their division facts more, so I created:


Lastly, fractions is coming up fast. I wanted to get my independent workers a head start to see what they know (so I can differentiate later when we get to the unit) so I created this:



You can get them separately or in the bundle for FREE! But only until we get our grub on (aka- have dinner). You've got about an hour or so. Enjoy!



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5 for Friday: What a Week!

It's Five for Friday time... although, I'm back to doing it on Saturdays. Here's a peek at how my week went (let's just say- this weekend was well deserved for me).


You'll hear me say it a few times. I had subs on Monday, Wednesday, and half of Thursday. All due to professional development or PLCs. My kiddos began to loose it with our choppy, out of routine schedule. Who am I kidding. I was loosing it probably more. So I brought out some resources from Erin's Interactive Writing Notebook that I won from a giveaway! We ended our persuasive speeches last week and we'll be starting a short literary essay unit next week, so this past week, we did a few activities to help us prepare for the literary essay while also focusing on all the parts of speech work we've been doing with mentor sentences and our morning messages. It was engaging and meaningful. I loved it- the kids loved it!


My LEAP group is cruising along with all of the new centers/activities I've planned or created. A lot of the activities require multiple pieces, and some of the amazing products I've bought needed some student directions with it. So I created these little square direction cards complete with a checklist of what materials should be included. I also would include examples or models for them to use as well to try to make this as independent as possible, as I have a small LLI group to run at the same time. 


Book clubs are going GREAT! 3 groups have already finished their first mystery book and have begun a 2nd. The other two groups will finish early next week! They are loving it and so am I. They are totally engaged and they are getting through books faster (it's really holding them accountable). I'm also loving the 4 square book response work they've been doing. It's apart of their reading assignment. I described it more here. I love seeing their work and giving them feedback right away. I feel like I actually know what they are reading and am able to detect if they are doing quality thinking during it. 


I was out Monday for SIOP training (session 2 of 3 done!). On Wednesday, I was out at Olweus Site Trainer Training. Myself and one of my teammates will be the leads at our building for continuing to support staff and ensure that our Olweus anti-bullying program is being fully implemented. We had to practice doing a booster staff meeting at this past training and one group was in charge of describing the bully circle. They did a quick draw explanation and I thought it would be perfect to bring back to my classroom. We've already talked about the bully circle, but I thought this visual would be great to remind them of the different roles people play when they witness bullying happen. I had the pictures already drawn up there and they had to try to name the different roles. I then wrote them in as we discussed. We had a good discussion that if you witness someone being bullied, you fall somewhere on this bully circle and you need to use integrity to decide what to do about it. (That "I" word is one I'm really pushing with my class this year- especially with all the subs this year due to PD) It was good!


Of course- it was Valentine's Day! The kids spoiled me with more chocolate than any human should eat. I was also spoiled by my husband who not only had a beautiful lily plant greeting me in the morning at home, but also a GORGEOUS tulip arrangement delivered to school. Tulips are my absolute favorite and always puts me in a "spring" mind set (which is so needed with all this cold and snow). I returned the favor as well to him, by getting him the XBox One he's been wanting since Christmas. He deserves it for all that he has done for me. I truly am so blessed to have him! I also made these little glow-stick valentine's for my students (they got enough candy from their classmates). They were a hit!!

Thanks Doodle Bug's for hosting!!



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