Monday, October 10, 2016

My Plans in Pictures {October 10-14}

We have another short week this week with Monday off and then Parent Teacher Conferences this week!  It will still be jam packed with learning and fun!

We will not have a normal spelling list this week because of the shortened week.  We will continue to practice our phonograms and we will work on our high frequency words.  

Right before spelling time each day we will do our usual Morning Meeting.  This is one of my favorite parts of the day!  We have it down to being entirely student led now and they can get it done in 10 minutes!  It is such a great use of 10 minutes and makes such a difference in our classroom community!

Check out Morning Meeting HERE and you can read all about why I love it so much HERE!

This week we will work on those tricky grammar rule breakers....Irregular Verbs.  I can't wait to "deputize" my students so they can catch those rule breakers! 
I usually follow the same pattern every week when I introduce a new grammar skill.  We put a flip book in our interactive notebook, I use a Power Point to teach and do some whiteboard practice, we use task cards to do a write the room, we do some sort of partner practice and do Plickers {their favorite}! 
My recently updated Irregular Verbs pack includes everything you need to teach and practice this tricky skill!  {Plicker practice not included....Plickers is a free website teachers can use!}

Check out the Irregular Verbs pack HERE

We will continue working on using context clues and finding the main idea this week.  These are both skills that we have learned before but since it's a short week I will be using it to review these important concepts!

We will continue working on stretching our sentences to add where, when, why or how details.

Friday we will write our weekly Home Journal letters.  Grab my Home Journal FREEBIE here!

I am absolutely loving our weekly problem solving journals and I have noticed a HUGE difference in their problem solving abilities.  You can read about how I use the journals on my blog {HERE} and you can check out the growing bundle HERE!  Grab it now for a great price...when the bundle is complete it will be over $50!  I add a journal or two a week to the bundle!

We will work on our addition skills by doing a scoot activity using this FREEBIE!

We will review using some fun Halloween themed math centers. Check them out HERE.

We will also continue to review and practice our multiplication facts.  You can read about the different strategies that I use HERE and check out the wristbands my class is obsessed with HERE!

Friday in our room will be a STEM Friday!  My class is in LOVE with the amazing STEM challenges from Brooke at Teach Outside the Box.
Check out her amazing STEM bundle HERE!

Social Studies:
We have been working on map skills in our geography unit.  Traditionally, here in Arizona many of our families will take this first long weekend in October to travel to Disneyland in CA.  A few years ago, one of my students brought back a class set of Disneyland maps.  So, I created this little partner activity for my students to use with the maps and it was a huge hit!  You can download the FREEBIE here!

We will also begin talking about our culminating project....Create a Country!  I am so excited to get this going with my class! You can read about this hands on project HERE!

As you can see, it's going to be another jam packed and fun filled week in third grade!

You can grab the products featured in my plans in pictures for 20% off for the next 2 days!

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Weekly Problem Solving Journals

Several weeks ago we had a team planning meeting to plan for our math instructional unit.  Our first instructional unit in math is multiplication and division with the factors 2,3,4,5 and 10.  I always feel so much pressure teaching this unit because it such an important concept for students and I want to make sure I do the very best job teaching it as possible.  

One of the things that we wanted to make sure that we give our students plenty of exposure to is using their new found multiplication and division skills to solve problems.  Over the years, I have tried many different approaches to problem solving in my classroom.  I have typed problems on a power point and had students solve them in their math notebook.  I have typed problems on address labels and put them on pages of their math notebooks.  

These methods all worked just fine and students were able to get sufficient practice.  The one downside that bothered me was the fact that our math notebooks stayed at school and parents were never able to see the problems that students were being asked to solve.

The idea for Weekly Problem Solving Journals was born and our problem was solved (like my little play on words!). 

The idea was to take one type of problem and work on it for a week.  Students would get a week's worth of practice and we would be able to scaffold the instruction and practice of those problems.  We use the Weekly Problem Solving Journal as our math bellwork each day.  It takes between 5 and 10 minutes.

On Monday we look at the problem together and I model how I think through the problem.  We highlight important information and then we discuss different strategies we could use to solve it.  I model my thinking as I solve the problem step by step and then how to prove that my answer is correct.

Tuesdays we try a similar problem.  I still provide some guidance.  We do some table talk discussions with peers and solve and prove our solution.

Wednesdays are my students' favorite day, it's "Work With a Partner Wednesday."  This allows them to have some support as they discuss the problem and work through it together.  As I'm walking around and checking in with each group, I also look for different ways that groups solved the problem or proved it and I have them share under the document camera with the class.

Thursday students try it themselves.  I give them some quiet thinking time and they work through it. As they are working, I walk around the room and help those who get stuck by questioning them and coaching them through it.  After our quiet time, we check the answer together.

Friday is our independent practice day.  I always tell my class that it's like going to the doctor for a check up.  I just need to check to make sure they are growing and learning.  The last page of the journal is a review problem.  When they have completed the last two pages of the journal they turn it in.

We've been using the journal for about a month now and I have seen a huge improvement in my students problem solving skills.  I love that the routine is consistent from week to week and that it allows me to provide targeted instruction on problem solving without taking up too much time!

My Weekly Problem Solving Journals are available as a growing bundle in my store!  This means that you can grab them now at a reduced price and redownload the file as new journals are added!!!  When the bundle is complete it will contain 25-30 journals and will cost over $50!  You can grab it now for just $8.50.  The price will increase as each week is added, so grab it now for the best deal!!!

The bundle also includes an editable version of the Weekly Problem Solving Journal so that you can create your own problems!

Monday, September 5, 2016

My Plans in Pictures {September 5-9}

This week is a super short week.  Monday is Labor Day and then Tuesday is another day off for students.  Our district moved to full day professional development days for teachers last year.  The days usually back to a 3 day weekend giving our families a 4 day weekend.  Teachers are given choices and we get to sign up for professional development classes that will be most meaningful to us.  Tomorrow I will be taking a class on building my classroom website and then a class on planning instructional units for ELA.  I'm looking forward to learning a lot and getting a lot of work done!

Here are my plans for Wednesday-Friday in pictures!

Spelling: We will be working on phonograms {we use the Spalding program} and high frequency words.  We won't have a normal spelling list or test because of the shortened week.

We will be learning all about abstract nouns using my Abstract Noun Pack.  There is a flip book to put in their interactive notebook, a slideshow to use to teach and practice, a write the room to practice and then a culminating art project.

Reading:  In reading this week we will be learning how to use context clues.  The activities in this pack are always a huge hit, especially the made up words.  

My kiddos always love coming up with made up words of their own and writing their own sentences.  It is an amazing way to practice and they don't even know that's what they are doing they are having so much fun!

Writing:  This week we will be finishing up an opinion writing piece.  We will have a mini-lesson on stretching out our sentences and will use that to revise our opinion piece.  We will use the activities from my S.U.P.E.R. Sentences pack.

Math:  This week in math we will begin learning the strategies for multiplying and dividing by 2 and 5.  You can read more about the strategies I use to teach multiplication HERE.  And HERE. I'm so excited for my kiddos to start wearing their multiplication and division wrist bands as we learn!  

M.A.T.H. Centers:  In centers this week we will be reviewing arrays using my Hip,Hip, Array pack.

We will also review division as equal sharing using my division task cards.

Science:  In science we have been learning about the types of rocks and how they are formed.  This candy comparison is always a huge hit!  There is just something so engaging about making a lesson yummy!  This activity is part of my rocks unit, you can check it out HERE.

It's going to be another fun and exciting week in third grade.  It will all be capped off by our local high school rivalry football game!  The two high schools are a mile apart.  The K-8 school I teach at feeds to one of the schools and my husband teaches/coaches and our daughters  attend and are on the Pom Team at the rival school!  It's going to be an exciting way to end the short week!

Today and tomorrow you can grab all of the products that I will be using for 20% off in my store!  Use the links to go check them out.
Happy Labor Day everyone!

Sunday, September 4, 2016

Weekly Routines {Tuesday: Tuesday Folders}

Several years ago, I received an email from a parent.  she was concerned that she hadn't seen any graded papers coming home and had no idea how her son was doing in my class.  I thought that was rather odd since my grade book is kept up to date and papers were mailed daily and their mailboxes were cleaned out daily as part of our pack up routine.  I explained this to her in my response.  Long story short...she found a bunch of papers crumpled up under his bed and in the back of his closet.  And those were just the ones that actually made it home...he admitted that some went in the trash can he passed walking home through the park.  

This experience led to a new routine in my classroom that year and it is one that I have used every year since....Tuesday Folders.

Each Tuesday my students bring home their Tuesday Folder filled with all of their graded papers from the previous week.  Inside the Tuesday Folder is a paper that parents sign saying that they have received and looked through all of the papers.  There is also a space that they can jot down any questions or comments.

Parents know to expect this every week and that if things appear to be missing that they should email me!  We also have an online grade book system that parents have access to so they can cross check to make sure everything came home.  
It has been a great way to keep everyone accountable.  It keeps me on track with grading because everything needs to be finished and my grade book updated in a timely manner.  It holds parents accountable, they sign saying they've seen all of the papers so there aren't any surprises come progress report or report card time.  And students are held accountable because they know that their parents are expecting to see their folder and its contents every week...nothing can get thrown in the trash!

Why Tuesday?
I chose Tuesdays because it gives me time if I need to catch up on grading over the weekend.  It also allows me time to input grades into the computer on Monday when we return to school. Sometimes the system we use is difficult to access from home and I wanted to allow myself time for technical difficulties.  Also, many of our school holidays fall on a Monday, so sending them home on a Tuesday helps account for those days off!

How I Organize Tuesday Folders
I have a bin in the classroom where I put papers that need to be mailed.

Graded papers and flyers that are going home go in this mail tray.  One of our classroom jobs is "Mail Person,"  it is their job to work on mailing the papers.  I sometimes have my junior high T.A.s help the mail person stay caught up.  
I have a crate with file folders in it.  Each students' Tuesday Folder goes back into their file when it is returned to school and the papers get "mailed," right into their folder.

On Tuesday when it's time for them to go home my helpers pass out folders and each student looks through their papers and organizes them into the folder.  
If folders aren't returned to school by Friday, I send an email reminder to those parents to please look through their child's folder and return it to school.
This system has been a great way to make sure parents are informed of their child's progress and that no one is missing important papers.  If you would like to try implementing Tuesday Folders, you can download an editable version HERE.

Monday, August 22, 2016

Weekly Routines {Monday: Weekly Agenda}

My friend, who also happens to be our school librarian, called me the other morning to tell me about something overheard at the gym.  A former teaching colleague of ours who subs was asked which rooms she likes to sub in.  I guess mine was one that she named and she said, "Her students could run that class themselves, they know exactly what to do."  

That got me to thinking....and I think she is right.  I could probably not show up for school tomorrow and my students would know exactly how to proceed with our day!  There are so many routines that we have and for many students that predictability is extremely helpful. sparked an idea for a new blog series...Weekly Routines That Make Life Easier.  I am going to share with you the routines that we go through on given days throughout the week that really help me stay organized, keep our class running smoothly, and keep students on track to meet their third grade learning goals!

Monday:  Weekly Agenda

One of the things we have heard from the fourth grade teachers at our school is that our kiddos come to them and struggle with the increased independence and responsibility.  In fourth grade they start using agendas and students are required to write in them daily.  In third grade we have always typed out a weekly calendar and put it in our students' Take Home Folders.  To help ease that transition we have switched to a Weekly Agenda.  

Each Monday, I help students fill in the front side of the agenda.  We write down the standards we will be covering for the week.  Eventually I would like to move to having the students copy the learning targets from the board for this part.  Students write the name of the book they are working on for A.R. to help their parents hold them accountable for reading each night and it helps me make sure they are making progress in their books.  

The next part of the agenda is their Weekly Academic Vocabulary.  Right now I am typing this in for them, but the goal is to have students start writing this part as well.  

There is also a progress check where I can let parents know if their child is missing any assignments from the previous week.  My grade book is up to date by Monday morning each week.

The back side of the Weekly Agenda is probably my favorite part.  It has space for students to write in any reminders, like tomorrow is P.E. or field trip permission slips are due.  But, my all time favorite spot is for our daily reflections.  We do a lot with growth mindset in our classroom and I think it is so important for students to reflect every day on what they did well and what they need to work on for the next day.

This part of the agenda is a work in progress and I love to see how much students improve at self reflection throughout the school year!

Ready to try a Weekly Agenda in your classroom?  You can grab an editable version on my Weekly Agenda for FREE!  

Just click HERE!  I'd love to hear how it's working in your room or see some examples of your students' reflections!  If you post a picture be sure to tag me @theblessedteacher on Insta or @TheBlessedTeach on Twitter so I can check it out!

Sunday, August 14, 2016

My Weekly Lesson Plans in Pictures {August 14-19}

Back to School was a huge success!  I was so happy to meet my class and our first three days together were amazing!  I love that we started on a Wednesday this year.  Those three days are a great opportunity to take it slow and learn our routines, procedures and expectations and then we can hit the ground running on our first full week.

Monday will start our first full week of the school year and here is what our week looks like in pictures!

We won't officially start our spelling time until next week.  We still need to finish assessing our kiddos and then meet as a grade level to work out our spelling groups.  We switch classes during this time to do targeted instruction on phonograms and spelling rules that each group specifically needs to work on.
During our spelling time this week I will continue to focus on our classroom routines, procedures and expectations.
We learned most of our routines last week, thanks to my trusty Routines and Procedures Binder I was able to stay on track and not forget any!  This week we will discuss what to do when you finish an assignment early and learn the "Fun When You're Done," options.

We will also continue to learn our classroom expectations during our Morning Meeting.  We have already learned to Be Respectful, Be Trustworthy and Be an Active Listener.  This week we will work on Be Safe and Be Your Best.

Grammar this week will focus on reviewing and learning the Parts of Speech.  We will do lots of interactive and get up out of your seat activities!

This first part of our week will focus on learning how to "Table Talk."  We do a LOT of taking about our learning in our classroom and I think it is sooo important to teach them HOW to have a good conversation.  We started last week and will finish learning about it early this week.  We will have our first "official," Table Talk using First Day Jitters toward the end of the week.  The great thing about Table Talk is that once they learn how to do it, I can use for ANY content area!  

This week during writing we will focus on  how to write a good paragraph using Color Coded Paragraphs.  In third grade they need to begin writing multiple paragraphs, so I spend a little time at the beginning of the year making sure they know the parts of a paragraph and how to write a good paragraph.  We also write a friendly letter in our Home Journal every Friday so I need them to be able to write a good paragraph for that!  Head to my TpT store to download the freebie!!

Our first Instructional Unit in Math is Understanding Multiplication and Division.  I'm excited to have a new resource this year, our district adopted My Math and it will be so nice to have some resources!  I will still use my Monster Multiplication resource to introduce the concept of multiplication, as well as my journal companion to Each Orange Had 8 Slices.  I love using hands on and fun activities to introduce and practice this new skill!

I'm excited to get our Earth Science unit underway.  I love teaching this unit and I have so many fun...and yummy things up my sleeve!  This week we will learn about the different types of rocks!

To check out any of the products I will be using click on the links!  
It should a fun and busy week in third grade this week and I can't wait!!!

Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Invest Now {Part 2: Establishing Classroom Expectations}

Establishing clear classroom expectations is so important, and laying that strong foundation will pay out throughout the school year.  Whatever you use for your classroom...rules, expectations, whatever you call them, I hope that you will find some of these ideas helpful.

In our classroom we don't have "rules," we have expectations.  These are the things that I expect because you are one of Wood's kids.  We do the same thing at home with our own children and it has worked great for our family.  I also like that instead of a list of negative things like, "Don't do this and don't do that," it's a list of behaviors that are expected and it pretty much covers the gamut of behaviors that could come up.

We call them "The 5 Ways to Be"

I begin by introducing them to the 5 Ways to Be during our very first Morning Meeting of the year.  {You can read more about Morning Meeting and why I think it is one of the most important things we do each day by clicking HERE.}

At that first Morning Meeting the first thing I tell them about The 5 Ways to Be is that we don't have classroom rules.  I love to see the confused looks on their faces when I say this!  I then talk to them about what expectations are and why they are important and give them a brief overview of The 5 Ways to Be.  

For the next 5 days, we go in depth with one of the 5 ways each morning.  For each of the expectations I do a few different things.  

My favorite thing and I think the MOST beneficial is the Looks Like/Sounds Like charts.  There are a few ways that you can do these and in the past I have done all 5 Ways to Be on the first day of school and using the carousel cooperative learning strategy.  Last year I decided to slow it down and focus on one a day.  I think it is important to take the time to really build an understanding of what each of these expectations really mean.

So, each morning at Morning Meeting we work together as a class to complete the Looks Like/Sounds Like chart. 

When we finish with each chart I laminate it and hang it on the wall for the year.  It is so powerful because it is their ideas!  These are the things that they came up with from a class discussion and so when they need a reminder it is so much more powerful to be able to say, "Remember, YOU told me that being respectful means that you aren't making faces at people when they are sharing an idea!"

I also like for my students to do some self reflecting and think of something that they can do or will work on for each of the 5 Ways to Be.

The last thing that I do is I leave out compliment cards as we learn each of the expectations.  I encourage students to keep an eye on their classmates and when they see them being respectful or safe...grab a compliment card and fill it out.  We often save these for the compliment part of Morning Meeting but you can have students leave them at their classmates desks or pass them out at pack up time.  I love to fill them out when I see a student really living up to our expectations too.  It's a great way to send a positive note home with students too!

Once we've learned all of our classroom expectations, we fill out this flip book.  It's a great tool for them to take home and be able to communicate to their parents what is expected of them at school.

If you would like to try using The 5 Ways to Be in your classroom, I've put everything together for you in this little pack.

Click HERE to check it out and grab it on sale today only!

It's also available in my Back to School Essentials can grab that's on sale also!

Whether you use The 5 Ways to Be or your own set of rules, I highly recommend trying Looks Like/Sounds Like charts!  I would love for you to comment and share some of your go to strategies for teaching your rules/expectations in your classroom.  Let's help each other to make an invest now, at the beginning of the year, that will pay out for the entire school year!