Wednesday, November 11, 2015

Partner Reading with True/False Sorts


One of my students’ favorite Daily 5 choices is Read With Someone.  It can be a challenge to find materials to keep them excited, engaged and on task.  My kiddos love when I put true/false sorts in the Read With Someone bucket! 

What Are True/False Sorts?

These sorts are a great way to engage students and set the stage for their reading.  Partners get a set of cards that they sort before reading using any prior knowledge they have on the subject.  The goal of this first sort is not to be correct, but to help set the stage and focus their reading.



After sorting, the partners then take turns reading the passage. 


Then the partners return to their sort and discuss each card.  They will decide if it can remain in the column they originally  put it in, or if based on their reading it needs to be moved. 


This strategy is a great way to get students discussing their reading and they have to use evidence from the text to justify their sort.

You can create True/False sorts for any books or passages that you are using in guided reading groups.  Passages from Read Works are great for creating sorts also. 

If you don’t have time to create your own you can grab my Ocean Animals Passages and Sorts.  They are high interest and between a third and fourth grade reading level. 

True-False Sort Pack (Ocean Animals) Collage

Stay tuned for other themed sorts…there are more to come!  Happy Sorting!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

Problem Solving Made Less Painful!

If your math assessments are anything like ours they have a lot of short answer, problem solving, explain your thinking type problems included.  We were looking for a way to get our students to work through problems and explain how they arrived at their answer.  Enter R.I.C.E. Check, courtesy of my brilliant friend Mrs. Nelson (who is NOT missing, she just moved to Kansas). 

Mrs. Nelson was my teaching partner for several years before moving and becoming an instructional coach at a very lucky school in Kansas.  She flies out to sunny AZ at least twice a year and we get to hang out, go for walks/hikes, and chat all things school.

On one of our walks we were chatting about how to get students to explain their mathematical thinking in writing and she shared her genius idea of Rice Check!  After having used it and tested it out for two years now, I asked her if I could share it with you on my blog and she graciously said yes! 


The day that I introduce R.I.C.E. Check to my students I give them a little snack of Rice Chex to get them interested!


I’m not sure what it is about including food that gets them so excited, but it works.  They seem to remember how R.I.C.E. Check works so much better since they get to eat while learning about it. 




To start them off, I make an anchor chart that hangs on our math wall and then give them a small copy to glue into their math notebooks.



The first SEVERAL times we use R.I.C.E. Checks we do it together as a class.  Modeling how to use it and sharing your thinking with your class is such an important step.  I also use it during small group instruction during math centers so I can work with them a little more closely on it!


This is my second year using R.I.C.E. Checks with my students.  In the last two years I have seen how successful this strategy is.  On our framework assessments, students who use R.I.C.E. Checks to solve the short answer problems and explain their thinking earn all of the points on the rubric.  In order to get enough practice, we glue in a week’s worth of problems into our math journal.  We warm up for our math time each day by problem solving.  Once they get the hang of it, they can usually get finished in about 15 minutes.  I collect their journals every Friday and check one of the problems.  I never tell them ahead of time which problem I will be checking, it keeps them on their toes! 


I think the most important part of our problem solving time is the time we spend sharing our thinking.  My students love to pair share and see all of the different strategies they used to solve the same problem.  Allowing them time to discuss their thinking, talk about strategies that they were successful with, as well as those they tried and abandoned is such an important step.  They learn so much from each other.

If you would like to try R.I.C.E. Check with your students go grab the pack for FREE from my TPT store {Click HERE}. It has everything you need to get started!


Happy Problem Solving!

Friday, October 2, 2015

October 2GetherWeAreBetter

I’m so excited to be linking up with two of my favorite bloggers, Ashley and Angie, for a linky about one of my favorite subjects….math!
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I am so excited to share 2 of my favorite math strategies for this month’s 2getherwearebetter!


Two to three times a week we begin our math time with problem solving journals.  I project a problem on the smart board.  I try to write the problems using my students’ names and they love when I find Melonheadz that look like them!


I give them quiet problem solving time.  While they are working, I make the rounds encouraging and coaching as needed.  The important thing is that we are working on our perseverance.  We are working on not giving up if the first strategy we try doesn’t work, we are working on checking to make sure our answer is reasonable and makes sense.  We are working on explaining our thinking and constructing viable arguments.  We work on modeling mathematics and use appropriate tools. Sound familiar?  Our problem solving routine covers 7 of the 8 mathematical practices!

During our quiet problem solving time students can use any tool available to help them.  I have bins set up with different kinds of math manipulatives and tools.  After quiet time we take our journals and walk around the room doing pair share.  They take turns explaining how they solved the problem.  If they don’t have a solution yet they talk through all of the strategies they’ve tried.  It’s amazing to hear them talk about their thinking with each other.  It’s also amazing to hear them coach each other through struggles and offer each other ideas!

My other favorite strategy is one of my favorite parts of our day!


If you never heard of Number Talks I highly recommend checking them out.  I am in love with them.  My kids are in love with them.  I had two groups of visiting teachers in my room this week to observe our Number Talks and they loved them and couldn’t believe the vocabulary my kids were using and how they were discussing their thinking! 

You can read about my love for Number Talks in a previous post HERE.

Here is what our board looked like after our Number Talk today.


We have been busy adding to our Number Talk Tool Box this week too. 


Again, this strategy hits 7 of the 8 mathematical practices.  And to hear your kids saying things like, “I decomposed the number 88 into 80 and 8….,”  and asking each other questions like, “Can you explain why you subtracted 6 at the end?”  is the most amazing thing ever! 

You can check out the Number Talks book HERE and be sure to check out my previous post!

I’m so excited to go read about some other great math games and strategies!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Visual Plans {9/28-10/2}

I’m excited to be back and linking up my plans with the fabulous DeeDee Wills.  It’s been crazy busy at school and at home (we have been busy with some remodeling- I will post some pics at the end of this post!) so it’s been a few weeks since I’ve gotten my visual plans done and linked up!

peek at my week final 2014





Grammar:  We are finishing up Abstract Nouns this week!  Last week, we did our Abstract (noun) Art and they absolutely loved it.  I think that it really help them see that while they can’t touch, see, hear or smell abstract nouns we have symbols and images that represent some of them that we can see.  It really helped them understand the difference between concrete and abstract.

Abstract Art

Click on the picture above to check it out in my store and grab it while it’s on sale!

Reading: We will be finishing up with main idea this week and beginning our framework 2 assessment at the end of the week.  My kiddos have been doing an amazing job with main idea and I attribute it to two things. 

First, we began our main idea unit by using Main Idea Bags.  They were a huge hit and an engaging and concrete way to introduce this difficult skill!  Make sure you grab my Main Idea Bags for FREE by clicking HERE!

Secondly, we teach finding the main idea by using a triangle shape.


Main Idea Triangle

I love the triangle for a few reasons….

1.  It helps them see how the supporting details (the biggest part of the triangle and the biggest part of the paragraph) hold up the main idea.

2.  The topic is the smallest part of the triangle because you should only need 1-3 words to state the topic.

3.  They can draw a triangle anywhere to use it to help find the main idea!


We will continue to work on writing informative paragraphs using Color Coded Paragraphs.  Part of our framework assessment this week is a writing portion and they will have to write an informative paragraph.  They should have a great understanding of all of the parts of a paragraph and have had lots of practice with them thanks to this pack!


Lessons:  This week we will be working on rounding and we will be doing a lot of work with one of my favorite purchases EVER.  Blair Turner’s amazing Interactive Notebook!  I can’t say enough about how amazing it is!

M.A.T.H. Centers:  I am in love with how math centers are going this year.  I was looking for something a little easier to manage and ended up making my own rotation board and it has been working great!

We will be using Addition Scoot (this is a FREEBIE!) and some other activities from my friend Mrs. 3rd Grade’s Math Centers!


My kiddos love anything hands on and involving food so I am super excited to do our Layers Of The Earth s’mores this week.  Year after year it is a huge hit!

This should be a fun week in third grade!  I’ve put all of my products that I’m using this week on sale for today and tomorrow!  Head on over and check them out. 

Now, here are some of the remodel pictures I promised.  The backyard is finished, we are just waiting on the furniture and security doors to be delivered.  The house was painted and my master shower will get started in about two more weeks! 






We can’t wait for everything to be finished so the girls can bring friends back to the house after football games, my husband can have his basketball team over, and we can entertain friends! 

Saturday, September 26, 2015

Fall In Love With Teaching….Grammar


Historically speaking, teaching grammar has been a horribly boring and worksheet driven task.  Interactive notebooks, cooperative learning strategies and Plickers have changed the game in my classroom this year.  I have fallen in love with teaching grammar this year.

We usually start learning a new skill by putting a foldable into our notebook.
We learn about and practice the skill on whiteboards using a Power Point that I make.  My kids are loving the Power Points.  I use their names in the sentences and try and match them up with Melonheadz Kidlette!  The anticipation as they wait for the next slide is so fun!


Seriously…..this Melonheadz cutie looks JUST like my Cianna!

Another practice activity that is an absolute favorite is Write the Room.  My kiddos love anything that involves getting up out of our desks so this was an instant hit.  I make some task cards and a cute little recording sheet.  Tape the task cards around the room and they are off to practice!


Hands down, my students favorite way to practice right now is Plickers.  If you haven’t checked out Plickers yet, click HERE to go to their website!  They are free and so easy to use.  I have the app on my phone and I pull up the questions on my laptop and project them on my screen.  I use the camera on my phone to scan and I can change the questions on the screen from my phone from anywhere in my room! 
Check out some of my favorite grammar products by clicking on the pictures below and just for this weekend and this fun blog hop you can grab them on sale!

Abstract Nouns Preview Photo

Nouns Bundle
Make sure that you enter our amazing Blog Hop Giveaway and then click on the graphic below to head to the next blog!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Sunday, September 13, 2015

What’s The Main Idea? {FREEBIE}

Teaching main idea and details is always a difficult thing to do.  This year, we moved our main idea framework up to teach it earlier in the year so that our kiddos had plenty of time throughout the rest of the year to practice.  We were looking for an engaging way to introduce this difficult concept that would help our students understand it more deeply.  We wanted to show them that to find the main idea, you need to connect the supporting details.  You need to figure out what the details have in common, what they are trying to tell you. 
To introduce this difficult skill this week we used Main Idea Bags.  This idea has been around for a while in lots of different formats.  We wanted to make it as hands on as possible for our kiddos and we wanted to make the response sheet that we were going to use match the vocabulary and questioning they would see again on their district framework assessment.
I filled 5 brown paper lunch sacks with items.  Each bag had a main idea and all of the items in each bag helped support that idea.  I pulled each item out in a specific order because I wanted the first detail or two to be details that could have a few different possibilities for main idea.  The last detail or two were details that strongly supported the one main idea. 
The bags were a HUGE hit!  In fact, they loved them so much that several kiddos wanted to take a paper sack home and make their own Main Idea Bag to present to the class.  So, I quickly typed up a letter explaining to parents what we were doing and sent them home with those who were interested. 
The next day several kiddos brought their bags back and presented them to the class.  I could not believe what a great job they did, I was so impressed!

I know that I am going to have more bags coming in this week because after the first round of presentations more kiddos asked for bags of their own.  Some of my students are on their second or third bag!  I love that they are reinforcing their learning at home in such an engaging and creative way and we get lots of practice throughout the week as the bags come in!
You can grab the recording sheet and parent letter for FREE by clicking the picture below!  I also included some ideas to get you started!
Main Idea Bag Product Pic
If you use it in your room I would love to see the ideas your kiddos come up with.  Post the pics on Insta and tag me @theblessedteacher so I can see!

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

2gether We Are Better {September}

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I feel like I need a disclaimer before you read any further.... I should have taken these pictures weeks ago.  I should have taken them before I had a class full of third graders in here for 4 weeks!  But, I didn't, and that's okay.  This is #realtalk and #reallife people! 

Okay, here goes.....






Here it is…my home away from home.  It’s nothing too fancy, but I love it!

I can’t wait to check out everyone else’s classrooms!  be sure to head on over to Angie and Ashley’s blogs and check out the #2getherwearebetter link up!