Monday, March 31, 2014

Synergize to Map the US

This summer I happened by the dollar spot at Target. That's a place my husband hates because I use the excuse, " it was only a dollar" and $50 later he is none too happy with me. You know how it is. Anyhow, I came across a color in map of the United States. No, totally not in my standards. But, it was " only a dollar" and I had to have it. I bought it thinking it would be a fun rainy day recess activity. 
Luck (or whatever you'd like to call it) would have it that I'd have no related arts one day last week. So, out comes the map. I'm telling ya, you have no idea. They were so excited! They got out materials and worked together beautifully. They made a map to beat all maps. I'll post a pic after I laminate it and hang it up. It is awesome! 

Now, if I could just rangle (is that even a word??) up about 5 minutes to laminate that thing, we'd be in business! 

Fraction Activity

This was the fraction activity I just mentioned in my last post. Seriously all I did was throw some fraction flash cards on a table and tell them to look at them and tell me what they noticed. I asked them to share their observations with others. Then, I asked them to group the fractions and be prepared to support their reasoning. I wish I'd recorded this activity ! Oh, the conversations were amazing! They were adding and comparing fractions and didn't even realize it. I am so proud of them! My kids amaze me every day. I'm blessed to be a witness to their learning process. 

Exit Slips

Exit slips? Yes. Everyone's heard of them and no one makes time for them. But, I do occasionally make time for these things. I do reflections a couple of times a week and I read them and make mental notes, but those stay in their notebooks and aren't mine to keep.

While I've been super busy being a grad school student/ full time third grade teacher/ Girls on the Run Coach/... You get the picture, I've also been busy trying new things. Seems I just can't be satisfied with the same ol' same ol' anymore. Anyhow, enough tooting my own horn. Here's what I learned and what I did:

You can have your kids make a post card as an exit slip. So, on the front it allows for creativity in what they learned through a picture and on the back you have them write a short note to you. Since this was the first time I had my kids do this I decided to tell them I wanted to learn one thing that they discovered during our fraction activity and one question they still had. Y'all, I kid you not, I got some great thoughts on those things! I will certainly be using them again soon!! 

This is the front of some of their post cards... Can't show the backs for confidentiality reasons. :) 

Also, one child said they really enjoyed the fraction activity but they weren't sure if you had to have 1/2 +1/2 to equal a whole. They went on to explain that they saw many fractions that equaled one whole so that confused them. Love it!! They were really thinking about their thinking! 

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Research in the Classroom

As I mentioned in a previous post, we have been doing various research projects throughout the year. I currently have a group researching other cultures. This was chosen from a survey they completed in which a few kids said they wanted to research other countries. 

They had options on which country and on what media to use to present their research to our class. 

This student chose Brazil and she is currently making a brochure. I offered for her to use the computer, but she chose to make it with her own two hands. She loves to draw! 

This student was taking her information and planning out her power point presentation before beginning it. She decided to use Keynote after she finishes her plan. 

This is a student's research. At the bottom of the page you can see where I found this unit. It is great!! 

This student was trying out Keynote for the first time. He is excited to share his knowledge about China with his class! 

Tune in next time for more third grade excitement!

Monday, March 10, 2014

QR Codes

I found this awesome activity with types of lines and angles using QR codes. I cannot wait to try it out! I found it on Teachers-Pay-Teachers but it was a freebie. Once I try it out I plan to post think link and how it went. I'm going to look up more. I'll have to find out how to make these things because they'd be awesome for test reviews!! I'm so excited! 

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Follow Us! and Mind Shifts

I'm branching out! Follow us on Twitter @TeachingToThe9s

I am so excited! To say I have grown as a teacher this year would be an understatement. I have had so many shifts in my thinking that it makes me dizzy to think about. I cannot even tell you how big my smile is when I think about how far I've come in this year alone.

I have been in grad school all year and that has had a lot to do with this change of thinking. But, it's not just the Master's Program I'm in. My TIS has had a lot to do with it as well as my Media Specialist and my awesome third grade team! I also happen to believe that the kiddos I have been blessed to spend the year with have helped me so much. They have rolled with whatever changes I've made and, honestly, have been honest in the fact that they like the changes. They're not afraid to give me some constructive criticism every now and then and that has been really helpful!

Allow me to list my noted changes/shifts:
1. Students don't have to all be doing the same thing. Now, I know that we all know this, but I'm not talking about centers and rotations. I'm talking about lessons and small groups being catered to their needs- whether it's me and five kids or one-on-one. It is amazing the growth I have seen with this!

2. Technology is my friend. I'll admit it- I've fought it for years. Not exactly fought it. I've used it when I wanted but I saw it as "another thing" instead of "an other" thing I could use. Technology is what has allowed me to make my classroom all about individualized instruction. (Thank you, Educreations!!)

3. Collaboration is the key to success. I'm serious. I've always tried to work with my team, but never really branched out past that. I, like many teachers I know, had the thought that asking for help meant I couldn't do it all and made me look like less of a teacher. I'm here to tell ya, folks, it isn't true. My students have truly benefited this year from some amazing collaboration between myself, our awesome TIS, and our amazing Media Specialist. They've gotten to do research project after research project. They've gotten to use app after app. They've had many opportunities to see other teachers as leaders and experts. They have LOVED it! I'm also excited to say that this ties in with my shift #1- None of my kids have done research all at the same time. That's right. You heard me. I have not done a whole class research project. Many teachers can handle that and more power to you if you can. I can't. It makes me crazy. But thanks to the collaboration I have been able to allow my kids to do more than one research project this year and have more say in what they're researching and how they're presenting it.

4. I can do this. I cannot count the times I have though I'm in over my head and I don't see a light at the end of this teacher tunnel. But, with how well this year has gone (even though it's been chaotic) I am now excited every day to go work. I cannot tell you how great it feels! Of course, like all people, I am human and I have days when little things get to me and I am "grouchy" (as my kids call me) but I still see their smiles as they learn new things in new ways and I am overjoyed!

5. I have to teach the class I have. Sounds weird. But, I don't have to teach my class myself. They can learn from other teachers, too. It's not all on me. That weight lifted off of my shoulders is so awesome! I love and trust my team and I know that if it's good enough for their kids then it's good enough for my kids, too. They work hard just like I do and putting our strengths together has truly helped me kids. We take turns doing lessons on Educreations and split subjects, etc. My kids love when another teacher teaches math because they say she teaches slower than I do and explains things better. For about half a second I thought about being offended by this, but the fact of the matter is that they're right. They love my word study lessons because they think they are fun. They enjoy small groups in my room but also benefit from going to other team members and working on skills with them as well. So, they're learning from more than just me and are better off for it.

This year is nowhere near over. I have many areas in which I need to continue to work hard and grow. I'm excited to see how much my kids grow and how well we do this year!