Sunday, September 28, 2014

What's That In The Sky?? A Weather Project!

For the month of August, we studied all different kinds of weather in our 3rd grade class. I think our favorite project and discussion was all about clouds! Yeah, clouds! Those fluffy, pretty things in the sky.

My kids loved identifying different types of clouds when we walked to and from classes, when we were at recess, and when we were walking to the bus or carpool line. Seeing their enthusiasm and drive for the study of clouds, I just HAD to capitalize on it.

We first read the book It Looked Like Spilt Milk by Charles Shaw.
While this book was a bit easy for my 3rd graders, it still captivated them! They loved seeing what the different shapes would be, but they also loved the repetition.

After we read the story, we completed a simple art/writing/science activity. They created their own "cloud" and then wrote about what it was. The creativity that flowed from these kids was AMAZING. They worked hard to make something unique and some even chose to create something that was near and dear to their hearts.
Above was our cloud wall - it's still hanging up and the kiddos look at them EVERY morning, as they hang above where the backpacks hang up.

Back to the conversation on near and dear to their hearts, one of my student's mothers just had a baby. So, that student created a baby carriage out of their "clouds" and wrote about it. It was great!
There were ALL kinds of good ideas that my students came up with and they made my heart happy when I was walking around the room, looking at their different ideas and THEN it made my heart happy again when I was putting them up on the wall.

One of my favorites was the BEAR one.
Although it just looks like a mass of cotton balls, THIS student saw a bear in the clouds. Then, she also added a sun. Never do you just get the status quo of work from this child… she always goes above and beyond! I love love love it!

So what types of projects do you complete in your classroom for weather? Share in the comments below!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Another Bright Idea: Post It Notes!

So, you're back for another monthly installment of BRIGHT IDEAS!
One of my very, very favorite link ups out there.

So, here goes!
Let me start with what truly inspired this post. I was on Facebook one day and someone posted a picture of a treasure box. And I thought, well, wonder what's in it? The next day, they posted what was in it and I'll just say… it was TEACHER HEAVEN. A box full of different kinds and colors of post it notes. Oh my goodness. Perfection in a box.

So what did I do? OF COURSE. I ordered myself one of those beauties.
When it arrived, I was as giddy as could be. I was so excited to delve right into it to see what different kinds I had received. I'm not going to lie… some of the ones I received, I was like, "How in the WORLD am I supposed to use these? What would they be used for??" but, I figured that I'll find a place for them - duh! 
So, we found out that we could use the post it notes for many things. The list below is NOT all that you can do with them, but some ideas:
-Exit tickets
-Use during guided reading to write about parts you liked/didn't like
-Bookmarks (oh yeah… my kids love that they stick to their pages!)
-Labels for your classroom items
-Notes to other teachers/educators
-Quick games (I Have, Who Has?, Guess the Person, Guess the Word, etc)
-Short running-records or conference notes
-Think Math! responses
-Sticky-note graphic organizers

I want to elaborate a little more on the last one… if you type in sticky-note education on Pinterest alone, you'll pull up HUNDREDS of ideas. Now, type in sticky-note education on Google, and you'll pull up THOUSANDS more! Well, I wanted my students to individually choose a book that they wanted me to purchase (with Scholastic points) so what's the best way for them to write up on a GIANT piece of paper their responses without everyone going up at once? Oh yeah, sticky notes!
Right now, my lonely little sticky note that I used as an example is the only one up there… because we ran out of time, BUT needless to say, my students will be choosing a book that they'd like to be added to our classroom library so that they can no longer say, "I can't find anything to read, Mrs. Unroe!"

I love the endless possibilities that you could have with sticky notes. They provide your students an interactive way to continue learning instead of focusing solely on paper and pencil activities… what better way to learn than manipulate a tiny, fun piece of paper that sticks anywhere?!

What do YOU do or would you do in your classroom with sticky notes?? Share in the comments!

Next, head over to Pinterest to follow me for more ideas to use in your classroom.

Once you've done all that, check out the blogs below for THEIR bright ideas. Us teachers have to stick together, y'all!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

The Sunday Scoop: A Linky Party {September 14th Edition}

Linking up with the gals from Teaching Trio for their weekly linky, The Sunday Scoop!
I have GOT to get my grades in the grade book… I hold off until the end of the week if I can and well, this week, it piled up on me! But, it'll be good to look through the papers to see what my kiddos did this week. I also have to go to the grocery store to get meals for this week's lunches and do the laundry so I have clothes to wear! Finally, prep for this week - it's going to be a BUSY, busy week in 3rd grade, but we can do it :)

I would like to write some blog posts - I've got MANY ideas in my mind to write about… it's just about getting to sit down and do it! I also would LOVE to finish my plans early for next week so during planning this week, I can get set up for next week and have a free weekend!

Finally, I am SUPER happy to have the time to spend with my babies and then my love. We don't get much time during the week together with opposite schedules, so I look forward to the weekends!

Now it's your turn to head on over and link up, too :)

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Do You WASHI?! A Crafting Obsession Turned Bright Idea

Time for another installment of the Bright Ideas Link Up!

I love this linky because I have already gathered so many different ideas to implement in my classroom from the last few ones! I cannot wait to see all the ideas this month, too! When you've gone through my bright idea, be sure to scroll to the bottom for the link up of the other bright ideas from a variety of teacher bloggers across all grade levels!

My bright idea is all about that WASHI stuff.
OH my gosh. Do I have an obsession with washi or what?! What you see above is only HALF of what I've got. I have a box stuffed in my closet full of the stuff!

Well, washi tape is obviously great for crafting. It's decorative, fun, bright, and just all around useful. I've used it in scrapbooking to hold pictures in, I've used it to wrap my presents with, and I've even used it to seal envelopes in a cutesy way!

BUT, do you know of the AMOUNT of uses that washi tape has in the classroom!? OH MY GOSH. The possibilities are endless!!!

This year alone, I've used washi tape in 4 different areas of my classroom. The first area I used it in was on my whiteboard to divide it up into sections. I've got an area where my kiddos are responsible for their attendance (they move their number to the "here" side when here, and leave it on the "not here" side when they aren't here). I've got an area set up to display my standards for the Common Core. And I've got an area for my homework club. The area that's not "roped off" is where I write throughout the day. LOVE the way it looks!!

Then, I took the same style washi tape and I divided my tables down the middle so each student knew where their "space" was. This is my first time having tables instead of desks and so I wanted to make sure my kiddos knew what area they had so that they didn't interfere with other students' areas. 

Not only does it make the room feel functional and well planned out, but it's also BEAUTIFUL!

The tape I used is by Glitz and it's called Color Me Happy. It ties in PERFECTLY with my classroom decor which is just bright rainbow colors.

Beyond that, my students have individual composition books for each subject: science, math, reading, and social studies. In order to identify which black/white spec composition book is the correct one, I put a color coded tape on the spine.

Science is green, math is yellow, reading is red, and social studies is blue. This helps my students be able to find the correct notebook for each subject when we need to use them. Instead of pulling out every composition book or looking in every cover, they can easily look at the spine and see the correct color notebook that they need.

Washi tape is SO versatile and I cannot wait to see how else I can find ways to use in the classroom.

Do you use washi tape, either at home or in the classroom? I'd love to hear about how you use it, where you get it from, and how many rolls you have ;)

If you'd like to check out other ways that I use bright ideas in my classroom, please feel free to head to my Facebook page or my Pinterest page.

Now that you've read my bright idea, make sure to check out the other 70+ ideas below! You'll be sure to find some fantastic ones!

Friday, August 1, 2014

A Fundraiser Giveaway for Our Friend Jen!

We teachers know all about journeys.  Many of us are getting ready to journey back to our classrooms to prepare for the new school year.  Each school year becomes a journey of sorts, with its own set of students, challenges, and rewards.

We teachers also know all about support.   Year after year, we give so much of ourselves to help our students learn, build confidence in their abilities, and empower them to become the future our world needs.  We also support our fellow teachers, our families, our communities.  In the midst of it all, it becomes easy to forget that, simply put, teachers touch lives.
 Every. Single. Day.
Graphics credit to Melonheadz;  Font credits to Hello Literacy, Miss Tiina, and DJ Inkers.  Thanks to Joey Udovich for designing!

While many of us are thinking of back-to-school, Jen Bengel and her family have been preparing for a journey of another kind.  They will soon be traveling to Uganda to adopt a child!  Check out Jen’s blog post HERE! (Prepare to be inspired!)

A number of fellow teacher-bloggers have joined forces to offer a measure of support to Jen and her family as they prepare for their special journey.  Each of us has chosen a resource from our store that, between now and August 31, a portion of each sale’s proceeds will be donated to Jen’s adoption fund!

This is the resource I have chosen:
Between now and August 31, I pledge to donate $1 of each sale of this resource (my best seller!) to Jen’s adoption fund.

Hop around to the blogs featured below to see what my friends are pledging!
Apples & ABC's
Beyond the Worksheet
Crafting Connections
Create Teach Share
Flapjack Education
Learning with Mrs. S
Miss V's Busy Bees
One Stop Teacher Shop
Tales of a Teacher
Teaching Trio
The Teacher Desk 6

We hope you will find this to be a win-win opportunity, where you can purchase some great resources for the upcoming school year, knowing that you are supporting a meaningful cause at the same time!

Note that Jen also has a fundraising bundle available at her store. Don’t miss checking this out, too!
Finally, to make it worth your time to check out all the resources, we are also hosting a raffle giveaway!  The winner of the giveaway will score a great prize package, full of resources from our team – just in time for BTS!

From me, the giveaway winner will receive:
So, hop around, check out some fantastic resources, support a cause, touch a life!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Back to School Weekly Linky: Week 2!

We're BACK!! Time for Week 2 of the Back 2 School Weekly Linky with Stephanie & myself. 
This week, we're talking ALL about assessment! We're giving ideas, tips, strategies, success stories, and other sorts of information. SO read on below and then check out the links in the link up to see other's tips!
When it comes to assessment, I'm a big time newbie. I didn't know much about it, nor did I learn a lot in college about it… kind of just a "teach yourself" sort of topic, in my opinion.

This past year, I did a LOT of observing as a form of assessment. I liked to walk around with my students working and get down on their level to see what they were thinking. I asked them questions to gauge their understanding, to gauge their thinking, and so forth.

I also relied a lot on Bloom's Taxonomy when trying to make my assessments up. We would do a LOT of explaining, which fell under the evaluation part in Bloom's. Also, we did a lot of labeling, arranging, and identifying (from the first two levels of Bloom's). 

In terms of testing, I made a lot of my own assessments up to meet the needs of my students. They did a lot of remembering and recalling information, especially in mathematics.

But, a lot of my science assessments took the form of projects to show what they've learned. 

My absolute FAVORITE project I assigned, by far, was the Animal Habitat Diorama. This project required students to create a diorama about an animal, uncommon animals to be specific. You typically see animal projects about dogs, cats, lions, tigers, etc. BUT, this project held animals such as ducks, quails, zebra, prairie dogs, komodo dragons, gorillas, anteaters, buffalos, and so on! My kiddos LOVED it.
But, I had to find a way to assess their work (and man, did they do some awesome work!!). So, I turned to a rubric. Rubrics are easy for me to create because you identify your category/area, assign the points, and then leave comments to support your stance on the points!
Students can easily understand the rubrics, as well, and if not, they can hand it to you, ask questions, and you can easily explain.

I also really enjoy doing portfolios. When it comes to writing, it's easy for my students to look back at their work using their portfolios. Portfolios help my students participate in self-directed learning, assessing, and they are able to hold themselves to goals, as well! Portfolios allow for students to hold themselves accountable for their work, as well.

When it comes to portfolios, I used two specific types - documentation portfolios to show my students' growth over time and process portfolios to show my students' work over time as they started with the brainstorming, to rough drafts, to final drafts. My students this past year thoroughly enjoyed being able to look through their portfolios to see how they have grown, and I enjoyed looking through them for this reason, as well!

In our class, we used MANY more assessment strategies than just the two I identified, but those were our two major assessments. Other assessments we used on an "every once in a while" basis were:
-conferences (especially with reading)
-end of the year tests
-oral fluency assessments
-fluency tests
-performance assessments (especially with mathematics)
-standardized tests (agh…)

What types of assessments do you utilize most?? Write up a post and link up below! I'd love to hear all about it. If you don't have a blog, feel fee to leave a comment so we can discuss it!!

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