Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Winter Changes to Spring; My Bulletin Board Finally Changes Too!

I am not the most efficient person when it comes to bulletin boards.  A lot of ideas come to mind (thank-you Pinterest), but finding the time to execute them and hang them doesn't always happen as quickly as I would like it to.  I made my life a little easier this year by gluing thumb tacks to clothespins and putting them on my board.  It makes hanging student work much easier!

These were our winter bulletin board works of art.  The girls created art with snowflakes punched from a Fiskars punch.  The boys made snowmen with scrapbook paper and 1", 2" and 3" circles.  I apologize for the pictures; blogger would not cooperate with rotating them!

Now that "spring has sprung", we painted flowers to brighten our room.  I found this idea on Pinterest.   Students began by painting a black flower outline.  I showed them how to make a daisy, a sunflower and a tulip.  We have been learning about the parts of a plant, so their flowers needed to have a stem, leaves and petals.

After the black paint dried, students then used a paint brush to paint the petals and the leaves.  Students were able to use any color they would like.

After the petals and leaves dried, students used a sponge to paint the background.  They chose to make the background all one color or to have a sky and grass.

Here is our completed bulletin board.  It definitely adds some color to our room!

Tuesday, March 19, 2013


I am in the middle of FIP Your School (FIP=Formative Instructional Practices) training in my district.  FIP training consists of watching a couple of online modules and 2 days of workshop training.  Our first training day was 2 weeks ago.  The facilitator was a third grade teacher turned presenter.  As a former third grade teacher, I felt connected to the presenter and tried to soak it all in.

One thing that stood out to me was a technique Kelly (the presenter) used in third grade math class.  When working on a math lesson, she had 3 different activities out for students.  They had to self-evaluate where they were with the particular skill being practiced and decide which group they should go to.  One was an "enrichment" or higher level skill activity, one activity provided practice of the skill, and the third group was with the teacher, who provided extra learning support.  If at any point during the math lesson students needed to move to a new group, they were able to do so.  I couldn't wait to get back in my classroom and try it out.

A few colleagues said "in kindergarten?!?".  Yes, in kindergarten!  We have been self-monitoring using "thumbs up, thumbs sideways or thumbs down"for a few months to tell me where you are with a skill.  When returning, we had been working on subtraction for about a week.  I explained this activity through thumbs up, thumbs sideways, thumbs down.  If your thumb was up, it meant that you knew how to subtract and you had to try to "beat the timer" (building fact fluency).  As a first time trial, students had 3 minutes to complete 10 problems.  Once completed, students went to a subtraction game on the computer.  A thumbs sideways meant that you thought you could subtract on your own, but you definitely needed some practice.  These students had the same problems but went to table on their own and worked through the problems. Manipulatives were provided and students could ask one another for help.  Thumbs down meant that you were very unsure about subtraction and needed help to complete subtraction problems.  These students stayed with me and were helped as needed.  If at any time you though you needed to move to a different group, students were free to do so.

I had a very proud teacher moment when 2 students in the "thumbs sideways" group came back to my group and said "I think I need your help".  You get it; you knew when you couldn't do it on your own! The students with the timer did quite well.  Those with me got the help they needed to complete their assignments.

Fast forward to today.  I put a piece of paper out and said, "If you think you are ready to subtraction on your own (complete the short cycle assessment for math), write your name on this paper."  I had 10 students write their names down.  Of those 10, 9 complete all eight problems accurately and the other student missed 2.  I was pretty impressed with their self-monitoring skills.

If you stuck with me through all of that, thank you!  How do your students monitoring their learning?

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Science... OH Wow!

Yesterday, my students and their families had the opportunity to meet me at a local science center called OH Wow.  The science center is about 45 minutes from our school.  Thanks to DonorsChoose.org, 1 child and 1 adult admission were covered per family.

These lovely ladies had a great time in the hurricane machine.  They had the winds turned up and giggled away as their hair blew all over the place.  So fun to hear their squeals of excitement while they were learning too!

The water was a big draw.  This guy was S-O-A-K-E-D, but it didn't bother him one bit.

This guy was happy to build towers for quite a while.

Making music through dance.  You could change the sound and dance around in the giant guitar.

They loved the green screen to predict the weather, though, I think they liked dancing and being silly in front of it than actually predicting the weather.

Overall, students and families seemed to have a good time.  I think they all learned something new, and I look forward to their excitement Monday as they talk about the trip!

Friday, March 15, 2013

Five For Friday Linky Party {March 15}

I'm linking up with Kasey at Doodle Bugs for another week of Five For Friday.  Below are some random activities from my week.

We have spent the last 2 weeks learning about insects and spring.  My students love bugs!  At the art lab (center), we created insects using Crayola Model Magic, pipe cleaners and wiggle eyes.  So cute!

To go with our insect theme, we have an AntWorks ant farm in our room.  My kiddos are so intrigued by these little critters.

We also have a "life size" ant farm using a stove box and a play tunnel.  The kiddos are the ants.  The little guy below is inside the farm examining a drawing of an ant farm.

We have been trying different behavior techniques to combat talkative kiddos and the need to keep their little bodies busy.  This week we tried allowing them to take their shoes off with the following conditions: 1) You must be able to put your own shoes back on (including tying them).  2) You must have socks on your feet.  3) You need to put your shoes back on to leave the room (restoom, specials, lunch, etc)  After 3 days, it has provided one less thing for the kids to play with on the carpet, and they seem to enjoy the choice of having them on or off.  I'm hoping it will encourage few more kiddos to learn to tie their shoes too! :)

Tomorrow my kiddos and their families have the opportunity to meet me at a science center about 45 minutes from our school.  We are going on a Saturday to hopefully allow more families to participate.  Thanks to DonorsChoose.org, one adult and one child admission per family were paid for!  More on the science center after our trip tomorrow.

What creative behavior modification strategies or classroom management ideas have you found to be effective?

Have a great weekend!  Happy Spring Break to those of you on break (We get Friday before and Monday after Easter)!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Jumping Jelly Bean Math

I just created a little math packet using Sweet Tarts brand jelly beans.  You can use any type of jelly beans, but the colors included in the packet match those in the Sweet Tarts brand bag.  Students can complete 5 activities including: measurement, addition, story problems ( 1 addition and 1 subtraction), greater than/less than/equal to, and graphing.  Photos to come once I complete the activities with my students in the next couple weeks.  This packet is free so stop over at my TpT store and download your copy.  Below are a few pictures from the packet.

Thanks to My Cute Graphics for the clip art and backgrounds!  Would you please consider leaving feedback if you download this packet?  Thanks!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Making a Cube

We have been working on 3-D Shapes over the past couple weeks here and there.  After using my 3-D shape unit materials, we decided to assemble some cubes.  Our material of choice was pipe cleaners and straws.  My students thought this was great.

Straws and pipe cleaners were cut and all materials were bagged for each student.  After showing the class how to assemble a square, students were asked to make a second square.  We then asked them to try to figure out how to turn our 2 squares into a cube.  One student said, "It isn't a cube because it is flat like a square not fat like a cube."  Yes, you have been listening!  A couple students figured it out independently, but many needed a little problem solving assistance.  My favorite part of the whole process was seeing students who finished early helping their classmates figure it all out.  It was not the students I expected to be helping, and that made it all the better!

A finished product

One square complete.  Look Miss Hennon, it can balance!   Oh goodness... :)
I'm loving the team work!

Friday, March 8, 2013

Five for Friday Linky Party {March 8}

I'm linking up with Kasey from Doodle Bugs Teaching for Five For Friday.  Here are 5 random things from my week.  I'm working on updating my blog page, so please excuse the "construction dust" as I try to teach myself how to edit backgrounds, colors, etc.  It is a process!

We are learning about insects this week.  This kiddo loves my ant glasses.  There is an extra lens inside that makes it look like an ant would see with compound eyes.  So cool!

We built cubes from straws and pipe cleaners.  I am working on another post explaining this a little more.  It was fun to see them try to problem solve this task.

A local theater company came to our building and presented Snow White.  My students enjoyed the play, and one student had the opportunity to be a dwarf.  One very observant kiddo told me all the things in the play that were not in the movie :).

My student teacher read the book The Insect Ball today and had students write about whether or not they would like to attend a ball (dance).  I was proud to read this kiddo's writing today!  He has really been struggling and has speech problems.  This was awesome for him :).

"I do not like balls because it would not be fun."

Students are leading most of our circle time.  I've been impressed with their questioning and compliments to one another.

Tomorrow is a day to play "catch up" on all the things I didn't accomplish throughout the week and begin working on report card comments.  What's on your agenda for the weekend?