Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Classroom Negotiator

Just a quick post tonight because I had to share!

My kids applied for class jobs last week- more to come on that later- and the kids decided that one of the jobs we needed in the classroom was a negotiator- someone to mediate when students are having disagreements. I know, right?! Who would have thought?! I had never thought to have a negotiator before and I was a little hesitant to add this job title to the list, but I did it anyway. We frequently use negotiation steps in our classroom, but I am always the one who guides the students through the steps. I have never trusted a kid with that responsibility.

As part of their application process, the students had to explain why they thought they would be good at the job they applied for. Out of complete surprise, one of my quietest kids applied to be the negotiator. I was shocked! And to be totally honest, I was a little apprehensive because I have some kiddos who I would expect to completely out-talk him and run him over.  His reasoning for deserving the job was solid- he stays out of trouble and he felt like he could help others solve their problems. I gave in and gave him the job!

Today, he had his first go at it! Two students were having a disagreement during our word study partner work, so I called him to the back table and gave him the copy of the negotiation steps. He called the students back to the table and began the process. This kid was a champ! He jumped right in, led the kids through the steps, and helped them solve their problem. He gave advice and even offered tips and suggestions for various solutions!  I had NEVER seen this kid in this light and it took all the strength I had not to cry! He made me so proud! It's amazing what kids can do when given the opportunity. I am so glad I gave him this role- he totally blew my socks off. I'm almost secretly hoping that we have some sort of skirmish tomorrow so he can work his magic again ;)

My professor back in college gave me these steps, so I have no idea where they originated. If you happen to know, please let me know so I can give proper credit where credit is due! The only thing I have changed since college is the font and clip art! If you are interested in having these steps for yourself, click HERE to pick up a copy for yourself!

It's only Wednesday, but this has been a long week! I am building up to Dr. Seuss Day and I am so excited!
Have a great night!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Jot Spots and Response Cards

Happy Friday!!

This week was L.O.N.G. but a lot of fun. Why is it that four-day weeks with the kiddos always seem to drag on FOREVER?!

On Monday we had a staff development that addressed engagement strategies. One of the strategies discussed was the use of response cards.

I can't believe I have gone this long without making something like this! It is such a simple idea, but oh-so-wonderful!The cards I created are simply yes/no cards- yes on one end, no on the other. I made these super quickly using 4x6 card stock and 2x4 shipping labels. I printed the labels, stuck them on, laminated them, and done!

The cards provide a simple and quick way to use up those precious minutes before lunch, dismissal, or any other awkward time between activities. The kids love them and they are a great way for me get a quick assessment. We store them in our name tag holders- those holders are so versatile! I honestly don't know how I have lived this long without response cards! If you would like the labels for yourself, you can get them using the links below. Maybe one day I'll get ambitious and make some other kinds of response cards.... :) For now, these are working just fine!

Moving on... Amanda Nickerson over at One Extra Degree came up with yet another brilliant idea a few weeks ago and I finally had the perfect opportunity to implement it! Have I mentioned how much I love this girl?! Sticky Note Jot Spots are the perfect way to get students excited about responding to their reading and keep it organized! I am in love with this activity and the kids were, too!!

If you have ever tried using sticky notes in the past, you might have experienced some frustration- I sure did!! Those little boogers can make their way to the floor, inside desks, or somehow magically grow wings and travel across the room! The jot spots provide a perfect nesting place for all those sticky friends, and at the same time provide those students who need some scaffolding a way to get started with their response. Each page of the jot spots focuses on a particular skill and provides a sentence starter- beautiful!

This week we focused mainly on expository texts, so the jot spot pages we used targeted the topics of determining importance, asking questions, and text features. I was very impressed with the thoughts the students recorded. I forgot (as usual) to take pictures of several students' work. We were reading about one of the Mars rovers and they came up with some interesting questions and had some amazing discussions!  I did think to grab the camera right when we started. I used the chart to introduce the activity to the kiddos and then set them free. I gave them the EXACT number of sticky notes they would need to complete the activity- no more! Because the kids had an organized place to put their notes, there was no way for those little notes to escape!

Of course, Amanda can explain her wonderful creation in much greater detail than I can! Head on over to
her blog right now and check it out for yourself! Or, you can click on the picture below to go straight to her store and pick up your own copy. You won't be disappointed!!

Have a great weekend!!!! Next week is Dr. Seuss's birthday! Anyone have exciting plans?! If so, please share!!

Monday, February 18, 2013

Knowledgable Knight

Happy Monday!

My creative juices were flowing tonight and I whipped up an activity to help my kiddos practice recognizing words with silent letters 'wr,' 'kn,' and 'mb.' Meet the Knowledgeable Knight!

The words with silent letters have escaped from the Kingdom of Knowledge and need to be captured! Students will "dig" through a "forest" (made of Easter grass or torn up paper) to search for the runaway words and return them to the castle! Ok, so my kids will have to use a little imagination and I just might throw in an accent for good measure, but I think the kids will enjoy this activity! I'l going to try it out this week and let you know how it goes! If you are interested in trying it out yourself, you can check it out
HERE. Just be forewarned that I have not tried it with my kiddos yet!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

Blurt Alert!

I am so excited about my new find!

Do you have those kiddos who just feel the need to share EVERYTHING that pops into their little brains with you- at any point in time? Mid-lesson, walking in the hallway, you get my drift. I have two... ok maybe three ;) babies in mind when I think of interruptions. They have good intentions, they just need a little direction when it comes to learning how to share their thoughts appropriately.

I have struggled with how to handle the interruptions for some time now. It's a delicate balance because I don't want to shut them down and discourage them from sharing- sometimes they have wonderful insights that are great for the whole class to hear! It just sometimes comes at the cost of the other children having the chance to share. I have tried giving the students notebooks so they can write things down-  they got lost. I tried making tally marks on the board... failure as well. On the next thing!

I saw this product and downloaded it for free (yes, free!) on TpT from Fun for Learning. These "Blurt Alert" cards serve as a visual reminder to students that they have blurted out and interrupted.

The file comes with three options of pictures. I liked the first page the best with the zipped mouth. I printed out several pages of that design, laminated them, and drew on my own little border (simplicity, people). I then made a file of labels and stuck them on some Ziploc bags. My idea is to have them stationed all around the room where I would need them (by the board, next to my rocking chair, at my small group table, etc.) I'm still thinking through exactly how I want to use them.... maybe hand one to the student if they interrupt and then develop a system of consequences determined by the number of blurt alerts acquired in one day.... this is still a work in progress!

This is something I am only going to try to implement with a few students. We'll see how it goes! If you are interested in the file, you can get it by clicking HERE. You can also get my labels here HERE. I printed
them on standard 4 x6 shipping labels.

If you have an idea on how I can use the cards or have some great ideas on how to handle interruptions in general, please leave a comment and let me know!!

Have a great week!

Monday, February 11, 2013

Oh, Holidays!

I cannot even believe that I haven't blogged in weeks! It's that time of year- yup, the down-to-the-wire, kick-it-in-high-gear time of year! The year is literally F.L.Y.I.N.G by- seriously! Where did the time go? Is February already almost halfway over?! The end of the year will be here before you know it!

My kiddos and I are in full review swing!  We are digging deeper with all the wonderful things we have learned about the different genres. I love this time of the year because things really start to click and our conversations become so much deeper. Love!

To give us a break from all of that hard work, we have to throw in a bit of fun! I can never pass up a good holiday so you can bet we did it up big for the February holidays- Martin Luther King Day, Groundhog Day, and 100th Day!

If you can believe it, I only took TWO pictures on MLK Day. I know, I've already grieved over it. It was such a wonderful day! We read the book Happy Birthday, Martin Luther King- well, by "we" I mean one of my students- that was the day I lost my voice completely! We made a character web describing him, listened to the most famous part of his speech, and wrote about our own dreams and how we can make them a reality. The kids were adorable with their goals. I am dying that I don't have more pictures to show! Arrrggg!!!!

For Groundhog Day, we used  this amazing unit from Teacher's Clubhouse. It came packed with great resources, including a fabulous PowerPoint that gave the kids an introduction to Punxsutawney Phil, explained how the tradition of Groundhog Day started, and provided lots of great facts. You didn't think they would go a day without having to learn something, did you?! The unit also came with a fact book about groundhogs. The kids loved being able to make their own book and then read it. Such a simple idea, but in third grade, we never really do those types of things. After seeing their reaction to it and how excited they were to read their books, I think I'm going to have to find a way to make some of my own for other activities! This picture below shows the fact book- you have to look close, but it's there!

The kids recorded the things they learned about groundhogs and Groundhog Day and as a special snack, they were given their very own "groundhogs" just appearing from their burrows! I found this adorable idea at The Domesticated Lady Blog.

The next fun day was 100th Day! Now, I have to admit that as a third grade teacher, I have never really celebrated the 100th day of school. This year, we celebrated and we had a blast! I used resources from Jessica Travis'  100th Day Packet of Fun and the kids loved them!

To kick it off, I gave my kids a challenge- to create 100 different words from the letters in the phrase 'One Hundredth Day.' Several of my kids successfully completed the challenge! They had such a blast and actually stayed busy for quite a while! They were determined to make it to 100 words- and it was a such a great way to practice spelling rules! 

I then gave the kids a large pretend $100 bill and they wrote about what they would buy with $100. Of course, we had to have a heart-to-heart about what was reasonable and unreasonable to buy with that amount of money. Some of the kiddos were heartbroken when they realized they would not be able to buy a new game system or a dirt bike with $100! However, those sweet ones sure did wow me with their ideas of giving some to charity or buying gifs for others. They know how to make a teacher smile! For those who couldn't think of anything they wanted to buy, I gave them a copy of an old book order and they made their list of items they would buy if they could go on a book "shopping spree." What's better than books?! 
After that, we discussed what a googol is- 10 raised to the 100th power- yes- that's 10 followed by 100 zeros! I gave the kids lots of paper and they made their googol. They were shocked to see just how big it is and our discussion about what you could actually make or have a googol of was quite interesting! We taped our googols to a popsicle stick so they were easy to roll up. 

To give ourselves a mental break, we calculated how many times we could complete certain activities in 100 seconds. The kids were surprised to realize that 100 seconds really is quite a long time! We estimated first how many times we thought we complete an activity and then we recorded our actual results. We analyzed which activities we were able to do the most and the least. I was cracking up! When the kids were singing their ABC's- I just about died! It was too cute!! I found this wonderful activity for free 
HERE! Lots of thanks to Jill @ Mrs. T's First Grade Class for the fantastic idea!

We ended our day thinking about ourselves as 100 year-olds. I shared what I hoped that I will have accomplished by the time I am 100- and yes, I got a little emotional thinking about what my life will hopefully be like after all of those years- the kids I will have watched grow and learn, how my own family and kids (someday!) will be as adults. It was a great moment! The kids then wrote about what they hope to accomplish by the time they are 100 and drew themselves as 100 years old. Such a cliche activity- but it was wonderful!! 

I was so busy in all the action that I forgot to take pictures. This one kind of captures most of what we did. You can see the $100 bill, the writing activity, the googol wrapped up, and a sweet treat I gave the kids at the end of the day- Smarties in a bag with a tag that said, "Congratulations! You're a 100th Day Smarty!" 

Now, don't get the wrong idea. Along with all of this fun, we are working hard!!! We have mock state testing coming up in a few weeks, so we will be puttin' the petal to the metal! 

Hope you had a wonderful Monday! Valentine's Day is just days away- enjoy!!!