Friday, March 27, 2015

Looking for Some Classroom Tested Ideas?

It has been in the works for awhile but today is the OFFICIAL launch of a new collaborative blog, Classroom Tested Resources.

It is filled with teachers from around the country that are ready to share the ideas and resources that they have tried out on their students.  To celebrate this new collaboration, you can enter to win one of three teacher swag bags!

Please hop over to the new blog and enter to win some goodies!  It all ends on April 1st!

Sunday, March 22, 2015

French Lick Teacher Tool Swap

Last weekend marked the second annual French Lick Meet Up in Indiana.  And I got the opportunity to spend the entire weekend with two LOVELY women: Amanda from A Very Curious Class and Jennifer from Stories and Songs in Second.  After reflecting on the weekend, I realized that I learned a great deal from both of them through our dinner talks, long car rides, and sleepover time.  I am so THANKFUL for the time that I got to spend with them.

But more about that in a later post.

Today, I want to share the teacher tool swap with you.  This year we broke into grade level bands to swap tools.  Each teacher had the chance to watch their tool be opened and then got to explain it.

Just to set the scene (a little)...I was sitting in a large group of first grade teachers that each had a small gift waiting to be used in a first grade classroom.  Oh!!! I just love teacher stuff.

I brought some colored masking tape, sharpies, and chocolate.  But I also stuck some Mavalus tape in the bag.  This was a new product to me that I discovered at the EdExpo.  The guy LITERALLY hung up a steel iron on a wall with this tape.  It seemed like a must-have teacher tool to me!! :)

When I opened my gift bag I found the perfect gift from Stacey at Teaching Ever After:

So I took a little shopping trip this week.  First of all, I really needed a new binder to hold all the leveled passages that I bought but had no "home" for.  Why do I love new binders?  So clean, shiny, and pretty!

Second purchase with my gift card...balloons.  These are for our Zoology Writing Celebration on Friday.

And last...but ABSOLUTELY the most important...purchase was chocolate.  I think these are my new dangerous love.  Twix eggs.  I do not understand what makes them so amazing.  But they make me happy!

I hope you find some more teacher tools through the link up.  I know I havena "must-have" list just from watching my group open their little packages.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Place Value Game

I explained earlier this week that after much foundational work, we started to officially, explicitly, directly teach place value.  It all started with some candy.  We quickly moved on but wanted to still make the lessons meaningful to them since place value can seem so abstract to our firsties.

Jess and I handed each kid a cup filled with black beans.  We told them that we needed them to count the beans out to determine how many we had for a special game we wanted to play.  As they had learned in the prior lesson, the best way to probably count the massive amount of beans was to group them by tens.  We asked them to glue the beans down on Popsicle sticks to make ten sticks.

 They were so excited to glue these little beans onto sticks.  Plus it made it much easier for them to count their groups of ten and loose ones.  And as a Friday activity, the sticks had the weekend to dry.

When our firsties came back on Monday, we explained that we wanted to use their bean-ten sticks as a manipulative for a place value game.  Yep...they were beyond excited to use the materials that THEY had made!

Each group got a bag of numbers cards, bean-ten sticks, loose beans, and two tiles.  One tile said "10 more" and one said "10 less".  Students were asked to pull a number card.  Build the number with the manipulatives.

Then pull out a tile and either add ten or subtract a ten.

It turned out to be a pretty effective game (minus the fact that some beans fell off the stick). We were able to observe the students that had difficulty building a number or adding/subtracting from that number.  Then we pulled those students over and worked with them one on one.

Is every student on board with the +10 and -10, yet?  Nope.  But we are getting there and we will keep working at it!

Sunday, March 15, 2015

Place Value: Too Much Candy

Really we have been working on place value all year.  We set up our number of day sheet so that Jess hit it daily.

But our firsties did not know that.  And we have not explicitly taught it.  On purpose.  We wanted our firsties to have a strong number sense foundation built up before we expected them to break apart these bigger numbers.

So it was time to get started on explicitly examining the tens and ones of a number.  But how?  We wanted so badly to make it connect to real world.  We needed them to see the importance.  What better way to do that than with...Candy.

Our problem: We didn't know how much candy we had and if it was enough for the whole grade level.

 Our question: How can we count these suckers in the most efficient way?

After some suggestions of counting by ones and twos, it was suggested that we put the suckers in groups of 10.  The lesson began!! 

Each student got their own bag of goodies to count on their own.  Jess and I were able to work one on one with the kids that had some difficulty.

They wrote down their number and they worked together to compare and contrast their numbers.

It was a good start and now we just need to move forward!

Monday, March 2, 2015

100 Days Smarter

 Our first official "100 Days Smarter" celebration occurred on Friday.

My teammate, Jess, organized the event.  6 classrooms of first and second graders were to participate in the rotation.  Each classroom would have a different theme.  The activities were organized.   We dressed the part and decorated the school. 

When the kids arrived to school on Friday, I was AMAZED!  There were more children dressed up than I have ever seen before.  The day was off to a great start and I was so excited!

Each room was set up with different activities.  The students were thrilled to rotate to first and second grade classrooms!

Room 1: Students read a 100th day book.  Then created 100 paper chains.  Each chain had the name of someone that believes in them (referencing Believe Week).

Room 2:  After reading a 100th day book, students brainstormed reasons that they love our school.  Then they wrote it on a heart to be displayed in our hallway.

 Room 3: Students were asked to construct structures with 100 blocks and complete 100 piece puzzles.  This was fascinating to me!  The puzzles were a REAL challenge and I will be diving into this subject later.

Room 4: 100 day hats were created in our fourth room. 

 Room 5: Our classes also estimated and counted the number licks it took to get through a lollipop.

Room 6: In the sixth room, students completed movement in sets of 100, read a 100 day poem, and made a bookmark.

The day was such a success.  So much for the kids and teachers, while so much learning took place.  When you hear many children saying: "This was the BEST day ever!"...

You know you did something right.

P.S.  We were very inspired by so many other bloggers and ideas for this day of festivities.  I just want to refer to some other sites that may help you to gather more ideas:

First Grade Fairytales
Mall-ard's First Grade
Wards Way of Teaching
Welcome to Room 36
First Grade Critter Cafe

Saturday, February 28, 2015

EDExpo Top 10
On Sunday I walked into this convention center to find a teacher gold mine!  So many products to see and so.little.time!  It was exciting!  I could not wait to dig in.

My mission: pick the top 10 products that would work well for my students.  I will be posting about this list and my ideas around them very soon!

EDExpo 2015 has compiled all the lists into one top ten list.  I am excited to share this list with you today!  You can find all these products at the EDmarket.  There are search buttons to look for the products locally or online.

Let's jump right in and check out EDExpo's top ten products:

 Number 10:

 Kapla Blocks are showcased at number 10.  These blocks looked like so much fun and not just for Kindergarten or Presechool students.  These were not your typical large, bulky blocks that we see in these younger classrooms.  Kapla Blocks look like a great way to combine creativity and critical thinking.

Cool Circuits by ScienceWiz tied for the number 10 spot.  This product includes 40 different puzzle that have a wide range of levels.  Another great opportunity for critical thinking!  There is even an example video on their website.

 Number 9:

 Circuit Sticker Books by Chibitronics came in at number 9.  These are really interesting because they are stickers that can be used with any sticker-safe surface.  Your students can strengthen their creative, little brains through these electronic stickers.  The website has a video to explain how they can be used!

Number 8:

The Pencil Grip, Inc was also at the EDExpo and explained their three step pencil grip set.  I have not seen a step system like this before.  There are a couple of students that I would like to try these grips out.  They also showed me a grip for a stylus!

Number 7:

Busy Fingers by Fidget Focus came in at number 7.   I am actually expecting one of these in the mail because I know that it is going to be helpful to many of my students.  I am really looking forward to trying it out in action.

This fabric provides a variety of textures but also has a thickness that allows the students to "push in".  My favorite part is that it velcros under their desk or table.  So many times I have found that a fidget becomes a toy.  I am really hope that this becomes more of a tool for my students that need stimulation.

Number 6:

Math Bands by Learn in Style are used to help teach multiplication facts.  It is the sixth product on the top ten list!  I saw people all around the exhibit hall sporting their Math Bands! Their website has a video to help explain it all!

Number 5:

Coming in at number five was the F.U.N Empty Number Line System by Learning Advantage.

This product was created to help students share their thinking with an open number line.  It does come in different grade level kits.

Number 4:

We have another tie for fourth place: GoldieBlox and Fidgets!

 GoldieBlox is a product to encourage girls to be involved and interested in science, building, engineering, and math.  The owner, Debbie Sterling explains more about her beliefs through a TED talk.
Boink Fidgets can be used in many different ways and state that they support individuals in a variety of different settings.  The company, Endless Possibilities, provides a long list of possible uses for their Boinks.

Number 3:

Say It! is a language game that came in at the number 3 spot. This game was easy for the representative to explain to us and helps to bring more language into the classroom.  It was also quick to play but engaging.

Number 2:

The Reading Game is a way to integrate an engaging word game with reading.  Students will have a reading vocabulary of 180 words once the series of books and games are complete.  The website has a video to explain the game in more detail.  There is also a page to explain more details about how a teacher can use it in the classroom.

Number 1:

The number 1 product of the EDExpo event was the Touchtronic Numbers and Letters.  I am really looking forward to exploring this product more with my students and sharing about it with you!  These letters and numbers interactive with reading and math apps that can be downloaded.  Here is a video to help you see it in action.

If you are interested in checking out any of these products further, you can click on the links I have included to the websites.  Or you can check out the EdMarket and find a store near you so that you can see it first hand :)  I will be writing about some of more of favorites and how I will be using them in my classroom.