Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Let's Celebrate Our Newest Products!

This summer, I have been working hard to add new products to my store. I added products that I hope others will want to use in their classrooms, and also products that I know will fill a void in my filing cabinet that I plan on using with my students next year. I thought it might be fun for me to share 3 of my summer creations, and also invite other Teacher Pay Teacher sellers to link up and share their newest TPT products.

I created this product last Spring while my grade 2 class was learning about animals. Our animal unit lasted for about a month, but this product took me forever to create because I created each activity and worksheet the evening before we needed it. My class's favourite activities from this package was the animal adaptation matching game and the adaptation collages.

This 91 page document contains a wide variety of activities that cater to all of the different multiple intelligences. This package contains activities about animal food chains, life cycles, habitats, adaptations, hibernation, endangered animals, and it has all of the information and templates for a student research project. This is a massive unit that includes everything you need to teach about animals! 

Learning about the 5 senses is important because it helps students gain a better understanding of the world around us, and learning about the senses also helps students become more aware of their bodies and how they process information.  This 5 senses unit contain 50 pages of activities, posters, worksheets, task cards, and ideas for having a end of unit 5 senses party! 

Canadians are BIG fans of hockey! I remember going to a Canucks game in Vancouver and being so excited! As a teacher, I have also come across some big hockey fans in the classroom. I created this unit with one boy in mind, this special needs student is a HUGE hockey fan and in the classroom I used this to my advantage! Any way that I could I tried to somehow tie hockey into his learning to attempt to keep his interest. This boy wrote his journal about hockey and when he wrote his weekly spelling quiz we used the spelling words in sentences that had to do with hockey. This unit was meant for him and I hope others will enjoy it too! This unit contains hockey themed games, activities, centres, posters, and worksheets. 

I hope you have enjoyed reading about 3 of my newest products! Please click on the links below and check out other terrific new products that other Teacher Pay Teacher sellers have created this summer too!

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Story Maker: Diggin' into Next Year Blog Hop

Last year my school went from zero technology except for a few computers that were older than the dinosaurs to suddenly having smart boards, new computers, and 2 class sets of I Pads. It was overwhelming trying to incorporate all this new technology into my lessons. The I Pads, I found were easier to incorporate regularly into my lessons because I have a personal I Pad so I know how to use it. The smart board was a different story. I really would like to use it more and for other things besides what a regular computer can do. I mostly used the smart board for Youtube videos, Tumble Books, and viewing educational websites and images. One of my goals for the future is to learn how to use the smart board properly. 

One of the I Pad apps that we used the most last school year was the Super Duper StoryMaker App. This app was used regularly for a number of special education students. This app helped these students feel successful and become more independent during writing time.  

This app allows students to either create stories using the backgrounds and clipart provided or include their own photos. Students can also record their voices to tell their stories, and there is also an option to print or e-mail the story after it is finished. My students always printed their stories,  and students kept all of their work in a duo tang. Although technology is great and this app did help my students, especially with their confidence towards their writing, it is important to have a balance for all students of written work that students can be successful with as well. Below are a few examples of Story Maker stories my students have written. 

Click the picture below to check out other related blog post created by other terrific teacher bloggers as well. 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Classroom Promise: A Back to School Idea

During the first week of school I always have my students work together to come up with a classroom promise. I do this by moving the class into groups of 3 or 4 students and then I give each group a piece of chart paper. On the chart paper students work together to write out all of the rules that they think we should have in our classroom.

A tip for group work: 
When I do this strategy where a group works together to list ideas I always give each group member a different colour felt marker. This ensures that everyone is held accountable to do their share of the work because you will see whose written what by looking at the colours on the paper. 

After each group has written a good list of classroom rules, (this takes about 10 minutes) I then have each group put a star in front of their 3 most important rules. After this, each group will present their 3 most important rules to the class, and I will write down each group's most important rules on a mind map on the white board. Next, we  work as a class to condense the most important rules into a short statement. (The class will come up with rules like: no hitting, no kicking, no bullying and we'll condense that to 'acting in a safe way at all times'). Afterward I then write out the class promise on a piece of chart paper and have each student sign the class promise with a hand print. Afterwards I use a sharpie marker to write each student's name next to their hand print. 

This class promise is a great way to establish a sense of classroom community, and have students take ownership of the classroom and the rules by working together to write the class rules.

Find other great back to school ideas in my Back to School: Bundled Package.

Saturday, July 12, 2014

You Oughta Know About... Assessment Flowers

I am very excited to announce that I am participating in the "You Oughta Know About.. Blog Hop!". This is a clever idea for a blog hop where bloggers were asked to come up with a teaching idea that they beleive other teachers should know about, and would benefit from using in their classrooms. I have chosen to share a formative assessment strategy called assessment flowers. Please enjoy my blog post and make sure to click on the links at the bottom of the page to visit other participating blogs and learn from other terrific blogger's teaching ideas too! 

You oughta know about assessment flowers. Assessment flowers are a terrific formative assessment strategy that I use with my students at the beginning of the school year and again with the same topics at the end of the school year. This lesson ties in nicely with goal setting and fits perfectly with student portfolios. Assessment flowers are easy to make and they only take about 20 minutes to complete. I have done this lesson with grade 2, grade 3, and grade 4 students. Assessment flowers are great at the beginning of the school year because you, as a teacher, will get to know your students better from these little flowers. Assessment flowers are also a terrific way for students to physically see their confidence in their abilities grow.

 How do you make assessment flowers? 

 Making assessment flowers are easy. Choose 3 subjects that you would like your students to focus their growth on, and 1 subject that you know will allow the students who have low self esteem in their academic abilities can shine in. I usually choose reading, writing, math, and P.E. (P.E. being the non academic subject that almost everyone in the primary grades can give themselves a big flower in). Next have students write these subjects along the bottom of a blank piece of white paper. After that, explain to students that they are going to draw a flower for each of these subjects. The flower that you draw is going to represent how you feel about your ability to do your work in that subject. 

 I usually do a demonstration on the white board by walking students through how I would make my own assessment flowers. I talk the class through my thinking about why my flowers are the size that they are. For example for my assessment flowers I would draw a big flower with colourful petals and lots of leaves for reading because I love to read, I read a lot, and I see the movie in my mind when I’m reading and thats how I know I’m a good reader. I am really honest with the class, and I will tell them my math flower is smaller because math has always been a struggle for me. I sometimes need extra practice and thats okay because I always do my best and ask for help when I need it. The main idea is if you are good at the subject you need to make a big and colourful flower with lots of details, or if you need improvement your flower is smaller with lots of room for growth. 

Why flowers?
The symbolism of the flowers is important because it shows that even though your math flower might be small now it can grow with a little extra time, patience, and practice. This also goes for other flowers that might be so big that it is meeting the top of the paper, there is still always room for more growth.

What do you do with the assessment flowers? 

 I like to keep the assessment flowers in the student’s portfolios with other student work samples and reflections. It is important to explain to students that we are creating these assessment flowers at the beginning of the year as a starting point, so that we can see how much growth we all have made throughout the school year.  After the class has completed their final assessment flowers at the end of the school year, they can then compare their beginning of the year flowers with their end of the year flowers and see the growth they have made throughout the school year. 

Friday, July 11, 2014

Writing Instruction: Diggin' Into Next Year Blog Hop

I love to teach writing! This year my block of time dedicated to writing was split up into 2 small chunks of time, and that cannot happen again! Writing instruction time cannot be rushed! 

Writing usually gets integrated into whatever unit we are working on for science, social studies, language arts, or a holiday themed writing assignment  For example when we are doing our fairy tale unit we are answering letters from the Jolly Postman, writing opinion paragraphs about the innocence of  Mr. Big Bad Wolf, and writing fractured fairy tales. My students also do a journal every Monday morning. Monday journal is a free choice write. My students also self edit and peer edit their writing with the help of a editing checklist which they glue into their notebooks.

I also do a writing exercise a couple times a week called "The 10 minute write" where I give students 2 or 3 really silly words and they write a story which must include those silly words. 

The rules with this exercise are:
1.  Students need to include the words on the board. 
2. Students need to write for 10 minutes non stop.

 I do this exercise because it gets students used to writing non stop for a short period of time. This process seems to get them over any writing fears. Spelling does not count, and the words they needed to include are so ridiculous and mismatched that students have no choice but to be creative. (Who wouldn't want to write a story about Frankenstein and a purple booger).  This process enhances student's writing flow, and has seemed to help my students get over fears of public speaking because my students love to read their funny stories out loud and make their friends laugh. You can find out more about the Ten Minute Write by clicking the image below. 

My students also set writing goals and we monitored writing process as part of our teacher student conferences and portfolio work. I just uploaded these goals posters as a freebie to my TPT store Click Here to get this freebie! I laminated the posters and used magnets to hang them on my side white board. I then used wooden clothes pins with each of the student's names to  show who is working on what goal, and attached the clothes pins to the posters. Once a goal is reached the student then begins working on another goal. 

Make sure to check out other great tips and ideas about teaching writing by other terrific bloggers who are participating in the Diggin' Into Next Year Blog Hop! 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Thank You Honey Bunch Designs

Thank you so much to The Honey Bunch Blog Design for my blog's new make over! I love the colours, the graphics, and everything about my blog’s new look! Erika and Misty were great to work with and they were both very patient with me and they managed to include everything I wanted, plus more! Thanks so much! 

Erika also designed new logos for my Pinterest and TPT Store, and a banner for my Teachers Pay Teacher’s Store. Check out the Honey Bunch Blog Designs blog to see other great blogs they have designed!