Tuesday, August 14, 2012

I MADE Progress... and a To Do List FREEBIE!

Oh Tara, your Monday Made Its DO motivate me to accomplish things!

Of course I MADE coffee this morning... but you already knew that.
And I MADE a list (more on that later)
And I MADE a commitment to do some more work on the garage...

True Confessions lie ahead... Okay BloggyWorld, here's what it looked like when I started...
Well, it was a little worse because I had to move some stuff to have enough room to take a picture. And yep, it's (almost) all mine. And, yep, it's (almost) all school stuff.

And now, after four days, and some serious efforts at categorizing, it looks like this...

So... I have MADE progress... I have categories: Math, Literacy, BOOKS, and Uh, Beats Me!
However, there's still no room for the car... and I still can't access the things I need. So, more work lies ahead...

Now back to what I MADE to help this tasks--and other tasks--a little easier...

I make To Do Lists daily--sometimes more than one. Sometimes my To Do Lists include making a To Do List!  So I am sharing the one that has helped me get things done... You can get it HERE or just click on the list. I used a sweet new font called cinnamon cake (http:/www.dafont.com/cinnamon-cake.font).

Here they are in use... the pink ones are mine and the green one is for the Hubs! Our tasks are gradually getting completed before I return to school.

Of course, my favorite part is crossing items off the list! Hopefully, having some of the "little details" out of the way will help get this year off to a smooth start.

And Happy List Making to you too!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Joining in on the Blog Hunt with a Freebie!

One of my favorite things about blogging is the collaborative nature of teachers who work together on activities and events in BlogLand!!

Mary at Sharing Kindergarten has organized a Back to School Blog Hunt, and all month long teachers are linking up to share a Back-to-School idea or freebie. And you can scroll down to the bottom of this post and find a collection of other bloggers who are also participating in the Hunt.

Today is August 13th, so that makes it Day 13 of the Hunt!

I always like to send home a Welcome postcard to my students before the new year begins. Sometimes, when class lists are still in flux, I put the card on the students' desks on the first day of school with their First Day pencil. Sometimes I do both! I have included the card I am using this year to share with you!

This freebie would be easy to use for those of you who have not yet started back. All you need to do is print, cut and sign. And for those of you who are already hard at work in the classroom, perhaps you can use the card for new students or even put it in your files for next year! A BlogPal suggested sending this home with your e-mail address or school phone number so that parents can have easy access to your contact information if they need it.

Click HERE or click on the picture to go to google.docs and download your own copy. Don't you just love Scrappin Doodles clip art?

I still have a week to go before I return for "Teacher Days." I will be so happy to take the things out of my living room and get them into my classroom. It's becoming difficult to navigate in between the boxes and the piles!

So, whether you are already back with kids or getting ready to go back, I am sending along good wishes for a wonderful year!

Be sure to click on the links below to join in on the Blog Hunt. There are lots of great ideas being shared and some freebies too. I hope that you will follow along and have some fun!

Sunday, August 5, 2012

August (Already?) Currently

How can it be August already? Yesterday it was June! (or so it seems...)
What would a new month be without a link-up with Farley?

Yippee! Time for the latest edition of Currently from Oh Boy Fourth Grade...

As you can tell I am having a love-hate relationship with my garage. I dislike the fact that it is taking so much time to get this task done, but I am so glad to be sorting through the towering piles. If you don't hear from me for a while, please check the garage... somewhere between the 1985 edition bread machine and the 14 assorted Easter baskets! (Oh, if only I were kidding...)

That last section on the Currently template is about those three things you simply MUST have for Back to School. Well, it was supposed to be three. I went for a rather "combo approach" on that last one. I could have typed "sanity," because those items listed are the necessary components of sanity...

Since Farley is all about sharing the Love (Which makes her even more SuperFabulous in my mind), she has designed a way to make even more connections with other bloggers: When you link up, remember to comment on the two Currently links before you and the Currently link that comes after you (Yep... you get to go back and check. That's what makes it so much fun!) Also, there are TWO chances to link up this time. The first one is to link up your "Mustache Posts" in the Mustache Linky Party (which is not the Currently Party). The second one is the "traditional" Currently where you will find LOTS of link-ups! It's only August 4th and there are already 229 links there (not counting a few that got lost in the Mustache section). Hope to see you there! (Thanks, Farley!)


Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Product Swap with For the Love of Teaching Math


One of my favorite things about Blog World is the chance to meet so many wonderful new friends! And that's exactly what happened when I decided to participate in the Magical Product Swap organized by sweet Jessica at Mrs. Stanford's Class.

As part of the Swap, lots of bloggers got together and reviewed items, games, activities and other goodies that each other had created. Many of these products are available at TpT (Teachers Pay Teachers), Teacher's Notebook, or in stores on bloggers' own sites. The goal was simple: Describe your partner's product so that a blog reader could see how wonderful it is!

My partner for the Product Swap was the talented Andrea Kerr at For the Love of Teaching Math.


You will love Andrea's site... She has great ideas and lots of games and activities. Everything about her blog emphasizes that learning math can be fun.  Here's what makes this site even more exciting to investigate: Andrea has her own store!

It was in Andrea's store that I found a great game called Go Fish: Converting Fractions, Decimals and Percents.

Within minutes after downloading this card game, I knew it was an activity that will be well used in my classroom this coming year.

This card game is played as a traditional "Go Fish" game--except that students are matching equivalent quantities. Equivalence is a difficult concept for many students. Often they think that if the "form" looks different, then the quantity must be different. This card game helps students practice matching equivalent quantities that include decimals, percents and fractions with different denominators. In a single round, there are lots of opportunities for learning and review!

The cards are colorful and cheerful--and just whimsical enough to catch the attention of upper elementary/middle school students without being too "cutesy." Andrea used fish images from Scrappin' Doodles and they're just plain fun to look at! And just before I finished this review, I figured out that the "Go Fish" game used fish graphics! (It is summer after all...)

The cards are small enough to hold in your hand--and by choosing this size, you only had to run off and laminate three pages of cards. This would save on ink and laminating if you needed to make several sets of cards to use in the classroom.

I love the fact that the cards have a thick black outline. This means that you can use a paper cutter to cut out the cards... and each card will retain an outline. Those OCD voices in my head were silent--and happy! Now I know that this little detail will only matter to about 3% of the blog readers on the planet, but it mattered to me. Lovely!

There are several opportunities for differentiation when using this game in the classroom. Some of the quantities are easy to match and a few are more challenging. For example, not all of my students will learn that one eighth is equivalent to 12.5%. However, that is an ideal goal for many of my students. A teacher could easily take out/add in cards to make the game more appropriate to the skill level of different groups of students. Further, really savvy students may notice that the four equivalent cards have four different fish. Making this detail explicit could be used to support students who need a little extra boost to match the cards; if they have two cards with the same fish--those quantities are not equivalent. Further differentiation is possible through the way in which players ask for cards--as discussed below.

Playing the Game
Once the cards are passed out, students will need to look for equivalent fractions already in their hand. This is good practice for recognizing equivalence--and the game has not yet proceeded beyond dealing the cards!

Changing the game directions allows you to adjust the game in different ways. Players may ask, for example, "Do you have an amount equal to one half?" This is a straightforward approach and is a great place to begin. When my nieces played, they asked for equivalent quantities. For example, if one had "four fourths," she might ask, "Do you have one whole?"

It became a challenge to guess different ways in which equivalence might be expressed. This type of analysis definitely added another layer of complexity to the game.

After students have played a few times, they will be more familiar with the cards and the game is a little easier.  In between plays, students will naturally "sneak a peek" at the cards that have already been played (and matched)... still another opportunity for more learning!

In reality, the cards could be used without playing an actual "game." Simply having students find two or four "matches" with all cards face up could also provide practice--in a fun way!

So there you have it. I think you will find many different ways to adjust the game and accommodate varying levels of math skill. Click on the picture of the game "cover" to get to Andrea's store or click here. There are lots of other great math games in Andrea's store too! I am so lucky I got to review Andrea's Go Fish game!

Today Andrea reviewed my Getting to Know You game on her blog. Click over here to see her review of this activity designed to build community and help students get to know each other--just in time for back to school!

And don't forget to click on the Magical Product Swap button at the top to take you to Jessica's site to see more products. Here... I'll make it easy for you... I'll add that button again and put it right here...


And, while you're at it, click over to The 3am Teacher too. Michelle designed the button for The Swap and she has an amazing selection of graphics to choose from--that's what happens when you stay up past three in the morning drawing cute stuff! She is SO very talented!


There are so many interesting elements involved in today's "Swap Meet-Up" Just click around and join in the fun!