Sunday, September 27, 2015

READING THANGS - Schema: Our Mental File

You read that title right. I'm about to post about READING!!

This year, I'm teaching reading to my homeroom (along with math and science to my homeroom and my partner's homeroom). I'm LOVING it BUT I've been math/science only for the past 3 years and it's taking me a while to find my reading groove...

I wanted to share a couple lessons (but I'm tired so I'll post the other another time- lol) I did the first few weeks of school that I loved, my students loved and I'm definitely going to do again next year. I'm going to try and set this entry like a lesson plan so you can see all the components!

Morning Message: I asked my students to use their schema to write two things they know about owls on a sticky note. Side note: My morning message is a message I write on my white board and students read and respond to (usually on a sticky note) as they trickle into the classroom.

Morning Meeting (on carpet): This is where I introduced what schema was to my kids. We checked out the anchor chart I talked about how our schema grows and changes as we learn new things. The kiddos give me their sticky notes on owl facts and I read them aloud (well.. most of them), then we discussed the similarities and differences on our owl schema. I then put the sticky notes on the anchor chart.

Read Aloud: I handed out another sticky note (a different color) and introduced the book we're reading, A Perfect Place for an Elf Owl. I let my students know that their schema on owls will grow and change as we read, and I wanted them to write down two new facts they're going to store in their schema. Side note: This book is so great! It has a cute story and is illustrated by first graders (adorable) and is a fictional story with non-fiction paragraphs on different types of owls on each page.

Discussion: After reading, the students talked & talked about their new learning. I then asked students to pass up their sticky note and we added them to our anchor chart. I pointed out how specific our new schema was, and how a lot of people chose different facts to write down. This is where we talked about how everyone's schema is different.

On my anchor chart, I had a small file folder that says, "Our mental file". I told my students our brain is our mental file - it's where I, and they, store everything I know. I forgot to take a pic of the inside of my file, but here's what I wrote: Colorado, fourth grade and cats. We discussed my schema and students were able to add in their connections (their schema). I then dismissed them back to their desks.

Activity: I passed out mini file folders to all my students. I gave them a minute to think about three things from their schema that they'd consider themselves experts on. Then we started our mental files! I wrote down my three expert topics from my schema (Colorado, fourth grade and cats) and then I expanded on those things by providing three specific details about those topics. Then the students started on their mental files! Once the kiddos were finished, I gave them time to look at other student's mental files so we could share our schema.

This activity was SO FUN! And their mental files turned out so cute they're still hanging in my room. :)

What activities do you use for schema? I'd love to hear about them!

Sunday, September 13, 2015


I love teaching fourth grade math. Like, LOVE-LOVE. I know I've said it before, but I had to say it again.

Here are a few things I love teaching about math:
- Manipulatives
- Hands-on lessons
- Engaging activities 
- Math conversations
- Messy math papers full of strategies
- When kids who hate math leave my class loving math
- THE SUPER FANTASTIC MATH TEACHERS I HAVE MET THROUGH TPT, FACEBOOK & INSTAGRAM!! Let me shout out to a few of my faves & tell you a little about them! 

To The Square Inch: Kate is SO AMAZING. I stumbled across her blog a few years ago and my mind was BLOWN! Such creative and engaging lessons! So ofcourse I had to cyber-stalk her immediatly. I'm elementary and she's secondary, so I modified a few of her lessons to fit my classroom- THEY ROCKED THE HOUSE. You have GOT to check out her Adding, Subtracting, Multiplying and Dividing Bingo cards. To quote my son, "Legit-ness!"

The Teacher Studio: Oh Me, Oh My, The Teacher Studio... I don't know if I can count the ways I love her! My class loves her too, because I USE HER TPT RESOURCES ON THE DAILY! Concept sorts, problem solving, number lines, help with any operation... You need it, she has it! JUST LOOK at this amazing pack called Digging Deeper into Problem Solving: A Resource to Teach Perseverence... How much do you need this?? 

4MulaFun: Jennifer is probably one of the sweetest, most generous people EV-AR. I've participated in a few other giveaways with her and she SPOILS the winners! I LOVE her Solve-and-Snip products!! It's a no-fail system for your kiddos!! Solve, find your answer, snip it and glue it! If kiddos can't find their answer, they know to come ask me. GENIUS!! My personal favorite is the Fraction Operations Word Problems set... 2cool4school!! Check out all of her Solve-and-Snips HERE. Find your TEN favorites and write them down... Just trust me on this! 

Miss Math Dork: A few years ago I went to CAMT (a big ol' Texas math conference) and I MET MISS MATH DORK! She was there! Selling fantastic CDs with amazing math products! I even got a pic *TPT FAN GIRL MODE* Have you seen her Math Relays? Kids are solving math problems and with each correct answer they are creating an image. SO. MUCH. FUN! Check out her Customary Conversion of length, mass and capacity: Rainy Day Relay!! 

Create, Teach, Share: Rebecca ROCKS MY WORLD! What kind of resource are you needing? Oh, really? GO TO HER TPT Store. She has it! Interactive math notebooks? CHECK. Problem solving? CHECK. Not a math teacher? NOT A PROBLEM. I go to her for amazing reading inspiration as well! Told you: ROCKS MY WORLD! But back to math: Check out her FANTABULOUS Collection of 50 Problems Solving Tasks! She pushes kids to go way beyond regular problem solving!!

Digital: Divide & Conquer: Do you PBL? As in, do you do Project Based Learning in your classroom? Then you need to hit up the PBL GURU, Digital: Divide & Conquer! Peeps, MATT IS AMAZING!! Your kiddos will be SO engaged, SO challenged, and having SO much fun they won't even realize they're doing SO much learning!! SO much math goes into his PBL products - they will KNOCK YOUR SOCKS OFF. Go check out his Geometrocity: Building a City with Math - YOU NEED THIS! 

Prep Toon: Joseph over at Prep Toon contacted me a while back about chekcing out his AWESOME math videos that BRING MATH TO LIFE in your classroom! You pick your concept, watch an engaging and informative video that STOPS and asks QUESTIONS along the way! Such fantastic product you NEED!!! Go sign up for a free trial RIGHT NOW! 

Now.... Are you ready for the most fabulous news EVER??
All of the FANTASTIC PEOPLE above are participating in a MEGA MATH GIVEAWAY with me!

You get:
- 10 Solve and Snips of your choice (check them out HERE) by 4MulaFun
Geometrocity: Building a City with Math by Digital: Divide & Conquer
- A YEAR long subscription to Prep Toon 

I'm also throwing in my Math Glyph Bundle which includes ALL of my math glyphs! What's a math glyph, you ask? Well, it's basically a "color by answer" using math problems. Your kiddos answer a problem and based on their answer, they color their picture a certain way. I LOVE using these becasue 1) they're fun and 2) it's SO easy for me to see who doesn't get it and who does... All I have to do is look at the color of marker in a kiddos hand! 

ARE YOU STOKED? I hope you are! This is basically all you need for a STINKIN AWESOME SCHOOL YEAR!! To enter, check out the RaffleCopter below! Winner announced on Friday, September 18th! :) 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Place Valuuuuuue!

Hey all! I hope your year is off to a GREAT start!

We've been in school for two weeks. My kids are precious, we're already deep into the curriculum, and if I had to guess, I'd say this year is going to STRAIGHT UP ROCK. Oh, and I'm exhausted. Thank you God for the LABOR DAY HOLIDAY! This teacher needs some SLEEP!! And some time to catch up on lesson planning, grading papers, setting up centers..... Does it ever end??

As with most curriculums, math starts with place value. One of my favorite tools to use during this unit is the song "Place Value" by Matt Garwood (link to entire album here).

The same things happen every year when I play (jam out) to this song during class:
- Day 1: Most students look at me like I'm CRAZY as I dance around the room singing along... A few brave souls dare to dance with me. They immediately become my faves (kidding... kinda... lol)
- Day 2: The majority of the class starts singing along
- Day 3: I give my students a pointer and as we hit the chorus "you got your ones, tens, hundreds, thousands........" and so on, they point to each position on the journal entry I have displayed on my overhead. THAT my friends, is when the table turns...
- Day 4 - 180: Students BEG me to play the song and the place value positions are STUCK in their heads!!

I usually play the song a few more days to make sure the strategies stick. The kids EAT. IT. UP.

Our fourth grade state standards have students learning place value positions up to the billions, and this song stops at the millions. There's a little lull after ol' Matt belts out "millions" so we quickly rap, "ten millions, hundred millions, BILLIONS!" It fits in perfectly!

I hope you try this song out in your class - I'm telling y'all. It helps. And it's FUN, FUN, FUN!

Until next time!