Five for Friday (9/16/16)

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Happy Friday, y'all! I can't believe we've already been in school for a MONTH! Time is flying by. I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching to share what's been going on in this neck of the woods. 

We started our first round of science rotations this week. So far the kids and I have been LOVING IT! One of my littles said, "I was totally learning stuff!" We work our rotations like this: 

I love this format because whole group lessons can be extremely challenging in the afternoon when my kiddos are all wiggly and antsy. This way, they get moving, I can see exactly who is understanding each topic, and where we still have questions. 

Our first round of science stations was on weather. You can check out the units we're using here. This week's focus is on weather tools, layers of the atmosphere, types of weather, etc. Next week, we'll move into cloud types, the water cycle, seasons, etc. 

One of their stations was to create a shelter for a Lego character to keep the weather off of him. I was pretty impressed with this little toilet paper roll mansion they made. Check out the front entryway. 

If you like that format, stay tuned. A lot more units are on their way. I'm also working on a few social studies units that follow the same setup, like this Election Unit.

We've been working hard on learning our multiplication facts this year. We took a break from our regularly scheduled curriculum to play a few hands on games with some friends from another class. They are doing AMAZING.  These games are from Jillian Starr's Multiplication Mega Pack. 

Halloween erasers make every math game better. :) 

I'll be starting a course tomorrow on Mathematical Mindsets. Our district received a grant for several teachers to take this year-long course for free! I'm excited to get started. Have you read this book? What did you think? 

In class, we started reading Wonder this week. If you haven't read this yet, you are missing out. I'm trying so hard not to cry in class, but it keeps getting tougher and tougher as we go along. My class is so sweet and they totally sympathize with August. This has been a great read for us. 

What are you reading to your class right now? Let me know in the comments, then head over to Doodle Bugs Teaching for more Five for Friday fun. Thanks for stopping by and have a great weekend!


Five for Friday (9/2/16)


Happy Friday, y'all! Can you BELIEVE it's SEPTEMBER! That's just crazy. Today is the end of our 2nd full week of school and the days are already flying by. I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching to share what we've been up to the last two weeks. 

August 22nd was our first day of school. We had a jam-packed, fun-filled day and it was one of the best first days I've ever had. I must have made an impression on them 'cause one of my kiddos wrote this on his first day poem:

I really thought I toned the crazy down that day. :)

After we made our class rules together, we created a poster to show were are "all in" on the rules together. I LOVE how it turned out!

And the kids LOVED their first stem challenge. They had to "Help Harry" by creating a pedestal of some kind for their "Harry." (It said to use a pom pom with eyes, but I have an excessive amount of Easter eggs left over I just drew eyes on.) It was a team building activity disguised as science. And they've begged me to do another one ever since. 

We created our "Friend Wanted" posters last week, too. (Thanks Jillian Starr!) The kids did an AH-MAZING job of describing what they want to have in a friend. This class is awesome!

And this week, we've started working on multiplication. I won a set of double dice (or dice inside of dice) during PD and we've been using them to build arrays. They're catching on SO FAST! I've been blown away!

And on a non-teaching-elated-but-totally-amazing-note, have you heard that Kendra Scott now has nail polish?! It matches many of their stones and is absolutely GORGEOUS! I usually don't spend much on a single bottle of nail polish, but I may need a beginning of the school year treat here soon!

Anyway, I hope you've either HAD an amazing beginning of the year or you do HAVE a fabulous one. And PLEASE take time to enjoy this three day weekend ahead. Now, head on over to Doodle Bugs Teaching for more Five for Friday awesomeness! Have a great weekend!

Five for Friday (8/19/16)


Happy Friday, y'all! I know many of you are back to school already. Our kids go back on Monday and I can't wait to get to meet them all! It's been a super busy couple of weeks prepping everything for the first day so I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching to share the highlights with you. 

My room is coming together quickly. The school's mascot is a pirate so I went with that for the outside bulletin board (even though my room is not piratey at all). Not shown are the glittery clothespins I'll be using to display their work. 

I have this odd space outside my classroom door that I don't quite know what to do with. I made this sign to hang in the entry but I'm still trying to figure out how I want to put it together.

Since I'm moving from 1st to 3rd, I redid my library book labels. I think they turned out super cute. (I'll post more pics of the class library when I get it all finished.)

Tuesday, we picked up my daughter's HIGH SCHOOL schedule. I can't believe my baby is already a freshman. And because of the way her middle school did things, this will be her first ever locker. She's very excited but totally embarrassed I took her picture in the middle of the hallway. Oh well. It's a mom's job to embarrass their teens right? 

And finally, I discovered this little gem last week. 

Did you know this? This is awesome! I ordered several books for the classroom and never had to put in my credit card info. 

Thanks for stopping by! Now swing over to Doodle Bugs Teaching for more Five for Friday fun! Have a great weekend!

Explore Like A Pirate: The End

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Welcome back to the final chapter of Explore Like A Pirate book study. This chapter is so short and sweet, I felt it better to share some of the takeaways from the book here instead. (If you need a refresher, you can read previous posts here.) 

Take away #1: Game-based learning is fun. 
Kids are already gamers, they understand what gaming is all about, and game-inspired course design meets them where they are. If designed and presented right, your kiddos will be engaged. I see this being a huge draw in late-elementary and higher grades where students begin to lose some motivation to "do" school. In primary grades, I can see this being done on a much smaller, one day or one week long unit. This would definitely be a challenge to keep it going for a full year in kindergarten. It would have to be super simple.

Take away #2: It can be as simple or complex as you'd like. 
Older kids can handle all the side quests, Jeopardy games, items, points, etc. For younger kiddos, I would keep it much simpler: brag tags for achievements, points, class awards, mini-quests, etc.

Take away #3: You can layer this over what you already do.
We already use brag tags (we call them pride tags) in our class for achievements, and our "points" system is Class Dojo. Gamifying the class would just tie everything together. Creating teams or "houses" would add that collaborative element to keep the community building going.

Final thoughts:
I don't know if I'm ready to go all out on gamifying the class for the whole year. I will probably tie what I already do together to unify everything, but I don't think my littles could handle a point system, a money system, and items over a whole year just yet. However, I am thinking of ways we could turn a Fun Friday into a one-day game. Stay tuned to see how it goes.

Thank you for going on this journey with us. It definitely gave us lots to think about. What do you think about gamifying your class? Let me know in the comments below, then check out what other bloggers had to say about it. Thanks and have a great day!

Five for Friday (8/5/16)


Hello there! Happy August! Can you believe the summer is over?! I start back with training on Monday and the kids come back shortly after. Where did the summer go?! Part of me is super sad to see it end, but more of me is excited to get back into routine and meet my new kiddos. I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for the final Five for Friday of my summer. 

We had one last little summer hoorah last weekend. The kids and I went to South Lake Tahoe, which is a little touristy town on the boarder of Nevada and California. It was crazy busy but the weather was wonderful and we had a great time. 

Towards the end of our little visit, I saw this sign and I just had to go in!

Y'all, it was AMAZING! There was original artwork from Dr. Seuss himself, a life-sized statue of the Lorax with his "Unless" quote, 3D versions of Dr. Seuss characters to hang on the wall, and so much more! I could have spend thousands in there ('cause none of it was cheap!), but I restrained myself. If I ever win the lottery, though, I'm totally going back there! (BTW, they had other artists artwork there too, and it was gorgeous, but they had me at Dr. Seuss.) 

Have you started setting up your classroom yet? I started in July (mostly to get the stuff out of my living room) and worked on refinishing this bookshelf and picnic table for my new classroom. They used to be black and now they are almost a blue jean color. I love how they turned out and the picnic table will be perfect for flexible seating. Now to get them up to the school...

The table and bookshelf will go perfect with my new calendar set. I also made some Meet the Teacher signs and forms to make Back to School night go a little smoother. It has supply labels, transportation forms, getting to know you forms, signs to show parents where to go and what to do, treat toppers for any grade and any snack, and even matching teacher information cards. I am in love with this set and can't wait to use it soon. You can get a set of your own here.

You checked out the Teachers Pay Teachers sale earlier in the week didn't you? I know I did! I grabbed a couple of back to school goodies (among other things) that I can't wait to use! I grabbed this set of community building activities from Jillian Starr (that friend finder activity is too cute!) and this Getting to Know My Shipmates set from Jessica Tobin (mostly because my school's mascot is a pirate, but also because it's adorable).

What is your favorite back to school activity? Let me know in the comments below. 

My new school uses Google Classroom, which is a new resource for me, so I downloaded 50 Things You Can Do With Google Classroom. Do you use Google Classroom? If so what do you think about it? Pros? Cons? Let me know in the comments below. I'm curious to find out how it will work in a 3rd grade classroom.

Thanks for stopping by! I hope you enjoy the last few minutes of summer before heading back to the classroom. Don't forget to stop by Doodle Bugs Teaching to check out some more amazing ideas from other bloggers. Have a fabulous day!

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