Saturday, June 29, 2013

Classroom Organization: Storing Classroom Computers

I had been looking for a new way to store my computers that I got from Donors Choose (the lovely pink one was my donation, the girls always want that one!).  I had inherited several of these wonderful wooden organizers from my mother who had retired from teaching and they were the perfect size to fit the netbooks.  I found THIS pin last summer and decided to use it to organize the cords.

 Each of the computers is numbers, so the students easily know where to put the computer back so that it goes with the correct plug.  Below, you can see how the cord fits through the clamp and stays in the proper place.

Thanks go to Kristen from Ladybug's Teacher Files and Elizabeth from Fun in Room 4B for the Linky Party!

Friday, June 28, 2013

Foldable Friday: Data Analysis

Mean, median, mode and range:  a topic you cover in many different grade levels.  I had my students make an interactive graphic organizer to help remember what each of the data analysis items were.  I found THIS and tweaked it a bit to fit my needs. I used the same data set for each term so the students could see the relationship between them.

Here are a few pictures of how they turned out.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Problem Solving

We usually spend the last week of school doing nothing but problem solving activities during our math time. One of my favorite activities to do with my 6th graders is called Paper Pool which can be found on the Illuminations website. The students would spend a whole week on this project if I let them. 

I start by going through THIS worksheet, which explains the activity.

We go through both examples so that they understand exactly what the rules are.  Usually about half of the students have trouble understanding how to draw the lines (they have to be corner to corner), so I usually have to spend time working with them. If I'm lucky, the partner they have chosen understands and can show them how to do it. Once everyone understands how the "ball" moves on the board, they try different size rectangles.

When the students see a pattern, they write the "rule" on the board (they have to have found at least 3 rectangles that fit their rule to write it on the board).  

The next day, we test the "rules".  Every group takes a different rectangle that fits the rule to test it.  If it passes the test for all rectangles tested, it goes on the proven rules list. We had approximately 25 rules when we started and it went down to only 7 after testing each one.  I then wrote down whether each number was odd or even and we narrowed our rules down even further.

I do the "Crossing the River" problem with my 5th graders which came from Fostering Algebraic Thinking by Mark Driscoll (new on Amazon for $19.99 or used for $12.78). I did find the activity on-line HERE. The book is geared for 6-10 grade, but we used it in a class I took that was filled with elementary teachers.  We were able to easily adapt most of the problems.

The goal of the activity is to get 2 children and 8 adults across the river with only one boat. The rules for crossing are the following: one adult, one child or 2 children in a boat. You can NOT have one child and one adult in the boat at the same time. The students have to figure out the least amount to trips it takes to get across the river. Eventually they figure out an equation to figure out how many trips for any number of children and adults.

What are some of your favorite problem solving activities to do with your students?  I'm always looking for new activities and would love for you to share you favorites with us.

Monday, June 24, 2013

Concept Mapping

Originally posted on the ATUE blog.

I was introduced to concept mapping several years ago, but didn't really start using it my classroom until this school year.  When I was asked to be a science trainer for our district in 2011, the district wanted us to use concept mapping as a way to teach vocabulary. They wanted us to encourage our teachers to use concept mapping instead of your standard definitions to learn science vocabulary.

Since I had never used this type of mapping in my lessons, I spent quite a bit of time watching the other trainers working with the teachers and learning how to use them myself. Unfortunately, I don't think many of the other teachers in my building are using the maps, so my students don't see them until 5th grade.

This year I have tried to implement them fully into our science curriculum (I'm thinking about doing social studies next year). We start off the same each time.

After each science activity (we use the FOSS kits), the students come up with words to put on our word wall or word bank.  Each day we use a different color.

5th grade Human Body FOSS kit
After coming up with our words, we then put them on the concept map.  The hardest part for the students seems to be the wording that ties each of the words together.  I try not to lead them into what I think it should be, but to let them come up with how the words connect with each other. 

5th grade Human Body FOSS kit
Each day after we are satisfied with what we have done to the map, the students copy that part of the map into their science journals.

5th grade Food Webs and Chains FOSS kit

For more information on using concept maps in your classroom, I have listed a couple of resources:

This is an article from Stanford, Using Concept Maps in the Science Classroom, can give you a little more insight to mapping in your science class.

Science-West also has an interesting read:  Concept Mapping.

Do you use concept maps in your classroom?  We would love to hear about how you successfully implement it into your curriculum.

Saturday, June 22, 2013

Classroom Organization: Common Core Math Binder

My binders seem to be one of the hot topics of my blog, so I thought I would go into a little more detail about my CCSS - Math binder.  You can see that I have re-done the cover (I've re-done them all, but more on that at a later time!).

This is what the inside looks like:

The very first thing you see is the CCSS check off list that I got from MissMathDork. She has created these wonderful checklists for all the common core math standards.  The best thing about them is that they are FREE!  You can get them here:

K - 2      3 - 5      6 - 8

The next tab is a printed version of the CCSS, which you can get HERE.

The next tab is a list and a set of posters for the Mathematical Practices.  You can find several versions on TpT HERE

I printed this set from Jordan School District and they are FREE!

The math dept in my district put together packets for all the teachers with resources in them. The next two sections come from that packet.  The district didn't want to re-create the wheel, so they borrowed materials from states that had already implemented the CCSS.

The first are documents from the Arizona DOE. The document titled, Arizona's Common Core Standards - Mathematics, goes through each standard and lists the mathematical practices aligned to the standard and gives an explanation and examples. They have added a new feature, called Placemats, that  have all the standards listed on one sheet.

The North Carolina Department of Public Instruction also put together a similar document where they have "unpacked" the standards.

Kg      First      Second      Third      Fourth      Fifth      Sixth      Seventh      Eighth

If you teach ELA you can find the links HERE.

One of my favorite documents is the Common Core "FlipBook."  It was compiled by the Kansas Association of Teachers of Mathematics. They gathered information from a number of places including the Ohio and N. Carolina DOE (states which had already started using the CCS). The "FlipBook" provides a sample of instructional strategies and examples. The "FlipBooks" can be found for Grades K-8 and High School.  I haven't printed this document as it is about 70 pgs, but I do have copies of it saved on my computer.

Kg      First      Second      Third      Fourth      Fifth

Sixth      Seventh      Eighth      High School

Now it appears that the Arizona DOE put together their own FlipBooks for the high school standards which has links included. You can find it HERE.

The last tab is a document that I found that lists all the CCSS and how they match up with the textbook that we use.

There is a misc tab in there (the green one) that has a document about how our state is transitioning to the CCSS.

I haven't printed these yet, but here are wonderful vocabulary list by grade level by Jordan School District.

Kg      First      Second      Third      Fourth      Fifth

You can also find vocabulary cards already done for you HERE.

I hope that this post has been useful and not too wordy.  Let me know if you have any questions!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Classroom Organization: Displaying and Storing Standards Posters

I fell in LOVE with THIS pin last summer and just had to do it in my classroom. Since we have to display our standards, this was the perfect solution.  The black background is a sheet from Walmart that I cut up and taped to the filing cabinets.  The border is MagnaBorders from Learning Resources. I put magnets on the back of the posters and they work wonderfully!

 I store the posters in this sentence strip box by TREND. The 5th grade standards are on the left and 6th grade on the right.

They don't quite fit in the box, but I'm ok with that as I haven't found a better solution.

Thanks go to Kristen from Ladybug's Teacher Files and Elizabeth from Fun in Room 4B for the Linky Party!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Engineering Design: Water Wheels

Originally seen on the ATUE blog...

The last quarter of science in Indiana is Science, Technology and Engineering. We start this quarter with a pretty simple engineering project:  creating a water wheel (we did the linked project in summer engineering camp but we modified it for the school year).  I begin the project by showing the students videos of water wheels (mill wheels) so that they have an idea of what they will be creating.

Next we start to go through the Engineering Design Plan.

Step one is stating the problem.  The students have to describe the problem that we want to solve.

Step two is the design criteria. What must the product be able to do? What limits do we have to wok within? (materials, size, time, etc) You can have some fun with this. You can give the students a budget and "charge" them for the materials. Budget = $1,000; 1 inch of tape = $50; 1 paper plate= $100

Step three is the brainstorming area.  What ideas do we have about ways to get the product to meet the Design Criteria?

This student had an unfair advantage with this project as she was in my 5/6 split last year and had already done the project one else's brainstorming ideas were as specific as these.
Step four is the designing. The students must draw their design and plan for building the prototype to scale.

Here are some pictures of the early stages of design.

Step five is testing, evaluating, and redesigning.  The students must test their design. What was tried? What was the result? Next the student evaluate their design. Does it meet one or more of the design criteria? Lastly, they need to redesign.  What changes could we make for a design that meets more of the criteria?

Step six is the design solution for the problem.

I don't have access to water outside, so we used rice instead. We also used sand when I did our training session with the other 6th grade teachers.  Here are some pictures of us testing the water wheels.

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Classroom Organization: No Name Papers

It's a short and sweet post this week.  I got tired of trying to figure out who owned the no name papers, so I set up this tray.  I told the students that if they didn't get a paper back when we passed them out on Mondays, they better look in the tray!  Now a lot of these students I've had for 2 years and I easily recognize their handwriting or their parent's signature. On those papers, I write their name on the top.  But for those papers that I can't easily tell, into the tray they go.  The students are usually pretty good about checking if they have a paper in the tray.  If they do, they put their name on it and give it back to me so they can receive their points.

Thanks go to Kristen from Ladybug's Teacher Files and Elizabeth from Fun in Room 4B for the Linky Party!

Friday, June 7, 2013

Clipart Challenge

Several fabulous clipartists and bloggers have come together for an amazing Clipart Challenge hosted by Primary Possibilities!  Each blogger is featuring a clipartist and a product they made using that artist's images!  This is a great way to discover new clipart creators for your summer creations.   So keep reading and following the linky at the bottom to head on to the next post!  You may even pick up some freebies along the way!

I had the privilege of working with graphics from The Enlightened Elephant.

I chose to use the fraction circles in my product.

I LOVE the circle fractions, they are so versatile. I wanted to make a product which focused on two skills and these circle fractions were perfect for this.

I made some of the task cards with fractions.

And some had mixed numbers.

I have several sets of graphics from The Enlightened Elephant and LOVE them all!!

Thanks to The Enlightened Elephant for letting me play with her wonderful graphics!

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