Monday, August 27, 2012

Guest Post: Corner on Character

Today, I have yet ANOTHER special guest post for you! :)  I am a big believer of character education in the classroom, and today I have a post for you by the the expert on character education herself, Babara from The Corner on Character!

Howdy from The Corner on Character.  It's such a thrill to be a guest today at this amazing blog. Thanks, Lisa, for the invitation.
Do you know about The Giant King by Kathleen T. Pelley? Although it's almost ten years old, it was love at first sight when I saw it for the first time this summer. In this tale about a Scottish carpenter's son named Rabbie, a Giant is terrorizing a town until the young lad suggests that the Giant's acting like a crazed beast because they're treating him like one. Though the people scoff and sneer at his intriguing idea that just might change things for the better, the King orders his people to do what the wise boy says. 
And guess what? 
"That which is loved will reveal its loveliness . . . "

So what connection do I want to make and reflect upon with this title? 
The Law of Attraction. According to Wikipedia: The law of attraction is essentially a belief or theory that "like attracts like" and that by focusing on positive or negative thoughts, one can bring about positive or negative results.

Consider the Giant and apply the law of attraction. He was banished by the townspeople because he was scary to them. But which came first, the chicken or the egg? Rabbie simply surmised that if they were treat him differently, like royalty instead of like something repulsive, then the Giant would act more Kingly. It's exactly why author Carol McCloud suggests that Bucket Fillers surround themselves with other Bucket Fillers. 
What you focus on, you get more of! 

So what will YOU encourage your students to focus on this year? You probably get about 187 days with this new crop of learners for the 
2012-2013 school year. How will they spend the days represented by that dash? Find out what changes your students could positively influence. Discuss the Law of Attraction with them so that they can intentionally seek out positivity. On purpose
Maybe there's someone that they could be a little kinder to. 
Maybe they want to complain less
Maybe they want to volunteer more
Challenge them to write a New Year's Resolution with an action plan. Then revisit the resolutions at the end of each quarter for self-reflection.
 Happy New Year! 

Thank you, Barbara for sharing the The Giant King with us! I already requested it from our local library and can't wait to share it with my fourth graders! :)  

Friday, August 24, 2012

Guest Post: Mary From Guided Math

Today, I have a real treat for you guys, a guest post from the Guide Math Guru herself, Mary of Guided Math!  Guided math is something I really can't wait to do with my fourth graders and I'm so happy Mary is sharing her knowledge and expertise with us today! :)

I am very excited to guest post today!  I'm Mary Mueller from Guided-Math.  I've been gearing up to go back to work and preparing for a straight grade this year... 4th grade!  No combination/split/multi-age class for me this year!  I love fourth graders.  They are maturing, developing great sense of humors and for the most part not hormonal yet.  They are eager to learn and still have that little kid fun side to them.

As you can imagine, being the Guided Math Guru (The GMG), I look forward to teaching my students a variety of math games to help with math facts.  Using math games in the classroom is a great, sneaky way to help students learn their math facts.  Most often the games I teach only utilize either playing cards or dice.  Simple.

I am sharing a three of my favorites that I teach during the first few weeks of Guided Math kick-off.

1.  Turn Over 10
The very first game I teach.  It is a basic addition game where students have to make combinations of 10.  Basic... but believe me... some intermediate students still don't have this down.

2.  Roll 1,000
This game can be modified to fit either addition or multiplication skills.  Students use dice and multiply and add to make totals of 1,000.

3.  Baby Snake
One of my most popular whole class games is called SNAKE.  I modified this whole class game for small group.  It follows along the same lines as SNAKE but works well in math groups.

I hope everyone has a great school year!  Good luck!


Thanks, Mary for sharing the links to all those wonderful games, I know my I can't wait to share them with my fourth graders! :)

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Guest Post: Sandy from Soaring Through Second

Today, you guys are in for a special treat, my bloggy BFF, Sandy from Soaring Through Second is guest posting for me today!  One of my favorite things about blogging has been developing relationships with teachers all over the country, and I'm especially thankful for my friendship with Sandy.  She's such an awesome and innovative teacher, and I know you will really enjoy her guest post!  Make sure you stop by her blog sometime, she has so many tips for managing technology in the classroom! :)
Hi there!!!

It's Sandy from

Soaring Through Second

I have been teaching for five years (this will be my sixth)- two years in 4th grade and three years in 2nd grade. I started blogging in December and it has clearly taken over my free time and I am such a better teacher thanks to all of the amazing teacher blogs out there (like this one!)!!! I am SO SO SO super duper excited to be guest posting for my bloggy BFF Lisa while she is taking care of business and getting moved into her new home!!!

I wanted to share with you one of my favorite back to school activities! I'm all about cooperative learning and teaching my kiddos how to work together (because let's face it- they don't always know how to). And common core & 21st century learning are all about collaboration and working together! So this activity is a prefect way to kick start a great year together! 

All I do is put 15-20 pieces of uncooked spaghetti noodles and 20-25 marshmallows in a bag (easy and cheap!!!). I give each table a bag. And a time limit. And tell them their goal: 

Create the tallest tower possible using only spaghetti & marshmallows!

Before I've even finished explaining the kids are already working and engaged!!!  

In the past, I've assigned kids different roles for their group (see the little tags on their shirts to distinguish their role...); Team Captain, Team Timer, Team Recorder, and Team Presenter. Each team member has a different responsibility for their group- 

The Team Captain keep everyone on track and on task, and makes sure everyone is participating (this is usually the hardest role to teach- especially to the little ones).

The Team Timer watches the clock and lets the team know when/if they are running out of time. 

Team Recorder fills out any paper work or worksheets associated with the task or goal.

The Team Presenter presents the final project with the rest of the class. 

(I adapted all of these roles from the book Teambuilding: Cooperative Learning Structures by Kagan)

Here is the reflection sheet I use! Feel free to click it and grab it! (It's generic enough that you can use it for any group work activity!) 

The kids had SUCH a blast doing this, and they talked about it all year long. At least once a month, one of them would ask me, "When do we get to do that spaghetti and marshmallow activity again???" 

It's also very interesting to sit back and observe... you'll learn a lot about your kids and how they work together! 

This year, I am going to have the kids do one round with their table group, reflect on what worked and what didn't, and then assign them to another group so they can start to work with other new friends. 

Here's to a GREAT 2012-2013 school year!!!

Thanks for having me Lisa!!!

What a great lesson, Sandy! I can't wait to try it during the first few days of school!  :)

Monday, August 20, 2012

Guest Post: Tastes Like Paste

Hi friends! I'm busy moving and unpacking my new home over the next few weeks!  I've lined up some great guest posts for you to enjoy while I'm gone, along with some posts I wrote in advance.  

We're getting today started with a guest post from one of my very best friends, Lauren, who is a fifth grade math teacher in my district and she's sharing some tips and tricks for organizing a departmentalized classroom.

Fun fact, Lauren and I went to college together and she was the maid of honor at my wedding. :)  I hope that you make her feel at home and visit her blog soon!

Hello! I am excited to be able to share a few of my new favorite teacher resources with you here at Fourth and Ten!

As a fifth grade math teacher in a departmentalized setting, I teach three blocks of students throughout the day, which usually adds up to around eighty-five students. Learning names at the beginning of the year can make my head swim, not to mention the PAPERWORK that comes with managing those kiddos!

One major way to alleviate some stress of paperwork is to lean on student responsibility procedures. This can be started in the early grades with turning in paperwork to specific bins, etc. My former third graders were the perfect age to start taking on more responsibility with classroom organization!

Now teaching fifth graders, I have my students take responsibility for turning in their paperwork to specific bins labeled and colored for their “block,” or class. They also have student numbers which they write next to their names on each of their assignments. I still swear by the multi-colored bins from the dollar section of the Target entrance, but I noticed that I used them for multiple things around the classroom. I needed a specific, unique set of bins. This year I found something even cuter than my Target bins!



These bins are perfect for my three block classes, and I will be using them this year for students to turn in assignments. After an assignment is turned in, I organize the stack of papers in numerical order by student number, for easy grading.

While I was on my IKEA binge, I also picked up these fun bins:

IKEA KUSINER Storage Basket

These cute wire pop-up baskets will come in handy for our ongoing projects and self-made math manipulatives that we are constantly creating in class! It is such a pain for students to be searching through three classes of baggies or envelopes for their own names! These will prove to make a former long search quick and painless!

IKEA KUSINER Wall Baskets-Corner

This set of hanging baskets looks great on the wall of our classroom! I plan to use it for returned papers that need to be filed into our mailbox system. This will make it easier for me or a helper to pull a specific student group of papers and return them quickly to their owner! It would also be a great option for light manipulative storage.

I loved these options from the children’s section of IKEA here in Cincinnati, but there are many other options for affordable storage in your classroom (cardboard boxes and cute duct tape, anyone?).

I love to read up on new organizing trends and old standby tips at the beginning of each school year. I find that it puts me on the right track for the school year, especially since organization doesn’t come naturally to this teacher. J

TeacherVision, Inspiring Teachers, and The Clutter-FreeClassroom all have some inspiring tips for organizing your classroom and yourself for the school year.

…And what about your personal life? Check out one of my favorite websites: Simple Organized Living. Amazing!

I hope you will have time to check out my little blog over at TastesLikePaste. I have links to some fun resources I have created for the classroom!

Best Wishes for an Enjoyable School Year!

-Lauren from TastesLikePaste

Thanks again, Lauren for sharing your tips for success in organizing a departmentalized classroom! :)

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Sneak a Peek Back to School Purchases Linky Party


Like many of you, I went shopping this weekend at Teachers Pay Teachers! I got so many great things for my new teaching adventure in fourth grade.  Here's just a sneak peak of what I bought. :)

 I got this Yes or No Prove It set of math questions from Molly at Classroom Confections.  You can find it at her Teachers Pay Teachers store here.  I LOVE this product, it's such a great way to get students writing about their thinking in math in a fun and engaging way. 

I also picked up this super fun back to school math activity from Ashleigh of Ashleigh's Education Journey. For the first two weeks of school, my grade level is focusing on team building activities in each subject, so this product is perfect!  I know my fourth graders are going to love it. You can read more about it on her blog or check it out at her Teachers Pay Teachers store here.

I also picked up Jen Runde of Runde's Room's Back to School Drama Circle.  You can find it here on Teachers Pay Teachers. I can't wait to use this! It is perfect for the activity for our back to school morning meetings.

My summer school students LOVED the Olympics, I mean LOVED them.  Our first unit is place value, so this unit from Katy at Stickers and Staples is perfect!  It goes all the way up through the hundred thousands place, so it's perfect for our first few days as we build the foundation to go up to the millions place.  This precious unit is jam packed with fun and can be found here on Teachers Pay Teachers!

I'm linking up my favorite buys at Blog Hoppin' tonight! "Hop" on over to find even more great products to add to your wishlist! 
Blog Hoppin
I can hardly wait to get back in the classroom and use these goodies with my class, I know they are going to love them! :)  

What has been your favorite back to school purchase? Tell me in the comments below.  Also, don't forget to rate your purchase on Teachers Pay Teachers to earn credits to use towards the purchase of more goodies.  It's a win win for you and your students!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Take a peak in my polka dot themed classroom

I can breathe a little bit easier tonight.  My room is finally "done".  Done as in I can finally go to work and plan and copy and organize and not stress over math manipulative organization, tissue paper pom poms, or whether or not I cut border in a straight line. 

My room is small.  It's in the basement.  It's dark.   So when planning my theme/direction this year, I knew I needed to really focus on organization and keep prints/colors minimal to make the space feel bigger than it is.  My overall theme is happy and bright polka dots (not quite primary colors and not quite cool colors) and I loved how it turned out.  

Here is my "When You Enter This Classroom..." project from earlier in the summer. 
This is the view you see when you walk in the door to my classroom.  I have air conditioning this year.  PTL. :)

 This is my ELA Focus Wall/Library area.  Of course I just noticed one of my book bins is missing a label! Whoops!  The ELA letters are from Caitlin Clabby, the alphabet is from Ladybug Teacher Files, and the focus wall headers are from moi.  I got the genre posters from Beth Newingham's website and the Comprehension and Genre cards are a freebie from long ago from Christina Bainbridge's classroom website. My book bins are from Ikea.  

The math letters are from Caitlin again.  Eventually this area will have anchor charts we create together in class, but this works for now.  The Keys poster will stay up all year though. 

This year I will have a few ED students in my room.  I wanted to have a place where all of us, not just my ED students, could go to chill out, so this is my Alaska spot in my room.  I got this idea from Amanda Nickerson of One Extra Degree and Lisa Lizak from Made in the Shade in Second Grade.  The Alaska sign can be found {here}.  In the box are lots of squeezable items and some paint brushes.  The paint brushes are to brush against their skin, some of my new students really like this calming strategy. 

Part of my teaching resource area.  I need to put scrapbook paper inserts in the front of the drawers. They will be used for my Monday through Friday materials with an extra drawer for filing/etc. 

You see those shelves?  Those are totally Really Good Stuff knock offs! A friend of our family made it and my daddy painted them to match my then stars and stripes themed classroom.  :) 

 My desk, even though I'm happy to have one, was a hot mess.  It had scratches all over it and was just ugly. I was inspired by my friend Nicole of Teaching With Blond Ambition's classroom. She had the most darling monogram on the front of her desk.  I just used more of Caitlin's adorable letters to spell out my name.  My name is Italian, and follows no phonics rules or patterns so I've always gotten some FUNNY spellings of it, maybe they'll learn how to spell it this year! I got the tubs from the Christmas Tree Shop.  They are extra large beverage containers and are perfect for my clipboards and privacy folders! Since I don't have room for a small group table, our small groups will happen on the carpet with clipboards.  Eventually, I'd like to replace this college dorm carpet.  :)

I didn't get a super close up picture of this area, but this is where the magic happens, up front by the Smartboard.  This is where I do a lot of my teaching. I hate teaching with my kids at their desks, I feel if I keep them up close to me, they focus better!  I made sure to make a big enough space up front for all my fourth grade friends.  

This area is the one thing that I really don't like about this room, all the exposed storage.  Since I really dislike open storage and find it busy and distracting, most of my materials are in my one little closet. The top two polka dot boxes are filled with multiple copy chapter books that are used in book clubs.  I need to pick up another set from Ikea to put the rest of the books in.  The adorable banner is from Bridget's (Lovely Little Leaders) store. The circle numbers are polka dot themed calendar pieces and are used to label each of my students' coat hook.  All those extra math manipulatives will be gone soon! I'm just letting my coworkers pick through them before I put them in our free for all room.
I really wish that hand sanitizer pump was up a little higher so this shelf fit a little bit better. ;) This shelf holds my math centers (still be be cut out but available here) and extra supplies for our community school supplies.  I love a good container from Sterlite.  Word to the wise, spend a few extra cents on the containers and get them from Target.  The ones from Target are legit, very sturdy and well made. The ones at Wal Mart, are the same brand but are not nearly as nice and the lids don't fit quite right.

One of the constraints of a small room is the lack of wall space for a clip chart.  I had to get creative and put mine on my tiny closet door. 

Since I lack usable wall space, I had to put my students turn in pockets on the door to my classroom. 
How I love this pocket chart.  It's been the one constant in my room for the past six years.  I LOVE how my students' papers are typically in ABC order, with the exception of move ins.  When we turn in multiple papers on the same day, I just quickly grab the papers out of the pockets.  Easy, peasy.   

Finally, here is my ways we go home transportation chart.  Eventually it will have clothespins for each of my kiddos for them to track how they go home.  It's available {here}. 

One last picture, this is from my desk. Not that I spend a lot of time here, but it gives you an overall feel for the room. One day, I'll make more tissue paper poms, but for now, three will do. 
I hope you enjoyed this sneak peak into my classroom.  Since my room is so small, I feel that organization and minimal excess of charts/posters really opens the space up.  Obviously our focus wall will have our anchor charts for learning, but this year I'm not putting up lots of "extras", think random teacher store charts or even reading points incentive charts. Once we are done with a chart, it will have to come down and store away for next year, or recycled if it's a class created chart.  

Later this week, I'll share with you how I organize my math manipulatives, the one picture I forgot, and how I keep my focus wall easy to manage each week.  

I hope you enjoyed the tour of my room! :) 

I'm linking up with my bloggy friend, Courtney, from Swimming into Second tonight! Click on the image below to check out more awesome classrooms! 

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Back to School Sale

Hello Friends! I hope that all of you are having great weekends! Today I headed to the Christmas Tree Store to finish up my classroom decor shopping. Have you ever been to one? I LOVE the Christmas Tree store. They're like Big Lots but way more organized and with much better stuff! I can't wait to show you my goodies on Monday. :) Right now, is a time in my life that I am referring to as "the calm before the storm." So many things are going on right now. A new house, a new school year, a new grade, and a huge birthday party being planned to celebrate my dear Grandma's 80th birthday. It's certainly an exciting time, but also a stressful time as well. That's why I'm so glad I don't feel like I have to do it ALL anymore. Teachers Pay Teachers, Teachers Notebook, and the blogging community have been such a blessing to me.  In fact, some of my best blogging buddies are taking over my blog for me with some awesome guest posts in just a few weeks while I move and get settled into the new school year! Are they not the best?

 All the resources and materials I have collected from my online teaching pals have enriched my students and teaching in so many ways. In just a few hours, yay! Teachers Pay Teachers is hosting their annual Back to School sale. I am of course participating, and my entire store is 20% off. Teachers Pay Teachers is throwing in an additional 10% off, meaning some items on the site will be 28% off. I know that doesn't *quite* add up, but still a good sale is a good sale! :)
Click on the super adorable image above.  Thanks, Ashley for the cute graphic! I love it! Or on the cheerleader below to check out my store.  

If you just can't wait, or prefer shopping on Teachers Notebook,  all items in my Teachers Notebook store are 25% off today through the 13th as well. 


 Click on the Teachers Notebook logo or the cheerleader below to check out my Teachers Notebook store.

*Due to the size of my Primary Polka Dot Decor files, they are only available at my Teachers Pay Teachers store. Teachers Notebook just upgraded their file size, but I have not had a chance to upload them yet.*

Happy shopping my friends. :)  I'm tempted to stay up until midnight to get my goodies purchased early! It's like Christmas!

Friday, August 10, 2012

Back to School Product Premiere {TpT Sale Preview}

Have you heard? Teachers Pay Teachers is having a huge back to school sale Sunday and Monday?  I know that my shopping cart is full, and I'm so excited to purchase goodies from some of my favorite teacher authors to use with my kiddos.  My store will be 20% off, and TpT is offering buyers an additional 8% off, for a total of 28% off ALL items in my store. :) Just use the code in the image below when checking out. :)

Some of my teaching blogging pals and I have joined forces for a special blog hop today to showcase some of our back to school essentials, and hopefully introduce you to helpful products and ideas that will make this school year your best year ever! :)

When I found out I was moving to fourth grade, I really started thinking about the structure of my day.  One thing I really wanted to change this upcoming school year is my math intervention/math tutorial block.  Most in my school do this whole group or by splitting the class into two larger groups.  Since my math tutorial is right after my math block, this just never worked for me.  My kiddos are just done, and needed a break from large group activities, not that I do a lot whole group in math class, but my math tutorial time being at the end of the day doesn't help matters either.  My second graders always loved centers, so I thought I would incorporate centers into our tutorial block for my fourth graders to work on while I worked with my intervention group.  

However, there weren't lots of math center packs available for older kiddos, so I spent some time this summer working on my first set of math centers for this school year.  

My Back to School Math Centers for Bigger Kids has 8 different math centers included, and review a wide variety of math skills.  From place value, to solving simple algebra equations, comparing numbers, addition with regrouping, continuing number patterns, subtraction with borrowing, multiplication and division fact families, and a multiplication fact family sort.  

I love using centers as they are a great way to students to students to get continued exposure to previously learned concepts in a fun way.  Continued and repeated practice is SO important in all grades, but I especially love it in a high stakes testing grade.  

Through the year, I'll be adding more math centers to my store, which will all be Common Core aligned. :) 

If you'd like to add my Back to School Math Centers for Bigger Kids to your shopping cart, you can head straight to its listing by clicking on the cheerleader below. 

Also, when I think about back to school, I automatically start thinking of ways to build a caring classroom community. I have two very special best sellers in my store that do just that. 

Cooking up a Great Year Together is hands down one of my favorite activities I do with my kiddos all year long.  It combines two of my favorite things, books and food, and leads to some awesome discussion about the character traits essential for a great year together.  You can read more about how I implement this week long activity into my classroom {here}
Click on the cheerleader to check it out on TpT. 

I feel that it's so important to take some time during the first few weeks of school to really get to know your kiddos, and it's equally as important for them to get know each other.  The years where I've spent more time on community building at the beginning of the year have been my best years in the classroom, and those years where starting hitting the pavement right away and didn't give as much time to community building were my hardest years.  You can read all about my Fabulous Back to School Fun packet {here}. My favorites are always the time capsules and the toothpaste words activity.  :)

If you want to check it out on TpT, just click on the cheerleader below. 

I hope that you click around and check out all the wonderful back to school essentials featured by my bloggy friends below.  I know I will be. :)  

Happy Friday and Happy Shopping! :)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...