Got to Teach!: 2014

Student Birthdays

I have always felt that it was important for student birthdays to be recognized in the classroom.  It makes students feel special and it contributes to a sense of class community.  Here are just a few simple ways to acknowledge student birthdays without interfering with precious instructional time.

1. Note From You:  This makes a student's year!  I love watching a student's face when they approach their desk in the morning to find a note waiting for them.  I have had students hang on to these for the entire year, or even longer. 

2. Homework Pass:  My fifth grades would go crazy for a homework pass!  I usually excused them from an entire night's homework, but you could also make them a pass that would just excuse them from one assignment.

3. Birthday Pencil:  You can get some pretty cool looking pencils that don't cost a lot of money.  Check out the usual "deal spots": Target, Big Lots, Oriental Trading, etc.

To help you organize all the birthdays in your classroom, I made this fun poster that you can download for free! 

The size for the poster is 11 x 17 (tabloid).  I printed my poster at FedEx Office for $1.30.  I placed it in a really inexpensive frame from Target; it was only $6 and it's super light, which will make it easy to hang.

Just pop your poster in this frame, grab a Vis-a-Vis or dry-erase marker, and write your students' names on the glass.  You now have a classroom birthday poster for less than $8 that you can use for years to come!

Side-view of the frame.
How do you celebrate your students' birthdays?

Standards for Mathematical Practices {Free Posters}

I've been in "math mode" for the last several weeks as I have been working on my Brain Power Math resources.  I started to take a serious look at the CC Standards for Mathematical Practices. These 8 Practices can really empower your students as mathematicians.  I made this set of legal-sized (8.5 x 14) posters to help teachers and students understand and use the practices.  You can download them for free {HERE}.  I printed this set at my local FedEx Office for $5.10!
Standards for Mathematical Practices

Each standard needs to be explicitly taught to students through direct modeling.  However, once students become familiar with them, these posters will be helpful visual cues in your classroom.

Standards for Mathematical Practices

If you are looking for a nice break down of each of the 8 MP, check out this post from Scholastic.  It provides some really helpful examples of each.




Shrinky Dinks Cell Models

I recently developed a slight obsession with Shrinky Dinks. It was one of my favorite crafting activities as a child, and now as a mom, my daughter is having fun with it too.   If you've never used it, it's basically thin sheets of plastic that you can cut and color and then bake in the oven, where it shrinks.  For this project, I recommend the frosted type of Shrinky Dinks; this allows your students to use colored pencils on the plastic.  You can purchase sheets of Shrinky Dinks online or at your local craft store.
Cell Model

 Download these animal and plant cell templates for free here:
Cell Models

Using painter's tape, secure the Shrinky Dinks sheet on top of the cell template, with the frosted side up.  Each cell uses one whole sheet of plastic.  Using a fine-tip Sharpie, outline the cell.
Cell Models

Remove the tape and color the cell with colored pencils.  Trim around the cell and use a hole punch to make a hole on the edge of the cell; this way students can place it on a ring, chain, etc.
Cell Models

Preheat your oven to 325 degrees.  Place the pieces face down on a cookie sheet that is covered in parchment paper or a layer of brown paper bag.  Once the pieces are totally flat (about 5-7 minuets), take them out to cool.
Cell Models

Cell Models

This is such a fun way to have students learn the various organelles of plant and animal cells!

Adding and Subtracting Integers with Tile Spacers

This summer I was a guest blogger for Rachel Lynette's Minds-in-Bloom.  I wrote a post titled "Classroom Finds from the Hardware Store," and in it I mention the use of tile spacers when teaching adding and subtracting integers; I had several people ask me exactly how I use these, and I am just now getting around to writing a blog post on it.  I hope you find it useful!

Tile spacers are those little, rubbery "+-shaped doodads" (sorry to get so technical;-) that tile layers use to perfectly arrange tile in order create those straight, uniform grout lines.  You can find them in your hardware store, near the tile and grout.  They are typically white, but when I recently purchased a bag they were bright neon orange! If you can find these bright ones, grab them up; they are so much easier to find on the floor of your classroom during "clean-up."  I purchased this bag from Lowe's for $6.  You get 500 pieces, so you'll need two bags if you want to make a class set for 33 students.
Adding and Subtracting Integers

Just cut the "nibs" off of some of the tile spacers to create your negative signs.  The material can easily be cut through with standard scissors.  You'll need at least 10 positive signs and 10 negative signs for each student; 15 of each sign is even better. I recommend placing student sets in individual containers, like small ziplock bags or small plastic containers.  
Adding and Subtracting Integers

Each student will also need an "Integer Mat"; you can download one that I made for free {HERE} and laminate them for future use.  
Adding and Subtracting IntegersAdding and Subtracting Integers

With the materials all prepped, you're ready to get going! I started to type out the steps of using the tile spacers and the integer mat, but I wasn't doing a great job of communicating the steps. So, I made a video tutorial below.  I hope it's helpful.  Let me know if there's anything I missed in the video; I couldn't bare to watch it and listen to the sound of my own voice;-).





Anchor Charts Galore

I took a little "field trip" to my sister's classroom last week.  She teaches in San Diego and is the reason I found my way to education.  She is a literacy queen and really knows her stuff when it comes to reading instruction.  I snapped several pictures of her anchor charts during my visit.  Enjoy! P.S. She might have the BEST handwriting ever!
Language Arts Anchor Charts


Language Arts Anchor Charts

Language Arts Anchor Charts

Language Arts Anchor Charts

Language Arts Anchor Charts

Language Arts Anchor Charts

Language Arts Anchor Charts

Language Arts Anchor Charts

Language Arts Anchor Charts

Language Arts Anchor Charts

Language Arts Anchor Charts

Language Arts Anchor Charts

Language Arts Anchor Charts

Language Arts Anchor Charts

Language Arts Anchor Charts

Language Arts Anchor Charts

Language Arts Anchor Charts


Language Arts Anchor Charts

Language Arts Anchor Charts

Language Arts Anchor Charts

Language Arts Anchor Charts



Holiday Bookmark Craft

Holiday Bookmark Craft

I am always looking for a fun classroom craft, especially the week before winter break, when students are getting a bit restless.  These Shrinky Dinks bookmarks might be one of my favorite projects!  Shrinky Dinks bring back some fond childhood memories, and even as an adult I am still a bit obsessed with this “magical” plastic.  If you’re looking for a fun winter/holiday craft that your students will love and that won’t cost you very much money, then this is definitely the project for you.  Oh, and did I mention that it will keep your students engaged and silent for at least an hour and a half?  During the week of school before the holidays, that is priceless in my book.  You can get the templates and instructions for free {HERE}.

Supplies:
• Frosted Ruff N’ Ready Shrinky Dinks- These come 10 sheets to a pack and you’ll need a half of a sheet for each student.  One pack costs about $6 at your craft store (even less if you use the ever-abundant 40% coupons).
• extra fine-tip Sharpies
• colored pencils   
• cording- This can be found at your craft store as well.  It is usually near the beads and is either made out of bamboo or hemp.

1. Using painters tape, secure the Shrinky Dinks sheets (frosted side up) over the bookmark design and trace with an extra fine-tip Sharpie.


Holiday Bookmark Craft

Holiday Bookmark Craft

2. Color the design with colored pencils.
Holiday Bookmark Craft
3. Cut out the bookmark and tag; make sure your students have marked their pieces with student number or their initials in an inconspicuous spot.

Holiday Bookmark Craft

4. Bake the bookmarks.  Preheat your oven to 325°.  If you’re baking a class set, you’ll need a couple of cookie sheets. Line the cookie sheets with brown paper grocery bags, making sure they are laying flat.  Place the bookmarks colored side down (this helps prevent them from curling up on themselves and sticking together) and bake for 1-4 minutes.  You’ll need to be watching them the entire time.  They will curl up quite a bit, but don't worry; they will eventually lay completely flat. Once they are completely flat give them about 20 more seconds and then take them out to cool.   

Holiday Bookmark Craft
Holiday Bookmark Craft

 The plastic shrinks to about 1/3 of it's original size. The color also becomes deeper and more vibrant and all of the details stay really crisp.
Holiday Bookmark Craft


5. Have the students tie the bookmark and the “charm” together with the cording.  They will need to tie the loose ends off with knots to keep the cording from unraveling.  


Holiday Bookmark Craft

Holiday Bookmark Craft

Have fun crafting and channeling all the holiday excitement in your classroom.

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