Got to Teach!: November 2014

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.

7 FREE Public Domain e-Books for Grades 4-8!

7 FREE Public Domain e-Books for Grades 4-8!

Now that access to tablets is increasing in classrooms dramatically these days, teachers and students able to utilize e-books like never before.  One overlooked resource is the public domain, which has a number of classic books,  which have enduring value, offer historical insight, and present great opportunities for critical analysis.  And because they are in the public domain, they are FREE!  All major ebook formats (iBook, Kindle, etc.) carry these free titles, so check your preferred source for ebooks and start downloading!


1. The Secret Garden: Talk about a classic! This book tells a wonderful story with themes that still hold weight today, even after 100+ years.  There are many "layers" within the story, which make it the perfect book for literature circles or Shared Inquiry discussions.  
2. The Adventures of Tom Sawyer: If you're looking for a true piece of American literature, it doesn't get more authentic than this! Samuel Langhorne Clemens, better known as Mark Twain, is not only a remarkable storyteller, he captures the true essence of an era that has long past.  It's the perfect union of fiction and primary-source literature.
3. The Memoirs of Sherlock Holmes: This is a more recent book to be added to the public domain.  What I love about this book is that it's a collection of short stories.  They are high-interest and beautifully written.  If you have some reluctant readers in your class, this might a great option to present to them.

4. Treasure Island: Pirates? Buried Treasure? Need I say more?  This adventure story will be a hit with your students.  The fantastical nature of this story does not detract from some pretty relevant topics, such as the grey area between good and evil.
5. Little Women: This historical fiction novel captures the hardships of war from outside of the battlefields.  It chronicles the passage of young girls entering adulthood as they face the challenges of poverty and war.  The character development within the story is quite complex and intricate, which makes this book a great launchpad for character analysis.  
6. Black Beauty: In many ways, this book was ahead of its time.  Written during an era where children were treated like commodities, the author presents a touching story that underlines the important of treating animals with compassion. And while the story is told from the perspective of a horse, the underlying message of kindness can easily be applied to the human experience.   
7. Grimm's Fairy Tales:  These "children's" stories contain some pretty heavy content, which is only revealed through critical analysis.  They are a bit on the "dark side" when compared to the Disney versions, so you'll definitely want to preview these to assess if they are appropriate for you students.  If you're really interested in "digging deep" into fairy tales with your students, check out this resource; you and your students will have a whole new appreciation for fairy tales.

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