Sunday, October 21, 2012

Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally

I would like to share an acronym mini-poster for helping with the order of operations.  I know that everyone is familiar with "Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally."  In 4th grade, although the standards required teaching the order of operations, "exponents" were not part of the standards.  I always use "Protect My Dear Aunt Sally."  I have the kids pretend we are at the mall shopping and while we are in a store purchasing some items, someone is trying to steal Aunt Sally's purse outside the store.  We can't get to her in time, so we all yell, "Protect My Dear Aunt Sally!"  Silly, I know, but, it does the trick every year. :)
However, after I posted an Beginning Algebra Expression unit on TPT, I had a very nice lady ask me if I could make her a PEMDAS handout for her students to keep at the desk with them.  The rest of the story is history. :)  Please feel to click on the mini-poster below if it can be of any help to your students.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

A Milestone :)

I received a message from a friend a few weeks ago, asking me to check Teacher Pay Teachers Top 100 Products.  I couldn't believe my eyes when I saw my product listed there!  I rushed into the family room and proudly announced to my family that I had made TpT's Top 100.  Everyone was pleasantly unenthused.  My daughter looked up from the television and said, "Cool," while my son just smiled and charitably commented, "You go mom." My husband asked why I didn't have the #1 product yet.  (They don't get it.  They just don't get it!)  However, I did not let this dampen my spirit!  I ran back to my computer and looked at the Top 100 again...then again a few minutes later.  I woke the next morning and checked to make sure it was still there.  :)  Seriously...I did. This week my unit, The Road to the White House, is #11 on the Top 100, Grades 3-5, #23 - Middle Grades, and #52 - All Grades.  I don't believe that anyone who has reached #1 could be any more excited.  
It's always nice to know that people appreciate all the hard work and long hours that go into creating these units.  There are so many talented people on TpT.  Therefore, it makes me proud as a teacher to be anywhere on the same ball field with these creative, professional men and women.  It is a small milestone but, it is still a milestone and I am very excited and happy about it.    

Sunday, October 14, 2012

This Clip Chart is a Lot of Work :)

I have been on Pinterest again!  That is always  dangerous since I love so many of the ideas on that site.  I saw this idea on Pinterest and started the behavior clip chart at the beginning of the year.  I bet everyone has seen this chart.  It is the one where you use clothes pins and move them up and down the chart depending on the behavior.  It is suggested that every student begin on "Ready to Learn" in the middle of the chart each day and then the clothes pins are moved up one place at a time until WOW is reached.  A student can also "clip down" as the day progresses.  The good news is that a student who "clips down" can also move back up the chart.  That is my favorite part of the whole chart!  A student who messes up at the beginning of class is not doomed for the day.  There is a light at the end of the tunnel for that student.  
I tried moving students to "Ready to Learn" each day but, that just proved too much!  I teach 4 different classes and have each class for approximately 1 hour and 10 minutes.  I was practically having to reward students for looking nice just to get someone on WOW before the end of class. :)  For the last few weeks we have made the clip chart a weekly event. This has worked out much better.   Students' clips are moved back to "Ready to Learn" only on Mondays.  This allows students time to really deserve "clipping up."

 Students are responsible each day for getting the charts from the back of the door and putting them on the white board.  

Once students reach WOW they get to put a glitter gem sticker on their clothes pin.  Once students get 3 stickers they get to "retire" the clothes pin.    

I have designated a bulletin board and named it the "Wall of Fame" board.  (This is where my hard work begins!)  I make a label for each student who retires their clothes pin.  I have collected ribbon and the student gets to pick out their ribbon of choice.  They absolutely look this part!  I cut the ribbon and place the ribbon and clip on the bulletin board.  Hint:  Do not take for granted that your students will understand why you do not have their ribbons up the next time they enter your classroom. :)

The fun never ends.  Once a clothes pin is retired, the student receives another one. This time I supply a colored marker for color coding it and a permanent marker for writing the student's name.  (It is quite an ordeal, since we are still trying to have class through all the excitement).  The students will repeat the procedure of the first clothes pin using the colors of the behavior chart as the colors for their new clothes pins.

Although the clip chart is time consuming, I have never seen such tremendous efforts to be good and respectful.  Additionally, my students are so excited and love this system.  I do not have to hand out treats or bribe them with prizes.  In fact, the really amazing part of the clip chart is that there are no prizes and treats.  Coloring a clothes pin is what they want!  No one asks what they will get.  They all know they want to "retire" a clip and get a new one. :)

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Absent? Never Fear, Your Homework is Here!

I absolutely love, love, love Pinterest.  I had seen the Absent? idea on Pinterest several times, so, this past summer I decided to finally pin it.  I am so glad I did.  The idea is relatively simple.  Place the numbers 1-31 on hanging file folders for the days of the month, place the folders in a white crate, place a label identifying the crate on the outside...and eureka!  The responsibility of keeping up with students' assignments when they are absent is no longer on the teacher.  The student is responsible for collecting the assignments.  
I simply place any handouts and papers for the day in the hanging folder of the day of the month it happens to be.  The student will collect the assignments on their first day back.  

~ Students HAVE to be trained to collect their own  assignments.  After 4 and 1/2 weeks of school, students are just now catching on to the routine.
~ If there is more than 1 assignment for the day, the assignments have to be separated.  (I place white dividers, the type you place in notebooks, between the different assignments for the day).
~ I teach 4th grade.  Students in lower grades may not be able to handle the responsibility.
~ Extra papers have to be taken out each month.  Still not a problem in my classroom.  I assign a student the responsibility of taking out the extra papers and recycling them to my math "scratch" paper crate.  Everyone wants to be the Absentee Monitor!

I have almost worked out all the kinks in the system and I am loving it. :)  

I also have a white crate right bride the Absent? crate that I use for graded work.  I list the names of my students on tabs of hanging folders and place the graded work in these hanging folders.  On Fridays, I hand out the graded work. Sometimes it gets stapled, sometimes it doesn't. :)

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Thanks Ashleigh!

It's been a few weeks since my students completed the Almanac Scavenger Hunt but, I wanted to share this activity with everyone all the same.  I want to thank Ashleigh a.k.a. Ashleigh's Educational Journey for sharing this idea with me several years ago.  The Almanac Scavenger Hunt allows students fun practice with locating places of large numbers and the value of numbers.  I borrowed all the Almanacs I could find from the Media Center. (I know the librarian hates to see me walk through the doors in September :)  Ashleigh supplied me with a form but, since I teach a grade higher than her, I tweaked it a bit.  The kids love looking for the numbers and values in this activity. 

~Example:  Find a number with a 9 in the thousand's place.  
~Example:  Find a number with a 7 that has the value of 70,000.  

This is a partner activity however, I learned long ago to supply each student with a form to fill out as they go through the activity.  It gives each student a sense of ownership in the activity and motivates them to participate.

Number Scavenger Hunt!