Sunday, October 12, 2014

Technology Resources for Halloween

There are loads of online resources when it comes to Halloween, but I wanted to narrow down the many sites to the top five that I like to incorporate during the month of October.

While some require a subscription (BrainPOP & Brain POP, Jr.), many are free and, best of all, fun for your students to enjoy during free time, math class, and more!

BrainPOP & BrainPOP, Jr.

Once again, these sites come through with engaging, short videos full of history and fun facts on Halloween.

There are lesson ideas, vocabulary printables, and more. If you don't have a subscription, keep your eyes peeled. Both sites do a free video of the week, and hopefully these will become available as the holiday draws closer. Click HERE for BrainPOP's movie and HERE for BrainPOP, Jr.'s.

If you haven't checked out this site before, I *highly* recommend it! You can choose activities by grade level (K-5) and loads of free games are available in ELA, Math, Social Studies, holidays and more! Scroll to the bottom of any grade level to find additional Halloween activities (Word Search, Crossword Puzzle, and pumpkin matching), but what I love best is having the kids carve their own Jack o'Lantern.

There are a variety of options on the side toolbar, from using stencils to adding hats and arms:

At the end, kids can click the candle icon to turn their carved pumpkin into a full Halloween scene:

It's a lot of fun for a free choice activity and kids love sharing their designs with one another. To find this on, click HERE.

Ghost Blasters & Spooky Sequences

This is such a simple and yet highly engaging game for kids to play during Math! There are a wide variety of choices on the site, so depending on what you're working on you may want to have kids work in identifying multiples of ten, sequencing by counting up or down, identifying odd/even, adding multi-digit problems, and more!

One of the favorites is Ghost Blasters:

Its simplicy allows students to focus on the skill, but the pace and points system keeps them engaged and having fun-- you could even send these links home to parents for Halloween-themed math homework! To see the long list of options, click HERE.

Tech for Teachers: Halloween Games

If you're looking for a *ton* of Halloween games and interactive sites, look no further than this symbaloo! Loads of activities are available on this site that link to resources all over the web. It's a great option during free choice and includes activities like pumpkin carving, songs, scarecrow building, matching, puzzles, jigsaws, and more!

To head to this site, click HERE.

If you're looking for classroom resources, be sure to check out all of the Halloween products in my TpT Store. I have recently added Halloween Brain Breaks that are a festive addition to my Classroom Brain Breaks set. I mount these on orange construction paper and they add some spooky fun to our day!

Have fun with these technology resources in your classroom and have a very happy Halloween!

Sunday, September 21, 2014

Classroom Job: Class Greeter

I love class jobs and always try to have every child involved in the management and flow of our day. Not only does this release my time so I can focus on more important things, but it truly provides ownership for my students that this room is their classroom, not just mine.

To read my previous post on Class Jobs in my room, click HERE.

I am so fortunate to work in a school with super-creative teachers and I tend to steal  borrow many of their ideas for my own room. This is such a great example of one of those times!!

My Morning Meeting Leader is a key job that every student will have at least once throughout the year (we switch weekly, so some will be Meeting Leader twice). This person is responsible for leading our class in Morning Meeting and really getting us off to a good start to our day. To read more about Morning Meeting, click HERE.

My teammate had a wonderful idea to keep this leadership role up throughout the day and it made perfect sense! Since the Meeting Leader is in charge of starting the Greeting in the morning (where each student greets the student next to them by name), they can keep up that role as Class Greeter during the day.

This simple sign is right next to our door to help. Now, whenever a parent, support teacher, the principal, another staff member, etc. comes to our door, our Meeting Leader is in charge of greeting them using this script. They are also encouraged to shake their hand and we're now working on a firm (not wet noodle!) handshake :)

To pick up this freebie, click HERE.

I am thrilled that my students will now be developing their leadership skills beyond their comfort zone and also take more responsibility and ownership of our classroom.

How does your class welcome visitors? (I'll be honest, before this sign, students never did! It was always my role. But I know there are tons more ideas out there and I'd love to hear them in the comments!!)

Thursday, September 18, 2014

Launching Permanent Word Work Centers {Week 2}

I hope you had the chance to see how I launched my seasonal/holiday/book-themed Word Work Centers HERE and got some good ideas for your own classroom.

After we've gone through the Back to School Word Work activities, I dedicate the next week to learning all about the permanent Word Work Centers that they would use throughout the year for any and all word lists they work with, including vocabulary lists, word wall words (Math & ELA), spelling lists, and more.

These permanent Word Work Centers include:

All of these centers live in the bins at the front of our room:
*If you're interested in these labels, they are available in my TpT Store HERE.

I began by splitting up each table into a different center. Students could practice any words from the Back to School Word List that were already very familiar from Word Work over the past week. They recorded their work on white boards to show me at the end. I floated around to provide guidance, reassurance, and give some extra help to some of my stugglers (including tips about the lower levels of the Word Worth and Place Value boards).

After a few rotations, they had a good sense of the activities and the different levels within them. During our yearly Daily 5 rotations, they will have a little longer than 20 minutes to work on the activity of their choice, so being comfortable with the options as well as knowing where and how to show their work is key during this introductory period.

By the second day, I was ready to introduce my Word Work Bingo Board. This has been a lifesaver for me since it allows the kids to choose their Word Work activity, but also ensures they are getting varied practice throughout the week. I always create a few versions and rotate them throughout the year to keep it fresh and fun!

(Since I didn't grab a photo of a full one, I'm using this old example. If you want to be able to edit your own squares and have updated fonts and choices of clip art, click HERE to find this in my TpT Store.)

Students are welcomed to work someplace comfortable in the room and spread out, if necessary, which is often needed with the supplies they use for these centers!

After students have worked in the Word Work Center of their choice for the 20-minute session, they come see me for my initials in the square. Five of my initials in a row= BINGO! In order for me to initial, I tell them I'd like to see five or more words practiced. As the year continues, I will up the ante a bit, but I'm still giving them some leeway since this is all so new. For the Sign Language center, I have them try to show me one word using the ASL alphabet and they can use the cheat-sheet if they need to. It's all for fun, so I am not too strict unless I see someone who has blatantly done no work during that time.

Starting next week, we will be using these permanent Word Work Centers for our spelling practice throughout the week. I find it a wonderful way to keep them engaged and working on cross-curricular skills, which is always a bonus! I have heard from many of you that you send these sheets home for homework as well, which is a fantastic way to have parents help in a meaningful and engaging way!

You can find my Word Work Centers in a complete set here:

I hope this gave you some organization and implementation ideas for your own Word Work Stations this year!

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Launching Word Work {Week 1}

I am so excited to be teaching using the Daily 5 structure again this year. I think this marks my third or fourth year with it and I am always looking for ways to improve and build upon how things went the prior year.

This year was no different, and I really changed it up my launching Word Work first instead of halfway though! I am so thankful I did and feel like my kids already have a more solid handle on the routine!

Why Start with Word Work?

In years past, I have always launched Daily 5 with Read to Self. While I still think this is the most important of the sections, as it helps to build strong readers in a just-right book of their choice, I wanted to focus on the logistics and management of Word Work right off the bat. I also wanted to walk through my Back to School Word Work Centers with the students and build in some partner and teamwork opportunities to help cultivate classroom community early on. Because so many of my Word Work packets have similar activities, I wanted to ensure that everyone knew what each activity required and that we could all walk through one together to get any of the glitches out.

I am hoping that with the increased focus on Word Work since the beginning of the year, kids will have a firm knowledge of what is required of them at this center and that management on my end will not be as necessary as new words and activities are added to the mix.

Launching Word Work

Day 1: The very first day we began this work was on the third day of school. Because so many were still feeling the summertime restlessness, I began by introducing one of my favorite activities, the word search. We began by reading through the words together and defining a few unknown words along the way. Fortunately, most kiddos were familiar with the structure of a word search, so I was able to send them off to work with their table groups to complete it.

Working in table groups was a great way for all kids of every level to work together to find these words. I was able to wander around and watch how they interacted and answer the occasional question that the table may have. I found that this first session was also a great way to reinforce the Classroom Voice Levels we had established (Level 2 is "Table Talk" this year).

After the 20 minute session was up, no one had finished the search, so I had them keep it in the "Word Work" section of their Reader's Workshop folder and it became an Early Finisher activity for the remainder of the week.

Day 2: Our second day of Word Work began by introducing the Back to School vocabulary cards and student sheets. I passed out a packet that contained all three of the Word Work activities: Syllable Sort, ABC Order, and Parts of Speech Sort. We would work on one at a time, beginning with the syllable sort.

"Syllable" was our Word of the Day which made it helpful for kids to remember to clap/snap/count on their fingers as they segmented the words. Again, kids worked at their table spots and could use each other as resources as they completed the activity. Those who finished early could come see me and I could check them off, allowing them to work on the word search until our time was up. Those who needed a bit more time I could help along and even pull as a small group near the end. This gave me some wonderful one-on-one time with who may struggle with this center later in the year (especially when it becomes an independent activity) and I could give some explicit instruction while the rest of the class was still doing work.

Day 3: The next activity we began together was ABC Order. We began this as a whole-class because I wanted to demonstrate several strategies that could help or hinder their success in this activity. For example, I showed that if I started gluing down the words before I had read through them all, I might miss a word and then have to either peel off the words or draw arrows to the correct spot. This was a nice tie-in with our Habit #2 of the 7 Habits: Begin with the end in mind. We talked about how we could cut out each word and plan it out before gluing them down, or even number in pencil on the word cards, erasing if we get one wrong, etc.

We then split back up into our table groups and began working on this activity. I had the same routine as before for when they finished up: Come show me, I will check over it and if it's a-ok, they can work on their word search. It was either Day 3 or Day 4 that I also introduced some of my higher kids to the "Making Words" center with the letter cards. I allowed them the choice between the two and they could work someplace comfortable in the room (rug, round table, etc.) as they completed these activities.

Day 4: This was the final day we worked on the packet activities and we did the hardest of the three: Parts of Speech Sort. We began by brainstorming some examples of nouns, verbs, and adjectives and adding them to an anchor chart that they could refer back to throughout the lesson. We also discussed how some words, like "grade" could be both a noun and a verb and how they would need to justify where they placed the word by using it in a sentence, etc.

I'm glad I kept this for the very end because it was the activity that required the most teacher interaction for some kids. Because we had been working in Word Work for the week, most kids were very familiar with the words and the requirements, so it freed me up to work more closely with some of my strugglers. I encouraged them to try sorting the words they knew and keep unknown word in a pile for when I came around to visit. We could then work on the pile together and I could also watch their strategies for the known words during this time.

Day 5: This was Friday for us, so I allowed it to be a "catch up" day since the Parts of Speech Sort was a longer minilesson and several kids needed more time to finish it up. Early finishers worked on the word search and the Making Words center and I worked with the strugglers from yesterday to see how they did on day two of this type of work.

It did take a full week to get through this packet, but I am so glad I took the time to work through it with them! I now have much greater confidence that they know and understand the pieces and parts required as well as confidence in their ability to work as a team! The next packet they will see will be our Autumn is in the Air Word Work, which also contains some additional center activities, and I am already breathing easier that much of the expectations will be routine!

Our Week 2 {this week} consists of introducing my permanent Word Work Centers (Word Worth, Place Value, Stamps, etc.). Check back soon to see how I am launching that, along with Read to Self time in our class!

3rd Grade Thoughts - Widget
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