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Monday, December 30, 2013

Fun with coordinate grids - 7 simple & engaging activities!

Before we left for the break we spend a lot of time learning about ordered pairs & the coordinate grid. This is one of my favorite math topics and my sweet kiddos loved it too!

Here are some of the activities and lessons we complete:

One: coordinate grids all around us...
I started with this chess demonstration  board. Chess is big at my school. We have a big chess club and a lot of  student involvement. (Such a wonderful thing--especially in an inner city school!)

All of  my kids were familiar with this board as the chess advisor uses daily. We started by placing chess pieces on the board and naming the coordinates. (I.e. g, 3). ( I have to admit my kids were looking at me like I was crazy. They couldn't figure out why I was using the chess board during math time and they had a good laugh when I couldn't tell a pawn from a rook!) 

This was an easy first step for my kiddos since  they have all seen the chess board and many of them have used it.

Later we labeled the x axis, y axis and origin.

We also looked at a good old fashion map and the game Battleship for more examples of coordinate grids at work in our everyday life.  The kids loved exploring this during center time.

TWO:  Coordinate Grid  Whiteboard
We went on to some direct instruction. I used this board by lakeshore. I love it!

Coordinate Grid Activity Chart

This is such an easy and fun product and it comes with some fun task cards and static clings so the kids were able to practice graphing using the cards, static clings and a whiteboard marker. This is also great because the back side has all four quadrants. Great for my 5th graders and advanced 4th grader. 

Because it is so hands on, I threw it in the center rotation after I was done using it for direct instruction. This was  another favorite center time activity.

Three:  Foldables
 We also completed these foldables.

 Perfect for introducing and reinforcing that academic vocabulary!

Four:  Song
I taught my kids this little song to help them remember how to plot points:

*to the tune of the wheels on the bus

The points on the grid go over and up,
Over and up,

Over and up.

The points on the grid go over and up
All through the grid.

I found this little guy a looonnngggg time ago so I'm not sure exactly where it originated. If you know let me know so I can give credit where credit is due. 

Trust me this little trune gets stuck in your head (which is a good thing when it pertains to math!). We added hang motions too and I think that really helped my students to remember the way to graph ordered pairs. 

Five:  Riddle sheets

I love these little guys from Stephanie at Teaching in Room 6. I bought these a couple of years ago and I don't see them in her store anymore so I'm glad a grabbed them when I did. 

I just threw these little guys into page protectors so that the kids could graph and wipe off their work for the next group.  A couple copies, page protectors and white board pens = instant center. (Gotta save those copies where you can! :)) You can easily modify this for any ordered pair printable you have on hand. 

PS I just went over to check out Teaching in Room 6 and I saw that Stephanie most recent post is about another fun coordinate grid project. Check it out here.

Six: Candy Coordinate Game

A few days later we played this easy  game during small groups using that same little lakeshore whiteboard. It's so simple! (I modified my game from this idea on the Lakeshore website.) 

Just tape a handful of skittles to the whiteboard before small groups.

(Opps! Please excuse the glare!) 

Write a variety of ordered red pairs on slips of paper and place in a jar. The slips of paper should include "skittle points" and "non-skittle points").

Students take turns drawing an ordered pair from the jar and then plotting the ordered pairs on the coordinate grid. If the student plots a point where a skittle is located they remove the skittle and keep it (but don't eat it because its covered in sticky tape!).

After all of the ordered pairs have been plotted the students who have one or more skittles can choose a small prize from the prize basket.

So easy, minimal prep and the kids were begging for more.  Win- win!

This was also easy to differentiated because the back of the whiteboard is has 4 quadrants to challenge even my most advanced little darlings and the front side has a single quadrant which is more appropriate for most of my fourth graders.

Seven:  Mystery Pictures
We wrapped up our mini unit with this cute little mystery picture from Super Teacher Worksheets.

This is the start of a snowman in case you couldn't tell. :)

Again this was an easy thing to differentiate  because super teachers has graphing pictures at a basic, intermediate and advanced levels.

Thanks for hanging in on this looonnnggg post! i hope you found some helpful stuff!

What do you do to teach/practice using coordinate grids????

I know my kiddos will need a refresher course when we get back from winter break so I am on the look out for more engaging activities. :)

If you found this helpful you might also might like this post about some other math games centers we've been working with in class. 

Enjoy your Monday! (It's so much easier to say this when I'm sitting in my PJ's and enjoying come  vacation time....Hope you are enjoying your vacation time as well!) 

Wednesday, December 25, 2013

Merry Christmas!!!

Hope your spending this Christmas with your loved ones.

Sending you holiday greetings 
 from (a much younger) fact in this pic I'm the student! :) 

(My very first homemade ornament...circa 1987:) ) 

From my family to yours, 

Wishing you a very Merry Christmas and a happy New Year!

- Julia 

Saturday, December 7, 2013

Five for Friday (A little late!)

This week was kinda crazy! Lots going on but lots of fun too. I am linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching  for a little recap.

One: New Book Love

I just ordered a bunch of books from the  Enchantment of the World series by Scholastic.

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Displaying photo 3.JPGMy kiddos LOVED these books! My class is VERY diverse and they really enjoyed learning about different cultures and also sharing books about their own cultures with the other students. So much fun!              

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TWO: Hanukkah

We spent some time learning about the traditions of Hanukkah. We researched the history of Hanukkah, completed a dreidel graphing project and did a lot of reading.

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Two of our favorite books were Latkes, Latkes, Good to Eat and Too Many Latkes. We compared and contrasted the two stories.  (EEK! Look at that dirty board.) :)

Three: TpT Sale Goodies 

I picked up a lot of good stuff on Monday night! We even used some of my new purchases this week....

        Reading and Math Activities for Christmas, Hanukkah and Kwanzaa     Reindeer Fraction and Decimal Math Tasks *Perfect for Holi     Hanukkah Thematic Unit (Intermediate) For Very Busy Teachers

Four: Tater Tot Morning Muffins

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Yup, there are tater tots in there. Basically a mini quiche with tater tot crust.  So yummy and so easy!

 I made a bunch of these over Thanksgiving break and threw them in the freezer. For the recipe  check out the adorable Ella Claire Inspired.

Five: It's beginning to look a lot like Christmas! 

Tree: Check!
Shopping: Check!
Cookies: Check!

Well, I think that is it for me. Here's
to enjoying the rest of the weekend and kicking off the Christmas season! 
Have a great one! 

Saturday, November 2, 2013

November Currently

I'm alive!!! It's been awhile but I hope to get back to my blogging routine.  Now what better way to  catch up than with November's currently. (BTW, can you belive it's already November?!?!?) 

Between TLC, pintrest and planning my own wedding... I feel like I may have taken this whole wedding thing to an extreme. Bring it on! :) 

Pretty self explanitory. Love a lazy fall day... 

Feeling lucky and blessed on my birthday weekend. Enjoying my day and anticipating a yummy early birthday dinner dinner with good friends, good friends and good wine. 

I'm ready for the eating and laughing to commence! Come on girlies, hurry up and get here! 

Why doesn't the cleaning fairy come on your birthday??? That would be the best present of all for this girlie. 

Yummy Pin 
How cute are these pumpkin spice latte cupcakes from the Not So Simple Housewife?!?!? Love them!
Starbucks inspired Pumpkin Spice latte cupcakes by Not So Simple Housewife!

If you don't already follow me on pintrest click here for all things school, wedding and fashion

Don't forget to link up with Farley
Oh' boy fourth grade

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Worksheets Don't Grow Dendrites (Book Review)

Life has been busy! About a week befoe school started I was switched from 5th grade to a 4th/5th combo class. EKKK! So far things have been going well and I have been working my booty off to make sure that everybody's needs are met. Boy am I glad that I atteneded lots of PD this summer! It's really paid off. 

I wanted to share one of the resources I have been using to help me with my planning....

I attended an amazing local conference this summer with a focus on brain research and learning. It was so fascinating and also a bit overwhelming! So much new information for this little lady's head! 

 A presenter at the conference commented that it is a teachers job to mold young minds and facilitate learning,  yet most of us are doing this without understanding how a brain really works. Wow! That  really stuck with me!  

This realization led me to do my own research and eventually led me  to the book Worksheets Don't Grow Dendrites by Marcia L. Tate.  

What I LOVE about this book is that it is really teacher friendly! Marcia outlines 20 research based strategies and EXPLAINS how and why each strategy is effective.

The book is divided into 20 manageable chapters (one chapeter for each staretgy). Each chapter is conciese but still packed with information. Tate begins each chapter by defining the staretgy. She goes on to explain the reserach and exactltly  why the startegy works. Tate also gives examples of several lesson plans using the particular staregy. She even leaves room for the teacher reader to reflect and apply the startegy in a workbook format.

The 20 strategies include: 

1) Brainstorming & Discussion 
2) Drawing and Art Work 
3) Field Trips 
4) Games
5) Graphic Organizers
6) Humor 
7) Manipulatives, Experiments and Models 
8) Metaphors & Analogies 
9) Mnemonic Devices 
10) Movement 
11) Music, Rhythm, Rhyme & Rap 
12) Project Based/Problem Based Learning 
13) Reciprocal Teaching & Cooperative Learning 
14) Role Play & Drama
15) Storytelling 
16) Technology 
17) Visualization 
18) Visuals 
19) Work Study 
20) Writing and Journals 

It is not that these are brand new, never before heard of strategies. Using these strategies is just good teaching but what this book does an excellent job doing is explaining why these strategies work based on brain research.

I love this video from Marcia Tate because it really explains the reasons she wrote the book and how it came to be.

This video is actually a preview of  an online course but it also has a great explanations of the brain research that backs up these strategies, as well as, clips of strategies in use in the classroom.

I really found this to be an easy and fascinating read. As I read, I kept finding myself thinking, "Oh, so that's why such and such works!" I loved the acceability of this book. Although it is researched based it does not read like a textbook.

As we begin the first weeks of school, I find myslef refering to my copy of the book. I even printed a list of the 20 startegies to keep in my plan book. Now that I have a multigrade class, I feel like having a variety of activities and teaching startegies is even more imparitive to effective teaching. So glad I found this book! : )

Have you read Worksheets  Don't Grow Dendrites?
 What were your thoughts???? 
Do you have any other resources for teachers and brain research????

Tuesday, August 13, 2013

Back to School Blogger Exchange

I hooked up with Adventures of Ms. Smith and Covered in Glitter and Glue for a little back to school cheer secret Santa style. Each participant was matched up with a fellow teacher.  Such a fun idea! 

Joy in the JourneyI was matched with the lovely Jessica from Joy in the Journey! I was super excited to be matched with her because I already follow her blog and TpT store and I am always impressed with her stuff. (If you don't already, start following her, too! :) )

Jessica is great! I wasn't surprised at all when I received a  super fun package from her. She def did her homework. She sent me a tone of supplies (including a folder with a'd she know dolphins are my favorite????) I also LOVE the the thumbs up post-its.

She also sent me this adorable cupcake cookbook: 

So perfect for a sweet tooth like me! 

Thank you, thank you, thank you,  Jessica!!! And a big thank you to Adventures of Ms. Smith and Covered in Glitter and Glue  for setting up this fun Back to School Exchange! 

Thursday, August 1, 2013

August Currently

Can it really already by August????? Nooo!!!! 
But August does mean it is time for a new currently! I L-O-V-E the lined paper layout Farley came up with.

Catching up on my shows after I have been gone for the week. 

After having a busy July, its nice to have a morning of catching up on my shows, prepping some school stuff and relaxing. I love feeling productive but still staying in my jammies. :) 

I got engaged last week!!!! So, so excited!
I spent the last few days in my hometown. Of course my mom, grandma and I have wasted no time and have started  planning. So much to do....

Dang! Weddings are expensive. I need some mula to throw this wedding. $$$$$ hahaha

With July being so busy, I am feeling a little bit behind with school stuff. 19 days and counting until the first day....I can do this, right??? 

Back to School Must Haves....
Speaking of back to school, my must haves include 
Astrobrights Paper 

I'm trying to get organized!

In any coke, chai tea, coffee!!! 

I am off to check out the other currently.  Go link up too

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Throwback Thursday: Edmodo & Book Clubs

Time for a little Throwback Thursday....

This originally "aired" back in October of 2012 but I was reminded of Edmodo at Urban Boot Camp For Educators, a wonderful professional development that I have been attending this week. (Seriously, such a great and affordable conference. If you are in the Bay Area check it out!)

 Anyway, I  thought it would be fun to share again.  Edmodo is such an engaging website for students and really creates communities for students to share, discuss and interact. (So Common Core!) Have you used Edmodo????

I wanted to share s fun little resource that kids L-O-V-E. It's called Edmodo. Have you heard of it????

I actually first heard about Edmodo at a technology conference over the summer. It is basically like Facebook but can be used for communicating with your students online. If you check out the image below you can REALLY see the similarities to fb!

It is a secure site, password protected and nobody else sees the info posted so there is a lot less to worry about than some other sites. To be honest, I don't remember all of the security details because the conference was in July but I do know that it was approved for our school and we are kinda strict about all that stuff!

Anyway, our 7th grade teachers have been using Edmodo with great success. They even post assignments online and the students turn them in via Edmodo. Since it's just like Facebook, you can use it to facilitate peer to peer discussions as well....

Which brings me to the book club. Our teeny tiny school is filled with some reluctant readers. We are using this fun Edmodo site to get them excited about reading. The 6th grade teacher and myself are hosting an all girls book club for 6th, 7th and 8th graders.

The sixth grade teacher picked our first book Ninth Ward by Jewell Parker. It tells the story of a 12-year-old girl during Hurricane Katrina. Our shipment hasn't come in yet, but I really can't wait to start reading it next week!

And the best part: the girls are super excited, too! We weren't sure how much interest this book club would generate since it requires the girls to do a lot of extra reading outside of school. They also have to post and discuss each chapter in addition to their normal nightly homework for school but so far the response has been great! 

We've already had more than half of the middle school girls at our school join our  group on Edmodo. They've  all commented on the authors introduction which was posted on our Edmodo page and watched a video clip from youtube.

The girls are already using strategies (predicting, building their schema), searching out their own info (several have commented on googling the events of Hurricane Katrina) and chit chatting about the books with their peers. 

I can't wait to see where it goes from here! I am all for any tool that has our students excited about  reading and discussing books --even on this three day weekend! Love, love, love! 

If you would like to here more about our school's use of Edmodo for book clubs, CLICK HERE! :) This post discusses our experience using Edmodo when reading City of Orphans by Avi.

I am looking forward incorporating more technology, including Edmodo into my classroom this year! Especially after attending this conference for a second time.

How 'bout you??? How will you be using technology in your classroom this year? I'm hunting for more ideas. :) 

Friday, July 19, 2013

Favorite Pins Friday

This was the first full week of my summer vacation that I have been in town.  I thought it would be my week to catch up on housework and organizing....turns out it was actually my week to catch up on all things pintrest and Target. So much pinning going on in my house this week. (Also, a little to much shopping!)

I am linking up with First Grade Parade to share my favorite pins of the week. Such a fun linky idea, by the way!

First up...
Siracha, honey, Lime Chicken Skewers    Ingredients    3 tablespoons soy sauce  2 tablespoons honey  1 tablespoon vegetable oil  juice of one lime  2 garlic cloves, minced  1-2 teaspoon Siracha  red pepper flakes, to taste  2 tablespoon cilantro  1 pound skinless, boneless chicken breasts  Instructions    In a small bowl, combine your ingredients,
Siracha, Honey, Lime Chicken Skewers
These are so yummy! I made them last night with some grilled veggies and rice. Perfect summer meal! 


Love this idea!!! build a library for a new baby!
Adorable Baby Shower gift idea! 
Now I just need some of my friends to start popin' out babies! :) 

Alternative to putting down name tags!  So LOVE this! @Stephanie Close Close Swims @Jennifer Milsaps L Baker

Paint Pens instead of Name Plates 
Love this idea from Timeouts and Tootsie Rolls! I too, despise name plates....they always seem to be more trouble than their worth.

If You Cant be Kind....
Direct...but still sweet. 
Love this! I will definitely be hanging up this signage in my classroom!

I also really love this: 

be a leader, not a boss

Leader Vs. Boss 

I couldn't find the original source but I think that it is brilliant! Such a tricky concept to learn how to be a true leader. I plan on using this as a lesson starter the first week of school. Just gotta pretty it up a bit! :)


And finally...
I can relate, Sista! 

If you don't already follow me on Pintrest click HERE and follow along! Leave the link to your pintrest in the comment section and I'll follow you too. You can never have enough boards to follow! 

Have a great weekend! :) 

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Throw Back Thursday w/FREE Back 2 School Forms! :)

I'm linking up with The First Grade Parade for Throw Back Thursday. 

Time to REWIND......Since back to school has really been on my mind, here's a post from last September at the very beginning of this little old blog.

Hi all! And happy Friday!!! So glad it's the weekend. That being  said, this is the first Friday that I am not completely EXHAUSTED. I feel like I am starting to find my stride (and I am hoping I didn't just jinx myself!).

I went to a  professional development meeting yesterday and the presenter was great. We were discussing starting the year off and the importance of  creating strong relationships with our students and their families in order to have a year that runs smoothly.

 It got me  thinking about  how my own approach to creating relationships with parents has evolved over time. I am still new-ish to teaching (this will be my third year) and the longer I teach the more time I spend reaching out to parents.

I have such a great respect for my parents! I teach at a charter school in a very urban community in a low income neighborhood. All of my parents work very hard to provide for their children and for most their child's education is a BIG priority. I am lucky in that regard! I want them to know how much I care about their students and want to keep them informed in regards to their child's progress academically, behaviorally and socially. But with all of the other demands I face as a teacher coupled with the language barriers and crazy work schedules of my parents, building a relationship takes a conscious effort on my part.  I do not work at a school where students are walked on to the schoolyard and parents are waiting after school to speak with the teacher. That is just not reality for me.

Anyway, I just wanted to share a few ways that I  found to build a relationship with the parents...

1) "Getting To Know Your Child"
Along with the traditional parent letter, I send home this form at the beginning of the year. I was really touched by the thoughtful words from many of the parents. I was truly able to get to know a different side of each student and it really opened the lines of communication with parents. Click HERE to get your own copy! 

2) Weekly Reports
I send home these quick little reports every Friday.  This little check-in totally prevents any big surprises when grades come out/parent conference time.  I love, love this resource from Stephanie at Teaching in Room 6. You can find this freebie in her TpT store here. Added bonus---Stephanie has a Spanish version as well! Really helps me since at least half of my parents speak Spanish and I do not.

3)  Good Notes Home
I am sure there is a cuter name for these little guys but in my class we call them good notes and you would be surprised at how hard my big bad 5th graders will work to earn one of these little things!
I use a clip chart for behavior management and when I child has an excellent day and makes it to the top of the behavior chart they receive a note to take home to their families. About half way through last year...after 6 months of scrambling to complete notes before the 3 o'clock bell, I came up with these little guys. I usually try to add a little more of a personal note on the back but this little template  is a huge time saver. :
 Of course, if they have a hard day they also have a note that they take home for their parents, too. I have designed this "Think About It" form as a reflection for poor choices.

To get a copy of the notes click here.

These little notes will work with any behavior chart but if you are shopping for a new behavior chart you may be interested in this little guy in my store. Only $2.00!

What do you do to make contact with parents and families at the beginning of the year????

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

5 DIY Math Games for Under $5

I was lucky enough to "preview" my next years' class by teaching summer school. At our little charter school summer school is HIGHLY encouraged and about 90% of my new students attended. They are seriously the sweetest bunch of kids! I can't wait to have them in my class for real.

Over the course of our month long summer school session, I was able to get a pretty good idea of my new students' skills. They are smart little boogers and their 4th grade teacher is amazing so they are pretty well prepared for 5th grade but some students are still struggling with mastering their multiplication and division facts.

As far as I am concerned multiplication and division fluency are nonnegotiable for 5th grade. Without fluency in these facts fractions, long division and all things fifth grade are way harder than they need to be.

During summer school I also noticed that they were highly motivated by games and any hands on activity. (No big surprise there!) So a I set forth on a mission yesterday to create a few new  games and activities that I can use in small groups, during centers or during after school tutoring to help build fact fluency with my students.

I'm on a budget (aren't we all!) so I used a lot of what I had on hand and got the rest at the Dollar Tree and the Dollar Spot @ Target.

1: Multiplication Beach Ball 

An oldie but a goodie! I have used a variation of this game for many different subjects and skills

Variation 1: Silent Ball 
Perfect for rainy day recess!
Students have to be silent (duh! Silent Ball!) and toss the ball to classmates. When a classmate catches the ball they find the equation closest to each thumb. That way the students will have two multiplication sentences to read and solve. For example, a student may catch the beach ball and find 12x2 closest to his right thumb and 7x9 closest to his left thumb. He reads each number sentence and tells the answer
If the student  is  incorrect or if he speaks, laughs, make any noise while he does not have the ball he must sit down. The last man standing wins.

Variation 2: Rolling Beach Ball
Same scenario as silent ball but students sit on the floor in a circle and take turns rolling the ball  across the circle to one another.

Variation 3: Hot Potato 
Play like a regular Hot Potato Game but  the student holding the ball when the music stops, must read two of the multiplication problems and tell the answers.

Bonus: I also sometimes use this as a different way to excuse my students for lunch. I toss that ball to students who are ready for lunch and sitting quietly. They catch the ball, read and answer their two problems and go to lunch. It's amazing how quickly this quiets the rest of the kids down and encourages them to be ready to be excused too! :)

Total cost: 0.99 

2. Multiplication Memory 
Such an easy DIY and a familiar game to all.

I found these memory cards in Targets dollar spot a couple of weeks ago. In order to make them 5th grade friendly I just used a sharpie to add a math fact to half of the deck and the product to the other half. So simple!
This activity is a little easier because the pictures give a big hint but it will be the perfect game for a couple of my struggling kiddos who are really lacking confidence in their ability to be successful in math. These self -correcting matching cards will be great for these students and provide the challenge of memorizing the location of the cards on the board.
Total cost: $1.00

3. Multiplication War 
I have the store bought version of Math War and my students were slightly obsessed with it over the summer. At under $3.00, it's definitely worth the money to pick up a couple of sets for your classroom. My own sets have lasted for at least 2 years.

If you are looking for an even more economical way to play Math War make your own cards! At the end of summer school my students were still crazy about Math War so we set out to create our own war cards. Each student made their own set to take home for the summer. ---------->

Each set required 50-75 index cards depending on the number of facts that needed practice. There favorite part was creating the Wild Cards. Not sure what is so exciting about that, but if it gets them excited for practicing multiplication facts I am all for it!  Hopefully they are practicing as we speak!

I made my own back up set with these fun neon cards I found at the Dollar Tree.

                                                                                                                                       Total cost: $1.00

4. Zap It!  
I found this fun game via pintrest. Here is the original pin.

 It's so simple and I know my kids are going to love it! You only need popsicle sticks  and a jar to make this one. You can find the adorable label at Mrs. Young's Explorers. So cute!

She also has a great explanation of the game on her blog as well. Basically students take turns pulling sticks and reading and answering each multiplication fact. If they get the answer wrong the stick goes back in the jar. If they are correct they keep the stick. But watch out! If a "Zap It!" stick is pulled, all of the sticks must be returned to the jar. 
                                                                                                                                      Total Cost: Free 
(I had all of the supplies!)

5. Multiplication Checkers 
Another pin-inspired game...Here is the original pin. Obviously I modified it to use multiplication facts.

Same rules as regular checkers for this one, except that each time a player makes a move they must read and answer a multiplication problem.

I used a dollar store checkers board. Not gonna lie, it's not that sturdy but I think if I cover it with contact paper it will last through the year. 
Total Cost: $1.00

So there you have it! Five multiplication games/centers for under 5 bucks ($3.99 to be exact!). Now that I have my activities set up, I am planning on making variations of each game. I'll be making division games and maybe finding ways to adapt these games for other math concepts too. Oh the possibilities.....
Now that was a long blog post!  I hope that you found something useful here. What do you do to improve math fact fluency in your own classroom???? Please share in a comment below. I am always looking for new ideas! 

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