Sunday, November 29, 2015

November Products for Payday (and Cyber Monday!)

Well, the turkey's down to a carcass, the sweet potato casserole has pretty much had it. Time for shopping! (Better yet, shopping in my jammie pants.)

I've done some serious damage at the sale at Ravelry. I've got enough crochet patterns to keep me busy for a looong time, and that's a good thing! I really do find stitch-counting relaxing, and I love when a big project comes together. That, and while I don't watch much TV, when I do, my hands have to be busy. Drives my husband up a tree, but I'm just wired that way.

Still, I'm holding back, just a bit. Why? Because TpT's fall sale starts Monday, and I've got a few things on my wish list! Here's something you might like to add to yours...

We'll be hitting fractions big in December and January. The thing with fractions is that the kids absolutely have to get their heads around it, even if they can just do the calculations. If they don't get how they 'work', they're going to run in to trouble down the road, and we don't want that for our kiddos! This set of differentiated sheets offers some challenging problems for your kids to engage in math talk, and we know that math talk makes it stick!
These are labeled for fourth grade because they use like denominators, but would be excellent for the first week of instruction while you review those concepts or for your low fifth graders.

What have the other fab Focused on Fifth teachers got for your list? Click below to find out!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Using Color to Keep It All Together

So, this was going to be a post about how I use color-coding to keep all of my things organized. I teach two subjects each to two grades, and failing to keep my teaching materials, data, etc. organized is a recipe for bad, bad things.

But now it's not. I absolutely promise you that there's a good reason for this, but you didn't come here for a neurology lesson, so suffice it to say that I didn't get back to Room 301 to take pictures of my shelves of color-coded binders, my files, or my data board. Too bad; you'd have been impressed.

However, you all know that teaching is one business in which, if you can't fly by the seat of your pants,  you're going to be unhappy. A lot. So, I'm going with what I've got, and hope you'll think this is pretty cool, too.

I'm a big believer in math games. Kids need a chance to play with concepts and practice skills, even my upper-grades, gifted kids. Especially my upper-grades, gifted kids. Games and work like tiling tasks (I adore the Time to Tile jobs from Got to Teach on TpT.) and mindbenders are good for their busy brains.

I do math rotations, and wanted a defined 'games' space, one that would require fewer things to organize and would make it easy to participate. On Pinterest, I found a chalkboard-paint topped table that a primary grades teacher was using for word study. I can't handle chalk dust. My nose just goes nuts. No one was happier than I when we lost the chalkboards and went to whiteboards; I'm sure not putting one BACK in my classroom! On the other hand, on Amazon I found inexpensive whiteboard stickers! Woo-hoo!

After a trip to IKEA and a little frustration on my high schooler's part, we had a snazzy, new games table for about $35. There's a border of Washi tape around the big ol' whiteboard sticker so it won't curl up, and we needed a shower squeegee to get the sticker on the table top without bubbles, but, as a whole, easy-peasy!

 The kids love being able to write directly on the table; I love that there aren't crates of whiteboards all over the place. It's also easy for me to glance over their shoulders and see what they're really up to...

... and you can see some of my color-coding. Green is for fifth grade math; blue's for fourth.
I'm also kinda OCD about my math manipulatives and game parts. They live on the shelf like this:
I've since labeled the drawers of my Pink Box drawers (It was a lot cheaper on Amazon than the other brands.) with some cute labels from Ladybug's Teacher Files. I'm religious about sorting and labeling, because when I can find the parts I need for different games without a lot of fuss, I'm more likely to get them into the kids' hands. If it's a hassle...well, ain't nobody got time for that!

So, there's my tip. Games rock, if you organize the things you need to have them and create a space for them, you're far more likely to use them! Bonus: January's coming! That's when all the tubs, containers, and shelves go on sale!

Next, you'll be hopping over to Jessica, our Whimsical Teacher, to see what tips she's got ready for you! (Her title didn't give anything away, so I'm looking forward to finding out, too!)
Did you miss the first part of the hop? You've missed a lot! Start right here!

Saturday, November 7, 2015

Diving in Deeper this November - What We're Reading

Ah... November! Here, in the South, our leaves are finally changing in earnest. Fall happens quickly here. Some years we go from green to gone in a matter of a week or ten days. This year, not so much, what with all the rain. And more rain. And rain after that. The TV anchorguy announced the start of the 6AM news yesterday morning with, "Well, it's another crummy day."

On the upside, it's November. We've all survived the September-October push, gotten to know our classes better, and are ready to start tossing the kids a little meat.

With my fifth grade, I'm wrapping up The View from Saturday, with its twining plotlines and oddball connections, which my kids love exploring, and get into:

This is one of my favorite books to teach. It's got a lot to work with, just with the parallel plots and a couple of wicked plot twists. There's a line of dialogue,  spoken by a heartbroken grandpa at the end, that makes me - widely known as the toughest teacher in school - teary eyed every. single. time. Somehow, the kids think that's awesome.

It's also useful to me, as a fifth grade teacher, because we'll work with the universal theme of rejection and acceptance, one that's good for going-to-middle-school kids to explore. My essential question will be, "How can the fear of rejection create unhealthy patterns of behavior?"

I'm going to be pairing this text with a few close-reads, two fiction and one non-fiction:
All Summer in a Day by Ray Bradbury
Chanclas by Sandra  Cisneros
Brown v. BOE by Walter Dean Myers

Here are my book club choices to pair with it:

Well, that's what's up for fifth grade in room 301 this month. I'm still waffling on my fourth grade. I wanted to do The Tiger Rising, but I'm having a hard time putting a finger on a universal theme for it.. I might hit A Wrinkle in  Time in the meantime, and focus on order and chaos as a theme, though sacrificial love's a good one, too. I'm hunting for close reading work for both of them.

So what are the other fab Focused on Fifth collaborators up to?
Find out here!

Have an amazing month! The next three go by in just a blink...take time to enjoy them and your kiddos!