Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Flash Birthday Sale!

Today is my birthday and I'm having a hard time accepting that this is my last year in my twenties. I seriously can't believe that I'm going to be 30 next year- I still feel like I'm 22! To make myself feel better about turning the big 2-9, I decided to have a sale at my TpT store =) Today and tomorrow, you can save 20% on ALL of my products! To visit my store, just click on the picture below. Enjoy!

Friday, March 22, 2013

My First Five for Friday!

I'm so excited to be participating for the first time in Doodle Bugs Teaching's Five for Friday! Here are my five things from this week:

1. At 4:10pm today, I officially went on Spring Break! Thank goodness! I think everyone at this point in the year needs a break. I absolutely can't wait to spend time with my little guy all week. Isn't he just adorable?

My little Grady
I'm planning on taking him to the library for storytime, to Buckeye Bounce (a bounce place for kids), and maybe to a pottery place to make something with his little handprints. I don't get to do all of these fun things with him during the week due to work so I can't wait to spend all my time with him!

2. Today my little sweetie pies surprised me with a birthday celebration! My birthday isn't until next Tuesday, but since it's over Spring Break they wanted to celebrate today. One of my students brought me beautiful flowers and a handmade little turtle- so cute!

We also had Birthday Cake Oreos- I'd never heard of these before and it's probably a good thing. They are delicious!

3. Today, we had our "Around the World" day in 2nd grade. It was so much fun! The kids rotate classrooms (there are 4 teachers) and each teacher teaches about a different country. The kids get a passport where they answer questions and color a picture of the country's flag. We also play music and try foods from that country. I taught about Italy so we enjoyed some homemade bruschetta!

You can check out the Around the World passport at my TpT store if you're interested!

4. On Wednesday of this week, we had a staff meeting about "rich math problems." A rich math problem is engaging, open-ended, and authentic. Kids can work in groups or with partners with any math tools that they'd like. The teacher's job is to facilitate thinking and conversation among the groups- not to lead them to the answer but to help them find their own way. I decided to do a rich math problem at the end of the day and it was FABULOUS! The question that I posed was:

"There are 52 cookies on 3 plates. When I take 14 cookies away from the first plate, there are still 7 left on the plate. The second plate has 12 cookies. How many cookies were on each of the 3 plates to begin with?"

I placed several different math tools and materials on the reading table and told my kids that they could use whatever they'd like. They worked in groups of 3 and 4 to try to figure out the answer. It was so interesting to see their problem solving strategies!

I put counters, unifix cubes, plates, cups, napkins, and scrap paper out for the kids to use

This group chose to use plates, cups, and counters to figure out the answer

This group used only cups and counters

This was such a great experience for the kids! I really tried to let the kids work amongst themselves and only help guide their thinking when necessary. The problem was pretty tricky but all 6 groups were able to come up with the correct answer. I will definitely be doing more rich math problems this year!

5. Yesterday in math, we went on our graphing scavenger hunt around the school. This was the first year we've done this and it was a huge success! You can learn more about it at my post {here}.

Okay, that's it! Whew... what a week =)

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Making Graphing Practice FUN!

We had such a blast in math today! This week, we've been reviewing the different types of graphs and charts- tally charts, bar graphs, picture graphs, and line plots. I wanted to do something fun with my students today because each day this week we've been reviewing a different type of graph and it hasn't been all that exciting. To wrap up what we learned about graphs, we went on a scavenger hunt today around the school for different items. I told them that the custodians wanted to collect some safety data about our school and that we needed to help them out. We needed to find how many fire extinguishers, fire alarms, exit signs, and cameras there were in the hallways. So we grabbed our charts and pencils and headed into the hallway. The kids had so much fun looking for these items around the school. Each time we found an item, we marked it on the tally chart at the top of the page.

When we returned to the classroom, the kids took the data that we collected and turned it into a picture graph and a bar graph. They came up with their own symbol for the picture graph and decided what the scale would be on the bar graph. I left the graphs pretty basic so that they could fill in the title, scale/key, labels, etc. on their own.

I LOVE to see the kids get so excited about math! If you'd like to download a free copy of this activity, just click {here}. I hope your students enjoy this activity as much as mine did! Enjoy! =)

Monday, March 18, 2013

8 Tips for Getting a Donors Choose Project Funded

Over the past few years, I've been fortunate enough to have eight projects on DonorsChoose.org fully funded. I can't tell you how much these resources have transformed my classroom and teaching. If you aren't aware of DonorsChoose.org, it is a non-profit organization that allows classroom teachers to request materials for their students. After a project is posted, donors from all over the world can donate from $1 to any amount of their choosing. Some of the materials that my classroom has received include: a new listening center station, books on CD, reading pillows, a classroom carpet, math games, classroom laminator and laminating sheets, math manipulatives, magnetic letters and magnetic boards, and chapter books. It is absolutely amazing how willing people are to help and how generous they are.

Through my experiences posting and promoting classroom projects, I've learned different ways to help a project become fully funded. Now, there are many other teachers who have had a lot more projects funded (some have even had over 100 projects funded- wow!) so this is just my two-cents! =) Okay, here are my 8 tips for getting a Donors Choose project funded for your classroom:

1. Post classroom projects that are $400 and under

You will have the best chance at getting your project funded if it is under $400. If you need, for example, a new listening center, books on CD, and pillows for your students to sit on, you may want to consider posting the materials in separate projects. You could put the listening center and pillows together in one project and then request classroom pillows in another project. Now, there will be times when you would like to request a larger item for your classroom. Just know that teachers have the best success with smaller projects under $400.

2. Create a catchy title for your project

When donors are scrolling through classroom projects on the website, the first thing they will most likely see is your project request's title. Make it an interesting one that will grab their attention! Instead of a title like "We Need Magnetic Letters" consider a catchier title such as "Letters Here, Letters There, Magnetic Letters Everywhere!" Use alliteration, humor, or sing-songy titles to attract attention to your project.

3. Write a great opening paragraph

Along with your title, you will also want to make your opening paragraph interesting. Donors will see the first 2-3 sentences of your project request when browsing through projects. Just as we teach our students, you want to "hook" the reader and make them want to read on! Some ways to do this include asking a question or using an interesting quote that goes along with your project. For one of my projects, I requested math manipulatives and began with "When was the last time you used math? Chances are, you've used math sometime within the last hour. I want my students to be math problem solvers both in second grade and as they grow into adults."

4. Use an interesting picture on your homepage

Another thing that donors will see while searching through projects is your classroom photo. You want to use a picture that represents your classroom and students. Be careful not to post a close-up picture of your students' faces though. I like to take a picture of my students holding up the letters that spell "Thank You Donors!" This helps donors see that the materials go to a real classroom, with real students, and that we are thankful for their consideration.

5. Be the first donation to your classroom project

I've seen great success when I begin the donations by giving a small amount. This shows donors that you believe the materials are needed enough to donate yourself. Your donation doesn't have to be anything major- even a $5 donation will do! When leaving a comment on the donation page, I always write something like "I donated to this project because I believe my students are worth it! Plus, I know how much these materials will benefit my classroom."

6. Use automatic updates with Facebook

A great way to get your project out there is to connect your Donors Choose teacher account with Facebook. Each time you post a new project, get a donation, or complete a project, it will be automatically posted to your Facebook account. You can do this by going to your account, and turning on the automatic updates with Facebook (at the top of your account page).

7. Promote, promote, promote!

Don't be afraid to promote your project request. At first, I was very hesitant to share my project with my family, friends, and students' families. I still try to be cognisant of how often I promote my project- I don't want to drive anyone away by posting too much. But no one will know about your project if you don't get the word out there! I always send an email to my students' families when a project is first posted and include the link if they would like to make a donation. This makes it very easy for them. After the initial email, I don't send any more but I randomly include updates in my weekly classroom newsletter. I will let them know when we receive a new donation, how far away we are from reaching our goal, and tell them my excitement when a project is fully funded.

Some other ways that you can promote your project are: on your classroom blog (if you have one), through email to friends and family, and by encouraging others to share your project request with their own friends and family.

8. Don't give up!

If your first project doesn't get completely funded, don't give up! It takes a lot of hard work to get it funded but sometimes, it just doesn't happen. I have had a couple of projects that didn't get completed. It was definitely a bummer but I didn't give up. I waited a little bit and then posted another project. If a project has partial funding when it expires, donors who contributed have two choices. They can give the amount they donated to your classroom in the form of a gift card for your next project or can donate the money towards a different teacher's project.

I hope these tips have helped give you some ideas on how to get a project funded. Be sure to visit DonorsChoose.org and get a project posted. You won't regret it!

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Alliteration with Lucky the Little Leprechaun!

Yesterday, my kiddos made these adorable leprechauns and wrote a sentence with alliteration about them. They turned out absolutely adorable and look great on the clothesline in our room. Check them out! We first started by making charts of nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs that begin with the letter "L". This was quite challenging but the kids had some great ideas.

Then, everyone made their own leprechaun, named him, and wrote a sentence about it. They had so much fun!

Some of their sentences included:

"Lucy the leprechaun likes to leap over lemons."

"Lori the loving leprechaun loves to lick lettuce."

"Leo the leprechaun likes to lick licorice."

"Lucky the little leprechaun lazily squeezes lemons."

"Lucy the leprechaun likes to lick lemons."

"Lilly the leprechaun loves to lock people in lockers."\

If you'd like to create these lucky little leprechauns, you can purchase it {here} through Monday for 20% off! Enjoy! =)

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Monday Made It!

Just in my own true fashion, I'm posting my Monday Made-It a day late... ha! I am so excited to share with you the new items that I've added to my classroom. Up first is Early Finisher board that I purchased and put together from Shelley Gray. A few weeks ago, I decided that I need some more quality activities for my students to do when they finished their work early. I give them different choices such as buddy read, play on the computer, write in their journal, etc. but I could tell that the kids were getting bored and were becoming off-task. I searched on TpT and found Shelley Gray's amazing Early Finisher Board resource. I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this and so do my students!

If you aren't familiar with this board, here's the idea. There are 7 different sections: read it, do it, write it, make it (my students' favorite!), draw it, solve it, and journal it. The activities in each section stay the same for 2 weeks. When students finish their work early, they can choose an activity from the board to do. Each activity has a strip with directions that they glue into their notebook (these are found in the small pockets). All of the materials needed for the activity are provided in the large pocket on the board. On front of the large pockets, there are direction cards for each activity. These cards have Velcro on the back so that they can be changed out each week.

This board took some time to put together, but it is totally worth it! My students have never been so motivated to complete their work on time. They can't wait to choose an activity from the Early Finisher board. If you are interested in purchasing this amazing resource, click {here} to go to Shelley's TpT store. This product is such a timesaver!

My next creation is the 3-Digit Addition Spin game from my Addition with All Types of Addends resource. Since we are doing a lot of testing this week, I decided to let the kids play math games at the end of the day. Last week, we played Addition Scoop from the packet and my students had so much fun. They loved building their own ice cream cones with 3 addends! This week, I created the 3-Digit Addition Spin game and let my students play it in groups of 4. Each table gets two spinners, each with 3-digit numbers. Each person took turns spinning the 2 spinners and recording the numbers on the recording sheet. Then, they added them together and checked with their tablemates to see if everyone got the same answer. They turn turns spinning and recording until the page was complete! Here are some pics of my kids hard at work...

It's funny how playing a math game is so exciting to them. They totally forget that they are doing math when they get to use a gameboard, spin spinners, or work in groups. I love it!

Monday, March 11, 2013

Green Smorgasbord!

This Friday, we are celebrating St. Patrick's Day by having a Green Smorgasbord! Each year, we have this celebration and it is always so much fun. The kids are encouraged to bring a treat to share with the class, but the rule is that it has to be GREEN! Some ideas I give them are celery sticks, jello jigglers, pickles, washed grapes, green rice krispy treats, etc. I am always amazed by the creativity that my students' parents put into these snacks. I had a student one year bring green olives and avocado! If you'd like to have a Green Smorgasbord in your classroom, you can download the letter below to send home to your students' families this week. It's FREE so be sure to snatch it up! Enjoy =)

Sunday, March 10, 2013

March Currently... Better Late Than Never!

I am sooo not on the ball this month with Farley's March Currently. BUT- I didn't forget! Better late than never, right?! Here's what's going on with me lately...

Listening- I am in love with Blake Shelton's new song. Have you heard it yet? It is one of those songs that I crank the radio up to whenever it is on!

Loving- This sunshine is fabulous! I loved having an extra hour of daylight this evening. (Even though I didn't love losing an hour of sleep last night!)

Thinking- SPRING BREAK! Need I say more?!

Wanting- I saw this pic on Pinterest and really want to find some cute dresses/skirts like these. They would be perfect for spring and summer. Aren't they so cute?

Needing- Report cards are no.fun.at.all. I am almost finished with them but of course am procrastinating by blogging instead!

Like, Love, Hate- So you may have been a little confused with this one! Farley's rule was that you had to think of one word only for like, love, hate and that they all had to start with the first letter of your name. Since my name starts with an E, I had to think of 3 things that I like, love, and hate that start with an E. I had such a hard time!

  • Exercise- Okay, maybe I don't really like to exercise, but I do love the feeling that I have when I'm finished! My friend, Casi, and I are going to run a 5K this summer and so I'm trying to get in better shape before then. My husband finished part of our basement and made it a workout room so I'm trying to take advantage of it as much as possible.

  • Excellence- About a week ago, our school district found out that we were ranked "Excellent with Distinction" by the state of Ohio. This is based off of our state test scores. Even better was that my school was also ranked "Excellent with Distinction"! This is the highest rating that a school or district can reach so it was a very big accomplishment for all of the students and teachers!

  • Eggnog- Haha... I really had to think about this one. I absolutely hate eggnog. Just knowing that there is raw egg in it about sends me over the edge. Ewww!!

Alright, now that I've shared what's currently going on with me, it's your turn! Just head over to Farley's blog and link up!