Saturday, January 28, 2012

Word Art

If you've used and enjoyed Wordle, then let me introduce you to my newest tech toy, Tagxedo. You type in words and then turn those words into shape art. This is perfect for Valentine's Day or Mother's Day.Actually, there are so many ways you can use this site to create classroom projects. Here's an outline of a two day lesson:
Day 1: Make a class poem together, and show students how to create and print a poem using Tagxedo. .
Day 2: Give students the Love My Poem template.( Click HERE for a free copy.) Let students write the poem on the template and then type the words into Tagxedo. Have them print.

I don't have a colored printer at school, so I'm using colored paper instead.

It is a pretty easy site to navigate. Watch the video tutorial I made if you need help.

If you want to make it a little fancier, you can have the kids finger paint fingerprint hearts inside the big heart.
This is part of the awesome Collaborative Heart Project Fundraiser organized by Jaime at hands on  as we grow.

Friday, January 20, 2012

Valentine Goodies

So most of the things I share with you I've tried out in my own classroom. This is a new idea I had, and it hasn't been classroom tested. This is a Valentine Day Math Mat. I had seen lots of these types of mats for primary students but never for intermediate students, so I decided to create some. A couple of weeks after I created this one I got a Really Good Stuff catalog, and they had several for intermediate grades. Oh well, this one is free. Please let me know what you think. I've created one for the 100th Day, and I'm working on ones for other holidays. Just cut it out and tape together. You will need a package of conversation hearts. Click HERE for your free copy. UPDATE: If you downloaded this, you need to download the revision. I did not have enough columns. The 1st grade Math Mat is at the END of this post.

Teaching Tip of the Week
Motivate writers with a song!

A couple of years ago, I picked up this singing elephant during the Valentine season. He/she sings, "Sugar Pie Honey Bunch." When I have a writing conference with my students, I have students read a writing selection of their choice to me. If I find a really great piece to highlight, I push the button on the elephant and serenade the students. I change the words to, "Sugar Pie Honey Bunch, you know I LOVE your WRITING!" The student beams with pride. I don't over do it and I'm pretty picky. In other words it has to be showcase worthy.  I try to showcase one or two writers a week. I do look extra hard for those struggling writers. Sometimes I just highlight one sentence. I can't begin to tell you how successful this has been. Most of the students desperately want their writing to be worthy. I do think they put more into it. After I started this, I found these elephant writing pins on Ebay. I had to have them. I bought all the seller had.  I give one every 9 weeks to the top writer. Keep in mind I teach 4th grade, but I have one student who wears it EVERY day.
I have no idea if you can get either of these items anymore, and couldn't begin to tell you where to look. Before you throw something at me, I came up with something you CAN get right now during Valentine season. I found a giraffe that sings, "Your Love Has Lifted Me Higher." I plan to change the words to, "Your WRITING has lifted me higher." I made a heart that says, "Your Writing." and taped it over the last heart. I also created a giraffe printable. I plan to print it on sticker paper, but you could just print and laminate. I got this at Wal-Mart and I cringe to tell you the price, $16.95. I KNOW! If you want to risk them  running out, you could get it after Valentine's for half off. Click HERE for your free giraffe sticker printable.
Just Because I Love You
I decided to give you a little extra this week and created another freebie for you. Somebody Loves You Mr. Hatch is such a great Valentine book. The theme is easy for kids to pick out, too. If you click on the cover of the book, it will take you to a FREE online video version of the book. It does have a commercial. If you click HERE it will take you to Storyline and you can click All Stories and choose it from the list. It it straight from the site without commercials. You can also choose download file size.  It also has some free activities and more great free books.   I think this one is really well done. I also created a story map to accompany the book. Click HERE for your free copy. 

If you have enjoyed anything I've created, I would love for you to follow my blog. Either way, I wish you luck as you create magic in your classroom.  Have a  magical Valentines!

Breaking The Rules:

  This blog is primarily for grade 3-6 teachers, but if you've followed my blog closely, you know my mother is a 1st grade teacher. She needs a couple of activities for her firsties on Tuesday, so I created  them for her. It just seemed a waste to only share it with my mom. I hope my target audience, 36 teachers, will forgive me. Click HERE or the picture for the 1st grade math mat.
The second thing I created was a sequencing activity for the picture book Arthur's Valentine. Click HERE or on the picture for the printable. This book is also available free online. Click on the cover of the book for the link.

Friday, January 13, 2012

QR Valentine

 I try to incorporate as much technology into my lesson plans as possible. I thought I would let students make a QR voice Valentine card. Most students know someone who has a Smartphone. I don't have one, but my teaching buddy does.  I will borrow hers to show students how cool it is. This is really simple. Visit the QR Voice website and have students type in a message; such as, "I love you, Mom," (It can't be more than 100 characters.) They will need to use the scroll bar to re-size. I re-sized mine to 136X136 but larger or smaller sizes will work, too. Then print and paste on Valentine printable.  Click HERE or on the picture for the free GoogleDocs Valentine printable. If you still need help, I've made a little video tutorial on how to generate a QR voice image.

Teacher Tip of the Week
Check out a great blog post on MLK Day from The Diary of a Not So Wimpy Teacher.

And here's a free video version of the book, Martin's Big Words. 

Friday, January 6, 2012

Puttting the Magic in Test Prep Part 1

Have you ever put your foot in your mouth? Well, I did this the other day. I posted the picture above on my fan page and then went to read a friend's new blog post. She had just posted about getting ready for the "Big Test" She totally busted me and commented on my fan page, too. I felt compelled to elaborate on this statement. I do test prep! Don't we all do test prep? These are high stakes tests, and I feel the pressure just like everyone else. What I don't do is skill and drill, or should I say skill and kill. I would like to do a series of posts about how I put the magic in test prep.
This week we worked on informational texts. There is ALWAYS informational passages on the test. Yes, I could have copied a released item, had them read and answer the questions, but instead I gave them a real recipe and instructions on how to make a six point snowflake. Students had to READ both and make the items. If I had wanted to take a grade, I could have graded the finished product. I would love to tell you everyone of my little darlings did perfectly, but they most certainly did not. Several did not read carefully and thus made some major mistakes. They learned how important it is to read carefully and follow ALL the instructions. I had one student put their whole cookie with icing in the microwave along with the marshmallow. I'm sure I don't have to tell you what a hot mess that was. She argued passionately that she had followed the directions. I gave her the opportunity to reread the directions and try again. When she did this she quickly discovered her mistake.   I could have done a hundred worksheets with this child, and  it might never have hit home how important it is to follow all the steps. The difference in worksheets and real world is they CARE when it makes a difference in their life. I also flat out refused to help them in any way. Yes, I knew she was sticking her whole cookie in the microwave, but I knew she would learn from her mistake. By the way, you are probably wondering about the cost. It was minimal. The following were enough supplies for my class of 21 students:
Copy paper  for snowflakes- Free
Craft sticks-Free (If you don't have these in your closet already, I bet the art teacher would donate some for your classroom.)
1 package of cookies- $1.00
1 tub of white icing- Free (this was left over from our Christmas craft but would be $1.00)
1 giant tub of sprinkles (this will last me for many years, too)- $1.00
1 package of large marshmallows- $1.00
Life Lesson- Priceless

Click on the pictures for your free Googledoc copies.

Teaching Tip of the Week
Teach to a theme.

Click on the cover for a free online version of this book. 

 I really like themes, and this week it was all about SNOW. I read the FREE online book, Snowmen at Night. Then we brainstormed and filled in our graphic organizer. Finally, I gave the students the prompt: What do snowmen do at night?

 Click on the picture for your free copy.

If you enjoyed any of these activities, I would appreciate you following me. Either way I wish luck as you continue to create magic in your classroom!