1st grade

Animal Soup: A divergent thinking activity for K-2

Friday, November 28, 2014


Need a fun divergent thinking activity to inspire and engage your K-2 students? Try making animal soup! This post includes free printables and implementation ideas to make creativity in the classroom a breeze!

Hi All! I am checking in today to share one of my favorite K-2 activities - Animal Soup! Animal Soup, by Paul Doodler, is a short, lift-the-flap book that combines everyday animals to create silly outcomes.

Need a fun divergent thinking activity to inspire and engage your K-2 students? Try making animal soup! This post includes free printables and implementation ideas to make creativity in the classroom a breeze!

Let's check out how it works! Below are two sample pages from the book. After considering the question, students can lift the flap to see the 3rd page. Give it a try:

What would you be if you had wings to fly like a bird . . .

Need a fun divergent thinking activity to inspire and engage your K-2 students? Try making animal soup! This post includes free printables and implementation ideas to make creativity in the classroom a breeze!

and walked slowly like a turtle?

Need a fun divergent thinking activity to inspire and engage your K-2 students? Try making animal soup! This post includes free printables and implementation ideas to make creativity in the classroom a breeze!

A BiRdLe! 

Need a fun divergent thinking activity to inspire and engage your K-2 students? Try making animal soup! This post includes free printables and implementation ideas to make creativity in the classroom a breeze!


Seriously, this book cracks me up every year! My favorite combination is the flamingo and monkey. (A flamonkey :-)

Once we read the story as a class, I give students the task of creating their own animal. Each student selects two animal cards. (I cut the cards and put them in a "magic box" prior to the lesson. Students randomly select their animals from the magic box; it makes the selection of the animals for their soup a little dramatic and a lot of fun!)
Need a fun divergent thinking activity to inspire and engage your K-2 students? Try making animal soup! This post includes free printables and implementation ideas to make creativity in the classroom a breeze!

Students then glue the cards to the activity sheet below.

Need a fun divergent thinking activity to inspire and engage your K-2 students? Try making animal soup! This post includes free printables and implementation ideas to make creativity in the classroom a breeze!download here for free


From here, students combine elements of each animal's name to create a new animal species. Some examples might include:

  • alligator + gorilla = gorillagator
  • lion + dinosaur = linosaur
  • monkey + kangaroo = monkaroo
  • puppy + hippopotamus = puppyotamus
Because the goal is to develop divergent thinking skills, I frequently remind students that there is more than one correct answer. For example, if you were part alligator and part octopus, you could be an allipus, an octigator, or a gatorpus. The possibilities are endless.

Then they draw a picture to illustrate their animal soup creation. Here are a few examples from one of my first grade nurturing lessons:

Need a fun divergent thinking activity to inspire and engage your K-2 students? Try making animal soup! This post includes free printables and implementation ideas to make creativity in the classroom a breeze!



Need a fun divergent thinking activity to inspire and engage your K-2 students? Try making animal soup! This post includes free printables and implementation ideas to make creativity in the classroom a breeze!



Need a fun divergent thinking activity to inspire and engage your K-2 students? Try making animal soup! This post includes free printables and implementation ideas to make creativity in the classroom a breeze!


Oftentimes, I compile the student pictures and make it into a class book. Most times, the kids are too eager to take them home right away to share :-)

You can download the activity sheet and animal cards for FREE here.
Need a fun divergent thinking activity to inspire and engage your K-2 students? Try making animal soup! This post includes free printables and implementation ideas to make creativity in the classroom a breeze!



To learn more about fun ways to nurture creative thinking in the classroom, check out two of my earlier posts: Let's Get Creative and Creativity in the Classroom. Thanks for checking in!

4th grade

GIS Day!

Saturday, November 22, 2014


Wednesday, November 19th was Geographic Information Systems Day! I was lucky enough to have two local experts come introduce and celebrate GIS Day with my 4th and 5th grade students. Let me tell you . . . it was amazing!


Our presenters shared a series of short videos about maps, including their history, uses, and global applications. Students learned that maps not only provide information about our geographic location, but also about our climate, economy, and humanitarian needs and efforts - just to name a few. Below are links to the videos shared. Each one is under 4 minutes and totally worth watching!



Then students were given guidance to explore maps using an interactive tool designed by National Geographic. You can check it out here! This website is a PBL project waiting to happen! My wheels are definitely turning . . .



Using GIS, students were asked to make a map. They could select from the a series of choices or design their own challenge. Students explored everything from Carbon Dioxide production to global electricity use to trends in food consumption.




It was an eye opening experience for the students (and their teacher)! The visual power of GIS is astounding, on a personal, local, and global level!

I think this tool has great potential for classroom learning. For those of you who are already implementing interactive mapping in the classroom, how do you use it with your students? What works best for you and your class? I'd love to hear your thoughts and ideas!

3rd grade

Film Festival - Here We Come!!!

Wednesday, November 05, 2014

I am so proud of my students who participated in last year's 3rd grade film academy!!! And I am infinitely grateful to the parents, particularly our director/producer Chip Hackler, who made the entire opportunity possible!

Because of my talented students and parents, we are headed to the 20th annual Cucalorus Film Festival in Wilmington, NC in two weeks! :-)



Among the thousands of films that were entered, our short film "Shot Reverse Shot" was selected as a favorite! Based on Jack Johnson's song, the music video is about point of view and perspective in both film and life. The festival will take place November 12-16th. Our film will "premiere" Sunday, November 16th at 1:00. Tickets are only $10, so I hope you will come join us to enjoy and celebrate!!!!



Click HERE to watch our short film. Check out the following link to learn more about the 3rd grade film academy! Some day I promise to post about all of the Elementary Academies in detail!! They have become one of my favorite aspects of teaching.

Stay tuned :-)

4th grade

Building A Classroom Community

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Build a positive classroom community with these easy, hands-on activities and games.  They are great for back to school or any time your students need a focus on class or team building.


We had another great week in our new classroom! This week, we focused on building classroom community. Our first activities addressed team building and communication - specifically respectful listening and speaking. Below you can see pictures from the "Paper Tower Tournament." In this challenge, students collaborated in randomly selected groups to build a tower made of printer paper. The goal is to create the tallest, free-standing tower using only 3 sheets of paper and 12 inches of masking tape. No additional materials or supports can be used.

Build a positive classroom community with these easy, hands-on activities and games.  They are great for back to school or any time your students need a focus on class or team building.


After 10-15 minutes of team work, we paused to reflect. Using our Guidelines for Team Work Rubric, we evaluated our behaviors, considering areas of strength and places for growth.

Build a positive classroom community with these easy, hands-on activities and games.  They are great for back to school or any time your students need a focus on class or team building.Build a positive classroom community with these easy, hands-on activities and games.  They are great for back to school or any time your students need a focus on class or team building.

You can find the guidelines and rubric here.


After setting personal goals, we were back to work.

Build a positive classroom community with these easy, hands-on activities and games.  They are great for back to school or any time your students need a focus on class or team building.

At the end of the contest, we celebrated our many successes! Awards were given for the tallest, most unique, best design, and most creative use of materials. We then had a really great group discussion about what went well, what felt hard, and things we might do differently when working in a team - and on difficult tasks - in the future.

Our next challenge posed the same goal: build the tallest, free-standing tower. However, this time, the materials included dry spaghetti and mini-marshmallows. Once again, teams were randomly selected to encourage students to work with, enjoy, and appreciate the styles of different peers.

Build a positive classroom community with these easy, hands-on activities and games.  They are great for back to school or any time your students need a focus on class or team building.


Again we used the rubric at the beginning, half way through, and at the end to set goals and reflect.


Build a positive classroom community with these easy, hands-on activities and games.  They are great for back to school or any time your students need a focus on class or team building.


Students were intrigued that their personal goals and reflections often changed based on the team with which they worked!


Build a positive classroom community with these easy, hands-on activities and games.  They are great for back to school or any time your students need a focus on class or team building.


We had another very thoughtful post-discussion. Again students considered what went well, what areas were challenging, and appropriate goals for the future. (We are always trying to Be More Awesome, right? :-)

Our final community building challenge of this week was based on a free set of dice from Chik-fil-A. For real! (Inspiration comes from many places! Thank you, Tara Mulvey!) Each side of the die had a theme: fame, family, best, worst, most embarrassing, etc. Under each theme was a series of questions to help us learn more about each other. Even though many of my 4th and 5th graders have been together since Kindergarten, I think it is important for students to not only know each other, but to feel "known." This helps to create a safe environment where children can try new things, take risks, make mistakes, and be themselves - all critical building blocks to success.

Build a positive classroom community with these easy, hands-on activities and games.  They are great for back to school or any time your students need a focus on class or team building.

I typed up the questions on cardstock and, using a modified version of Kagan's Cooperative Grouping Strategy "Fan, Pick, Read, Answer," we set out to learn more about one another. (Again, with the goals of respectful listening and speaking in mind!) Students, again worked in randomly selected teams to promote understanding, friendship, and respect.


Build a positive classroom community with these easy, hands-on activities and games.  They are great for back to school or any time your students need a focus on class or team building.

Questions/prompts included:

  • Tell about a time you laughed so hard you could not stop.
  • Describe the worst hair cut you've ever had.
  • Have you ever had to speak or perform in front of an audience? How did it make you feel?
  • Tell about something you did that made you feel proud.
Next week we will begin Math Quest, a dystopian book study, and Problem Based Learning. Stay tuned!

4th grade

Be More Awesome!

Sunday, September 07, 2014

With inspiration from Kid President, students set goals to "Be More Awesome!" Read on to learn ideas for implementation and grab a free printable activity! Put completed student pennants together to create a classroom banner. Perfect décor all year long!


My 4th and 5th grade gifted students began pull-out classes this week. Our first order of business was to set goals for the new school year. We began with a pep talk from Kid President, who inspires us to learn, teach, change the world, and BE MORE AWESOME!


With inspiration from Kid President, students set goals to "Be More Awesome!" Read on to learn ideas for implementation and grab a free printable activity! Put completed student pennants together to create a classroom banner. Perfect décor all year long!

After watching Kid President, we examined some of the ways we are awesome. As you can imagine, many pieces of paper were needed. :-) We then looked at ways we could be "more awesome." I shared my personal goals for a more awesome year with the students and modeled how I tried to create goals that were meaningful, specific, relevant, and realistic. (Not exactly "SMART" goals, but in the same spirit.) Using a "Be More Awesome" pennant, each student brainstormed goals for the first nine weeks.

With inspiration from Kid President, students set goals to "Be More Awesome!" Read on to learn ideas for implementation and grab a free printable activity! Put completed student pennants together to create a classroom banner. Perfect décor all year long!



With inspiration from Kid President, students set goals to "Be More Awesome!" Read on to learn ideas for implementation and grab a free printable activity! Put completed student pennants together to create a classroom banner. Perfect décor all year long!



With inspiration from Kid President, students set goals to "Be More Awesome!" Read on to learn ideas for implementation and grab a free printable activity! Put completed student pennants together to create a classroom banner. Perfect décor all year long!



With inspiration from Kid President, students set goals to "Be More Awesome!" Read on to learn ideas for implementation and grab a free printable activity! Put completed student pennants together to create a classroom banner. Perfect décor all year long!


Our completed goals are on display in the classroom.


With inspiration from Kid President, students set goals to "Be More Awesome!" Read on to learn ideas for implementation and grab a free printable activity! Put completed student pennants together to create a classroom banner. Perfect décor all year long!




With inspiration from Kid President, students set goals to "Be More Awesome!" Read on to learn ideas for implementation and grab a free printable activity! Put completed student pennants together to create a classroom banner. Perfect décor all year long!


For those of you who would like to try this out with your AWESOME class, you can find a free copy of the banner here.

With inspiration from Kid President, students set goals to "Be More Awesome!" Read on to learn ideas for implementation and grab a free printable activity! Put completed student pennants together to create a classroom banner. Perfect décor all year long!With inspiration from Kid President, students set goals to "Be More Awesome!" Read on to learn ideas for implementation and grab a free printable activity! Put completed student pennants together to create a classroom banner. Perfect décor all year long!


Thanks for checking in! I hope your first few weeks of school have been awesome!

brain food

Creativity in the Classroom

Friday, August 01, 2014

6 easy ways to nurture creativity in the classroom! Simple ideas and inspiration for any classroom.


Creativity is a skill, just like reading or math, that can be taught and learned. No kidding!! :-) Through exposure, experience, and practice, creative thinking is a skill anyone can cultivate.

Not only is creative thinking FUN, but it is also important! Divergent thinking increases a student’s desire to learn and supports his/her intellectual development. When we encourage creative thinking, we promote student engagement, motivation, and love for learning.

My first post in this series, "Let's Get Creative," addressed the 4-Framework model of creativity and shared easy, low or no-prep activities to use in the classroom. You can read more about that here, if you like. This post will focus on ways to develop a culture of creativity in the classroom.


6 easy ways to nurture creativity in the classroom! Simple ideas and inspiration for any classroom.


1. Accept and celebrate all of the ideas that students offer – even the ones that are wacky or off the wall! When brainstorming, the goal is quantity, not quality. Generating ideas is the first step in effective problem solving! Students can always revisit their ideas later and decide which ones are worth keeping.


6 easy ways to nurture creativity in the classroom! Simple ideas and inspiration for any classroom.

2. Encourage “piggybacking” or building on the ideas of others. Creative thinking does not exist in a vacuum. People learn from and thrive on the inspiration and ideas of others. Encourage students – not to copy – but to build on, develop, and extend the ideas of their peers.


6 easy ways to nurture creativity in the classroom! Simple ideas and inspiration for any classroom.

3. Model it! Creative thinking is a skill that can be learned! Just as we would provide instruction and support to help our students understand fractions or physics, we need to do the same for creative thinking. Our students have tremendous creative capacity and it is our job to help them identify and develop it. One of my favorite ways to model creative thought is described in tip #5; students often learn best from their peers.


6 easy ways to nurture creativity in the classroom! Simple ideas and inspiration for any classroom.


4. Creativity takes time, so give students time to think, try out new ideas, and invent. Creativity can be integrated throughout the academic day with strategies like open-ended questions, project based learning, and student choice. I also like to specifically carve out time in our day to focus on creative thinking. Because the school day is so jam-packed, and much of our instructional time is mandated by others, I tend to use creative activities, like "Brain Food," as:
  • Bell Ringers: My students can arrive anytime between 7:30 and 8:00. This 30 minutes can pose a challenge! While I want morning work activities to be worthwhile, I don’t want students who arrive at 8:00 to be “penalized” for missing this time. I love using creativity exercises as bell ringers because my students who are present are meaningfully engaged and developing essential skills, but it does not put other students “behind.” 
  • Center Activities: I often have a “Creation Station” as one of my center rotations in both math and reading. Divergent thinking activities are perfect for this spot! Students can tackle the tasks with independence AND at their individual level of readiness. 
  • Anchor Activities: Creative thinking activities are a great resource for my fast finishers! I give each student a “Brain Food” packet and if they finish early, they can pull it out and be actively engaged. 
There are other fun, meaningful ways to incorporate creative enrichment into the school day, but these are a few of my favorites.


6 easy ways to nurture creativity in the classroom! Simple ideas and inspiration for any classroom.


5. Make time to share! Not only do students love to share their original creations, but it also supports and promotes further creative thought. Seeing other ideas and perspectives can help students to approach their own work in different ways. In addition, students are more likely to be purposefully engaged and challenge themselves if they know their work will have an audience.


6 easy ways to nurture creativity in the classroom! Simple ideas and inspiration for any classroom.


6. Create a safe environment that encourages students to take creative risks. Creative thinking needs to be shared and validated by others in a supportive atmosphere. Nothing squashes enthusiasm and a willingness to try like negative remarks and criticism.

Here are some thoughts to get you started! Let me know what questions you have; I'd love to hear from you. Thanks for checking in!

brain food

Let's Get Creative!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

I am all about creativity in the classroom! (Who isn't? Creativity rocks, right?) I've always known that creativity is an art, but I've learned that it is also a science. In fact creativity is a skill, just like reading or math, that can be taught and learned. Yes, for real!! :-) Through exposure, experience, and practice, creative thinking is a skill anyone can cultivate.

Did you know that creativity is a skill that can be taught, just like reading and math? Yes, for real! This post offers ideas, activities, and inspiration for building creative thinking and creative thinkers in your classroom.

According to Paul Torrance, (who is often referred to as the "Father of Creativity"), creative thinking can be quantified. He broke it into a 4-part framework, which includes fluency, flexibility, originality, and elaboration. I love this framework because it gives me a scaffold with which to promote, support, and nurture creativity in my students, myself, and my class.

Did you know that creativity is a skill that can be taught, just like reading and math? Yes, for real! This post offers ideas, activities, and inspiration for building creative thinking and creative thinkers in your classroom.


This post, which is the first in a series on creativity, briefly describes the 4-part framework and suggests quick, easy activities you can do with your class to promote creative and critical thinking everyday. So, here we go!

1. FLUENCY:
Fluency is the act of generating many different ideas. This is an essential component of, and often the first step in, the problem solving process. Fluency encourages us to consider a variety of options and, with more options, we are more likely to reach a successful solution.



With fluency, quantity is more important than quality. Accept all ideas that students offer – even the ones that are wacky or off the wall! Students can revisit their list of ideas later to reflect on their responses and decide which ideas are worth keeping.

Brainstorming is a wonderful way to encourage fluency of thought. As a daily warm-up, center activity, or even while you're waiting in line for lunch with your students, pose one of the following questions:

Name things that:
  • are hot
  • are old
  • are sour
  • take less than a minute
  • are big, but not heavy
  • change over time
  • go up and down
  • are better to do fast instead of slow

Another way to promote fluency is through pictures. Present your students with an image and ask them to write a caption or generate alternate uses. Below is an example of writing captions using an everyday icon from Ian Byrdseed's amazing website:



sample captions:
  • "Another juggler gives up on his dreams."
  • "Jack decides to ditch the beans and move to Europe."

Alternate uses for an everyday item, such as a pencil, might be: a drum stick, a back-scratcher, a catapult, chopsticks, etc.


2. FLEXIBILITY:
Flexibility is the ability to produce ideas from different categories, perspectives, and points of view. Flexible thinking encourages us to see one thing in many different ways.




Below are some ways to see usual things in unusual ways and from different points of view.

Forced Associations: A forced association asks students to find similarities among items/ideas that are seemingly unrelated. By combining words that appear to be dissimilar, students are encouraged to think in new ways and to develop new perspectives and understandings. Try these with your class!

How is . . .
  • a teacher like a chair
  • a window like a pair of glasses
  • the earth like a fishbowl
  • number like a letter
Pictures are another great way to promote flexibility. I love these image that I found on SlowRobot.com:



What a great example of using "normal," everyday items to create new things! You can find more ideas for forced associations (and no-prep printables) here.


3. ORIGINALITY:
Originality is the ability to produce ideas that are unique or original. This creativity tool involves synthesis or putting information together in a new way. Scattergories was one of my favorite games growing up; it was not until I was an adult that I figured out how fabulous it is for developing originality! To play, each student generates an item or items for each category. A point is earned for each idea that no one else has. Check out the example below:


Did you know that creativity is a skill that can be taught, just like reading and math? Yes, for real! This post offers ideas, activities, and inspiration for building creative thinking and creative thinkers in your classroom.



4. ELABORATION:
Elaboration is the ability to enhance ideas by providing information and detail. Elaboration can make basic ideas, answers, or pictures interesting and exciting.

For example: provide students with a basic shape, squiggle, or mark on the page. Tell students that this picture is unfinished and that they should brainstorm a list of all the different things it could be. Students should select their favorite idea and then add details to elaborate, enhance, and improve. Here's an example from my Spring Enrichment Packet:

       


If you liked this post, you may be interested in some of the activities below. 


Did you know that creativity is a skill that can be taught, just like reading and math? Yes, for real! This post offers ideas, activities, and inspiration for building creative thinking and creative thinkers in your classroom.



Did you know that creativity is a skill that can be taught, just like reading and math? Yes, for real! This post offers ideas, activities, and inspiration for building creative thinking and creative thinkers in your classroom.       Did you know that creativity is a skill that can be taught, just like reading and math? Yes, for real! This post offers ideas, activities, and inspiration for building creative thinking and creative thinkers in your classroom.
                                      Brain Food                                  "Back to School" Brain Food


   
Did you know that creativity is a skill that can be taught, just like reading and math? Yes, for real! This post offers ideas, activities, and inspiration for building creative thinking and creative thinkers in your classroom.
                   Picture Prompts for Creative Writing        Squiggle Stories: Creative Writing Prompts


I hope you'll check back for the next part of the creativity series! In the meantime:
How do you promote creative thought in your classroom?  What else do you want to learn or know about creativity?  I'd love to hear from you!

3rd grade

Math Quest - A Problem Solving Adventure

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Math Quest is an adventure game that focuses math problem solving strategies.  This highly engaging unit is tiered, making it perfect for a variety of upper elementary grades.  My students love the activities - and, of course, the fate cards!


One of my favorite math units to do with upper elementary students is Math Quest! I very rarely repeat units in my classroom (there are too many great new things to try, right?), but Math Quest is one I have returned to year after year. So, I thought I'd share some of the ways I use this AMAZING Interact Unit with my 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade students.

Math Quest is set up like a game to engage and motivate students. (See the game board below!)


Math Quest is an adventure game that focuses math problem solving strategies.  This highly engaging unit is tiered, making it perfect for a variety of upper elementary grades.  My students love the activities - and, of course, the fate cards!


Students earn “travel dots” for solving math problems; each travel dot is worth one space on the game board. As students work their way towards the treasure chest at the top of the board, they earn special "powers" and gold. The team of students with the most gold at the end of the unit wins! SO MUCH FUN!

Now for the math . . . ! The unit is designed to help students become competent, confident, and creative problem solvers. Throughout the unit, students explore six problem solving strategies:

  • Guess and check
  • Look for a pattern
  • Work backwards
  • Make a picture or a diagram
  • Use Logical Reasoning
  • Make a table or a chart

Students work in teams and then on their own to apply each problem solving method. The Math Quest unit provides all of the problems for team practice and individual application. Each set of problems is tiered to provide varying levels of challenge. I've found that levels A, B, and C correspond pretty well with grades 3, 4, and 5.

When introducing a problem solving strategy, I follow an "I do," "We do," "Y'all do," "You do" approach. With "I do," I introduce and model the strategy. I select a different problem for "we do" and the students and I solve it together; the students record their work in their math notebooks, while I write on the board. If all goes as planned (ha, right?), then we move on to "y'all do." In this stage, students work in their teams of 4 to solve the problem together. We use Student Learning Teams to ensure meaningful learning. In a student learning team, each student has a specific "job," which promotes individual accountability, equal student responsibility, and positive interdependence.


Math Quest is an adventure game that focuses math problem solving strategies.  This highly engaging unit is tiered, making it perfect for a variety of upper elementary grades.  My students love the activities - and, of course, the fate cards!

And then finally, "you do," where students practice and apply the problem solving strategy independently.

Due to the complexity of the problems, I require my students to use a problem solving mat to guide and illustrate their thinking. The work mat guides them through the important steps of understanding, solving, explaining, and checking the problem. Prior to using the mat, my students tended to RUSH, particularly through steps 1 and 4, which seriously compromised the accuracy of their work! I've found that the mat helps my students to navigate and solve complex problems with greater independence and accuracy.

Math Quest is an adventure game that focuses math problem solving strategies.  This highly engaging unit is tiered, making it perfect for a variety of upper elementary grades.  My students love the activities - and, of course, the fate cards!
You can find the problem solving mat here.


I then use a holistic rubric to score the completed mats. While it is not as descriptive as an analytic rubric, I find it more user-friendly for the purpose of scoring LOTS of math problems each week.

Math Quest is an adventure game that focuses math problem solving strategies.  This highly engaging unit is tiered, making it perfect for a variety of upper elementary grades.  My students love the activities - and, of course, the fate cards!
You can find the holistic rubric here.


When I designed the problem solving mats and rubrics, I wanted to emphasize the importance of the problem solving process. Therefore, I wanted students to be rewarded for showing their work and thinking. As a result, students can actually earn more points for an incorrect answer where they have shown their reasoning, then if they simply record the correct answer. With that said, there is a lot of value in accuracy, as well! That is why there is such a large numerical gap (4 – 10) between the two highest scores. I want students to participate in and value the problem solving process, but I also want them to recognize that accuracy is essential.

Putting an emphasis (and a score!) on the problem solving process is a new way of thinking for many students. I've found though, that once students understand and use the problem solving maps & rubrics that it dramatically improves the quality of their work and thinking.

In my experience, when my students take ownership of the rubric, they are more likely to understand and invest themselves in the process. Therefore, I enlist them to help me build the criteria. I provide the descriptors and we discuss each one. In the discussion we address the value of the problem solving process, the importance of accuracy, and our ultimate goal of accomplishing both! As a class, students then decide what point value each level of performance is worth. We record their decisions on paper and use this an anchor chart. It keeps the criteria clear and available and students can refer to it easily throughout the year.

At various times, we revisit the rubric and discuss. As a class, students may change the point values or even modify or add to the descriptors. It is great to hear them reflect on the problem solving process, what worked well, what they value, and how they want their accomplishments recorded.

OK PAUSE! If you've read this far, you are a total rock star and deserve a FREEBIE! hug, hug, kiss, kiss! Here's a link to download my "Guidelines for Team Work" for free.

Math Quest is an adventure game that focuses math problem solving strategies.  This highly engaging unit is tiered, making it perfect for a variety of upper elementary grades.  My students love the activities - and, of course, the fate cards!


Before I sign off on this incredibly long post, I want to share one more of my favorite aspects about Math Quest - FATE CARDS!


Math Quest is an adventure game that focuses math problem solving strategies.  This highly engaging unit is tiered, making it perfect for a variety of upper elementary grades.  My students love the activities - and, of course, the fate cards!


Students love fate cards because they add excitement and introduce the unexpected! At the beginning of each class, teams randomly select a "fate card." Each card provides a different scenario or task, which can cause teams to gain or lose points, gold, and/or their position on the board. Most importantly, they are hysterical! While some cards require academic thinking, (such as calculate the average height of your team or state one of Newton's 3 laws of physics), some cards are just silly and fun. For example, students can earn points for wearing a real shower cap, singing a song, or remaining silent for the entire math class.


Math Quest is an adventure game that focuses math problem solving strategies.  This highly engaging unit is tiered, making it perfect for a variety of upper elementary grades.  My students love the activities - and, of course, the fate cards!


Fate Cards take about 2-3 minutes of class time to complete, but are often the highlight of my students' day! They can not wait to get to math class so they can pull cards and earn points. I've even had students create their own fate cards - in their free time!! - to add to the pile. I LOVE my students!!!

Math Quest is an adventure game that focuses math problem solving strategies.  This highly engaging unit is tiered, making it perfect for a variety of upper elementary grades.  My students love the activities - and, of course, the fate cards!


So, what do you think? What questions do you have? Leave me a comment and let me know! I'd love to hear from you.

3rd grade

3rd Grade Film Academy

Tuesday, June 10, 2014

The members of my 3rd grade Film Academy presented the final cut of their video to the school today! They were so excited and felt like true celebrities! I am so proud of their hard work. Our Academy host and director was AMAZING! I can't believe how much he was able to accomplish in such a small amount of time. Click here to check out our fabulous, 4 minute music video. :-)


(digital art by Melonheadz)


One of my favorite parts of the academy was how the director helped the students explore the multiple meanings of Jack Johnson's song, "Shot, Reverse Shot." Not only did they learn about filming techniques, they also developed a better understanding of empathy, point of view, and perspective.

Without a doubt, the Academies were my FAVORITE part of the 2013-14 school year! You can learn more about the interest-based, enrichment Academies here. Once summer begins, I hope to write about the Academies in greater detail and share more examples of student work. If you have any questions or there is something in particular you'd like to learn more about, let me know in the comments! Thanks for checking in!

Father's Day

A Father's Day Freebie

Monday, June 09, 2014

Hi All! I made this card to use with my little munchkins for Father's Day. I had grand plans of sharing photos of their completed cards with you, but the weekend got away from me. You know how it is!?@!




Caitlin, my 4 year old, took it very seriously and put great thought into her earnest answers. Of course, that is what makes the final product so lovely - and hysterical! In her mind, her daddy is 100 years old, his favorite food is candy, and he always says "Watch out for your sister!" (The last one is so true! And the one about candy, for that matter. Hey . . . the girl knows her daddy!) Molly, my 1 1/2 year old, just scribbled happily all over hers.

My thought is that the girls will complete this card each year; part of the gift will be to see their responses grow over time. Caitlin could write some of her answers this year (with help); Molly could only scratch at the paper with crayons. I think it will be interesting to see not only what they can do, but how they "see" their daddy at the same time next year.

Any thoughts on prompts to add or change? Let me know your suggestions in the comments! I like the idea of multiple versions - or maybe an editable version?? Thanks for checking in!

editable

The Week at a Glance: Getting Organized!

Thursday, May 29, 2014

In my ongoing efforts to be more efficient and effective, I've created a tool to help me stay organized! Here's my new "week at a glance!"




I wanted to put all my appointments and "to do" lists in one place. I've been using it this week at school and home and, so far, I'm loving it! You can download a copy here for free.



download for free here!


If you're like me and you prefer to personalize your planners, I've also uploaded an editable version. To add your own text, just insert a text box where you want the words to appear and type away! (I used "happy monkey," a free Google font, in case you want to keep the formatting the same.)

Let me know what you think!

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