Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Happy Spring!

Hey everyone! We've spent the last 24 hours being pounded by rain, thunder, and lightning. But, hey..it's the first day of Spring! We just came back from Spring Break Monday and it's already been a whirlwind of a week. Now that break is over, we have 9 more weeks of school and a state test to prepare for. It'll be busy, busy, busy! I'm hoping to post a couple of times each week over the next few weeks...sorry I haven't been so great with posting lately! Life has been a bit crazy here at my house. We found out my husband's job is being transferred to Arizona. So, believe it or not, in three months this Texas girl is packing up and moving closer to the west coast. It's going to be quite a change! I can't even begin to think about the realtor, packing, a new job, new school, and everything else! So, for today, I just thought about my favorite season, Spring!

We are preparing for our state assessment at the end of April and no matter how many things I try to do to get my kids to learn their multiplication facts, it's just not working. So today, I started something new in my room with a spring twist. I introduced "Buzzing Through Multiplication". As you can see in the pictures below, students each have a bee with their number on it. We started at our 3s because I'm pretty sure we all know our 1s and 2s by now! Each day, we are taking a timed multiplication test based on what fact we are still working on. I'm hoping they will feel like "buzzing" through the flowers as quickly as they can for the "SECRET" prize they get at the end! (It's only secret because I have no idea what the prize will be just yet ...)

I am still creating the tests right now but they consist of 35 problems for each level. For example, the threes test is all problems that are multiplying by three (up to 12). I'm posting the flowers and bees on my TPT store for free so stop on by and download it if you feel like adding some spring to your classroom! (I'll post the tests once I'm finished with them.) I also included some bees without numbers in case you want to write student names or use them for something else.  You could even use this with lower grades for memorizing addition and subtraction facts or in a fourth grade classroom for division facts! Have fun multiplying and Happy Spring!

Saturday, March 3, 2012

Read Alouds

I'm always looking for the next read aloud book for my classroom. I think it's my favorite part of the day because I truly love reading and my kids can really see that through my read alouds. I also get a chance to think aloud to get my kids engaged in thinking while reading and of course there's also expression and fluency to be modeled. :)

This week, we are finishing up one of my all-time favorite read alouds, Emmy and the Incredible Shrinking Rat by Lynne Jonell. If you've never read it, it's a must read! It is an incredible story and has so many teaching moments for visualizing, word choice, context clues, character changes, and so much more! We actually just created a comic for our read aloud on Make Beliefs Comix to show Emmy's character change throught the book. (By the way, Make Beliefs Comix is the greatest comic creation site to use in your classroom...and no accounts needed!)

She's also written two follow-up books that my kids always get after I read aloud the first in the series. I love getting kids hooked on a good series! One of my other favs I read earlier this year is A Nest for Celeste:A Story About Art, Inspiration, and the Meaning of Home by Henry Cole. One of my students gave me this book last year and I fell in love with it! It has a lot of wonderful illustrations but it is a chapter book also. The main character, Celeste, tells her story about life in a house that has some unique visitors. It is a great story for studying character change and also vocabulary and context clues. My students have fallen in love with this character the past two years and it's one of my absolute favs. If you're a third grade teacher, these are two must-read books for you!

I also start off the year with Judy Moody Was In a Mood by Megan McDonald every year. It's a great way to introduce the Judy Moody series to third graders. It also has so many great activities to connect with since she is also starting off a new school year in the first book of the series. We've had our students create tshirts to show a place they visited during the summer similar to what she does in the book. She also creates a "Me Collage" which we do as a getting to know you activity at the beginning of the year. If you've never read this book, pick it up and see if you can use it as a beginning of the year introduction to read aloud novels. :)

Leave a comment and share what your favorite read alouds are!