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January Fractions in Action: Interactive Notebook Vocabulary and Anchor Chart Error Analysis

We spend pretty much the month of January working on fractions.  Over the course of the month, we learn fraction vocabulary, equivalent fractions, fraction comparisons, adding, and subtracting fractions.  It is a lot for a fourth-grade mind to handle.  In my district, we use a math curriculum created by Eureka Math.  It is very similar to the New York State modules (EngageNY) that were created when the Common Core Curriculum was implemented.

I like the way Eureka lays out their modules, but the one item I don't care for is that I don't have the time to implement vocabulary knowledge with my students.  Vocabulary is used throughout the modules, I just like the ability to introduce the vocabulary as an initial lesson, and then reinforce it as we progress.  So many articles are being written about the need for a solid vocabulary in content areas, and this includes math.  So one way that I get around it is through my Intervention time. Although I know that intervention is meant to reinforce skills that students are not understanding, I do take time at the beginning of my units, and throughout my modules teaching ALL of my students regardless of tier about math vocabulary, and then reinforce concepts with anchor chart interaction.

Today I wanted to share a few of the items I use during this intervention time.  This is honestly when most of my students get the bulk of their interactive notebook work set up.  Because my students have this intervention time after our math block, I sometimes have them leave pages blank to insert vocabulary notebook pages.

One set of notebook pages that I insert is a basic vocabulary definitions page.  Students define the terms we will be using in our notebooks, and they use it as an easy reference throughout the module.  Sometimes, I even have the words repeated.  For example, compose and decompose are not new words for my class.  We have been using them since beginning the year in the place value module, but I don't think it ever hurts to see a repeat performance!

We spend time at the beginning of the unit putting together a hands-on kit.  This is a big help in getting a visual picture of equivalent fractions.

We do a lot of interaction with anchor charts.  I have students spend time in groups during intervention finding fractions that are equivalent to benchmark numbers: one-fourth, one-half, three fourths, one whole, and one and one half.  I teach students to write number sentences to prove this, but they also can use visual models like tape diagrams, number bonds or area models.  This continues throughout the unit as we learn how to use multiplication to represent equal fractions.  Usually, about once per week in the intervention time, I have students gallery walk the charts.  They are adding new fractions if they have discovered new equivalents, and they are also doing error analysis.  I ask them to look for fractions that someone has placed that are NOT equivalent to the benchmark.  Sometimes I will purposefully INCLUDE an error on the chart, and when found, students will justify their reasoning for the error and include a corrected fractions.  POWERFUL WORK!

I would love to know how you begin your fractions unit!  Share your thoughts and ideas!

Happy New Year! Welcome 2018: A Year of Wellness, Purpose, and Abundance!

Happy New Year friends! Welcome to 2018!! Have you made your New Years Resolutions yet? Have you broken them yet?  <LOL>  I LOVE the start of a new year!  As teachers we get to have a fresh start twice, and it's a wonderful feeling to know I can start another semester of school next week with fresh eyes, and a rested mind, body and spirit!

I'll be the first to admit that I'm horrible at making resolutions.. well making them is the easy part, it's keeping them that I always have trouble with!  So this year, I've resolved to focus on 3 things: Wellness, Purpose, and Abundance!

I"m going to start by just making a few changes to my lifestyle.  I know myself well enough to know that if I try to do too many things, I won't DO any of them.  I am an awesome planner, but sometimes I get overwhelmed by my plans, and then well, I don't do any of them.  Anyone else do that too?  We should make a TRIBE!

I'm going to start 2018 by:
1) Going to a yoga class once a week.  I'm hoping I can up the ante on this after a month or so and make it twice a week, but baby steps for me tend to turn into bigger leaps down the road, so once a week is the plan at the moment.  I'm making this blog my accountability piece, so once a month I'm going to post about my progress and focus.

2) Getting my steps in each day.  My goal is to get between 8,000 - 10,000 steps in each day.  I've been a huge slacker in monitoring my steps, but my mom just gave me her Fitbit tracker when she got an Apple Watch (Yes, the jealousy is real), so I'm going to hold myself a little more accountable.

3) Staying above the Wellness line and taking my vitamins and supplements daily.  Right now I am loving a new supplement I just tried called Ningxia Red.  It is made with wolfberries, plums, cherries, and tons of other things to keep me healthy.  It's all natural and so yummy. I drink 1-2oz a day, either straight or added to my morning smoothie, and I know I am doing the best for my health.  I also take a Super B vitamin about half way through the day.  Ain't no tired like afternoon teacher tired... am I right?  Taking the Vitamin B at lunchtime gives me the energy to keep up with my teens and their activities in the evenings.  Otherwise, I'm toast by 6:00 and I want to #watchallthetelevision.  Since couch potato is NOT in my wellness plan, Super B is going to stay my go-to energy supplier!

A second area I want to focus on in 2018 is my Purpose:

I'll be honest, I haven't quite got this one figured out yet.  I want to continue to help my parents, friends, and family in any way possible.  I want to find a church where I leave every week with a message to meditate on. I want to continue teaching my students, but I'm thinking there might be something bigger in my future.  Maybe a coaching position, or something where I can help teachers be better educators as well.  I want to coach people not only about teaching but about living a full life.  I'm not 100% sure about this, but I know that if I have faith... I will also have answers.

2018 is going to be a year of ABUNDANCE!  Not just financial abundance... because hey, we could all use a little bit more of that am I right?  But of an abundance of patience, kindness, and SELF-CARE!  I want to be like Oprah... and you get some.... and you get some.... and you get some......, but not at the stake of my own wellness and financial peace, and that is what I tended to do in the past. I want abundance for myself and others. I want the people around me to have full hearts.  I know this starts with what I put out into the world, and I only have that control over myself.

My self-care routine is going to include my wellness activities I talk about above, and the following:
1) Read an abundance of books
2) Try an abundance of healthy new recipes.. (have any you want to share with me?)
3) Gain an abundance of time for meditation and reflection
4) Give an abundance of time listening and cognitively coaching others

So I'm ready 2018... ready to hitch up my Big Girl Pants and tackle what you have to offer!
Anyone else ready to DREAM BIG this year?  Anyone ready to create a tribe for people to be accountable?  As I said earlier, I'm going to make this blog part of my accountability board, so feel free to comment and let me know how you are doing on your goals.  Let's make 2018 a great year, by being supportive of each other!


Resources to help children learn about September 11th

This week in Social Studies I'll be teaching my students about the events of September 11th.  Being a native New Yorker, this subject is near and dear to me.  That was a crazy day for our country, and not knowing where friends who lived in the city were and whether they were safe on that day was a horrible feeling.
My students now were not even born when the events of that day unfolded, but I still believe it is vital for them to learn what happened, and how our lives changed as a result.

I found a few resources that I'll be using to teach this week.  They are all FREE, so if this is something you may need to discuss with your class, I hope they will be helpful to you as well.

One of the great new things I found this year was this printable poster from Messare Clips and Design.  I like to put quotes and pictures in frames in my reading corner, and this will be perfect to start the week and get students thinking.  I LOVE how the design subtly incorporates the Twin Towers.

You can go {HERE} and download the poster for FREE

A resource that I'm going to use as a reading strategy is from The Brown Bag teacher.  I'll be starting to focus on Main Idea, and this reading passage is a perfect companion to that.  The graphic organizer is straightforward and an easy start to this skill.

You can go {HERE} for this resource

The mentor text I'll be using for the week is called The Man Who Walked Between the Towers. While it isn't about 9/11, it is a rich piece of World Trade Center history.
(Amazon Affiliate Link)
I will also be highlighting the following books in my library corner in case students want to read more on the topic of New York, or 9/11.

This post contains affiliate links which means Amazon sends me a few pennies if you make a purchase through one of the book links... this simply helps me fuel my book habit.

Being a fourth grade teacher, I also show my students a video from Brain Pop on the events of September 11th and we complete a Timeline activity about the events of the day. My students also color ribbons to wear so they remember to talk to their families about the events of this important day of remembrance.  The ribbons are a FREE resource from Erin at Loving Lit, and you can get them <HERE>.

If you have older students, you may want to share this great video from Flocabulary about the events of the day.  It is FANTASTIC and an amazing way to start discussions about empathy, and a video's use of pathos to hook a viewer. Click <HERE> to check out the video

I would love to hear how you teach your students about this important day in our American History!

Teacher Time Management During the Summer

Happy Summer friends!  We are spending our time playing in softball tournaments and visiting colleges across the Southeast.  I love the places we get to visit, and they always give me a little inspiration for my classroom.  While I don't spend the entire 4 days of the tournament glued to my computer, I do have activities that I take with me that help me make a more smooth transition to the school year in August.  Today I wanted to share a few of them with you, in case your life was also spent waiting and watching your kids and their activities.

#1 Read and/or Annotate
One of the best parts of the summer break is that teachers on social media start posting about books that they have begun reading.  While I'm ALL FOR READING for pleasure #givemeallthebooks,
I also like to try and get in some reading for my grade level.  Florida tends to make this a little more easy for me because they publish a list of Florida Sunshine State books.  These are novels by amazing authors that they believe students in Florida should read.  While many of you may not live in Florida, it is a great list to get some good ideas from.  I always try to read at least half of the 3-4 list before school starts because then I can recommend books right away to students when they come back to school.  I always brag on the ones I really really liked to get students interested in reading again right away.  A few of the Sunshine State books are also part of my Reading Tasting Party at the beginning of the year.  It always helps motivate my students, and my stamina tends to rise quickly with these types of activities.  Currently, I'm reading A Whole New Ballgame by Phil Bildner.  Here is an Amazon link (its an affiliate) if you want to read more about this book.

Here is the link to see the Florida Sunshine State books for the year.  This is their main page, and from there you can navigate to each of the book lists.  
There are lists that are 3-5 and 6-8.  I also love checking out the other levels that I'm not teaching. 
#2: Sketch Out Your Classroom and Jot Your Ideas
Another thing I like to do at the ball field is sketch out my classroom and create a things to do list. While I've seen other teacher parents sit at the field and cut laminating, I save this for nights I have to be at practice, NOT for when I'm traveling across the Southeast... too many other things to bring.  I do always carry a notebook with me and I love to spend time sketching out ideas for how I can maximize the space in my classroom.  I also like to look at different ideas that I've saved on Pinterest, and then give myself a reality check for accomplishing those things.  I mean, let's BE HONEST!  Everyone WANTS a Pinterest worthy classroom, and yes, I'm envious, just like others who drool over everything under the sun that is color coordinated.  But I'm a realist, and I know that what is really going to make my classroom amazing, isn't my coordinated teacher box, but the amazing lesson plans and activities that I create for my students.  So I spend my daydreaming time at the ball field thinking up lesson plans and activities.  I make a list of activities I'm thinking of, and then either find the resource on TpT or make it myself to use.  Lots of times if it is an idea for an interactive notebook page, I'll sketch it in my notebook, and then when we are back at the hotel in the air conditioning, I'll put the page together on my computer.  When I get home from the trip, I print it out, tweak it, and put in in my INB sample binder for when I'm ready to teach it.  To me this is a no pressure situation.  I'm at the field, not much else going on, and I let my mind wander.  Sometimes, it wanders its way to school things, and that's when I think creatively about my notebooks.  Other times, meh... I want to read that trashy novel. LOL.  The point is, you have a notebook available, in case the thought comes.  My idea for this novel project came at the ball field, and my class LOVED doing this! Novel Book Report Project

#3: Make a To Do List and Check it Twice
Again, for me it's all about that notebook.  At the beginning of the summer I lay out a few goals that I want to accomplish.  NOT A TON... JUST A FEW!  

We all need to give our brains a break.  It's like doing a reset.  But I do have a few things that I like to take care of before school begins, because it makes the beginning of the year a little less stressful.  For example, I try in the summer to learn to make a few different weeknight meals.  I have teenagers who get home before me, and this summer they are going to learn the art of food prep and meal creation.  Momma doesn't need to do it all.  I've gotten a few meal magazines to take with me when we travel.  I'll make some decisions about meals we may want to eat and and that take under 30 minutes to cook.  This summer we'll be trying them out, and adding them to our monthly meals list.  Another goal that I have for the summer is to get some long term plans in place.  I'm the PLC facilitator for my grade level, so I am going to create our long term plan and goals on a calendar that I can share with my admin and team.  Because the calendar is online, it is easy to access while I'm sitting at the ball field, so in my day dreaming mode, I'll be able to enter dates and thoughts, and be ready for teacher pre-planning.  Usually, I strive for 3-4 big to dos.  If I get super motivated, and those were easy to accomplish, then I set a few more.  But the point is to NOT GO GOAL CRAZY!!!  You want to feel accomplished when the end of summer rolls around.  I want to feel like the summer was productive without feeling like I slaved over my computer.  But having a few goals helps me to prioritize my time when I am sitting and waiting.  Again, I go back to that notebook at the ball field.  I write down calendar dates, to dos, thoughts, ideas, lesson plans, interactive notebook ideas etc.  Then when I get back to my computer, I work on putting those thoughts into my online planbook, or creating new INB pages.  Right now, I'm working on INB pages for our place value unit.  It is going to feel SO amazing to know that I have an entire unit created and ready to launch at the beginning of the year.  It keeps me motivated, and learning all summer long!

I would love to hear what motivates you in the summer!  Leave a comment below and let me know some of your goals and/or accomplishments!

Adding and Subtracting Fractions Game: Mid Week Math Motivation

Hello friends!  I'm back with a little Mid Week Math Motivation, and a game students can play to practice Adding or Subtracting Fractions.

Here are the materials you will need to play:

Fraction bars:  1 whole, halves, thirds, quarters, sixths, eighths, twelfths, and sixteenths.
(You should have enough pieces to create a whole for each)
Fraction dice with the following numbers: 1/3, 1/4, 1/6, 1/8, 1/12 and 1/16
If you don't have fraction dice you can cut out address labels to fit your dice and write the numbers on, or find circle stickers.  I found these chalkboard dice at the target dollar spot in the fall, and I used a chalkboard paint marker to write what I need on them for centers.

If you don't have fraction bars you could go [HERE] and grab a Free set of them, and have your students color in the pieces different colors (or print out the colored Freebie), or you could have your students create a fraction kit using different colors of construction paper.  I use both when we play this game.  The fraction bars that are the freebie I use when we are in class playing the game in small groups.  I have the cards printed on card stock and I laminate them.  Usually I keep 8 sets so that I can have two groups of four playing at the same time.  Some of my smarties need the addition practice, while others are ready to move on to subtraction.  I also put magnets on the set so  students can use them as manipulatives on our magnetic wall.  

I have my students create the construction paper set in class with me.  The pieces are larger, and don't tend to get lost as easily.  We keep the pieces in a ziploc bag then a pocket in our interactive notebooks because I use them for more than just this game.

It is easiest to begin this game by everyone doing the same thing at the same time.  This way you can guide students who are struggling developmentally with understanding the equivalence of the fractions.  I use a gradual release concept the day that I do this, so my students who gain understanding quickly can get started playing each other.  

Adding Fractions Game: COVER UP
Start with your 1 whole strip.  Your goal is to cover your one whole strip completely, without going over.  Take turns rolling the cube and take the fraction you roll and place it on your whole strip.
For example. if I roll a 1/4, I would take my 1/4 strip and place it over the one whole strip.  Play continues until the first person completely fills up their strip.  Students are allowed to "trade out" their equivalent strips as they go.  So for example, if a student has a 1/4 strip, then a 1/6, if the student rolls a 1/3 he/she could trade out the 1/3 strip for 2-- 1/6 pieces.  Then they could also see that 3 1/6 pieces can are as large as 1/2, so they can trade up again.  Here are a few picks of my students trading.  One rolled 3 1/12 pieces during his turn.  Once he put them together, he realized he could trade up the 3 1/12 pieces for a 1/4 piece. 

The whole purpose is getting really good at understanding equivalent fractions.  This is a hands on way for students to find a common denominator.  Once students are comfortable with equivalent fraction trading, have them begin to use a dry erase board to write a numeric equivalent fraction, and then eventually an addition equation. If a student rolls the die and cannot go, he/she loses their turn, and must wait for their turn to roll again.
The winner is the first person to completely cover their fraction strip exactly. 

Subtracting Fractions Game
To practice subtraction, begin with your whole fraction strip covered with two halve pieces.  Take turns rolling the cube, and taking off (subtracting) that fraction.  You will have to exchange the pieces first, so it is a perfect formative way to make sure your students are understanding equivalent fractions (or finding a common denominator).  For example, if I roll a 1/8 on my cube.  I would need to exchange one of my 1/2 pieces for 4/8s in order to subtract one 1/8.  Again, if a student rolls the die and cannot make an exchange, he/she loses their turn, and must wait for another turn to roll again. The winner is the first player to uncover his/her whole piece exactly.

Need to Enrich or Extend?  
1) Have students play in pairs and combine their kits so that have to begin with an improper fraction.
2) See who can create the largest covered fraction within 4 turns, or who can uncover the most pieces.

My class really loved playing this game and it was a great way for my learners to get a hands on experience with equal fractions, and gain a deeper understanding.

Have a great rest of the week my friends!

My Essential Oils Journey: Making it an Oily Summer

We've  made it friends! Summer has officially started in my house! My kids are excited and anxious and overwhelmed by all the possibilities of having 10 weeks off.  As I was reflecting on what my summer might bring, I set my intentions to learn more about my essential oils this summer.

I already know that I use several EO's pretty regularly during the school year, and I'm going to continue that over the summer, because I want to stay as happy and healthy as I have been, and I want my family to do the same.  Today I'm wanted to share with you a little about Peppermint, and few ways I'm going use it during the summer.

Peppermint:  A Pick Me Up In A Jar:

#1: Mosquito Spray
I spend A LOT of time at the ball field in the summer time.  My daughter plays softball competitively and there are times when we can be at the field from sunrise to sunset.  THAT MEANS BUGS.  Mosquito's give use huge welts, but I have always hated the thought of spraying myself with chemicals that contain DEET and other icky things. I've been researching about using an EO blend to help combat these pesky critters, and making it is on my TO DO list this weekend. Guess what!  BUGS....HATE....PEPPERMINT!
The blend contains the following oils which all have amazing properties:
Peppermint, Purification, Citronella and Lemongrass.

The smell is DIVINE!

#2: Diffuse Citrus Blends 
 I found this great picture of a variety of oils I can use in my diffuser to help me keep that fresh, beachy feeling all summer long.  I think I'm going to try them all and then decide which ones are my favorites.

BTW:  I'm a researcher.  I'll admit it.  I don't dive into much without knowing a little about it, and as I was looking up these yummy citrusy blends to diffuse, I also found this infographic from the Oil Moxie about citrus oils.  They are photo sensitive-- meaning they can burn you up to 12 hours AFTER you have put them on if you go out in the sun and are exposed to the heat for a period of time.  I wanted to include the picture here, in case this was something new for you too!

#3: Panaway Pain Paste
I'm going to be making a muscle rub using Panaway to bring with us when we are traveling for softball.  Sometimes after playing 4 games in the heat my girl's muscles are a tad bit sore.  I'm mean spanking those runners out at second on a throw down can take a lot out of a girl!  I'm going to make a muscle rub for her at night.  It contains Panaway, Copiaba, Frank, and Peppermint.  You mix it with several different butters, like cocoa, shea and mango and whip it to make like a body butter cream.  I can't wait to see how it works.  Do you follow me on Instagram? I'll post a picture there when I"m done making ti!

#4: Heat Miser Spritz
The fourth things I'm looking at creating is what I call Heat Miser Spritz.  You know the Heat Miser right?  He always sneaks up on us at the ball park, and leaves feeling like wrung out rags about 4:00 in the afternoon.  This Heat Miser Spritz contains peppermint and lavender, and you use witch hazel and distilled water in a spritz bottle. I know it will be the perfect pick me up to battle the heat on Saturday afternoons!

What I super love about my exploration of this oily journey is that I can create so many things for my family just using the starter kit!  Seriously folks, I can make everything I mentioned about except the mosquito spray which contains citronella oils.  I love that I can take this journey slow and steady and at my own pace.  I can research, read and learn from others on my oily journey.  If you have any questions, please feel free to ask!  I have been learning so so much about making the most of my healthy environment and promoting wellness in my body, and I would love to share it. If you are interested in learning more about Young Living, or are interested in a kit, just use my affiliate link, or contact me!

Hosting our Parent Night: Shark Tank Style!

Every semester each grade level in our Title 1 school is required to host a Parent Involvement Night.
This semester our End of Unit Task involved Inventions and Innovations.  We found an amazing product on TpT to help us out, (you can go {HERE} to view it) and our idea of a Shark Tank Parent Night was born!

To begin we had our students learn the difference between an invention and an innovation.  We had been studying people who had made a difference in the state of Florida, and found that using inventors and innovators kept our students attention.  After learning the difference between the two we introduced the writing/research unit by showing our kids a few videos of Shark Tank that involved kid inventors and innovators.  They were hooked!  They couldn't believe there were kids on the show asking ... and GETTING thousands of dollars for their great ideas!
Each student created either an invention or an innovation.  We went through the development process using the product from TpT, students created a 3 minute persuasive speech, a 3D model of their product, and either a display board or a created a technology presentation on SWAY (which is like PowerPoint).  We invited parents to be the SHARKS.  We asked students to dress up and present their inventions or innovation to the parents who asked a ton of questions and really got involved.  Since we are a PBIS school, we gave the parents our praise tickets as investment money.  When parents saw a product they thought was good, they "invested" in it by giving the student tickets.  Our students were so excited to earn tickets, and really upped their presentation skills to try and get as many tickets as possible.  We have great prizes in our Pelican Post store, and only a few days of school left.  It was a wonderful way for our school community to come together.  Our students really had some great opportunities to practice speaking in front of small crowds, and they were all so proud of their inventions and innovations. 

The kids were so excited about this project, and I think it was an amazing way to end the school year.

Are you required to do Parent Involvement Nights?  I'm looking for a few good ideas for next year, and I would love your thoughts!  Do you do anything similar to Shark Tank?

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