One More Day to Win a Sharpener!

Hello friends!  I just wanted to stop in quickly and remind you that there is one more day to enter to win an awesome sharpener from Classroom Friendly Supplies.
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Remember this is open to US residents only.  I'll be posting again soon!

September Swap: Interactive Reading Literature Notebooks from I'm Lovin Lit

Evening friends!  The weekend is ALMOST here.. ALMOST.  I've been so excited all week for this post.  A few of my bloggy friends and I are teaming up today to review a product that we love.  My friend, Erin and I got to swap products.  Today I want to share with you a review of  Erin's Interactive Literacy Notebook.
Erin blogs over at I'm Lovin' Lit, and people if you haven't heard, she is FABULOUS!  I'm so glad I have had the opportunity to get to know her over this past year, and getting to review one of her products.. such an opportunity!

I have been using an Interactive Notebook for Reading for quite awhile in my classroom.  Mostly it is used with Literature Circles,  and although I know my students have better comprehension through using them, I have always felt like they were a hodgepodge of information.  I could never really get the skills organized the way I wanted them.  When I discovered Erin's product, I knew she had found the organization for me!  Erin teaches middle school too.  So I know she gets it when it comes to the age level of my students.  This Interactive Notebook is so put together.  Erin included so many skills that my students need, and with the foldables included, it is exactly the shot in the arm that MY notebooks needed.  My Smarties L-O-V-E it!

Earlier this week we started learning about the jobs that will be included with our lit circles, and I review basic story vocabulary.  Erin had the perfect lesson for this:

Within the lesson not only does she provide step by step instructions, she also provides you with Technology/Resources.  Many are Youtube videos that fit the lessons.  How cool is that!  It was so helpful because I was able to QUICKLY review basic story elements, with an easy story about Red Riding Hood, and make the lesson interactive with the foldable.. ONE and DONE!  ONE resource, ONE video story.. ONE foldable.. ONE 42 minute period.  It was really so resourceful!
The next day we took the same story vocabulary and applied it to our Chris Van Allsburg book:  The Stranger.  Have you read this?  Awesome fall book about Jack Frost.
What I loved is that I was able to scaffold the activity from her basics with Red Riding Hood to The Stranger, where there isn't a "person" as an antagonist.  The conflict is Man vs Self because The Stranger has lost his memory.  A perfect setup for further lessons on conflict in the next few weeks.

Already she has made my wheels turn about substituting her Plot Pyramid for some of the Passage Master jobs in our Lit groups.. just to change it up a bit.  I know it will keep my kiddos enjoying the book because it isn't monotonous.

Erin's Literature Notebook includes resources for Elements of Plot, Conflict, Story Devices, Character Traits, Mood and Tone, Figurative Language and Genres.  I can't wait to use these foldables and lessons as my class delves into our novels this year.  I know I feel more structured and organized already!  What I really like about the product overall is that she provides you with both a PDF and Powerpoint of the foldables.  I can easily differentiate for what I need, including adding the actual title of the novel WE are using.  L-O-V-E!

Another great tip as you run over and purchase this product of Erin's.. BIND it!  This was a fabulous tip that Erin actually shared in a blog post.  When she purchases larger products, she has them bound like a spiral notebook.  I wanted to give it a try after reading her suggestion, and again, I must say
genius!  I can post-it note a page in the book that I want to use in my lesson and not fear that I'm losing the page in a binder.  EASY PEASY.. plus as I mentioned, Erin's foldables come in PDF and Powerpoint in the product, so I can tweak what I need for my class, including differentiating the foldable for my inclusion students or providing a completed project for students who were absent for the lesson.

Thanks for visiting with me today!  You can see the rest of the awesome products that were involved in the swap below.  I know I have a full cart at the moment.  These ladies are an incredible bunch!


Today is the Day! Pencil Sharpener Giveaway!

Today is the day that I know you have been waiting for!  I'm giving away a Pencil Sharpener from Classroom Friendly Supplies.. You know.. THAT PENCIL SHARPENER.. the one this Math Geek is Ga Ga over!  SO..... SO..... awesome people!  Last week I wrote a review of this awesome little piece of machinery.  You can go {HERE} to read about it.   Today you can enter to WIN one of these bad boys.. LOVE IT!  If you just can't wait to see if you have won the give-away, stop by Classroom Friendly Supplies using the link above and purchase one.  WELL WORTH the Investment!

** Please note!  The winner must live in the United States!  Sorry to those visiting me across the ponds.

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Otzi the Iceman

Last week in Social Studies we began talking about The Old Stone Age, and my students learned about Otzi, the Iceman.  For those of you who do not know, Otzi is a naturally preserved mummy that was discovered in 1991 in the Italian Alps, on the border between Italy and Austria.
Through research, and science they believe Otzi was alive in 3300BC.  Isn't science and technology amazing!
After reading in our Social Studies book about what life was like as hunter-gathers, we watched a video from the Discovery Channel.  My students loved learning about Otzi because his death is such a mystery.  Many thought it was so cool to discover that what actually killed him, preserved him as well! The fact that Otzi lost so much blood actually helped preserve his body!  The blood kept his body from rotting before it froze.  Really cool stuff.  Scientists are continuing to study the Iceman because they are trying to determine exactly how he died, and why he was in such a treacherous part of the Alps.  They are studying artifacts that were also preserved including tools, weapons, and shoes.  Before watching the video, my smarties made this foldable. I wrote a set of 6 questions that my smarties answered as the mystery unraveled on the screen.  The answers on are on the inside, along with a drawing of Otzi
This week we are going to read a printed book from A-Z learning about Otzi, and create a cause/effect foldable.  I love the book because it includes both a fictional account, and a nonfiction article so we can start to learn about comparing text using evidence. This is such an important skill in the Common Core, and it is killer on our state assessment.  We have to do a lot of practicing throughout the year.  It will be hard work for them this week.  So my plan is to finish up with a fun cave art lesson on Friday.  

Enjoy your week, and many thanks to Erin at I'm Lovin Lit and her Interactive Notebook Templates that make my life a lot easier!!


Open House and Curriculum Night

Today is our Open House.  My teammate and I have been prepping for several days to meet the 50 parents we have this year.  In middle school, our parents come in and basically travel through their child's schedule.  We run about a two hour program, beginning with our ELA classes.  Then we put our parents together and show them a Powerpoint Presentation about our day, the curriculum and standards.  The powerpoint to me is the best part of our presentation.  I love it because we take pictures of our students and our parents love to see what their kids are doing during the day.  We try during our presentation to be lighthearted and upbeat.  Many of our parents are nervous about their babies coming to middle school, and we want to make the transition as smooth as possible for everyone.
Here are a few of the slides we like to use... We always get  a few chuckles as we go.

This summer I read Teach Like a Pirate by Dave Burgess.  I know I've mentioned that in a few blog posts, and I've really loved starting to implement some of that philosophy into my teaching.  I asked my fabulous teammate to read TLAP also.  She LOVED it, and I think it has been great to have a colleague to toss around ideas with.  We are sharing our PIRATE philosophy with our parents at Open House as well.

I think it is important for them to know that we have a passion for teaching, and that as much as it is our job to share our grading policy and curriculum, THAT is NOT what we are about.

If you don't do a powerpoint presentation at Open House, I would still like to recommend that you set up some sort of slide show with your students pictures.  They love to mug for the camera, and parents love to see their smarties smiling faces!

Enjoy your week!

Tried it Tuesday: Quiet Classroom Pencil Sharpener.. Where Have You Been All My Life?

So.. there is this pencil sharpener that many... many..... many of my bloggy buddies have been raving about all over the internet.  I'm a middle school teacher... and a MATH teacher at that.. I mangle  destroy, obliterate at least 4-5 pencil sharpeners a year.  With 90 kids sharpening pencils and colored pencils almost every day.. I could build a sculpture with pencil shavings.  I'll be honest.. I wasn't sure, but my friend Gina at Beach Sand and Lesson Plans convinced me this summer I needed to try this new one.

Please people... LISTEN TO YOUR TEACHER FRIENDS when they tell you how awesome this sharpener is.. LISTEN TO THEM!  This little piece of technology is really amazing!  Who would have thought that someone could be so excited about a pencil sharpener!  I know as a middle school teacher we are sometimes viewed as being weird, and we do get excited and still giggle at inappropriate times, but really, this sharpener was SUPER COOL!

Check out this video:

I showed this video to my students when we first opened the package, and now EVERYONE wants to sharpen their pencils.  Regular pencils, pencils found in the hallway, pencils from other teachers...It is so funny!  I won't have to worry about finding my students without pencils for a LONG time!

If you don't have one of these already, head over to Classroom Friendly Supplies and check them out.  Be sure to check back here next week because I'll be hosting a sharpener giveaway too! 

Stop by and visit Holly too at Fourth Grade Flippers and check out all of the new things people have been trying for Tried it Tuesday!


Critical Thinking with Order of Operations Review FREEBIE

Late last week I was able to finally start teaching math.  We always have so many things the first few weeks of school, it amazes me that it takes me almost a week before I can actually start teaching math concepts.  We had to set up our Interactive Math Notebooks, take baseline tests, go to assemblies, and well, just figure out what Middle School was all about.  I was able to begin a little of my Math Workshop concept using a launch, mini lesson, work time and reflection model.  It will be slow going for awhile.  I was also able to teach my smarties to play 31-Wonderful, and an Order of Operations Game.
This Order of Operations Game is quick and really reinforced critical math thinking.  I used dry erase boards and markers with my class so we could play more than one time.  I will bring this game back out again when we have work time within the workshop model as we work through our Expressions and Equations unit.
I put the directions and a center worksheet up in my TpT store as a FREEBIE.  You can find it {HERE} if you would like it for your classroom.  Please leave me a little love it you like it... My class sure did!  They came back during study hall to borrow dice to play with friends!
Sorry for the wonky pictures, but I had to show how they found the flash dice on my smartboard.

  That kicked the fun up to a higher notch! LOL
One of my bloggy Buddies Molly at Lucky to be in First hosts Fabulous Freebies on the Fifteenth of each month, so I'm also linking this post up there.  Stop by and visit her and see what other Freebies you can find.  Leave the people a little love if you find something great!

Enjoy your week!

Group Problem Solving is 31-Wonderful!

One of the first activities I tried with my students this year was a card game that I found on Sarah's  blog:  Everybody is a Genius   If you teach grade 5 math or higher, this is definitley a blog to follow.  Sarah does a great job of sharing her ideas, and her math notebooks with the blogging community, and I am super grateful for that!
Last year, Sarah wrote about a game she played with her classes called 31-Wonderful.
This photo is courtesy of SARAH at Everybody is a Genius

It is a card game of strategy where students need to create a 5x5 array using 25 cards of their choice.  The rows and columns must add up to 31.  It involves strategy and problem solving which really made it interesting for me on the second day of school.  I gained a HUGE amount of insight as to what my sixth graders were capable of, and how they worked together.  We have our work cut out for us this year mathematically, but it was really nice to see most of the groups get along and work collaboratively.

This week we are finishing up our baseline testing.  We use AIMS Web, so my students had to take a baseline for M-CAP and M-COMP. We will also begin using our Pearson DIGITS program as well.  I spent time last week setting up the basics of my Interactive Notebook for math, so we are ready to launch our math workshop model.  That will be an interesting addition for me this year.  I am really hoping to make it work within the 42 minutes I'm scheduled for math.  Keep your fingers crossed for me!  I'd love to hear your tips and tricks for launching!

And speaking of needing work as a community, I'm taking a moment to reflect a little on the importance of September 11th with my class today.  It is amazing to think that these Smarties were not even born when our country was faced with this adversary.  Why not show kindness in your community and Pay it Forward today?


Monday Made It September Edition Getting My Back to School Craft On

Today starts are first full week of school!  I have a few things to share today, because Tara has started her Monday Made-Its as a monthly link up, and that gives me time to actually finish what I am working on.

First, I made these clipboards:
I have to show off a little of my Gator pride when I am not in Gator Nation.  I am still looking for Syracuse duct tape, to make 2 more, I may have to order it online.  This project was relatively simple for me. I use one sheet of duct tape for the blue in the center.  I found it on sale at Staples for $0.25, and I figured that would be easier than running the lines of tape all across the board.  I knew I would never get them all straight!  I made two of these clipboards, and I'm going to keep them separate from the ones I give my kids to use.  I'll use them for my grades, and data collection, and as my clipboard for busing at the end of the day.

Second are these numbered clothespins.

 I am going to attach magnets to the back of these and have my students use them when we put writing or projects up in the hallway.  All of my students are assigned a number, and by using these, I will easily be able to tell who is finished or not finished with a particular assignment.  I love the ease of washi tape!

Speaking of washi tape:  Here is my third project:
This is my fastpass board.  Because I work on a team, I convinced my teammate to number her students with different numbers than I did, so that we could create and collect data on all the kids without having 2 number one's.  She is totally crafty, and created a really cute board for exit slips using library pockets. This way, we don't waste as many post it notes. Our district will print pads of paper for us, so our students will answer our question for the exit slip, and put it in the library pocket.  My teammate is a Disney fanatic!  So her board is made with a cute Mickey ear stamp.  Keeping with the Disney idea, we decided to call it a FASTPASS station instead of a ticket out the door.  Since I am all about the converse sneakers, I made mine with chucks.  I created the board using the library pockets, and old diskette labels... DISKETTE!  Found them at a Goodwill for $1.00  I can't beat that!

Lastly, to use up the labels I found at that super low bargain price, I made Smartie Locker reminders for my kids for the first day of school.

After I got  my locker list, I added student names, locker numbers, and combos to the list, and my students keep these in the plastic pocket of their agendas until they memorize the combos.

Do you have anything fun that you have made over the past few weeks? Stop by and visit Tara, and link up to share!


Mentor Text Sunday: Prime Numbers Anyone?

Today I wanted to share with you a fun math text that I like to use in my classroom with my Smarties.
Amanda and Stacia, those Collaboration Cuties have  mentor text sharing day on Sundays, and I love to read about all of the different books that people use in their classrooms.

Have you read The Librarian Who Measured the Earth by Kathryn Lasky?  This is a great book about an ancient Greek philosopher and mathematician named Eratosthenes.  He did so many wonderful things including measuring the circumference of the Earth using ratios more than 2,000 years before Columbus sailed to America!
I actually use this book when I am reviewing Prime Numbers.  It fits perfectly in my curriculum because we also study Ancient Greece, so I read the book and discuss the connection to social studies as well.  Eratosthenes is responsible for recognizing that all numbers can be factored down to a set of primes.  His philosophy is called the Sieve of Eratosthenes, and when you are teaching your students to make prime factorization trees, you are actually re-creating parts of this "sieve."  After reading the book, I have my students "discover" all of the prime numbers between 1- 100 using a hundreds board.  This is a great way to review divisibility rules.

Because my smarties have to be able to simplify fractions, they must know about common multiples, and factors,  I also use this book as an intro/review to least common multiples, and greatest common factor.

I use an Interactive Notebook for mathematics, and my students love including the hundreds board with divisibility rules in it as a reference tool.  I do have a unit in my TpT store if you need a little bit to help you out with this topic.  The unit includes specifics about the sieve lesson and book, a foldie and directions for showing your students the ladder method of prime factorization, LCM, GCF and even simplifying fractions.  You can go {HERE} if you are interested in checking it out.

You can of course use this book to teach ratio as well, since as I mentioned Eratosthenes measured the circumference of the Earth which mathematically he calculated with only a 1.6% error... AMAZING if you think that this was in about 240 BC!
Stop by and visit the Collaboration Cuties and read more about the math mentor texts that teacher's are using in their classrooms!


Thursday Throwdown: Sending Students Off With a Few Reminders

Today is our second day of school!  I'm already TIRED!  But I couldn't pass up the chance to participate in Erin's Thursday Throwdown over at I'm Lovin Lit.

I love this link up.  I always get so many great ideas of ways to interact with my students.  I'm sharing a simple, easy one today, plus I get to show off my cool new clipboard that I made!

My classroom sits next to an exit door to the buses.  Fortunately, my fabulous teammate has her classroom on the other side of the exit door. Starting with our first day of school, we teach our students to exit through the doors between our classrooms.  The last period of the day many of our students are not with us.  It is the scheduled period for band or chorus, and a lot of our smarties participate in these activities.  We want our students to pass us on the way out the door so we can give them gentle reminders about having all of their materials.  My teammate and I park ourselves on stools in the middle of the hallway with our clipboards.  Our clipboards have messages on them.  They usually remind students about an upcoming test, or ask them if they have remembered their Communication Journal, etc.

Sometimes we ask the kids a question and have them answer it on the way out the door.  Sometimes we give them Jolly Ranchers or Hershey kisses as rewards for having what we are looking for, or answering questions correctly.  If they don't have what they need from their backpack we have the opportunity to send them back to the locker before they get on the bus.
Hopefully we are reinforcing key organizational skills and the importance of being prepared!  Although this isn't interacting WITHIN my classroom, it is a great way to touch base with our students and build rapport with them.
Stop by and visit Erin at I'm Lovin Lit and link up an idea or two of how you make your day more Interactive!

Blog Hopping for a 1000 Follower Giveaway!

My friend Diane, at Fifth in the Middle invited me to participate in a fun blog hop today.  She is celebrating such a fantastic milestone.  1000 followers! WOW great job Diane!

My friend, Amelia, at Where the Wild Things Learn is also celebrating a Blogiversary, YAY!

I am so excited to be participating in this with such a fantastic group of bloggers.  Be sure to travel to each of our blogs and collect the numbers along the way.  You need to enter the numbers in the Rafflecopter on Diane or Amelia's blog to win the prizes.

If you need a helpful sheet you can go {HERE} to download it.  Or if you would like to start at the beginning to go through the blog hop in order, you can click on the picture below.

There are so many talented people participating in this fun hop today, be sure to stop and visit each of them.  If you aren't already, start following them on Bloglovin, you won't regret it!

Next, go visit one of my fabulous BBB's AMC at Looking from Third to Fourth, get the next number, and read what she is up to!
I'm off to enjoy the rest of my last weekend before school starts, and visiting my cutie patootie niece who is almost a month old!
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