Tried It Tuesday: LOSE IT! App

Today I'm linking up with Holly at Fourth Grade Flipper for a little Tried it Tuesday!
I haven't really tried anything new this week in my classroom.  If you read my Sunday post, you know that I'm in the last week before assessments, so we are staying low and steady on the course.  I wanted to share with you an app that I started to use to track my exercise and eating habits.  It's called LOSE IT.  
I have totally been lazy this winter.  Our days have been so cold and snowy that I have basically stopped exercising and I can totally feel it right now.  This app allows me to set a goal for weight loss and how many pounds I would like to lose per week.  Then I add in all the food that I eat during the day and it keeps track of the calories.  
I like that I can scan a food item as well.  So if I can't find it in the food search I just scan the item's barcode and it tells me the count.  I did that for the yogurt  I had for breakfast since it is a store brand.
I also like that it tells me my meal calories.  I always try to eat more at lunch time, and math geek that I am, I also like circle graphs!

When you sign up for an account (which is free) it will link the information from your app to the computer automatically so you can keep track of your info.

Now me being a competitive person,... sometimes... well basically with myself,... I like that there is a little box that tells me if I am over or under calories.  I like to keep in the green which means it is always under.  It keeps me in check too.  For example, I KNOW I want a little ice cream tonight after dinner.  It motivated me to walk/run a little extra on the treadmill so that I would stay in the green. Little things my friends, little things!
I've been using the app for a few days now and it has motivated me to run/walk at least two miles every day.  
I'd love to hear what you have tried and what has helped you stay healthy!  Drop me a line and let's keep each other motivated!

A Peek at my Week: I'm on the Bullet Train to Assessment Street and a FREEBIE!

This is the last full week that I have before my Smarties take their ELA assessment.  Although my students haven't amped up the stress zone, this teacher has!

Part of my evaluation as a teacher is based on this test, which I think is ridiculous because I am not privy to information that is on the test.  Things that I think are important to emphasize in the CCSS may not be what politicians in the state believe should be important, but I'm not writing this post on my soap box.  I'm buckling my seat belt on the bullet train and hoping for a smooth ride into the station.
We have been reading and writing about informational text all year long.  Citing evidence and finding/discussing the central idea or theme has been a huge component.  We've also talked about most of the figurative language pieces, but this week a colleague of mine reminded me about idioms.  They were on the test last year..something along the lines of "getting the job was the cherry on top."  Most of our students thought the story was about the girl liking cherries... and not about her accomplishments.  So this week in ELA we are going to focus on idioms.  It will also be a perfect segway for me to teach Poetry in April.  Luckily, this Educents bundle just came out, and it is packed with Poetry and Idioms
It is a total score for $10.99.  I think there are over $70 worth of products in it.  I really like these idiom cards by Jivey.  It matches the idiom with the real meaning.
I printed them multiple to a page and we are going to work in pairs to put them into our Word Work notebooks.  In the Educents bundle there are two different packs of idioms both of which have a matching practice.  I'll use those as a formative early in the week before I  hit them up with a few poems that contain idioms.  Then we will write about what the poem means and practice citing the evidence including idiom meaning.  I saw a really cool pack  about writing nonfiction poetry.  I think that will be an awesome part of our unit post test.  April is going to be a great month!

In Math, I have a little bit more time before the assessment, but I still haven't finished all of my curriculum yet.  Of course!  I'm doing Percentages this week.  I made a little freebie to practice percent of a number.  I'll be using it later in the week.  You can download it if you need something too.. just click on the picture.

I'm linking up with Mrs. Laffin's Laughings for a Peek at My Week.  Stop by and visit to see what other people are prepping for!


Tried it Tuesday: QR Codes in the Classroom

I'm linking up with Holly today over at Fourth Grade Flipper to share something "new to me:" QR Codes.

I know there are a lot of people around the country that use technology and QR codes almost daily in their classrooms.  Some of you may reading this may also, and be thinking what?  Coffee Cups, surely you are behind the times.  And indeed my friends, I feel a little like that.  But, old dog.. new tricks, I think it is important, and here I am.
We are finishing up a unit on Rates.  Within this unit I had to teach: Unit Rate, Unit Price, Constant Rate of Speed, Rates in Measurement and Choosing an Appropriate Rate.  Fun Fun!  I wanted a new way to review because.. well... it's March. March is a long, long, long, long, long, month for us in the NorthEast.  We get snow, wind, rain, and sometimes sunshine. We don't usually get any days off, and we don't see spring break until the end of April.  One of my BBBs, AMC just wrote about using QR codes in her classroom to help with math facts, and I know, we need to perk things up a bit.  So I gave them a try. 
I found a great website that will convert my answers into a scannable QR code.  I'm sure there are many out there, but you can go {HERE} to see the one I used.  I created a set of 20 questions that reviewed Rate.  On each one, I set up a scannable QR code.  In class on Monday we used the review packet.  I loaded my Iphone and Ipad with a scannable app for free to use.  Then I used my group table as a checking station.  Students came to me to scan and check using one of the devices.  It allowed me to check on the work they had to show since I am big on Constructive Response at this point, and it allowed me to watch them use the devices.  BINGO!  So MUCH FUN!
Even my most reluctant math students were using their notebooks and working through problems to get to scan the code.
Students worked together, and helped each other.  They were patient in line, and used kind words of encouragement while waiting.
I was so happy to see this technology being used!  The codes were really pretty easy to make, and I'm sure there will be more of this in my future.
If you teach Rates and happen to be looking for a little something to perk up your review, you can go {HERE} to check out my packet.  Let me know if it was helpful for your class as well!

Sunday Funday!

Today I'm linking up with two wonderful ladies, Molly at Lucky to Be in First and Deirdre at A Burst of First for a little Sunday Funday!
This past week was super busy for my family because my daughter was trying out for the JV softball team.  This was a lot of pressure because she had to take a screening exam since she is only in 8th grade.  We were so excited on Saturday when we leaned that she had made the team!  Woot Woot!  Now she is vying for the starting catcher spot.  Fingers crossed!
My son also scored 2 goals in a game with his travel soccer club!  We were so excited because he usually plays defense.
Most of you know that I'm a basketball fan.  Above and beyond watching my 'Cuse play, we also follow the Gators.  Yesterday we saw my hubs on TV with the Gators.  As a PhD doctoral candidate, one of his jobs is to travel with the men's team to Atlanta where he is the athletic band director for the trip.  We were glued to the television in order to get a glimpse of him.  We'll be watching the championship today to see him again.

Thanks for stopping by to visit and letting me brag about my family!
Don't forget to visit one of my BBBs, Jivey.  She is celebrating her birthday and a blogging milestone with a fabulous giveaway!

Enjoy your Sunday!


Sparking Student Motivation: Meeting an Author!

A few weeks back our district had the pleasure of bringing author, Marc Aronson, to visit our sixth and seventh graders.  Mr. Aronson is nonfiction author and lecturer at Rutgers University.  He came in to speak with our sixth graders about Stonehenge and the seventh grade about the Revolution.  I'll admit, at first I was skeptical.  Nonfiction author?   In a middle school?  Ut oh!  Would he keep the students attention?  BINGO my friends!  He was AMAZING!
He had them from the moment they walked in.. included them in the conversation and presented them with slides of documentation to make them QUESTION history!  My students were totally engaged.  They created theories, they were engaged, and they were disappointed when our time was up!  Aronson did an amazing job of pushing critical thinking with 12 year olds.  So much so, that as we continued our study of ancient Rome back in our classroom, my students mimicked his critical thinking in conversation about the Coliseum and Roman expansion of the empire.  I would call that a serious spark in learning motivation!
Mr. Aronson was also able to visit our 9th grade at the junior high, and a group of select 8th graders who had done a project after reading his book:  Sugar Changed the World
My daughter was one of the fortunate 8th graders to listen to him speak.  Even at that crazy 14 -15 year old age, these kids were totally motivated, because Mr. Aronson didn't lecture!  He engaged students.  The slides he brought probed students to answer questions, make inferences, and back up their conclusions!  Hello!  REAL WORLD thinking here people!
We were so thrilled after he left because he wrote an article for the School Library Journal periodical and he mentioned our school!  You can check that our {HERE} if you are interested in learning more about the Library and Common Core.  He also has a great website {HERE} where you learn more about bringing nonfiction to students.
I'd say bringing a "REAL LIVE AUTHOR" to school sparked learning in my classroom, so I'm linking up with Joanne at Head Over Heels for Teaching today!  


Happy Pi Day! Celebrating with a Sale

As a total Math Geek  Teacher, I love all things related to Pi.. even Pie itself.. can't you tell from my mini me!
I am so disappointed that circles are no longer part of our Common Core State Standards for 6th grade.  I used to love teaching circumference and diameter.  We had to do sector of circle which was SOOO difficult for my Smarties, but friends, it was FUN!  I incorporated March Madness and we found shot percentages for our favorite teams that made the tournament.  On Pi day we memorized digits, made Pi day t-shirts, and practiced measuring a variety of circles. It was such a great week of activities.  Now, with our state assessment coming up in a few weeks, I don't have time to take a week for these activities.  THAT is so frustrating!  We were incorporating real world math! 
ANyhoo.. off my soap box!  I'm still celebrating with a little Basketball Madness as my Cuse start the ACC tournament, and of course, I'm going to have PIE with my dinner tonight.
I also put all the math products in my TpT store on sale today only at 20% off.. including my Algebra Bundle.. which is a STEAL!  $26.00 worth of products for $16.00!
Thanks AMC!


Teaching Theme with I'm Lovin Lit and a Giveaway!

I'm helping one of my favorite bloggy friends, Erin over at I'm Lovin Lit with a little giveaway celebration that she is having this week!
I've spent a little time recently teaching my Smarties about theme using part of Erin's awesome Interactive Notebook for Literature.  We completed the basic lesson from Erin, and I also did her video lesson using Christian the Lion as a formative to make sure my kiddoes knew the difference between a theme and a theme topic.  Then, as any good teacher will do, we applied the concept to our literature novel:  The Lightning Thief.  I gave my students five basic theme topics that could be applied to our novel:  Friendship, Loyalty, Greed, Perseverance, and Honesty.  Then, I had them break into their triad groups and discuss each topic.  They had to come up with a theme statement that would fit each of the themes.  
This was actually pretty difficult for them.  I gave the groups 3-4 minutes at each station to read, discuss and write.  They could not write a statement that had already been given, so by the last topic, some were struggling.  Many weren't making broad enough generalizations.  
It was a great opportunity for me to meet with them in very small groups and differentiate.  My top groups I could push for evidence and broader thinking, beyond those typical cliche theme statements. My lower groups needed to learn how to make a broad generalization.  I love Erin's notebook because it was a great reminder for them about what a theme does using the tree roots, branches, and then evidence.  When we had finished in groups, I sent them out individually to read the lists and write down any theme statements that really appealed to them.  Lastly, as a summative I had them write a paragraph about the theme of The Lightning Thief, and they had to back it up with evidence from the novel.  Erin has made teaching theme so much easier with this notebook lesson and video clip that I had to help her out with her Appreciation Giveaway.  Today you can stop over to I'm Lovin Lit and enter to win my Mother or Father's Day Lapbook.  It is a sweet little writing project that a parent will always cherish.  It's never too early to start project planning!


Mentor Texts for Math: Using a Stats Book to Write Ratios as Decimals

I've been spending a lot of time with my Smarties talking about ratios and writing ratios as decimals over the past week.  Even before there was Common Core, I always tried to find a way to make our math lessons interesting and fun.  I try to bring in sports as much as possible.  Usually this will keep my class interested.  Today I'm linking up with some of my BBBs, Amanda and Stacia, those Collaboration Cuties for a little Math Mentor Text.

The book I'd like to share is really any sports book that contains Statistics.  I even use the box scores in the newspaper!  Amazon has a great book:

I've also used the media books for basketball and hockey.  With our snow starting to slowly melt, everyone is getting itchy to start baseball and softball practice, so I find baseball or basketball stats (March Madness anyone?) work best.  We use the books to find famous baseball player's batting averages and number of hits compared to at bats.  Of course, what we learn is pretty basic, but it does get my kids talking about math, and that's what I want!  I teach them how to write a ratio in fraction form, and then turn the ratio into a decimal by division.
Then we look up the batting average of a player in a given year, and based on his number of at bats, we find the number of hits that he had. They love to do this for famous players.  

Enjoy your day!


FIve for Friday

Happy Friday Friends!  Boy this felt like a long, long, week!  What have you all been up to?  I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs with Five Random Things about my week!
1)  I've been busy this week finishing up my Ratios unit.  I tested on Wednesday, and for the most part, I'm really happy with the results.  We used my Ratios Multiple Choice Task Cards for some last minute review.  I used them as a center rotation so I could pull about 6 cards and still use the pack for further review before our state assessment.  We haven't done rates yet, so they were perfect for quick practice.  I had my class put the cards in their notebooks, so they had a great reference to study from before the test.
I've also started to spiral test my Expressions and Equations for Algebra.  I gave my students 5 multiple choice questions with the exam, and graded them separately so I would know what I have to spiral review on my Weekly Review Questions.  Do you incorporate spiral review of past standards before your state assessment?  Do you have any good strategies you could share?

2)  I watched my Syracuse Orange Tuesday night for senior night.  It was a crushing defeat at the end of our season.  The boys started out so well, but lately we have seriously been lacking in offense, and it has hurt us BAD.
I hope that we can find it again before the tournament begins!

3) Speaking of a little March Madness, my BBB Diane from Fifth in Middle is having a March Madness tournament giveaway!  Check out her post about it {HERE}

4)  My grandpa is 88 years old.  He is the kindest, sweetest, most patient man.  He still lives by himself about 4 houses down from my mom and dad.  He is a World War II vet, and  when he was fighting in the war he is one of only 6 men in his platoon that survived a massive gun fight in the Battle of the Bulge.  This week, my mom took him to see a World War II re-inactment.  He had such great time.  I wish I could have been there with him!
5)  Finally, I had to pass on a few other shout outs for my BBB Nick at Sweet Rhyme.  He is having an awesome giveaway that starts tomorrow!  Be sure to stop by and visit.
And, I can't forget about Erin, she and I are kindered spirits teaching Middle School.  Her giveaway starts tomorrow too!  I'm giving away products in each.  They are fabulous people, supportive and helpful!  Stop by and check out their blogs!


Teaching the Hero's Journey with The Lightning Thief and a Freebie

Do you teach about the Hero's Journey? I bet you use the plot sequence in your classroom on a pretty regular basis, but you may not CALL it the Hero's Journey.  The term is from Joseph Campbell, an American scholar who basically teaches the narrative path that a hero takes on his journey through the story.
Since we are reading The Lightning Thief, which clearly has Percy Jackson as our hero, I started this section of our unit by asking my students to carousel write about what a Hero is.

Then I used this Ted Talk video from Matt Winkler which does a great explanation and visual for your students.
We watched the video several times and drew the clock picture into our Reader's Notebooks.  As we read The Lightning Thief we are identifying which stage  our hero, Percy Jackson, is in on his Hero's Journey.
Next we brainstormed a Journey using Harry Potter as a class.  As a formative, I broke them into triad groups, had them choose their own stories that follow the Hero's Journey theme and create posters.    We looked at Frozen, Despicable Me 2, The Hunger Games, and Iron Man.

I also asked them to present their story as The Hero's Journey.  Many of them brought in props.  The group that did Frozen was very funny.  It was hat day, and one of the girls wore her hat to look like Sven, the moose.
I video taped each groups performance using my IPad, and I'll be using them in the next few months to teach about giving a presentation. 

To continue practice with this narrative, I made a graphic organizer for our 25 Book Challenge.  My students fill these out with information about books they have read and get a parent signature. Our state requires students to read 25 books in the year.  100 pages is a book.  I want to keep this formula fresh in their minds as we work our way through The Lightning Thief.  I'll be ending our novel unit with narrative writing where my Smarties will create their own Hero's Journey.  If you are interested in this graphic organizer you can get it as a FREEBIE  by clicking the picture below.  I would love for you to follow me on Bloglovin as well if you are not already doing so, and leave me a comment and let me know a few books you have read lately that follow the path of the Hero's Journey!

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