28 July 2017

Supply Caddies: DIY Simple Project

Do you use caddies to help organize your students supplies or to place in the center of a group?   I know a lot of teachers use caddies for various reasons in their classroom.  I wanted to try them out this year, but I could never find the color I needed.   My classroom theme is currently in black and white polka dots with teal.  So, I was in need of solid black caddies.  Sounds simple enough right?  Well, I could not find black caddies anywhere.  I found  a lot of bright or primary colors, but not just a simple black.  The closest thing I found was giant sized industrial caddy on Amazon and that was not going to work because it was way to big.

So, I decided to use Sonic's drink holders and make my own.   I wasn't really sure how they would hold up, but let me tell you, once they are spray painted they are very strong.

Black Supply Caddy

This ended up being one of the most inexpensive items I have ever made for my classroom.   It calls for a limited amount of supplies.  The Sonic drink holders are free, spray paint, duct tape, and plastic cups.

Black Supply Caddy

Black Supply Caddy

First you spray paint the drink holder whatever color you wish.  It took me 2 cans of spray paint to completely coat 6 drink holders.   After you let them dry get printed duct tape or washi tape.  I used a wide Scotch washi tape to wrap around the entire holder.   I made labels on the computer and color coded them to go with my classroom theme.  Last, I tied the labels on with coordinating ribbon.  That is it, you now have a supply caddy that matches your room.  The spray paint helps the cardboard become thicker and sturdier.  The tape not only looks good, but it also acts as an additional reinforcer. I am so happy with how these turned out and I have already received a lot of comments.  I do want to mention, I use black organizers and baskets for everything.  The reason I like black is because it hides dirt/stains, it goes with everything, and you can always use tags and ribbons to coordinate with your theme no matter the color!


I hope you found and idea that you can possibly use.  I would love to hear from you.  Thanks for stopping by and taking a peek.

18 July 2017

What are Formative Assessments and Why You Should be Using Them

                       How to Use Formative Assessment in the Classroom

We all use summative assessment in our classroom in some form or another.   Summative assessment is used after a unit or time of period to assess how much learning has taken place.  We use summative assessments after a chapter or topic has been taught.  We use them on our weekly test.   But how much FORMATIVE ASSESSMENT are you using in your classroom?

I am sure you use some form of formative assessment without realizing you are even doing it.  When we walk around our classroom and monitor learning, when we ask our students higher order thinking questions, or when we have students to give us an explanation to their learning.  These are all types of formative assessment.   But we must ask ourselves as educators is there more we could do to assess the learning taking place in our classroom.

Formative assessments are different in that they are taking place during learning and do not need to be graded.  Formative assessments are used to check for understanding along the way during teaching.  They can be used in all content area and both teachers and students can use formative assessment.  They help us as teachers to see if we need to backtrack and reteach a part of a lesson. Also, it helps us to see which learners in our class are grasping the concepts being taught and which are not.

With the ever growing list of things a teacher has to do, formative assessments should not consume that much time and should not cause a burden on the teacher or the student.  It should be a quick and simple check that is:

          1.  Engaging
          2.  Meaningful
          3.  Provides Feedback to Both Teacher and Student


So, what are some different ways you can provide engaging and meaningful formative assessments in your classroom?  Below are a list of my favorite formative assessments to use in my class.

Exit Cards

I have seen a variety of ways to present these and heard them called different names.  But they all have the same purpose.  The teacher poses a question, the student answers, and gives to the teacher when leaving the room.   They can post it on the door, slip it in a box, write it on an index card, or many other ideas.  The teacher then quickly glances through the answers and sorts the results into two piles, the ones who understood and the ones who need more instruction.

In the image below I posed the question 300-129 to my class.  I wanted to check their regrouping skills.  The exit card/ticket allowed me to clearly see where each child was messing up and where they were performing the skill correctly.

Exit Tickets

Checklist

Teacher walks around the room whiles students are either working independently or in groups and marks on a clipboard a simple check by each students name.  They put a check in the column for yes if the student seems to have grasp the concept, or put a check in the not column in they need further instruction.

Beach Ball Throw

Students love this activity and it gets the kids moving.   You purchase a cheap beach ball at your local party store.  Write questions on the ball.  Toss the ball to a student.  Where their right hand lands, they answer the question about their learning.   Then, they toss to another student in the class.   This continues until everyone or most everyone has had a turn.

Beach Ball Throw - Formative Assessment

Idea Graffiti

Students are placed into groups of 4-5.  Each group is given a piece of butcher paper.  Each student is given an different colored marker.  They write a complete sentence about something they learned about the lesson.  The different colored markers help identify the students in each group without using names.

The image below shows how my students use the formative assessment of Idea Graffiti when responding to the novel, The War that Saved My Life.

Idea Graffiti Formative Assessment

Yes or No

This is just putting a spin on thumbs up or thumbs down.  Glue yes and no on popsicle sticks.  Have a series of questions ready to ask that pertain to the lesson.  The students will hold up yes or no to answer the question.  Also, if you prefer you could glue true or false.  If this is to time consuming to make, white boards would work just as well.

Four Corners

Assign each corner of the room either A, B, C, D.  Ask a question with four possible answers.  Students then move to the corner they believe to the correct answer.  This is not only a great formative assessment, but works as a brain break too!

Roll the Die

Each student is given a number cube.  They roll the die.  Based on where they land they write their response on a sticky note or index card and turn in when leaving the room.  There response is based on the following:

Roll a 1:  Write a question that someone should be able to answer after this lesson.  Give the answer to the question.

Roll a 2:  Explain the lesson so a preschooler could understand.

Roll a 3:  Draw a picture to represent the main idea of the lesson.

Roll a 4:  List three things that you learned today about this topic.

Roll a 5:  What was the most interesting thing you learned to today?

Roll a 6:  Tell which part was the most confusing.  Why?

Doodle

Students will quickly draw a picture of the topic learned instead of writing it out in words.

Doodling with Formative Assessment

Kahoot

This is a great tool to use for all you technology lovers!  It provides instant feedback and the students love it!  You will need iPads, Chromebooks, or some form of mobile devices for the students to use. The teacher poses a question and the student answers.  Kahoot will provide immediate feedback to show who is on track.  Don't worry if your not a 1:1 classroom, I am not either.  However, I do currently have 6 iPads.  I place my class into groups of 6, and they rotate the iPad around within their group.  Instead of having names listed in Kahoot, I have it listed as Groups.  It works just as well.


Plickers

This is another great tool to use to for formative assessment.  What is even better, you are using technology, but not everyone needs it. Only the teacher does.  You print out ahead of time a QR code for each child.  When you are ready ask your question and the kids hold up their sign. You use your device and hold it up to scan their codes.  Just like Kahoot, Plickers will provide instant feedback too! The kids love this just as much!

So, there you have it some of my favorite forms of formative assessments.  I hope you found something you can use in your classroom that will help you assess your students learning along the way.  Remember we want to work smarter, not harder!  Formative assessments should not be more work for you, but something you can easily fit into your lesson.  I would love to hear from you if you have any other neat ideas that you are using in your classroom!   Thanks for stopping by and taking a peek!

31 March 2017

We're All Wonders: Teaching Companion


I was so excited when the book, We're All Wonders showed up at my doorstep a few days ago.  Yes, I preordered my copied early, because I knew it would be a good book and I couldn't wait to share with my class. After reading R.J. Palacio first number one seller, Wonder,  with the beloved character Auggie I was hooked.  (Wonder is geared for fourth grade and up).  So, naturally as a second grade teacher I was so excited when she was coming out with picture book version for young children.


If you are a kindergarten through third grade teacher, then this is a must for your classroom library.   There are so many lessons you can teach with this book and the beloved character Auggie.  Auggie is an ordinary boy who likes to do ordinary things, but the one thing that make him different is he was born with facial deformities.  So, sometimes kids can be mean to Auggie.  They forget just because someone may look different or act different that they still have feelings too.  My favorite quote in the book is, "We are all wonders".

R.J Palacio started the trend #choosekind with her first book, Wonder.  This trend can be continued with this picture book.   How do you teach kindness in your classroom?

I knew as soon as this book arrived I wanted to use it as a center piece for talking about kindness and how we should treat others.  I created a book companion resource to use with this book.  It includes comprehension response questions,  book club for the classroom questions, writing prompts, kindness poetry writing, bookmarks, vocabulary match up, word search, and brag tags!

We're All Wonders:  Book Companion

The writing prompt is my absolute favorite.  In the book Auggie says that everyone is a Wonder. What he means by this is know matter what you look like we are all unique in our on way.   In the writing prompt, I have my students explore why they are "Wonders" ... What makes each one of them unique.  Plus I love the fact I have something awesome to display in the hallway.

We're All Wonders - Book Companion Resource (Writing Prompt)

I wanted to end my lesson with this book with a reminder the students could keep.  I want to encouarage my students to treat ALL people with kindness on daily basis.  I made them bookmarks. I printed the bookmarks on cardstock and tied with cute ribbon.  The resource pack does include brag tags too if this is something you use in your classroom.

We're All Wonders - Book Companion Bookmarks and Brag Tags

If you are looking for a way to teach kindness in your classroom I would highly recommend this book.  Students not only explore what it feels like to be on the outside but on the inside too.

Thanks for stopping by and taking a peek.  Remember to #choosekind!

16 January 2017

Teaching Chinese New Year vs. New Year in America


Teaching Chinese New Year vs. New Year in America

This past week we headed back to school for our first full week after Christmas break.  I had a dilemma, we came back to a full week of Benchmark Testing and I was not 100% prepared for what to do after testing was completed each day.  Benchmark Testing can be long and painful on many levels.  First, we only test for the first half of the day.  Second, my team and I need things to keep the students busy and engaged the rest of the day.  We follow a pacing guide in our parish, so we do not move ahead with our usual teaching.  So, basically during a benchmark week my day starts off with math, then benchmark testing, and then .....  Well you get the idea.  This was the big dilemma.   So, this year I decided to teach my kids a mini unit on New Years in America vs. Chinese New Year.  I know technically it is not Chinese New Year yet, but I knew this was the perfect week to dive into the topic and really teach all about it!  Let me tell you, it was a HIT!

We started off talking about New Years in America and all the traditions we celebrate.  We made resolutions and discussed what the top resolutions in America were.  Did you know the #1 New Year resolution in America is to lose weight?  My students thought this was hilarious.  I told them this is why they will see so many cars in the gym parking lot on their way home. ;))  Then we discussed why so many people (myself included) seem to not be able to keep their resolutions, but how we could really try to work on doing better this year.

Next, I introduced Chinese New Year!  We looked at our maps and located China.  We talked about where it was in the world and compared it to our continent and country (bringing in our map skills). Also, we discussed how New York City and San Francisco  both have big communities called Little China Town were these cultures can be celebrated.  We found these two areas on the map and looked at pictures on Google.  The kids were very intrigued by this point. We googled pictures of people celebrating Chinese New Year in China and the compared it to people who celebrate Chinese New Year in America.  Kids are always fascinated to learn that many traditions and celebrations we have in America are brought to us from other cultures.

After we looked at our maps and pictures we read a closed nonfiction reading passage about Chinese New Year (the passage can be found here).   Next, the students were placed into groups and we used our iPads to look up 4 interesting facts about New Years in America and Chinese New Year.  They wrote these facts in their writing notebooks.  There was not a cute graphic organizer for this, just plain writing notebook paper - remember this unit was done on the fly!  We came back together and we compared and contrast the two cultures and how they celebrate the holidays.  We made a Venn diagram in our notebook comparing and contrasting.   Next, they wrote a two paragraphs about this topic.   I was so impressed with their writings.   They must have really been paying attention, because they had some really great details in their writings.

Teaching Chinese New Year vs. New Year Paragraphs or Writings

By the end of the week we had learned so much.  I had brought in map skills, group work, technology, compare and contrasting, and writing.  We needed something fun to end this mini unit. We learned about the Zodiac Calendar and we made a rooster for, "The Year of the Rooster" (craft can be found here).  The roosters turned out so cute!   My students loved, loved them.   Also, we made Chinese New Year hats that turned out super cute (hats can be found here).

Chinese New Year Rooster Craft

Chinese New Year

Lesson learned for me - Sometimes pulling something together very quickly, but  putting just as much energy and enthusiasm into it can still lead to a great lesson.  I will definitely be teaching this again next year!  Will you be teaching Chinese New Year in your classroom?  I would love to hear what ideas or lessons you will teach.  Thanks for stopping by and taking a peek.


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