Tuesday, March 4, 2014

QR Math

My qr craze has intensified!! Not only did I finish the multiplication task cards but I also added division.  Big YAY!!

These are perfect for my third graders (especially the ones who struggle to stay motivated in math.) Students buzzed through the task cards to check their work with the qr scanner. I included two sets of cards in each pack. The first set of task cards has three different backgrounds that signify varying levels. I did this so teachers could give students differentiated work or use it as they introduce multiplication strategies. I then changed the background for the remaining task cards and renumbered them so there would be 24 task cards at varying levels. There is an answer sheet for students to write the problem and show their work. 

My school is lucky enough to have iPads available. I previously used the iPads by having students go on math apps the computer teacher put in the 3rd and 4th grade math folder. Now that my students have learned to multiply and divide I have added these task cards as a technology choice. 

Next on my list is adding and subtracting as well as rounding. I am always looking for ways to reinforce concepts taught earlier in the year. Throwing in a bit of technology usually entices even my least motivated learners.  Check it out here: multiplication and division!

Oh the possibilities with qr codes!!! 

Sunday, March 2, 2014

QR Craze

I have become crazed with qr codes. I am driving people (coworkers, husband, anyone that will listen) crazy! This is so exciting to me! Luckily for me my students share in the excitement. I loved teaching them how to scan the codes and they were such eager learners! One qr code project I am really excited about links students to videos of the Maine author, Lynn Plourde reading some of her books aloud. I taped them into a file folder and left had students use them as a listen to reading Daily 5 choice. Students were over the moon for this!

Lynn Plourde came to my school last week and boy did we have a blast. We dressed up for her book You're Wearing That to School?  I even made it into the paper with some of my cuties.  I love the main character and celebrating the book in this way was a great gateway to character traits.  Any time reading can be fun, count me in!!  She had breakout sessions with some classes after the whole class assembly. My partner teacher was lucky enough to be chosen and she shared the teaching with my kiddos. We have been reading and writing up a storm!

I could also use this get up to dress like Pinkalicious!

I am currently working on making brain break qr codes. Students scan the code which links to a fun music video. I only have six in my classroom right now but I am hoping to make more very soon. I would like to print them on card stock and attach them to popsicle sticks so when we pull one to scan it is always a surprise. For now the students use a piece of white paper with the codes. They are not labeled so it's always a mystery as to which song we will get (for now anyway until they memorize it).

My weekend project was making qr code multiplication task cards. My third and fourth graders will be trying them out tomorrow and if all goes well they will be posted this week.  Here is a little sneak peak.

I have become obsessed with QR codes!!! It started in November. On my Pinterest page a picture of a barn with a QR code came up. I had seen these mysterious codes before and wanted to figure out what they were all about. This primary teacher had used them for sight words with her first graders. They scanned the code and were able to hear someone read the sight word.  I spent many hours trying to figure out how this would work in my classroom. The first time I tried using it in my classroom it was a huge fail. I had asked two students to read to the class and my plan was to record them and turn their recording into a qr code I would then attach to the book. It NEVER worked. Thank goodness I am blessed with some patient buggers this year. They handled my technological blunders with a few eye rolls and were able to move on. This lead me to more hours trying to figure out these codes. I realized that my Mac had come capabilities that my school computer did not. I would figure it out at home and then have epic fails at school. Bringing in my Mac was the answer to my problems. This was just in time for Thanksgiving. I was able to record the third and fourth graders reading their Thanksgiving reader's theater. I sent the qr code home with the kids so they could share their work with their families over break. It was a hit and I knew it was just the tip of the iceberg.

Happy qr coding!

Friday, February 21, 2014


The BEST game I have ever added to my classroom has been Pop. It started with a water cycle version of pop last year.  On small cards that had a picture of one piece of popcorn I added words associated with the water cycle. Kids played the game in groups of 3 or 4 by taking turns picking one card from the popcorn container. The goal is for the student to define the word or give an example of it. If the student answers correctly he/she gets to keep the card and have another turn. The turn ends when the player answers the question incorrectly or pulls a 'pop' card or chooses to pass. When the pop card is pulled students have to put all the cards back they earned that round and pass the container to the next player.

This year the fourth grade loopers were BEGGING for us to get the game out again as a Daily 5 word work choice. It was at this point that we knew were on to something big! The next pop game added was vocabulary associated with the human body. It was quite incredible to hear the conversations this game sparked. They were using the vocabulary we had talked about in lessons. They were keeping each other honest and on task. And, so many kids wanted to play pop we had to draw names from a cup to make sure everyone had a chance.

This paved the way for spelling pop. I asked one of our school's literacy specialists for the high frequency words we expect our third graders to know and turned that list of 200 into spelling pop. At this point I used the iPad to make a popcorn graphic and added the words by using the computer so these games would be easier to recreate (before we were adding words by hand).  Spelling pop is played slightly different and requires the speller to choose a card puller. The card puller reads and sometimes defines the word for the speller. The rest of the game is played the same way.

Spelling pop sparked multiplication pop. My third graders have learned strategies for facts through 10x10. This game is a reinforcer for those facts. As I hoped, multiplication is the most sought after math choice.   What a jackpot idea!  Here is the link to get multiplication pop for your classroom. I have also added division pop now that my kiddos have some division strategies in their math tool box.

Pop is such an easy game to set up. I found the popcorn containers at the dollar store. They are $1 for two containers. I really hope your kiddos love it as much as mine have!

Friday, February 14, 2014


This year we are celebrating Valentine's Day by focusing on friendship. We had various activities planned for our day including buddy reading books on friendship, adjectives describing what we want in a friend, and a recipe for building a friendship. Our day was lacking a word work activity, hence the birth of this gem.  Students are asked to use the letters in the word *friendship* to make new words. 
They will be given the option of using magnetic letters on a cookie sheet.  You can get your free copy of the friendship worksheet here.  However, we ended up having a blizzard forecast for Valentine's day so we moved the party up one day which ended up being an early release and Valentine's day was a snow day.  We did have time for a quick party and one read aloud. The rest of the activities will wait until after vacation.

The focus on friendship comes at a perfect time as many of the kids are struggling to maintain friendly relationships with their classmates. Being in the Northeast, I blame most of the struggle on the cabin fever we are all experiencing due to the snowy and icy weather winter has brought to us. Here's to remembering what being friends is all about.

One of the parents sent in these cute yogurt parfaits. They were layered with vanilla yogurt, granola, strawberry granola and whipped cream. YUM!! She even put candy conversation hearts on the top. The kids especially loved the cups and many of them washed them out to bring them home.

Final thought- notice the elephant and pig on the worksheet. This is in direct relationship to my love for all things Piggy and Elephant!! Shout out to Mo Willems, an author I have come to adore!!

Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Human Body/Point of view/Halloween Mash Up

Since it was Halloween my partner teacher and I decided it was the perfect time for a lesson on character's point of view. I entered the classroom as Cinderella and read my story for the children. All of a sudden, the wicked step mother entered and totally took over! My amazing partner teacher read from the point of view of the step mother and had nearly all students convinced that sweet Cinderella was lazy and rude! Awesome!

To get into the Halloween spirit I saw decided to give my door a makeover with something I had found on Pinterest.

While I was at a special my very fun friend decided to give her door a makeover! How fun!!!

My third and fourth graders have been learning about the human body for the past couple of weeks. We have been having loads of fun leaning about our bodies. To try to ease some of the Halloween craziness we planned the day to revolve around some spooktacularly science stations.

Man, it was awesome! We had seven stations that kids rotated through. Each station lasted for roughly ten minutes. There were two teachers (one in each classroom) and thirty-two kids.

Station 1: The Brain! This was a  teacher manned station. When students arrived at the station they found a large bowl filled with cooked spaghetti (brains). In our last read aloud we discovered that the human brain is about the size of our two fists put together. Students picked up two handfuls of spaghetti to get a feel for the size of their brains.  After washing the brains off of their hands they worked through come brainteasers and memory games we had photocopied and left at the station.

Station 2: A Halloween mystery sentence   Each blank space had a picture that matched up with a letter to spell out a mystery sentence. This was more for Halloween fun than human body learning but it definitely could be adapted to fit the human body. If each symbol was a picture of an arm or leg or bone  and the sentence was something human body related this could fit in any time of the year.

Station 3: Human body cut and paste match  At this station students found two pages: one page had lines like a puzzle to cut and the other did not. Both were a picture of a skeleton that had the major bones labeled. Students needed to match the skull of the cut page to the skull of the whole page.

Station 4: Halloween Glyph  This station was part glyph and part word worth. The glyph had a picture of a boy and girl witch and students had to color the picture according to questions they answered on the worksheet. The next page was a word worth page where each letter is worth a coin (quarter, dime, etc.) The words they used were Halloween words but human body vocabulary would work great here.

Station 5: Eyes  At this station kids were able to feel a fresh set of eyeballs (grapes- man it takes a long time to peel those suckers!) After feeling the eyes they were instructed to test their own eyes. An eye exam paper was posted on the board. Students could check to see if they were nearsighted or farsighted as well as if one eye worked better than the other. They also had I Spy books to look at as well as Where's Waldo.

Station 6: Favorite Fall Candy  This station was perfect for my third graders who are starting a unit on data. Students were able to taste test three popular fall candies and choose their favorite to graph as a class.

Station 7: White and Red blood cell  This is quite possibly my favorite station. There were two jobs at the blood cell station. The white blood cell job was to see who could throw more white blood cells (pattern blocks) at the germ (in a text we read earlier in the week we noticed the germ looked like a pizza and we talked about how the white blood cell 'eats' the germ). The red blood cell job was to start at the heart (a paper heart on the floor), pretend to fill up 2 liter bottles with air and then move around the room distributing the air. They then returned to the heart to fill the bottles back up.

Our Halloween/Human Body day was fantastic. Each station had a ticket students had to fill out and bring with them. The ticket had a question related to the station that asked them information that we had talked about earlier in the week. We didn't even have time for all of the activities we had planned. At the end of the day students filled a plastic glove with popcorn and to take it home they had to answer how many bones are in our hands and arms and then attach the tag with the information to the popcorn.

It was a great way to enrich our learning of the human body on a rather hectic day!

Sunday, October 27, 2013


My third grade mathematicians have just finished up chapter one of GoMath which covers number sense. I felt very comfortable with their end of the unit assessment but want them to continue to practice mental math daily. I have added this gem into my math game choice station. I copied this on card stock and put it in a sheet protector. Students use a die to roll a number. They double the number, add one, then mark it off on their sheet. Enjoy!

Tuesday, October 15, 2013

Love for Mo Willems

My third graders are all about writing this year. They are making great comics, using story starter ideas, writing and publishing with friends and on their own. I am loving how many kids ask daily to write. They genuinely are bummed out when we do not have time due to scheduling conflicts (NECAP testing takes a wee bit of time...SARCASM...). My partner teacher/genius friend/other half of my brain stumbled upon the fabulous Mo Willems this fall and it has been pure magic for our classrooms.

It started with a lesson on character in which the fourth graders were looking at characters in a chapter book. To warm them up my genius friend chose an easier text and character with a big personality. Enter Pigeon.  Pigeon was a pretty big hit so she kept digging to see what other gems Mr. Willems had. Enter Elephant and Piggy. The funny thing is that Elephant and Piggy are so us. She is Elephant and needs a plan and worries and I am Piggy and am not so careful and I sure do smile a lot. :)  See!

Anyway, we practiced our hearts out preparing for the epic buddy reading presentation what we would perform for the students. During this time our school's librarian found a pig hat and elephant trunk we could wear for the production. Let me tell you, we read that Elephant and Piggy book We Are in a Book! with so much expression we gained Oscar buzz. That may be an exaggeration. We read with so much expression that teachers in our area shut their doors to keep the kids from being distracted by our awesomeness. True story! We left the books where students could easily access them and encouraged them to buddy read during our daily 5 read to someone time.

What happened next was awesome, amazing, wonderful, perfect. Students started buddy reading. All. Day. LONG!  The books are flying off the shelf. I have to draw names to chose who can have the them. They are reading with the most expression I have ever heard this early into the third grade year. They practice before school starts, during snack, during literacy and after school is over. And they are SO GOOD!

We have also had them look at Mo Willems from a writer's standpoint. We have some great comic creators who are finding inspiration from these texts. We have also looked at his illustrations and how he communicates through his words and pictures. Students are drawing from these books as they create their own writing.

The new book I'm a Frog was released today. Partner teacher/genius/other half has it and is bringing it to school tomorrow. I. Can't. Wait!!  The kids are pumped to hear the new book tomorrow.

Yay for Mo Willems! Yay for amazing teaching friends. Yay for a job I love!