Monday, June 30, 2014

Monday Made It (June 30)

I'm linking up for my first Monday Made It of the summer. I have been taking it easy during June and not doing anything school related. I finally got into the mood last week and started doing a few things.

If you checked out my blog yesterday, you saw that I have been experimenting with making interactive games. My kiddos always love playing games on the Activboard and we really love those from Lakeshore and the adorable ones from Pink Cat Studio. I wanted to make some that they could do on their own because the questions are already included but I could also use them in whole group.

This is my first attempt at an Interactive Game. You can find it free in my TPT store.  Click here to read my post about it.

I got excited about making this game so I went ahead and made another one. This one focuses on nouns. You can also find it in my TPT store.

If you download my freebie, I would love for you to try it out and leave me some feedback. 

Have a great Monday! I'm off to the gym, lunch with a friend, and then getting my hair highlighted and cut. I love getting my hair done because I love getting it washed. It almost puts me to sleep almost every time. 

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Sunday, June 29, 2014

Short Vowel Interactive Game Freebie

The past few days it has been raining on and off all day so I've been wasting time playing around on my computer. I created a new interactive game that I will use when I review short vowel sounds with my second graders.  So I thought I would share it with y'all. It runs in Quicktime and it is interactive. What does that mean? Your students can play it on the Activboard, Smartboard, or any other computer you have that runs Quicktime. Quicktime comes installed on all Apple computers but you will have to download it if you are on a Windows PC. This is a mov. file and may open in another program in Windows but the features may not work.

If you need to download Quicktime, you can get it for free from Apple for your Windows machine.
Click here to learn more about Quicktime. Click on the blue Apple Support to see all the downloads.

To start the game, click on "Begin Game" on the left side of the screen.

This is the first question in the game.  To answer, just click on the answer.
If they answer incorrectly, they will get this screen.

If they get this screen, they need to click "Go back" to answer the question again.

If they get the answer right, they will get this screen.

By clicking on "Next Question," the game will advance. Clicking on "Go back" leads you back to the question in case you want to go over it again.

Here are some other questions featured in the game.

You could use this game as a whole class activity or as a small group station. There are 20 questions within the game so it is perfect for review or just extra practice.
I would love to hear what you think about the game. Leave me some feedback here or on TPT.  I'm in the process of making more games so your feedback is really important. Is this something you would use in the classroom? What skills would you like to see in a game like this?


Saturday, June 28, 2014

Centers Winner and a New Blog Feature
Congrats to Susan K.
You are the winner of my Back 2 School math centers.
If you didn't win, I marked the centers down until Monday morning so you can get them for a discounted price.

In other news, I've added a new blog feature. You may have noticed it pop up while you were here. It's called CliqueMe and it's a way for you to like the images that I post on the site. If you like an image or want to comment on it, hover your mouse over the image and a little black box with a heart and a speech bubble will pop up in the right corner. Click on that to like or comment.
I think you may have to have an account to do this but it's totally free. I'm trying it out for a while so let me know what you think.

After you join, a black box will show up at the bottom of the screen that shows all the images you have liked or commented on. You can leave this at the bottom of your screen or you can shrink it by clicking on the down arrow on the right tab.

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Friday, June 27, 2014

Back 2 School Math Centers

 I finished my newest pack of math centers this week. These 8 math centers are mostly review of first grade skills and can easily be implemented at the beginning of school. With this pack, students will practice their basic facts and place value.

I hope you'll check it out on TPT by clicking on the pictures above. I'm giving away 3 copies on my Facebook page. Click here to enter.

I'm also going to give away 1 copy on my blog. To enter, be sure you follow my blog. Leave me a comment with your email that tells me how you follow (Google Friend Connect, Bloglovin', or by email). The giveaway will end Saturday morning. Good luck!
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Thursday, June 26, 2014

H is for Homework (ABCs of 2nd grade)

Homework, homework, homework. This can be so frustrating for any teacher. I have worked on my homework system for the last few years and I finally have a system that works for me.

Each student in my class has a homework folder. This can be any kind of folder but I use the plastic folders with pockets like the one below.

I send homework folders home with the students on Mondays and they have to return their homework on Fridays. They can turn it in earlier if they get it done but it has to be in on Friday. 

On Fridays, I check to see who has their homework turned in on time. I'm mean and I don't count it on time if their momma brings it in later on that day. If it's not in on Friday morning when they get to school, it's late. I always tell them that their momma isn't in 2nd grade and it isn't her responsibility to turn in their homework. I know this sounds harsh but they have got to learn to be responsible. 

This poster hangs up in my room. If a student doesn't turn his/her homework in, their number comes off the board. At the end of the month, every student who has turned in their homework on time and complete gets to eat lunch with me in the room. We usually watch a video on the Activboard and they think it's the best thing ever. Simple and it works! The past two years that I have used this system, I have had more kids turn in their homework than ever before. Usually if a kid has to stay in the cafeteria to eat while the others eat with me, they learn to turn it in on time so they don't have to stay behind again. 

I get asked quite a bit what I use for homework. I change it up quite a bit but I finally found a resource that I love for homework. I level my homework so I have 3 different versions that I use. I bought all 3 of these books on Zulily when they were on sale. (Click here to join Zulily.)  If you watch, they will probably be on sale again. You can also find them on Amazon.

I love this book because it has a grade level text with several different activities to do with the text. There is a comprehension section, a vocabulary section, a grammar section, and a writing section.  The texts are usually 1 or 2 pages so I copy them front and back. I copy the other sections I want them to do and staple the pages together. Since they have 4 days to do their homework, I usually give them 2 pages, front and back, of activities to do along with the story they read.

These stories were great for my advanced readers.

I used these for my struggling readers but they were a bit simple for some of them. 

For my lowest readers, I also used Stephanie Stewart's Flash Fluency pages for them to work on sight words at home. My struggling students loved these and they really learned their sight words from them.

I also used Jodi Southard's Fluency packets for my lowest students.

My next post in this series is I is for IXL math. Check it out by clicking below.

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Tuesday, June 24, 2014

G is for Grouping (ABCs of 2nd grade)

Today is all about grouping.  Group work is a huge part of my classroom and I'm going to share how I make it work for me.

I have to admit that I always hated group work. I was always that person who did all the work and everyone else got credit for it. I still hate having to do group work when I go to PDs. My goal is to help my students work well together (i.e. no arguing) and not dread group work as much as I do. I think kids learn so much from each other and I want to encourage them to collaborate.

When you are planning your lesson and want to include groups, you need to think about a few things.
  •  How many students need to be in each group?
  • What materials do the groups need to have?
  • What students do I want to work together?
  • What students do I not want to work together?
  • Do I want to assign each student a job in the group?
  • What jobs do I want each student to have? 
I highly recommend giving each student a job in the group. Think about each student's personality when giving them jobs. I had a student last year who wouldn't talk so I didn't give her the job of being the speaker for the group. Do you have a student who loves to draw? Give him or her the job of being the illustrator. As the year goes on, change the jobs and get students out of their comfort zones. You always have those students who are natural leaders but it's good to let other students lead once they feel more comfortable. 

Some lessons obviously won't work well with grouping but many lessons will. I always found it easier to incorporate group work in math but I also did it quite a bit when we were reviewing a skill.
One thing that I have found always gets students into the group work is giving them a large sheet of drawing paper and a marker. They love to write with markers and this is the only time that I let them.
Before the lesson, I usually make sure to have the students divided into groups. It's to hard to divide them on the fly. At the beginning of last year, I had my students in a group and they stayed together for about 6 weeks. This way, I didn't have to constantly change the groups and all the students got familiar with their groups and the jobs in the group.  

One way that I organize the group supplies is by putting them in different colored pencil boxes. All the materials they will need are in the boxes. This saves so much time by not having them go through their desks to find what they need. At the beginning of the year, I put a list of each person's job in the box so they could look at it if they didn't remember.
It is very important to set up your expectations for the group before beginning. I usually do a practice run with my kiddos where I grab a couple of students and we demonstrate how to run an effective group. We go through what to do when someone is telling others what to do, when someone isn't participating, and what everyone should be doing. This cuts down on most of the arguing within the groups. If they do start arguing, I remind them of what we practiced and how they need to work together. 

The first few times you do groups, you might want to pull your hair out. I usually do but I have to remind myself that it will get easier.  After the first 6 weeks of school, groups run smoothly. For the most part, I feel like they can run independently of me. I think that this is the mark of an effective group. 

I put together a resource for you of things that help me when I do groups and some group ideas that you can use.

I have put it on sale for a week. Click on any of the pictures above to view it on TPT.
I made a grouping board on Pinterest. You can check it out below.

What suggestions do you have for grouping? Leave a comment to share with others. 
Have a great day!

Check out my next post, H is for Homework.
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