My latest "Pinter-ations!"

Monday, December 1, 2014

December Already???

Wow!! It's December already?? When I think of December, it does make me smile!! Lots going on in December! I know I haven't been around as much and I had promised myself that I would get better at blogging and I just couldn't. 

A few weeks ago, my mom had a stroke... It broke my heart.... 

It is such a shock when anyone gets sick, suffers a heart attack, has an injury, suffers a stroke... It turned our whole world upside down. My sweet mom who is the center of our family fell victim to a stroke (and she didn't realize it for 2 days but that's a whole other story for another day!!!) and we were lost! 

Let us fast forward 3 weeks and she doing much better and is going through rehab to regain strength on her right side. They said she has a clot on her right side that caused the stroke. She has difficulty walking and doing some things but we are confident that she will be *almost* 100% soon. I mean, she will never be back to her old self but she is trying! So, that is the reason for my long and infrequent posts. I am thankful for the positive healing thoughts she has been given!! We feel the love for sure!! 

So, with that said, we are thankful that she will be home for the holidays. Our Lola will be with us! Speaking of holidays, I am so excited that our elf, Max has made a return to out home! 

Do you do Elf on the Shelf, too? Need ideas? Click here to follow my Pinterest board! 

Also in the month of December, my friends and I at The Primary Chalkboard are celebrating this month with an advent calendar of goodies! Each day we will have a little treat for you from one of our author/bloggers. You can only get that treat for that particular day so make sure you check back often. 

Click on the picture below to take you to our Chalkboard and uncover your surprise for the day! 

I hope you all enjoy this calendar of events and check back often here and there! 

Have a wonderful week! 

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Native American Week in First Grade, Sharesafe TV, and so much more!

This week we learned all about Native Americans! It is one of my favorite weeks to teach! You can see what we did last year here. There are some links for a video and an idea to help create an ambiance to your learning! I used the resources from my Native American Learning Pow-Wow resource! It is packed with cultural learning resources for your classroom! 

Click on the pic above to take you to my store to check it out! 

Sorting cards for Native American Life. 

Writing our Native American Names. 

Making Native American Baby Papoose's and using symmetry in our art!

The students had a blast learning about Native American culture. We made our vests, too! Sorry for the lack of pictures-- sometimes we just get too engrossed in our learning that I forget! We also read our story Baby Rattlesnake. See the link above for my blog post on that. The kids really got into the story and learned a little bit more on being responsible. 

Next week we will be starting long vowels with silent e! Eek! Such a difficult skill! I try to incorporate song as much as I can into my lesson so that my kiddos can sing to remember. I learn something easier if there is a catchy phrase or tune!  Before I start telling you about the videos, I NEED to share with you a great site to share videos with your kids! It's called (for some reason, the link isn't working for me. Just google sharesafe tv). 
(Please don't laugh at all the windows open!! I have at least 5 open at all times!!! Zoinks!)

These silent e videos are NOT shared via Sharesafe TV but it would be a good way to practice linking them!!

Here is a little freebie for you, too, to help you practice long a! I am a HUGE football fan although my team this year is not doing so well. 

Click on me to download your freebie!! 

Hope you all have a great week! 

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Student Created Rubrics for Assessment

Teachers use rubrics. We use rubrics for writing, math, social studies projects, listening and speaking, science-- everything! We are even evaluated on a rubric (depending on if your county or state has gone that route)! So why can't our kids? I got to really thinking one day and I was so tired of constantly reminding my kids (and sounding like a broken record) of what my expectations are and how I will be evaluating them that I decided that they would be coming up with a grading system of their own. Hence the birth of a student created rubric. 

I know that these are not new but I know that many teachers shy away from these. What do you mean, my kids grade and assess their own work? How will they know what to expect? What are the exemplars and non? Those are all very good questions! Much like the data notebooks (my update blog post is almost ready!) they require time and patience on your end as well as theirs. 

My class and I had a serious heart to heart. I showed several pieces of work up. I erased names and asked them, if they were Mrs. Hamlin, how would they grade this? I will not show the work but I am sure you could pull some examples from piles on your desk. Depending on the work, they gave me their honest answers:

Oh, that is nicely written!

What is that?? I can't read that!

Did they do their work? 

Look how nicely that is colored! Cute!! (the girls said this, of course! haha!)

You get the picture! I totally agreed with them. I conveyed to them that that was how I felt when they showed me their work. So, we decided on three major points: 

From there, there were varying degrees where we used words like always, sometimes, and never. Every class will work differently. You and your class may want different criteria.  

(If you'd like a copy of this rubric, click on the picture to download it for free) 

We talked about what each meant. They (and I did , too) wanted smiley faces. You could also do a 3-point scale if you are doing standards based grading. I tried to keep it simple for my kids to do. This is an example (above) of the rubric my class came up with (after I tidied it up a bit!). 

After every piece of work we do, they ALWAYS come up with a self assessment. I have stapled a smaller version of their rubric to their center folders as well as placing a rubric at each center they go to as a reminder to the goal they are working for. 

The ability to change the status of their assessment is key! Sometimes they just run out of time or maybe it took them a while to figure it out. I always give them an opportunity to change that "frown upside down"! Thanks McDonald's for that saying. I am not a fan of coloring in a circle red, green, or yellow. I feel like that color just stays with them. This way, they can just change that smile around! Plus, it changes the real smiles on their faces! Again, what you and your class decide is up to you. 

Again, another key point. After they have made their assessment and I have come around to double check, we must come to an agreement. Honesty is the best policy. We talk about their work and one point that they are especially proud of and one point to work on if they happen to get a straight or sad face. 

These have really worked well in my class. Their quality of work has GREATLY improved. They have the zone or goal that they want to work based on their rubric that they created! I just love that. That has made me one happy teacher. They have worked hard to be in the smiley zone but also understand that there are times we work in the straight and sad face zones. I think that also teaches them about life skills and that sometimes we do our best and work to meet the goals we want to achieve! 

Have a great week! 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Another math center idea!

Happy Sunday, friends! Just wanted to stop by and give you a little something I am using this in my class this week! Going to be a bit busy with my little one's birthday party! Plus we have our PTA fundraiser event this week, teaching, being a Mommy and domestic goddess all in one!! LOL! Whew! 

Click on the pic to download your freebie! 

We are working on missing addends and wanted to give it to you!! I will be using these acorns I found at the Dollar Spot at Target (they were $3) and I know my kiddos will love to use these are manipulatives! I tell you, they love the hands on feel of working with real world items. 

The center is differentiated by addition and subtraction or both! Click on the title picture to download it today for FREE! 

Have a great week! 

Monday, September 22, 2014

Getting Hands On-- with Fun Math Manipulatives!

Happy Monday, friends! This year I have really been trying to strengthen my math centers with more use of manipulatives. I'll be honest and say that I cringe when the manipulatives are brought out:

"Johnny, please stop playing with the blocks. They are not guns!"

"Sally, please stop making a flower with the pattern blocks."

The redirections go on and on and on. 

I am sure you can relate! 

I took them out and my kids used them. My lesson might've taken longer but they got the concept. 

So, this year, our district has pushed (strongly encouraged) math centers this year. I came up with my version of a rotational schedule: 

There are many versions of this. I cannot claim credit for this as I saw this presented to me in a workshop. I adjusted and made it to suit my classroom needs. 

The favorite center in my classroom is the Hands on Learning Center. Here is where my kids get down and dirty with the standards and some fun games and manipulatives. Today I wanted to share with you some fun finds I used!

You all know I LOVE Target! I do not go to Wally World unless something major happened and I have no other choice! So I was shopping at Target Dollar Spot and saw some cute candy corn erasers, spider and bat rings, acorns.. and BOOM! My hands-on math centers were created! Look how much fun they had learning!

** I bought these after I did my centers. They were much cuter than the ones I had bought.**

These centers were sooo easy to set up! And yes! I have the same math pages I used to go along with them. We are working on addition and subtraction word problems. These sheets are also great to teach with my Math Strategy posters. We have been working on counting on, acting it out, and drawing a picture. They used the posters and key rings to help them with these. 

Click to download your FREEBIE! 

I know that using these fun little items in Math has greatly amped their enthusiasm! Hope you all can find these tools as useful as I have!

Have a great week! 

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Science Day Fun

Whenever I think of science, I always go back to my 80s roots! Love it! I'm totally blinded by science! Have always had a passion for it and love instilling that passion on to my students. 

Last Friday, we had Science Day in first grade! It was a HUGE success! The kids were just so stinkin' excited (and pretty darn cute!) to participate. I cannot take credit for the idea as an another teacher suggested it, but we ran with the idea and it is one I think we will do every year! 

It really was so simple to do. 

1. Send home a letter to parents encouraging them to dress their little scientist.

Click to download for FREE! You will need KG What The Teacher Wants font if you'd like the fonts to match. You can download it for free here

 2. Do a simple experiment in your classroom! OR you could rotate classrooms and each classroom does a different experiment. 

We just decided to stick with our own classrooms as we weren't sure how it would go but I think we will rotate next time.

Check out my ADORBS scientists!

We started our lesson by singing the Scientific Method rap song! Have you heard it yet??

In our classroom, we decided to do an experiment on Chromatography or the separation of mixtures. 
I started out with literature as I always do:

It has great pictures and colors! This last picture was by far my favourite as it lead me to my question and hypothesis:The chameleon asks, "If I stay on a leaf, I shall be green forever, and so I too will have a color of my own." As you read through the book, the kids find out that this is not true and then I started my scientific think-aloud... have you ever wondered what colors make other colors?

The kids started raising hands and telling me about primary colours and how to mix them. It was amazing but I had to remind them that as scientists, we need to plan and experiment and execute it! 

I had already cut strips of a coffee filter and had taped it to a Popsicle stick (depending on the size glass you have you may to trim it a bit so that when you place it in the water, the bottom of the strip touches the water).  Black is a neat colour to use as you get to see so many colour variables but you could use any colour marker. Please do not use permanent markers. Also, one of my little guys choose yellow and it didn't show too much colour variation but it could have been the marker manufacturer. They all make them so differently. That's the best part of this experiment! 

(click on the pic to grab your student copy for FREE! Answer key is included)

The students made their predictions and then using their color of choice, placed a dot near the bottom (maybe half an inch). My mom helper that came in that day and I poured the water. 

Then they waited and watched. They were so amazed!!!

I made sure they drew their observations and recorded their results. They were surprised when they saw the colours creep up their filter strip!

I like this little one's-- see the colours he mixed on the bottom of his paper? He was trying to figure it out! So clever!!!

It really was such a great day! Our kindergarten team joined us for the fun! The teachers dressed as Mrs. Frizzle! They were adorable!!! 

This is my little kinder this year! He was so excited to be a zoologist! 

I hope that you can implement a science day at your school! 

If you'd like more science ideas, please visit my It's Elementary Science Pinterest Board! I've got tons of ideas waiting for you!