Thursday, 18 August 2016

Math Mystery Phrases…Find a Classmate Edition

I’ve raved on and on and on about my love for Math Mystery Phrases. They engage students and make basic facts practice fun, especially for students who struggle with pen and paper tasks. As I’ve been gearing up to go back to school, I was racking my brain trying to think of how to combine the fun of mystery phrases with a getting to know you activity for students. Enter my latest math mystery phrases pack, Addition & Subtraction Math Mystery Phrases - Find a Classmate Edition.


**Before I continue, can we take a minute to just stare in awe at that horrible iPhone picture above. Like, really? I thought the iPhone camera was so advanced that it wouldn't let me take something that is so rough on the eyes. Is it the middle of winter? Why is the light so cool? I think it's time to put down the camera and retire from photography.**

This pack contains six “Find a classmate who …” question sheets and corresponding answer sheets. Similar to my other math mystery phrases, students must complete the math questions first. If done correctly, they then use the answers and letters to fill in the mystery phrases on the corresponding answer sheet. But wait, the work is not done. Each answer sheet contains three mystery descriptions. When completed, students must find three classmates, one to fit each description.




I’ve tried to make the mystery descriptions fairly general, so hopefully they will fit most classes. Some examples: Find a classmate who…has never been on an airplane, plays on a sports team, has more than one sibling, etc.


The idea behind this pack is to get students interacting with their new classmates in a new & fun way. Plus, starting off the year with some addition & subtraction practice never hurts! I’ve differentiated the printables, so you can accommodate various ability levels and still have students working on the same activity.

If you're interested in the pack click {HERE} to find out more.

Excuse me while I go soak up some more sun before back to school reality sets in


Sunday, 7 August 2016

Never Let Your Students Pick Their Own Partners

Some things just have a way of sticking with you. When I was getting my B. Ed., I had a fantastic behaviour management prof. A lot of what she said has stuck with me, but the thing I remember the most is when she said she NEVER lets her students pick their own partners. Not in university, not in elementary school. As she explained her reasoning, I was probably nodding my head without realizing it because it made so much sense. To paraphrase her...


Isn't that the truth? As soon as you talk about working in partners, you've got a class full of this...



with a whole lot of this mixed in…



Either way, it is very likely that most of your students are no longer paying attention. That's why, from the beginning of the year, I set the tone with this rule…

Image via Snapshots by Amy

This alleviates the worry and stress that most students face when asked to work in partners.

So, if your students can't pick their partners, how should you manage it? There are lots of great ideas from drawing popsicle sticks to using an electronic random name generator. Another great option is to use "Find Your Partner" cards.


To use, just choose a set of cards that best suits your students, shuffle them, and hand them out to students. Students are then responsible to find their partner based on how the cards are meant to be organized.



Each card set is labeled and color-coordinated to help keep them organized.

But wait…what about making groups? Don't worry, I've got you covered by including "Find Your Group" cards, too.


Truthfully, I've found that as soon as you start making choosing partners and groups random, students jump on board. These cards help you take the stress out of it, and allow you and students to focus on learning. Plus, once you've got a set (or few) of these cards printed and laminated, they are ready for repeated use, making your job that much easier!

If you're interested, you can check the cards out by clicking {HERE} or the picture below.





Monday, 1 August 2016

5 Back to School Tips...

Photo via Snapshots by Amy

Let me dust off this poor, neglected blog because back to school time is just around the corner. I’m back after a long hiatus to share 5 back to school tips…that you probably already know!

1) Create a classroom contract

http://mrsmacksbatchofthirdgraders.blogspot.ca/2013/09/memorial-park-postal-delivers-and-whole.html
Via Mrs. Mack's Batch of Third Graders

Have your students collaborate on creating (& signing) a classroom contract so they are invested in how their classroom is run.

2) Create a welcoming classroom



The tone is set by you. Be kind, welcoming and make sure your students know they are in a safe place. Plus, it doesn’t hurt to have some cute classroom d├ęcor. Grab my free welcoming sign {HERE} or click the picture above.

3) Do a collaborative art project

Via The Craft Crow

This is one of my favourite back to school activities. For me, having the students work together to create a mural or bulletin board represents the teamwork and cooperation that I will expect all year. The Kandinsky inspired mural above is one of my personal favourites.

4) Let your students play

Bring out the board games, LEGO, and decks of cards and let your students get to know each other in a relaxing setting. This is a great time to join in on the fun and make some connections with your students.

5) Use some formative assessments




Taking a bit of time to informally assess your students during the first week will save you tons of planning time later on. I created my Back to School Ready packs for the explicit purpose of assessing your new students. Provide one language and one math printable to your students each day and you will have a good idea of the level at which each student is working. If you're interested in checking them out, click {HERE} or the picture below.

These packs (and the rest of my store) will be on sale for another day during TpT's Best Year Ever Sale. Make sure to use the promo code "BESTYEAR" to save up to 28% off!

My TpT Store

Let's make this school year the best one yet!


Monday, 14 March 2016

It's basically summer break...

via Mrs D's Corner

I just found this image from Mrs D's Corner,  but the gist of it has been running through my head for the last month for two reasons: 1) who doesn't feel like they need a little summer break at this time of the year & 2) the more the school year seems to be winding down, the more I realize how much stuff we have to cram into the remaining time.

Today is our first official day of spring break (side note: yay!), but before I left the school last week, I was planning and realizing that it will basically be April before we get back into the curriculum. With field trips, assemblies and fun events, June is usually a write-off, so that means we have April/May to get everything finished. Yikes!

Before we focus on the next few months, let's have a little recap of what we've done lately.

We had a little down time last week, so we did a directed drawing that I found on Art for Kids Hub. Lucky for me, this one had a video and step-by-step images.

via Art for Kids Hub

During the past month, we have had way too many indoor recess days. Just Dance videos to the rescue! Here's a new, fun one:



Since we are out so early for spring break this year, we don't return until after St. Patrick's Day and Easter, so besides the leprechaun directed drawing, we kind of glossed over those two holidays. If we did have more time, leprechaun traps seem like a fun idea…

via Our Thrifty Ideas
…and these pastel pysanky eggs would make an adorable Easter card for students to make for their parents.

via The Elementary Art Room!
We finished up a class novel study and I'm really hoping all the work we did on comprehension sticks as the students move onto independent novel studies. If you need some novel ideas for your students, I wrote a post about it {HERE}.



Now, onto the next few months. One way to make the most of your time in the classroom is by using morning work. Just a few questions of daily review are so important to make sure students do not forget what you've been working on throughout the year.


Click {HERE} to check out spring morning work for more grades.

But, before you even start worrying about the next few months, you've got to get through the first few days back. To help you cope as you re-adjust to the school day, I've got a fun, little spring break-themed freebie.

Grab the freebie {HERE}.



Whether you're on spring break or not, have a great one!




Friday, 15 January 2016

6 Book Series for Reluctant Readers

Let's kick this post off with a quote that I wholeheartedly believe…


For me, finding books that students love, regardless of genre or topic, is probably my number one priority. I want my students to love reading and I try my best to model and encourage that every single day. When a student tells me they don't like reading, my standard response is:


Today's post was actually inspired by one of my students today. After months of being apathetic towards reading, he actually asked if he could take a book home for the weekend…I felt like I had won the lottery.

So if you are having a difficult time finding chapter books for some of your struggling readers, I've got a list of six book series that have been read and reread by my students over and over again during the past few years. Initially I was going to write this post about book series for reluctant BOY readers, but as I was composing my list of books, I realized that most of these books are enjoyed equally by all my students.

All images via Amazon

1) Diary of a Wimpy Kid by Jeff Kinney



Did I really need to mention this series? I thought I had finally stopped hearing about "The Cheese Touch"…until a student mentioned it just the other day. This series has been going strong for years and will hopefully engage reluctant readers for many more.

2) Big Nate by Lincoln Peirce



I am constantly being asked by my students to find more books from this series. The boys and girls in my class are fully obsessed.

3) Stink by Megan McDonald



I've known about Judy Moody for a few years, but I just discovered the spin-off series for her brother Stink. The length and reading level of these books makes them perfect for struggling readers who want to move onto chapter books…and what kid can resist reading about a character named Stink! Bonus: they are illustrated by Peter H. Reynolds, the author & illustrator of some of my favourite picture books.

4) Percy Jackson by Rick Riordan



Another no-brainer for this list. Rick Riordan now has a bunch of other similar or spin-off series, including the new Magnus Chase series. My students freaked when I told them about this new series before it was released in October.



Another great thing about the Percy Jackson series is that they are now available as graphic novels, a format that my students adore.



5) Bone by Jeff Smith



Like I said, my students adore graphic novels and I know they are not alone. Our school library has multiple copies of these books because they are always checked out.

6) Amulet by Kazu Kibuishi



What can I say? Another graphic novel favourite.

Do you have any other series that would make great additions to this list?


Tuesday, 3 November 2015

Thanksgiving Math Mystery Phrases & Freebies

Can I just say how lucky we teachers were that Halloween was on a Saturday?!



We really dodged a bullet this year! Alright, now that I've said that, we can move on to the next holiday, Thanksgiving!

Of course here in Canada we have already celebrated Thanksgiving, but since I missed the blogging boat for that, this post is for next year...or for all my American friends!

First up, freebies. A few years ago I created a few random freebies that you may find useful during the days leading up to Thanksgiving.



You can click {HERE} or the picture above to check them out.

I love incorporating the holidays into my lessons wherever possible, so I just finished up a new set of Thanksgiving Math Mystery Phrases.







My favorite thing about these? The addition of the mystery phrase to each printable adds a self-checking feature that allows students to double-check their work. Click {HERE} or any of the pictures above to check out the mystery phrases. I also have mystery phrases that are not holiday related available {HERE}.

Finally, let's talk about art. I love trying new art projects and this post by Craftwhack has some great ideas for autumn.

via Craftwhack

These ideas aren't strictly Thanksgiving-themed so they could be done throughout the autumn months.

I think I hear some leftover Halloween candy calling my name…enjoy the rest of the week!



Saturday, 3 October 2015

Halloween Brain Breaks

Well, now that October has begun, Halloween fever seems to be in full force. Let's jump on the Halloween train and talk about a few Halloween-themed brain break videos, shall we?



In no particular order:

1) Calling All the Monsters


2) This is Halloween



3) Monster Mash



4) Thriller Animation




5) Ghostbusters



6) Spooky Scary Skeletons



7) Day O



8) Becky G "Problem (The Monster Remix)"


In other Halloween news, I just finished up a new Halloween-themed Math Mystery Phrases pack that I'm really excited about.




This is my first mystery pack that covers various standards: rounding, expanded form, written form, basic multiplication & division, double-digit addition & subtraction, triple-digit addition & subtraction, skip counting, multiplying multiples of ten by single digit numbers.

Not only does the mystery aspect help engage students, but the addition of the mystery phrase lets students self-check their work.

If you're interested, you can click {HERE} or the pictures above. If you'd like non-holiday related Math Mysteries, I have a bunch available {HERE}.

Hope you're enjoying the weekend!