Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Valentine's Day Fraction Task Cards

Fractions, Fractions, Fractions!

In fifth grade, we have been teaching fractions for almost a month and we have a whole month of February to go! At first, my students were a tad frightened of fractions, but so far we are enjoying a pretty fun, though sometimes challenging, fractions adventure!

As I am preparing for my husband's return from Afghanistan, I am thinking WAY ahead, all the way to Valentine's Day! We get one "winter celebration" so my students chose a Valentine's Day celebration over a Christmas one. Needless to say, I really want Valentine's Day to be fun for them! I have a whole bunch of fun afternoon activities planned, which I will share as soon as I spruce them up, but I want to squeeze some math in that morning since my students really enjoy math and no one wants to celebrate the ENTIRE day. So I decided to make a small big set of fraction task cards with a Valentine's Day theme which took me a couple of days  more than a week to create. I must say that I am extremely happy with my efforts, and it is yet another item that I feel is TpT worthy. I covered every single fraction skill with 4 review questions for each, which is why this may have become a bigger set than I intended, with 52 cards in total! No, I don't expect my students to do all 52 cards, I think there are a lot of different ways to approach these task cards, with two students splitting them, or with 4 students splitting them, which is why I also included a couple of answer sheets with different options.

Anyway, here is a preview of my huge new set of Valentine's Day Fractions Task Cards that I am so in love with!

If you love them you can find them for just $4.00 by clicking here:  Math Valentine's Day Fraction Review Cards

Now I'm already thinking about what I can do for my favorite holiday: St. Patrick's Day! I've got some ideas brewing already!! I am sure that whatever I create will be related to writing since our writing test is in March. Can't wait to see what I come up with. I'll hope it turns into something else that I can be proud of! I feel like I'm on a roll! And my hubby comes home in just two days! Yippeee! I just might have to have a celebration sale at my TpT store to celebrate his return! Keep an eye out!

Enjoy your last two days of the week everyone! By the time the next week begins, I will have my husband at home (and hopefully cooking for me) for the first time in eight months. I am just so, so glad that he is safe and sound and kept his promise to come home to me. Hooray for my husband!

Monday, January 21, 2013

Social Studies Materials...Anyone, Anyone?

I love social studies. I was a political science major in fact, which is to say I went to college fully intending to be a lawyer and somehow ended up with a master's in education instead. :-) However, teaching a state's history has not been something I've had what I would call a "ton of fun" with. That is, until I moved to Virginia! This is my third year in Virginia and the first that I have truly embraced social studies. It might be the fact that Virginia has an amazingly rich history, or the fact that I have a teammate who is the expert of all experts when it comes to social studies. The man knows everything and he has truly been the reason that I have finally embraced teaching social studies. Now granted, I am very much still learning, and I answer a lot of questions with, "That's a great question for me to ask Mr. Smith." But hey...I'm getting there! I know more about The Civil War than ever before. You should see how intently I watch those movies. Of course, my second class always gets the more knowledgeable Mrs. O, but I am definitely learning a whole bunch and I am pretty excited about it! My War and Society professor would be shocked since that's the only class I dropped in my entire college career. I mean, I will talk law, but War and Society at 8am? SNORE!

Anyway, this all leads me to a great discovery. We are lacking in social studies resources! I can type in anything for reading, writing, and math resources and find a zillion resources, but social studies is coming up short. So, I've added social studies to my long list of to-creates that will probably be finished around 2020 :-) I want bright, colorful,  and fun social studies resources to match all of my bright, colorful and fun resources in other subjects. I am not sure what I will create just yet, but I know that as I learn, I will come up with something amazing.

I did notice that my friend Alison at Teaching Maths With Meaning has just posted some amazing clipart for social studies that I've already added to my wishlist. Look at these fabulous maps:

North America Clipart

Bright, colorful, and fun? I think so! I know I will be using these when I get to creating! There are so many wonderful activities I can use these for - identifying slave states vs. free states, ordering the states in the order they were added, identifying regions (ah, perhaps a cut and paste activity?)...I think I might be able to go on forever and that perhaps my list just got even longer. 

Have any of you found great sites for social studies resources? I'd love to do some projects, I just need to come up with something fun and exciting that will ignite my students' passion for history. Ideas welcome! 


Thursday, January 10, 2013

I've Got The Fever!

The creation fever that is!

I have a confession. Eight months ago, if I wanted a a diagram, table, or anything short of a basic word document created, I asked my husband. Well, since he's been in Afghanistan since then, I've been left to my own devices. I discovered Teachers Pay Teachers over the summer and posted some of the zillions of files I have saved after 8 years of teaching. When I posted my first item, I posted it in word doc with basic font and it was BORING. I don't even know if anyone bought it but I am sure that it's no longer up there. I was the girl that would look at pins on Pinterest and see all those cutesy borders and pictures and think, I wish I could do that. And I tried. I tried to do everything on MS Word but it was exceptionally frustrating. Then I happened to ask on Facebook if there was a better way. A friend recommended using MS Powerpoint instead, informing me that it was more user friendly. OMG! What a relief! All of a sudden After a few months, I could use cute fonts, insert borders, pictures, and create wonderful items. I started to slowly dig out old files and spruce them up, though I have so many files I fear I may never get through them. 

Anyway, to make a not-so-long story short, I am obsessed with creating now. It's becoming less about TpT and more about these ideas that keep popping in to my head! I have stickies on the computer, in my pockets, on the kitchen counter...wait, am I becoming a sticky hoarder? All filled with the items I want to create. Who needs to grade papers when you can create, right? :-) 

Word problems are an area that we work on over and over again, as I am sure is the case for any intermediate teacher. As a teacher who has always embraced reading, it's odd to me that more often than not, my ideas are math ideas, and this year has been my "embrace math" year! It only took me 8 years! I love to have my students create their own word problems and now that we are half way through the year, they are getting even better with it. So an idea popped in my head the other night. I wrote it down but I wanted to put it to work right away. I wanted to create a card for Valentine's Day that could be a math problem Valentine. I know what you are thinking, Mrs. O, you must be a genius! LOL (That's sarcasm folks, sarcasm.) I bought some adorable Valentine's Day borders from Stacy Johnson and some so cute I can't stand it clip art from Katie Dang and I set to creating. I am very pleased with the outcome and even more pleased to announce that I've made it a FREEBIE in my store at Valentine's Day Math Word Problem Card

Here's the outside: 
Writing it, I realized writing a Roses are Red about a word problem isn't the easiest thing on Earth! Oh, and working clip art upside down is interesting! 

Here's the inside: 

My plan is to have the students color the outside and inside (hence the black and white) and then write their word problem. I will then collect all of them, mix them up, and pass them out to each student. They can solve their "Math Valentine" and then I am sure we will put these up somewhere in the room.  

I hope that my students will enjoy it as much as I imagine they will! Feel free to grab it for your students too :-) Happy almost Friday!

Sunday, January 6, 2013

Winter Math Packet

It's Sunday again, which means time to get back in to "go mode". Sunday has always been my day of preparation for the week and today will be no exception if I ever finish scoring DRA's! Last week was a short week for us with only three days of school and I always feel better when I have a full week ahead. It's so much easier to be in a routine when you have five days for it!

Before I begin my Sunday grading, planning, and creating, I thought I would share a new item that I created. In the fall, I created a fall word problem packet that people scooped up so I decided that it was time for a winter word problem packet. My packet includes a problem-solving words list, 6 problems for guided practice, a step-by-step for students to create their own word problem, a 2-page homework practice with 2 problems to solve step-by-step and then 1 problem to create, and three additional pages of practice for a total of 12 additional word problems. I worked hard to include each of the operations and to be sure that fractions, decimals, and time were included too. This is definitely an intermediate packet that could be used with 4th, 5th, and low 6th. 

I love to create items and I am feeling really good about this creation. I posted it two days ago and it's already been purchased 3 times so I hope that that is an indication that other teachers will find it a useful resource in their classroom too! 

Now I realize that I have some followers in Australia and it's summer there! Not to worry, I am going to make the spring packet my next project and have it done in the next week with any luck! 

Wishing all of my followers a wonderful week! I'm hoping it's a quick one because my husband will be home two weeks from tomorrow and after 8 months apart, I am so ready for him to be home! 

Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Back to Business With the Sweetest Class Ever

Well, today was the first day back and though it was not easy to get out of bed, it was actually an awesome day. My kids showed up with lots of hugs and "I miss yous" so I was smiling bright and early. I know I've said it before and I will say it again and again. They are truly the sweetest class ever. We got a new student and they embraced her at every moment. She was smiling ear to ear with all the attention she was getting!

When I told the students that they were going to start doing harder reading logs and showed them a sample of one, one of my students said, "Mrs. O, these logs are way better than the other ones. These actually seem fun." Score for Mrs. O!

My biggest accomplishment of the day, aside from getting a lot of mid-year DRA testing done, was that  I finished my January bulletin board. I saw a bulletin board like this on Pinterest and I wanted something to showcase our recent essay completion. We put up their essays and then they were able to decorate their mugs with a winter scene. I hope that you can tell from the one picture that I am really rubbing off on my students with my Snoopy obsession. Some of them have become quite good at drawing Snoopy free hand. Don't you just love it when students love something just because you do? I love the feeling I get knowing that they are looking up to me! It's the greatest compliment in my eyes! Teaching rocks!

Tuesday, January 1, 2013

New Year Idea: Think With Hink Pinks!

Happy New Year! It's officially a new year, which is a perfect time to blog about something I love, love, love!

Are you familiar with the following:

Hink Pinks
Hinky Pinkies
Hinkity Pinkities

If you've answered no, then you have been missing out! But don't worry, I'm about to save you!! 

If you've answered yes, then it is my hope that you will have access to even more wonderful resources after reading this blog. 

I was introduced to Hink Pinks 8 years ago. The first school I taught in was a Responsive School, filled with Responsive Classrooms. If you don't know all about Responsive Classrooms, you can find out more by going to the Responsive Classroom Website. When I became a part of this school community, I was sent to a week-long training, entitled Responsive Classroom I. It is still the best training I have ever been a part of, for that very reason, I was a part of the training. It wasn't a death-by-powerpoint or monotone teacher in Ferris Bueller type of instruction. It was engaging and fun! We moved around, we talked about ideas, we played games that made us comfortable with one another, and at the end of the week, I was sad to leave my training behind, but super excited to go back to the classroom with all of these new ideas and activities. 

Anyway, I could go on and on about RC forever, but I want to talk in this post about Hink Pinks because they are engaging, fun, and they encourage learning! Hooray for Hink Pinks! 

So, what exactly is a hink pink? Hink pinks are fun rhyming word riddles. The answer to the riddle is a pair of rhyming words. For example, one of my favorites is What do you call a large feline? The answer? A fat cat! Seriously, isn't that a blast of fun? 

Other examples are: 
Hink Pink: a paperback thief            Answer: a book crook
Hink Pink: an angry father               Answer: a mad dad

Now, I know you are wondering about the difference between hink pinks, hinky pinkies, and hinkity pinkies, so let me explain:

Hink Pinks are riddles that have a rhyming word pair answer and each word in the pair is one-syllable
Example: an enjoyable race is a fun run

Hinky Pinkies are riddles that have a rhyming word pair answer  and each word in the pair is two-syllables
Example: A friend who fell in the dirt is a muddy buddy

Hinkity Pinkities are riddles that have a rhyming word pair answer and each word in the pair is three-syllables
Example: A choosey sleuth would be a selective detective

I started using these daily this year because they are truly a fun and engaging way to work vocabulary practice in to students' daily learning and encourage critical thinking skills. As noted by Barbara Evans, who I consider to be the "Guru of Hink Pinks": 

Hink Pinks are riddles that help students learn to interpret data, make inferences, draw conclusions, and analyze new information. All the while, they are working with vocabulary, synonyms, definitions, parts of speech, and honing rimes. What could be better than a fun way to work with Bloom’s Taxonomy? 

I couldn't have said it better myself! I post a daily Hink Pink, starting the year with just Hink Pinks, and then slowly introducing Hinky Pinkies as the students are ready. I put it up in the morning and students have all day to turn in their guess for a ticket. I created these to record their answers:

They place one guess per day in a basket and I choose a student to share the answer when they quietly line up to leave for the day (and I have the basket in my hand to avoid any "late" submissions). I have a lot of adults in my room throughout the day and even they partake in the daily guessing. You don't want to know what happens if I forget to post one! It's the first thing I hear about :-) If only my students knew they were learning AND having fun! Last month, some of my students began creating their own hink pinks. They submit them to me on sticky notes at the end of each day for consideration not because I asked them to, but because they enjoy them and want to become creators of hink pinks. How amazing is it that they are challenging themselves to do that? Oh, Hink Pinks, you make a teacher smile ear to ear!

As my class starts the New Year, they are leaving Hink Pinks behind and starting to do only Hinky Pinkies! I am thinking that we'll tackle the Hinkity Pinkities in the spring, though some of them are challenging even for me! I'm looking forward to seeing how excited they are when they see a Hinky Pinky on the board January 2nd and know they have "graduated" to the next level :-)

There are various websites available with Hink Pinks if you simply Google it, but my go-to for Hink Pinks has been Barbara Evans. You can view her Hink Pinks in her store at Barbara Evans TpT. She has a ton of sets at really reasonable prices. She also has a couple of freebies listed right now that you could use for the February holidays:

I hope that you will give Hink Pinks a try in your classroom and find the educational value in them as well. They have definitely become a staple in my classroom, and even a fun discussion piece amongst adults. For kicks, ask your spouse or friends to solve your daily hink pink! Here's a few to think about:

Hink Pink: What do you call sugary paws?

Hinky Pinky: What do you call a fake horse?

Hinkity Pinkity: What do you call a conversation amongst drums?