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Liebster Award Nomination!


Wow, what a nice surprise to find that Amber, from The Teacher Life, sweetly nominated my blog for The Liebster Award!  

What is the Liebster Award?
The Liebster Award is given by bloggers to up and coming bloggers who have less than 200 followers.  It is to show new bloggers that they are appreciated and to help spread the word about new blogs.

The rules:
*You must post 11 random things about yourself.
*Answer the questions that the nominator set for you.
*Create 11 questions for the people you nominate.
*Choose 11 blogs you love {with less than 200 followers} and link them in your post.
*No tag back {but please leave me a comment on this post with the URL to your Liebster post so I can learn more about you!}
Here goes...
11 Random Things About Me:
 I am a total foodie!
I love rainy days, especially when I have a good book.
You can't make food too garlicky or too spicy for me.
I daydream about winning the lottery...don't we all?
 My guilty TV pleasure: Real Housewives of New York!
I am a UNC Tar Heel!  
My favorite music genre is Broadway show tunes!
I hate doing yard work - but I love how it looks when it's done.   
My all-time favorite book is The Source by James A. Michener.
I love to play Hangman when I have to wait somewhere.
My children are 26, 23, and 21...
and I worry about them like they were still 6, 3, and 1! 
Questions from The Teacher Life and my answers:

1.)  If you weren’t a teacher, what would you be?   I would be a professional volunteer.
2.)  How do you like your coffee?  Sugar and milk!
3.)  Why do you live where you live?  It's where my husband and I grew up.  It's a great place to live.
4.)  What is your best advice for dealing with toddler tantrums?  Calmly distract them.
5.)  Why did you start your blog?  I started my blog because I love to mentor other teachers and this seemed like a way to reach the most individuals.
6.)  What time of day and how long do you usually blog/work on products for TPT or TN?   Early, early morning is my best time, but I have to use evenings, too.
7.)  What is your favorite website/web tool to use with your students?  I really love Discovery Education.
8.)  Where is your favorite place in the world?  Besides home, England!
9.)  What are your passions besides teaching?  My children and husband, cooking, and travel.
  10.) What celebrity can you absolutely not stand?  Tom Cruise. Sorry.
  11.) If you were a singer, who would you be?  Lea Michele from Glee.  What a voice!
Questions for Blogs I'm Nominating:
1.  What's your guilty TV pleasure?
2.  What is your favorite movie of all time?
3.  What is your favorite book of all time? 
4.  What is your favorite holiday and why?
5.  As a teacher, what is a strength of yours?
6.  Describe your favorite dessert.
7.  What describes your home decorating style?
8.  If you could meet a celebrity, who would it be?
9.  What do you hope to receive for your next birthday?
10.  What is something that you learned recently?
11.  What is your favorite subject to teach?  
The 11 Blogs I'm Nominating:


And dont forget that if you were nominated, to come back and comment on this post with a link to your post so I can go and read all about you!
Pat McFadyen
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Easy Recipe - Oreo Truffles!


     Busy teachers can really use quick and easy ideas during the holiday season...especially at home! Try this Oreo truffles recipe. They're addictive. You've been warned.
1. Soften two 8 oz. blocks of cream cheese.
2. Bust up a package of regular Oreos into small crumbs/dust.
3. Mix the cream cheese and crumbs together with a mixer. It'll be an unattractive gray mass, but don't despair. Chill for awhile so you can work with it.
4. Form small balls of the dough.
5. Melt semi-sweet chocolate chips. Dip the balls into the chocolate. Chill.
Yum!
 
Pat McFadyen
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All Hands-On: Make a DNA Model!




  As part of our genetics studies, we had a parent volunteer to visit our classroom and help us make DNA models.  Our helpful mom briefly explained how the different combinations of all traits come from the DNA strands.
     She supplied students with chenille sticks: full-size ones and some cut into thirds.  We folded two of the short ones together, then attached them to the full-size ones.  Finally, we gave it a gentle twist.    
     It was a great hands-on model of a concept that can be nebulous for kids.
Pat McFadyen
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The Nobel Prize...Phase 2!



     Our original Nobel Prize lesson went well and I needed the display space for other items.  So, I moved the display into the hallway and added some captions for others to use.   I'd love to know what you think!
Pat McFadyen
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The Nobel Prize...A Global Lesson



     Teaching students about the Nobel Prize is one of my favorite lessons!  They are really interested to learn why they may have heard about specific people.  It gives us a real back-and-forth conversation in which the kids can contribute as much as I can. 
     To capitalize on their interest, I created this classroom display, using lists from www.nobelprize.org.  I chose to go ahead and highlight the years when no prizes were given (generally World Wars 1 and 2 - but they had to figure that out!) and a few specific laureates, such as Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. and Madame Marie Curie.  I could have let them discover familiar names, but time was very short this week.   Students did have a chance to "browse" the lists in small groups.
     We also did a choral reading of a really good reading comprehension from www.edhelper.com that I use every year.  Then, we talked about why I had highlighted the areas mentioned above. 
     I hope to have time to let students pick a name to research very soon.  My goal is for my students to gain a global perspective that they can cultivate in the future.
 







Pat McFadyen
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Fact Family Bracelets...Stylish Learning!


     Learning basic math facts through "fact families" is the most efficient method, in my opinion, and develops number sense the best.  I have developed a journal program to teach, review, and support learning fact families.
     But, what can students do when they're not actively working on their journal or a focused activity?  My suggestion is...bracelets!  I developed printable sets for children to use.  They are a fun, portable, and social way to get extra practice!
     Prepare the bracelets by copying one set per child onto card stock and laminating.  Cut apart only as needed.  Tape the bracelet around the child's wrist.  Encourage your student to practice saying or writing the four related math facts each time they have a free minute.  Even better, encourage other teachers, administrators, volunteers to ask the child to share what the bracelet is about, at an appropriate time and place, of course.
     How encouraging for a child when the principal or other adult takes enough interest in what they're learning to stop and talk to him/her...based on the really cool bracelet!
     When the fact family is mastered, you can tape the bracelet into a math journal or onto a display board.  Then, on to the next bracelet!
     Enjoy and I'd love to hear how they work in your class!

Pat McFadyen
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Wash 'Em Up!


     I've always wanted to acquire the materials to demonstrate the importance of good hand-washing...and this year, I got them!  I ordered a small black light and the "germ juice" that glows under the light.  I used a swab to paint the juice on students' hands...that represents germs in our world.
Paint...
Glow...

Students then washed their hands as normal and came back to the light.  Missed places still glowed.
     Some students were pleased with their results, others were a little frustrated.  It did make a big impression on them all.
Oops...missed a spot!
I then chose 5 students and swabbed the fingers of the first student only.  He gave a gentle "high 5" to the next who did the same to the next, and on down the line.  The last student still picked up enough "germs" to glow.  A real learning experience all around!
Pat McFadyen
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Big Concept...Easy Display


     One of the foundational concepts of our science curriculum is...where do we get energy?  We can trace it all the way back to the sun!  I keep this small display up in the classroom all year and we refer to it often.  It really does seem to give students a "home base" from which to work.
     Do you have a small display that makes a big impact?  Share it with us!

Pat McFadyen
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Global Learners and New Languages


     Our classes are dabbling in new languages with our Language Board.  I designed the general idea of a "template board" and had a volunteer to lay it out.  All I have to do is insert the correct phrases for the English equivalents. 

     We spend about six weeks on each language, including Spanish, French, and German.  We're fortunate to have students and parents who speak these Spanish and German and can help out. I also supplement with online phrase generators.  Can you think of another language that we might include?
Pat McFadyen
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New Students...or Visitors?


     Wow, what a great science class today!  A parent guest-speaker brought in several live specimens for my students to learn about.  They included a hissing cockroach, a millipede, a ball python, a corn snake bred to a reddish color (hence, his name "Lava"), 2 guinea pigs, and a gecko.
     Our very experienced parent presenter let students touch and enjoy and ask questions.  It was a great day for all of us!   Do you have guest speakers come to your class?  Tell us about it!
Ball python
Millipede

Corn snake bred to a reddish color.


Hissing cockroach










Pat McFadyen
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Where is Worksheet City?


     I've found a way to remind students that I expect certain behaviors during our most active, hands-on activities.  This works especially well when using science equipment or manipulatives.  I begin by reminding them that our manipulatives are "tools, not toys" and are to be treated with care and respect.  I then tell them that anyone who chooses to misuse materials or misbehave will earn a one-way ticket to "Worksheet City". 
     This means that, instead of the fun, hands-on activity we're all engaged in, that person will have to do a boring worksheet or two to learn the same thing.   So far this year, no one has hopped that train and there was only one customer last year! 
     This is meant to be a low-stress, class-joke way of encouraging correct behavior while still having real consequences.  Do you have a similar system in your classroom?
Pat McFadyen
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The "Suds" Experiment...Not What You Think!


    My kids loved this experiment where we asked, "Which dish soap makes the most suds?"  Through discussion, they decided that the most suds was the best cleaner.  Not sure if that's true, but I went with it!
     I put students in groups of four and every person had an empty water bottle.  Their written directions told them to add 1/2 cup of water to the bottle and 2 drops (not 2 squirts) of one of the dish soaps I provided.  I brought in four brands and they had to agree within their group who was using each brand.  They closed their bottle and shook for 15 seconds, then measured the height of their suds.  They recorded the data for everyone in their group for comparison.  I required at least two analysis statements - true statements about their data.  Their conclusion was to answer the original question.


     Yes, we had fun!  We also followed the Scientific Method and it was a real-life product comparison activity.  Who could ask for more???    I found this great, almost free, experiment on Pinterest this summer, but I don't know who to credit...so, thanks to whoever posted this!
Pat McFadyen
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Rules of Divisibility Foldable




It's time to learn the Rules of Divisibility as part of our study of factoring!  We combined what we've discovered into a flip book.  The kids are really referring to it frequently...which makes me happy!  I used the last page to emphasize a "Major Math Concept", which you can see in the picture.  I try to drive home the relationship between factors and divisors.  Who else has used this foldable for math?
Pat McFadyen
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Mentoring Other Teachers


     One of the most rewarding things I've ever done as a teacher is to mentor other teachers.  When my district offered professional development some years ago, I realized it was the "something" that was missing.  It was so exciting to know that I could make a difference in the life of a teacher, and thereby other students, to give help over the rough spots, and make this difficult job more do-able. 
     Does your district have a teacher mentoring program?  How does it work?
Pat McFadyen
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Triple H on Fridays...


     I learned about this idea from a fellow teacher and adapted it for my 5th graders.  I call it "Triple H"- it stands for "Hug, Handshake, or High Five".  Every Friday as the students are lined up to go home and I'm telling them good-bye, each child and I share one of the three gestures - student choice.  OK, we also add in "fist bumps", but that ruins the acronym!   It gives me a chance to let the kids know that, even if we've hit bumps in the road during the week, we are still a family and I care for them.  
     I've always been too focused on getting academics covered in the classroom and I really needed a custom or ritual like this.  I'd heard that the single most important indicator of success for a child is the relationship with the teacher.  Wow!  When I discovered this ritual being used in another classroom, I decided to try it.  I don't think my students "live" for Triple H during the week, but I believe that they appreciate the weekly check-in.  I like that it's not invasive, the student gets to choose, and I have a moment with each individual.
     Do you have a classroom custom like this?
Pat McFadyen
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Order of Operations Readable
     To go along with your lessons on order of operations, here's a short readable history that explains the "big idea" of why we use a common procedure globally.  Order of Operations Short Readable
Pat McFadyen
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Order of Operations: A Global Collaboration Tool



     When asked, "What is the order of operations?",  many of my students answer, "PEMDAS!" or "Please excuse my dear Aunt Sally!"  While this is a way to remember the steps in the algorithm, this is one of those concepts where I want students to fully understand not just how to do it, but why we use it.

     We discuss examples of doctors, mathematicians, and scientists around the world wanting to work together to solve big problems, but coming up with different answers.  It helps kids see that, if everyone is on the same page, we have a common language and we can truly collaborate.

     I really want my students to be able to solve equations using the correct order of operations.  But, I want them to understand its purpose, too.
Pat McFadyen
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The Scientific Process


     Our first science activity of the year was "How many drops of water can you fit on a penny"?   We discussed the steps of the Scientific Method: Set a Purpose/Question, Research, Hypothesize, Experiment, Record/Analyze Data, Draw Conclusion.  Materials are inexpensive and readily available: napkin, dropper, penny, cup of water to share at table. 
 
      I like this activity because it quickly gives students experience with the Scientific Method, it leads to other questions, such as, "Why does the water look like a bubble?  Why does it take so long for the water to spill off the penny?", and because they like it!  Happy Science!
Pat McFadyen
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Estimation Jar


     I've used an estimation jar in my classroom for several years.  My students love it: the competition seems to motivate them and, up until this year, so did the candy treat for the closest estimate!  :)  This year, I'll try more "inedible" treats like I've seen on TpT and Pinterest (passes to sit with a friend, extra computer time, etc.)
     I fill the jar with whatever we're estimating.  Sometimes it's something to count, sometimes how many tablespoons of salt or a liquid, sometimes how many feet/yards of yarn I've stuffed into the jar.  I often tape a tablespoon to the jar to help students visualize.  A pail of blank papers and a pail for each homeroom class completes the arrangement.
     Practicing estimation skills and the discussion that goes with it does strengthen math skills.  Start counting!
Pat McFadyen
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Attendance/Lunch Choice


     I'm trying this idea to take attendance and count lunch choices in one step.  On the side of a filing cabinet, I taped the "School Lunch" and "Lunch Box" signs, plus the dividing lines.  I wrote student names on colored craft sticks and added a piece of magnetic tape to the back. 

     As students arrive each morning, they will place their craft stick in the correct area.  I'll know who is absent if a stick is not moved.  We'll see how it works!
Pat McFadyen
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Drop a Note for a Friend!


     Our classroom "Drop a Note for a Friend" box gives students a low-risk way to share concerns about any bullying incidents they may be aware of and, just as important, any instances of unkindness. The incidents can be directed at the reporting child him/herself or someone else.
   The anti-bullying program at our school teaches that "silent witnesses", the ones who are aware of bullying incidents but don't report them, are just as harmful - and accountable - as the bullies.
     The box is in an out-of-the-way spot by my desk, so students can let me know what is happening to them or to others by dropping a note into the box without others seeing them do it. This serves two purposes: 1) The reporting student feels safer, and 2) being aware allows me to keep an eye on specific situations and do a little friendly questioning.  Will I get some unsubstantiated claims?   It's possible, so being aware is even more important.  I like knowing that my students can communicate with me on this important issue.
Pat McFadyen
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Easy and Affordable: A 21st Century Lesson


     A good way to integrate math, social studies, and global awareness is to display several clocks, each representing the time in another time zone.   It's easy and affordable.  The large clock in my classroom is the one provided by the school.  The smaller ones were $4 or $5 each at a dollar store or Wally World.  Choose several different spots on the globe and find the time on a site such as www.timeanddate.com.  Add labels and you're done!

     Discussing time zones and calculating time can be several lessons.   It can also be a brain break when you ask questions such as (using my clocks below):  When we go to lunch, what time will it be in London?   What do you think students in California are doing right now?  When students in Beijing go to bed, what are we doing?  What are we doing when English students are having lunch?  The possibilities are endless and fun!

(Looks like California is losing a little time; need to fix that!)





Pat McFadyen
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Getting Ready


     It's time to get ready for the new year!  This interactive bulletin board in the hallway outside my classroom displays inspirational quotes.  The bottom sign encourages students to write their feelings about any quote.  You'll see a little "pen pocket" to the right.
     Last year, I used a "Math Graffiti" theme for the whole year and changed out the question every few weeks (pics below).  I got a lot of interesting responses all year long!
     Have a great weekend!




Some of my favorite quotes!






Students (and teachers) can add their thoughts below.







Other captions might ask: What's your favorite number and why?  Write a fact about yourself that uses numbers. 










Pat McFadyen
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