An Organization Dream Come True


I've looked longingly at photos of elementary classrooms for a while now.  My favorite was a class where every group of desks (table or pod) had a small bookcase to store all needed materials.  It seemed so efficient and independent-making for the kids.  Even though such bookcases are fairly inexpensive, it was a stretch for my budget.  (We're putting our third - yes, third!- child through college and money is just tight.)

With permission from my administrator, I put out the word to my parents in August.  Lo, and behold, I received 4 of the 5 I requested!   And, one was even assembled for me! 

We're learning to keep our materials neat and organized.   And, man, the kids can just access anything they want - I'm not always managing someone to go get stuff, then put it up!  Whoo hoo!  Love my parents and love my bookcases!

Do you have a super organization system?


 
Pat McFadyen
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Play and Learn: Divisibility Rocks!


     I enjoy teaching students the rules of divisibility each year.  They're foundational concepts and fantastic math tools.  However, I can't say my kidlets always love learning about it.  Well, thanks, to my teaching partner, Carren (also known as a Surf and Search HERO - she finds the best math resources ever!), we have a new tool in our tool belt: Divisibility Rocks, a super fun, super rich card game!

     The game requires a little preparation - copying sets of cards and answer sheets.  Once you have them, though, you'll play again and again.

     Simply put, you form teams of three students who have a deck of cards, an answer sheet, and a small pile of game pieces or "rocks".  Student 1 turns up a number card.  The "Answer Person" asks if the number is divisible by 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 9, and 10.  For every correct answer, Student 1 takes a "rock", a game piece.  Then, Student 2 turns up a card and goes through the same procedure.   If a student believes an incorrect answer has been given, he/she can challenge.

     I allowed my students to use their Rules of Divisibility sheets for reference.  See them play below.  You can see the "rocks", the cards, the answer sheet, and pink reference sheets.

Check out this great game at the link below and tell me how you like it!  Thanks again, Carren!
 
Divisibility Rocks!
Pat McFadyen
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Mastering Powers of 10: 5.NBT.2


     Wow!  One of the most challenging new standards in the Common Core Curriculum is teaching the powers of 10, how they relate, and how we can use them.   There is very little out there to teach basic, foundational concepts.  It's taken me since last year to get my thoughts (and act) together, but I finally have posted my unit on "Mastering Powers of 10: Practice and Content  5.NBT.2)

     I've never had success just teaching students the algorithm (move the decimal over...do the decimal dance) without helping them "see" what's actually going on.  As usual, I learned so much content myself!  I added a couple of charts that help students see the "power of powers" and it seems to make a difference with my kids.

     Check out my newest product on Teachers Pay Teachers http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Mastering-Powers-of-10-Content-and-Practice-5NBT2-865079

     Let me know what you think!

Pat McFadyen
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This Year's Attendance/Lunch Chart!



     You win some, you lose some.  Last year's attendance/lunch chart was just sort of OK.   I took jumbo craft sticks, hot glued small magnets to the back, and wrote a name on each one.  Students placed their stick under the appropriate lunch choice on the filing cabinet I set up for that purpose, which also did an automatic attendance count for me.  The problems were that the sticks fell off very, very easily and the magnets came off easily.  So much for experience.


     This year, I found larger sheets of magnets, like the size of large sticky notes.  I believe you can even find 8 1/2" x 11" sheets.  I cut them into 2" x 3" magnets, typed student names on paper, removed the protective paper, and applied the names to the sticky side.  I only got one chance - once the paper is on, it's on!


     So far, the new magnets are working great!  I'm really delighted with this easy fix to an annoying problem.  I'm sure the kids will love to keep their magnet at the end of the year for a souvenir.  I'll keep an eye out for good prices on large sheets of magnets for next year.

     What management system is working for you this year?
Pat McFadyen
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Aaaand...We Have Chicks!


     We've had a great time anticipating our chicks!  My students have collected and recorded data (temperature and humidity) and have faithfully turned, turned, turned the eggs.  After twenty-one days, right on schedule, we had three chicks hatch today and expect more tomorrow!   Their little chirps are so sweet and outdoorsy-sounding.  Our 4-H rep will come this week and collect these little cuties for delivery to local farmers - for pets, I'm sure! :)  
     Will I do this again next year?  I think so!  I'd love to hear about your own experiences incubating chicks.  Do you have suggestions on how to make it go better?  Take care, all, and Happy Spring!




Pat McFadyen
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What's More Fun...the Chicken or the Egg?



      For the first time ever, my classes are incubating chicken eggs!  Thanks for our local 4-H organization, we have an incubator, a dozen fertilized eggs from a local farmer, and a great notebook of information.  The kids are loving it!
      My students sit in groups of four or six.  We have five of these "tables", so each table is assigned a day of the week to tend the eggs - they record the temperature and humidity level, then turn them, several times a day.  You may notice the eggs have an "X" marked on them - the other side has an "O".  That helps us know which side to turn them to.
     The most important rules is cleanliness!  We wash our hands before and after working with the eggs.

     We have 18 more days left of the 21 needed to hatch the chicks.  We can hardly wait!
                    
Pat McFadyen
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Can We Get This Day Started?


                                    
     Our daily classroom procedure is to pick up a Morning Work activity as you come in the door, unpack, make a lunch choice, and get started on the activity.  On most days, my students come in chatty and social.  That's great.  It's normal.  I love to hear them.  However, we eventually need to get started on the Morning Work.  I don't want to keep reminding them to settle down and, the more I do, of course, the less likely they are to do so.
     This week, I suggested to them that I set a timer for about 10 minutes.  That's their time to quietly chat and socialize while they follow the lunch and unpacking procedures.  Once the timer goes off, it's time to get to work - non-negotiable.
     So far, they like it.  As long as they are relatively quiet, they don't hear from me for that 10 minutes.  They seem more amenable to settling down at the beeper.
     We'll see how it works in the coming weeks.   Do you have a routine like this?  Do you have another way of balancing chat time/work time?  Let's hear about it!
Pat McFadyen
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100 Acts of Kindness Display


     Our team decided to use the great "100 Acts of Kindness" freebie from Jennifer Dougherty.  It was a great success!  We challenged all 52 students to "commit" one or more act of kindness by Valentine's Day.  We had lots of fun sharing what we did - helping at home, listening to a friend, or doing something nice at school.
     I hope you'll try this out next year.  Thanks, Jennifer!
Pat McFadyen
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Valentine Candy Heart Math Freebie


      I hope everyone will have a love-ly Valentine's Day later this week!  If you can get hold of one box of candy hearts per child, try this Valentine Freebie that lets students practice some of their real-life application skills: finding fractions, converting fractions to decimals, and decimals to percents.  I'd love to know how it works for you!

Pat McFadyen
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Common Core Science 5.P.2.2


     The 5th grade Science Common Core asks students to "Compare the weight of an object to the sum of the weight of its parts before and after an interaction."  We combined this with practice in measuring mass.
     Before creating a situation with a real "interaction", our tasks recommend assembling an object and comparing the mass of its parts to its total mass.
     We used pop-cubes to assemble a collaborative creation with a partner.  Robots were very popular!
     Students measured the mass of their creation.  Then, they broke apart their creation into 2 or 3 parts.  They measured the mass of each part and added to see if they totaled the the mass of the whole creation. 


     Generally speaking, all totals were correct.  There were a few differences, but we agreed that our scales are a little sensitive, so that probably accounted for it.
     The last step was to display their data.  There were many great ones, but I forgot to tell them to put their names on the back, so I can't share them here!  Here are some examples:

Pat McFadyen
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Probability Anchor Chart


     One of my goals is to create more anchor charts for my classroom.  Instead of re-teaching a lesson on which we've grown rusty, an anchor chart can be the brief reminder of the main points.  Students can refer to it at any time.  This is one I put up this week.  Do you have charts your kids depend on?


Pat McFadyen
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Angle Helper


     We added this Angle-Maker to our math notebooks.  We copied and cut it out of card stock and added hands with a brad.  Students can quickly make angles of specific measures.  It's an easy formative assessment to ask students to make a 90* or 45* angle, for example.  I can quickly see if they have the idea.  I can ask for various classifications of angle - right, obtuse, acute - and students can hold up their notebook for me to see.  Partners can challenge each other to make or label their own angles.

Pat McFadyen
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