Friday, April 24, 2015

Mathematician Detectives: Discovering Clocks & Time

I had the BEST math lesson the other day and I had to share it with you! After 5 years of teaching, I finally found the most engaging way to introduce the concept of the clock to my students. I even incorporated a bit of number sense, counting, and fractions into the lesson! Sneaky, Sneaky!

So my students became DETECTIVES during our math hour. I didn't tell them that they would be learning about clocks, I simply started the lesson by telling them that the would uncover a special math tool that we use everyday! To discover the math tool they received a series of clues that led to constructing a clock out of paper, string, and snap cubes.

Here is any example of a detective envelope:
So through the series of step by step clues they started to uncover that the math tool they were discovering was round, had something to do with the number 60, and could be divided into fourths like a pizza! We also got to review skip counting by fives to make sure we evenly placed the numbers around our clocks! :) Wooooo were our math brains working!
So after being "Kid Tested and Teacher Approved" I made a few tweaks and got this downloadable PDF ready for you! I have added a "Detective Challenge Contract" to support collaboration in teams and to help students recognize that they are working together as a group rather than individually.  I have also differentiated clue cards into three groups:
  • Set A: Student examine the clock by hour and half hour
  • Set B: Students examine the clock by quarter hours
  • Set C: Students examine the clock by 5 minute increments 
So based on the abilities and needs of your students you can have the class complete the same clue cards or put students into different groups to complete a certain set of clue cards.

We completed this activity during our one hour math block and all students worked in teams of 4 during the whole hour. However, you could also put together a detective envelope for a center if you do guided math.  We usually do guided math, but this certain day I decided to mix it up a bit and not do our normal guided math centers. My students ended math by saying "WHAT?!?! Math is over already?" because they were so engaged the whole time. Math flew by the day we were detectives! I used this as an introduction to clocks but you can also use it as a review at the end of the school year because it does touch on counting, skip counting, fractions, geometry, and measurement. I would love to hear how you end up using it, so please feel free to leave me a comment below! :)

Visit my TPT store to grab your copy before the school year ends!

Happy Teaching!

Saturday, April 18, 2015

Liebster Award!

I am happy to announce that I have been nominated for a Liebster Award by Melanie at Confessions of a Kodaly Music Teacher! Thank you so much for your nomination! It means so much to me! :)

If you haven't heard about the Liebster Award, it is awarded to blogs with growing audiences. It is also to acknowledge up and coming blogs and share them with the rest of our blogging community! 

So what exactly is a Liebster? Liebster is a German word and means sweetest, kindest, nicest, dearest, beloved, lovely, pleasant, valued, and endearing.  I am so flattered to be chosen for this awesome recognition as part of the blogging community. After all, teachers are neat, sweet, and hard to beat! :)  

To accept this award I need to answer 11 questions. So it's Q&A TIME! 

1.  Why and how long ago did you start blogging?
I started my blog only a few months ago to connect with other teachers! I love sharing ideas and always find inspiration in connecting with other educators. Learning from other educators keeps me motivated. Not to mention, connecting with other bloggers benefits my students because I gather inspiration from other teachers from all over the world. 

2.  What one word sums up the heart of your blog and why?
Engagement! The ideas I share on my blog are focused around engagement! I want my students to be collaborative, creative thinkers. So when I plan lessons I try to make sure my students are communicating and collaborating with other students as much as possible. I do this to provide opportunities in the classroom that allows students the chance to practice important social skills.  I believe the more students talk about their experiences and knowledge the more they will retain information and become more accountable for their own learning. I always strive to create life long learners in my classroom.

3.  Is there something you learned late in your blogging journey you wished you knew before?
That connecting with other teachers through blogging is so empowering.  I wish I had known this earlier, so I wouldn't have waited so long to start my own blog!

4.  What is your favorite pastime other than blogging?
Spending time with family and friends, decorating, and gettin' crafty! 

5.  How many hours per week do you dedicate to your blog/TPT?
Not nearly enough time on my blog. I usually spend the majority of time on TPT products because I love creating activities for my classroom. Once I have had time to create and use my own TPT products, I finally get around to blogging about them! 

6.  What category of blog posts do you enjoy the most?
Really anything about teaching! I enjoy reading about strategies that work in other classrooms so I can reflect on how they could be used in my own classroom. I also like to get new picture book recommendations from others bloggerss. 

7.  Where does your blog inspiration come from?
My inspiration comes my own classroom. I love sharing what I have done that works well for my students. I also enjoy linking up with other educators for inspiration.

8.  Which post that you've written are you most proud of?
I think I'm most proud of my Virginia is for Book Lovers post because it was my very first blog hop! It was so energizing to connect with other bloggers from Virginia and it shed light on how much I can grow as an educator by blogging with other teachers. Not to mention, I also love the book The Adventures of Beekle

9.  Is there any post you have been planning to do, but have been postponing it for a while now?
I have been wanting to share about a clock activity I recently did in my classroom, so I am hoping to get to that next! I have just been busy preparing for the arrival of our first baby!

10.  What is your favorite aspect of blogging?
My favorite aspect of blogging is linking up with other bloggers through blog hops and linky parties. Through hops and linky parties I am learn from other's ideas.  As Dr. Seuss says "The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you'll go!" Through blogging and reading others blogs I can help my students go more places! 

11.  Which idea from a blog would you like to try yourself?
I am actually getting ready to have my students work on using their senses when writing poetry this coming week, after being inspire by Carla's post at Comprehension Connection.

Now it's time to get to know some more bloggers!

I now nominate these fantastic teachers for the Liebster Award:

1. Stacy at Made with Love
2. Amy at Teach! Sparkle! Smile!
3. Julie at Creatively Crazy with Learning
4. Jayme at Teach Talk Inspire
5. Melinda at Tales of a Sassy Teacher
6. Miss M at Crayons, Pencils, and Students...Oh My
7. Mrs. Richardson at Happy Days in Fourth Grade
8. Breanna at Learning, Labs, and Lattes
9. Jessica at Row into Learning
10. Miss Giraffe at Miss Giraffe's Class
11. Christina at Whale-Come to 2nd Grade

The rules for receiving this award are to:

1. Link back to the blog that nominated you.
2. Answer the 11 questions posted by the nominator. 
3. Nominated 5-11 people (blogs with less that 200 followers) and link them in your post.
4. Contact the nominees and let them know that they have been nominated on your blog.

Thanks for stopping by! 

Sunday, April 5, 2015

Nursery Sneak Peak

Yesterday, April 4th, was one month from baby girls due date! I know due dates are just estimates, but if it is accurate, baby girl could be here May 4th! :) 

To celebrate that baby girl will be here soon, why not share a few pictures of the nursery?!?! It is just about done and ready for her arrival.

If you follow me on Instagram then you already know I LOVE monograms. So with that being said... of course there had to be a monogram somewhere in the room (meaning it became the focal point, just above her crib).
Her name will be Madeleine Maria.  It just so happens that her initials are symmetrical when made as a monogram ;) We will be pronouncing Madeleine as Mad-e-lyn. Her middle name, Maria, is a middle name that has been passed down for many generations on my mothers side of the family.  So Maria is my middle name, my mother's middle name, my grandmother's middle name and so on. 

The monogram came from FromMeToYouMonograms on Etsy. I ordered it unfinished and painted it once it arrived. I was definitely happy with the quality of the monograms and highly recommend that you check out this store. 

When starting the nursery, we bought her bedding first. It is from Pottery Barn Kids, the Harper collection mixed with the Lara collection. The bumper is Lara but the quilt and crib skirt is Harper. The curtains also came from Pottery Barn Kids and is their "sailboat" cloth. 
The glider we ordered from Babies "R" Us.  It is the Kersey upholstered swivel recliner that we ordered in 'burlap'. I shopped around and I was definitely happy with this purchase! It is super comfortable and I love the burlap color.  
It took me forever to figure out what I was going to put above the dresser/changing table that we bought from Ikea's Hemnes collection. At first I was going to do a collage of different frames but after hours of searching on Pinterest, I decided to keep it simple with these three frames below. I ordered these water color prints from TheDaisyFields on Etsy. She was great, she can customize the colors in the tree to match the colors of your nursery. 
I originally saw her print with a coral tree but wanted a bit more light pink for the room. After ordering she sent me a proof and they arrived a few days later. I definitely recommend checking our her shop if you are looking for something for your nursery.
I ended up making the alphabet picture with my Cricut machine. I bought paper from The Paper Source for the background and then cut the letters out on white and silver paper.  Then I glued the letters on to the pink paper and ta-da! Of course this teacher has the alphabet in the nursery! 
I had to share this little guy... he was a gift from baby girl's Great Aunt Donna. It is an elephant chair that came from Pottery Barn Kids and she added the little bows to match the nursery! I love it! 
 And last but not least I had to add this photo...
 When I was taking all of the photos of the nursery Dillard came in and brought his pink pig, "Squeakers"! :) He wanted to make sure he got to make another appearance on the blog! 

If you have any questions about where I bought anything please feel free to comment below. I am happy to share anything about the nursery with you!

Thanks for stopping by!

Friday, April 3, 2015

A STEM Project Just in Time for Earth Day

I must admit the very first time I ever attempted a STEM lesson I was a bit nervous...but once I saw how hooked my students were I knew it was something I needed to implement more of! If you haven't heard too much about STEM, here is a quick rundown:

  1. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics
  2. STEM lessons provide hands-on experiences for your students that involve real world problems and students LOVE to get working right away!
  3. STEM lessons are guided by the engineering design process. (see below)
  4. STEM lessons incorporate 21st thinking skills such a communication, collaboration, and critical thinking.
  5. STEM lessons allow for multiple right answers and provide an environment for students to generate creative solutions.
    Click here to get your copy of this poster in my TpT store!

One thing you must know is that sometimes students projects will fail, and their design might not work. Students may experience some disappointment but that is also when we gain those teachable moments.  When using the engineering design process in a STEM lesson, students can learn from what went wrong and make improvements to try again! 

So if you ready to try a STEM lesson in your classroom or looking for more STEM lessons to add to your collection I have one just in time for Earth Day (April 22nd)! This lesson focuses on the real world problem of littering. In this lesson students design mechanical grabbers to help their community become a cleaner, litter free place! 

Stop by my TpT Store to get your copy of this lesson.  It includes a lesson plan, teacher prep instructions and and activity lab book for your students to use throughout the challenge. I hope your students love the project, just as much as my students did! They definitely were excited about Earth Day so that they could use their grabbers to help clean up our school and teach other students about recycling!