Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Menu Mania!

One of my favorite ways to differentiate student work is to use activity menus in the classroom. I like using menus because the students get to decide what projects they want to work on, it gives me an opportunity to teach to the multiple intelligences, and it keeps the students actively engaged.

When I use the menus, I teach a quick mini-lesson, give the students a quick check, and then have them work on their menu activities. For example, we are currently studying place value in math (click here to see the place value menu). Our first mini-lesson was on understanding the value of each digit in a number. After I taught the mini-lesson, I gave the students a 5 question quick check. My quick check problems correlate with the mini-lesson. The students who got all five of the questions correct were able to begin their activity menus. The students who missed some problems were able to meet with me for small group instruction. Once these students mastered the skill, they were then able to begin working on their activity menus.

The students work on their menu activities every day. By the time we are done with the unit, the students have completed their menus. I use the completed menus as a major grade.

My class working hard on their menu activities.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

New School Year, New School, New Classroom!

This year I get to help open a new school! I am so excited! My new school is offering so many incredible opportunities for the children. The school is health and science focused. We have partnered with our local hospital to educate our students on how to live a healthy lifestyle. The cafeteria food is homemade local food. No processed food here! I am seriously rethinking my previous opinions about school cafeteria food. We are a project based learning school, participate in the LEEDS Program (we're paperless), and have iPads for our students! I am just so excited to be a part of such an incredible school!

Here are some pictures of my new classroom! I have an owl theme this year. We are Tighe's Thinkers since we are an inquiry-based school.

Here's the welcome sign for my room.

Here's our current bulletin board display.

Our classroom library.

Our helper chart and supply shelves.

Our data station.

The view of my classroom. The students were working on their morning work before I took this picture.

I love the new touch screen Promethean Board!

I finally have cubbies for my students!
Since I am at a project based learning school, I will be creating plenty of project-based learning resources. Feel feel to check out my TechersPayTeachers store for future items. Here's to an awesome school year!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Owl Themed Classroom

I will be joining a brand new school next year, and I can't wait! I have always wanted to help start a new school, and I am extremely excited about being part of this amazing school. I will be working with a wonderful staff! My new school is a project based learning (PBL) school, and I want my classroom theme to go along with my school's approach to education. So next year my students will be Tighe's Thinkers instead of Tighe's Tigers, and we will have an owl themed classroom.

I will be creating different owl themed products for my Teachers Pay Teachers store. I just finished creating an owl themed behavior clip chart for my classroom. I use this clip chart in my classroom everyday to manage student behavior. I like this system because it focuses on positive behavior, and gives my students a chance to improve their behavior. Each student has a clothespin for this chart to keep track of his/her behavior throughout the day. At the end of the day, they record their behavior in their agendas.

Here's the finished product. Ready for next year!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Classroom Parking Lot

     Now that it's the summer, I plan on relaxing and working on things for my classroom next year. The first project I started working on was recreating my classroom Parking Lot. My old Parking Lot was looking a little used. My school uses Quality Tools in the classroom. One of my favorite tools we use is the Parking Lot. I like this tool because it gives the students a chance to share their ideas, questions, and thoughts.
     At the beginning of the school year, I introduce my students to our Parking Lot. I have the Parking Lot set up in the back of my classroom at our data station. The Parking Lot is for the students to use whenever they have something they want to share. I listen to my students questions and ideas while I am teaching, but sometimes we run out of time and I ask them to write their thoughts down on the Parking Lot. Some of my shy students prefer to use the Parking Lot. Once they get used to this tool, you'd be surprised how frequently they use it!
    There are four sections in the Parking Lot. The + section is for things they like. If I was teaching a lesson on the Civil War and a student liked the project I assigned, he/she could use this section to share their opinion. The delta section is for things we need to change. If I was teaching a lesson on long division and students were having a difficult time, they could use this section to tell me what I need to change to make the concept easier for them to understand. The ? section is for any questions they have, and the I section is for any ideas they have. I have a Ziploc bag with sticky notes and pens inside for the students to quickly write down their ideas, questions, and thoughts. At the end of every day, I read their posts. It's a great way for me to assess my teaching and better reach my students.

This is a picture of my old Parking Lot.
I have created a new Parking Lot for next year. Click here to download a copy for your classroom.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Hello World!

Hello world! I have finally decided to enter into the world of blogging. This is my first attempt at a blog, so if you have any advice please let me know! I want to use this blog to share ideas and reflect on things that are happening throughout my teaching adventures. I have been teaching for nine years, and I am currently teaching fourth grade. Throughout my career, I have taught third, fourth, first, and sixth grade. I graduated from Clemson University with a BA in Elementary Education, and I received my M.Ed from Southern Wesleyan University. I hope you enjoy my blog!

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Owl Pellet Lab

    We are currently studying animal adaptations. As part of our unit, we dissected owl pellets. I know they are like owl hairballs, but the students had a great time and learned a ton. I divided this lab into three lessons.
    On the first day, I introduced the lesson on the Promethean Board with the KidWings owl pellet site. This an amazing site! It has owl pellet information, directions, an instructional video, and a virtual owl pellet. The virtual owl pellet is my favorite. It's a great way to show the students how to complete the dissection properly.
    On the second day, we went into the lab and began our dissection. I divided the students into pairs, gave them tweezers, gloves,  bone sorting and classifying sheets, and magnifying glasses. It took them about 30 minutes to complete the dissection.
    On the third day, we sorted our bones using the bone sorting sheet. Once we sorted the bones, we used the classifying sheet to help identify what our owls ate. Some students had multiple meals in their pellet. After we identified the meals, I had the students piece together and mount their skeletons with glue on black construction paper. At the end of our lab, we wrote a reflection on what we learned in our science journals.

Owl Pellet Lab on PhotoPeach

Monday, May 14, 2012

Explorer Webquest

While studying explorers, my students worked on The Case of the Missing Trunks Webquest. I used the Webquest as a culminating activity to finish our unit. I love this lesson because it is set up like a mystery and the students are detectives working hard to solve the puzzle. My students loved enjoyed working on this project.

Here's the missing trunk.

To make this project run smoothly, there are a couple of things you will need to prepare ahead of time. I wanted to make this assignment feel real so I created a trunk for the artifacts. I used a cardboard box and wrapped it in construction paper. I made an artifact bag for each explorer. Each bag was numbered and had five artifacts inside. I used maps, pictures of flags, and primary sources for the artifacts.

This is an example of an explorer bag. I used this one for Ponce de Leon.

I divided the students into groups and gave each group a bag. The slide show below shows us in action! 

Explorer Webquest on PhotoPeach

Instead of creating luggage tags, I had my students create an explorer wordle using http://www.wordle.net/.