Friday, November 29, 2013

Five for Friday - 11-29-13

While I try to keep myself from getting the Thanksgiving leftovers out before 11:00, my heart is overflowing with all that I have to be thankful for!  One of those things is my little blog and all of the blogging friends I am making! With that said, it's Black Friday and I will not be venturing out with all those crazies!  I'm sitting in my pjs writing my Five For Friday post!!!!  Make sure you head on over to Doodle Bugs Teaching to see what everybody has been up to this Thanksgiving week!

Last Friday, the hubby and I had a pre-marathon date to go see Matt Nathenson in concert in Tulsa at Caine's Ballroom!  We had a such a great time!  If you've never seen him in concert before, he is quite the entertainer!

I already posted this earlier in the week, but I'm so proud of my hubby that it is definitely worth mentioning twice!  Hubby ran a marathon on Sunday - plus an extra 3 tenths!  He did so amazing and it was only 25 degrees outside!  He's my hero!

Yesterday was my sweet little girl's first Thanksgiving!  Love her little turkey outfit!

We spent Thanksgiving in St. Louis with my parents this year!  We had wonderful food and a rousing game of Apples to Apples that made everyone, including the baby laugh!

I started planning the little one's first birthday this week and I am excited and sad at the same time!  Her favorite book is Brown Bear, Brown Bear what do you see? so that is going to be our theme and I'm super excited!

How was your Thanksgiving week?  

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Tried it Tuesday: QR Codes to Display student work

I've been a bad blogger the past week!  It was crazy busy at school and at home because the hubby was getting ready to run his second marathon on Sunday!  It was 18 degrees at the start and didn't get above 30 all day! He did a great job and even ran an extra three tenths of a mile to make the total 26.5!  He's my hero!  We got to see him several places along the route and even at mile 20 he was still smiling!

Now on to the task at hand!  Tried It Tuesday with Holly over at Fourth Grade Flipper!

Today I wanted to share something new I did last week with my kiddos to display their digital work!  We've been working with Educreations a lot lately and I love that my kids can share their problem solving strategies with a larger audience, but I wanted to figure out a way to display their work in the hallway like everyone else does!  Enter QR codes.  If you haven't ventured into the world of QR codes, you really should!  They are such a cool tool to use both inside and outside the classroom!  

We use the term digital native all the time when talking about these 21st century kiddos, but if there is one thing I've learned in my 3 months of having laptops, it's that they have a lot to learn about how to use technology for educational purposes!  Sure they can upload a picture to Instagram, but ask them to change tabs, insert x, or go to a specific website and you need to just be prepared for a ton of questions!

This is the process we went through last week to create a QR code to display our Educreations videos! After my students made an Educreations video from a multiplication problem we did last week, I walked them through the process of making a QR code using  We used Power Point to create a page that had their name on it.  I used this as an opportunity to teach them how to size the page, change the layout, and insert a word art text.  They loved playing with rotating their name!  

Then we came to the tricky part.  I've been trying to teach them how to work in different tabs at the same time.  I still have some kids who can't remember how to open a new tab, but that's a different story.  They had to work within three tabs to make this all work.  First, they had to go to Educreations and log-in and pull up their video.  Then, they had to open a new tab and go to our bookmarked Todaysmeet to access the link to  Once they had the new tab for qrstuff opened, then they had to go back to Educreations and copy their link.  Go back to the qrstuff tab and paste the link to create the QR code.  Then we had to download the QR code and copy/paste it back into our power point!!!!!  Whew!  I'm exhausted just writing it all down and reliving the experience with my 4th graders!  

My original plan was to just print the codes with their names and hang up out in the hallway. That proved to be a little messy as everyone didn't quite follow directions for formatting the page.  So I made a cute little half page frame with each of their names and glued it on a colored piece of paper.  They cut out their QR codes and glued them on the frame to be displayed out in our hallway!  I think they turned out super cute!  My principal even came by and asked for a tutorial on QR codes so she could go and watch all of the videos! The bulletin board is still in progress, but when it's all done, I'll get a picture up Here is what I have done so far!

Tuesday, November 19, 2013

Tuesday Tried It: Open Ended Projects

Only 3 more school days until Thanksgiving break!  We get the whole week off and I'm so excited!  It's Tuesday and it's time for Tried It Tuesday with Holly over at Fourth Grade Flipper!

With my 21st Century laptop grant, my district wants us to focus on project based learning.  I'm trying to refine my project designing skills, and while I'm working on those skills, I've been leaning on Teaching with a Mountain View and her awesome open ended math projects!  She also has some amazing task cards if you are looking for some as well!  We completed her Ireland Trip project back in September when we were working on addition and subtraction.  This week we started her Resort Report this week.

What I love about these projects, is that there are so many right answers!!!  My students are working with partner on this project to calculate the costs of building a resort. They loved doing the Ireland Project and are just as excited about their resort!

Here are my students working on their resorts!  Don't they just look engrossed?!

There are some major pros and there are some cons to doing open ended math projects like this.

Here are the pros:
1. There are multiple right answers
2. The kids get to be creative and choose how the want to solve the problems
3. Students are highly engaged

Here are some cons:
1. Time: You have to be able to devote some serious time to these projects and know that even when you hit your "deadline" the kids may still need more time.
2. There are right answers, but everyone has a different right answer.  This can be challenging when checking students' work.  You cant\'t exactly make an answer key for every possible answer.
3. Repeating directions: because the project is student guided, they are different places at different times.  This means that when they get to a new section, I have to explain the directions, and I have do do this multiple times.

This project was just what I needed to get me through this last week before Thanksgiving break!  Do you use open projects in your classroom?

Friday, November 15, 2013

Five for Friday: 11-15-13

Wow, has it been a week!  I've been waiting for Friday all week, but the unfortunately the weekend isn't going to bring much rest.  One of my teammates lost her son tragically this week and we have all been in mourning.  The funeral is tomorrow and it will probably be one of the hardest things I have ever had to be a part of.  Please keep their family in your thoughts and prayers.

Now, Praise the Lord that it's Friday and time for Five for Friday with Doodle Bugs Teaching!

I gave my little girl her first haircut this week!  She's not even one yet, but it was looking rough. She was born with a ton of hair that stuck straight up and has always had a little mullet action going on in the back.  Well I cut off the "rattail" and trimmed her bangs!  She's looks like such a big girl now!

My kids tackled long multiplication this week like champions!  I'm so proud of all of their strategies and how much their persevered through each problem I gave them!  Here they are doing a gallery walk analyzing their peers' strategies for the problem 15 x 8.

I love all the cocked heads as they are looking at the problems!

We did our first science experiment of the year this week!  It went great and the kids loved it! Skittles and science... who wouldn't love it???!!!!

 I wrote more about it here.

Kidblog is my new favorite tool to use in the classroom!

We have been blogging in class for the last three weeks and the kids are so engaged with it!  They get to practice their typing skills, writing skills, share their work with a broader audience, and they love to comment on each other's posts!  I wrote about Educreations on Tuesday, and we have been using Kidblog to share links to our problem solving solutions in Educreations!  They work great together and the kids love watching each other solve the same problem.

Wednesday I got to participate in a writing group with some other teachers.  My husband was part of the National Writing Project 4 years ago and still gets together with some of the other participants to write.  Over the past 2 years or so, I have joined him on occasion for the socialization and the chance to improve my writing.  I'm not a great writer, but blogging is really helping me find my voice.  My hubby came up with the prompt where we had to brainstorm 3 roads that had significance in our life and give a short discription of each.  Then we had to pick two of the roads and make them into one minor character and one major character in whatever piece you chose to write.  This was hard for me, but I got something down on paper.  It's nice to feel like a real person doing something fun with other educators that doesn't involve talking about standards or testing.

Wednesday, November 13, 2013

Science with Candy: Skittles Experiment

I'm absolutely loving this Intro to Science unit from Melissa over at More Time 2 Teach!

In Arkansas 20% of your science instruction is supposed to be hands on, otherwise known as experiments.  Yesterday and today my kiddos completed the Skittles Experiment from the Unit above.  The problem/question for the experiment is "In which liquid does the candy coating dissolve the fastest - soda, cold water, or hot water?" The kids hypothesized which liquid they thought would dissolve the candy coating the fastest, and then the experiment commenced!  

{Insert overload of pictures}

So with my first class yesterday to save time, we did all three cups at the same time.  I also forgot to have them measure the temperature of the water (oops!).  We used an online stopwatch on the smartboard because I didn't have enough stop watches for each group.

With my other class I actually followed all of the steps because we had more time today.  We actually measured the water temperature in each cup and timed them one at a time.  I think this way was quite a bit more accurate.  They were only watching one Skittle at a time instead of observing all the 3 at once.

Here are some close-ups of the what the Skittles looked like during the experiment.

You can see the S floating in this one!  So cool!

 When they finished with the experiment, I let them eat the candy if they divided the extra Skittles even among their group and gave the remainders to me!!!! Math during science!  Who would have guessed???
My kids LOVED this experiment and they were totally engaged the entire time!  After the experiment, they blogged about it explaining the procedures and results!  I'm excited to read what they wrote!

What science experiments do you do in your class?
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