Saturday, January 31, 2015

Saturday Smorgasbord

Well, I'm less than a week into my new blogging resolution, and I'm already off schedule!  It's been an unusual week.  My husband and I are both pretty much homebodies who rarely venture out during the week.  But we have been out 3 nights in a row this week.  We attended a retirement seminar on Tuesday. ( After 37 of years of teaching PE he's considering hanging up his gym shoes and trading them for his fishing boots).  We met up for dinner with some old friends from out of state on Wednesday, where I discovered I DO like Indian food after basically refusing to try it for years!  Thursday was our middle daughter's birthday so we went out to dinner with the family.  I'm exhausted but no time to rest since our annual Super Bowl party is coming up.  I guess I'll sleep next week, but I did want to take some time and try to catch up on my posts.

Problem solving has been on my mind recently.  I LOVE teaching problem solving- you can read about my love for it here and here.  But I'm not having the same success this year with quite a few of my friends. So this week we spent I decided to slow down and reviewed our problem solving model, UPSCheck.  Our model is based  on the work of George Polya and teaches these 4 steps: Understand, Plan, Solve and Check. We used some problems from this set I found on TPT by Brandi Wayment to practice using the model.  (I love these problems because you can differentiate by changing the numbers.)  By the end of the week I felt like my firsties were doing a much better job of showing and explaining their thinking! I'm looking forward to watching their progress during the next few weeks.

Enjoy the Super Bowl if that's your thing and the rest of the weekend!

post signature

Tuesday, January 27, 2015

Technology Tuesday: Plickers

A few weeks before Christmas our wonderful Classroom Technology Designer (who I would love to be  when I "grow up!") came and demonstrated Plickers to my class.  It is now one of our favorite activities!

Plickers is a tool that lets you collect data from students without each student needing a device.  All you need is one device such as an Ipad, tablet or Smartphone and a set of student response cards, and you can quickly gather formative assessment data from your students.

Here's how it works:
  1. Download the app from the Apple App Store or Google Play for Android on the device you will be using.
  2. Go to and sign in with the same User ID that you used for the app.
  3. Print a set of response cards.
  4. Add a class and create your multiple choice or true/false questions.
  5. Display your question.  I project mine using my Smartboard using Live View, but you could also use a document camera or write the question and answer choices on the board.
  6. Students show their answer by holding their response card so the letter of their choice is at the top.
  7. Using your device, scan the cards.  Plickers will let you know if you have captured each student's response. Once all of the students have responded you can quickly view the data and move on to the next question. 
Sample plickers card

Scanning the responses
For more information about how Plickers works, check out the Plickers website or this post by Tabitha Carro that includes a great video.  I love using Plickers as a quick check for understanding at the end of a lesson or as a review or warm-up activity before a lesson.

I hope you'll try Plickers and let me know how you liked it!

post signature

Monday, January 26, 2015

All About a Number Freebie

I was home sick today and spent most of my time reading blogs and working on school stuff! I created a task card for strengthening number sense that utilizes one of our favorite apps.  We've been using PicCollage a lot in language arts so last week I had one of my math groups use it to show different ways to describe a number.  They enjoyed making their number collages so I thought I would make it an independent workstation this week.  I use Donna's (from The Math Coach's Corner) wonderful themed number cards (find them here) and put several cards, a set of base ten blocks and an iPad in the tub.  Simple to set up and easy to differentiate by choosing different cards for each group.

An example of Donna's cards.  This month I am using her penguin set!

Here's the task card if you'd like to try it!
Click here to download

That's it for tonight.  If you're in the path of the blizzard, stay warm and safe! (No chance of a blizzard here in Texas!)

post signature

Saturday, January 24, 2015

Saturday Smorgasbord: Ramblings and Resolutions

One of my New Year's resolutions was to spend more time doing the things I love. Blogging is one of the things I love,  but for several months I have just not been able to motivate myself to write. In an attempt to get back into regular blogging I am going to try pre-planning some posts using themes.
Of course, if this fat cat doesn't stop sitting on my laptop, I might not even get this post finished!

Here's the plan:
Saturday Smorgasbord: Whatever pops into my head, teaching related or not!
Technology Tuesday: How I am using technology in my classroom.
Thoughtful Thursday:  My thoughts on books I am reading, issues in education or what's happening in my classroom or school
Hopefully having a plan will get me fired up about blogging again!

So here are my ramblings for today!

  • A friend I've know since elementary school has written a wonderful book based on her experiences as a kindergarten teacher.  Check out The Book of Frank by Debbie Marsh.  You will laugh a lot, maybe cry a little and definitely relate! 
  • I am obsessed with pasta lately! (Another New Year's resolution was to eat healthier, and I know that Paleo or low-carb, gluten free eating is all the rage, but I love my carbs!)  Right before Christmas my husband and I went to dinner at a friend's house, and she had us all help make pasta.  I was hooked, and a few days later I found myself the owner of a new KitchenAid mixer and the pasta making attachments. (When your husband says "You know you want it so go ahead and order it", you DO NOT hesitate.  I couldn't get that baby in my Amazon cart fast enough!)  I've tried both the fettuccine and spaghetti cutters and made some very good whole wheat pasta.  Next up: ravioli.

  • This year has been all about utilizing technology in my classroom.  I am loving our new learning platform, Canvas by Instructure.  I'll share more about it in a future post, but for now I just want to say it has been a great way to help my little ones access websites, view videos and complete workstation activities more independently.  I've even been asked to become a teacher trainer for my district, and I am super excited!
Thanks for stopping by and see you Tuesday!

post signature