Friday, March 29, 2013

Addition & Subtraction with QR Codes!

I am so excited to share my first product using QR codes!  I had never even heard of them until yesterday! My dearest friend Amanda, over at Learning to the Core, told me about them and I couldn't wrap my head around the concept of how it works, but once I started doing some of my own research, I was beyond fascinated and couldn't wait to learn more!  I learned a little bit about Quick Response Codes through InsideThe Classroom Outside the Box and then I started searching through pinterest, TPT stores, and other teacher blogs such as, I Teach 1:1 blog. 

Once I started learning more, I couldn't help myself other than to try figuring out how to do it on my own!   If, I myself am extremely intrigued by the idea of QR Codes I know my students are going to go nuts for more activities that use them!

I decided to do my first product with addition and subtraction with regrouping for the QR Codes since that is always something we can continue to work on in 2nd grade!  It's important for our little guys to keep practicing all of the steps every once in awhile jusssstttt to make sure they really have the steps down solid!

After each student completes a task card problem and showed their work on their answer sheet they will place the task card in front of the computer screen, ipad, or android product while in the "QR Code READER" mode and it will register the "barcode." Students will receive immediate feedback with the correct answer!  This concept is so rewarding and helps kids feel empowered by knowing the answer without the teacher having to be right there with them!

Check out how engaged the kiddos are!!  It's quite amazing how quiet the classroom is and how hard working they are!

Here's a peak at my Addition & Subtraction Task Cards with QR Codes! Click HERE to purchase your own set!

There are 2 things you need to make sure you do in order to use QR codes.  First thing you need to do is download a QR CODE GENERATOR and and QR CODE READER.  There are many free apps out there that you can download.

I downloaded i-nigma reader It's compatible with both apple products and android products.  I also downloaded the QR Bar Code Scanner Reader.  They are equally compitable and user friendly.  You will only need to use one reader and make sure it is downloaded on your apple or android product to use it.

Then, I downloaded the QR CODE GENERATOR by KAYWA and found it to be very user friendly.  All you do is type in your response/answer that you want your students to see.  It could be a word, sentence, number, problem, link to a website, positive reinforcement, etc..the responses are endless!

Hope you got to learn a little bit more about how to use QR codes in your classroom.....Share how you have integrated QR codes in your class by joining our "I heart QR Codes Linky Party!"

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Sunday, March 24, 2013

St. Patrick's Day, Contractions & Spring Break

Spring Break has finally arrived!!!  We all were ready for a much needed break to refresh for the last few months of school.  The husband and I decided to take an impromptu road trip to Austin, TX to cheer on our Illini basketball team in the NCAA March Madness tournament.  Luckily we are avoiding the snow back home!  I spent today shopping in the 2nd Street District downtown Austin, while Brett played some disc golf.  Can't wait for game time tonight!

We started off last week with a sneaky leprechaun leaving a "pot of gold" for us to find.  The kiddos had so much fun searching the room for clues until they found the treasure.  I used clues created by A Cupcake for the Teacher.   We also wrote our ideas about how to catch a leprechaun.  They had some pretty clever ideas!

  Our word work this week was contractions.  The kiddos loved learning how to create contractions and every time they found one in their reading, they are quick to point it out!  We did some "contraction surgery" to create these new words.  I wrote the two words that make a contraction on colorful sentence strips.  The students had to cut them apart and use a band aid to make the apostrophe for the contraction they were creating.  Students worked in pairs and each group shared the contraction they made and the group had to figure out what two words made that contraction.  They really loved this hands-on learning and being "word doctors".

Hope everyone is having a relaxing Spring Break!!


Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Reading & Writing Focus Cards and Fluency

As I ponder about where my little 2nd graders started this year and where they're at now...I think about how far along they have come as readers and writers.  They have all made some nice gains, but I want to refine my teaching practices and provide students with a little more guidance in helping them become even more independent learners.   As part of my role as a special education teacher and reading specialist in the regular ed classroom, I have been thinking about what more can I do to help my learners take on more responsibility and ownership of their reading and writing.  It dawned on me to provide them with more visual support and giving them just ONE goal to work on in writing and ONE  goal to work on in reading independently throughout every day.  This way students know what is expected of them and don't feel too overwhelmed by trying to remember all of the important things we do as readers and writers.  Soooo, I created several different writing and reading Strategy cards for students to have right at their desk every day whenever they are reading and writing.  I am so excited about getting these strategy cards up and running after spring break!  I think it's going to be a powerful tool and reminder to my students of how they can continue to work on and improve their work!  

Often times we try to hold our little young writers accountable for ALL of the conventions of writing, but for some, this almost seems like a foreign language to them to understand. Help your students become a better writer by helping them be responsible for just ONE area of writing at a time. Students will have their "Writing Focus Card" with them on their desk whenever they are writing. 

-capital letter
-finger space
-lowercase letters throughout
-punctuation mark
-known sight words spelled correctly 
**Laminate and velcro writing focus card on student's desk as a visual reminder of what they are responsible for every time they write!**

-make the first sound and look at pic
-use punctuation to make my voice sound interesting
-Check across the whole word to make it look right
-Reread when it doesn't look right or make sense

**Put these reading focus cards on popsicles sticks and use as bookmarks to help students remember to use the 1 reading strategy they need to focus on during independent reading***

There are several different styles of the strategy cards, so just pick on of your own personal taste!

***Create a Guided Writing Booklet for each student and use these pages back-to-back to help scaffold and build writing skills!***

Guided Writing Pages 

After you do your guided reading with your students, it’s helpful to have special guided writing strategies and focuses to work on too! I have created guided writing paper with a “Criteria for Success” at the bottom of the page so that students can check their work for conventions. Typically, I try to hold students accountable for their ONE “writing focus” from their writing focus card and then I will help with other parts of writing along the way. 

Choose the guided writing page that fits your style.  I have been using picture #2 all of this year, but I think I like the organizational structure of picture #1 better now. I am going to give this one a try too after spring break!  

Practice Pages

There are 2 pages you can choose from to use as a practice page. This is a great space for students to practice any letters they are having difficulty forming or any new words they are still working on. Often times I use this space for Elkonin boxes (sound boxes) to help students hear and record sounds in words before they write the words in their stories. Sound boxes are a critical piece in helping our beginning writers stretch words slowly and record the sounds they hear. With teacher guidance and support, students are able to write new words. Also this page is a great resource

for students who need visual reminders for vowel sounds, digraphs, and b/d confusions.

Choose the vowel/digraph that best fits your learners.  


Fluency Self-Reflection Rubric
Students will read a familiar book twice and reflect and their fluency skills and reading strategies (Use photo both or garageband to record timed reads to help students self-reflect on their rate, expression, and reading strategies!) 


-Reading Strategies

Then students will choose one area of reading fluency/strategies to work on in order to continue to improve their reading! 

This package is loaded with visual cues for our beginning readers and writers!

I'm always thinking about how I can help my students become more independent learners!  These reading and writing strategy cards, guided writing cues, and fluency self-reflection sheets remind students of their academic expectations with less teacher support!  I hope you find these visual cues helpful in your classrooms too!  I would love to hear how they are going in your classroom too!!  

Click here to get your very own reading & writing focus cards, guided writing paper and practice page, and reading fluency self-reflection rubric!

Spring break is finally here and I can't wait to get outta here!!!

1. VEGAS, VEGAS, VEGAS right after school on Friday with the hubby!
2. Enjoy the crazy, fun night life on the strip
3. Go see BEATLES Love show!
4. Watch the fountain light and water show at Belagio! It's the most beautiful thing I have ever seen!
5. Play some GOLD FISH slot machines and some 3 card.
6. Enjoy some warm weather and get some sun on this pasty girl!
6. Come home and celebrate my birthday!
7. Spend time with family!
8. Go see a comedy show
9. Begin thinking about additional ways to strengthen my teaching practices! 
10. Get my first 5 mile run in before the SHAMROCK SHUFFLE in Chicago on April 7! : ) 

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Monday, March 18, 2013

I Spy Time

We've been working the last few weeks on time.  One thing my students really like in math is the "I Spy" games, where they have to roam around the room searching for their math problems.  They like the "hunt" of finding them hidden all around the room.  In our time unit, I didn't have an "I Spy" game that was to the quarter hour, half hour, and o'clock.  So, I created one!  I can't wait to try it out!

In this unit, there are 16 different clocks and a student recording sheet.  
This activity can be used whole class, small group, or as a center activity.

You can find this unit in My TPT Store or by clicking on any of the images above.  
Please let me know what you think!


Sunday, March 17, 2013

Happy St. Patrick's Day

Just getting prepared for our St. Patrick's Day celebration tomorrow!  I created these cute "Lucky Charms" bag toppers tonight.

For your free copy, click on the image above or HERE

I put together bags for each of my students.  My computer is not printing in color right now (not sure how to fix it), so I copied the bag toppers onto green card stock.  Makes them a little more festive!  They are going to be so excited to have a yummy little treat in the morning!!

I have planned to start the day with a little treasure hunt.  There will be a "pot of gold" (bag of Rolos) hidden somewhere in the room by our friendly leprechaun for the students to find.  I found really cute treasure hunt clues on A Cupcake for the Teacher.  Our kiddos are going to be so excited!  We already had a deep discussion on Friday trying to decide whether or not Leprechauns were real!

During math we are going to practice our graphing skills using our Lucky Charms.  I found a Lucky Charms Math Freebie on Teachers Pay Teachers that I am going to try out. 

Hope you all have a Happy St. Patrick's Day!!


Like Our New Facebook Page

Check out our new Facebook page!  We finally have it up and running.  We have links to recent posts in our TPT stores as well as pictures of new units we have created.  Check it out and "like" us!!  Click on the picture below or HERE to get to our new Facebook page.

* Carrie

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Book Bag Labels

One thing that I use with my class are book bags.  Each week, I send home a book bag with a variety of leveled books in the bag.  Students have this bag of books at home all week to read.  They can use the books for their daily independent reading or to read aloud with a family member.  My kiddos get really excited about which bag they are going to get each week and what books are in there! 

Right now, I am using the small reusable bags that I got from Walmart and Target dollar spots.  I have each bag labeled so I can tell them apart and I can keep track of what bag the students take home each week.  After two years, some of these bags and labels are starting to need to be replaced and my need to have them all match is kicking in.  So, I created some new labels that I'm going to try out. 

 I plan on copying them on colored card stock paper and laminating them so they will last.  Now I'm on the look out for some new bags.  I got a few Dr. Seuss bags at the beginning of this school year and would love to get a class set of those for my new book bags!

I have created 42 book bag labels.  It's always good to have some extra book bags in case one gets misplaced or a student forgets to bring theirs back.  If you would like a set of these book bag labels, please check out My TPT Store or click on the picture above.

~ Carrie

Monday, March 11, 2013

New Facebook Page

We just launched our new Facebook page!!  Please check it out and "like" our page to keep up with all of our latest posts!

~ Carrie

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Making Change Games

Last month we did a math unit on making change up to $1.00.  Students practiced identifying coins by name, size, shape, president, front, and back characteristics.  As students rebuilt their basic money identification skills, they were able to learn how to count change using different denominations.

It's important that our little kiddos have their basic math counting skills, being able to count by 5s, 10s, and 25 intact to help them better understand the process of making change.  We needed to take a few days to practice counting by 5s's to help rebuild automaticity (Ex: 35, 40, 45, 50.....or 85, 90 85, 100, etc).  Students also needed additional practice counting by 10s when trying to add on to a quarter (25, 35, 45, 55....or 75, 85, 95, etc.).  After a few times of practicing students were able to pick up on the skip counting strategy.

We then had students practice making change with two denominations for a day, and then started practicing making change using three and four denominations up to $1.00.  For some of our more struggling students we pulled out a hundreds chart to help with the skip counting, and to show how to change the counting pattern for different denominations.

Once students were able to pick up the skill of changing denominations more independently they were able to play some interactive partner money games.  I created "Go MONEY" and "MONEY WAR" games to reinforce making change up to $1.00.   Both games are typically familiar to most students, so I thought by using the same game concept with a math skill they are learning was a great way for them to have fun and practice an important life skill at the same time!

You can use the same set of playing cards for both games! I love that you can get more than one use out of the cards!  All you have to do is print on card stock, laminate, and they are ready for a center!  I would make a few classroom sets so that you can have multiple pairs of students playing at one time!

Click on the images below to get a copy of "GO MONEY" and "MONEY WAR" playing cards!

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Friday, March 8, 2013

Reading with Fluency!

During the past few weeks in guided reading I have been doing a heavy focus on reading fluency with our little 2nd graders who are struggling to read on grade level.  Fluency is such a critical piece to reading and can often be dropped to the wayside with all of the other areas of reading that we tend to focus on.  
As a second year Reading Specialist in a K-2 building, I have realized how building the foundation of fluency skills has such a great impact on the rest of a student's future in reading.  For most, the skill of reading is a natural, sequential process,  but for our other learners who may have come to school with limited text experiences or who haven't picked up on how reading sounds, seem to need more guidance and direct teaching on fluency strategies.
While most students can read the words in the text, often times you'll hear readers sound very flat and monotone; making it VERY difficult to listen to!  It drives me crazy when I listen to some of my readers who have paid little attention to the author's clues (pictures, bold words, punctuation) to help them make their reading sound more interesting!  Those "robot" readers could use the most help in fluency strategies to help them build even more meaning of a story/book while they read. 
Some of our most struggling readers have learned bad habits and that reading is simply just reading words.  To help our most struggling readers,  I have created a guided reading fluency self-assessment rubric to help students stay focused on building their fluency so that they can begin to read for meaning and make reading sound more interesting.  

As I introduced the fluency self-assessment rubric I first modeled for the students a good and bad example of reading fluency and self-assessed myself. This Think Aloud strategy helped my students see what kinds of things they need to pay attention to while they read.  I really like using the rubric because it gives students a visual and reminder of what we do as we read to sound phrased and fluent!   

Students got excited when they beat their 1st read time and were putting words together to make their reading sound nice and smooth!!  Students were able to use their 1st read self-assessment answers to help them improve on their 2nd read.  My students really seemed motivated and excited about their self-assessment because it helped them improve their fluency!  It was so great to see their faces light up as they worked hard and applied more effort on their fluency!

The rubric focuses on:
*Reading Strategies

This rubric is meant to be used with your student's guided reading books (instructional/independent books) but with your supervision and guidance. 

Students will read the same book twice and assess themselves on the above categories.  Teacher support is recommended to help students build an understanding of what fluency sounds like. 

Once the student has completed both reads of the book, help the student choose a fluency goal that they think they need to work on to become a more fluent reader! 

Click on the image below to get your own copy from my TpT store! 

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Sunday, March 3, 2013

Reading Centers Checklist & Rubrics

We've been making some changes to our guided reading stations recently and I wanted to share some of our ideas with you.  Our guided reading time is currently one hour.  Caitlin and I meet with groups for 20 minutes each during this time, which leaves our students with 2 center activities each day.  We created a schedule of what station groups would do each day.  This helps keep me organized!  The center schedule is listed on the board for the students to see.  (One of my next projects is to create new pictures to put up on the board for each station. I'm not happy with the ones I have right now.)  The centers that the students are currently using are - writing, word work, read with a partner, listening center, and classroom library (reading independently).

At the beginning of the year, we created a "writing board" for the students to use.  This idea came from the book Literacy Work Stations by Debbie Diller. 

The students really like using this writing board, especially when they have a hard time coming up with ideas to write about.  

We also created writing journals at the beginning of the year.  I found composition notebooks on clearance at Target.  Students brought in pictures from home.  We glued them to the outside of the notebooks and I covered each with contact paper so they would last all year.  Students use these notebooks during their writing station.  They use the pictures on the outside to get ideas for their writing.  They have a real sense of pride about their "picture journal."  Here is the example of the one I created.  It includes a lot of my favorites - St. Louis Cardinals,  cupcakes, New York City, M&Ms, my family, our dog Jax, the beach, apples, fall, Christmas time, and superheroes!

As the year has progressed, I noticed that some of our students were doing the same activity in each station instead of making different choices each day.  There was also no accountability for their choices.  So, we came up with some changes that we've implemented.  The students have a "Reading Center Checklist" that they fill out at the end of center time each day.  They keep this checklist in their Centers folder.

 Students check off the activities that they work on that day.  The next time they are in that station, the checklist helps them see what activity they already did this week and reminds them to choose something different to work on.  At the end of the week, this goes home to the parents to see what their child has been working on.  There is a spot for them to sign it and return on Monday.  Keeps the students accountable.

We also created a rubric for students to complete during their read to a partner and independent reading stations.  I have the students use a timer to keep track of how much time they spend reading during their station.  You can use an inexpensive kitchen timer from the dollar store or Walmart.

Students rate themselves on their fluency and using reading strategies.  They also rate themselves on the time they spent reading (or talking), taking breaks, and walking around the room.  Students then turn the rubric in so I can see how they did.  Surprisingly, they are pretty honest and it's a great way to keep them accountable.  It's a great tool to use when conferencing with students about their reading.

You can find my Reading Centers Checklist & Rubric packet in  My TPT Store or click on the pictures above.  

Hope you find these ideas helpful!!

~ Carrie