Wednesday, December 31, 2014

New Year's Day Sale

All of us at Upper Elementary Snapshots would like to bring in the New Year with a special treat just for you!  On January 1, 2015 enjoy 15% off all of our stores on Teachers Pay Teachers!!



Simply use the links below to shop through our stores, and SAVE on some great resources to make the rest of your school year a SUCCESS!



Sunday, December 28, 2014

Ring in the New Year with Student Created Learning Goals

Can I get a whoop whoop for Christmas break??!!! I have major plans for these next 2 weeks…but, let's face it…to very much will get checked off my list. I will find myself having to decide between TpT'ing, getting ready to go back to school, or just hanging with my family….hanging with my family will win.every.single.time. :)

I am **thinking** about what I will do when I get back to school from this break, and I decided the first day back, my students will be creating their own learning goals. Or I guess I should say revisiting and revamping their fall learning goals.

Goal Setting
As teachers we have our teaching goals and objectives which are critical because these give us the direction we need to go. Without them we would not be very effective teachers. But what about our students? Do they know where they need to go? They may know because we tell them and we share our objectives with them, but do they have ownership in that? Is telling them enough to motivate them to expect more of themselves and to strive for the goals we create for them? Probably not.

As teachers, we know the best instructional strategies involve the students being active participants. The "sit-and-get" just doesn't cut it anymore. The passing of information from teacher to student isn't engaging to students. Some of them will learn the material, others will not. We want all our students to be successful. Sharing our essential questions and objectives with students is important, don't get me wrong. It lets them know what they can plan on learning for that day, week, or unit of study. But if we want students to truly take responsibility for their performance, for their learning, we have to let them be active participants. When students are active in their learning, they take pride in it, and they have a sense of accomplishment. What better way to do this than to help them create learning goals for themselves? 

Students as Active Participants
Students tend to be their own worst critic, so getting them active in creating goals for themselves will motivate them to do the very best they can. It also helps them pinpoint areas of weakness that they need to improve. Sure, we can tell them they need to work on 'XY and Z', but sometimes that is in one ear and out the other! It's kind of like when you let students "help" make their classroom rules...you know what you want the rules to be, so when needed, you gently nudge them in that direction. But most often, what happens? They end up making rules that you wanted, and, I know for me, sometimes they would come up with rules I hadn't even thought about! The point is, when you allow students to have some authority, they will often do so at the level you expected, and sometimes rise above it. 

How to Start
Learning goals aren't easy for students to create, which is why when I first begin, I create class learning goals. I share my essential questions and objectives for the next unit of study, and I model how to create goals. I use the gradual release model of lessening my support. Next I let them lead in creating class goals, then I shift to having them create their own individual goals. My students love checking their progress with their goals. It keeps them motivated to continue working, even if something is difficult for them because they don't want to fail. 

There are a couple of different ways I keep these learning goals organized. I teach 5 periods during the day, so I color code each class. Each class has the same essential questions (I teach advanced ELA), but sometimes each class' learning goals differ (some classes are on average higher than other, and I have found the classes move at different paces). So I post each class' learning goal poster on the white board. This keeps me from having to put one up, take it down, put the next one up, take the next one down. Instead of seeing all white posters on the board, they can go straight to their color. I could hang them on the wall, but then they would take up space, and our fire marshall counts hanging posters on our white board as part of the 50% wall covering rule, so when he is in the building I can take them down easily since all it takes are some magnets! #sneakyteacher

Color coded learning goal posters

When I have my students create their individual learning goals, I want them to have their goals handy and within reach. Each of my students has an ELA binder, so they can simply write their goal on a piece of paper. As their goal changes, they can cross out and revamp the goal. It's nice to be able to see a running record of how their goals change over time.


Self Assessment
But having students write these goals is not enough. They need to regularly assess their work to see if they are moving closer to reaching their goal. For example, some of my students have revision as a goal. Specifically, they want to add more specific details to their writing during the revision stage. So, when my students are in this stage, I ask them take their learning goal with them. What a great focus for the students! Instead of trying to critique every aspect of their writing, they can focus on 1-2  things...which is what we do as teachers when we grade their writing. 

Across the Curriculum
Learning goals can be created for any content area. I have found them to be very powerful tools in getting students to take responsibility for their learning and crank up their motivation. It gives them a purpose for learning, and gives them something to aim for. I hope that you will give them a try!

Do you already use student created learning goals? I would love to hear how you get your students to take responsibility for their learning!

Until next time!
Heather
**Please excuse any typos as I don't have the super power of being perfect :)

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Sunday, December 21, 2014

Classroom Management : From a Pocket Chart to an iPad

I remember when I first started teaching...  I bought a Behavior Management Pocket Chart (click to view) and used the card system.  Students misbehaved and moved colors.  I wrote their colors in their agenda and most parents signed.

I used this system for about two years...  I then started searching online and saw that other teachers were using something called a clip chart.  I liked this so much better.  The idea is that each student starts on green and has the opportunity to move up or down depending on their choices.  I liked this so much better, because I could reward and draw attention to the students making good choices.  I made my own and loved it!  Click here to download a Free Behavior Chart :).

Then one day I came across something called Class Dojo.  I tried it one year when it was fairly new and still had many bugs and issues.  It seemed like more of a hassle than a help, so I decided to stick to my clip chart.  I sadly forgot about Class Dojo until this year!  One of my fellow teacher friends brought up the topic and my first thought was 'I bet they have worked out all the bugs!'.  I set up a class and have been using it ever since.  I'd like to take the time to give a little overview on how I use Class Dojo in my classroom.



One of the first things I do when I enter my classroom is check that the AC is on (i'm in a portable), change the date, log in my laptop & desktop, turn on the projector, and now RESET the ClassDojo points on my iPad :)  This is much easier than writing down the colors and putting all the clips back on green.

After reseting the points, I take attendance on the ClassDojo app - this takes a matter of seconds.

Now that it is ready, I am ready to give/take away points.  Below is what my choices look like.  I decided to keep them very, very simple.

I only have 2 choices for positive - Morning work (if students complete work and read when done) and Staying on Task (anything else that is positive).  You can add as many as you want, but I find that having less choices was easier for me.

I have 3 choices for negative - No homework, this is added when I do random homework checks, Off Task, and Talking out of turn.  If there is something else that requires more detail, I can send a private message to a parent.

I find that students LOVE ClassDojo.  There are two different sounds - a positive sound when I give a point and a negative sound when I take a point away.  I give/take away points using my iPad, so students can hear the sounds.  I don't always tell them who received a point, but they all straighten up hoping they are next.  I never point out who I take a point away from, but they pretty much know who they are since they are not on task or talking out of turn.

One great feature of ClassDojo is that you can send messages to every parent at the same time, or you can send private individual messages.

On Fridays, I use the reports to decide who goes to Treasure Box first.  I usually have a couple of larger items and let the students with the top points pick first.  I don't always do treasure box - sometimes popsicles or a fun activity at the end of the day is their reward, but having this feature available is very convenient.

Overall, I enjoy using ClassDojo in my classroom better than any other behavior system.  It saves me so much time and keeps all the information well organized for me :) :)

Do you use ClassDojo in your classroom?  If so, please share any information that you have found helpful!  If you would like to learn more - Click here to visit the website!

Thank you for reading!



Thursday, December 18, 2014

Making Timed Math Tests Engaging and Meaningful


I remember back in the day when I would sit quietly with folders on my desk to block my "neighbor" from looking at my paper.  My teacher would distribute the multiplication timed tests and start the clock for a minute.  I'd race to get as many problems correct as I could, but honestly, I've never been very fast at solving multiplication facts, despite my ability to answer them correctly.  On a good day, I could get through most of the problems, but the rest were left on the page unanswered.

So, now I'm obviously a teacher.  My first year of teaching, I did the timed tests the same way.  I would project a countdown timer on the board, set it for a minute, and allowed the students to start.  As a teacher, when observing my students as they worked, I noticed that many students didn't even finish the first few problems.  How would they ever finish the rest?  Now, it was probably unlikely that they would take this paper home and have parents require them to finish the problems.  No matter how many times I request parents to help their children learn their facts with flashcards I send home, very few actually do.  It's just not high on their priority list in the evenings.

Well, I think I figured out a way where students could answer all, if not most of the problems while having a bit of fun with it.

First, I project a stopwatch on my whiteboard.  Now, this may look different to you.  It's set at 0:00.  This is where my timed tests differ from others.  My students count HOW LONG it takes them to complete all 50 problem...not HOW MANY problems they can complete in a minute.


Then, I will pass out a timed test with 50 problems.   I typically use the website, www.mathscore.com because it really allows me to customize the tests (number of problems and the values of the multiplicands).  Students put their name on top of the paper and put their paper upside down until I say, "start."  At the beginning of the year, I tend to make the multiplication problems on the page easier and progress to more difficult ones in the future.



Now, as students finish their tests, they are to look up to the whiteboard and record the time in which they finished on top of their paper.



Once I see that all (or most) students are finished, I stop the clock.  Students take out a red pen and we correct the answers together.  At the end, the students write how many they answered correctly on top of the paper.



After we correct the problems together, students take out a record sheet I give them.  In their math notebooks, the students are to record which multiplication facts we covered (2s, 3s, 4s, etc.), how many problems they answered correctly, and their time.  They are always excited to see their improvements in both their number correct and their time.

Overall, I believe this method helps all students, not just those struggling to complete the problems in a predetermined amount of time.  Students who are fluent in their facts are encouraged to beat their time each day.  I also offer a challenge for those really fast students.  I complete this page with them (to create an answer key) and if anyone can beat my time, they win a prize. It's never happened, but a few students have been rewarded for coming REALLY close!  :)

If students finish quickly, I usually let them finish up other work that needs to be completed, write in their journal, or read a book.

I hope this provides you with a new idea for practicing facts in your class.  It has worked wonders for me and students are actually excited because they are so competitive and love to beat their prior times.

How do you practice math facts with your class?  We'd love to hear your ideas!

Sunday, December 14, 2014

It's Almost Over--But We Have a Bonus!


Wow!  It has been SO much fun to give away so many freebies the last 11 days!  We are hopeful that you not only grabbed some of them, but found some new stores and blogs to follow along the way.  Remember, we have a HUGE giveaway going on along with the freebies....but it is ending soon so make sure to enter in these last few hours!


So what is the bonus?  Many of our "one day freebies" are available today only for 50% off...if you missed them the first time, grab them today at a hugely reduced price. 

By The Teacher Studio
By One Stop Teacher Shop

By Mandy Neal (Teaching With Simplicity)


http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Jolly-Santa-Christmas-Packet-450246
By Kelly Benefield (Teaching Fourth)

By Melissa Mazur (Common Core & So Much More)






By Pam Olivieri (Rockin Resources)

By The Teacher Next Door

Finally, there are just a few more hours to enter the giveaway!

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Twelve Days of Giveaways - Day 11

It's hard to believe that the 12th day of giveaways is almost here!  I'm Mandy from Teaching With Simplicity, and today's freebie is...


a December Differentiated Problem Solving Pack.  

These math problems were designed for 3-5 grade students, and will provide your students with some extra problem solving practice right before the long awaited break!

You can download the December Differentiate Problem Solving Pack free, HERE, for one day only. If you missed the freebie, you can find it HERE.

Tomorrow is day 12!  Be sure to stop by, because we have saved the best for last!



a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, December 12, 2014

The Twelve Days of Giveaways - Day 10

Well, the Twelve Days of Giveaways is winding down! I'm Kelly from Teaching Fourth, and today, I have free for you a holiday item from my store.
https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B_eMpQJCs8_JSDBJVXlKZlBBUWs/view?usp=sharing

My Jolly Santa Packet will be perfect as you count down the days to your December vacation.  This packet is loaded with fun writing activities, sorting cards, grammar activities,  printables, and more! If your students are like mine, keeping them focused at this time of year can be a challenge.  With this fun packet, you can find some fun activities that are simple and easy to prepare and that will keep your students thinking and learning. (My students always love the riddles.) If you miss the freebie, you can find it here in my store!  (If you cannot download this packet, it may not work due to various settings your school district sets.  You may need to try from another computer at home.)

Don't forget to come back tomorrow for our last freebie, and don't forget to enter the giveaway below!


Be blessed!
Kelly

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Twelve Days of Giveaways - Day 9

Hello from Melissa of Common Core & So Much More!  I'm so happy and excited to be able to offer another freebie for you!


You can download my January Weekly Close Readings HERE FOR FREE today only.  If you happen to come across this post at a later day, you can find it in my TPT STORE HERE.  This product contains 4 original themed reading passages (2 fiction, 2 nonfiction) related to the month of January.  I figured I'd offer you January instead of December so you have the opportunity to make copies and plan for when you arrive back from your winter break.

Each passage contains 5 days of comprehension activities and graphic organizers that use text dependent questioning to encourage high-level thinking in your students.  Each passage also contains symbols to use for marking the text to encourage active reading.  A page is included at the beginning of the document to align each activity with Common Core standards for third and fourth grade. Below is a list of the reading passages, Lexile level, and reading strategies each passage covers.

NEW YEAR'S RESOLUTIONS (Lexile 660)
Analyzing Character traits
Vocabulary Graphic Organizer
Text Dependent Comprehension Questions
Characters and Setting
Central Message

MARTIN LUTHER KING JR. (Lexile 760)
Non-Fiction Note Taking
Vocabulary Graphic Organizer
Text Dependent Comprehension Questions
3-2-1 Graphic Organizer
Making Connections

SNOW DAY! (Lexile 820)
Visualization
Vocabulary Graphic Organizer
Text Dependent Comprehension Questions
Sequencing
Summarizing

THE BEGINNINGS OF BRAILLE (Lexile 840)
Asking Questions Before Reading
Vocabulary Graphic Organizer
Text Dependent Comprehension Questions
Factions and Opinions
Pictures with Captions

Don't forget to enter our giveaway for the chance to win one of two $125 Target gift cards!  Also, remember to stop by tomorrow to grab another freebie! 

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

The Twelve Days of Giveways--Day 8!

It's my turn to offer up a special gift for the holidays!

I hope you have been remembering to stop by each day to grab your next freebie!  Today I would love to offer something to get you ready for some winter math workshop or centers.  This set of task cards asks students to solve winter word problems where the "variable" moves.  These are trickier than problems where the solution always comes at the end because students really have to think.  To make it even more useful, each problem is written at two levels...so you can ask students to pick from the regular cards or the "starred" cards.  I hope you like it!

So, as my gift to all of you, I am offering this set free  but ONLY FOR TODAY (freebie now closed)! Snag it while you can.  If you missed this freebie, you can check it out {here} in my TpT shop.  Look for other winter task cards as well!


And don't forget to enter our Rafflecopter below for a chance to win one of...

TWO $125 Target gift cards because you know you love Target! 


Thanks for stopping by...and don't forget to come back daily for your special freebies!

Tuesday, December 9, 2014

The Twelve Days of Giveaways - Day 7!!

Welcome Back!!! This is Rebecca from CreateTeachShare!! I am here to bring you Freebie #7 of our 12 Days of Christmas Giveaways!!!

I am so excited to share my opinion writing unit, I "Mustache" Your Opinion!! Click here to download it for free for TODAY ONLY! You can also access it here on google drive.


This opinion writing unit includes mini lessons, idea generators, organizers, checklist, word lists, publishing pages, and a scoring guide. I hope you enjoy it as much as my students and I do!!

Before you go, don't forget to enter our rafflecopter below, to win one of two $125 Target Gift Cards!!!


Check back tomorrow for another fabulous freebie!!


Monday, December 8, 2014

THE TWELVE DAYS OF GIVEAWAYS - DAY 6

Hi everybody! Hope you're feeling merry and bright! It's Jenn from The Teacher Next Door,  and I'm so happy to be able to share one of my favorite resources in this awesome giveaway.


I really love this resource! Not only is it rigorous and totally Common Core aligned, but it is perfect for most 4th - 5th graders AND there's no prep...just print and go!

This Common Core Weekly Reading Review has four informational text passages (Historical: Stagecoach, Scientific: Meerkats, Biographical: Sarah Edmonds (She disguised herself as a man and was a soldier, nurse, and spy in the Civil War), Scientific: Asteroids) along with comprehension questions for each, that review lots of Common Core - key reading strategies. Each passage also comes with an editable comprehension question sheet, so you'll be able to edit it, to match whatever strategy you're working on.

One of the reasons I love this Weekly Reading Review is that it can be used in so many ways. It can be morning work, a close reading activity, homework, for centers, or even as an assessment. Plus this set also comes in a year long bundles (at a deeply discounted price) and has 10 different Weekly Reading Review Sets (40 passages!) that you can use to take you through an entire year, if you like.


For ONE day only, you can download my Common Core Weekly Review:1 for FREE {{CLICK HERE}}


Don't forget to enter our BIG Giveaway for a chance to win a
$125 Target Gift Card!!! (2 winners)
a Rafflecopter giveaway



Check back tomorrow for another FREE resource!

Merry Christmas to you!



Sunday, December 7, 2014

The Twelve Days of Giveaways- Day 5!

Hello all my Festive Friends!  This is Pam from Rockin Resources and I am rockin around the Christmas tree feeling generous this time a year!  Why not include one of everyone's favorite activities for the holidays?   I am offering my Christmas Around the World Web Quest in this fantastic giveaway!!




For ONE day only, you can download my Christmas Around the World Web Quest for FREE {{CLICK HERE}}

Students get to choose from 29 different countries! They conduct research using a web quest that is ready for them with its own website! I have tested and approved the sites so that their research will be successful. To start, students get to fill out a foldable passport!  Then, they have a booklet to record findings for:

1. Flag
2. Location
3. How to say Merry Christmas
4. 3 History Facts
5. Environment/Climate
6. 3 Holiday Traditions
7. Recipe
8. Chart to fill in while listening to classmates' presentations

In addition, I included a doll pattern so students can dress up a doll according to their country. It is the perfect size if you want them to staple it to 8.5 X 11 to make it easier to display.  I pinned all of the countries' traditional clothing on a pinterest board for quick reference. The dolls make an adorable bulletin board!  My class completed their booklets and dolls this week!

Finished Doll


This is half of my class sharing their booklets with traditions around the world.

Other items found in this resource:  Information and handouts for an International Food Fair, list of countries for drawing out of hat, sign for a bulletin board, and a rubric for the completed project!

This resource was created for Grades 3-5.   #freebies  #christmasaroundtheworld  #12daygiveaway

If you missed this FREEBIE, but still want to check out this resource, click HERE.


Don't forget to enter our BIG Giveaway for a chance to win a
$125 Target Gift Card!!! (2 winners)

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Don't miss out on tomorrow's FREE resource!  You will not be disappointed!!!



Saturday, December 6, 2014

The Twelve Days of Giveaways- Day 4!

Hello everyone!  I'm Mariela from Learning With Mrs. S :)  I am here to bring you the 4th freebie!


You can download this freebie for ONE DAY only!  If you happen to miss out on this freebie - you can still find the item on my TPT site.

I am starting fractions next week, so I figured if you are a 3rd grade teacher this would be very helpful to you.  Included you will find task cards and games that you can place in your math stations during your rotations or play whole class as a scoot game.  I hope you enjoy! :)

One more awesome thing!  We are giving away 2 - $125 Target gift cards!!!  Be sure to enter below :)

<a class="rcptr" href="http://www.rafflecopter.com/rafl/display/dceb624f102/" rel="nofollow" data-raflid="dceb624f102" data-theme="classic" data-template="" id="rcwidget_r91z8awl">a Rafflecopter giveaway</a>
<script src="//widget-prime.rafflecopter.com/launch.js"></script>


a Rafflecopter giveaway Stay turned!  There are more fabulous free resources to come :D
- Mariela

Friday, December 5, 2014

The Twelve Days of Giveaways! - Day 3

Hey everyone!  It's Kristin from One Stop Teacher Shop, and I am extremely excited to include one of my favorite Holiday resources in this fantastic giveaway.


This unit is a study of The Polar Express, BOOK & MOVIE!  It was designed especially for the "big kids" in elementary school.  You will have your students digging deep into various Language Arts Standards with this unit.  Perfect for keeping students highly engaged those last weeks before winter break. 

This resource is perfect for 4th and 5th grade (although could easily be adapted for 3rd grade as well). 

If you missed this FREEBIE, but still want to check out this resource, click HERE.


Don't forget to enter our BIG Giveaway for a chance to win a
$125 Target Gift Card!!! (2 winners)

a Rafflecopter giveaway


See you tomorrow for another FREE resource!


Thursday, December 4, 2014

The Twelve Days of Giveaways! Day 2

Hey there! It's Heather from 2 Brainy Apples! Are y'all ready for Day 2 of our 12 Days of Giveaways? I am so excited to share with you all one of my favorite resources!


I decided to create my line of Daily Math Reviews a couple of years ago when I realized my students needed a quick daily review of math skills that I was responsible for teaching. I couldn't find one that matched my standards, so I created my own! This month's edition has a fun winter theme of reindeer, gingerbread, candy canes, and lights. My students enjoy completing these, and I have noticed an improvement in their mathematical skills as a result. There is one problem per domain every day. Some of the skills I might not have explicitly taught, but my students know to try their best or just skip it because we go over it together. It's very helpful, though, because when we do finally get to that unit, they have a good, solid background knowledge of that particular skill. And already taught skills are constantly being reviewed so students won't "forget" them.

So, as my gift to all of you, I am offering the 5th grade version free {click here} but ONLY FOR TODAY! Snag it while you can :) If you missed this freebie, you can check it out {here} in my TpT shop.

And don't forget to enter our Rafflecopter below for an chance to win one of TWO $125 Target gift cards because WHO DOESN'T LOVE TARGET????? 

Come back tomorrow to see which Snapshot gal is offering what sweet treat for y'all!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
Until next time!
Heather
**Please excuse any typos as I don't have the super power of being perfect :)

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Wednesday, December 3, 2014

The Twelve Days of Christmas Giveaway-Day 1!

I'm sure you've seen a sign or two...



and now December 3rd is finally here!

So what is it that we have up our sleeves?

Gift clip art by Krista Wallden.

Here's how it works:
Stop by our blog every day between now and December 14th.  Each Upper Elementary Snapshots contributor is hosting a day, and she will be making one of her resources FREE for that one day!

Today it is my turn!  (Deb Hanson from Crafting Connections)

I wanted to choose an item that would likely be useful for 3rd, 4th, and 5th grade teachers, so I considered topics that I saw covered by all three grade levels throughout the last few years when I co-taught in 3rd through 5th grade classrooms.  GENRES was one of the topics that made the list.  I created this PowerPoint just a few months ago, and I was very pleased with how it turned out.    I hope you are able to use this 40-slide Genre PowerPoint in your classroom!

After you download this PowerPoint for free on December 3rd, be sure to come back and enter our Rafflecopter giveaway!  As you can see, you will have the opportunity to win one of
TWO $125 Target gift cards!!

Remember to come back tomorrow to find out which resource is being given away for free!

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Tomorrow is the big reveal!

Even Taylor is excited over our big secret!!!  Tune in tomorrow!!!!!