Friday, December 28, 2012

Contractions and QR Codes (Freebie)

Freebie Fridays

I had such a great time creating my first QR code activity, that I've made two more and decided to share one with my bloggy buddies! This one is a monster themed contraction practice activity in which students write contractions from two given words. To check themselves, they scan the QR code.

I hope you and your students enjoy these! 

Thursday, December 27, 2012

My First Crack at QR Codes

I've finally done it! One of my goals this school year is to integrate more technology into my math instruction, and I think I made a small step today. This morning I woke up and said to myself, "I want to create something that has to do with QR codes and renaming fractions in lowest terms. Here's the result:
Use your device to try out one of the codes!
The idea is that students rename each fraction using lowest terms, then scan the QR code to check their answers. If you're interested, you can check it out in my TN store.

So, how did I do it? It was so simple! First I designed my task cards and added everything except for the QR codes. Then I used two tools:

To make the code:
QR Stuff is a free, simple site to use for making codes. Since I started small, I decided to use my QR codes to give a text answer. On the site, simply choose the button beside 'plain text' and type the text that you want to appear in the content box. The QR code is generated automatically. You can change the color if you'd like or leave it black and white. Download it and insert it as an image.

To scan the code:
i-nigma is my favorite QR code scanner. It's free, and super fast. You can download it on your Apple device here, or from the Google Play store here. This is a screen shot of me using it just now. Sorry its a little tilted.  I literally had to snap it in less than a second because it read the code so quickly!

And that is it! I can't wait to try this game out on the kiddos in January. It will be my first use of QR codes in my fourth grade class. Hopefully, this has given you some ideas for getting started with QR codes as well. I'd love to hear your ideas for getting started, or how you're already using QR codes. 

You can also see this post on Technology Tailgate:

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Teaching My Calling: Extending Your Reach Using Social Media

Teaching My Calling: Extending Your Reach Using Social Media: On January 26, 2013, Farrah Kilgo ( Think*Share*Teach ) and I have the opportunity to present at the Alabama NBCT Network Conference .  T...

Monday, December 17, 2012

Student Gifts: Classroom Coupons

Do you have a particular gift that you like to get for your students each year? My coworkers and I have tried lots of gift ideas in the past, but the last four years we've really struck gold. We were tired of the little trinkets and toys that fall apart easily, or get left behind after the Christmas party, so I started making classroom coupon books for the children. They've been a huge hit! My kids love using them, and it's a gift that's fairly easy to put together...just print, cut, and secure with a ribbon. If you'd like a set, you can snag yours in my TN shop. I've created four different styles, including one without so much color to save those ink cartridges.

How about you? Are you allowed to have a party? Do you give gifts to your students? What do you usually give them? I'd love to hear from you and will give a free set of coupons of your choice to the first two people who comment!

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

A Game, A Song, and an Epic Fail

What a roller coaster of a day! That's one of the things that is so great about teaching. It's different every day, and you have multiple opportunities to do fabulous (and sometimes not-so-fabulous) things. So it was today...

If you've not tried this equivalent fraction race, you have got to go right now and download it (Freebie from Holly Olberding). I was really nervous about this skill (naming equivalent fractions) until we took a review day today and played this awesome game. My kiddos can all name equivalent fractions now and we had a blast practicing!

We were actually using a different song for reviewing the continents and oceans, when we came across a group of students singing this one. So we thought, "Hey, why not us?" It wasn't on the lesson plan (Shhh) but aren't the best things sometimes impromptu? Check it out:

And finally, the EPIC FAIL:
I *thought* I had the most fabulous lesson ready to review setting with my kiddos during our literature circles today. I had the really cool graphic organizer. I had a high interest book (our read aloud). I modeled what I wanted them to do. One group at a time, they set out to read their books and apply what I'd just taught them. What a bummer. I quickly realized my little darlings were lost as geese! It was clear that I needed to back up and regroup and offer lots more support. Knowing there was no way to salvage this failure of a lesson in our allotted time, I decided to just let them read and discuss their stories with them. And re-plan this lesson for tomorrow. I've got some more tricks up my sleeve and tomorrow or Friday I'll be sharing a hopefully much more successful lesson with you.

What a day :)

Saturday, December 8, 2012

It's the Thought...

At the end of the day Thursday, I gathered the students and started out of the room for my afternoon bus duty when I heard from around the hall corner, "MRS. KILGO!!!!!!"  The shout was followed by a pair of little feet and a precious, smiling little 2nd grade boy. (I teach 4th). "CONGRATULATIONS!!!" The brother of one of my former students rushed up to me and gave me a huge hug. "My whole class said congratulations, Mrs. Kilgo!" I had recently been honored by being chosen as our district's elementary teacher of the year, and my principal announced it that morning over the intercom. As we made our way to the lunchroom to wait for the buses, this little sweet heart came back up to me and presented me with this cupcake. "I've been saving this for you ALL day!" It just doesn't get any more precious than that! Call me sentimental, but that cupcake is sitting on my kitchen counter right now. I'm keeping it for as long as I can. 


Monday, December 3, 2012

Text Structure Magic (and a Freebie)

Don't you love it when everything comes together? I had one of those magical moments today during reading and had to share! Like all of you, I'm working diligently to implement the new Common Core standards, and this week I decided to focus on 4.RL.5:
Explain major differences between poems, drama, and prose, and refer to the structural elements of poems (e.g., verse, rhythm, meter) and drama (e.g., casts of characters, settings, descriptions, dialogue, stage directions) when writing or speaking about a text.
I knew I'd need to start small with this one, so I chose two texts to begin with and made a graphic organizer for my students to use.

We started by simply comparing and contrasting the features and structure of a chapter in our science books about rocks and a short story about a mountain eroding called The Sun, The Wind, and The Rain.
I modeled at first, then allowed students to work with partners and contribute to the organizer. Above is the neat copy I typed up. Trust me, you DON'T want to see my dark, doc camera, chicken scratch on the board version.

Next, I gave everyone a blank organizer and assigned two short texts from this week's basal lessons to read and compare/contrast with their table groups. One was a narrative, and one a newspaper article. After the students worked with table groups, we regrouped so that every person was in a new group and able to share what their group mates had discussed and written on their organizers. (Sorry I forgot to take pics of the kiddos' work). I'll try and add them tomorrow.

What was really great about this lesson was all of the connections we were able to make. We're learning about rocks in science, narrative story structure in writing, and plot structure in reading. At one point, we even reviewed subject/verb agreement as we were adding things to the class chart. Love it! Such a great lesson, using a simple idea.

And here's a little freebie for you: the blank graphic organizer. Just click on the link text below the picture to snag it!

Saturday, December 1, 2012

I Opened a Store!

I never thought I would be saying those words, but I have a teacher store! I've been on the fence about it for over a year, but after long consideration and some encouragement from a friend, I decided to jump in and try it. I hesitated to open one for so long because I started teaching during the time when the online community shared freely with one another. Sites like Proteacher (still one of my favorites) abounded with files that teachers had made and just wanted to share with others. I felt the need to give back to all of those fabulous people who had taken the time to share.

For me, that thought hasn't changed---I still have loads of free files on my Files tab above, and also on my class website, and will continue to add some free files. But it was just this morning when I came to the realization that it is okay to sell some of the products I make. (This hit me after working for two hours on a character education file). I had created it for my own classroom use, but decided I wanted to share it with others, so I was making a title page, credits page, etc...

I'm starting to see the other side of the coin. It's okay to sell items that I've created. I work for hours on them. Some of the graphics I use have been purchased, and using digital scrapbook files, I can really be creative and make things look great.

I'm really excited about this, and I hope you'll stop by my store and have a look around. Any advice for a new teacher store owner? I'll take all I can get!

Thanks in advance.

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