Spring Break Flash Sale!

My Spring Break started today at 2:30pm!  Yay!  In order to celebrate, I am doing a flash sale from NOW until tomorrow, Saturday, March 31st at midnight!  Click here to shop!

Bring on the relaxation! :)

Our spring break Georgia blogger meet up is shaping up neatly!  If you are a Georgia blogger or blog reader, click here for more information!  The more, the merrier!


Area or Perimeter? Tic-Tac-Toe

Yahoo! I JUST finished my latest product.  This one was requested  by a customer.  It is Area or Perimeter? Tic-Tac-Toe.
Here is a description:
The purpose of this game is to practice basic area and perimeter and understand their meaning. Students will practice finding the area or perimeter when given a word problem. Students will need to distinguish what operation to use. Some questions are also finding the length of a missing side of a given rectangle or square when the area or perimeter is given.

The only materials needed to play are a pocket chart (optional) and the provided game cards.

This 13 page file includes
*cover sheet
*teacher direction
*student directions
*12 area or perimeter word problem cards
* one sheet of 6 o cards
* one sheet of 6 x cards
*Student recording sheet for accountability
* thank you page
* credit page
*copyright page

Please note that many of these problems are very similar to those in the Area Tic-Tac-Toe pack and the Perimeter Tic-Tac-Toe pack. The numbers and names are different in the problems and there is no cue “find the area” in the problem. New problems, of course, were also added.

Here is a preview:

I will be giving this packet away to 3 comments picked by a random number generator.  I will announce the winner on Sunday, April 1 (no joke)!!  Please make sure to leave your email!

I have a few more projects up my sleeve.  I want to make a fraction tic-tac-toe game and/ or differentiated word problem book.  I also want to write a short 3-4 day poetry unit integrating reading and writing. I thought this might be nice for April for Poetry month AND it is what I like to do to let off steam after testing : ).  Anyone have any requests?  What do YOU need now?


Multiplication Fact Fluency AKA Tying Up An Angry, Hungry Grizzly is Easier!

I don't know about you guys, but getting my kids to practice multiplication facts is *thisclose* to near impossible. My school does have a neat computer program called Fast Math that the students use and enjoy.  For many, though, it is simply not enough.  They need lots and lots and lots of exposure and repetitions of multiplication facts and also strategies. 

Many of my students try to add 9  seven times and get 61. Then of course, he or she just might argue they are right because they did the work. Oye. 

 Now that we are moving into 2 and 3 digit multiplication it is SO much harder for the kids that don't know their facts OR have no other strategies other than adding to find the answers.

So I/ we have gone all kinds of hard core. We are now playing Around the World daily.  I am sure everyone knows this game, but I am going to share my twist.  The class sits in a circle on the carpet.  I have two packs of multiplication flash cards.  I use one pack of cards for the game.  Each students is flashed a card and then I (I am the only one that gets to do any sort of counting!) count in my head, silently to 10.  If the student knows the answer by this time or before, they keep the card and are still in the game.  If the students does not know the answer or gets the answer incorrect they are out.  Here is my twist.  Then they get a small stack of flash cards from the other pack - maybe 5-6.  They go to their desks and go over the cards continuously.  No peeking to watch the game, they just practice their cards. 

We (my co-teacher and I) explain that we give only a few cards so they are more likely to memorize them.   We explain THIS is their time to practice so they can stay in the game longer- don't waste it by not practicing!  At first kids didn't take it seriously- UNTIL I made a big deal because the kids that actually DID practice after they were out the first game, stayed in longer the next game. 

When we first played the game, we played three rounds in 10 minutes because they ALL got out so quickly.  That was maybe a week ago.  On Monday we played ONE round in the same amount of time and had to stop with SEVEN winners because I RAN OUT of flash cards (clearly I need a third pack!!).  Yahoo!

The next game I will be introducing is a Multiplication Fact Bee.  I did this with my fourth graders years ago and I guess it is time to dust off this game!  Here is how to play this one:

Project the “Wild about Facts” slide show for all students to see.  Line up the class in two lines.  Each line is a team. The first two students will be playing against each other.  Show the first multiplication problem, the first child to say the answer correctly gets a point for his or her team.  These two students go to the back of the line.  The next two students then compete against each other with the next multiplication problem.  The team with the most points at the end of game play wins!

  I can't decide if I want the child that doesn't get the fact to go practice or not.  I may leave it up to the kids.  Since we really have stressed it in a positive light (they learn more and therefore will stay longer in the games), I bet many of my kids would actually choose to go to their seats to practice. 

This slide show is totally editable, so add more slides with new facts, or click and drag to rearrange!  I purpose put the answers in orange, because I (think) I read somewhere that the brain remembers the color orange best.  True or urban legend?  I have no idea but thought it couldn't hurt!

If you are looking for free, printable flash cards I love these!

Click here for this great pack of FREE math centers, plus get tips and updates from me!



Idioms: Dog Tired and All Tuckered Out, But I Have a Freebie for You!

It is only Monday and I feel this way? Yikes! Spring Break is next week and I am hanging on by a thread! I even have tomorrow off (doctor appointment) and I am still tired! Sheesh!

Don't forget about the Georgia Blogger Meet Up that will be next week on Wednesday, April 4th! So far I have heard from 2 people! As soon as I get the energy up, I will be leaving some messages on blogs of other Georgia bloggers to get the word out! Everyone is welcome- bloggers and blog readers! If you would like to join us, please email me at mandyholland@hotmail.com.

I have just finished with my latest product, Sweet As Pie: An Idiom Supplemental Unit. It is a favorite of mine! Here is a description of the unit:

Several different activities are included in these zipped files. These files include:

·       Four days of sample lesson plans

·       Idioms Concentration allows students to match idioms to their meanings.  The idiom cards have a small apple on them and the meaning cards have a small pencil on them so students can easily match meanings and idioms.  This game can be played with all of the cards, or in small chunks as 4-5 different idioms are introduced.

·       A Power Point presentation introducing each idiom and meaning in small chunks with a check for student understanding.

·       Idioms Bingo in which students mark the idiom when given the meaning.

·       A Power Point Presentation to be used to randomly call idioms for Bingo

·       Idioms Dictionary created by students.  Students will illustrate the literal and figurative meaning of the idioms, as well as define both and use the idiom in a sentence.

·       A suggested book list for teaching

As a freebie, I am including a Power Point Presentation that includes four idioms, their meanings, and a Check for Understanding slide that allows students to match the idiom and the meaning.

Click here to get it FREE!

If you would like to check out this unit, it is now on my Teachers Pay Teachers page for $4.00!
I will give this away to the first three comments!  Please make sure to include your email address!!!


Five Regions of Georgia

This post is for all the third grade, Georgia teachers out there.  That may be about 2 people that follow my blog, but eh.   This is a hard-to-find-stuff-for topic.

In third grade this year students need to learn the five regions of Georgia, the plants and animals that live in each, as well as adaptations and habitat changes.  Whew.  It is the unit that never ends.  To keep everything organized with my students because it is SO MUCH information, we create this flip book.

Inside each "flip" the students glue in a (very) simple research page that looks like this:

This is all glued to a large piece of 12 x 18 inch piece of construction paper with a puzzle map of Georgia the students color and cut out.  I don't feel right sharing the puzzle, since I didn't make it : (.  So sorry.  I am not sure who did originally make it so I can't even give credit!  I am sure any map of Georgia would work.

It can be hard to find resources for this unit.  My county has these adorable mini books that have been provided for downloading, but once again they are not mine and it is a copy right issue.  But here is what I HAVE found:

LOVE this Jeopardy game!- Great CRCT review!

GREAT Power Point- I used this a BUNCH!



Georgia Blogger Meet Up

Hello to all Georgia bloggers (and blog followers, too!)!

Abby from Third Grade Bookworm came up with this fabulous idea and contacted me!  How about a meet n' greet?  I know there are several Georgia bloggers and I bet there are even more blog followers!  To my understanding many Atlanta Metro counties will have their Spring Break scheduled for the first week of April.  We are putting together a get together  (love the repetition-- can you tell it is late and I am getting slap happy?) on Wednesday, April  4th at 1:00 in the Perimeter Mall area. All Georgia bloggers or blog readers :) are welcome!  If you would like more information please contact me at mandyholland@hotmail.com or Abby at abbyspann@gmail.com.

We hope to see YOU there!


Preparing for the Test: Teaching Testing Skills

I have blogged about my feelings about standardized testing before here.

One of the things I do is explicitly teach my students how to answer reading comprehension questions using a variety of passages.  There are many different ways to do this.  I have taken from several different ideas and have created my own version.  I am sure it is not right or wrong, just my way : ).

I show students this poster (I have laminated it since taking this photo, so it is not all wrinkly!  Ick!  I will take a new picture of it since is now smooth!).  We walk through several of these together and model how to answer the questions.

I found this example passage of a practice CRCT tests from 2006.  I wrote on the test, showing how I would model this for my students.  Obviously, the think aloud bubble is for all you teachers out there!  But this is what I would model as a think aloud for my students.  The blue arrows show how I frame and number paragraphs (number 2 on the poster above) and the red arrow shows how I decide key words ( number 4 in the poster above).  If you click on the pictures they will take you to Google docs and you can see the picture in a larger size : ).

Another lesson that I teach is "What do I do if I freak out?"  Many children get test anxiety right before the big day- and since it is high stakes I understand.  I think I would freak out, too!  We talk about taking a deep breath, counting to 10, and eating a peppermint (we are allowed to give one to students). 

I also model how to pace yourself when taking a test.  We discuss how the test is 60 minutes, or one hour.  If there are 30 questions,  I model how to find half of 30 which is 15.  Then we discuss that at half an hour or 30 minutes into the test students should be around question 15.  Then we practice with other numbers like 22, 24, 35, and 26 since teachers have no idea how many questions are actually on the test.

I also model and think aloud HOW to check your work.  Many students  have heard this term many times, but have no idea what it means.  I model the correct and incorrect way to go back over the test and then we create an anchor chart of the correct way.  We also discuss if you get stuck on two possible answer when you check your work to go with your first instinct. 

And viola!  That is how I teach test prep.  Boring, no fun, but I do feel it is important.  Looking back I did MANY of these things in COLLEGE to make sure I did not freak out, paced myself, checked my work and answered reading questions.  It is a sad life skill, but a life skill none the less.


Mega Give Away!

 Shuna over at Pocketful of Kindergartners is doing a HUGE give away to celebrate  400 followers.   That is a HUGE amount of followers.  She asked me to be a part of her give away and I was so touched.  She will be giving away a Target gift card tot he first prize winner. I donated any product, of any price from my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

Please hop on over and check it out!


Anchor Chart linky Party!

Kristen over at Ladybug's Teaching Files is hosting an anchor chart linky party for grades 3-6.  Since I have an undeniable addiction to anchor charts, I thought I would join up.

Here are just a few.  Some I have shared before, some are new : ).
How to Pick a Just Right Book

Questioning with the book Little Red Cowboy Hat

Vocabulary activity from Puss in Boots when studying fairy tales  

Comparing and contrasting the fables

Beginning of the year anchor chart-  We brainstormed expectations for behavior in different locations.  We referred back to it OFTEN :).  The picture in the lunch section was to illustrate who they are allowed to talk to at their table- now five people down, but in their "box."

Beginning of the year chart- math games expectations

I have lots more to post, but my little girl is getting fussy!  It is almost dinner time at my house, and the oven isn't even on!!!

This isn't an anchor chart, but here is a picture of my precious girl at her first haircut!  Isn't she cute!?!?!?!?  I could just eat her up!



Area Tic-Tac-Toe Giveaway Winners!

It is time to announce the THREE winners for the Area Tic-Tac-Toe game!

And a drum roll......

The winners are...



4th and Fabulous!

Congratulations to the winners!  I have emailed Jen and Thomasgoksu96!  4th and Fabulous please contact me at mandyholland@hotmail.com and I will send it to you as soon as possible!
Thank you so much to everyone that entered!  If you did not win, I am so sorry : (, but it is only $2.00 in my Teachers Pay Teachers Store.

Coming up next, Area  or Perimeter Tic-Tac-Toe and an Idioms Supplemental Pack!!


Upper Elementary Linky Party

Lorraine over at Fabulous Fourth Grade Frogs had a great idea to create a linky party for 3-5th grade blogs!  I know that sometimes it is hard to find blogs for the upper grades, but there are TONS of people already linked up!

I know what I will be busy doing for the next few hours!

Don't forget to check out my Area Tic-Tac-Toe giveaway!   3 WINNERS will be picked Sunday evening!
 My next two projects are Area AND Perimeter Tic-Tac-Toe (students will have to determine whether they are finding area OR perimeter) and an idioms supplemental packet!


Area Tic-Tac-Toe Giveaway!

I have just finished my latest tic-tac-toe game. I created Area Tic-Tac-Toe. This is a partner math game that gives students practice solving word problems involving area and also finding the area of rectangles and squares.

I just added a new recording sheet to hold students accountable for the game!  This game is a perfect way to review for standardized testing!

I will be giving away 3 FREE copies of the game to three lucky winners picked by a random number generator on Sunday, March 18th.

To enter please leave a comment below with your email address. If you are not a follower of my blog, I would love to have you click that follow button, too!

If you are not a winner : ( this will be in my Teachers Pay Teachers store for $2.00!


Organizing Writing

This year my students are having a VERY hard time organizing their writing.  Most students are familiar with story structure when writing a fiction or realistic fiction story.  However, when students write to persuade or inform, they have no idea how to organize their writing.  Often it turns into a long and boring list of facts.
We are using the “stoplight” writing method that will hopefully transform into multi-paragraph essays later. We will see.

I made this poster for students to see.  Then I have modeled writing paragraphs using a green marker, orange marker (yellow is too hard to see), and then ended with a red marker.  As I wrote the paragraph, I thought aloud crafting a hook and including appropriate transitions.

Next I will give students this paper with the stop lights as a reminder to include all the parts.  I can’t decide if I will print the paper on the color printer (most likely not- too expensive).  I will probably have the students color in the stoplights with marker to show what part of the paragraph they are writing.  Does that make sense?
If it works (fingers crossed), I will post some student work samples!



Preparing for the "Big Test:" Getting Kids Pumped Up!

In my last post I wrote about how we review and get students prepared for the test.  Today  I will write about how we calm students and get the students to feel like they can conquer the test!

To prepare students, we do several things.  One thing we try to do is "demystify" the test itself.  We give a practice, mock CRCT.  This gives students an idea of what the test will look like as far as formatting goes. 
We also read several books and watch several videos about standardized test taking. My absolute favorite is the book The Biggest Test in the Universe by Nancy Poydar.  I love all of the books below as well!

I love using the book The Biggest Test in the Universe as a springboard for discussion with my students.  This book was a featured book on Reading Rainbow.  Lucky for us, it is a Reading Rainbow episode that is located on United Streaming!

After we read/ watch this book we talk about the story line and what we notice.  Then we talk about how we can help ourselves relax: eating a peppermint when we get nervous, taking a deep breath and counting to ten, eliminating answers that are silly and don't make any sense, doing our personal best, etc.

Another thing that our grade level does is leave sweet little love notes out for the children each day. On each child's desk each morning, there is a piece of candy with an encouraging note attached.  Since the CRCT is a special event, they actually get to eat the candy then if they choose.  I know you are thinking "sugar crash," but it usually isn't enough to affect the students (promise).

The last thing we do for students is give them a  VERY simple reading passage.  We ask students to read the passage and practice the test taking skills we have taught.  Then we give the students  a red pen (or marker) and ask students to grade it.  I have yet to have a student bomb it!  Usually I give this the day before the reading portion of the test (which is high stakes) and use this opportunity preach to to tell students that if they use the strategies we have taught, they will be successful.

Testing is on its way.  Hopefully my students feel like they can be successful.   Whew.  Deep breath... and we are off!


Preparing for the Test Part One: Review

March is that crazy time of the year for us. We take our high stakes, standardized test in the beginning of April (the week after Spring Break). In Georgia we take the CRCT. Third graders are required to pass the reading portion of the CRCT. There are a total of five sections: Reading, ELA, Math, Social Studies and Science. This is about the time the kids start day dreaming of being outside and "check-out" of the class room and teachers I we start freaking out knowing that the BIG DAY is near.

I like to think of this time as time for our "Hail Mary" pass during the big game. As a general rule we touch on test taking skills, but do not spend large amount of time teaching them. I do have the philosophy that good teaching and learning= good results on test scores. Students will apply what we teach them. HOWEVER, I do feel it is unfair if they are never exposed to the FORMAT of testing because I feel that formatting can make a huge (and unfair) impact on test scores if students do not understand what they are being asked to do.

We review with several different methods. One of my favorite (and easiest methods) is the game Scoot. I would bet many teachers are familiar with this activity. I am pretty sure that I found the idea on Proteacher originally.

To prepare this activity, I use task cards from this master list. Unseen01 on Proteacher was generous enough to compile (and update) this list of all the task cards shared FREE on Proteacher. In order to access the test cards, you DO have to be a Proteacher member, BUT it is free to join. The site is a FANTASTIC resource so I highly recommend joining.

Then, to play the game students sit at their desks. Give each child a recording sheet and ONE task card. (Tip- pass out the cards in numerical order) Students then answer that card question is the spot next to the correct number. For example, if a student is give task card #6, then the student writes the answer in the spot for problem 6. Then the students turn the card over and check their answer. When the teacher says "Scoot," the students take a pencil and paper (but not the task card- it stays on the desk) and move to the next desk and answer the question. To make it easier, I assign the order students move and then the students to always "follow" this person.

To prepare the game I make copies of the cards on cardstock, cut them out and write the answers on the back of the cards and I number the front (one number per card). Then I laminate the cards so I can use them again. I make a class set of the recording sheet, and I am ready to go! Click here for a copy of the recording sheet!

I will also be doing some hard - core review in math. I will be using is tic-tac-toe games from my Teachers Pay Teachers Store. I really like the tic-tac-toe games because they are almost all in word problem format and these will be big on THE TEST. To make the activity even more beneficial, I am trying something new!

I made all of the tic-tac-to games. Then I added a small sticker next to the answer. Each tic-tac-toe set got a different sticker. For example the subtraction problems got a small frog, the addition a green heart, and the division a green heart. Here is an example:

Sorry the picture is so blurry- I couldn't get my camera to focus : (.

Now, when it is time to practice word problems, I will use my tic-tac-toe math games, BUT I will MIX them all together so students have to figure out the correct operation and THEN solve. When we finish playing, it will be easy to resort them into the correct games because of the sticker! The bundled Math Tic-Tac-Toe games have addition, subtraction, multiplication, division and making change problems. I also have just released the PerimeterTic-Tac-Toe game and the Area Tic-Tac-Toe will be released this week! Each game is $2.00. I thought many teachers would like to use the bundled Math Tic-Tac-Toe games so I have put it on sale!! It would cost $10 to buy the games separately, but they are on sale for $8! Unfortunately, the Perimeter Tic-Tac-Toe is not part of the bundled set- I am hoping to create a second bundled set soon with more concepts! Click here if you would like to see the Math Tic-Tac-Toe Games!
If you would prefer to mix and matct your own games are are direct links to the individual games.  They are $2 each.
Making Change
I have tons of other things to write about test prep, BUT I am out of time and energy! I will continue this post.
 I also have an English/ Language Arts power point I use that covers everything a third grade needs to know (pretty much). I am working on it and will put it up for sale on Teachers Pay teachers sometime in the VERY near future. I also have a specific way to teach answer reading comprehension questions that I will share soon as well.
 Is there anything that you want to see about test prep? Questions? Bueller? Bueller?



Guided Math: Planning for Small Groups

I have tried a million different ways to plan for math groups.  This year we have a parapro in the room which is WONDERFUL, but that means I also have to plan for her. I have started typing my math small groups for two reasons: 1.) I can easily edit the plans for two groups (my group and the para's group), and 2.) I will be able to put my hands on them quickly next year!

I can't remember if I have written about this before, so I will so a brief explanation.  On Mondays we teach an overview of the the week.  Then we give a pretest to determine small groups.  After school we quickly analyze the test results and sort them into three groups (one group for each adult in the the classroom). Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday we spend the time in small groups, the independent work, and then centers.  On Fridays we give a post test and introduce a new game or activity for centers.

Here is how I just started planning for small groups.  I usually do not do too many  worksheet based activities- usually more manipulatives.  However, some of the topics lent themselves well to a worksheet so you will see those in my plans (sorry).

Here are examples of the plans I have used in recent weeks:
Here are my plans for adding and subtracting fractions.

Here is a blank copy of the lesson template.  It is available in Word so that you can edit it as needed and save it on your computer, too!

Hopefully this will help you plan and prepare!

Click here for this great pack of FREE math centers, plus get tips and updates from me!



Sub Binder

I am so lucky.  My co-teacher and I joke about the benefits of co-teaching.  I may have a million extra meetings, BUT if I need a sub, I have nothing to worry about!  And it is true.  If I need a sub, I put in for one and call her and then I have nothing to worry about.  I know she does the same for me.  Now, in the event BOTH of us are out it could be a catastrophic event, but we are prepared.

Our school mandates emergency sub plans for each classroom.  The principal actually walks around and checks to make sure they are completed and easily accessible.  It may seem like a bit much (and overwhelming to get them done in the beginning of the year), BUT it is WELL worth it when an emergency occurs.

I thought I would share how we organized it this year.  I am so much happier with it this year.  In years past I have had a big basket of materials and I would throw things into it as needed.  I still have the basket and it is buried under my  desk in the very back.  Now we use a binder and keep it in a plastic "wall pocket" that every classroom in the school has for emergency procedures.  Perfect, right?

In the front of the binder I made a simple cover sheet. I was in a hurry- rumor had it plans were being checked that day and we hadn't put ours together yet!  Eek!

On the inside of the binder we keep computer cards, important health and allergy information, attendance and lunch cards.

Inside the divider are these sections: Important information, class list, attendance, students schedules, and how do I go home?

Important information: This is just very important information for the sub.  Some is standard across the school (how money is collected, where to go for bus dismissal, etc).  It contains this necessary information:
This packet is provided by the school as a Word Document and the teachers are required to fill it out and keep it in the sub binder.  It does have LOTS of good stuff.  Our classroom also has a few students with severe allergies and there is clear information and expectations for the subs to prevent any unnecessary health issues.

Class List: This is just that, a class list.  We also include a check list for subs to use as needed with several  boxes to check like this one (but without the multiplication stuff at the top!).

Attendance section: has more attendance forms in it in case we need to use the binder more than one time.

Student Schedules:  Since we co-teach we have students that receive several different services.  Our room, as a result, is a revolving door.  We hope that this will help a sub keep track of the kids.  I obviously couldn't show it for privacy reasons, but trust me when I say it would make your head spin.  It is literally a 5 column, 8 row chart accounting for each child in our room.  It is also out of date and needs to be corrected.  I need to add that to my to do list!

How Do I Go Home:  This is a list of each child and how they go home on a general basis.

Next in the binder is the LESSON PLANS!
I purchased the third grade emergency sub plans pack from the Teachers Clubhouse for $8.99 and have never regretted it!  I am REALLY picky about what I buy and have felt this is worth every penny.  The plans are a mixture of my own stuff and things from the Teacher Clubhouse pack.   The plans are relatively detailed.  After the plans are all the materials, including books.  I only keep ONE day of plans in there because of space.
All the picture books for the lessons are in clear page protectors.  There are three picture books to be used for these lesson plans.

A class set of all the worksheets (the lessons use worksheets, if anything at all just because it is easier) are already made.  Each worksheet gets its own page protector, paper clipped together with a post it labeling it to help the sub realize what it matches in the lesson plans.

And there it is!  My easy to reference and find sub binder! How do you organize your sub information and plans?


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