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Teaching the Difference between Toys and Tools

We all have those days. Picture this...

So, here I go again. I give students a mini whiteboard and a marker and then I turn around to draw something on my whiteboard only to turn back around and see that ½ of my students are drawing pictures of cats wearing funny hats and actually not paying any attention to what I'm doing or saying.

Do you have this problem too? 
I have finally discovered a way to verbalize my expectations of the wonderful tools that I in my classroom!

At the beginning of the year I sit my students down and go over the expectations that I have when we use things like mini whiteboards, dice or clipboards. 

I begin by holding up several of the manipulatives that I use in my day to day teaching. 

Me: Boys and girls, what is this? 
(imagine me holding up a whiteboard marker)

Well behaved student that is silently raising his/her hand:
Every student shouting out: That is a whiteboard marker!!!

Me: That's right! What do I use this whiteboard marker for?

Student: To write on the whiteboard.

Me: Why would I need to write on the whiteboard?

Student: To show us something or to teach us something.

Me: Do you think Mr. Principal would be happy if he came in and saw me drawing random pictures of silly things when I'm supposed to be teaching you?

Students: Nooo!!! 

Me: Well then how would he feel?

Students: Upset, mad, angry.. 

Me: Exactly! But what if I was using this whiteboard and marker to teach you a new game. It's a really fun game and everyone is enjoying it. Do you think that Mr. Principal would be upset if he walked in and saw that?

Student: No..

Me: Why?

Student: Because we are learning! 

Having this conversation with your students is a great jumping off point into the toys VS tools discussion. 

Me: The things in our classroom can be used in many ways! For example, what do we use dice for?

Students: To play games. 

Me: What kind of games? What games do you know how to play with dice?

Students: List several games (some school games, some purchased games).

Me: That's a lot of games, but guess what? I plan on teaching you some new games this year. In order for me to do that, I need to make sure that we know how to use the materials in our classroom because things like dice or mini whiteboards can be used in so many ways. When we use these things for learning, we are using them as TOOLS. When we use these things during free time, we are using them as TOYS. So, how do we know the difference?

I created an anchor chart with my students to set my expectations right away. This is what my anchor chart looked like. I admit that it isn't very pretty, but it did the job and my students got the point.

I will admit that there are still days when those funny cats in hats pop up when I am trying to teach, however all I need to do is say "I love how [name] is using their whiteboard as a tool for learning!" and all the funny hats with cats underneath disappear before my eyes. 

I have also created a small poster that you can use in your classroom if you like.  
The poster looks like this and can be downloaded  here! 

Click on the image to download it! :D 

I hope you enjoy it! Let me know what you think in the comments section below! :)

No Prep SMARTboard Bingo Games

I LOVE playing games in my classroom. Love! We play games for many of the concepts that we learn or for reviewing things that we have already covered.

One of our favorite games is SMARTboard Bingo! You don't even need a smart board to play it on as long as you have a projector in your classroom.

I MOUSTACHE you to read this post!

Hello Sirs and Madams...

Tomorrow, my school is having our monthly spirit day. While I do normally put in a decent effort, tonight I decided to go all out to get ready for Moustache Day!! My class is as classy as it can get with 'staches all over the room. I'm a naturally competitive person, and we win certificates for the amount of fun and effort that we put in. I love winning, I mean certificates showing my students how much fun school can be!

I love spirit days for many reasons. Firstly, we really build our classroom community on these days. We spend time together laughing and having fun together. The best part though is probably the amount of stress it takes off of everyone. Myself included. We focus so much on 'chasing down curriculum outcomes' that sometimes we just get tired as teachers. Maybe you don't, but I sure do.

Here are some of the fun things that I have done in my room to make our Moustache day just a little bit more special for my kiddos.

5 Ways to Choose a GoNoodle Champ!

If your class is anything like mine, they love, love, love GoNoodle! Every time we bust it out on the big screen, the classroom is filled with excitement. Really, I can't blame them. I love GoNoodle and I really believe that it is a positive way for my students take a break from all the work that we do, or to refocus them when we get off task.

As a whole class, we love choosing our new champ together once we have maxed the last one out. The only problem with this is that every student wants to be the one to pick the next Champ that we play. They all want a turn. They all want to be the one who chooses the next transmorgifing champion that fills our classroom with joy.

Here are a few ways that I have taken the GoNoodle Champ selection process and kicked it up a notch in my classroom.

Draw your Champ out of a Hat - Bingo Board

This Bingo board was created for my class to have up on the wall.

1.) I like to print off 2 copies of this bingo board. I print one colored and one black and white (both included in the download).
2.) Post the black and white one on your classroom wall.
3.) Cut up the colored one into individual characters and put it in a hat (or something similar).
4.) Whenever you need to choose a new champ, draw one out and glue it to the board. Then you can tell which ones have been played already with a quick glance at your bingo board.

Pick a Student to Choose your New Champ

Currently there are 25 GoNoodle champs available to play. I only have 16 students in my classroom.
Another way that I choose the next champ is by drawing a student name or number out of a hat. I have a popsicle stick system set up where I can draw names of my students that I use as well. This is so useful to help it to be fair between the students in the room. The only down side of this one is that you really need to keep track of who has picked their Champ already.

*Tip - Use the bingo board (that can be downloaded above) and ask students to write their name on the character that they have picked so that you remember who has already had a chance to pick one.

Play this FREE GoNoodle Champ Selecting Game - SMART or Interactive Board 

If you are looking for something a little more interactive, I have also created this GoNoodle Champ picking game for your SMART board.

It's super easy to play. 

Each of the champs are hidden behind a set of cards. Choose a number or allow one of your students to choose a number. Once you select your number, the champ will be revealed and you can go on from there and play your new champ! 

Have Your Students Take a Vote!

If you usually just have your students vote on their favorite Champ for GoNoodle, then I have wonderful news. I have created a quick Champ Voting sheet that will help take some of the pressure off when you vote for a new one. 

If you would like to download these voting sheets and the voting graph, click on THIS LINK!

Do a Survey!

Have your class go around and survey other students in the room, or in the hallways. You can use the sheet below to create a survey to decide what order your champs will be picked! 

Here's a pinnable image so that you can find this post later on. :)

1K Giveaway!

I'm super excited to be celebrating my 1K following on TpT and Instagram. In order to celebrate, I have teamed up with some amazing Teacher-Authors to give you some amazing prizes!

Here is how it works! There are 3 prizes that you can win! Below there are 3 different rafflecoptors that you can enter to win these awesome prizes!

There are 3 raffles. Each one is for a $100.00 gift card for TpT! All you have to do is click on the links that are provided below, follow these amazing stores, blogs, instagram accounts, etc. Each time you follow, you will be entered to WIN A $100.00 TPT GIFT CARD!

WOOHOO! Isn't that easy?

What are you waiting for? Time is running out! ;)

Prize Package #1
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Prize Package #2
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Prize Package #3
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck, everyone! The raffle is going to be over and drawn on October 23rd.

Guided Math - Increase Student Accountability

Guided math is one of my favourite times of the day. It gives me the opportunity to work with my students in a small group setting and allows the other students to build their independent work skills, work with friends and sharpen their math skills through technology.

In Guided Math, my students are grouped by their achievement level so I can teach more specifically to each student's level of needs.

The Setup

In my guided math class, I have 4 stations:

1.) Math with my Teacher
Working on new or challenging skills based on level of understanding

2.) Math with Technology
Working on math skills on the computer or iPad

3.) Math with Someone
Math task cards, card games or strategy skills with a buddy

4.) Math by Myself
A math journal with work designed to meet student needs. These are based on conferences at the 'Math with my Teacher' station.

The biggest problem that I was having, was keeping my students accountable for the work that they should have been doing when they were working on 'math by myself.' I could tell them "make sure you are working hard" or "keep going," until I was blue in the face, but frankly, it was wasting my time when I should have been focusing on the group that I was working with. I was also getting tired of repeating myself, so I can only imagine how annoying I would sound to the students that were actually getting their work done.

I created 1 week worth of work for my students to work on initially, but with this trick I have been able to add extra pages and not overwhelm my students (which means less prep later on).  During the first 10 minutes of class, we would practice and discuss, then we would go about working on our rotations (aprox. 10-12 minutes  per station)

 When I took my students' work home over the weekend, I was ecstatic for the students who had clearly put in a very good effort as well as underwhelmed by the ones who had completed very little work during 'Math by Myself.'  I know that they know the material. I know that they can do this. We have been working on this daily...

Maybe this happens every day. There is no way to be sure about it. But aside from the Men in Black coming into my classroom and erasing our minds with the flasher, we should be able to get things done in a timely manner. 

The Hook

One of the most exciting things about Guided Math is that it is very hands on based and game oriented in my classroom. I love adding games and manipulatives into lessons, basically tricking my students into thinking that they are just having fun, when actually they are exploring and demonstrating the skills that we just covered, but in a more hands on and tangible way.

The Deal

My daily math block is 60 minutes long which allows me to get a lot of math practice in every day. I told my students that I would love to have 'Math Game Friday' every week for 30 minutes of our math period where students would be able to play math games (that work on essential skills that we are trying to master - but I won't mention that part).

Everyone loves math game time, so I told them that in order for us to be able to have Math Game Friday, we would have to all reach a checkpoint in our math journals. 

"What is a checkpoint in a math journal," you ask? 

Well, it's really quite simple. 

I put a sticker on the page that we need to reach in our journal. 

That's it. No fancy, big, crazy ideas to track or to add extra work onto our never ending list of 'things to do'. It's a sticker which acts as a goal for students to reach. 

I guess it is sort of fancy because I call it a CHECK POINT and my students eat that right up! 

When I looked in my student's journal and when I work with them at my table, I take notes on expectations that I should set for them. Some students are naturally good at completing table work, while others struggle a bit more. A checkpoint might be different for the students that require more time. I'm not here to discourage students or to make them feel like they will never finish the task. I simply want for my students to have a goal in mind when they sit down to do their work. 

I am so pleased with this simple classroom hack! My students work hard toward their goals because they know that they can earn some much deserved free time if they work hard.

Do you have a trick that has kept your students on track? I would love to hear about it! Leave a note in the comments section. 

Pinterest friendly image below! :)

More Father's Day Fun! A Popsicle Stick Frame!

So, I needed to make something else to go along with my Father's Day Magazines. I decided that a picture frame would be great. I saw some really cute designs on pinterest, and I didn't quite know how to recreate them, so I played with the idea during my prep. This is what I came up with!

I love how they turned out!

Popsicle Sticks
Scrapbook Paper (I used manly designs for Father's Day)
White Liquid Glue
Hot Glue Gun

Step 1: You will need 8+ popsicle sticks for each frame.

Step 2: Choose a paper design - I used regular 12"x12" scrapbook paper for this since I have a large supply. I cut them in strips about 1" wide.

Step 3: Allow students to choose their paper styles.

Step 4: Have students cut the paper strips in ½.

Step 5: Use your paint brush to paint the white glue onto the popsicle sticks. Glue them down to the white side of the paper.

 Step 6: Cut a U shape on the paper around the ends of the popsicle sticks.

Step 7: Paint more glue onto this side of the popsicle stick. It's ok if you get it on the paper. 

Step 8: Fold the edges of the paper over.

Step 9: Repeat step 8 with all the popsicle sticks.

Step 10: Line up your popsicle sticks into this pattern and hot glue together. You could do this with white glue if you have extra time. I was running short on time, so I did this with the hot glue gun. 

Step 11: lay the other side on top to mimic the exact placement of the first set. Do not glue this side to the first one - Just use it for a template of the layout.  Hot glue these sticks together so that you have 2 exact same patterns. 

Step 12: Use your hot glue gun to make a strip of glue at the top of the frame **Make sure that the popsicle stick is glued onto the back of the frame like the one with the pink arrow below. 

Step 13: Hold the 2 frames together.

Voila! Add your picture and you have your custom frame :)

I hope you like this tutorial and that you can use it for many projects to come! 

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