Amber from TGIF (Third Grade is Fun)
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A New Year in the Classroom - Hello 2019

I am heading back into the classroom tomorrow for the second half of our school year!  Am I dreading putting on make-up and wearing real clothes?  Absolutely!  I LOVE my Christmas break and spending time with my family, playing games, and getting to have some me time.  However, I am excited to see my students and hear about their time off.  I love that they are as tired in the morning as I am because, hey, we enjoyed sleeping in a bit.  I love that some of them want to share a story with me.  I love that some of them are excited to see me and get some "normalcy" back (and some of them might hug me - yay!)

So, what are we going to do tomorrow?  Well.....we are going to start our morning off easy with a word search!  I don't do these very often, so this is going to be a nice change of pace.  I found this little snowman word search for free here!

After that, we are going to discuss what "resolutions" are.  I personally don't set the typical "I am going to lose __ pounds" resolutions, but I do think it is a great way to reflect and have a great growth mindset!

Since this is 2019, I am going to use those digits to have the students reflect and make goals.  Wanda R. shared this idea in a teacher Facebook group and I decided to make it into a freebie!  Just sign up below to receive it free by e-mail!

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    That's how I am going to start my day!  It isn't very fancy, but I think it will be a nice way to connect with my students, start the day off on a relaxed tone and set the tone for more growth in 2019.

    Using Sorts in your Math Centers

    Busy, exhausted classroom teacher, RIGHT HERE!  In all my years of teaching, I keep telling myself one of these days I will have everything I need and I will walk out the door at the end of the day every day because I finally have it all together!  Well, reality is, we keep getting more and more responsibilities piled on us!  One of the things I DO have though that helps me tremendously are SORTS!  I keep all types of sorts in my centers that we can use again and again!  They are perfect for interventions, group activities and individual centers.  I just laminate them so my students can use them over and over.  

    I also love using seasonal sorts so I can use them for multiple months!  These winter themed division sorts are for my exclusive e-mail subscribers.  I love sending freebies, free classroom ideas for organization and management, and sneak peaks at new classroom resources.  Subscribe below so you can enjoy this plus many more freebies coming to your inbox!

    Subscribe today to receive this FREE winter themed division sort for your classroom and many more ideas coming to your inbox every month!

    Cozy Classroom Fireplace Inspiration

    I always wanted to do a classroom transformation, but with all my responsibilities, I JUST DON'T HAVE TIME!  Anyone else????  I really, really wanted to do something that was simple and yet would make impact in my classroom.  Sooooo.......I came up with an inexpensive, easy to make plan to welcome my students and bring some joy and fun to our learning.  I made a cozy fireplace for my students to read by and to display some of my winter decorations my students have given me over the years.

    Supplies needed:  5 copy paper boxes, brick bulletin board paper, scissors, packing tape, regular clear tape, and about 45 minutes!

    If you don't want to make your own, I have a pre-made fireplace option you can purchase on Amazon below!  Scroll down.

    Step 1:  Beg your custodian and secretary to save 5 copy paper boxes for you (or a box of similar size).  As you can see in my picture, I also used a Scholastic book box and another box that just happened to be almost the same size.  Also gather all the above supplies so you don't have to stop and look for them as you create.

    Step 2:  Lay your boxes flat on the floor in the fireplace shape you desire and go crazy with the packing tape (or masking/duct tape).  No one will see the tape, so use a lot and don't worry about the wrinkles.  You want to make sure that your pieces are all sturdy enough to hold up your decorations later on, so especially wrap a LOT of tape around that top middle piece.  I flipped my boxes around as I taped to make sure I taped ALL 4 sides generously.

    Step 3:  Lay your boxes flat on the floor again and lay the brick bulletin board paper on top making sure that it drapes over both sides, and all the excess is at the top of the boxes

    Step 4:  Set your fireplace up and use packing (clear) tape to tape the sides around the back of the boxes and the bottom.  Now you are ready to fold the top of the paper down on top of the fireplace mantle.  Just fold it like a present.  I didn't do any extra cuts.  Just fold and tape down in the back and on the sides.  (where the "mantle" is).

    Step 5:  Now you are ready to cut out the fireplace area!  I simply found the center and cut a slit in the paper up to the "mantle" box.  Then I slid my scissors under that middle "mantle" box to cut it so I could tape the two flaps on the "inside of the fireplace."  I did not worry about covering the bottom inside of the "mantle" box.

    Step 6:  Bam!  Finished!  You can see in the picture with my sweet 10 year old son helper that the paper wrinkled a bit in spots, but I seriously didn't worry about it.  I did smooth out a few spots and taped them down in the back, but since I will just be leaving this up for a few months, I didn't stress over a few wrinkles (much like I don't stress over a few wrinkles on my face now either)!
    You can see that I had a HUGE air conditioner unit in my classroom, so this worked out perfect because I won't get in trouble for covering up the vent!  Haha!  (Even though I really don't know why it would matter since we aren't running our air conditioners right now.....)

    I am soooooo excited for this mini classroom transformation because as you can see, I decorated for Thanksgiving, Christmas and I will change it over in January to a winter theme.  I may even keep it up for February!  My students have already enjoyed reading by the fireplace.  For a bit of extra fun, you can see I put a box of Holiday books in a box next to the fireplace and I added a cheesy, cheap and fun fire with logs.  Directions on that are below.  

    Since my students can't all fit around the fireplace, somedays I also display a live fireplace on my Smartboard and turn off the lights.  It is usually bright enough for my students to read since we have several windows.  Here is a link to a Christmas themed fireplace with crackling noises on YouTube, but you can just search for "fireplace" on YouTube and you will get tons of options.

    If you don't want to make your own fireplace, but you like the idea of purchasing a pre-made fireplace, this is such an amazing option!  It is a free-standing cardboard fireplace that would cost just a few dollars more than building your own!  

    Pacon PAC53080 Corobuff Cardboard Fireplace Decoration images  

    To make the fake fire and logs, I used one paper bag from the grocery store to make 3 quick logs.  I cut the bag into 3 pieces, rolled them up and stapled them.  I wadded the paper a bit to make them look more rustic, stapled the three logs together and threw in some red, orange and yellow torn construction paper.  I just simply stapled the three colors to the middle of the "logs" here and there.  They aren't beautiful, but it looks so cute!

    Here's to a fun new tradition in your classroom!

    Tips for Teaching Distributive Property of Multiplication

    As a third grade teacher, I can tell you distributive property of multiplication can be a frustrating topic to teach, especially if your curriculum thinks your students are going to magically learn this in one day.  Nope!  The curriculum books usually fail miserably introducing the concept of distributive property, so I am going to give you ALLLL my tips to help make it a success in your classroom!  I teach this concept over two to three days and I continue to review it every once in a while over the next few weeks (or else I might as well not teach is at all since they will forget it in a day). 

    Here is how I break it down.

    Day One Plans
    Where Do I Start?????
    I start with giving my students a pre-printed array that is a fact I know they won’t have memorized like 5x16.  I ask my students to work with a partner to figure out the product.  I give them two minutes to come up with an answer.  Some of them will count the tiles and get it right, but we will end up with several answers. 

    I will then ask them to try to solve another ridiculously hard multiplication problem (ex. 17 x 4).  I let them use dry erase boards, beans, pencil paper, color tiles or whatever they want to try to solve it.  We share our answers (as we usually have several different answers – some right and others wrong).  We also share “how” we tried to solve it and we also talk about how it was time consuming to draw pictures of all of it. 
    We will spend the majority of the rest of the class period trying to solve tougher multiplication problems using arrays and breaking them apart.

    How to Break Apart Arrays
    I show my students HOW to break apart arrays into simpler facts they already know.  I display this on my SmartBoard or show them with color tiles.  For larger facts (14 x 5) I will show them how to split 14 into 10 and 4 and for smaller facts (3x9) I will show them how to split the 9 into 5 and 4.  I always encourage them to find numbers they are fast at (5’s 2’s 10’s, etc.)  This step of knowing how to break apart a number into smaller numbers that they know the multiples for is a critical step. 
    We use dry erase boards, paper arrays that we cut apart and color tiles that we break apart with our pencils into smaller multiplication facts.  When they break apart the arrays I have them write the two smaller multiplication facts underneath, write the two products and then add them.  This helps them make the connection to WHY we use distributive property.  After some practice and they understand WHY we break apart the arrays, we are now ready to use distributive property on those larger facts. 

    Distributive Property
    I end the day by working with the students to take what they learned to make an anchor chart.  Since drawing is not my thing, I cheated and made an anchor chart on the computer to print.  We put it together in class.  It shows all the proper steps that we will be practicing on paper tomorrow! 

    The printables that are shown are available for purchase in this Distributive Property of Multiplication resource pack, but they can also be easily made using grid paper, index cards, paper protector sheets, and a good old fashioned pen and paper.  It's how I make most of the additional resources in my classroom (until I have enough time to make it on the computer).  

    Day Two Plans
    Review with Manipulatives
    I start the day with a quick review of breaking apart our multiplication facts using anything – beans, pencil and paper, color tiles, dry erase. 

    Distributive Property on Paper
    Printables available on Teachers Pay Teachers
    Then we move right into using Distributive Property dry erase mats and pre-printed multiplication fact cards.  This helps me differentiate with groups and individuals when needed.  My biggest tip here is to have the students CIRCLE the factor they are going to break apart.  It is a great visual reminder. 

    Mini Books
    Click here if you are interested in purchasing these printouts.

    I also print out some grid paper and have my students cut out arrays.  On the top of the book we show the steps and on the bottom of the paper, we physically cut apart the array.  The mini books are helpful because they are only looking at one “problem” at a time and they don’t tend to get overwhelmed.  Making the cuts take some planning so I encourage them to write out their two factors and circle the one they are breaking apart before cutting the array. 

    Color the Arrays
    Another method we use to practice is to color code everything!  As you can see in the picture, we write the factors in the large array in pink and decide which one to break apart by circling it.  Then we use two different colors to show how we broke it apart both in the array and in the number sentence. 

    It is my sincere hope that after reading this post, you have gained some new inspiration and confidence for teaching the distributive property of multiplication.  You have the tools (beans and your ingenuity) to make it work, but if you want some printable resources (because let's face it - teaching is tiring), you can find loads of help in this Distributive Property of Multiplication resource pack.  

    TpT Ready Bonus Sale

    How to Rock your Basal Reader and Enjoy It!

    So you have to use the basal reader..... Well, if you have to use it, then rock it!!!!  I actually enjoy the structure my basal reader provides and yet I love incorporating all kinds of fun, interactive activities with each story.  

    Here is a run down for how I schedule my Reading Street basal reader week. I focus on one main area a day (although I do other things each day):

    Monday - Vocabulary Focus

    1. Introduce vocabulary using phonics rules.

    I will show one word at a time and cover all but the first letter or two. I will ask for three words "it could be." Maybe I show the letters "st". They guess "street, stunt, and stinky". Then I uncover the next letter "str". It could be "street" and so they guess two more words. We keep going until they guess the word which might be "straight." This is a great way to intro vocab and incorporate phonics for my strugglers. We can talk about the "ai" giving the long a sound and "gh" often being silent.

    2. Vocabulary words as "sight words"

    a. "Round the Room" - Line your class up and you stand facing the front of the line with vocabulary cards in hand. The first student reads the first card and then walks the perimeter of the room. The second student reads the second card and follows the first student around the perimeter of the room. Third student - third card. Keep repeating words until each student has read a card. This is a quick, fast paced, get up and moving activity. I don't spend long on it at all!

    b.. "Swat it" - Group your class into 4 groups and give the first student a fly swatter. Each team needs a different color. Spread out your vocabulary cards on the floor. Call a word and the first one to swat the correct word gets a point. Challenge the class after a few rounds by adding a level of difficulty. Now give the definition or synonym.

    3. Vocabulary Graphic Organizers

    I try to mix it up a bit and use different types of organizers so they don't get bored, but this gives the students a chance to internalize the meaning of each word and how to use it in context. Here are 3 vocabulary graphic organizers that we use in the classroom.

    4. Make predictions about the story with vocabulary

    After introducing the vocabulary and learning the title of our story. We make predictions on what we think the story will be about using just those two clues (vocabulary and title). This is a perfect writing opportunity. You can have your students write down their predictions or even have them write a short story line.

    We usually read part or all of the story in class after several of our vocabulary activities.

    Tuesday and Wednesday - Story Elements, Skills and Comprehension

    Well....this is a large topic! On these two days, we usually read through all of the story or I will pick a section to focus on. (If the story is long, we might read half on Tuesday and half on Wednesday). I use the focus from the book as my focus for the week. There are usually 2-3 skills I might focus on.

    Partner Read and Discuss
    DON'T make your job any harder than it already is! Use those questions that are posed throughout the teacher's manual. Often I will partner my students and have them read one page with their partner. As they are reading, I will write one of those questions from the teacher's manual on the board. When students are finished reading, they are to discuss it with their partner. To keep them accountable, I may randomly call on two groups to share their answers or I will have them write it on a white board or piece of paper. Quickly share some of their answers and add in your own ideas. Now move to the next page and as they are reading, write a new question up on the board. (Yep, you can collect those and give participation points. I beg of you though, for your sanity, do NOT spend too much time grading them! You will get bogged down and your time is too valuable to put too much time into it. Give 2 points for great effort. 1 point for some effort and 0 points for nothing!)

    Skill and Comprehension Foldables
    You can simply take a plain piece of paper and fold it into halves. Let's say the focus is making generalizations and author's purpose. Have the students write the title and author on the cover (first page). On the inside, have them write author's purpose at the top on the second page and making generalizations on the third (inside pages). Underneath each you can write definitions of each (this should be inside your teacher's manual). Near the bottom you can write one question from the teacher's manual with this focus and have the student's answer it. Need something to leave behind for a substitute that makes your life simple? Try these pre-made skill and comprehension foldables! Easy!

    Thursday - Center Review

    So, I admit that Tuesday and Wednesday wasn't all that exciting! This is our day to move around a lot and interactive day! I make centers for my class based off of the concept. Some of my centers are truly ugly! LOL. I usually just use index cards and when needed, painter's tape (to make T-charts or something of the like). Since no one truly loves showing the homemade stuff (plus I don't really have any pictures of the sloppy handwritten cards), I will show you my more Pinterest worthy pictures. But let me tell you THIS IS NOT HOW MY CLASSROOM LOOKS ON A DAILY BASIS.

    Sequence of Events (I do this for most all fiction stories)
    On cards I will pick on event from most every page and write one on each card. I will number them on the back, mix them up and have a group try to put them in correct story order. I allow them to use their books too! We want to encourage them to use this as a reference to prepare them for (SIGH) "the big test."

    Character Match
    I will write the characters' name from the story (one on each card) and then I will write a quality or action of each character (one on each card). Have the students try to match them up. I will write matching numbers or symbols on the back to make them self-checking or your can make an answer sheet that they can get from you when they show you they have matched to the best of their ability.

    Vocabulary Match
    Well this is really the same as the character match set up, but you can see how it works in my classroom here:

    Would you like to try the sorts out for free?  You can receive a whole unit for free to try in your centers, RTI, or whole class by e-mail right now!

    Enjoy Reading Street Unit 1 Vocabulary Sorts for Free!

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      Fact or Opinion
      I will often use painter's tape and set up a T-Chart. Write fact on one index card and opinion on another. Seriously, make this next step as easy as possible. Copy about 10 sentences out of the book - enlarge them on the copier and cut out those sentence strips! Make sure some of the sentences are fact and others are opinion. Have the groups sort them.

      Fact - Lox is a smoked salmon.
      Opinion - Pablo's mother makes the best pan dulce in town.

      Writing Station
      Choose a question from the teacher's manual to have them respond to. Also there are usually 3 questions for the students to respond to at the back of the story in the student edition. You could also do a "would you rather" writing activity. "Would you rather be _____ (main character's name) or _______ (a secondary character) and why?" You could also do a "prove it" activity. Pose a question, have them respond to it, then find a quote out of the story that "proves it" and then they must end with their own thoughts.

      I have some already made centers prepared and I am currently working on making some of my "homemade centers" into TpT resources. If you want something already premade, check out my Reading Street supplements on TpT.

      Friday - Review and Test Day

      Sometimes we review before the test and other days we don't. Here are a few links that I sometimes use on Friday or I may use them other days during the week. I hope you find some of them helpful. Warning: If it is a review game, some teachers use the exact questions that are one the test. If you can modify them some, I highly recommend it.

      Kahoot - This link explains, but basically this is like a game show! You can search for the reading story you are on. I promise there are lots of activities.

      Rags to Riches (Prudy's Problem for example) - This is like "Who Wants to be a Millionare" but requires Adobe Flash Player. Just search "Rags to Riches" in Google and then the story title. You will find several!

      Read Alouds on You Tube - Just about every story is on You Tube. Some of the reading quality is fair and others - not so much. But, if you don't have the books on CD, this is seriously a life saver when you have a sore throat or want to set up a listening station!

      Have any questions? Connect with me on Facebook! I'd love to answer them for you.
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