Saturday, July 26, 2014

What in the world...

... is a Pick-a-Prompt?

First let me say that I am not usually a writing prompt teacher.  I believe in letting the kiddos write about whatever they chose.
That being said have you ever heard:
"I don't know what to write about!"
"I just can't think of anything!"
Yeah, me too.

So, in the interest of preserving choice for the kiddos while giving them some guidance, I created Pick-a-Prompts!

This one is from my Anytime Pick-a-Prompts.

The idea is really simple.  The kiddos chose on item from each category (characters, setting, and plot) and then write a story!

My kiddos this year had a lot of fun with this one!
They really got a kick out of how everyone got the same prompt, but all of their stories were different.  They talked about it all day!

They can be used in centers, for fast finishers, as homework, or an easy way to leave a writing assignment for a guest teacher!)

I have also included other types of prompts in my products.  You will find: (read product descriptions for which prompts you will find in each product)

Friendly Letter
Challenge Prompts (write a story using certain words)
Funny Prompts:
This is from my October Pick-a-Prompt

Compare and Contrast 
Opinion Writing
Make Your Own Pick-a-Prompt

I have several Pick-a-Prompt products in my Teacher's Pay Teacher store. 
Each one has a free prompt in the preview! 
Except for the Beginning of the school year bundle!



My Beginning of the Year Product has: Anytime, Back to school, October, and November all in one bundle for 25% off the price of buying each one individually! 

Stop by and check them out!  Don't forget the freebie prompts in the previews!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Amazing 1,000 follower giveaway! You really don't want to miss this!

I am excited to be teaming up with 90 other fabulous TpT authors to help Jamie Sears from Diary of a Not So Wimpy Teacher, celebrate 1,000 TpT followers!

How would you like to win one of TEN different $50 TpT SHOPPING SPREES?! All you have to do is enter using the rafflecopter below. Next week, ten winner (one for each giveaway) will be chosen. If you win- you will get to spend $5 in each of the stores listed on your giveaway. That is a total of 450 in TpT products of your choice!

Check out all of the amazing stores that are participating and then get yourself signed up!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Is it YOU?

And... we have a winner!
Thank you to Scrappin' Doodles and Graphics from the Pond for the clipart for my button!

To celebrate, my newest product (and my very first bundled product) are on sale today for  50% off! a small thank you to my readers, I will also give away my November Pick-a-Prompt to the first 3 people who comment with their e-mail and their favorite color below!

Friday, July 18, 2014

Mini-me! You know you want one...wanna win it?

Ahhhhhhhhhhhhh!  Isn't it cute?  I am sooooo thrilled my with mini-me!  It was made by the fabulously talented Crystal Fox:  The Library Fox!  She was extremely fun to work with and took all of my crazy silly requests and turned it into a perfect mini-me!  Can you just sense the geekiness?  The book that I am holding is the book that my youngest son is named after "A Prayer for Owen Meany" by John Irving.  My all time favorite book!  Anyway, let's get to the fun stuff!  
Crystal has generously agreed to do a mini-me for one of my readers!  Woo-hoo!  You can enter my little giveaway using the rafflecoptor below!  This giveaway will only run until Sunday, so do it now!  Good luck!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

$1 Christmas in July Sale!

I am teaming up with some other FABULOUS Indiana Bloggers to bring you:

I don't know if you know anything about Indiana's winter this year, but it was brutal!  Have you ever heard of a "Polar Vortex"? Brrrrrrrrrrr!
Well, even in the middle of summer we are facing the effects of a "Polar Vortex" from Canada!  It is 65 degrees here and that is the high for today!  Ugh...!
So, while I am stuck inside, join me.  Let's go shopping!
Here is what I have for a dollar:
Weekly Reading Response Journal

One of my best sellers!

Nightly Reading Log Homework with Reading Responses

Another of my best sellers!  Isn't that little bookworm Just adorable?

Back to School Pick a Prompt!

A little something for back to school.

October Pick a Prompt!

Last, but not least, my newest product!

There is a ton of great $1 product in this sale!  Check it out!

Monday, July 14, 2014

Markdown Monday!

Hello all!  I am joining Kelly and Kim's Kindergarten Kreations for their Markdown Monday!

I am marking down my newest product for 50% until Friday!:

This product is a novel way for kiddos to do writing prompts! They are perfect for those "I don't know what to write about!" kiddos. They are also great for writing centers or fast finishers. Students choose from a few options and write.
This product includes: 
2 "Snapshots" prompts (first day of school and anytime)
4 Narrative Story Prompts 
2 Descriptive Prompts
1 List it Prompt
1 Use All the Words "Challenge" Prompt
1 New Friend Interview
1 Opinion Prompt
Editing Checklist
Prompts are print and go, they are at the top of the paper that your students will do their writing on.
All the prompts (except the list prompt and the description prompts) come with 3 different choices for printing: grey and white lines, primary lines or a prewriting/drawing space.
Paper choices to print on the back side include: grey and white stripes whole page, primary lines whole page, grey and white lines with space for a picture, and primary lines with a space for a picture.
Check out the Preview for a free prompt!
If you like this product you may want to check out:
Anytime Pick a Prompt!
Story Friends!
Thanks so much!

Head on over to Kelly and Kim's to see other great deals!  Happy shopping!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

The Value of Guided Math Conferences!

If you would like to read more about Chapter one click on the picture!

The Value of Guided Math Conferences

If you have not heard the word "rigorous" in terms of the new standards (both Common Core and here in good 'ol Indiana,  the College and Career Ready standards) you haven't been paying attention.
The call is for more rigorous math instruction and learning.  The shift is from learning the steps to solve a problem, the equations and what not, to learning why we do these steps and how it all fits together to get an answer.

Here is my confession: until now I have been teaching math whole group!
Now I feel better. 
I decided to join this book study so that this year (2014-2015) I could better my math instruction and I plan to do that through Guided Math.  Honestly, I am pretty excited about it, but also a little nervous.

Now, if you are teaching reading using a Reader's Workshop or Daily 5 approach, you are already familiar with the value of conferencing with your students about reading.  Maybe you are also doing Writer's Workshop so you may even be comfortable doing individual or small group conferences with writing.  Really, when it comes down to it, meeting with children in small groups or individual conferences for math makes just as much sense and the value of doing so is for the same reasons!

So far the thing that has really struck me about this book is my assumption that if a child is getting the correct answer then they must know how to "do the math".  This may or may not be true.  This is why conferencing with your children is so helpful.  You can sit down and "pick their brains" about what they are actually thinking when they are solving the problems put forth in class.

Chapter Summary

Having math conferences with student not only helps you get to know your cherubs as mathematicians better, it helps them to know themselves as mathematicians. 

One on one conferences are an effective instructional tool for teachers for several reasons:
1. formative assessment by teachers and students
"Assessment should not merely be done to students; rather, it should be done for students, to guide and enhance their learning". 
National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (2000, 22)

2. timely descriptive feedback
Most of the math feedback that students receive is a grade on their paper.  Holding math conferences gives the student feedback on the why their answers are correct and incorrect and time to practice their answers with guidance from the teacher.  This chapter points out that feedback is the most effective during the learning cycle, not after.

3. goal setting
 It is a way to help children set learning goals (which we all know is a great way to help kiddos take ownership of their own learning) and to take some responsibility for self-assessment.    
The kiddos should know:
 Where am I going? How am I going? and What is next?
An ideal learning environment or experience occurs when both teachers and students seek answers to each of these questions.
(Hattie and Timperely 2007, 88)

I thought that I would end my post by answering the Review and Reflect questions.  If you would like to join the conversation, please link up your blog below or add your thoughts in the comments section!

1. How have demands for increased rigor and depth in mathematics education affected your teaching?  In what ways can you use math conferences to meet these demands?
Obviously it has made me rethink the way that I am teaching math.  As I confessed earlier, I have always done whole group instruction.  Of course, when I would release the kiddos to work on their page or whatever assignment they had, I would station myself in a spot and let them come to me with questions etc.
This works to an extent, but I realized that not all of the kiddos would come to me.  So, the "high" kiddos who got it and the other kiddos who didn't want to bother with speaking with me, I didn't see.
I plan to implement Guided Math this coming school year in order to better serve my kiddos.  I would also like to have a journal component to keep up with the kiddos goals as well as to help them to start putting their mathematical thinking into words.

2. How does the use of math conferences for formative assessment compare to your current methods of formative assessment?
Currently my only "formative assessment" is done rather piecemeal.  It is mostly observing students as they work, or how they come to me for help.  Math conference will allow me to get to know all of my students better, not just the ones who come to me for help on individual problems.  It will also hold me and the students more accountable by setting specific math goals and working together toward reaching those goals.

3. When you identify the "next steps" in learning for individual students in your class, how do you provide the needed instruction?  What are the advantages/disadvantages of that method of instruction?  How does the use of math conferences compare to your current method?
Once we have decided the "next steps" I think that I would let the kiddos work on it on their own first.  Whether that would be through a worksheet, math page, journal entry, etc...
I think that then I would conference with the kiddos to see where they are on the right track and where they need help and instruct them from there.  That instruction could be individual or in small groups with other kiddos working on the same goal.  The advantages are individual differentiated instruction.  The disadvantage in my eyes is time.  I don't think that there is enough time in the day to meet with every kiddo!  
My current method is whole group and meet with kiddos on a needs basis.  This is an okay approach if the kiddos realize that they need help!  This past year I had a few kiddos who were convinced that they knew what they were doing when they didn't.  I had a few who just weren't interested, so they wouldn't come to me for help regardless.  I think that holding "conferences"  will cut back on this issue and help me get a better picture of each child.

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