Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Product Swap S'more

Do your kids love writing as much as mine do?  I know, silly questions.  My kids struggle with writing.  It is the most difficult subject for them to learn.  I found an amazing product that I want to share with you.  My kids LOVED this activity and so did I.  All of my students were successful with these lessons.

Lesley selected interesting topics for the kids.  She uses a large print that is easy for the kids to read.  The lesson are set up in the same manner which the kids love the predicability of.   I began the lesson be reviewing transitional words and phrases.  We read all of the facts listed.  Then we decided which fact told the main idea.  We cut out the main idea and glued it down as the title of our paragraph.  We read through all of the facts and discussed which order made the most sense and why.  Next, students cut out all of the facts and glued them in the correct order.

This student reread the facts and wrote numbers next to each one to remind him which order he wanted to glue them down.  I thought that was pretty clever.

After we had our facts glued down in the correct order, we copied our paragraphs onto lined paper.  We were focusing on indenting our paragraph and adding in capital letters and punctuation.

The kids loved this so much because when they were finished, they had a well written paragraph.  I think this was a great transitional step that many of my kids needed before we moved on to writing paragraphs independently. Please head over and check it out. I know you won't be disappointed.  You can visit Lesley's blog here and her store here.

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Sunday, April 21, 2013

A Pencil Sharpener for all Children

I am thrilled that I came across this pencil sharpener.  It is much smaller than I expected, but that doesn't stop it from working like a dream!  I also like that it easily locks to any table.  (It is not a wall mount sharpener.)  It is quiet, but that isn't why I love it.  ALL of my students can finally sharpen their pencils without any help.  I have a student who has very limited hand/arm use in his left arm.  He can grip the pencil, but he doesn't have enough strength in his hand to hold the pencil still while sharpening it with a regular manual sharpener.  Someone has to help him every single time.  But, not anymore.  Thanks to this amazing pencil sharpener, he is able to sharpen his pencil all by himself.  I wish you could have seen his face light up when he pulled his pencil out and it had a razor-sharp point.  He is hooked!  In fact, I have had to put him on pencil sharpener lockdown!

I'm sure you want to know what is so special about this sharpener compared to the millions of other sharpeners on the market.  Look at the picture above.  Do you see how the pencil is sitting in the silver do-dad?  Well, that silver do-dad holds the pencil for you.  There is a squeeze lock that holds the pencil while you sharpen it.  The silver do-dad also moves back and forth. As you sharpen the pencil, it slides the pencil to the blades.  When the pencil is as sharp as a tack, the handle still spins, but it has no tension.  All of my kids were able to tell when the pencil was "done" (as they call it.)   I love this sharpener so much, I am planning on buying 2 more for my classroom and 1 for my house for homework time.  I want to attach one to each of my small group tables so no one has to get up whenever their pencil breaks.  

So you know you want one, don't you?  You'll never guess how much this sharpener is.  This is the least expensive sharpener I have ever had in my classroom and it works far better than any of the others.  You can pick one up for only $25.  If you are as obsessed as I am, there is also a volume discount if you buy 3 or more which is only $54 (for 3).  That's almost buy 2 get the 3rd free!  What teacher doesn't love a great bargain?  Click any picture to go to the website and pick yours up today.


Monday, April 15, 2013


My kids have such a hard time with multiplication of multi-digit numbers because of all of the steps to remember.  I found a new method to teach kids how to multiply multi-digit numbers in a snap.  Don't believe it?  I didn't either, but I was willing to try anything.

Traditional multiplication has so many steps involving multiplying, adding, and place value.  It's just too much for my kiddos.  So, I went searching and found a new method!

Not only does it work, but the kids LOVE it!  Here's a brief summary of how it works.  I will warn you, since you learned to multiply "the old way"  it may take your brain a few tries to understand this method.

Step 1:  Change the way you write the problem.  Let's use the problem 54x72

Step 2:  Simple multiplication.  You will multiply 7x5 and put the answer in the first box.  The slash separates the tens and ones.  Then you multiply 7x4.  It will look like this.
You continue to the second row and multiply in the same manner.  2x5 and 2x4.  Since 2x4=8, you will need to put a 0 in the tens place.  It will look like this when you are finished multiplying.
Step 3:  Add on the diagonal.  I give the kids a sticky note to help them block off numbers they are not adding to help keep them from getting distracted from extra numbers.
We begin adding at the bottom right.  This number will be the ones place.  8

Next add 0+0+8=8 (Tens place)

Next add 1+5+2=8  (Hundreds place)

The 3 is moved to the thousands place.  The final answer is 3, 888.

Let's do another one.  78x45  This is what it looks like after you multiply.

Now, you add.  This time, we will need to "carry" since our sums will be more than 9.  Starting with the bottom left, the ones place is 0.

The tens place is 1 carry 1 ten over (5+4+2=11)  Here's the only tricky part.  Write the 1 down in the tens place for your answer and carry 1 up to the next row.

The hundreds place is 15 (3+8+3+1)  Here's the only tricky part.  Write the 5 down in the hundreds place for your answer and carry the 1 up to the next row.  Here's what it looks like.

Finally, you add 2+1.  3 is the thousands place.  The final answer is 3,510

Pretty cool, huh?  I have a step by step smartboard file that you can use to teach your class this method. You can find it HERE if you are interested.


Sunday, April 7, 2013

Product Swap S'more

I'm linking up with Samantha at Ms. Smarty Pants to showcase some great products.  

This week, I am reviewing Fraction Fun with Math and Art by Ms. Fultz's Corner.  My kids LOVED this lesson.  I used this as a culminating activity for our fraction unit.  Since I teach special education, I made a few extra visuals for my kids to help them with the math part.  First, we took all of the shapes that we were going to use, cut them apart, and labeled them.

Since I teach in an Arts Integrated school, I used the following art vocabulary: collage, create, symmetric.   We also talked about choosing colors that are complimentary.  My kids were so excited to create a collage. I gave them the freedom to choose any subject they wanted.  My kids created everything from scenes of everyday life to imaginary animals.

After the kids finished their collages, they added up the fraction pieces.  I really like how Christi set up the student response sheet.  She made it very easy for the kids to add fractions.  Step one was to count up each individual fraction piece.  Then, students figure out how many wholes each set of fraction pieces equaled.  

 This was a super fun lesson.  We all enjoyed this lesson.  It was the perfect culminating activity!  Christi is super generous and is offering a free copy to one lucky person.  Enter below and good luck!

a Rafflecopter giveaway


Saturday, April 6, 2013

Pass the Torch Linky

Get Ready for Bloggy Olympics!!!

Photobucket Photobucket

Join The 3AM Teacher, the Reading Olympians, and over 80 SUPREME education bloggers as we take you through a tour of the Reading Olympians Root Study Program!!

As many of you know, I teach a special ed class of 4th and 5th graders. We used the 1st grade level of Reading Olympians since that is the instructional level of the majority of my class.  I was very surprised at how well the kids took to the lessons.  I thought it would be a very challenging concept for them, but they really surprised me.  I did break the lessons into really small chunks for my kids.  We started off discussing that words are made of sounds, some sounds are made of 2 letters (diagraphs), and some words have special parts called prefixes or suffixes.  Prefixes and suffixes have the power to change the meaning of a word.  (All of that is included in the program ready for you to use.)  I began giving the class several examples of words with prefixes.  They immediately began making connections to words they knew and came up with some of their own words with prefixes.  We added these words to our anchor chart.

Then, we underlined the prefix of each word.  

Day 2:  We discussed the prefix -un.  We made an anchor chart for each prefix that we discussed.  Students helped think up the words for the chart.  Since this was the first day that we discussed a prefix, we wrote both the word and its definition on the chart.  We came up with several different sentences for each word.  

Day 3:  We discussed the prefix -dis.  This went well with -un since they had the same meaning.  When we learned about -un, the kids were able to come up with it's meaning without any help.  They had a much more difficult time defining -dis.  Instead of telling them what it meant, we made a list of -dis words.  Then, we discussed what each word meant.  After we defined several words, the kids were able to figure out it's meaning.  They were really pleased with themselves for figuring it out without me telling them.  

Then, the kids made their own anchor chart.  They wrote the definition of the prefix.  Then, we skipped down to the bottom of the page and the kids picked their favorite words from the class anchor chart.  Finally, they moved back to the middle box where they wrote a sentence using one of the words from their anchor chart and illustrated the sentence.  Here are a few examples from my kids.  (Their sentences are under each picture.)

Kayla disappeared after dinner.  (I love that the person is hanging upside down in the door frame!) 
I dislocated my shoulder while riding my bike.

I was dismissed from school and never came back.
 I was super impressed with the sentences that my kids came up with.  I think they really rose to the challenge of using "5th grade" words.  They really enjoyed learning how to figure out what new words mean by using prefixes.  I am continuing to use this program with my kiddos.  Next week, we are going to do several more prefixes.  I am planning on teaching 2-3 on Monday.  On Tuesday, I plan on moving on to suffixes.  Since they caught on to prefixes so quickly, I don't anticipate it taking very long to cover all of the suffixes included.  I can't wait to move on to the Jr. Olympians which teaches some common roots.  

Discover the program IN ACTION in more K-6th grade classrooms as you Pass the Torch!! Get ideas, discover the progression of the program, and enter the Raffle for a chance to win ONE of the three prizes listed below!!

First Place Winner : Gold Medal

  Prizes: Complete Reading Olympians Program
            $50.00 Amazon Gift Card
            50% off Discount Code for a 1-Day shopping spree at The 3AM Teacher's Etsy store!

Second Place Winner: Silver Medal

   Prizes: $25.00 Amazon Gift Card
              40% off Discount Code for a 1-Day shopping spree at The 3AM Teacher's Etsy store!

Third Place Winner: Bronze Medal

    Prizes: 30% off Discount Code for a 1-Day shopping spree at The 3AM Teacher's Etsy store!

Pass the Torch!!!
Click the image below to visit the next blog



Grade 1 & 2

Grade 3 & 4

Grade 5 & 6

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Monday, April 1, 2013

Autism Awareness

April is Autism Awareness month.  I am teaming up with several great friends to bring you some great resources to use with your kiddos who are/may be on the spectrum.  These resources are also great for students who are ADHD, OCD, OHI, or have well below average IQ scores.

How many times do you hear, "When's lunch?" or "When's recess?"  I know it drives me crazy to hear those types of questions, but I also know when I am at a workshop those are my top 2 questions as well.  So, it's hard to get mad at our sweet little kiddos for wanting to know the order of their day.  One way we can help all of our kids is to give them a visual schedule.  I like to put both words and pictures on the cards I use.  I attach magnets to my pictures so that I can easily change the order.  This is especially helpful when we have an unusual change such as a field trip, picture day, or special program.  Here's what my schedule looks like.  For the first few weeks of school the schedule is reviewed in detail.  As the year progresses, a quick overview is given and we move on unless it is an unusual day. On days when there are changes in our usual routine, the day is reviewed in detail.

When kids ask me when something is going to happen, I point to the visual schedule.  I show them what we are doing now and everything that will happen before we get to the event they are looking forward to.  This really helps the kids to know what their day will look like.  After a few weeks, students don't ask when questions all day.  They look at the visual schedule and find out for themselves.  You can grab a free copy of my visual schedule cards here.  (Click on Fan Freebies.)

You can also enter an Autism giveaway hosted at my sweet friend Danielle's blog, Crayonbox Learning.  The giveaway and freebies will end on April 12, so make sure you stop by all of the blogs in the linky.

You are welcome to join the Autism Linky party, but you MUST have an autism-friendly freebie on your Blog post, AND the Autism Linky Party graphic linked back to Crayonbox Learning (and the url here: http://www.crayonboxlearning.blogspot.com/2013/03/autism-awareness-linky-party.html) for the Giveaway. Entries will be deleted without these 2 requirements


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