Monday, October 20, 2014

Study Skills: Taking Notes and Making Flashcards

When your teacher tells you to go home and study for the test, what exactly does that mean?

This was the question I asked a group of 5th graders two weeks ago.

As an intervention teacher, I get referrals for a variety of topics.  Recently, our 5th grade team sent a group of 5th graders to me that were just shy of proficient on their science quizzes.  They asked me to help them organize their notes and teach them how to create and use flashcards to study.

Their STEM teacher shared their Edmodo group with me.  Whenever he introduces new vocabulary words, he has them take three column notes.   The first column has the key word.  The second column has the definition.  The last column is for a picture.  After doing the notes in class, he posts them to Edmodo so the kids can see them.

The first thing I had the students do was open their binders and compare their notes to the notes on the screen.  Students that came unprepared (without their binder of notes) had to copy the notes all over again.  Surprise, Surprise, the next day they all had their binder.

We focused in on the idea of taking accurate notes.  They needed to copy the definition exactly so they could have the specific academic language but I encouraged them to add synonyms or words they were more familiar with to help them understand.

Then, we worked on layering our notes.  We worked together to highlight key words in the definition.  I learned quickly to limit them to one word.  They were prone to over highlight and really needed guidance in deciding the key words in the definition.

As the week went on, I taught them to create index cards with the key words on front and the definition and picture on the back.  I created this handout for them to keep in their binder.

After they created their flashcards, I taught them the procedure their teacher, Mr. Clark, had created for studying with a partner.  We also learned how to study alone.

I wanted to take this opportunity to help the students learn what method of studying worked best for them.  So, I checked out some chrome books, and had he students take this online quiz.  This helped them learn whether they were an auditory learner, a visual learner, or a tactile learner.  I asked them to record three tips they read that could help them study.  Then I had them share their findings with kids that had the same learning style.

It became clear that many were tactile learners.  I showed the tactile learners an alternative to flashcards.  They could cut the cards in half and put a word on one half and the definition on the other half and use the cards to play concentration.  Those that decided to use the cards the traditional way would stand with a partner or walk around while studying.

I asked their teacher to send kids who passed the quiz to me for a prize.  I was happy to see a steady stream of successful students today who were excited to share their scores with me.

On the last day of class, I gave the kids the same question:  When your teacher tells you to go home and study for a test, what exactly does that mean?

I was very pleased when I compared the answers.  We went from explanations like "Study for 20 minutes." to detailed descriptions of creating and using flashcards.   I love that I had a chance to teach them a skill that can continue to help them.

Mr. Clark was kind enough to let me share his ideas with you that I typed up.  You can click here to download all of this FREEBIE from Dropbox.


Monday, October 6, 2014

Cough Like a Vampire FREEBIE

After 16 years of teaching, you'd think I'd be immune to the kiddo cooties.  Sigh.  I wish.

I made this little visual reminder for my kiddos.

You can download a PDF version for free here.

I used my Halloween Colorful Clipart to make it.


Saturday, September 27, 2014

Great Weekend

I woke up this morning to such a nice shout out on Instagram from Jameson at Lessons With Coffee.

What a great way to start my Saturday.  It put me in such a good mood, I put my store on sale 20% off for the weekend.

I realized that this past week was my personal first full week of school.  There have been short weeks due to holidays, days canceled due to the Napa earthquake, and time off for my surgery and recovery. Crazy that we've had thirty school days and I've finally had a full week of school.

I'm ready for a full weekend, too.  A friend gave us tickets to the CAL football game today and tomorrow we get to see Micheal Franti perform at a benefit for the earthquake.

My discharge papers said I could return to normal activity after two weeks which was yesterday.  Let's hope my body agrees with the fun I have planned.

I hope you have a great weekend!


Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Make Your Doctors Listen to You

"Make your doctors listen to you." I remember my Grandma Ann telling me that when I was a teenager. She went to many doctors before one took her seriously and found the cancer they removed from her the day before I was born.
I remembered her words when I sat my doctor down and told him I didn't feel like he was taking my concerns seriously. Then, one day I met a specialist who took me seriously. She booked a surgery for two days later and removed a cyst near my ovary that was larger than a golf ball. The pain from the surgery is about a third of the pain I felt daily. The relief that we figured it out and it is completely benign and over with is incredible.
I debated whether to share this. Eleven days after the surgery, I've finally decided to share this non-teachery personal experience because Grandma Ann was right. Someone else might need her advice.
Make your doctors listen to you.


Sunday, September 21, 2014

Using Multiples to Memorize Multiplication Facts

As students work to memorize their multiplication facts, I try provide many different opportunities for them to practice.  The students set a goal.  Once they know which facts they want to memorize, I give them the freedom to choose how they will accomplish their goal.

Some students love using  technology.  I have a class website that links to games and videos that I think can help them.  They love the website  I like that they can target a specific goal and practice the facts they need for that goal.

One way I encourage them to practice is by asking them which multiplication facts are easiest for them.  Of course, the answer is usually 2s, 5s, and 10s.  When I ask why, they tell me they know how to count by those numbers.

This year, as some students were trying to learn how to count by 8s, I decided to make somethings to help them.

A pair of girls invented this game in class one day.  They both needed to memorize their 7s.  They worked together to put the cards in order.  Then, they took turns reading the numbers.  Once they thought they could do it, they turned the cards over.  Then, they wrote what they thought were the multiples of 7 on their white boards.  I took the picture as they showed me with pride (biting my tongue because I knew discovering mistakes was their job).  They turned each number over one at a time.  When they discovered their mistakes they fixed them.  They repeated the process over again, paying special attention to the multiples that tricked them.  They were so proud of themselves when they passed their 7s timed test later that day.

Each multiple is color coded for easy organization.  Well, and because I'm obsessed with color coding.

I cut my cards out the simple quick cut way at first.  I found myself going back and cutting out the square later because I'm a bit obsessive like that.

I didn't laminate the cards.  I try to be careful not to over laminate.  I have a lot of games that I've printed on card stock and not laminated that have lasted for years.  Giving myself permission to laminate less has saved me a lot of time.  I started because I realized that every game I made for my class didn't need to last forever in a landfill, but now its more for the time I'm saving.

Click here to find this product on TPT.


Sunday, September 7, 2014

Recovering from the Earthquake and a Two Digit Multiplication Game

School has been off to a slow strange start.  Soon after school started, we had a major quake in Napa. Our district canceled school for students for two days while employees came in to clean up.  Our school had a pipe break in our staff room.  Classrooms had things on the ground.  Overall, though, our school was fine.

Many teachers and friends had most of their possessions fall to the floor.  My husband and I were lucky.  We have a couple cracks in our house but nothing dangerous.  Our belongings that fell didn't break.  Some of my friends had everything in their kitchen cabinets fall to the ground.

The theme was clear.  We were all a little shaken, but its stuff.  Thankfully we are safe.

Often, when I meet people from other states, they ask about how I can live somewhere with earthquakes.  Even after this one, I still would take an earthquake over tornadoes or hurricanes.  I've lived here my entire life, and this was only the second quake I felt that did any damage.  Once or twice every thirty years is the kind of odds I like.

The hardest part, honestly, has been getting some sleep.  My dogs seem to feel every aftershock, even when we don't, and the stress of that has been taking its toll on them.  There have been a few times in the middle of the night where our dogs were barking and nothing we did could stop them.  Not so great for sleep.

Tired teachers can often make for grumpy teachers so I've been tying to give myself as much rest as possible.  I took a break from blogging until now and have so much backed up to share with you!

Today, I want to share with you this simple two digit multiplication game that I've been playing with some 5th graders that needed intervention for multi digit multiplication.

Since students miss out on Art, PE or Computer Lab when they are assigned to me for Intervention, I try to make sure they enjoy it. Why multiply on a worksheet when you can play a game? I made this game up and was pleased that they loved it.

One partner would draw two cards and make a two digit number.  The next partner would draw two cards.  They would multiply the two numbers on white boards and then compare their answer.  I used white boards with penmanship lines turned sideways.  This way they had lines to use to keep their digits straight.  I also told them it wasn't a race.  We are focusing on accuracy- attend to precision- not speed.

The wonderful part of this activity was the conversation that arose when they had different answers.  Students had to figure out whether one or both of them made a mistake.

I spent my time helping to guide those conversations.  Of course, at first they'd look at me and ask who was right.  I would guide them through the process of comparing line by line.  They would find the difference between the two answer and check their multiplication.

The students learned where they were making mistakes.  They would say to me, "I need to remember to cross off the number I carried the first time."

My intervention groups this week pretty much followed the same pattern for all 7 grade levels.  I'd tell them their goal.  They'd tell me that goal was too easy for them.  I'd give them a pretest.  If they got 100% they "graduated" from intervention.  The ones that didn't then realized they had room for growth and were motivated to get 100% on their next attempt.   Once students have bought into their goal, they are motivated to learn which makes my job simple.

If you'd like a free copy of the simple test they were trying to pass, here it is. :)

The best part of the week?  I had several 5th graders get 100% on a test but ask to remain with me the whole week anyway.  I'd let them take the post test whenever they felt ready to earn 100%.  I noticed that one partnership had matching answers every single time.  I suggested that they were ready to get 100% on the test.  The boys looked at me and said, "We don't want to take the test because we want to stay all week."  How awesome is that?  5th grade boys who would rather multiply than go to Art, PE, or the Computer Lab!  (Of course I assured them they could stay and they promptly got 100% on their test.)

So, even though our staff room still looks like this....
... my stress level has been pretty low.  

I'll keep making sure learning is fun for them, and work will be fun for me.


Saturday, August 23, 2014

Washi Tape Clipart Accents

I've survived the first full week of school and my brain is tired.

How do I recover?  A little netflix marathon while playing with colors.

I started my morning working on some products and wishing I had some simple Washi Tape clipart that wouldn't clash with the words I wanted on top.  Next thing I know, I'm playing in Photoshop.  This is so much more relaxing than thinking.

Teaching 7 grade levels is mentally exhausting.  I'm glad I remembered how much fun I have playing with shapes when my brain is tired. :)

The first result is this Washi Tape Crosshatch Clipart accents.

They will be a flash freebie  in my TPT store until Sunday morning.  If you like them, please leave feedback.

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