Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Make an Easter Basket

Today Prue found some instructions for how to make an Easter Basket. We followed her instructions to make a basic basket and then added our own embellishments. Here is a video a student helped me create which demonstrates the steps.
 The finished products were very creative!

Number of the Day

This year I've decided to use a Number of the Day worksheet once a week to give students new ways to think about numbers and place value and provide opportunities for practice. My initial worksheet was based on some ideas I found in this Place Value packet. This was working well for us, but I wasn't very happy with how it looked and I wanted to add more questions based on some of the other ideas we were covering in our lessons.

Caterpillar Number of the Day
So I fiddled with my ideas some more and came up this worksheet. I fiddled some more and was able to make an easier and harder variation so that it could be used with a greater spread of student needs.

I tested it out with my students and two-thirds of the class preferred this worksheet to the previous one. I really liked the pattern question and number sentence question (not in the previous worksheet) because they are open ended and led to great discussion.

If you would like to buy a copy of the package I put together, it is available at my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

Resources provided include:
  • Instructions for use
  • Three worksheets of varying difficulty with samples
  • A blank worksheet for you to write in your own questions

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Number Bonds to 100

Last week my Maths lessons were focused on number bonds to 100. The students in my Maths group were already very familiar with the bonds to 10, so I decided to take them a step further. As is always the case, some caught on straight away, while others took a little more time and revision.

If...Then...Graphic Organiser
I used an If... Then... Graphic organiser to demonstrate how number bonds to 10 are related to number bonds to 100. For example, knowing 7 + 3 = 10 is related to 70 + 30 = 100. We then used blank number lines as a way to explore some of the bonds.

For the second lesson we used the If... Then... graphic organiser to explore how a knowledge of number bonds to 100 can help with working out change from $1.00. Students then used blank number lines to find change from $1.00 and a second worksheet with some examples of buying items at "Tessa's treat store". I was able to work more closely with some students to ensure they understood the process of using the blank number lines. We also used some base 10 blocks to demonstrate a common mistake students were making which resulted in bonds to 110 instead of 100.

In the third lesson students played concentration with number bonds cards, where they had to find the pairs of numbers that add to 100. This was a great way to reinforce the pairs and an activity I will come back to in future lessons.

The worksheets for this lesson can be downloaded for free at my Teachers Pay Teachers store. The package includes:

  • Instructions
  • Three worksheets with samples and an answer key
  • Number bond cards for concentration

Tech Tips Tuesday

Teachers Pay Teachers

This site is a place for teachers to share resources either free or for a price. It is intended to be a time saving measure so that we don't all spend endless hours creating the same resources. What has developed is a showcasing of excellent teacher created resources at reasonable prices. There are plenty of great resources free for the taking with the lure of additional resources, and the request for positive feedback.

My experience

I have just started playing in Teachers Pay Teachers. Ever since I began blogging, my husband has been trying to get me making money through blogging, but this is not why I started blogging! I started blogging to 'give back' for all that I had found online to help with my teaching. These days, I find it hard to keep up with the blogging, but still try to share my thoughts and teaching ideas whenever possible. But at the same time, if I can share some of the work samples I have developed either free or for a price through Teachers Pay Teachers, then it's better than having them just sit on my computer.

So I signed up for an account and did nothing straight away, but then they sent me a newsletter that gave some tips for how to produce quality resources, and that caught my interest. I still had no time to work on anything, until I got sick from my son and thus had an unplanned day at home. Most of the things I had to work on were still at school, so instead I decided to create a "Number of the Day" worksheet for my Maths Group, and do so in such a way that I could also sell it on Teachers Pay Teachers. It took me a day to do this, but I now have a better idea of what is involved. Here is what I found...

The Roadblocks

The cutesy factor - I'm not a cutesy teacher, and I don't really cutesy up my resources. I think deep down I'm jealous of those who are, but I can't get past the feeling that I went through my cutesy phase in Year 6, and should be beyond that now. There are lots of cute resources available and all with amazing clip art. I don't feel like going down the path of dealing with copyright etc so am trying to create my own style - however 'uncute'! I've started fiddling with some drawing apps on my iPad and creating my own mouse-like creatures to use. I've also started using iOrnament to create backgrounds for my cover pages. I bought iFontMaker so that I can make and use my own fonts.

The time factor - I've already hinted at this, and while I think it may be easier to produce resources as you get into the swing of it, I still struggle to feel it is time well spent. When my little guy is awake, I feel I should be with him, when he isn't, I should be with my hubby, and when I'm at work, I have a long list to get through. I'm considering how I can compile some of the work I have already done with just a few minor adjustments to make them more appealing to others, and also how I can spend just a little more time on the worksheets I prepare for my class so that they can be added to my store.

The already-done factor - There are so many resources already available through Teachers Pay Teachers, and many of them quite chunky at no cost. The first resource you upload needs to be offered for free, but once you have additional resources you can change which resource is free as long as there is always one. This means that there are loads of great free resources, definitely worth checking out. On the flip side, if you create something that someone else has already created, yours has to value add or be offered at a similar or cheaper price. As someone not into marketing this is all very new to me.

The payment factor - Basically, you get diddly-squat for your ideas. Unless you pay a yearly fee of $59.95 the fees on sales are ridiculous, but at the same time, until you start selling items you don't want to fork out $60! With a basic membership you pay 40% in fees + 30 cents per item. So... on a $1 item you keep 30 cents!

The Drawcard

I have really enjoyed playing with my resources and creating something I'm proud enough to put out there. I'm having fun experimenting with my ICT skills again and expanding my knowledge in this area. I find myself thinking about it quite a bit and considering which resources I might choose to upload. I've had some great new ideas flowing and the kids in my class are benefitting from my enthusiasm. It has also motivated me to share my creations with other teachers in the school. You can see my store here.

As I said at the start, I didn't go into blogging with the intention of making money. Nor does it seem likely that I will make anything of value through this endeavour. However, if it makes my resources more accessible, doesn't become a drain on time, and helps me to develop my creativity, ICT skills and produce better quality classroom resources for my students - then what have I got to lose?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Tech Tips Tuesday

Inkflow App for iPad

I recently had a PD afternoon at my school and accidentally turned up without a pen or pencil. Instead I decided to try taking notes with the Inkflow app on my iPad. I now have a stylus for my iPad, but still struggle a bit to write on it without resting my hand on the screen (hence the messy writing). However, I did enjoy the ability to add in photos to keep a better record of what was going on in the session.

In the classroom I think it would be useful for students to take snapshots of their learning and record the process and/or their reflections. It would be a quick way for students to take a photo and label significant parts, with each student contributing ideas to the discussion. I am trying to improve my stylus writing, however there is also an insert text option for if I didn't have, or didn't want to use a stylus. 

In terms of sharing, the notes can be emailed, exported as PDF or jpeg, tweeted or saved as a snapshot. These are a good range of options that I think would meet most of my needs.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Tech Tips Tuesday

Just Dance Kids

Pinterest is the place of interest for many of the teachers I know at the moment. It seems to be the 'go to' place for great ideas. I'm just dipping my toes in that water at the moment, but have been more than happy to go along with the ideas that others have found. This week we tried an idea for a brain break.

While students were quietly working on a task we surprised them with a YouTube video from Just Dance Kids on the interactive whiteboard. When they hear the music students move to our open space and join in the dance. As soon as the music stops they return to their seats and continue with their work. It's fun, refreshing and I'm sure has brain benefits too!

It's a simple idea, but adds a bit of spark to an otherwise uneventful session.

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Oh poo!

Had a shocker on Wednesday morning.

For once I was on time getting my little guy out the door and headed next door for family day care. It was a good feeling because it rarely happens, since I usually have to coax him away from whatever he is playing with and wrestle to get his socks and shoes on!

Once out the door, however, the struggle began with my little guy trying to balance along the garden edge. I was trying to suggest this wasn't so nice for our neighbour as some of the plants spilt over the edge and he was trampling them. Of course, being a stubborn two-year-old, he insisted and so I continued to the front door without him. He burst into tears and I then stood on the stoop looking like a heartless (and spineless) mum.

So, I got him through the door with a cuddle and continued with the normal signing in process and hand over. All looked to be going well again so I headed over to my little guy's side to sing our goodbye song. Only, once I got there, I spotted mud on the bottom of one of his shoes. And on closer inspection, realised it was actually dog poo. So the next ten minutes was gobbled up cleaning the mess he had walked in and his shoes. And then we realised it was also on the bottom of MY shoe. I thought I'd never get off to work!

Of course, I did finally get to work, and told my story to the other teachers as we took turns on the photocopier. These teachers were also balancing the mummy and teacher roles, so we laughed about how hectic our mornings are and the many things we race around doing before our work day begins. We remembered the days before family when we only had ourselves to get ready in the morning.

Having a little one has definitely changed my time management. I find my days very full and don't get around to sitting and chatting to staff members as much as before. I try to get my work day finished at work as once I'm home there is no guarantee I'll have time to do anything. I like to think it's forcing me to work smarter as well, but that's yet to be proven!

I am enjoying both parts to my life at the moment and the challenges each brings. Life is far from boring!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Tech Tips Tuesday

Internet Resources to Teach Letter Writing

This week we were struck with the dilemma of not having access to Jenny Eather's Writing Fun resource. This great 'go to' resource for teaching different writing genres has ducked under the umbrella of Spellodrome, which my school has decided not to subscribe to this year. For the first time in years, I have been forced to look for something else and/or create my own resources for teaching a genre.

I was very pleased to find that Australia Post stepped up to the mark with a range of great educational resources. We accessed the letter samples and letter writing interactive. We used this interactive to write letters between two of the Year 2 classes. They also provide additional classroom resources that we have not found suitable to our situation at this time.

Prue then found this site that contains a range of different activities to enhance letter writing - including samples for editing. We plan to use some of these samples this week to teach editing skills.

The next logical step will be to consider how email is used to communicate and to compare letters to email. It might be fun to find some classes around the world that we can send and receive a couple of class emails or letters from. To tie in with our Integrated Inquiry - Now and Then, it would also be great to find some people born between 1940-1960 to share about how everyday life (and technology) has changed since they were children.