Saturday, August 27, 2016

Getting-to-Know-You Icebreaker Activity

Have you ever bought those blank building block towers and thought, "Oh! I'm totally going to do something cool with these for my students!" and then you never get around to it? too.

Well - until today!

"something cool" = Getting-to-Know-You Icebreaker Activity

Do you want one for your classroom?  Follow the simple steps below:

Head over to my Teachers Pay Teachers store to grab the printable.  Yes, of course you could type up your own questions.  But for a buck, you will save the time and energy of getting the formatting and sizing perfect.  Trust me, it took me for-ev-er this morning and I wasted a lot of paper and ink figuring it out, LOL!

Cut out the boxes.  I even trimmed a bit on the inside of each box for my mini blocks, but if you have the normal-sized Jenga blocks, you could cut right on the lines.

 THIS PART IS IMPORTANT!  Smear some glue on the block before you put the paper down!  At first, I was just laying the paper down without glue and when I tried to apply the tape, the static would make the paper jump up to the tape and the alignment would get off.  My husband was like, "Why don't you just glue it first?"  Duh Amber.  :)

Lay down the paper.  (Please ignore my chipped nails...)

Rip off some packing tape about that long for the mini blocks; perhaps a bitter longer for the normal-sized Jenga blocks.

You can skip this step if you are using the normal-sized Jenga blocks, but if you have the minis like me, you'll want to cut off a bit of the edge of the packing tape (or it will hang off the side of the block).

Put the tape on the paper...

...then wrap the tape around the block.


Once assembled this is assembled, you can use it year after year during that back to school time.  The questions are appropriate for any elementary or middle school grade level.  I have included way more questions than blocks that come in a set, so you can pick and choose which questions you like best!

I am going to have my first graders pull a block from a bag, read and answer the question, then place the block on the tower in the middle of the circle. You could do it where each child answers each just depends on how much time you have! I plan to have my students build our tower on a tray, so if we don't finish in one day, we can set the tray aside and continue the next day.

I hope you and your students LOVE this great icebreaker activity!  If you have any questions, send 'em my way.

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Growth Mindset in the Elementary Classroom (FREEBIE)

Have YOU read this book?

If so, what did / do you think!?  I'm in chapter 6 and so far, so good!  I appreciate that the author has taken such a big idea and narrowed it down to the classroom.

My awareness of and interest in growth mindset started last fall when I switched to a new school district.  Being a "new" teacher again, I was required to participate in the mentor / mentee program and part of our time was spent discussing...

This was a pretty good read in the sense that it taught me about growth mindset in general.  But if you're a teacher, I recommend Mary Cay Ricci's book instead.  She also has a resource book for teachers that I feel is worthwhile.

Okay, so are you wondering how I have applied my personal learning on growth mindset in the classroom?  Well, please read on!  :)

First off, I use a lot of short videos.  Class Dojo has a couple of series of videos that are AWESOME!

Here is the first video of the first series: "Growth Mindset for Students."  This series is complete (five in total).

And this is the first video of the second series, "Big Ideas," which is actually unlisted (I think because they are still working on this series), but if you have the link or you click on the image above, then you can view it.

Kizoom explains how challenges grow our brains.

Khan Academy does a great job of explaining things in kid-friendly terms in this video.

Of cooooourse, I also read a lot of books that have a growth mindset theme or lesson.  Here are some of my favorites!


Click HERE to read details on how we used Rosie Revere, Engineer in our classroom.  Ada Twist, Scientist does not come out until September 6th, 2016 (my birthday, eeeek!), but I'm sure it will be just as amazing as the first two!  You rock Andrea Beaty!

Speaking of authors that rock, let's throw Peter Reynolds into that boat!

And some more...

My husband claims that I say this about most children's books I read and own, but when I say, "Todd Parr is one of my FAVORITE authors!!" I really mean it.  :)

Todd Parr's colorful illustrations and simple (yet powerful) text make it the perfect book to use when first introducing your students to growth mindset.  FREEBIE ALERT: I created a response sheet that you can use with this book.  You can find it by visiting my TPT store.

If you want to talk with your students specifically about the brain, this is a good one!

Sometimes we include some growth mindset writing.  Growing Firsties has an A-MAZ-ING freebie that we use over the course of a couple weeks.  We discuss and work on a page here...a page there.

I am a huge proponent of school-to-home (and vice versa) communication, so of course I share with our families that we learn about growth mindset in our classroom.  For example, I sent home a FREE parent letter kindly provided to us by Sarah Gardner.

I also plaster our doors and walls with quotes that have a growth mindset theme.  Thanks to many of our gracious colleagues, there are LOTS out there for free!  Here are just a few examples of those kind teachers and their freebies:

I keep this hallway display up all year.  It is another FREEBIE...this one coming at you from Pinkadots Elementary.

On a final note, I have a "Growth Mindset" Pinterest board, in case you're interested in following.

Phew!  Seeing as I have not blogged in months and I'm on summer break, this required a lot of brain power, haha!  I hope you gained something from this post.  I'd love to hear how you use growth mindset in your classroom.  Feel free to comment below!

As always, thanks for stopping by!  :)

Saturday, March 12, 2016

What's Going on in Room 107?! (Five for Fraturday)

 Ahhhhhh.  I just finished report cards.  What a great feeling!  Now I am moving on to something I actually WANT to!  :)

We take time for Morning Meeting every day in our classroom.  It is my way of ensuring that each child in Room 107 has been positively acknowledged every single day.  This time always includes a greeting, which changes every week.

Throughout this past week, we did a greeting that I called "The Double Ball Roll."!  I loved it too because they all really had to pay attention, which cut down on any potential side conversations.

Anyway, this is how it worked.  (Oh, I should mention each child in our classroom is assigned a number all year long.)  Student #1 started with a soccer ball.  He greeted Student #2, Student #2 greeted him back, then he rolled the ball to Student #2.  This procedure continued with Student #3 and so on.

At the same time, we had the same procedure going with a second ball - the basketball - but this one was going in the opposite direction.  Student #23 started with the basketball, greeted Student #22, Student #22 greeted her back, and then she rolled the ball to Student #22.  Does that make sense the way I explained it!?  I hope so!

I would love to hear how it goes in your classroom, if you decide to try it out!

One of our school-wide character traits is responsibility, so we built upon the idea this week.  First, we read the book, Horton Hatches the Egg, by Dr. Seuss.

Then, we talked about how Horton showed responsibility.  Next, the students decorated their own plastic eggs and were told that their task was to be responsible for it for 24 hours.  They had to take it home, keep it safe, and bring it back to school the next day.  (Let's just say about 50% of my class is responsible, according to this activity, LOL.)  Finally, we did an independent writing activity in which the students explained again (this time through writing) how Horton demonstrated responsibility in the story.  We used this free writing template from Jenn Bates.

Have you ever heard of the Naked Egg Experiment?  I could not resist trying it out with my students!  If you are not familiar, check out this article and video for an easy-to-understand explanation.  Oh, and using some green food coloring allowed me to tie it into our Dr. Seuss Day when we read the book, Green Eggs and Ham.

Are you looking to engage your students, yet you need to focus your very limited instructional time on your required content?  Yeah, me too.  But I have one word for you:  Kahoot!

I learned about this amazing, free website and app during the Wisconsin Teacher Blogger Meet-Up back in August, but finally got around to using it.  I have no clue why I waited so long because it is EASY-PEASEY to get started!!  There are literally thousands of public Kahoot games out there that you can use (instead of re-creating the wheel) and they are simple to find using their search feature.  I even experimented with making my own Kahoot game this week that aligns with our Math curriculum and it was sooooo easy!  

Seriously - check it out.  My kids have literally begged me to play again.  They are going to do backflips at the end of our current Math unit when they find out we are going to review the content via Kahoot.  :)  (Oh, I should mention that your kiddos need a device to play.  Even if you do not have enough devices for every child, they can play in teams.  My students played in partners on tablets.)

Our school district (and my amazing administrator in particular) is huge into character education.  So he brought in the NED Show for a school-wide assembly.  When I heard the NED Show was coming to our school, I was thrilled!  My previous school district always did this, too, and it is such an awesome experience for all every time.

Anyway, out of the hundreds of children that attend our school, one of my own kiddos was chosen to answer a question and receive some awesome prizes from the presenter.  Lucky (and excited) boy!

Thanks for stopping by!  :)  Be sure to swing by Kacey's amazing linky party to see what other cool teachers have been up to in their classrooms!