Sunday, March 29, 2015

ATB Challenge - Week 2

Welcome back blogging buddies for week 2 of our ATB Challenge!

Every Sunday I will be posting a new challenge for you to try out.   Each challenge will be geared toward eradicating teacher burnout in the long run.  Challenges consist of simple activities, or suggestions, that will encourage a healthy lifestyle, stress-free living, and positive thinking that will benefit you both inside and outside of the classroom.  You can check out last week's challenge here.

Although we are moving on to week 2, keep your list from week 1 close by.

Here is your Week 2 Challenge:

Technology has wonderful benefits.  I use it every day.  However, it is becoming increasingly obvious that we are over-attached to our technology.  Remind yourself daily, technology has a power-off button....use it!

Why unplug?  Good question!

For one, we need solitude.  It grounds us to the world and provides the stillness and quiet required to evaluate our lives and reflect on the day.  True solitude and meditation require the intentional action of unplugging.

It is important to actively participate in life.  Life, at its best, is happening right in front of you and these experiences will never repeat themselves.  These conversations are unfiltered and authentic.  If we are too busy staring down at our screen, we will miss out.

We need to create more and consume less.  Most of our technology time is spent consuming (checking Facebook, browsing Pinterest, reading Blogs, etc....)  But our world doesn't need more consuming, it needs more creating.  Your students, family, and friends need your passion, your solution, and your unique contribution.  Sure, one can argue that technology can help creation.  Especially with the ability to create and share teaching resources on sites like Teachers Pay Teachers . However, it is important to take time to create in other ways as well.

Less technology equals more time for other lesson planning, cleaning, cooking, spending time with family and friends...etc...  Us teachers, we are always looking for more time.  Unplugging will create that missing time that we thought we could never find.

Now, I'll be the first to admit, this challenge is hard.  I am right along side you on this one.  Each day I will have to remind myself of the importance of unplugging from my favorite devices.

When in doubt...start small.

I love this pin that I found on Pinterest from POPSUGAR.

Upon waking, wait before turning on your technology.  After all, the world ran just find without you for the past 7-8 hours.  One more won't hurt.  Blocking out one hour (or even 15 minutes to start) to focus on mediation or your upcoming day will help you wisely shape the other 23.

Better manage your time-wasters.  There are a number of internet tools that can help you better manage your time online.  Freedom will disable your entire internet connection for a time period set by you.  Selfcontrol will allow you to block access to uniquely specified websites (like Facebook) for a period of time, but you will still have access to the rest of the web.

Unplug before bed!  It will help you settle down for the night.  Some research has shown that it may even help you sleep better.

What are you waiting for?  Try it out!  Then let me know how it goes and then tune in next Sunday for your third challenge!

Saturday, March 28, 2015

A Peek at My Friday Before Break

Our Friday for break was a busy one.

We started out our day with a review of comparing fractions.  Students moved around the room to solve comparing fraction problems on their recording sheet and then we met back together to discuss our answers and prove each with tape diagrams, number lines, and equations.

Afterwards, we wrote Easter and Spring sticker stories.

I purchased these cute little boxes of mini stickers from the Dollar Tree.

Students used the stickers in place of words to create a fun little Easter or Spring themed story.

Our afternoon was filled with dress rehearsal and our final Portraits of Colonial Times performance. More to come about that later.

We ended our day with a celebration that included dancing to songs from GoNoodle.

How was your week?  Is anyone else enjoying Spring Break yet?

Sunday, March 22, 2015

ATB Challenge - Week 1

Are you feeling stressed out lately?

Are the negative thoughts starting to outweigh the positive?

Are you starting to feel the wrath of teacher burnout overtaking your soul?

I have been wracking my brain the last few weeks to come up with ways to relieve stress, reduce anxiety, and help teachers avoid the infamous teach burnout.

So, I came up with a little weekly challenge, Avoiding Teacher Burnout (ATB for short.)

Graphics in image from Krsita Wallden and  Paula Kim Studio
Every Sunday I will post a new challenge for you to try out.

Each challenge will be geared toward eradicating teacher burnout.

Challenges will be simple activities, suggestions, or ideas that encourage a healthy lifestyle, stress-free living, and positive thinking that will benefit you both inside and outside of the classroom.

Why not just offer one simple blog post including all the tips to avoid teacher burnout all at once?  Chances are (if you are anything like me) you'd look at it quickly, try one or two strategies, and then forget about it the next day.  By selecting just one thing to focus on each week you can start to build in healthy habits that will become routine and hopefully last a life time.

Sound good?

Here is your challenge for week one:

Create a list that you can add to and refer back to throughout the week.

A list is a short, simple, and sweet way to capture your thoughts in just a few moments.

Keep your notepad, or some paper, on your classroom desk, on your nightstand, or near the toilet.  (Hey, sometimes the bathroom is the only place for peace.)

Jot down why you love teaching, what your strengths are in (or out) of the classroom, and what you are most passionate about.

If ever you are feeling stressed, anxious, or upset, take out the list and remind yourself of why you are a teacher.  Focus on your strengths, not your weaknesses.  Make time for what you are most passionate about.

Take out the list and add to it every once in a while.

Keep it close by.

Want some cute stationary?  Download it here.

Creating a list encourages positive thinking.  It can uplift you on a rough day.

Does it sound too simple?  Sometimes it's the simple things that build the foundation for changing your thinking.

So, what are you waiting for?  Try it out!

Don't forget to pop back in at the end of the week to let me know how it went.  Comment on Facebook or here on my blog.  I'd appreciate any and all feedback!

Tune in next Sunday for your second challenge!

Sunday, March 1, 2015

Ninja Multiplication Fact Fun - Kicking it Math GIVEAWAY!

Do your students struggle to memorize their math facts?  Are you looking for a new way to improve student math fact fluency and to build number sense?  Need to provide a wiggle break halfway through your day?

Try Kicking It - A Program for Mastering Math Facts which my students lovingly call Ninja Math!

Inspire students to memorize their multiplication math facts with a high energy, fast paced, daily review.  This amazing product was created by Kelly Malloy from An Apple for the Teacher.

An Apple for the Teacher

I have tweaked the program a little to best fit my students.  Here is a peak at how I run our math fact fluency block during our daily math lesson:

We begin in a circle to practice some skip counting.  One student is selected to stand in the middle of the circle to make sure that all of our ninjas are actively engaged.  If they are not, they sit down.

The student in the middle calls out a specific move for students to preform with self-control and discipline:





Another student stands at the front of the room, by our Smart Board, and calls out facts ...

4 x 1 = 

...and the ninjas yell out 4 while they throw their punch.

4 x 2 =


4 x 3 = 


We practice a few sets of problems.  Each time we need to switch slides our student in the middle calls out a new move for students to perform.

Then students grab a belt and a partner and practice their math facts that are aligned with their specific belt color.

They practice for a minute each, quizzing each other on specific facts based on their progression through the program.

After 2 minutes, I call out, "Belts away, folders out."  Students return their math fact belts to the bin and pull out their Ninja Math folders.

I call out, "Markers up."  Students pull out their markers from the zip-lock bag inside their folder.  When I see their markers up I know they are ready.

I call out, "Ninjas, are you ready to kick it?"  They respond with a loud, "Yes!"  The timer begins.

I've played around with different times.  The time that works the best for my class is 3 minutes and 33 seconds, possibly selected because 3 is my favorite number.

Students rush to complete as many math facts as possible in the allotted time, before the timer buzzes.  Their math fact sheets are inside page protectors and they use whiteboard markers.

Once the timer buzzes students pass their folders around in their groups for their partners to grade.  Answer keys are in the back of their folders and they use them to check each others work.

Students who pass come to my table to exchange their math fact sheet for a new one.

 Math fact sheets are color coordinated to match the color belt that students have achieved.  As students "kick" each level, and earn belts, they add them to their dog tags.  Math fact sheets match the color of belt that they most recently have received.

Their dog tags serve as a display of their accomplishments throughout the program.

They proudly wear them throughout the day but I request that they stay in class until they become a black belt.

Once students become a black belt they are initiated during our lunch time black belt party.

Students enjoy black belt cupcakes (with black licorice of course.)

They earn Ninja bags and a certificate of completion.

Each bag contains a little ninja stress squeeze figure and some candy.  The ninja figures and bags were from Oriental Trading Company.

Students ate pizza for lunch during our celebration.  We listened to some Ninja tunes, celebrated, and enjoyed our success with multiplication math fact fluency.

Each month we have a new party to initiate the new black belts into our club.

Check out how Kelly uses this program in her classroom here.

Here is a peak at the Table of Contents from Kicking It Math.  Check out what is included in Kelly's pack.

Want to win a copy for yourself?  Kelly has offered a free copy of her Kicking It Math - Multiplication and your choice of any product from her TPT store.  Enter below for a chance to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

How do you improve your students' math fact fluency?