Thursday, November 14, 2013

Going Google in Sixth Grade is Funded!!!

My Donors Choose Project is funded!!!!  I am so excited and thankful to the many friends and family members that donated to my project.  I can't believe how quickly my project was funded.  It only took 2 days and then Donors Choose shipped my computers over night.  The computers arrived at my school today!! YAY :) My kids are so excited to have 3 Chrome Books that will be for our classroom.  They all wanted to use them this afternoon, but I had to get them all set up first... they will have to wait till tomorrow.

Sunday, November 10, 2013

Going Google in Sixth Grade - My Donors Choose Project

Hi Friends,

I want to make sure my students have the materials they need to succeed. So I've created a classroom project request at, an award-winning charity.

I'm asking for donations of any size to help my kids. For the next week, any donation you make to my project will be doubled by Anonymous Donor (up to $100). If you know anyone who is passionate about education, please pass this along. Your donation will brighten my students' school year, and you'll get photos and thank yous from our class.

Here's my classroom request:

To have your donation matched dollar for dollar, enter the promo code CHEER on the payment screen. This awesome match offer lasts through November 17, 2013.

My students and I greatly appreciate your support.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Solving Word Problems

Every year, one of our biggest struggles is problem solving skills.  Word problems are intimidating for a lot of students.  My kids always struggle with knowing what to do or where to start.  This year, I made a poster with some key words for my students.  I used math operation symbols and inside of each typed words that help indicate which operation to use. My hope is that it will be a starting point for them as they develop these skills.  I copied the poster for my kids and they cut in apart and glued the images into their composition book.  We included an example problem with each image.

All of the reading in word problems is an immediate problem for students.  They see all the reading and automatically shut down.  I hope that having a few strategies will make them less intimidating from the start.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

The Amazing Race

Last week, my team organized an Amazing Race for our kids.  We had clues throughout the school that students had to find and interpret.  My favorite clue was probably the one with a riddle that led them to a locker in the building.  Then they had to solve 3 math problems to get the combination to get the next station card.  This card was really hard for them, but I liked it.  The clues sent them a variety of stations setup in various rooms around school. All of our stations were somehow academic.  For math we had a giant Sudoku station and some logic/math puzzle stations.  Our students just finished maps in social studies so they had to solve some riddles to identify note worthy attractions around the world, like the Eiffel Tower.  They then had to find the location on a map and provide the longitude and latitude.  The students even solved tangrams up in the office with the principal.  It was a fun way for them to move around the school and interact with him.

Overall, students did well.  The hardest part for them was understanding that they had to solve the riddles to get clues and not just pick up cards anywhere they saw them.  We had the kids in groups and each group was a different clue "track" so that we never would have more than 3 groups at a station.  This got a little messed up when they started picking up random clues...

This took a lot of set-up, but I am hoping now that it is finished that it will be easier next year.  All the cards and things are in a box stored away till next year.

Clue Cards and Station Cards

another clue card

Clue Envelopes 

group envelopes... they kept their clues and score cards in here.
giant Sudoku cards
station manager cards

more station envelopes 

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

The F word...

FRACTIONS...  Every year my students dread fractions.  When I tell them that is what we are working on they all gasp and moan.  Of course it is never as bad as they imagine it will be.

For multiplying  fractions this year I created a graphic organizer with my students that had all the steps they would need to solve a problem.  I use steps in my classroom whenever possible.  My lower students will jump at the chance to have steps and then they follow them religiously.  The steps to working out the problems make them feel successful.  They can participate in class conversations and always can relate to where we are in a problem.  If they are lost I can simply tell them what step we are at and they can pick it right up with us.  It helps them to not make silly mistakes as well.  Once they have the steps mastered the students are more confident to move on to more grade level appropriate and challenging problems with the steps as a guide.

Multiplying fractions isn't a sixth grade skill, but applying fractions to other problems, like word problems, is a sixth grade skill.  I often find that the basic skills need reinforced/taught  before we can get to the higher level thinking.  The the steps seem to be a very efficient way to get us successfully moving forward.

I created an anchor chart, to hang in my room, that matched my students graphic organizer.  Unfortunately, the laminator machine ate it!!! :(  I got a picture before I sent it through... so you can see what it did look like.

I don't really want to devote an entire new entry to dividing fractions, but this is what kids glued into their composition books for steps to divide fractions.  It is hard to see, but this graphic organizer focused a lot on the vocabulary.  We stuck with the traditional "Keep it, Change it, Flip it" but also added some technical terms to it.
This was our graphic organizer for
dividing fractions...

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Mystery Samples

Today, my students completed one of my favorite labs of the year.  The students take film canisters (you know, from back when we had rolls of actual film for the camera) that have mystery items sealed inside.  They shake each canister and make an observation about the sound it makes.  Then, they test to see if it is magnetic.  Finally, they make an inference about what is in the canister.  This lab is so fun to watch, and the kids guesses are awesome!  Sometimes they are right on and other times they are very off, but creative. :-) Inside the canisters are items like paperclips, rubber bands, marble, button, eraser, paper, and toothpicks.  I have 15 canisters and they rotate in groups about every two minutes.  They have to work quickly, but that is part of the fun.  If you don't know what is in the canister more time isn't going to help.

The lab comes from the book Picture Perfect Science.  We do the whole observation and inference section in the book.  I love that I get to read "kids" books to my 6th graders.  They always get pretty excited about the fact that they get story time again.  They all gather around on the carpet at my feet while I read.  Some are too "cool" to act excited, but they love it too.

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Skittles Lab

We did a Skittles Lab this last week in science. Our science blocks are pretty short, so it took us about 3 days. I absolutely love this lab!!! It incorporates so many different skills from both math and science. 

Kids start by making a hypothesis about how many total Skittles and how many of each color they think there are in a fun size bag. Then, they open their bag and fill in a data table with their information.  Next, students go around to each other and collect others Skittles data. Once they have all their data, students find the average of the total Skittles in a bag as well as the average for each color. Next, students make two bar graphs, one of their personal data and one of the class averages. Students have to identify the independent and dependent variables and write a strong a conclusion. Finally, students find the median, mode and range of the data for each color of Skittle.

Students collecting data
calculating averages

student data table
counting Skittles

happy hump day...

Monday, September 23, 2013

Parent Flip Book

A few weeks ago I mentioned that I had made a flip book for my parents and students to have as a resource at home. The idea was that they could have all the really important information about sixth grade all in one place. I included homework policies, schedules, each kids individual logins (this took awhile to personalize each book), and contact information for each teacher on our team. I got the books handed out the second week of school or so. I am sure not everyone uses it, but I know it has been helpful for some.

I have seen these flip books a few blogs including this one (Just Reed) ... I love her paper. It is much happier than the options that I had, but I made do.

This is my finished flip book...

The template was by far the hardest part for me, I have added the template to my TpT page if you would like to check it out. It is a word file so you can edit it to make it your own. I have the sections made and labeled for easy layout.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

The Scientific Method

This last week, my students were learning about the scientific method. We have taken some notes in their interactive notebooks and have finished 2 labs so far.

The first set of notes was not all that exciting. It was just some basic definitions and such. For notes on the actual scientific method process we made a "wheel". I was pretty happy with the way it turned out, and the kids got a kick out of the clip art.

These are some pictures of the templates I made and the kid's books as they worked.

The first lab that we did this week was outside. I had the kids take string and mark off a 10 foot x 10 foot square for their group. In their group they had to make a hypothesis about how many four-leaf clovers they would be able to find in their square in 20 minutes. This was really hard, but some groups did find a few.

This was their lab worksheet... (You can purchase this lab at my TpT store)

We also did a magic grow lab on Thursday. For this lab each group picked a magic grow capsule. (you know those sponges that grow in water from a capsule). They had to make a hypothesis about their capsule, then they soaked the capsule, measured the sponge after it grew, and wrote a conclusion.

This coming week, we still have a lab on the computer and then we get to do my favorite part of the unit... Observations and Inferences!!! I absolutely love this part. I love the books we read and the labs we do. I will write a post more on that later. :-)

Interactive Notebooks

I am finally getting around to this post... It has only taken me a few weeks, but I guess that is what happens when school is in. I am using interactive notebooks this year for math and science. I am loving them so far.

For the front inside of the science notebook I had the kids make a picture table of contents. They had to divide the page into 6 sections (one for each unit) and draw and color at least 2 pictures that represent that topic.
This was mine before it was finished. (I still need a few pictures of my kids books)

For the inside of the math notebook I had the kids do a Math About Me page. I found this idea on Pinterest. (The "link" just goes to a picture so I have no idea where it really came from.) For this page they had to come up with six ways to tell something about them using numbers. They had to add pictures and color to this pages as well.

More pages to come...

Monday, September 9, 2013

School is Important Because...

Over the first few days of school I had my students do various versions of the Post-It activity. I made one poster that said School is Important Because... I know that it can be hard to explain to kids why they need school, so I decided to have them tell me why they though school was important. Most of them came up with similar answers,but it was a lot of fun to read.

I was reading bloglovin the other day and came across a post from Middle School Math Moments. She took her "math is important because..." and turned it into a word cloud. You can check out her post here. I loved the idea and decided to make one with my kids statements to hang in the room.

Here is the one I made...I am pretty happy with it :-)

Sunday, September 8, 2013


We ordered our Chromebooks yesterday. They should be here Tuesday. I am so excited for them to get here. I made a screensaver for them today so that the screens are all the same and fun!

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Exciting News!!!

I am very excited tonight. My teaching partner and I applied for 2 grants this summer, and we found out this morning that we got one! It will buy us 4 Chrome Books to use as a math station to help with fluency.

(We took a fluency test and identified the lowest kids in the grade. We will put them in a "exclusive" math club to work on getting their fluency up.)

Monday, September 2, 2013

September Currently Link Up...

It's September....I can't believe it!!! Christmas will be here before we know it. For this month's "currently" I am linking up with Farley at Oh' Boy 4th Grade.

That's really all I got for tonight. I really should get some work finished so I am not behind starting the week off.

(GRRRRRRR... I can't get rid of the white background in the picture and if I make it bigger it covers to much. Sorry folks)

Saturday, August 31, 2013

One Done... Many to Go...

Week one is over!!! It was a full five days and I am exhausted! Overall, it seems like it is a good group of kids.

We didn't get a bunch of real teaching done this week... We took the first of 3 fall MAP tests. I am ready to have this first round of testing over with. (We still have the math and science test to take.) Everyone says the tests give a ton of information so I am curious to see if all this testing is worth it. I have to say, that with the common core and the raising of the bar for students it will be interesting as we test them more leaving us less time to teach. It is a bit of an oxymoron. Let's raise the bar, test the kids like crazy to see if they are reaching the bar, and do it all with less instructional time.

I used that post-it note activity that is all over Pinterest this week with my math kids. We are doing one or two a day so I am actually not finished with it, but I really like it so far. This week we also created the first pages of their interactive notebooks. For the math books we did "A Math About Me Page" and for science books students created an illustrated table of contents. There were a few really creative ones. I will have to try and get pictures of them this week.

We also got computation scores on all the math kids, which we will be able to use to create our math club. We can have 35 kids on the math club. We use the math program "Reflex" to help the kids with low computation scores improve their fluency. They work their way through the program and once they are fluent in their math facts they "graduate" from the program. It is pretty cool and really helps their confidence in the classroom.

Enjoy the long weekend!

Sunday, August 25, 2013

My Classroom... mostly in pics

My classroom is ready... or as ready as it is getting! :-)

These are my bulletin boards. I am so happy with the iPods. I got a cricket a few weeks ago and I love the new letters!

I know that's a lot. By the computers (I don't know if you can see it well) I took stools and painted them to match the room better and got rid of the chairs that were there. I am hoping to turn it into a math center once I know about my grants.