Monday, April 30, 2012

Sumdog and My First Giveaway!

Our 2nd graders have been OBSESSED with a website over the last few weeks, and I have to share it with you!  Our principal first sent out an email about a math website having a contest for Indiana students and it was free.  We decided it would be a great way to practice our skills and have fun, so we hopped on board...and boy are we glad we did!

The website is called Sumdog, and the games are all FREE!!  There are 20 different games for the kids to pick from and there are 10 levels of skills.  As the teacher, you can pick specific skills or levels or just have them pick what they want.

The kids have taken off and are playing at home, and beg to play at school!  Did I mention the games are FREE!?!?!  There is a teacher fee only if you want reports based on your students' progress and responses to questions.  Below are some of the reports you can see once you are registered.

This is the report for this child's Strongest Skills. This one only shows what they have done this week (It's only Monday...cut the girl some slack! Haha)
This chart shows their weakest skills based on accuracy.   

You can disaggregate the data based on what you need on this drop down menu too!

Here is what you see once they have completed some games!  I love that it shows you the table of what is mastered, fast and accurate, accurate, etc.  What a terrific resource for helping parents see their child's progress!!

Motivation for the students is that it is game oriented, they get points for each game, and they also earn coins to upgrade their profile and add clothes to their avatar. As they earn points they are also able to earn "animal" status that depends on their point balance.  There are so many ways to keep them motivated!  

Motivation for the teachers is that they kids LOVE it!!  Also, they are able to do it at home and continue practicing their math skills beyond their classroom.  I also love that I can change the skills based on my students.  It is extremely easy to differentiate their skills on the program and add/subtract skills as needed.  The reports are also AMAZING for creating math groups.  I know many people are going toward the math workshop model, and this helps identify student strengths and weaknesses as you go through the classroom.  That data is great to see what they are capable of on the independent level!  I love it!

Okay....I know, I know!  I made you read A TON before The Giveway, but it is soooo worth it! 

3 Items for the Giveaway:

1. A FREE 1 year class subscription to Sumdog!
Yes, you heard me!  This is worth $60.  The wonderful people at Sumdog are giving this away.  Thank you, thank you, thank you!  I'm secretly jealous I can't win this now!

2. One Year Free Subscription to Runner's World Magazine!
This magazine has given me so many great pointers and motivation and has wonderful articles about working out and healthy lifestyles, that I had to share my love with others!

3. $10 at my TpT store!
In honor of Teacher Appreciation Week, come on over and shop for a bit!  Also, there will be up to 28% off next week to celebrate, so you can get 28% more!

Total Value: $82.00!!!!

3 Ways to Enter:

1. Follow my blog!
2. Click on the Sumdog link.  Check out the 20 games, and write a comment about which one you think your students would love the most!
3. Follow my TpT store.

Leave a comment for each entry with your email address included!  Giveaway ends on Sunday, May 6th!  Just in time for Teacher Appreciation Week!

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Engineering is Elementary and Grant Writing!!

Good morning!  I have been wanting to share about our engineering units for quite some time, but was waiting to hear back on some news from a grant/scholarship that I wrote.  Now I get to share something you can use, and possibly GOOD NEWS with everyone!

First of all, a few years back 3 teachers in my building went to training for these engineering units.  They received a couple and while teaching 3rd grade, I joined in on the fun.  Let me just tell you, I LOVE these units.  They are all problem-based projects where students have to work together to determine the best way to design or create an object to solve the problem.

Below are some pictures from our Sailboats and Windmills projects where my students had to inquire about building blades that would rotate with the wind energy.   The wind comes from a box fan for consistency of test runs, and so that you aren't relying on your own weather, but they put their blades into a styrofoam ball, and then onto the juice carton (last picture).

There are tons of different units that you can check out at their website here that range from civil engineering to green engineering to aquatic engineering!

My students have always loved doing these units, but we only had one or two and they were for 3rd and 4th grade.  Here is the good news for all of you!!  

I wrote 2 grants to help my school so that we could get more resources for each grade level, and allow more classrooms to get involved!  

1. My district foundation offers fall and spring grants for up to $2,000.  That was my first place to go.  I wrote a grant to ask for two different units for each grade level, for a total of 8 units.  Each teacher will get the manual and picture book to accompany it!  This was only about $1200!  I found out a few weeks ago that I got this grant, and my school is pumped about the abounding critical thinking, problem-based projects our school will be investigating!  It's also going to help with our transition from content-based science standards to process-based standards that focus on the Design Process (which is central to these units)!

Want to write your own grant? Check out mine here for free!

2. After writing this grant, I knew that my building would implement these units better if someone was officially trained.  After looking through their website, I came across a Scholarship from Raytheon that was worth $3,000 and would cover two days of training, sub costs, and travel expenses to the Museum of Science in BOSTON!!! Needless to say, when I got my letter in the mail saying I was a lucky girl, I was WAAAAAAYYY excited about going to Boston!  

In part of this application, you need to respond to 4 questions, so I added that to TpT too!  You will see some of my research is the same for both, but they went to two different organizations.  Why create more work?  

I hope you think that Engineering is Elementary is worth checking out!  My students absolutely LOVE the units, and I can't wait to unveil more units next year and get all of our students involved in "Engineering talk".  Just think what a parent would say if their child went home and said, "I want to be an agricultural engineer!"  Awesome!  

Okay, I'm getting wordy, but visit back later this week for my first GIVEAWAY!  I can't wait, and I think you'll want to be a part of it! 

Over and out...

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Freebie for Teacher Appreciation Week!

Teacher Appreciation Week is quickly approaching!  Our PTO does an awesome job of recognizing teachers during this week, and we get little gifts each day of the week.

However, I'd like to put a little twist on this day, and celebrate the teachers we get to work with everyday!  My team of teachers is amazing and they are always willing to help me, share their items, etc.  I can't ever think of a good way to say thank you at the end of the year, so this year I'm going to do it during Teacher Appreciation Week for the teachers in my building that help me the most! (Ugh...they are now going to know what is coming their way since they are such great followers!! Oh you guys!)

I created some labels to put on my little treats for each day of the week!  I decided to add some extras so that you can decide which ones work best for you and your teacher friends! You'll have a total of 9 to check out!  Here are a few of them.


Click here for your FREEBIE Labels!!

Items you can choose from for the FREEBIE labels:
- gummy worms
- Coke (or their fav. drink)
- Riesen candies
- Flipz brand pretzels
- popcorn (I bundled 3 bags together)
- Double Mint Gum
- Flowers
- Take 5 candy bar (specifically for your Art, PE, Music, etc. teachers)
- Nuts or a Nutty Bar


Monday, April 16, 2012

Furry Friends Linky and a New Blog Design!!!

Anybody notice the new blog design!?!?!?!  I was so excited when it was up and running!  Thanks to Kenna at Project 3 Designs for all of her hard work!  I love it!

Furry Friends?  Of course!  I think most of you have met (through our friendly blogging world), my running buddy, but now I get to share a little bit more about him with Soaring through Second Grade's Linky Party!  Woot woot!! Or should I say Ruff! Ruff!  (Okay, that was too much, sorry!)

My husband grew up with dogs, and while I never had them, my sister and I always asked for one growing up.  The Mr. had been begging for a dog, and I kept saying no.  I didn't want to clean up after it, pay for the vet, and have dog hair everywhere.  A teaching friend of mine (Thanks, Krista!) told me one day that her uncle was giving away labs!  YES!  GIVING THEM AWAY!  To pass up a free chocolate lab would be like passing up pumpkin pie on Thanksgiving!  Not possible!  So that's how I came to have a dog.
Life Lesson: Taking risks and doing something you said you'd never do might turn out to be okay!  In this case, it turned out to be something I loved!
These are my favorite moments!  When I look outside, and he is snoozing away in the yard.  Love him! Lesson: Relaxing is a necessity!
This pic is from an inferencing unit I did with my kids and Scout!  He taught us all about a new reading strategy...and engaged all of the students!  
Lesson: use animals to help me teach!

This is my all time favorite picture of Scout.  One of our good friends took this pic of Scout running on a frozen lake.  Just beautiful.  
Lesson:  Don't forget how beautiful nature can be!

Scout, thanks for being a great running buddy, a great companion, a warm body on a cold night, and a friend to get the mail with.  You are amazing!


Sunday, April 15, 2012

I'm Back...with a new weather unit, a sale, and running struggles!

I have been on an blogging hiatus due to a death in the family, but I'm back!!! I've missed my blogging buddies and getting feedback from all of you for the past 8 or 9 days! So sorry! :(

I've been working on a weather unit for quite some time, and it is finally finished! What I love is that you can mix and match whatever you want to do for your weather unit. It is a Super File for Weather! My goal was to keep all of their work in one place so that they can use it as a study guide or weather resource later on! It has a ton of foldables that go into a file folder. I love it, and can't wait to start it tomorrow! I'll be back later in the week to give you some photos of our weather in action. Click on the image below for its link to TpT! It's only $3.40 with my sale right now!

Also, I'm a bit late in the day, so I'll extend my sale through April 16th (but don't do that with your taxes!!). Click on the picture below to get 15% off my entire TPT store, including my NEW Weather Unit! Yay!

Lastly, today, I have to share some running struggles. I often use running as an outlet, to feel better about what I've done each day, escape the world of teaching just for a bit, or to train for a race. Last weekend I ran 10 miles with a friend, and felt great! It was so nice to get some good mileage in at a good pace, but I haven't been running as much during the week as I want to. I always fall back on the, "I don't have enough time" mantra. I came across this on Pinterest, and loved it!
Even if I just get out for a 20 or 30 minute run, it's only 2% of my day! Stop with the excuses Mary Beth and Run Teacher Run!! Who else is with me?!?!

Have a splendid week, and let me know how your 4% workouts are going!

Friday, April 6, 2012

Guest Blogger, Freebie, and a cool Giveaway!

Good morning!  Well, I get to celebrate my last official day of Spring Break guest blogging for Natalie over at Teachery Tidbits!   You know when your principal is coming in to observe, and you want all of your ducks in a row...that's how I felt when creating my blog post.  Ahhh!  After much thought, I decided to go the reading route.

Hop over to see my post on how I try to change up some reader's response activities in the classroom!  They are easy to do, fun to use, and something different for the end of the year (or to begin next year)!  I also have Freebie on my guest blog for you to download so you can begin one pronto...and I think you'll want to! :) Click on Natalie's header to go to her blog and get some new ideas!  I hope I don't get an evaluation and a follow-up meeting after this experience, but I do hope you enjoy it!!

Natalie also has some great posts (hence, how I found her!)!  Follow her while you're there too.

Also, Teri, at A Cupcake for the Teacher has hit 1,000 followers in 4 months...WOW!!!  She's having a great giveaway with 10 prizes.  Although I hate to add to my competition (I'm a know I'm competitive!!!), click on the image below to see how you can win!

I hope everyone has a very blessed Easter, and a wonderful weekend!!

Monday, April 2, 2012

Poetry Month!

And Poetry month is officially upon us!  Many of you have purchased my Poetry unit on TpT, but I thought I'd share a little bit more about how I used this unit with my students.

First, I created their yellow (or any color of your choice) "official" poetry book so they could see what their final product would look like.  In the unit, there are 7 different types of poems.  Each has a poster, examples, a class practice page, a student practice page, and a publishing page so that you can pick and choose based on your students' needs!

For your own copy, click on the picture below to go to TpT!  This can be used for a before or after school club or for your regular writing curriculum.  It works either way!  

Also, I needed to teach alliteration since it is one of our standards, so I had one of subs create this A-mazng Tree in my room to display "All of our awesome alliteration" on the Poe-Tree!  We'll add some butterflies around it later during our nonfiction writing unit!

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Upcoming Posts and Farley's April Currently

Whew!  I made it through a great weekend of visiting with some of my sorority sisters, and am now on Spring Break!  Double Yay!

Look forward to a post about Poetry, and my guest blog post on Natalie's Teachery Tidbits.  Can you believe she's in Japan right now!  I'll be over on her page on Friday talking about reader's response activities for guided reading and reader's workshop.

And now for Farley's April Currently:

"Hop" on over to Farley's page to Link up with her Currently Linky Party and share your April thoughts!  Plus, she is a hysterical blogger, so her posts will make you laugh on those blah days!