Tuesday, February 28, 2012

The Incredible Iditarod Sled Dog Race Simulation Actiivty!

 
Get your students ready for the Iditarod sled dog race! This 30-page document is meant to simulate the Iditarod dog sled race. Students, with their teams of 12 to 16 dogs, will travel over some of the roughest, yet most beautiful terrain in Alaska- around jagged mountain ranges, frozen rivers, dense forests, and vast tundra. The approximate 1,150 mile trip will begin in Anchorage and end in Nome on the western Bering Sea coast.

To gain some background knowledge, the activity begins with a general discussion about the Iditarod race (history, mushers, vocabulary, etc.). Students are asked to fill out their “What do you really know about the Iditarod” sheets that are provided.

After the discussion, students are put into teams of 3-4 and are encouraged to come up with a name for their "musher team". Each musher team will begin in Anchorage, Alaska (the official start of the race) and “race” the other teams to Nome, Alaska. Teams will keep record of their times on the 4-page “Iditarod Time Tracker Log” (provided).  
 

Since the goal of this activity is to simulate the Iditarod experience of the mushers and sled dogs, each team will begin their time log at 9 days and 3 hours and 16 minutes (which is based on the first place times over the past few years). However, throughout the “race” teams will need to add and subtract minutes based on events that they may encounter on the trail. Teams will use a die to move along the Iditarod Trail. As stated above, teams will need to keep track of their time on the “Iditarod Time Tracker Log”. The distance between each checkpoint determines how many rolls the teams will have.

The number on the die will determine what card they will pick. If a team rolls a 2 or 5, it must choose a “Sled Dog” card. These cards include situations that their sled dogs may encounter on the Iditarod Trail. Depending on the situation, teams may have to add or subtract time in their logs. If a team rolls a 3 or 6, it must choose a “Trail Encounter” card. These cards have certain situations that could occur to the team on the Iditarod Trail. Depending on the situation, teams may have to add or subtract time in their logs. If a team rolls a 1 or 4, it must choose a “Weather” card. These cards contain elements of weather that the team would face on the trail. Depending on the situation, teams may have to add or subtract time in their logs.

When a team reaches a checkpoint, it will need to pick a “Checkpoint Task” card which will contain a math, reading, research, or writing problem. The team will solve the problem and bring it to the teacher (answer key is provided). If the team gets the problem correct it will either require no mandatory rest time or just a small amount of rest. But if the team gets the problem wrong it will have to add time in their logs for mandatory rest.

Included in the packet is a matching vocabulary page and an optional page of activities for students to do, including having students design an IPod Touch that would be helpful on the trail. 
 

In addition to the above, included at the end of the packet are "Super Challenge" cards that can be used for the upper levels to make adding and subtracting time more challenging.

Common Core Math Standard: Number and Operation in Base Ten, Measurement and Data, Mathematical Processes; Common Core Reading Standards: 4
 
 
Click on our name below to visit our store for more great activities.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Top Kindle Fire Elementary Education Apps for Social Studies

Below is a list of the top Kindle Fire Educational apps that I use in my intermediate classroom for social studies. My students love the opportunity to use the devices! If you are interested in any of the apps for your android device, simply click on the picture and it will take you to amazon.com where you can download them for either FREE or a small fee.

Each app is rated based on a 5 "flame" system.
1 flame  = app was terrible, never want to use again
2 flames = app was OK, but didn't find it worthwhile
3 flames = app was somewhat useful
4 flames = app was useful and fun
5 flames = app was amazing! Want to use it all the time!


Kids Maps: This app provides students with a chance to place the 50 states onto a United States map by simply touching the state and dragging it to the appropriate area on the map. You can change the settings for sound and music as well. This is an excellent tool for students to review where the 50 states are located. RATING: 5 out of 5 flames! The app is $1.99.



U.S. Presidents: This app provides a visual picture of each U.S. President along with information such as: the president's birth and death (if applicable), political party, term in office, vice president, and some trivia. There are options to just learn about the presidents, take a quiz, and even link up through wikipedia if connected to the internet to learn more about each president. This is a great resource for students to learn more about the Presidents of the United States. RATING: 4 out of 5 flames. The app is FREE.

50 States: This app helps students learn more about the 50 states. It provides information for each state such as: when it was admitted to the union, the area, state bird, capital city, state flower, highest point, largest city, and population to name a few. It also has a function where there is a quiz that students could take based on the above categories. There is also a United States map in which you can click on a state and get the information as well. RATING: 4 out of 5 flames. The app is FREE.


Geo Quiz: This is an app for students who would like a challenge in categories such as: countries and flags, capital cities of the world, oceans/rivers/lakes, mountains and peaks, forests/deserts/plains, extremes, the big picture, the great explorers, climate change, and food.  There is also the option of mixing the categories into a random choice of 20 questions. The quizzes are difficult, but so much can be learned from the answers that are shared. The app is FREE.


As more social studies apps become available for the Kindle Fire we will be rating and adding them to this blog post as well.


Make sure to check out our other blog posts about using the Kindle Fire in the classroom and for future ratings too!

Sunday, February 19, 2012

Allowing Student Electronic Readers into the Intermediate Elementary Classroom

The next big step in my classroom after introducing the Kindle Fires to my students, was to allow them to bring in their own electronic reading devices.

This was a hurdle that I knew would be difficult because no other classroom in my building had done it yet so there was no evidence to base my belief that my intermediate age group could handle this. I would have to prove my position to my building principal. After sharing my reasons with my principal, the principal agreed that I could pilot the electronic readers in my classroom. It was a great feeling to have the support of my principal!

Before I allowed my students to bring in their own devices, I reviewed our districts policies on the use of the internet and electronic devices in the classroom. I wanted to make sure that I would include those guidelines when discussing it with the students and their parents.


I then drafted a letter that would be sent home to parents outlining what needed to happen in order for the students to bring in their own devices. I also have a distribution list of my parents, so I also emailed the letter as well to make sure it would reach them in two different ways. You can access the letter here.


On a Friday, I shared the letter with my class and discussed the policies that the school district has on electronic devices.I made it clear that the electronic devices could only be used to read books, and not for any other functions (apps, pictures, video...). If this was broken, the privilege of using the device would be taken away. 


I am going on week three of the student use of electronic readers in my classroom and it has been going exceptionally well. The students are more focused than ever, and really enjoy having the freedom of reading books on their devices. I have made sure that they have been used appropriately as well, by monitoring their use during our reading time. But the biggest factor is the students' own policing of their classmates. When we had our initial discussion, my students brought up the fact that they could see or tell if someone wasn't using the devices correctly. You gotta love the honesty!


Stay tuned for more blogs about how I am using electronic devices in my classroom.

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Top Kindle Fire Education Apps for Math

Below is a list of the top Kindle Fire Educational apps that I use in my intermediate classroom for math. I have used them all successfully for both remediation and enrichment after teaching the concepts tied to our curriculum. My students love the opportunity to use the devices for math! If you are interested in any of the apps for your android device, simply click on the picture and it will take you to amazon.com where you can download them for either FREE or a small fee.

Each app is rated based on a 5 "flame" system.
1 flame  = app was terrible, never want to use again
2 flames = app was OK, but didn't find it worthwhile
3 flames = app was somewhat useful
4 flames = app was useful and fun
5 flames = app was amazing! Want to use it all the time!



Card Droid Math Flash Cards: This app provides flash cards for multiplication and division (also addition and subtraction). You can change the settings which allows you to choose the problem set the students will do. It makes it individualized based on the students' needs. You can change the amount of problems from 10-50, can change the color of the background, and even the sounds! RATING: 5 out of 5 flames! The app is $.99.



Math Bingo: This fun game provides problems to solve for multiplication and division (also addition and subtraction) while playing bingo! You can select a level of difficulty for each game: easy, medium, hard. If you are looking for enrichment or a challenge for your higher learners, this isn't an app for them. Even the hard levels are easy. But my lower level students loved this game. RATING: 4 out of 5 flames. The app is FREE.


Math Training for Kids: This app allows multiplication and division practice (also addition and subtraction) at the same time if you choose. You can customize the problem sets where it can have a mix of two different types of problems. There are levels of difficulty that you choose from. You can also change the problem set from 10 to 100. Once again, the only drawback for higher level learners is that the "hard" level is way too easy. But for lower level learners it is a great app. There is a "statistics" button that keeps track of how well the students do on each problem set. That is a great feature to see the students' progress. RATING: 4 out of 5 flames. The app is FREE.

Peter’s Pig Money Math: This is an app for students to practice counting money. There are three levels: easy, medium, hard. You can sort money into jars, count the value of money and select the correct amount, and choose which pile of money has the greater amount. This is great practice for those students that struggle with coins. RATING: 5 out of 5 flames for money counting! The app is FREE.

There were some math apps that received a 1-3 flame rating. Those apps were: A+ Flash Cards, Let's Do the Math, Fun Math Tricks, Awesome Arithmetic, Flash Math, and Flash Cards Math. So I took those apps off of my device and will not use them with my students.


As more math apps become available for the Kindle Fire we will be rating and adding them to this blog post as well.


Make sure to check out our other blog posts about using the Kindle Fire in the classroom and for future ratings too!

Friday, February 17, 2012

Slavery, Abolitionists and the Underground Railroad Background Activity


This is a 10-page document that contains: a comparison of how African Americans were treated in the North and South, a table of famous abolitionists (Frederick Douglass, Harriet Tubman, Harriet Beecher Stowe and more), a timeline puzzle sheet, and a chart about the Underground Railroad. It also includes a teacher ANSWER KEY. Click here,or on the below pictures, to access this great resource that will help your students understand more about this time in United States history.

Wednesday, February 15, 2012

Summary and Reading Activity for the novel Bridge to Terabithia



Book Introduction

Bridge to Terabithia is the story of fifth grader Jess Aarons, who becomes friends with his new neighbor Leslie Burke after he loses a footrace to her at school. Leslie is a smart, talented, outgoing tomboy, and Jess thinks highly of her. He himself is an artistic boy who, in the beginning, is fearful, angry, and depressed. After meeting Leslie, Jess is transformed. He becomes courageous and learns to let go of his frustration. Read this story to find out how their friendship grows, and is dramatically changes with one tragic event.
 

Free Activity
We have created a FREE activity that will work with any novel but is set up for the novel Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Patterson. This activity will have your students send "text" messages to the author, a character in the story, a friend about a favorite part, and a teacher about what he/she liked about the story. I have found this to be a very enjoyable activity that encourages comprehension of the story.

Included in the packet is a template cell phone for each activity, along with over 30 text abbreviations for the students to use (but we are sure that your students know many, many more!)
.
You can access by clicking here.


Reading Comprehension Super Bundle of Activities
We have created a 53 page super bundle resource for teaching the novel Bridge to Terabithia. Included is: a reading comprehension packet broken down by chapters with ANSWER KEY,a reading assessment rubric, a reading assessment grid to use with students in groups, a reading vocabulary word study broken down by chapter and page number with answer key, a creative end of book project list for students to complete with rubric, a fun game board with game cards, Daily Language Practice sentences and quizzes, and a literature circle packet that includes a detailed description of each job, what students would read each day, and a group template that is easy to fill out so students know what jobs they have each day. Also included is a 5 question end of the book short answer test, answer key, and rubric to score the test.

The Reading Common Core Standards that are met are as follows: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.

You can click on the picture at the top of this blog, or the picture below to access this amazing super bundle of activities for Bridge to Terabithia!



Tuesday, February 14, 2012

Valentine's Day Activity Stations for Intermediate Elementary Students

This is a set of 11 activity cards that can be printed off and set up around the classroom and used as Valentine's Day stations or centers. Some of the activities include squiggle stories, word find puzzles, math, and many more. Click here or on the picture below to check it out!


Sunday, February 12, 2012

Summary and Reading Activity for the novel Al Capone Does My Shirts



Book Introduction

Al Capone Does My Shirts takes place in 1935 and revolves around a 12-year-old boy (Moose Flanagan) and his sister Natalie (who is described as 10 but is actually 15). Natalie displays several autistic characteristics, although the specific diagnosis is never mentioned. Moose and his family move to the island of Alcatraz, where the worst criminals are.

Moose makes progress with developing Natalie's abilities to communicate with others. Natalie also visits with Mrs. Kelly, who is trying to help her prepare to re-enter the only school that might be able to help her.

On the day of Natalie's interview, everything is tense. Though Natalie does very well at the interview, she is still rejected. After this incident, Moose's family goes crazy. His mom is distressed and the future is unknown. Moose believes Al Capone is the only person who can help his sister, so he writes a letter to Capone requesting his help. Since the convicts are only allowed to receive mail from family members, Moose has to sneak the letter inside with the help of his friend Piper. Moose is worried because he doesn't want to get in trouble. And thus the story begins
 

Free Activity
We have created a FREE game board activity to go along with the story that you can access by clicking here


Reading Comprehension Activity Guide
We also have created a reading comprehension activity guide and answer key for Al Capone Does My Shirts by Gennifer Choldenko. It contains 21 pages of activities (50 total pages including the answer key, assessments, and scoring rubrics).

This is one of the most comprehensive reading packets you will find directly related to this book. Included are comprehension questions for each chapter with an emphasis on reading strategies such as visualizing, summarizing, predicting, making connections, and many more. Also included is a list of key vocabulary words broken down by chapter. Grading rubrics are included for assessing your students understanding of the key reading strategies, end of the novel extension activities, and for the comprehension guide itself.


The Reading Common Core Standards that are met are as follows: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.

You can click on the picture at the top of this blog, or the picture below to access this amazing guide!


Thursday, February 9, 2012

Setting up the Kindle Fire for Checkout in the Elementary Classroom

Now that my classroom has Kindle Fires to use, I realized that I needed to have some kind of policy of how to check out the kindles and what ground rules needed to be followed. You can click on the picture below to download the ground rules that I established with my students.

   




After discussing the ground rules, I introduced the students to the check out sheets that we would be using on a weekly basis. It has a spot for the student's name, the day of the week the student would use it during our Daily 5 reading block, and a place to write down the books that were read by the student. Since I have four Kindle Fires (and each has a different color case) I made four charts. This way all of my students would get to use the Kindle Fires at a minimum of twice a week during our reading block. Click on the picture below to access the check out sheet.




At each Kindle Fire check out station, I have an accordion folder that contains two folders. One folder contains the names of the students who will share a particular Kindle Fire throughout the week. This is not only for the students to know who is in their group, but also for me to keep track of which students are using each Kindle. The second folder contains a list of all the books on the Kindle Fires with a brief summary of each. I have found this useful for students to look at and read through before browsing the books on the Kindle. They are able to make a decision more quickly on which books to read.  



Underneath each folder is a clipboard with the Kindle Fire check out sheet as mentioned above. I have these copied onto card stock and then laminated. Students use vis a vis pens so that they can be easily washed off at the end of the week.


Below is an example of a template for Kindle Fire groups. Since I have four in my room, that is how I divided my students. Obviously depending on the number of Kindles you have in your classroom, your chart would look a little different. This is a management piece for me that allows me to see which students are using each Kindle.

If you are a teacher who uses any electronic reading devices in your classrooms and have some hints or tips of what works in your room, I would love to hear them!

Stay tuned for future blogs on exciting ways we will be using the Kindle Fires in my classroom!

Wednesday, February 8, 2012

The Ultimate Guided Reading Novel Unit CD Aligned with the Common Core Standards


Here is what intermediate reading teachers have been waiting for! This is a CD which contains over 35 of our favorite comprehension guides and activities to go along with each novel. This CD is valued at a price well over $500! Please view our free 19-page preview for a more detailed overview of what is contained in this reading CD.

SOME of the comprehension guides that are included in this CD are:

-The Kane Chronicles: The Red Pyramid
-Percy Jackson and the Olympians: The Lightning Thief
-The Mostly True Adventures of Homer P. Figg
-The Boy in the Striped Pajamas
-The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane
-Sideways Stories from Wayside School
-Small Steps: The Year I Got Polio
-Sarah, Plain and Tall
-Bridge to Terabithia
-Ruby Holler
-Little House in the Big Woods
-Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing
-Gentle Ben
-The 39 Clues: The Maze of Bones
-Mudshark
-Loser
-Maniac Magee
-James and the Giant Peach
-One Crazy Summer
-On My Honor
-Many more guides…

There are close to 250 products included in this CD such as discussion questions, literature circles, game boards, comprehension quizzes, word studies, project ideas, assessment rubrics, social networking activities, and so much more! Each guide focuses on key reading strategies such as predicting, visualizing, making connections, making inferences, comparing and contrasting, and more. This CD will be shipped to you for free. All of the products have been used effectively in the classroom!


Once again, to get a better understanding of what is included, please take a moment to download a FREE preview for what is included by clicking
here. Below are some samples from the preview...




Most of our files in this CD are in 2003 Microsoft Word Zipped File format.

SHIPPING IS FREE! Please allow a week for delivery. 


IF YOU ARE A SCHOOL DISTRICT LOOKING TO PURCHASE MULTIPLE COPIES FOR TEACHERS, PLEASE CONTACT US FOR A PRICE QUOTE. IT WILL BE WELL WORTH YOUR TIME!

 

Tuesday, February 7, 2012

The 39 Clues: The Maze of Bones Summary and Reading Activity




 Book Introduction
Many of the well-known names in history are said to be part of the real life Cahill family- "the most powerful family in the world." Names such as Marie Curie, Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart, and Napoleon Bonaparte were all in one of the four family branches. The branches are: the power-hungry Lucians, the strong and sporty Tomases, the inventive Ekatrinas, and the creative Januses. Clue hunters are also warned to "beware the Madrigals," but what the Madrigals are is not revealed in this novel.

While most of the characters in the book know which branch they belong to, the main characters do not. Amy and Dan Cahill, the protagonists of the novel and their grandmother, Grace's, favorite grandchildren, attend Grace's funeral after her death. A choice is given to a select number of heirs: to find the 39 Clues, which will make the winner the "most powerful and influential person(s) on the planet", or to take a million dollars and walk away. Amy and Dan decide to accept the challenge…  

Free Activity
We have created a FREE activity that you can access by clicking here. There are 25 reading discussion questions that you can use with the book The 39 Clues: The Maze of Bones. These questions are open-ended and require students to use higher level thinking on Bloom's Taxonomy. Many of the questions put the students in the situations of the main characters. The questions are broken down by chapters.


Reading Comprehension Activity Guide
We have created a reading comprehension activity guide and answer key for The 39 Clues: The Maze of Bones by Rick Riordan. It contains 20 pages of activities (44 total pages including the answer key, assessments, and scoring rubrics).

This is one of the most comprehensive reading packets you will find directly related to this book. Included are comprehension questions for each chapter with an emphasis on reading strategies such as visualizing, summarizing, predicting, making connections, and many more. Also included is a list of key vocabulary words broken down by chapter. Grading rubrics are included for assessing your students understanding of the key reading strategies, end of the novel extension activities, and for the comprehension guide itself.

The Reading Common Core Standards that are met are as follows: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.

You can click on the picture at the top of this blog, or the picture below to access this amazing guide!