31 March 2013

Happy Easter!

Enjoy a very Happy Easter from the Polka-dotted Teacher!

23 March 2013

How Did I Survive?

It takes losing something to make you really take for granted what you have!  I especially feel this way about technology.  I don't realized how much I rely on technology in my classroom until one piece of it goes out...

When I started teaching 8 years ago, besides a laptop and television, the most sophisticated piece of technology in my classroom was the overhead projector.  I couldn't stand it...but boy did I use it like crazy!  I made everything into transparencies and invested in lots of overhead manipulatives!

Then the next fun thing I got at the end of my first year of teaching was a piece of equipment that connected my laptop to the 27in television...wow!  Now I could show websites or video clips...they were tiny but definitely made a lesson more interesting!

When my school got a technology retro-fit, at the end of my second year, boy did things change!  Each classroom got an LCD projector...and a new range of possibilities opened.  Now my students could actually see the video clips and websites I was showing!  I couldn't even realized it could get better!  But the technology tools kept coming and coming!

Now in my eighth year of teaching I am lucky enough to have a plethora of technology tools at my fingertips...laptop, projector, Mimio interactive white board, Mimio tablet, document camera, Kindle Fire tablet, student responders.  I am discovering more and more things I can do with each of these every day.  Like yesterday, my students took a test and chose their answers on the student responders at their own pace...instant feedback!  Wowee!

Now that my school system is in the process of going to BYOD (bring your own device), I can't wait to see what possibilities will be out there in the coming years.

I happened upon this graphic that shows how we as teachers are changing in our technology use...take a look!  It is pretty amazing how far we have come!

What do we Know Infographic
Brought to you by OnlineUniversities.com
How has your technology use changed since you started teaching?  What is your favorite piece of technology in your classroom?

17 March 2013

Simple Machines and Leprechaun Traps

So I was clicking through Pinterest a couple weeks ago, and I was totally inspired by this freebie by Khrys of Keepin’ It Kool in Kinderland. How adorable, right?

Well I knew that while my students would totally appreciate having a fun project like this...I wasn’t exactly sure how to swing an only fun project in 4th grade with testing a month away. Until...LIGHTBULB...hello! We are studying simple machines! Leprechaun traps would definitely need a simple machine! Voila...project on!

Now I had to tweak Khrys’ project idea to make it fit our needs...and because we are in fourth grade...I needed to add a written portion with a rubric too!

My students turned in their projects on Friday, and they are so adorable and creative! Just look...

This trap is called “Gold and Green and Glitter, Oh My!” with the simple machine of inclined plane...
As the student said, “The leprechaun is so distracted by the gold it walks over the edge of the inclined plane and gets stuck!”

Here is “Leprechaun CafĂ©” with a wedge (sorry the leprechaun already sprung this one)...

I love this adorable trap called “Lucky Larry” with a ladder acting as an inclined plane...

The leprechaun climbs the ladder for some decoy gold awaits on the top of the hat. Well, that hat’s top is actually just made of cotton which falls and traps the leprechaun inside the hat!

This is a portable trap called “The Pet Leprechaun Trap.” It uses a lever (the top pulled shut by a string!)

Here is another trap that the leprechaun defeated. It works with a shamrock decoy attached to a pulley, which springs the trap...

Just look at “Leprechaun’s Bad Day” with two simple machines, pulley and screw...

The leprechaun walks down the walkway, in the door, and pulls on the bag of gold. Pulling on the bag of gold releases a mechanism that causes the door to slide down thus causing the leprechaun to have a very bad day.

As you can see from the pictures, we already had a “leprechaun” visit on Friday after the students left. “He” got caught and escaped from the traps but did leave behind some chocolate gold coins and lots of confetti and glitter all over the place! Hopefully, the school custodian won’t get too upset with the “leprechaun” for what a confetti, glitter mess “he” made! ;)

I know it is kind of late for you to make Simple Machine Leprechaun Traps this year with your students, but please go download a free copy of this project to do with your students next year. I know they will love it as much as my students did!

P.S. Have you seen this story about the Los Angeles boy, Caine, and his arcade? This video has been inspiring my students to be creative, invent, and create!

16 March 2013

Pot o' Gold sale

In honor of my Irish heritage...
20% off everything in my TeachersPayTeachers store!
Happy St. Patrick's Day!

14 March 2013

Persuasive Writing Around Us

We just wrapped up our persuasive writing unit.  To see some of what I do with my writers check out the following posts...
My favorite part of this unit is helping students see why it is so important to learn how to write persusively.  Once we examine some examples of persuasive writing in class, my students complete an extended homework "project."
I ask students to look for persuasive writing around them. 
Click on the picture above to download your own copy of this persuasive project.
They can find this persuasive writing anywhere...television, newspapers, magazines, or anywhere else in the "real world."  I encourage the students to include a clipping or photo of the persuasive piece when possible.
This little project engages the students in persuasive writing.  It also helps bridge students to thinking about persuasive writing techniques.  Students have some inspiration in writing their own persuasive pieces.  They love to share the pieces they found especially those that are more unique forms of persuasion.
I hope you can use this assignment to add to your persuasive/opinion writing unit!

06 March 2013

Who's Got the Power?

OK, I'm totally procrastinating here!  I should be creating a test for our novel study of "Love That Dog" by Sharon Creech, but I wanted to share with you a quick activity I made for my class. 

We are currently studying the writing of the Constitution.  We looked today at Federalism and how "We the People" have given certain powers to certain levels of government.  I am in need of another grade to add to my social studies grade book, and I love a good sort.  So I created an activity for my students to complete. 

 Click on the picture above to to download a copy!
Basically the cards have a super short scenario.  The student must read the card then determine which level of government has been delegated that power.  It is simply a quick and dirty sort...but it is also a quick and dirty assessment (and grade if you need one like me!).

Happy Sorting!

02 March 2013

Currently It's the month of March!

Wow!  Where did February go?  I can't believe it is already time again for another round of Currently with...
Time flies when you are having fun, right?  Or you are looking down the barrel of state testing?  But, anyway let's look at what is Currently going on with me.
  • Listening - I need background noise when I work...Saved by the Bell with good old Zack Morris was the best option cause Downtown Abbey just takes too much concentration!
  • Loving - Parent-teacher conferences are done for the year!  Whew!  Even though I had great things to report about (most) of my students...it is still just an exhausting process. 
  • Thinking - State testing is almost here!  I have so much left to teach...and like sands through the hourglass...time is almost up!  During the time we have left, we have two days off and Spring Break.  Can you tell I'm starting to panic??  Anyone have a couple extra school days they could spare me?
  • Wanting - I need a good idea for a cute St. Patrick's Day R.A.K.  Maybe something like "I'm lucky to have you..." notes.  I would love to hear if you have better idea!
  • Needing - Our social studies textbook leaves something left to be desired.  It is definitely not written in a way to make the topics we study interesting...and definitely does not support all the content that is part of the curriculum.  I have tried using it with extra support materials.  I have tried using materials from certain websites.  But what I found last year works the best is writing my own textbook, so it is all in one place.  But this time last year I had a student teacher, and we worked to compile materials together for her.  So my Constitution unit text is not written yet...so I'm working on it!
  • Like, Love, Hate (with the first letter of my first name) - Did you know there are few helpful words that begin with the letter J?  Try it!  It definitely takes some brain power (and a really good thesaurus!)  Jotters - otherwise know as pens or school supplies.  Just got in an order of refill pens and gluesticks and picked up a couple extra fun things.  Jubilee - I love when we can have fun while learning...like singing the Preamble to the Constitution or playing paper football to experiment with forces.  Jaws - I am using this as a synonym for snack.  Snack is becoming such an issue I am about ready to outlaw it!  There is food trading, begging for food, getting up in the middle of instruction to throw it away.  And have your students gotten into Takis?  Those cylinder-shaped corn chips with the hot powder??  The way the students eat them is so unsanitary...licking fingers and touching stuff...ewww!  I am so over it!
So this is Currently what is up with me...what is Currently happening with you??? 

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