Math Journal Sundays ... Kicked Up A Notch

29 April 2012
This post is dedicated to Mor over at A Teacher's Treasure.  Last weekend I watched her video on Interactive Student Notebooks (click on the link to check it out for yourself) ... and I was so inspired I knew I couldn't wait to "kick it up a notch" again in my math journals.  This was the piece I was missing in my math journals - and before I watched the video I didn't even realize I was missing something.  Her interactive student notebooks are based on the right side and left side pages.  The students' right side of the notebooks all contain the same information (direct from the teacher).  The left side of the notebook contains the students' thinking, knowledge, and reflection on the lesson.  She has a terrific resource packed with over 100 templates for "left side of the page thinking".  You can see it by clicking here (and it's even on sale right now!).

photo of Order of Operations math journal @ Runde's Room

I couldn't wait until September to start using the ideas in her fabulous resource, so we started using her strategies this week.  On Monday we were learning about Order of Operations.  I took them outside for a fun order of operations hopscotch, then we used the sidewalk chalk to fill the basketball court with problems and solutions.  You can read my post about it here.  So of course, we needed a foldable to go along with our new knowledge.  I needed it to be quick and easy because I wanted to spend time discussing our new "left side" thinking.  So, quick and easy it was.  We used sticky notes and arranged them in a hopscotch pattern (to tie in our outside activity).  Underneath each sticky note was the word for each step (under the "B" was brackets).  I added a little extra information (including our learning goal) for them to copy, and that was that.

This is the left side of the journals.  Students rewrite the learning goal from the right side of the page (in student-friendly language).  Then they write "What I Know".  We do this before we do the lesson (it's highlighted in green to show that now we can "go" on with the rest of the lesson).  After the lesson they write "What I Learned", "Proof" (where I want them to write a problem and solve it), and then a "Reflection" - this one is completely up to them - they can reflect on and show their learning in ANY way they want.  This particular student wrote a mnemonic device for memorizing the steps to order of operations.

photo of Order of Operations math journal @ Runde's Room

photo of Types of Angles math journal @ Runde's Room

After our test midweek, we started our next unit.  This short unit encompasses angles, triangles, and polygons.  We started with angles.  I wanted to do a fun, interactive element to our journals, so we made angles using two coloured pieces of construction paper cut into arrows, and attached them to our pages with a brass fastener.  I had them glue the bottom arrow to the page, leaving the second arrow free to move into whatever angle needed.  We practiced how to measure an angle, then I had them create angles of various degrees.  The red colour made it very easy for me to see who had the concept right away, and who needed a little extra assistance.

photo of Types of Angles math journal @ Runde's Room
We added a foldable underneath our interactive angle tool.  It was a three fold foldable.  We wrote the titles of the angles on the outside.  Underneath each flap we had a diagram of the angle, a definition, and examples from the classroom.  The students really enjoyed finding the different examples in the classroom.

photo of Types of Angles math journal @ Runde's Room

The students also completed a "left side" for this activity, too.  For the reflection, a lot of my students completed a picture of some sort of picture with the different angles labelled.  But one of my favourite reflections was this girl who wrote a little song to remember the different angles.

I'm so excited about the evolution of my math journals!!!  My mind is already swimming with ideas for next year.  Thank-you SO much, Mor!

Happy Sunday!!!


Paper Bag Characterization

27 April 2012
My students presented their Paper Bag Character assignments today.  LOVED it!!!  They worked so hard on these projects, and it definitely paid off.  Their final projects were awesome!  When the students finished presenting their 10 items inside the bag, we set all the projects up in the nutrition area outside my classroom, and had a gallery walk-through.  This is the first time I've done the gallery walk-through with these projects ... but not the last.  Next year I'd like to invite a few classrooms to see our fabulousness.  I was so excited about these projects I stayed for a bit after school to get them hung on the bulletin board.  I'm just waiting for a few more projects to come in, then I'll hang our learning goal - and I'll be one happy teacher!  (As you can see, I've got some Suzanne Collins fans in my class - I had 5 different projects on Katniss (but from all three books in the trilogy), and 3 different projects on Gregor the Overlander (a five book series from Suzanne Collins).

I've never been one for traditional book reports - we usually only do one a year, just to practise the writing form ... whenever possible I try to give my students fun variations to share their reading with the class.  

For this project students must illustrate the front cover with a picture of their main character.  I also had them add the title and author of their novels.

One of the side panels is for the character's likes and dislikes, and the other panel is for how other characters react to and interact with their main character.  

The back panel has the character's growth throughout the novel.  Students have to provide supporting evidence and their own thinking for all the panels.  

But my favourite part is the inside - students must place 10 objects in the bag that symbolize something important about the character.  They also present this information to the class - making sure they give a deep explanation about why the object is significant to the character - not just how it is connected to the book.

My students had such amazing insights this year ... hard to believe some of them are only in grade 5!  

If you're interested, my Paper Bag Characters assignment is a product at my TPT store.  You can view it here.  I also have this assignment included in a larger Characterization bundle which you can view here.

And now, if you'll excuse me ... I must go read.  My Fifty Shades trilogy arrived today and I've already started the first book.  I'm thinking it's about to get a little hot in here ...
(and no, I won't be doing a paper bag character assignment on this one).  ;)

Happy FRIDAY!!!  Cheers to the weekend!!!


A New Set of Cootie Catchers

26 April 2012
I've just finished another set of cootie catchers - these ones are for reviewing money concepts.  I'm still trying to build all my math centers for next year, and I'm planning to include a set of cootie catchers in each tub.  I also haven't taught money yet this year.  My grade 5/6 students should come to me with a good understanding of money, so I was looking for a quick way to review this with them before our testing.
This set includes 10 different cootie catchers:  
  • 3 for finding the value of coin combinations
  • 2 for rounding to the nearest dollar
  • 2 for making values with a given number of coins, and
  • 3 for making change (change from a quarter, change from $1.00, and change from $5.00.
The set is available for sale at both my TPT and TN store for $3.00. 

 This set has pictures of Canadian coins.  See it at my TPT store or my TN store by clicking on the store links.
This set has pictures of American coins.  See it at my TPT store or my TN store by clicking on the store links.

AND ... just because I like you ALL so much ... the first three to leave a comment with their email will get a FREE copy (let me know if you'd prefer the American or the Canadian version).

Happy Thursday!!!

Math Journal Sundays

22 April 2012
Good Sunday Morning!!!  I want to start off by thanking all of you who entered my Blog Birthday Giveaway Celebration!  The comments you left on my post truly brightened my day.  I am so glad that you are finding ideas you can use in your classrooms.  That is the whole reason I started this blogging journey.  I used rafflecopter to choose my two winners and have already emailed them this morning.  You can see the winners here on the rafflecopter widget.

So ... on to another idea to share.  We're just finishing up our unit on prime and composite numbers, factors and multiples, and multiplication and division strategies.  I wanted to have our test on Monday, but I have one last lesson for the grade 6 students (order of operations).  I have a fabulous lesson to teach it, but I needed the weather to cooperate (this lesson is outside) and since it was raining ALL day on Friday, I decided to push the test to Tuesday and keep my fingers crossed for sun tomorrow.

photo of Steps to Division math journal @ Runde's Room

Okay, this was a fun foldable we did for division strategies.  I can't take credit for the saying, "Does McDonald's Serve Burgers" - I found a fabulous poster on pinterest, and knew I liked it so much better than the "dad, mom, sister, brother" mnemonic device I had used before for steps for division.  HoJo's Teaching Adventures has created some fabulous posters using this mnemonic device.  You can check out her first post on it here.

I had the students create the burger foldable using 4 flaps (each word is its own flap).  We decided to colour them just for fun.  Underneath each flap is a sample division problem, with the particular step highlighted.  For example, under "does" there is a full division question and solution, and the division step is highlighted.  (I'm sorry I didn't take a picture of the inside of the flaps - I actually thought I had until I checked my memory card).  We added the steps, words to remember, sample solutions, and a definition to the page.

photo of Operations with decimals math journal @ Runde's Room
Part of our multiplication and division strategies is also multiplying and dividing with decimals.  (Sidenote - we've been doing this all throughout the year - not sure why it's this far back in the textbook.  Next year I'm scrapping the text book altogether [we barely use it all this year] and I'm making my own timeline for math). Anyhow, since we have been using decimals all year, I wanted this foldable to quick and easy - and act as a review for all operations with decimals.

We started out with a square piece of paper.  We folded each corner into the center, then folded each of those corners into the center again.  My class thought we were making a cootie catcher and got really excited.  ;)

On the outside of the foldable we drew a big decimal in the center, and wrote "Operations with Decimals" around the decimal.

photo of Operations with decimals math journal @ Runde's Room
Underneath the first flaps we wrote each operation.  Underneath each of those flaps we wrote a sentence about how to do the operation with decimals (in student-friendly language) and solved a question (highlighting where the decimal was in the question and solution).

photo of Operations with decimals math journal @ Runde's Room

My youngest daughter gets so excited when the delivery trucks pull up to my house (which happens far too often, according to my husband).  She watches from the window and yells, "Mom - the mail carrier brought you another present!".  LOVE it!  I ordered this "present" a few weeks ago, but I've had my eye on it for quite awhile!  It will be perfect for my math journals, and my plans for my language journals next year.  The book also comes with a CD of the templates for easy print out in the classroom!  YAY!  Looking forward to a few minutes of quiet time some time today so I can dive into it.

Happy Sunday!!!


Friday Art Feature - with an Earth Day Twist

20 April 2012
It's been a bit since I've done a Friday Art Feature.  Two reasons:  1)  I LOVED my Kandinsky trees so much I can't bear to take them down yet, and  2)  I'm feeling the pressure of testing looming (even though it's more than a month away), and I'm trying to squeeze in as much review as possible.

I wanted to focus on Earth Day at school today, so I thought I'd try to squeeze in a quick art project.  And since I was planning on putting these up on a different bulletin board, I could still leave my Kandinsky trees up - they just make me happy.

Isn't this collage of Earth stunning???  My friend, Tracie, had pinned an image similar to this from Artsonia.  As soon as I saw it, I knew I wanted to do this project as part of our Earth Day activities.  We recycled old National Geographic magazines for this project (LOVE how vibrant the pictures are in National Geographic - absolutely perfect for this activity).

I gave each student an 8 1/2 x 11 piece of white paper (recycled paper, of course) with a picture of the Earth on it.  Each student also got one recycled magazine.  I instructed the students tear pieces of coloured images to make their collages - green or brown for the land, blue for the water, and a dark colour for the space around.  It was a quick and easy project - only took between 30 and 45 minutes - and the finished products are beautiful!  (I think I might like these as much as the Kandinsky trees ... maybe).

We also did our Earth Day Report Cards today (did you grab your free copy yet?).  I gave the students the choice between the school or the classroom report cards.  I did get a good balance of the two.  The students really enjoyed interviewing the principal, secretary, and custodian to find some of the answers for questions asked.  I am happy to report my classroom and school scored quite well, according to the students.  I LOVED the suggestions they came up with (garbage monitor in the lunch room, ban the electric pencil sharpeners [I SO agree with this one], no homework to save paper [not so sure I agree with this one ... but totally expected it ;)]).  I sent the students home with the home version of the report card (so much for no homework), for the them to do with their parents on the 22nd.

Just before I left for the day I put the finishing touches on our Earth Day bulletin board.  A few days ago I saw this door on Pinterest (can't find a blog to credit it to), and thought it was brilliant!!!  I knew the phrase "The Earth without 'art' is just ... 'eh'", would be perfect.  And I was right - LOVE how our bulletin board turned out.  Our school is actually recognizing Earth Day all next week, but the early bird gets the worm ... wait ... a worm ... how can that be a good thing??  ;)

How are you celebrating Earth Day at your school?

Happy Friday!!!  (what a crazy long week ... thought I wasn't going to make it for a while).

Proud Moment

19 April 2012
I'm one proud mommy tonight.  My two oldest girls both received the student of the month award at their school for responsibility.  Our school board gives out student of the month certificates based on our ten character traits.  If you've spent a minute in my classroom, you'd know that I think responsibility is one of the most important of our character traits.  So ... way to go, my girls!  The ice cream is on me, tonight.
Just wait until my youngest starts school next year ... maybe I'll have three little students of the month!

Happy Thursday!  (

Happy Birthday to my Blog! Come Over and Celebrate With Me!!!

17 April 2012
Well, on Sunday I said you had to come over and visit me on Monday (yesterday) to see what I had planned for my blog's one year birthday!  I guess I was just a little anxious.  One year ago TODAY I started this little old blog.

I want to sincerely THANK each one of you for following my journey and encouraging me along the way.  I had no idea how much I would grow to LOVE this online community of support and sharing.  What a journey this year has been!  Creating my tagline for my blog – my direction for my blog – was one of the hardest things about this journey.  I knew I wanted to share what was going on in my classroom, and I wanted to share resources I had created for my classroom, but I wanted it to be a little more.  And then one night, when I was putting one of my daughters to bed for the night, I saw a picture I had made for her in her room.  “Live, love, laugh, learn”.  And that was that – I wanted to share my life, share things I love (including moments with my family), share laughs, and share learning from my classroom.  Tagline confirmed.  One year later, it is my sincere HOPE that I have met this goal.  I am so thankful to all of you who have shared in my journey – each comment and follow brightens my day.  One year ago, I had no idea I would have the opportunity to share my ideas with so many people – so again, I thank you all!  I hope you have been able to find at least a few ideas to use in your classroom, and I am so appreciative of all the tips and suggestions I have received along the way.  You guys are THE BEST!!!
So ... as a little token of my appreciation, I would like to offer you the opportunity to win my ENTIRE STORE from Teacher's Notebook.  I have almost 50 items at this store - go on over and take a peek to see what you can win.  I will choose and announce TWO random winners on Sunday, April 22nd.  Enter below using Rafflecopter.  There are 5 different ways to earn entries.  (This is the first time I've used Rafflecopter, so my fingers and toes are crossed with hope that it works.)


Math Journal Sundays

15 April 2012

Ahhhhh ... Sundays .... my favourite day of the week!  Busy day yesterday - both little girls had dancing lessons, family lunch date, shopping, and my oldest daughter's second game of her indoor soccer playoffs (they've won both games in the playoffs so far!).  I'm hoping the pace is a little slower today - one daughter is going to a birthday party, and another daughter wants to have some friends over.  I think we'll make some pretty head bands with her friends.  I'm also working on a new set of cootie catchers (money).  I'm making a set with American coins and a set with Canadian coins.

Anyhow, I digress ... today is about math journals.  I almost didn't get a math journal in this week ... almost ... but I found some time during our math block on Friday afternoon, and we spent the last 1/2 hour making a new foldable for our journals ... we were cutting it pretty close!!!

photo of multiplication journal entry @ Runde's Room
Our current math unit is all about prime and composite numbers, factors and multiples, multiplication and division strategies, and order of operations.  We've just started multiplication strategies, so I decided to make a 6-flap foldable to help students with the different strategies.  As you can see, we had a flap for:

  • the definition
  • common words related to multiplication
  • the traditional algorithm
  • picture strategy
  • array strategy
  • box and cluster strategies
We used the same multiplication question for all the strategies (32 x 21) so students could see using various strategies will still result in the same answer.  

photo of multiplication journal entry @ Runde's Room

Well, that's about it for today.  I'm excited to have my Earth Day Report Card in the TPT newsletter today!  Don't forget I have a 15% off sale at both my TPT store and my TN store - sale runs until tomorrow.  If you get a chance, stop by my sister's blog, Meet the Dubiens.  She has a FABULOUS bento box giveaway going on right now.  And ... one last thing ... tomorrow is a very special day for my blog - tomorrow is my one year blogoversary.  You've got to stop by and see what SURPRISE I've planned for you!

Happy Sunday!!!


Weekend Sale!!!

13 April 2012
It's been a GREAT week!  And I'm hoping for an even better weekend!  The weather is supposed to be beautiful, and my oldest daughter starts her indoor soccer playoffs tonight.  Good luck, sweetheart!  I'm in the mood to celebrate, so I'm holding a weekend sale.  ALL my products at my TPT store and my TN store are on sale for 15% off from today until Monday.  Have you seen the new changes at the TN store?  They released a new site design today, and it looks great!!!  Go on and take a peek!

Happy FRIDAY the 13th!!!

Are Your Conversations ... Grand?

11 April 2012
Are your classroom conversations grand?  One of our last PLC (professional learning community) meetings was centred around Grand Conversations.  A grand conversation provides "students with organized and facilitated time to talk about and listen actively to one another’s thinking, justify their thinking to others and reflect on what they are learning.  These organized – and safe – discussion forums encourage students to share and challenge ideas.  Students find that their voices, ideas and experiences are valued and contribute
directly to the learning."  This is what we all want in our classrooms, right?

To read more about grand conversations, check out these sites:

The grade 7/8 teacher and myself (we are the only two junior / intermediate teachers in my small school) decided to take on grand conversations as our current collaborative inquiry project.  We think we're already doing a decent job of providing this opportunity for our students, but with more attention and reflections, it can only get better.  So, over the last two days my class has been building our learning goals and success criteria for grand conversations.

I started by posting our learning goals for grand conversations (taken from the main expectations from our Oral Communication curriculum).

We started out defining what we thought a good conversation looked / sounded like.  I did a placemat activity starting with two students working on the sheet.  When the pair was finished, they joined with another pair, and shared and added to their placemat.

We then watched a few videos of grand conversations on youtube (I just searched for grand conversations).  My students thought that they are probably already doing a good job of the speaking part, but could definitely improve on the active listening part ... hmmmm - I concur!  Following the video we brainstormed a list of criteria that would be essential to a successful grand conversation.  They came up with so many good ideas!

With the time up, I promised we'd turn that list into a set of success criteria in the next lesson (today's lesson).

And then, when I got home, one of my favourite sights was on the door ... the delivery sticker saying I had an Amazon package waiting for me at the post office.  YIPPEE!!!  So, I packed up the three kids (again), and headed off to retrieve my treasures.

I was so excited to get my newest teacher resource (you've perhaps remembered my book addiction???) - Comprehension and Collaboration:  Inquiry Circles in Action, by Stephanie Harvey and Harvey Daniels (you can see the link at the bottom of my page).  I had seen this book a few months ago (maybe in the summer), but after our PD session on grand conversations, I ordered it thinking it would be a perfect fit.  And I didn't have to get far into the book to reinforce my perfect fit belief.  Inside the front cover was a set of seven short points - essential characteristics for collaboration.  I kept thinking - this is EXACTLY what we were discussing today.  Each one of the points related back to our brainstorm session earlier that day.

Today at the beginning of language class, I shared this book with my class (I LOVE sharing my excitement for books with my students - not just excitement over books at their level, but books at my level, too.  They need to see life-long learning modelled).  We read over the seven points in the front cover and the class remarked how similar they were to the points we brainstormed.  So ... we decided to use these seven points for our success criteria for grand conversations.  Easy peasy!

The students copied this chart into their reading notebooks, and I gave each one of them a sticky note to reflect on which one of these success criteria they feel will be a challenge to them.  LOVED their insights!

I'm so excited to keep going in this direction ... I have a feeling I'll have some GREAT things to share with you during this collaborative process.

Happy Wednesday!!!