Thursday, March 29, 2012

Cutting Practice Tests to Pieces

In about three weeks we will have tested and it will all be behind us, temporarily anyway.  Lately, my post have been consumed by all the test preparation, so I apologize up front if I seem to be redundant.  The thing is, and this too I have said, I have refused to get in the redundancy of review by completing worksheets and fill in the bubble practice.  So, I have a lot to share.  It's all hands-on, engaging, and my students are enjoying it.

Today, I took a practice test and cut it to pieces!  Yes, you read it right, I cut it to pieces!

 The thing I haven't told you yet, is that I cut the pieces so that we could use them for Ask-n-Switch.  It took me a total of about five minutes to make our review interactive.  Once I cut the practice test into pieces, I wrote the answer on the back.  I then had an instant class set of Geometry task cards!  We used this set of hodge-podge and not so pretty strips of paper to do Ask-n-Switch (see below for directions).

Guess what?  My students reviewed test-like questions and thought we were playing a game.  Can't get much better than that!

Wednesday, March 28, 2012

Parts of Speech Flap Book

To review parts of speech, my students made a flap book.  They are already strongly familiar with nouns, verbs, and adjectives but I wanted them to have a visual and reference in order to find these parts of speech in their own writing.

To begin with, we color coded nouns as red, verbs as blue, and adjectives as green.  Inside each flap, they were to write a short definition of each one.

Using a strategy I call Say-n-Pass (directions are below), students brainstormed examples of nouns, verbs, and adjectives recording them in the flap book as they went.

1.  A prompt/question is given by the teacher.
2.  Teacher chooses a number from each team to start, and they give a quick verbal answer.
3.  Going clockwise, students continue to respond to the prompt/question given by the teacher until everyone has shared or until time is up.


When students were finished brainstorming they located and, according to color, circled the parts of speech in their own writing.  What my students discovered on their own was that they had a lot of nouns and verbs, but adjectives were few and far between.  As a result of their own discoveries, they determined that they needed to focus on adding more adjectives to their writing!

Not only was the creation of the flap book good for review, it was a fantastic visual for referencing these particular parts of speech in their own writing.

Laura Candler at Corkboard Connections is having a Fantastic Foldable Freebies Link Up.  To see more fantastic foldables, click the button!

Monday, March 26, 2012

You're a Star

I'm not sure when the last time was that I brought up the words, MAP test. Believe me, I have been adding in review on a daily basis, but in a non-stressful way. They know we are reviewing, but by incorporating games and a lot of cooperative learning activities it has been fun . I thought about, and even began organizing, testing type centers. I ultimately decided against it and decided to simply hit things as needed. I think that it might be a little more work, we are not following the same test prep routine on a daily basis, but I don't notice the burnout from my students which is extremely important.

Nine more school days until testing for us. My students are ready! When we do talk about the "test", I tell them that it is their time to shine. It is the time to show what they know. I have a certificate that I give them before the big day.  Just a little motivator to make them feel important.  Besides, what kid doesn't like to have a certificate to show off?

You can download this certificate HERE.

What do you do to motivate your students?  I would love to read about them!

Friday, March 23, 2012

What an Honor!

I was shocked, amazed, humbled, honored you name it to find Cooperative Learning 365 named as one of Education World's Top 25 blogs for educators.  There are hundreds of noteworthy blogs available to educators, and to be one of 25 named leaves me speechless.  Thank you Education World for this honor!  You can find Education World's Top 25 Blogs for Educators here.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

A Winner!

Cooperative Learning 365 has officially exceeded the quarter of a million mark!  Thanks again, and thanks for all the fabulous comments that were left.  The handy, dandy True Random Number Generator chose comment 19 as a winner.  That would be Lisa T.  Congratulations Lisa, you earned a $25.00 shopping spree!  If you want to meet Lisa, pay her a visit on her blog Mrs. Tilmon Says...  She has a lot of good stuff!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Quarter of a Million!

It is hard for me to believe, but this here blog is about to reach a quarter of a million pageviews!  I could say 250,000 but the word million in a sentence seems SO very powerful.  Thanks to all of the readers that have helped reach this milestone!  In celebration, I am going to give one lucky reader a $25.00 shopping spree in my Teachers Pay Teachers store!

All that you need to do is leave a comment below, and spread the word if you so choose!  The winner will be chosen using a random number generator the day after the number rolls that quarter of a million.

*Comments are closed.  The winner will be announced later today!  Thanks for all those who entered!*

Monday, March 19, 2012

Anchor Chart Linky

Kristen from Ladybug's Teacher Files and Ms. M have collaborated in an Anchor Chart Linky Party.  It is all about the Anchor Charts!  Every year my room is covered with charts.  I love them!  I'm sad to say that the time is coming when I will have to take them down.  It is always sad not only for me but for my students.  They rely on these charts and feel ownership. 

Here are a couple of my favorites.  Until the past couple of years, most of my anchor charts have been centered around Language Arts.  After seeing the power in those, I started incorporating Math also.  This  was an interactive chart.  We copied each figure and tested for rotational symmetry.  It was a great visual for students. 

This chart, which has turned more into a wall, has worked wonders.  It provides students with a visual of the root word and prefix and/or suffix.  Around each word the meaning of the prefix and suffix is given along with spelling changes that may have occurred.  I laminate these words and am able to use them over again each year.  The only thing that I replace is the paper.  We add the words as they are introduced.  By the end of the year, we have approximately 100 words.

To find more anchor charts or to link up, stop by Ladybug's Teacher Files or Ms. M's!

Sunday, March 18, 2012

Spring Freebie

Tonight I have a super quick post.  First, I want to thank all of those who take the time to stop by Cooperative Learning 365.  I have had a few days of relaxing and reflecting and I have to say that the blogging and relationships that I have made along the way have far surpassed my wildest dreams!  Second, Spring is around the corner and I'm L-O-V-I-N-G it!  With that said, I created a small freebie with Spring in mind.  Enjoy!!

You can download it HERE at my TpT store.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

3rd-5th Grade Linky Party

Lorraine from Fabulous 4th Grade Froggies is having a linky party to gather upper elementary blogs.  As a 4th grade teacher and former 5th, I heart the upper grades!  I'm excited for the opportunity to link up and explore.  To participate or simply look around, head on over to Fabulous 4th Grade Froggies!

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Test Prep Vocabulary

Here it is again, test prep!  No matter how well your students are prepared, it is still a good idea to prepare your students for testing vocabulary.  We don't want our students to get stumped simply because they are not sure what the test is asking for.

In order to prepare my students, we review important words that they may encounter while making connections with what they already know.  My students know that when they see a Venn Diagram, they place similarities in the center and differences on the outside.  We have practiced this skill all year.  What I want to make sure  they know is if they are given a constructed response question and asked to compare and contrast they know what this means.  I want them to become familiar with the vocabulary and make the connection that when they use a Venn Diagram, they are comparing and contrasting. 

I have compiled a list of 24 words that I think will benefit my students and created a Test Prep Vocabulary Pack.  It's a freebie!  I hope that you find it useful and it that allows you a little more time to do what you need  to prepare your students for success!

You can download it for free HERE in my TpT store.

St. Patrick's Day Blog Hunt

Welcome to the St. Patrick's Day Blog Hunt day 11!  There have been so many wonderful free resources by wonderful bloggers and we still have six more days to go.

I have had word choice on the brain and thought I would share this freebie, Turn Words to Gold.  You can grab it HERE in my TpT store.  

In order to grab another freebie,  no luck is needed!  Simply continue to day 12 of the blog hunt by clicking on the shamrock.  Thank you for stopping by Cooperative Learning 365, and Happy St. Patrick's Day!

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Measurement with Find a Buddy Who

One of my favorite cooperative learning strategies is what I call Find a Buddy Who.  It is a very simple strategy and a great way to get my kids moving, reviewing, and connecting with classmates.  My students need some measurement review, so I created two activities for practice.

Students will practice
  • Converting units of length
  • Measuring with a ruler
  • Perimeter
  • Comparing
  • Using the best unit of measure
Directions for the Find a Buddy Who are also included.  You can download this Freebie HERE on TpT.

If you are looking for more free measurement resources, there is an entire collection below.  Click on the image to be taken to additional resources from great bloggers!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Test Prep Strategies

Every year around February, I begin to feel a little stressed.  I have been diligently teaching my students, providing encouragement, and opportunities for growth but then I start thinking about the dreadful "State Test".  I map out the days left until the test begins, pull out test prep worksheets, yes worksheets, and then I calm down a bit.  I think why would I give them practice test after practice test to prepare?  I don't do this on a normal day, so why start now?  It never fails, it happens every year and then I come to my senses and do what I do.  I create opportunities for review by engaging my students with fun interactive activities that are meaningful and reach ALL learners.

I have been surfing the web for resources and have found many great ones.  I have a Pinterest board simply dedicated to test prep.  Here is a snapshot of what you will find there.  Click the picture to be taken directly to the board.

This weekend, I have also been busy compiling a Test Prep Strategies e-book.  The book has a total of 36 pages!  If you are tired of reviewing the same way over and over again, this may help.  My Test Prep Strategies e-book contains strategies to engage your students with review while steering away from the monotonous fill in the bubble practice test and students working in isolation.  The e-book contains the following:
  • 15 general tips for success
  • 13 strategies to actively engage students with test prep
  • Ideas on ways to use each strategy for Math and Language Arts test prep
  • Additional tips for each strategy
  • 13 kid friendly strategy posters
  • 3 templates to create your own reviews
  • Also, as a bonus, the 13 kid friendly strategy posters are included in PowerPoint allowing you to project directions for students to see.
Test Prep Strategies is now available in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.  You can find it HERE or by clicking the image.

 If you have test prep ideas, I would love to hear them!  If you have something to Pin, let me know and I would be happy to add it to my board!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Teaching Similes with a Tune

Have you ever heard Everything At Once by Lenka? I'm not sure where I came across this song, it may have been on a commercial, but the moment I heard it I knew this catchy tune would catch my students' attention. This song is composed of similes. Today was the first time that I shared it with my class. They instantly loved it and wanted to hear it over and over again, of course!

We were revisiting similes so it wasn't anything new. Once they listened to it a couple of times, I had them pick their favorite one and compare it to something or someone. They were able to use names of classmates only if they were granted permission from them personally.

Here are a few examples of their work:

I'm pretty sure my fourth graders won't forget what a simile is any time soon!