March 26, 2013

Easter Egg Management

Around this time of year I find my kiddos need a little extra motivation to make smart choices. Spring break is right around the corner for us, and I thought I'd switch things up a little bit to keep things fresh (translation: help me survive until spring break).

I typed up little rewards I thought my students would love and put them in plastic Easter eggs. My students can earn an Easter egg for getting the most points on Class Dojo or earning three AR points in a day. I also sometimes choose someone to get a bonus egg (someone who showed a lot of improvement, someone who was extra nice, pretty much whatever I choose).

My students have LOVED this! They are so excited to try to earn the Easter eggs. They love the variety of rewards and it's so fun to watch them all try so hard. It's also cheap and easy for me. They get so excited opening up their egg to see which reward is inside!

Here are the rewards I've been using:

Pillow for a day
Prize drawer
Treasure box
You and 3 friends can choose a new avatar (Class Dojo)
Audio book during AR
You and a friend can come inside to play a game during recess
Rolling chair for a day
Free book
Positive note home
Move desks for a day

It's simple, but it works!

I am linking up with Holly from Fourth Grade Flipper for her Tried It Tuesday Linky.

March 22, 2013

Top 10 Literacy Apps

My Top 10 Math Apps post is by far my most popular post, so I thought I'd add my Top 10 Literacy Apps. I love using apps to give my students extra practice because it is so motivating for them.

FLUENCY: This fluency app is my favorite! I want to hold students accountable for practicing their fluency passages, but I don't always have time during the school day to listen to all of them. Enter this wonderful app! First, you connect it with your Dropbox account. Then, you  send scripts to the app. Next, you have students record themselves reading the script for one minute and send their recording to your computer through Dropbox. Last, you can listen to all the recordings at your own convenience. And students actually ask to keep recording themselves because they want to send me their best reading (kids asking to do repeat readings...yes please!).

LETTER REFLEX: Do your students have problems with letter reversals? I always have a few that really struggle with this, especially b, d, p, & q. This app works with them to overcome their reversals. It works on letters and numbers. It's not an app I use with every student, but it's great practice for those few that need targeted support to fix their reversals.

PHONICS GENIUS: I admit I have a lot of phonics apps! This one is one of my favorites though! I find a lot of phonics apps are too young for second graders. I need more than just basic short vowel and silent e words. This app covers tons of phonics patterns (over 200)! Overall, it's a fairly basic app, but it covers every pattern I need to teach. It's organized by pattern so I can target exactly what I need to for individual students. Once you select a phonics pattern it shows a word that has that pattern highlighted and reads the word to you. When you click on the word it goes to the next word. There is also an option for students to record themselves reading the word.  You can even mark words as "favorites" if you want students to review multiple patterns. 

HUNGRY MONSTER BUILD WORD: This app and the others in its family (Find Vowel and Word Family) are my students' favorite apps for practicing phonics! They are so engaging! There are five levels of increasing difficulty (short vowels, long vowels, bossy r's, other vowel teams, and challenge). When you choose a level you hear a word and have to choose the beginning sound and ending sound to make the word you heard. If you're right you feed the Hungry Monster!

OCEANHOUSE MEDIA: I love using audio books to model good fluency. I have a lot of books and CDs in my class, but interactive e-books on the ipad are more convenient (no more looking for the matching CD for the book) and I like how it highlights the text (some of my struggling readers have a hard time following along). You have to buy each audio book, but this app keeps them all organized in one place. They offer many different series and I've been able to catch a good number of sales. I've bought most of the Little Critter, Berenstain Bears, and Dr. Seuss books.

STORIA: This is another app for interactive e-books. This one is nice because you get some free books just for signing up! This app is free through Scholastic and I use my bonus points to buy books. There is a nice variety of books to choose from. Not all of them will read to students though, so if that's important to you make sure you look closely before you buy. Sometimes I hook my iPad to my projector and use these stories as read-alouds.

PHONICS TIC TAC TOE: Are you as obsessed with Lakeshore as I am? I LOVE everything Lakeshore and was so excited to see them make apps! I only have 1 iPad in my class all the time and it's nice when it's so easy to have two students play an app without worrying about them getting upset about sharing it fairly. My students love playing this game against each other.  I love the variety and quality of questions. Plus, this app is FREE! They've also recently come out with some more amazing apps (game show style).

WORD WIZARD: This app has a moveable alphabet that makes each letter sound. You can use it to make any word. I use it for students to practice their spelling words and to make words that match our phonics pattern of the week. This app also has built in spelling quizzes where you can pick from a list or build your own list. This app is easy to use and engaging for students.

CIMO SPELLING: In this app you help a penguin cross the ice to get to its fish by spelling a word the app says. It's very cute and I like the progression of the levels (short vowels, long vowels, bossy r's, other vowel teams, irregular vowels, and challenge). When you select a level the app says a word and has the letters needed on the ice below (on the challenge level it might also have an extra letter that will not be used). You have to drag the letters to make an ice bring for the penguin to cross. When you get it correct the app sounds out the word. I really like how it highlights the phonics patterns as it sounds out the word.

OPPOSITES: This app practices exactly what is says: opposites. Words show up and you have to match up words that are antonyms. It increases in difficulty with each level. There is also a dictionary feature where it will explain the words used in each level.
I'm linking up with Katie King from Queen of the First Grade Jungle for her Techy Teacher Tuesday.

March 18, 2013

Super Science Giveaway

Becca from Teaching First put together a huge science giveaway!
There are great products to teach about plants, living and nonliving objects, mammals, landforms, magnets, & matter. There is also great science clip art. I added my Rocks and Minerals Unit.
I LOVE teaching science because my students get so excited and I love seeing them discover new things about the world around them. Go to Becca's blog to enter this super giveaway!

March 17, 2013

Happy St. Patrick's Day!

We celebrated St. Patrick's Day on Friday. We had so much fun! We made Leprechaun Floats (lime sherbert with 7-Up), read some St. Paddy's Day stories, and went through some fun stations. Their favorite stations were I Spy St. Patrick's Day Words from Teach with Laughter and a St. Patrick's Day Themed Don't Eat Pete game I made.
Our End of Term District Math Test was also on Friday. They did so well! I'm so so proud of them. Our average was 95% and I had 11 students get 100%! Those that earned 100% got an extra little St. Patrick's Day treat.
For St. Patrick's Day last year we had a green food buffet. Here's a few pictures:
Hope you have a lucky St. Patrick's Day!

March 3, 2013

Currently March

I can't believe it's already March! February flew by soooo fast! I'm linking up with Farley from Oh' Boy 4th Grade for her awesome Currently Linky.
Listening: I love listening to Pandora while I'm working. I usually listen to country music. It just puts me in a good mood!
Loving: I LOVE my iPad. I am on it a lot. I use it for reading, to listen to music, browsing the web, playing games, making fonts, and of course to help my students. :-)
Thinking: I am not so great at keeping my home clean throughout the week. I try to tackle it over the weekend, but sometimes I just can't get motivated. When we find out people are coming over it's always a mad dash to make our place presentable. I should get on that... (but let's face it, blogging is more fun).
Wanting: To relieve stress I read. I read a lot, but I wish I could read more often. This year I've felt super stressed out and sometimes stay up way too late finishing books. But it makes me happy. :-) I think tonight I will let myself read and relax (I guess cleaning will get pushed off again).
Needing: I always feel I need more time. There's so much I want to do, but I just run out of time to do it all.
Like, Love, Hate: These all had to start with the first letter of my first name. I like candy, it's a bit of a problem. I grew up thinking granola bars & protein bars were candy bars, and I'm sad I now know different! I love crafting! I bought a Silhouette Cameo last summer and I've had a lot of fun playing with it this year. I have used it mostly for paper crafts so far, but I did buy a lot of vinyl for some summer projects I have up my sleeve. I hate cleaning... and as I've mentioned above it does not typically get done in a timely manner, which just makes it worse when I actually get around to it.

Head over to My Journey to 5th Grade to enter her 150 Follower Giveaway! There are a whopping 20 products you can win, including my Rocks & Minerals Unit!

March 2, 2013

We Love to Read!

Yesterday our class celebrated reading! We had a read-a-thon, wrote about our favorite books, graphed our goldfish crackers, made some fun Pinterest-inspired treats, and made Oobleck. Earlier in the week I took pictures of each student with the Cat Cam app. They thought it was the funnest thing ever! I printed out all their pictures and hung them on a string across our room. They were so excited when they came in yesterday and saw all the pictures! Here's a view of our fun day!
Here's the app I used: Cat Cam App