Tuesday, October 24, 2017

Boom Learning Cards: Teaching Grade 5 Eureka Engage NY Math Unit 1

I have had a lot of fun creating digital Boom Learning cards for my fifth grade students to supplement the Eureka Engage NY math Unit 1 program. Boom Cards have a great future for classroom learning as students can work on digital task cards on their browsers, whether on a phone, iPad, computer, or Chromebook. The Boom Cards are self-checking and students can repeat a deck repeatedly for more practice or to gain mastery. Each time a student plays, 20 Boom Cards are randomized from an assigned deck. Students get instant feedback as they play. Teachers can check the student responses for each play unless they are playing FastPlay in which students can just practice without scoring.

I created 15 different Boom Card decks to go along with Eurekak Math Unit one. They can be practiced at anytime throughout the year to reinforce skills. Each of the decks relate to the concept of place value in some way. These are problems similar to the problems in Eureka Math, but they are not limited to it. They can be used with any math program studying place value. My students showed greatly improved mastery of concepts after working with these Boom Cards.

To make the Boom Decks fun. Each deck is centered on capturing a monster. There is a random card that pops up in each deck identifying the monster, but I have included printable reward cards for each monster. I give my students the reward card after they have answered all 20 questions correctly (teachers can check on the Boom Learning website. This provide motivation to master a deck. My fifth graders love collecting the cards and coloring them in. Some have set up books to in order to collect and organize them.  Others even make their own monster cards.

You can purchase each deck separately or you can purchase the whole bundle of 15 Boom Card decks at a greatly reduced cost.

I am giving away one deck  on Metric Conversions for free. You can try out this deck as well as play a short preview of each deck by clicking on the Teacher Pay Teachers preview for each of the decks.

Here are the TPT links to the 15 Individual Products in this bundle. Each link has a product preview.

Check out all the different reward cards!

Boom Cards play on modern browsers (released in the last three years) on interactive whiteboards, computers and tablets. Boom Cards apps are also available. Not sure your browser is modern enough? Try a free Boom Cards deck first. When you redeem your purchase, Boom Learning opens an account for you if you do not already have one. For TPT customers new to Boom Cards, Boom Learning will give you, for one year, a free account that lets you track student progress for up to 80 students. At the end of that year, you may renew or choose not to renew. If you do not renew, you will be able to continue using Boom Cards with the Fast Play feature. Fast Play does not track individual progress.

Sunday, February 5, 2017

Shang Ya! Friendship Oath

Have your students use this ancient oath of friendship from China to write a friendship poem.

I have used this poem to inspire my class towards writing friendship poems for years, however for the past two weeks, I have had a university student from Xi'an China observing my fifth grade classroom as part of her studies. I decided to create easy to use templates for writing this poem, so that we can write the poems while she is still visiting our class. Usually, I do this for Valentine's Day, but we are doing it a bit earlier this year.

Shang Ya! Oath of Friendship Poetry Writing

Here is some examples of Friendship poems written by girls from the Mathare Valley slum in Nairobi, Kenya. On my third trip to Kenya in 2014, I taught a variety of poems for students in grades 5-12. I taught Shang Ya! to this group of girls. They also made the Chinese style artwork. I then photographed their artwork and used a green screen to record them reciting their poem in front of their art. I did a whole class in about two hours. It was very busy, but fun!

Some day I will publish the directions for making the Chinese inspired art work.

Thursday, January 12, 2017

The Shipwreck of the Thomas W. Lawson on Friday the 13th

The Thomas W. Lawson was the only seven masted schooner ever made. It was the world's first supertanker and it caused the world's first major oil spill when in sank off the coast of England during a storm in 1907. The day is sank was a Friday the 13th. The Thomas W. Lawson was named for one of the richest Americans of his day, who had previously written a fiction book titled "Friday the 13th" about a man who purposely sank the stock market on that day. He was quite an interesting man and you can see a video here that highlights, his life, his "Dreamworld" estate, and the boat bearing his name.

I became aware and interested in the Thomas W. Lawson after my dad built a wooden chest with a painting he did of the boat on the top for my son. Inside was a card with the story of the boat and the mention that my great-grandfather did the rigging of the Lawson at the Fore River Shipbuilding yard in Quincy, Ma.


I decided to research and write a story about the Thomas W. Lawson for my fifth grade class. After my 30 plus years of teaching, it was the first time I wrote such an article for a class. You can find my article with vocabulary, close reading questions, and writing topics at Teachers Pay Teachers here. For a short time you can get it for 75% off (only $1). It is geared for students in 5th -7th grade.

Saturday, November 26, 2016

Win a TPT Gift Card

Here is your opportunity to win a Teachers Pay Teachers Gift Card. The gift card was given to me to promote the two day Teachers Pay Teachers sale happening on November 28-28. Everything in my Teachers Pay Teachers store will be 20% off, plus Teachers Pay Teachers will take another 10% off that price.

I just finished my second bundle of "Capture the Monster" scavenger hunts and this one is for grades 3-4.

This one is a different set of games than my "Capture the Monster" scavenger hunts for grades 4-6.

I have a free version of one game for grades 3-4 here.

I have a free version of one game for grades 4-6 here.

Each bundle has 15 games and upon completion of each game, a student can earn a monster reward card. These have been a hit in my classroom!  There are 15 monster cards to collect.

Here are the 15 monsters that kids can collect. Which is your favorite?

There are four easy ways to enter. You may enter here. The contest closes on November 20 at 12 am.

Tuesday, November 15, 2016

Student Notes

I usually don't get notes from my students, although sometimes I find them on the floor like this one that I found last year!

The Friday before Halloween, I did two new things in my classroom to celebrate. I used these Silly and Sweet Reward Cards that I created to have some fun throughout the day and in the afternoon I had my class make "Pumpkin Shooters" as a STEM challenge.

On Monday, I got two notes from different students. I thought they might have enjoyed the afternoon shooting candy corn pumpkins across the room. No, they enjoyed the reward coupons.

OK, we are going to work on spelling my name
and other words!
I had a blast with the reward coupons, too. In fact, I had made a set of Thanksgiving Reward Coupons before I had made the Halloween ones. I can't wait to use these next week. I am looking forward to kids talking like pilgrims, strutting like turkeys, and shaking their tail feathers! I am going to hand them out when each students finishes the Thanksgiving Math Scavenger Hunt that I made. Then I hope things get a bit comical for the rest of the day!

Scavenger Hunt Reward Card Bundle
Sweet and Silly Classroom Reward Coupons
Thanksgiving Math Scavenger Hunt

I did say that I rarely get notes from my student's, but I often get letters from the students in the Mathare Valley slum in Nairobi, Kenya that I have visited with three times now and help sponsor. One boy, Gregory, sent me a picture he drew of me riding my ElliptiGO. This week, ElliptiGO did a feature article on my ride up Mt. Washington and my work in Kenya, including Gregory in the article.You can read it here: So Much Depends Upon... You can read more about the poems I used in while Kenya here: Storytelling through poetry writing modeled after "The Red Wheelbarrow."

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Teaching The Constitution and The Bill of Rights

A new fifth grade year is off to a start and like most recent years, there is a lack of materials to teach the new standards developed by my district. We have starting using Engage NY for math, but so far I have not been given my materials more than one month into the new school year. I am also on my own for finding and making social studies and science materials for my students. It is hard work, but I do enjoy creating better learning experiences for my students.

I wanted to improve the way that I have been teaching the unit on the
Constitution and the Bill of Rights. I had resorted to assorted reading passages, worksheets, and interactive notebooks that I had purchased on Teachers pay Teachers in the previous year.

On thing, that my district did do this year is purchase about 15 books related to social studies content for each classroom. Two of the books were by Norman Pearl with illustrations by Matthew Skeens. One was on The Constitution and the other was on The Bill of Rights. Both books were great introductions to these two important documents that can be hard for students to understand. They covered the basics in an easy to understand way without being too cumbersome for my fifth graders.

With only one copy of each book for my entire class, I needed to something to do with my students besides just using them as read-alouds. I created a review "I Have, Who Has?" game for each book: The Constitution, "I Have, Who Has?" game and quiz and The Bill of Rights "I Have, Who Has?" game and quiz. After reading and discussing each book, we played the corresponding "I Have, Who Has" game. Each game has 24 questions related to each document and facts surrounding the documents. My class enjoyed doing the game, because it kept them thinking and involved. We played the game a couple of times together as a class for the repetition of facts and for the reading practice. I then had them play the game again a couple of times in small groups of four the next day.

Along with each game, I included a 10 question quiz. Some students wanted more practice with the game before the quiz, so I let them take a set of cards home.

I found this to be an effective way to introduce my students to these documents and they enjoyed the activities.

The Constitution, "I Have, Who Has?" game and quiz

The Bill of Rights "I Have, Who Has?" game and quiz

I also found other ways to keep the class interested, such as these videos:

Actors reading The Declaration of Independence:

Two songs on The Bill of Rights (I had to remind my students about the Point of View of the first video):

I also created a similar game for The Declaration of Independence.

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Learn About Lions Math Review Scavenger Hunt Game

Lions are the King of the Jungle (or so you have heard)? Well, they don't even live in the jungle and I am not so totally sure that they are the King of the all African animals anyway! I have been to Kenya three times now to work in the schools of the Mathare Valley Slum in Nairobi, Kenya. After each trip, I took a short safari to see the magnificent animals that live in Kenya and of course was always thrilled with each lion that we encountered.

I wanted to bring more of that experience home to my students, so I started making math review scavenger hunts that more deeply explored these animals while developing math questions along with the facts that I researched and learned. I first came out with The Gigantic Giraffe scavenger hunt and this summer I created a companion African Lion scavenger hunt.

I never fully feel finished with the creation of these scavenger hunt games until I see them in action with my own class, so my class played the scavenger hunt on the second day of school last week. I was thrilled that everything went so well and the question were right on for my new class keeping them engaged for the whole period. They also enjoyed learning the many facts about lions.

I had fun creating this scavenger hunt and also feel accomplished that the photos for each question station included color photos that I took while in Kenya. It was satisfying to see these photos hanging up in my class as the students worked on the questions.

Realizing that all teachers do not have color printers, I also created black and white versions of the questions with a simple drawing of a lion. The scavenger hunt comes with an answer sheet and a student worksheet for answering the questions.

To celebrate the success of this scavenger hunt, I am offering it for 1/2 price for a short period of time. Get it now for only $1.25 here. It makes a great review activity for any time of the year. I based the questions on the fourth grade standards, but for review purposes it will work well with both 5th and 6th graders. It is easy enough to put together for an fun Friday activity or for use when a substitute is in your classroom. You can find the companion Giraffe scavenger hunt here. You can find my Teachers Pay Teachers store here, where I offer many varieties of math scavenger hunts and other products.

Here is one reason I don't think lions are the King of the African animals. This is a video I shot of a group of elephants walking down two male lions. Yes, I know I am not really using exact words like a teach my kids in all the excitement, "Oh look, the elephants have their stuff up!"In my scavenger hunt, you will learn about another animal that lions are afraid of.