Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Gumball Multiplication Challenge

  “Gumball Multiplication”
            Basic Facts for Multiplication Incentive Plan

Working on your basic facts can be rewarding in more ways than one.  Keep practicing your basic facts.  We will be checking the progress of your basic facts in class.

The third grade Iowa Core Curriculum standards place a strong emphasis on students knowing their basic multiplication facts by the end of third grade.  Students sometimes need something to motivate them to work on their facts.  Therefore, I have a plan. 

The plan-
Starting this week, students can request to be tested on any of the 1 through 10 multiplication fact families.  Each time they get it right in the amount of time allowed, they will get a piece of gum to chew the following afternoon in the classroom.  If they do not get them right, they can continue working and testing on that family until they do get them all right in the time allowed.  We will keep a “Gumball Multiplication” chart in our take-home folders to keep track of what each student has mastered.  The goal is to work through all the facts and get them memorized quickly.  Knowing their multiplication facts will help them so much in their work in math this year!  The first student who masters all of their fact families will be awarded a small gumball machine of their own.  As other students master all of their fact families their names will be entered into a drawing for another gumball machine later this year.

Get Practicing Those Facts!

Tuesday, November 10, 2015

A Day in Our Third Grade Classroom....

Third grade is such an important year and a lot of fun.  What does a typical day in our classroom look like?  If you could peer in at any moment, what would you see us up to?  Here is a small snapshot of what our days might look like... enjoy!

8:10- Students enter the classroom.  They sign in on our Smartboard and then get their iPad to work on ST math (Play Gigi- as many of them refer to it!).  We are loving this program as it helps us practice math concepts and builds our problem-solving skills.  Mrs. Adams checks in with students on their progress and then often pull individuals or small groups to the back table to work for a few minutes. 

8:35- We gather at the front carpet for a quick morning meeting.  This often includes a handshake or greeting of some type, the pledge, our rules and gestures,  a morning letter from Mrs. Adams, and announcements.  We also sometimes share special information, websites, and activities at this time

8:45- It is the start of our literacy block.  Mrs. VerMeer joins us at this time.  We have a whole group mini-lesson that focuses on Common Core reading skills and strategies.  Then we break into literacy rotations.  Students can be found independently listening to reading, working on word work, reading to self, and listening to reading.  Mrs. VerMeer, Mrs. Hansmeier, and myself keep busy pulling small groups of students into guided reading groups and working with individuals.  After our first round, we have another short literacy mini-lesson, and then students pick their second rotation.  It is fun to see a classroom full of readers and writers hard at work.

10:15- It is writing time.  We review language skills and editing writing on the Smartboard using our daily packets.  Then it is time for a short writing craft lesson or language lesson.  We then practice those skills in our own writing.

10:50- Yeah! It is recess and time to run and give our brains a break!  We always hope for nice weather.

11:20- After some quick bathroom and drink breaks, we return to our room.  We enjoy listening to our read aloud book at this time and also some days work on our working memory activities.

11:45- Lunch Time!

12:15- The next half hour is devoted to our Cadet Intervention Time.  It is a time where we have identified students who may need extra help and group them to meet their needs.  All students are working on some type of literacy activities at this time and it sometimes feels like we have kids going everywhere!  Some students meet with other teachers during this time.  Students who stay in my room may be working on reading skills in a small group with me, they may be working on SRA reading cards with the goal to practice being independent learners who read directions carefully, or they may be found in Ms. Leifeld's or Mrs. Timp's room modeling good reading with kindergarten partners while practicing their reading fluency.  The half hour goes really fast!

12:50-  It is time for exploratory classes.  On Mondays you will find us running in the high school gym with Mr. Slifka.  Tuesday we are busy learning about research skills and checking out books with Mrs. Shekelton in the library.  Wednesday brings Mrs. Vandervort to our room with the goal to teach students about being digital citizens during technology time.  On Thursday we head down the hall to visit Mrs. Ortner in the art room, and on Fridays we can be heard playing our recorders in music class with Mr. Bieber. 

1:35- We head back to the classroom, to focus on math.  We start math with a whole group lesson and then break into our math rotations.  Small groups meet with Mrs. Adams while other students work in their math folders, play math games, practice math concepts on our iPads, and practice our facts. 

2:45- The end of the day is fast approaching, so we need to sneak in some science or social studies time.  I love having it at the end of the day as it is so easy to hook student interest in those areas!  In third grade we study animal and plant populations, force and motion, and weather.  We also study communities, geography, and introduce American history for our social studies curriculum.  Our schedule changes a bit on Wednesdays.  Every other week we have a guidance lesson.  The other Wednesday is devoted to STEM.  Our STEM activities include introducing coding, engineering projects, and STEM problem-solving challenges.

3:20- We are quickly wrapping up our day and getting ready to head home.  We end the day with announcements, cleaning up, and handshake or hug for Mrs. Adams as we exit the classroom.  Our days fly by!

Wednesday, October 21, 2015

Global Read Aloud 2015

We are very excited to once again be participating in the Global Read Aloud.  This is a wonderful project that allows students from all over the world to read the same book at the same time and interact with it in different ways.  We are loving Fish in a Tree by Lynda Mullaly Hunt.  It is the story of Ally, a girl who can't read.  It is also a great story about friendship and how we treat each other.  We have enjoyed reading comments from other students across the globe on Twitter and an online padlet.  We have also posted some of our thoughts on Twitter about the book so far.  It is a great read aloud book and it has been easy to make connections to the different reading strategies and skills we have been working on in class.  Be sure to ask your child for updates about the story as we go!

Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Adaptation Puppet Plays

The students who stay in Mrs. Adams' classroom during Cadet Time have been enjoying some fun fluency work.  We have been busy practicing science scripts (connected to our current area of study- animal and plant populations), creating realistic looking puppets for our characters, and working on adding expression to our reading.  Today we presented our puppet plays to two of the kindergarten classes.  It was great to have an audience to appreciate all our hard work.  A big thank you to Mr. Bieber who let us borrow his sound system so we could really project our voices.  What a great way to make fluency practice fun!!!


Sunday, October 4, 2015

Wonderful Reading Resource

We appreciate all that you do as parents, and I often get questions from you about how to help your child progress as a reader.  Here is a wonderful resource for you to use.  The link below will take you to the Iowa Reading Research Center which has a wealth of information about reading and writing.  It has great articles as well as reading resources.  It is definitely something to check out!

Below is one blog post from the site about helping your child choose appropriate books.  

How to Find the Right Books for Your Child 

(Taken from:

Posted on: September 25th, 2015 by | No Comments
books library how to find
How do I know if the books my child is reading are a good fit for him? This is a question I ask myself all the time. As Griffin is growing into a young reader, it is a challenge for me to find books that are just right for him to read independently. Over the past couple months, he has been able to read more and more words, but I have continued to struggle with finding books that aren’t too difficult or don’t appear too easy.
That’s where the IRRC Family Resources Collection comes into help. If you search “find right books” in the Collection, you will find two resources (an article and a video) that can help you determine which books are just right for your child to read. These two resources share similar information, but each offers some unique tips for how to best select books with your child. Keep reading to learn how Griffin and I used the “Finding the Right Books for Your Child” video and article to help Griffin find books that were a good fit for him.
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This quick two-minute video clip demonstrates how a parent learned how to help her son find books that would “challenge, but not overwhelm him.” The child’s teacher recommends using the “five finger rule” to help the mother and son select books that are just right. The “five finger rule” is where a child picks up a book, opens to any page, and attempts to read the entire page. For each word the child doesn’t know, they should hold up one finger. If the child misses more than five words on a given page, the text is likely too difficult for them to read independently. If they hold up fewer than five fingers, the book is likely a suitable book for the child. Search “find right books” and click on the title with the blue video icon below it to learn more about how to use the “five finger rule.”
This article from the IRRC Family Resources Collection has great tips for how to select books that aren’t too difficult or too easy for your child.   It, too, suggests the “five finger rule” as well as information on how to get your children motivated to read by searching based on their interests or for a particular author. Search “find right books” and click on the title with the green article icon below it to learn more.
Just Right for Griffin
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The video and article for finding just right books for your child helped me learn a strategy for how to select books that aren’t too difficult or easy for Griffin. I went to the library and quickly grabbed a stack of books that I thought would be of interest to Griffin. I grabbed chapter books, some “easy” readers, and some picture books.
I told Griffin we were going to play the “five finger rule” game and he could start with any book he wanted. Naturally, he chose the truck book first. It was located in the “easy reader” section of the library, so I was interested to see how well he would do.   Just as the video and article suggest, I allowed him to turn to any page he wanted to use. Since one page only has about three to five sentences, I had him read two pages to be sure. He read through those two pages and missed two words. One word was “to” which is a sight word he has known for a while and I think he overlooked, so I decided not to count it. The other was the word “nearby.” I do think this is a new word for his reading vocabulary, but this activity showed me that Truck Trouble was a book that is okay for him to read independently.
Next, we tried two other books from the “easy reader” section of the library. He was able to read them without much support (he only missed one word on each page), so I think they are fine for him to read independently as well. Does his success with these books mean he can easily read all books in that section? No way. There are many books in that section that likely have more difficult vocabulary, so we will continue to test them out with the “five finger rule” when he will be reading independently.
I asked Griffin to try to read a page from the chapter book I had checked out. He said he wanted to find the page with the least amount of words (see motivating male readers link), which didn’t surprise me. Since it was a chapter book, I thought for sure it would have too many challenging words and might frustrate him. Well, he actually read the first page and only had one word he wasn’t familiar with (appeared). He couldn’t believe he was able to read a page from a chapter book! I asked him to try another page, just to be sure. Griffin was able to read the second page and only had two words he didn’t know. Previously, we have read (together) other books in this series so that is probably helpful in his reading, but we were both delighted to see that this book could be a good fit for him to read independently too. Will I hand him the book and tell him to go read it in his room? No. He read almost each word correctly, but read pretty slowly. I want to make sure that he can read these pages AND understand them, so I will likely have him read a chapter to me and ask him questions to check his understanding. Nevertheless, he was thrilled to see that he could read chapter books. The “five finger rule” was very helpful in determining that Griffin can actually read and understand simple chapter books. Without this activity, I am not sure we when we would have had Griffin try to read a chapter book.
The last book we tried was a Halloween themed picture book.  There was a lot of text on each page, so I was interested to see how he would do with this book.  I wondered if it would be easier, since it was a picture book.  Ironically, he missed five words on the first page he tried.  I had him try one more page and he missed six words!  We talked about how this book was a better book for a read aloud than for independent reading.  I had assumed that since it was a picture book it would be easier, but it most certainly was not.  The chapter book we tried had way simpler language than this picture book.   The five finger rule was an easy way for us to determine which books are good for Griffin to read independently and which are better saved for parent read alouds.
If you are looking for tips on how to select the right books for your child, search “find right books” in the IRRC Family Resources Collection. The video and article you will find are both great sources of information and strategies on how to help your child select books that are challenging, but not overwhelming.

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Insect Inquiry

We have been enjoying our unit on plant and animal populations.  It has been awesome to examine the ants, fruit flies, aphids, ladybugs, daphnia, and damselfly larvae that have arrived in our classroom.   Our ants are starting to tunnel and move some ground around in our classroom ant farm.  We have also even busy keeping track of our fruit fly populations their vials.

Some of the important concepts/words we have been discussing include... 
predator & prey
carnivore, omnivore, & herbivore
food chains
life cycles

Today we enjoyed a visit from Angela, the Howard County Naturalist.  She taught us more about insects and tomorrow we will enjoy blogging about some of the things we learned from her on our KidBlog accounts.   Thank you Angela for sharing your knowledge with us.

We also welcomed Cale's pet hamsters to our classroom for a short stay.  They were just born this fall and we are hoping to make some connections to our science studies by observing them during this next week.  Thank you Cale for sharing them with us and being our hamster expert!

We will soon be starting our research project for this unit which will involve making a short video about a wild animal of our choice that teaches others about the concepts we have learned.  Life science is awesome!   

Thursday, September 17, 2015

Check out our Facebook Page!

I've had a classroom Facebook page on my "To Do" list for awhile now and I finally had to move it to the top of my list!  Our class is now officially on Facebook, so please check us out.  We will post classroom announcements, photographs, and classroom updates on the page.  You can find us at:

I'm hoping this will be another great way to connect with families near and far- including extended families.  So please share with grandparents or other relatives that would be interested.  I will also post updates on Facebook when there are new posts on this classroom blog. 

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Third Grade Bloggers!

We are excited to start posting to our KidBlog accounts.  Blogging is a great way for us to publish our writing to a real audience.  KidBlog is a wonderful place for us to develop our writing skills, practice writing safely on-line, and connect our writing with other classes.  Below is some general information about our KidBlog accounts.

We are just beginning our journey of becoming bloggers.  Our first posts will be far from perfect, but are a wonderful way for us to look back at the end of the year to see our progress as capable writers.  Growth as a writer is what we emphasize and encourage.  Throughout the year we learn and review the skills good writers use to proofread and share their message.   

This week students are in the process of posting their first two blog posts.   One is a short post talking about what area interests them in science, and the other is a Dot Day post that focuses on what make them unique individuals.  In the next few weeks we will also learn about how to write good and appropriate comments.  We will link with other classes to read their writing and practice commenting in a respectful way. 

Please take time to visit our blog page at  Feel free to leave a comment or two to help encourage our young writers!

Saturday, September 12, 2015

Using the Scientific Method to Solve a Mystery

Is it a seed or a egg?  How can we figure it out?  How about using the scientific method to ask questions, make a hypothesis, design an experiment, gather data through observations, and then draw conclusions.  Be sure to ask your third grader for the results next week!  

Reading Workshop

We use a reading workshop format during our literacy instruction.  This allows students to practice their strategies with a lot of independent reading and writing.  It also gives them some choice in their learning which definitely leads to motivation!   During workshop time you will find me leading short whole group mini-lesson on reading skills and strategies, working with small groups of students for guided reading lessons, and working with individual students.  Both learning to read and reading to learn take a tremendous amount of work, so it is vital that students build their reading and writing stamina.  These first few weeks have been filled with numerous opportunities to practice our procedures and also to train our bodies so our independent stamina can increase.  We utilize the Daily 5 framework so students get chances to "Read to Self"," "Read to Someone," "Work on Writing', "Listen to Reading," and "Work with Words."  Enjoy a few photos from our reader's workshop!  

Friday, September 4, 2015

Week 2

The days are flying by and our classroom continues to be a very busy place.  Here are a few photos from the first two weeks of school to provide you a peek into our classroom.  We worked hard on telling time to the nearest minute and looking at different ways to name numbers in math, really increased our writing stamina and wrote some great stories about people and places in our lives, and started reviewing strategies good readers use.  I also enjoyed getting a chance to listen to each student read and talk about the books they enjoy.  We are off to a great start.  Enjoy the long weekend!

Friday, August 28, 2015

It's a STEM Challenge!

Wow!  We made it through our first week of school.  I don't know about the kids, but the teacher is exhausted.  The first week is so busy with learning and practicing our PBIS expectations, introducing third grade curriculum, and getting to know each other.  Today we dedicated most of our day to our first STEM challenge- Bubble Bonanza.  We learned about the engineering design process while exploring bubbles.  Some of the questions we asked included:
  • Can bubbles bounce?
  • Can you make bubbles of different shapes?
  • Do bubbles stick to things?
  • Can you create tiny little bubbles or bubbles as big as your head?
  • What makes a good bubble wand?
Student engineering groups ended the day by designing and testing their own bubble wand that they will present to the class next week.  What a day!  Be sure to ask your child all about it.  Her are a few photos from out day.