4 Easy Word Work Centers that Your Students will LOVE

Ohhh, phonics skills!  As a special education teacher, I have seen the phonics struggles!!!  I created this a series of products to help with tricky phonics skills.  I originally designed this product to be used in my resource room so the variety in activities and ability to differentiate in both a resource room or a general education classroom is perfect.  Here’s a peak at what’s inside!

When students are ready to begin working, a designated student lays out these five clip boards and center cards.  I created my own little system for differentiating using what I call “Bubble Pages“.  On these leveled pages, students are tasked with completing multiple tasks over the course of the week.  Although there are five clip boards laid out, students only complete two to three items based on the assigned tasks from their bubble pages.

The lowest level activity is the Stretch the Word center.  In this set of cards, students practice stretching out tricky long vowel sounds by using colored dots.  Each letter or letters have a dot representing the sound that the letter or letters make.  Students can visit this center as a student led activity that supports very basics of vowel combinations.  The recording sheet is extremely simple and allows students to quickly and easily record each sound in the word.  I love seeing kids begin to understand how vowel teams work by participating in this center.  They begin to see that it is perfectly fine for two letters to go into one box or above one colored dot.

After working on stretching words, students move on to matching words to picture cards.  Although this is fairly simple, it is fantastic practice for students who need to remediate and practice basic decoding skills.  For students who are slightly higher, I remove the cards and have them only use the picture cards and recording sheet to attempt to stretch out their words correctly.

Moving from stretching out words and being able to write it correctly, students begin to sort words based on the vowel team being used in each word.  Students are able to see that there are multiple ways to create the same sound in various words.

And last, but certainly not least, is a student favorite, Write the Room!  I hide a set of cards around the room as with any write the room activity.  However, I have three different recording sheets requiring students to do various activities with the words that they find.  The lowest level recording sheet asks students to write the word and circle the letter or letter combinations that make up the long vowel sound.  The second recording sheet requires students to record their words by sorting them by vowel team.  Any my favorite recording sheet requires students to write the words that they find on a page says, “If I can spell….” {insert word from the room} “then I can spell…”  Students then use their vowel sound knowledge to create a real or nonsense word that would use the same vowel team and word family.  This is a TOUGH skill but is a great way to challenge students who are beyond simply sorting words into columns.

I recently updated this product to include both color and black and white version of each center.  In my previous school district, we had color printers readily available.  I never realized how much some people were paying for printing in color until I changed schools and had to do it myself.  Therefore, I created black and white pages of each set of cards.

You can grab this set of IGH centers for FREE by clicking on the image above!!! 
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Favorite Surveys {FREEBIE}

This week, we concluded our unit on graphing and I wanted to do a quick, yet fun way to review the parts of a graph, translating data gathered into charts, as well as reading their data in various ways.  To do this, I created a fun freebie to share with you!

My kids started this activity by creating their own survey.  I gave them four topics to choose from {favorite subject, treat, season, or animal}.  From there, they were able to pick four options for their classmates to choose from.  After their choices were made, I had all of my students lay their frequency tables out on their desk and we responded to each survey in a similar fashion to scoot.

Since I have twenty students in my class, this number worked out PERFECTLY!  In the other fifth grade classroom, which I also teach math to, there are only seventeen kids.  My cadet teachers and I participated in order to keep twenty participants.

 Once the students returned to their own desk, we started to chart our data.  They first used a line plot and answered a simple question about their data.

 Next, they used the same data to create a bar graph.  My students often take short cuts and I wanted them to really focus on writing intervals that fit their data, using labels, and giving their chart a title.

 And last but not least, is the circle graph!  Now, if you are reading this post closely, you noticed that I had them collect twenty pieces of data for a reason.  This was EXTREMELY helpful and I planned it in that way for this particular chart.  My kids were having a difficult time understanding how percentages and fractions were relating to the circle graph.  By using simple numbers, they weren’t focused on difficult fractions and percents, but rather making sure that their data was represented as accurately as possible.

 And last but not least, they created a cover to allow us to assemble our pages and create a book displaying all of our data.

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Create-a-Graph Scavenger Hunt Freebie!

By the fifth grade, I’ve noticed that although they have worked on graphing for many years in prior grades, they still need help and plenty of practice with answering questions correctly about data as well as vocabulary associated with graphing.

Today, my students and I created our own scavenger hunt by each making our own double-bar graphs.  We discussed giving your graph a title, labeling each axis, and creating reasonable intervals.  I allowed them to choose a topic for their graph based on their own interests.  I am not really sure who loved this activity more….them or me!  Their creativity and topics they decided on were fabulous!

After creating their double-bar graphs, they were required to write one question about their graph.  We discussed the types questions that were in our math video from the previous night so they had something fresh in their mind when creating.  I told them it could be as simple or as complex as they wanted.  As any fifth grader would do, they created the most complex question possible in order to appear smarter to their friends!  It played right into my hand!  ๐Ÿ™‚

After creating their graphs and fabulous questions, we hid them around the room in random order.  The students moved throughout the room and “hunted” for the questions.  As they found each graph, they worked hard to complete the question quickly yet accurately.  The first student to fill their entire page CORRECTLY wins!

My kids always love scavenger hunts.  What I love about doing scavenger hunts is that the students can’t talk!  The rule is that you cannot share answers or the locations of hidden questions.  They know not to talk or share because it could help their friend beat them!

I’m linking up with The Teacher Studio for her monthly, Loved That Linky Party!  Since I loved this lesson so much, I’d love to share it with you.  Click the image below to grab the printables for this activity in both bar graphs and double-bar graphs!  ๐Ÿ™‚

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Using KidBlog for Math Journals!

Hey there!  I’m excited to say that I have successful made it through two, EXHAUSTING days back to school after winter break.  I hope you are back and ready to knock out the next five to six months.  Tonight, I want to share about something new that I am doing in my classroom thanks to Aimee at Taking on Second!  We teach in the same building and chat about blogging every now and then….ok, often and probably way too much.  When I heard about KidBlog, I thought it sounded really great but it took me a while to come up with a good way to implement it in my classroom.  Then one day it hit me…..DUH….use the blog rather than notebooks and pencils for Math Journals.  I’ll be honest, I am still in the early stages of implementing this however my kids are enjoying it and so am I.  So naturally, it needed to be blogged about.  Right?
Each day, I post a Math Journal topic that relates directly to the topic that was covered in my student’s math videos.  The above picture was today’s prompt.  We are just beginning a unit on graphing and today’s post involved line plots and frequency tables.  As long as students watch their math video each evening, they will be prepared to respond to the prompt for that particular day.  When I write these journal prompts, I am striving for students to go from “doing” math to “explaining” math.  I want them to provide a list of directions, explain something in their own words, relate one skill or topic to another, or provide examples of real life situations.  
When writing my prompts in a post {which is VERY simple btw….}, I can choose to publish my posts immediately or I can schedule them out in advance by adjusting the dates and times.  I have all of my posts scheduled for 8:00 AM each day so that whenever we have time available, they are posted and ready to go.  This can be easily modified if interruptions or schedule changes occur.  It also helps to keep me on track and able to prep in advance.
From there, students create their own post on their own blog answering the prompt that I have posed.  And let me tell you, they are proud of them and work hard at them.  I have a few rules which they MUST follow just to keep things organized.  I require them to use the same title in their post that I did in mine.  They are also required to copy and paste (or type themselves) the exact prompt from my post.  I want them to do this in order to ensure they can restate the question or prompt as well as answer the ENTIRE prompt not just what they remember from one quick reading.  I am still training my students to get to this point but I don’t want the lack of organization now to cause confusion later as they refer back to these posts.  I don’t want them to be unsure of what topic or skill they were intending to write about.  
When anyone, whether that be someone in a student or teach role logs in, they will see a list of all of the posts submitted.  In the control panel section, you can select whether you want posts to be visible by everyone or only the teacher.  Since I take these for a grade, I currently have this blog set so that only the author and I can see their posts.  I could see this working extremely well where students brain storm ideas, share strategies, and pose questions to one another as well.  
When I read their posts, I can leave them feedback in a quicker and more complete fashion that I could EVER do in a notebook thanks to copy and paste!  Since I am still training my students, I made a copy and paste list of things that I wanted my kids to be sure they were including in their posts.  If a student did restate the question or use complete sentences, I could quickly delete that bullet and move on to the next student.  
There is also the option to set up multiple classes.  Since my grade level is departmentalized, I have two math classes.  I have a blog for each of them and can access both of them through the control panel.  I am still experimenting with different options here but thus far, I am in LOVE!
And last but not least, is the option for students to view only THEIR blog.  Above is a list of my two blog posts for this week.  If this were a student’s blog, they would be able to scroll through and review or reference various posts to help jog their memory or read their own directions for various skills.  I can’t wait to see my students be able to utilize their own materials anytime and anywhere.  
I am using my Math Journals {which are perfect without the use of KidBlog…in my opinion :)} to supply my prompts for KidBlog each day.  By clicking the image above, you can find all of my Math Journals in the skills listed.  By clicking {here}, you can find an older post about my Math Journals which outlines more of what they include and how I use them in an interactive notebook.  I also have a Math Journal Club which gives you access to all of the editions above plus ALL FUTURE UPDATES!  The price continues to grow as I add editions so your best bet is to purchase it sooner rather than later.
I’d love to hear how you use KidBlog (or something similar) in the comments section below! 
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Math Videos 101!

For the past two years, my husband and I have been using math videos to “flip” our classrooms.  We have thoroughly enjoyed the process and have seen HUGE gains in our students.  We make and use math videos to deliver instruction rather than standing at the front of the classroom and teaching.  Last year, I used math videos in my resource room to allow groups of students in multiple grades and at an array of mathematical levels to all work during the same timeframe and still receive support on their individual needs.  
Yesterday, I posed a question on my Facebook page about Math Videos and PowerPoints and I had a few requests to provide directions on how I create my videos.  So here is goes!

I begin by using PowerPoint to create images with the content that I plan to teach.  Depending on the skill, I can usually knock these out fairly quickly.  After I have completed my slides.  I save the entire PowerPoint as PNG images.  You can do this by going to File > Save As > Format > PNG.  I will be working over the next several weeks to upload everything that I have created for my own videos to my TpT Store to *hopefully* save you some time if you are interested in getting started.

After I have all of my images created and saved as PNGs, I upload them to Google Drive.  This can be done by clicking on the red arrow above.  I choose “Folder” so that I can upload all of my PowerPoint images at once.  If you choose “Files” you can only upload one image at a time.  
Now that my images are created and uploaded, I switch gears and open GoogleDrive on my iPad.  You can download the app to make your life SO much easier!  
Now, this is a very UNORGANIZED GoogleDrive account that I use for miscellaneous things.  Forgive me for the mess!  After opening, I locate the images that I just loaded and click the folder.  

The files, will show up like the image above.  I select the first image by clicking on it.

By holding my finger on the image, I am able to save the image to my Camera Roll by clicking “Save Image”.  By swiping to the left, I can scroll through and save all of the images from my PowerPoint.

Next, I open the Educreations app.  This is where all of my hard work comes together and allows learning to happen!  By clicking on the plus sign at the top of the page, you can begin a new video.

In the Educreations app, you will insert the images you have saved to your Camera Roll.  To do this, click the plus sign shown above.  You will also have to select the “Mountain” image in the center of your options.  Then select Camera Roll.  All of the images in your Camera Roll will be displayed as options for you to insert into your video.

After inserting my image, I like to click “Fit Height” so that it covers the entire height of the Educreations screen.  By clicking on the small arrow in the bottom right hand corner, I can move to the next page and insert more images to complete my video.

After inserting all images, I click the orange microphone at the top to begin recording.  As I teach, I can use the pen or eraser to add to the images as I work out the problems or write steps for students to follow.

By clicking on the image above, you can grab the images for Expanded Form to use in creating your own videos as well as a PowerPoint version if you don’t have the technology to create a video but wish to use these images for PowerPoint presentations on an Interactive White Board.


In the video above, I have a short video from me to YOU!  This is not for your students to learn about expanded form but rather a video for you to learn about some essential things that I include in my videos and how the logistics of the videos work in my classroom!

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