March 31, 2016

Making Time for Play

I teach third grade, and I love it!  I love how my kids are big enough to have “real” conversations about life and tougher issues, and how they are still small enough to race inside and tell me about the special leaf that they found at recess time. 

At this age, there is such a great opportunity to integrate play in the classroom.  Our students are already familiar and eager to play, so why not use purposeful play activities designed to engage students in our curriculum. 

Here are two of our current favourite ways to play!

Painting the Room

One of my favourite “exit ticket” type activities is Painting the Room.  Although a traditional exit-ticket takes only 3-5 minutes, this one can take 30-60 minutes.  This play based activity combines Art and any other subject you would like.

March 28, 2016

What to do with Task Cards

This is Part Two in my series on using task-cards in the elementary classroom.  Hop on over and check out part one ("Why I love Task Cards!)

Task Cards are the ultimate versatile resource for teaching any subject. Apart from the answer sheets, they are not consumable, so they can be used time and time again.  Consider printing them out on heavy paper, and then laminating them to make sure they last through many uses.

In my classroom we use task cards for more than just small group work.  Check out all of the different ways we use these flexible-use cards!

       Go paperless!  Allow students to verbally quiz each other on the task card concepts prior to a quiz, or when they are finished an assignment.
       Use the task cards as a whole-group activity by projecting them using a document camera
       Set the on each desk and play a game of scoot.  Have the students stand behind their chairs so that they are ready to move. Give students 1- 2 minutes at each card to write down their answer on the Answer Sheet, and then call “Switch!”  Students then move onto the next desk, and begin to solve the next question.
       Give the cards to a parent volunteer to work with struggling students
       Set up centers with various sets of task cards. 
       Use task card sets for early finishers.  Consider using task cards that are a challenge to the students. 

       Task card scavenger hunt.  Hide the task cards around the room.  Give each student an answer paper and instruct him or her to find all of the cards and solve the problems.  My students love this one because they think it is hilarious when they can “beat” me and find all of the cards that I have hidden.

March 25, 2016

Why I Love Task Cards

I have to be honest, I had never heard of task cards before this school year.  I know, I’m way behind on this one!  I found out about task cards as a necessity, I had a student who was struggling, and I needed a way to find extra practice for him on that particular topic.  Voila!  Task cards!

What are task cards?  For those unfamiliar, task cards are cards (4-6 usually fit on one 8.5”x11” piece of paper) that have educational ‘tasks’ on them.  Task cards can be created for all subjects.  A set of math task cards would usually come in a pack of ~20, and would be geared for a particular subject.  They might have questions for a student to solve, things for them to find around the room, or mental math problems for them to figure.  The great part about task cards is that the cards themselves can be re-usable for years to come! 

I have to say, I am now one of the biggest proponents of task cards as a method for easily differentiating learning in any classroom.  It is so simple to put together a series of cards for any subject, and then to give them out to different students, as they need to work on a subject.

In my room, we do this most often with math.

3D Shape Task Cards - from PoetPrints by Rachel Poetker

March 09, 2016

Easter in the Classroom

I work in a Christian school and I love it. I love being able to talk about my faith all day, and play my favourite worship songs as my students work.  I have had so many incredible conversations with students about their big questions, and worries, and it's great to be able to point them back to The Word in all things.

Of all of the holidays, Easter is one of the 'big ones' in my classroom.  Teaching at a Christian school allows me to stray further from the theme of bunnies, eggs, and chicks (however cute they may be!) and focus on the story of new life through Jesus' sacrifice.

This year, to tie our Bible lessons into our Language Arts, we are going 'in depth' into the symbols seen in the Easter Story in the New Testament.

Following this complete plan, we have been learning about Jesus by actually reading our Bibles, and spending time in Bible study! All of the reading is from the New Living Translation of the Bible, and it's the perfect level for my third grade students.  I love that they can 'dive into' The Word on their own!