Tuesday, June 18, 2013


Oh- vocabulary! Third grade is such a crucial time to build and expand students vocabulary. They take the writing STAAR test in fourth grade and a few "colorful words" can help them get more points... if used correctly...!!

I haven't always loved teaching vocabulary. I wasn't sure how to do it effectively and hold the students accountable for not only defining them but actually using them in their writing and speaking. That all changed when I found an AMAZING vocabulary chart with cards at the Teacher Store and the ideas just started flowing (with the help of pinterest, of course)!!

You can also find this on www.reallygoodstuff.com

On Mondays there is a new word in our "Word of the Week" Chart. The comic and definition is not up yet. One part of their warm-up on Monday is to define the word of the week by looking it up in the dictionary and drawing their own comic using it correctly. After we check it and share I put up the definition and the comic. It stays there for the rest of the week for the kids to constantly see. 

On Tuesdays when they come in I give them a "colorful card" and they write the word of the week down, it's part of speech, the definition and use it in a sentence. They then add their card to their ring of "Colorful Words" that they keep in their writing portfolios. 

These cards stay in their writing portfolio so they can refer back to them while writing. If they use one of their colorful words, they can use a colorful pen (idea from pinterest!) to write it when they publish. I love how colorful their published papers look- it is easy for me to see and monitor their use of the words. Plus it is encourages them to use colorful words so they can write in pinks, greens and oranges! 

At the end of the week I put the word and it's definition up on our word wall, 
so they still continue to see it all year long. 

If I hear them using the word of the week correctly I always give them a "whammie" (a sticker to go towards earning coupons or other prizes) and praise to encourage other students to do the same. By the end of the year their "Colorful Words" ring is completely full and so it their vocabulary!! 

Happy Teaching Friends!!!

Sunday, June 16, 2013

It isn't a Party without a Party Hat!

I love my end of the year awards! I have done this for the past 2 years and the kids love it (kinda surprisingly... especially for the boys...) but this year I had some kids from last year come by, see the hats, and tell me how they still have theirs from last year!!

About a month before the end of the year party I tell the kids that we are going to be voting on awards for our class party. I explain how they are going to write one persons name (including themselves) next to each award. I read all the awards out loud. I usually give them a day or so before we actually vote so they can have time to "campaign" during recess and lunch. If not, then the awards will be all over the place!! 

Here you can see the "ballot" I pass out to each student with the awards and a short description. 

I also pass out a class list with all the kids names on it to each student so they can cross out the names after they use them. After they all vote I tally up the votes and we usually have to have "tie breakers" to break the ties between really close ones. The kids love these! I usually do this through activote or you could just be the tie breaker!! :) Trust me, the kids won't know the difference! I don't tell them which award they win- I let them wait and guess until the party when they are crowned with a hat!! 

After I know which student is getting which award I go to our local party supply store, Wally's, and get some colorful cheap hats. I pick up some puffy paint pens and some stickers and get creative!

At the party I invite all the parents to see which award their kid will win. With each hat I tell the parents a bit about that award, call up the winner, crown them and give them a certificate! They always look adorable with their hats on and it makes for GREAT pictures!! 

Happy Teaching Friends!!

The World

I love doing project based learning with my third graders. I usually have to wait until about halfway through the year before doing "real PBL" because before then they aren't mature enough to work in groups effectively without needing constant intervention. From day 1 I begin teaching them how to work together and how to research. I usually begin with simple projects at the beginning of the year where each student is assigned a certain piece and then when they come all together to make one big project. ANYWAYS- this project I did was closer to the end of this pass year and the kids LOVED IT!! I thought it up after I did a unit on the rain forests and saw just how badly they needed a crash course on the continents! 

So after some initial lessons about continents, countries, states, regions... ect. I put my kids in 6 groups of 3-4 and gave them a blank piece of white poster board that only have the outline of their continent.  I did Antarctica as an example with the kids first so they had a gist of how to do the project. I did not want to assign Antarctica to a group because it doesn't have all the things they needed to research. After I gave each group their white poster I wrote down the items they had to RESEARCH and HAVE on their continents. 

Items needed on their continent:
1. The name of their continent somewhere BIG.
2.  The oceans labeled around their continent
3. The largest country on their continent (they could label them all)
4. Languages spoken in their continent
5. Food grown there
6. Animals and plants found there
7. Major Rivers or Lakes 
8. Famous landmarks or people found there
9. Weather/climate found there
10. Anything else they found interesting from their research.

The result was mind blowing! 

My kids seriously did fantastic. All I did was pull library books on their continents and a few of their countries and pulled up Google on 4 of my computers and Google translate on 2 others. The details they poured into their continents was more than I could ever have hoped for. Everyone was blown away at all the little details and facts. Here is a glimpse at some of them! 

We did a giant Titanic unit before this one and here the kids (North America group) drew out the sinking Titanic and the Carpathia coming to save it. They drew it right were it was suppose to be! Awesome!! 

The Africa group did a fantastic job drawing all the countries free handed! (Remember, all I gave them was the white poster board with just the continent outlined!) They also drew where the desert was in yellow. 

Here you can see where the kids had translated "Hello" in the languages their continent spoke. 

Here is a look at South America and their landmark. Amazing!! 

I was pleasantly surprised on how well they worked together. They automatically assigned themselves jobs as the researchers and drawers (with NO help from me) and got busy!! The only time we had an issue was when it came to coloring- when all the research was done and all was drawn out they then needed me to put out small arguments because "so and so wasn't coloring in the same direction or in the right color". I took that as them being fiercely proud of their work and just wanting it to be perfect.  

Happy Teaching Friends!!!

Teacher Love

Hi y'all!! I teach third grade at a public school in Texas. I love my job and I love my kiddos. I feel so blessed to teach such eager students and I feel even more blessed to learn from them. They inspire me do so much throughout the year, changing with each new set of kids I teach, that I decided to start a blog to share it or at the very least have one spot to keep all my memories!!  :)