Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Winners posted!

Congrats to the following ladies!  I will be emailing each of them a Thematic Unit on Angry Birds!  You can get your own for just $4.50.

Mrs. Moricz- I need your email address!

Thanks to all that entered!

Physics Foundation in 1st Grade

Today we created our catapults and launched some marshmallows!  The students were ecstatic over this as I'm sure you can imagine.  This week is TCAP standardized test week for the upper grades, so we have more time in the room (the related arts teachers are proctoring).  

In a math literacy camp I went to this summer, we discussed how graphs should show meaning.  Students should be able to look at a graph and tell a story- not just see numbers!  I think this is a great thinking activity that gives them a strong foundation so they will feel confident when they do encounter graphs (like on standardized tests!).  My thematic unit has an entire section on creating graphs from real life actvities and analyzing them.  It also has sample graphs for the students to make up a story about what happened.

Here you can see our catapult launches and the graph that goes with it.  The first graph is all we will be dealing with, but this amazing program actually creates several.  Check it out:

This was created with the App Vernier Video Physics ($2.99)

I did want to mention that this was created with an iPad, but you could do the same activity with any computer and a pencil and paper!  You can play Angry Birds in Google Chrome from any computer and draw a graph by hand.  Detailed instructions and graph analysis sheets are included in my unit.

I'm teaming up with another super-creative teacher who just had a Angry Birds themed birthday party for her son (who is in my class).  On Friday, we are going to do a life-size Angry Birds slingshot with our classes!  I'll be sure to video that as well and include the details of creation soon.

What are you doing to keep your kids energized for the home stretch?

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Graffiti Boards: Finished Products

Yesterday I posted about Graffiti boards as a strategy to teach academic vocabulary.  Today in class we completed our graffiti boards on Simple Machines.  I wanted to show you pictures of our finished products.  The boards on the left are the "prior knowledge" and the ones on the right are what they learned.  Some I took close ups of so you could read it.

You can see from these pictures that on some of the words, the students had NO CLUE what the term was!  After a hands-on investigation and class discussion, they were able to record many new discoveries.

You can see how their understanding when from an "air"plane to an inclined plane!

Here you can see in the bottom right corner several illustrations, words like "see saw" and it goes up and down.  Still a few question marks as well- we will keep working on it! :)  That is one thing about these as well- your kids can be really honest if they don't understand.

In other news...  Our chicks hatched!  I'm included a few pics of the little guys.  They are adorable!  Who else does this project?

And last- have you entered the Angry Birds Thematic Unit giveaway yet?!  It ends tomorrow!

Monday, April 23, 2012

Graffiti Boards

This summer I attended a Math Literacy Camp put on by a local University. One of the strategies we learned about was called a "Graffiti Board". Essentially, it's a piece of butcher paper. But what it really is- is a great assessment tool!

What I love about this strategy is that it is so versatile. You can use it with every subject!!!

I started off teaching about simple machines today. I wanted to gauge what my students already knew. I wrote the words "pulley, wheel & axel, gears, inclined plane, lever" each on a separate sheet of paper. I counted my students off 1-4 into 5 groups. Then I handed them each 2 markers and told them to draw or write anything they knew about the topic. I set a huge 2 minute timer on the projector from this online clock site (see more in this post). When the timer when off, they rotated in a circular pattern.

Talk about informative!!!! For inclined planes.... they ALL drew AIRplanes...! haha Sweet babies!

So then I got out the hands-on kits to let them experiment with each simple machine. I heard things like "Oh, that's like a seesaw!". They made many connections to real-life objects.
They were also able to describe what the simple machine does. (Example: "If you raise the inclined plane, the car goes down faster").
We did a second round of graffiti boards to record their new knowledge.

This was a very simple and fast way for me to assess prior knowledge, allow group collaboration and discovery, and clear up any misconceptions!

We did two smaller graffiti boards for prior knowledge/what they discovered. However, when I originally learned about this strategy, they used ONE board. The students would all record their thoughts, and any knowledge that was correct was circled.

They were working so hard that I forgot to tell them to pack up! Time flew by during this hands-on fun activity.

Again, these can be adapted for any subject. I particularly enjoy using these to study math and science academic vocabulary.

I will try to post pictures of our finished boards tomorrow.

Want even more fun ideas to teach simple machines? Enter the giveaway to win my Angry Science Birds Thematic Unit!

What strategies are you using to engage your students?

Sunday, April 22, 2012

Angry Science Birds Thematic Unit

This week our story is "Simple Machines". I was trying to think of a way to teach this in a fun way.

Right now flying birds are all the rage with my kiddos. Next week we are going to have a blast with a new 43 page thematic unit that I just created: Angry Science Birds! Included in the unit are a lot of math, science, writing, technology ideas and center activities. We will even be creating our very own popsicle catapults to launch marshmallow "birds"!

Want to join in on the fun?

Let's do a giveaway while we're at it. I'm giving away 3 of these units- All you have to do to enter is to leave a comment with your email address!

I would really appreciate it if you would check out my stores, write a blog post about this giveaway, or add me to your sidebar- extra entries for each! :)

Giveaway ends on Wednesday at 5:00 Central Time. Good luck!

Friday, April 20, 2012

Earth Day: Create your own recycled bookmarks

Remember back in the day when you did a science fair project? Well, one year mine was on recycling. This one really stuck with me- I now do it every year with my class!

This project is messy hands-on fun!
Supplies needed:
  • Shredded paper (Newspaper works fine- the kids can tear it. I got shredded paper from the office)
  • A blender (an older one or one that you don't mind shredding newspaper in)
  • Cheese Cloth
  • Popsicle Sticks
  • Hot Glue
  • Old towels
Optional but extremely helpful items:
  • Electrical tape ("waterproofs" the strainer)
  • Water
  • Food coloring (optional)
  • Glitter (really optional)
  • Flower seeds (now we are just getting crazy! I let the kids add in flower seeds in case they want to plant it when they are through with the project. Recycling the recycling project!)
Step 1 (Do this in advance):
Set four jumbo sized popsicle sticks together to form a square. Hot glue together. Cut a piece of cheesecloth to cover the square you made and glue on top. I also cover the popsicle sticks with electrical tape to keep the wood dry during the straining process.
(I'll add a picture of this later- sorry!)

Step 2-57: (side note: I always use the #57 when joking around with my students. The other day one of them asked me if I was 57 ! CLEARLY we need to work on number sense & age!!! hahaha)

Add a handful of paper into your blender. Cover it with water, allow children to add 2-3 drops of their favorite food color and blend for about a minute or until "soupy". Add in any optional ingredients such as glitter and flower seeds.
Dump ingredients onto cheesecloth strainer. Press down hard to drain all the water- do this over a pan/bowl or something else to catch the water. Press into towels to drain additional water. Remove bookmark gently from frame and allow it to air dry. Voila!

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

April: student display ideas and seasonal work

I'm showing off a few pics from my student displays in my room. ALL of these ideas are from fellow bloggers or TPT content. I will try to link up everything so you can get these great activities for yourself if you are interested! They turned out really cute.

I know it's technically after Easter, but these guys are staying up until the end of the month! In the unit, they weren't decorated, but my little guys were really excited about it. I'm pretty sure they were part of Incredible Egg Oviparous Math Work Stations-Common Core, as is the pic below this one. Their writing cracked me up! They came up with the funniest things that came from eggs: dinosaurs, peacocks, sea turtles, flamingos, alligators...
I'm also planning on creating this Chick Glyph from First Grade Blue Skies. They will be on a bulletin board directly above our class incubator! In case you missed the news last year, I hatch chicken eggs with my class. Here is a post with details about our incubator. We are on day 9 of 21. I can't wait to see the little guys!

Yes, that is a real umbrella. And some paperclips and fishing line. AND Cara Carroll's super-great March Madness Mega Pack, which includes this Raindrop Compound Word Book. Snag your copy here!

Speaking of March Mega Madness, I do believe this amazingness originated from there too! We put our own spin on things by creating the kites from old magazine pages. I had lots of nature magazines, so they turned out really unique! To to this activity, I also had them trace a triangle that I made from an old folder.

This adorableness is from Mel D. over @ Suesstastic Classroom Inspirations. She has a whole free unit on Suess stuff that is wonderful! I have some pictures of the kiddos with the Lorax style mustache that I will print and attach to the globes soon. (Sidenote: I think we may need to review a little geography! Ha!)

I know it looks so busy! I just wanted you to see the umbrella and kite in the same pic.

Ohmyword ya'll. I SERIOUSLY LOVE these things!!!!!! She has great paper that goes with it at the writing station as well. My kids LOVE our new updated writing station! They get to choose between writing a card, labeling a seasonal paper, creating a list, writing a letter, etc. I already have several months of her stuff, but I plan on purchasing the whole year's worth before next school year. They are a great value!

Our school is having a TCAP (TN Standardized Test) celebration/pep rally. We have a camo theme, so this was our poster for an upper grade class. I just googled in "TCAP Cheers"

So, where did I get all this money to buy TPT stuff? No, I didn't win that lottery the other night. I am now using all my school funds in P.O. orders & ink! Check it out if you haven't already! :)

Random: I'm going to ALL FOR THE HALL TONIGHT!!!!!!! Hosted by Keith Urban & Vince Gill- here is the lineup: Alabama - Rascal Flatts - Lady Antebellum - Alison Krauss & Union Station - Pistol Annies - The Band Perry - The Oak Ridge Boys - Little Big Town - Thompson Square - Diamond Rio - Exile - Blue Sky Riders


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Sunday, April 8, 2012

Need a vacation?

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Sunday, April 1, 2012

How To Get A Teaching Job: Getting Started

April is a time when many people are searching for jobs in education. My husband's job situation recently forced me to this position myself, so I would like to share with you a few of my tips. (He got a job here, so I'm staying with my current one. It was a good experience to interview again, though!)

Today's post will discuss resume tips, how to get an interview, how to contact principals, and using technology to stand out.

Electronic Portfolio
  • For graduate school, I was required to create a massive electronic portfolio. I think this was a very valuable resource and could also be used by jobseekers. The portfolio was actually a PowerPoint with active hyperlinks and video embedded throughout. You can make your own version by uploading lesson plans and your philosophy of education to Google Docs and linking them to your portfolio. The portfolio can be mailed in on a CD to principals or left after you leave an interview.
Another high-tech option is an interactive resume on the iPad. There was a post someone put out this week on this, and I can't find it again. Anyone else read it? I would love to link it up; I really like this idea. I believe they used some type of book creation app to make a resume. It was completely interactive- you could hand it to an administrator and they could click it to play a clip of you teaching or touch a different area to open your Philosophy of Education.
When I first started out, I didn't even know where to begin! Be sure to apply to the district and surrounding areas of where you would like to teach. Email principals directly with a letter of intent.

Here is an example of what I recently used:

Dear Principal,

My name is Ashley Cross, and I am interested in working at your school. I have three years of experience as a first grade teacher. I hold a Master’s degree in Special Education as well as a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education.

I am very enthusiastic and hard working. I believe in positive classroom management and data-driven instruction. I am continuously refining my craft by implementing research-based strategies into my teaching.

I integrate technology daily into the classroom environment. Some of our recent class projects include: using Google Forms to create online surveys and see our results in graphs in math and creating green screen videos for social studies. I am a leader in the school environment; I work well with teams and independently. This year, I have presented at three conferences including: TN Education State Technology Conference, ****** County District Technology Conference, and the online Teaching Blog Expo. I am also on the district technology committee.

My husband has family that owns a business in the area and we are looking to relocate. I believe I could be an asset to your school. You can see more of my teaching practices in action by visiting the websites listed below.

My paperwork is on file with the county office, and I would like to request an interview with you.

Thank you for your consideration.


Ashley Cross


My Teaching Blog

My Class Website


If you don't have the technology, put together a portfolio of what you do have. Mine was a big leather scrapbook with page protectors inserted throughout. I included lesson plans, newsletters, pictures of student teaching, volunteer work, awards/accomplishments and extracurricular activities. Even if you are straight out of college, put down everything you were involved in from your practicum to student teaching! Try starting out as a sub to get to know the school.

Future post:
  • Preparing for your job interview: How to answer questions, what to wear, what to bring & how to prepare
Please share YOUR pre-job interview tips in the comments! I want to hear from all of you!