January 20, 2013

Saving time (and paper!) in Spelling: Part One

Hey there everyone! How are you doing this lovely Sunday? I'm here to share a new series of posts on how we've been saving time (and paper) in our classroom during Spelling and Word Work. 

Welcome to Part One!

So. We've been using Spelling City for years and years now...the free version that is. It really has been a priceless tool for my students--especially for my newcomer English Language Learners. I love all of the audio and practice it provides.

Recently, I decided to take the plunge and invest in the whole Spelling City package, which means Vocabulary Spelling City! *This is not a review, I purchased this myself after recommendations from some wonderful blogging colleagues.

Let's getting to the saving time and paper part, which is the point of this post!

Aside from all of the wonderful features the full Spelling City offers (and there are many I'm very happy with) I really did purchase it for the online testing option.

Since my class is comprised of half EL newcomers and half mainstream students, we have quite a range of spellers within our diverse community. 

Which means multiple spelling lists. Which means, come Friday, a series of spelling tests.

This is fine, except it gives me a weekly panicked I-hate-the-amount-of-instructional-time-this-is-taking feeling. Ya know?

Soooo...NOW we have the fantastic option to take a virtual spelling test, with instant results...all at the same time! It took about 12 minutes this week and this was everyone trying the test for the first time.

Once finished, I am left with instant scores, all tabulated by student...
It is simply incredible!

There's only one tiny problem.

I like to give my students five challenge words each week and I didn't want to lose that option. Vocabulary Spelling City will add up the scores, but I don't think it factors in extra points.

So I must confess, we do use a little paper after all (it's 1/4 the size of the test papers we used previously, so it is technically paper-saving still, right?). 

It looks like this...
I cut the papers into fours, passed them out, took the Challenge portion of the test in the seven minutes before recess.Then I just recorded the points from the virtual test, added any challenge points earned, and wrote the final score. This also gives me something to send home to the families each week.

I had those babies graded and entered in the rank book before the kids could race to the basketball hoops outside!

And the best part of all? I felt like I had SO much more instructional time that Friday. We had taken care of one of our major routines in a matter of minutes and could move on to other important areas of learning.

I love it!!!

In case you are doing something similar with Vocabulary Spelling City, or would like to in the future, I have a copy of our Challenge Words sheet available for download right here (just click on the preview below)...
I hope this was of some kind of help to some of you out there, my dear readers! Stay tuned for Part Two, coming soon...
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January 12, 2013

Talk it Out! (peer revising sheet)

Hi everyone! I've been meaning to share this file for quite some time now. Since 12-12-12, in fact! Like many other classes, we spent the day incorporating some fun activities revolving around the number twelve.

I kept our activities pretty simple...just added twelve in whenever I could...for a twist on our normal lessons.

Know which one was the most popular that day? It was a simple little peer-revising sheet! 

My students had been drafting their memoirs and we were at the phase where they really needed more detail. So, as partners, my students read through their respective writing pieces. They then asked as many (well, twelve that day!) questions as they could about their friend's writing piece. 

It worked like a charm! My 5th graders loved having the chance to ask their friends all of those questions. I loved hearing various students say, "ohhh ya, I forgot to put that in!". They recorded the questions on the revising sheet (shown below) then headed back to their writing pieces, to add those details.

It was the best thing a teacher could ask for...simple activity, big payoff!

I redesigned the sheet to be more generic than our 12-12-12 sheet. If you would like to download a copy, please click on the preview below...
I hope this can be of use in your classroom. And, more importantly, I hope you have a relaxing, fun-filled Saturday!!

Font by Miss Tiina at www.misstiina.com
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January 6, 2013

Tutorial: Introduction to ppt for Printables

Happy Sunday everyone! I hope you are all enjoying your weekend!

The tutorial I am sharing today was made for a very good teacher friend of mine, who is just starting out on PowerPoint. We were talking about the basics and I thought I would make a video (and maybe some more after this?) for people who are new to designing in PowerPoint.

So, this video is dedicated to my lovely friend (that's my shoutout to you, girl!!) and to all of those new bloggers and store owners out there. I hope it will be of help if you are just getting comfortable with ppt :)
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January 2, 2013

Currently!

We started back to school today and I had such a nice time seeing my students again and hearing their vacation stories!! We worked on our Currentlys today...Currently for your Classroom, that is, by the incredible Farley! My 5th graders LOVE doing this each month and I thought I should do the same this evening. :)

So...mine is pretty self-explanatory. 'Cause it's cold here. Like really cold...as in single digits today to the negative-whatever this evening (I honestly can't bear to look). 

My OLW? Well, I'm constantly trying to work on a zillion things at once and it can become very stressful. So, I've been working on and will continue to work on prioritizing things...start with what's most important, since I should know by now...everything does get accomplished in the end!

Ok, off to check out the other Currentlys! What's the temp. like in your area tonight? I need to hear about some warmer weather!!
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January 1, 2013

New Year's Graphic Organizers

Happy New Year everyone!! I'm linking up my friend Denise, over at Sunny Days in Second Grade for her brand new linky party...
And it's all about ideas and activities for the new year! I'm linking to two older files I've shared in the past. If you click the image of choice, it will take you to the older blog posts and right to the free files...

I don't think I'll be using these myself this year, as we are going back tomorrow and jumping right back into the writing unit we were completing. However, I'm hoping they will be of use if anyone else needs a file for a short week back!

When do you head back to school? :)
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