## Are You Taller Than a Third Grader?

With the combination of special programs and snow days, our time to teach all of the standards before our 3rd graders’ PARCC test is running out.  With this in mind, I made a graph to help third grade out using the data from the whole 3rd grade with a fraction line plot.  This type of  graph and fractions are not as familiar to third graders because they haven’t been exposed to line plots in earlier grade levels.  I put the graph in a central location where other grade levels could see it.  That way other students could experience measurement and interpreting graphs as well.

I started out with an area by the water fountains for repeated exposure to student traffic.

Next I put up a strip of this amazing ruler like tape that I got at Office Depot when they had all of their special masking tape at back-to-school time.  The tape counts every 12 inches.  So in the picture below, I marked off every twelve inches with little triangles that mentioned that each 12 inches was 1 foot.  Next, I marked off the fractions of an inch with stickers.  I marked off the halves, thirds, and fourths so that students could easily see the relationship between the graph and the tape measure.

Then I had students come a few at a time and measure themselves to the closest fraction of a foot.  Students recorded their X’s on sticky notes.  The only reason I had them record their X’s on sticky notes is because this ensured having them all the same size.  Line plots can make data look skewed if students don’t draw their X’s the same size.  Plus on the PARCC assessment when students drag X’s on the line plot graph questions, students drag the X’s into little boxes which makes test question boxes resemble sticky notes.  Students got to initial their X.  Also, if students in the least bit chuckled about anyone else’s height because they were short, I immediately told them they wouldn’t even get to put an X on the graph.  After I graphed most of the students from two classes, I only had two students who didn’t get to put their X on the graph because of this reason.

Here is the whole picture of everything with a more than willing model :)…

## Encourage Good Character with This Easy Incentive

Last school year we brainstormed things we could do to encourage kindness.  We wanted to recognize good character instead of bad character.  After brainstorming about this, our counselor created the Kindness Tree.  The Kindness Tree was one of my favorite things about school!

Whenever any staff member saw a student doing something kind, then that person could place the student’s name on a colored heart and put it into the Kindness Jar.  The Kindness Jar was stored in the library for staff members to drop the heart into.  Then on Friday the counselor would announce the students’ names who were in the Kindness Jar, and they could come to the office to get a prize.  Each heart went on the Kindness Tree the following week.

As you can see, the tree has all different colors of hearts.  That is because each month the counselor would hand out a different color of hearts.  For example, we received orange hearts in the fall, red hearts at Christmas time, and pink hearts in the spring.  The kids LOVED the tree and wanted to know if they could put hearts on the tree, as well, if they caught someone being kind.  Because students wanted to participate in the Kindness Tree , I thought it would be a great idea if each classroom could have a tree and students could manage putting hearts on it when they saw someone being kind.

## Sooooo Cute Spring Bulletin Boards!

Each year a pair of teachers are assigned a month to do the cafeteria bulletin boards.  We were given April.  With all the pressure of upcoming testing and the additional stressor of losing time to snow days, I didn’t have much creativity roaming in my brain.   This board started out as me just wanting to make a simple spring flower to cover up lots of space fast and then…  the board looked empty so I decided I must add a little lady bug.  I made the flower petals from bulletin board paper folded over and over before I cut similar to when making a paper fan.  This helped me not have to cut out a LOT of different petals separately.  Then the flower and lady bug idea kept growing and growing and growing…

We have an upcoming science fair so we decided to tie in a science theme along with the spring theme.  We made a larger lady bug with an investigating magnifying glass over the top for the second bulletin board.  A hula hoop wrapped in black paper strips was used to make the magnifying glass.  Then laminating film was stretched over the magnifying glass to look similar to glass.  Rolled up black bulletin board paper was used to create the handle for the magnifying glass.

We have gotten so many compliments on these boards about how they brighten up the room.  These are on either side of the stage in our cafeteria.  I hope these help spark an idea for your spring bulletin boards too!

## How Can You Motivate Your Class to Learn Math Facts?

This year, I have had the most competitive success when I have given attention to students progress on Reflex (an online math fact video game-like program for learning math facts–Read more about Reflex here).  Each Friday, I pass out the reward certificates and recognize students who get a certificate at our morning meeting.  Students who get a certificate also win a little prize with each certificate.  What has helped the classes become most competitive is the bar graph I have hung in the hallway.  Each class name is at the bottom of a bar.  I update this graph nearly daily.  Every time students go down the main hallway, they look to see if their class has grown on the graph.  I have placed the graph below…

As you can see the taller bars are the 3rd-5th graders which have gotten VERY competitive.  On our last contest 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place were only 1 point away from each other!  I took a picture of the classes who won on the last contest to place beside the graph.  I personally reward the 1st place classes with a party.  This time I was so proud of the special ed class who won 1st place!

In addition to the above graph, one of our teachers has developed a class thermometer for her individual class competition out in the hallway.  She moves each student’s name on a clothespin closer up the thermometer to 100% fluency each week.

I am not paid a dime to say this, but I must say Reflex math is the most effective tool I have ever used to teach math facts!

I must be honest.  I hope the wall isn’t red underneath the paper at the end of the year.  I think that every time I color on the paper to fill in the bars…the paper is kind of thin.

## Another Cute Door {or Bulletin Board} Decoration!

Here it is… FINALLY!  My new door decoration for this year.  I named my room the “Math Cave” since my room is so small and huddled behind a bunch of bookshelves.  I feel sort of like my room IS a cave!  All of the eyeballs you see are like imaginary creatures in the cave.  The comments in speech bubbles around the door suggest that the creatures are afraid of the dark.  To bring in some mathematical thinking, the purple poster in the center prompts the children to count the creatures’ eyeballs in groups of two to find out how many creatures are in the dark math cave.  You can download the bulletin board speech bubbles and sign for free right here if you want to recreate the door idea.    I made most of the eyeballs out of leftover cutouts from the cricut cutter when various letters were cut out.  It really bothers me that the words “Math Cave” are off center, but I glued them down and couldn’t very well rip them off without destroying the background.  Oh, well, there are more important things to worry about at this time of the school year!  The leafy green border is like vines growing around the cave.

Below are posted two pictures of my door.  The second one is closer up so you can see the words more easily.

## Get Straight Letters On Your Bulletin Board Every Time!

Have you ever been frustrated after carefully stapling your letters to the bulletin board only to find that your letters were crooked as you stepped back from the board.  Here is the solution I use.  Tack each letter to the board with a pushpin and step back from the board.  If you notice that a letter is crooked or off center, you can easily move the letter by pulling out the pushpin.  You don’t have to remove staples!

## Do You Need An April Bulletin Board Idea?

I was assigned the duty of doing one of our cafeteria bulletin boards this month, so with lots of thought I decided on the title  “Right Answers Keep Falling on My Head”.  This  title came as a marriage of an April rain showers theme and a testing theme–the spring state testing is a huge deal at my school.  I used a math font that creates testing bubbles so that I could put test bubbles inside the rain drops.  I double spaced these and just cut the drops out free-handed.  I used bulletin board paper to create the umbrella which I sketched out free-handed.  Next I wanted to put the back of a little girls head on the bottom so the rain drops could actually be falling on a child’s head.  We have a predominately African American student population, so I tried to mimic the cute, twisty ponytails that the girls wear.  I took black yarn and wrapped it around a piece of circular cut cardboard for the girls head. To create the ponytails, I wrapped yarn around the top of a copy paper box.  Then I tied it off so it would go around the circular cardboard.  Next, I cut the ends of the huge yarn loop that I had wrapped around the box lid so that they would be loose to twist like braids.   Finally, I braided/twisted the yarn to look like little twisty braids and finished them off with yellow bows.  I hope this will spark an idea for you to use!

## Try This Incentive to Encourage Students to Count to 100

The idea of belonging to a club makes kids feel like they belong.  With that said, one of our kindergarten teachers came up with the idea of belonging to the “100 Club”.   What does it take to belong to the 100 Club?  Well, you guessed it…you must be able to count to 100!  I took this idea a step further and suggested that we hang all of the kids pictures on the wall that were in the 100 club.  We will add to this as the remaining students are able to count to 100.  The kids have taken an extra interest in counting to 100 especially if their pictures aren’t on the wall!  This display of the students’ pictures has grabbed students’ attention of course as well as parents and staff members.  We even have a kindergartener that told her teacher, “I counted to 100 in my pillow 3 times last night before I went to bed.” 🙂

## How to Set Up Your Data Wall?

I know when I was faced with the challenge of setting up a data wall, I didn’t really like the way I had it set up the first two years.  Since then I have developed this idea which I borrowed from the middle school teachers at a school nearby.  They used large pocket charts for each grade level and they colored students names with highlighters to indicate students’ proficiency levels.  Then they used different stickers to indicate other factors such as special ed, after school tutoring, etc.  While I really liked the middle school teachers’ idea, I didn’t like the fact that the student names were showing on the outside, which didn’t give the students privacy of test scores.

Sticker key to mark different student factors on each student data card.

Using the middle school teachers’ idea,  I revamped their data wall for our school’s math wall.  I used colored index cards to indicate proficiency level.  That way we could identify students’ initial proficiency levels on the card, and they would quickly pop to the eye when they were moving up or down the wall.  The only writing that faces the outside of the wall is the quarterly test data, and no students’ names.  So, for example, when the pink cards (proficient students) move down after a quarterly assessment to the basic level, we can easily see that these students need intervention to move  back up to proficiency.  We different use stickers to mark students with special factors such as students who go to school sponsored tutoring.  That way at the end of the year, we can determine if after school tutoring was effective by looking at students who score proficient at the end of the year state tests.

Data Wall Pocket Chart for 4th grade at the beginning of the year.             (sorry about the cardboard box)

The Data Wall Pocket Chart after one Quarterly Assessment. Notice how the colored cards moved up and down.

The key for the cards is as follows:

• Pink= Proficient
• Yellow= Basic
• Orange= Below basic

Notice how the green cards moved down.  That means they didn’t score as well on their quarterly test.  Many of the orange cards and a few of the yellow cards moved up so that let’s us know that these students improved.

A close up of the data wall card so you can see how we keep track of the data.  The first number is the state test.  The second number is the 1st quarterly assessment.  Students names are on the back of the card so that they are hidden from public view.  If a student has been present at the school for two consecutive school years, then we stapled their card behind the initial card so that we could have two years worth of data on the wall.  Notice that you can see a little pink behind the green cards.  This means that the students scored proficient the year before this one, so they are solid low-risk students which will not be targeted for interventions .

## Bulletin Board On Fire!

For the past two years we have honored students who scored proficient or advanced on the state benchmark exam by displaying their picture in a creative way on the wall as soon as you enter the school.  Our principal told us this year that our theme would be “Let’s Keep the Torch Burning!”  That sparked the Olympic theme idea to make our Wall of Fame.  We decided to make gold medals for each student and place their picture on each medal.  The gold circles were cut out on a Cricut from gold scrap book paper.  Then we hung the medals on red ribbon in the hallway with the students’ names below their picture.  We originally wanted to hang the medals on red white and blue ribbon, but the store we ordered from wasn’t able to order an additional ribbon.

Then we placed a torch scene on the adjacent bulletin board to finish out the Olympic theme.  The large gold fire “bowl” is  a plastic flower pot spray painted gold that we had cut in half…thanks to one of our teacher’s husbands.  The fire inside of the bowl is held up with a semi circular piece of corrugated cardboard with holes punched in it to hold the white Christmas lights and twisted cellophane.  The torches on the sides are made with gold poster board rolled up and stapled.  Then red, orange, and yellow cellophane are stuffed in the top to mimick fire.

To give the board more pizazz, we included Christmas lights stapled behind the red and yellow cellophane both in the fire “bowl” and on the bottom of the bulletin board.  We set the lights on a glimmer setting so that the flames actually look like they are flickering.  Covering the lights first with red cellophane helps hide the dark green cords.  Then layering with yellow and orange adds a nice fire effect.  Thanks to one of my followers who told me about an Olympic theme that she was incorporating with tiki torches for math fact races.  She said that she used a battery operated candle inside the torches to make them look like they were burning.  This gave me the idea for using Christmas lights.

All of the kids, parents, and staff who walk by exclaim things like….oooooh! cute! pretty!

We know that we have definitely put a spotlight on the kids who worked so hard last year.