Creative Critters

Creative Critters: October 2013

Monday, 28 October 2013

Halloween Neat Pins

So I was doing my usual procrastinate on Pinterest - its marketing isn't it?

I have previously put up a Halloween Post on our Halloween items which are selling really well but now all I am getting on Pinterest is Halloween items, some of which I thought I'd share with you here.

Also don't forget our Halloween Freebie on our Freebie page.

To start us off lets enter this post with some style - enter if you dare!

We also need some decorations beyond of course the ones that you can find in our store.

To start off with a fun activity like:

Pumpkin Bowling              

Then add some more educational activities:

Or some fun science:

Moving on to some more craft:

And finally some treats:

Happy Halloween!

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Sunday, 27 October 2013

Super Sharing Sunday

I can't believe it. Another week has gone by. As I came back from camp late Friday night I didn't even get to share what happened last week, will have to spread it out over the next few days as we had some amazing experiences.

However, looking forward some more exciting things happening.

Share 1:

New products. I always get so excited when we put up new products and we have put up the remainder of our Natural Disaster activities and foldables plus also combined them into a mega pack which means you get a product for free. That's right! A $6 product for free. This pack is a must have for anyone that is teaching natural disasters as it has hands on learning experiences, embedding literacy and science and technology all in the one pack. My students loved it. Will have to do a post showing some of their work soon.

Share 2:

Halloween is this week. Not so big here in Australia but I am going to use some of the activities from our Halloween Activity Pack for the Thursday here. I especially am looking forward to making the 3D decorations. And don't forget our Halloween Crossword and Wordsearch is free, when you click on the Freebie tab in our blog.

Share 3:

I found this awesome information about these pigeons in Asia that are multicoloured.

If all pigeons looked like this, I might not consider them flying rats!
This is the pink-necked green pigeon (Treron vernans) and it's honestly not photoshopped.
They're found in Cambodia, Indonesia, Malaysia, Myanmar, the Philippines, Singapore, Thailand, and Vietnam. Its natural habitats are subtropical or tropical moist lowland forests, subtropical or tropical mangrove forests, and subtropical or tropical moist montane forests.

Photograph: by Chong Lip Mun

I was thinking this week it would be great to do a writing prompt on how the pigeon got this way. I could link it to "How the birds got their colours"

Share 4:

Recently in the news here there has been major coverage over our bushfires. Last week two kids aged 8 had been arrested for trying to start a fire. Where they started it was less than 20km from a huge bushfire. A lot of the other bushfires have been now found to be started by 11-14 year olds. These two 8 year olds though are too young to be charged and are the responsibility of the parents. I thought this might be an opportune moment to look at fire safety but also responsibility. This would be a great topic to do a discussion on whether the students agree that the 8 year olds shouldn't be held responsible and lead that onto the 11 and 14 year olds also arrested later. 

Share 5:

I found this great article about what books the Harry Potter characters would read. I think it would present some interesting discussion about whether the suggested books are appropriate to the characters and also some extension on what other books with justfication. 

Have a great week!


Saturday, 26 October 2013

Maths Products

So a request came up on the TPT forums for math products that fit certain standards.

An amazing fourth grade teacher called Brenda Kovich was creating some fantastic blog posts about math products found on TPT. She sorted these products by topic or strand.

This in itself has made the blog posts a great resource along with her blog in general.

Of course what also makes the blog posts great is that she went and included some of our products in the list.

Here is the list of her blog posts.

Numbers and Operations in Base Ten - Middle Grades

Resources for Exponents (5.NBT.A.2)

Resources for Division (4.NBT.B.6, 5.NBT.B.6, 5.NBT.B.7)

Resources for Multiplication (3.NBT.A.3, 4.NBT.B.5, 5.NBT.B.5, 5.NBT.B.7)

Resources for Adding and Subtracting (3.NBT.A.2, 4.NBT.B.4, 5.NBT.B.7)

Resources for Comparing Numbers (4.NBT.A.2, 5.NBT.A.3b)

Resources for Reading and Writing Numbers (4.NBT.A.2, 5.NBT.A.3a)

Resources for Place Value (4.NBT.A.1, 5.NBT.A.1)

Resources for Rounding (3.NBT.A.1, 4.NBT.A.3, 5.NBT.A.4)

Hope you find these posts as useful as we did.

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Sunday, 20 October 2013

Super Sharing Sunday

Experimenting with an idea. I like the idea of "five for Friday" which I think I will start to participate in but I also like the idea of thinking ahead for the week.

So thought I would start a weekly post with 5 points, which might be around what I am teaching this week, a neat pin or resource I have found, or a blog post which I have read that has motivated me.

Share 1:

This week I have a very exciting week and we have CAMP! It is either something you look forward to, dread or a mixture of both.

We go to Canberra every second year for Stage 3 camp, looking at Government. I have done this a few times with different schools but I am excited that this is the first year we will get to go to Thredbo. Now, it is too hot I think for snow at the moment BUT it should be a great day of fun - tobogganing and swimming pools. And the other positive is no tents, staying in a motel which should be an interesting experience for the kids.

Share 2:

Currently teaching Percy Jackson and have been teaching context clues. Will have a foldable activity up in our store later plus a whole Percy Jackson unit which I have enjoyed creating but I did find this great context clue resource which I plan on using this week.

Share 3:

I am super excited about a graphing activity that I am going to do this week. We are finishing up our week on graphs so I have made all these little bags of mini m'n'ms which students are going to graph data from. Will post up the pictures and results of this fun exercise. Of course they can eat the data after they have graphed it.

Share 4:

Now we are coming up to the end of the year in Australia. Bit different from you American folks. I want to do some end of year stuff for my year 6's who will be going to high school next year. I found this interesting post about goal setting and so might do some work with them on why it's important and how to set appropriate goals and talk about their future. The pin below has some great guidelines for goal setting.

Share 5:

The other thing I am excited about is our new product we just put in and I am going to do a little bit of writing work and peer feedback on their writing and use the stars I think this week.

Hope you all have a wonderful week and comment below anything exciting you have planned for this week. 


Peer Editing

I have been teaching the kids to peer edit. This involves a long process of discussing how we self-edit initially and what we are looking for when we do edit. It also involves some roleplays and discussion of how we provide feedback, what types of feedback we can provide and inappropriate comments and ways to talk to each other.

That always is an interesting conversation as the kids can immediately identify how not to talk to each other and have heaps of fun role playing that. A poster that I use is included in the product at the bottom of the post with the ideas surrounding what kids should or shouldn't do when in the role of the writer or editor.

I think constructive editing and feedback is the key. I teach my students that they need to look for certain errors within the document that all writers make but they also need to look for ways that you think as an audience to the piece of writing it could be improved and provide that feedback. I also stress that they need to say one thing that they like about the writing, this puts a positive note so that the writer doesn't feel like they are being bombarded with negative criticism. This is included in the product at the bottom of the post, in the format of stars or triangles.

There is no point, and I stress this to the students that we ever say someone's writing is bad and everyone has things they need to improve upon.

Now at the point that I am at, I can send the students just outside the classroom (any excuse to sit in the sun or open air) and they know how to edit each other's work and feedback to each other appropriately to make the time spent doing it worthwhile.

It saves you a bit of time, so you don't need to edit and feedback on the simple errors, it also builds up cooperation among the students and I have found some of the better students pair with some of the less able students and enjoy helping them improve.

It doesn't matter generally who pairs with who, because throughout the writing process they will pair multiple times with different people as everyone has different feedback to give. I do make them pair up with different people each time, not friends all the time and may given them a "Find someone who ..." question to start them off, if it takes too long or I am finding the same people being left out all the time.

I have also got them to write notes on post-it notes to give to the student, or if we are just sharing work around then they post it on the work and pass it on. This way the student gets their piece of work back with multiple positive, questions and comments on the back.

I have put up a product to support this, that I use in my classroom. It has a peer editing check list so that they can self edit their work and then also peer edit someone else's. I have put up a poster with some guidelines while undertaking this. I have also put in the stars/triangles that I use to scaffold peer feedback.

Do you use peer feedback or editing in your class? How does it work?

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Friday, 18 October 2013

October Facebook Frenzy

Don't forget to check us out in the October Facebook Frenzy. We have a great freebie for you to download once you like us. Click the picture below to go to our facebook page.

Wednesday, 16 October 2013

Classroom Economy and Gamification

Over the past few years I have experimented with different reward systems. I prefer to use the reward systems to encourage quality work rather than behaviour. This means that all students are rewarded fairly rather than the problem where you want to reward a student who behaves inappropriately a lot of the time, when they do behave appropriately while the ones that always behave appropriately kind of get forgotten.

I liked the idea of gamification and was quite aware of the theories behind it. Both of us are gamers and we understand the idea of doing a repetitive action to receive a reward that doesn't mean anything beyond moving up a level or looking better.

My kids instantly loved the idea. It engaged them and their work level did improve. Of course there were students that didn't really engage but those were the ones that didn't engage much with anything.

Some basic ideas of gamification as I have found them:

1. Repetitive tasks for in-'game' rewards.

The idea that games operate under the basic premise that hundreds of small achievements need to happen in order for a player to meet larger objectives and advance in the game is correct. It also aligns with the idea behind gamification in that in games kids are asked to do repetitive tasks that are not necessarily that interesting, such as mining, killing monsters for xp, gathering etc. This links to the classroom where we often are asking kids to do these repetitive tasks, yes we try to make them interesting but more often than not it is solve a repetitive maths problem, answer reading questions etc. So how do games get kids to do this without complaining? That would be the link to levelling or getting a kind of reward. Now with all my gamification setups and now my most recent economy/gamification setups there is minimal spending used - I am on a teaching salary of course and can't spend a lot of money on rewards, so those rewards need to be mostly embedded into moving further into the 'game' or token rewards like swap seats for the day.

2. Immediate Success (as immediate as you can get it)

The other major element is that you know the success almost immediately. Of course this is not as easy as in a game, as in a classroom you have to collect and mark to let students know their successes or failures but it is ultimately important that they receive their work back as frequently as you can make it with feedback. Also I have found with the opportunity for students to redo work or improve upon it is essential, trust me, i have had students that couldn't care less about work previously, take extra work home to improve upon their score or earn more rewards.

3. Visual displays or current tracking is needed.

Games are designed spaces. Someone intentionally plans every element that appears within a game... as an education your are also putting together a designed experience for your students.
You need to think about customised, interactive displays which (unless you are doing it electronically which will be covered in another post) can take up a lot of space.

4. How do students succeed?

Games have clear rules for success that don't always mimic the real world .... the rules must always be clear and consistent, if not explicit. Most teachers would be sitting here going "well thats obvious" but sometimes it is not. Extending the idea of equality to gamification is that I have found, you need to make sure every student has the opportunity to be just as successful as every other student in the class. This will be discussed further in another post, but a quick example is that, I reward on 3-5 star criteria. Everyone's criteria is different and they are not all judged equally, this means that every student can achieve a 5 star piece of work, for them. Of course this is not equal as you would define it, and does not work for assessment pieces when you use rubrics. The other way of doing this is having an effort reward, yes the work may not be 5 star by grade level but the effort involved is high, so sometimes I have a star for presentation or a star for effort which all students can get.

5. Rewarding quality work not behaviour.

This I know other teachers that employ gamification may disagree with. However I have taught some difficult classes and rather than using gamification to reward behaviour I use it to reward quality work. If students are focussed on quality work they have less time to misbehave. Of course this does not work with all students and you may/will have to employ some behaviour management techniques but it shouldn't in my opinion be the focus of your gamification system.

This also combats the problem when using a system to reward behaviour, what happens when you want to reward a misbehaving student consistently when they behave while other students miss this reward as they behave well consistently all the time.

More posts will come with more details about more theory behind gamification, technology you can use to help, different ways for setting up gamification in your classroom and my experiences surrounding gamification and examples of what I have setup previously and currently and combining it with classroom economy.

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Thursday, 3 October 2013

Halloween Goodies

Phew, all finished. Although I live in Australia and we do not generally celebrate Halloween, I can imagine that this is the excitement you must feel before you open your trick-or-treat bag at the end of the night.

All these goodies are suddenly in my shop and now all I want to do is use them more. James told me to not get carried away making Halloween activities as I had other priorities but I still managed to get 21 done before he ordered me off to do something else.

This pack is so good, I can't wait to use it at Halloween, teaching my kids about a different kind of festival. There are different short comprehension passages on different historical aspects on Halloween. I love finding out how things started. There is a whole foldable on phobias, should be interesting, I even included the fear of going to school, wonder how many of my kids will start using that one.

Included in the pack above are two products we also have up. The freebie crossword and wordsearch which I have listed here in freebies and also 2D and 3D Decorations. Yes, I confess, I had to make some to check they work and to have some fun colouring in. Even I was impressed by how cool they look. You can find that separate product below, but if you buy the activity pack its a huge saving with all those activities.  

We also have 9 spooky story starters or narrative prompts to get those student brains working. Some of these make me shudder just thinking about what they could come up with. Each prompt has a colourful border around them, so you could use them as a presentation piece. 

To make all these products we used our clip art, backgrounds and borders all up for sale in our store.

So I hope you are looking forward to Halloween and can make some spooky stuff or use some of our activities to engage your students. 
Are there any other activities you like to do with your students for Halloween?

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