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Using a Factor Table for Fractions

Using a Factor Table for Fractions with Freebie
After 19 years of teaching fraction skills to fifth graders, there are some things that I'm willing to give my students for the sake of a smoother lesson when they don't have the needed prerequisite skills. One thing is a multiplication chart for finding the least common denominator for more common fractions.

Another tool that I provide is a table of all factor pairs of numbers 1-100. Not only is it a good tool to see prime and composite numbers, it's great for finding the greatest common factor for simplifying fractions.

Is this something that your students could use? Click on either image in this post to download your own. It's free!
Using a Factor Table for Fractions with Freebie


The Comprehensive Pen Experiement

Which purple pen is best? Read my reviews and see if you agree!
I am guessing that a decent number of you are like me in that you are on the constant search for the best writing instrument for all of the teachery things that you need to do. And for your planner. And for your doodling. And if they come in purple, that's even better!

I decided to test drive write a dozen different types of pens to find the one(s) that I absolutely cannot live without. My "official scientific" results may (or may not) surprise you! Although these come in different colors, I used purple exclusively. Because honestly, I really don't care about the other colors.

NOTE: This post contains affiliate links. I get a few cents if you purchase, but using these links doesn't add to what you would pay.

Pilot FriXion
Ink: Gel
Thoughts: My students thought that I was committing some sort of sorcery when I was writing a math problem and erased a mistake. It is not 100% erasable, but it's close enough to be a really awesome thing. Doesn't always have the smoothest ink flow with the ball point, especially when you start writing.



Pilot B2P
Ink: Gel
Thoughts: I like how this is made from recycled water bottles. Purple ink is more of a violet. The textured barrel gives you somewhat of a grip, but I found my hand still slipping a bit after a lot of use. I will probably gift these to our social worker since they're her favorite.



Pilot Precise V5 RT
Ink: Ink
Thoughts: This particular pen might be a little too fine for my everyday writing. Ink flow seems to be decent. I like it for doodle notes and other detailed doodling.



Bic Intensity
Ink: Marker
Thoughts: I love how this pen writes. However, the barrel is too slick in my opinion.



Sharpie Pen
Ink: Marker
Thoughts: This used to be my favorite pen, but I don't find myself reaching for it as much anymore. They are thin and don't have a grip. They aren't as comfortable for writing over a longer period of time. But I really do love the smooth writing and color.



Pentel EnerGel
Ink: Gel
Thoughts: Purple color is more violet. Nice grip. Also fun for doodling. Another one I reach for regularly.



uni-ball Signo
Ink: Gel
Thoughts: Nice grip. Ink flow isn't as smooth with the ballpoint. Not in my regular rotation at the moment.


uni-ball Vision Elite
Ink: Ink
Thoughts: Very deep purple... almost hard to tell that it is purple. Lots of ink comes out to make a wider line. It takes a while to dry. Overall, not a fan.



Paper Mate Flair
Ink: Water-based ink
Thoughts: You can't go wrong with a Flair.









Paper Mate InkJoy
Ink: Gel
Thoughts: Smooth writing (although sometimes a little globby), pretty deep purple color. It makes me want to doodle and add swirls to my writing. I find myself reaching for it the majority of the time... even over my Flairs!



Paper Mate InkJoy
Ink: Ink
Thoughts: Triangular barrel with no grip makes it a little tricky to keep from sliding around in my hand. Another ball point that is just okay.



Paper Mate Profile
Ink: Ink
Thoughts: Violet color and standard ink ballpoint, which means that the ink flow isn't as smooth. I put these out for my students to "borrow".



How did I do? Did I try your favorite? Let me know in the comments!
Which purple pen is best? Read my reviews and see if you agree!

How to Create Bitmoji Brag Tags

How to Create Bitmoji Brag Tags
First of all, I need to give credit to littlemissfiesta_ on Instagram for her idea of making Bitmoji stickers. While I was making those, I got an idea to make Bitmoji brag tags for our upcoming Valentine's Day celebration.

I started by opening the Bitmoji app on my phone and selected one to use. I will also be doing birthday ones and other holidays when those are added. They would also be great for the Bitmojis I made into stickers.
How to Create Bitmoji Brag Tags
Then I shared it with my laptop using AirDrop.
How to Create Bitmoji Brag Tags
I opened the single tag template from my {brag tag template} and dropped in the Bitmoji from my Downloads folder. I also decided to make it larger and crop it (although you really don't have to crop it). Make sure to align it to the bottom of the template so you don't get a hole punched in your head ;)
How to Create Bitmoji Brag Tags
Save your template as a picture.
How to Create Bitmoji Brag Tags
Open the sheet of brag tags and select all of the rectangles.
How to Create Bitmoji Brag Tags
Insert your single tag template.
How to Create Bitmoji Brag Tags
How to Create Bitmoji Brag Tags
Now you have a full sheet of tags ready to laminate, cut, and hand out!
How to Create Bitmoji Brag Tags

Wonder Activities

Ideas for implementing the book Wonder by R. J. Palacio in your classroom
This blog post is a work in progress as we're currently reading Wonder in class. I'll add to it as we incorporate more activities.

We are doing this as a read-aloud, since we don't have enough copies for a class set. I wanted to keep my students engaged, so I decided to create reading response journals.

I sent them to a {free website} to generate their own Wonder faces. Once they were created, they shared the design for Facebook (the square one that people can use for a profile picture) with me. I inserted them into a PowerPoint and layered a text box on top for their names. Then I used packing tape to attach them to memo books. (Affiliate links are included below. It won't cost you anything extra, but it does throw a few cents my way.)
I thought about what I wanted them to write about in their notebooks, and since yesterday was the first day back from break, my brain was not working. However, I remembered that I had the free Daily Wonder app on my phone that had a great writing prompt that day.
Daily Wonder app
So on days where I can't think of a natural writing prompt to go with the day's reading, I'm going to pull this up!
The last thing that I have today are some brag tags that I'm going to share with my students. If you click on the image, you can download it from Google Drive.
Free Wonder brag tag

Ideas for implementing the book Wonder by R. J. Palacio in your classroom plus free brag tags

How to Create Brag Tags

This post walks you through the steps of creating brag tags by creating a master tag and inserting it into a PowerPoint template.
Part of the fun of using brag tags in your classroom is creating your own to go with the special things that you do in your classroom. For example, our school has a traveling trophy for the class who gets the most PBIS tickets each week. That tag is on the right end in the above picture.

In this post, I'm going to be going through the steps on how to create your own brag tags using my template. Clicking on the picture below will take you to the template.
PowerPoint 2011 template to design and create your own brag tags
Dimensions
The first step is to decide what the dimensions of your tag will be. I prefer a smaller size (1.25"x2") as shown in the picture above, but I know that primary teachers tend to create bigger tags.

Open the file with the name that starts with the desired dimensions. This is your master template.

Design
Now is the fun part! Using your own clip art and fonts, design your tag. Lots of great fonts and clip art can be purchased on TeachersPayTeachers.

Once you have designed your master template, you are ready to insert it into the template sheet. Open the DIYRewardTagsPPTTemplate file and go to the slide with the tag dimensions that you need.

Now, watch this video to see how to save and insert:

Finishing
After your sheet of tags is ready, it's time to print! I prefer printing on cardstock, laminating, then cutting and punching holes, but your time and budget will determine what's best for you.

Have fun!

If you would like to see my current collection of brag tags, {click here}.
This post walks you through the steps of creating brag tags by creating a master tag and inserting it into a PowerPoint template.
You may also be interested in {Brag Tags: Tips for Set-Up and Storage} and {Brag Tags Part 2: FAQ and Troubleshooting}.

Five-Minute Math Fillers

Use these quick math fillers when you have 5 to 10 minutes
How many times do we have an extra five or ten minutes before recess, lunch, or dismissal? I always keep a list near my teaching podium with a few time fillers for these situations. Most of them require little to no prep!
Guess My Number (Mastermind) is a fun way for students to use logic to fill 5-10 minutes!
Guess My Number (Mastermind)
Skill: Logic
  • Teacher Materials Needed: Whiteboard or projector
  • Student Materials Needed: -None-
Directions:
  1. Think of a 3-digit number and write it down so you don't forget. The number should have 3 unique digits, i.e. 305 instead of 355.
  2. Call on a student to guess the number.
  3. Write down the guess so everyone can see it.
  4. Record how many of the guessed digits are in your number.
  5. Record how many of the guessed digits are in the correct place value.
  6. Keep collecting guesses until correct.

Multiplication Tetris uses basic facts and spatial reasoning to create a fun class competition.
Multiplication Tetris
Skills: Basic multiplication facts, spatial reasoning
  • Teacher Materials Needed: 2 dice, projector (optional)
  • Student Materials Needed: Blank grids (I use 10x16 grids), writing utensil
Directions:
  1. Roll the dice. Either call out the numbers and/or project the dice.
  2. Students trace a rectangle with the rolled dimensions and write the corresponding multiplication problem inside.
  3. Continue rolling until students can no longer make the rolled dimensions fit in their grids.
Variations:
  • Draw names after a few rolls. If those students have been able to make them all fit, let them line up first/get their backpacks/get a small treat. Continue rolling and drawing names.
  • Use paper with more squares and 10-sided dice {Amazon affiliate link}.
Quick problems are a differentiated way to fill those extra 5 to 10 minutes before recess, lunch, or special.Quick problems are a differentiated way to fill those extra 5 to 10 minutes before recess, lunch, or special.Quick problems are a differentiated way to fill those extra 5 to 10 minutes before recess, lunch, or special. 
Quick Problems
Skill: Varies, problem solving
  • Teacher Materials Needed: Whiteboard
  • Student Materials Needed: Dry erase marker and dry erase board -or- paper/sticky note and writing utensil
Directions:
  1. Write two problems of differing levels of difficulty on the board.
  2. Let the students choose which one to solve on their desks or sticky notes.
  3. Check them while they're at recess or special.
  4. Put the answer keys on the board.

Quick images provide a perfect opportunity to practice spacial reasoning and listening to others.
Quick Images
Skill: Spatial reasoning, flexible thinking, listening to others' reasoning
  • Teacher Materials Needed: Projector, images made in advance
  • Student Materials Needed: -None-
Directions:
  1. Show an image of dots on the projector for a few (2-3) seconds and then cover it up or take it away. Make sure that it is NOT enough time for them to actually count them one by one.
  2. Give students a few moments to figure out how many dots they saw.
  3. Optional - show the same image a second time for a few more seconds.
  4. Go around the room and call on volunteers to tell how many dots they saw. Students can either repeat what another student said or give some sort of signal to show that they got the same thing.
  5. Show the image again and leave it up.
  6. Count the actual number of dots.
  7. Choose students to describe how they counted/grouped the dots. This is the essential piece. Ask them to be as specific as possible.
  8. Occasionally ask another student to explain how the previous student counted them.
True/false equations are a quick time filler
T/F Equations
Skill: Reasoning
  • Teacher Materials Needed: Equations and non-equations, whiteboard or projector
  • Student Materials Needed: -None-
Directions:
  1. Write equation or non-equation on the board.
  2. Give students time to think about if it is true or false.
  3. Call on students to explain their thinking.
Mental Math
Skill: Mental Math, verbalising thinking
  • Teacher Materials Needed: Whiteboard or projector, math problems close to landmark numbers or combinations of 10
  • Student Materials Needed: -None-
Directions:
  1. Write problem on the board.
  2. Give students time to solve it mentally.
  3. Call on 2-3 students to explain their thinking as specifically as possible. Write down their processes.
Use these quick math fillers when you have 5 to 10 minutes



Low-Prep, Low-Stress Testing Treats

Four low-prep testing treats to give your students
I browsed through Instagram, Pinterest, and Facebook looking for ideas for testing treats for my students this year. I knew that I didn't want candy, but I did want something that was a) gluten-free and b) something that could potentially double as breakfast for students who didn't take the time to eat before coming to school (for one reason or another).

After not seeing much that satisfied both criteria, I headed to the grocery store to wander the aisles. Luckily, the cereal aisle had a bunch of options that would work. I surveyed the shelves and chose three cereals with names that would lend themselves to some sort of cheesy pun that my fifth graders would either think was a) funny/clever or b) so lame that rolling their eyes would cause them to pull an ocular muscle. (I ended up buying Chex, Cheerios and Lucky Charms if you can't tell from the picture. A few days later, I remembered that we had four days of testing, so I quick ran to the store for fruit snacks.)

Now, as cute as all of those individual bags with their bag toppers were, I knew that I had no chance of accomplishing such a feat in one night. (Did I mention that I waited until the last minute?) If I did devote my night to it, I knew that I would be completely discouraged when the students looked at it for maybe five seconds before tearing into it. So the idea of just making one sign was born.

Also, I decided to go with paper bowls instead of paper cups or Ziploc bags for a few reasons. I couldn't justify using so many Ziploc bags during Earth Day week, and I knew that paper cups would be spilled in 0.2 seconds. Bowls would be reusable and less likely to tip. (This ended up being a pretty decent plan.)

For setup, I just put the students' numbers on the bowls, dumped in the cereal, and arranged my bowls around the sign. Students took the bowls and returned them to the table for the next day. Easy. Stress-free.

If you would like the set of signs that I used, please click any of the images below!
 Remember to Re-Check Your Work - Chex cereal as a testing treat
Cheering You On - Cheerios as a testing treat
 No Luck Needed, You'll Do Great - Lucky Charms for testing snack
 You've Done Berry Well - Fruit Snacks as a testing treat


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