The HappyEdugator

The HappyEdugator
People don't care how much you know, until they know how much you care.

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Sunday, April 28, 2013

After Testing and Mother's Day!

Testing is over for our kiddos, and oh,what a relief it is! However, now my sweeties will think school is over, when in actuality we still have four more weeks to go. Ahhhh,. so how do I keep them engaged in learning when their mind is on summer vacation? 
Well, it won't be easy. It never is. Thank goodness we started the new book Gifted Hands last week, and they are intrigued by Dr. Carson's life as a kid and his rise to success. I think I have piqued their interest, but I have got to slowly reel them in! So, tomorrow we will read Chapters 2 and 3, and then go to the computer lab for a little webquest on significant terms they will come across in the book. I think that will an engaging activity, because they so love to get on the internet and research questions. 
The week will be interesting, because I will be out on Wednesday for professional training, and on Thursday the class will watch the Scholastic Book Fair video so we can start thinking about books that we might want to read this summer. I can't wait...and I will have to add some of the new titles to my summer reading list.
We will complete an activity for Mother's Day on Friday. I will be using my Proverbs...What Did Your Mother Tell You? PowerPoint. Mothers-Day-Proverbs-What-Did-Your-Mother-Tell-You-PowerPoint
We will make Mother's Day cards with acrostics made with Mom's first name and proverbs that begin with those letters. 

If you are looking for Mother's Day activities, I have several more in my TPT store:

Mother's Day Coupon Book - Easy Printable GiftMother's Day -  My Mom is the Best CraftivityMother's Day Activity PackMother's Day Proverbs - What Did Your Mother Tell You? PowerPointMother's Day Gift - Flower Pot Craftivity - A Mum for MomCinquain Poem Writing - A Holiday Poem ActivityMother's Day History Fill-InMother's Day Verb Poem

Have a great MONDAY! 

This week I am offering my STAR bulletin board set for free. It is a good set to use for summer school. 
Here is the link: 

Classroom Helpers Super Star Bulletin Board Set

Deborah Hayes
aka HappyEdugator

Monday, April 22, 2013

Earth Day and Testing

Happy Earth Day! I gave all my students bookmarks today to put in their AR books since they were going to be reading a lot after testing. :)

Earth Day - World Themed Bookmarks

 •April 22, 1970 – Senator Nelson from Wisconsin calls for an environmental teach-in or Earth Day after witnessing a large oil spill off the coast of California in 1969. 20 million participated the first year.
•April 22, 1990 – Earth Day became an international event with 141 countries participating

Today, after school, I made it a point to go by my recycling center in honor of Earth Day. Here are some ways you can recycle and help save the planet:

•Recycle printer ink at Staples or OfficeMax for store credit

•Recycle electronics at

•Recycle fluorescent light bulbs at Home Depot

•Publix Supermarket accepts Styrofoam meat trays and egg cartons; most grocery stores and even big stores like Wal-mart collect paper and plastic bags

•Advance Auto Parts recycles used motor oil

Today was also our first day of testing. Everything went smoothly! Phew! Four more to go.
After the test, I let my students work quietly on my Earth-Day-Crossword-Puzzle and my Earth-Day-Word-Search-Puzzle. Before I took them to lunch, we reviewed ways we can reduce, reuse, recycle on Earth-Day-Reduce-Reuse-Recycle-PowerPoint.

When we returned from lunch to our abbreviated schedule for the day, my kids really groaned when I told them to get out paper and pencil so we could get to work! Ha ha...they thought I was really going to work them hard. I cranked up the Smartboard and the projector, and surprised them with a simple anticipation guide (agree or disagree statements) for our new book, an autobiography...The Gifted Hands by Dr. Ben Carson. With that easy assignment, we led right into a KWL chart about the brain, and then surprise! We clicked on the picture of the brain and watched a Discovery Education video about the functionality of the brain. For a ticket out the door, the kids just had to give me their KWL- with 10 facts about the brain they learned from the clip. We paused a couple of times during the video to discuss some of our own personal experiences and stories of how our amazing brain works. I am excited that they really seemed to be engaged in the activity, and they are ready to start reading tomorrow. My students are actually looking forward to reading his autobiography now. Yay!

We finished reading the novel Peak by Roland Smith last week. I was surprised by how well it led into our new book, because we had been studying how the brain slows down at altitude without enough oxygen, or O's as the climbers call it. Dr. Carson was a famous brain surgeon who separated Siamese twins, which is why we are studying the human brain. I also tied it in to getting circulation going to get O's to our brains when we took our stretch break during testing, hehe. My students are very interested in the mechanisms of the brain. Maybe we will have some future brain surgeons inspired! I do know several students now want to climb Mt. Everest!

Well, that's all for now. Another day of testing tomorrow! Time to get some rest.

All my best,
Deborah Hayes
aka HappyEdugator

Monday, April 15, 2013

The Week Before Testing!

Some people are already finished with state testing, or testing this week, but we are scheduled for our tests next week. I think this is my most challenging week of the year. I was all ready to go this morning, with ideas for games, activities and brain breaks to get the kids motivated and engaged. Then, poof, misfortune! My back went out and I could not move! I stayed up all night, trying to lay in a comfortable position, but it just got worse and worse, and by this morning, I knew I was not going to be able to work, much less drive to work! Disaster!!
I called in for a substitute, and a friend drove me to the doc, who gave me three prescriptions and told me to stay out through Thursday!!! Yikes! I feel so frustrated, because I am helpless to help my kiddos right now when I can't even bend over to put my shoes on.  So, I am assigning them lots of test prep book work, and a colleague is going to bring me their work so I can at least give them feedback!
Here is a Pinterest board that may help you with ideas for Standardized Test Prep:
I usually do a few things different to stimulate the kids and get them engaged this last week before testing. I like to try and make test prep fun! So, my plans have been shot out of the water this year! However, I can still share them here with you, and maybe you will find some ideas to help you get ready for the big test. Here are a few strategies that have worked well for me in the past:

Individual Whiteboards: I did this last week, and my kids loved it! They hardly realized that they were actually working! I used one of my PowerPoints to ask them practice questions, and they wrote down their answers on a whiteboard. You need to have individual whiteboards for everyone in the class. One way is to go to Lowe's and get their white marker board for about $11, and have the staff cut the sheet into 12 individual boards. Here is a link to the site:  Lowe's shower boards - have them cut it for you.
Supply them with dry erase markers - you can get these cheap at the dollar store, but the EXPO brand markers are the best ones I have found and last the longest. I think they are worth paying a bit more for. I cut up old washcloths to use for erasers. when students answer the questions, have them hold up their boards, and then after you have made a quick assessment and seen everyone's effort, show them the answer to check. They love not being on the spot and get instant feedback!

PowerPoint Games: Getting ready for a long pencil and paper test sometimes requires a little fun! There are many PowerPoint templates on the internet for you to build your own games, but you can also get some ready made ones, too. Games that simulate game shows are very popular and engaging to the kids. I play a game of Who-Wants-to-Win-a-Million-Dollars-Language-Arts-Review-PowerPoint or Nonfiction-Vocabulary-You-Should-Know-Game-Show-PowerPoint for starters. Language-Arts-Game-Show-PowerPoint is another favorite one! I also like to use Hidden-Treasure-PowerPoint-Review-Game-For-Any-Question-Set for quick review of a set of questions. The winner gets a new pencil or pen! :)

UP and OUT: My kids like to get up and move, so a change of scene is a great way to practice. Schedule a trip to the computer lab to work on a certain skill on the computer, which is great if you have internet based curriculum such as, Study Island, or Brain Pop, or you may just assign some practice on a learning game site such as Fun Brain. Also, go to the media center! If your media specialist is really cool, like ours, she might even lead a game or an activity for you. It's fun for thekids to get content delivered in a different way from a different person. Another place to go, is a hallway, I like to put up answers to questions on a wall randomly, and students have to hit the answers with a flyswatter. Great game and they can take out their pent up frustrations out on a wall. :)

CLASSROOM GAMES: Scoot is a popular game to play in class, as well as Around the World and I Have...Who Has. Musical chairs is a good one...keep a chair for everyone, but when the music stops, the last one to sit must answer a question
Beach balls can be a fun review, too. You need: Beach ball, tape, and questions typed out and cut apart.  How to play the game:  Tape the questions to the ball, divide the classroom into two teams.  One student will hit the ball to the other team (Assign a consequence to students who hit the ceiling or hit the ball too hard for another student to catch) When the student on the other team catches the ball, he or she will answer the question nearest to their right thumb. If the student is able to answer the question, it becomes a volley (no point is scored, the ball is hit to the other team).  Once the ball is hit to the opposing team, they have a chance to answer whichever question is nearest to the right thumb of the student that catches the ball. If a student does not answer the question correctly, the opposing team scores a point only if they can answer the question correctly. This is a  fun and interactive game at all grade levels.

So, as I write this, I am trying to think of some engaging activities I can send to the substitute who will be taking my place this week. I hope I can!

Thanks for reading!
Here is a FREEBIE for you!
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Good luck on your state tests!
Deborah Hayes
aka HappyEdugator

Monday, April 1, 2013

Happy Easter and Spring Break!

I hope everyone has had a wonderful Easter Weekend! I am on Spring Break this week! Yahoo! No school all week! :)

When I go back next week, my kiddos will finish reading Peak, and prepare for the CRCT, the Georgia State test. We will have only two weeks before testing! Yikes! That is sure to go by quickly. I have many items in my TPT store available for test preparation. Please stop by and shop around if you have a few minutes to browse.

After testing, we are going to read the abridged version of Dr. Ben Carson's book, Gifted Hands. If you have not heard of Dr. Carson, he grew up in a rough inner city neighborhood and wound up becoming a world famous brain surgeon who has successfully separated Siamese twins. The book is quite fascinating, and he also has been in the news recently with President Obama at the National Prayer Breakfast. Just the other evening I was reading that he may be considering a run for the Presidency in 2016. So, the book is certainly going to be relevant to the times! It has been difficult to find appropriate non-fiction books to support the common core standards, but we thought this one would work. We had some concerns with the religious aspect of the book at first, but since it was listed on the state of Georgia sample unit, our principal and teachers felt it was not an issue. Gifted Hands - The Ben Carson Story.Gifted Hands - The Kids Edition

I will be back with more soon. Going to relax a bit on Spring Break!

All my best,