Saturday, February 7, 2015

Spark Student Motivation: Dollar Tree Find

Every Saturday morning, I always head over to Joanne's blog Head Over Heels for Teaching.   I love reading about all of her motivational ideas that help make the classroom a fun and inspiring place.  This morning she posted about flashing light stickers that she found at the Dollar Tree.  They were awesome!  My 6th graders love stickers....their favorites are tiny puffy ones that I find in LA which they wear on their faces.  (I don't ask...I just accept.)

So I hopped into my car and dashed down to the local Dollar Tree...but there were no flashing light stickers there.  Sadness.  However, in combing the store, I did find two (well three actually--who can resist an "As Seen On TV Bacon Bowl" for a $1.00) great products that I can't wait to use in my classroom.

They had these fun signs that will work with my kiddos for a while (they respond well to novelty.)  I can't wait to pull them out on Tuesday....I definitely think the "Eyes on Me" one will catch their attention.  You get four in a pack...which makes them $0.25 each!  A bargain!

The other great find was a bit more pricy (as they were sold individually.)  They had these inspirational signs that I can set out on a student's desk when I want to encourage him or her or reward great behavior.  I can see them working really hard to get the acknowledgement.  I wanted to buy a class set, but I limited myself to ten--I figure that will make them a bit more special.  I haven't decided if I will drop them off on their desks or if I will put them in a special place in the classroom so they can choose the one they want.  I love the sayings on them and the bright colors.  There were four different saying and five different colors.  The look like miniature road signs that one might find at a construction site, but they are only a bit larger than an iPhone5.

Thursday, February 5, 2015

Tech Thursday: Matific

I recently learned about a great website, so I thought I would link up with the Teaching Trio's Tech Thursday to share a little bit about it.

Matific is free for educators and has a nominal charge for parents.  It is easy to set it up for your class and my kids really enjoy using it.  The activities are high-interest and targeted to specific skills.  While I am still discovering all that it has to offer, I have already figured out that there are a few things about this site that set it above the rest:

1)  You are able to lock the games/activities that you don't want the kids to access.  I usually leave them all unlocked, but I like the ability to control what they are doing.  If I want to ensure that they are practicing a skill that we are working on, I just lock everything up.

2)  Matific tracks student progress and allows you to see the results in easy to read reports.  You can view reports as a class and individually.

3)  The activities/games are fun and challenging at the same time.  Recently we were working with one called "Absolutely!"  The kids had to put positive and negative integers in order, including the absolute value of integers.  That little addition increased the rigor and really helped them to internalize the concept of absolute value.  The activities increase in complexity as the students progress through them and provide help when they are struggling.

4)  It is completely free during school hours--you just have to be signed in as a teacher.  Now, I can never remember to do this, but when the kids try to sign in, it lets them know that I have forgotten again.  An easy fix!  Schools can pay for a premium membership if you want kids to have unlimited access at home--or parents can pay for it individually.

I really encourage you to check it out.