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It's the third of the month, so that means it's time for Pick 3, which just happens to be one of my very favorite linky parties!
Hosted by Marissa at Inspired Owl's Corner and Lisa at PAWSitively Teaching, this fun link-up provides an opportunity for educators to share three Pinterest finds that they can use in their classrooms that month.  This month I focused on Earth Day to help me choose from all the awesome Pinterest goodies out there!  Clicking on each of the images will take you directly to the original pin.

 First on my list is this AH.DOR.A.BLE craft - I mean, really, could this little Earth be any cuter?

Next is a wonderfully rich STEAM project that could be adapted for children of any grade level.  I can already think up a zillion possibilities for this tunnel book:

My third and final pin today is this round-up of technology resources for Earth Day.  I just love it when I find a cool idea on Pinterest that takes me to a blog that I already follow!  These wonderful ideas come from Stephanie Van Horn at 3rd Grade Thoughts:

I hope you found a little something here that you'll be able to use for Earth Day, or really for any time that you are teaching about taking care of our planet.

Please feel free to link up with us and share YOUR favorite Pinterest finds!  You will find the link-up and all of the cute linky party graphics at Marissa's and Lisa's blogs (by clicking on their blogs' names above).
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When I heard the theme of our first Hello Sunshine linky was going to be Spring is in the Air, I immediately started to think of all those adorable babies being born this time of year.  Baby lambs, baby bunnies, baby... chicks!

Few things get our little learners more excited than the anticipation of hatching chicks.  I'll never forget when my son John was in kindergarten, he had the most amazing teacher.  She guided her sweeties through all sorts of integrated learning adventures with that magical incubator full of eggs serving as the thematic focus.  Of course she had them writing up a storm, and my boy wrote the most darling journal entry declaring his true heart's desire -- that his mom would let him take one of the little fluff-balls home.   (If you ever meet my son, please don't ask him what my answer was - I think that will always be a sensitive topic!)

I've collected several hatching-chick related ideas and resources to share with you today.  (These are also on our Spring Pinterest board; I've included a link at the end of this post.)
 Books:First the Egg by Laura Vaccaro Seeger (Caldecott Honor Book, Theodor Seuss Geisel Honor Book, and New York Times Book Review Best Illustrated Book of 2007)
With its gorgeously textured illustrations, novel die-cut interactives, and deceptively simple text, this concept book is a fun read-aloud to use as a springboard for classroom discussions and writing activities.  Two natural topics to explore further with students are:
a) Word Pair Relationships - The author pairs words and uses a "First... Then" format.  How does she decide on words to pair together?  What are some other words that we can put together in this format?
b) Cycles - The author starts with "First the EGG," and by the end of the story comes back full circle to "Then the EGG."  How does she do that in a way that makes sense?  Can we show the cycle on a graphic organizer?  Can we make up our own story with a similar structure?
Hatch! by Roxie Munroe
This nonfiction book introduces an amazing variety of eggs and the birds that hatch out of them.  Despite the huge amount of textual information that it shares, its consistent format sets a comfortably paced rhythm throughout.  For each bird, the first page shows accurate renderings of the eggs with the query, "Can you guess whose eggs these are?"  The second page (facing the first) provides additional clues in the form of informational text.  Turn the page for a two-page spread that reveals the bird's identity and provides a bunch more information.  The very last page of the book provides a helpful vocabulary list.  
Chickens Aren't the Only Ones by Ruth Heller
Oh I just love Ruth Heller's books!  It seems like any time I want to teach just about anything, she has written and illustrated a wonderful book for that very topic or concept.  Part of her World of Nature series, this treasure trove explores the vast diversity of egg-laying creatures.  This book was also featured on Reading Rainbow, and you can find the video on YouTube:  Reading Rainbow: Chickens Aren't the Only Ones.
Activities and Ideas:I thought the Hatching Chick Craft was so cute!  Students create the little chickie peeking out of its egg; these sweet projects make a darling class display!  The Chicken Life Cycle would make a very special keepsake, with the handprint for the mature chicken.  And how stinkin' adorable are the Egg Carton Chicks?!?Links:
The pin address that I included on today's graphic leads to a short (4:30) video of a baby chick hatching from its egg.  (The chick hatches out at 2:50 on the video.)

Do you have some sunshiny springtime ideas you'd like to share too?  We'd love to have you link up with us!  You'll find a blank template like the one I've used to organize my resources in this post, as well as this cute little button to announce your participation.

Thank you so much for visiting today - I hope you've found some ideas that you can use!

And for even more ideas, click over to our "Hello Sunshine Spring is in the Air!" Pinterest board:

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As many of us prepare to celebrate 100th Day of School this week - and throughout the coming weeks - I thought I would share a little bit about ways we celebrate in our Third Grade classroom!  (Pictures are from years gone by... but we'll be doing these things on our big day Wednesday this week!)
Step One:  BooksI pretty much ALWAYS start with books, beautiful books!  For this year's festivities, I selected these fun read-aloud titles:
We had three read-alouds to break up the crazy-time, which was just perfect.  To add a nice transitional bonus, each book also led into various activities that I had planned for the day.

100 Days of Cool by Stuart J. Murphy
The 100th Day of School by Angela Shelf Medearis
The Night Before the 100th Day of School by Natasha Wing

Step Two:  Yummy Snacks + Meaningful Activity = A Fun Way to Learn
Our 100th Day of School fell on the Tuesday after Martin Luther King Jr. Day this year, so a chunk of my Monday was spent preparing baggies of Hundred Handful Snacks.  (Helpful hint:  I also bring extras of each ingredient in case students need a few more to complete the Wacky 100th Day Pizza activity successfully.)
Students used the snack to plan and create a pizza that uses fractional proportions of each ingredient.

This activity is aligned with CCSS 3.NF.A.1 Understand a fraction 1/b as the quantity formed by 1 part when a whole is partitioned into b equal parts; understand a fraction a/b as the quantity formed by a parts of size 1/b.

It was especially fun to see the many diverse approaches students took to sort the snacks!
Step Three:  Dress for the Occasion 
Oh dear.  This is most certainly not my best look, but I must admit - it may very well have been my most comfortable outfit all year!  The grey wig was a little itchy, but the sensible shoes and cozily shapeless skirt and sweater compensated.

I wish you could have seen the students' self-portraits of themselves at 100 - cutest little things ever!  Especially hilarious:  the randomly placed wrinkles, like little squiggly things dotted upon their sweet centenarian faces.  We coupled the self-portraits with an interactive foldable activity that also served as a prewriting graphic organizer for their personal narratives "Me at 100."  Super cute display in the hallway, and I rather hated having to take them down a few days ago!
Step Four:  STEM Activities are Always a HitOne of the favorite activities all day was "Build a Structure with 100 Cubes."

If you don't have sugar cubes, you could use Unifix cubes, Snap Cubes, or other small cube manipulatives.  I prefer the sugar cubes, even though they're a bit messy, because they're just nice straightforward cubes.  They can be a tad expensive, but having students work in teams cuts the cost, as does buying the sugar cubes in the largest box available.  (A 2-ound box of sugar cubes typically contains 252 cubes.)

This is a fun team-building (literally) project that challenges students to use most of the Mathematical Practices.  The focus concept is to develop an understanding of area and its relationship with multiplication, but as I walked around the room, I noticed students employing other standards as well.  Again, it's always so much fun to see all of the different strategies!

Before we start, I like to review arrays on the board, discussing a variety of arrangements and modeling how to sketch them as we chat.  We also review how to represent an array as a multiplication equation.

I put the rules for the activity under our document camera so that all students understand my expectations for this activity.  Beyond these few rules, teams really get to be as creative as they like!

I keep these rules up throughout the project for easy reference.

Then the real fun begins!  First, students count out 100 sugar cubes.

Next, teams work together to plan their array on their base.  I provide a paper plate as a base to help prevent "Sugar Cube Sprawl."  It also makes cleanup that much easier!

Students next replicate the array they've built on their base by sketching it on their recording sheets.  (Although students work together as teams, each student is responsible for project notes and observations on his/her own recording sheet.)   Through recording specifics about their project, discussing their findings with their teammates, and noting their observations, students develop and deepen their understanding of the relationship between area and multiplication.

This activity is aligned with CCSS 3.MD.C.7.A Find the area of a rectangle with whole-number side lengths by tiling it, and show that the area is the same as would be found by multiplying the side lengths.


P.S. You can get the printables, teacher notes, and more from our 100th Day of School Celebration in this packet here.  I've cut the price for the months of January and February!
I hope your 100th Day of School is lots of fun!
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True Confession:  My 7:15 a.m. playground duty does NOT rank on my List Of Favorite Things.  It's getting chilly out there, and I can always think of at least 17 OTHER things I'd RATHER be doing in that half hour before the first bell...   

But wonder of wonders...  duty this morning was fun!  Sure it was chilly, and sure there were lots of things on my To Do list that I would have rather been doing, but I found myself honestly enjoying duty this morning.

I think that it is as simple as this:

'Tis the season!  

All of the kids came to school smiling, as though expecting something wonderful to happen today.  I witnessed moments of kindness between students, older siblings hugging their little brothers and sisters as they escorted them to kindergarten...  kids on the soccer field extending a hand to someone who took a tumble... 

This morning's duty pretty much zipped by as child after child stopped by to share something special about right now, or to share something exciting about what they're looking forward to in the near future.  Decorations are going up, family visitors are booking tickets and claiming dibs on guest rooms, favorite shows are starting to enjoy prime time promotion...  there was even talk of a cool book... and a new tortoise... a haircut... and a mischievous puppy...  Before I knew it, the bell rang.  And I realized that I had not minded duty one little bit.

Yes, it's that time of year.  I love it!  December brings with it comfortable tradition, and hopeful anticipation...  cozy snuggles...  and joy.  It's contagious, whether that feel-good exuberance is on the school playground... or on Pinterest!

I saw this linkup on two of my regular blog stops - Crockett's Classroom Forever in Third Grade and Confessions of a Teaching Junkie - and immediately thought, "What a great idea!"  I've been a big squeaky chicken a bit apprehensive about jumping into the blogosphere... but this is a blog post I can write!  Pinterest, you say?  Yes!  Yes, I Pinterest!  I can very happily share with you a few of my current faves...

And that brings us to:


This linky party is a new monthly event hosted by Lisa at PAWSitively Teaching and Marissa at Inspired Owl's Corner.  On the third of each month, these lovely ladies share their Top Three finds on Pinterest that they plan on using in their classrooms.  They also invite the rest of us to join in the fun, and they even provide cute graphics for us all to share!

So without further ado, here are three pins that I plan on using soon in my classroom:


Click on the image to see the original pin.
This pin features a variety of science experiments and activities, including growing crystals, making candy cane goo, and - how cool is this - creating science kits to give as gifts!



Click on the image to see the original pin.

This pin takes you to a site chock full of crafts (some are even edible!) that are perfect for any classroom, because they are not directly reflective of any specific holiday.  Rather, you'll find a variety of snowmen, penguins, winter gear, and more - all designed for young crafters to create successfully.


Click on the image to see the original pin.

This particular craft clay smells of peppermint, is cool to the touch, and SPARKLES!  Really, what more could you want in a winter creativity medium?  I can't wait to try it out!

You'll find lots more evidence of my Pinterest addiction ideas to use in your classroom on my two boards created especially for this time of year:  {Seasons} Winter and {Holidays} Christmas!
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I've taught since the mid 1980s, and have always integrated literature into every subject area.  It seemed like such a logical, natural way to help children access learning; everybody loves a story, right?  :o)  Even when I served as a mathematics instructional coach, I would look for picture books and novels to relate the concept or strategy to students' interests and experiences.

THAT explains the "reader" part of my logo!

But the hedgehog...  Well that is a little harder to pinpoint.

For starters, I love furry, fluffy, chubby, cute creatures.  Human babies, chicks, puppies, even a well-rendered robot with just the right qualities...  they make me smile!   Woodland creatures are among my favorites, and hedgehogs... well, they're just adorable!  I've never seen a hedgehog in real life, but that didn't stop me from becoming rather obsessed with them.  

This is a photo of me with what might be the closest thing to a hedgehog that I've been up close to.  It's a quokka, and although many consider them to be essentially vermin, I think they're cute as can be!  This picture was taken on Australia's Rottnest Island, where the quokkas roam quite freely!  
When I was thinking up a name for my blog, I knew that I wanted to have a little something that felt cozy and fun.  So that's where the HEDGEHOG part of my logo came from.  :o)

Initially, Hedgehog Reader was a blog I created as a place I could post book reviews for the parents of my students.  When I became a seller on TpT, I decided to redesign my blog but keep my name.  Danielle at Crayonbox Designs drew the sweet little guy that you see on all of my things now!

There's a story behind everybody's name, I think!  You can share yours too by linking up to Jenny K.

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I have an unhealthy obsession a purposeful affection for To Do lists, and I think that all of us who are similarly afflicted motivated would agree that New Year's Resolutions are like the Big Mamma Jamma of all To Do lists.  So imagine my delight when I saw that my blogging buddy - the awesome Mrs. D at The Third Wheel - is hosting this perfectly-timed linky party:


It's super easy to play along!  Just go to Mrs. D's blog to download her graphic.  (But be careful, because she has tons of great things to read about, so you Must. Stay. Focused.)  Fill in the list (squee!), blog about it, then link up!

Here's mine:



Home: Your resolution related to your home life and/or family
Plan and Prepare Dinners
I have always enjoyed cooking and baking; in fact, those culinary endeavors typically are at the top of my "favorite activities" lists.  However, during the work week, it's just overwhelming sometimes!  I've decided to start planning, to become more intentional about my desire to nourish my family.  To be honest, sometimes the plan will be "Go out to dinner" or "Mr. Hedgehog's fabulous grilled chicken."  Planning does not always entail cooking... but it does save us from last-minute (and usually less-than-healthful) pizza orders and pantry foraging.


Work: Your resolution for yourself as a professional
Grade and Record Papers Before Leaving School
Confession 1:  I sometimes bring home giant humongous piles crammed into bulging-to-the-point-of-exploding tote bags the occasional stack of papers to grade.
Confession 2:  Sometimes they never make it out of the car  I do not get them all graded at home.
I resolve to wrap up this important part of teaching each day before I leave for multiple reasons:
*It will provide me with immediate knowledge of each student's understanding
*It will allow me to reflect on the value and success of the _____ (fill in the blank - lesson, unit, assessment, etc.) while everything is still fresh
*It will free me from the stress of procrastination
*It will increase the amount of undivided attention I am able to share with my family at home


Health: Your resolution about your health and personal wellness
Do 30 Minutes of Cardio First Thing
Remember how I just said that I love to cook and bake?  Well, I am a foodie through and through... Regular exercise has to enter the equation.  (Mr. Hedgehog calls it "Playing for the tie.")  I love yoga and ballet, but the only sure-fire guarantee I've got is a quick 30 minutes on the elliptical first thing in the morning - then everything else is frosting on the cake (or cellulite OFF the bum).


TPT/Blog: Your resolution for your blog or TPT store
Blog Three Times Per Week
I am very excited to start blogging more actively, and my true goal is to blog about things that matter.    I absolutely love sharing my teaching resources, and blogging seems like a natural extension of that.  I know how much I love reading other educators' blogs about effective instruction, timesaving tips, and overall best practices - so that is what I want to blog about!   Please join me in 2015 as I try to achieve this goal!


Hop on over to Mrs. D's blog and grab your New Year's Resolutions stuff to personalize and share - then I would love for you to leave a note here so I can go read YOUR resolutions!
Happy New Year!
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<a href="http://www.bloglovin.com/blog/12071265/?claim=7hgmamwaxh4">Follow my blog with Bloglovin</a>
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If you read my post back in the spring about the Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge, you know what a fan I am of this fabulous opportunity for students in grades 5-8 to develop, refine, and share their inventions and innovations.  (You can still read that article about 10 Ways Adults Can Support Young Scientists by clicking HERE.)

In today's post, I'd like to tell you a little bit about one amazing student, Rishab Jain.  Once you hear about his exciting experiences on his way to become the 2018 Young Scientist Challenge winner, I suspect you'll be as much of a fan as I am!


Coming Up with Ideas to Benefit Our World

Like many middle schoolers, 13-year-old Rishab Jain has an active interest in STEM.  But this young scientist, a seventh grader at Stoller Middle School in Portland, Oregon, has taken his interest to the next level.   Demonstrating perseverance and creative innovation normally seen only in more experienced researchers and medical scientists much older than himself, Rishab began to explore and develop ways that artificial intelligence might be used in the medical field to help people enjoy longer, healthier lives.

Rishab set out to discover a way to bring our society closer to the elusive goal of curing cancer.  The young scientist investigated how one particularly lethal disease, pancreatic cancer, is currently treated through IGRT (Image-Guided Radiotherapy).  As he deepened his knowledge, Rishab identified a problem inherent in the current treatment delivery model:  radiotherapy is often made less effective due to a lack of precision in locating the pancreas.  (This lack of accuracy can be caused by a variety of factors, such as any amount of movement, the simple act of breathing, or even anatomical differences from patient to patient.)

Realizing that the solution to this problem would be to devise a tool that would help medical professionals more accurately pinpoint the location of the pancreas during radiotherapy, Rishab started brainstorming possible approaches.


Developing Beneficial Innovations and Inventions

Building on his ongoing fascination with how artificial intelligence could enhance medical technology, Rishab developed a tool called PCDLS (Pancreatic Cancer Deep Learning System).  PCDLS uses automated pancreatic segmentation to more precisely locate the pancreas.

Rishab then implemented several methods to collect and analyze data, proving that use of his PCDLS resulted in 98.4 percent accuracy in locating a patient's pancreas!

You can click here to view Rishab's entry video and to hear the young scientist describe his project in greater detail:


Participating in the Challenge

One day while watching YouTube, Rishab came across videos from the prior year's Young Scientist Challenge finalists.  As he watched them, he grew increasingly excited by the possibility of entering his own invention for consideration in the competition.

The Discovery Education 3M Young Scientist Challenge website features past finalists' videos, in which the middle school students tell how they developed their original ideas to solve everyday problems.   (Click HERE for the Past Participants Video Archive.)


Entries were submitted from mid December 2017 through mid April of 2018.  From all of the entries, judges selected state merit winners and ten finalists in June.  Finalists had the summer months to hone their projects, which they presented during the final event at 3M headquarters this past October.

Developing and Refining through Mentorship

One of the aspects of the Young Scientists Challenge that excited Rishab the most was the prospect of having a 3M scientist mentor him.

Each of the ten finalists was paired with a scientist, and spent the summer months fine-tuning his or her invention under the tutelage of the mentor.  This mentorship provided invaluable guidance for the young scientists just starting out in their fields.

As Rishab wrote in his entry, "I hope to win the competition, as it will allow me to share my ideas with the world, innovate the future, and get mentorship to make my invention into a real product."


Rishab was matched with 3M Scientist Mentor Dr. Döne Demirgöz, and together they spent the next several months refining PCDLS.

Their hard work paid off.  On October 16, only one of the finalists won the title of America's Top Young Scientist:  Rishab Jain!


America's Top Young Scientist

In the future, Rishab would like to pursue an undergraduate degree in biomedical engineering and then complete medical school to become a doctor.   But in the meantime, this young scientist who has developed a significant improvement in the treatment of cancer needs to get back to his regular routine... finishing up seventh grade!
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There's nothing quite like a blank sheet of paper (or a blank computer screen) to get all of those internal anxiety buttons blinking and whirring.  When you add a timer or deadline, along with the stress of high-stakes testing, it's a perfect storm for the dreaded writer's block!

Today I am going to share a few practices I've found to be very effective in increasing my students' writing fluency while simultaneously decreasing their anxiety.

1.  Create a classroom culture that encourages risk-taking and celebrates mistakes as part of the learning process.

We have a poster up in our room that says, "Mistakes are proof that you are trying!"  We refer to it often, and I can honestly say that having this as a credo has made a significant impact on the likelihood that students will take risks.  We've come to view mistakes as a GOOD thing instead of something to dread, and this has helped take the sting out of those inevitable failures.

When students aren't quite as afraid of failure... when they feel comfortable taking risks... that blank page does not loom quite so scarily.  In a world that is safe for taking risks, the blank page becomes an opportunity for creativity, for communication, for experimentation.  This is exactly what I hope for my young writers, so we establish on the first day of school that mistakes are OK.

2.  Equip students with an idea journal.

"I don't know what to write about!"  We've all heard that one before!  The solution is to have students come up with their own topics long before they'll ever need them.

At the beginning of the year - or really, any time of year - I provide my students with graphic organizers that prompt them to think about topics they might want to write about one day.  If you click HERE, you'll find four of these graphic organizers for FREE!


3.  Emphasize the power of planning!

In our classroom, we follow the same RACEEE procedure with any writing across all subjects.  Do you use RACE?  It's a great way for students to plan their writing, which then makes the actual writing much less stressful.

First, we Restate the question or prompt.   Next we Answer the question or prompt; this step is quite often hand-in-hand with the restatement.   We substantiate our answer by Citing Evidence; this is not limited to text.  In math, for instance, our evidence may be the solution to a problem.  The other Es in our classroom are Explain and Elaborate; we also call this "frosting the cake."


Thank you so much for stopping by!  I hope you've found a tip or two to be helpful, and that you enjoy the free graphic organizers!


Click on these Reading Crew bloggers' links for more literacy teaching ideas, resources, and FREEBIES:



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Good morning!  Today I am sharing a bunch of ways to organize and store your bulletin board supplies.

Trim and borders, letters and pieces, signs and charts... oh my!  All of the components we use to make our classroom displays appealing can become overwhelming when it comes time to organize and store them.

And then when it's time to plan, assemble, and put the bulletin board up...  well, having a system in place to organize and store these goodies can save TONS of time, money, and frustration!



From Teach the Bits and Bytes & Head Over Heels for Teaching


From A Teeny Tiny Teacher, My Book Boost, & First Grade Blue Skies


From Teaching Blog Addict, Clutter-Free Classroom, & A Modern Teacher


From Primary Paradise


From A Cupcake for the Teacher



From Fabulous in Fifth


From Fourth Grade Frolics


From Mr. H's Blog


From Finally in First



From A Cupcake for the Teacher


From Organized Made Fun & Grade Guy One


From The Accidental Crafter and How About Orange


I hope you found an idea or two that will help!
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