Sunday, December 13, 2015

Happy December!

December has been so much fun!

This is my first year with Elf on the Shelf and I am LOVING it!  We very creatively named him Mr. Elf.  I tried so hard to get them to like Snowflake, but once the votes were counted Mr. Elf it was.  Our elf is a note writer.  He has written lots and lots of notes to the kids.  Without a doubt, the best day was when he wrote each of them their own note.  I haven't seen that kind of excitement in a while.

Let's face it....  behaving in December is hard!  So sometimes a little bit of bribery is all that it takes.   Mr. Elf brought us donuts and we couldn't have ate them any faster!

We have been decorating our room with our holiday work.  Here is a little thing we made last week that turned out so cute!           
We started out by talking about wishes and of course they all had wishes for Santa to bring them something.  I quickly turned it into a lesson on making wishes for others.  Within seconds we were brainstorming all kinds of ideas on how our wish could make this world a better place.  We each made this little craftivity and shared our idea with the class.  This one is one of my favorites!


We made them into a display and I can't wait for the parents to read them at the holiday party this week!

I hope everyone has a fantastic week!  It is the last week for us and I can't wait for all of the FUN this week!

Happy Teaching!

Sunday, November 22, 2015

Thanksgiving FUN!

We only have 2 days of school this week!  Monday and Tuesday!

We are going to have some Thanksgiving fun these two days!

We have been reading a bunch of read alouds for Thanksgiving this month.  

We laughed and laughed over the Plump and Perky Turkey.  If you don't have this one, please add it to your collection!

Not only did they not have a clue what shredded wheat was, but they got the biggest kick out of the modeling posters in the book.  We each grabbed a partner and they picked out their favorite part of the story.  They used manila paper and wrote about it and of course included a picture.  After they were finished, I read the book again and we sequenced all of their masterpieces!  What a great activity for them.  We had a few people out of place, but worked together to get everyone in the right one.

We are almost finished reading Thanksgiving on Thursday by Mary Pope Osborne.  I LOVE LOVE LOVE this chapter book.  I am lucky and have a class set and we have been reading it over the last few days.  The kids are totally engaged in it.  They have been writing down little Thanksgiving facts on paper just like Jack does in the book.  I have just loved watching them get into this book so much.

We only have one more chapter left and then we will be doing some writing activities. This packet has 4 different options for writing.  I'm going to let the kids pick which one they want to do.  It is amazing how much harder they work if it is student choice!

Here are 2 of the writing choices.  It has 4 for the kids to pick from.

Here is a sample of the pages in the packet.

For math we have been working on 2 and 3 digit addition and subtraction.  This week we are going to work in groups to write Thanksgiving word problems.  We are going to divide into groups of 4 and brainstorm some ideas and write up some problems on Monday.  On Tuesday, the groups are to pick their favorite one to put on chart paper and present to class to solve.

We are also going to make this adorable booklet about turkeys.  It focuses on reading and text evidence.  It also includes having them write a paragraph to inform.  We are still very much in the early stages of paragraph writing, so we might have to do that part as a class.  Can't wait to make these with the kids!

I hope everyone has a WONDERFUL and SAFE Thanksgiving!

Enjoy every moment!

Wednesday, November 11, 2015

No Copies! No Copies! Yes, it can be done!

Copies....  that machine is a pain!  One day last year I needed to run off comprehension questions for a  novel we were reading and we had no paper.


I didn't want to put the lesson off, so I just projected the questions on my board and No Copies Reading Instruction was born!

I was in LOVE!  And best of all so are the kids!

Let's face it, every time the kids turn around we are handing them a worksheet.  NO MORE!

Over the last few months, I have turned my favorite novels into projectable pdf files and I wish I would have done it sooner.

We read chapter books in the morning for early bird, along with Number of the Day.

I project this page, so the kids remember which chapter we are one.  I like to give them something to think about while they read.  We use this question to start our discussion about the chapter.  First, they use their Turn and Talk partner to discuss it.  Then, we talk as a big group.

Here is what those slides looks like.  This is one from a Flat Stanley chapter book.

I try to tie some text-to-self into these as much as I can.  This is one from a Magic Tree House book.

Then we move into the chapter questions.  We work through these as a class.  If I need to take a reading grade, I might ask the kids to pick one or two of the questions and write their answers out. This is a great way to incorporate student choice into your instruction.

Here are some of the question slides.

This is from Muggie Maggie.  It is a must read for any kid starting to write in cursive!

This is from a chapter in one of my favorite Stink chapter books.  

When we finish the book, we WRITE, WRITE, and WRITE some more!  No need to run off writing prompts, they are just part of the pdf.  The kids write on regular notebook paper.  We might do one as a think aloud or as a group.  I always have two or 3 choices, so I lots of pick from.

I've seen HUGE growth in reading.  I truly attribute it to this practice.  The kids are so much more engaged now that reading isn't about a bunch of paper.

Since this was so successful, I've kind of adopted this practice for math as well.  We do a lot of practice on white boards and notebook paper.

I just finished making a lesson to teach word problems with adding to 100.

I think what I really love about this approach is that I am not tied to my board writing.  I can use my clicker and walk around the room and have a conversation with the kids.  It is great because I included talking points, so I don't forget any important things I want the kids to know.  I am able to gage their learning because I'm watching them work the problems and can give them more 1-on-1 help as I walk around.

I hope everyone is having a great week!

My challenge for you....
Find something to use next week that doesn't require copies.  Make a powerpoint (or buy one - Ha Ha!) and see if it makes your instruction stronger and your kids more engaged.  I bet it will!

Happy teaching!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Halloween FUN!

What a weekend of baseball and RAIN!  Only competitive baseball moms can understand that pure torture of a tournament where it rained EVERY SINGLE GAME!  My feet may never dry out and I am frozen!  The only good thing is a rain delay where you can run to the car and write your lesson plans and get some papers graded.  Of course an extra bonus is if the team eats between games in a fantastic place that has Wifi!  I know I am crazy, but I realize that I only have a few more years and my youngest will be done with these weekend baseball tournaments and that does make me a little sad.

So BIG plans for the week in second grade!  It's Halloween and the kids will be crazy!  So I've planned, planned, and planned activities to keep them busy!

We just finished the first 9 weeks.  In talking with our team, we really wanted to reward the honor roll kids that had perfect conduct.  So much of our time is spent on the struggling students or those with "not so perfect" behavior.  On Friday, we are going to celebrate the best of our grade!   Some of us will be taking those amazing kiddos for some outside fun including some parachute play!  We are going to have treats and drinks for them, but we still wanted to do more.  These are the kids that hang on every word we say and do everything they can to please us.  So we decided that they need bags of FUN! Each of the teachers will be buying Halloween themed "stuff" for their bags of fun!  I bought glow necklaces, pencils, and huge Halloween erasers.  I can't wait to see how excited these kiddos are on Friday.  Time to celebrate them! Time to tell them we appreciate them and that they matter!

Here are some of my favorites activities we will be doing!

We have already started working on two digit addition and subtraction.  I know it's early in the year, but this bunch really seems to have great math skills.  One day last week they asked how you would do it and I jumped on the chance to teach them.

We LOVE, LOVE, SCOOT!  So we will be starting our math lesson off one day this week with this little group of happy ghosts!  If you haven't ever played with you kids, YOU MUST!  They love it!

We are also doing a lot of review on some important skills with some cut and paste activities.  We are covering main idea/supporting details, subject/predicate, common/proper nouns, and a bunch of others! The kids love doing these and they give me a quick look at who really has this mastered and who I need to work with in the next few weeks.

Here is a peek at the main idea/supporting detail activity.

These are the cut and paste pages - I love them because it is 2 to a page, so less copies!

We are also reading some great Halloween stories.  This year I'm giving them more choices.  After we do our read aloud I'm going to let them pick what they want to create to show me the main idea, main characters, and setting.  They can write, color, create!  

I'll be sure to post some pictures of their creations!

Time to get some time in with my kids and carve pumpkins! 

I hope everyone has a great week and a fantastic halloween!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Planning for the Next Grading Period... it's Monday already?

I can't believe that 1/4 of the school year is already over!

We were on fall break last week, so I decided it would be a great time to get my "ducks" in a row for the next 9 weeks topics.

We did a BUNCH of read alouds the last few weeks and my kids LOVE THEM!  So I'm going with the Halloween/Thanksgiving themed books for the next few weeks.  I figured that I could slip in a craftivity or two to go with the holidays, so I've been busy designing those.  Check back later this week to grab the templates!  Here is a little cutie I have been working on today.  Can you guess what story he goes with?  It is one of my favorites!

I try to be very systematic when we do our read alouds.  I usually do them for 3 - 4 days.  Each day we have a focus.  Sometimes it is story elements, characters, problem/solution, and even grammar.  My cute little mummy is part of a chart activity during a read aloud focusing on adjectives.

Number of the Day Packet #1 was a big hit, so I am so excited to unveil Packet #2 to the kids when we return.  The concepts are the same, but we are adding larger numbers and more story problems.  It also includes more work with number lines and money.   I am so amazed by the progress with the kids after we finished the first set I can't wait to see what they can do by December!  Can I say NO math RTI!

My books are already made, thanks to an amazing group of PTA moms.  Having helpful parents makes all the difference in the WORLD!  

Here is a sample of the pages from set #2.  I am so pleased with how they turned out!  Now that the kids are in the habit of doing these everyday, they can complete them in under 5 minutes!  Can I say AWESOME!!!!!!!

We started by hitting the ground running this morning and made some CANDY CORN!  The kids were really excited until they figured out that we were making math candy corn!  I wanted to do a quick review on place value from the last 9 weeks, so I whipped up a little freebie!  Click on any of the pictures to download the pumpkin template and packet.

I used to always make a sample up for the kids to look at when we did these types of activities and I felt like a chicken with my head cut off running around the room showing them what it was suppose to look like.  I felt like someone was constantly calling my name because they needed another look.  My solution was to make a PowerPoint slide of the finished product.  It works like a charm!  It is SO MUCH bigger than the sample I would make and everyone can see it.  Here is the slide I used for this project.
Here is one of the kids papers before we added the color to it.  We picked any number and did the writing first.

Then we added color to it, cut it out and put it on black construction paper.  I hung them on our door and they look so cute!  It is festive and in the spirit of HALLOWEEN, but still educational!

Today was also GOAL SETTING DAY for AR.  This year I have really taken a different approach to AR and it is working so much better.  I have conferences with the kids and talk about where they are in their reading and what types of books they should be reading on their own.  I have a HUGE range of readers this year, so I feel like it is really important that they understand where they are and be PROUD of how far they have come.  

Each grading period (we are on 9 weeks at a time) we select new goals.  We fill out AR Goal contracts and sign our names to them.  Then the kids take them home for their parents to review and sign also.   This has been a BIG help this year having the contracts so that we are all on the same page.  During the grading period, I send out updates so the parents know how many points their child has earned.  The contracts have really helped get the parents more involved and the kids are reaching their goals much faster.

So that is a WRAP for today!  I am one tired teacher.  

Let me leave you with a happy picture.  A few months ago we rescued a sweet dog that had to loose her eye due to owner neglect.  Adopting a dog is hard and it is especially hard when she is considered a special needs dog due to her medical problems. When we got her she was shaved bald due to all of the surgeries and it has been a struggle as we watched her fur SLOWLY grow.   Thanks to my sweet groomer that took the extra time to try and get BOWS in my little girls hair because she knew that her momma wanted them badly!  SHE IS ADORABLE!

I hope everyone has a wonderful week!

Happy Teaching!

Sunday, October 4, 2015

Verbs, Place Value, and Writing!

We sure have been busy in Room 11!

I finally feel like we have a schedule and routine going.  We have added 2 new students to the mix and overall I am seeing some real progress with this bunch!

Last week we attacked VERBS!  The kids loved being a VERB SUPERHERO and came up with some fun adjectives to describe their superhero.  We made flip books, played charades, and designed some verb superheroes!

Here are some pictures of our wonderful work!

We also made flip books sorting words into 2 categories - verbs and not verbs.  The kids had so much fun with this activity and sorted the words like masters!  I couldn't have been happier with how well they did and they had such a great time!

We spent a good part of the week working on place value.  Since we have no textbook that the kids can write in, I decided to create a whole new unit to use with place value this year.  I love to use anchor charts on my board to teach the skills and I wanted to have tons of different activities so they could practice this skill.

Some of the activities we did as a whole class, some in small groups, and some for reteaching.  As we worked, I added several different levels so that all the kids were doing the same basic activity.  I leveled several of the activities so that some of us were working on just 10's and 100's and others could add the 1,000's.  The kids really enjoyed it and were so engaged, so tonight I'm going to start working on more leveled activities for money next week.

Here are some pictures of our place value unit in action!  We made these cute flip books - each kiddo picked their own number to show what they know!  

We all made a 2 digit accordion with no trouble at all!
The 3 digit ones took a little help from the teacher, but once we finished the kids had the best time "pulling" their number apart!  We are masters of expanded form now!

We did lots and lots of hands-on activities with this unit.  I really loved using the anchor charts on my screen each day to go over place value with the kids.  The kids loved that most of the activities were leveled, so my high kids weren't bored at all and my lower kiddos could work without feeling rushed!   

Where did September go?  One smart kiddo reminded me that we needed to write in our learning journals Tuesday.  I completely forgot!  Thank goodness she LOVES, LOVES, LOVES these journals, so I'm sure she will remind me every month.

When we do these journals, we brainstorm together and create a list.  I do this for two reasons - one it helps so much with the "How do I spell...." and it also gives the lower kids some ideas to get them started.  They actually named over 20 things we worked on this month....  that made me SMILE!

If you don't have monthly learning journals, it is never to late to start.  They are great at Open House and make a wonderful end of the year keepsake.

So that is a wrap for this week!

Happy Teaching!

Monday, September 7, 2015

We have those addition STRATEGIES!

We have been working hard on our addition strategies!

I want the kids not only to get the right answer, but to be able to explain how they got it.  In comes ACCOUNTABLE TALK!  This is new for my kiddos and they crack me up with respectfully disagreeing with each other!  If you haven't jumped on the A.T. band wagon, I strong suggest it. I can't believe how much more engaging my classroom is and how much less I talk during the day.

We worked on understanding how each of the strategies worked.  We talked it out as a class, in groups, and with our Turn and Talk Partners.

We started off with Counting Up!  It seems to be the go to strategy for most of the kids.  We covered all the rest by looking at a projectable I created and then the kids copied their thoughts and ideas about the strategy into a book.  They used their Turn and Talk Partners to discuss the strategy before they started writing and that really seemed to help.

Here is a picture of the two of the strategy pages for the kids booklets that they made.

We used the books for our test this past Friday and then I sent them home so that the parents could look at them to better understand all the new ways our little math geniuses are thinking!

The kids did great on their test.  They had to solve the problems and draw or explain their thinking. Here is one of the kiddos answers for 5 + 3 = _____.

All in all,  I was pleased with how well they did.  They are slowly, but surely, understanding the strategies and we will be working on our Accountable Talk some more.  The first few weeks are hard when the kids haven't really been exposed to A.T. before.

In honor of Labor Day, this little packet will be half price for the rest of the evening!
Get it quick for only $1.50!

Time to go cook out with the family!

Have a great week!

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Learning those facts and getting homework in... Well maybe!

We have been busy, busy, busy!

Settling into a routine is hard!

One of the first things we have been working on is our math facts.  This seems to be something we struggle with each year.  In the past we have worked with one set of facts each week, but it seemed like as soon as we tested on those facts, they forgot them.


So I divided up the facts into 3 big chunks.  We are working on one chunk per month and I am hoping that this will help get the facts stuck in their heads forever!

My Addition Fact Plan:
August - We focused on 0 + 0 to 5 + 5
September - We will focus on 0 + 0 to 5 + 10
October - We will focus on 0 + 0 to 10 + 10

We had a sheet in our binders to help the parents know which facts we were working on.   
This was our list for August. 

It took a little bit of time, but I pulled just these facts from all of my flashcard decks and we worked only on these facts.  We worked on in small group, flashcard races, in the hallway, and on paper.  The kids favorite way to practice the facts is to "flash" the answers with your fingers instead of saying them.

Every Thursday, we took a time test with 20 problems in 2 minutes.  I am happy to report that everyone did really well on our last one this past week!  The kids were so excited!  Now we move on to the next set!

So only time will tell, but I'm hoping this new system will help us master these facts.

If it works, we will do the same for subtraction.

We are still struggling with getting homework turned in.  ARGH!  So I brought out this great book for a read aloud.   This is one of the Scholastic books written by kids.  It has some of the best excuses EVER and the kids giggled and laughed.  After we finished we had our first "love talk" and I sure hope we can get 100% completion on homework this week.

If you are having trouble with homework, look for this book!  It is a winner!

The beginning of school can mean only one thing....


Here is a picture of my favorite middle school football player!   School games are already underway! Nothing like a cool evening and a little football to bring a smile to my face.  I think what impressed me the most was the number of teachers from his school that came to game!  I would say at least 25-30 teachers, if not more!  It really made the kids/parents smile because the teachers care so much about them.  I'm so lucky that my son is attending such an amazing school!

I hope everyone has a great week!

Sunday, August 23, 2015

My NEW BLOG and a FLASH FREEBIE to celebrate!

Excitement is not the word!

My new blog is up and running thanks to the AMAZING Alexis with Laugh Eat Learn Design. She has been completely and totally fantastic to work with, so if you are out hunting for someone to take your vision and make it into a masterpiece, please consider using her.  You won't be sorry!

So now that my new blog is up and running I wanted to bring you up to date on my first two weeks of school!

I am as tired as tired can be!  It is a good tired and I know you all know what I am talking about.

I moved to a new classroom down the hall, so I had the chance to make some changes to my classroom.

We all start of Ready to Learn each day.  My big change this year was that everyone starts on an "S".  I really thought a lot over the summer about conduct.  At the end of the day we expect the kids to earn an "S", so I decided that we start off where we expect to end.  It also put my conduct chart in line with the majority of the teachers at my grade level and that is always a good thing.

If you haven't read this book to your kids....  BEG, BORROW, or STEAL!  One of my teacher friends showed it to me and I LOVE IT!  It was great for those first few days when we are all learning that our mouth is truly a volcano and it needs to not ERUPT!   After we read the book the kids worked in groups and wrote the main idea of the story and included a picture of each of the them being a VOLCANO!  Such a great way to help them work on this important skill.

One of my favorite stations in the classroom is the Highlighting Station.  A bucket of highlighters and a desk by the spot where they turn things in is all it takes to fix the NO NAME problem. The kiddos simply stop and highlight their name before they turn it in.  They love it and the NO NAME problem is eliminated!

Even though I had all the stations set out for Meet the Teacher...  my first day was a SUPPLY disaster with all the extra stuff they brought!    It seemed like their backpacks were bottomless pits of stuff!  It is all put away now thank goodness!

I finally have my teacher tradebooks and novels all organized.  The top three shelves are class sets of books that I have from grants and Scholastic points.  The bottom two shelves are trade books that I use for read alouds.  I have them organzied by subject matter, but I am thinking that it would be better to organize them by weeks of the year.  How do you organize yours?  I would love to hear some different ways!

I am really so excited with my new organizer!  I took one of the 5 drawer rolling carts I had and made days of the week labels for it.  Since it is on wheels I can move it to where I am planning. As I plan, I gather up everything I need for the activity and put it in the drawer.  All of my trade books, construction paper, tracers, worksheets, and books I need for the day in once place.  In the morning all I have to do is get the stack of stuff out and I'm ready for the day!

To celebrate my new blog I am making A Drawer for Day organizer a FLASH FREEBIE!  Click on the picture to download it for FREE!

I hope it helps you as much as it has helped me!