Monday, December 9, 2013

Math Strategies


We've been working on lots of different strategies with the new Math Envisions program.

In topic 7, we worked on mental math strategies for addition and subtraction. I taught the class to circle the ones place (because ones starts with an O) and underline the tens place. This way, students make sure that they are adding the right numbers together when they can use mental math.

This strategy was also helpful in comparing numbers using <,>, and = symbols to help make sure that they are looking at the right number at the right time.

Another strategy that one of my co-workers showed me was using dots. For the greater than (>) symbol, you start by putting the two dots next to the bigger number and one dot by the smaller dot. Then you connect the dots.

This is a great strategy for students struggling knowing which way to point their arrows (if the alligator trick isn't working!).

Also in the Envisions program they teach how to subtract on a hundreds chart using addition. So when subtracting 74-58, you're supposed to start with 58 and then count over the ones until you're above the ones place of the first number and then count down the tens.

It was a difficult concept for students to get at first, but I think it is helpful in the long-term because it helps students see the relationship between addition and subtraction.

Sunday, December 1, 2013

Fable Lapbooks

Now I've posted about lapbooking before, but as a reminder, lapbooking is all about creating a product that is interactive and that students can learn from.

This was a project we did in class about fables. We were studying what a moral is and then how to apply it to a fable. We read aloud several fables beforehand and even read some stories that weren't really fables, but still had a moral. This was also a great chance to practice retelling.

I chose several short fables from the book Fables by Arnold Lobel. I copied the pages and then had students highlight key details from the story and then write what they thought the message was after rereading their key details. (This was important later for the lapbook retelling portion)

Here is our finished product!

These were hung up in the hallway where any students could walk by, read the summary and then pull out the card to read what the moral is. It was kind of a fun game for the students to check themselves.

I love making lapbooks and the students had a great time as well! I can't wait to make more later this year :)

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Technology plus Inquiry

Wow! I've been so busy that I haven't gotten to updating this for a month! A lot of exciting things have been happening in the classroom-- we've had birthdays, the walk-a-thon, a field trip, writing projects, centers, and most importantly, FUN and LEARNING!


I've had the chance to use much more technology this year, including a lot of wonderful FREE sites like Edmodo which is like an educational facebook.

For math I've also started using Ten Marks and Sumdog which are great tools for challenging advanced students and giving extra practice.

For reading I'm using the Lead21 curriculum site (which has virtual books and vocabulary building Star fall (which focuses more on phonics) and Game Goo which is a bit of everything.

Game Goo

There are many more sites I'd love to have students on, but sometimes those s
ites have games that aren't really educational so I'm always looking for more!

I've been really happy using Symbaloo. Instead of going to a favorites tab, it shows images and then takes you to whatever you click. I use it for my home page on my computer, but you can also use it to organize resources for units. Like this Life Cycles Symbaloo I created has resources used in class and additional ones for students to learn from more. I uploaded it to my edmodo account for them to keep on learning even after we're done. I love it!


I'm new to inquiry lessons, but I think I'm getting the hang of it. Our first question, we all chose the same question which was "What do my different roles say about me?" Here are some examples of our finished product!

 This time our focus is science in the community so we had a brainstorming session together and had the class pair up by interests and each pair is doing their own project (probably a poster this time). We'll see how it goes since the inquiry questions range from black holes to car motors to weather! Hopefully I can keep up with it all; I know the students will keep up the good work!

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Classroom Adjustments and Extras

As it always goes, once the school year starts we teachers realize that we want to tweak our plans for our classroom.

Level Library

I have made it my goal to expand my leveled library so that I can provide books for students that are at their level each week in their "book bag" at their desk. I introduced that book boxes to the kids today and they were so excited about them!

I pick out two books at their level from my library and let them choose two other books that they are interested in. I can't get them to put it down! So that a wonderful thing!

I have also written each student's name on their bag in the color of their reading group-- to help me when I'm choosing books at their level. Super excited that I could have "book bags" again!

I got lots of books from Savers yesterday (Buy 4 get 1 free) so I am sure that in not time I will have much fuller baskets in my library! I also appreciated that families that donated books to my classroom. The students and I are very grateful!

Literacy Centers

After trying to use the smartboard to project the stations, I decided that it was too confusing for students. I want them to be able to move quickly without interrupting the guided reading time to ask where they are going. This is why I've started using the group baskets!

It says their rotations and has their book from guided reading time so that if they finish early, they could be rereading those books.

I have a basket for all four of my groups. Each day someone is designated to carry the basket to the rotations and be the leader-- pointing other students to their next spot if they forget.

The entire class is really enjoying word work activities and game goo!

Author's Purpose

I've done some work with the P.I.E. (Persuade, Inform, Entertain) idea before, but now I've expanded it into an interactive bulletin board! While students have done their silent reading, they decide which "piece of the PIE" the book their reading is.
I'm planning on getting some more persuasive texts from the library this week so students can see the difference. I think they've really taken off with it and it'll be a piece of cake in no time :)

 Classroom Community

Our class is truly coming together and will continue to build on our relationships using the morning meeting model. 

This was an activity we did our first week of school-- an all about me pennant. I've hung them all together to show that we are a community. The students haven't seen what I've done with them yet, but I think they'll be excited :)

Thursday, August 22, 2013

First full week of school

We are wrapping up our first full week of school. We've spent a lot of time on placement tests and getting things organized and routines in place, but I'm also happy to share some of the fun things we've gotten to do!

Reading Centers

We've practiced the Daily 5 rotations which are: Silent reading, Reading to someone (partner reading), Listening to reading, Writing (which is actually done in our writer's workshop after centers) and word work.

The students have gotten very good at moving through the centers and had a lot of fun today working on the different word work stations.  The word work stations put a focus on phonics, sight words, and sentence construction AND they're always very hands-on so they are always a crowd pleaser. I'm hoping to create more this year too!


We started math with a math about me project to display for meet the teacher night. This was my first time doing this project, but I was very pleased with how they turned out.

We also started the new Math Envision curriculum. I've been very pleased with it so far and the students love the workmats that come with each lesson, interactive videos, and center activities.


We studied nutrition and the food pyramid as well as building well-balanced meals. We put this into our science journals-- we also saw a very good explanation of the new food pyramid, but it was through United Streaming so I can't share that link.

Very soon we will kick off our research unit on insects!

Social Studies

We just started looking at communities and will start looking at urban, suburban, and rural communities and then we will move into leaders.

As shown in the previous post, I am using a clip up system for individual monitoring. I like that it's more positively focused and it gives students the chance to turn their days around (not "stuck"on red). I don't have a picture of the exact same calendar I've been using as a recording sheet, but here is an example one.
Many students got the chance to "cash in" their 5 good days today (green or better). Some of the things they can earn are: a hat day, no shoes, positive note home, prize box, bring in a stuffed animal, show and tell and if they save up for 10 days they can do lunch with me-- I usually go outside if the weather is nice :) They seemed very excited about "cashing in" today!

I hope this has been an insightful update!

Wednesday, August 14, 2013

Back to School Night

I had a wonderful time meeting all of my new students and parents last night at Back to School night. If any of them are checking out my blog for the first time, I'd like you to know that my blog primarily shows projects we're done in the classroom, but also will have teaching resources sometimes. I use it as a professional and reflection tool. I do not post pictures of students on my website. I may start an album on my school website which is here when I get any pictures of students.


For the first day's homework, all of the 2nd grade team set out these bags with the details about
what they need to bring for the first day of school (waterbottle, snack) and the bag is for the students to bring three things that tell about themselves that will fit in the bag. I hope students are thinking hard on that today!

Wish List

I also set out a wish list with several items that parents could bring for the classroom if they are able to.  I will set this out again on Meet the Teacher Night (on Tuesday) along with some fall conference and guest reader sign up pages.

By request I will post some finished product pictures of my classroom with some things I set out for Back to School night for any teachers looking for ideas for next year.

I'm off to school now to go organize all my the classroom supplies! I'm very excited for our first day of school tomorrow! My next post will be about some changes I'll be doing to my Daily 5 program to cut down on some of the paperwork. Go green!


Monday, June 24, 2013

Organization Machine

So I've had a lot of people ask me what I've been up to so I thought I'd update everyone! First off, I kept my word and organized 1/3 of my classroom library-- I didn't use the cardboard boxes because they were not sturdy enough so I spent $5 and look at the cuteness!

I organized it through Level O (3rd grade) and I am hoping to add to it so I can switch out books through the year for variety for the kids.

Also, I have had the chance to work on my new classroom! It is not done of course, but it's really coming along. I still want to work on getting a focus wall, inquiry section and a word wall. I also need to figure something out for my calendar because my current one won't work. I'll figure something out-- ideas are welcome!

I think I'm just going to show pictures of the room-- no words necessary!


The fever has also spread to my office closet at home! I have been an organizing machine! And the pictures to prove it!

I hope your summer has been equally productive and awesome! The only bad news I have to report is that I was going to make crate chairs for the classroom but it's going to be a bit too expensive for this year.. we'll see! I did (as you can see from the pictures) spring for cloth for the bulletin boards!

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Last week of school!

This week was the last week of school and is my last week at Welborn in KCK. I am sad to leave many things, but very excited for a new opportunity. I'm also happy to say there are only 2 days (well, 1 now!) days of school left before summer break!


I did this last year and did it again this year. I originally started with about 15 balloons counting down school. In each balloon is a slip of paper with an activity that the class gets to do the next day if we have a good day.  Today's balloon was to have a "slumber party" in the classroom. I have students bring blankets and pillows and we spend the entire day on the floor for our last day festivities. The students really loved it last year and I'm sure they will again this year!  (The last balloon has my age in it because for some reason this class is incredibly interested in how old I am!)

 Sunglasses Project

I'd seen the sunglasses with lines on TpT (It does cost money, but this is the link!) so I broke down and spent the $2.50 for the template, bought some big poster paper and let the kids' imaginations run wild! 

In the glasses they had to write 2 paragraphs about what they are doing or would like to do this summer. Then they were to draw themselves doing something they mentioned in their paragraphs.

These are only a couple of them, but they are turned out really great and I think the families are going to be excited to see these too!

Keepsake books

Many of my students didn't get yearbooks so each year I do keepsake books where they write about their friends and their favorites. I posted the link for it on my post last year if you're interested!

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Wrap Up

Before I showcase my end of the year activities-- I'm saving all of those for my next post-- I wanted to show some of the wrap up things I've done this year to help the students review and help me reflect for next year.

With that in mind, I would also like to share that next school year I will be teaching 2nd grade at Harmony Elementary in the Blue Valley District! I'm very excited for the opportunity and can't wait to get started!

Anchor Charts for Review

I wanted to find a fun way to practice measuring and text features while meeting standards.  For math, I posted different strips around the room and they met the Core Standard where they have to use different items to measure the same thing and then compare.

For text features, they had to find that text feature in the book (Life in a Garden) and explain its usefulness.

Testing Update

We just finished our Math MAP testing 1 1/2 weeks ago and 80% of the class met their improvement goal! That was the highest in the school and 35% higher than the district goal! So proud of the class-- they've worked so hard!

I'm wrapping up the Fountas and Pinnel testing now and it looks as though almost every student has improved by several letters! 

Student Reflections

I wanted to try out this foldable this year to have the students reflect on their year and to help me see what stands out to them this year and to see what things they feel they need to keep working on or what they want to learn more about.

Most students expressed that they wanted to learn more about science and multiplication and the other answers for what they learned and are working on gave me a chance to really see how much they've grown and learned this year--very proud!

Estimation Review

We had a chance to review estimation this week using Fruit Loops! 

A link to the worksheet we used is right here.

The end product ended up pretty cute-- they look like this when it's said and done:
The kids really had fun and got a chance to review!

Those are my classroom wrap ups! I will have end of the year activities in the next post--I can't believe next week is our last week already!