Sunday, September 28, 2014


Oh Sunday....
How I both love and hate you.
I don't know about you
but lately I feel like my weekends
are so packed, that Sunday becomes
a mad dash to get everything done that needs to get done. 
I'm linking up with Jennifer from Mrs. Laffin's Laughings

I'm trying to stay on top of things for this next week----
and that starts with #MyMathJourney

Recently my district has adopted Math Expressions. 
I'm in year 2 right now. 
The process for me is slow. 
It has taken some time for me to get used to teaching differently---
but I've seen great progress with kids so I'm excited!
There's so much to get in and teach
 that the majority of my math block has been whole group instruction. (ICK)
This year I have a very large divide in math skills
that my students possess
 as we start learning the concept of multiplication, 
and whole group all of the time....
it just isn't working. 

So after so much blog stalking....
(here are two that I keep going back to for help)

and TpT purchases....

I'm gong to try to run things just a bit different this next week. 

Math Plans-  I plan to run both whole group and small group instruction this next week in math. I will utilize our math intervention time to work with small groups of students that needs some extra help. While I do that I also have on-level and enrichment activities to both practice the current skill that we're learning in class and also topics that we've already done to spiral them back.  It's a very large work in progress but here's a small overview and what I hope will happen.  

Mini-Lesson: We will discuss the topic of the day for each day at the beginning of the math block. After that, I will send my higher level students off to do some independent work on the topic just taught, and I will then work with small groups of students who will need more instruction.  When its time to rotate I will send my small group to do some independent work and continue.  Students who aren't working with me will work on the following: 

1. Independent Work (work that covers our topic being taught right now)
2. Fact Practice- This will consist of a computer website this week, but will change as the weeks go on to practice facts in different ways.  This week we will do digit whiz. If you haven't used it yet, I recommend that you check it out. Kids LOVE it! And, it's free, so what could be better?
3. Centers- This is an activity that students will work on if they finish up their independent work early. They will be different each day. Some days will be extra work on our current skill, other days it may be a math journal or a skill that we are spiraling.  Activities include partner work, games, or writing. 
4. Small Group- This will be with me for additional teaching and practice. I will also then cycle around the room as students work on independent work to check in. 

The end of the math block will end with a closing/ mini-lesson as well so we can do a small formative assessment. This way I can see where we are from today and decide what we will move forward with as the next day approaches. 

Due to the length of this post already, I'm just going to leave math at that. Next week I'll share more in-depth on how it will look as I have a week under my belt and can talk more about the actual teaching going on and the concepts being taught!  

Reading- Small groups are starting this week as my students are all trained in Daily 5 and area ready to go. I'll be working with small groups on story elements (a review) and comparing and contrasting. We will be using the story: The Three Little Pigs to help us do that. Based off of book levels, different groups will get different stories.  We will be making Venn-diagrams to compare stories as the week goes on and then sharing the different versions that we read with each other.  Some of the books that I will be using are: (click each picture to go to amazon)

I have more... much more.. but I'll stop there. This is getting long. If you stuck with me, thanks!!! Hope everyone has a great week!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Writing Treasure Chests

This week was long. 
Very long. 
I felt like every morning I was running to a meeting....
and by Friday I just wanted to sit at my desk,
and get a few things done. 
Boy, am I glad I didn't!
I went to our school writing committee meeting
and came back with a wonderful idea. 

is on this committee with me. She teaches
4th grade and has a passion for writing.
She really has inspired me this year
to put that at the forefront of my teaching. 
She found this great resource, which is aligned 
with the CCSS for the 3-5th vertical team to 
begin to implement this year in writing. 
Check it out here... there is also resources for other grades too,
we're just starting with 3-5 for now. 

She brought her student writing portfolios to the meeting to share. 
They were very simple, made of manila folders
and stored in a milk crate
She called them their writing 'Treasure Chests.'
I really loved the name of these folders and what they were being used for. 
Instead of having a portfolio that will be passed from
teacher to teacher each year,
students will make a treasure chest to store writing
and then get to explore their writing several times a year.
They can go back and watch their progression. 

I made similar  manila folders for my writing center this week
but I didn't call them treasure chests. 
They were plain, and just sitting in a book basket bin for 
the students to add their pieces of free writing to. 

This was from my 5 for Friday post.... talking about getting our writing center up and running. Here are two students using the writing prompt book that I made to help them come up with an idea for a story. You can see my folders in the corner (a little...) in a red bin.  They are just folders, and nothing was special on them. 

As soon as I got back to class after my meeting,
I introduced the treasure chest, and allowed students to
decorate them. I was so impressed!

Most of them put their names on the front so I tried to pick
 a few that didn't have their names on them to share.
They loved the treasure chest idea from the beginning. 
I had many of them actually draw treasure chests, 
or things they would want to find in a treasure chest. 
Thanks to Jennifer, this is just another way that I'm 
Sparking Student Motivation this week!

I'm linking up with Head Over Heels for Teaching today
for this great linky called Spark Student Motivation Saturdays!!
 Be sure to stop by and see how others are 
getting that spark started for their students!! :) I'm so thankful for everyone 
and their amazing ideas!

Friday, September 26, 2014

News from New York!!! Five for Friday! 9*25*14

Happy Friday!
I must confess... this week is going to be 2.5 for Friday x two.
I had a post almost ready for last week and never posted.
So I'm doing some from last week and some from this week!
Totally in the rules, right?? 

The first is from last week. 
It was a major #fail. 

I tried to do something hands on in math
with my kiddos. 
The goal was for my students to try to see patterns of the different count bys.
I used hundreds charts and watercolors.  I've done this in the past,
but never have I had to have so many students redo because of not following directions. 

I'm happy to say that they are all done after several attempts.
The plan is to compare the different charts to talk about multiples of numbers
and also discuss patterns in the skip counting. 

It only took me a month (well not quite, but it's close) 
and I finally got some things organized in my room.
Here are two different things that are finally D.O.N.E.

Thanks to 4th Grade Frolics for these FREE log-in loops for my kids!
I've finally put them all together and they are being used to store all of their
usernames and passwords!

I'm just loving my dots for the guided reading table.

We are using Jivey's Mentor Sentences for the beginning 
of our writing block warm-up. 
I am thrilled with how it's looking after just 3 weeks. 
The kids love it, and their favorite part is finding different parts of speech. 
Who knew??? 

Here is our 'notice it' and 'label it' section for this week.
I keep it on the back whiteboard all week, and when
we can get a few minutes we are always working with it!

Here are some student imitation sentences based off of
the book 'Enemy Pie' from last week. 

Daily 5 is in full swing. 
My kids are doing great with practicing right now,
so great that we can officially start rotations 
and guided groups next week. Cross your fingers!
Here are some of our stations!

Here we are doing some partner reading!
They are rocking at it!
I must say, they are one of the chattiest groups I've had....
but partner reading is going the best it's ever gone!

Practicing using our chromebooks to listen to stories online.

Here is a word work practice station.  She is writing with sharpies
on pieces of lamination that is left over from the machine at school.
We call it 'stained glass.'

Here is my writing prompt book being used in the work on writing center.

You can find check it out here at my TpT store!  My kids are loving the
different prompts, and not once have I heard 'I don't know what to write about!!!"
You can do a new one everyday. It comes with 180 various prompts!

We officially got our first postcard this week
from the postcard exchange I signed up for. 
I'm so excited for the journey this is going to take
us on as a class! 

I've linked up with Doodle Bugs Teaching today for Five for Friday! 
It's a great linky to share things that are going on during the week 
and to steal gather some awesome ideas! Be sure to stop by! 

Thursday, September 25, 2014

Positive Thinking Thursday 9*25*14

I've been absent for nearly a week.. probably even more! School has taken over. Not in a bad way I'm just not getting any time to blog. That makes me super sad, so I'm hopeful that this weekend I will be able to catch up a bit. I have a lot of things to share, so let's hope I stay on top of my game. It's Thursday, so I'm linking up with Jennifer from Mrs. Laffin's Laughings for some positive thinking! I just love this linky. It helps me gain perspective... especially as the week winds down and things can get hectic.  It also is super nice that Jennifer works in the same building as I do, and her positive thoughts carry over into our teacher workroom! It's great to be reminded both in blog world and in my teaching world about positive energy being so great!


I'm going to keep it short and sweet today with my positive thought.  As the first month of school winds down, and we're still having to take a few steps back to review regular routines and procedures I think of this as I chug along each day right now.  Change and a new school year always bring challenges!  I'm really trying hard to stay positive, and let this new group of kids guide me where I need to go. I'm being open minded, and really trying new things this year! Be sure to stop by Jennifer's blog for some positive thinking on this Thursday!! Hope you all have a great end to the week!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

A Peek at My Week {9*15*14}

Here we are,
Sunday again! 
Man, it sure comes fast!
I'm excited today to be linking up with Jennifer
from Mrs. Laffin's Laughings
for another edition of 

Be sure to stop by and say hello to Jennifer, 
and link up or check out some great ideas 
that other bloggers are sharing from their 
week ahead!

Reading:  This week in reading, we're still using whole class read alouds to talk about story elements and summary. This is giving me the opportunity to finish up Daily 5 training and finish up assessments so I can hopefully start small groups next week.  Our book this week is Enemy Pie by Derek Munson.  

This is what Amazon has to say about the book, 
"It was the perfect summer. 
That is until Jeremy Ross moved into the house down the street
 and became neighborhood enemy number one.  
Luckily Dad had a surefire way to get rid of enemies: 
Enemy Pie! 
But part of the secret recipe
 is spending an entire day playing with the enemy. 
In this funny yet endearing story, 
one little boy learns an effective recipes
 for turning your best enemy into your best friend."  

Click for Amazon
I will also use this book for my mentor sentence of the week and focus on several writing elements that we will be doing in workshop, which I'll share later. 

Math: This week in math we will be starting our math journals to get used to doing them during our intervention time.  I will start with some easier prompts for students to copy and answer, and as the week goes on they will get more challenging. Our focus this week is on division strategies, and building fluency with 2's and 10's for multiplication. 

Writing- In launching our workshop this week the focus is on narrowing down a topic (small moments), gathering ideas (a review from last week) and building proper sentences.  We'll really use our mentor sentence this week to practice putting a subject and verb together to answer the who and what what in our sentences.  I also plan on using this freebie from Lovin' Lit to help out with our sentence writing. I think with all of our talk on sentence structure and learning the parts of the sentence that I can use this with my 3rd graders!

Wordwork- I plan on introducing spelling contracts this week to students. This is a new thing for me, that I'm really excited to use. I purchased it this summer from Fourth and Ten.  Basically it is a month long assignment where students do different activities to practice their spelling words (instead of just spelling them to a parent aloud or writing them down over and over for practice).  I've been looking for something new and fun for awhile, and I'm hoping this is it. We use Sitton Spelling in our school so we don't necessarily have a new word list to send home each unit. It's a list of core words for the year that are introduced and a list that they come to the grade with that they should also know. So I've broken apart those lists to spiral the words through the year over the course of each month.  Their job is to complete several activities with their words for the month to practice. 


I hope everyone has a great week!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Student Made Expectations

Happy Weekend!
I'm so shocked at how fast these days are flowing by...
I'm just finishing up week 2----
and I feel like I've been back forever!

Today I'm linking up with Joanne from Head Over Heels for Teaching

I'm trying to do things differently this year in many ways and for many reasons. 
One main difference is that since I've been at this for 8 years now, I want to stay fresh and different with my teaching and ideas. I also want to incorporate the kids as much as I can in everything that I do, which is why I've done things differently this year. 

If you've read anything I've posted this last week, 
you will know that my room still isn't 100% ready,
 and for the first time in history, I'm ok with it.... well kind of ;)
It's still driving me crazy, but I'm learning to be ok with it. 
I've had students do things that I normally do. 
Hence my Student Motivation this week:

Student Made Expectations!!

In the past I've always had us 'come up' with our own rules and expectations and then take home all of the notes and make a pretty poster with what I think are the best things for classroom rules and expectations. Well, I'm at the point with a new school year and a new baby where I don't have time for that. So this year, it truly was a student led process, in hopes that they will take even more ownership of their actions, and hopefully spark their motivation to follow the expectations that we have made together for our class. 

Buy on Amazon

We started with reading Officer Buckle and Gloria 
to put a funny twist to rules and importance of following them. 
After that we started making a list of things that we should 
always remember to do as people working and learning 
in a classroom environment. 

We made our notes on post-its and then grouped them together. 
It just so happened that they came up with breaking apart the expectations 
for different parts of the day.

They came up with their own consequences too....
Not exactly what I would have done but, like I said, 
we're going with all student led at this point....

We also have one big brainstorm chart that we made with everything in one place that is being hung over our classroom door so we can see it each time we exit the room. I am sorry to say that I forgot to take a picture of it. I love how it turned out though, so we can always use it as a reminder when we go out somewhere into the school. 

I'm not saying this is going to work 
any better than classroom rules/expectations have been done in the past,
 but I'm trying to do it a little different. 
I would have NEVER been caught putting 
posters that looked like this up in my room,
 because in my mind they aren't 'pretty' or 'crafty' enough. 
So this is new for me and very different. 
However, I'm hoping that this will help the students remember
 exactly the process and steps
 that we took to make these expectations up together 
and will think twice before not following them. 

How are you trying to spark motivation in students 
to follow expectations or take charge of 
taking responsibility for following expectations?