Saturday, August 16, 2014

Saturday Snapshots

I know many of you have started back to school already, so I hope you are enjoying your weekend. I am savoring the last days of summer on vacation with my husband in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico.  I am escaping the heat for a little bit to write this post and link up with Miss Nelson from Run Miss Nelson’s Got the Camera for Saturday Snapshots.  

We are staying at a beautiful resort right on the beach.  I love waking up to this view every morning. 
The resort has many animal residents including iguanas and peacocks.  They just roam around looking for food and shade.
My husband just had to feed them. 

Our main goal for this vacation was to relax, so we have only left the resort a few times to go sightseeing.  We did go downtown to see Los Arcos.
We also went to Rhythms of the Night.  It’s a show and dinner on a secluded cove.  If you are ever in Puerto Vallarta, I highly recommend going. 


Everyone has been so nice and the weather is beautiful. We leave tomorrow afternoon, and I cannot wait to come back here again. 
Monday I head back to work for a week of in-service before the kids start back on the following Monday. 

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Show Off Your Space Linky Party


I hope you are enjoying your weekend. I am linking up with Courtney from Swimming into Second for her Show Off Your Space linky party.  
I am also linking up with Just a Primary Girl for her Setting Up Success linky party.  
I spent the last few days in my classroom getting it as ready as possible.  I will have one day to put the finishing touches on it once I get back from our vacation.  I won’t get my class list until then, so a lot of that time will be spent labeling things.  This was the first time in ten years that I have been able to stay in the same classroom and in the same grade.  This, along with keeping the same color scheme, allowed me to get my room ready a lot faster than normal.  

The biggest change in my classroom is switching from desks to tables.  This change really opened up the space.  
I added a small shelf in front of each table (I made two from each Sterilite shelving unit).  The shelves hold my students’ book boxes, their math notebooks, their readers’ notebooks, and a supplies bucket. 

I am using the same supplies caddies from last year that I purchased at Target.  I just added new labels to the back for the three sections (with clip art from Sara Beth). I hope this helps them stay organized.  Since the tables take up less room than desks, I was able to space out my computer area onto two tables.  
 Hopefully, this will limit the distractions for my students while they are working on the Chrome Books.  
Thanks to my husband, I finally have curtains hanging in my classroom.  Not only do they add a cozy feel to the room, they allow me to close out the sunlight when I am using the projector. 
Once school starts, I will be receiving three more Kindle Fires for my classroom thanks to Donors Choose.  I needed a better storage solution for the tablets.  I decided to use Sterilite drawers for each tablet.  I still need to label each drawer and cut a hole in the back of each drawer to fit the charging cord.  I did create rules for using the tablets. 
These shelves house most of my math manipulatives.  After participating in the book study on Guided Math in Action this summer, I realized I wanted the manipulatives to be readily accessible to my students.  
 I love the labels from Amy Groesbeck! 
I also love that I was able to add a little lamp to this area.  
I love how my small group area is looking.  Last year, I used the metal stools from IKEA, but they didn't take my wiggly students too well.  I decided to buy storage ottomans this year.  I love that they match my color scheme and that I am able to store materials in each cube. 
The space behind my table is used to hang anchor charts (from the clothespins) and my students' brag bead necklaces.  I also switched the location of my word wall this year. I decided to take the plunge and get rid of my clip chart (gasp!), so this larger wall was free.  
My mom was a big help in setting this word wall up.  I wish she lived closer so she could help more often.  The old word wall space will be the focus wall for our integrated ELA with Social Studies/Science units.  
Under that board is where my students keep their backpacks and coats.  I decided to add labels to the hooks and shelves to try and keep this area organized (sorry for the glare from the lamination).  
I used both the standard form and word form of my students' numbers for the labels (thanks to Amy at Step into Second Grade for the idea). I used these same labels on my students' book boxes. 
My birthday board was another project.  
I hated how it looked last year, but didn't take the time to change it.  I think it looks a lot more complete this year. The birthday month posters are free from Ashley at That's So Elementary
This is the start to my Super Improver Wall.  I am waiting for my class list so I can print out the shields with my students' names on them.  I found the masks in the party section of Target. I plan to take pictures of the kids when they level up.  If you are interested in this super improver wall, it is free in my TPT shop.  
Another area that I am excited about is under my main white board.  
 I have been using hand signals in my classroom for the last few years, and I love it. This year, I decided to sort the hand signals with the corresponding Whole Brain Teaching rule. I used Rachel's (from The Tattooed Teacher) Whole Brain Teaching subway art rules along with my Classroom Hand Signal Posters




I think that I will also add some of Hope King's subway art inspiration posters to the areas under rules 4 and 5.  I hope that this will help my students understand what the 5 WBT rules actually mean.  
My classroom library is still a work in progress (I'll post pictures once I get that area finished).  It is currently organized by genre, but I am adding a DRA level sticker to each one to help my students choose good-fit books.  My teenage brother helped me to look up the books while he was visiting. Now I just need to search for the ones that didn’t show up when scanned.  The app I used was Lit Leveler.  It definitely has a lot more books in its database than any of the others that I checked out.  I also like the feature of being able to sort the books by DRA level right on the app.  
I can't wait to see how everyone's classrooms are coming along.  

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Guided Math in Action Book Study - Chapter 8

I am linking up again with Courtney and Sarah for the second to last chapter in the book study on Guided Math in Action by Dr. Nicki Newton. I have learned a lot by rereading this book, answering the discussion questions, and reading other people’s responses.  I am super excited to be implementing guided math this year.  I feel that Chapter 8 is one of the most important chapters in the book because it is all about what the other students are doing when you are working with a guided math group.  We all know that if the rest of the class is not engaged in their activity, you will not be able to give your full attention to the students in your small group.  Another struggle is giving students an activity that they can complete independently (or at least without the teacher’s help), but is still rigorous and worthwhile.  I loved all of Dr. Nicki’s ideas in Chapter 8 about what the other students could be doing.  She believes that students should be working independently, with partners, and in groups during this time.  She also suggests seven must-have centers:
1.Basic Fact
2.Hot Topics Review
3.Geometry
4.Word Problem
5.Math Poem
6.Math Journal
7.Math vocabulary
I have used basic facts, hot topics, geometry, word problems, and math journals in my math centers in the past.  I had never considered using poetry in math centers, so this is something I need to look into.  I honestly, don’t usually use much poetry in math.  If anyone has any great resources, please let me know.  My grade level has decided to put a focus on vocabulary this year, so it only makes sense to tie that into math.  I’m not sure what a math vocabulary center will look like in my classroom, so I am looking forward to the first Wednesday Link-Up all about Math Vocabulary.  See the schedule below to link up if you have any great ideas about math centers or if you just want to get some new ideas:

 Now onto this week’s discussion questions:
Question 1: How often do you give students the opportunity to practice on their own, in pairs, and in groups? I have students the opportunity to practice math on their own every day.  This can be their morning math worm-up or math fact practice in writing or on the computers/tablets.  I also have students work in pairs frequently.  These can be homogeneous or heterogeneous groupings. In the partner groups, students play cooperative and competitive games.  They also have opportunities to work together on problem-based tasks and other hands-on activities.   I do not have my students work in groups in math as often as in other subjects, so this will be an aspect to incorporate more this year.  I love Dr. Nicki’s idea for having students work together to solve a word problem by having each student take on a role (reader, number cruncher, checker, etc.) This is definitely something I will be incorporating in my classroom this year. 
Question 2: How do you hold students accountable for the work they are doing? In the past, I have had students complete worksheets and turn in for me to accountability.  I honestly hate making copies of worksheets, so I try to use them as infrequently as possible. This is one reason why I love using math journals.  Not only do I not need to make copies of worksheets, but I can also include more open-ended questions to challenge my students. The math facts centers that I use are often on the computer or tablet.  When my students use programs like XtraMath, the computer sends me email updates to keep up with accountability.  The other math fact activities that I have students complete are laminated or in sheet protectors, so there is nothing to turn in.  When students work in partners or groups, I believe that they keep each other accountable.  Sometimes I include an answer key in a center, so that students can check their work. I think that I may have students reflect on their work in their math journals even if they do not have a worksheet to complete.  This will give me and them something to discuss when I do math conferences.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

Currently: August


I am a day late, but I am linking up with Farley for this month’s Currently.  I cannot believe that it is August already.  Didn’t we just get out of school for the summer? I trying to savor my last moments of summer. 



Listening: Our pit, Guinness, is the biggest baby and loves to fall asleep on me.
Loving: My mom and 15 year old brother are coming up for a quick visit this week. I miss living close to them, but so glad we are only a 5 hour drive away instead of 3 day drive.
Thinking: I have a to-do list a mile long to complete school starts.  I haven’t been in my classroom yet, so I have a lot to do.  I was part of a curriculum planning team this past week, so I was on campus but not doing any work in my own classroom. 
Wanting: I only have 5 days to work in my classroom before we leave on vacation, so I would love to have a magic wand to use to make everything Pinterest-worthy.
Needing: I am always a last-minute packer, which drives my husband crazy.  We leave for Mexico a week from tomorrow, so I should start packing now.  At least it’s easy packing…bathing suits, sandals, and sun dresses. 
1st Day: The students come back to school on August 25th.  We have to report back to school on the 18th for staff meetings and trainings.  There really isn’t any time available for working in our classrooms that week, so I have to get it done this week. 

Sunday, July 27, 2014

July 27th – Book Study Chapter 6


It’s Sunday, so it’s time for the next chapter in the book study for Guided Math in Action by Dr. Nicki Newton. 
Chapter 6: A Framework for Guided Math Lessons contains the information teachers need when planning and executing small group math instruction. Dr. Nicki does a great job of breaking down the lesson into part.

Before the lesson: Make sure to collect enough data from different assessments/observations to decide what the point of intervention is.  Your guided math lessons will not be as effective if you do not use data to inform your groupings and focus.  Once you have your plan of action, you are ready to plan for your guided math group. Dr. Nicki believes that your guided math lesson should follow these steps:
1.Mini-lesson presented by the teacher based on your targeted skill
Hook the students
Emphasize vocabulary
Take comments
Ask questions
2.Focus presented by the teacher for the lesson
Today we will….
3.Learning expectations outlined by the teacher
You will learn how to…
You will be practicing…
4.Modeling/Demonstrating of the math concept by the teacher
Check for understanding
5.Discussion and practice of the math by the students
Group, partner, or alone
6.Monitoring/Note-taking by the teacher as students practice
Listen to conversations
Watch students work
7.Debrief of the lesson by the group
Summarize major takeaways
Highlight main points
Discuss tricky parts
8.Next steps discussed including math centers or homework


Dr. Nicki then went into how to evaluating your guided math lessons through reflection.  During a guided math lesson you should not only be taking notes on what the students are doing and saying, but also on the level of student engagement. 

Questions 1 & 2: Last year, I just wrote my guided math lesson plans into my lesson plans for the entire day, but this was never enough room.  I used Dr. Nicki’s parts of a guided math lesson to create a new guided math lesson plan template.  I am able to fit the lesson plans for all 4 groups on one page (front and back).  If you’re interested in this template, click on the picture to download it.

Question 3: My school focuses on teaching multiple methods.  We often spend one day on each method and show the methods side-by-side.
Build It:
The first method that we usually teach is a concrete, hands-on lesson using base-ten blocks, manipulatives, coins, clocks, etc. 
Draw It:
The second method is Draw It.  This is when we teach the students how to do the pictorial representation of the concrete method.  I explicitly teach my students how to neatly, yet quickly, draw what we just built.
Write It:
This is when I teach students the algorithms and other written methods.
I really like this method of teaching math because it starts with the concrete and gradually builds up to the abstract level.  Students learn why the algorithm works by showing it side-by-side with the concrete or pictorial method.  My students are able to select the method(s) that works best for them.  Many of my second graders prefer the Draw It method, and that’s fine.  They are able to use this method on any test including state tests.   As they get more comfortable with the algorithms, they will use the pictorial representation less frequently. 

Make sure to head to Courtney and Sarah’s blog, Adventures in Guided Math, to enter the giveaway for a copy of Problem Solving with Math Models by Dr. Nicki. 

Friday, July 25, 2014

Five for Friday: July 25th


It’s finally Friday (although this doesn't have the same excitement as it does during the school year).  I am linking up with Doodle Bugs for Five for Friday to share what I’ve been up to this week.
First, I am participating in Thriving in 3rd’s First Blogiversary Giveaway. If you haven’t entered yet, you should head over to Lindsey’s blog today to get in on the fun. 
You can win items from many bloggers’ stores along with a TPT gift card, Target gift card, and even a blog design by Lindsey herself. 

I was able to meet with my entire grade level (5 of us) this past Wednesday to discuss our plans for the new school year.  This was our first time meeting the new teacher who will be joining us along with a teacher moving up from 1st grade.  We had a great time, and I am feeling great about how our team will work together this year. 
If you are interested in starting Guided Math in the new school year, you should join in on our book study.  You can catch up with Chapters 1-5 on my blog or any of the participating bloggers.  Then join us on Sunday to discuss Chapter 6.  This is where we will discuss what those Guided Math lessons actually look like.  There will be a lot of useful information.
There will also be a giveaway going on at Adventures in Guided Math starting on Sunday.  You can win a copy of Dr. Nicki’s Problem Solving with Models book for your grade level. These books look awesome!

Finally, Go A’s….our home team, The Oakland Athletics, are at the top of the American League West.  This is my husband and I at last Saturday’s game.

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