Thursday, May 29, 2014

Guided Math Book Study

I'm so excited to be participating in The Primary Gal's Guided Math Book Study! 

If you don't already have a copy of Guided Math by Laney Sammons, check it out from your local library or get it "where books are sold," ASAP! You'll be glad you did! 

This week we are reflecting on Chapter 1: Guided Math: A Framework for Mathematics Instruction. This chapter provides an overview of the Guided Math framework, which includes:
"1.  A Classroom Environment of Numeracy
2. Morning Math Warm-ups and Calendar Board Activities
3. Whole-Class Instruction
4. Guided Math Instruction with Small Groups of Students
5. Math Workshop
6. Individual Conferences
7. An Ongoing System of Assessment (p. 18)"

 It also asks teachers to examine their current mathematics teaching practices.

Reading this chapter made me realize I have a lot of work to do in math! I've focused so much energy on reading over the past few years that I've neglected to update the way I teach math. With that said, there are a few things that I do well, according to Laney Sammons. I do daily calendar activities that include a math review/warm up, and I feel like my whole group instruction usually goes well and reaches the majority of my students. There are plenty of areas where I can improve, though! 

I'm troubled by this quote from Chapter 1, "Some students complain of being bored while others fail miserably in understanding the concepts being taught (p. 17)." This refers to the traditional whole-class method of teaching mathematics, which tends to be my go-to method due to time constraints. And I have found this to be somewhat true in my classroom. I have kids who understand every concept after seeing it once, and others who still do not get it after learning about it for over a week. This is definitely something I want to change in the future.

There have been a few occasions that I have used the methods Laney Sammons writes about in the section about Guided Math Instruction with Small Groups of Students, where teachers assess their students and then group them based on their knowledge of a particular skill or standard. This works especially well when you can share kids across a grade level team. For example, we may give a pre-assessment over addition with regrouping, and score them based on a rubric. We then group them based on how they score and give a post-assessment at the end of the week or unit. This obviously involves more work than just traditional whole-group instruction with a test at the end of the chapter, but it is so worth it!

Be sure and enter the Rafflecopter below, and come back next week to catch the summary/reflection of Chapter 2!

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Friday, May 23, 2014

Five for Friday: Last Day of School!!

It's Friday, which means it's time to link up for 

Here are the highlights from my week: 

Last Friday, my kids gave their Author Study presentations they had been working on at home for three weeks. As usual, they impressed me so much with their professional looking displays and their knowledge of their authors. They told us some facts they learned about their author, some of the titles their author had written, and read part of one of their chosen author's books to the class. 

This past weekend was a princess weekend for my older daughter! We went to see Disney on Ice on Saturday just the two of us, and she loved it! But I think her favorite part of the weekend was her photo session dressed like Elsa. A local boutique and a photographer teamed up for a Frozen weekend - they even let us borrow the dress for the session! So fun! 

Monday was our Field Day! The weather was PERFECT, and my kids had a blast! We even came in first in most events, which was a first for me! 

Do you GoNoodle? My class LOVES taking "brain breaks." They beg for them, in fact, and on this particular day (Wednesday I think), we were just having a rough morning. GoNoodle to the rescue! We did a few activities (this was hurdles), and their moods were instantly better! If you've never tried it, you definitely should. Like Monday. Trust me!

Today was my LAST DAY of school! My sweet group of STARS and their parents gave me the most awesome gift - a bouquet of gift cards! I just love their faces! Seriously, I'm so spoiled. My school and our families are amazing. Each of my kids came up and gave me a huge hug (they could've just stopped there, and I would've been more than happy!), and then one of the moms brought in this bouquet! I was lucky enough to receive some other sweet gifts, and we spent the day wrapping up. 

We spent the most time finishing our memory boxes. You can grab the cover for FREE here. My sub and I saved one or two writing/craftivities from each month throughout the year, and today I helped them put them all in order in their memory boxes (12" or 14" white pizza boxes). I know they enjoyed looking at their work throughout the year, and I hope their parents do, too! My favorite part is always looking at their writing from the very first day of school. They're always surprised by how far they've come. 

Let the summer fun begin!! :) 

Monday, May 12, 2014

Celebration of Reading! A whole day of FUN!

I hope you all had a wonderful weekend!

Today I want to tell you all about the Celebration of Reading that my school's fabulous PTA sponsors every year. It really is the best day of the whole year! Plus it celebrates what we teach every. single. day. and helps to teach the kids that READING IS FUN! What could be better?

{I originally posted the pic above on Instagram. Click here to follow me!}

One of my favorite parts is that almost all of the teachers and staff dress up as their favorite book characters! The kids love figuring out who everyone is. :) 

I went as Jack, from the  Magic Tree House series, of course. 
(Click here to read my post on our Magic Tree House projects.)
I made a tree for my door, and Henry, the pteranodon even came by for a visit. 


Our secretary dressed as Pinocchio and even had her puppet strings attached to the ceiling above her desk. Needless to say, she's awesome! 

I'm sure you can figure out who this Kindergarten teacher is dressed as. Love it! :) 

Our amazing PTA president is famous for her costumes. Last year she was an Oompa Loompa. This year she topped that with her The Tortoise and the Hare ensemble! She and her team of awesome parents are in charge of the entire day! Teachers don't have to plan a thing. Can you see why it's the best day ever?!

The amazing parent below was also in charge of Teacher Appreciation Week. That may need it's own post, it was so wonderful. She took a week's vacation to be at school all day every day for the entire week, coordinating food and little gifts for the staff! To top it off, she won Nurse of the Year from one of our hospitals in the same week! 

Ok, so the way the Celebration of Reading works is that every month, all students K-5 have the opportunity to earn up to three "Book Bucks" by reading a certain number of books or pages (depending on grade level) at home and recording them on a sheet like this: 

It runs from September to April, so they can earn a maximum of 24 Book Bucks. Those students who have earned all 24 are considered "Super Readers" and are given VIP status, can dress as a book character, and get a free book! 

For First Grade, our Celebration of Reading day began in the gym (every grade level has a different schedule), where all of the kids could spend their Book Bucks on games, inflatables, snow cones, face painting, and more! It's a real-life carnival in our gym! But it's even better because we can just let them loose to choose their own activities. There is a TON of supervision, but the kids don't feel like we're hovering over them. 

My kids had a blast! 

I caught these two enjoying their sodas (because what seven year old wouldn't love soda at 8:30 in the morning?!) and deciding what to do next. You can see the Book Bucks in the hand of the boy on the left, and their yellow bracelets indicate that they are "Super Readers!" The bags are for any loot they acquire during the event. 

Next I spotted some STARS at the face painting stations. Spray on hair color was also a choice. :) 

Did I mention there were nachos? Seriously this day is a kid's dream come true!

We even had some community members come dressed as characters! How awesome is that?! And people, it was HOT in our gym that day. This was a sweaty couple of characters, but the kids loved having them there!

Finally, I caught up with some STARS playing games. The games were all run by students from the middle school our kids will attend. So. Much. Fun!

When we left the gym, we headed back to our room to settle down for a few minutes with a little Read to Self and Read to Someone before my "Super Readers" headed down to the Book Fair in the library to choose their free books!

After lunch, our next stop was to see the Mad Science demonstration.

This was so cute…see the boy in the front row directly in front of the Mad Scientist? He and several other little guys were holding their eyes open with their fingers because the scientist said, "don't blink, or you'll miss it." Seriously, how adorable!

Then my kids got to attend a Trix Stix demonstration. I didn't take any pictures, though, because homeroom teachers got to have our plan period while our kids were there!
I'm telling you, Celebration of Reading rocks!

Plus, I needed a few minutes to frantically put together put the finishing touches on my kids' Mother's Day gifts. Nothing like waiting till the last minute! But they turned out SO cute!

I picked my STARS up just in time to wrap up our gifts and get ready for dismissal!
What a fabulous day!

I can't thank our amazing PTA enough for this wonderful annual event.

And now the countdown is on!
I can't believe we only have nine days of school left!

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

TPT Teacher Appreciation Sale and Pool Noodle Regrouping!

First, I hope you are all enjoying your Teacher Appreciation Week! 
Our PTA is FABULOUS and is spoiling us rotten (and fattening us up) this week! :) 

OK, better late than never, right?! By now I'm sure you know about the big TPT sale and probably already have your cart loaded up! I wanted to stop in and let you know that my little store is 20% off, and you can get an additional 10% off using the code TPTXO until tomorrow night! Click on the picture below to go directly to my TPT store.

I also wanted to tell you about the product I just posted! 

If you remember back to the posts from the Spring Teacher Blogger Meet Up, you probably remember seeing all kinds of posts about using pool noodles for teaching place value. 
I even posted this pic on my Instagram:

I cut those babies up into tens and ones and then decided to take place value a step further and use them for teaching addition and subtraction with regrouping since that is such a difficult concept for first graders to wrap their brains around. 

I modeled using the pool noodles to regroup with the whole class several times and then let them work in groups to solve their own regrouping problems. 
*Note*: I realized a few minutes in that I needed to back up and remind them that pool noodles were not swords, but they quickly got back on track! :)

We did this for addition one week and subtraction the next, and it really helped to make this difficult concept a little more concrete for some of my STARS. 

And that is how this product was born (click the pic to check it out on TPT):

Pool noodles are so versatile that you can also use them for literacy skills, so I have included activities for the four types of sentences in this product as well. 

And the best part is you can get it ON SALE until tomorrow night! 

Happy Shopping! :) 

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Spring Clean Up Blog Hop!

Thank you for joining me on the 

If you are organizationally challenged like me, you are loving all of these great ideas! 

I'm bringing you a quick tip for storing your math manipulatives and will have you back on your way to the next stop on the hop in no time! 

When we received our math manipulatives for our latest math series, they came in a big box like this:

There was no way I was going to spend the year digging through the box, but I didn't want to just dump all of the different manipulatives into smaller tubs, either. 

I liked the idea of keeping them in their individual bags for quick and easy distribution and clean up. I had seen ideas for using shoe racks for storage before, and I thought that would be the perfect solution. I had a very tiny classroom at the time (not even a closet!), so storage space was limited. 


I bought these clear hanging shoe racks at Walmart I think, and they have worked perfectly. In my old room, they hung on the inside of two cabinet doors. Now that I actually have closets, they hang there. I keep the ones I use most often in one, and the others in the other. When it is time to use the manipulatives, I call my table leaders to come up to get enough bags for their tables. Then they bring the bags back when we are finished. Simple and quick, just the way I like it! 

What's even better than learning some fabulous organizational tips?
A GIVEAWAY of course! 
Be sure to enter the Rafflecopter below to be entered to win a $60 TPT gift certificate!!

Click the link below to head to your next stop on the hop: