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August 27, 2015

Undercover CIA (Math Lesson)

 Yesterday we started chapter 2, we're moving onto addition! When learning about Commutative, Identity, and Associative properties, I like to use the acronym CIA.  The kids totally get it, and I get to have fun with it. When I think of CIA (probably because of all the spy shows I have watched over the years - Alias, Burn Notice, Chuck, Covert Affairs), I tend to think of those dark sunglasses that hide true identities.  

The students took a piece of copy paper and folded it in half.  Then, with the fold on the top of the paper, we drew a line across the paper as the top part of a pair of sunglasses.  Then we drew 3 lines underneath - one on each side for the temples, and then one in the middle for the nose bridge.  After drawing the lines, we then drew 2 U shapes for the lens, and filled in the details like above.  

Cutting was a big deal.  When folded, they cut along the bottom 3 lines and the lens.  The top was left intact to make it a flip up book.  Inside we wrote our notes for Addition Properties and the Subtraction Rules.  The kids were able to decorate their sunglasses in any way (as long as they could still read the notes).  

I used Ashley Hughes' cute sunglasses to create a version that is easy to print!  Just click the picture!

  Have a great day!

August 26, 2015

Day 12... ELA Bulletin Boards

Hi Everyone.  I've fallen into the black hole that is called Back to School.  Where the days are long, sleep is short, and a teacher's energy is zapped!  I wanted to share what we've been up to the past 12 days of school.  Yep, only 12!  I can't believe August is almost over - time has seemed to move at record speeds!

We started our novel studies.  Each week we have been focused on a specific reading strategy, but also spiraling through all of them.  I've been using my Reading Exit slips on Fridays as a quick check of what the kids should be able to identify.  The kids drop them off on this pocket chart, right next to their classroom number.

Nearby this entire wall has turned into a reading center.   Don't mind the mail crates underneath. :)  

Over in the corner are character traits from Joanne Miller (our intro. to that was this week), and then our strategies.  The kids brainstorm different examples from our text, and I stick them on to the reading graphic organizers.  The kids have the same ones in the front of their reading comprehension notebooks as a reference of what we are learning.  It has made it pretty easy to fill out!  

Across the room is our Writing wall.  We have started Rainbow Editing and Word of the Day.  Little by little this wall is filling up, which makes me happy!  

How are you doing?  Are you surviving Back to School?  

August 16, 2015

Back to School in a Flash: Student Engagement

I'm so excited about this next week of school.  Every year I always forget how draining the first week can be as the kids are learning the routines and procedures, but then the second week comes and things are so much better.  I thrive on having a routine and I start to really know my new students.  With starting the true curriculum, there is always the need to keep the students engaged and focused as they learn, so today I wanted to share some things I've learned after all these years.   

 I love using games in my classroom to review concepts.  It makes it fun and exciting.  One of my favorite games is Scoot.  It's easy to play... just grab a set of task cards (one card per child), and place them on the different desks.

 The kids have a limited amount of time to answer that one question/card on a separate sheet of paper.  When the teacher calls "Scoot" the kids scoot to the next desk to answer yet another card. The movement makes it fun, yet the kids are still getting a lot of review.  It's because it's such a fun game that I decided to create task cards for every math concept that I need to teach my kids.  Between using them for scoot, intervention, and math centers, the cards are used a lot every single year.  I love how it's a one time prep, many year use.

For behavior, I love to focus on the positives.  One of the best tips I learned years ago was to use prizes that cost me close to nothing.  I didn't have to worry about running to the store at 8pm at night to pick up more treats.

  Sweet Treat Prizes - Freebie

I use these prizes as part of my Friday raffle.  In the past years students have turned in their tickets to enter the raffle (I choose 3-5 winners every week), and the kids choose a prize card out of a little bin.  They hold onto it until they use the card.  It's easy stuff - like using a pen all day, or sitting on the floor for a lesson, or taking off their shoes during a test...  It's free if you need something!  This year I decided to not buy any more of the raffle tickets and instead am using a 100 grid.  It worked so well this past week.  I let kids choose a spot to write their classroom number, and then I added students numbers as well when I would normally have given a ticket (pushing in chairs without being asked, lining up quietly, being a helper, etc.... all those normal things).

You have probably heard of this before... but student choice is by far one of the most valuable student engagement tools possible.  Years ago (at least 5) I learned about Daily 5.  By far one of the best professional development books I have ever read.  Now, over the years I have tweaked it to make it work for me and my schedule... but that's the beauty of it... CHOICES! 

My workshop time (both ELA and Math) has been changed forever.  The mini lessons add to the day, the student work time has everyone on task, and the kids are excited when it's time for Daily 5 (or Math Daily 3)...  I really love it!  

 Speaking about another thing that has transformed my classroom...  Whole Brain Teaching!

Product Details

 I have the book, but the best thing that helped me was watching the videos both on Youtube and at 

Want to join in on the fun?  Link up a blog post to the below linky!  I hope this helped.  :)  

August 12, 2015

My Back to School Night Powerpoint

Today was the 2nd day of school.  My Fitbit was humming as I didn't seem to sit down all day long. :)  I really like my class though!  It's going to be a good year.

Tonight my homework is simple.  I need to update my powerpoint because tomorrow is our Back to School Parent Night.  The night that I feel nervous, my voice and legs get shaky, and I talk a million miles a minute to cram everything in.  I need to remember to breathe!  I went looking for my post from last year, so I wanted to share it with you as well.  Many of you didn't know me back then. 

I hope you have a great evening!


August 16, 2014
This week was a blur.  It was the first week of school - so it was long and extra full of all the beginning of year stuff.  My preps were filled with writing receipts for agendas.  My lunches were full of setting up for the next activity.  My afternoons were filled with running around, getting things organized, and taking care of other responsibilities.  My throat and legs are sore from going non stop over the past 5 days.  :)  I know you can relate!    

This week I had Back to School Night on Thursday.  Back to School night is the Parent Night - we give 2 presentations, each about 25 minutes.  It goes fast... and I talk really fast!

Here's my slide show (minus some personal details):

This year I added a picture of my boys first and foremost into my presentation - I want my families to know that I also have a family that is top priority.

I added this slide that my team mate created about the difference from 
the old standards to the "new" ones.

This year I gave a sample schedule of our weekly homework.  

I also did a have a little chat with parents regarding the importance of deodorant and showers for their 4th graders.  :)

As for their desks, I always load up them with my Back to School Packet (which just goes into depth about the things in the powerpoint) and these Parent Questions.

What kind of things do you add into your BTSN presentation? 

August 10, 2015

Monday Made It: Team Awesome, Nut Free, and CPR!

Tomorrow the kids come... I'm so excited to meet them!  This past week was spent getting things ready in the classroom.  I'm almost ready to show it to you!  I did make up a few things for today with Monday Made It!

My team has matching shirts this year.  Aren't they awesome!?!  They are from 
Image result for i teach 4th, what's your superpower

My team was joking around the other day and named ourselves Team Awesome.  :)  So I made up some Official Membership gifts with our favorite team candy... seriously, it makes meetings better!  LOVE the clip art from Creative Clips!

Here it is over on Google Docs!

This year I have a couple kids with nut allergies.  It's really serious how so many kids have epi-pens these days.  I made this freebie up for my window, hoping it reminds the kids to not bring in anything for birthday celebrations and class parties that could hurt others.  Maybe it can help you too!  

Going along with that, I renewed my CPR online this past week!  I sat down and MADE myself get it done before school started.  Now I am able to administer (hopefully never) epi-pens if needed.  You can save some money with the code below!

I hope you have a great day!

August 9, 2015

Back to School in a Flash: Decor and More

2 days people... 2 days... Tuesday morning the kids come!  

Today's assignment is to show off my classroom.  I still have a few random projects to complete Monday afternoon, so today I wanted to share some of my absolute favorite areas of my room.

I love using card stock as backing.  My student work wall is one of my absolute favorites.  Each student has their own spot with their student number underneath, and it's easy to see who still needs to finish their work.  This wall changes on a weekly basis.  The card stock is laminated this year...  One of my "projects" is to add a large paperclip to the top of each of the sheets so it's easy to slide papers on and off.

I love using fabric on my walls.  Twin sheets can cover a lot of space!  The actual walls are pretty gross, so the calming colors really are relaxing.  The fabric definitely helps me to LOVE my classroom (ha ha).  The easiest way for me to put up fabric/sheets is to use pushpins on the top of the wall to hold it in place, then cut it to the correct length, staple starting at the top, then adding the border afterward.     

Large open floor space makes me happy.  I have 2 areas on either side of the room that are perfect to sit as a class, work during workshop centers, read during silent reading... 

My storage containers are so helpful to keep things in their right places.  The black ones (top picture) hold my ELA and Math standard task cards - sorted by area.  The large drawers have my projects sorted by trimester.  The other black 3 drawer containers have our class set of thesaurus, spelling activities, fluency pages, social studies/science connections, and ELA workshop options.  In the white drawers I have "Rowley" math facts pages, flashcards, math fact activities, and then manipulatives we use all the time.  

I hope you were able to get some ideas!  Share your classroom by adding a blog post to the below linky!