I'm back from my happy place. It was very, very happy as usual. Good news is that I'll be going back over Memorial Day weekend, so I'm not even that sad about having to come home! Unbelievably, I can go in next week and start getting my room ready already. How did that happen?? I still have a few more weeks before we officially go back, but man this summer surely zoomed by!

So, on to a cool idea I'm really hoping will work well when I'm back into the teaching groove. This was an activity from my Common Core training last month. I don't think the actual activity was meant for us to do with the kids, it was more of a way to get us up and moving around the room as participants of the training, but I really liked the activity and think it could work with the kids.

It's sort of like a jigsaw cooperative learning method. First, our table group was presented with a piece of chart paper and four separate problem solving activities on small sheets of paper. For the purposes of this training, they were from various grade levels. We had to fold the chart paper into fourths and then glue each one of the four smaller sheets onto it.

Then, we individually worked on the problem that we ended up sitting in front of. I got a fourth grade fraction problem! (bad seat choice that day...)

The next part scared the bejezzus out of me when I pictured it happening in my actual classroom. We RIPPED the paper apart! I'm sorry, but scissors will be used when I do this in my room. Can you imagine them trying to rip this into four equal parts? Raise your hand if you can see it looking more like confetti when they were done ripping. Yeah, me too.

Then the fun part. We had to walk around the room with our piece of the paper and find the other members who also had the same problem. Then we compared our answers and looked at the different problem solving methods we used. You can see in my page above, I had the wrong answer! *hanging my head in shame*  BUT the cool thing about me having the wrong answer, was that another member with the wrong answer tried to explain why her answer was correct -but in the middle of her explanation, she realized her mistake. Then someone who had the right answer explained to us both how she came about it and it was a cool pictorial representation that made it so easy! That's right about when I fell in love with this strategy.

I don't know if I'd try this in the first couple of weeks of school, but after you have your routines and structures in place, I think this strategy could really become a staple. This might also be another great way to use task cards. My brain is spinning with different activities that I might be able to use with this strategy. I'll keep you posted :)

And in other news, my ELA Common Core Assessment Pack is done! Feel free to check it out here if you're interested.

I'll be in and out of my classroom next week, so get ready for some set up pictures! Those are always my favorite...
See you soon, my friends!
Hey Friends!
I'm off to my happy place for a few days. I have fallen in love with this resort and lucky for me it's just a few hours drive away.

I will be spending the next four days floating around the lazy river with an adult beverage or two.  I have not turned my teacher/school/blog/tpt brain off since school ended in June, so I'm going to try my best to actually just relax. I'll be coming back just in time to get into school early to start setting up. What??

So, before I leave, I've dusted off this vintage post from last year for those of you who may not have seen it. See you soon!

Ever opened a wedding/birthday/retirement party invite and a pile of obnoxious confetti falls all over your floor? Yeah, don't you just love that stuff? Oh, not so much?  I pretty much despise it. Well, I used to anyway until I came across this super cute idea last summer! Now I find myself picking it up off tables at birthday parties and shaking envelopes before I open them! (ok, not quite that obsessive...)

How darling is this?

I claim no ownership to this poem. I found it during some web scouring last year and the copy I have doesn't have a name. So if it's yours, thank you and please take proper credit! The poem is kind of hard to read in the picture, this is it:

We have a meet and greet the Friday before the start of school and I hand one to each kid. There are lots of  ways to present this but I like this way because it's closed up and I think it encourages the kids to really wait till Sunday night to read it. I have a little paper punch that makes two slits, but you can just as easily use a regular hole punch and tie it closed (or heck, just staple it!).

The confetti in mine is in little zippered jewelry bags that I got in the craft aisle at Wal-mart. A pack comes w/100 so you can easily split it with a friend. The confetti is from there too. One bag goes a looooong way!

Click here to get a free copy for your kiddies!
Here it is for a Tuesday, WednesdayThursday  or Friday start, too!
Edited to add: Here it is in Word if you need to make changes. I'm not sure if the font will get all wonky, but you can play around with it :)
I have gone Common Core Crazy. I don't remember a time when I dug into something "new" in the world of education as thoroughly as I have Common Core. I'm not sure why exactly, but it's true. This has been my Common Core Summer. Wow, that's exciting, huh? I need to squeeze in a real vacation sometime soon...

Thankfully, I have you all to share and appreciate my obsession (right?)

First, here's a little activity I picked up at my training.

It addresses these standards quite nicely:
2. OA. 1 Represent and Solve Problems with Addition and Subtraction (including unknowns in all positions.

2. OA. 2 - Add and Subtract within 20

2. G. 1 - Reason with Shapes and their Attributes.

Not the greatest picture, I know. Sorry about that...

The picture makes it pretty self-explanatory, but basically the kids take shapes (they had lots of different ones available) and paste some on the front under a word problem they write and paste some that will be hidden by the black flap.

They also write an addition problem with an unknown to reinforce that skill as well. Then students can switch and try to figure out their partner's problem. My plan is to have the kids all make one or two and maybe laminate a few good ones to keep as a center activity or in a free time basket.

Depending on your kids, you may choose to have all of the students make the same one that you model first so that they get the idea before they make their own. You can also have them write the problem they are planning to use on scrap paper and have you or a friend check before they make their final project. It might also make a good center activity for kids to make together. 

My first thought was there is no way I'm cutting out all of those freakin little shapes! I'm thinking it might be a good job for a volunteer. I suppose you could print out shapes on colored paper and have the kids cut them for their own project. I know I've seen foam sticker shapes which would work well.
You could also do this activity without the focus on geometry. If you have extra little stickers you can have them use those and create word problems, like "I have 12 ladybugs. 2 are shown below. How many are under the black triangle?" Just an idea...

Also on the Common Core front is my newest TpT venture. My blog buddy Jenaya from The Lesson Plan Diva asked me if I was interested in creating a CCSS Assessment pack for second grade based on her first grade version. After some thought and decisions to push some other projects to the side, I agreed. It was a LOT of work, but I'm pretty proud of how it came out.

Each second grade standard is represented with a mini-poster & a printable assessment. Answer keys and student checklist are also included. If you'd like to check them out, click here.  Thanks, my friends!

I recently had the very good fortune to be contacted by MPM School Supplies. They offered to let me choose some free items from their site if, in return, I would share my experiences with you. How could I say no to that?

I actually was not familiar with the company, so I immediately checked their website and found it to be clean and user-friendly. As I looked around, I got that excited feeling only another teacher would understand. All of the bulletin board patterns, games, office supplies and classroom decorations just do something to a teacher that doesn't seem to happen to other people. Know what I mean? You do. I know...

I chose a few things that I knew I would need this year and then I even added on to my order above the amount they gave me to shop because I just couldn't resist. One of the items I purchased was a jingo game. I had actually borrowed one from another teacher a while ago and always intended to buy my own, but I never saw them around. Jingo is like Bingo, but instead of just calling out a word, you read a question and have the kids try to answer. The answer is what they cover on the card. It's a lot more interactive and academic than a regular Bingo game. I chose Thanksgiving Jingo, but I'm seriously considering going back for some others.

The customer service was exceptional at MPM. A day after I placed my order online, I received a phone call to confirm my address. My package arrived just a few days later! When I opened the box, I was actually happy to see newspaper was used as the cushioning material instead of styrofoam peanuts or those air-filled bags. Besides being easier to get to my actual purchase, it was nice to just toss the newspaper into the recycling bin. Everything survived the trip beautifully.

I also found a little postcard in the package informing me that a portion of my purchase was being donated to a children's charity. How nice is that?

So, was I happy with my shopping experience at MPM? Absolutely. Will I be a return customer? Without a doubt. 

Check them out for yourself here.

Be well, my friends. I've been super glued to my computer working on a very exciting project that I'm thisclose to being able so share with you!

As I mentioned in this post over on TBA,  I recently attended a great Common Core professional development session. It was a three day venture during which we rotated through how to apply CCSS to Science, Social Studies, Math and Language Arts. They all had great things to offer, but I was particularly excited by math.

Going into the training, I thought I already knew a bit about Common Core. I'd go so far as saying I knew more than most other people at the training. Some honestly shared that they knew nothing at all and most of the rest were somewhat familiar, but without a complete understanding. By the end of the three days, everyone in attendance had really learned a lot!

One thing that I learned during the math portion actually made me feel like I knew a lot less than I thought I did! The trainers were referring to the "practices" and the "standards". I was thinking that the terms were interchangeable, but nope. This was my first lesson. So, allow me to share the difference in case this is something that you're not 100% sure of either.

The main difference is that the practices are the same K-12 and the standards are grade specific. It can be a bit confusing, because on the CCSS website, the practices are actually called Standards for Mathematical Practice. 

So, how can the  Standards of Practice actually make a ton of sense when applied to K-12? I had the same question. Believe it or not, they do. Here they are:

1. Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them.

2. Reason abstractly and quantitatively.

3. Construct viable arguments and critique the reasoning of others.

4. Model with mathematics.

5. Use appropriate tools strategically.

6. Attend to precision.

7. Look for and make use of structure.

8. Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning.

This link explains each in more detail, but basically no matter what content is covered in your grade level standards, every single student K-12 should be working on them through these math practices.

I really haven't heard too much about the practices as opposed to the standards, so I thought this might be helpful to share with you all. I believe that the goal of CCSS is to really build thinkers, not just remember-ers.  I'm still finding my way around everything Common Core, but it seems more I dig, the more I find to dig though! I'm doing my very best to stay on top of it and in front of it so that I don't get sucked under it once school starts in August!

I do have some more great hands-on math projects to share from that part of the training, but I really wanted to touch on this first, especially since it was something I was so surprised to find I knew so little about. 

On the subject of Common Core, I have finally finished all four sets of my Weekly Math Magic for first grade! 

Each set consists of 9 weeks of 2 page printables that will help you address the standards with your firsties. Each skill is represented each week, with increasing difficulty as the year progresses. Some skills will be new to your kids, so it's a great way to introduce them to new skills, maintain skills you already taught and refresh skills you may have taught previously. You can try a free sample here.
Here are links for: Set One, Set Two, Set Three and Set Four 

My original set of Math Magic was made to align with second grade standards. I may need to go back and re-title those to avoid confusion.  I never intended on making individual grade level sets until I got so many requests -which I was happy to oblige. Speaking of...my next set in the works if for third grade You can try a free second grade sample here.
Here are links for: Set One, Set Two, Set Three and Set Four here.

Hope that helps a little! Have a great Monday, my friends.

Hello my friends!

I hope you all had a safe and happy fourth yesterday. It was a hot and sticky night down here in South Florida, but we still had fun with a family bbq and some fireworks. The older I get, the more low-key I like my holidays...

Did you know that today is another holiday? Well, yes indeed it is. It's International Blog-Hopping Day! Someone needs to alert the good folks at Hallmark, because there was not ONE card for IBH Day in the store! hmph. Maybe next year...

We can certainly still celebrate though! Click the button below to visit Teaching Blog Addict's party. The Wizard of Oz theme is so super cute, but beyond the cuteness you'll find some serious substance. There are nine different categories that you can visit, read, share and link up to if you like.

So, click, hop and join the party!

Follow The Famous Yellow Road

It's time for Farley's Famous Currently!

I look so forward to these every month. It's a fun way to get a glimpse into the lives of the bloggers behind the blogs without those long and winding "Tell 45 things about you" kind of posts.

So, here's mine for July. Most are pretty self-explanatory except for the last one. So for that one, "reads" you need to list your favorite book to read aloud and your go-to professional book.
Well, my favorite, favorite, favorite book of all time forever and ever and ever is Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli.  It's one of those books where the characters just become real. Really real. Then they burrow into your heart and stay there. for a long time. Sadly, the themes and content are a bit much for my second graders. I think if I ever had to move back to 5th grade, being able to read Maniac Magee might be the only reason I wouldn't have a complete and total breakdown.

Now, my go-to professional book is one that I can not find! It's a book by NWEL that I've had for a hundred and ten years. It's basically a compilation of picture books to use as mentor texts according to  writing traits. It's dog-eared, sticky-noted, and highlighted like crazy and somewhere at school packed away in a box in my classroom.

So, that's me currently! Head over to Farley and link up!

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