Silence for Sandy Hook Elementary

Sunday, December 16, 2012 / Leave a Comment

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Place Value PROS

Monday, December 10, 2012 / Leave a Comment
Today I introduced my Place Value PROs Math Stations to my 3rd grade students and they LOVED it. I split the kids up into partners to complete the different tasks, but this could very well work with larger groups because each activity has at least 20 task cards to complete. We will rotate groups tomorrow, and continue to do so all week.
So easy to prepare - I just threw the clipped materials in different spots around the room!

They loved completing the task cards - I have never seen them so on task and independent!! I didn't know what to do with myself because they didn't neeeed me like they usually do..

So I took pictures!
Recording each digit in the different place values, their values, and the number modeled on the task card.
Organized Chaos
Spin it to win it game
Finding the place value and value of the underlined digit
Recording what number is modeled by the base ten pieces.
Reading and problem solving with place value word problems - These dry/erase place value charts are my favs! So helpful for them!
They really need the extra help with place value before we move onto other concepts. It's unbelieveable how misconceptions about place value can have such a negative effect on other math processes.

Such a good day, I love when stuff works! If you like these activities.. check em out here!

Hope everyone had a great Monday!

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Saturday, December 8, 2012 / 2 comments

Due to the fact that we didn’t move to our new town until the week before school started and I didn’t actually start at my school until the third day of school, there was no time for decorating my classroom. The beginning of my year consisted of getting paperwork organized, holding IEPs, and aligning all my student’s IEP minutes into a schedule. Therefore, I taught in what looked like a prison cell for the first few months of school {I took before pictures, but got a new phone & completely forgot to save them!}.

When I finally felt caught up, I dedicated several after school evenings to organizing all the stuff that had been put into the room from previous years, rearranged “furniture” a ton of times, and put up some make-shift bulletin boards to add some color to those walls! Thankfully, there is a ton of inspiration on here so I was not short of ideas.

Here she is for now… I still have some things to add, but it’s a big improvement from those plain white walls!

Keep in mind that I teach in a resource classroom, so I usually only have at most 10 students {thats like maaaax}. I co-teach for half of the day and pull small groups for the other half.

This is my favorite part of the room - I LOVE LOVE LOVE CHEVRON & I went crazy when I found this rug at Big Lots for only $19 bucks! Such a steal! My students love to sit on the bean bag and listen to their weekly stories or just read a random book - I try to change out the books every month or so to keep them coming back.

Right above our little reading corner I have the Reading C.A.F.E. signs that I actually typed out on chevron backgrounds to match the room - I got all the information from The Daily Cafe website and by no means made it all up myself. On the door I have Cara Carroll's {the first grade parade} *FREE* decoding strategies that she already had on multi-colored chevron backgrounds -- she's amazing! & the lime green one is our math word wall where I put up all our math vocab with examples for easy reference for my kiddos! I teach 2 math groups - one 4th grade {with the title I teacher} and one 3rd grade - these groups include my students with IEPs and other students that need some extra help as well. I refer to all 3 of these often during instruction & the students love them!

Since I have students from both grade levels, I use these "week at a glance" boards on each side of my dry/erase board to keep me focused on what they are doing in their classrooms for that week and what I need to work on with them in the resource room. I printed off two sheets with chevron backgrounds and just typed Reading, Skill, Grammar, Math on them and slipped them in clear sheet protectors so I could easily change the info on it every week. In the pocket charts below each grade I put the kids vocabulary words for the week so I can reference them any time there are free time. To the left of the fourth grade chart are my authors purpose anchor charts you can download here for free!

"Math Center" AKA where I keep all our Vmath Kits. On top are our word problem clue word posters I talk about here. The hundred's chart is necessary for a lot of my students and the cute border is the Math Alphabet I download for free FREE from Lovely Little Readers on TPT.

On my door is the home for all my "Dixon Dollar" recipients and the rewards they can purchase -- I like to keep it simple with the rewards so there are only about 6 options up there.

Here is another angle showing part of my desk, a little table I like to keep materials, large dry/erase easel, and in the blue cabinet I keep all our math manipulatives. On the front is where I keep any paper products {worksheets} I will be using that week using magnets. I have found that by having them hang like that versus laying flat saves me time {less searching}.

These little beauties will be going up right next to our math word wall because  I am super sick of spelling my students need some help with spelling out the word form of numbers :)

I typed these up myself and I'll put them on here asap incase anyone else could use them!

Also..... I wanted to share the cutest pup ever with you.... he visited me at work on Wednesday :)

No.. he's not mine. But I did get to play with him!

Hope everyone is having a great weekend!

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Place Value Stamp-It Activities

Wednesday, December 5, 2012 / Leave a Comment
Right now, a lot of my students are working on place value and the different number forms. To make this process a little more fun, I tried to use a more hands-on approach versus forcing them to write endless expanded and word form problem after problem.

We practice a lot with base ten blocks, but I was lucky enough to come across these old wooden base ten block stamps that I knew my kids would love {they love using letter stamps for word work practice}. Also pictured are number stamps that came in a stamp pack I purchased from one of "The Shops" brands at Target. They are my favs...

For my math reteach group today, I decided to give them some practice will all the different forms of numbers by making foldable books.

For this activity, I used the following materials:
base ten blocks
base ten block stamps
number stamps

I also provided the students with this quick and easy direction sheet:

And I had them reference these dry/erase charts if they needed some help with place value:

I also had my students complete my Different Number Forms activity sort and match up from my TPT Store.

I've seen some super cute activities for place value that I still want to do. For some reason, my little darlings have had a little trouble with grasping it - especially when asked about the value of a certain number versus what place value a number is in. I think these activities helped some and tomorrow we will keep at it!

Any other ideas are absolutely welcome! Enjoy your Wednesday!
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Show Kids You Care - Lunch Bunch

Tuesday, December 4, 2012 / 2 comments
At a training a while back, I received a long foldable titled "150 ways to show kids you care." A lot of the things listed on this sheet are things most teachers already do, but after starring at it behind my desk on a daily basis, it finally got me thinking today how much pressure we put on students daily to work - work - work.

Do you truly enjoy their company or are you too stressed out about test scores, curriculum maps, grades, etc? Guarantee, your students can tell the difference....

One of my favorite things to do is compliment students. I have morning car rider duty, and I am always throwing out compliments to my kids and I love the smile that flashed across their faces when I do so. I mean, think about how good you feel when someone notices your new shoes? Another favorite of mine is having class outside when it's randomly gorgeous out. The kids LOVE IT!

Starting today, I will be discussing all those little things I do for my students -- Kind of like a RAK {Random Act of Kindness} but a little more often than random. I'm hoping it will force help me to find other fun things I can do for my kiddos instead of just the same old stuff.

This week, I want to discuss my FRIDAY LUNCH BUNCH I started about a month and a half ago.

I'm sure a lot of you already do something like this, but kids go ape over eating lunch with the teacher, and it's amazing how much information you can gain from that 20 minutes. I always choose to have my lunch bunch in my room on Fridays. The students don't have to use their "reward" tickets or anything, they just simply ask if they can hang out with me for lunch on Friday. Obviously, I have to limit the number of students, but if I do reach my max, those students have me for the next week. I just write their names on my board to remember and to make sure I won't have 30 kids in my resource classroom.

We giggle together. I listen to their stories. Laugh at their jokes. It's truly a delightful time and it sometimes helps remind me exactly why I became a teacher... kids are so much fun!

What kind of sweet things do you do for your biggest fans?

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December Currently!

Sunday, December 2, 2012 / 5 comments
Can't believe it's December already, but I am super excited about all things included around Christmas time. I linked up with Farley over at Oh Boy 4th Grade to do this months currently. Check it out! :)

I don't have much time to go into detail about this tonight, but I must say I am loving the Random Act of Kindness portion she added!

Also, I FINALLY had some free time over Thanksgiving break and last week to do some "re-decorating" in my classroom. We moved pretty suddenly in August, and I started school a few days after the kids actually started, so I never had a chance to prepare my room and make it my own. I love crafting and decorating, so it's been killing me to have plain old boring white walls. My students keep complimenting my work. It makes me so happy!

I'll be posting pictures of my room all prettied up this week! Hope everyone had an enjoyable weekend!

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Good Notes Home

Thursday, November 29, 2012 / 2 comments
This week has been a busy one at school! We had a visit from an author, Cheryl Ware. She met with each grade level and did a little student writer's workshop with the students. They loved it! I will be posting on one of the strategies she used with them that I really enjoyed soon.

Until then, I wanted to post a little freebie I made up to give my kids little boost every now and again.

As a special educator, parent communication is very important, and kids feel awesome when they get to show their parents a "good note" from their teacher {since some of them tend to get more negative feedback than positive feedback}. I try to send these "just because" notes home to give my loves a little boost when they have a success -great or small- or whenever they do something that makes me so proud of them {my students are pretty awesome}!

I made up a cute little printable template so I can print them out whenever I am getting low. I always print on white cardstock. Help yourselves!

Enjoy your Friday! :)

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Student Offices

Monday, November 26, 2012 / 4 comments
After reading the Clutter Free Classroom's Post on creating student offices, I knew exactly what I was going to spend my Saturday doing. Since we just moved, we have a HUGE pile of barely used boxes stacked in our basement that we have been too lazy to recycle. In 10 minutes, I cut out ten of these cardboard "offices" and added some pretty duck tape around the edges. They are much more durable (& waay cuter) than the file folder ones we're been using. I used a glue gun to secure all the attachments.

These lovelies are PERFECT for my resource classroom, because I don't have desks - just tables (which I prefer anyways). The only trouble with tables is that my students don't have any where to stash their work if they aren't finished, which creates a mess of papers for me to deal with. I've tried using bins, but I'm not a huge fan.

These work wonderfully for students with attention issues during independent work. I can individualize them as much as I need too - the sky is the limit. For now, each student has what is shown in the picture above, but they will all eventually be different depending on the student's needs or IEP goals.

I picked up the two different packs of name plates @ the Dollar Tree (12/pack) and they include a hundreds chart, money values, time chart, centimeter and inch rulers, number line, place value chart, etc. I had my students use stickers to spell their names on the back. I am going to create some comprehension/reading charts to add in as well {syn/ant, authors purpose, reading strategies} I'll be sure to post them on here so you can grab a copy!
On the left flap are clear sheet protectors to add in assignments for each student to complete individually, and on the right flap is where they are to put their work as they finish it. Since I usually have more than one subject going on at once, it is so much easier to add in task cards/sorts and other assignments before class so the students can get right to work after we meet in whole group to work on skills they are all working on together. Less time explaining what everyone is to do, and more time working on goals!

I also want to punch a few holes around the top to put in rings that hold the sight words or vocab words they are working on. I left the outside untouched, but plan to add a "way to go" fun sticker collection on the back to keep them motivated to complete all their work and do their best (I don't know about you, but my students LOVE stickers, even my 4th graders!)
Does anyone already use something like these? Would love to hear your ideas of what else I could add to them!

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The Liebster Award

Friday, November 23, 2012 / 10 comments
Today I was pleasantly surprised with a little comment from Jayme over at Trendy in Third about nominating me for the Liebster Award, and I am so grateful! This award is given to up and coming bloggers with 200 or less followers. Thanks so much, Jayme! Make sure you check out her blog, it is adorable! Chevron, stripes, and polka dots?! All my favs!

Here are the rules:
1. You must post 11 random things about yourself.
2. Answer the questions that the nominator set for you.
3. Create 11 questions for the people you nominate.
4. Choose 11 other blogs with fewer than 200 followers to nominate and link them in your post.
5. You cannot “tag back” the other blog, but leave a comment on this post with the URL of your Liebster post so I can learn more about you & see who you nominate.

11 Random Things About Me:

1. I have 3 brothers and 3 sisters (step-family, but they’re still family!)
2. I married my best friend in July and we’re enjoying the ride!

3. I am highly addicted to coffee, especially when I’m visiting my grandma (we just sit & talk and drink massive amounts of coffee – love it)
4. I. die. for. Mexican. food. Which is kind of sad, because I’m 100% Italian. I just love those Margaritas and Guacamole!
5. I love to craft, and sometimes wish I taught the way little kiddos, so I could make them craft with me at school.
6. I’m totally obsessed with Home Décor, and I am constantly rearranging our home and finding junk to refurbish. DIY and Home Décor blogs are no good for this gal! I also move my classroom around constantly and my kids HATE IT!
7. Cooking is definitely not a favorite of mine (I hate the clean up), BUT give me a crock-pot recipe and I will go to town.
8. Pinterest is my bestest friend, but also worst enemy! (back-track to the home décor obsession)
9. In another life, I would be a WEDDING PLANNER. I had so so so much fun planning mine, and I want to do it again (I die for wedding dresses…)
10. Every single year, I pump myself up that I’m going to start a garden and I always fail! L
11. One day, I plan to get my doctorate in Special Education, so I can teach others about how wonderful this job truly is!

Jayme's Questions:

1) What grade do you currently teach? Have you taught any other grades?
I am one of two sped teachers at my school, and I focus on the third and fourth grade students. Last year, I taught in a resource classroom in a high school. It was definitely a challenge, but I absolutely fell in love with my students and enjoyed the year. In one day, I taught Biology (yikes!), English 10-11-12, History (my favorite!), and some learning skills classes. I was back to studying books at home every night before teaching! 

2) What is your favorite thing about teaching? Least favorite?
My favorite thing about teaching is for sure my students – they light up my world!
Least fav – sped paperwork is nooo walk in the park…

3) If your school was donated $25,000, what would you want your principal to purchase?Ipad lab for students, and exercise balls instead of those awful, uncomfortable, cold chairs. 

 4) What is your favorite TV show?
Sex in the City will always be my number 1 (reruns now), but I love GLEE too!

5) If you could go back in time, what era would you choose to visit?
80s– no doubt

6) What is your school mascot?
We are the STARS – they tie in the constellations with each class.

7) How many kids are in your class?

I have so many students on my caseload, but I go into several classrooms and co-teach.

8) What is your current obsession?
Teacher blogs – it’s unbelievable how amazing these teachers are and how much I’ve learned through them

BUT.. I am also currently obsessed with scarves, boots, and tights!

9) What is your idea of relaxing after a crazy day of teaching?
Bubble bath & glass of vino!

10) Do you have a favorite holiday treat or drink? 
I’m a huge cookie fan.. ESP. Pizzelles (Italian cookie – not sure if that’s the correct spelling)

11) Heels or flats?

My questions for my nominated bloggers:

1. What made you start a blog?
2. What’s your favorite thing to do on the weekends?
3. Name one person you admire and why.
4. Do you like sports? If so, what’s your favorite team?
5. Why did you choose to be a teacher?
6. If you won the lottery, what is the first thing you would do with your money?
7. What is your most memorable moment so far in your life?
8. What do you want the most for Christmas?
9. Do you like to shop? Where’s your favorite place?
10. What are three blogs you constantly read?
11. What are your future goals?

My nominations:

Sparkling in Third Grade
2. Squyre's Special Class
3. Polka Dots and Teaching Tots
Breezy Special Ed
5. Special Teachers for Special Kids
6. A Special Kind of Place
7. Mindful Rambles
The Eager Teacher
Your Smarticles
10. The Candy Apple Blog
11. Busy as a Honey Bee

All of these blogs are worth a look, they are the cutest designs and packed with tons of freebies and teaching goodies!

Thanks again to Jayme at
Trendy in Third for the nomination!

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Happy Thanksgiving!

Thursday, November 22, 2012 / 1 comment
Happy Thanksgiving everyone!

I had high hopes that this week off would help me get a little more organized with the whole blogging scene, but I've been enjoying the company of my friends and family too much to get on a computer! I am so thankful that I have had the past week to catch up with everyone I've been missing. Back to school next week means back on track for me, so I promise more posts and some freebies! Hope everyone is enjoying the time off to have some family time!
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Word Problem Detectives

Wednesday, November 14, 2012 / 1 comment
As I've already said, we are going to start hitting addition and subtraction word problems hard in my math classes since the students really struggle with them. I already discussed how we've been using white boards and markers to practice here, but my little cuties often forget to write down the correct information, and then get the problem wrong. I always tell them to listen carefully and write down those special "clue words!" We have the posters hung up, but I decided to make "mini" posters to place on my tables in a sheet protector for them to reference while they are completing the problems.

I also started using this "Word Problem Detectives Sheet" for them to use to complete the word problems. I will either just make up problems or write a few on the board for them to complete. The most important part is that they are identifying the correct operation to use.

Feel free to download and use this for your classroom!

Word Problem Detectives Activity

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Quick Teaching Tip - Paper Cutter

Tuesday, November 13, 2012 / 1 comment

I love downloading goodies from TPT, but I absolutely despise cutting out a million little flashcards out of cardstock, laminating, then cutting out another million flashcards all over again.

Something I despise every more than cutting is crooked cutting marks from scissors.

Alas, my best friend...

This is my Portable 9-inch Craft Paper Trimmer. I bought it at a HomeGoods in the scrapbooking section for super cheap, and it saves me so much time, plus my games and materials look fantastic because they are all perfect little rectangles. Another good thing about this one in particular is that is easily portable, so I can always throw it in my school bag if I didn't finish cutting something up at home the night before.

Also, when I create my own materials that need cut up, I have started to try to use grey tables versus black, so that the lines don't show up as much when cutting.

Go check out some other awesome teaching tips at Miss Kindergarten's Teaching Tip Linky Party!

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Basic Fact Fluency & Picking Apart Those Pesky Word Problems

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Problem #1: My 3rd and 4th grade students are still using their fingers, the 100s chart, or number line to add even the most basic addition problems {ex. 3 + 4}

Since the beginning of this school year, I’ve noticed that my students can’t quickly solve basic addition problems with sums up to 20 and their corresponding subtraction facts while they are trying to solve 2-3 digit addition/subtraction problems. I could be wrong, but I don’t think students in the 3rd and 4th grades should still be counting on their fingers or running to the hundreds chart to solve 8-3. Plus, it takes them an extremely long time to complete one larger problem. To help them out, I decided to make up some 5-10 minute fun daily activities we can work on to gain some fluency with basic facts. Since I only have 30 minutes with my lower students, every minute counts.

For this activity packet, I typed up flashcards for every single addition fact {stopped at the 11’s facts} and their corresponding subtraction facts, and made up different sorting activities for them {sum of ___, difference of ___, less than/greater than/equal to ____}. Here is a picture of the sorting activity we’ve been working on. We are doing addition facts first, and once they have those down, I’ll add the subtraction facts.

We call this activity “Beat The Clock.” The kids love it! They are given all the addition fact cards and are timed while they sort them. I have found it is much easier to encourage teamwork versus against each other. The “loser” tends to get discouraged, which is the last thing they need when they already struggle. I just tell them that the opponent is the CLOCK {hence, “beat the clock”}.

While they sort, I time them and update them every minute that goes by. It's so fun to watch them scramble around to try to beat their previous time! We record their time on the anchor chart each time they play. The hope is for their time to go down (increased fluency), and plus I can tie in time {minutes/seconds} and a line graph lesson to show them their progress! I don't do this activity every single day, but every once in a while so they don't get sick of it.

Problem #2: Word Problems might as well be written in Spanish.
Another thing my students struggle with is interpreting word problems. In class, we brainstormed all the different words for “ADDITION” you might hear in a word problem and I wrote them down on my “+ sign” poster board {I can't take credit for this idea, I saw it on Pinterest a long time time, but I can't find the original source}. We also did the same thing for subtraction.

Using dry/erase boards and the word problem flashcards, I read aloud a problem, stopping after each important piece of information. When I stop, the students know they need to write the something down. I also ask them to write down the “CLUE WORDS” they hear that helps them know what operation to use {+ or -}. Once I am completely done reading, they answer the problem and we discuss it.

After doing a few of these together, I just give each student a word problem card, and they have to explain their thinking to me whenever they are finished. So far, I have seen a tremendous improvement in their response speed for basic facts, and they are starting to really get the hang of word problem language and thinking through the problem on their own. The good thing about these activities is that they are super easy to make for your students and they don't take up to much math time. The sorting activities also work great for those few extra minutes left in class for those early finishers.
If you don’t want to make up the flashcards, word problems, and sorting activities on your own, you can download my Addition and Subtraction Jumbo Pack at my TPT store.
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