Thursday, January 26, 2012

Aw, you just warmed my heart!!

Goodness, gracious! My heart has just been smiling all day!!! (well almost all day, but no day is perfect, right?!)

My kiddos had a great morning! We had a big discussion about how to treat others, how to get along, and especially how we respect people we might not quite get along with ;) That last one is a biggie! We've started practicing think-pair-share again and I teared up when I saw my 2nd graders including everyone and using the kindest words! My heart sure smiled!

And then....

...the wonderful Deb over at Oh, My Little Classity Class [what a CUTE blog name] awarded me the FAVORITE FOLLOWER AWARD!! I've noticed how much all of YOUR wonderful comments make me smile, so I have been working much harder this week to make more comments on the wonderful teaching blogs out there! Thanks, Deb!! You are super sweet!

Now, to award my *TWO* fav followers :) This was tough because there are SO many kind, sweet bloggers out there who really deserve this award.

Just love those email notifications that someone has commented on my blog! Often, it's this lovely lady who always has something nice to say :-) 

Stories From Second

Next, is someone who ALWAYS makes sure to leave a note and it means so much :) It's always feels so important (to me) to know that someone out there is reading the nonsense ideas and updates I send out there into the bloggy world. Thank you for being so wonderful!!

Jennifer aka LaughinBrunette @ First Grade Blue Skies

First Grade Blue Skies

Big smiles all around today :-) Thanks to all my wonderful followers, each and everyone of you is appreciated!! Your kind words, encouragement, and ideas mean so much to me! 


Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Math Night!

Don't you just LOVE it when you work hard on something and it turns out fabulous... :)There were a few times this year when I've worked with other teachers on school events (or even open house) and I've been disappointed in what we as a school offered/presented or in the turn out of families. But this time, we had much more success! Now I'm not going to actually tell you how many parents we had show up from our three 2nd grade classes, most of you will probably laugh because it's not much, but I just feel so happy that my, and our, hard work paid off!! 

Here's what we did: 
In the hall we had a sign in sheet, some snacks, an estimation station and a raffle table. We did all of our parent "stuff" inside my classroom and had a super awesome game in the hall (my teaching partner, who was hired the day before Winter Break, is fantastic!! She's worked so hard already in the < 3 weeks she has been here and we just love her!)

Anywho - here's my "welcome" table. I found these great white (cheap) gift bags at Hobby Lobby. Any kiddos who came with their parents could decorate their goody bag at the purple table. The parents were also able to pick up their folder here. Instead of stuffing alll the papers into folders, I decided to put out the handouts. I feel like this way parents will at least take a glance and ask questions if they have any!

The red table had some teacher created handouts about some of the concepts we are covering in math. I made some handouts for parents about: Rounding, 2-digit addition, base-10 blocks, and ballpark estimates. If you're interested in seeing handouts I created, leave a comment... seems like too much work at this point to upload them all :-)

The blue table was my *fav*! We created some math games, copied games from wonderful teacher-friends, and found/made some manipulatives to send home too! Ooo and we laminated 100s charts for the parents to take home, too. 

Here's the "Math is Sweet" Cakewalk that my teaching partner did! She put yellow papers on the floor in a circle, just like a cakewalk; she played music, just like a cakewalk; she even had a STROBE LIGHT! Yes, a strobe light... at math night... awesome :) She would call a number out to name the winner of the round, but the spots on the floor didn't just have a number. They were a clock, or a math problem, or a set of base ten blocks, or coins - and when the music stopped the students had to figure out what their number was before the teacher called the number. 

And to top it off, she'd announce "Math is Sweet!!!" and give the kiddos got to pick a sweet treat as a prize - yay!!

WHEW! Ok, I'm done.. long post but a GREAT end to the day, and I needed it. Today was a little crazy and a lot stressful. Hope you all had a great day :)
Oh yea, and to top it off, our staff spirit wear came in today! Looks just fabulous! And the best part, my hoodie sweatshirt has my last name on it. Might not be that exciting to others but I got married just five months ago so my (still) NEW last name is on my sweatshirt! Yipee :-)

Sorry if there are any typos... my kitten Stella tells me that I'm done with my blog for the night :) 

Good night and happy Thursday!


Monday, January 23, 2012

Author's Purpose

Today I had one of THOSE moments... it was a moment that reminded me why I love to teach, a moment that I will use to get me through the times that are a bit tougher to handle, a great moment where I feel like they *got* it!

We were discussing the three purposes an author can have for writing, making sure to apply these to books we read and stories we write. The students made a tree map to show the three purposes - Persuading, Informing and Entertaining (we use the acronym PIE to help remember these). After some class discussion, the students looked through old Scholastic book order forms. They found books that belonged in each category, cut the picture of the book and glued the picture onto their tree map. 

After some independent work time (which was SOOOO quiet!) they gathered in groups to share. No one complained about being in a group with "so-and-so"; they gathered together and found a quiet spot to share. And here's my moment... I heard the BEST discussions (they were even on topic - HA!), kind words to friends about the great job they did sharing, helpful students who reminded others about definitions, it was just great! 

After they shared, one student came up to me to tell me what a great job her team-members did!! I loved it; so I asked the class if anyone else wanted to share about fantastic things that happened in their group - and I heard some wonderful compliments to other students. It might seem little and unimportant, but I was just so proud :-) They got the lesson, they shared their work proudly with classmates, and they were kind and helpful to everyone!

We are planning a Math Parent Night for Wednesday... Lots of manipulatives made, and handouts created for parents... REALLY crossing my fingers on this one! Hopefully everything will go well and all of our RSVP'd parents come! 


Saturday, January 21, 2012

Winter is Here!! And with it comes a long post...

I realize that many people live in areas of warm(ish), sunny weather all year round and I just have to say I am JEALOUS! As a Michigander, we never quite know what to expect, and apparently, well, today is a wintery, cold and snowy day! (Not a fan). I was perfectly happy with the 40's and 50's we were having for the last few weeks, but oh well!

I wanted to highlight a few friends' posts because they are just great! :) 

Mrs. Reynolds at Oh, my Little Classity Class (love the name) posted some great math games! Ever played the card game called Left, Right, Center..? She found some inspiration to turn it into games for spelling practice and math practice! Love it!!
She has two different files on her blog - one for single digit addition and one for double digit addition! Make sure to check her out and leave some love! :) 

Yvonne at Sassy in Second made ice cream with her class!! She included a great recipe - I think we'll do this next week!! Note to self - take pictures! YUM!

Lisa at Stories from Second posted about her homework policies. I am super interested to hear about what YOU do for homework in your classroom! I know this may  never change but as a second year teacher, I just feel like I have SOOOO many ideas and I can't even get my head around them! I want to do so much, but there is too little time! Last year, teaching a split (and being hired in a week before school began) I never quite felt settled enough to make huge overhaul changes to anything! I kind of just kept whatever policies and systems I started with! I'm not too happy with my homework methods, so I'd love to be inspired by your methods!! 

Here's what I am currently doing:
Spelling: 12 - 14 spelling words a week (including bonus words) that I take from Houghton-Mifflin; I have students practice by counting syllables, putting words in ABC order, writing them out to practice handwriting too, and put them into spelling boxes. Here are some files:
Obviously the word list changes from week to week. So I have to alter the documents. 
Reading: Typically, I try to send home a story with before and after reading activities (often Thinking Maps), I will slip in some Grammar pages or other practice pages; I also include a Reading log for the week.
Math: I don't care for the Math Homelinks included in our math curriculum so I have begun to make my own. I send home 3 - 5 pages that will help to practice skills needed for the lessons of the coming week. This has started to get overwhelming (creating all 3-5 documents - most likely on Sunday night...!)

Ok - so what do you do?!

I just had to share some of the inspiration that I found in the bloggy world this week. Gosh, I sure do love seeing everyone's ideas especially when I can use them with my kiddos! 


Thursday, January 19, 2012

My Classroom :)

Here's a quick peek into my classroom - 

I've had trouble finding places for my anchor charts, so recently I strung up a bunch of twine (via 3M Command hooks) since I can't reach the ceiling in my room.. it's literally 30 feet... OK I'm really bad at estimating but my hubby says maybe 15 feet LOL but still too high unless I have a real tall ladder. 

Here's a few anchor charts that I've pinned up! Do you have any difficult areas (or just difficulties) in your classroom? How do you deal with them?

Next, I LOVED Christina Bainbridge's Teaching Beliefs, so I posted mine in the classroom. I find myself constantly referring to them as I teach, encouraging my students to think about their own beliefs as we learn!

My other picture isn't loading.. I'll try to edit that one in!!

My students are THRILLED to find "naughty" words that don't follow our spelling rules. By calling attention to these words, we begin to see that word as a sight word, instead! Here's our Word Jail for those misbehavin' words!!

We've been finding these words all year, but I finally got our jail up.. I had a little mishap with the laminater... it kinda, sorta, maybe ATE my jail!! I swear, these machines are out to get me sometimes (do you feel like that ever)! 

I fed my (beautiful) paper jail into the laminater and it never. came. out. HA I looked behind, underneath, to the side and it just didn't emerge. It was a few weeks later that a maintenance worker pulled my jail out of the evil-laminater. 

Do your kiddos *LOVE* maps?! Mine do!! I put up a map of the world, and a map of the USA. Also we made a graph of different places we knew and categorized each one as a continent, country, state, or city! I also have a book bin of map, America or other "worldly" books. 

Last but not least... just a picture of my cuddle-bug! Love hanging out on the couch, wrapped up in a blanket with my littlest kitten! Here's Stella :) 

Our bigger kitty, Megatron (yes, yes, I know.. my husband named her) . Well she takes this time to escape little kitty! hehe

Have a WONDERFUL Friday, all my bloggy friends!! 

Sunday, January 15, 2012

What's your teaching philosophy?

Hey there! I am super psyched for the long weekend, especially now that I've wasted a WHOLE day on an awful migraine... don't know if you have ever had one, but they are pretty terrible. My sweet cat, Megatron, cuddled with me in bed, which made it a tiny bit better, but now it's 11:30(PM!!), my migraine has finally dissipated and I haven't done a single thing all day. 

Thankfully, my hubby bought a new video game today (I never thought those words would EVER come from me), so he hasn't minded that we've skipped everything we had planned for today. 

A couple days ago, Christina Bainbridge  posted about her teaching beliefs in her blog Mrs. Bainbridge's Class.

That really got me thinking! In college, we were asked to create a teaching philosophy.. of course that was before ANY classroom experience! I have found that many of those things I thought were so important to a classroom, are still important to me today! 

Here's my philosophy (word for word) as written in my fourth year of undergraduate:

By creating a safe and supportive learning environment and working with students on an individual basis to develop a personal learning plan which fits each student’s specific needs, my students will be able to express their passion and creativity for learning and explore their curiosity through inquiry. 

So as I look at my current teaching beliefs, I've pulled from the above philosophy, other teacher's ideas, and my current 2nd graders! I plan to post these just inside the entrance to my classroom! Please comment, let me know what you think about my beliefs, and tell me about your beliefs!!

1. Everyone can learn (and has the right to learn).
2. Asking for help is a responsible choice.
3. Students are teachers, too.
4. It's okay to make a mistake, as long as you learn how to fix it.
5. Everyone is different and needs different things.
6. To have high expectations for yourself, means you care about your future.

That's where I am for now... I don't know if I will add more, but I'm sure these ones will change (in wording at least) a few times before I print, mount and laminate :) 

Hope you're enjoying your long weekend!! 

OH AND YAHOOOOOO  - 50 + followers!! How awesome is that?? In just ten days, too! You all are just wonderful :) 

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

My First Linky Party :)

Farley from Oh Boy, Fourth Grade is having a "Currently" Linky Party with a giveaway attached!

WHEW - I guess I was a bit blog-deprived... Nothing for almost 3 whole days and now TWO posts in a matter of an hour?? Caa - RAZY!

Wednesday, WHAT?!

OK! So this blogging thing was a lot easier when I was on winter break!! hehe 

Monday, I started back with my kiddos - LOVE them! We've been doing a ton of Whole Brain Teaching methods, since we needed the procedure reminders anyway. The kids really love it!! We do a lot of "Mirror" and a lot of "clap, clap, TEACH". These little changes make teaching a whole different ball game! If you haven't gotten the chance to look into WBT, take a few minutes and check out the abundant supply of YouTube videos. Real classes, real students, real teaching :) 

I started the school year using those colored "Zone" cards for behavior management in my classroom. After meeting my *awesome* teaching partner (Lisa @ Made In The Shade) and seeing her method, I quickly changed to a zone clip chart - students all start on green but move down (OR UP - that's the change) depending on their behavior. 
Anywho- I revamped my Think Sheet and also added in a Record page. My record page is for the student (no, I have plenty more than one student) who makes a negative choice and has to move his clip down the chart. They now need to record info like Name, Time and Zone Color, as well as the negative behavior choice that was made. Here's some pictures :)

Here's my zone chart area - you can see the clips on my chart (each clip has a number that corresponds to a student). Also each time the student reaches PINK, the top zone color, I put a gem on the clip. This is a bbbbbbig motivator!

The Reason poster is taped up on the book shelf and the clip board on the desk is the Record Sheet.

I also keep a stack of Think Sheets for those students who land on orange.  

Here's an up-close view of my Zone Change Reasons. Students can pick a behavior from the poster or write out their own. Having this available makes the process go a bit quicker!

I've also attached the files below in case you want to check them out :) 

That's all for now :) Have a WONDERFUL Thursday!!

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Oh, Sunday Night...

Sunday nights are always the same for me... on the couch, cramming in every little thing I can do before the dreaded Monday morning arrives. I am totally NOT a morning person, so Mondays are always the worst! 

I've been working to finish up some supplemental math handouts - adding these in as guided instruction. 
Here's a few documents that I created - these cover 2-digit addition, number stories, ballpark estimates and partial sums (if you're using EDM: 4.5, 4.6, 4.8 and 4.9).
**please let me know if you use these, I don't know how helpful these would be for someone unable to read my thoughts! **

I had to blog though because... I'm up to FORTY followers in just five days! Obviously, I'm super excited :) So thanks, thanks, thanks to you all wonderful bloggers out there! 

Tomorrow is my first day back after winter break - I am super pumped to see my kiddos! 
Alrighty - have a wonderful week, my friends!!


Saturday, January 7, 2012

Quick post!

I just added my 2nd Grade - Everyday Math Unit 4 Test Review to my TPT site!! 

Please check it out and let me know if you like it! If there is something that you think it is missing (or any errors) let me know and I can make changes and re-post it! :) 

Thanks, friends!!

I could do this all day...

I've just discovered Picnik... wow! Notice the new page banner :) I could literally blog, comment and design ALL DAY! Anyone agree?? 

I just wanted to say thank you to all you wonderful bloggers out there who are following my blog... I really appreciate your support and encouragement! Thank you!

Giveaway from Amy @ The Resoure(ful) Room!

Because she's reached (over) 200 followers, Amy is giving away a $20 gift card to Target!! Better get over there to leave some love! She'll choose a winner on Wednesday :-)

The Resource(ful) Room!

Check her out!! Amy @ The Resource(ful) Room

Gotta love giveaways :)


Friday, January 6, 2012

Two days left!!

I am super pumped to get back to my kiddos on Monday! I have absolutely LOVED winter break but I have so many great teaching ideas (from blogs, Pinterest and TPT) that I am very excited to get back to teaching! 

Ok, lots to say tonight but FIRST - I was nominated for my second blogging award!! Yipeeeee, yahooooo, hoorayyyy!! :) 

The Versatile Blogger Award rules:
1. Thank the person who nominated you (with a link back to their blog). Thank you, Lisa @ Stories from Second
2. Tell 7 things about yourself.
3. Pass this award on to a few fantastic newly discovered blogs by commenting on their blog.
Here's some new friends that I am nominating:
Christina at Live.Laugh.Teach
(this is tough - I'll add some more later!)

On to my SEVEN things... hmmmmmm...
1. I married my wonderful husband not quite five short months ago! I love being married but I sometimes forget that it all happened - feels like a dream! The name-change thing is a lot easier as a teacher though ie.when you hear your new married name 2,000 times a day (hehe)

2. My husband and I have two super sweet kittens!! Megatron is 8 months old (Hubby got to name her) and Stella is almost 3 months old (I got to name this one!) I love them so much, they are our babies!

3. This is my second year teaching. Last year I was hired JUST before the school year started as a 1st/2nd split teacher! WOOOOO that was a lot of work!! This year I teach 2nd grade to my 25 lovelies! It's nice to reteach some of the same curriculum as last year and not start all over.

4. In the last 12 years, I have gone on 10 week-long mission trips. Seven trips as a youth or young adult and three as a sponsor. I've traveled to places like Mexico (2x), South Carolina (2x), Colorado, Indiana, Iowa, Wisconsin, Pennsylvania, and Tennessee to work with groups like Habitat for Humanity to build and renovate homes for families in need. It has been a collection of  some of the most rewarding moments in my life, those that I will never forget!

5. I didn't QUITE get the crafty gene... My mom and sister are both A-MAZ-ING crafters... I try my best but I never seem to have the skill inspiration motivation to really do a nice job!

6. I also tend to be a bit of a commitment issue when it comes to trends, hobbies, fads!! This is NO good for my (hopefully long) bloggy-future! I am the sort of person who completely throws herself into an awesome/fantastic/wonderful/incredible project and after a week... kinda just stops! New Year's Resolution is to break that habit! Cross your fingers for me!

7. Fast food is my weakness... I know, I know, you can tell me all those terrible things about what it's made out of or that a cheeseburger can sit on a counter unchanged for an entire year but the problem is... I like it! No, I love it... there's nothing better (sorry if you're anti-meat) than a Double Cheeseburger and fries... oh don't forget the GIANT fountain pop.. :)

Ok, ok! That's it for now... I have a feeling I'll be up early to blog a little bit about WHOLE BRAIN TEACHING, what?? After spending much of my day on the WBT website, I've decided I love the program and I'm going to try it Monday (hey... doesn't that sound familiar... throwing myself into a new project...LOL) 

If you haven't heard about it, here's a wonderful video from YouTube. Be careful, it might change your life! 

Nighty, night!

Polar Animals

Friday, already??? Today is the last official "day-off" for my winter break! Of course, there's still the weekend, but weekends are busy. Don't get too jealous if you've already started back to school - we had full days the whoooole week before Christmas! 

Last night/this morning I worked on a simple Arctic Polar Animals pack. My district is very big on THINKING MAPS! What about your district?? Lots of great connections between T.M. and Write from the beginning - anyone out there use WFTB for writing? I just recently began to look into that method and so far I really love it! 

So. Here's a link to my file on TPT - Polar Animals Thinking Map Pack - it's free though so make sure to check it out! While you're on TPT, check out some of my math resources; they are mostly geared toward second grade. Many align with Everday Math (geez all this curriculum buzz words in my blog today!), but I'm sure they can be used with other grades and other curriculums!

Hope you have a great Friday!! :) Those of you teaching, enjoy your last day of the work week!


Thursday, January 5, 2012

Busy, busy blogging!

It's hard to believe that I've only been blogging for TWO days so far! I feel like it's been a week!

Lisa at Stories from Second, you just made my night!! She nominated me for my very first blogging award! Yahooo! It's the Liebster Blog Award. I feel honored to even be noticed as a new blogger! Thanks, Lisa! 
So here are the rules:
1. Show your appreciation! Thanks again, Lisa!! Nominating me makes me feel important in this giant bloggy world! :)
2. Nominate other blogs (200 follower or less) by posting a comment on their blog.
3. Post the award on your blog. 
4. Check out other nominees of the Liebster Blog Award, and see what they have to offer! 

Here are the three blogs that I chose to nominate:

Be sure to check out these blogs!! :) Thanks again to Lisa!

Winter Themed Units

I'm hearing lots of great ideas about Winter Theme units that many of you creative teachers are putting together but so many ideas are jumbled up in my brain and I'm not sure what to do!! Last year I taught a split class and this is my first year teaching 2nd grade (on it's own).

I think I might work through a few Arctic Animals. We are beginning Non-Fiction writing, so this would tie in perfectly!

What are your plans for Winter Themes and how are you tying them in?? 

I found some great sites with information about different animals:

I know that many teacher's do Penguin Units - 

Now that I've had some time to look through all that is out there, I'm going to go get to work on my Arctic Animals Unit! :-) 


New Design!

Playing around with my blog design! What do you think? Since I'm so cheap, I am using all free scrapbook pages for my backgrounds! 
Did you create your own page design? If so, how did you create it? 

Now I'm off to try to create my blog button... any helpful hints??

Math Methods

First - WOOOO HOOOO thanks to all you wonderful followers :) It might seem silly, but FIVE followers!?! Now I just have to keep on posting! 

Let's talk about MATH! I love math - it's one of my own favorite subjects and most definitely one of my favorite to teach! This year I've made a huge commitment to CHANGE what I don't think works. As a second year teacher... that still seems overwhelming!

Our district uses Everyday Math - anyone else? At first (a little naively) I really loved EDM...  but then I really dug into the curriculum and I realized it's not quite working for me and my 2nd graders. It moves too quickly through the lesson, with not enough guided practice at times. I've begun to add supplemental handouts, reorganizing lessons and even rearranging units. I've created reviews that match each unit test - my kiddos REALLY struggle on testing skills...

I tried to teach Math in Workstations - Math with Mrs. O, Math by Myself, Math on my Slate, Math on the Smartboard and Math with Games. Sounds good, right? Well it didn't work (or maybe I just need to be more prepared and start the year with these workstations). It does seem like these students need more structure than the workstations provide. 

It didn't work, SO I changed it! Now I'm teaching math through a different process - 
Introduction: I introduce the topic on the Smartboard as a group; Guided Practice: working through the "paper-and-pencil" parts of it with a handout; Independent Practice: students practice on a similar handout, but independently while I circulate; and the last part of it is a Homelink: practicing the skills needed in this lesson. 

Here's a sample file that I created - this follows 4.6 for 2nd Grade Everyday Math:
Ok, that might be confusing, but let me know what you think!

How do you teach math??

Have a wonderful Thursday! :)

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Welcome, welcome, WELCOME!

Welcome to my blog!! Because I've become such a teacher-blog addict, I've decided to give it a try and share some of my own ideas! I hope you enjoy it AND if you do, leave a comment! 

Alrighty, here's a little bit about me! I'm a second grade teacher in southeast Michigan. I love, love, LOVE teaching! My favorite subject would have to be math (I'm currently working on my math curriculum). I also love technology!! I am so lucky to have some really great technology available in my classroom, but I'm still learning all about it! In August, I married the most incredible man! We have two, adorable little kittens - Megatron (8mo) and Stella (2mo).

If you haven't been on Pinterest, you've got to try it! There are so many teaching resources out there!! I've also become a big fan of TPT (Teachers Pay Teachers). I have my own "store" but all of my documents are FREE! 

*Click the link to check it out -*

When contemplating my blog name (which is really a lot more difficult than I thought it would be - think AIM screen name 15 years ago!) I decided on "Learn, Laugh, Grow". I tried to put into words what teaching means to me! Everyday is an adventure in my class and I am SURE that many of you can relate too! 

Well, that's all for tonight! I'm going to try my very, very best to stay on top of my blogging :) Tomorrow I will put up some of my math docs!