Sunday, February 11, 2018

Valentine's Day

Here's a quick post on Valentine's Day. I'm off to Target to find a few goodies for Valentine's! I'm not doing too much for students. My thought is they will get enough sweets as it is and with V Day being on Tuesday, I'll be the one living with the aftermath all week long. Instead I'm giving them a Homework Pass Scroll down and grab a copy of it if you wish. Kids and their parents love this gift!

Here is the Valentine holder my third graders make. It is pretty simple and big enough to handle the cards they get. Third graders still get into making and decorating for this holiday. I know mine will be thrilled if I give them time to make these.

Here is the Valentine's Day poem I'll be doing with my kids. They will cut and glue the poem into their Poetry Anthology. I love Jack Prelutsky. He has awesome poetry books for every holiday.

This set has been added as a FREE product in my TPT store!
Click the link to check out the file!

Wednesday, January 31, 2018

Groundhog Day: Math/Language Arts: Free File!

Groundhog's Day is Friday.  We have  NO time to devote to celebrations such as this one, unless I can figure out a way to integrate it into what we are already learning about. 

Since I read aloud daily, I will be sharing this one on February 2: 
Image result for phyllis groundhog

I created a foldable reading response booklet with questions related to the book. 
Students will get practice in summarizing and identifying character traits. 

During my reading rounds, students can read and respond to a fun poem. 

We'll add some groundhog problem solving into our math station work as well. 
All these materials are included in this free file. 
Head to my TPT store to grab it. 

Groundhog's Day: Poetry, Reading Response Booklet, Math and More!

Sunday, January 28, 2018

January Reflections: Failing Forward

January...for many teachers it is the month of reflection. 
It serves as the midway point, the time of year when we assess how far our children have come and  how far they still need to go. 
It can be the month that the struggle becomes even more real and our challenges can appear insurmountable. 
The testing data is in, calculated and analyzed. 
Are you pleased? 
Teachers are often more critical of themselves than anyone else would ever be of them. 
We expect a lot of ourselves.
The names and numbers on those data sheets and screens can reflect that the majority of our students are growing by leaps and bounds; yet, the names that stick out, the names that we fixate on are those one or two students who are not making the gains we expected we would see. 
How we react to that news is critical. 
It can mean the difference between a student's and a teacher's stagnation or growth. 
For as much as we want our students to grow, we as teachers, also must grow and develop alongside our students. 

At these times, I always reflect back on a book I read a while ago. 
In the book, Failing Forward, author John Maxwell shares his insight on the topic of failure. 
He believes that the major difference between achieving people and average people is their perception of and response to failure. He covers the top reasons people fail and shows how to master fear instead of being mastered by it. 

Failing Forward: Turning Mistakes into Stepping Stones for Success by [Maxwell, John C.]
It is a powerful read...check it out by here:

So let's not let those data graphs and scores scare us into despair and paralysis. 
Let's see challenge instead as an opportunity to overcome and to "fail forward".  

Are there instructional strategies and methods that you haven't ever used?
Teaching challenges are sometimes needed to inspire us to stretch, grow and develop our teaching techniques.
Let's allow our teaching setbacks be the springboard that propels us into action. 
Struggle make us stronger. 
So never give up...together we can move mountains for our kids. 

Move Mountains Enamelware Mug

I'm revamping some reading interventions and will add a Syllasearch component on a more consistent basis to see if it will help my readers who struggle with phonics and word solving. 
If you are interested, let me know and I'll be back to document the progress. 
You can read about the Syllasearch Intervention in this book by Isabel Beck: 
Image result for syllasearch

So, what are your struggles? 
I'd love this blog to be centered around Teachers Helping Teachers.
So please me at or comment below. 

Friday, January 26, 2018

We Can TACKLE Tough Problems: A Math Problem Solving Approach

If you have been teaching awhile I'm sure you have noticed how our math standards have changed over the years. Expectations are high and the rigor of the problems our third graders are asked to solve has increased with each passing year.   In our classroom, we say "Two brains are better than one" and so we are "tackling" these problems as a team. 

We have created a "Game Plan" to help us.  It hangs in our room and states the problem solving strategies that help us achieve our goal of winning the game or solving the problem.

Students have this game plan glued into their math journals and we review it before our "problem solving partners" time. 

To make it a bit more fun, I am using this football Easter Egg basket that I got on clearance after Easter last year.  Inside it, I put football eggs with some tough problems for us to tackle in each one.  I have modeled these after those I know they will face on upcoming end of the year tests. 

I have my kids participate in "Problem Solving Partners" time about three times a week. 
We pull out a football and crack it open to reveal the problem we will be tackling with our team (class).

I have multiple copies of each of the problems already cut and pass out one to each child. Students glue it into their math journals and read it by themselves first.  This allows everyone some quiet think time to process the problem before they attempt to solve it with a partner. 

Then they meet with their Problem Solving Partner.  This changes weekly. I have a math station board that we use to post who their partner will be. 

They meet with their partner to reread, discuss and work through the game plan to solve the problem. 
This is my favorite time.  I LOVE listening to how different groups are solving it in different ways.  It is also a great time to do some informal assessing. I will walk around and sit and listen and jot notes down onto a recording sheet. I have a page with all students' names on it.  I try to visit each child once a week to ask them questions and hear how they are processing through the problem. 
If they finish before I ring the bell, they are encouraged to come up with alternative ways to solve or represent their answer.  This is when I really see them stretch their brains. It is a great time for those strong students who are ready to extend their thinking and great for those struggling who need to listen to how others think through math. 
After all partners had a chance to tackle the problem, we come together as a class team. 
This is our math talk time.  We pick some partners to come up to share their solution. 
We place their journal under our document camera and they explain their math thinking. 

This problem solving approach has really worked for my class.  Just solving one problem at a time allows students to dig deep.  Solving with a partner, helps students feel more comfortable and gives them lots of opportunities to verbalize their math thinking. My kids become little math coaches...I love listening to them teach one another. 

I've created this set with poster printables and a set of 30 problems.  You can check it out in my TPT store if interested. 

Math Problem Solving Test Prep: We Can Tackle Tough Problems

What are your thoughts on the increased rigor of our math standards? Do you have a strategy for dealing with it? 
I would love to me at or comment below!

Saturday, January 20, 2018

Writing About Math: Telling Time

Time has been on my mind. Partly because it is flying by and partly because it's what I've been teaching about in my classroom.  I LOVE when I can integrate the subjects that I teach. It maximizes my time and just makes sense. One way I've done that is to have my students write through the curriculum. That means we write about whatever we are learning about in the other subject areas.
We recently worked on telling time and determining elapsed time in math and sequencing in reading. So I decided to put all that together and have my students write on the topic of their favorite time in school.

We started by identifying times and sequencing events of our school day. Students drew hands on each clock to show the time.  They wrote a sentence telling what they do and drew a matching picture for each time. At this point we solved elapsed time problems using the clocks and times represented on the pages. This makes the problems they solve very relevant to their own lives. They find out how long it is between different points in their day.

Next we used a four square organizer to record our topic and to help us brainstorm and organize the writing we were getting ready to do. We talked about the ways authors "hook" students into their stories. 
We decided to use the "Sound Lead" for this writing. Students started by thinking of a sound they would hear while doing the activity they chose as their topic. They were so good at figuring out these sounds. Then they had to write two different reasons why they enjoyed that place/activity. They came up with two details for every reason and marked them with bullets. Then we added a conclusion.

I always write along with my students and model each part of the process.  I modeled how to take ideas from the four square and use them to draft a paragraph. They watched me as I wrote out mine. I am sure to talk out loud as I write. They listen as I struggle at times to figure out lines, how I constantly reread as I draft and how I sometimes change words while I'm drafting. They see that it is ok to scratch out words and to just sound out spelling while drafting. 

Then it was their turn to draft theirs. We make sure to share a little along the way. It helps the reluctant writer so much to hear what good writing sounds like. 
After revising and editing they were ready to share their paragraphs

This writing activity is a great way to review paragraph writing along with telling time. 
I've added this file to my Teacher Pay Teacher Store if you are interested. 
You can check it out here: 

Monday, January 15, 2018

Achieve Your Goals: Create a Vision Board

What's your dream? 
As teachers we tend to keep our focus on others.... students, teammates, kids, husband, families.  Caregiving is what we do and caretakers are what we are.
But are we carving out time to take care of ourselves?
How would you describe your relationship with yourself? 
Through the years I have learned that my most important relationships are with myself and my Maker. I have discovered that I am most content and satisfied with my life when I am contributing, but I can't give what I don't have. I need to fill myself up so I can pour out onto others. 
  Becoming the best version of ME helps me become a better contributor.   
My word of 2018 is

The idea was sprouted from this piece of scripture: 

I don't believe I was meant to just survive year after year, I believe I was meant to thrive. 
I was not given breath to just grow...God's intention is that I BLOOM. 

 Creating a vision board is a powerful practice that will help me project and visualize my dreams and goals for the new year.
Visualizing is an amazingly powerful practice.  Highly successful people swear by it. 
It can be a game changer in achieving your goals.  
"Seeing" your future as you wish it to be and declaring it as "done" can go a long way to making it happen. The creation of a vision board and it's daily reminders fill you with the fuel to take massive action towards the goals you set. 
Goal getters don't just allow life to happen to them...they know what they want and they go get it

So my vision board depicts the life I want to live, the one that God says I deserve. 
I choose not to fill mine with pictures of material possessions, rather I include images of what I want my life to look like, what I want it to feel like. 
I pick images that evoke feeling within me...feelings that will move me into action. 
My board is a reflection of my dreams related to my job, finances, health, fitness, spirituality and relationships.

The creation of it is an important part of the process. So if you are going to make one, don't just slap some pictures on a board and call it done.  Take time to enjoy the process. 
Find a place to work that is uncluttered and uplifting, light a candle, turn on some music. 

Gather pictures you have taken that remind you of where you want to go and who you want to be.  
Cut them out of magazines or find them on the internet. 
Let these images remind you of all you have been blessed with. 
Thank God for all that he has given you in your life. 
Speak to Him your desires for 2018. 
Ask for His strength and guidance in achieving them. 

Creating your vision board doesn't need to be costly. 
I simply use a cheap cork board I bought from Target. I covered it with material from Hobby Lobby. 

I gathered my photos, pictures and inspirational sayings and worked on arranging them on my board. 

Don't overthink the process. 

Limiting the number of items I add to the board helps me to keep things simple.
I like leaving some blank spaces allows me to add on as the year goes by. 

I will hang this in my office where I can be reminded of the life I am creating for myself. 
So how about you? 
What are your dreams for 2018?  How do you work towards achieving them? 
I would love to hear!
Comment or email me at