Sunday, November 22, 2015

Digital Holiday Story Books

Today I'm here to share with you a favorite holiday project in my classroom. During the holidays, it's really difficult to keep the kids engaged/focused…but this project is always a hit! Kids beg to work on it -- and are dead silent and hard at work while doing so. 
Here's a sample of a completed project!
To begin, students worked with a partner to fill out their story map. 

They brainstormed ideas and had to come to an agreement before filling out their story map. From there, they went on to the actual writing of their stories. The kids knew what their end product would be--so while they work on their writing, they are also planning out which sentences will go on what page. Students were so excited about this part and couldn't wait to get into the lab! 
Click here to download the story map.
Once students were done with the writing, we went into the lab so they could begin creating their digital story books. For this project, we used the program Pixie
This is an awesome program because students were able to link up computer screens with their partners--so that they could both work on the illustrations at the same time. There are also many different clip art pieces the kids can use.

It took awhile for the kids to learn to work together on this program. Since most of them chose to work on the same page at the same time, they would often go and change out little images their partner had placed…or change the color of the text, etc. After awhile though, they figured out how to work together to compromise. 

Since we could only work on this program in the computer lab, and that we had a limited number of days to work on it, this was incentive enough to get the kids to not argue and finish up their work in the given amount of time. 

During the last week of school, we popped popcorn and watched all of the holiday movies! The kiddos LOVED it. Here's one more:
This was a great activity to do to keep the kids engaged during the holidays, but really, this could be enjoyed at any time throughout the year! 
I'd love to know if you end up doing this with your kiddos :) 
Happy Teaching!

Tuesday, November 3, 2015

Tech Tip Tuesday

At my school, we have an awesome technology coordinator that is in the know of all new and cool technology programs out on the market. She even has a ton of tech tips up her sleeve that she is always willing to teach others about. 

She started an awesome technology PD opportunity for all faculty on campus. I like to call it "PD on the Potty" but it's real name is "Learning on the Loo".  

Each month, our tech coordinator will go around campus to every bathroom that is used by faculty members. She will place a learning sheet on the wall, directly across the toilet. :) 

It cracks me up because the tag line is…Face it, there's nothing else to distract you. 

I love all of her monthly tips that she shares because they are always super helpful, and are also usually things that I hadn't heard of, done, or tried before. 

Today's tip is all about how to narrow your internet searches.

I had no idea that searching without quotations meant that you are searching each word separately! 

That's it for today. Aloha!

Sunday, November 1, 2015

November Currently!

Happy November!

Today I'm here again to link up with Farley for November's Currently!
Let's go!

The AC. The weather has been so muggy lately that I've been having to run the air all day and all night. 
Hence, my wanting for the weather to cool down ;) 

Just like Farley, I am stoked that Halloween is over. I'm not too big of a Halloween person, and look forward to it being done so that I can get ready for Christmas!! Now that it's officially November…I am just itching to decorate for Christmas!! 

We will be away for the hubby's 30th B-day Celebration over the Thanksgiving weekend. When we get back, it'll already be December and our first weekend is already busy…so I'll be needing to decorate the house before we leave, so it's ready for us when we get back! Can't wait!

I just ordered a Silhouette Cameo and am thinking about all of the Holiday DIY projects I have on my to-do list. I just love crafting during this time of year! I've been planning them since the start of October ;)

The weather to cool down. Granted the weather only reaches the low 70s (midday), that's pretty cool for us here in Hawaii…but I want to start dressing in cute warm clothes :)

To get to work! 
I've put my work list off all day yesterday…I will get work done today…..
I hope. :/

I LOVE my mom's homemade stuffing. I mix it in with mashed potatoes. That is my favorite part of our Thanksgiving meals. I could totally go without the turkey..and just eat stuffing and mashed potatoes!
I'm so sad though because I missed Thanksgiving last year and will miss it again this year due to being away on Vacation. :/ Maybe I can get her to cook it before I leave ;) 

Be sure to head over and link up with Farley. I'd love to see what you're Currently up to!

Tuesday, October 13, 2015

Math Workshop #NittyGritty

Hey there! Today I'm here to continue my little mini blog series on how I run Math Workshop in my classroom and get down to the #NittyGritty 

Before we jump into Math Workshop, I always do a whole group lesson. 
During the lesson I introduce the concept we are learning about. When I teach concepts I always, always, always introduce with concrete representations. Throughout our time working on the skill we will then move to the pictorial, and eventually abstract representations. We practice the concepts using the I do, We do, You do model. We do tons of guided practice as a group using task cards and our whiteboards. 

While students are working on solving problems, I use the time to walk around and help those who seem to be confused and/or not understanding. This is my time that I can work with individual students and give them my undivided attention. 
Along with using this time for helping students, I am also taking note of those who are struggling to catch on…even with continued practice and support. 
At the end of our whole group lesson, I hand out my Quick Checks that I use to assess the day's learning. The students are given different problems (I have a version A and B) so that I know I am assessing their understand, not their neighbors! 
I then use the information from my Quick Checks to put them into groups for Math Workshop.

This is my Math Workshop Rotation Board…laid out on a table….before I stapled them to my cabinets. Sorry for the poor picture quality--and crookedness of the cards, it was the best photo I could find on my phone :/ lol

Anyway- I meet with 4 groups every day and each group will rotate to 4 different centers: Work with Teacher, Computers, Hands On and Independent Work. 

Because of the way that I teach before jumping into Math Workshop, I always assign my group of students who seem to have got the day's lesson to be the first to work on independent work. This is because I feel that they are most ready to tackle the assignment. When we meet together, we quickly review the work they completed and I make note of how each student did. 

During Hands On, students are either reviewing past skills and/or working on building their understanding of current skills being covered. At this center, students will work on a variety of things. One day they may be playing a game, working on task cards, doing a scavenger hunt, or using cards to solve problems on whiteboard/templates. 

In the picture above, the students were working on different ways to represent multiplication. They were given various multiplication expressions and needed to show that expression 4 different ways. Some students took awhile doing this, while others were quick. One way I managed activities like this (and also used it as a formative assessment) was to have the students take a picture of their work with the iPad. At the end of the day, I used this as another piece of data (along with my notes from small groups) to adjust groupings for the next day. All I needed to do was scroll through the iPad photos to check student work.

When it comes to independent work/Hands On, my students are given differentiated folders based on their groups (using coordinating colors). 

Based on the skill and how far along we are, different groups are given different assignments to work on. I also sometimes differentiated the Hands On Activities. 

Using folders really made my prep easy because I didn't need to take the time to hand out different worksheets to all the different groups…even better, students had no idea that they weren't working on the same things as the other groups. 


When students are working on computers they are mostly on IXL to review skills and/or Fact Fluency Games. They are given assignments each day that are posted on the front board.

During Teacher Time the students come to the Kidney Bean Table to work with me. This is where the main teaching happens. All students are working on the same skill, but at very different paces. Like I said before, when I meet with the 'high group' we check on their independent work first, then work on and clarify misconceptions. 

I LOVE Teacher Time during Math Workshop for soooo many reasons.

1. Your high students don't get bored. 
This is your time to challenge them, push them to the next level and truly make their learning meaningful. 

2. You can help ALL students.
I'm not going to lie. It is ROUGH having a class of 28-32 students with levels ranging from 1st-6th grade. Math Workshop allows you the opportunity to differentiate teaching, learning, and practice for all students in your class. I'm able to help those students who need it---at their level. That's the best feeling ever. 

3. Your struggling kiddos feel comfortable. 
By the time students hit 3rd grade, they know they struggle. Too often I find those kids shying off, disengaged and trying hard to not be called on. During Teacher Time, they are working at their level, being successful and feel GOOD! They are understanding things and they begin to burst out of their shells. During Teacher Time, I actually get to know who my struggling kiddos better…I love to see them wiggling in their chair wanting to answer my questions or give their friend some advice/feedback. It makes my day! 

That's it folks..that is how I run Math Workshop in my classroom. It has definitely evolved over the years and taken time become what it is today. If you would like to read about why I started or how I start, please head back to the beginning

Sunday, October 11, 2015

Sunday Scoop {10/11/15}

Good Morning!

Today I'm linking up with Teaching Trio for the Sunday Scoop. 

This is a fun little linky that I've been eyeing for awhile--just never took the time to sit down and write up a post. is what I'm up to on this beautiful Sunday.

Have To:
This past week we were on Fall Break. I attended a Digital Leadership and Learning Conference the first 2 days. I hadn't accomplished as much as I'd like to over the break so I definitely need to finish up Unit 3, Week 2 for my Reading Wonders materials.

 I'm also in charge of cooking dinner tonight for our Family dinner….so I definitely need to get that done today ;) 

Since we've been on break, I tried to make it a point to do a little cleaning each day. My house has definitely been neglected since this school year started, so cleaning a little each day has really helped! I'm looking forward to heading back to work and coming home to a clean home every day. 

Hope To:
Once I finish all my Have To tasks, I hope to schedule a blog post to go out this upcoming week. I have so many ideas of things I want to blog about--just need to make the time to sit down and do it. 

The next thing I hope to do is to schedule/plan lessons I will do for a Google Course I am taking. I'm actually supposed to do a Google Hangout with my classmates tomorrow--to discuss my lesson :/ Yikes! #bettergetonit 

Happy To:
Last but not least, I am definitely happy to be spending the night with family. My husband and I usually get together every week/every other week with my brother, sister in law, and her 2 sisters and husbands  for Family Dinner nights. We each take turns cooking. It's so nice to get together and relax with family…but what makes it even more precious are that we have 2 new additions to our family! Both of my sis. in law's sisters had baby boys. One just made 4 moths and the other just made 4 weeks! 

Head on over to the Teaching Trio to link up about your Sunday! 

Monday, October 5, 2015

Reading Wonders Weekly Teaching Plans

Hi, Friends! 
Last year, I blogged about how I organized all of my Reading Wonders leveled readers and resources….Many people requested for me to share my weekly plans that I used to teach the series. Today, I am finally back to share that with you all! If you'd like to go back and check out that organization post, you can find that here
When we first started using this program..I was just so overwhelmed by everything that needed to be done. The plans in the TE completely stressed me out because there was NO WAY I could do all of that in that amount of time.
I'd like to think that I'm a pretty tech savvy kind of gal, but the online component also overwhelmed me. There was so much offered online, but I felt that things were just all over the place. To help myself out, I ended up creating resources for myself to use to teach each week. 

I created visual anchor charts so my students could refer back to the skills and strategies that are taught throughout the week. Also included in these packs are various worksheets to use throughout the week.

Creating these resources really helped me to know and understand what I was teaching each week. It forced me to read all the stories and understand the content I was teaching. I ended up creating a generic skeleton for my weekly plans. I mapped it out days 1-5 and listed all the things I would do each week. 
I also created my own comprehension checks based on questions I wanted my students answering about the text they read. There are comprehension questions for the Reading Writing Workshop story as well as the Literature Anthology story. Practicing writing constructed response answers truly help my students with their writing and to prepare them for question 21 on the weekly assessment. 
For planning purposes, it was really easy to stick to my schedule and pull out the resources I created.  I would stick my weekly plans in a sheet protector and use the same plans week to week. In my planner, I'd just write down specific page numbers or activities that I would be doing for that week.
In the afternoons from 12:00-1:00 I teach writing and grammar. I use interactive notebook pages  when introducing new grammar skills. 
I hope this post was helpful to you. If you're new to the Wonders program, give it some time. It can definitely be very overwhelming at first, but it'll get better once you've established routines, procedures and become a little more familiar with it. 

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

September Currently!

It sure has been awhile since I've linked up for a Currently! but I'm so happy to have made it in time for this month's link-up.

LISTENING: Hubby is addicted to Game of Thrones. Anytime I go into my office to get some work done, the TV immediately goes on.

LOVING: I am in dire need of catching up on some rest…and relaxing. There just aren't enough hours in a 2-day weekend to get everything done!

THINKING: That I need to decorate my office! Since I'm not in the classroom this year, I've been placed in a trailer-yup…a trailer! It is nice to have my own bathroom, full size refrigerator, and water cooler……but it needs some loving. I need to turn it into a pleasant and welcoming place for teachers to come to have meetings. 

WANTING: Speaking of office- my home office looks like a tornado hit! I had to move ALL of my stuff out of my classroom into my 1100 sq. ft town house! I didn't really have much room for it all, nor the time to sort through anything….so it's just kind of all piled in my office. Not to mention that I didn't want to get rid of anything….because I may choose to go back to the classroom next year. Can you say hoarder?! There is no visible carpet space. 

NEEDING: To exercise and eat healthy. This NEED will become a GOAL that I WILL accomplish :) 

1. Being that I'm in a new position, the job responsibilities that come with being a curriculum coordinator are much out of my comfort zone. I HATE public speaking and get really awkward and nervous. My goal this year is to work on speaking (since I'm a nervous wreck each time I need to present something at a faculty meeting). I also want to work on communicating my thoughts to people. I'm on the shyer side when it comes to talking/communicating/expressing things to others, especially when it's people who I'm not too familiar or comfortable with. I'm really trying to grow this year--and working on expressing all my positive thoughts about others to their face. What good will it do to keep things in…especially when it could make someone else's day!

2. Goal 2 kind of goes along with goal 1. I'm working on being a motivator and encouraging people. It's human nature to complain, and I am definitely guilty of doing this. This year for myself, and for others, I am working on motivating myself and others to come up with a plan of action that will help to solve/make these complaints better. Complaining and grumbling will never fix our problems nor change the outcome. It takes US to spring into action to make a difference. Plus-being around negativity isn't always pleasant.

3. Last but not least, I am going to exercise, eat better and lose some weight. Enough said! :) 

What are you CURRENTLY up to?! Head on over to Farley's blog to link up!

Monday, August 31, 2015

September Morning Math FREEBIE

Today I'm here to share how to turn your students into Mathematical Thinkers! 

During my first year of teaching, I found that my students really struggled with word problems. They had a difficult time understanding what to do and how to solve; especially when all 4 operations have been introduced. In order to get better at anything, students must be given practice. They need to be exposed to word problems frequently..not only during your unit in which word problems are covered. 

So--I ended up creating weekly morning math problems. I wish you could see how this set has transformed since my first year of teaching! I've probably revised this product a total of 4 times. 

Each day, students will take care of their morning business (turning in homework, copying down the night's homework, getting their supplies out for the day, etc). As a part of morning business, students are required to work on 3 math problems a day. 

In the beginning of the year (August), they start off with only 2 problems which review 2nd grade Common Core State Standards. September transitions them into 3 problems daily with the exception of some Fridays. 

It is important that your students practice, but it is even more important that you students engage is mathematical conversations. Your students must be able to explain and justify their reasonings for choosing a particular answer. 

For about the first month and a half, I will model for students how to lead the class in correcting their morning math as well as how to facilitate conversations. After that, the correcting is all up to the students. 

Every afternoon we take out our Morning Math Books and a red pen. Students go up to the front of the room and share how they solved the problem. If a student got the incorrect answer or are having a difficult time understanding, they raise their hand to let the 'teacher' know. It is then up to the 'teacher' to come up with another way to explain to help out their friend. 

It is so amazing to hear your students saying things like "How do you know your answer correct?", "I like the way you solved the problem", "Don't you mean to say 4 tens, not 4?" "I got lost when you explained ___, could you go back and say it again". 

I love to hear them having conversations about math, helping each other to see math in different ways as well as how to explain and justify their answers in different ways. For those students who may have difficult time explaining their answers, it is so valuable for them to be able to hear others explain. Eventually they get the hang of it, and will be begging to be the 'teacher' to correct the day's Morning Math. 

If you'd like to try this out with your students, I have a FREEBIE sample of September's Morning Math available for you here

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Math Workshop #beginning

Yesterday I posted about how and why Math Workshop started in my classroom. I also mentioned that I would be doing a mini blog series about what it looks like in my class and how I structure the block. If you're interested in reading about why I started, you can check that post out here.

Before we even begin Math Workshop, I explain to my students what it is and WHY it's important. I explain to students that by doing Math Workshop, I am able to be a better teacher and better meet the needs of each student. We talk about how sometimes certain math concepts are harder to learn for others but then the next concepts may be easier to learn. In small groups, I will be able to see what a student is struggling with and address their needs immediately…rather than letting them practice a skill the wrong way and then catching it after I grade their work. 

 I show them the rotation board, explain generally what they will be doing at each station and then we practice moving. Only moving and reading the board. 

The large circles are the different groups. The cards to the far left are labeled: Rotation 1, Rotation 2, etc. Each day during workshop the students will rotate to all four stations- work with teacher, independent work, hands on, and computers. 

After I am done explaining what they'll generally be doing at each station, I assign them a group and we practice reading the board. After that, we discuss HOW we move about from one station to the other. Students are expected to put whatever materials they are working with away. They will get a signal when it is time to switch. I ring my little bell and call out "SWITCH". The students then repeat back to me "SWITCH". I then begin a countdown. I say "10", then the students repeat after me. I continue to count each number and the students will echo the same number aloud. This gives them a total of 20-40 seconds to switch. (I usually start at a higher number during the beginning--but once they get used to it they get better at putting things away and moving quickly). 

Only after I know that each student knows how to read the board and move about…we practice. Students don't do anything at each station…they just practice counting, moving, and pretending like they're working at their station. We continue to practice as much as we need until I know that students know the expectations. 

  1. Students are not allowed to interrupt me when I am working with a small group of students. I only have 20 minutes with each group, and they understand this time is valuable. 
  2. Students must be on task…the whole time.
  3. Students must put their materials away.
  4. Students must come to each station prepared with necessary materials (will go into this later).

Ensuring your students understand the value of Math Workshop as well as what is expected of them is crucial in order for this to be successful. Spending the time in the beginning to make sure your students understand your role and their roles will help the process to run smoothly in your classroom all year round. 

Next up- I will post a little more about the structure.

If you have any questions about starting math workshop in your classroom, please feel free to send me an e-mail or leave your questions in the comment section below :) 

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Math Workshop #introduction

During my first year of teaching, I made a quick discovery that my students all learned at different paces and had varying needs in regards to learning math. I knew that I needed to do something other than whole group instruction--because that was definitely not working in my room.

This is how math workshop started in my classroom...although it originally began as math rotations (my students changed the name because they got it mixed up with rotations where they switched classes for science, social studies, health, and art.

I decided to start grouping my students based off of similar needs with certain skills. While I was meeting with said groups, others would be working on center activities and games to reinforce other math concepts.

This worked. I was happy, and my students were happy. I am SO glad I decided to try this out during my first year of teaching...because I probably wouldn’t LOVE teaching math as much as I do if it weren’t for this.

Over the years I have refined the whole process of how math workshop works and runs in my classroom.  My students LOVE math workshop time and I LOVE that they love it!

Starting on Sunday, I will begin a mini blog series about Math Workshop in my classroom. I hope you’ll stop in to find out more!!

Sunday, July 26, 2015

Assess Me!! { A Get to Know You Linky!}

Today I'm linking up with the Tattooed Teacher for a fun new linky she's just started! 

For the next 3-4 weeks, Rachel will be posting new 'assessments' to help us all get to know one another a little better! I can't wait to see what else she has in store :) 

On to today's assessment……

Don't forget to head on over to Rachel's blog so you can link up too! 

Monday, July 20, 2015

Monday Made It {Teacher Plan Book}

Happy Monday!

Today I'm linking up with the fabulous Tara from 4th Grade Frolics for her Monday Made it!

I finally got around to putting together my Plan book for this upcoming school year. 
So far, I've created a new plan book every summer. You can check out my past planner post here and here.

This year I wanted to go for a bright and colorful book with some awesome Melonheadz clipart! 
I am soooo happy with the way this book turned out- My heart feels happy every time I look at it :) 

It took me quite awhile to print, but it is definitely worth it to print on your own! Once I was done printing, I took it to Office Max to get bound. It only cost me around $4.00!

If you are interested in purchasing this planner, I will have it on sale for the rest of today in my TPT Shop!