Friday, July 25, 2014

First Day of School Activities Blog Hop!

Hello Everyone!

I am excited to be teaming up with a great group of bloggers and hosted by Mackenzie from
Brownbag Academics.  This blog hop will give you a number of great ideas that you can use right away on the first day of school. 
Brownbag Academics

Since the first day of school is very hectic for first graders, I always like to break up the long first few days with literature and craftivities that go along with the literature.

My favorite first day of school book is, "First Day Jitters" by Julie Danneberg. 

I start out by telling them how nervous I get on the first day of school, even though I am a teacher.  I will ask them to think to themselves about one reason they were nervous this morning coming to school.  I will then give them an opportunity to share with a partner near them, and then finally I will ask for volunteers to share their jitters coming to school this morning. 

Nancy Vandenberge over at has a great resource that I use bits and pieces of.  You can get her 13 page download with activities HERE. 

Another activity I will conduct with my students is an I Have Who Has activity whole group.  I will have students pick sticks for partners (their partner will have the same sticker on their stick) and they will share a card.  I will give them time to figure out the words together before starting the activity whole group.

I have the complete short and long vowel packet in my store HERE!!  You can also get the Freebie version of just the short /a/ activity as my store featured download freebie HERE

I always start teaching mathematics the first day of school and one activity students love is this one were they roll a die or dice (depending on grade level) and then practice writing the quantity of number in circle groups of 5 and leftovers.  Building this understand of the quantity of 5 will help ensure they meet the end of the first grade goal of fluency of numbers w/in 10.

Get your copy of this activity HERE  Once we work on this in class then I will send another copy home with my students to get in the habit early of learning at home.  The fact that we have already practiced during the school day will increase the likelihood they will actually do the homework because they already know what is expected of them. 

Finally, since it is so important to work on classroom expectations starting on day 1, I am going to share my Whole Brain Teaching rule cards I created for my classroom.  If you have not tried this method of classroom management then you are missing out!!  I love trying new things in my classroom as long as they work and when I tried the Whole Brain Teaching last school year, my whole classroom management was so much more manageable.  For more information about this FREE resource click HERE.

To get a free copy of these 5 rules to display in your classroom please click HERE

Check out what other teachers are doing on their first days of school below by clicking on their links.  This is a wonderful opportunity for you to get a few steps ahead before your school year starts!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Simple Instructional Strategies Guaranteed Success in Mathematics

With new educational research coming out all the time, I have found 5 staples of math instruction that applies to any math curriculum as well as any grade level!

 Make sure the students are doing the thinking!!! 
  • DO NOT think for your students!
  • DO NOT tell your students too much!
  • Whenever you feel like telling your students something during a lesson, ask a question instead.

Listen to what your students are saying, not just what you hope to hear!!
  • Ask questions to determine what they are really understanding.  Have your students "defend" their answers.  If you work hard at this at the beginning of the school year, then this will quickly become a wonderful habit!

Partner Talk or Math Talk is a MUST!

Slow down your math activities and give each child a chance to share.  I know that in the lower primary grades I have found success in partner shares.  This way all students have a chance to talk.  Once students have a chance to share with their partners, then I will discuss the strategies whole group. 
  • This method works in many ways.  Shy or anxious students may just get enough confidence they need to volunteer in front of the class and  students get a chance to talk through their strategies before sharing to catch any mistakes.  Students can also share out what their partner said to them.  This is another great way to dig deeper into the problem.

Be patient with your students!
  • We all mean well when we jump in to save students, but this hurts students in the long run.  They will learn quickly that teachers will do the thinking for them and that they do not even need to try.  Review the first tip I gave you about ask a question instead of telling.


Always Assess!!
  • Assessment should not be something that is only conducted at the end of a topic.  Assessment should be ongoing, quick, easy, and specific.  Exit slips, whiteboards, or math journals are just a few simple ways to assess the progress of your students.  This data should be the driving force of your future instruction.
Here is an quick and easy way to use exit slips.  Make a form like this one, or use this one if you wish by clicking HERE!!   Clip art border provided by Dots of Fun and the font provided by KG Fonts. 

If my students are struggling with using the making 10 concept then I would create a problem for them that enables them to practice using that strategy.  I may need to tell them to use that strategy OR I can just give them the problem to see if they use that strategy. 

Have a great day!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Would you ever consider a job change?

It has been a stressful  the last couple months trying to decide if a job change was what I needed if I was going to stay in the teaching profession.  The classroom is getting more and more challenging and I feel that I do not have the support and resources needed to effectively meet the needs of ALL my students.  Behavior needs, learning needs, emotional needs, and curricular needs are just a few reasons I have felt like a failure the last two years.

  Have I met the majority of needs of my students? Absolutely, but what bothers me are the students I know need extra help, yet the system we need to go through that basically just delays the inevitable. These students needed help that was not provided due to not enough "data."  Data is something I believe in, but when a first grader cannot write their name, cannot rhyme, and forgets where the bathroom is then do we really wait 18 weeks to decide if they need intensive instruction? 

Anyway,  I have made the jump into a new position.  I took a job as an elementary interventionist in a new district recently.  I will be able to work with the student population that I want to help most, the struggling learner.  I am excited to be able to teach both reading and mathematics so if I do have that urge to go back to the classroom then I would be able to do so.  I am nervous to start this new chapter in my life, but sometimes change is good....

See this product in my store by clicking : Back to School Math and Literacy
In order to celebrate my new journey, I would like to host a giveaway.  I would like to choose two people to win my 77 page, 16 activity Back to School math and literacy packet (above)that has great activities that will fit in perfectly for the first few weeks of school.  All of my products are classroom tested and kid approved!  I aim to create low prep, engaging, and interactive activities that are common core aligned.   To win this product just comment here telling me why you would like to win this product and list an email where I can send the product if you are chosen to win.  If you are not chosen I will have this product in my store for only $4.00 until Friday (normally $8.50!!).  I will announce a winner late tomorrow night (Thursday).

Please do not hesitate to sign up to follow my blog, Facebook page, Pinterest, and my Teachers pay Teachers store so you do not miss out on my future giveaways and discount products.  Here is the business card I recently created:
Front of the card

Back of the card with QR code links to my Pinterest, Blog, Facebook Page, and TpT store.

Thanks and take care,

Saturday, July 12, 2014

My Experience at the TpT Conference in VEGAS!!!!

I want to start out by saying that I am not one to spend money on wants v. needs.  I put each and every one of my family member's needs ahead of my own...... Until 6 weeks ago when I begged/convinced my husband that I needed to go to the TpT conference in Vegas.  Did I need to go? Absolutely not, but I wanted to go so bad.  I even booked a flight that flied out late Thursday night and flew back late Friday night and of course prepped meals so my husband would have next to no effort feeding my children.  

My first session was with THE Deanna Jump and DeeDee Wills.   I cannot tell you how friendly, bubbly, and down to earth these two are!  I wanted to get seats up front so I could see and I ended up sitting behind Erica Bohrer (my idol creator)!!!!! Other big $$ sellers were also right in front of ME!  This session taught me that I need to go through my older products and make updates. I knew I needed to do this, but when Deanna and DeeDee tell me then the motivation magically appears : ).  I know the picture is not the best, but Deanna moves constantly when she presents and this was the best picture I could get. Bless her though, because so many people came up to her and asked for pictures and she never once hesitated when she agreed.  

Session 2 was with Laura Candler, The Facebook Master.  I do have a Facebook page, but after listening to Laura I know that I need to take more time posting to help increase my sales.  I have been absent for a few hectic months and I am energized and ready to make more of a commitment!!  I could not get a good picture of Laura due to where I was sitting, but I learned so much in this session.  She also the current Facebook changes and how few people your posts actually reach only 5% of your followers.  Quality posts will be shared by others and that is how you reach a greater audience. 

My third session was with Rachel Lynette ( soon to be the next teacher millionaire!!).  Where do I start? Rachel is a fun, tell it how it is kind of person!  She is very entertaining and very knowledgable.  She talked about smart marketing (direct and indirect marketing), attracting buyers to your store,  and effective networking.

Erin Cobb ( )of I'm Lovin Lit was the last presenter I saw.  She attracted me to her session because she has only been selling since April 2013 and is already one of the top sellers!! She handed out pens and a CD with a variety of clip art and origanizational documents. Erin is absolutely amazing and the fact that her husband quit his job to support her and to be Mr. Mom is heartwarming.  Her story is very inspirational and gave me hope that maybe I can do better than I am now, but not without hard work. 

I met so many wonderful people in just one day that I really wish I could have went back another day.  The number of people I met and talked to was so unbelievable.  I felt so welcome, even though I did not know a single person there I certainly left with the start of many friendships.  

Here are three names and blogs of some special and wonderful people I met:
Michelle Lenahan of Lendahand's Printables :
If you teach from the reading street reading curriculum then you do not want to miss her store. Colorful and creative products that align to the Common Core!  Just click on the TpT link from her blog.

Donna Boucher of Math Coach's Corner:
When I met Donna it was like I have died and went to heaven!! Her products are amazing and I have been following her for a while now.  She was attending another conference in Vegas and came to the keynote speech. She happened to sit right by me and we hit it off right away.  I honestly do not believe she gets nearly enough credit she deserves. 

Erica Bohrer of Erica's Edventures, 
I am sure you all know her by name, but if you have not checked out her blog postings or products then you should.  She is not the biggest name out there, but she knows a lot about everything (curriculum, design, technology....). She is teeny tiny and so very sweet. I approached her to say hello, and we ended up taking about the sessions we went to that day.