Sunday, July 28, 2013

Sunday Smorgasbord

The calm before the storm.....

Otherwise known as "my last day of freedom before back to school craziness". Doesn't that sound soooo dramatic?

So..why not participate with Michelle for some Sunday smorgasbord fun to calm me down?!? 


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Last night, I attended a great GNO with my workout group. We had a blast. And, one of the highlights was playing this...a life size Jenga game! I mean...who doesn't love jumping at the chance to be a kid again. Just for the record...it was NOT me that let it fall...not this time anyway.




My teamie and I are desperately trying to order last minute pieces for our new classrooms. One of things on our list is this. Do you have one in your room? Do you like it? Is it worth it? Our walls in the new learning cottages are not the strongest, and a few teachers tried to put up hanging wooden cubbies last year. It didn't work out so well so we have been looking for alternatives. Our goal is to roll them into the hallway that connects our two rooms so that we can save some space throughout the day. 




I finally got around to typing up the first few days of plans for B2S. I really like how we are only going to be in school two days before the weekend. This gives me time to really focus on establishing a good classroom community while helping the kiddos ease back into the classroom routine. Not to mention that we are all going to be exhausted and needing that weekend break to recoup for week two!



 And, I have made my list of things that I want to snag at the TPT back to school sale! 




I have frantically and nervously getting ready for presenting at Common Core Math PD this week with some awesome ladies from my district. I am so blessed to work with some amazing ladies who are so talented. There is something to be said about awesome collaboration! 



Finally, I made these beauties this week after seeing what Nicole, from First Grade Frenzy, shared in her Monday Made It post! They are super easy to make and so cute!! 




Well, there is my random Sunday smorgasbord! I am so glad that this summer has allowed me to begin this blogging journey. I cannot begin to explain what this blog and the educator blogging community means to me. I thank each of you who visit my blog, send me emails, communicate through Instagram, and provide me with ideas and inspiration galore. I could not and cannot do it without you. I wish everyone a happy rest of your summer and a great start to our new school year!

Happy Sunday,


Saturday, July 27, 2013

First Day Plans


Back to School Plans


I am so drooling over all of the cute and effective classroom decor pictures that are popping up on blogs and Instagram accounts everywhere! My room is still not ready, but they are getting oh so close to being done! The last time I went by, they had the porch to finish as well as some electric and plumbing things to complete. I start back to work on August 2nd with the kiddos starting on the 7th so time is winding down. Not to mention that I am presenting at a back to school PD session for my county in a few days. So between now and the first day of school...THERE IS SO MUCH TO DO!! I am not allowing myself to enter panic mode. Not yet....

Since I am still lacking a classroom, I have been spending the last few days trying to get ready for those first days of school. This year, we will not have a full week when we start back. We will see the kiddos Thursday and Friday and then its the weekend! Whoo! With the new schedule in mind, I have spent a lot of time going over routines and procedures for the first few days without really jumping into any content related. I like the idea of getting to spend several days building a positive foundation with my kiddos. 

I have had several requests for what my first day plans look like so I thought I would share them with you! I tried to explain a little bit on each one and attach links to the activities that I listed. I hope that you find these useful. Here is day one!





Procedures Checklist- Katie Jones
Find a Friend- Abby @ The Inspired Apple
First Day Jitters Prompt- Anna @ Crazy for First Grade
First Day Jitters Poem- Abby @ The Inspired Apple
Post-It Activity- Mrs. Robinson @ Mrs. Robinson's Class Blog
How Do You Like To Learn- Anna @ Crazy for First Grade
How I Spent My Summer Vacation- Mrs. Monroe @ School is a Happy Place
Editable Transportation Bag Tags- Miss Nelson @ Run Miss Nelson's Got The Camera 



Please feel free to contact me if you have questions about anything! Be sure to click on the links listed above to be taken to the activity documents. 

Have a great weekend! I am headed out to take a Pilates class and have a GNO with my workout buddies!







Monday, July 22, 2013

Shopping Spree and a Little Monday Made It




I have a slight confession to make...I have to cover my eyes and slowly take a peek through my hand when checking my bank account now. Why? Because I am officially in back to school shopping mode(ha ha..like I ever STOP shopping for my classroom) and I am just too chicken to look at my statement full force and see the damage. Teacher problems, anyone?

-----> It will be okay! I am going to comfort myself with all of the new goodies that I brought home from IKEA this past weekend. The closest one to mi casa is a good 4 hours away, but I hopped in my trusty Honda and headed to Charlotte! I fell in love instantly. I could have spent the whole day there and am already planning another trip with some of my teamies at work.

Here are some of the things that I got! 

Some adorable standing photo frames ...

....that I made into table signs! Click here for the downloadable version from my TPT store. 

I also snagged some of these colorful 8 x 10 frames and put Hope King's inspirational signs in them. I can't decide exactly where I am going to place these in my classroom yet. In truth...I don't know whee I am going to put anything!


While at Ikea, I purchased some other goodies that I can't wait to show you once I can get into my room. 


Earlier in the week, I happened to be at Lowes and wandered trough the lawn and garden. All of a sudden....I wanted to throw together something flowery to sit outside of my classroom. So...this happened. Hopefully, my student gardeners can keep it alive....poor Mother Nature knows she can't leave me responsible for keeping a plant alive!! 




Now, I am heading over to see the other Monday projects and get some more ideas! 
Happy Monday!!



Friday, July 19, 2013

Implementing a Math Task


This post wraps up my mini-series on math tasks in the classroom. I am itching to get back into the classroom to start these tasks again with my new batch of cute kiddos! 


I have had several ask me questions about how to implement an actual task so I thought I would pose the questions and try to answer them the best that I can. I know I have mentioned this a zillion times before, but everyone has the ability to mold these math tasks to meet the needs of you and your class. Do what works for you and your students! Here we go!

Math Task Implementation

How often do you do a task?
I try to do a task at least once a week. At the beginning of the year, it may be less but it is important to get the kiddos working with tasks and exploring/collaborating with one another as soon and as often as possible. 

How long does your task last?
My tasks generally last around 45-60 minutes. 
5 minutes-Introducing the task, identifying math practices that will be focused on and reviewing the use of accountable talk during the task.
15-20 minutes- The students explore the tasks and do their work independently. During this time, they should be solving the task using pictures, labels, words, and equations/number sentences. 
15 minutes- The students work in small groups and use accountable talk. 
15 minutes- The teacher calls on students to share their answers and their thinking process with the class. 
5 minutes- Close the task by asking students about the math practices they used and get their feedback on the task. 

What is the teacher doing during the task?
As teachers, it is natural for us to want to "teach". However, the teacher plays the role of facilitator during a task. I am there to observe the students, take notes on their work, ask them assessing and advancing questions, and help lead group discussion. Towards the end of this last year, I was barely needed during a math task. My kiddos could practically run it on their own!

Do you grade the tasks?
I have not taken grades for tasks in the past. I always tried to make it around to each student during a task and write some form of academic feedback on his/her paper. I talked a little about that actual process here. However, I would love to create a rubric that I can use to hold students more accountable for their work! I feel a freebie coming soon!!!

The state of Tennessee has been training teachers left and right all summer long on Common Core. So, I expect that we will be seeing a lot more of classroom math task and reading task ideas in the near future. As always, I would love to hear how you implement tasks in your classroom!

In other news.....

Here is a sneak peek of my next Monday Made It project!


And.......
Check out this room! 



I go back to work in 14 days. There is still a lot that needs to be done(electric, plumbing, and a deck so I can access the room instead of pulling some ninja moves to climb up into the cottage). I am praying that it all comes together in time, but I have a feeling that I am going to be bribing family and friends with free pizza at the last minute to help me pull my room together. But hey...that's okay! It just adds to the back to school excitement!

 I can’t wait to share the final product with all of you.

Have a fabulous weekend!




Monday, July 15, 2013

Lunch Choice Clipboard

So this is a double whammy today....a guest blog feature AND a Monday Made It project all in one! Yay!!



Do you know Michelle from Apples and ABC's? 




Michelle is an amazing kinder blogger who is currently touring Europe(I am so jealous...aren't you???) and she asked me to do a guest post for her.

Hop on over to Michelle's blog and check out my post about my 
Monday-Made It. I get all crafty and share how I keep track of my lunch count each day.




 Happy Monday...summer Mondays are the best thanks to Farley and her awesome linky party!







Thursday, July 11, 2013

"How To" create a math task.


Creating a Math Task

I cannot tell you how much I love the idea of Common Core math tasks. The tasks have changed the way that I teach, how the students think, and how we collaborate as a team in my classroom-across ALL content areas.

I have been so blessed to be able to meet a lot teachers across the state of Tennessee in the last few months when attending state trainings. We have had the chance to ask/answer each other's questions, discuss how we implement these tasks, and how we use the information from the tasks to drive further instruction.

One thing I want to REALLY stress to you is that tasks can be used in a variety of ways and many teachers use them differently in their classrooms. That is A-OKAY. In fact, that is what makes these tasks so beneficial to the students. Make it work for you and your class. 


So..these tasks are great. But...how do I create one? Well, that is what I am going to share with you today.  Here are my top 5 tips to think about when creating a task for your students.





Make sure the task is relevant.
Students should work on a task that is relevant to what they are learning. This gives them a chance to apply previous knowledge to a task. This also includes using subject matter that is relevant to the real world and situations that your students can relate to. 


Set high expectations.

Students will perform at the level that you expect them to. The task should be higher level. It is much more beneficial to create and assign students a task that is going to challenge them instead of giving a task that has little rigor and low expectations. 


Include multiple solution paths.

It is not a task if there is only one way to solve the problem.

Here are two examples of how you can turn a one step, low rigor number sentence into a rigorous, higher level task.

Low Level- Max has 7 marbles in one bag and 5 marbles in another bag. How many marbles does Max have altogether?
This should not be used as a task because it does not allow the students to explore and represent different ways to solve the problem at hand. The students can only arrive at one answer.

High Level- Max has two bags of marbles. He has 12 marbles in all. Each bag contains an odd number of marbles. Write a number sentence and draw a picture to show how many marbles are in each bag.
This can be used as a task because it requires the students to try multiple number sentences to answer the problem. Not every student will get the same answer or find the answer in the same way. It generates great math exploration and group discussion.

Require students to represent their answers in multiple ways.

As teachers, we know that different students arrive at the answer to a problem in different ways and at different speeds. It is always a good exercise to ask the students to represent their solution path in a variety of ways. I always ask the students to represent their work using words, number sentences/equations, and diagrams/labels. This allows the students to show their understanding of the skill as well as continuously strengthen different math concepts and practices. 


Only attach standards and practices to a task if ALL students will meet and use that standard when solving the task.

**This one was new to me. I never thought about this until my recent common core training. If not every student will "fluently add and subtract within 20 using mental math strategies" (2.OA.B.2) while solving the math task then that standard should not be added to the task. The same goes with the math practices. Every student must be able to identify with every standard and practice in order to use it to label that task.



And, here is a graphic organizer that I use for my math tasks. I hope it gives you a starting place if you do not use math tasks yet or a new tool if you already do! 
I go back to work in about three weeks. Eeek! My summer is just flying by! I hope you are enjoying yours!