Friday, January 31, 2014

Five For (Thank Goodness It's) Friday!

I am beyond glad that I finally made it to Friday evening! I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs for

I have a new student teacher and she is basically AMAZING! She is only with me two days a week this semester, but just having that extra pair of hands, eyes, and ears makes all the difference in the world on those two days. The kiddos love her and she has just jumped right in, which I appreciate so much.

Money, money, money! All week long we have been absorbed in learning to count those coins! I am pretty darn proud at how well they've done so far. We used the Big Money unit by The Teaching Twosome and the kids have had such a blast!
My principal observed me this week and I wasn't even nervous! We have a new evaluation system here in NM and we are observed several times a year. Our principal has to enter scores on the teacher competencies and then uploads evidence she observed into the site which we also use to upload lesson plans, "artifacts" and commentary about our lessons. I think the observation went well and I am so happy to have that off my back for a couple of months. Whew!
We are all about polar bears as we hit up all our ELA standards the next few weeks. My little darlings just adored studying penguins during our last unit so I decided to carry on with the cold weather animals. It is just so much easier to sneak in some extra science this way. To transition, we did a Venn diagram on the Promethean Board comparing penguins and polar bears. One little guy really loved my glitter!
My car hit 100,000 miles this past week! I was with my sister and made her take a picture while I drove on the freeway. I'm pretty sure 80% of those miles were soccer related: 4-6 out of state tournaments a year, 4-6 practices a week and 3 games a weekend (not to mention random team meetings, dinners, and parties) for the past 5 years. I'll sure miss those days when my girls are in college, but I won't miss putting in the miles on my car.
That's all for now! I'm going to cuddle up in my favorite PJs, make a cup of tea and watch something mindless on TV. Have a wonderful weekend!

Saturday, January 25, 2014

100th Day Lessons Learned

Over winter break I made my 100th Day Pack and was pretty excited about using it with my class. I shared it with my grade level team on the condition that they give me honest feedback after using it. We celebrated the 100th day yesterday and after just a little scurrying around to find those last minute items we needed, we were ready to go! My little darlings were just too excited this week as their 100th day projects trickled in. We had some really "interesting" collections this year from army men to Q-tips. My favorite, of course, was 100 Box Tops!

I went around the room, snapping pics of the kiddos hard at work and having fun.

 They L.O.V.E.D those headbands! A couple kiddos had trouble keeping track of their 100 sticker counts, and one little genius had the idea to number each sticker with a sharpie. They really are 100 days smarter!

We had some trouble with the penny stack station, though. At lunch, my colleagues and I discussed some ways to make it work better. One smart teacher taped 100 pennies together. I had to think on my feet and decided to make a little "splint" with rulers to keep that stack steady.

For the most part, things went smoothly. There are always a few "oopsies" here and there. But I learned so much about product design by implementing this with my grade level. One lesson learned is that the adorable yellow frames just do not show up when printing in B & W. The roll, tally, and graph activity needed more lines on the graph and it IS really hard to stack 100 pennies. I made some adjustments to my product and now I'm offering it for 50% off until the end of January. Check out my store to get your copy at this steal of a price.

 Even though it was exhausting, it was all worth it when one of my little sweeties said, "This is the best day EVER!". Their writing was funny and sweet, they practiced some math skills, they listened to counting songs, read books, and had a great time. These are they days they'll remember most.
Have a great weekend everyone!

Sunday, January 19, 2014

3-Digit Addition and Subtraction Task Cards {with QR Codes} FREEBIE

Maybe I just have the winter blues, but I just couldn't resist making this math center with bright spring colors and cute butterflies.
We just finished our measurement unit and will start time and money next week, but my kiddos still need to practice these skills so they don't lose them. There are 16 task cards with addition and subtraction problems (with regrouping) and QR codes so kids can check their answers and get immediate feedback.

I know my students will feel a tad more cheerful when doing their math centers if they have these fun task cards. They just love scanning those QR codes and getting the right answers! I'm putting this product in my store for FREE for a limited time, so you better get on over there and grab it quick! All I ask is that you please leave feedback. Thanks so much! Enjoy your 3-day weekend!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Counting Coins and QR Codes

After giving a presentation about using QR codes in the classroom to the staff at school, a few of my colleagues have been using QR codes in their classroom. It is really awesome to see an idea spread, even if it is gradual. Either way, it inspired me to make a few more items using QR codes. After my measurement unit, we'll be working with money and time. My students just love it when I have a QR code activity in math centers, so I made my Counting Coins and QR Codes task cards.
I used coins in color (fronts and backs) to help with identification. Sometimes I just set this type of activity up as a math center and other times, I will post them around the room so students can get up and moving. I just print the task cards (in color if possible), cut, and laminate so I can use them over and over again or lend to colleagues. Then, I just copy the recording sheets, stick everything in a zip top (gallon size) bag and go! My little darlings are so excited when they see QR code centers and they always make sure to stay focused so they can have accuracy. I just love hearing the kids say "Yes! I got it!" after they scan the QR code and get it right. Immediate feedback is so important, but equally important is the side effect of less grading for the teacher. To me, it is a win-win situation!
Many people have asked me how to set up the management of using QR codes. I have two methods to deal with students using either iPads or iPods to scan the QR codes. I either set up one or two iPads in a central location (within my line of sight) as a scanning station, or I have 4 or 5 iPods that I will hand students when they show me their completed recording sheet. My students have been taught that they must complete all the tasks in order to scan. Believe me, they hold each other accountable for this! The second thing I have taught them is how to make a checkmark on the correct answers and to go back and try again for the ones they missed. Often, when introducing a new concept, the QR code center will actually be at my teaching table so I can monitor progress. I'm also finishing up a Telling Time and QR Codes activity that will be very similar. In 2nd grade, we have to tell time to the 5-minute interval, but I am planning make a set that works on telling time to the quarter hour for my first grade friends. Well, I better get back to lesson planning!

Friday, January 10, 2014


My kiddos have been loving this measurement unit this week. It is really fun to change things up a bit and have a break from all the addition and subtraction. One of my little darlings said, "Measurement is so much more fun than math!". I have been using Amy Lemon's measurement unit and it has been perfect! 
Here they are looking for things around the room with a buddy that were a certain length. 
Look at those measuring skills! I have to say that after the first few days of learning to use the rulers, they are getting pretty good. 
This was an activity that I did in small group so I could really watch their estimating and measuring skills. I can't wait to see how much better they'll get next week. 

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

Studying our State

We have begun a social studies unit on our state, New Mexico. The students get some information in first grade about the state flower, bird, and other symbols, so I need to take it a step further. I usually have the students do a research project such as a NM game, poster, book, or puzzle. This year, I decided to do something a little different as their project. I'm going to *attempt* to have the kids make eposters using Glogster. More about that later!

First, we started with a KWL chart and some videos. Today we worked on asking some questions about NM that we want to find the answers to. The students could use questions from their KWL chart or think of new ones. They needed to have at least two Who? What? Where? and When? questions.

As you can see, I typed in some of the questions they shared with the class. They are quite interesting! Then, I paired them up (strategically of course) to do a little research. They were each given 4 sticky notes, a page to organize them, and a book to read. They were pretty excited about the sticky notes. One kid asked why they got to use sticky notes. His partner told him that sticky notes are more fun to write on. My point exactly!


We'll keep doing this for at least two more days. I want to give them the chance to read different books and have different partners. The next part of the research will involve having the students answer specific questions. Finally, we'll take our research to the computer lab and work on our eposters. I have to admit that even though I love technology, I am a little nervous about being able to help all 24 of them with something they've never done before on the computer. I might just do a demo for them on a separate topic during our lab time in a couple of weeks so they are more familiar with it. I'll keep you posted on our progress! If you live in NM and would like a copy of my research organizers, leave your email in a comment and I'll send them to you. 

Friday, January 3, 2014

100th Day Pack and a FREEBIE

I have been slaving away (in between helping my 16 year old with college soccer coach letters) and have finally finished my 100th Day Pack #1. It is full of fun language arts, math, art and hands-on activities to keep those little ones busy all day (and maybe longer).
click here to get it

My students love the 100th day of school because they get to throw the old routines out the window for a day and do something new. I usually set up 10 stations and challenge the kids to get through all the stations before the end of the day. This pack includes a letter to send home describing the project I have the kids do with their families. They just love bringing in a collection of 100 things! They'll use their collections in a weigh station on the 100th day.
Our 100th day is only 15 days of school away, but I'm giving a freebie for you all today! I have quite the collection of 100th day books and never have time to read them all, so I made a simple book report that can either be put in a read to self station or listening center either on the 100th day or during that week. You can grab that freebie here! Please leave some feedback if you get a chance.

Since I have so many 100th day activities, stayed tuned for 100th Day Pack #2 (soon, I hope!)

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

My {FIRST} link up!

I'm really a newbie when it comes to blogging, but I just love reading all those fun link ups. One of my resolutions is that I am going to challenge myself in 2014 to just jump in and try new things. Even if they're scary. Even if I might fail. Even if I look like a fool. I am going to start stepping WAY out of my comfort zone here. Let's see if I do this correctly: I'm linking up on a January Currently by Oh Boy Fourth Grade...
Listening/Loving: My hubby is home from work early, but kicked me out of the office so he can type. I'm just happy he wasn't too mad about coming home to a bunch of girls in their pajamas.

Thinking: I have been planning so much over break to try to get the whole month ready and now I need to copy and organize. I am going to head over to school tomorrow and use the copy machine to get everything ready for the week. I don't have a prep on Monday so I'd better have it all done! There's nothing worse than walking into school on Monday and fighting with the machines or waiting in line while the clock speeds toward the start of school. No thank you. Been there way too many times.

Wanting: I have been fairly productive while also taking a great deal of time to be with my family. I think I've found a pretty good balance, but I always feel like I have more to do. I'm probably not alone.

Needing: After my visitors left, I just didn't have it in me to clean up and put the decorations away. I did all the laundry though. That's something, right?

Memory: NYE dinner at home last night was AMAZING! I don't feel sad at all about not going out to dinner (with the lines, cranky wait staff, and crazy drivers) on NYE when I have the ability to whip up an amazing dinner at home with my hubby. We made filets with two kinds of crusts: horseradish and blue cheese. I was in hog heaven! I also made garlic mashed potatoes and asparagus (16-year-old's fave veggie). It was delicious!

Phew! I did it! That wasn't so hard. Maybe this link up thing will help me branch out more. It sure is worth a try! Thanks for reading my blog. Since I'm new, I'd love the feedback!