Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Interactive Math Notebooks and more...

Do you use interactive notebooks in math or ELA? I have found them fascinating but never jumped on the bandwagon. To be honest, my reluctance to do so has been based on the fact that we teach an inclusion class where there are always a few kiddos who have OT needs.  It also means I have a large portion of the class that have difficulties following multi-step directions that include cutting, folding AND gluing. 
We have math binders already that we use for number of the day and problem of the day that we have used from the first day of school.
Today, after a great deal of thought and planning, I took the plunge and started interactive notebooks with our students today. For several days I perused TpT looking at options. I love the fact there were so many to chose from. Finally I decided on Melissa Shutler's Math Bundle for Grade 2. This pack included the interactive notebook pages as well a great problem of the day pack.

To prep for today, I cut out all of the items ahead of time. I also folded the flap portions for some of my special needs students who needed help. It was amazing to see how engaged they were and they liked the freedom of coming up with their own examples. Here are a couple pics of them in action:

I am also throwing in a few ELA pictures from this week. We are working on identifying story structure using beginning, middle and end. We also continue to work on schema and making connections.
This week we read:
Then students made text to text connections:

Have a great end of the week!
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Monday, September 30, 2013

Happy Monday! We have been working hard on classroom rules and routines and *finally* seem to be getting into a groove. Here is a quick snapshot of what we have been working on...

 In math, we have been building fact fluency. We have been adding each strategy as we go to our anchor chart:

We used Reagan Tunstall's great resource for "Making 10"
It is a great way to give kiddos hands on practice compliments of 10. We explained the procedure and expectations using the smartboard and document camera...

Then we let the kids get to work. They were engaged and did a great job! Thanks Reagan for sharing your resource:)

In reading, we are learning all about story structure (beginning, middle and end). We have completed some really great learning activities. I will take pictures tomorrow and post them in the near future. Have a great week!

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Monday, September 9, 2013

Hello Blogging World!
We know you are in shock that we actually have a post here on this little ol' blog. What can we say? We have been buried deep in back to school craziness.

Where are our Ohio teachers? 

You know what we are talking about. OTES (the new evaluation system) is looming, as well as a multitude of other acronymed items like SLOs, TGRG, RTI, IEP, ETR...and our favorite: RIP. Yes, you did see that last one correctly. RIP=Reading Improvement Plan (anyone who is not "on track" with their reading according to the state). Such an uplifting acronym...

We promise (teacher's honor) not to be so neglectful of this endeavor.
Can we make it up to you with a freebie?

As a part of the new state evaluation system, our lesson plans are required to have very specific information included. This editable template has fixed headings in each area, but you are able to type in your specific plans into each box.  We are using this format for reading, math and writing lesson plans. For guided reading lessons we are using our template for our guided reading groups you can find over at TpT

Just click on the picture for your free download. Please leave us some nice feedback if you chose to download:)
Happy Monday all!

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Thursday, July 11, 2013

Back to School Ideas and a Freebie!

We are heading out for the family vacay that I mentioned, so my posting will be spotty at best over the next week. So I am apologizing my readers ahead of time for a post that is somewhat scattered!

 I wanted to share some of the back to school items that I have been creating and gathering.

1. This is hot off the presses-our September math pack- perfect for the first several weeks of school when the students' abilities are all over the place (a great way to differentiate). Click on the picture to visit our TpT store.

2. Last year I used several pages from the great second grade pack from Babbling Abby:

3. I won this super awesome pack from Jamie Rector's (2nd Grade Stuff).  She did a giveaway based on feedback left on TpT and she picked me!!!! Woohoo:)

4. Our district developed "I can" statements for all of the CCSS. We will be expected to use these this school year. I have yet to begin this project, but here is my plan:
Print the "I Can" statements on sentence strips (YES! It is possible! I just read the tutorial on how to do this over at A Turn to Learn. Just click on her button to read how to do this!)

Then I will laminate and use them in this cute pocket chart that our PTA bought for each of us in my grade level from Really Good Stuff (sorry for the small picture!):

Last, I did mention a freebie:) It is an activity from the new September Math pack I wrote about above. Click on the image to download it for free from our store. Remember to leave us some feedback:)

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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Liebster Award!

Woohoo! We have been nominated for the Liebster Award for new blogs by Wallis at First Grade Wolves! Thank you:)

Basically, we get to tell you a little bit about ourselves.  Then we nominate additional blogs that we enjoy. Pretty awesome, right?

To accept the nomination I must:
1. Link back to the blog that nominated me
2. Nominate 5-11 blogs with fewer than 200 followers
3. Answer the questions posted for you by your nominator
4. Share 11 random facts about yourself
5. Create 11 questions for your nominees
6. Contact your nominees and let them know you nominated them

So, my nominees are......
Kayla at Top Dog Teaching
Jess and Kheila at Two Friends in First
Christin at Shifting Teacher

Wallis asked me the following questions as a part of this award:

1. Where did you go to college? I went to Ohio University (Go Bobcats!)
2. What is the last movie you saw? Despicable Me 2
3. What is your favorite product on Teachers Pay Teachers? Ummm...usually the one I just finished:) So right now, it is the September Math Activity Pack. We are moving away from Everyday Mathematics as a district this year, so I need as much supplemental material for the Common Core as I can create/get my hands  on!
4. What is the hardest thing about teaching? For me, it is finding a good balance between home and school. At the beginning of the school year, I suffer from a lot of Mommy guilt....
5. What are your hobbies? I enjoy reading, boating, scrapbooking (when I can find the time....)
6. Are you an indoor person or an outdoor person? I would rather be outdoors, unless it is super hot and muggy (kind of like today in Cincinnati!).  I try to be outside with my girls as much as possible.
7. What is your favorite holiday? Christmas! What's not to love? A meaningful holiday, no school for at least a week AND giving gifts to others!
8. What is something you want to make for your classroom this year? I am in the process of revamping math workshop, so I will be creating lots of new materials for this as well as organizing games, manipulatives and activities in a meaningful and easy way for the students to access.
9. If you could travel anywhere in the world, where would you go? I would travel the United Kingdom- haven't been and no language barrier to worry about!
10. Do you cook?  If so, what is your favorite recipe? I love to cook, but admittedly do it best in the summer with more time and less stress. My favorite recipe this summer is a bruschetta chicken one that you can find here. Seriously yummy, easy to make, healthy AND my picky 4 year old twins will eat it.
11. What is your favorite place to shop? This summer I have found some great deals on Zulily. I also like finding things for my girls on Etsy. However, I love to stop in person at Hobby Lobby, Target and Half Price Books.  I guess what I'm saying is that I *might* have a summer shopping addiction;)

11 Facts About Me:
1. I grew up in Columbus, Ohio and I am a HUGE Buckeyes fan.
2. I have been married for 9 years to my husband. We met in college where we both played college sports.
3. I went on hospital bedrest when I was pregnant with my twins at 24 weeks. Imagine being at school in April, then not finishing the last 6 weeks (and no long term sub plans ready!)
4. I love reading on my Kindle Fire. 
5. I am addicted to water sports! I am currently working on improving my wakeboarding skills as well as attempting to get up on one ski.
6. My husband and I own a ski boat and we are teaching our daughters to waterski this summer.
7. I am allergic to tree nuts.
8. I started an organic vegetable garden this summer with tomatoes, carrots, onions, basil, peppers, beans, squash and cucumbers.
9. I have two sisters, no brothers.
10. I traveled to Germany last summer on a teacher exchange program for three weeks and LOVED it!
11. I believe that teachers and engineers make good partners: I am a teacher and my husband is an engineer. His mom was a teacher and his dad an engineer. My mom was a teacher and my dad an engineer.....You get the picture:)

Finally, my questions for my nominees:
1. What is your favorite grade to teach?
2. If you could be anything other than a teacher, what would you be?
3. What is your favorite food?
4. How do you spend your free time?
5. What do you like best about your classroom?
6. What do you like least about your classroom?
7. What are you currently reading?
8. If money and time was no object, where would you spend your summer vacation?
9. What is your favorite pet?
10. What is your favorite TV show?
11. What is your must have beauty product?

I am looking forward to reading everyone's answers!
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Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Back to School Prepping in July

Happy July! I personally look forward to July since it is my twins' birthday month as well as the month when we usually take our family vacay. However, there is a little moment of panic that sets in immediately following July 4th. You know, the voice in the back of your head that says summer break is already halfway over.  The stores don't help, already advertizing back to school sales on supplies.

So, while I have already been busy in June doing some long term planning and picking up a few things for my classroom, July is when I like to kick it into high-gear. My building has awesome custodians who work very hard and can usually have our classrooms finished sometime in July. So I take advantage of these quiet days in the building to perfect my classroom setup.  I find that doing so helps alleviate stress in August. Also, if I am being honest, I am more productive when no one else is around! When everyone starts to come back from summer break, I find myself busy socializing with my school pals instead of being productive in the classroom. Which is great, but not so much when you have only 2 days left to get a room ready!

So, looking at the calendar for this month, I have about 2.5 weeks that I will be in town and I plan to make the most of them! I am setting the following goals for myself:

1. Get my classroom ready (furniture in place, wall space organized and set up, materials/manipulatives organized)
2.Get the first two weeks of school plans finished will copies made and put in my drawers.
3. Set up my welcome to second grade hallway bulletin board
4. Reorganize math materials to facilitate math workshop

I will post my progress here on the blog, since it will hopefully help me to make sure I accomplish these goals (which will leave me time in August to snuggle with my girls and pretend that summer really isn't coming to an end!)

I will leave you with a picture of some sweet deals I found yesterday at Michael's for my classroom.

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Thursday, June 20, 2013

The Other Half of This Duo

Hi everyone,
     I finally have some time to introduce myself...a little delayed, but here is a little bit about the other half of this duo. As an intervention specialist my Spring (March, April & May) is non-stop report writing which includes evening hours and 8-10 hours on weekends. That doesn't leave many brain cells or time to get into our blog. Now that I've had a few weeks to catch up on all the things I neglected during those months, I'm excited about having more time to create new products along with sharing and learning new thoughts and ideas.

     As Jen mentioned, we have been working together for several years – this will be our 6th year together. I feel very blessed to be a part of the learning and growth process with her as we continue to try and perfect our co-teaching model in order to meet the needs of all of our students. It is enjoyable to be able to bounce ideas of one another and create as we go. Our interactions and time spent together doesn't end when we walk out the door each day, but continues in the land outside of education, as we have also developed a great friendship along the way.

     I have been in special education all of my teaching career which goes back to the days before anyone heard the word “inclusion”. Yes, I was a resource room teacher. In retrospect, I am glad that special education has evolved to where we are now with more inclusion and less restrictive environments. I have worked primarily in grades K-4, sometimes working in two or more grade levels at once...that's always a challenge.

     I have three young adult children of my own, two daughters and one son. My oldest daughter has given me four wonderful, unique grandsons...almost a basketball team. All but one are now in school and I get to experience “learning” from a whole different perspective as a grandma. I love it!

     I hope everyone is enjoying the summer!

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Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Classroom themes: Do you do implement them?

There are so many great (and cute) classroom theme ideas floating around nowadays. Rockstar, cowboy/western, owls, jungle, etc. You name it, there is probably a theme developed around it.  I really like the ideas of themes, but honestly cannot imagine changing and purchasing so many new items each year. While the effect would be cute and visually pleasing, it could get expensive and time consuming.

Two years ago, after much deliberating, I took the plunge and began a sports related "team" theme. Why did I pick this theme? I wanted something that could pull the students together as a team and would work in tandem with our building wide behavior initiative (Positive Behavior Supports). I also decided to give this theme two years before changing to another.

I gained many of my ideas from Beth Newingham's website.  Click on the teacher resources link, scroll down to the bottom, and click on the team theme.  I used many of these ideas to kick off my 2011-2012, and 2012-2013 school years. I especially liked her her baseball card bulletin board and used it with great feedback from parents and staff.

I purchased the following items from Oriental Trading in our school colors: red and black, which I use to decorate my classroom each fall.


I continued the team theme when designing my classroom jobs (Table Captains, Equipment Manager, MVP of the week, etc). As we progressed through the school year, I emphasized how our class is a team and how we can help our teammates using teamwork. 

Fastforward to this spring: I was reading through blogs and Pinterest to decide on what my theme for the 2013-2014 school year would be. As I was debating what direction to take, my students were working on end of the year writing projects. 

An amazing thing happened. An ah-hah moment. Really!

As my students shared their favorite memories and things about second grade

every single student 

mentioned how much they loved being a part of the team!  So....out went the thoughts of deviating from the team theme. Instead, I knew I needed to improve upon what I had already done to make this theme more visually appealing. Many long evenings and productive naptimes later, this is what I came up with:

This pack includes everything my own classroom needed: calendar parts, alphabet/word wall headings, name labels, desk plates, reading and math manipulative labels, school supply labels, job chart and team building activities!
I will be adding this to our TpT store today.
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Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Happy Summer! This is day 7 of my summer break (woohoo!).  I can finally sit down for a few minutes and share with you guys what I have been busy with this past week. As I mentioned in my last post, our district is no longer requiring we stick only with Reading Street and Everyday Math, and instead are telling us which CCSS to teach when on our curriculum maps.  I am VERY excited to have some additional freedom to design quality lessons, but I am also someone who needs to have a plan before the school year begins. 

So this week I took myself to Meijer, bought a weekly/monthly planner, some colorful pens, and began the process of planning out the language arts (I started with this since I have a copy of the curriculum map and I was a part of the team that created it for our district. I do not have a copy of the math as the district has not released it).

Currently, my focus has been on the phonics portion of language arts. I went back to an "oldie but goodie" resource that I used 4+ years ago and began matching lessons with the map in my planner. Click here for a link to Amazon if you are interested in the phonics lessons book (by Fountas and Pinnell).

 Along with my mapping, I have begun to prep materials for word work centers.  Earlier this spring I purchased a great product by Reagan Tunstall from TpT.  It is designed to be used with both spelling words as well as sight words. It is a great word routine that can be used for multiple weeks with simply changing the popsicle sticks out. Take a look at her product here.
I also picked up something else for the classroom while at Meijer, that I plan to use to spruce up my classroom library. Last year, my wonderful PTA purchased all new bins for my classroom from Really Good Stuff. This tape matches PERFECTLY! If you look at the next photo below I'd like to cover the exposed edges of the ugly gray shelf (where there is already ripped contact paper) with the super cute tape. Think it will spruce things up?
How are you spending your summer so far?

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Thursday, May 30, 2013

I just wanted to drop a quick post about end of the year student gifts, as well as new projects on the horizon.  I spent several days trying to decide what to give my students. I scoured blogs and pinterest for inspiration.  I decided against candy, since my students usually send in treats for every single special day (and some not-so-special ones).  I decided against books since I had enough Scholastic points to get each student two different books before the winter break.  I felt like I wanted something fun that would also allow for academic practice. What I ended up with was a math dice game pack, pieced together from a couple different places.

I started at The Math Coach's Corner, with a cute (and FREE) math games with a pair of dice booklet. I love this woman's blog-so many great math ideas! I also ended up printing the math games with a deck of cards booklet to send with my students as "summer work."

Next, I made a trip to the dollar store, 50 dice for 5 bucks! :)

Then I used a super cute bag topper that I printed from Hello Cuteness. All you have to do is like her facebook page and download.

I put these all together and came up with these. I plan to hand them out to the students tomorrow.  Hopefully it will help my kiddos keep up with some of their math skills while having fun this summer!
*Note- you will need to use quart size baggies for the booklet to fit.
It won't zip entirely, but there is enough space to staple the bag topper to secure the dice.

So, as many of you probably are doing, I am thinking about next year, even as I wrap up the end of this one. We have a lot of changes next year with more freedom to design lessons that we have had in the recent past (no more strict adherence to Reading Street and Everyday Math)! I am looking forward to a return to Daily 5, Debbie Miller, Marilyn Burns, etc. Additionally, I am piloting a new RTI intervention in the fall. Trying not to be overwhelmed! :)

Have a good evening!
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Tuesday, May 14, 2013

May Craziness {and free product giveaway}

Long day today. 7:30am leadership meeting before school, full day field trip with the class, followed by a curriculum meeting until 5:00pm.
Does this sound like a typical day for you in May? Thank goodness I have a husband who is the son of an elementary school teacher. He knows that the months of August and May are the craziest and realizes that he will have to cook, clean, etc. on the homefront.
May is fun and challenging at the same time...wrapping up the year with your current students, looking to next year and planning all the changes you want to make and did I mention the kiddos have a major case of spring fever???
To help you deal with the craziness of May we have decided to give away some free products from our TpT store. The first five people to comment AND begin following our blog can pick any item from our store for free. Don't forget to leave your email address so we can send you the file.
Happy May!
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Wednesday, May 8, 2013

So here we are, dipping our toes into the world of blogging! 

I have been following countless teaching blogs for several years now and I am excited to finally join the ranks with my dear friend and co-teacher, Cheryl.

Here is a quick intro (because let's be real: it is May and we are all super busy!):

My name is Jen. I have been teaching for 12 years, and the past 5 have been spent co-teaching with Cheryl in a second grade inclusion classroom. I have been married for 8+ years to a wonderful man and I have twin 3-year old daughters.

I look forward to sharing our classroom happenings with you and learning lots of new things along the way!

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