Pretests are for Winners!

      YES!!!  It's summer break!  After 16 snow days this winter, my school finally got out for the summer last week.  Of course, I meditated on my grows and glows for the year already.  One part of my teaching that glowed (big time) was my use of pretest data.  In the past I would just check the pretest and highlight my lower friends and put them in a group.  THIS YEAR I decided to create a tracking system.  With this (FREE) form you can use your pretest data to help guide your small math groups, chose your centers, and find ways to work with ALL OF YOUR STUDENTS.

I use sticky notes to add goals at the bottom.  The students get the same sticky notes to place in their data binder.  I know what you're thinking!  "When am I going to have time to cut out all of these forms before each math unit?"  Trust me, it only takes about 5 minutes per unit.  My system worked great this year.  I hand wrote in all the names before the school year started.  I punched holes in all of the forms and put them into my math data binder.  THEN, when we got to each unit I would cut them out.  If handwriting your students names doesn't sound fun to you (I love my own handwriting), you can simply use the website:  It allows you to type whatever you want onto a PDF.  It's fantastic!
Click on the picture below to download your own math data trackers!

My New Favorite Thing: Scratch and Sniff Stickers!!!!

   I have fond memories of my sister and I collecting stickers and going through each page and admiring our fab collection.  One of my favorites (in the 80s) was my scratch and sniff stickers.  I looked long and hard for the original pizza or pickle stickers that held my heart long ago.  The only ones I could find were on eBay...and they were not going for a price I liked AND I doubt they could even still stick on a students graded paper anymore.  So where else did I look? Amazon, of course!  I went nuts and bought every funny smelly sticker I could find.  Dr. Stink's was by far my favorite.  The ones pictured below are smelly cheese, fish, onion, race car, wet dog, and campfire.  One of my favorite things is to get a laugh out of my 2nd graders (or at least a reaction) and I do not think these will disappoint.
PS:  I did buy pleasant smelling stickers too...coconut, brownies, gummy bear, toothpaste, and cupcakes.
Click here to see these stickers on Amazon.

FREE Bookmarks!!!

Look what I found!!!  My second grade team and I do a lesson on using a bookmark in the first week of school.  it involves rereading when coming back to a section of your books.  The main thing I needed was a sweet bookmark that could be laminated and used throughout the year. I stumbled upon this great resource from Homeschool on a Budget.  It was exactly what I was looking for!  Check out the great Dr. Seuss quotes on each one.  LOOVE THEM!

True or False? You can't wait to go back to school?

As for me? It is bitter sweet.  While I miss make up and actually wearing something other than yoga pants, I will miss my children too.  I know the students will not exactly be, "In it to win it" when they get back to the classroom either.  I created a true or false activity that simply includes them solving (mental math) and coloring.  I feel that having a bell ringer all set up for the beginning days is key for success and my sanity for the beginning days.  Check these out.  The BUNDLE is only $3.00 for addition and subtraction.  Let me know if you would like to see multiplication and division in the future.

School is Out....Multiplication Searches are in!

I have a looooooooooooong list of "to makes" list going for the summer vaca.  I love trying new stuff and spending some coin during the school year on TpT.  BUT, like many teachers, I am a control freak and love to make it the way that I want.  When doing math I always have a "Most Do..." and a "Can do..." when kids are done with their regular work.  I am in the process of creating several "Can do..." centers for my 2nd graders for when they are finished with their work.  This particular creation can be done with partners or on their own.  It was used a few times in the classroom this past school year and I loved it.  They could keep it in their Work in Progress folder if they don't finish on time.  Many of them were competing against each other to see who could find all of the multiplication facts first.  I modeled for them how to draw in their X and = symbols and how to use the back for problem solving space.  I hope this is something you can use in your classroom!

Hands on is the Way to Go!

  When I was little I was in special ed.  Yup, and I remember being SO confused with anything involving math.  I just didn't use that side of the brain.  My teacher (Mrs. Beiger) was amazing!  She would have me paint my facts, use gum drops, play dough....AND I'M 37 YEARS OLD! She was ahead of her time when dittos were the most popular form of learning.
   My second graders started a new math unit this year.  You may have heard of it, Math in Focus.  It is pushing my little mathematicians to the max.  Knowing that it was more difficult curriculum I wondered what was going to happen to my number sense kids.  You know, the kids that struggle to subtract 5 from 8.  I mean, I am asking them in chapter 10 to do mental math with 3 digit numbers.  This small group of kids are so lost and just feel unsuccessful.  I wanted them to have a group where they can practice their level skills in a fun way.  
   Play Dough is such a fun kinesthetic tool that teachers can use on a day to day basis.  This download that I made has three fun game mats and fact cards to go with each activity.  The first one (and my fav) is called Subtraction Smash.  The students create a bunch of small balls with the play dough and then pull subtraction facts from the deck that comes with it.  If they pull 8 - 5 = they would place 8 balls on their ten frames and use their thumb to smash 5.  The second is a number bond mat.  Last is an array dash.  They race their partner to create arrays with their balls.  For this game I pre-make the small balls of play dough and put them back into the containers.  That way they are ready to go when that group is called up.  
   Hope you enjoy this crazy fun number sense pack!  Please contact me if you have any questions.

Fact Fluency


   Every year I model fact fluency assessments for the students by giving myself a timed test.  I'm not going to's hard for me.  Like many of my students, I do not have the ability to be timed without freaking out.  Our goal as their teacher is to help them memorize addition and subtraction facts.  So, this year I am trying something new.  Instead of having a fact of the day on the board or on their desk I created watches that will be with them ALL DAY LONG.  My plan is to make this into a morning routine. "Grab your watch, color it with highlighters, cut it out and have a friend glue it on."  For the rest of the day I have a million things I can do with those fancy watches. Here are a few of my ideas...
Shout Out: Throughout the day yell, “FACT CHECK!”.  The students will repeat with the fact found on their watch that day.
Teach It:  Make it a daily routine during morning meeting and/or end of the day meeting to have students turn to a partner and teach the fact of the day.  Encourage them to use manipulatives or visuals.
Math Center: Lay out all of the materials needed for this center (glue sticks, scissors, light colored crays/markers) and have students put them together. Again, explain to students that they should help one another when gluing them on.
Fact Fluency Circling:  After each timed fact fluency assessment have students circle the fact of the day (which ever watch they are wearing that day) with a highlighter.

Exit Slips:  I always have blank exit slips pre-made in a basket by the door.  I included the one I use.  Before they exit for lunch, specials, or the end of the day have them write a story problem for the fact of the day (which ever watch they are wearing that day). 
Yes, I will still have timed assessments (I know....yuck!).  I will also be watching through formative assessments like Exit Slips to see who's got it and who still  needs extra help.