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.

If you are like me, you have a stack of books you haven't read yet this summer. If you're going to read any teaching resource book this summer you HAVE TO read this one! It is amazing!!!!

Daily Writing Practice

    So, 13 years into this whole teaching thing and I have to admit...writing is hard in 2nd grade!  Out of all subjects taught in a day, writing seems to be the one that has changed dramatically within my tenure. We have so many expectations for these little ones.  As their teacher I feel for them. Last year I started a living journal, which is basically a prompt with a picture.  The students have 10 minutes to put their pencil to the paper and JUST WRITE.  It's not an assessed piece of curriculum.  In fact, students can bring it to the carpet to share IF they want. But that is as far as I go.  I wanted them to have some time to just relax and learn how it feels to journal or keep a diary of thoughts and feelings. During the last trimester I created compilation of writing prompts covering 4 different genres.  My students looooooved this! I am super excited to start it again at the beginning of this 2016-17 school year.  I wanted to give some tips...

1. ~ Dim the lights during this special writing time.  I have several lamps in my room so I just leave those on and it makes a nice ambiance.

2, ~ Use this time as a calming tool.  We did it after specials as a writing warm up.

3. ~ Have a share schedule.  By listing 2-3 students who can share their writing IF THEY WANT at the beginning of our mini lesson meeting. I'm sure you know, 2nd graders love to share so you rarely get turned down on this. I keep a grid in my lesson plan binder and simply write the students name on the board at the beginning of the day.

4. ~ Set a visual timer.  Several of my students need this given that I have a special ed inclusion class.  Also, it gives them a feeling of, "this is my time that I can use as I see fit".  My only stipulation is that pencils are up and thoughts are happening.

5. ~ Show the kids your invested in this! If I do stop to read a students writing I always ask, "May I take a look?".  I also have a journal so I will sometimes sit with the kids and write too.

6 ~ If you do use the resource that I created pre-cut prompt squares and have a glue day (Monday worked best for us).  It only takes the kids about 5 minutes to glue that weeks prompts into their journal for the week (5 to glue).  This worked so well because we only had to get glue out once per week and then they were set.

This TpT download is a fast routine resource and CHEAP!  But, you can simply open a blank PowerPoint presentation.  On a daily basis look for interesting photographs on Google copy and paste it with a short prompt. HOPEFULLY you have an ELMO or Smart Board in which you can just display the prompt and kids can go at it in their journal. By the end of the school year you'll have your own resource that you can keep for years to come!