Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Place Value Songs

I am feeling so fresh and relaxed from our 3-day weekend! Our district was off on Monday for Fair Day and the kiddos are off today for staff development. It was a much needed break and I am so thankful for some quality R&R!!

We're almost finished with our Place Value unit and the kids are really moving along quite well! The place value unit was a little scary to me at the beginning. Moving up from first grade with the new Common Core Curriculum made math seem very hard! I love, love, LOVE teaching with songs, so I tried out some new tunes to help my little ones grasp the new standards. So far, it's working!!!

This song I modified from the Teacher Tipster. This guy is amazing!! He reminds me of a really good friend of mine who passed away a few years ago. I love watching his videos and remembering my good friend Nick! He worked with kids at a summer camp I worked at and truly had a gift! Teacher Tipster's song only covered tens and ones and we are learning hundreds, tens and ones. The new song goes a little like this...

"I don't know but I've been told (kids repeat)
Hundreds are big and bold (kids repeat)
Tens are tall and ones are small (kids repeat)
Help us count them all (kids repeat)."

The kids use the same motions for tens and ones (from the video). Since hundreds were added, the kids stand up and open their arms, making a square with their arms. I call on a few kids to go to the front of the room (as hundreds, tens and ones) and the rest of the class counts them. The kids love this activity and it's a great time filler/brain break throughout the day.

Another song we sing helps us comparing/ordering numbers. We teach the students to look at the largest place first. For example, when comparing 753 and 943 the kiddos should look at the 7 and the 9 because the hundreds place is the largest place. To help the kiddos remember this concept we sing the following to the tune of "The Farmer in the Dell"...

"We look at the largest place,
We look at the largest place,
When comparing numbers,
We look at the largest place."

I love teaching with songs because the kids seem to remember what to do word.for.word. When a student is comparing/ordering numbers, I ask them which place they look at first. They always answer, "We look at the largest place", which are the exact words from the song. They never vary their answer. Some kids even use the tune when telling me which place they look at. I love it!!!

I hope these songs can help your place value lessons. Do you have any math songs that work for your class?

Monday, October 10, 2011

Listen to Reading Resource

Hello Sweet Friends!

I promise I'm still alive! Things have been super busy around here and this little ol' blog is the one suffering! I'm trying my best to find time to post but the craziness of this school year is winning!

Here are a few quick resources for everyone using Daily 5. Since I'm lucky enough to have six student computer stations, I do my "Listen to Reading" online. Here are a few websites we use during our Daily 5 time.

Online Storytime by Barnes and Noble has become my Daily 5 best friend. The kids love going to this website and listening to celebrities/authors read their favorite story books. The great thing about this site is that it has thumbnails of book covers for the kids to see. Once they find a book they want to listen to, they click and enjoy!

Another site we use is Read to Me. This site works similar to "Online Storytime". You can search for books by looking at thumbnails of the book cover. There are some great books on this website! My kiddos love to listen to "Fancy Nancy", "Chrysanthemum" and "Excuse Me" to name a few.

I am proud to say that we are currently doing 4 of the Daily 5. Any advice on how to successfully start "Word Work"?

Monday, September 19, 2011

Sum and Difference Game

My kids took their first math test and oh.my.word some of my friends need a bit more practice on finding the sum and difference! Here's a quick game I thought of on my way to work this morning. All you need for the game is a set of playing cards (minus the face cards) or a set of number cards.

Flip and Find

I hope you can find a way to use this!!!

Monday, September 12, 2011

Math Menu

Happy Monday!

Today was our first tutoring session and boy did I come home T.I.R.E.D! We tutor after school until 4:45, which makes for a long day! Although it's a hard day, I love only tutoring one day a week! Anyways, here's another menu I'm using this year. It works really well for differentiation with those really high kiddos! This menu works during my math time. Once these kiddos are finished with their necessary math work they take out this menu and start working. These kids are usually working on this while the rest of my class is finishing their independent practice and I'm at my teacher table working with a small group. It's a great way to give those kids something constructive to do rather than reading a book at their desks or talking to their friend who is still working! I know you all understand the kids I'm talking about! :)

Choice Café

The menu is set up almost like a restaurant menu. I call it "Choice Cafe" because the kids have choices in what they do. They must complete the main dish and two sides. The desserts are optional. I encourage the kids to do as many items a possible. They have until the end of the unit to complete their menu.

I'd like to say again (as I said in this post) that not all the ideas on the menu are mine. Many come from Differentiating Instruction with Menus by Laurie Westphal. It really is a great book with TONS of ideas on differentiating your classroom.

Our next unit is coming up in less than a week and I'd love for my kids to get a chance to "show off" their creations and share them with each other.  I'm hoping to have a special share time for these kids, calling it their "Menu Meeting". The kids will critique each other's work with post-it notes at the end of the week. It's a way for them to celebrate their hard extra work. Hopefully the kids will see this time as a special reward for working so hard and a time to see what other kids did with their menus.

I hope you had a wonderful Monday!!

Sunday, September 11, 2011

A New Way to do Homework

I wanted to share a new way second grade is doing homework. Our school district is really pushing student choices throughout their learning so we decided to tie that into homework. In the past we printed out packets of math and reading practice. It was a great way for the kids to practice skills learned in class, but there was really no student choice going on. This year our new idea is to have a weekly menu in which students choose from a few options as to what they wish to turn in. Here is the menu we are using this week. (This is the first time I'm using Scribd so I'm sorry if it's not working right.)

Homework Menu

The choices are not 100% mine. A few I came up with (with help from my team!) and a few came from this amazing book I recommend. Differentiating Instruction with Menus by Laurie Westphal is a great resource for menus! You can purchase the books by subject and within each subject are menu templates for different topics. The one I have above has addition and subtraction assignments, reading, grammar and spelling.

I can't wait to see what the kids come up with for their homework! Every week is going to be different for both the kids and myself. It's going to be a total surprise (hopefully good surprise...) when they turn in their work on Friday!! I love giving the kids the option on how far they want to take their homework and how creative they want to be!

Do you have any ideas for next week's homework menu?

Saturday, September 3, 2011

Math Games!

Good morning!

Yesterday I was out of school for mouth surgery. I really hated taking off so close to the beginning of school, but my doctor seemed to think I need to have it done a.s.a.p. It was nothing major, just a little cyst in my gum line. I felt surprisingly good yesterday afternoon but still could not talk (which is super hard for me). So, I decided to use my time off of school working on things for school. Why do we teachers do that? Anyways, here are a few math games I worked on yesterday!

Our first unit is tons of addition and subtraction strategies. The district curriculum had us playing a game from AIMS on flipping over 2 number cards, adding them up to find the sum, and crossing that number out on a strip of numbers. Since I'm really trying to differentiate for a pilot program this year, I decided to make a similar game, but instead of adding 2 numbers, some of my students would add 3. Students will use dice instead of number cards. Click on the game picture to download.

The next game is something I made to help my students understand the equal sign and determine if the equations are true or false.  Students will look at the equation on a card and sort it into a piles, true or false. This game is also differentiated because I've provided multiple sets of cards at different difficulty levels. Once students sort the cards into the piles, they write the equations on a recording sheet. If the equation was false, they must correct it on their recording sheet, giving them practice with fact fluency.

I hope these games work for your kiddos! Math is so different for me this year so I'm having to create many extra things for my kids to use! Be on the lookout for more games!!

Classroom Pictures...Finally

It's another weekend and I'm finally having time to get on this ol' blog! I'm so glad I remembered to bring my camera home this weekend to upload my pictures. So...Here's where it all goes down!

This is what the kiddos see before they enter the room. I took pictures of the kids wearing cowboy hats to go with our theme. I'm going to put their pictures on the board and have them pop out in 3D. "Learning in 3D"  is the school's theme for the year and I had to find a way to tie my western theme with it!

This is the library and by far, my favorite part of the classroom! I've always wanted an organized library complete with themed book boxes, but never got around to it! The kids love this space too and the labeled book boxes make it really easy for the kids to find their "Good Fit" book for Daily 5 time.

This is my math area. When I took the picture we were just getting started. I've since added a few more posters/anchor charts for the kids to refer to. That is also my small group table for any subject I need it for. We've been spending tons of math time there trying to get my kids on track for the much harder second grade math!!

Here is the focus wall, word wall, Daily 5 activities and math games. I bought the 2 brown carts from Sams for a whopping $30 each! I am so in love with them and can't wait to have all the materials for each math subject we're learning this year! So far, only 2 tubs are full!

Here is the writing area. I found the "Write 'em cowboy" quote somewhere online and loved it!! Thanks to it's original owner for sharing! I love watching the kids finally get it. One day one of the sweet kiddos said, "OH! Like RIDE 'em Cowboy....like a horse!" Underneath the quote is a small book shelf with stationary, fun paper, smelly markers, writing prompts and a class list with every one's name.

Here's a view of the front of my room. Don't you love the rug? My principal surprised second grade this year by buying us rugs! One of my big worries about teaching second grade was the lack of a rug for the kids to sit at. I love having my kids up close when I'm teaching and that floor is too dang hard for that! Here is our calendar area and large white board area. Most of the time I teach with my easel  which sits next to the most comfortable rocking chair ever! Thanks Aunt Kaye!

Here's the back of my room. I love the windows because it gives so much light! I originally wanted to keep the blinds up but around 1:00 it is too hot! I know my Texas friends understand that one. They will have to stay down so I'll probably use clothespins to hang more anchor charts! I also love that I have 6 student computer stations. They are used daily for math practice and will eventually be used for "Listen to Reading" during our Daily 5 time. 

And Here's the last thing the kids see each day! I hope you guys do what the words say and come back!!

Thanks for looking at my home away from home! I was really having a hard time "bonding" with the much smaller classroom, so I had to make it my own!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

It's Never Too Late to Blog Hop!

Please do not judge me!!! I had every intention of Blog Hoppin' every night this week, but by the time I got home, worked on a few things from school, and actually sat down, I was down-right exhausted! I actually cried to my sweet, sweet husband about not having time to blog. Pathetic, right?

Anyways, here is what I wanted to say last week!

Meet the Teacher Monday

My name is Sarah and this is the start of my 4th year! I taught first grade for 3 wonderful years and have just started teaching second grade! I am truly excited about teaching second grade and know it is going to be wonderful too! I always knew I wanted to be a teacher and am so blessed to do what I love and get paid! I had a great week with the kiddos and love the fact that I was able to move up with a few friends from last year! One of my sweet kids (who was also in my first grade class) asked me if I'd teach college to him someday!

Teacher Talk Tuesday

On Tuesday I was supposed to give some teacherly advice to new teachers. My little sister (who isn't little anymore...) is actually student teaching this fall. Here are a few things I've told her...

1. Don't stay at school too late! You have to go home and relax! You'll be a much better teacher the next day! (I really should have told myself this last week...I'm sure you all understand!)

2. Classroom management is key! You need to take tons of time the first few weeks of school "training" the kids on your expectations. Keep reminding them throughout the school year.

3. Ask for help!

4. Communicate with parents, especially the good things their kiddos are doing!!

5. Have fun and enjoy your day with the kids! Don't get too caught up in staying on a perfect schedule. Relax and take time to know them.

Where it All Goes Down Wednesday

The move to second grade meant moving to a new, much smaller classroom. I had to do something to make the room my own! I've always wanted to have a themed classroom, so this year I went for it with a cowboy and western themed room! Unfortunately, my camera is still at school! I'll have pictures later!!

Three for Thursday

Here are three of my favorite teaching things...

Favorite Font- This is a hard one! Pretty much everything I've made this year has been "Doodle Basic". It is easy to read and dang cute!

Favorite Blog-This is such a hard favorite to pick! I am so in love with all teacher blogs! If I HAD to pick one, I'd probably go with  The First Grade Parade. She really inspired me to start blogging!

Favorite Online Resource: Can I choose a blog for this?!? I love looking at teacher blogs as a resource because they are teacher-approved. Another resource I love is Smart Exchange. It's a great place to find smartboard lessons and you can search by state standards! Love it!

TGIF: Free for All Friday

One of the many things I love about teacher blogs is the sharing of free resources! Thanks to everyone who openly share the amazing things they've made! Here is the chart I'm using for Daily 5 Choices. Miss Griffin originally had the idea of using clothespins to show the kiddos' choice. I just added clip art (courtesy of Just So Scrappy) to tie it to my western theme. Enjoy!

Thanks for checking out my new blog! Have a wonderful, relaxing weekend!


Wednesday, July 27, 2011

A New Year = A New Grade!

Hello friends!

The summer has gone by waaayyyy too fast! It seems like the days of lounging around the house in my pajamas until noon(ish), being sucked in to daytime TV and cuddling with my sweet dog are about over! Although I am sad to see summer end, I am super excited about my new blog and year in second grade!!

For those of you who are in LOVE with all the amazing first grade blogs, you may remember me from A Burst of First. I was so happy as a first grade teacher! I had a great team, especially Miss Griffin at Fantastic First, and was fairly confidant that I'd be teaching first grade again! Well, as things typically go, things changed a few weeks before school was over and I was moved up to second grade! As much as I loved first grade, I am super excited about teaching second grade! I have a wonderful new team and luckily last year's kiddos were really great! I think it's going to be an awesome year!

Since I'm not doing the first grade thing anymore, I figured a new blog was a must have! After many, many, MANY discussions about a new blog name, I think I've finally found what I want to do. The hope for this blog is to share what's going on in my classroom, as well as share ideas of things that work for me. I love what other bloggers contribute and am very thankful for their extra resources. Hopefully I'll have some stuff to share here and bring some more ideas into the second grade blog world! Stay tuned for some classroom pictures of my new space in A108!