Saturday, August 31, 2013

back in the swing....

I don't know how all you bloggers out there do it!

I have been super exhausted since school started! Thank God for TPT and all the fabulous resources out there....My energy level seems so depleted, and I feel like my creativity has gone down the tube!

I have been back in school for 4 weeks and I am finally finishing up my hallway display that I had been putting off since I envisioned it.

Here is my inspiration:

I am in love with this chicken wire idea and it seemed pretty inexpensive...

My plan was to buy some yardsticks and connect them to make a huge 10' x 3' frame (that just happens to be how big the roll chicken wire is!).

My first problem was: how do I connect these yardsticks? The guy at home depot helped me out and we decided I should use paint stirrers glued to the back at the connecting spots. It added a little bit of stability.

I wanted to paint the yardsticks with glitter paint (who doesn't love some glitter paint?!). Then I used my staple gun to glue down the chicken wire.

All in all, constructing the frame and adding the chicken wire took 3 afternoons (after school).

Then, I hung it in the hall with some of those command hangers.

I was UNDERwhelmed. Ever have one of those pinterest projects that goes wrong? A few others told me they really liked it, but it wasn't fitting into my vision! I didn't even take a picture of it (that is how much I didn't like it!)

Then, I decided to cover the yardsticks with some border.... Now.... I LOVE it! It isn't exactly as I envisioned but it is adorable and so useful! I still get to use some glitter by using glitter clothespins to attach my kids' work.

You might notice that I hung some informational posters about dog breeds this week! Last week our story in Journeys was an informational text about "Dogs". The kids loved reading that story and we decided to do our first research project of the year! I paired my kids and each pair chose a dog breed to research. Our breed choices were initially came from

**Sidenote: If you have never used pebblego...Check it out! I think our district subscribes to it, and it is fabulous! If you go to the site and look into I believe there is a free trial on the site.

This site provides A LOT of information on a never-ending list of topics! From animals (which are broken down into groups!) to presidents and first ladies. This site is a must-use for research projects!!!! How to use Pebblego:

We started off our research by learning how to use the site. I did an example project about the bulldog (I couldn't find any corresponding books on bulldogs so that worked out well!) Each group picked a dog that they could read about in a book and on pebblego.

We ran into a little trouble though... 2 groups ended up choosing books about dogs that weren't on pebblego, so we did a little Internet exploring during their computer time! (Animal Planet's website is awesome!!)

Each group had reading time and computer time to find information about their animal.
I made a graphic organizer for the kids to guide their research. Then, the kids transferred their info to a big poster display.

The kids worked super hard for 3 days, then on Friday we invited another second grade class in to ours to be our audience. Instead of doing a whole-group presentation we put 4 kids from my class and 3-4 from the other class together.

The other class prepared interview questions before coming in to ask about our dogs after the presentations. It was awesome! The kids were excited about the presentations and about the topic! I can't wait to do it again!!!

This project could still be done without pebblego! The graphic organizer and the headers for the posters are located at this dropbox link:

Now, I am thinking of a way to make things interesting for this short week too... but, first I think I will take some time to relax!! I hope you do too!

Friday, August 16, 2013

my first five

This is going to sound crazy because I know this linky has been going on for a while, but I have never linked up with Doodle Bugs for a 5 for Friday! Better late than never... right?


I am so excited because it only took 7 school days for my kids to make it past 20 minutes for their Read to Self!!! I was even able to get a few of my "beginning of the year" running records done!!! This is the first year I have been able to implement D5 very early, correctly, and successfully!! We started learning Word Work games this week and now that we have gotten met our reading stamina goal we can start working on our Read to Someone stamina! Love it!!!


I am in love with this amazing graphing mat that a co-worker referred to me!

It is perfect fit for the inside of my door and gives us a fun way to graph info about ourselves. About a month back I was able to get a freebie for weekly graphing prompts from Teacher's Clubhouse. It is!!! I was so lucky to get it for free, but it is only $6... So, go grab it!!!


I am loving that my kiddies (at home) are watching Full House on Nick@Nite. I LOVED this show when I was a kid-- who am I joking... I still love it!!


Every year I do this activity and I ADORE it with this printable in the middle. I found this on pinterest and knew I had use it! Here is how my activity works:

1. Write all your students names on sentence strips. 
2. Cut apart names, then cut each name into a puzzle and place in individual ziploc baggies. 
3. Give each student a bag. 
4. Have students glue the name they get to a blank white paper. {This happens after they put the puzzle together and figure out whose name they got.}
5. The student who puts the puzzle together draws a portrait of the friends name they got. 

Very very easy and great community builder, everyone wants to do their best when drawing their friend. 


Are you ready for the TPT sale this weekend? I am filling up my cart and getting ready... I've been waiting since school started (Aug. 1)!! Everything in my shop is 20% off from 8/17-8/19 and you can get an additional 10% off 8/18-19 with the code BTS13. 
Thanks to the 3AM Teacher for this adorable button! 

Have a great weekend! 

Sunday, August 4, 2013

back in the action and my math block

Yes, we are back! Back in school... we started on Thursday, for a half day- then had Friday off. So, tomorrow will be my first full day with my kiddos... I am expecting severe exhaustion!

Of course, I am really excited though! I have moved up to 2nd grade and I have a few of my kids from last year. I am trying out some newer strategies in my math block this year and I am very excited about it!

I borrowed a good friend's book this summer, Guided Math by Laney Sammons and started researching all over the Internet the best way to teach math.

My first step has been changing my math block from 60 to 90 minutes! It is going to shorten my science/social studies time but I think it is really necessary to meet with my students- especially my EL kids (and I can make up that science/ss time in reading).

So, after reading and researching I have landed on one schedule that seems like it will really work for me. The Clutterfree Classroom has an amazing math workshop board that allows for flexibility within your math workshop and I am totally do it!!! If you go to her site she explains it all with great detail and you can purchase parts you may need from her TPT store. I made my own, but I would suggest purchasing hers {since this was HER idea}. Here is what my board looks like:

So, here is an overview:
4 groups
4 rotations (Math Facts, At your seat, Teacher's Choice, Hands On) M.A.T.H.

5-10 minutes- Problem of Day or Review of what we are learning
15-20 minutes rotations 
Math Facts: Play math fact games
At your seat: Seatwork that may be reviewing what we are learning or working in math journals
Teacher's Choice: This will almost always be guided math portion. Each group will get a small group lesson, which will be the bulk of their individualized instruction.
Hands On: Games using manipulatives and/or pieces that give practice with skills we are working on. 
15 minutes: Closure

Closure is super important and should include and overview of the day, review of learning, and math talks! 

What are math talks? Our kids should be able to talk about how they solve problems and not just when we call on them. The goal is to get students to talk to each other while we are like moderators. I've seen teachers post "accountable talk" on a poster or pocket chart. I plan on this too! But while kids are working with each other I want them to have something close by to help foster good math talks. 

I made these Math Talk Bookmarks for this reason!

I am going to print front and back on cardstock and laminate. Kids can keep these in math journals or folders and pull out during this math talk time! Click any of the pics to download for FREE on tpt. 

Please leave me some feedback if you like :)

Have a great week! I can't wait to play with my second graders!