Wednesday, March 15, 2017

Subtraction with Regrouping

Happy Wednesday!
We have made it half way through the week! It seems like it is a long haul as we inch slowly to Spring Break! We haven't had many days off lately and the weather has been spectacular. So we are ready!!! We are wrapping up the third quarter and making our way to the end of the year. Does it seem like you have saved some pretty challenging things for the end of the year like me? Some of the last things I teach are some of the hardest things I teach. Up first for my friends is subtraction. We sure do take it to the next level when we get to subtraction. Regrouping from 10's to 1's, 100's to 10's, across zeros! Whew, my brain hurts!!  We love to use the subtraction poem, More On Top...No Need to Stop, More on the Floor...go next door and get 10 more, Numbers the Same?...Zero's the game.  It is such a fun and catchy way to teach it. Now that we have been working on it for about 2 weeks, I thought it would be fun to do a foldable where we are sorting the different kinds of subtraction problems while practicing them at the same time! Check it out here! As you know, I teach in a Spanish/English immersion program. So lucky for you, this resource is in English AND Spanish!
Happy Subtracting!

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Informational Text Features

We are up to our eye balls in Informational Texts these days! This is always such a fun thing to teach but it also feels like I am teaching it FOREVER! While kids LOVE reading informational texts, sometimes they are not very motivated to work WITH informational texts. As a culminating activity to our text features, I gave this assessment. Students are to look for the text features in a book that I assigned to them and fill it out accordingly. The thing I like about this assessment, is that it is generic and can be used with any informational book. I also really like the fact that I can differentiate the assessment based on the needs of my students by assigning different books for them at their Just Right level!
Hop on over to my TpT store and pick up your own copy for free!

Monday, January 30, 2017

Bloomz Update

Hey everyone!
We have officially hit the half way mark. Can you believe it? This year has been flying by and I am loving it more than ever. My two classes this year are some of my favorite kids to ever teach. They are growing and changing everyday and I am so proud of how much they are learning!

I wanted to pop in and give a quick update about Bloomz in my classroom this year. Do you remember when I posted this about Bloomz before school started? Well, last week Bloomz sent this little graphic to me that really made me excited.

This sums up my classroom communication pretty well. You can see what I LOVE using. I love to post, I love pictures, I love setting up events, and conferences! This app is wonderful for so many things and I love that it is all in one location. As you can see, my love for this app has also given me some extra time in my classroom. Check out my total time saved!!! Here are some highlights of the things I have loved so far this year:

Conferences: When you have 2 classrooms and 36 families to schedule conferences for it can be pretty overwhelming. I was able to set up and schedule 56 total conferences with ease!

Sharing pictures: I have always been really great at taking pictures during the day. Unfortunately, I haven't been so great at uploading the pictures to where they need to be. Now with Bloomz, I have the app on my phone so I am able to immediately upload any pictures I take and I can add a brief description to my parents what the pictures are. Now there isn't a delay in getting information out! Here is a post I made today. I snapped 4 pictures while we were completing a measurement activity. As soon as I took the pictures, I immediately uploaded it. 

Volunteers: There are two ways to use the volunteers. You can ask volunteers for help in your classroom or you can ask for items to be sent in. I haven't really used the volunteers for coming in to help yet. I am actually wanting to use this feature more soon! But I have used it to ask for items to be sent in. The first time was for my holiday party. On the same day that I posted the request for items for our holiday party, I had everything filled! It was so wonderful and so easy. The day of the holiday party was super easy for me because the items just kept coming in all week. My day was a breeze!! Then just this past Thursday, I went to get some sandwich bags out of the cabinet and I realized I only had gallon sized bags left and I really needed 3 boxes of sandwich bags. I quickly put the request up and by the next morning had them all in my hands. It is amazing!

Quiet Hours- Here is a new feature that I LOVE! We can now set quiet hours so that we won't receive notifications at all hours of the day and night. I have a few parents who work third shift and they will often send me messages at late hours of the night. This feature allows them to send me the note they need me to see when it is on their minds without it causing my notifications to go off at 3am! It is quite amazing!

As we take the downward slope into the end of the year there are still things I am excited about trying. 

Portfolios- I am anxious to use this with my students and upload some work for them to share with their parents. I haven't found the time to try this yet but I am going to work on finding the time to use it with my students!

Behavior Management- Every school year for the 4th quarter, I try to implement a behavior management system. I find that as school winds down toward the end of the year, my kids' behavior struggles some. I always like to introduce something new for them to work with that is motivational. I am SO excited for this year because it is all within the same app that I have grown to love. My parents are loving the app too and I know when I add the behavior management component in, it will be seamless.

Overall, this app is still the best thing that I could bring into my classroom. I have introduced it to my colleagues and most classrooms have implemented in their rooms as well. Here is my favorite thing so far. My principal is totally on board as well. In staff meetings, when he gives us information that he would like for us to send to our parents, in the past he would ask us to put the information in our newsletters, websites, and email parents. Now when there is information he would like us to send to parents, he says, "please send out a Bloomz message or post letting your parents know..." How cool is that? 

It isn't too late either! Try it today. I promise you won't regret it!
Happy Communicating!

Monday, August 15, 2016

Back to School- Part 2

Happy Monday!
I finally ventured back into my classroom today.  I actually went in early in August to drop off a bunch of the stuff in my classroom.  But today was the first time I actually worked on some things.  When I went in early August I dropped my summer projects off and moved everything out of the giant pile in the middle of my room.  I was afraid the sight of all that stuff stacked up in the middle of the room would keep me up at night.
So I quickly moved the big stuff to the right places and left.

One thing that took several hours today was my book basket labels.  I am not completely done with those yet so they will be my next Back to School post.

I worked on organizing my supply tubs today.  Since I have two separate classes that share the same space, I have had to get creative with my supplies.  I used to keep all of the supplies that the students bring in and give them out as needed.  But it was really hard for me to keep track of which class and which students were using the supplies.  I decided to let the students keep their extra supplies in their cubbies.  When they needed something, they went to their bucket and took it out.  When that supply was out, I sent a note home for the parents to send in more.  It really helped out a lot and took a lot of the stress of it away from me.  The only issue I had last year was that the students couldn't keep track of which bucket was theirs.  I used two different buckets in the cubby with two different lids, but both lids were white.  This became confusing to the kids.  So this year I decided to paint the lids to help them know which one is theirs.

I have never spray painted plastic before so I wasn't sure what to expect.  I had read about spray paint chipping as soon as it dried so I made sure to get the paint especially for plastic.
I am really happy with how they turned out and I think they look great in my cubbies.  There is no way the kids will get them confused this year!!!

Spray painting is kind of addicting!  I went ahead and spray painted all of my clothes pins too.  I really want to paint some more things now!  What have you painted for your classrooms?

Happy Painting!

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Back to School Part 1

It isn't even August yet and my back to school dreams have already arrived in full force! Last week, I woke up at 2:45am and had a thought about something I needed to do for school.  I thought to myself that I needed to get a pad of paper to write my ideas down when they come to me in the middle of the night.  But the more reasonable side of me won.  "It's 2:45 in the morning, don't be ridiculous! Just write it down when you wake up!" Sadly, I woke up and didn't remember what it was!  I STILL to this day, all these days later, have NO clue what it was that woke me up!.  Oh well!

I am slowly but surely, getting geared up for this new school year.  I brought home several different projects to do this summer and one by one I have been checking them off my list of things to do! I will be sharing them with you in the upcoming weeks as part of a Back to School series of posts I intend to do.

But first up is all about Parent Communication.  I think every teacher has a love/hate relationship with parent communication.  I think we would all agree that there should be a college course, when getting our degrees, devoted to parent communication, right!?!?

My approach to communicating with parents has evolved over the years, just as I suspect most of yours has as well! For me it has been a lot of "guess and check". Try this and see how it works. Use what does and get rid of what doesn't! A few years ago, I embarked on gaining my National Board Certification and communication with parents became one of my focuses as I reflected on my practices as a teacher.  One thing that I have noticed regarding my communication with parents is how it has changed as I became a parent.  I have often said that I became a better teacher when I became a parent.  I also think I became a better communicator with parents when my children went to school.

I have tried a variety of things that were all working for me.  I just felt like a huge amount of time was devoted to communicating with parents.  I was maintaining a class webpage, facebook page, weekly newsletters, emails, remind app, and volunteer spot. I was doing a great job with communicating with my parents but I felt like that was ALL I did.  On top of everything we have to do in addition to communicating home, it just got to be a little much. As you know, one of my teaching mantras is to work smarter not harder.  So I needed something that would help me in this area.

Last summer, I came across a blog post talking about a new app that was changing communication. With a change in my teaching I thought I would give it a try.  It is called Bloomz. I am here to tell you, it was AMAZING!!  I teach in a 50/50 English/Spanish immersion program.  So I have two classes of students that I share with a teaching partner from another country.  I teach fully in English and he teaches the exact same thing I am teaching in Spanish and our classes flip between us each day.  So I have a different class every day than the day before!  It also means that I have 2 groups of parents to communicate with.  Each class is different, they have different personalities and needs.  I don't teach identical days with both classes so communicating with parents is a tricky thing.  I loved lots of things about Bloomz!  I loved it so much, I recorded a VLOG about my 3 favorite things that I loved the most.  I hope you enjoy it.  However, there are some disclaimers about my VLOG.
1) It is the first one I have ever done.
2) It is still technically summer so I do not wear makeup or do my hair in the summer.
3) I have been sick and couldn't talk for more than 15 seconds without hacking up a lung so I filmed it in snippets and then put them altogether.

I hope you consider trying Bloomz this year.  Click here to check it our for yourself! It has really made communicating with parents so much easier, quicker, and more efficient than ever before!  If you try it, leave me a message and let me know how you like it!

Happy Communicating!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Anchor Charts

Anchor carts.  Where do I even begin? When we began Writers and Readers Workshop all those years ago, I don't think I realized the extent to which my teaching day would revolve around Anchor Charts.  I have come to love and appreciate their use and existence in my everyday routines.  I love how students can give input to create the charts and reference the charts when necessary.  Over the years, I have had to come up with a procedure for how long to keep charts and when to take them down.  I have also gone through those rough stages of charts becoming like white noise.  The students no longer see or use them!

2 years ago, I was fortunate enough to participate in a Professional Development about the book Smarter Charts by Marjorie Martinelli and Kristine Mraz.

I loved the way this PD forced me to really think about what the purpose for my charts were.  I was always so worried about my drawing and my handwriting.  But I learned that the focus always needed to be about the students and their needs.  They didn't need to be perfect, just thoughtful.  

Fast forward to this summer.  I had the wonderful opportunity to attend a summer intensive  workshop with the Teachers College Reading and Writing Project.  It was amazing!!  If you ever have the opportunity to attend one, I highly recommend it!  The project works hand in hand with the Smarter Charts book and I learned about Chart Chums, the blog of the writers of the book.  It is such an amazing resource.  I also fell deeply in love with the Large Post it Notes that are encouraged to be used on anchor charts.  

As I explained in my previous post, I am embarking on a new spanish/english immersion program.  As you are well aware, it is vitally important to have students give input and help create anchor charts.  As this year began, I realized I was running into a slight issue.  I began one chart with my blue class and then began a second chart with my green class.  I was going through chart paper like crazy! I discovered that I could use the Post it Notes to my benefit. I could create them ahead of time and put them up as the current class and I made the chart.  Then at the end of the day, I could take them off and use them again tomorrow with the class that came the next day.  After the chart was completed, I could hang the one chart on the wall that both classes created.  I have saved a huge amount of chart paper!!

I take a picture of the anchor charts and put them in my students' Readers/Writers Notebooks.  This way they can reference the chart if needed.  It also allows for me to not worry about taking the charts down.  If they need to reference a chart that has been taken down, they can look in their notebooks.  I also use the picture that I take, in a plastic sleeve.  Once the chart comes down, I can place the post it notes in the plastic sleeve and save for next year.  I keep all of the plastic sleeves in a 3 ring binder.

I love how the charts help me to work smarter and not harder.  It helps simplify the process of anchor charts and helps my classroom run so much smoother! Not to mention, the post it notes helps make the charts so cheerful and colorful.  Here are a few of the charts my classes and I have made so far this year:

Happy Charting!!!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Number Words

It's Sunday!  Does your brain work extra hard on Sundays like mine?  I try so hard to take care of school things on Friday afternoons and some Saturday mornings and spend the rest of my weekends relaxing.  But something happens on Sundays.  I begin thinking about the upcoming week and everything that I haven't gotten done!!!

I am embarking on a new adventure this year.  I am teaching in a 50/50 Spanish/English immersion program.  I am paired with a wonderful teacher from Chile and we have a class of 24 and a class of 23 students that we share.  We teach identical days, me in English and her in Spanish, and our kids flip flop back and forth between the two of us.  So each day I have a different class than the day before.  When all is said and done, I will have taught each class for 90 days in English.

This week we were working on representing numbers in standard form, expanded form, base ten blocks, and number words.  WOAH!  I found myself at a loss when it came to the number word form.  I am unsure if it is that my students are bilingual, or just a rough year, but I found myself needing number words for my wall that covered numbers to 999.  By no means are these fancy, but they cover all numbers in standard form and number word form from:


I printed them, mounted them on colorful card stock, laminated them, and hung them on my wall.  I am hoping they will be a huge help and resource to my students as they learn how to spell these number words. Click on the picture below to pick up your own free copy!

Happy Sunday!