Sunday, September 15, 2013

Place Value Perfection

What a week!  This is going to be one crazy year if last week has any indication!!  Let's just say that both Heather and I have characterized our week as "teaching first grade."  Yes, first grade.  This isn't the typical first graders coming to second grade and we just don't "remember" what they're like at the beginning of the year.  This is like kindergarteners coming to first grade.  It is B-A-D y'all.  Now, trust us when we tell you that we were warned from the first day of school LAST year by all of the first grade teachers that "they were coming".  I have spent all of this week reviewing short vowel sounds.  Well, back up.  I have reviewed what a vowel is, and then what sound they make when they are short.  YIKES!  Toward the end of this week, we began analyzing our words their way lists.  I have the full spectrum of ability levels.  I have two who know NO sounds and will be beginning on the picture lists.  Then I have two who made it all the way through the primary list and 3/4 of the way through the elementary list.  So they are on the final 3 spelling skills and all in between.  My grandfather grew up going to school in a one room schoolhouse.  I spent three weeks with him this summer and we talked a lot about that one room school house.  He truly believes it is the best way of learning.  I thought a lot about those conversations this week.  Even though I don't have different ages like he did in a one room schoolhouse, I do have all of the levels of one.  It is exhausting.  I am tired.  However, more than ever before in a school year I see my PURPOSE for these children.  It is clear as day.  I will not let the negative get the better of me on this year.  I will see the good in everything and be the best I can be for these little ones who have SO MANY NEEDS!!!!!!!  So that brings to me to place value.  They don't know it.  So this weekend I hopped on the place value train and started making some games.  I think we are going to need them and I am hoping that you will too!  There are two card games with levels of all sorts.  Use them all.  Use what you need.  Use it throughout the year as they improve.  It includes a value challenge game which is played like war.  It also includes a concentration game with numbers in standard form, expanded form, base ten model, and number word.  I hope it helps your classes build that number sense that is so vitally important!  First comment gets their own copy free!

Building place value perfection!

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Fact Families- 2.NBT.5

This week we are teaching addition and subtraction strategies.  One thing I plan to focus on this year is moving my students to become better mental mathematicians.  I really dislike the reliance on fingers and pictures that my students have.  One of the strategies that we teach to help with this is Fact Families.  There are lots of great resources out there to help with teaching fact families.  I wanted to create a fun game that my students could play in an independent station to review the concept.  I also wanted to be able to hold my students accountable with a recording sheet.  This game will allow your students to play and review the concept while also having fun!  I also included a variety of cards so that it can easily be adapted for a variety of ability levels.  As always, the first comment gets their own copy FREE!

Happy Fact Families!

Saturday, September 7, 2013

Book Baskets

Ever since our school adopted the Reader's Workshop approach, I have been trying to find what will work best for my kids during their IDR (independent daily reading).  For the past two years, I have used the cardboard magazine files from IKEA.  They are cheap and easy to replace.  However, being cheap means that I am buying class sets twice a year.  As the year began, I ran to IKEA to pick up another class set and to my surprise, they were sold out of them.  I started racking my brain about what else I could do that wouldn't cost a lot of money.  I went to the Dollar Tree to pick up some more book baskets for my book collection (I mean when you have 63 baskets of books holding your classroom library, you are constantly buying them!).  I came across these cute blue baskets with handles.

I LOVE them!  I figured $23 was a good investment and they will hopefully hold up for a few years!  I wasn't exactly sure how to identify everyone's baskets since they look the same.  I didn't want to write on the basket so I decided to take some Rock Star name tags, mount them to card stock, laminate them, and then write on the name tag with Sharpie.  That way, I can reuse them as well.  Since there are holes all over the basket and it would be hard to stick anything to it, I punched a hole in the name tag and used a book ring to attach it.  So far, it is working wonderfully and I think they're super cute!!!

On a personal note, all of my children are finally in school with me.  Kindergarten, First Grade, and Second Grade.  I am so happy that I get to take them to school with me each day.  It brings a lot of other issues that I have to learn to manage, but having them with me is priceless.  They are also in the classes of 3 of my personal friends.  So it is a lot of fun.  Not to mention my second grader is in Heather's class!  Each night, my job is to pack lunches and backpacks.  This is what my house looks like every night!

Here is what we looked like on our first day of school!  We have a very early start school (7:15 for students).  I leave my house at 6:30 every morning and have to have all of these precious ones ready as well.  So it is EARLY in our house getting up and ready.  They are pretty wide eyed for the first day and their first wake up call of 5:45!

Here we are leaving school in the afternoon (the morning pic is in the dark).  Everyone jokes because we always walk with Momma and her ducklings.  I don't know why, but they always walk in their birth order.  (Oh, and they are all 15 months apart from each other.)

I don't know about you guys, but we have completed 2 weeks of school and I am BEAT!  Exhausted does not even come close to what I am feeling.  Heather and I met at school today (Saturday) because we sill had hours of work to do.  We currently feel like we can't catch up.  Hopefully it will get better but until then, I will continue to look bleary eyed and breaking out in hives dealing with the stress and exhaustion.  My husband made a comment today about me not having put anything out on TPT for awhile.  He is right, but there just isn't a spare minute in the day.  Hopefully soon people!

Happy Back to School!