I just took stock of some recent followers added to all my "places", and I realize I have hit some major milestones!

I have passed...

200 blog followers
400 TpT followers
1,500 Pinterest followers

I never dreamed 6 months ago that I would be where I am today, and I am so grateful.  I mean it when I say I value the time you take to read my "musings", and I REALLY appreciate that you take the time to dialogue with me via comments.  Together we can make a difference for our students if we work together to share our ideas, our resources, and our POSITIVE experiences!  For those of you who are new, I hope you take some time to read some of the many posts from recent months--and the GREAT ideas shared in the comments from my readers!  Again, I strive to make this blog a dialogue about teaching and a place for us all to get support and share great ideas!

To celebrate, I am having a little giveaway!  I know it may not be much, but I'd like to provide one of my readers a $10.00 gift certificate to TpT, my brand new word problem bundle (All four grade 4/5 sets!) and a choice of any other item from my store!

So . . . come one, come all! A $10.00 gift certificate, my word problem bundle (see below for the cover and link--HOT OFF THE PRESS at 11:52 pm!), and any one other item from my store--it may not be the lottery, but it WOULD be free!  And free is good, right?  Just use the rafflecopter entry form to enter . . . and follow me in places you haven't yet if you like!  I will end this giveaway on Friday, so enter over the next few days.  

Again, I cannot begin to express my gratitude for your support and kindness over the last 6 months.  Here's to many more!

Something new in our curriculum this year due to the Common Core is creating and using "line plots".  This isn't something I have done in the past, so I was trying to figure out some fun ways to help my students understand the concept.  There are lots of great ideas out there on the internet, so I snagged one and tweaked it a little!

When we got back into our classroom from lunch today, I asked the students to take out a pencil and their ruler and to measure the pencil to the nearest 1/4 inch.

I asked them to jot the number down on a scrap of paper and then I showed them the number line foundation for the number plot.  I then invited all the students to come up and move an "X" to the correct location on the line plot (The "x" is cloned...for you fellow Smartboard users).

We then stepped back, and I asked them to look at the completed line graph and to tell me what information could be gathered from the graph.  As the students came up with ideas, I recorded them--and it took a little teeth pulling to get some ideas rolling!

This was a great review of some of those "data landmarks" terms from earlier this year--terms that very obviously needed review!  So then I showed them the advantage of a line plot--that we can really see how much each and every data point is worth.  I reminded them that each "X" represents ONE pencil and asked them 

"How far would our pencils stretch if we lined them up end to end?"

Without telling them more, I sent them on their way to work with their teams and I sat back and listened.  They had some great strategies!  I saw everything from

NOT the right answer, but a cool strategy!

to students "grouping" the numbers in a huge variety of ways.  Some added each "value" (added up all the 4 1/2's and so on), some added in chunks . . . like this

and we ended up with MANY different answers!  It became a great lesson in how to keep work organized, how to be "systematic" with what you are doing, and also a great ESTIMATION lesson.  I asked them how long a line of 21 pencils would be if each were a foot long--and then what if each were only 1/2 a foot long.  We looked at our line plot and decided our answer should be pretty close to that.

I then sent them back to work to finish and asked them to figure out how many inches AND how many feet and inches (back to our measurement conversion lessons!) that line of pencils would be. For those who finished early, I asked them to consider the following:

All in all, it was a pretty cool 35 minute math lesson--and we will follow up tomorrow with some more "hands on" line plot activities.  Hope everyone had a great Monday!

I hope all of you had a great weekend . . . I put myself in a better mood and tried to get lots done!  I worked outside for a while (FINALLY a beautiful day here!) and got lots of little things done.  I was able to get TWO sets of word problems set to put in my stores--my students have been doing LOTS of word problems lately!  I love to watch how much better they have gotten at tackling the unknown.  I am working on an organization system for myself (insert sympathetic smile here . . . ) so that next year I can have all these problems printed, cut, and ready to access at any point.  Got any suggestions?

Anyhoo . . . I love writing word problems, and I know not everyone does!  If you are looking for more word problem resources, I'd love for you to take a peek at some of mine!  I have finished the first 4 sets and have 4 more in the works.  Let me know if you can think of a "need" that I haven't thought of--but coming soon will be some mixed computation problems, elapsed time problems, and decimals!

Here are the ones that I've already published!

I hope all of you have a restful, relaxing Sunday.  I am going to try to tidy up around here and do some lesson planning!  

Hello Everyone!

I have linked up with some GREAT blogs to share some great end-of-year ideas and reflections!  

I thought I'd give you a glimpse into a FEW of the many things I have going on this summer--and would love to hear your plans!  It's only the end of April, so I know this list will change . . . but here goes!

1. I am going to be trained as a "trainer" for our new math series out of Australia.  I will then be the resource teacher in my building for the intermediate level staff.

2.  The district data retreat--the annual favorite!  I will be spending several days looking at district data and writing action plans.

3.  More staff development...Words Their Way and Smartboards!  

4.  Catching up on some scrapbooking!  I am getting a little behind, and with baseball season, I know I will only be taking MORE photos!

5.  Creating, creating, and creating!  Not only do I have a HUGE list of products I am excited to make, but I am trying to get brave enough to start to sell some of my digital papers and products.  I am hoping to learn a little more and then dip my toe in that water!  I love the freedom--and it gives me a little taste of the art career I never got to have!

6.  Coming up with a plan to use my 6 new iPads in my classroom!  I applied for and got a grant to use them for blogging AND to help my students create digital math portfolios.  I'd love to hear from anyone who has dabbled in this before!  

7.  Spending lots of time at the ball park watching my favorite shortstop!

8.  Trying to create a better "home office" environment with better organization!

9.  Cleaning. My. Basement.

10.  Learning how to use my new "big girl" camera!  This is going to be quite an adventure!  I am excited--but a little intimidated.

11.  Improve my yearly plan for school.  With EVERYTHING new, I need some time to regroup this summer and think about how I need to improve some of the new things we tried this year.

12.  RTI.  I MUST come up with better systems for addressing and documenting student needs and growth.  This is NOT a strength of mine!

13.  Perhaps learning to install a retaining wall?  My husband and I have been putting THIS task off--and we had better act before it's too late!

14.  OK . . . I'm stopping now.  I know there is so much more--but I still have a month left of school, so I don't want to get ahead of myself!  

So . . . I DID mention a giveaway!  Check THIS out!


What can you win?  ALL of the following products . . .

  • Editable Teacher Binder
  • Time Flies--End of Year Literacy Activities
  • Class Votes Awards Kit
  • Student Brochure Project
  • Traditional Lit vs. Fairy Tale
  • Combining Like Terms
  • Full Year Daily Language Practice
  • Measurement Wars Bundle
  • Fun With Probability
  • 20 Figurative Language Posters
  • Create a SMART Goal Board 

plus MY very own

Seasonal Demand Writing Prompt Bundled Set!

 . . . a choice of any 3 items in the hosts' TpT stores 

AND a $30 Amazon gift card!  How cool is that?!?!

Now what?  Share some of YOUR plans in the comments below . . . and then "hop" over to the blogs listed here and see what kind of great things THEY have going on as the year wraps up!  These are some great bloggers--so join up and follow them too!  Don't forget to enter the giveaway!

Little Lovely Leaders Addie Education – Teacher Talk
The Teacher Wife 2PeasAndADog Blog
MissMathDork Composition Classroom The Teaching Bank
An Educator's Life Numbers Rule My World The SuperHERO Teacher's Adventures and Advice!

And guess what!  I DID finish my new product!  Check it out if you want . . . it's another word problem set--this time focusing on real world measurement problems!

So this week was a tough one . . . and I'm sure I'm not alone.  The students have a little spring fever . . . the "to do" lists are getting longer . . . the assessment "season" is upon us . . . and I feel EVERY YEAR at this time like I have one foot in THIS year and one foot in NEXT year.  It's a lot.

To try to counter my crabbies and stress, I have decided to acknowledge 5 things for which I am totally grateful.  There are so many more--but I thought I'd get us started.  Feel free to chime in with ideas of your own!  Maybe collectively we can keep each other out of the funk I feel myself slipping into!

Here we go!

1.  My family.  I am blessed--despite our challenges with autism and more--to have a family of bright, interesting people to love and support.

2.  My beautiful house and neighborhood.  We saved a long time and lived in rentals until we could afford to build a house on a lot we love.  We have that now--it's been 9 years and I still love to look out my back window.

3.  Creativity.  I feel my blog and my other recent adventures have allowed me to tap into the more creative side of me that has been missing for quite some time.  I have promised myself to not let that disappear again . . .

4.  My crazy, disorganized mind.  I am not proud of this . . .

. . .  but I am proud of what that mind can do and accomplish!  I know that being "like me" can drive people around me crazy (sorry, dear spouse . . . I really don't try to!) but I also know that what causes the above issue also can produce wonderful and amazing things.

5.  My friends and coworkers.  I know that we have TONS of stress and we never feel like we are quite doing enough or have quite enough time or quite enough resources.  But I can honestly say I wouldn't want to navigate this storm with any other group of people.  That includes all of you!  Thanks!

Anyhoo--it's just a quick post today to try to help get myself back on a positive track!  Weekend goals?  Two new problems sets for my class and my TpT store!  Watch soon for a measurement conversions set and an elapsed time set!

Have a GREAT weekend--my post tomorrow introduces a great giveaway that you MUST check out!

I have had many people ask me questions like, "So what is a 'typical' day like in your math class?" or "How do you structure your math time?"  These are tricky questions for me to answer because I truly do not do the same thing every day.  Those of you who followed my fraction posts know that we do a LOT of whole class investigations--or at least they start off that way--but there really is a lot more to it than that!

I make decisions about how to spend my 60-80 minutes (varies depending on the schedule and the content) based on WHAT MY STUDENTS NEED THAT DAY.  This is hard for some teachers to deal with . . . those who are planners, who like certain structures, and so on.  I get that.  I just happen to be a person who likes to work on the fly, changing flight patterns at a moment's notice.  I'm sure there is a happy medium . . .  right? 

So today I thought I'd walk you through my math class TODAY.  We spent 65 minutes on math today, and my learning target was simple:

I can convert between units of measure.

Now, as you know, this is NOT a simple learning target and it covers a million different things which is exactly why I selected it today--because I knew I needed to tackle a million different things.  Here's how the day unfolded.

1.  The students came in from specials and their bathroom break (we stop on our way back as a class to minimize interruptions in learning) and immediately got to work on an "entrance" slip to see what they have retained from the last few days.  We have been working on converting units of length in both systems . . . we have drawn and built and modeled and done word problems and made charts and so on.  They really should have it down.  In fact, we started working on weight yesterday, so this is really to see what "stuck".  I much prefer "entrance" slips to "exit" slips.

2.  As they turn them in, I grade them as quickly as possible.  After a few minutes, I collect them--even if they aren't finished.  At a certain point, not being able to finish tells me about their level of proficiency.  At this point, my inclusion teacher got here and finished grading and sorting while I did a quick minilesson.

3.  The minilesson today involved a quick review of what the word "convert" means, a brief discussion of the types of problems we had already done over the last week or so, and then some instruction on converting between pounds, ounces, and tons.  We did a few samples, talked about real world applications, and then the workshop time began!

4.  Here is how the next thirty minutes unfolded.  First, the inclusion teacher and I each pulled small groups based on that "entrance" slip from earlier.   This has been a tough concept for many of my students, so we had 10 students that we really wanted to target. Other students were working a set of word problems I had written using different measurement conversion situations (this problem set is ALMOST ready to put it my store!  Tomorrow probably!).  There were 5 problems available and I let the students know which was the most rigorous.  (This is an easy way to differentiate--have problems at a few levels so you can steer students who need steering!).  I got up several times while my group was working to check on my problem solvers--and many were working collaboratively, checking work together, etc.

Some students got 1 or 2 problems done . . . others did all 5!

5.  The other teacher and I worked with our small groups until we felt like each member had had enough--I kept 4 of my 6 the entire time and sent the other two off to do word problems after a brief review.  After I finished with my group, I started calling over other students who made errors to "proofread" their entrance slip and to tell me what they had done incorrectly.  Most were careless errors that they easily found on their own.

6.  As students started to finish the 5 problems, their final task was to try writing some of their own.  I told them that I would use some of them in future math classes--so to work together to really come up with good situations with actual solutions!

So--this was math today!  Not everyone got the "same" instruction--but everyone got what they needed!  We'll see how things go tomorrow--hopefully the small group work today made a difference!

As you may know, I have started the book "Wonder" with my class as an "enhanced" read aloud.  I say "enhanced" because although I choose my read alouds with my students' enjoyment in mind, I do make deliberate choices about what texts will "enhance" their reading strategies and skills and their own thinking.

So . . . with "Flutter" we tracked our thinking on some key questions on our "Fluttermobile", and we are going to interact with "Wonder" in some different ways as well.  I truly don't want read aloud time to be a presentation of a text to my class--but something they are engaged in and an active part of.

Here's one of the many beautiful things about "Wonder"--the chapters are very short.  Some are only one or two pages long!  It's the perfect text to use as a combination read aloud/shared reading experience.  I don't plan on doing it often, but every so often I will make a photocopy of one of those super short chapters, ask the students to read it themselves or in pairs, and to "mark up" the text with thoughts, questions, and so on.  We can then project the text and have discussions based on what we read!  I'll report out here on how that goes!

Another thing we are doing with this text is something I often do--keep a running list of characters.  What this does is allow students to talk and write more easily about texts without falling into the pronoun problem . .  . "Well, he went over and told her about what he did there."  Really?  We can do better!  This allows them to see the names, spell the names, and use the names in their discussions.

A third way we will be interacting with this text is through our readers response notebooks.  Before you get all huffy with me saying that "Read alouds should be for enjoyment only!", let me explain.  I have a number of students who are minimal participators.  We are working on it.  We aren't there yet.  I have explained to my students all year that reading and understanding is a deeply personal experience--no test can measure how well they truly understand.  Remember also that it is good practice to read aloud books that are a level or two more sophisticated than your students can read independently.  It allows you to model your own thinking and to "notice" things that can make a book more challenging.  It helps make those books accessible to them in the future.  So . . . I am going to ask my students to use their notebooks on occasion throughout this text.

Not every day.
Not huge amounts of writing.

We will use the double entry journal format I introduced earlier this year:

so I can just get a "snapshot" at times as to their depth of understanding--especially for my reluctant participators.  I remind them that I cannot crawl into their brains to see their thinking--that would be gross--so they must share their thinking with their mouths and their pencils to help me get insight.  This may happen at critical parts in the text . . . when we have tackled a tricky part . . . or any other time I feel like it!  I have also invited the students to reflect at any point WITHOUT being told . . . and several did yesterday.  THAT was cool.

FINALLY!  From these written reflections, I am asking students to participate in a group "graffiti wall" of sorts.  If they have a reaction, a theory, an explanation, or some other thought of significance, they can come write it on a speech bubble and place it on our Wonderboard.  We can then use those discussion points to deepen our understanding of the text.  
Here is our blank board waiting for comments!

A cup with blank "speech bubbles" and markers for students to add their thoughts to the board.

So . . . off we go into the "Wonderful" world of this book!  We have met Auggie and his parents and the infamous "Mr. Tushman" (insert hysterical laughter here).  We are starting to build some empathy for Auggie--and are wondering how he is going to handle this adventure he is about to set out on!  Stay tuned!

Today to celebrate Earth Day, we watched a few Brain Pop videos on environmental issues and I asked my students to think about the word:


I asked them to define what it meant, and one student suggested that a commitment is like a promise.  We used that as our definition and then proceeded to use what we know and what we saw in our video clips to write personal "commitments" to the earth!  We then did a quick review of some of the geography from earlier this year . . . about how our planet is divided into hemispheres, how we use latitude and longitude lines to find locations, and so on.

We then used coffee filters to make watercolor "hemispheres" to add a nice touch to our promises to the earth!  We sketched in pencil, then watercolored the land . . .

then the water . . .

Then we mounted our promises with our art and were ready to hang them up as reminders!

I hope all of you had a good Monday--I am TIRED tonight!