Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Countdown to 2014 Giveaway Day 5!

It's the FINAL DAY of our COUNTDOWN to 2014!  I hope you've been able to snap up some great deals from the three of us!  Today is the day for ONE item that you can get today for 1/2 off! Such a deal!

If you stopped by the last FOUR days, you know that I've decided to team up with two amazing friends to make sure our last days of 2013 are PLENTY sweet!  We've decided to host a little countdown for these final five days of this year...and we hope you find it a great time to stock up on some great new activities and resources.  Tomorrow is the first day of the New Year--and we will be picking our winners then.


In addition to giving you some special deals, each of us is hosting a giveaway as well--on my blog, enter to win a $25 gift certificate to Teachers Pay Teachers to get some great new resources for the New Year!  To sweeten the pot a little, we have decided to offer special discounts each and every day.  Check out the details below!

So today is day 5, and I am going to share my very newest product and offer it to you today only for 50% off--until 11 pm central time!  Just as a little background...You may be familiar with the research done with children and how they acquire math understanding—especially in problem solving called CGI or “cognitively guided instruction”.  If you aren’t familiar with it, I highly recommend a little reading because it is fascinating!

The work is so thorough and well respected that the writers of the CCSS have chosen to base a good part of the standards on it!  In fact, if you have not spent time looking at the tables in the glossary (pages 88-89), I would recommend it as the CCSS for grades 1-4 refer directly to them.  This resource is designed to help teachers provide students with quality problems to help them navigate these problem types.  Because students come to the table with a variety of skills, each problem has 3 different “select a size” number choices to help make the problem a perfect fit! Rather than having to find different problems for your different levels, you can teach the different problem types and the differentiated numbers are right on the page!  

This set focuses on the 6 different problem types associated with ADDITION...and I hope to have subtraction and multiplication and division sets in my store soon!  I hope you enjoy it and that it helps your students become better problem solvers--not just students who automatically add two numbers in a problem!  It is probably best suited for grades 2-3, but my first grade teacher friend has used it with her students very successfully and I am using it with my struggling fourth graders.


Now...don't forget to enter the giveaway as well!  Who couldn't use $25 to use on classroom supplies?  If you ALREADY follow me in all these places, just let me know who you are when you click on the rafflecopter!  Today is the last day to enter--so GOOD LUCK!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And finally, make sure to stop by Miss Math Dork and 4mulaFun to see what THEY have on sale and to enter their giveaways as well!  Watch for new deals each day until the New Year...and we'll announce all three giveaway winners on January 1, 2014!  I am SO excited to share my latest resource with you as well...plan on a blog post coming after the giveaway!

Monday, December 30, 2013

Countdown to 2014 Giveaway Day 4

Well...it's day FOUR of our FIVE day countdown, and it's time for TWO new new bargains!

If you stopped by the last three days, you know that I've decided to team up with two amazing friends to make sure our last days of 2013 are PLENTY sweet!  We've decided to host a little countdown for these final five days of this year...and we hope you find it a great time to stock up on some great new activities and resources.  You'll want to take the "time" to check out the deals of the day--especially since I have picked many of my BEST sellers to highlight!


In addition to giving you some special deals, each of us is hosting a giveaway as well--on my blog, enter to win a $25 gift certificate to Teachers Pay Teachers to get some great new resources for the New Year!  To sweeten the pot a little, we have decided to offer special discounts each and every day.  Check out the details below!

So today is day 4, and I am going to share 2 of my favorite products and offer them at 40% off today only--until 11 pm central time!  Here they are--2 items to check out...discounted 40% until tonight!  Different products will be on special each day--so grab them while they are on sale!





Now...don't forget to enter the giveaway as well!  Who couldn't use $25 to use on classroom supplies?  If you ALREADY follow me in all these places, just let me know who you are when you click on the rafflecopter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And finally, make sure to stop by Miss Math Dork and 4mulaFun to see what THEY have on sale and to enter their giveaways as well!  Watch for new deals each day until the New Year...and we'll announce all three giveaway winners on January 1, 2014!  I am SO excited to share my latest resource with you as well...plan on a blog post coming after the giveaway!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

Countdown to 2014 Giveaway Day 3!

Well...it's day THREE of our FIVE day countdown, and it's time for THREE new new bargains!

If you stopped by the last two days, you know that I've decided to team up with two amazing friends to make sure our last days of 2013 are PLENTY sweet!  We've decided to host a little countdown for these final five days of this year!  What a great time to stock up on some great new activities!  You'll want to take the "time" to check out the deals of the day--especially since I have picked many of my BEST sellers to highlight!


In addition to giving you some special deals, each of us is hosting a giveaway as well--on my blog, enter to win a $25 gift certificate to Teachers Pay Teachers to get some great new resources for the New Year!  To sweeten the pot a little, we have decided to offer special discounts each and every day.  Check out the details below!

So today is day 3, and I am going to share 3 of my favorite products and offer them at 30% off today only--until 11 pm central time!  Here they are--3 items to check out...discounted 30% until tonight!  Different products will be on special each day--so grab them while they are on sale!





Now...don't forget to enter the giveaway as well!  Who couldn't use $25 to use on classroom supplies?  If you ALREADY follow me in all these places, just let me know who you are when you click on the rafflecopter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And finally, make sure to stop by Miss Math Dork and 4mulaFun to see what THEY have on sale and to enter their giveaways as well!  Watch for new deals each day until the New Year...and we'll announce all three giveaway winners on January 1, 2014!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Countdown to 2014 Giveaway Day 2!

Well...it's day TWO of our FIVE day countdown, and it's time for some new bargains!

If you stopped by yesterday, you know that I've decided to team up with two amazing friends to make sure our last days of 2013 are PLENTY sweet!  We've decided to host a little countdown for these final five days of this year!  Think you need some new activities?  You'll want to take the "time" to check out the deals of the day--especially since I have picked many of my BEST sellers to highlight!
In addition to giving you some special deals, each of us is hosting a giveaway as well--on my blog, enter to win a $25 gift certificate to Teachers Pay Teachers to get some great new resources for the New Year!  To sweeten the pot a little, we have decided to offer special discounts each and every day.  Check out the details below!

So today is day 2, and I am going to share 4 of my favorite products and offer them at 20% off today only--until 11 pm central time!  Here they are--4 items to check out...discounted 20% until tonight!  Different products will be on special each day--so grab them while they are on sale!






Now...don't forget to enter the giveaway as well!  Who couldn't use $25 to use on classroom supplies?  If you ALREADY follow me in all these places, just let me know who you are when you click on the rafflecopter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And finally, make sure to stop by Miss Math Dork and 4mulaFun to see what THEY have on sale and to enter their giveaways as well!  Watch for new deals each day until the New Year...and we'll announce all three giveaway winners on January 1, 2014!

Friday, December 27, 2013

Countdown to 2014 Giveaway Day 1!

Can you believe that we about to take down another calendar and flip to a new year?  If you are like me, the ending of one year is always a little bittersweet.

I've decided to team up with two amazing friends to make sure our last days of 2013 are PLENTY sweet!  We've decided to host a little countdown for these final five days of this year!  Think you need some new activities?  You'll want to take the "time" to check out the deals of the day!


In addition to giving you some special deals, each of us is hosting a giveaway as well--on my blog, enter to win a $25 gift certificate to Teachers Pay Teachers to get some great new resources for the New Year!  To sweeten the pot a little, we have decided to offer special discounts each and every day.  Check out the details below!



So today is day 1, and I am going to share 5 of my favorite products and offer them at 10% off today only--until 11 pm central time!  Here they are--5 items to check out...discounted 10% until tonight!  New products will be on special each day--so grab them while they are on sale!






Now...don't forget to enter the giveaway as well!  Who couldn't use $25 to use on classroom supplies?  If you ALREADY follow me in all these places, just let me know who you are when you click on the rafflecopter!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

And finally, make sure to stop by Miss Math Dork and 4mulaFun to see what THEY have on sale and to enter their giveaways as well!  Watch for new deals each day until the New Year...and we'll announce all three giveaway winners on January 1, 2014!

Thursday, December 26, 2013

The first of some fun giveaways!


I'm excited to team up with "Dots of Fun" for her great 1,000 follower giveaway!  I love showing my support for fellow bloggers who reach milestones because I know how much work it all is!  This giveaway runs the next few days and I encourage you to hop over to her blog to enter each day to win tons of great prizes.  What a great way to continue with your holiday celebration!


While we are talking about giveaways...make sure to stop back here tomorrow to learn about a little somethin' special a few blogging friends and I have planned to help us get ready for the new year!  I love countdowns, and I think you'll love the one we have planned for you!

I hope all of you had a wonderful Christmas and are starting to relax a little!  I am slowly working myself through my to do list...my new office is cleared out, the carpets are cleaned, and the new furniture is ordered!  I have a new set of math problems ready to be finished--so watch for those in the next 24 hours!

For now, check out the giveaway and stop back tomorrow for some updates!


Monday, December 23, 2013

Thinking Strategies in Math

A book that I got last year and read and loved has been pulled out again for a reread...I am not sure if I blogged about it last year, but if I didn't--I should have.  This book is a must read for anyone trying to break away from their whole-class math instruction and looking for ways to move to a more workshop approach.

Now that I have my workshop up and running a little, I figure it's a great time to reread the book and see if I can read it with a new lens this time.  I thought I would share with you information from a page from the book (p. 27) that in and of itself is worth buying the book!  In my opinion, the "thinking strategies" outlined in this part of the book could be game changers for people wanted to make a shift in how they teach math.  We have been really good over the years at trying to get students to think more deeply in reading and writing, and the time is NOW to do the same for math.

So...the author of "Minds On Mathematics" has connected to the research synthesis conducted by David Pearson in literacy and has applied it to the math classroom.  The argument?  That these strategies work for readers and will ALSO work for mathematicians!  Consider the following  proven strategies and how they might apply to math class:
  • asking questions...working to deepen understanding by asking questions about a concept
  • determining importance...deciding what information is relevant and significant
  • drawing on background knowledge...determining what information is known and how it can help us make sense of new information
  • inferring...drawing conclusions based on the information provided
  • making mental models...finding a variety of ways to represent information, ideas, and solutions
  • monitoring for meaning...using "fix it" strategies when things aren't going well and knowing to proceed when things ARE on track
  • synthesizing...developing deeper understanding over time
Are we explicitly teaching these strategies in our math class?  If not--don't you think it's about time we do?  This text is a perfect complement to the Standards for Mathematical Practice and deserve our careful consideration when planning our units and lessons.  I'm going to go read a little more and will blog about it later!

Sunday, December 22, 2013

Winter Break Plans

If you are like me, you fill your head with the MILLION things you want to accomplish over winter break--not to mention try to relax a little bit!  I thought it would be fun to hear what some of you want to accomplish over the next week or so...besides spending some quality time with family and friends!

Here are a few things on my list...

*Clear out the den so we can turn it into a home office.  This involves physical labor AND decision making AND office furniture shopping.  We are going to try to fit husband space and me space.  Send positive energy.  Please.


*I have about 942 product ideas!  I want to get a few of them finished.  I am working on a new line of products that are working REALLY well in my classroom this year!

*BLOG!  I know it's been a little quiet on the blog...I'll work on that!

*Learn Windows 8!  My new computer arrived and I haven't even turned it on.  I have been waiting for break to get things figured out and to decide which of my 9 zillion items (photos, clip art, etc) should get moved from computer A to computer B.



*Have some friends over.  It has been a crazy few months, so I want to host some friends and just kick back a little bit.  I think New Year's Eve is going to be one of them--last year we had some of my son's friends and their families over and it was super nice.

*At least 4 or 5 YUCK tasks...clean fridge, clean oven, organize my closet, organize the pantry, wash the baseboards, wipe down cupboard doors, etc.  Can't wait.  Sigh.

*Go to a movie!  One of my students gave me a $20 movie card.  We RARELY go to the movies, so that will be a nice motivation!

*Cheering on the Green Bay Packers and...apparently...SHOVELING!  Hope all of you are safe today.  We are expecting 8 inches and 30 mile per hour winds.  I know there is a huge part of our country affected by the storm so stay safe and snuggle in!


By the way...I am offering a shopping deal for the rest of today...buy any item priced at $5.00 or more and get another item of equal or lesser value free!  Thought I'd reward those of you who are planning ahead for 2014!  Just leave me a message here, on TpT, or on FB to let me know what  you bought, what you want for free, and the email you want it sent to.  HAPPY HOLIDAYS!


Not following me in all places yet?  I do offer special deals at times on each of them!  See the nifty buttons on the right side of the blog...

But most importantly, let's hear it!  What are a few things YOU are going to do over break?  Share in the comments and let's compare notes!  I have a secret number written down--that person's comment wins my "back to school" New Year's resource!  

Wednesday, December 18, 2013

What IS a fraction, anyway?

As we move forward into our next unit in our new math series, I had real concerns that my fourth graders didn't have enough background knowledge about fractions to be able to successfully navigate the rigor of the upcoming lessons.  I decided to "frontload" a little with some tried and true lessons that have been successful for me in the past and that would help me not only see what my students already knew, but also any misconceptions that they might have.  I was right!  They were definitely NOT ready and had a number of misunderstandings that we needed to clear up.

The first thing I did was to ask the students to make the following chart in their math notebooks and to take a few minutes to add samples to each side.  They had questions, of course...should they be pictures?  Do I have to use numbers?  I shrugged and told them to do what made sense.  Strangely, that seemed to satisfy them.  (They must be getting used to me!)




I was noticing all sorts of interesting things...poorly drawn "equal parts", improper fractions (on the "not fraction" side!), and whole numbers.   Hmmmmm.

As I walked around, I made note of the types of things that students were recording and starred samples in a few students' notebooks and asked them to record them on the smartboard when we were ready.

So I have a few kids put some samples from their page up and we looked them over.


We came to some good agreement about the examples and counterexamples and then I added some of my own--things I had seen on my trip around the room.


The things I drew are in blue and led us to some great discussions!  The arrows are showing where the students felt the drawings ACTUALLY belonged after our chat.  Many students were VERY surprised that we could have a 1 in the denominator and others were quick to erase drawings in their own notebooks when we looked at that rectangle in the upper left corner and agreed that the precision of that drawing made it impossible to call it "equal parts".

The most fun we had was with the drawing in the bottom right hand corner.  We spent a good 15 minutes debating back and forth about whether or not the diagram showed fractions...and if it DID, what fractional part would the piece in the upper right "corner" be worth?  Some kids were convinced it did not show fractions.  Some felt that piece was 1/3.  Still more felt it was 1/4.  We worked and worked to try to refine our understanding of what a fraction of a region is...and I'm still not sure that all my students are really convinced that the piece is 1/4 of that pie!  It definitely showed my that these students are used to counting pieces out of a whole and are not really fully understanding the concept of equal parts--and that not all "lines" are necessarily drawn!

Want to try an experiment with your class?  Draw it up on the board and ask--is this fractions?  If it is--what fraction is that piece (I had it shaded in to start...)?  I'd love to know if your students did a better job than mine!  I'll try a similar activity in a week or two and see how their understanding has evolved!  Hope you are all surviving these last few days..

Sunday, December 15, 2013

Holy Great Math Conference!

If you are like me, the chance to go to workshops happens once in a blue moon.  As funding has been reduced to our schools, the opportunities to attend professional development outside the district has all but gone away.  Instead, many of us who have been teaching a LONNNNNNNG time end up PRESENTING the professional development in our buildings!

I was afforded the opportunity to attend our state math council's assessment conference and it was FABULOUS!  I will be blogging about several pieces of it over the next weeks.  The topic I am most excited about is "Number Talks"--a routine I have been dabbling with and now am going to begin incorporating into my daily routine.  The success stories told at this conference were inspiring!  The research is VERY compelling about the impact of doing number talks, and I can't wait to "clean up" my approach a little.

There are many resources out there--web based and print based--but the "fearless leader" of them all is the one that I have...and have browsed through to get the gist of things.  It is officially now time to read the entire thing...that's how excited I am about this topic.  Have you seen it?


So...watch for some fresh ideas coming soon on the blog--from number talks to concept sorts to types of assessment.  I hope I can share some of the great ideas I had with you...and maybe you will want to try a few new things in the new year as well!  Watch for my first post on "number talks" this week!  Here's the link if you want to learn more...

Thursday, December 12, 2013

Categorizing Information to Remember More

As we move into our in-depth study of informational text, it has become more and more clear that many of my students struggle remembering what they have read.

This, of course, creates many problems for them as learners!  As I dug a little deeper, I began to realize that some of my students were able to hang on to a few random details from texts they read...but these details were often unrelated and sometimes not even relevant.  How would we be able to tackle our complicated lessons on chronological order and cause/effect if they didn't seem to really have a purpose for their reading?

The more I talked with my students, the more I realized how they did not naturally sense how texts are organized...and although our unit was about to dig into different text structures, I felt like there was something more basic that was missing.  I read a lesson that was geared toward an entirely different learning target, and a light bulb went off--I began thinking about how many students just go through the motions of reading without thinking...and certainly don't always tackle reading with a purpose.

So here's what I did.


I built a tray full of random objects.  (Well...not that random--more later)

I told the students I had something specific I wanted them to learn and remember--but I didn't have a lot of time for them to learn it.  I left the room, got the tray, and then walked around the room with it showing each desk group for about 30 seconds.  I then took the tray back out.

The kids looked at me like I was crazy, and I started talking to them about what we were going to be working on that day, made small talk, and so on.  After a few minutes I asked them to get out a sheet of paper and to write down what they learned was on the tray.  They looked blankly at me--so I reminded them that their JOB was to LEARN what I showed them.  I gave them a few minutes to write their answers down.  We then shared out to see how many items they could remember.  Despite having more than 20 items on the tray, no one could remember more than 6.

So we talked about what items they remembered and did something thinking about why.  Someone remembered the jar of frosting because they LOVE frosting...someone remembered the lion because it was big.  Another student remembered the flavored water because it was her favorite flavor.  Interesting, right?  We talked about how we remember things better that stand out to us for certain reasons...we have seen them before.  We like them or are interested in them.

So then I asked them about what they could do if they needed to really remember lots of things--even things that are either new or not that interesting.  No one had any reasonable ideas.

I brought up the lion.  I asked the students if there were any other objects on the tray that were RELATED to or SIMILAR to the lion.  A few students remembered the bean bag frog so I asked what "category" the lion and frog would be in and we agreed "animals" or "toys".  I asked if there were any other items that fit into that category and no one could remember.  I asked if anyone remembered seeing the stapler on the tray and a few did.  At that point someone called out, "Hey--there were other school supplies--I remember a glue stick!"  Victory.

We then talked about how looking at something with a purpose...where you try to make connections and think about how facts work together.  I then brought out the tray and asked them to try to learn the tray again by making connections and keeping the items in categories.

It will be no surprise to you that the retention of information skyrocketed.  So what learning point did I make?  Authors do this ALL THE TIME.  They make decisions about what information to put together and how to organize their texts so that it is easier for readers to understand--but that it's the reader's job to really think hard about the choices the author made so they can keep the information organized in their brains.  I challenged them to "think like an author" when reading informational texts so that they have a better chance of remembering all the great information.  I even fessed up that I deliberately placed items on the tray based on categories...school supplies, toys, things to eat/drink, and so on.  They were shocked that I had done it on purpose!

Think we're ready to learn about different text structures now?  I hope so!


Sunday, December 8, 2013

Monday Made It!






It's time for another MMI--and I have missed the last one or two due to utter craziness!  This time I am just going to share out some of my recent accomplishments...some more impressive than others!  Some days I feel my creative juices are better than others...and with the chaos of life over the last weeks, some things have had to go!

So here goes--some recent creations!

We do "Secret Snowman" at school so I had fun starting to make little surprise treats for my Secret Snowman...she's a Twix lover, so I started with a little bundle of those!  I am hoping to get more creative over the next two weeks--suggestions welcome!
I made a fun new freebie that found its way into the TpT Holiday Freebie book.  It's a differentiated addition and subtraction game at three levels.  Here is a photo of one of the game boards . . . Click here if you want to grab it too!
One thing that I have "made" over the last month is my new system for doing math workshop.  I will be blogging about this soon, but it has been working REALLY well.  Each child has a tracking sheet with extension work to do when they finish their regular work so I can pull small groups!  I am NOT good at "systems", so to have created one that is working is a big deal!
I haven't started Christmas cookies, but I did have a hankering for some chocolate chip cookies.  All the supplies for other cookies are purchased--I just need a little time and motivation!
Apple pecan muffins.  Enough said.  And they are gone.
What could I possibly have MADE in this picture?  I made a DECISION!  After months of hemming and hawing, I finally decided on a new laptop (being built on Wednesday!) and a color laser printer!  I am a very indecisive person when it comes to big purchases, so this was a biggie!
I finally broke down and changed the display above my lockers!  I love how this turned out--and so I even turned it into a resource in my store for those who want a quick, easy, and fun bulletin board!  Here is the link if you are interested!

Finally, I have had requests to make more of my seasonal word problem sets--specifically one for Christmas.  I can't use Christmas activities in my school, but I sure had fun making these problems for those of you who can!  Enjoy!

Thanks for stopping by--and I hope you have a wonderful week!