Friday, June 28, 2013


How often do you use rubrics in your classroom? After attending many common core training's this year, one of the biggest things that we took away is the importance of a rubric. Students need to understand what is expected of them as well as how they can earn the grade for their work. I'm not just talking about a rubric for writing samples. We went to a math training in which the presenter made a strong case for rubrics in the math setting as well. I already know this is going to be something I really need to focus on this year with my kiddos: how to read a rubric, how to understand one, and how to use one to 'check' their work and make sure everything is done as it needs to be. 

SO- I remember coming across some rubric poems a few years ago. I went on a search for those poems and I made them into posters for my classroom. I plan to post these around my room as a quick reference. These by no means are the actual rubrics I will be using to grade their work. But I thought if they could remember the poem for each number, it might help them to gain an understanding of the meaning of each number. 

If you're interested, you can click on the picture below to download them for *FREE*.

What are your thoughts on using rubrics in your classroom? We would love to hear any insight that you have!
Happy Friday!

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Schedule Spotlight Series- Math

I am linking up again with Kelli from Castles and Crayons for the 3rd week in her Schedule Spotlight Series. 

This week I get to ramble, I mean inform you of how I run my math block. Math was one of those blocks of time I became frustrated with because I couldn't find a 'routine' that worked for me or the kiddos. This past year was my first year implementing the Daily 5 structure into my math block and I loved it! I keep hearing that The 2 Sisters are going to come out with a structure for math like the Daily 5, but I was too impatient to wait for it. SO- I took their 'building stamina' concept and put it to work in my math block this year. After just a month of school I honestly wasn't sure which I liked teaching more....math or reading! I will share what I did this past year. I promise, I will try to be short and sweet!

My math block this past year was set up like this:
8:45-9:05- Mini-Lesson
9:05- 9:55- Rounds 1-4
9:55- Clean up & get to specials by 10:00!

MINI-LESSON: I tried to introduce a concept with either a book or Smartboard activity. After that, we would find our workbook page(s) for the day and complete the first few problems together. (Or they would solve and we would check together). I would quickly go over directions for the rest of the page and then it was time to break into our rounds. 

During our 'rounds' the kids would rotate to each station. They went to the same station during the same round each day....after a few weeks of reminding them where they were headed, they could do it on their own.

MEET WITH TEACHER- This time was used for a cumulative review of things we have been working on all year as well as a chance to re-teach or enrich the lesson as needed. Many of the fabulous TpT packs that I have found are utilized during this time. We try to do as much hands-on activities or games as we can during this time, but sometimes paper & pencil is necessary too!

MATH WITH A PARTNER- Each Monday I introduce a new 'game'. Once the kiddos see how to play the game, it goes into our bins of math centers. (Many TpT packs are found at this station too!)

This also takes very little prep time. Once a game is introduced, it stays there until the end of the year. So, we keep adding new choices as the year goes on- no excuse to be bored with any of the games! Each time they head here, they quickly find a partner, agree on a game and get started. They work until it is time to move to the next round.

MATH BY MYSELF- Students work at their seats to complete the workbook page for the day. If they finished before the round was over they worked on math task cards in their journal. I didn't require them to complete a certain amount of task cards each week. They are used more as a supplement activity. So, where  they stopped one day, they picked up the next time they worked on task cards. These are amazing because there is no prep on my part. I get them out the first day of school and they are there until the last! Check them out: Courtesy of Ms. Winston!

COMPUTERS- For a while I was just having my kiddos practice their math facts on various online sites. Then my school bought a license for Moby Math. This website is tailored to each child's need. So when one child logged on they may be reviewing place value, yet another child might be learning multiplication. I loved that their computer time was utilized to their specific needs as a learner!

And that's it! I was *in love* with how my math block ran this year and I can't wait to hit the ground running with it again this coming year!

Be sure to link up so I can get some ideas about how math block is run in your classroom!

Friday, June 21, 2013

I Can Statements

Isn't it amazing how easy it is to get used to not getting up with an alarm clock. I mean, I've been getting up when the hubs gets ready for work but I had to set my alarm clock for a training the past two days and WHEW! I'm feeling a little rough right now. Anyways, aside from attending the training, I have been hard at work on our newest TpT product! We have just added 3rd grade I Can statements for all of the ELA standards. 

So, if you teach 3rd grade or know of someone who might be interested, send them over to our store!

And for being such loyal followers, we're going to give away one pack for free! Leave a comment below (with your email address) and we will pick one comment at random on Sunday night. The winner will choose to receive either the 2nd grade or 3rd grade pack. 

Thanks so much for stopping by!

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Schedule Spotlight Series- Calendar

I'm linking up with Kelli again from Castles and Crayons for the 2nd week of her Schedule Spotlight Series Linky Party.

My morning usually looks like this:
8:30-8:40- Morning Work
8:40-8:45- Calendar

Yes, we spend all of 5 minutes on our calendar. My kiddos are pretty self sufficient with the calendar after only the first few weeks of school. So, my calendar helper gets the calendar ready as part of their morning work. That way when it is time to do calendar, all they need to do is share. I don't do much except prompt what they should be sharing with the class. Here is a quick run-down of how we utilize those precious 5 minutes.

We actually share the calendar from our seats. I don't have any bulletin board space near my carpet area, so after announcements are over, we turn towards the calendar so my helper can share. Here is a picture of my calendar from last year. It will be set up the same way again this year.

He/she will have already added the date to the calendar (we add as we go). They will say "Today is Tuesday, June 18, 2013". Then they share any important dates coming up (holidays, school events, birthdays, etc.) When we get close to an event they are really excited for such as a field trip or a school break, we will figure out how many days we have until that event happens.

Then we move on to the weather. The helper should have already added to our monthly weather graph. They will state what they chose as our weather for today and I will call on 2 students from their seats to compare our weather using a comparison sentence with more than, less than or equal to. ("There are more sunny days than rainy days")

We also keep track of how many days we have been in school using straws in a pocket chart. They will share what our new count is and in what place value they had to put their straw. We quickly talk about how many ones, tens and hundreds make up the number. ("We have been in school for 46 days. How many tens and ones makes 46?") We also count our days of school using coins. I have a 'piggy bank' on the board. They use a dry erase marker to add a coin for each day. My rule is that they need to show that number using the fewest number of coins; so we are constantly making trades for bigger coins.

After that, I have a key ring full of Calendar Task Cards. (Thanks to Christina Bainbridge! Use the following link to check them out yourself: and I ask my helper one question a day.

And that's it! Since the calendar helper gets the work done before we share calendar, it allows us to move through sharing the calender pretty quickly!

Head over to Kelli's blog and join in on the fun!

Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Schedule Spotlight Series- Morning Work

I am linking up with Kelli from Castles and Crayons for her Schedule Spotlight Series. I'm super excited about this becuase I love hearing how others organize and structure their classrooms! This week's topic is morning work.

Morning work is something we do but it moves quickly in my classroom! Students can start to enter the room at 8:20 when the first bell rings. Most of my kiddos come at this time becuase they are coming from breakfast. This helps us get a jump on our morning. When they come in, they put their items in their cubbies, turn in their folders for me to go through, make their lunch count, sharpen their pencils and make their Daily 5 choices for the day. I give them until the tardy bell rings at 8:30 to get this done. My pencil sharpener also 'closes' when the last bell rings. Even if they are in line or in the middle of sharpening, they need to stop and head back to their seats. We have televised announcements Tuesday-Friday which begin right at 8:30, so this eliminates the sound of the pencil sharpener and announcements trying to out-do each other.  During this time I take attendance, lunch counts and make sure all Daily 5 choices are ready for that afternoon. 

This past year was the first year our school went to block scheduling. In order to fit in my math block before we head to specials, we need to be completely done with morning work by 8:40. So....what do my kiddos actually do in the 10 minutes we have allotted for morning work (at the same time they are watching announcements)? Our Secret Number of the Week!

I bought this pack and it works perfectly in the time frame we have for morning work. What also works well is that the student recording sheet is broken into 'boxes'. Each day the kids have to complete a different box and they always complete the same box each day of the week. After the first week or so of school, I don't need to give directions in the morning! It works like this:

Monday- I post clues about our secret number and the kids have to figure out the secret number.
Tuesday- They have to show the secret number in as many ways as they can.
Wednesday- They have to come up with 3 addition and 3 subtraction problems that use the secret number. 
Thursday- They have to come up with as many ways as they can to show the secret number using dollars and/or cents.
Friday- They have to create their own story problem using the secret number. 

Honestly, this pack is fabulous! All the materials are included and it gives the students 'free reign' of their leaning. My struggling kiddos can come up with simple math problems while my higher kiddos try to think of the most outrageous ones. (By the end of the year they are trying to use multiple steps as ways to show the secret number.....they even learn how and when to use parentheses!)

When it is time to check over our work, I can do a quick walk through to make sure each child has completed the box for the day and then we go over example answers together. This goes quickly...usually 3-4 minutes.  And that's it! We make the most of the time we have and the consistency of the everyday routine helps to get things moving in the morning.

Be sure to head over and link up to share how you do morning work in your classroom!

Monday, June 10, 2013

Did you enter this giveaway yet?!

As I was catching up on blogs today, I noticed that Christina Bainbridge from Bunting, Books and Bainbridge was having a HUGE giveaway!

There are some fabulous prizes to win, be sure to head over and enter her giveaways! 

Thursday, June 6, 2013

Measurement Olympics

For the past few years I have always done a 'Measurement Olympics' with my kiddos. I used to do it as a wrap up to our measurement unit but this year I waited and did as an end-of-the-year activity. They had a lot of fun with it as they usually do and of course, I don't have pictures becuase I just now thought of it.....only about 2 weeks too late!

However, after searching online I have seen so many different versions of it done and there are so many different activites for your kiddos to do. I have taken the ones that I use with my kids and complied it into a small pack. By all means, these are not the only 'events' you can have your kids participate in.

Since we have been MIA for quite some time, I thought it was time for a small giveaway. Click on the link below to download your *free* copy and stash it away for next school year!

Happy Thursday!

Monday, June 3, 2013

June Currently

Hear that?! That is the sound of SUMMER BREAK! I thought that to kick things off, I would link up with Farley for her June eddition of Currently.

Listening: I absolutely love hearing lawn mowers and such. It is one of the biggest reminders that summer is here (or at least right around the corner!)

Loving: That we are OFFICIALLY on summer break. I had a fabulous group of kiddos this year and although I am sad to send them off, I am more than ready for some R & R this summer!

Thinking: I am already thinking of the gazillion things I want to tackle this summer. My plan? Create a small to do list each day. I will be focused without being overwhelmed. Day 1- check!

Wanting: I have yet to visit an ice cream stand.....but I can hear a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup flurry calling my name...

Needing: Someone to help with my weeds. That is truly the only thing I have a 'green thumb' for. Seriously.

3 Vacation Essentials:
Sunscreen- There is nothing worse than having to spend the rest of the rest of your vacation outstide with a sunburn. Or even worse, stuck inside. Call me crazy, but I always head to the beach with SPF 50 and SPF 30- I can't stand when my skin feels like leather!
Books- Plural, as in, I usually stop at the library and pick up 3-5. Wouldn't want to be stuck without some reading material!
Peace of Mind- Thanks to the hubs, I have learned to head to vacation with a clear head (or at least clear mine while I am on vacation) If it were up to me I would still spend the week thinking of things I needed to get done when I got back home. He has taught me to forget about those things while we are away.....Isn't that the point of a vacation anyways?!

Hope that you are having a great start to your summer break as well! And if you're one of those trying to push through those last few days.....I'm thinking of ya!