Sunday, June 30, 2013

July Currently

Farley at Oh' Boy 4th Grade has big vacay plans, so she posted Currently early - which was perfect for me since we are headed out to All Stars this morning and I have NO IDEA how long we will be gone!

Listening: With a house full of boys and a sports obsessed husband - I am surprised that this isn't ALWAYS my listening response!

Loving: I am not motivated to exercise - (at all!) but I know that it needs to be done, so I am loving the fact that I have been getting up every morning to run on the treadmill, and I was able to go to BodyPump class this week! I LOOOVE Body Pump but with our busy schedule I don't always get there.  YEAH ME!

Thinking: Tyler made All Stars for baseball this year, and we are heading out this morning.  The way All Stars works is if they lose two games they go home, but if they win, they stay until they lose. So... we have no idea how long we will be gone for!  We have packed enough for 5 days and figure we will find a Laundromat while we are there if we need to.  Packing is always so nerve wracking trying to make sure you don't forget anything.

Wanting/Needing: Yeah, these two are combined.  I couldn't make up my mind if it was a want or need.  Anything over 100 degrees is just WAY TOO hot! While it is exciting to be involved in something record breaking, a heat wave is just not my idea of fun!

Tips: Blogging can seriously take over your life if you let it.  As soon as I discovered you could schedule posts ahead of time, I definitely took advantage.  It allows me to still be with my kiddos and share with all of my readers.  Family needs MUST come first. :)

Don't forget to enter my Blogaversary Giveaway for a $25 TpT Gift Card and other great prizes!

Saturday, June 29, 2013

Blogaversary Giveaway and Sale!

Follow my blog with Bloglovin
I can not believe that my little blog is already a year old!  Where does the time go?  That means that it is time for a giveaway! I will also be having a celebration sale at both my TpT and Teachers Notebook stores this week.
Without further ado... here are the prizes:
A $25 gift certificate for TpT to get you ready for the upcoming school year!
And while you are browsing all of the goodies at TpT - you will be wanting to be sipping on a little something, so I will also be giving away a $5 Starbucks gift card as well!
In addition, the winner will receive any item of their choice from my TpT store.
Jessica from Teach on a Limb  is also offering a free item from her TpT store.


Teach on a Limb
Lacey's Letters also donated this word wall set.
And Sara from Miss V's Busy Bees
Miss V's Busy Bees
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Friday, June 28, 2013

Five For Friday and Giveaway News!

fiveforfridayIt is Friday again - which means time for Five for Friday with Doodle Bugs Teaching.

Here are a few random things from my week:

I spent most of this week working on writing common assessments for our district.  I learned a lot from the other teachers there and I can't wait to share some of the great ideas! Above is a picture of an activity we did prior to writing the assessment.  It gave me some ideas for having students sort and sequence all sorts of things - place value, story sequencing, historic figure timelines, etc.  Have you ever used a sort like this in your class?  How did it go?
One of the teachers there had just purchased these books (she had the ELA one too) and shared them with our group.  I am thinking about getting them, but I'm not 100% sure.  Have you used these books (or types of books) in your class?  What were the results?
On a non-teaching note, this week had a touch of sadness and joy when my second son moved into his own apartment! Well, technically not his own, he is living with his older brother, but still!  Powell was born with special needs and we had been told he would never walk or talk.  He just graduated high school last month - with a regular diploma!  A bittersweet moment losing a son, but joyful knowing that he has overcome so much in his life to be able to take this step into adulthood!
On another kid note, Tyler got hit with a baseball at his practice Monday night.  It hit him so hard, you could see the laces from the ball on his forehead! OUCH!  But.. he is so tough - he smiled through it and asked to go back out after putting ice on his head for about two minutes.  We will be heading to All Stars this weekend - it is supposed to be 106 degrees!  YIKES!
And finally... can you believe it??? Today is my blog's one year anniversary!  Time really flies when you're having fun doesn't it?  But... that also means it is time for a giveaway!  I will be having a giveaway starting tomorrow where I will be giving away some of my favorite things!  A few fabulous TpT sellers will also be getting in on the fun with a few donated items as well!  Don't forget to stop by tomorrow to enter!
Clipart from

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

What's Your Math Problem!?! Book Study Chapter 3

I am linking up with
Jennifer Smith-Sloane from 4mulaFun

Meg Anderson  from Fourth Grade Studio

Jamie Riggs from MissMathDork

and Jennifer Findley from Teaching to Inspire 5th Grade

for this book study on What's Your Math Problem!?!

 If you missed my previous posts you can find them here:

Chapter 1
Chapter 2

Chapter 3 - Getting Started Strategies

This chapter focuses on four strategies:

  • Restate the problem in your own words
Before restating the problem, Gojak suggests teaching the students to read the problem three times.
  1. The first read is to provide a general familiarity with the information in the problem.
  2. The second read helps you to put the problem into your own terminology, focusing on the specifics of the problem.
  3. The third read helps you reduce the problem to only relevant ideas.
I'm not sure that I agree with this format exactly, but I do like the idea of having them read a problem multiple times.
  • Identify wanted, given, and needed information
Gojak emphasizes the need to model this strategy.  She recommends getting students in the habit of recording wanted, needed, and given information so that they will focus on theses areas.
  • Identify a subgoal
This strategy is for multi-step problems or problems where the student may not have all of the information readily available in the problem.  They may need to solve something or research something first.
  • Select appropriate notation
This strategy shows students how to show their thinking in solving a problem.

This chapter reminded me of a resource that I was given during our unit revision workshop.

Sunday, June 23, 2013

Picture Books - A Linky Party

 Shhh! Can you keep a secret?  I have an addiction... to picture books!  Ok, maybe I have another addiction... linky parties.  So... I just had to link up with First Grade and Fabulous for this picture book linky party filled with books we use for the first week of school!

My shares are going to be two-part, the ones that I used last year, and some new ones that I will be sharing this year since I am most likely looping with my kiddos next year!
So without further ado, here are a few of the books I read to my third graders last year:
We all have jitters about the first day of school (even us teachers) and this is a great book to talk about just that! My kiddos loved making predictions about who the story was really about!

 Reading about Mean Jean the Recess Queen is a great way to begin a chat about recess rules and expectations.

The Wednesday Surprise is a great book to talk about the importance of reading. 
Here are a few new ones that I think I will begin this year with:
I just found this gem of a book at Barnes and Noble yesterday. It talks about a girl and her memories of first things - such as the first time she rode a bike.  I will be using it as a mentor text for generating "seed ideas" to write about - students will make a list of firsts.  It is also a great way to talk about those first few days of school, and being brave even though we are facing a lot of unknowns.
Product Details I will start out reviewing expectations using Officer Buckle and Gloria.
What books are you reading the first week?  I need a few more ideas, and despite hubby's protests, my Amazon wish list is NOT that long! LOL!
Link up and share!

Saturday, June 22, 2013

The Best Items On TpT------ A Linky Party

I am linking up with Classroom Confections for this fun linky that highlights the items that are on the tops of everyone's Wish lists on TpT.  I know my list is scary long!

The item of mine that is on the most wish lists is my 3rd Grade Math Journals.  (I didn't even know you could check this out on TpT - but if you filter your products by wish list you can figure this out!).

My Third Grade Math Journal Contains 4 different prompts for each of the third grade math common core standards!
And... Because I will be rolling with my kiddos up to 4th grade next year, I also made a set of 4th grade math journals as well!
What items have you made that top the wish lists? Link up and share!

Friday, June 21, 2013

Five For Friday

I am linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for Five for Friday!

I am loving summer vacation, but man it has been soooo busy!  We just got back from vacation in Spokane, Washington.  We went to visit family, but we also had a great time being tourists!  A few of the highlights of the trip:
  • We went to see the new Superman movie, our first time at an IMAX theater!
Before the movie we played at the park.
  • We visited Coeur D'Alene Lake in Idaho.
  • We went to Silverwood (a fun amusement park with a water park)
  • We watched the opening game for the Spokane Indians
Can you say baseball, baseball, and more baseball? We are a baseball family to begin with because of my son playing travel ball, but this summer has been baseball to the maximum!
  • Aces' Games (the Aces are a nearby Minor League Baseball team)

  • Spokane Indians' Game
  • End of year Little League Baseball Parties (Cody earned Most Improved Player this year!)

  • All Stars Practice (Tyler earned a spot on the All Stars team, so we have been at daily practices.  His first All Star Game is on August 30th!)
Due to all of the craziness I forgot to post a few important updates - like the fact that my 2nd son graduated high school!  Now that is seriously crazy!  How did he grow up so fast????  I am super proud of this kiddo because despite several issues - fragile- x syndrome, autism, and cerebral palsy - he graduated with a standard diploma!  We had been told years ago that he might not ever walk or talk and look at him now!

I also forgot to post this school related project.  It was our last writing assignment of the year - Third Grade Was A Hoot!  I had the kiddos write about the things they remembered from this year.  The art project was inspired by Mexican folk art.

Summer has been bad for my credit cards but amazing for my teaching resources.  I have purchased a few must haves from TpT including the adorable numbers I used in this post that I can't wait to use for my place value unit!

Thursday, June 20, 2013

What's Your Math Problem!?! Book Study Chapter 2

I am linking up with
Jennifer Smith-Sloane from 4mulaFun

Meg Anderson  from Fourth Grade Studio

Jamie Riggs from MissMathDork

and Jennifer Findley from Teaching to Inspire 5th Grade

for this book study on What's Your Math Problem!?!

 If you missed my posting for Chapter 1 you can find that here.

Chapter 2 - Planning for Problem Solving in the Classroom

What Does it Mean to Plan for Problem Solving?

Students have difficulty solving problems in part because they do not have the necessary framework to approach these tasks.  They have been taught to compute and follow procedures. Solving problems involves much more than simply following procedures. In order to help students to learn to solve problems, you must plan for instruction that will help your students to become problem solvers.

Step 1: Finding a Good Problem - You need to find problems that both  involve the mathematical concepts that you are planning on teaching, but are also "doable" for your students. The author suggests building a library of rich problems.

 4mula for Fun has this freebie form to help you plan.  Visit her site to access it as well as to see an example of how she would use it in her classroom.

Step 2: Provide Your Students With A Problem Solving Framework

Gojak recommends using George Polya's 4 principles of problem solving:

1. Understand the Problem
2. Devise a Plan
3. Carry out the Plan
4. Look Back

Gojak continues on to describe a new model of problem solving called the Launch, Explore and Summarize Instructional Model.

The Launch stage engages the students in the problem they are about to solve.
The next stage, Explore, is where the students work as a class, in small groups, with a partner, or individually to solve the problem. 
The final stage, Summarize, is the area that I most overlook, and yet it is where the main teaching should occur according to Gojak. 
My main takeaways from this chapter:
1. I definitely need to plan my math lessons differently.
2. Gojak provides some question stems at the end of this chapter that I need to incorporate into my lessons.  Jennifer at 4mula for fun mentioned printing them out and putting them on a ring to use throughout the lesson, and I definitely think that is something I am going to do as well.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

What's Your Math Problem!?! Book Study Chapter 1

I am linking up with
Jennifer Smith-Sloane from 4mulaFun

Meg Anderson  from Fourth Grade Studio

Jamie Riggs from MissMathDork

and Jennifer Findley from Teaching to Inspire 5th Grade

for this book study on What's Your Math Problem!?!

I missed posting for Chapter 1 last week, so this post will include  my thoughts on Chapter 1 and I will post my thoughts for Chapter 2 tomorrow - then I should be back on track.

Chapter 1 - The 5 Ws and and H of Problem Solving

Gojak opens the book with a quote from Van de Walle, "Problem solving develops the belief in students that they are capable of doing mathematics and that mathematics makes sense."  I agree - it does seem that half the battle is getting past the mental blocks that students have put up against math.

What is Problem Solving?

She then discusses what problem solving is and what it isn't.  What you and I might have come to know as problem solving (think word problems at the end of a lesson in a textbook) are actually routine problems.  The kind that we really don't have to think about.  They match the lesson, so we already know what formula we are using, we just have to plug in some numbers.

Real problem solving is what we deal with in real life.  The type where we have to go beyond the procedure, the type where students do not immediately know what equation to plug the numbers into. 

Why teach Problem Solving?

Not only does the National Council of Mathematics recognize that problem solving should be "an integral part of all mathematics learning.." but, problem solving is everywhere.  We do it each and every day in almost every career.  If we want our students to be college and career ready, they need to be problem solvers.

Who should solve problems?

Short answer - EVERYONE!

When should we solve problems?

According to Gojak, problem solving should be a part of every mathematics class. EVERY?  I definitely need to work on this next year.  Did you include problem solving in every class?

How should we teach problem solving?
The author suggests beginning lessons with rich problems as a context to help students understand the context behind the mathematics for that day's lessons.

Where can you find good problems?

The million dollar question right?  A variety of resources were given including problem solving books, and websites such as Illuminations and PBS Mathline.

My main takeaway from this chapter - I need to incorporate a lot more problem solving in my lessons! 

Tuesday, June 18, 2013

Common Core Unit Revision Training - Or How I Spent My Summer Vacation

I had the opportunity to work on revising the Common Core Units that our district has developed last week.  I was assigned to 4th grade math.  The workshops were set up with a morning training followed by several hours of work time in our teams.  I learned so much and came back with a lot of great takeaways from both the trainers (we worked with West Ed) and my teammates. I wanted to share some of the things I learned as well as some of the things that I am chewing on for my own teaching practices this year.

Our training was kicked off by our Curriculum and Accountability Director.  She gave a mini-pep talk to get us ready to begin the work. (She had been the principal at the school where I first worked as a teacher and I LOVE her)!  She told us that she wanted us to start looking at the state tests not as an end all be all, but rather a snapshot in time of student performance.  She compared it to taking a blood pressure test.  You could prepare for that blood pressure test right before your appointment (by taking deep breaths, relaxing, etc.), but it would not have nearly the effect that exercising and eating healthy all year would have on the results.  She told us to look at the tests that way - if we provide the right instruction, the test results should match.  We shouldn't focus on last minute test prep, but rather long term maintenance.

The trainers showed this Dan Meyer TED talk which I had seen (and used) as a 7th grade math teacher, but I had never looked at it under the lenses of an elementary teacher.  I got to thinking, I could really apply the same ideas and concepts to teach problem solving to younger students as well.

They also showed this video on the second day.  It really made us pause and we changed up several of the units we had started.

 We decided to integrate standards throughout rather than following a model that resembled text books with each standard taught separately.  I am really excited about the changes, and I can't wait to share how I implement it in the classroom next year!

If you would like to see the old units that we were revising you can find them below:

Lyon County Units

The new versions have not been posted yet, but I will let you know when they are finished!  Fourth grade is going to be dramatically different!

Teach on a Limb is celebrating 150 followers with a giveaway!  Head on over to show her some love and possibly win some great TpT items!

Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Sharing My Stack - Professional Development Summer Reading List

I know that I am not the only teacher to be getting my geek on with PD reading this summer!  I am sharing my stack of reading this summer along with the 3rd annual #CyberPD hosted by  Laura Komos at Our Camp Read-a-Lot, and  Jill Fisch at My Primary Passion.  CyberPD is an event in which educators read and discuss a shared professional book over a three week period in July

They kick-off the event with this Share Your Stack event where bloggers (and non-bloggers for that matter) share the books that are in their reading piles.  They then choose a book from amongst the stacks to host a book chat in July.

You can also participate in July's #cyberPD event by:

  • Blog Reflection:  If you have a blog you may join us each posting date with your reflection of the chapters read.  Then link your blog to the host blog by leaving a comment and your link.  If you don't have a blog, but have been considering getting started this is the perfect opportunity.
  • Blog Commenting:  If you do not have a blog, you are welcome to comment on the host blog to join the conversation.
  • Twitter:  You can also participate by commenting any time on Twitter using the hashtag #cyberPD.  
  • Other:  Last year we had people participate using other sites as well.  If you can link, they will come.  :o)  We love a little creativity.  
So here is a picture of my stack for the summer (so far - I have a terrible addiction to new reading material, so it is bound to grow :)  )
Sorry the picture is so dark, I don't know why...
If you can't see them, here are the links:
What is in your stack of reading material?
Upcoming Giveaway!!!!
On another topic - My one year blogaversary is coming up on June 28th and I will be giving away one of these books, a TpT gift card, Mr. Sketch markers, a Starbucks gift card, a Target gift card, and some items from some great TpT sellers - so stay tuned!
If you would like to donate an item to the giveaway please email me at

Monday, June 10, 2013

Setting Up A Teacher's/ Life Binder - Monday Made It

School's out for me, which only means one thing - summer and time for Monday Made It with 4th Grade Frolics!

I had been wanting to have a teacher's binder or a control journal a'la Flylady for some time now, but I just have never gotten around to doing it until recently. I wasn't sure that I wanted to keep track of 2 different binders for home and school, so I decided to put them together.

I made the following categories:
  • Weekly Worksheet (I got this idea from The Together Teacher). I love that it has a place to put priorities for classroom, school, and personal all in one.  At the of this section I also printed out a Weekly-Round up Agenda (again from The Together Teacher) and put it in a sheet protector.  I have been trying to get better about setting aside some time on Sundays to follow this agenda to get everything organized and planned for the week.

  • Calendar - I actually keep several calendars in here.  First, I printed out a Comprehensive Calendar from The Together Teacher here. Then, I added my school monthly calendar that the school sends out to all of the parents.  I also have my boys' baseball schedules and my gym's class schedule.

  • Lesson Plans
  • Standards
  • Class Data
  • Student Info - I added a set of alphabetical dividers so that I can keep information on each of my kiddos next year.  I have had a few times this year where I was asked about a particular student during collaboration or with meetings with my principal and I would have loved to have this on hand.
  • School Meetings
  • Misc

    My boys keep asking me where "the binder" is so they can check on their baseball schedules and other events.  You know when your children use an organizational tool it is definitely a keeper!
    I am sure that I will continue to tweak it a bit until it is perfect (or close to!) but so far, I am loving it!

    Do you have a teacher's binder?  What do you use it for?

I am also linking up with two of my favorite bloggers Fun in Room 4B and Ladybug's Teacher Files for their Optimum Organization linky party. They are sharing tons of organizing ideas and I am loving learning from all of those uber organized teachers out there!

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