Saturday, June 27, 2015

Weekend Warriors: 3-2-1 Teacher Bio

Happy Saturday everyone! I am linking up with the Weekend Warriors for their 3-2-1 Teacher Bio.

1)  I can not believe this year will be my 21st year teaching! I have taught 2 years of 6th grade, 3 years of 4th, 1 year of 1st, and I will begin my 15th year in second grade. Time sure does fly by so fast! 

2) Yes, I do wear high heels to work everyday! I am only 5 foot 3 so I love that I can be a little taller with a little help from my friends. I work at a small school so I am known for my shoes!! To be quite honest I wore flats one time and couldn't see over my cart in Costco. I will wear flip flops during the summer though!

3) I am always learning. I try to keep current on what is going on in the teaching profession. I am willing to try whatever. I still get nervous every school year for the first day of school. I truly feel that the day I stop learning, being nervous, or feel that I have mastered everything is the day I am done being a teacher. 
 1) Yes, I love shoes. My husband thinks I have too many, but seriously...can you ever really have enough? I am waiting for a pair of wedges to arrive this week!

2) I am a very loud person. It drives my hubby crazy. He always says "Can't you whisper?". I am pretty outgoing and will talk to almost anyone too. Sometimes this can be perceived as being super confident, but really I am actually super sensitive. I take things to heart and when I care about people I am very loyal.
I really do not think this needs explaining! : )  I just hope that this one comes true very soon!

Happy weekend! Come join the linky so we can get to know each other!

Thursday, June 25, 2015


I am finally posting my second challenge to the TPT Sellers Challenge hosted by the following 4 fabulous ladies:

This week's challenge was Dare to Dream!

I have been thinking about this all week. This was a lot more challenging then the first week. I will begin my 21st year of teaching and life is pretty good. I started TPT a few years ago just as a personal goal. I found it through the many countless hours of blog stalking!! :) I saw many great units on TPT. I started realizing that..." Hey I did that way back when, but look how well this seller put it all together and is sharing it with others!" I wanted to do the same. I set a goal that I would create a product and get it uploaded. So here I am a few years later. I still blog and create, but not consistently.  This challenge is forcing me to take more risks and put myself out there. With that said here are my dreams.

GROW MY BLOG AND TPT STORE:  I blog and create, but not consistently. I would love to have way more products on TPT, be the blog/IG with thousands of followers, and meet many more fellow teachers. I am super excited that with this challenge I have gained more followers. I would love to have 500 Followers on TPT, FB, and IG in the next year!

INSPIRE OTHERS: I want to be an inspiration to others. I want to share what I do in the classroom. I want others to be excited when I write a new blog post or ask me questions about something I blogged about. This may sound silly, but I love when my favorite bloggers share something really cool and then respond back to me because I have left a comment. I want to do the same for others.

GUILT FREE SHOPPING: I love to shop! I especially love shoes. I do not want to hear my hubby's voice inside my head saying..."Do you really need those shoes?" YES, I NEED THOSE SHOES!!!

SPOIL MY HUBBY: I have a great hubby who takes very good care of me. I would love to be able to take him on a trip or buy him something real nice without having to think about what it costs. I would love to say..."Don't worry I got this...all of this!!!!"

So there are my dreams! Join the linky and share your dreams too!!

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Book Study: Teaching Student-Centered Mathematics Chapter 7

Ok, I am breaking the rules and doing a second blog post. I am back for chapter 7 of the Teaching Student-Centered Mathematics hosted by: 

So let's get started!!!

Chapter 7: Collaborating with Families, Community, and Principals

This was a great chapter! The entire focus was on discussing ideas for developing a collaborative community that understands and is able to support high-quality mathematics teaching and learning for every student. 

The author stresses the fact that it is very important to communicate your mathematic goals to parents at the beginning of every year stressing the fact that the instruction their child receives might differ from what they experienced in their own schooling. 

One great suggestion was a Family Math Night. This is something that I have always wanted to do. After reading this chapter, I just might plan one this year. They gave several examples of types of activities to do for a Family Math Night so parents can see and experience mathematics through a problem solving approach.

I also loved how the authors explained how to address the role of the teacher. The teacher is an organizer (organizes a worthwhile mathematical task), facilitator (facilitates students interaction), and questioner (asks questions to help children make connections or to deepen their understanding). I must admit I will be sharing this with my parents come Back to School Night.

Have you ever had a parent question you about cooperative groups? I loved how the author showed the different ways for parents to see the value of cooperative groups. I might have to try number 3 just to break the ice at Back to School Night.

  1. Include a feature in your parent newsletter.
  2. Send home letters introducing mathematics units of study.
  3. Do a cooperative learning mathematics activity at a family math night or a back-to-school event.
  4. Invite parents to assist in a mathematics group assignment.
I know there is a big debate over the value of homework in the younger grades. I try to give 5-6 math problems a night for practice and also so parents can see what we are working on. I really enjoyed the recommendations the authors gave to think about when assigning homework to your students.

  1. Mimic the three-phase lesson model. ( p.24-26)
  2. Use as a distributed-content approach.
  3. Promote an "ask-before-tell" approach.
  4. Provide good questioning for parents.
We always stress to our families how important it is to support literacy by reading to and with their children at home. These authors made you see that it is just as important to support mathematics in the home too! There is a great letter on page 95 that would be great to share with parents. I just might have to type up my own version to send home.

I think the thing that is most important to remember when dealing with your students and their families is know who they are and be aware of their similarities and differences. All parents, regardless of their school experience,  just want their children to be successful. As educators, it is our jobs to be effective communicators with both students and their parents!!

I would love to hear any of your experiences with  Family Math Night! Don't forget to check out the other bloggers participating in our book study!!

Ch. 5 and 6 Teaching Student-Centered Mathematics

I am back! A little late with this post, but ready to discuss chapter 5 and 6 of our book study Teaching Student-Centered Mathematics. If you missed any of the past chapter discussions just click on the photo below to take you to previous posts!!

Chapter 5: Planning, Teaching, and Assessing Culturally and Linguistically Diverse Children

I am going to have to be completely honest with you on this chapter...I struggled. I started reading, stopped, put the book down, checked my social media, reread what I already read, and then finally just sucked it up and finished the chapter. I couldn't figure out why I was having such difficulty with this chapter because I have enjoyed the book so far. It really has made me rethink and want to begin to restructure some areas of my math program in my classroom. Then it hit me...I realized that my current classroom is not very diverse so I was struggling with my own personal connections. Maybe it was the diet Coke, the chips and guac, or the bite sized Twix bar (yes, not very healthy choices, but sometimes you just gotta go with the flow!) that snapped me out of it. The lightbulb finally went off...I still could use their suggestions in my own classroom with my own students.

The author shares from the NCTM Principles and Standards for School Mathematics,  "Excellence in mathematics education requires equity-high expectations and strong support for all students. Teaching for equity is much more than providing children with an equal opportunity to learn mathematics. Attention to language and culture, two interrelated and critical  considerations, is important in planning, teaching, and assessing children from diverse backgrounds. Children who are given instructional tasks that are well supported and thought provoking-rather than low-level tasks with short-term gains-can reach higher levels of mathematics proficiency".

I found this to be very powerful and something that I really want to incorporate as I plan for the upcoming year.

We all think mathematics is the universal language, however, the author gave examples of how this is not entirely true. Think of our basic 52-17 math problem. There are many ways this can be solved and explained.

I know I learned that I start in the one's place. I cannot take 7 away from 2 so I must go borrow a group of ten from the ten's place. Since I borrow a group of ten now I have 4 tens left and 12 ones. I then subtract 7 from 12 and get 5 ones. Now I move to the ten's place and subtract 1 from 4 to get 3 tens. My final answer is 35. The book gave some samples on how other countries solved this problem. Different and a bit odd to me, but still had the same answer I had. Who is right? Who is wrong? Does it really matter? NO. Since I have been teaching second grade I have learned that there are many other ways to solve this problem. Some are easier and others are more time consuming, but all bring me to the same answer... just in a different way. There were a few where I remember thinking..."Why didn't I ever learn it this way?" So you have to ask yourself...Are you willing to accept all the different ways it is solved or just the way you are comfortable with? Furthermore, will you ask children to elaborate on how they did it or have the children show other children their way of thinking?

The author also stresses the importance of vocabulary in this chapter as well. It is important to teach all children the key math vocabulary terms. Picture dictionaries, vocabulary games, and interactive word walls that include pictures and translations are some great ways to incorporate math vocabulary.     It is also important to remember when designing problems to use visuals, simplify sentences, and eliminate confusing vocabulary.

One last is important for all of our students to have a safe and positive learning environment where they can take risks, show their own thinking, and feel like their input is accepted and valued.

Chapter 6: Planning, Teaching, and Assessing Children with Exceptionalities

This chapter focused on dealing with Response to Intervention(RTI), students with learning disabilities, children with moderate or severe disabilities, and children who are mathematically gifted.

The author gave many examples of implementing interventions:

Explicit Strategy Instruction
Concrete, Semi-Conrete, Abstract (CSA)
Peer-Assisted Learning
Think Alouds

There were some great reminders to think about when dealing with the mathematically gifted.

DO'S (when appropriate):

Increase Sophistication
Use novelty

DON'TS (Try not to just...):

Assign more of the same work
Give free time to early finishers
Assign gifted learners to help struggling learners
Provide gifted pull-out programs
Offer independent enrichment on the computer

A lot to take in and think about. Remember to check out the other bloggers who are participating and here what they have to say! Have a great Wednesday!

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Ch. 3 and 4 Teaching Student-Centered Mathematics Book Study

Happy Saturday! I am back with thoughts on chapters 3 and 4 from our book study Teaching Student-Centered Mathematics by Van de Walle, Lovin, Karp, and Bay-Williams. 

Chapter 3: Assessing Student Learning
In this chapter the focus is on assessment. According to Principles and Standards for School Mathematics (NCTM, 2000) assessment should:
1) enhance children's learning
2) be a valuable tool for making instructional decisions

The authors really stressed throughout this chapter that assessment is not separate from instruction and that children should be informed partners in understanding their progress in learning and how to enhance their growth.

Two major categories of assessment:

1) summative-a cumulative evaluation with a single score (i.e. end of unit test) 

The author compared  summative assessment to that of a digital snapshot of a single moment.

2) formative- a point in time of understanding, to reassess, or to attempt to identify children's naive understanding and misconceptions and the information is used to provide feedback and make decisions on the next instructional steps

The author compared formative assessment to that of a streaming video...moving pictures demonstrating a child's active thinking and reasoning.

This really painted a clear picture in my head and helped solidify the difference and importance of each!

As we all know, observation is a huge part of the younger grades. While I was reading this chapter I realized just how much I relied on observations to teach me about my students' learning. The author suggested three ways to record observations.
-anecdotal notes

Tasks were another great way to assess students. Tasks can come in a variety of forms and are most beneficial when they allow the students to explain their thinking and represent their understanding in multiple ways.

The end of the chapter focused on rubrics and how both teachers and students benefit from their use in the classroom. A rubric is a great way for students to see what is expected of them (their level of performance) on any given task. It is not just a grade, but a valuable communication tool that provides feedback on their learning.

Chapter 4: Differentiating Instruction

This chapter focused on differentiating instruction. The author describes differentiation as an instructional approach that requires a shift from focusing on the "middle-of-the-road" child to attending to all children. The author also states that differentiation does not require a teacher to create individualized lessons for each and every child in the classroom.

Differentiation requires emphasizing 3 basic ideas:

1)Planning lessons around meaningful content, grounded in authenticity
2) Recognizing each child's readiness, interest, and approach to learning
3) Connecting content and learners by modifying content, process, product, and the learning environment

The author gave detailed examples of differentiation. As teachers we need to think about a few things before we differentiate. Below are things to consider so we can best meet the needs of our students!

-Do we know our students? What are they interested in? How do they best learn? What is their current knowledge/understanding?

-Do we know what we will differentiate so they can best learn? Should we modify content,  process, product, or learning environment?

-Do we know how we will differentiate? Will we use parallel tasks, open questions, learning centers, tiered instructions, small flexible groups?

After reading this chapter I thought back to my own classroom and where I could improve in differentiation. I think I am going to try to incorporate more open questions in my instruction. I just need to remember that open questions can be as easy as giving an answer and asking for the problem, replacing a number in a given problem with a blank or question mark, offering two situations or examples and ask for similarities or differences, and creating a question in which children have to make choices. I think at times I made things too difficult for myself trying to make everything so different. I like the idea of parallel tasks only being changing the numbers in a problem to meet the needs of the various levels of my students. I am sure as the new school year approaches I will have this book close in hand!!

See you Sunday for chapters 5 and 6!!

Friday, June 19, 2015


 I'm not going to lie...I was counting down the days till summer break once we hit May. It is hard to believe that I have already been on summer break for 3 weeks! I am linking up with Aimee over at Primarily Speaking for her 

There's a ton of reasons to love summer, but here are my top 5!!

Sleeping in. I get up every day during the school year between 5:15 and 5:30 am. Most nights I do not go to bed before 11:00 pm. By the weekends I am exhausted and we all know how quick the weekends go by. And then summer arrives!!! I have been sleeping in until about 7:00 and it feels so good!! I think I may have had one or two days so far where I have slept til 8 or later.

Coffee, Today Show, and Kelly and Michael. There is no other way to start my day than with a cup of coffee while watching the Today Show and Kelly and Michael. So relaxing!!!

Workout classes. During the school year I am unable to hit any of the great workout classes at our gym. I only get to join in on Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter break. I have my own Body Pump, Insanity, free weights, and treadmill at home, but it is not the same. The gym is super close to my house, but at the end of the day I just am exhausted and end up working out at home. Now that it is summer I have hit a class every morning sometimes two. I have been walking every night with a girlfriend too! I feel great! The night time walk is more for us to chit chat and be away from the house so I am not nibbling on things I shouldn't be!!

Poolside with cocktails. Need I say more???

Catching up. Yes, catching up. It varies day to day in what I need to catch up on. Got the lock fixed on the front door, the windows are getting cleaned today. The math manipulative tubs go labeled yesterday. Last week I made a year long scope and sequence plan. This week I have been catching up on my neglected blog. So much to do! Will I every really catch up??

I could name a whole bunch more reasons why I love summer, but these are my favorites!! Link up with Primarily Speaking to join in on the fun!!

Thursday, June 18, 2015


I am loving this TPT Makeover Maddness Challenge!! If you haven't heard about it click on the photo below and check it out!!

I enjoy seeing all the new changes in everyones products! I must some I am quite jealous of how many amazing products are out there! It definitely has inspired me to start redoing some of my older products! Here is what we had to do for our first challenge:

Here are my results!!

If you have purchased this product, please download it again for the new updates and extra set of task cards. If you would like to purchase it, it will be on sale at my  TPT Store for 20% off through Father's Day!

Monday, June 15, 2015

Summer Bucket List Linky!

Hooray for Summer! I am actually on my third week of summer vacation, but I have been crazy busy with school, organizing, sitting in on interviews, and preparing for a presentation for our technology grant on Wednesday. Once Wednesday is over I am finally going to relax a bit more.

I noticed that besides my blog post yesterday that I hadn't blogged in a few months! So I decided to link up with Natalie from What the Teacher Wants for her 
Summer Bucket List Linky!!

Last year my teaching partner and I received a tech grant. We received 30 iPad minis. All this year we met up with the other grant recipients to discuss how our technology was working out. We applied for sustainability funds earlier this year and will be receiving 20 more iPad minis. We now will both have iPads for all our kids. On Wednesday we will be presenting at a Symposium for our County to share our results with teachers. Super excited, but glad this is the last bit of school work.

Thanks to Amanda Madden at Teaching Maddeness for her series on lesson planning! I finally sat down and created a year long scope and sequence for next year with my grade level partner! It felt so good! Of course I am going to try to update and create a few products for my TPT store. I have such good intentions during the school year, but time just slips by me.

My hubby always loves when summer arrives. He says I am so much happier and nicer instead of being stressed out. We always joke that he likes summer wife better or summer wife actually likes her hubby! So of course I have been trying to be the good summer wife these past couple of weeks! I make him coffee in the morning, yummy cocktails at night, and am actually fun on Sunday night. Tonight I cooked him a delicious dinner! He loves that I get us all caught up on stuff around the house too! 

I am just super excited to not be getting up at 5:30 every morning. I love waking up, having my cup of coffee, and watching a bit of the Today Show or Kelly and Michael. I have been hitting my workout classes on a daily basis too. It feels so awesome to workout consistently again with others!  And yes I do love that my clothes are fitting loser again. Of course summer wouldn't be the same without some fun new summer shoes!! I have been looking for some new brown/natural and black fun wedges!! I have my eye on a few, but haven't purchased yet! I would love to go on a little vacation with the hubby, but just hanging out by the pool would work too!!

Happy Summer!!!

Sunday, June 14, 2015

Book Study: Teaching Student-Centered Mathematics

I am super excited to be joining my first ever book study Teaching Student-Centered Mathematics by Van de Walle, Lovin, Karp, and Bay-Williams hosted by Adventures in Guided Math.

I am always trying to keep current so when I saw this book recommended by the ladies I decided to purchase and take part! So... here we go!!

Chapter 1: Teaching Mathematics for Understanding

The author opens up the chapter with...
Teachers generally agree that teaching for understanding is a good thing. But this statement begs the question: What is understanding? Understanding is being able to think and act flexibly with a topic or concept. It goes beyond knowing; it is more than a collection of information, facts, or data. It is more than being able to follow steps in a procedure. One hallmark of mathematical understanding is a student's ability to justify why a given mathematical claim or answer is true or why a mathematical rule makes sense (Council of Chief State School Officers, 2010).

This really had me reflect on the past 2 years of my teaching math with my students. (I looped from first to second). I had many students who could follow the steps in a procedure, but really struggled explaining or justifying how they arrived at their answer. I also noticed that there were several who had difficulty seeing that a problem could be solved in more than one way. I always stressed and tried to model/guide multiple ways to solve a problem. I found the more discussions we had the more willing they were to take risks and try different ways to attack their math problems.

Throughout the chapter the author stresses and gives many examples of how students need not just procedural fluency, but conceptual understanding of mathematics as well. As teachers we need to be the ones to expose our students to the many different tools and strategies for solving problems in mathematics. We need to let them explore, learn, and share with their peers while providing direct instruction when necessary. Letting our students thinking, discussions, failures, and successes guide the learning can be a little scary at first, but just may lead to some amazing mathematical understanding!

Chapter 2: Teaching Mathematics through Problem Solving

The focus on chapter 2 is how to teach through problem solving not just to teach for problem solving.  The author stresses the fact that teaching through problem solving helps children develop relational understanding.  Problem solving is completely interwoven with learning. The easiest way to explain the difference is that when you teach for problem solving you teach a specific skill, give time to practice the specific skill, and then use the specific skill to help solve a problem. When you teach through problem solving you start with the specific problem(task or activity) itself. Since the teacher is creating the problem specifically for their students it allows them to learn new mathematical concepts as well as connect/create relationships to previous learned concepts.

There are 3 common features problems need to have to be effective:

  • The problem should engage children where they are in their current understanding.
  • The problematic or engaging aspect of the problem must be a result of the mathematics that the children are to learn.
  • The problem must require justifications and explanations for answers and methods. 
There are many examples given on the types of problems you can use to teach through problem solving. The author stated that when beginning a lesson with a problem it gets children excited about learning about mathematics. We need to design problems that provide specific parameters, constraints, or structure that will support the development of the mathematical ideas that we want children to learn. 

The value of student discussion was a key factor in problem solving. We need to remember to:
  • Clarify children's ideas in a variety of ways
  • Emphasize reasoning
  • Encourage student-student dialogue
When I think about my own students learning I remember that the best lessons were when they were discussing ways to handle a problem, sharing the way the solved  tasks, or politely agreeing or disagreeing with each other. As a teacher this was a proud moment to see them take charge, be successful, and truly understand.

There were so many valuable things in chapter 2. If you do not have a copy of Teaching Student-Centered Mathematics, I recommend you get yourself a copy. Come join us for on Wednesday for as we explore the next two chapters!!

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