Saturday, November 22, 2014

Budding Bloggers Showcase {Jenny from Creating the Life}

Hi! I'm Jenny from Creating the Life

I am a Florida native and have lived within 10 minutes of the beach my entire life. I have been married to ‘The Mister’ for 11 years, but am approaching the halfway mark with him…..I’ve spent half my life with him (and yes, I am 22 ;) ) We have two red-headed boys. E is turning 6 and entering 1st grade. P is 8 months and I think will be our handful. It has been amazing watching them love and play with each other this summer. It has brought happiness to my heart that I never thought was possible. 

In true girl fashion I love to shop, craft, and be pampered. I also have come to enjoy running over the past couple of years (fun fact…. I ran the Disney ½ with the Leukemia and Lymphoma Society) and play around with photography. I’m a homebody and find peace and happiness in being home with all of my boys.

This is my 11th year of teaching (WOW that made me feel old). I recently switched schools and now get to teach the kids in my own community. Having that connection with my students has truly made an impact on my teaching and given me a deeper understanding of them. I am currently teaching second grade (2nd year, but 3 total). I have also taught K, 1, and 4 (6 years). I love second grade! The kids are still young and sweet, but old enough to follow directions on their own ;) I am also excited that I am getting the opportunity to stay in a grade for more than one year. I have been bouncing around for the last 3 years and can't wait to really 'understand' a grade level again. 

I LOVE to teach math! I love to use manipulatives and interactive notebooks to help my students learn and understand concepts. I try to make it as fun and hands on as I can. 

What would we likely see if we popped into your classroom unannounced?....Hopefully engaged students having fun. To a stranger that may look more like unorganized chaos. Honestly, though, you would see centers and students trying to take control of their learning (this is something I am working on very hard....releasing control)

What gets you through one of “those” days? Coffee and/or chocolate, LOL! Yes, really those two things help greatly, but so does having good colleagues that you can vent to or laugh with. If it has really been one of "THOSE" days a good run can do wonders. 
What is one “can’t live without” teaching resource?
Technology  (I LOVE! GoNoodle for brain breaks. If you haven’t heard about it or tried it… I love the kids using iPads and computers, I love using computers to teach with (when they work), and PINTEREST. I am a pinaholic and think it’s amazing how it can connect teachers and the way we share ideas.

Give us a glimpse of your teaching style by sharing a brief summary of a favorite classroom activity/project.
I don't have a specific classroom activity/project (bouncing around and maternity leave ;) However, in all grades that I have been in I try to make learning fun and hands on, typically trying to bring my love for crafting into it. Some of my best memories from when I was in school was when we were working on a project. This past year at my new school (it is a lower SES school), I saw my students light up and get excited about learning when I turned it into a project.

My blogging goal (and teaching and life) for this year is to document more. I always have the best intentions to journal, blog, take pictures, but after long crazy days it seems to take the back burner. I want to document my teaching so that I can learn and grow, and possibly inspire/help others. I want to take pictures of my students learning so they can look back in 20 years and have a good laugh. Hopefully, you will want to join me on this journey and hold me accountable! 

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Sundays in the South {A Step Away from Teaching}

Hey y'all!  Another week is in the books.  Can you believe that it's almost THANKSGIVING??  I am already in the Christmas shopping mood, too.  Unfortunately, I have no idea what to get anyone.  So, each time I go out (or online) to shop, I only end up purchasing stuff for myself (or the dogs)! SIGH

But, this does lead me to the first showcase for this week...

I'm pretty sure everyone is aware of my Grateful Bags obsession.  I'm in the double digits now and really try to limit myself, but then Jenny had to go and create the Harper...

I mean, everyone needs a leopard print clutch in their arsenal, right??  Leopard is the new neutral.  And, since it's a Grateful, I can play around with the styling.  I think I like the gold monogram with it, but the black could also be amazing.

Did I mention that the inside lining is hot pink??  DROOL.  Well, that's my fashion love for the week.

But, I do have one more quickie for you. ;)  I woke up on Saturday morning, rolled out of bed, and went to pull my hair into a ponytail to head to the gym when I realized it's here.  That time of year when it's so cold (don't laugh...50's are COLD!) that I burrow under my covers like a mole to stay warm, only to realize I must have been so snug during the night that I made myself sweat under the covers because those little hairs around my face are oily.  Much more oily that most mornings.  Sigh.  I do not want to pull my hair back into an oily ponytail...even for the gym.

But, that's when I remembered a free sample I got in the mail.  Dry shampoo.

I know, I know.  I've been living under a rock, but I had never used this before.  I'm a wash-my-hair-every-single-day type of girl.  After searching for where I had placed it for a bit, I gave it a try and was AMAZED!  After spraying it on my hair and brushing, there was no oil at all!  Woohoo!  Best free sample ever?  Possibly!

I tried.  I really tried not to do another Taylor Swift post this week.  I mean, even I didn't know how much I loved her until this 1989 album came out.  But, if I'm really going to tell you about my pop love of the week, it has to be her song "Blank Space".  And, not just the song, but the VIDEO!  Obsessed.  I want the styling - the clothes, the hair, the makeup, the castle, the car...even the  I make my husband cease all conversations in the car when it comes on the radio so I can get my groove on! ;)  If you're not a Swiftie, just watch the video below once.  I dare ya! ;)

Like I said, it's cold around here already.  Maybe not snowing-inches-cold like some of you are experiencing, but it's definitely hot-chocolate-cold already.  Which means I've been enjoying way too many of these...
Salted Caramel Hot Chocolate.  Thank you, Starbucks.  Need I say more?  Unfortunately, I have to drive out of my way to go to a Starbucks (or anywhere) in the mornings since I live on the same street as my school.  But, fortunately for me, Target sells this...
Which means even if I hit the snooze button a few extra times, I can still enjoy this heavenly goodness!  Seriously, I'm pretty sure it's one of the few good things about winter.  Well, that, and boots. ;)

Saturday, November 15, 2014

Budding Bloggers Showcase {Kayla from Ms. King's Kinders}

Hello, I'm Kayla from Ms. King's Kinders and I am so excited to participate in this blogger showcase!

About Me:
I am starting my 4th year as a Kindergarten teacher in Charleston, SC. My first year of teaching I was hired at the school I attended as a child. I started in October that year and became the 5th Kindergarten teacher. The class sizes were large and they needed to create a new class. I am still teaching at this school and love it! We are currently under construction at our school for the next two years. I will be moving to my 3rd trailer after the school year starts this year. I am sure I will have many pictures and stories to share of this adventure! 

I am saving to buy a house so I currently live with my parents and my younger brother. We live very close to my school, so I am lucky that my commute to school is under 2 minutes each day!
This is a picture of us at Magnolia Gardens last year. My mom used to work there and my brother still works there.

I have one energetic and loving dog, Sophie. She is a terrier mix that I adopted from our SPCA last summer. She looked rough when I adopted her, but once she was healthy and   her hair grew back, she started to look cute! 
This was when we first got her. It is hard to tell, but she had scabs and was shaved on half of her body. I wish they would have shaved her completely! 

This was Sophie around Halloween. I love that she lets me put these things on her!

She is very energetic, but she also loves to sleep. She loves sleeping in my bed. She is quite spoiled!

This was her 4th of July collar.

I am fairly new to blogging but have read blogs since I was in college. I created my blog last summer, but then got busy getting my classroom trailer ready, I just forgot about the blog. This summer I was determined to use my blog and start making more things for my classroom/TPT. 

Favorite Subject to Teach:
My favorite subject to teach is Math. We use MyMath in our district and I have been pleased with it in Kindergarten. I have always enjoyed Math and I did well in it when I was in school. I think that is why I enjoy teaching it so much!

My Classroom:
If you were to "pop" into my classroom unannounced, you would see busy students and organized chaos. My administrators always comment that my students know exactly what to do in my classroom. We start our day at 8:10am and it is "go, go, go" until the end of the day. I teach Math after morning calendar and then I teach reading. We also complete all of our literacy center rotations before lunch each day. The afternoons are a little more relaxed. After lunch and recess we have rest time (quiet reading time after Winter break).  Then we complete writing workshop and our thematic unit activity before my students head to special area. They have snack and pack up after special area and then it is time to go home.

We are a PBIS school and we use the CHAMPS expectations in every classroom. I love using the CHAMPS expectations because they let my students know what I expect from them and what they need to do if they need help or want to get up out of their seats. This past year was the first year I have used them. It took a little while to get used to this, but by Christmas time, my students knew what the expectations were in my room during each part of our day.
This is the CHAMPS Pack we use in Kindergarten at my school. This is not something I created. We purchased this because it was so cute!

How I Get Through One of "Those Days":
I work with a great team of girls and an awesome teacher's assistant. I do not know what I would do without my assistant. My assistant and I work so well together and she helps me keep all of my students accountable. She is a very calm person and does not let stuff bother her. We are very similar in this way and mesh well together. I can always tell her if I am having a rough day and she is always there to help me out!

This is me with my teacher's assistant at our Thanksgiving Feast. She is not a fan of having her picture taken!

My Can't Live Without Teaching Resource:
My "can't live without" teaching resource is a concierge bell.

My aunt gave it to me for Christmas my first year teaching. She found it at Pier 1. I wasn't sure what I would use it for, but then someone told me to use it as an attention grabber in my classroom. My students know that the bell can only be rung by an adult and I have never had a problem with students using it. I even got my assistant one for Christmas this year. When the class gets too loud or we need to get their attention, we just tap the bell. My students know to put a quiet finger up to their lip and to look at us. It is a simple resource, but it has been great to have!

Favorite Classroom Activity/Project:
My favorite classroom activity or project would be thematic art projects. I student taught at an Arts Elementary school in my district and worked with an awesome creative teacher. She was constantly using paint, watercolors, pastels, etc and I saw that it was okay to make a mess sometimes! Before this I would have been nervous to use paint so often, but now we use paint within the first week of school in my room. The students get so excited when I tell them they get to paint. I think it is very important to set guidelines and expectations before any lesson, especially art project lessons. I have had great success doing art projects with my students because I set the expectations and model, model, model!

This is the first painting project we do in my class. The students paint their own Chicka Chicka Boom Boom tree and put the letter stickers on by themselves. That is why a lot of the letters are backwards!

My Blogging Goal:
One of my blogging goals for this year is to actually blog about my classroom and the activities my students complete throughout the year. I want to make an effort to take pictures often and include them in my blog posts.

Thank you so much to Amanda from Teaching Maddeness for featuring me!! You can visit my blog Ms. King's Kinders to see other pictures from my classroom.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Maximizing the Minutes Mini Series {Math}

Hi friends!  I'm back with you today for the second installment of my Maximizing the Minutes Mini Series.

If you missed the first installment, click below.

Today is all about how I squeeze in a TON of skills in just a few moments to kick-off our math block.
A couple of things that I've noticed students need LOTS of practice with over the years is problem-solving and fluency practice, so those are the things I focus on during the first few minutes every single day.

Here's how it looks:

Super Speed Math
Just like with Super Speed 1,000 that I showed you in the first installment, Super Speed Math is a Whole Brain Teaching strategy.  It takes 4 minutes per day and the impact is incredible.

This is a blurb from the Whole Brain Website - "If your students play SuperSpeed Math for only a few minutes, several times a week, you’ll see substantial improvements in overall mathematics accuracy; gains of 20% within a month are not uncommon."

I use high/low pairings to partner students - this is crucial for support.  Each student is given a super speed fact page (we start with addition) and the partners share an answer key (which is laminated so I can use year after year).

As with all partnerships in my classroom, the student with the birthday that comes first in the year goes first.  Every day.  No arguing.  No drama.  I set a timer on our interactive board for one minute.  The first partner reads as many addition facts (with answers) as he/she can in one minute.  One of the important components is that students read the entire problem (ex. 1 + 2 = 3) instead of just giving the answer (3).  This helps that fact to stick in the brain.  If the student makes a mistake, their partner stops them and says the problem correctly, then the student repeats the problem correctly before continuing. 

At the end of one-minute, the student draws a small dot by the last problem he/she said correctly.  Then, the student gets one more minute to try it again.  They start back at the same spot and try to beat their previous record (giving them their ALL TIME BEST). 

At the end of that minute, if a student made an all-time best, he/she will cross out one row of problems (prompting them to begin one row down the following day). 

Then, it is the other partners turn.  One minute for the first try.  One minute to try to make an all-time best.  I made this monster-themed "All Time Best" sheet for my students to keep in their data folders.  They just record the date they made an all-time best on the form.  They love trying to fill it up!

Four minutes.  That is it.  It's quick and effective.  My favorite part is that students are competing against themselves instead of others.  Every student can be successful.  Every student can build fluency.  Every student can earn their own all-time-bests.  Once a student completes the addition Super Speed, they move on to subtraction and then even multiplication!

Here's a little video from YouTube showing a class doing SuperSpeed Math.

You can download SuperSpeed Math for FREE, but you have to register to access all of the free downloads on the WBT website. It's easy! Just register, then click on the "Free eBooks" tab at the top and select "general." You'll see LOTS of freebies pop up. SuperSpeed Math is on the third page of freebies (right now, at least).

Problem Solving
Let's face it, problem solving is crucial for mathematicians, yet often textbooks only provide a day or so of these per unit.  Not enough to be effective.

Even when they're provided, I found that many of the story problems are similar.  They always address the same skills.

So....this year, we decided to develop our own Word Problems to meet all of our 2nd grade standards.  We are creating them for each month of the year as the school year goes along.  Each day, students will do one word problem.  I will display this problem on the board as Super Speed Math finishes.  With their partner, they read this problem.  Then, they think about how to solve it as they transition back to their seats.  Once at their seat, they take out their notebook and have about one minute to try to solve it.  Then we talk it through and check it together.  The entire process usually takes 2-3 minutes.

So, in the first 7-8 minutes of our math block we have squeezed in fluency practice and problem solving practice.  By doing this daily, the little things become the BIG things.  Amazing progress!

An important thing to note about our word problems is that we designed each day of the week to hit a different standard.  So, on Mondays the word problem will focus on operations, on Tuesday it will focus on place value, on Wednesday it will focus on measurement (includes time/money), on Thursday it will focus on geometry, and on Friday it will focus on data/graphing.  So, in addition to problem solving skills, these word problems are providing an important spiral (preview and review of concepts throughout the year).

Since we've designed it to use on the board, they each include an interactive table of contents, making it super quick to click on the problem of the day.

In addition to the daily word problems, answers are also included to display that show a visual when appropriate.

Here's a peek at our November set...

We also offer the entire year's BUNDLE at a discounted price HERE.

I hope these gave you some ideas of how to maximize your time in math!  I'll be back soon for a look at maximizing time in WRITING.

Sunday, November 9, 2014

Sundays in the South {BPD, TayTay, & Pie...Oh My!}

I am making an official commitment today.  I will blog at least three times a week.  There.  I said it.  It's official.  I may not be caught up on laundry or have a clean house, but I will get back to my happy place in the world of blogging!

With that said, I've decided to also bring back my "Sundays in the South" series.  This is where I blog on Sundays about random stuff - not related to teaching.  Let's face it.  My life is teaching, so this may not be the most exciting series, but I do TRY to have a life outside of the classroom. ;)

When I have free time, I do love to shop.  Especially on Instagram!  One of my newest obsessions is Besty Pittard Designs.  Oh. Em. Gee!  All kinds of gorgeousness in her shop!

My first BPD purchase was a turquoise arrowhead - LOVE!  And, just recently, I finally got a ram head.  I'm not sure why I'm so obsessed with these, but it makes me smile! :)

If you're looking to add to your Christmas wishlist, I would highly suggest browsing her shop! :)

No matter how busy I am, I always have time to keep up with pop culture a bit.  Can I say how excited I am about the new RHOA tonight?!  I especially love music...especially the current hits and Taylor Swift's "Shake It Off" is no different.  I've always liked Taylor, but never considered myself a fan.  However, last week, I had to come out of the closet officially.  I'm a Swiftie. #sorrynotsorry  Had I been a popstar, I'm pretty sure she represents what I would have been....boy-crazy, girl-next-door, inspired by vintage style who makes up her own dance moves...and owns them!  I love everything about her and I especially love how she doesn't apologize for who she is!  #hatersgonnahate 

Whether you love T-Swift or not, you MUST watch this SNL "Swiftamine" video with Chris Rock....HILARIOUS!!!!  Warning: it will probably make you come out of the closet, too. ;)

I'm not a huge fan of November.  Thanksgiving is my least favorite holiday.  That sounds horrible, right?  I love the "giving thanks" part, I just hate the whole FOOD part.  I'm not a home cooked food loving girl.  BUT, I do look forward to November for one special treat. 

Chocolate Chip Pecan Pies from Cracker Barrel.  To.Die.For.  I'm typically not a fan of pecan pies, but with chocolate?  It changes the entire complexity of them!  Oh my word.  They sell the whole pies in their shops but only during this month.  I may have already bought one this weekend.  In fact, I think it's time to go slice a piece!  You should pick one up to take to your next get-together....or just to enjoy while you blog. :)