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Monday, July 21, 2014

New Desk Arrangment and Christmas in July Continued!

My teammates and I have lots of discussions about seating arrangements.  They like rows.  I prefer group seating.  To each their own, but hear me out.

1.  Cooperative Learning.  My first year teaching I was blessed to attend a full week training on cooperative learning at the Kagan Institute.  Kagan stresses the importance of engagement and accountability which you can accomplish through structured group work.  

2.  Communication.  I am going to make myself feel really old here, but now more than ever we need to teach our children to communicate.  So many of our kids sit in front of televisions, ipads, ipods, or iphones without having to speak to other human beings. They need us to show them how to speak purposefully and kindly.

3.  Relationships.  Kids build great relationships with each other during the school day.  Let me give you an example.  I had a little girl come to my class from Mexico last year.  She knew zero English.  She was scared out of her mind. I purposefully sat her beside a kind and chatty little girl.  They became the best of friends and were inseparable by October.  I attribute their friendship  as the majority of the reason my little girl from Mexico learned to speak English proficiently by the end of the year.

For all of these reasons...I will be heading into my 9th year of teaching with kids in groups of four, but this year with a little twist. 

I love having desks simply because I hate wasted time.  When I ask my kids to get out their math books, I really dislike waiting for the math books to be passed out.  I also like that desks teach kids responsibility.  I do think that there may have been too much in my students' desks this year so I love the added table storage that I have going on here. My inspiration comes from this adorable photo here:


I will be adding labels to the front of the containers and table numbers to my caddies as well, but I wanted you to have a teeny peek in what is going on in my room!

In other news for Christmas in July I am putting my Superhero Back to School Unit on SALE today and tomorrow! You can snag it for a really good deal!


Here are my own cuties using my unit at home!





Friday, July 18, 2014

Math Work Stations Part 2: The Set-Up

So I TOTALLY teased y'all a few months ago with a series of posts about Math Work Stations.  I had a great first post and then ***WALL*** I ran smack into the end of the year crazy. 

But I know will forgive me, because let's face it- the end of the year is sink or swim!  And those little 6-8 year olds are like a hungry school of sharks smelling blood.  I swear the come after their poor, tired teachers! 

If you would like to refresh yourself on Math Workstations Part 1: The WHY here is your link.

I tried to break this post apart into sections that make sense to me.  Disclaimer- I am obviously not the be-all-end-all math workstations guru.  I am a teacher just like you.  I like to try new things until I find what works for myself and my students! I encourage you to do the same!
 Your students need to know where they are going without you have to tell them.  Of course this will take practice and reteaching, but eventually you can dismiss your students to workstations and they automatically should know where to go. 

Here is what the top of my board from this year looked like.  Each name is backed with velcro sticky dots so that each day I can move their names.




 My students go to two workstations a day hence why there are two numbers by the pair of students' names. When I move their names at the end of the day, they will go down two spots.


Something that I have found in my 8 years of teaching (which most of you will say--duh!) is not to rely on tape when you will be moving the names frequently.  Magnetic and Velcro strips/dots are my friends!  

 I have tried a TON of different baskets, but I puffy heart these.  I found them at Walmart, but I have also seen them at Target.  The reason that I love them so much is that they are the perfect size for paper, the center, and any manipulatives the students might need.  To make the baskets pretty, which is obviously very important, I hot glued ribbon from Hobby lobby around the outside of the baskets.  I then hot glued the labels on the front.  These labels can be found **Here**.

Here is a look inside my baskets: 

1. Center 2. Manipulatives 3. Recording Sheet.  This particular Math Work Station can be found in my Sum Fall Fun pack

Erica Bohrer organizes her centers in similar baskets!


I have mixed feelings about recording sheets. I always include them in my TPT packets, BUT I don't always use them.  It seems when there is a recording sheet, sometimes my students rush to finish and be done.  So if they are in a groove and being productive I will save the recording sheet as like a "Flashback" or Exit Slip for another day.   

I am including a few other examples of how people organize their Math Work Stations/Centers.  Like I said earlier, do what works for you!  If it seems difficult to manage when you are setting it up, chances are you will abandon it!  Don't set yourself up for failure!

This example is from Sarah Cooley:  

And this one from Hope King

And this one from Reagan Tunstall: 
 This section is hard for me, because I usually abandon my system about half way through the year and then spend WAY too much time reorganizing each summer. I will tell you that one thing that does work for me.  I like to have a section for all my seasonal stuff like St. Patricks Day and Dr. Seuss would all be in a March tub/file.  Then I also have non-seasonal tubs/files for big Math Topics like money or time.  This way if my kids are struggling and need more practice with a subject I can go to my non-seasonal tub at any point throughout the year!  And because I am locked out of my room, sadly I have not pictures for you yet.  I will update as soon as I do!
When I put my students in pairs (Yes I think this is better than groups of four or more). I will put students in groups of three for special circumstances if I have to.  Like last year, I had a minimal English speaking child who needed more language support.  I will occasionally put three low students in a group if I need to, but like I said in the previous post I personally do not believe in putting the high students with the low students to coach.  I want my high students to challenge each other. I want my low students to feel comfortable asking questions and not copying their peer's answers. 

 My students are allowed to work anywhere in the room that they would like.  I like for them to spread out as much as possible to help with noise.  If they want to, they can work at desks, but the majority of my students prefer to work on the floor.

At the beginning of the year I do not have Map scores or data to help me group students so I will conduct some informal observations to help me pair students. I also warn students that their partnerships may be short term and I will switch them up if they aren't working smoothly!  After I get everyone settled in I like to keep the partnerships for at least a quarter.  I like students to get to know each other well and to create a bond through this learning!

I will use this freebie that I posted yesterday to help me get acquainted with my students early on in the first week:


I will also use this game from my Superhero Students Back to School Pack

I am just going to touch on this a little bit for now, but when students come to me for small group, they come in groups of four.

When I set their names up I try and have students with similar abilities coming to me at the same time.  Meaning all four kids at my table need the same thing from me whether it is remediation or acceleration.  At the beginning of the year I usually have a fairly simple game going with those four students so that I can monitor what is going on around the room as well. 

If you would like to read more about the subject of Math Work Stations please check out Amy Lemons' fantastic post: 



Phew- are you tired???? Well I am!  I am not going to make any promises about when I will be back with more. HA! But, I do plan on writing a Part 3 that shows what will be in my baskets the first two weeks of school!

Until then, do not forget to check out my Christmas in July Sale that just so happens to be Math Work Stations right now!


Thursday, July 17, 2014

Christmas in July Deal #2 and Freebie

I absolutely LOVE teaching math! I think first and second grade math can be taught mostly with games, centers, and number talks!  Today I am putting my Math Center Packets on Sale for 20% off today and tomorrow!









And here is your freebie! Yay! Hope you like it and leave feedback if you snag it ;)


Talk to y'all soon!





Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Wish List Wednesday!

It's still Wednesday!!! Or is it?  


I can't keep the days straight in the summer! It's probably because I spend a lot of time doing this....


I am participating in Christmas in July and have four units on Sale for 20% for the rest of today. 

Click on this button to go to the units in my store that are discounted: 

Remember tomorrow I will have a whole new group on sale!

Today I am going to give away Convention Camp to a lucky winner! Head over to my FB page to enter!


You can check out other Wish List Wednesday sales on Owl-ways Be Inspired


I'll be back a little earlier tomorrow for Day 3 of Christmas in July!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

***Christmas in July: ELA Units and a Freebie***


Yay! The Blog Hoppin' girls and I teamed up to bring you some Christmas in July fun!  All of my ELA units are on sale today and tomorrow.  There will be more sales through the 26th as well!













I am also linking back to this freebie from a couple of years ago that I **LOVED** using with my students.

Here is a picture of it in action:


We were working on initial sh- and final -sh.  I just so happened to have a Shark costume and a fish costume  that Nash and Emmie had worn the week before for Halloween!

To snag the freebie, head to my TPT store: