Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Back To School- # 2

When I design my room layout, I think about traffic patterns into the room, a good place to line up to leave the room, students being able to work together for cooperative learning activities, having room to have reading and math centers and having floor space if we want to gather around to hear a story.  I like to put my desks in pods of 4.  At each group of tables, I group students by ability.  If you are looking down at the pod of desks, it looks like this: 
This idea of seating came from this book:  It's full of ideas on how to get kids up, moving and sharing! 

Now, the seating chart above is how I arrange my desks.  You have a medium high beside a low student because a medium high is usually more patient in helping a lower student than a high student is.  The medium low student is beside the high student.  The medium or medium low student doesn't need as much help as the low student so the high student usually does well helping the medium low or medium student.  The students beside each other are called shoulder buddies.  Sometimes when we are solving math problems, etc, I'll tell the class to work with their shoulder buddy.  If I want LIKE abilities, I'll tell the class to work with their face buddies.  If I need to form groups to work on something, I'll call A's to meet in one place and B's to work in another.  If I need to have kids of the SAME ability to work together, I would call 1's to meet together, 2's, 3's and 4's because these would be the same ability levels.  The students are NOT aware of the ability part.  I love this arrangement.  It pairs students to work based on what I need accomplished at the time.  The uses of this arrangement are endless!  If you don't have this book, it is worth the investment.  What I discovered is that when I kept students moving and kept students working, there were very few behavior or management issues to deal with.  
To put your students in order, choose some type of grade or test score.  I used each student's DIBELS Oral Reading Fluency score.  List these scores from highest to lowest.  Now, count down the first five students and draw a line.  Those are your top five students.  Count up the last five from the bottom.  Those are your lowest five.  Now count down the next five from the top.  These are your medium high kids.  The next five from the bottom are your medium low students.  This gets us to 20.  You can put the left over students either in the medium high or medium low category.  If you need to add a fifth desk to the pods, put it on the end between the high and medium high.   Check out the book for a more thorough explanation. 
There are a lot of other cooperative learning activities in book as well.  I'll highlight more in another post.  For now, consider arranging your students in this kind of pod.  You'll be glad you did!  Let me know your thoughts!
Monday, July 20, 2015

Back To School # 1

I can't believe it is already the middle of July!  Before we know it, we will be welcoming a bunch of smiling faces into our classrooms once again!  If you haven't already, it is time to begin preparing.  I think that the more we can do ahead of time, the better!  So, it's time to think about room layout, how our shelves will be arranged, where the reading books will go, what bulletin boards we need to put up....and if you are changing your classroom theme, you have ALOT to do!  I am using the Dr. Seuss theme again next year.  I love the colors and the whimsy of the Dr. Seuss decorations. Outside in the hallway where I display student work says, "Oh The Places We'll Go In Second Grade!"  I bought the large hats that were supposed to be student hats and cut the bands off.  I laminated them and I put a label with each student's name on them.  I put a 11X18 laminated piece of black construction paper with each hat and that is where I display each student's work ALL YEAR!!!  It's easy to maintain because the only thing that I have to change is the student work.

Here are snow boys and girls in January. 
 This is a writing that we did in February about the importance of a good breakfast!
 This was a writing and a math activity last fall.
 And, at Easter, I took the hat part down and put our bunnies up! How cute are they!
 A bigger look at fall....
So I like that this is easy to maintain and can look good all year long!  I would love to hear your ideas about how to use your outside wall!
Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Divergent Thinking Centers for May and Summer

We are on the final countdown until summer!  I can't believe how quickly this year has gone!  When I look back at things we were doing at the beginning of the year and the things that we are doing now, I am amazed at the growth of my students.  We practice  a lot of skills during the year in reading centers but the reading centers that I wrote for May/June are a little bit different.  I designed them to encourage students to use their divergent thinking skills.  I'll just tell you before hand, they don't like this as well.  They have to really think and they would just rather ask me what the answer would be....One student today had the question in her reading center that asked her to list three things you could do with a stick...the centers are camping themed...Seriously, as a kid, I probably thought of AND did hundreds of things with a stick!  The kids today are different though.  These center activities encourage them to think on their own, and I like that! We have spend a lot of time this year learning to answer questions in complete sentences and give evidence for our answers.  We have solved addition and subtraction problems using base 10 blocks, number lines and expanded form.  We have solved more word problems that I care to remember.  So, now is the time to be creative.  Let's brush the cob webs off of those creative abilities and encourage our kids to think!!!!  Here is a look at a few of the center ideas.

This activity is called "What Am I."  Students read the clue card, match it to the answer card and then write their answer onto their answer sheet. 

Another activity is called Summer Camp List It.  Students draw a card and then list the three things that the card is asking them.
There is a "Fishing for Fact and Opinion" center activity.  Students sort the cards onto the "Fact" or "Opinion" mat.  Later, students choose a topic and write their own facts and opinions. 
This unit has 5 literacy and 5 math centers that your students will love!  The entire unit looks like this:
You can see it in my Teachers Pay Teachers store by clicking HERE! 
Just a few more days until Summer Vacation!!!!!  I would love to hear from you to see how you plan to relax this summer!
Take Care....and Hang On!
Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Teacher Appreciation Week, 2015!

It's here!  Teacher Appreciation Week, 2015! You know what that means! Our friends at Teachers Pay Teachers are having a huge sale!  So, let's think ahead.  Of course there are the things on my wish list.  Plus, we could look ahead to the fall and get some things ready.  There are back to school books, back to school reading and math centers, morning work, math, reading, writing, science and social studies things that we will need when school starts back.  If we go ahead and copy, laminate and cut out this summer, it will be A LOT less busy when school starts.  Today and tomorrow you can get up to 28% off of those things that you will need soon!  To go directly to my store, click HERE!
Be sure to enter the code "Thank You" at check out. 

Now, let's shop!!!!!  Oh, and 24 days of school left!!!

Wednesday, April 29, 2015


April is National Poetry Month.  I've been so busy with other things that I almost missed it! I did start my poetry unit on Monday.  We talked about what poetry is and about some of the many different kinds of poetry.  We read a poem about ice cream and then the kids wrote their own poems.  They turned out so cute!  This is what they look like:

After the ice cream poem, we learned about couplets.  We made lists of rhyming words and then the kids wrote their own couplets.  Today we learned about acrostic poems.  We read a poem about birthday parties and then we wrote an acrostic about birthdays using the letters PRESENTS.  Finally, I gave everyone a piece of notebook paper and had them write an acrostic with their name.  I made an example for them and then they started.
This is how some of theirs turned out.

The kids are really enjoying poetry so far.  More poems and craftivities to come!  This is what it looks like:
This unit includes poems, activities, instructions for students to write their own poems and crafts. Everything you need to teach poetry is included. You can see the unit in my store by clicking HERE!
Stay tuned for more fun with poetry!  Oh, and 29 more school days for me!  How many more days for you?
Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Easter Games and a Freebie!

If you have these............

and a few minutes, I'm going to tell you some  different things to do with plastic Easter eggs.
I have a brand new Easter Math Game unit that has 6 different games for your students to play.  I've included one of the 6 games here for you for FREE! Students will practice addition and subtraction, telling time, counting money, showing a number two different ways by drawing base 10 blocks and even/odd.  The free game is counting coins.  Here is a look at it. 

If you want to use this game you can get your free copy by clicking HERE!
If you want all 6 games, you can get them over in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.  You can get there by clicking HERE.
If you use this, please leave some feedback!  I love to hear from you!


Easter has just zoomed up on me this year!  I've hardly gotten through my spring/St. Patrick's Day/March stuff and here we are on the heels of Easter.  I have a few fun things that I lover to do with Easter.  One of the things is to make these cuties.  They are very easy to make and they really brighten up the room.  You can go to these cute bunnies by clicking HERE!

I also love doing this Easter Scavenger Hunt with my students.  It looks like this :

You can post the clues in your room or around the school.  I post the clues in the hallway at school and then I take one group at a time during center time while the rest of the class is busy in their math centers with my assistant.  The kids love this activity and when they get all of the answers to the clues, they use the letters to solve a riddle.  Lots of fun and a great way to review math.  There are 12 questions in all. You can see the Easter Scavenger Hunt by clicking HERE!
Since Easter comes so early in April this year, I have other things that are Easter themed that will have to wait until after Easter but that's OK.  The content is what is important and the activities are valuable. 
Ok we have a little over a week to celebrate Easter with our sweet kids. Ready, Set......HOP!