Tuesday, January 21, 2020

Hello, Friend!

WOW! I can hardly believe it's actually been almost 3 1/2 years since my last blog post! Way back in 2016, I finally caved to the notion that I was NOT actually Superwoman and began prioritizing and minimizing in order to best meet the needs of my family. That basically meant, my plate was overflowing and something had to go! I had no idea that decision would lead to crickets hanging out here.......until now, BUT......you know what? The break was needed and greatly appreciated.

I also loved first grade, but longed for more...for something different...

.....so I changed grade levels. I taught 2nd, taught fourth (and loved it too), then moved out of the classroom to impact more students through instructional coaching. That brings us to NOW!  Still learning, still growing...

The kids have grown; I've earned a master's degree and nooooow, now.....I'm ready to dive back into A+ Firsties!

While I'm no longer focused solely on 1st grade, I'm still in love with all things literacy, student centered learning and a genuine love of teaching. I hope you'll visit again soon....it's good to be back and we've got a lot of catching up to do!

See you soon!

Monday, September 5, 2016

Hands on Place Value Fun

Hi, there! We’re 10 days in and beginning to dive into our curriculum. We’ve been practicing and practicing and…..practicing routines some more as we get to know one another. In the midst of all of the “getting to know you”, we’ve also begun setting the foundation for lots of working with numbers!

In case you haven’t stopped by in a while (because I haven’t blogged in a while)…last year, I made the jump from 1st to 2nd! Haven taken some time to  become acquainted with all things 2nd…I’m READY to share again! Yay!!! Thanks for following the fun on Instagram and Facebook! It’s going to be our #bestyearyet on the blog too!


The number of assessments we have to give this year has been reduced, PTL!!! Because of this, our procedures for unpacking our standards have moved away from being focused on a single assessment, to being focused on the learning needed to understand the standards. Our unpacking (backwards design) posters will now contain illustrations of the models and representations that we’ll use throughout each unit. This page is hung low on the board because it will be Page 1 of a wall sized flipbook. The next one we make, will be hung right over it….they’ll be left on the wall for the duration of the year for students to lift and look at as a reference tool. The needed vocabulary cards will also move to our classroom word wall, once our unit focus changes.


As we began to show numbers in different forms, students were consistently expanding numbers using only the single digit rather than the number needed to represent its value…..so, enter our handy dandy place value demo cards!

Sometimes, you have to walk a mile in a number’s shoes to truly understand it’s value! Young students need kinesthetic, whole body learning as much as possible. This lesson was just the right fit! Students actually took turns sitting on a giant place value chart (our carpet) to represent numbers in expanded form, then stood to dance along with music before aligning the cards to represent the number in standard form.

I’m usually about all things literacy, but admittedly have been inspired to have a LOT more fun with math this year. Dare I say, I AM enjoying teaching math?! I said it! And meant it…math is fun! Now that I think about it…most of the training I attended this summer was over MATH!


After getting a better grasp on number forms, we also began to play with representing numbers in more than one way using our base-10 blocks. Realizing that you can model a number more than one way and it STILL be the same number was a huge eye opener and students enjoyed manipulating the blocks over and over again to represent BIG numbers!


Concrete models….&



Pictorial models…of BIG numbers! Hands on…music…movement…drawing…equals a firm foundation for comparing and ordering to come! Want to get moving too? Click HERE to grab a set of demo cards for your classroom!

See ya soon!

Wednesday, March 16, 2016

What TIME is it?

It’s that time of year again…time to practice telling time…right down to the minute! Making the jump from only telling time to the hour and to the half hour has been FUN! Here’s a little of what we’ve been up to lately…


…because our current math unit only covers one primary standard, our unpacking chart has doubled as an anchor chart to compile learning. We began by discussing the importance of telling time and reviewed telling time to the hour and to the half hour. After having just completed fractions, we also color coded the half hour and quarter hour to help us tell time a little later.


Distinguishing between AM and PM sounds like a pretty easy concept…right up until a 7 year old has to wrap their brain around morning starting in the middle of the night! Yikes!!! LOL! This day’s lesson was a laughter filled afternoon of sorting and game playing. We named activities that we usually do each day and had to determine if those activities took place during AM hours or PM hours. Some were tricky, but they got the hang of it through lots of grins and giggles.

In our classroom, independent work often starts with a blank sheet of paper. Creativity, after all, is intelligence having fun! In order to show what they’d learned, students traced the lines of a piece of paper I had pre-folded for them. They labeled their headers for AM and PM being sure to add the 12 hour span of time both covers and illustrated the sky to show their understanding of what it may appear to look like during those times. After completing their headers, students drew four events from their day that took place during AM hours and four events that took place during PM hours. Lots of fun discussion…


On the next day, we prepared to begin telling time by skip counting by ‘fives’. Using an analog clock to tell time is a skill that’s quickly becoming obsolete, if it hasn’t already. Most 7 year olds check the time on mom or dad’s cell phone screen, but now…these smart cookies are some of the best time keepers on the planet and are keeping our daily schedule on track by reading our classroom analog clock to the exact minute! In order to make the transition from whole and half hours as smooth as possible, we pulled out our unifix cubes to “touch” the minutes as we counted them. Second graders are awesome little people!

Beginning with the cubes helped to make the minutes tangible, concrete…something they could touch before trying to get them to grasp the concept of abstract, individual minutes. Being able to use our circle tables for learning is just one more reason why we love them! After getting my Ron Clark on during our whole group lesson, students used numbers to build a clock face on their table top in small groups and then placed blocks to represent 5 minute intervals for counting. I often perceive myself to be just a bit taller than I actually am. Having a little platform up there might not be such a bad idea! Hmmmmmm….


Now, students have an additional resource from Really Good Stuff to help them tell time successfully. Side note: Don’t show kids everything you’ve got at the beginning of the year. Save instructional d├ęcor until you need it to teach with…then you’ll have something new to share and kids will more likely ACTUALLY use it as a resource!


We’ve kept the clocks we made on the first day of our unit to use as tools for learning. Now, we’ve also created flaps to display the time to the ‘five’ under each number on the face of the clock. Being able to tell time to the fives will help us get to the exact minute by skip counting and then counting on
to the specific time.


The kiddos have enjoyed having their own clock, BUT I think the final look of their tables have been their favorite thing so far. After each group assembled their table clocks, I taped the numbers down and used a sharpie to add “minute” marks to the tables. Yep, I wrote on the table with a sharpie! GASP!!! It comes off, lol! With a little hand sanitizer and time, it’ll be completely removable…..BUT hopefully, not until AFTER we’ve finished learning how to tell time.

NOW, each table group can work together to display time and write the digital format to match it. Tables will also double as clocks for math station activities when we return from spring break! =)


AND…our anchor chart has changed a LOT with each additional lesson too! It’s almost complete! As part of our final review lesson, before the BIG test, we’ll label both the analog clock and the digital clock with a specific time.

NOW, it’s time for this teacher mama to go to bed! I hear a fun filled day of spring break calling…TTYL! 


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