Saturday, February 28, 2015

My Kids Won't STOP TALKING and an Enchanting Math Resource that STICKS!

OH MY WORD!  Do you ever get that 1 or 2 or 3 kids that just always have something to say and they have something to say ALL THE TIME! I mean ALL  THE   TIME!
These table tents are highly effective because children become aware of their talking and the table tents are a visual reminder for them.  I think it is also highly effective because it is like a game to them.   They know they don't want one but when they get one they don't want more.  Once they get 2 they know with 3 there is a consequence. If they get 3 - they want you take one off their desk.  It has worked for me in Kinder and and I am certain it would work all the way up the grades.  

Have you come across Arithmetic Village?    I had seen and heard of Linus Minus and went searching for resources for it.  I finally came across this:
Created By:

I cannot tell you the last time I just fell in love with a teaching resource.  Connecting the literature piece with subtraction and addition has just been amazing!  These books are enchanting and charming and bring back the imagination to learning.  The stories help the concepts stick.  I mean, I have kinders using these ($4.99 from Party City)

to write Linus Minus stories in written form and in number sentences.   They are just as enchanted as I am.  So that's not all.  This lady is amazing and generous.  You are going to have to explore her site to find all the amazing free downloads she has. Here are just a few things you can access from her site:
Free downloadable activity books, math work mats with the characters, projectable books, ones, tens and hundreds, she has a facebook page, Pinterest page, and she has a TpT store.  My only questions is - WHY THE HECK HAVEN'T I RAN INTO HER SITE BEFORE??????    That's why I am blogging about it.  I mean, I blog stalk, I go on Pinterest, TPT, etc.  but I never saw these before?  

These are the best ever (shouldn't I be telling you about my math centers unit)?  I want to but these books and resources are the best. The ideas and activities she has are plentiful, open ended, fun, and engaging.  I have not been this excited about a resource in a very long time! Addition, Subtraction, and she even has multiplication and division.   So here is what I am going to do.  

I am going to leave you a link to the downloadable NO Talking Table Tents HERE:

A Link to my Blog HERE if you want to follow me to catch updates on how the Table tents and the Arithmetic Village activities are being used in my class (I will post pictures next week).

I am going to leave you a link to Kimberly's web-site and blog to explore  her stuff HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE and HERE.

Have a great Weekend!
Warm Regards,
Tonya Leslie

Friday, February 27, 2015

5 Ways to Inspire Young Writers

Hi there! Are you finding that your students are in need of a little mid-year motivation to get them writing? Today I am here from K's Classroom Kreations to share a few of my favorite ways to inspire young writers. I have found that when my students are excited about their writing tasks and also feel like they have the support they need, then even my most reluctant writers are willing to give it a try!

The first way to get kids excited about writing is to show them that it is an important (and fun) part of their day. Designate a special place in your classroom to store paper, writing tools, and resources. I fill mine with colored pens, mechanical pencils, erasers, highlighters, and more. Students have free access to use these tools during their independent writing time each day. After all, if a green pen makes writing more exciting for a 6 year old, then why not?

Let’s face it, writing can sometimes seem like a tedious or daunting task when you are just learning how to be an author. One section of my Writing Center is known as our “Inspiration Station”. This area is filled with wooden craft pieces, seasonal word walls, store bought dice with story starters, and writing prompts. Students do not need to use this area, but have learned that it is here for support if they get stuck.

I made this mini word wall out of a tri-fold board. I didn't have much space on my walls and honestly hated climbing up on counters to add words (the rare occasions that I remembered). I just used library pocket cards with index cards inside each. When my students need help with a word, they simply take out the card to see if it's on there already. If not, I will add it for them. I also used plastic page protectors stapled to the board to hold seasonal word walls. Just slide a new page in each month and you are done!

Something new that I introduced this year was a sensory box for a more hands-on experience.  For example, our beach box contained kinetic sand, shovel, bucket, goggles, flip flops, ocean scented wax tart candles, seashells, and other tropical goodies. Students can physically smell, feel, and see objects belonging to a theme and then in turn write about it. This idea can be used for any seasonal theme, science topic, or even as a way to incorporate multiculturalism.


This has to be one of my favorite ideas….ever. Simply purchase a variety of napkins from your local dollar store or wait until seasonal items go on sale (or become known as the crazy leftover napkin hoarder at birthday parties…no judgments). Staple blank paper inside of each “mini book”. Students can then use the theme as inspiration for a personal narrative, poem, opinion piece, or informational text. Imagine the look your kids would have if they saw Transformers, Frozen, and other fun topics! I promise you…they will want to dive in to writing!


Napkin books became such a HUGE hit in my classroom that I also decided to make seasonal prompts. If you are interested in having hundreds of opinion, narrative, informational, and creative prompt pages all ready to staple inside of your napkins, be sure to check out my blog post here all about them, or my Growing Bundle in my Teacher Pay Teachers store. 

Here is a solution for those of you who are tired of hearing “I don’t know what to write about” 100 times each day. I’ll be honest, this activity totally came out of spur of the moment necessity and lasted all of 10 minutes….BUT I cannot tell you how helpful it has been! As a class we brainstormed dozens of ideas that the kids could write about during Work on Writing Time (independent writing). I wrote each idea on an index card and had students illustrate them. They LOVED it! We then hung all of the cards on the board and now we have a whole wall of ideas for those moments they get “stuck”.

Last but not least, allow Mentor Texts to truly be used as inspiration. When you are reading to your students don’t be afraid to point out great descriptive language, style of writing, or author’s voice. After each read aloud we also talk about how this book could inspire us to write a similar piece.
A few of our favorites from our Personal Narrative unit included:
- When I Was Five by Arthur Howard: Students then wrote about what they liked when they were 5 or 6.
- The Salamander Room by Anne Mazer: Student’s first listened to just the descriptive language and then drew pictures of what they thought the room looked like. Next students wrote their own pieces about a special room (real or imaginary) with the focus on using great describing words.
- Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad, Day by Judith Viorst: After hearing about Alexander’s day, students drew 6 scene pictures from either their best or worst day. They then used the pictures to help sequence events and complete their writing pieces.

I hope that you were able to find a few new ideas and are now feeling inspired! I had a blast sharing with you on the Who’s Who blog for the first time. If you liked what you read I would love for you to connect with me through my own blog, facebook page, or Teacher’s Pay Teachers store.  Thanks again for stopping by!
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Wednesday, February 25, 2015

Why Teaching in a Departmentalized Classroom Rocks

Hey you all!! I am super excited to be writing my first guest blog post! This is Melanie from Momma with a Teaching Mission. I am a 1st grade teacher. The school I teach in is Pre-k through 5th. We have over 700 students. This year in 1st grade we decided to become departmentalized.
Now being that I have taught in a departmentalized class for 117 days, I can safely say that I truly have loved being departmentalized.

For us, last year was a horrible year in terms of gains and growth with our first grade students. Anymore, students come being so stimulated from constantly playing games or having some sort of stimulation that makes competing with that as their teacher impossible!! Even if we took 5 brain breaks a day, we found it to be unbearable to keep their attention!!

We asked ourselves----So what should we do? How can we change things? We ended up losing 2 of our teammates, to new positions. So with 2 brand new teachers, and me only having 1 year teaching experience under my belt, we decided to completely switch it up. Because the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting different results :) So why not?

After discussing our ideas with administration, we decided that the five of us would teach five different subjects. Fundations (our phonics program, and pull 2 small groups), Reading (and pull 2 small groups), math, science/social studies, and writing. We each would teach one subject for a marking period. (There are 4 marking periods in a school year). Our schedule worked that the 5 fifty minutes worked out perfectly, having four 50 minute rotations before lunch, then lunch and recess, then the 5th and final rotation after lunch, then to encore (pe/art/music/media).

The 1st marking period we had kids switch with their homeroom class. This got the job done, however it was just crazy to differentiate for them. Then the 2nd marking period started, we grouped the kids more homogeneously, however, it was still pretty heterogeneous with some high/mid and mid/low mixtures of students. So 3rd marking period rolls around. We have a pretty large GATE (gifted and talented enrichment) population in 1st grade and they get pulled for 50 minutes at a time. We also have a lot of kiddos with needs, and no intervention teachers, or assistants. So we thought, why can't we make our schedule so the GATE students are all together, and when they get pulled that teacher that is supposed to have them, then co-teaches with the kiddos that need the most support--making it even smaller groups!! Our administration loved this idea!! And we do too!

We took our 2nd round of map tests in January and saw GIGANTIC gains!! I'm talking the average was 13-15 points. We even had some kids grow 30 points!!!! I am so excited for the 3rd and final round of MAP testing scores in May to see how much more they grow :)

It has been tremendous for our students. The movement from class to class every 50 minutes is fantastic for the kiddos. They get to experience 5 different teaching styles. As teachers, we have 5 pairs of eyes, on each student. We are all accountable for the entire grade. There isn't a competitive nature of my class or your class. We are truly working as a team.   When parents want to meet, there is 5 of us. And all of us have data and something powerful to say about their child.

AND OH MY GOODNESS---Planning purposes--you become an expert at the subject you are teaching!! Currently I am teaching math, so that is my focus!! Now yes, of course I differentiate from each group, but I don't have to hop back from what am I teaching today in reading, math, writing, social studies, and whatever else!!

As far as a behavior incentive for 98 kiddos, I created a wall of fame. If the students do something fantastic they get their name on the wall of fame. If they continue to do something well, or participate when no one else is, or do a random act of kindness, or show integrity---they get to put a star beside their name. If they earn 5 stars in a week, they get to pick a prize outta the prize box. BUT HERE'S THE CATCH!! On Friday, when I leave, I erase the wall of fame, and we start fresh and clean the next week. I find this has really increased their participation, integrity, and kindness, especially since they know they only have 5 days until it gets erased and they have to start over! :)

As a team, we have loved being departmentalized. We are constantly saying, why haven't we done it this way before?!? Even the administration is looking at a new way to think about it within our entire school!! How much of a compliment is that!!!

Hopefully you can tell that being departmentalized has been an incredible experience for me!! Please feel free to swing on over to my blog to read more about my experiences and lessons!! Momma with a teaching mission blog
 Also check out my TpT store :) Momma with a Teaching Mission TpT
Ohhh and I can't forget to mention to SAVE some money by taking advantage of the sale TODAY over on Teachers Pay Teachers! Momma with a Teaching Mission TPT my store is on sale 20% off everything! Make sure to enter the code heroes to take full advantage to get the 28% off everything in my store!!

Tuesday, February 24, 2015

3 Ways to Help Students Master Sequencing

Hello from Michigan! I’m Kelsea, a former 4th grade general education and PreK-8th grade special education teacher turned full-time momma of three (3 yrs and under)! J I blog over at Teacher Gems. I am eager to share some fun ideas with you today to help students master sequencing!

Sequencing is understanding how a series of objects, events, and time occur in a specific and logical order. Because of it’s abstract nature, sequencing can be a difficult skill to master. Yet it is an important skill used in many areas of life. In our daily lives we sequence events such as getting dressed, eating breakfast and going to school. Sequencing is also used across subject areas. We sequence numbers in math, order events in history, sequence steps in a science process, etc. Perhaps the most well-known concept of sequencing occurs in reading when retelling the events of a story.

There are many ways to teach sequencing. Below are three simple methods that will help your students master the skill. Ideally these methods are taught in progression moving through the steps as students become more proficient. However, they can also be taught simultaneously depending on students' prior knowledge and comprehension level.

We naturally sequence in our daily living. A great way to sneak in some extra practice is to intentionally expose students to sequencing without necessarily teaching it. For example, you can use picture schedules (like these free ones) to help students begin to think about sequencing. When giving directions for an activity use simple picture cue cards to illustrate each step (i.e. first color the picture, next cut out the shape and last paste it into your booklet). Put the picture cue cards on a whiteboard in sequential order for students to follow.

Use task analysis to practice sequencing. Task analysis involves taking a simple task like brushing your teeth and breaking it down into step by step instructions. A fun activity to practice this is to have students create posters. Students might make a poster that shows a toothbrush, another poster that shows toothpaste being put on a toothbrush and a third poster that shows the toothbrush brushing teeth. Once students have made their posters talk about them as a class. Can anyone think of any other steps that might be needed for brushing teeth? Try to get students to really think about the details involved such as twisting the lid off the toothpaste, squeezing the tub of toothpaste, turning the sink on, rinsing the toothbrush afterwards, etc. Create a bulletin board with students' completed posters.

Creating an environment of sequencing will give students a jump start to learning this important skill. After introducing students to sequencing through their environment it's time to move on to intentionally teaching the skill.

Helping students master the skill of sequencing will increase their reading comprehension and, depending on how you teach it, will strengthen their writing skills. As a special educator I found that often students who struggled with reading comprehension also struggled with sequencing. When practicing sequencing of a story these students would easily get frustrated with the task and give up. Once students have given up on a task it is much harder to motivate them to try it again. This can be detrimental to learning since mastery of a task takes practice.

Instead of burdening students to come up with a correct answer, I found that students were much more encouraged to try an open-ended task. For example, instead of having my students cut and paste sentences with the main events of the story in order (where if they were incorrect they were stuck!), I created a sequencing sort skill center with picture cards to order. This center allowed students to work on mastering the skill in isolation from reading. So instead of having the picture cards related to a story we read, I came up with picture card sets of three things that went together and let the students write their own story after they sequenced the pictures. This takes the pressure off the student to get a correct answer. While the three picture cards in a set have a seemingly obvious logical order, students can come up with a different order that works for them.

Having students write about the order will give insight into whether or not they are thinking logically about the sequence of events. For example, the picture set below is meant to be sequenced as follows: First you mix together all the ingredients, next you put the pie in the oven to bake and last you take the pie out of the oven and eat it. A child may, however, put the picture of the oven first and in their explanation say, “First you preheat the oven, next you mix together all of the ingredients and last you take the pie out of the oven.” Some might even argue that this explanation is superior to the former (as most recipes call for preheating the oven prior to mixing together the ingredients).

Using picture cards allows students to easily rearrange the images if they think of a better way to sequence them. Having students write their own stories to go along with the picture cards gives the teacher a better understanding of students' thought processes. This in turn will help the teacher to plan more individualized instruction.

Once students have mastered the skill of sequencing in isolation it is time to add the element of reading. Start with three simple pictures that summarize the story and work toward adding more pictures with more details as students become gain proficiency. Practice sequencing as a whole class by placing the picture cards in sequential order in a pocket chart.

Assign students events from a story to illustrate. Have them cut out their pictures and paste them onto popsicle sticks. Then have students come up to the front of the room and arrange themselves (with their popsicle stick) in order of how the events occurred in the story.

Another fun way for students to independently practice sequencing after reading is by using these free story apps. Students listen to a story that is read to them and then sequence four picture cards. Once they have sequenced the pictures they can record themselves retelling the main events of the story.

I hope you have enjoyed reading these ways to help students master sequencing! If you have more tips for teaching sequencing please share in the comments below. If you're interested in using my sequencing sort skill center with your students you can find it by clicking on the image above. Thanks for reading! 

Be sure to stop by my blog and say hello!

Monday, February 23, 2015

Interactive Notebooks: Rubric and Grading

Hi, everyone! It's Jaime from Bright Concepts 4 Teachers! I am so excited to be blogging for the first time here at Who's Who and Who's New!

I LOVE using interactive notebooks in my primary classroom. I teach 2nd grade and started using interactive notebooks for math. Now, I also use them for reading and language standards. Today, I am going to share with you how I grade and use rubrics when it comes to interactive notebooks. 

It is important to understand what I am going to share with you, works for me and my students in my classroom. Please take the tips and tricks and use the ones that will work for YOU. I use interactive notebooks a couple times a week in my classroom, depending on our schedule. I DO NOT grade EVERY SINGLE page. First, I think that is humanly impossible and it does not use our teaching time to the best interest of our students. I always let the students know ahead of time if the page is going to be graded. I also only grade pages that I feel have been thoroughly taught and practiced. 

At the beginning of the year, when we are setting up our interactive notebooks, each student glues a rubric to the inside front cover of their notebook. We go over the rubric step-by-step so everyone has clear expectations. As a reminder, I also display the rubric on the board when pages are being graded. I use a 4-point star rubric that matches our other classroom grades and report card grades. 

This is the rubric I use in my classroom. If you would like a copy, click the picture or HERE to grab your FREE copy. 

When the students feel they have completed a page or I have given them PLENTY of time to complete the page, I have them SELF grade their work based on the rubric and write one thing they would like to do better next time. Then, I grade and comment on the student page. This strategy forces the students to focus on their work quality, performance, and self reflect. Sometimes, I just have a quick conversation with each student about their work effort instead of them writing down their reflection. It just depends how the day is going and if there are any time constraints.
This student gave herself 3-stars. When we reflected together, she said she thought she could be neater and she wasn't 100% sure she placed all the words in the correct pockets. I explained that she did a beautiful job and she needs to trust herself and her knowledge. Yes, we can always improve, but she was hard on herself. So sweet! 

This is another example of a student who had complete understanding of the concept being reviewed, but was also able to express ways they wanted to improve next time.

If a student is struggling and their grade is 1 or 2 stars, I always follow up with them. Sometimes I pair them up with a stronger student to help them finish or fix the page they are struggling with. I also pull a small group of students aside and work with them on the interactive notebook page and concept when the rest of the class is working independently. 

I hope this post has helped you with grading and using rubrics and interactive notebooks in your classroom. If you would like to take a closer look at the math, reading, and language interactive notebooks I have in my TpT store for grades K-4, click HERE

Sunday, February 22, 2015

Reinforcing Place Value Understanding with Young Mathematicians

Hi, this is Brandi from The Research Based Classroom and I'm excited to join the lineup of bloggers here at Who's Who. This past week we did a little bit of a scoot, with a little bit of sugar, to create a fun practice for helping to solidify our understanding of place value. I just call it Skittle Math. Since I'm teaching first grade right now, the numbers aren't very high and that keeps the sugar levels a bit lower too. You could easily do this with any small candy. I chose Skittles, because they don't even tempt me. Had this been M-n-M's I would have been in trouble!
You will need paper plates or paper towels, popsicle sticks, a bag of candy and a container of frosting.

Give each student a portion cup of candy. Don't count - just pour the candy in. It's better if you get a variety of numbers so try to make some less full and others more full. The students used a popsicle stick to spread the frosting onto another popsicle stick in order to "glue" their bundles of ten together. Yes, it would be less messy to have students use squeezable frosting, but I wanted everyone to be able to do this at the same time and I didn't want to buy multiple containers of frosting. So I just put frosting into bowls for groups of students to use and they spread it with a popsicle stick.
Each group of ten candies must be bundled onto a popsicle stick to make a stick of ten.
This student has 1 ten and 9 ones.
After everyone had their Skittles organized into tens and ones, we scooted around to practice counting, sketching and recording the number of candies that our classmates had.

Click on the picture to grab a copy of my student record sheet.
This is a pretty easy practice that my students thought was a blast. Plus I love that they get to move around while they are practicing counting and sketching double digit numbers. And for the fast finishers, I had them flip their paper over and just keep going until everyone finished their work. Thanks for stopping by to read this post. You can also find me at:

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Playing Uno During Math Small Group

Hi y'all! I'm  Francheryl from Primary Essentials.  I'm so excited to be apart of Who's Who and Who's New.  I teach K-5 math and reading intervention in the great state of Texas.

I use Uno cards to play games with many of my intervention groups, but rarely do we ever actually play Uno except in Kindergarten!  I use this game to practice number recognition for numbers 0-9.

You would be surprised the excitement this little deck of cards can bring your way!  I always have everyone's attention.  I remove all the special cards (like +2, reverse, skip, draw four, etc)  except the regular wild card.  You will need some way to change the color. 

I'm usually a player in the game with the students and I facilitate and keep the game moving.  I have the students lay their cards flat on the floor or table in front of them.  This way I can easily help my students make a decision on weather to play or pull a card from the deck.

We play the game the tradition way matching either the number or color.  The biggest difference is the students must say the number they are playing as they lay it on the discard pile.  Wild cards are used to change the color.  I usually help them pick a color to change it to, because they will pick the color they like most rather than a color that will help them play.  I don't require them to say Uno when they get down to one card either.  They person that gets rid of all their cards first wins that round!  It's pretty simple and they LOVE to play!  Who says you can't play Uno at school???  Next time I'll share other ways I use card games like Uno and Skipbo in my intervention groups!  Feel free to hop over and check out my blog or TPT store.

Well that's all I got!  I'll see you around the blogging world.