Merry Christmas from My Family to Yours

I hope you have a wonderful and blessed Christmas!



Silence for Sandy Hook



"How Many More Days Until...?"

I am sure your students have already started the count down, "How many more days until Christmas?"  I can't blame them, but mine is like, "How many more days until I get a break?!"  It is only Monday and I am ticking off the days until I can sleep in.  Or sleep in as much as possible with a two year old.  There is a BIIIIGGG difference between 5:45 am and 7:45 am in book!!

Today we started our count down chains (cute and fluffy time filler) and I forgot to take a picture.  Whoops.  I will get around to it!

However, THIS is a time management strategy I have meaning to get around to all year.  And finally did this month.  Better than nothing, right?  I can't take credit for it. I saw it in a college's room 2 years ago and loved the idea.  Although December is a great time to start, it would be useful ANY time of year.

I took a laminated, blank calendar from the school supply store and hung it up over the pencil sharper where it would get lots of views.  Above the calender I hung sticky clips and the hung all the months to the right on sticky clips. This makes it super easy to change out the months.

Using a dry erase marker I filled in the dates and any important events.  Obviously December is very full :)!

Now kids can look at the calendar and plan ahead for things like library day and bringing money for the Holiday Shop. Maybe.  I hope.

And I mentioned my big announcement last week.  It really is only a big announcement to my family and I, but we are expecting our own sweet bundle of joy at the end of June.  I have been too sick and tired to blog much, but  I will try to get better.  I am pretty useless when I am pregnant (I am not a glower, more like a, well you don't want to know that!) but I am hoping to find myself again in the upcoming weeks.  Then I can go back to the things I enjoy like cooking a real dinner instead of mac n' cheese, and playing with my blog :).

I am linking up my simple made it over at 4th Grade Frolics



Tying Text Features into Science and Social Studies

Are you studying text features?  Here is a simple way to tie text features and reading strategies into science or social studies.  Not rocket science, but a lot of bang for your buck!

Find a science on social studies text- big book preferably.  Start the lesson by looking at the table of contents and creating questions using the table of contest.  This accomplishes two things. 1.) It teaches students to use text features to create questions- which are important for setting a purpose for reading. 2.) If you use the DRA kit as an assessment this is required with text starting at the end of second grade.  My itty bitties are clueless at first unless this has been explicitly taught. 

Then look through the first chapter (or small selection of text- the chapters in this social studies big book are only about 4 pages) of the book, flipping pages so students can preview each page.  Ask students to note what text features they see on each page.  Have students turn and share with a partner. Share with the whole group and LABEL each text feature with a post-it note.  Then examine each text feature, reading captions, and modeling thinking aloud how they help the reader.  I think this is where I ran out of time and picked up with the following the next day!!!

The little red arrow points to the labeled post it note!  You can see a stack of other post it notes behind it marking the other pages!!

Review the questions created.  Show students the HEADING of the first chapter.  Show how the table of contents and the chapter heading are related (this goes over some of my guy's heads!!).  Have students look at the brainstormed list of questions.  Ask students to share with a partner which questions will most likely be answered in the first chapter.  These required kids to reason using the heading, but scaffolds because you already started with the chapter titles (if that makes sense).    Circle the questions that will most likely be answered. Read the chapter and then look at the question.  Have students answer the questions and record on the chart.

Rinse and repeat for each chapter you would like to teach.

It may not be the most fascinating lesson ever, but it was SO easy to plan and my kids were with me EVERY step of the way.  They were really interested in the historical people we study in Georgia and the turn and share with partner broke up a lot of the sit and get.  We turn and talk a BUNCH.

If you are looking for resources for teaching nonfiction text features I just finished my new pack.  It is on sale right now with the big Cyber Monday and Tuesday sale! Don't forget to use the code CMT12 for an extra 8% off!



Daily Math Pages (Freebie!)

I am lucky to work in a district that believes in using rubrics and standards based reporting.  We are given a pacing calendar of everything that must be taught in a quarter.  However, not everything has to be formally reported on the report card.  In grades k-3 we score on scale of 1 (limited progress), 2 ( making some progress) or a 3 (mastery).  Teachers are given a rubric that describes exactly (for the most part) what is a 3 in each area.  For example, exactly what is a 3 in addition and subtraction.  It is a blessing.

I have taken the rubric and turned it into a Daily Math Page (creative name, I know!!).  I look at the rubric and divided a page into the same amount of text boxes.  Each text box is an area on the report card.  Students get a packet for the week and complete one page each independent period (usually 3-4 times per week). The last page of the packet is a copy of the report card rubric.  I grade each text box with a  1,2, or 3 (since each text box is a different area in math) and then score the rubric at the end.  

Here is an example of the page:

While I do record the grades to show progress I will NOT average the scores together  for the report card at the end of the nine weeks.  Our district believes (as I do) in reporting what the child is able to do at the END of the grading period rather than averaging scores.  Averaging scores punishes the child that might take a bit longer to master a skill  but still mastered it at the end of the grading period.  I am recording more to note if students do or do not retain skills.  THAT is always enlightening!

Granted, I have only done this system for a week but I already love it!  It shows VERY clearly for parents the child's weaknesses in math- more so than random worksheets with each worksheet being a different topic.  Parents can really see the big picture.  

I will say that many of the skills we teach are recycled so it is easy to do this.  Whatcha think?

About ready to get your shop on???  Tons of great deals Monday and Tuesday!!!



Addition and Subtraction without Regrouping Freebie

I have talked about my love from Grab and Go games in the past.  Here is another version of a Grab and Go game for math groups I will use after the break to watch how students add and subtract without regrouping.  I love how easily these games work and how the kids LOVE them!!!

Actually I won't do it.  My partner teacher is doing this with her groups.  We have changed up our math instruction (again).

We divided the class into three groups.  One group will be with her learning how to add and subtract.  That is her only goal for the quarter.  I am in charge of teaching the rest ( geometry, fractions, place value, measurement).  She is REALLY good at explaining addition and subtraction and we decided to capitalize on that.  We figured we can meet more often with kids and cover more concepts in the week if we do it this way.  The one group NOT meeting with a teacher completes a Daily Math page (I will share this one day- like Monday!) and then can play a game with a partner if available or alone if a partner is not available.

Does that make sense?

Click here for this great pack of FREE math centers, plus get tips and updates from me!



TpT Sale and a Sneaky Giveaway

I know it has been a million years (or at least it seems) since I have posted but I have a good reason...I really do.  I just can't tell you. Yet.  But I will.  Soon. Pinky promise.

I am trying to get back on the posting wagon, but I am not making any promises on that front. BUT I do have good news.

First bit of good news.  Teachers Pay Teachers is having their HUGE Cyber Monday sale this er, well, Monday. It looks great- many sellers including myself will have their stores 20% and then TpT will take 10% off which somehow makes it ... 28% off.  I have no idea how that math works but people much smarter than me have explained it many times and I just nod my head and smile and ask them to pass the cookies. Just don't forget to use the code- CMT12!!

Michelle over at The 3am Teacher is hosting a lovely link up.

I wanted to highlight a couple of my  favorites that WILL be on sale.
1.  My BRAND spankin' new pack (this is that second thing!!)
I am so proud of this guy.  The description is miles long of details  but let me just say it is packed with 50 pages of nonfiction text features goodies.  I am also giving away 2 free copies on my Facebook page by tonight if you want to clicky right over :)

Another favorite is my Christmas Vocabulary unit.  LOVE the crafts.  Since we teach up to the Friday before Christmas (I am already shakin' in my boots and praying for snow, which never happens in Georgia but still...) it might help keep kids engaged until the end (or close).
Please note that the super cute craft with the grouch green guy?  It had to be removed.  Apparently LOTS went around with copyright infringement and I don't want the good doctor (I am afraid to even type his name.  Maybe he is HE THAT MUST NOT BE NAMED guy?  Nah.) to take my house.  I am sure you understand.  I did replace it with another, not nearly as cute craft, but cute.  So sorry :(.

Are you ready to start buying?  My wish list is FULL and I am ready to charge (just don't tell my husband!).



Flash Freebie: Division

Flash Freebie from now until Sunday morning!

Basic Division Tic-Tac-Toe Game!

Here is a description:
This is a math game that uses the tic-tac-toe format to reinforce basic division. Students will practice division with word problems with basic division facts. The only materials needed to play are a pocket chart and the provided game cards.
 This 10 page file includes
 *cover sheet
 *teacher direction
 *student directions
 *9 division word problem cards
 * one sheet of 6 o cards
 * one sheet of 6 x cards
 * thank you page
 * credit page

I would appreciate any ratings if you chose to download!  Thank you!



Building in Daily Review with Morning Work- FREEBIE!

I have always done a version of morning work in which students practice math skills each day.  We do this to reinforce skills and make sure students maintain them.  We changed Friday to ELA practice and often use this as an assessment if we need a quick one!

Here is how it works: After students finish morning work, they bring it to me to check.  I either let them choose a sticker because the work is all correct OR I guide them and send them back to their seats to fix or correct a mistake.  When they finish, they bring the work BACK to me!  If they still don't get it, I reteach then and there- and THEN they get a sticker   If they get it right- they get a sticker.  Do you see a theme?   They love the stickers and work to get them.  Since I have a million-bazillion I have no problem sharing. :)

Here is how I store the stickers
Look WAYYYYYY  down that brown shelf.  It is in the clear, little index card box to the far right side of the brown shelf. Kids simple pick a sticker out of the box.  Done.  Nice and easy.

This is our morning work for NEXT week (Nov 5th).  We are out Tuesday, so we did not include a Tuesday page.
We are considering selling these on either a monthly or weekly basis.  Would you be interested in something like this?  If so, what do you think is a reasonable price?

Click here for this great pack of FREE math centers, plus get tips and updates from me!



Flash FREEBIE! Until 9:00 pm EST Only!

This is my first time doing this, so I will have to see how this goes!

From now (5:30 EST) until 9:00 pm EST tonight my Subtraction Tic-Tac-Toe will be FREE! It is normally $2!

The purpose of this game is to practice subtraction. Students will practice subtracting up to 4 digits,
subtracting across zeros and making change.

This 12 page file includes:
*cover sheet
*teacher direction
*directions with pictures on how to create game
*student directions
*9 subtraction word problem cards
* recording sheet for students
*one sheet of 6 o cards
* one sheet of 6 x cards
* thank you page
* credit page

If you have a chance, I would love some feedback and ratings!  Thank you!




Getting It Organized and Making It Pretty : Binders

I will not stuff papers in my desk, spill water bottles all over my desk top, lose my pencils, lose my textbooks

...I am the teacher, I am the teacher.

Anyone else feel that way?

I am yet again facing Organization Monster.  I will win (maybe)!

Want to get organized with me?  Here is what you need...

  • a binder (2 inch or larger)
  • Post It Tabs (I got mine at Staples)
  • Clear page Protectors

You will also need a few printables.  For this project I printed out my free organizational binder pages.  Click on the picture to snag them for FREE by liking my Facebook page.

My cutie Common Core Standards. If you would like a copy of the cutie standards, they are exclusive freebies on my Facebook page- hop over and like it to get it FREE!  I have 1st- 5th grades completed!

Adorable printable calendar by Molly from Classroom Confections (only 1.75 on TpT).

Last year I tried using teacher organizational binders and they were a big step in the right direction, but after some reflecting I could have tweaked a few things to make them more efficient and effective.

So I have.  Want to join me in getting started?!

This is my planning binder.  It will contain all the things I need to keep track of assessments and planning (I hope).

Lesson Plans: We are required to complete out lesson plans online using the program OnCourse.  I still like to print out a copy and take notes on them as needed.   I am just going to print them out and hole punch them an add them here : ).

Grading: This will not be student works samples. I am thinking more like checklists and a spread sheet of student performance.  We do standard based reporting on a scale of 1 (does not meet, 2 (progressing), 3 (meets), 3+ (exceeds) so will look less like a grade book and more like checklists.

Calendar- I have a copy of all my district provided calendars in this section- we have about a million!

Standards and Pacing Guides- In this section I have my super cute Common Core Standards and then this adorable pink and black calendar set by Molly from Classroom Confections.  I went ahead and printed them out and dated them.  My partner and I then plan for each quarter based on our student's needs.  Since I teach in a co-taught setting, sometimes our pace is a little different than the other classrooms :).   I find when we actually sit and talk about what our kids needs and look at the schedule in a realistic, imperfect, chaos filled- new-activity-thrown-in way, we can actually accomplish MUCH more than the "pie in the sky" pacing guides I used to make in the past. When I took the picture I hadn't written in August yet.  I think I need a more current picture!  I also included my "I Can" statements in this section as well.

Psssttt...Don't forget to click on over to my Facebook page for a short and long vowel assessment freebie ;)!  Enjoy!

Whew!  I think that is it!



Beginning, Middle, and End Freebie

Freebie Fridays

A couple of weeks ago I blogged about teaching story elements and answering questions.  The last activity I mentioned was this anchor chart to bridge story elements with beginning, middle, and end.

Then I introduced this anchor chart

which I totally stole from First Grade Fresh.  I hate to say it, but her poster is MUCH cuter!!!  I forgot to add some of the information she included (and now wished I had!). I may just remake the whole she-bang!
*Please do not pin this chart from my blog.  Please click on the picture to pin it from the original site. This will give credit where credit is due.  Thank you!

She also has an ADORABLE plot graphic organizer that we have been using in our listening center.  It is her free item in her TpT store and matches the anchor chart!

To assess student's ability to identify the beginning, middle, and end of a story we created plot "wallets."

To make this students needed a sheet of 8 x 12 inch construction paper, three index cards, and this printable (I cut the sheet in half "hot dog style" so the paper is actually for TWO students).

To make the actual "wallet" I folded up a small section of the paper paper (not quite halfway) and stapled the left and right edge.  Then I folded the paper into thirds like a men's wallet.  The students glued on the labels from the printable above.

Students wrote the beginning, middle, and end on the index cards (like credit cards!) and then sorted them on the correct pocket.  If the students had time they could draw pictures on the back of the index card (blank side) to illustrate.  The book that we used was 


We read only one of the short stories (Spring, I think) and used this to write the beginning, middle, and end.  I was afraid my kiddos would get confused because  there are a collection of stories, but I was happily surprised when all of them followed directions and wrote about the correct story. Yahoo!  I will say, I may choose a different picture book next time, just in case!

Do you feel like you need more help with reading instruction?

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Parent Teacher Conferences- Winner!

This is just a quickie of a post :).

I need to announce the winners of the parent teacher conference sheet.  We have half days all week so we are lucky enough to spread our conferences over this time period.  That means I only had 8 conferences today!

Ms. Smith and Danceroo46!!!

Danceroo46- it is in the mail.  Ms. Smith, please email me at mandyholland and I will send it your way!  Thanks so much!!!


Parent Teacher Conferences

I am going to do something I have NEVER done before- republish a post! Ackk!  I feel so guilty for not creating a new post, BUT  I do have a reason.  Our parent- teachers conferences are coming up next week as I am sure many of yours are as well.  I thought the post was a good one that is chock-full of freebies.  I posted it a year ago when I did not have many followers and I am not sure how many people got to take advantage of the freebies! is that blast from the past post!


I can't believe that parent- Teacher conferences are starting TOMORROW!  Woo- Hoo!  That means  that in just a few weeks we have Thanksgiving Break and then soon after that is the long Winter Holidays!  Our district was moving toward a more balanced calendar last year.  The Board decided to return to the more traditional calendar this school year.  Now that I have had a taste of those fall breaks, I must say I miss it dearly!  How spoiled I got in just one year!

Since conferences start tomorrow I thought I would share some of the conference forms and parent handouts I have collected over time.  NONE of these are my original creations.  I have tried to cite the original author or cite when I knew or recognized the work, but unfortunately most of this has been lost over time.  I did take the content and "pretty it up."  If you are the author or recognize the work, please let me know so I can give credit where credit is due.

This sheet has helpful English and Grammar sites

This is a questionnaire to send home prior to conferences to get a feel for what a parent may want to discuss.

A collection of website in Reading, Writing, Spelling and Math
Double check to make sure all of the links are still active!

I  DID NOT create this handout- I just added the graphics and fonts and such.  This was originally on the Mosaic Listserv but the page it was from is not longer active.   I could not find the exact document anywhere  online?  Does anyone remember this link?

I have created a conference check list for teachers to use as a guide to prepare for conferences and also as a guide for discussion. It is available on Teachers Pay Teachers for $2.00.  The check list is a Word document and is customizable once it is downloaded.  Please feel free to check it out!

I will give away a free copy of the conference sheet below to the first 3 visitors that leave a comment correctly guessing the number of conferences that I have Monday that actually show up.  It should be interesting since even I don't know the answer yet!!!

I will announce the winner on Tuesday!


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