Thursday, January 23, 2014

Math Facts and Computation

Dang it is coooooooooollllldddddd!  

This polar vortex is turning me into an agoraphobic (that's when you don't go outside, right?).  It almost seems like there's just no reason to even change out of my pajamas - ever.  But of course, for my family's sake, I do.  Plus, one of these days I will have to go back to work and not have snow cold days.  

So while I'm snuggled up on the couch with a blanket, a cup of coffee, and wearing my PJ's, I thought I'd share what we are doing in math lately.  

I love teaching math!  
But I also stress out about teaching math to my little firsties.  
Having taught 3rd and 4th grade for 10 years, I KNOW where these little kiddos will be going in the next couple years.  I had some students who struggled so much with math by the time they got to 3rd grade and it broke my heart to see how difficult it was for them.  I feel like it's now my job, as a first grade teacher, to be sure NONE of my students will struggle with math in 3rd grade or ever.  Obviously this is setting the bar pretty high, and is probably not possible.  I just think that the foundation of mathematical understanding and number sense is so so SO important and I need to be sure I am preparing my students for what is to come with common core and testing and life.  

So here we are, half way through the school year and I start to freak out a little bit.  I am assessing like crazy to be sure that the kids are where I feel that they need to be in order to reach the standards by the end of the year.  

We've been reviewing addition through 20 with two and three addends.  This is just one example of one of my Common Core Math Centers (Set 2).  

I have Super Sums centers all like this to go through sums of 20.  I expect this to be review for the kids at this point in the year, so if I see kiddos still struggling with these then that is a huge red flag for me.  
Rewind, reteach, and provide intervention!

Then we took a good amount of time talking about subtraction and how it is the same and different from addition. We made this anchor chart together and they cam up with just about everything on this chart on their own.  That was a good sign for me.  
*sigh of relief* 

It seemed like the class had a decent grasp of subtraction, which of course can be a more difficult concept.  We've practicing our subtraction with centers like Dazzling Differences.  I also have these through 20 and we use and reuse these different center all the time.  

I've been doing a guided math approach this year so these centers have been part of our rotation while I work with small groups of students.  I don't think I will ever teach math a different way.  It is so helpful for me to keep track of my students' progress and so great to have students really focus on what we're learning.  We are now moving into more difficult concepts like missing addends and true/false equations.  

Here is a quick example of what we were doing in my small group to help practice missing addends.  We draw the model to represent the parts and the whole.  Then I have students count how many they have and count up to find the missing addend.  Nothing fancy, but it does the trick.

Here is another extremely basic (not very pretty) way we practiced true and false equations in small groups.  This is just a white board and post-its.  I tried to throw in all different types of equations here.  Some of the equations I used in this example (since the picture isn't the best) are:
7 = 5 + 2  (answer first)
2 + 3 + 1 = 6 (3 addends)
10 = 10 (not sure what this is called, but it always tricks them)
2 + 3 = 4 + 1  (balanced equations)
and there is one with a visual representation and two equal signs 
7 = ******* = 5 + 2

This is just one center that can be used to practice one part of this.   

I am in the process of making another set of Common Core Math Centers that would include true/false equations.  If you are interested in these centers (there are tons more in this pack including a bunch that review place value), click on the cover below.  

I've also been on the hunt for a good system for achieving math fact fluency and I think I've found it!!!  

Click on the picture below to go to a post by Julie at First Grade Critter Cafe.  She wrote a great post explaining Bubble Gum Math (a product by Fluttering through First Grade).  It is suuuuuper cute and I think kids would love this!  That's right - I said it - they would love taking timed tests and learning their math facts.  Genius!

I can't wait to try this out in my room.  

Finally, just a few shout outs . . .

A Burst of First is having an awesome giveaway.  
You can win my Valentine's Day pack among many other awesome prizes.  Check it out!!

Also, did you hear that the Winter Olympics are this year???  
Well, my friend Molly at Lucky to be in First has made this ridiculously awesome pack of math and literacy games to tie into it.  You have GOT TO check this one out.  

And last but not least ----- a bunch of blogging buddies and I have started a new collaborative Facebook page called Firstie Friends.  We would love if you would follow us.  There are over 80 different first grade teachers working together on this one so you are sure to get tons of great ideas, freebies, and more! 

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Animals in Winter

It's 10:30 am on a Wednesday and I'm sitting at home on my couch listening to Mickey Mouse Clubhouse in the background.  Why, you ask?  We have a snow day today.  Actually, it's a COLD day because of the -20˚ wind chill outside.  It's funny because the weather is actually beautiful - well, at least from my view from the couch.  There's blue skies and sunshine.  I can hear the sound of birds in the air my furnace on overload.  Ok, so maybe I'll continue enjoying the view from INSIDE my nice, warm house.  It almost makes me wish I had a sunroom or morning room so I could pretend it was warmer outside by letting the sun pour in through the windows.  I'll have to add sunroom to my long list of "Things to find on Pinterest that will probably never happen". 

So, because today is a snow day I thought it was a good time to show you what I've been working on (for longer than I'd like to admit).  Winter is in the air -- well for me at least.  So here is a glimpse into my new Animals in Winter non-fiction unit.  I'm kinda in love with it right now.  I just finished it the other day and then had a quick giveaway on my Facebook page and a little sale the day after.  What's that?  You don't follow me on Facebook or get a notice from TpT when I post new products.  I hope you'll fix that problem and head over to those places so you can be in the know next time.  =)

 First up in this unit is an Informational Mini-Book for shared reading.  There is a color copy for you to use as the teacher and a black and white copy to make for students to have their own.  I packed in a ton of important information in this book so your kiddos will be learning a lot.  Good time for an impromptu observation by your principal.  
Speaking of being observed. . . I'm sure your principals like to see the Common Core standards in action. So I included a bunch of practice to hit those reading for information standards.  You're welcome!

Included in those standards is learning new vocabulary, so that's in there too.  There's pieces to use when teaching the vocabulary and then a student book to fill in.  

Next up - writing.
There's papers for your students to write about what they learned and make their own book.  There's also templates for a class book about what kind of animal your kids would want to be in the winter and why.  

I also wrote a little fact filled song called Winter's Here.  

Finally, I included some center activities and printables to complete this thematic unit.   

Did I mention I can't wait to use this unit in the next couple weeks?  Sorry to keep bringing it up, but like I said, winter is all around us here and we might as well have some fun with it.  Even if you are not in the middle of a polar vortex in your neck of the woods, I hope you will find this a useful unit too.  Click on the cover below to check it out on TpT.  

And because I don't want to punish you for not following me on Facebook or TpT and I DO want to thank you for visiting my little blog --- I will do a Pin it to Win it giveaway for those of you who keep coming back to visit me here.  I truly am so thankful for your time and support!!

So go ahead and pin any image from this post and then leave me a comment with the pin URL and your email.  And because I LOVE reading your comments - let me know what winter is like where you live right now: Are you freezing in the vortex or wondering what this polar vortex thing is?  

Thanks so much for stopping by!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

Glimpse of my week

So I know I have no business complaining that my 2 week vacation is over and it's back to school tomorrow.  

How many times have I felt frustrated when people say that teachers are overpaid.  They only work part time with all their vacations and breaks.  Blah blah blah!  So yes, I did have 2 weeks off of school and I was actually able to switch my teacher brain off for a few days.  Because, although yes, we do have many days off during the year.  Days where we don't physically have to go to work.  But how many of those days do we actually turn off our teacher brains?  How many days do we have where we aren't thinking about, planning, creating, shopping for, learning, collaborating, etc?  If you're like me (and you probably are because you are spending time right now reading about teaching on your free time) - then there most likely are not too many days that fall into that category.  Just think if we were paid by the hour for ANY work we do for our jobs.  We would be stinkin' rich!  =)

So this morning (Sunday) I went into school for about 4 hours to take down Christmas and prepare for a new year.  I may or may not have cried a little on my way to school.  It was such a wonderful break spent with family that I was sad to have that part end.  We made so many wonderful memories...


As mentioned in a previous post - we went on the Polar Express train to the North Pole.  This was by far my favorite memory.  The kids wore their pajamas, talked to some Elves, and got their first present of Christmas from Santa - a bell!  So magical!!!

Sorry about the bad picture.

Christmas morning was the best!  Could not have been more perfect!!!

Some of the other highlights of our vacation were a trip to my Mom's, going to see Frozen, and going to Disney on Ice.  

So although I am looking forward to seeing those First Grade Smiles tomorrow morning - I will really miss the hugs, cuddles, laughs, and smiles that I had at home too.  

So as I sat in my classroom today and tried to turn that teacher brain back on (it was a little hard to find the switch) I thought it would be helpful to share what I have in store for my kiddos over the next few days.  I'm not at the point where I am doing visual plans like some of those super-fab bloggers out there, but here is a glimpse into my week.  

We will, of course, start out the week with our New Year's resolutions.  Can't wait to hear what my kiddos come up with this year.  I will be using this Ah-mazing freebie from Cara Carroll as well as creating this New Year's Glyph:



Our reading series (Treasures) has students reading a couple versions of  The Three Little Pigs.  In addition to these stories, I will also be pulling in some other fairytales that include three characters.  


We will be working on R-Blends this week and using this pack for extra practice and centers.  

And for our writing center this week, the kids will be writing about whether they would rather play inside or outside in winter.  My goal for them is to be able to give their opinion and at least 3 details about why or what they like to do.  We will share them on Friday and graph the results to see which wins.  



We are just about half-way through our school year and it is time for me to check in and see exactly where my kiddos are with their mathematical understanding and number sense.  At this point in the year, it is crucial to identify the students who have not picked up on some important aspects of number sense that they will need as the foundation of their mathematical success.  So we will be finishing up these two packs so I can see which students still struggle with subitizing, composing, decomposing, and representing numbers in various forms.  


Our math tubs this week will include these centers.  My favorite thing about this pack is I can reuse it throughout the year by just including different, more challenging, numbers.  According to common core, first graders need to be able to count to 120 and this pack provides practice for them to do that.  

So for those of you going back to school after break - enjoy those little kids!  Remember, they are probably missing their vacation days too.  

Next week --------------------PENGUINS!!!! =)

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Getting ahead (only a little)

First things first - there were two winners in the Pin it to Win it giveaway.  My girls picked #1 and #11 - so those two pinners will win what they pinned!  Check your emails ladies =)

I also just wanted to let you know that I am actually one month ahead on my Powerful Prompts and have finished February.  

These task cards are what I use in my weekly writing center.  I love having this center consistent each week and being able to give students more time during our day to write.  They have monthly writing journals that they use for this center and can also free write in throughout the month.  There is a file folder word wall for each month and some extra thematic ones in some months.  These portable word walls stay at the center all year long so they can refer back to them if they need to.  I also have cut and paste writing prompts that match the task cards.  This helps keep the kids on topic and helps me and the parents see what they were "supposed" to be writing about.  This is especially helpful when you have a hard time deciphering what your struggling writers were trying to write about.  

So for those of you who have contacted me to see when these are done each month, I worked extra hard just for you =)  I know how important it is to be able to plan ahead.  Hopefully I will now be able to stay a month ahead.  Thanks for your interest and kind feedback.  

Now I'm off to take down my Christmas decorations.  I would've earlier this week but I had the flu and was unable to move for 3 days.  Ugh!  Not what I wanted on my nice break, but at least I didn't have to write sub plans for missing school.  

Wednesday, January 1, 2014


This is an all-time record for me... I've blogged 3 days in a row!!!  
Hold the phone.  
Stop the presses.  
This is momentous.  
You are witnessing history in the making.  

Ok, enough of the melodramatic nonsense.  I'm just so dang impressed with myself.  
I just HAD to make it 3 days in a row for this super fun linky by Farley.  It's been a while since I've joined in and I was missing it.  

Here's the specifics:

Listening:  My kiddos are watching some super cute Doc McStuffins right now while I am on my computer.  Yep, I'm THAT mom right now, but I'm not feeling too bad because that show is so stinkin' adorable.  Sometimes I find myself singing the songs when no one else is around.  Actually, sometimes I even sing the songs in my classroom and my students just giggle (while they quietly hum along).  

Loving: I just LOVE vacations where we spend the whole day in PJ's.  I had the flu for a couple days and was forced to be in my PJ's.  That wasn't the loving I'm referring to.  I like the days when I choose to not get dressed, and no one can say anything about it.  Just me and my girls.  THE BEST!!

Thinking: I REALLY need to do some laundry.  That one's easy.  I should get off my pajama wearing buns and throw a load in....and then maybe get back on the couch and just wait for it to be done =)

Wanting: An extra week of vacation.  You know all that sitting around in my PJ's business.  Well, I haven't been as productive as I should've been so an extra week to check more things off on my to-do list would be great.  

Needing: That extra week of vacation (see above)

Favorite memory from this Christmas: going on the Polar Express train ride.  I think they have these all over.  It was so much fun and my girls were SOOOOOO excited to go to the "North Pole".  Santa and his elves got on the train and came around and talked with every family.  He then gave every child a Polar Express bell.  I might have been just as excited, maybe even more excited, than my kids were.  It was just so much fun.  This one will definitely become a tradition for us!  

Now head on over to Farley's blog to read more or even link up yourself!  And if you haven't entered my little Pin it to Win it yet, click HERE to see what you can win.  

Happy New Year!!!