January Currently

It's only hours until 2013, so I figured it was close enough to link up with the January Currently.

My husband and I settled in a town that is about 2 1/2 hours away from his family and 5 hours from mine.  Family has always been an important part of my life, but now that I have a child of my own, it means even more to see my daughter with them.  This year we were able to see both families and I couldn't be happier!

Last time I chose the word courage.  It has been my word all year:  courage to try new things and branch out of my comfort zone.

This time I chose the word happy.
I need to remember to surround myself with the people who make me happy and find more time for the people that bring happiness to my life. 

Welcome Winter Sale

Casey from Second Grade Math Maniac is hosting another linky party.  This one will help you find many great TpT sellers that are having sales this weekend.  Head on over and find some great deals!

Me on the Map

A few months ago I wrote a post about studying map skills with my students.  I mentioned a Pinterest project I wanted to try with my students.  It involved the following two ideas:
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After a long journey I am finaly ready to share our version of the project.  I provided the students with the maps, paper, labels, and oval templates.  Their job was to trace and cut out the pieces.  Since they did so much of the work, they are even more proud to show off their learning.

Now, here are a few close-ups of what we did with each page of the booklet:

Can You Keep a Secret? (X-Mas Gifts 2012)

I sent the students home with their family Christmas gifts yesterday. 

This is one example of the cards my students made.  We used the Christmas tree from our die-cut machine if the students chose a red card.  There was a white snowflake available if they chose a green card.  The card is attached to a brown paper lunch sack - high tech, I know :)

When the family opens the card, here is what they find inside:

And finally, when they open the sack and dig through the extra stuffing, the families will find a new ornament inside.  These were SUPER easy to make and are definitely cute (in my opinion).  They are clear glass ornaments that I found at Michaels (a craft store).  They are not round like a sphere, but have more of a flat surface.  The tops came off and a parent helped stuff them with cotton batting (cotton balls would probably work, too).  Then the kids used black and orange sharpie markers to make a snowman face. 

What did your students make for Christmas presents this year?

Tell Me Something Good

This morning we had an emergency staff meeting at school to have "the talk" before students arrived.  I thought I finally had myself pulled together emotionally and all it took was to hear the crack in my principal's voice and I got teary all over again.  Our staff speaks a lot to making sure we are taking care of ourselves so we can be the best for our students.  Stopping to focus on the positive behaviors, forcing a little laugh through a silly sentence activity during class, and looking into the innocent faces of my students was how I made sure I was taking care of myself today.  Knowing that they came to school feeling safe with me just warmed my heart.  So tonight when I saw that Jennifer from Rowdy in First Grade was hosting another Tell Me Something Good linky, I knew I needed to join in.
Something Good from School
We have been studying nonfiction text features this month.  After I teach a lesson about one or two features, the students dive into the nonfiction tubs and go on a scavenger hunt for the feature.  Last week we were talking about labels and captions.  The students partnered up and their job was to look for both labels and captions.  With their partner, they were to discuss whether what they found was a label or a caption and how they knew.  I watched and listened to two of my students engaged in their task and having a great conversation:
Boy: Hey, did you see this (pointing to text)?  It's a caption.
Girl: No, that's a label.  See how it tells you the parts of the picture?
Boy: No, it's a caption.  It's telling what the picture is about.
Girl: I don't think so.  I think if it's a caption it has to have more words in it.
Boy: Let's ask the teacher.
I was thrilled with their dialogue!
Something Good from Home
Our home is decorated for the holidays.  My daughter (21-months) has finally stopped taking all of the ornaments off of the tree.  She is no longer afraid of our dancing Santa and will push the button and dance right along with him.  The funniest part is if you ask her about Santa, she says, "ho, ho" (yes, she only says it twice).  It just melts a momma's heart!  We are a little overdue with the Santa visit this year, but we're hoping to go this weekend.  Any bets on whether we get a crying or smiling picture this year?
I have also enjoying baking a few treats in the past week.  My friend hosted a cookie exchange.  I made S'Mores cookies (recipe courtesy of The Girl Who Ate Everything).  It's hard to tell from the picture, but it's basically a cookie baked on top of a graham cracker with extra marshmallows and chocolate pieces melted on the top.  Yum!!
Now, I'm also a peanut butter/chocolate fan.  I saw this recipe on Pinterest and had to give it a try.  I must say that I was pretty impressed, but I need to work on the chocolate layer - it didn't turn out exactly as I had hoped.  Needless to say, a little bit goes a LONG way!
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So, head on over and tell Jennifer something good :)

Best Books for Boys & One LUCKY Day!

All day long I have been listening to people talk about why they think a date like 12-12-12 is a day of luck. I scoffed about it all day thinking it's just another ordinary day. Little did I know it was MY lucky day! First, my kids were extraordinarily well-behaved. Mind you, I always have a large handful who are little angels, but today was like no other! I received two planning periods since all of the second and third graders in our building needed joint concert rehearsal time. The Music and P.E. teachers did all of the supervising for us. Finally, I came home and when I opened up my e-mail account, I found out I was the BIG winner of Tanja's 12 Days of Giveaways. I cannot believe that I have won such AMAZING products!
Now, let's get back on track and talk about books for boys.

Courtney over at Swimming into Second is hosting a really fun linky party.  She is having bloggers share their best books for boys.  As if that wasn't great enough, one lucky participant will win a $25 Amazon.com gift card!
 Here are some of my favorite series for boys:

Time Warp Trio series written by Jon Scieszka

Magic Tree House series by Mary Pope Osborne

Marvin Redpost series by Louis Sachar

Black Lagoon series by Mike Thaler (series contains picture books and chapter books)

Magic School Bus series by Joanna Cole (this series contains picture books and chapter books)

Finally, my boys are really enjoying the Bad Kitty series by Nick Bruel:

What are some of your favorite books for boys?  Head on over to Courtney's blog and find out what others are sharing.

My 12 in 12

I'm linking up with two fabulous bloggers to share my 12 in 12 list.

12. Favorite movie you watched:
I would love to tell you that I saw a million great movies, but I just can't.  We get a couple of Netflix movies every week.  While I can remember liking many of them, as I sit back and try to remember all of the movies I watched, none really stand out as being memorable favorites. 
11. Favorite TV series:
My top three favorite shows on t.v. right now are How I Met Your Mother, Modern Family, and The Big Bang Theory.
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Modern Family
the big bang theory
10. Favorite restaurant:
We don't get out to eat much, but some of my favorite places are Red Robin, Spiros (a local pizza & pasta place), and Silver City (a local brewery & restaurant).
9. Favorite new thing you tried:
Blogging - I am not a big risk taker, so putting myself out there has been a way to push outside my comfort zone.
8. Favorite gift you got:
A necklace from my husband for Mother's Day.  The pendant is my daughter's birthstone.  When I knew I would be returning to teaching, this was my one request so I would always have a piece of her with me at school.
7. Favorite thing you pinned:
My new wardrobe - yeah, right! 
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 I did find some great recipes, though.
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6. Favorite blog post:
I don't think I have a personal favorite blog post.  The post that gets the most page views is a post I wrote about Guided Math & Math Workshop.  Since writing that post, I have made a few changes to make it work in my classroom. 
5. Best accomplishment:
TeachersPayTeachers  - Lesson Plans,Teaching Materials and Other Teacher-Created Resources
Becoming a seller on Teachers Pay Teachers.  We can't all be the Deanna Jumps of the world, but I am happy to be setting goals each quarter and working to meet or exceed my own expectations.
4. Favorite picture:
We finally managed to get a picture with all three of us in it.  My daughter does not like to have anything in her hair.  She actually had a headband in for all of the pictures she had taken of her individually, but when it came time for the family pics, the headband was gone!
3. Favorite memory:
I am so blessed to have a little girl in my life.  She is 21 months old and within the last year I have so many new memories: watching her learn to walk, celebrating her first birthday, watching her dance, listening to her talk, and so much more!
2. Goal for 2013:
In a dream world I would be able to get all of my schoolwork done during school hours.  Until that happens, my goal is to use my time during school hours more efficiently and creatively so I don't have to bring so much work home each night.
1. One Little Word:

This Week in Math...

If you've been following me, you know I use Math T.I.M.E. for my math workshop. 

Here are some of the highlights of our week:

Independent Practice

Temperature - these worksheets have thermometers with a scale of 2 degrees. 

Bar Graphs & Questions - one of my favorite things about these questions is the last question asks, "How many more votes did _____ receive than _____?"  The creator of the worksheet leaves the two parts blank so you can individualize the answers or have students write in the information and solve the question on their own.


Addition and Subtraction Facts - I use themathworksheetsite.com
On this site, I print out one addition and one subtraction fact worksheet.  Then I slice them vertically down the middle and rearrange so each worksheet has one half addition and one half subtraction.  It forces the students to watch the signs.

Math Buddies

I introduced two new games this week: Greater Gators and Dive for Place Value (both games were created by Really Good Stuff).  In Greater Gators, students make comparisons using the greater than, less than, or equal to sign.  We haven't had a lesson on this for a couple of units, but comparison problems have been popping up in their journal pages.  I thought it would be a great way to get a little review in.

In Dive for Place Value, students play a go-fish style game with a place value twist.  Each card has a number in standard and written form.  One digit in the number has been underlined.  Students are trying to collect 4 cards with the same value underlined (for example: Do you have any cards with 4 hundreds?).  Since we will be working a lot on ballpark estimates in the upcoming weeks, I thought a review on place value would be helpful.

Extend the Lesson

My district uses Everyday Math.  In the student journals, they have a math box page.  This is a group of 6 boxes that review various skills taught previously (it is a spiraling curriculum).  In the Differentiation Handbook, there are some blank templates for math boxes.  I had my students go through the process (with a buddy, of course) of creating their own math boxes.  To encourage good mathematical thinking and high quality work, I told them I would be choosing a few to photocopy for the whole class to complete.  Here is what a blank page looks like:

First, the students must fill in the entire worksheet.  I tell them this will be the answer key.  I check it with the students.  Then they help me highlight some key numbers to remove from the worksheet.  After that, I give them a blank copy again.  This time around, they write in everything except the numbers that have been highlighted.  Last week we completed 5 of these and they just grinned from ear to ear if their work was chosen.

We have also been working a lot with money and shopping scenarios.  I pulled out some pieces from my Spectacular Spending file:


Students had 12 school supply cards with prices on them.  They had to put the price cards in order from smallest to largest, answer questions about the cards, and compare the prices of various supply cards.  Once we work longer on addition with regrouping and ballpark estimates, we will use a few more of the worksheets in the pack.
Whew - that looks and sounds like we have accomplished a lot.  No wonder I'm exhausted.  Oh wait, I'm exhausted because report cards were due today (we're on a trimester schedule and started school in September).  I am ready to tackle the holidays now :)

Win it on Wednesday

{cue the music}
On the 5th day of December, a blogger gave to me...
A chance to get some products for free.
All goofiness aside, it's time to get into the spirit of giving.  What busy teacher doesn't appreciate the chance to win something for free that they can turn around and use in their classroom?  Below I have asked two questions about Christmas movies.  The first person to answer each question {correctly} will get one of my new products for free.  That means there might be two winners - one per question.
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Question 1:
What is my favorite Christmas movie to watch?

Question 2:
What popular Christmas movie have I never watched?

The only rule is you can only answer each question one time.  I would hope that if you are entering, you are already a follower :)  Thanks for playing by the rules.  Oh, and don't forget to leave your e-mail or another way I can contact you if you win!

We have a winner!  My favorite Christmas movie is Christmas Vacation.  I find something new to love about it every single year.  I know I can't possibly be the only one out there, but I have NEVER seen A Christmas Story.  I have caught glimpses of it here and there, but I have never been able to actually sit and watch it for more than 5-10 min.  One of these days...{maybe}

So, congratulations, Rae.  You were the first to answer both questions.  I'll send you both products very soon!

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