Sunday, November 25, 2012

'Tis the Season for a Fresh Start

I hope all of you had a wonderful Turkey Day and vacay! Mine consisted of lots of eating, shopping Black Friday at midnight, and then spending the weekend with family and friends.

So tomorrow starts a new marking period for my 4th graders! With every new marking period, I always give my students a "Fresh Start!" I buy a few bags of peppermints, spearmints, or some sort of mints and then give each student a small snack bag full of them with a little note that says, "You have a fresh start!" It helps boost the morale at the beginning of the marking period and also wakes them up a bit after the Thanksgiving break.

With the fresh start in mind, over the holiday weekend, I was also able to update and create some more Common Core checklists! If you are just starting your 2nd marking period, consider using them as a way to give yourself a fresh start with assessment!

Be sure to check them out at my TpT Store! All Common Core checklists are $2.50 each.

Saturday, October 20, 2012


At my school we are very lucky to have a super duper supportive PTA and school community. Every Fall and Spring, our school becomes a "flea market/garage sale" for one weekend. SWAP SHOP is our school's fund-raising event. As a result of Swap Shop, we hardly ever have to do fund-raising events.

Swap Shop is in it's 51st year and helps bring the school and community together. Anyone can buy seller's tags and sell items at swap shop. Most of the items are children's toys, clothes, strollers, high-chairs, etc. There's also a small housewares area as well as small furniture items. Sellers receive 70% of the sale and our school receives 30% of the sale.

The most amazing part of Swap Shop is that it is completely run by VOLUNTEERS! If you volunteer, you get to shop the pre-sale. . . basically you get the "good stuff" before the doors open to the public. People from all over the local area come and volunteer! Some of the volunteers don't have any children at our school and just come as part of our school community!

Check out the photos of Swap Shop below!

Or visit the following link: 

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

BOOM! It has landed. . . linking teacher evaluations with student test scores

This morning I write to you about linking teacher evaluations with student test scores. In about 1.5 hours, I will be in a staff meeting regarding Delaware's Component V. . . there are many other states who already have something similar with their evaluations. There are pros and cons to each side of this and I am grateful that "pay for performance" has not yet reached The Small Wonder.

This is my personal list of pros and cons. . . feel free to comment!


  • Teachers will need to be on their toes all the time - no more fluff!
  • Students will learn what they need in order to be successful post-high-school
  • Teaching will be data driven

  • Stressful for all involved with testing
  • Although it is only 1 of 5 components for evaluation, Component V is heavily weighted compared to the other components.
  • For a testing grade, approx 50-100% of a teacher's evaluation will be based off of 1 test
  • Student's performance is summed up with 2 test scores (fall and spring tests)
Maybe I am making a mountain out of a molehill as I am notorious for doing. . . at least everyone in The First State is in the same boat!

Off to school and thanks for reading!

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Slow and Steady Wins the Race. . . .Number of the Day

To all of my fellow followers and visitors. . . I am at the half-way mark of the 1st marking period and I feel like I have been "stuck". We have been state testing, STAR testing, and having schedule changes out to "wazoo".  Every time I feel like I make progress with the curriculum. . . .WHAM . . . we have another schedule change or day off that slows the pace of the lesson. I then have to go back and review before continuing on! Please tell me I'm not the only one!

So needless to say, we have been working on place value. We are now onto factors and multiples but the students still need so much support with place value! I want them to get it and move on but as we all know. . . . slow and steady wins the race. Soooooo I've made these place value worksheets as a daily morning activity to help them get quicker and faster with place value and understand the difference between the "digit" and the value of that digit. It is available in my TPT store so be sure to check it out!

Sunday, October 7, 2012

Welcome to 4th Grade!

Those of you who've been following me or those of you who may have stumbled upon my blog, may know me as a 1st grade teacher. Well . . . change was in the air for me! About 2 weeks prior to the start of school, I was moved to 4th grade. It was not something that I had predicted but I am so happy to be a 4th grade teacher!

Although my love for early elementary remains, I have to say that I love my fourthies. They are funny and fun and bring sunshine to some of the dullest moments of the school day. I couldn't be happier! So needless to say, I am excited to be able to do upper level projects with my students. 

So far the biggest challenge has been implementing the Daily 5. All summer I was prepping my D5 implementation with first grade so to change to 4th grade required some additional brain power. I am happy to announce that the D5 is working with my fabulous fourthies! So far we have learned Read-to-Self and Read-to-Someone. (The latter is a work in progress.) 

Because my school is BIG into Accelerated Reader (AR), I have found that D5 is a perfect fit with AR! The students absolutely LOVE reading and are always asking if they can read after a test, quiz, etc. This school year we are giving out awards for students who meet 25%, 50%, 75%, and 100% of their individual goal. Goals are set for each marking period and are based upon the individual student. Because I want the students to be proud of their accomplishments and also keep their individual goals private, I created a banner that I put in the hallway. When students meet that percentage of their goal, I will hang a clothespin with their name on that percent. In the past we celebrated students meeting a certain number of points. However, this could lead to bullying or teasing of classmates. This way, regardless of the number of points accumulated, students of all reading levels can earn 25%, 50%, 75%, or 100% of their goal!

I've included a few images of the banner that I created below. It is also a free downloadable resource at my TPT store if you are interested!


Thanks for stopping by!

Monday, August 6, 2012

Common Core ELA Checklist for 1st Grade

So I've been negligent in my blog posts, especially with the Daily 5 Chapter Study . . . ugh the pressure! =]

However, blessed I was to go on vacation for one brief week only for it to be cut short because my dog had to be hospitalized due to dehydration. All is well with Mr. Rockstar now. . . can't say the same for my bank account . . . but I wouldn't want it any other way.

Anyway, I have just posted a new product on TPT . . . I was in search of the "perfect" CCSS checklist for 1st grade and there are A LOT of checklists out there. However, as it is with me, I wanted to create one that was easy for me to use in the classroom with a clipboard and with the computer. So after HOURS of formatting the Excel workbook, I think I've developed a checklist that is comprehensive and will help teachers be more efficient with assessing students with the Common Core. 

Check it out and let me know your thoughts! I want to make one for math but I want it to be useful before I start playing with the formatting. It is $2.00 but you can download the preview and see one of the worksheets. I've included the link as well as some images below:

Educationally Yours,

Friday, July 20, 2012

Daily 5 Book Study - Chapter 4

Another late one! I guess procrastination is something that sticks with ya!

BLOG HOP HOSTS: Head on over to Jennifer's blog: First Grade Blue Skies and Laura's blog: Tattling to the Teacher for the chapter 4 study! 

First Grade Blue Skies                     

Now we are getting into the nitty-gritty of the Daily 5. YES! (Fist pump as needed.)

Chapter 4 is all about building the foundation of the D5 by establishing expectations and setting routines by developing muscle memory through a "slow and steady" approach.

As Gail and Joan state on pg. 46, "Having children read to themselves is the first step in Daily Five and is the foundation for creating independent readers and writers."

Let's get to it! 

3 Ways:
  • Read and talk about the pictures
  • Read the words
  • Retell a previously read book
Here's the breakdown for teaching - 
  • Day 1
    • Session 1: read the pictures
    • Session 2: read the words
  • Day 2: retell
  • Day 3: practice for 3 min.
  • Day 4: practice for 4 min.
  • Day 5 and beyond: continue to increase stamina and practice as needed
The biggest thing to remember is MODEL, REFLECT, PRACTICE, REFLECT, REPEAT.

Many of us teachers have modeled, reflected, and had students practice expectations for hallway, bathroom, water fountain, etc. However, after reading this chapter, I noticed that I rarely make a chart with our class's reflections! I said to myself "Duh! That makes so much sense!"

I also like how they refer to this chart during both appropriate and inappropriate modeling of behavior. 

The other aspect of the I-Chart that makes it so special for a classroom community is to have the teacher expectations on the opposite side of the student's expectations. This helps students realize that the teacher will also be responsible for doing tasks and that s/he will be busy during this time. Also, it creates ownership with both the students' and teacher and solidifies in the students' mind that the teacher is a contributing member in "my" classroom. 

It's the same principle as putting your name on the birthday chart! I remember this past year my husband said to me, "You put your name on the birthday chart? What for? So you can get more teacher gifts?" Of course he was joking and that is NOT the reason why I put my name on the chart; it is to show students that you are a "person" too. Plus the students LOVE it when it is your birthday! Maybe because of the b-day treats I bring in. . . 

Anyway . . . 

The D5 is very routine oriented from the introduction of good-fit books to the introduction of each part of the D5. Therefore the students can predict the teacher's behaviors each day and expect consistent presentation and routines across each D5 element. This in turn allows the students' brains to focus upon the actual learning of the D5 element and the desired behaviors for that element rather than having to guess what's going to happen tomorrow. This de-stresses the learning environment to allow for cognitive thinking.  
Next up. . . Chapter 5: Read to Someone and Listen to Reading!

Thank you for reading this post!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

Daily Five Book Study - Chapter 3

BLOG HOP HOSTS: Check out Mrs. Freshwater's Class blog for Melissa's chapter 3 thoughts and Reading and Thinking Out Loud for Jana's chapter 3 thoughts. 

                                    Thinking Out Loud

As I continue reading through this book, it is amazing to me how brain-friendly the Daily 5 approach is to all involved; both teachers and students. The quote at the beginning of the chapter speaks volumes to this and it is so practical! Like many others involved with this blog hop, I will go section by section through chapter 3.

I'm sure I'm not the only 1st grade teacher that has carpet time. . . but the majority of our carpet time is used for me teaching and the students listening and responding. Each day in many lessons we do a "think-pair-share" but this is sparse in comparison to the lesson time.

The Daily 5 difference to me was that it is a safe and "easy" way for students' brains to get "unstuck" and enter into a new task. When I say easy, it is meant so that it is an easy transition for the brain to make as it is non-threatening and offers a place for the possibility of new learning. 
(Although I am not as fluid with my words as Gail and Joan.)

I also like how it is student-centered, which allows for ownership of the time and place while also building a collaborative community of learners.

What can I say? The idea is very creative! I like how they continued with the "shoe" example. I agree that the "Good-Fit" books need to be year-long lessons and not just a "flash in the pan". 

After reading this section, for me the most challenging part of implementing good-fit books will be when students get to pick out their own books. I have anxiety already about them rushing through the books, covers flying through the air, and tug-o-war ensuing between who gets the "cool" shark book. However, I'm trusting the theory and am going with it at this point. I have to ask myself, "How else do you think you will be successful in implementation if you don't 'let go' of these controlling habits?" It's true. . . all teachers are "control-freaks" to some degree (and I say this with love and kindness because I am probably the top 1%!)

I am anxious in a good way about the one-on-one conferences. This seems to really help teachers get to know their students' in a more personal reading context.

I think I need to start saving cereal boxes! 

Providing students with a "start-up pack" allows you to see where students "fit" with books while also making a personal connection with the students. This seems easy to implement and since you only have to prep the boxes on the 1st day, then it's easy as pie! (I may be eating my words later. . . .)

I can't tell you how long it's been since I've updated by classroom library! I feel stuck in a rut. This is the conversation I have with myself. . . 

"Why bother buying new books? They will end up bent, ripped, not in the right book bin and at some point they will get lost. Plus I won't remember what I bought anyway and don't have time to do a read aloud with all the other stuff that I have to get done!"
I'm hoping that through the Daily 5, I will have more ways to set-up my books/classroom library to make text more accessible for the students.

OK people. . . I need to get on the ball here! When I was doing my methods placement in under-grad. I had one of the best teachers. She had anchor charts attached to a loooooooong rope that went diagonal through her classroom. It is exactly what I pictured when I read this section of the book! 

Now that I teach brain-based reading instruction which focuses on a lot of mind-mapping and visual input. . . I can see even more merit to anchor charts. They are a great tool in making neural connections while also cementing learning with visual input through the use of multiple colors, varying text size, and providing illustrations/pictures of the concept or skill. 

Also, I really liked how Gail and Joan never throw away the anchor charts! It makes so much sense! I am the teacher that changes out my posters throughout the school year in order to provide new visual material that also matches the students learning growth. However, by creating the anchor charts together and by adding more and more throughout the year, students are able to create connections across multiple skills/strategies and discuss these charts with their peers.

I know on many occasions the "stuff" that is most meaningful in my classroom are the charts/posters/etc. that the students and I made either as a group or individually. I have overheard students talking to one another saying, 

Student 1:"Remember when we did this?"
Student 2: "Yeah, I do! We were reading that story about a fox."
Student 1: "That ending was really funny. It was like that other book."

Often students then begin reading the chart and talking a bit more about it. This is something that I overlooked until now!

A question that still remains is. . . why are there so many pinterest and blog posts out there offering ideas on how to store anchor charts from year to year? If the purpose of anchor charts is to cement learning in the brain and create neural connections, doesn't this type of "storage" defeat the purpose? Don't they just become another poster on the wall? 

The key idea that spoke to me about this section was the importance of "perfect practice". Without this, your Daily 5 approach is DONE! Once students see that your expectations have slipped, it is like a free-for-all! However, if they know exactly what is expected and that they can do it, then you are one step closer to successful Daily 5 implementation.

On a side note, the kinesthetic section is so smart! I like how they created the Ten Steps to Improve Muscle Memory.  

The chimes are very non-threatening but also attention-grabbing enough to prevent the brain from entering into the "fight or flight" mode. Although I do not have chimes, I do have A chime that I plan on using. At the beginning of the year, I often teach classroom expectations by using both good and bad behavior examples. The students love being "bad"! The point that I liked was that when they made their anchor chart, they included EVERYONE'S ideas . . . . even off-topic ones. How many times have you censored a students' idea when you wrote it down? Come on. . . . admit it. . . . you've done it at least once. . . this is also important to note because in order to create ownership and acceptance, you must model accepting all student's ideas/thoughts!

CHECK-IN: Anyone else think of "THE FONZ"?
Life-long learners need to be self-reflective . . . METACOGNITIVE about their learning! The thumbs-up/thumbs-sideways is a quick positive self-assessment for students and teachers. 

This ties in with the repeated practice. Students love acting "bad"! It is also a great way for them to remember exactly what to do. It seems to echo the Frayer Model a tad bit!

I  like how they use a more challenging student to model the expected behavior. Generally speaking, these students primarily learn through kinesthetic modalities. Therefore, through this modeling process, he/she is cementing expected behaviors in his/her memory! 

I would probably like to add to the I-Charts a photo of the expected behavior.

That's all from me for Chapter 3! Thanks so much for reading this! Looking forward to Chapter 4!

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Healthy Eating - Eggplant?

This is a bit of a stray from my normal posts, especially for those followers out there. . . thank you for bearing with me. . .

I've been struggling with how to eat healthy in my daily life as I'm sure so many of you can relate. . . as a teacher I have time to truly enjoy eating fresh fruits and veggies in the summer and then struggle in the other three months of the year! So my husband and I went to a new local produce stand/market today and I fell in LOVE with Italian eggplant! I am an eggplant fan but sometimes they can be so big/awkward and I seem to always prepare it and cook it the same way and then sometimes I forget about it and then in the trash it goes a week later.

When I was perusing the market today looking for my regular purchases, I stumbled upon an eggplant jr. . . real name being Italian eggplant. Since it was so cute (and fresh) I decided to go for it.

So when I got home today with my aspirations of gourmet cooking that seem to surface whenever I go shopping. . . I took out some leftover spaghetti sauce, parm. cheese, and olive oil. I cut the eggplant in half (hot-dog way) and then I scored the inside, poured the olive oil, spaghetti sauce, and parm. cheese on the top of each half. Then I cooked it on 400 degrees for approximately 30 minutes. I let it set out for 5 minutes and then ate my wonderful lunch!  Check out the before and after pics!!!

If my memory serves me correctly, eggplant is available all year round so I am excited to have successfully cooked an eggplant AND have it be delicious! I'm hopeful in my future of healthy eating with mr. eggplant jr.!

AFTER COOKING: Ready to eat!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

The Daily Five Book Study - Chapter 2

Chapter 2 of the Daily Five brought to the forefront some things I am already doing and some things that were "WOW!"Be sure to check out Nicole's blog: Teaching With Style to link up your post and check out the blog hopping posts too!

1 .What goals do you have for your classroom as you work to implement the principles and foundations of the Daily 5 discussed in chapter 2? What support do you need to do this?

My Goals:
  • develop student independence without being a "helicopter" teacher
    • support: trust that what we've discussed with rules, etc. will work!

  • instill a "sense of urgency" for student goals, tasks, etc.
    • support: TBA -  I need to read more Daily 5!

  • help students become intrinsically motivated with their learning
    • support: begin to weed out some of my extrinsic rewards systems

  • celebrate accomplishments as a community (possibly during Morning Meeting)
    • support: revise daily schedule; student input

  • don't get mad if the students start talking and getting silly during independent work time because you forgot to look at the clock and then realized that they have been sitting at their desks for 45 minutes while you were thoroughly engrossed with a RTI group. . . they don't have STAMINA!
    • support: implement the Daily 5!
Here is a great YouTube video with Alfie Kohn that discusses Positive Reinforcement (approx. 47 sec.). If you haven't heard of him, he provides awesome insight with a variety of topics but especially with regards to rewards and motivation!

2. What stands out as the most significant aspects of this chapter?
This is hard to say . . . how about, "STAY OUT OF THE WAY!" As teachers we need to relinquish some of our control! I know I know, you don't want to have to find out from Little Joey that Little Mickey was eating a brown crayon from the writing center because so-and-so said it tasted like chocolate cake. 

However, I truly believe that if you establish your classroom routines and expectations as well as trust, then you don't have to be a "helicopter" teacher and hover ALL the time. 

Think about your own experiences with adolescence. . . how would you have learned how to drive if your parents/families hadn't let you drive on your own? They weren't always there to say,"OK here's a stop sign, make sure you remember to stop, don't forget the turn signal, and make sure you check your mirrors!" This is all good and well during your permit/"Cinderella" license, etc. but at some point they had to TRUST you to do it on your own. 

3. How do the foundational principles of the Daily 5 structure (trust, choice, community, sense of urgency, and stamina), align with your beliefs that support your teaching strategies and the decisions that you make about student learning?

Trust is the area in which I believe I am strongest because this is established the first day of school! Trust is so important for my classroom, as I'm sure it is for all classrooms, because it is at the root of:

  • bathroom breaks
  • drinks at the water fountain
  • sending messengers around the building
  • classroom jobs (although this is something that will need to change with the Daily 5)
  • operating machinery/technology
  • even getting Mrs. Cook's walkie-talkie from the classroom because she forgot to bring it out to recess duty!

These are all examples of trust in my classroom. . . there are many others but these are the main ones.

I remember towards the end of the 2011-12 school when the students were coming down with "spring fever", something happened involving multiple members of the classroom that violated the classroom trust. (I'm not sure what is was exactly so it mustn't have been Earth shattering but a big enough deal to give a "lecture".) So I started listing all of the things, jobs, areas, tasks etc. that the students perform and/or are responsible for and I said, "What now? The trust is broken so that means all of these things will now need to be either chaperoned by an adult or will need to be taken away. . . No more messengers to the office, no more going to the bathroom by yourself . . ." and as the lecture continued, the mouths dropped to the floor, a few students cried (some crocodile tears), and some just looked stunned.

Trust is huge and without it, the other foundations are obsolete (in my opinion anyway. . . ).

With choice, it is harder for me to "let go" of control and turn it over to the students. However, we as educators always tout, "I learn so much from my students!" Well think about it now. . . if we shift the locus of control then we will REALLY learn from our students! I really believe that choice within the Daily 5 is true brain-based learning (which is what I teach down at Wilm. Univ.). The example of the superintendent and the principal is so true! We want our students to want to read and become life-long learners and by giving them choice, they will prosper.

An example of this that comes to mind is when I read aloud a favorite book of mine to the students (such as Strega Nona) . . .  and the true reason why I am reading it aloud is for enjoyment. . . then the students go to the library and when I go to pick them up about 20% of my class has a Strega Nona book as their choice! It is mind-blowing! It is not because of "brown-nosing" it is simply because they loved the book and wanted some more time with it!

If you know what I'm talking about can I get a "HOLLA!"

This is something that I need to do more of! Although I feel like my classroom is a community of learners and that we are citizens of our school. . . it is rare that the whole classroom community celebrates the accomplishments of their peers! And it seems like such an easy way to further develop an already established community of learners.

Hahahaha is all I can say about the "Jenna" example in this section! I even read it to my husband (a construction worker) because I loved it so much! Thankfully he is a good listener and truly supports me in all my endeavors and impromptu read alouds.

I think it is so important to tell students the reason why. They are probably thinking it anyway after you teach your lesson and some of them are probably whispering about it too . . . 

Student 1: Why are we doing this?
Student 2: I don't know but we need to or else we have to do it at recess.

I always make sure I explain to the students why we are doing something but my explanations are far from the Daily 5 explanations. This is something that I am excited to learn more. 

WOW! This is something that was/is not in my consciousness. . . maybe subconsciousness . . .  

In my classroom, I always implement transitions about every 15-25 minutes, depending upon the time of year, because we know students' attention spans are limited especially at the primary grades. But rarely do I factor in stamina! Typically when the students start to get noisy, I start saying "Shhhh. . .  remember we need to be quiet!" Then I get frustrated because I'm not done with my reading group, etc.After about 3 rounds of this, I realize then that they have been doing the same task for a long time frame and then just move the class along to the next lesson/activity. 

Stamina is something that I really need to work on with my students in order to implement the Daily 5. 

Well . . . thank you so much for reading my longest post ever! I hope that you also had some "WOW" moments in chapter 2. I'm excited to read everyone's summaries of the chapter! 

Chapter 3 coming up next. . . it will be hosted by Mrs. Freshwater's Class and Thinking Out Loud. Be sure to check it out!

Educationally Yours,

Sunday, June 24, 2012

300 Follower Giveaway!

Head on over to Michelle's blog. . .

No Monkey Business

She just reached 300 followers and is giving away a $30 Amazon gift card and 3 sets of TPT or TN items! Her website is wonderful and contains a plethora of valuable information as well as links to other freebies! Be sure to check it out!

300 Follower Giveaway

Educationally Yours,

Saturday, June 23, 2012

Character Study FREEBIE for 2nd Grade!

As some of you may know, in addition to being a 1st grade teacher,  I am also adjunct faculty at Wilmington University. So as I create documents for the candidates in my classes, I figured I would share this FREEBIE with all of you as well! It may not be as "pretty" and "cute" as some of the other docs that I've seen around the "blogiverse" but it's a start . . . let me know your thoughts!

This is a graphic organizer for a character study for the second grade common core standards. It focuses on standard 2.RL.3. Click here to download!

Educationally Yours,

The "Fast 5!"

I joined the linky party (my first!!!) over at Erica's Blog Hoppin blogspot for ideas on having students listening.

With my students I use my mom's strategy. . . yes my mom is a teacher. . . it's called the Fast 5! I'm sure it's now a published "new idea" but I want to tell you that there was no TPT when my mom first started this!

The Fast 5 simply relates to 5 things the students need to do to get their bodies ready for listening:

  1. eyes on the speaker
  2. hands quiet and still
  3. voices off
  4. ears listening
  5. sitting appropriately
The number order doesn't matter . . . rarely do I ever say the actions in order anyway. . . they are just permanently ingrained in my head after 8 years of teaching!

A couple of comments about them. . .

For #3 I choose to say voices off rather than mouths quiet because as many of us primary teachers are aware, just because the mouths are quiet doesn't mean that voices are off! That's when the humming begins . . .

For #5 I sometimes change this depending on where the students are sitting, either on the carpet or at their desks. If the students are on the carpet, I say sitting criss-cross or "side-saddle" (antiquated right?). If the students are at their desks, we discuss how to sit: turn chairs to face the speaker, feet flat on floor, and sit with our bottoms down on the seat.

How it works. . . . the expectation is that the students will sit this way everytime. . . however this is not always the case. . . so if I notice the class is really lax in their Fast 5 sitting ways then I will do a "Fast 5". This means that I will tell the students that they are definitely not sitting appropriately (this is said in a  "Oh my! This doesn't look right" manner rather than chastising them) and that I think they need to do a "Fast 5". At this time, I tell the class that I will turn around, count to 5, and when I turn back around I will see them in the "Fast 5" position. If they do this within the 5 sections, then I give them a reward. . . in our classroom we use PBS and we have "Score 4" Cards. So I give them one of those. It really works and they enjoy doing the "Fast 5"!

I hope that you join in the linky party! Click here to join the conversation. . . 

Educationally yours,

Math FREEBIES! "I Have Who Has" - Up to 20

I'm trying to start my own TPT store this summer to see if it works! So here are 2 math freebies for all you K-2 teachers out there!

They are based off of a popular game, "I Have, Who Has" but has been adapted to increase math fluency with your students! Click here for the "1 More Than" free download. Click here for the "1 Less Than" free download. Both are through TPT!

(I haven't figured out yet how to insert a link to the image, if you can offer suggestions, it is much appreciated!)

The games in each packet require students to read the question, listen attentively, and be ready to answer their classmates. The game also reinforces number recognition and sight word vocabulary and are a great activity to do at your Morning Meeting!

You can also tie in grammar skills by bringing attention to capitals at the beginning of a sentence as well as two different types of ending punctuation.

If you like these math activity packets, be sure to check out the expanded versions available for purchase in my
TPT Store.

Educationally Yours, 

Friday, June 22, 2012

The Daily Five Book Study - Chapter 1

Hi Everyone!
So I'm jumping on The Daily Five book study band wagon that is being linked through Mel D's blog . . .  

. . .  and Nicole from Teaching With Style!'s blog . . .

You can pick up freebies, a book study schedule, and more there! If you have a blog, be sure to join the linky party! OK . . . now back to the book.

Here are the questions posed by Mel D. and answered by yours truly. If you'd like to comment or post your own responses, feel free!

Here's my overall reaction to Chapter 1: This is a true example of authentic action research!

1. On pages 4-6, the authors present two different pictures of their classrooms. In thinking about and reflecting on your own practice, how would you characterize your literacy block? Does it look more like the first or second scenario, or is it somewhere in between? How will you change it?
As I was reading these pages, I was literally laughing out loud! I even called my mom (a teacher) and a teaching friend and read it out loud to them! They were LOL-ing too! All I could think is, "This is so true of my classroom." Scenario One fits my classroom to a T! Over my 8-year teaching career, I have spent countless hours creating, prepping, managing, and reviewing student work at my centers and, more recently, my stations. It is exhausting! To read Gail and Joan's reflection and testimonial about how well their plan works gives me hope that it is possible to feel relaxed in knowing that the time, for both myself and the students, spent doing The Daily Five will be quality learning at its best. I look forward to enjoying the sunny weather outside! I believe that the key is changing the management system. We as teachers know that if you are lacking in classroom and behavior management, then teaching and, more importantly, learning cannot and will not take place. Therefore, The Daily Five management system holds the key to student independence without sacrificing learning and achievement.

On a side note, my "Ah-Ha" moment was when I read Figure 1-1. Normally, I'm so focused on the writing that I barely notice figures, images, photos, etc. but since this figure took up almost 3 pages of chapter 1, "I figured" (hahahaha) that I should check it out. There were actually two "Ah-Ha's". . . the first being the "Whose classroom is it?" where after Gail and Joan implemented The Daily Five the teachers' desks took up the same amount of space as a student's desk, 1/20th. This will certainly take some changing for me! I definitely like my executive office that has many "satellites" throughout the classroom. Post-it notes here, tape dispensers there, pens near the window, etc. Starting The Daily Five will  require me to go "HOME" as E.T . would say. The second "Ah-Ha" moment was with the "Locus of Control", wherein it is a complete shift from external to internal motivation for students. At my school, we are a PBS school which is 100% rewards motivated. Therefore, to implement The Daily Five, the locus of control during The Daily Five will need to be strictly internal.

Hmmm. . . I will need to focus more on these figures. . . 

2. The typical teacher is very busy having students do lots of different activities. How is what you are having students do now in your classroom creating quality readers and writers?
This is a tough one. . . I want to say that all of my activities are creating quality readers and writers, however, I believe that this is more of "what I should say" rather than what is true. 

Before I put myself under scrutiny, I will say this. . .I believe that the true determiner of whether or not the activities/centers/stations during my literacy block are quality is the fact that several of my students have asked at random parts of the day (pack-up time, during bathroom/drink time, or during odd moments throughout the year) if they can go to a particular center/station. I then ask them which one they were thinking about . . . expecting that they will say "Computers" or one of the other "fun" ones . . . and to my relief . . . almost all of the students have asked to go to one of the following:

  • Read the Room Station/Center
  • Reading Station/Center
  • Writing Station/Center
So what does this tell me? That my students are CRAVING the activities that The Daily Five offer and that the students have the self-motivation and independence that they need. In a nutshell, IT CAN BE DONE! 

Now onto answering the question . . . 

Upon further examination/reflection. some of the tasks I have students complete do seem like busy-work because they are sometimes the things that keep the students "out of my hair" so that I can work with my reading groups. Recently, I often spend hours scouring Pinterest to see what "easy to make" printables/games are available for me to use as a station/center without giving more thought as to creating quality readers/writers and more-so thinking to myself, "This is something that the students need to practice anyway soooo why not!"  I know this needs to change and hope remains for The Daily Five.

A Daily Five question that I still have is. . . how do I know whether or not this particular Daily Five activity is truly creating quality readers/writers? 

3. What sets the Daily 5 structure apart from what you are doing in your classroom?
Honestly it is a total paradigm shift in thinking and managing the classroom. I really liked how the class chooses what jobs need to happen in the classroom instead of the teacher using a "Job Chart" which is what I use. I'm anxious to read the next chapter in hopes that these questions/thoughts will be addressed. 


Educationally yours,

Thursday, June 21, 2012

The Daily Five

I'm sure many of you have heard of The Two Sisters, The Daily Five, and CAFE. Well, I'm taking the dive this summer and I'm going to read The Daily Five with the hope of implementing it into my classroom this fall. There are many blog book studies out there in the "blogiverse" but one that I will be following is being hosted by several bloggers but the one that I'm visiting is Funky First Grade Fun. . .

Be sure to check it out!

I'm a couple chapters behind but I hope to catch up next week!

Educationally Yours,

Wednesday, June 20, 2012


Welcome to my newly revised classroom blog! Since I am off for Summer Vacation, my mind thinks that I need to start new projects so I'm uncertain whether or not "I bit off more than I can chew" here with a new-ish blog. . . so we shall see! I hope that you come back often to visit and see what's new! Happy Blogging! Educationally Yours, ~Kristin Cook