Saturday, June 30, 2012

Top Teacher Blog Swap and Hop

Good morning everyone!! Today is the big day!!

We are so excited about swapping blogs and sharing some fun ideas with everyone! I will be guest blogging for April of A Modern Teacher. Denise from Sunny Days in Second Grade is my guest blogger!! I am so super excited because not only did we get a fabulous blogger but there is also a linky that you can use to hop through other great blogs! Hope you have a super, summer Saturday!!


Hi Friends!
Denise here from Sunny Days in Second Grade. I've been saving up some great Common Core math ideas to share with my readers, and what a great way to kick start it by guest posting here on my buddy Lynda's super adorable blog! With many of us moving toward CCSS this year or in the very near future, I've been delving into the standards and how to actually teach the depth of those standards. I was fortunate to attend a great training full of hands-on math activities that were really eye-opening for me.

This first activity is such a fantastic way to make a difficult concept crystal clear. All you need are some counters and a cup! {And yes, someone did indeed break into song at the sight of the red Solo cup!} We also used a whiteboard, but if you don't have those, paper will work just fine.

If you've ever tried to teach the concept of unknowns in an addition or subtraction problem, you know that it seems like it should be a lot easier than it is! Let's look at this problem as an example:

Here's a pictorial representation of how we explored the concept:

Easy, right? You can have the kids take turns with a partner creating and solving equations. I can picture this working as a center activity once they get the hang of it.

You can eventually work on moving the unknown to a different position or try two equivalent addition problems on either side, like this one:
The standard you'll be tackling with this is Operations and Algebraic Thinking, 2.OA.1. {Use addition and subtraction within 100 to solve one- and two-step word problems involving situations of adding to, taking from, putting together, taking apart, and comparing, with unknowns in all positions, e.g., by using drawings and equations with a symbol for the unknown number to represent the problem.}

Be sure to stop by my blog over the summer as I share more of the great little teaching ideas I picked up!

See you soon, my friends!

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Looking to the year ahead...

Hi everyone! This has been a very busy couple of weeks!! My daughter and I just got back from my dream trip to

  New York City!! 

It was the best and I absolutely love everything about the Big Apple!! I really can't wait to go back....hopefully very soon!!

After plotting a move to NYC and knowing that won't happen for many, many years, I decided to focus on something a little more in the near future. The beginning of a new school year...

Now, so my list begins.

This year was a wonderful and exciting time and now that I have spent a year in second grade, I am ready to make additional resources for my kiddos to meet their needs. As I blog hop and surf through Pinterest, I see many awesome examples of interactive notebooks.

So, I started thinking....I can do that for my kiddos for writing!! 

This is just the start of what I think will be one of my favorite projects this summer....

I started with the basics. What is a sentence? 

The best part of this is that as I continue to work on this, the more ideas I get to add to their notebooks!! I have a hard time finding inspiration sometimes....but I think I have finally found it!!  I will continue to share freebies from this product, so make sure to keep checking back to see where my overflowing ideas take us! 

Thursday, June 14, 2012

Summer = Reading!!

Are you enjoying your summer? I know many teachers have finished up their school year and have hit the beaches, while some are still counting the days!

I have spent the first couple of weeks writing my essay for the next step in my Teacher of the Year journey. It has been a labor of love and I am so honored to continue to represent my school, district and all those that are part of this amazing profession! I am so blessed to be a teacher.

Along with writing my essay, I have been gathering a beautifully long list of books that I will be sinking my teeth into in just a few days!

I love reading professional books! My brain just starts swimming with ideas to implement in my classroom and share with all of my colleagues (including all of you, of course!). Here are a few of the books that I will be reading (and rereading again) this summer:

This one I bought last summer and referenced it throughout the school year but I haven't had time to REALLY read it:

I am going to reread these little beauties, and will be following along in the 1-3 Book Study:

Want to follow the book study?

I also have a second stack of books more for entertainment and the pure of love of reading, but I'll leave those for another post! ;)

So, what are you planning to read this summer? I am dying to hear!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

The Daily Five - Chapter 1

I am joining up with Mel D. from Seusstastic Classroom Inspirations and Nicole from Teaching with Style  to share some thoughts about the Daily 5! I have used the Daily 5 in my classroom the last two years. The first year was more of a shift...from literacy stations to the D5 stations. This past year, I focused on setting the procedures and utilizing the D5 strategies in my whole group teaching as well as my small group time. This year, I will continue on my road with the Daily 5 by incorporating conferences (something that I wasn't able to do as much of in the last couple of year). I am a Daily 5 work in progress..... and I am loving it!!

Melissa suggested a few guiding questions to help in our discussion. If you think of something that you would like to ask me, leave me a comment! It will make for an awesome collaborative discussion! 

Alright, here I go:

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?

When I began teaching, work stations were in full swing. I went to several workshops (make and takes were my fave) and bring all my goodies to my classroom. The kiddos loved the stations and for the most part enjoyed their time with the stations that I created. There was always some type of small assignment that they would turn into the bucket and that I would diligently look over and place stickers and stamps on to encourage them to continue to work hard. 

Sounds ok,right? My students were learning and I was able to meet with my students for small group. Perfect....right?

Well, what I found was that although they were engaged and well behaved, the stations that I had didn't allow for them to spend ALL of their time working on an activity that would foster reading and writing. I had a social studies, science, and math stations included in my reading rotation. This was taking away precious time from reading and writing!! 

So, then I replaced all my stations with literacy stations. One step in the right direction! But then I realized that I was having students rotate through  so many fabulous stations that it was hectic and I really didn't have all the defined space that I would have liked for each station (I would venture to say that I probably could have used the whole primary hall for all the stations that I had!)

I had to regroup. This wasn't working. Then I found the Daily 5 (key Heavenly music here)! 

To answer the question, I was lost in stations and paperwork. I have slowly rolled out the Daily 5 with my classes the last two years and am closer every year to having the dream D5 classroom.

My biggest advice would be....take it slow and incorporate a little at a time because it can be overwhelming.

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?

Everything that the students engage in is directly related to reading and writing and is a direct reflection of what is taught in class. My stations were always driven by the curriculum and still is but in a very clear and direct way. The students know the expectations when engaging with text and have a better understanding of how each of the D5 station directly effect what they are learning in class and in small group. They must know the importance of what they are doing and how it ties back everyday learning. D5 allows for my students to be more focused and in turn allows me to clearly target the skills that will make them better readers.

What sets the Daily 5 structure apart from what you are doing in your classroom?

The Daily 5 is set apart from all the rest because of the structure and care that goes into making the connection between what the students are doing independently and how those skills translate into success in reading and writing during class and small group time. I was able to get my students to think more critically about reading on their own and with this structure was able to start literacy circles (oh, yes, second graders in literacy circles, woohoo!!) because they experienced more direct and engaged independent literacy time that was incorporated into my small and whole group lessons.

I hope this has been helpful and I will continue to join in on the fun and write about my experience with the Daily 5 and include a few freebies along the way.....stay tuned!

Monday, June 11, 2012


So, I am on summer vacation and am loving it but my mind is focused on my essay for regional. I am so blessed to be able to have continued this journey and I truly want to be able to express all that is in my heart about this amazing profession that I am so extremely proud to be a part of. I have read and reread  the parts that I have written and tend to be a bit of a perfectionist when it comes to this type of assignment, simply because I want to make sure that my thoughts are expressed well. 

But, now I need to take a break (reminds me of chucking the assignments for my kiddos!) 

Thank you to my sweet bloggy friend, Farley from Oh Boy Fourth Grade,
for this super fun linky party and much needed distraction :)

Friday, June 1, 2012

You aren't going to believe this!!!

A few months ago, I shared how lucky I am to be the Teacher of the Year for the 2011-2012 school year. It has been an amazing and memorable school year and last week I was able to attend the Lamar Classroom Teachers Association Teacher of the Year Banquet for my school district. It was a beautiful event and I was so happy to have my loving family, my amazing daughter and my dear friends there to share in that special night. I received a gorgeous etched glass apple with my name and recognition on it and an official document from our Texas State Representative declaring our dedication to the field of education. So cool!! I was so excited as I stood there receiving this great honor! I was clapping and watching the my loved ones at the table waving and clapping (my sweet baby girl was 'over the moon' with excitement). I didn't even realize what happened next.....

They announced the District Elementary Teacher of the Year. Well, I was so excited. I was clapping and looking around, just dying to see who this fabulous teacher was!! That's when the gentleman next to me, tapped me and said "Aren't you from Huggins Elementary?" I politely shook my head yes, slightly wondering why he was asking. he looked at me and said......."that's you they are calling!!" 

I have been named the District Elementary Teacher of the Year for Lamar Consolidated Independent School District!!

I am still amazed that they picked me. It is an incredible honor and I promise to represent my school and my district with great pride! 

So, what's the next step? Well, for the next week or so I will be dedicating myself to writing an essay for Region 4 that expresses my sincere love of what I am so lucky to do each and touch the lives of children through education, compassion and love.

You know it's summer when.....

It's Summer Vacation!!! Another wonderful year as come to an end and my wonderful and hard working students are off to enjoy some well deserved rest and relaxation!! It has been an AMAZING school year (I HAVE BIG NEWS...) and it has been such an honor to have my great group if second graders this year! Now all the books have been collected, stations and supplies are packed away safely and thoughts of new and innovative ideas for the new school year begin to swirl in your head...but, I REALLY know it's summer vacation when....

YES!!! No alarm clock has to be one of my favorite things about summer!! I am so grateful that when I wake up in the morning and the sun is brightly shining in the sky!! 

Another reason that I love summer would have to be 

These last few weeks have been super busy! I am 
really, really, really 
looking forward to being able to blog more often and share some great resources!!

I have joined in with my sweet blog friend Jeanne at 

Kindergarten Lifestyle

is having a fun little linky all about the glorious signs of summer!

 So, how do you know it's summer vacation?? 
Join in or leave me a comment!! I can't wait to find out!!