Tuesday, June 28, 2011


Plug-N-Plan is giving away her new time unit. So head over to her blog and check it out!

The Book Whisperer Introduction & Chapter 1

My Wordle 

When reading the introduction and chapter one I was encouraged and inspired to continue to share my passion for reading with my students. Here are a few of my favorite quotes:

"My source of credibility is that I am a teacher who inspires my students to read a lot and love reading long after they leave my class."
-Quoted from the Introduction to The Book Whisperer

I love this quote because this is the goal I have every year to create lifelong readers and lovers of books!

"I am convinced that if we show students how to embrace reading as a lifelong pursuit and not just a collection of skills for school performance, we will be doing what I believe we have been charged to do: create readers."
-Quoted from the Introduction to The Book Whisperer

I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE this!!!

"Reading is both a cognitive and an emotional journey. I discovered that it was my job as a teacher to equip the travelers, teach them what to do when they get lost, but ultimately, the journey is theirs alone."
-Quoted from the The Book Whisperer, Chapter 1, p. 16.

We are only their teachers for a short time, in that short time we must equip them to live out their journey on their own.

I inspire my students to be lifelong readers by modeling reading daily and by sharing my passion for it. It is amazing what happens after I share a new book or a new author. They all want to read the book I read and anything by that author. When they go to the media center they are searching for more Tacky the Penguin books or books by my favorite children's book author: Kevin Henkes. Each of my students has their own bag of books that they treasure. They love having "their books" that only they will read. I allow my students to choose what they read and I completely agree with  Donalyn Miller that students should have choice in what they read! My students have a passion for reading and ask all the time if they can read from their bag of books. What joy a teacher feels when students ask to read!!!

I am looking forward to reading more in The Book Whisperer!

Friday, June 24, 2011

The Book Whisperer Q & A part 1

I am joining the  The Book Whisperer book study that will begin next week. I bought my book yesterday and I read the first two chapters as soon as I got it. This is going to be great!

Thinking of Teaching had the opportunity to interview Donalyn Miller, the author of The Book Whisperer and is hosting a linky party to share answers to the questions that Mrs. Miller answered. Here are my answers:

1) What is your favorite book (or series) from childhood?
My favorite series was The Boxcar Children growing up. I also read Wilder's Little House series. I loved reading although wanted to choose my own books. My Mom is a reader and always wanted me to read the Nancy Drew series but, I refused because I wanted to be my "own" reader. To this day I have never read a Nancy Drew book...I know I'm a bit stubborn! I see this trait in my students too so I love giving them choice!


 2) What is your favorite book (or series) now?
I am a lover of Non-fiction, I love to read professional teaching books. I usually read fiction books in the summer though and I am currently reading Save the Date by Jenny B. Jones. I am also a lover of children's fiction (specifically children's picture books) and found myself in Books a Million Thursday reading book after book!

3) What is your opinion of e-readers?
I don't have one but, I see a purpose for them. On the other hand I love opening a book for the first time and cracking  it open and turning the pages.

4) Finish this sentence: "On Sundays I like to..."
Go to church, eat lunch, take a nap and work on some school work.


5) Describe yourself in 5 words!
Organized, Determined, Practical, Researcher, Workaholic

6) Hardcover or paperback? Why?
Either or, I am not biased!

7) Coffee or Tea?
Starbucks or flavored coffees only! Even though I live in Georgia I strongly dislike Sweet Tea!

If you would like to participate and answer the questions go to Thinking of Teaching.


Saturday, June 18, 2011

Calendar Board vs. Promethean Board

I teach 2nd grade and I used both a calendar board and a Promethean flip chart this year. I am still not sure what the best solution is but here are my thoughts.

+'s of Calendar Board:
-Ease of use (no technology issues)
-Visually pleasing math display ( I have found that I really like having math reference materials up at all times for my students to refer to.)
-I love my calendar (because it's cute- I know this does not improve student learning but, it does improve my mood!)
-I refer to my board throughout my day and like having it up at all times.

Here are some pictures of my board last year:

I purchased a new place value chart for next year from Really Good Stuff and I am excited to add it to my board. Here is a picture of it:

+'s of Promethean Board:
-You can fit so many skills in a flip chart the possibilities are endless!
-It is quick and fast in that you just move things and write things very quickly.
-It integrates technology and the kids love that!

One of the reasons I ended up using the calendar board more was because I had some technology concerns with my current flip chart I used. What happened was I tried to be too cute and really should have simplified. I had all these great colors and things all over the screen and then when I put it up some things were hard to read due to my projector bulb slowly starting to die. My board was placed directly over our white board and therefore is pretty high creating a problem for students in reaching items at the top. I really want "need" a Promethean wand, does anyone have one? So I think if I redesigned my flipchart to include less colors or a better contrast and really make sure everything is low enough on the page that my kids can reach it I may be swayed to go back to the board. I am glad this post was posted because this is something I really need to ponder and wrap my mind around. 

So...What are your thoughts? I am excited to see what others post!!

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Math Work Stations Chapter 4

Math Work Stations Chapter 4

Fran at Kindergarten Crayons is hosting this weeks blog! Head over there and check out her great items for this chapter. I especially love the math mats. Thank You!!!

I have been busy reading and creating this week. I love Debbie Diller's great activities that she has shared and have been hard at work to create some things to vamp up my math stations. I have included some documents I have created so feel free to use!

1.  How do you support math vocabulary (math talk) at Beginning Number Concepts stations?
Honestly this is an area I plan to work on. I love the talk about it cards. I think that these are so great that I plan on starting with them right away!!

2.  How do your students read, write, order, represent, or compare numbers?  What activities support that?
I have always thought by second grade my students knew most of this coming in and I don't think I placed enough value in this area as I should have. I am changing that this year!

3.  What is your student's favorite number concepts work station/activity?
In the past I don't think I really had a lot of number concepts work stations, I had more geometry, addition and subtraction, and place value. The one activity that I did have already is with number cards and wiki sticks to bend into greater than/less than signs. They love using the wiki sticks to show which one is more. Unfortunately I don't have a picture since everything is at school but I basically had some cards with two numbers and a space in-between where they would place the wiki stick.

I have revamped some of the stations in the book and added my own little twists. If you find any errors, PLEASE let me know. I will fix and re-post. Thanks!!

I am having google docs issues so I posted the link to the document with a picture preview. I was trying to embed the document and I don't think it worked so my back up plan is the download link and the picture.

I posted links to the documents just in case the embedded files are not working!
Two & Three Digit Comparison

Number Order Train

Domino Battle

Ladybug Odd & Even

Grab and Graph Station

Enjoy and have a great weekend!!

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Math Work Stations Chapter 3

Debbie Diller’s Math Work Stations Chapter 3

Managing Stations
Previously my math stations were not assigned. I would let students choose which station activity they wanted to do with their partner. While they were grouped with a similar ability student they did not always choose an appropriate activity for their level. For example two of my higher level students always wanted to work on a lower level math activity just because it had a sports theme and the two boys loved sports. The area I want to work on the most this next year is differentiating my stations which is why I have decided to change up my rotation board and assign specific stations.

My previous station board:
 My new design:

The Shapes that you see are my attempt at differentiating my stations. I have often used the code of circle = low, Triangle= med. low, Square/rectangle = med. high, and Pentagon = high.
The way I remember this code is the lowest number of sides a shape has the lower the ability level. The kids haven't figured out this code yet and they know which activity to go to. 

Math Talk Cards: It is so in my nature to create a cute little card that already has all of the vocabulary students will use but, I am refraining from doing so. I may need to go back and reread chapter 3 again and again each time I want to create them ahead of time!! I will let students be involved in the creation of Math Talk Cards!!!

Missing Pieces Box: I have never had one of these but have had the need for one. I am always sticking pieces of things kids hand me in weird spaces. I then look around frantically later wondering where that piece is. How simple to have a box nearby for students to place things they find and then recover things they previously lost.

I can charts:
I really like the idea of I can charts and will definitely implement this next year. I am thinking of having a folder slide into my center briefcases which will contain an I can chart on the front and any necessary papers/rubrics inside.

Students who are off task:
I like the idea of always keeping an extra chair available at my table for students who are off task. I have had students sit at my table for off task behavior before but, it hasn’t been a consistent thing. I am thinking that keeping this consistent and announcing the procedure from the beginning will be a great strategy.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Math Station Organization

I was completely surprised at the feedback and comments I received on my first day of blogging. Big thanks go out to Primary Graffiti/Teaching Blog Addict for mentioning me on the Teaching Blog Addict page. Thanks!

I thought I would explain my rotations a little more. I am very fortunate to choose my math block schedule. The only real interruption that I had to account for was a math pull out group for struggling students. This happened last year 30 minutes into my math block so the goal here was to have whole group and my low group for math stations first. This way the two pull out students would have necessary instruction before leaving. When those two students returned they were able to work together at a math station (although they sometimes missed out on a station entirely if the math teacher who pulled them out kept them too long).

So I have four main groups but really only see three a day for 20 minutes. I alternate when I see my two higher groups. Some days I would see both groups for only about 10 minutes to check in and see how they were doing on their independent work and most days I would meet with the Med. High group M, W, F and the High group on Thursday and Friday.

I am really wishing I had taken pictures of everything before I packed up my room. I don't have a picture of my rotation board but I will post a picture of what it basically looked like. I had everything on magnets and on a large magnetic board (but, I am going to use that for something else next year so I may use a pocket chart). I really like having everything on magnets because I could change my groups and stations as needed. You will see in the picture that I used the magnetic business cards from VistaPrint and wrote on them with a sharpie. Where you see the arrows that is to let you know who my station groups of two were. The actual display didn't have arrows they just knew the name under or above theirs was their partner. The actual display also does not have the words low/med./high on them (that was just for explanation). My board was spaced out so you could tell just by looking. The choice cards use Thistle Girl Graphics and since I am just a member and don't have the license to share them I can't post my printable. I may have to invest in that so I can share some of my things.

One thing that I didn't do was assign particular math stations to specific groups of students. I am thinking that I will work on this for next year so that I can differentiate more. The only thing I did do with differentiation was having a few specific math stations for my high group that only that group could complete. I will be interested to learn more about differentiating my math stations.

I formed my math groups at the beginning of each of my 8 math units (as dictated by my district). I definitely had some students that were low in place value and high in geometry. During that unit my groups stayed the same unless I saw great growth or loss and felt individual changes needed to be made.

I don't use a specific timer for stations. I do sound a chime as a warning to clean up and then again when it is time to switch. The reason I did this was that I sometimes felt like my low group may have needed an extra 5 minutes meeting with me or another group really needed 5 less minutes, etc. I like being able to determine when students can leave my group. I did try to keep my rotations to 20 minutes.

Math Work Stations

I am participating in the Math Work Station Blog Party over at Mrs. Wills Kindergarten!

I am so very new to blogging and really got involved when I found out about the Blog Party! I have long been a fan of Debbie Diller's. I used to joke around that without Debbie Diller and Debbie Miller I wouldn't have made it through my first year of teaching (oh so many years ago). So back to the book. As I read chapters one and two I smiled as I read about Debbie's suggestion of two students working together. I have used this system since I began teaching and it really does make all the difference. I also was inspired to make I can lists and place in each of my containers. Here are my answers to the guiding questions:
  1. Materials used by the teacher first, then placed in the station: Yes
  2. Materials do not change weekly, but rather changed to reflect the students learning objectives:  Yes, although I think that I introduce too much too soon (I'm going to work on this)
  3. All students go to stations daily: Yes...except for testing days/school programs/and all those pesky interruptions!
  4. Materials are differentiated: Well... not really although I do sometimes have games "just" for my higher level kids (I need to work on this too!)
  5. The teacher observes work or meets with differentiated math groups: Yes!
    My Math Schedule and Rotation Set Up:

    I have 90 minutes on the "books" for math although that is also dismissal time so I really only have 75 minutes.

    15 minutes: Whole Group Instruction
    60 minutes: Math Work Stations and Guided Math Groups 
    I use three twenty minute rotations I relied heavily on Beth Newingham's  Blog for creating math groups here: Beth Newingham's Math Workshop 

    Math Group Rotation

    Low Group-   Meet With Me, Work Independently, Math Station

    Med. Group-  Math Station, Meet With Me, Work Independently

    Med. Group2- Work Independently, Math Station, Meet With Me  
    (I would alternate meeting with this group and the High Group) 

    High Group- Work Independently, Math Station, Meet With Me 
    (I would alternate meeting with this group and the Med. 2 Group) 
I am very fortunate to have 6 working computers in my room that I use when students finish their independent work.

Organization: I love organization and have changed the way I store my math centers every year and I am in the process of changing it again.

One year I stored my materials in numbered book boxes on a rolling red cart. Here is a picture of the cart but, not the picture of the math centers in the book bins (I don't happen to have a picture of that!)

Then I changed and had my Math Stations and Daily 5 Word Work bins on this bookshelf:
(I know this has reading stuff on it but, I couldn't find a picture of the shelf with the math bins on it. I used the same book boxes but had my math stations in them).

And Now I am going to put my Math Stations in these containers that have little handles and open with velcro. I have not organized this shelf yet but this is where I plan to store my stations for 11-12. My only delima here is that I have a few things that are too big for the containers so I'm thinking they will be stored in a basket similar to the blue one on the shelf. Right now there are some reading puzzles I stuck on the shelf as I was cleaning up for summer since the custodians are going to be waxing the floors.

This is the cabinet where all of my math manipulatives are stored!

Some future things I am going to ponder, research, and work on:
  • Making sure my stations are more differentiated
  • Work on creating I Can charts
  • Find a place to store my station materials that are not being used 
  • Figure out what to do with oversize materials 

Note: I added some more information about my station rotation here!

      Wednesday, June 1, 2011

      New to the World of Blogging!

      Here is my first post on my new blog. Let me tell you a little about why I am starting this blog. Well I am a teachaholic, I have been teaching for seven years and I still LOVE It! I know I need to go to a 12 step program but, is it so bad if teaching really is your hobby? I first heard about teacher blogs through my number one visited website: proteacher. I love reading and posting and then got hooked on reading teacher blogs. So, I decided it was my time to try my hand at it and see how it goes. Everyone has a starting point and this is mine!