Monday, September 29, 2014

Record Keeping Troubles

Well, I always thought that I had a pretty good ok system going on keeping track of who had turned in what work until the other day when I was looking at my spreadsheet.  WOW!!!  It looked like I had what looked like a million check marks.  I was overwhelmed!  It had always worked well for me in the past, but this year I have 22 students and it was showing a lot of check marks.  So, here is what I have done in the past-on an excel spreadsheet I have all the students names listed on the side and up at the top I have all the assignments that have been given for the week.  Once the student has turned it in with no corrections I put a check mark on the assignment by their name.  Every week right now there are about 15 assignments-hmmm... well that would be about 330 check marks if all the students completed the assignments, no wonder I was feeling a bit overwhelmed.

I am now on the hunt for a better system to do this record keeping.  Something that will not be so overwhelming.  I need help with this and would love for you to let me know how you keep track of who completes what work throughout the week.  I'm not the best at organizing things so I'm hoping to find a very organized system to do this record keeping.  I look forward to hearing about your system.

Have a great day!

Friday, September 26, 2014

Seriously Random Five for Friday!!! :-)

Happy Friday! 

I'm linking up with Doodlebugs again.

Popping in for a quick post before I go to a football game. My kids play in the pep band. No football players here--my son runs cross country and my daughter plays volleyball.

1. This first one may be the only teaching related picture I have this sorry! I promise we did in fact have a week full of educational activities. Maybe we were so busy and engaged in learning that I forgot to take pictures...maybe. :-)

We are starting this book study at school. 

I'm so excited! I started doing some Whole Brain Teaching methods last year in my second grade classroom and I love it. I'm anxious to learn more about it so I can get better at using it. 

I know that it works with those challenging kids (as the title suggests). This last week, I worked really hard to use some of the methods in music (why I hadn't thought of that before, I have no idea) with THE class. We did "mirror with words" a lot. I used it to teach the key words BEAT and RHYTHM. It worked so well that I am scrambling to find more key words to teach in music. We also did many "ten finger woos" and they ate it up. THE class had the best week in music since I've been teaching them.

2. Last Saturday, my husband and son entered their cars in a local car show. Both of the cars are "unfinished" but I'm so glad they finally entered (hubby has been talking about it for 18 years). He has a 1970 Chevelle with an extreme engine (see below).

My son has a Camaro that he hopes will one day look like the old Bumblebee off of Transformers.

3. I may have sent this picture to one of my K-State fan friends just to show off my new shirt. 

That friend may have responded with:

"Thanks for ruining my computer. I threw up all over the keyboard when I saw the big Jayhawk!"


Just to be clear, I do not watch football. Just basketball so I have no idea how the Jayhawks are doing right now.

Also, I cheer on all Kansas schools (even the Wildcats) unless they are playing my Jayhawks.

4. Speaking of Jayhawks, I ordered these nail wraps from Jamberry. Can't wait to sport them during basketball season this year!

 5. And finally, I'm definitely in school-mode. If we are home--meaning no cross country meet, volleyball match, church activity, or something else--I am in bed by 9:00. It is helping me stay dedicated to my morning workouts though! ;-)

Well, that's all I've got for this week! Have a great weekend!

P.S. Bex at Reading and Writing Redhead is having a birthday celebration giveaway. Kristi and I are donating toward the prizes. Be sure to check it out!

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Wisdom for Wednesday-Do not be afraid

Welcome to this week's:

How many times does it take for it to sink in that God doesn't want me to live daily fearing or worrying about things?  I would say that 365 times is a lot of times to remind me of this very thing.  Although, I still find myself worrying or fearful of things that are before me.  I need to work on my faith more and listen to this phrase because it must have been very important since it is mentioned that many times in the bible.  

Isaiah 41:10

Fear thou not; for I am with thee: be not dismayed; for I am thy God: I will strengthen thee; yea, I will help thee; yea, I will uphold thee with the right hand of my righteousness.

Have a great day!

Monday, September 22, 2014

Mountain Language/Math and Daily 5

Have any of you ever used Mountain Language and Mountain Math?  I love both of them and have used them in the past, but in the past I waited a little while before I started to use it.  This year, I decided to jump right into it.  Of course, we are working the problems together until they get the hang of it.  I love it because it teaches so many skills and has a lot of repetition.  I was wondering if you use it, how do you incorporate it into your day?  If you aren't familiar with it, check out this video about the Mountain Math from

He also has this cool printable available for the Mountain Math at

My kiddos are already starting to pick up on a lot of the skills that it teaches.....which gets me excited!  

On another note, I'm excited and a little nervous because this is going to be our first week to launch Daily 5........hope all goes well and smooth!!  LOL!!  Like that ever happens in education! 

Have a great week!


Friday, September 19, 2014

Small Groups in Action!

Daily 5 is in full swing! Hooray! 

I met with groups today to play some games (I usually like to focus on writing or individual conference on Fridays--soon I hope). Here's one group playing 'I Have...Who Has...?' with our Unit 1 words (check out our store for lots of games). They love this game!

I'm pretty pleased with our first week of Daily 5...just a few things we need get better at. This class really does a great job!

I'm very excited to start guided math next week. We practiced math rotations this week, so I plan to start pulling groups with a focus on place value. I'm looking forward to seeing how this new way of structuring my math block will help my kiddos!

It just feels good to be settling into routines. I know you know what you mean! 

Have I shared this app?

I love using it to pick kiddos in small groups or in music class--best of all, it was free! Check it out!

Now...I have to get off here and do some grading... Ugh!

Have a great weekend!


Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Wisdom for Wednesday - Impatience

Good morning! I found the perfect quote for today--well, at least for me! Ha! Take a look:

In case you haven't noticed, I'm a bit of an impatient person. We just read a story yesterday in class and discussed the character trait of impatience...and the whole time I was thinking that's me!

I love how Jim Berg explains the danger of impatience. Everything worthwhile truly does take time. It's worth waiting for (the more common way of putting it)!

I don't know about you, but this was a great reminder to just be patient!

Have a blessed day!

Monday, September 15, 2014

Making Progress :)

21 days of school and I'm starting to get a little bit of a routine down.  You have probably figured out from my past posts that I really like to have routines established and my schedule running smoothly....ha! ha! ha! schedules ever run smoothly.  Anyways, I am so excited to share some of the progress of my first graders this year.  Thanks to our wonderful Kindergarten teachers, the first graders come in knowing what is expected of them and it doesn't take as long to get them into a routine.  So below is some of the routines that we are starting to establish:

1.  Partner reading-We are training for the Daily 5 and one of the rotations is read to someone.  We have discussed EEK-sitting elbow to elbow-knee to knee  (which they at first took literally and were trying to make sure their elbows were actually touching LOL!).  We also talked about always using our magic finger to follow along and that we can be a good teacher and help our partners out if they don't know a word.  

Love seeing the magic fingers following along in the book!

Nice EEKing!  Looks like they were still trying to really be touching elbow to elbow, knee to knee.  LOL!

Great teaching going on here.  This boy didn't even tell his partner the word.  He was helping by covering up some of the word and having his partner sound it out!  YAY!

2.  Read to Self-we have been practicing read to self for the Daily 5 and we made it 15 minutes at the end of the week!!!  YAY!  Sorry, I was focused on watching them to make sure they were reading that I didn't capture any pictures of it.  :-(

2.  Scoot-We worked on playing the game scoot with telling time to the hour.  We will need to practice on this one a little more.  Going to different desks was a little challenging, but the more we did it the better they got.  I found these cute cards and recording sheet from Teaching With Heart in Texas:

FREE!!! Telling Time Scoot - Hour (Telling Time Task Cards)

Recording the time


3.  Playing our short i connect four game.  We have been learning to play our connect four games and making sure we use a level 1 voice.  By level 1 we talk about it being almost like a whisper.  They have gotten better at is hard at times because they get excited when they are close to getting a connect four.  They are already asking me when they get to play this game again. (I love it when they enjoy something that is educational). 

 Connect Four Short Vowels Game Pack

4.  Homework-we started a new homework system that comes from Amanda at Teaching Maddeness.  The kids love it and I have had parents writing notes to me saying that they are loving it as well.   The class is trying to earn stars for their homework every week and last week we got 94 stars and we decided as a class that our goal was to get more than that this week.  So, this week they made 133 stars-WOW!  If you haven't seen the homework system that she started, you should check it out.


5.  Morning Routine-the students have started to follow the board every morning and follow our daily morning routine.  Crystal made some cute cards that we laminated and put magnetic tape on the back of it and just put up the ones you want for the day.  

                              Morning Routine FREEBIEMorning Routine FREEBIEMorning Routine FREEBIE

Morning Routine FREEBIE

These are just a few of the things that we have been doing and making progress on!  I can't wait to start our Daily 5 and get more routines down.  

Have a great week!

Friday, September 12, 2014

Top 10 Things I've Learned as an INB Newbie!

The creators of some INB (I’m saying some not all because obviously I’m only using a few) packs do not necessarily care about saving paper…which results in you feeling guilty, which results in you spending lots of time shrinking, cutting, and taping to create new paper-friendly originals. Seriously.

Up Side: All my originals are ready for next year...unless I change packs or something crazy like that.

Also, INB activities can be created for both spiral bound and composition notebooks. If it doesn’t tell you which in the description, ask and if the answer isn’t what you’re looking for CLICK AWAY from that page immediately before you fall in love with it! Or you could be spending a ton of time reducing originals to fit in your composition notebooks.

Up Side: All my originals are ready for next year...unless I change packs or something crazy like that.

The cutesy covers that come in the packs will not stick to the cover and you will spend time taping them on with packaging tape. Besides some kids will be sad you’re covering up their cutesy composition book anyway.

Solution: Next year I plan to just write Math, Reading, and Science/Social Studies in sharpie. Forget the covers.

Composition books are not all the same. Pictures are from the K-2 Science Bundled INB Set from Primary Graffiti—which is not the ones I am talking about above with wasting paper and not fitting my composition notebooks. Hers have truly been print and go! THANK YOU!

WORST--flimsy and not as many pages!

BETTER - Sturdy, but still not as many pages. Notice the cutesy cover we covered up. :-(

BEST (and cheapest I believe)--sturdy and the most pages!

Solution: Use some of my classroom budget and buy them. Not sure I will do this, but it would help with a couple of things. I could get the ones I wanted AND I could do some prep work in them before they kiddos actually show up to school.

Too many INB activities in the first weeks of school result in a lot of cutting and gluing and not a lot of interacting.

Solution: SLOW DOWN next year and not plan as many INB activities for the first of the year.

Second graders writing in the Table of Contents is just something I don’t have time for.

Solution: My para suggested I just type it up, print it, and glue it in. Problem solved.

With no incentive to be quick, the cutting and gluing can take FOREVER.

Solution: Team points! My kids are seated in color teams. When I make it a competition with points at stake, suddenly everyone gets faster. Imagine!

Coloring should be last after all directions have been followed to encourage being speedy.

Up Side: Lesson learned for next year!

Storing the notebooks presents a challenge of its own.

Solution: Add a tub to my team shelves and each team can put all their notebooks in it for easy access. Not quite there yet because I need to go buy the tubs, but that is the plan.

All numbers from Graphics from the Pond.

Interactive notebooks truly are engaging and the students absolutely love them!

As I look around the room when they are doing an activity, all students are engaged--even if it is a facts page in the math notebook. There is just something about it that makes it much more exciting than a worksheet. 

And that makes all my work and time worth it! :-)

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