Sunday, August 31, 2014

Classroom Lens

Classroom lens posts will capture the weekly realities in my classroom.  Teaching is hard, messy, and beautiful.  Be prepared to see any of these each week and know each of these are worth experiencing.

Writing narratives is in motion.

Book boxes are filled with self selected reading materials.

I love the natural light when I walk in each morning.

I love being able to leave a project out over night.

Friday, August 29, 2014


I left a plain brown package under my daughter's pillow right before we walked away, a book.  At first, I thought maybe I could leave Goodnight Moon or Owl Babies because we read them almost nightly when she was little.  Then I realized I wanted something with a bit more substance for an 18 year old who is moving away physically but not from our hearts.  

B. by Sarah Kay and Illustrated Sophia Janowitz was first shared during a TED Conference where she performed her poem and then discussed her writing process.  The book is precious if you are a mother or a daughter.  The TED Talk, was titled If I Should Have a Daughter and is the entire book read aloud.  

I wanted to share a few snippets of the poem that fill my heart but really I hope you will have a few minutes to enjoy the entire piece via the TED Talk because the whole piece fills my heart.

"If I should have a daughter,
instead of Mom, she's going to call me Point B.

Because that way she knows that no matter what happens,
at least she can always find her way to me.


Okay, there's a few heartbreaks that chocolate can't fix. 
But that's what the rain boots are for.

Because rain will wash away everything, if you let it.


And no matter how many land mines erupt
in a minute, be sure your mind lands on
the beauty of this funny place called life."

Poetry Friday is hosted by Jone at Check It Out, thank you Jone.

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Picture Book Partiality - Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun

Picture Book Partiality Post will highlight picture books I am using and/or discovering.  I am still very fond of picture books and consider them a favorite format to use in the classroom.  

Spaghetti in a Hot Dog Bun, Having the Courage to Be Who You Are by Maria Dismondy is new to me and perfect for establishing community and fostering new relationships.  It honors and celebrates differences.  Lucy is frequently teased by Ralph a classmate.  In the lunchroom, on the playground, and in the classroom.  The teasing starts to wear Lucy down but her Grandpa is always there to cheer her up.  The teasing was so frequent Lucy worried about it at night and had a hard time falling asleep.    I would hope none of my students would feel this way, as I'm sure all my readers would too.  Unfortunately, there are times when our students aren't with us when teasing can happen and even in the classroom right under our noses teasing can occur.  It always crushes my heart when I learn a child is struggling with relationships in my room.  I love how Lucy has a plan to tell Ralph how mean he is; only to discover she has the courage to help Ralph when he is scared.  This is a great example of courage in action and one our students can try to repeat in their own lives.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Math Monday - What manipulatives do you have?

Welcome and thanks for stopping by for Math Monday!

I had a different post in mind for today but thought everyone might benefit from a question Franki from A Year of Reading posted on last week's post, Where are your math manipulatives?  Franki asked, What are all the manipulatives that you have?  

Before we get to the list of ideas I want to share why the color tiles, unifix cubes and plastic bears are sorted by color.  When I attended a session by the lovely ladies who are the Developmental Math Group at an OCTM conference, I learned students can focus more on the math at hand if the color of the tool is the same color.  How many times have you tried to count, add, subtract, show equal groups and have a beautiful design or pattern emerge and trump the goal for your lesson?  I've had students who can do the task at hand but it takes more time because patterns and designs emerge.  I've been working with my tools this way for a couple of years now and our math work is far more focused.

Geoboards - 7 x 7 pin
Geoboards - 11 x 11 pin
3D geometry blocks - solid wood
1 inch wooden cubes
1" ceramic tiles
geometry shape templates

base ten blocks - ones
base ten blocks - tens
base ten blocks - hundreds
unifix cubes, sorted by color
pattern blocks
attribute blocks

1" color tiles - red
1" color tiles - blue
1" color tiles - yellow
1" color tiles - green
plastic bears - red
plastic bears - blue
plastic bears - yellow
plastic bears - green

half inch graph paper
one inch graph paper
various dice
learning links

counting sticks - popsicle sticks
various rulers
Everyday Math decks of cards
Normal playing cards
sorting circles
pennies, nickels, dimes, and quarters
dollar bills

Leave your link within a comment and 
don't forget to check out other blogs to see what they are thinking mathematically!

To help build our community and support other bloggers, 
it would be nice for you comment on at least three other blogs before you. 
Also, if you tweet about your Math Monday post, don't forget to use #MathMon!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Celebrate This Week - Possibilities

This week I am celebrating possibilities.  

I've been back in school for a week and half with students and I've already had Curriulum Night.  I've conducting All About Me  and Reading Interviews.  Then I had the students write answers for me to surveys about math, writing, and word study.  I had these out for parents to view when we gathered to learn more about second grade and the hopes the students and I have for the year.  This information has given me a lot of insight to my group of new friends, possibilities are ahead for us.

I also did something a bit different this year, I stepped back and didn't have volunteer sign ups or a donation list ready.  I was honest my home life has been busy and we would be online with those things in a week.  I appreciated their patience and no one seemed bothered they weren't ready to go.  The possibility of putting something on pause is okay.

I am also celebrating for the first time the possibilities of higher education for one of our daughters.  She went a couple of days early to assist with move in day and we couldn't be more excited to how she embraces opportunities and possibilities.  She's off to a great start!

Thank you Ruth, for supporting us in finding the positive in our busy lives.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Math Monday - Where are your math manipulatives?

Welcome and thanks for stopping by for Math Monday!

We spend hours organizing our classrooms in hopes of creating a warm, inviting, and functional space for students to learn, grow, and live in.  We make hundreds of decisions about where to place furniture, books, technology, resources, and what to display on the walls.  However, how much time do you spend making decisions about your math manipulatives?  Do your math manipulatives have equal weight with your classroom library?  I want math manipulatives to look like my classroom library!  You might be asking, how does one achieve that?

- Math manipulatives are stored together in one general area.

- Math manipulatives are carefully selected to match the curriculum.

- Each math manipulative has it's own clear tub container, for easy viewing.

- The lid is off the tub for students to see what is inside, making it an invitation to use the math manipulative. 

- Tubs are clearly labeled with a picture and label.

- Sometimes the shelves are labeled with a matching tub so they can go back to the same spot.

- Manipulatives are organized by math content sometimes.  For example, geometry manipulatives would all be on the same shelf or two.

I have found organizing my math manipulatives in a similar fashion as my classroom library creates an invitation asking students to come work with them and provides choices for problem solving.   This also fosters independence for selecting and using the different math manipulatives in our classroom.  You do have to get creative with finding the space.  Lucky for me, I have built in shelves below our windows and my "resources/textbooks" all fit in a small closet.  I want my students to think of math as a bright and cheery, hands on experience, and I have found this organization to work quite well.


Leave your link within a comment and 
don't forget to check out other blogs to see what they are reading!

To help build our community and support other bloggers, 
it would be nice for you comment on at least three other blogs before you. 
Also, if you tweet about your Math Monday post, don't forget to use #MathMon!

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Celebrate This Week - Second Grade!

Today I am celebrating second grade!

I have 20 new friends.  7 friends are new to me.  13 friends and I spent kindergarten together and seeing them now two years later is really fun.  Second graders are independent.  Second graders know how to "do" school.  Second graders can work quietly.  Second graders can verbalize higher level thinking.  Second graders can read independently and write lots of sentences.  Second graders are eager to learn multiplication and read books.  I'm eager to spend the year with them.

On a side note, I am less tired mentally and physically with just one class of students who come every day all day long.  Every day is new and different and continues from the day before.  Life is good, after just one week.  I might just keep singing, "celebrate good times, come on!"

Thanks Ruth for reminding me to stop and capture the positive from the week with your Celebrate This Week community.