Sunday, December 2, 2012

Thanksgiving Graphing Galore!

The week before Thanksgiving (and two days prior to) was a perfect time for the kids to do some fun data and graphing work focused on the data standards outlined in the Common Core Standards for Mathematics.  First students brainstormed survey questions that could be used to collect some data about Thanksgiving.  They narrowed the questions down to four--Where do you spend Thanksgiving?, How do you cook your turkey for Thanksgiving?, What kind of meat does your family eat on Thanksgiving?, and If you lived back in the time of the Pilgrims, would you rather have been a Pilgrim or an Indian? 

Four groups were formed and students then surveyed three second grade classrooms and the staff members in our school. Results were counted, tallied, and then graphed.  Students used a wonderful online program called Create a Graph to create bar graphs. Their graphs were shared with those who took the surveys, and they were also used as a means of assessment. 

The photos below show students using a laptop, PC, and iPads to create the graphs.  One group was creating their graph on the computer hooked up to the SmartBoard, so this served as a model as students were guided through the use of the program to display their group's data.

Why Create a Graph? It's user-friendly, free, web-based for access anywhere, and graphs can be emailed and printed.  When graphs are emailed, this gives students the ability to visit a link where their work is saved and can be edited after they have logged off of the computer. My students created their graphs as I guided them through the steps (this was thier first time). 

Here is an example of a finished bar graph created by one group of students.

Much rich discussion took place about the graphs created by each group as they were displayed on the SmartBoard.  Students created questions about their own graphs and answered the questions of others at various levels of thinking.  This is definately an exploration that I will do again with students... Learning and fun was had by all!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Picture Book Discovery: UPDATE!

Before the school year started, I shared a wonderful picture book that I discovered over the summer, Agate.  I also uploaded a bulletin board idea to go along with the book on Teachers Pay Teachers.  Just wanted to share the amazing watercolor portriats my students made to accompany the writing activity we did related to the story. Their portraits will hang in the classroom all year, once taken down off of the bulletin board.  The kids loved this!

I purchased the poster in the center of the bulletin board from Lake Superior Press. It shows all of the beautiful watercolor animals from the picture book.

File Folder Flip Spelling Practice

Way back when I started teaching 19 years ago, I used a 7-step spelling practice that was especially useful with my students who had individualized word lists.  Students were able to follow 7 easy steps simultaniously as a class no matter what their focus words were for the week. I continued to use the same 7-step strategy with my third and fifth graders over the years. A few years ago, I was reading The Science of Spelling by Richard Gentry and found a similar file folder spelling strategy.  Since then, I adapted the original 7-step system and use this strategy with my second graders.  I call the strategy, "File Folder Flip".  For additional information and directions for preparing file folders, go to Heinemann's website to view a sample of Richard Gentry's book.
I use File Folder Flip with the whole class once a week.  I also offer a student step guide for students to follow as a word work choice.  The guide helps students do the steps independently.

Thinking and Picturing the Word


Writing from Memory
To download the student step guide, and three types of writing paper designed for use with file folders, visit my Teachers Pay Teachers store. It's a FREEBIE!  I hope your kids enjoy this way of practicing as much as mine do!  All the best!

For more spelling activities, go to Sunny Days in Second Grade

Sunday, September 16, 2012

Math Workstations

Last year I read on several blogs about this fabulous book out there called Math Workstations: Independent Learning You Can Count On K-2. I'm sure you've either seen this book out there in blogland or you've read it yourself.  
Math Work Stations: Independent Learning You Can Count On, K-2

Well it helped me figure out how I wanted my math time to run.  I have been struggling for YEARS trying to decide how best to present math skills to my students and still work with small groups like I do with reading.  So thank to several teachers out there who have taken their precious time to come up with awesome workstation games, I now have a system down that works for me and my kiddos!

Last year I used white plastic baskets I had to put the workstations in.  It worked, but I found that small pieces fell through the slots and some of the game boards were bending up.  So after talking with Sarah, who decided she was going to use the plastic Sterlite drawers, I decided to do the same thing...until I came upon these beauties at JoAnn Fabric.

They are scrapbooking paper carts and I fell in love with them because the drawers can be taken out and they snap close!  Perfect!!   Not only could my game boards lay flat, but all the materials would stay put and not fall out. They were kinda pricey at first, but with the great deals JoAnn Fabric gives, along with my teacher membership, I was able to buy two for less than the original price of one!!  This is what they look like in my classroom now...

I added numbers to them, and the students know what workstation they are working on by whichever number is by their picture.  

It works great for me and now I can work with small groups while the rest of my class are working on beefing up their math skills!  I use several of Sarah's workstations she has created and are available at TPT as well as stations from Lory Evans, Cara Carroll, Math Coach's Corner, and many other great teachers.  I also love the K-5 Math Teaching Resources website, it has great games and activities.

I will end this long post with a couple of pic of my kiddos working for you to enjoy!

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Rekenrek: Math Tool #4 to Help Support the Common Core -- FREEBIE!

The rekenrek is another powerful visual math tool to help students understand numbers in groups of five and ten and to see relationships within numbers. Its use also appears in the Common Core Standards.  I would like to share a wonderful resource for helping teachers understand the rekenrek, its benefits, and how to use it with students, The Rekenrek: Learning to Think Mathematically with the Rekenrek - A Resource for Teachers, A Tool for Young Children by Jeff Frykholm, Ph.D. 

I have found this resource to be especially useful as I prepare to use the rekenrek with my students.  In addition, I wanted to share with you the directions for making rekenreks for your students in my most recent math tool FREEBIE listing on Teachers Pay Teachers.  I have included directions for making a wooden rekenrek (using a wooden door hanger) and a cardboard version. 

So enlist the help of your husband, one of your kids, or a friend, and you will have some whipped up in no time.  Good luck!

Sunday, September 2, 2012

Place Value Disks: Math Tool #3 to Support the Common Core -- FREEBIE!

What are place value disks? Place value disks are a tool that students can use to represent numbers and much more!  They are intended to be used when students have a sound understanding of the value of each disk.  Unlike base ten tools, the value is not visible in units.  Although, place value disks can be used when working with numbers to the millions.  Just visit Teachers Pay Teachers to download place value disks to one thousand.  Included in this freebie are printable place value disks, directions for making foam disks (like those sold on the market today), and SmartBoard place value disks.  My last year's second graders (and my fifth graders in previous years) benefited greatly from using this math tool which helped them visualize the value of the digits within numbers and "see" operations.

Strengthen the connection between concrete and number representations when used along with place value arrows. Stop back next Sunday to download Math Tool #4 for the Common Core -- FREEBIE!

Sunday, August 26, 2012

The Ten Frame: Math Tool #2 to Support the Common Core -- FREEBIE!

As you know, the ten frame is a tool for helping students visualize numbers, understand place value, and build strength in mental computation.  I recently posted a product on Teachers Pay Teachers that included a bunch of math tool printables and directions for teachers so they could save money in comparison to some products on the market today.  Well, I decided to break up this product and list each section for FREE!  After all, the easiest way to save money is by not spending any at all!  

Hop over to my TpT store and download Ten Frames Freebie: Ten Frame Math Tools for Teachers.  I will be listing another section of this math tools product for FREE next Sunday, so stop back and see us!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Inspiration: Classroom Jobs Chart

I was inspired by the classroom jobs chart idea posted on Building a House of Love!  My classroom theme is centered around the beloved Muppets, "Moving Right Along Together in Second Grade".  SO, when I saw this idea I had to create a classroom job chart incorporating our classroom theme...

I formatted each piece in Microsoft Publisher, printed, and laminated before putting together (using the directions given at Building a House of Love).  Then I hung the chart using two Command hooks (fabulous!), after simply punching a whole in each corner at the top. Students' names were secured to clothespins using a hot glue gun.

What I like most about this chart is that it's long, narrow, and fits perfectly by the doorway.  Well, and the fact that the Muppets are represented!!  Moi's proud of how nicely it turned out!!
BTW--The stylists are in charge of making sure the classroom looks good (nice and tidy)...
Head on over to Katie at Building a House of Love for simple, step-by-step directions!

Saturday, August 4, 2012

What Can You Do?: Volunteer Packet

We have a phenomenal support sytem of volunteers at our school, and this year I wanted to put together some materials that can be used with our classroom volunteers.  The first thing I decided to create was a poem to attach to the volunteer survey that I will be sending home at the beginning of the year.

Please feel free to use this poem and the other materials I have created.  Just download What Can You Do?: Volunteer Packet for Teachers for FREE on Teachers Pay Teachers.  Thanks to Melonheadz Illustrating for the wondeful graphics!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Place Value Strips & Arrows: Math Tool #1 to Support the Common Core -- FREEBIE!

If you have not used place value strips or arrows, I highly recommend them! I have used place value strips in past years with my second and fifth graders, and I was introduced to the arrows in a recent workshop.  Place value strips and arrows help students see the value of digits within numbers.  Numbers can be composed by stacking the arrows, and numbers can be decomposed to reveal the value of each digit. They can also be used when learning to compare and order numbers. The possibilities are many! Can you see the numbers in expanded form?

Below is a larger version of the strips and arrows that can be used for teacher demonstration.

Here's the best part...
I recently made teacher demonstration and student-sized place value arrows, and I have listed them for FREE on Teachers Pay Teachers!  Download, print, laminate, cut, and bag. Viola! 

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Little Worried about Common Core??

This school year, my district is adopting Common Core Standards for Math in grades K-3 and 6th, and because I teach 2nd grade this includes me.  I have been using the few spare seconds I have this summer to familiarize myself with the standards so that I don't have shell shock when school starts.  There are tons of marvelous teachers' blogs out there that are extremely helpful, and it's nice to hear from those that have already some experience with Common Core.  But when reading the standards I find myself asking, "What do they want again?"  "What exactly are they looking for?"  Then I came across an amazing website which is from the public schools for North Carolina.  Folks there have given explanations and pictures to show what the standards are asking students to do.  Being the visual learner that I am, this website was awesome and puts CC into a much better perspective for me.  Now I can use those few extra spare seconds to do something laundry (Boooooo!)

Saturday, July 21, 2012

FREE! Place Value Game Celebration

In celebration of our new blog, please enjoy this FREE place value game, "Who's the greatest? Who's the least?"  The game comes with student directions, game mats, a spinner, and a deck of number cards.  Just print, laminate, trim, and it's ready to go.  Included are 2 and 3-digit place value game mats and directions for playing with two or three players.  Just follow this link to Teachers Pay Teachers!

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Picture Book Discovery!

On a recent vacation to the upper peninsula of Michigan, I stumbled upon a wonderful picture book in a gift shop, Agate written by Joy Morgan Dey and illustrated by Nikki Johnson.  It is a story about being comfortable with who you are and letting yourself "shine".  It is an inspiring story for kids and adults alike.  Nikki Johnson's watercolor artwork is equally as inspiring.  I am thrilled to be starting this school year with this read aloud and just had to share it with you.  Agate has become one of my top ten favorite picture books of all time!

Download the above writing activity and bulletin board idea to accompany this book on my Teachers Pay Teachers page. It's a freebie! Enjoy!

For more great picture book recommendations, go to...

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Math Tool Tip & Missing Addend Activity

Just wanted to share a great tip for organizing a math tool many of us use with students, Unifix cubes.  While taking a math workshop recently, the presenter suggested not only putting Unifix cubes in groups of ten (which many of us already do), but she also suggested using two different colors to show groups of five (see picture below).  The reason for this is quite simple, but one I had never thought of.  A second grader may choose Unifix cubes to represent a "situation", but when he/she has to count them individually he/she is reverting back to an earlier stage of development that is not necessary.  By organizing cubes in this way, a student can easily see five and add on. In this way, showing a value such as 12 becomes much more appropriate and efficient.
Here's a great missing addend activity that was shared in the same workshop! Students work in partners.  All that is needed is a group of ten Unifix cubes organized as shown above.  One partner holds the ten Unifix cubes behind his/her back.  Then he/she makes a break and shows his/her partner one group while keeping the other group behind his/her back.  The other partner must then tell how many cubes are hidden. He/she must also "prove" it by counting up or back or by stating what he/she knows.  See the photo and example below.
A student might respond, "You are showing me six cubes, and I know there are ten.  Six plus four equals ten, so four are hiding."
I hope you find these items useful!