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!