Friday, June 24, 2016

Mountain States Meet Up Recap

A couple weeks ago, we had a great time meeting up with a fun group of teachers from the Mountain States region! We chatted, learned together and ate some yummy food. Some of us even went bowling afterwards.

I was so lucky to work with the lovely ladies below to get the meet up planned and set up.
L to R: Ashley from Teaching in Bronco Country, Lori from Live, Laugh, Love, Second, ME, Kristin from Holmquist's Homeroom
So many amazing donors helped to make our raffle a huge success! Everyone walked away with an awesome prize - and maybe 2 prizes!

I got this awesome t-shirt from The Wright Stuff Chics, which I cannot WAIT to wear in my classroom! (Maybe I should wear a tiara too? I'm just thinking out loud here.)

Mary from Teaching With a Mountain View got an awesome shirt too!
Our awesome donors also helped us fill these swag bags with extra fun goodies for every participant at the meet up.

Stay tuned for a giveaway at the end of this post!
All of these amazing donors contributed to success of our meet up!
Here are a few pictures of everyone who attended!!

It was so great to meet so many new people - and a special thank you to those that traveled from far away and/or out of state to join us!

Check out the rafflecopter below for your chance to win one of 5 Mountain State Meet Up swag bags AND a subscription to! (You can see how I use {here.})

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Now head over and check out what others are saying about the Mountain States Meet Up!!

Monday, May 2, 2016

The Classroom Clique LOVES Teachers

It's Teacher Appreciation Week! One of my favorite weeks of the year. I love how PTAs, parents and students show teachers how much they mean to them!

AND I love being able to show my appreciation to all the amazing teachers out there as well! My friends at The Classroom Clique are all pitching in to show how much we LOVE teachers!

We have all come together to share a useful tip, a fun freebie and you can enter to win a great giveaway! (Wouldn't you love a little TPT cash to spend at the sale tomorrow and Wednesday??)

This is an oldie, but a goodie. A couple of summers ago, Teacher Toolboxes were all the rage, and of course I had to have one! It is one of the best organizational tools I have ever used and I literally use it every day.

I bought the tool box from Home Depot (I think it was $19), and I used a template to create the labels. I found some cute stickers in my scrapbooking stuff, and voila! My teacher toolbox was born.

My tip is: find a way to organize your things! This works really well for me and my students know this is MY stuff. They have their own bins with things they need, but this is just for me. As my dad used to say, "Mitts off!"

First up, a fun end of the year freebie for you! I love using the 3-2-1 graphic organizer to get a quick read on information students have learned, but it also works great as a way to reflect or look forward. It gives me great information and doesn't take kids very long to write. It's a great way to gather their feedback!

Click the picture below to grab this end of year freebie!

Last year, one of my students wrote her 3-2-1 on paper, and you can see what she said below. It made a tough year worth every minute to read her reflections on the year!

To further show our appreciation?? A giveaway! You can enter to win by hopping through and finding all the words to the secret phrase. We will choose three winners! One will win $50 to TpT, one $30 to Target and one $15 to Starbucks. You will just need the following word to complete the secret phrase to enter:

Once you have all the words, hop back here to enter the phrase for your chance to win!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Happy Teacher Appreciation week!! I hope you get showered with all the love and appreciation you deserve for working hard for kids every day!

Sunday, April 17, 2016

Do They Really "Get It?" {3 Ways to Check During Math Class}

Has this ever happened to you?

You teach a lesson, let's say, about adding fractions. As you're walking around the classroom, lots of kids have correct answers - even a few that you wouldn't expect. You're patting yourself on the back and decide to give them a problem that's just a little bit harder. (At this point, I always think to myself, "They've GOT this! We are FLYING through this lesson!")

After a few minutes, you realize: they don't really know what they're doing yet, and you wonder what happened just a few moments ago.

Over the years, this has happened to me so many times that I wondered if there was even a way to really know if they "get" a concept before they crash and burn and I want to cry.

Check out this post for ideas to see if kids are really understanding mathematical concepts.

Here are some ideas I've tried to see if kids are really "getting it" in math class:

1. Can they draw a picture or make a model?

Even in fifth grade, the power of visualizing a math problem is, well...powerful! With younger students, I encourage the students to draw exactly what they see when a problem is presented. With older students, I teach them how to use models to represent the parts of the problem they are working on. (Sometimes, they still draw the actual picture, and I think that's ok too. I just try to get them working towards something that won't take quite as much time!)

Check out this post for ideas to see if kids are really understanding mathematical concepts.

Check out this post for ideas to see if kids are really understanding mathematical concepts.

If they are having trouble drawing a picture or creating a model or representation, that tells me a lot about how they are processing the problem.

You can see this adding fractions product by clicking here.

2. Can they write a word problem?

This is ALWAYS eye opening for me. I can usually tell right away how students are understanding a problem or equation by how they write their word problems. (I can also tell if they can actually visualize the problem from their number story!)

First, we have to define how to write one - this is key!

Check out this post for ideas to see if kids are really understanding mathematical concepts.

Once the students know what a word problem looks like and sounds like, I can start to see understanding through their stories. This mainly helps me assess whether they know how to properly apply their knowledge of different operations. It's fairly evident that they aren't sure what subtraction really means if the story problem written will result in an addition situation!

This student was writing a word problem for 1/2 + 1/3.

Check out this post for ideas to see if kids are really understanding mathematical concepts.

When I read his problem, I could see he understood that he was combining the two fractions since he used the word "altogether." He also uses an object that can easily be split up into fractions, telling me that he has some understanding of what fractions actually are! (Not to mention he uses cupcakes - which makes his teacher very happy!)

Writing word problems is one of my favorite ways to see if students truly have an understanding of the type of problem they are trying to solve.

3. Can they clearly explain it to someone else?

We've all been there, right? You are obviously explaining something in the clearest way possible and the person you are talking to is looking at you with an expression of utter confusion. And this happens to students all. the. time. They think they are being clear, but the person listening has no idea what they are talking about. (This includes me sometimes!) In the upper grades, I think getting feedback and reflecting on their work is essential to learning how to be clear and concise with their mathematical explanations. Besides being clear with their speaking, they also have to learn how to be clear and concise in their written explanations.

One way we accomplish this is by using museum walks to provide feedback to each other and reflect on our own work.

Check out this post for ideas to see if kids are really understanding mathematical concepts.

Each team completes their own work on a poster, then we hang them up and use sticky notes to provide comments and questions about the work on the posters. Each team gets their own poster back and uses the comments and questions to revise their thinking or make their explanation more clear. This has worked wonders for my students! Through this process they often find small mistakes (and big ones) and it helps them to see what others see when they look at their work.

It gives me insight into two things:
1. Can students look at others' work critically in order to provide useful feedback?
2. Can students use constructive feedback to revise their work?

I know this has been a hit in my classroom, because now they demand request time to get feedback on everything from their math work to their science notebooks! And I can see that they are becoming more clear in explaining and showing how they got their answers.

Check out this post for ideas to see if kids are really understanding mathematical concepts.


Sometimes, it can be really tough to know if kids are really "getting it." I have used these ideas to help me gather information about my students for several years and I have learned more about them and their mathematical ideas as a result! It really helps me to inform my teaching - or possibly reteaching depending on what I find out. How do you assess your students to find out if they are "getting it" during math? I would love to hear from you in the comments.

Check out this post for ideas to see if kids are really understanding mathematical concepts.
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Sunday, February 7, 2016

It's a SUPER Day and Giveaway!

Today is the day!!!! THE SUPER BOWL! If you know me (and even if you don't) you probably know what a HUGE Broncos fan I am, and today...the Broncos are playing in the SUPER BOWL!!!

Just in case that doesn't give you the chills (like it does me) we are doing a SUPER Link Up and Giveaway that will!

So many amazing bloggers (15!!!) have gotten together to share a SUPER classroom idea, a SUPER resource AND have a SUPER giveaway. If you have been following along all season, this giveaway will rock your socks!!!

I learned this SUPER classroom tip from a great friend and colleague a LONG time ago, but it has always stuck with me!

Once, many moons ago, I was looking with jealousy interest at my colleague's clean and clear kidney/guided reading table. (In my room, it was the table with the most junk piled on it by the end of the day.) She told me that every afternoon, before she went home, she did a "10 minute tidy." She set her timer for 10 minutes and cleared that table, and anything else that needed tidying, before she went home. Ever since that day, I have been a firm believer in the 10 minute tidy! I do it before I go home - I pick up papers, put away extra supplies (where they belong, not just in another pile), put books back where they belong and make it so my table is clear when I come in the next morning. It's actually a huge relief to come in to a clean space.

There's an oatmeal cup on there!!!!
Ahhhhh.....ready for tomorrow.
Up next, a SUPER resource!

In the SUPER giveaway below, you have the chance to win HUGE product pack with resources from all the amazing bloggers participating. From me, you can win my Decimals Activity Pack.

If you don't want to wait to see if you win, click above! My whole store is 20% off today!
This is a great resource for upper elementary teachers - it has ideas for comparing decimals, practicing different forms (like standard, word, expanded and unit) and naming/matching decimals. One of my favorite ways to use this resource was to use the decimal cards to form groups!

Each student received a card, then they had to find the other people who had their decimal number in all the different forms. Once they were all in the group, they had three questions to discuss about their Thanksgiving break. Then they traded with other people and found a new group! It was fun and a great review. Enter the Rafflecopter below for your chance to win this and so many other great TpT products!

Last, but not least.....a SUPER giveaway!

It has been a fun season of Broncos Win, You Win giveaways, and this giveaway tops all of them! It's SUPER awesome.

If you win the Grand Prize, you win everything in the picture below!

If you are a Runner Up, you win everything in the picture below!

Each pack includes a $50 Amazon gift card, 18 SUPER resources from awesome TpT'ers, a $25 SitSpots gift card, a Classroom Friendly Supplies pencil sharpener, a $10 Knowledge Bound gift card, swag from GoNoodle, a Bling Whistle from Champagne and Polka Dots and a pack of pencil grips from Pencil Grip Inc.!

If you are the Grand Prize winner, you will ALSO get a $25 Tieks gift card!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Thanks so much to everyone who participated in all the Broncos Win, You Win giveaways this season! It has been a blast connecting with people who love the Broncos (and free stuff) from all over!! Don't forget to check out all the blogs below for more SUPER classroom ideas! And....


Sunday, January 24, 2016

GO BRONCOS!!! {Giveaway and Blog Hop!}

The Broncos did it again!!! What an unbelievable game! I can't stop smiling and shouting and screaming and jumping up and down!

The Denver Broncos are going to the Super Bowl!!!

My Football Journey

I used to watch football with my dad when I was a little girl. Way back then, he was a season ticket holder and every once and a while I would get to go to a game with him. I have great memories of being in the stadium (usually in freezing cold weather) and holding my dad's hand as we got to and from our seats. In those days, you could bring thermoses with soup and my mom always made sure we had soup and a warm afghan. I wasn't a huge fan back then, but it definitely developed my love for sports!
These are his lucky Bronco shorts.
Later on in life, my roommate in college was a sports reporter for our local newspaper and we got into the fun habit of watching games together. When I got my first teaching job, it turned out that many of my friends (and students) were huge Bronco fans too!

This was before the last SuperBowl.
And since joining the blogging world, I've found tons of new Broncos friends!!! We've been teaming up all season to cheer on the Denver Broncos and have some really fun giveaways!

A Fun Freebie

I love to talk football with my students and it's a great way to get them engaged in math! Check out my newest freebie for something fun to do this week.

A Blog Hop

Make sure to hop all the way through for some great ideas to incorporate football into your lesson plans this week!

To keep hopping, click on Ashley's button below! Once you get back here, you'll know you've make it all the way through.

A Giveaway!

We are so proud of the Broncos and we want to share our enthusiasm!!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

GO BRONCOS!!!! Stay tuned to see what we have in store for the BIG GAME!!

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Ways Google Apps Make My Life Easier: Learning Targets

Time for some real talk: I used to HATE Google apps. Especially Google drive. It drove me crazy that everyone would be working on the same thing at once and it was super slow!

But then, I moved districts. My new district does almost EVERYTHING with Google apps. So I figured I better get on board and get over my hatred negative feelings toward everything Google. (Except Gmail - Gmail has always been awesome. And just plain Google is pretty great too...I mean who can live without that?)

With the help of a few friends, I have finally come to realize the many ways that Google is trying to make my (and your) life easier!

Today, I want to show you how I use Google slides to help me effectively share Learning Targets in my classroom.

Our school has recently been doing professional development for teachers about using Learning Targets with students. I've worked on doing this in the past, and I haven't been particularly successful. Good intentions aside, I would always "fall off the wagon" and forget to post them or really help students understand them.

This time, I tried to think about how I could really use Learning Targets for the benefit of my students AND to help me be a more organized teacher.

Enter Google Slides.

Here's a look at how I'm putting Google Slides to work for me every day!

Each week, I begin creating a slide deck of Learning Targets:

I project the slides throughout the day, so that students and I are on the same page. This keeps me on track, with the learning objectives at the forefront of my teaching, and it gives students a clear focus for their work during the day.

At the end of each day, I'm able to evaluate whether we need new Learning Targets for the next day, or if we will still be working on the same ones. Either way, creating a new slide is quick and easy and keeps my teaching focus on track.

I have also been able to use Google Slides in place of some charts, which has saved some trees!

Overall, Google Slides has really helped me be more transparent with my students. I know what I am teaching, they know what they are learning AND we have a record of everything we have done throughout the day and week!

Have you found a great use for Google Slides? I'd love to hear about it in the comments!

Stay tuned...I have some great ways to use Google Drive and Google Classroom coming soon!

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

When Friends Get Together....You Win!

Have you had a chance to check out my friend Kelly's blog, An Apple for the Teacher? She is a great resource for tons of great teaching ideas. I am so glad that I met Kelly in Vegas last year...she has quickly become one of my best blogging buddies!

This fall, we started off the year by doing a fun product swap! Kelly graciously let me try out her product, 5th Grade Math Journal Prompts, and I absolutely LOVE them. They are aligned to the standards and they are an easy way for me to see what students are understanding!

You can check out my blog post about our fun swap {here} and see how this product looks in action!

Now, we are joining up with a bunch of awesome bloggers and TpT authors to bring you an incredible giveaway! Each month Kelly has been giving away $25 to TpT, but this month she reached out to several of us so we could make the giveaway even more amazing.

That's right!!! $75 to TpT...when friends get together, everyone wins! Click over to An Apple For the Teacher to enter for your chance to win!