Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Guess What Day It Is??

Happy Wednesday people! Wednesdays have been great this summer thanks to Jessica at Covered in Glitter and Glue and her What I'm Lovin Wednesday linky.

Number 1: I love this commercial. I don't care what anyone might say..."That's so last month." or "Are you seriously playing THAT commercial again?" I just don't care. I love it and it makes me laugh EVERY SINGLE TIME. So here you go...

You know it makes you giggle a little too...admit it! 

**This camel-Wednesday moment is dedicated to Jessica at Covered in Glitter and Glue....**

Number 2: Having breakfast and coffee at my own leisure every morning. It's been so relaxing and I'm getting sad that it's coming to an end. 

In case you are wondering, it's fat free vanilla yogurt with granola. Specifically, this granola:

BEAR NAKED FIT® Triple Berry Crunch
Number 3: I have been introduced to Roller Derby. In Colorado, we have an organization called the Denver Roller Dolls...that's them in the pic below. This was a practice/scrimmage bout, and I'm totally hooked! It was so fun and high energy and the ladies really are tough!

You many be wondering HOW I got into this...a former student (now in high school) skates for a junior team! She invited me to come see her team in a bout. How awesome is that? Dare I say, it's pretty badass! Excuse my French, of course.

Number 4: Last but not least, I'm loving getting organized at school...I've only done a little, but it always makes me feel like I'm ready to tackle the year when I'm organized. Please understand, I don't STAY organized, but at least I give it a go at the beginning.

We use MONDO Bookshop at our school, and since I switched grades I needed to shelve and organize the 3rd grade materials. So, because I am organizationally challenged, I spread all the sets on the floor, found the lesson plan that goes with each one and then put them on the shelf in order by level. It worked! All the guided reading book sets are organized and ready to be pulled out and used.

Ok, I think that's about it! 

What are you lovin' today? Head over and link up!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

I Finally {Monday} Made It!

I am feeling a bit ashamed over here folks. I love Tara's Monday Made It linky...I look forward to it every week! And I haven't linked up ONCE this summer.

Not once.

But, every dog has its day, right? And today is my day. I haven't been crafting away like I have done in the past, but I did make one thing. One little thing. But it's still a thing. And I made it.

So away we go!


I kept seeing adorable three drawer organizers all over the place. Like {here} and {here} and {here}.

I'm sure I am the last person on Earth to make one...but I love the idea and I think it might actually help keep the piles to a minimum.

Elizabeth from Fun in 4B made these adorable labels! And so I downloaded them from her blog {here!}

I printed out the labels on cardstock, and cut them out!

So, thanks to Elizabeth, I now have my organizer all put together and ready to go to school!

My {adorable} husband said, "Wait. Are you going to put the stuff to grade underneath? You know, since the pile is WAY too big to fit in that drawer?" Hardy-har-har. But I really do hate grading. It's terrible, I know.

Sooooo, there you have it! My first Monday Made It of 2013...I hope to do at least a few more before summer is officially gone. :-) 15 weekdays and counting...


Friday, July 19, 2013

Lack of Motivation and Throwback Thursday

I have had some serious bloggy writer's block this week people!  I have all these ideas swirling around in my head and I can't seem to get any of them out onto the blog. I will be better next week...I swear.

In the meantime, luckily for me, The First Grade Parade has a great linky all about a throwback! This is my first time linking up with

I am choosing this oldie-but-goodie because so many people have re-pinned it! Here's the post behind my portable thesaurus!

****Originally posted July 25, 2012****

Whew! Today was a long day…I worked in my classroom allllll day! I am so excited to be getting things ready to go. In a couple of days, I will start posting pictures of my room. Yay!

But today, I thought I would share something that I did last year that was easy and turned out to be something very useful.

We all have premade charts (I think) that kids may or may not ever refer to during the day. Plus, in this era of anchor charts, premade posters seems to be losing out to charts made with the class.

So, I saw this poster from Teacher Created Resources at my local teacher store before school started last year. I loved the idea of other ways to say those “tired” words. And I bought it with every intention of putting it up on the wall.
Click the picture or link to buy this chart!
But, the more I thought about it, the more I wanted something more user-friendly for the kids. And here’s what I did:

I cut the poster apart into individual sections. I laminated each section and punched a small hole in the corner.

I took a metal ring and ran it through all the cards, and used a hook to hang it on my writing bulletin board! I even cut off the title and hung it above the ring. (I forgot a pic here, but I will take one when I go to school tomorrow and update the post.)

It turned into the most used “thesaurus” in the room! Kids used the heck out of these little guys…they took them off the rings and shared them around and often had other kids looking around to find them. (NOTE: the metal ring did not hold up as well as I would have liked, but they managed to get it back together with plenty – and I mean PLENTY – of Scotch tape.)

Since I did this, I have looked for other ways to use premade charts. Do you have any ideas like this? I would love to hear them!

Have a great day everyone! Thanks for visiting!

Hope you all enjoyed this throwback! If you've made it this far, you should click the button below to take you to a fantastic giveaway at Learning with Mrs. Leeby - so many awesome prizes!


Friday, July 12, 2013

Day 2 Was Awesome!

It was another great day at the NCTM Interactive Institute! Today we did a lot more math, had a lot more time to talk with our colleagues from around the US and overall had a very busy day.

Here are a few pictures:

Ready to go!

Trusty math notebook and Starbucks...essentials!

We learned how to use a number balance today! So cool!
Using tiles to model the distributive property!

Modeling multiplication (partial products) with base ten blocks!
I hate to say it, but that's all your getting today, y'all! I'm exhausted after class, dinner, a carriage ride and a trolley ride back to the hotel...I'm going to bed. I promise I will post more highlights tomorrow in more detail. If you want updates during the day, you can follow me on Twitter, Facebook or Instagram!

Thanks everyone for stopping by and checking on how it's going! If you have anything specific you might want to hear about from this Interactive Institute, please leave me a comment below. I'll try to address it!

Goodnight, y'all!!!

Thursday, July 11, 2013

Day One Is In the Books!

Hey everyone! Even though it's my second day in New Orleans, today was the first actual day of the Connecting Number and Operations Interactive Institute.

Ok. First things first! We got goodies from ETA...check it out!

When I gleefully told my husband about my bag of swag, he sighed. Audibly. I made sure he's aware that I'm NOT a complete dork. (BUT I maybe kind of am?)

Anyway. We also got a badge, a binder and some catalogs. Once we were all checked in, it was time for the opening session...a keynote speech from the NCTM President, Linda Gojak.

I didn't take her picture because I thought she might think I was stalking her....creepy.

Some Ideas from the Presentation:
Her talk focused on number concepts and number sense. It was awesome!  It really got me thinking about what number sense ACTUALLY were some of the ideas of people at my table (including me) and some from Linda's presentation.

Students with number sense:
  • can reason with numbers
  • can manipulate numbers
  • are flexible in their numerical thinking
  • spot unreasonable answers
  • can estimate reasonably
  • use numbers to solve problems
  • understand how numbers can be taken apart and put back together
  • see connections among operations
  • compute mentally

I was intrigued with the last one, because that hadn't really occurred to me. Luckily, she clarified a bit.

Computing mentally doesn't mean "do it fast and get the right answer in your head." It just means having an effective strategy for working with numbers in your head. I always like to remind my students that fast doesn't always equal best, especially when it comes to math and your mathematical thinking.

Linda also discussed CCSSM and the Standards for Mathematical Practice. I have A LOT to say about these, so I think I will save it for another post. :-)

The second presentation was given by Anne Collins from Lesley University and focused on formative assessment.

This is about 1/4 of the room - see how I used fractions there?? 

Some Ideas from the Presentation:
Anne defined what formative assessment truly is:
  • Assessment for Learning
    • ongoing
    • one piece of comprehensive assessment
    • done in real time
    • immediate feedback  
I liked the idea of calling it "assessment for learning" instead. It makes more sense that way. She kept saying, "Just because I taught it, doesn't mean they learned it," and using formative assessment more effectively will help me know that they have learned it!

I think one of the best strategies she presented for formative assessment focused on asking questions of students. This has been something I have been working on for a long time, but I feel like I can always use a refresher and some new ideas to help move me forward.

One of the things that I think is difficult about math instruction is the fact that we have so little time to teach it. It seems like as soon as we get started, 45-60 minutes have flashed by and we have barely scratched the mathematical surface. So...if you are like me...we want to jump in and get the kids on the right track so that we can "get through" the material.

What Anne reminded me of today, though, is that when I do that I am doing a huge disservice to my kids. Instead of jumping in, or letting other kids jump in, I need to use carefully chosen questions to move their thinking forward. She had some great ideas:
  • How did you arrive at your answer?
  • Can you find another way to solve that?
  • How did you know to try that strategy?
  • Does that always work?
  • Can you find another way to explain that?
  • Why do you think that?
There were more, but I'm getting pretty long-winded here. Suffice it to say, I REALLY want to make sure I am using questioning techniques to their full potential to help my students move forward in their math thinking. 

Favorite Quote from the Day:
My favorite quote from today has to do with student solution strategies. If you know me, then you know I sometimes have a huge problem with the word "algorithm," and not just because it's hard to spell. I like kids to figure things out for themselves and work out their own strategies. Linda addressed that today and it was my favorite quote:

"They find the one {strategy} that works for them." - Linda Gojak, NCTM President

Nothing like the feeling of someone validating your thinking! :-)

So many other amazing things running through my mind right now, but I'm going to stop. For your sake, blogging friends! Good night from New Orleans!

Bourbon Street!
PS While I'm in New Orleans, I would really like to say "y'all." I love that. Nobody (pretty much) says "y'all" in Colorado. But I sound weird saying it. So I'll keep thinking about it....

What are some strategies you use for formative assessment? Leave me your ideas in the comments!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

I'm Lovin' Math!!

I don't know too many elementary teachers who can say they LOVE teaching math, but I'm one of them! If you are a crazy math person like me, or many it's not your favorite subject to teach, read on to find out more about my mathematical journey.

A Little Background: When I first started teaching, my favorite subject to teach was reading. I think I loved it because I was good at it when I was a student, so naturally I liked reading with kids! But I HATED teaching was so hard for me to convey what I wanted kids to learn and I really felt like I didn't have a solid background in math myself. After my first year of teaching, I felt pretty bad about my math instruction and I knew I needed to do something. But I had no idea what!

Luckily, I came across a summer institute focusing on number and operations...I was teaching 4th grade at the time and the class focused on upper elementary and middle school. But the best part? They would pay ME to go! I didn't have to front a huge sum of money to start improving my instruction.

The class was I was astounded at everything I didn't know and even more at the ideas about mathematics that challenged everything I had been taught as a student and even as a pre-service teacher. For the first time IN MY LIFE I was enjoying colleagues and I would take our homework to Starbucks after class and puzzle over problems - trying different solutions and we couldn't wait to share what we tried the next day! Even though many of the people in our class were math teachers at the middle school level, all ideas were respected and we never felt like "lowly" elementary teachers. I left the two weeks feeling energized and ready to teach math in the fall!

Luckily for me, that class turned into a master's degree program funded by grants. I am so lucky to say that my master's was inexpensive but also the best thing I could have done for my teaching at the time.

Now...10 years later, math is my favorite subject to teach! I always tease kids at the beginning of the year that if math isn't their favorite subject right now, it will be by the end of the year!

That master's program has ended, but I am still lucky to be involved with the university in a mathematics teacher leadership program. Some of you probably saw my posts last week on the blog, Instagram and Facebook about math class...{here}.

Showing my work!

Made our own manipulatives!

Starbucks is an essential part of math class.

Working in groups!
These math classes have been a favorite part of my summer for a long time!

I feel pretty lucky that I was able to take what I hated and turn it into my passion. I'd love to hear your story about you love it? Hate it? Somewhere in between? Leave your thoughts in the comments below!

Friday, July 5, 2013

We Have A Winner!

I'm popping in for a quick update on the winners of my Bloglovin' giveaway! Congratulations to Cherie and Carmen!

Check your emails, ladies! A Starbucks awaits!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

I'm off for a day of scrapbooking with my mom and a great friend...I haven't scrapbooked in a while, so wish me luck!

Wednesday, July 3, 2013

An Anchor Chart Guest Post!

Hey folks! Today I am super lucky and crazy excited to have Tina from Crofts' Classroom guest posting for me...all about anchor charts! Check it out!

Hey everyone! This is Tina from

I am SO excited to be here at Nichole's blog today! Nichole has been around since I started my blog last summer and I just love her.

Today I am going to be sharing some of my anchor chart love with you! If you use anchor charts then you and I should be friends. If you don't use anchor charts then we can still be friends, but we need to have a serious talk :)

This past year was my first year to incorporate my beloved anchor charts. I kept seeing them all over pinterest last summer and finally started looking into what they were. What I found changed my teaching! When the school year started and I ordered my supplies I made sure to get me a huge poster paper pad and some 

Oh how I love Mr. Sketch markers! Except the black one...Blah!

As I began making anchor charts I realized how beneficial they were to ME and my students. My lessons were more focused and I reiterated what was taught again and again because I kept referring back to the anchor chart.

As colleagues noticed my anchor charts they started asking questions or my students would ask them to make an anchor chart in their room for a certain topic. Gradually anchor charts started popping up around my school and the students would come and tell me when another teacher created one. It was great!

I was so lucky last year because I had an AMAZING room with lots of wall space. (I am going to the elementary this year to teach 4th grade so I will have a different room) I was able to store my anchor charts on a bulletin board in the back of my room.

It was perfect! My students were able to refer to all the anchor charts easily and had quick access. This year I plan on doing the same thing but over my windows with the commander hooks. I highly suggest posting your anchor charts or taking pictures and putting the pic in a binder. I never had a class when a student didn't refer to one of my anchor charts.

Here are a few of my favorite anchor charts! Click any pic to take you to my blog and from there you can go to the original source if there is one. 

I love using a 25 word summary. It makes the students REALLY weed out the details. When teaching/practicing summarizing I always do an activity where we read the first paragraph of an informational text and the students write a 25 word summary. Then we read the next paragraph and they write another summary of the two paragraphs together. We keep going until the entire text is summarized using 25 words. It is so great. Here is a FREEBIE of the paper I use when practicing summarizing. 

Such a fun anchor chart! When I had extra time I would pull this chart off the board and we would play charades with verbs!

This Complete Sentences anchor chart is one that I have visible ALL YEAR! I can't count the number of times I asked students to refer to this anchor chart when they were writing. I kept it front and center on my anchor chart board.

I am constantly pinning anchor charts and would love to have you follow me on pinterest! I mainly want you to follow me so I can follow you back and see all your great ideas!

A BIG thanks to Tina for a great post! Make sure to head over and check out her blog! Have a great day!

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

My Favorite!

Good morning everyone! I'm just popping in for a quick post today...because I'm heading to math class! My favorite! And I'm not even being sarcastic!

Everything you need for math class is right there - Starbucks, snacks and my math notebook! I will blog more about this little two day workshop later, but I'll tell you that I have been extremely lucky to work with this awesome group of teachers for a few years now. We do math together, and the focus of most of our classes has been teacher leadership in the field of mathematics.

You know when you meet someone for the first time, but it feels like you have known them forever? That's how this whole group is! Ok, ok...I'm rambling! And I have to get on the road to class...but I'll tell you more later. :-)

Don't forget to enter my Bloglovin' giveaway! There's still time!

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Monday, July 1, 2013

{Currently} and Giveaways!

I honestly cannot believe it's already July. I'm not sure how to feel about that.

On the one hand, there's still 5 weeks of summer left until I HAVE to go back to school.

On the other hand, there's ONLY 5 weeks of summer left until I HAVE to go back to school.

Hmmmm. Moving on.

It is July 1st! So that means it's time for Farley's Currently over at Oh Boy! 4th Grade! Here we go!

Listening: We do not have cable/satellite anymore. So we have an antenna and Netflix. Sometimes old episodes of random shows are all we get. Don't get me wrong, I like "Without A Trace," but sometimes I would give my right arm for a table flipping episode of Real Housewives.

Loving: We have been in the upper 90s and dry, dry, dry! Today was a little overcast and even drizzly in the afternoon. It was lovely!

Thinking:  I set a goal for myself at the beginning of the summer that I would make a few more products for TPT, but inspiration has not struck! I need to give it some more thought. If you have anything you would like to see, let me know!

Wanting: I would love some new duds for my trip to NOLA in two weeks! A teaching friend and I are heading out there for NCTM's Interactive Institute on Number and Operations. I am SUPER excited because I am a huge math nerd! I can't wait to learn some new things - IN MY NEW CLOTHES? Hmmm...

Needing: I should put a picture here to show you how terrible it is in there. But I'm ashamed...I might even have to dedicate a whole post to this room and its trials and tribulations.

Blogging Tip: The best thing about blogging, I think, is that you can do it however you like! There's not an expectation that you have to do something a certain way or in a certain time. I've had to learn to make peace with the fact that the only expectations I've had, I've put on myself! So, if it's starting to stress you out? Take a break, or find a linky, or post a picture of your dog. Keep it something that you find enjoyable!

Before you head over to Farley's to see what everyone else is {currently} up to, don't forget to enter my Bloglovin' Giveaway! I'm doing the math over here, and my Google Friend Connect Number is 265, but Bloglovin' only has 195...make sure you switch over and you don't lose any blogs. :-)

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Ok...last but not least!  Rose over at Rosie's Rambles is having a fantastic 100 Follower Giveaway and I'm so excited to be participating. You can win some great prizes, so head over there, follow her blog and get entered to win!

Ok, now you can head over to Farley's! Go on! Link up!