Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Motivation Math by Mentoring Minds

Texas Teachers!! I'm excited to talk to y'all today about one of my favorite math resources - Motivation Math workbooks by Mentoring Minds.

How do you teach math? What I do is teach skills in isolation. I know this not rocket science (lol) but here's an example of how I run the math thangs in my classroom.
Let's say we're in a decimal unit.
- I would start with identifying and writing decimals.
- Then we would move on to writing decimals in expanded form and expanded notation.
- Then we might do some comparing.
- After that, maybe we add and subtract.
- Then we would work on whatever my scope and sequence says to do next... ;)

Once I feel like our isolated skills are rockin' I break out the Motivation Math workbooks. Guys, these are big ol' fabulous workbooks full of every tested state standard. And thanks to my fabulous admin, each of my students have a Motivation Math workbook. THIS MEANS NO COPYING FOR ME! *insert giant smiling emoji*

The rigor that jumps out of these books and gets my kiddos' brains a'workin' makes me a happy teacher. If my kiddos rock out their Motivation Math worksheets, I know they have a solid understanding of the skill. If you've never heard of these workbooks, you have GOT to go to the website and request a sample. You WON'T be sorry!

Here are a few of the reasons I love Motivation Math.

Let's start with the obvious. State standards are listed at the top of each page. WOOT! This means no guess work for me. I can flip through the books and eyeball where I want to go OR I can use the handy-dandy index. I'm a book flipper, though. I like the mystery of it. Anyway, I get to my page, I look up top and it will tell me (R) Readiness (DO THIS PAGE) or (S) Supporting (CHILL FOR A MIN THEN MOVE ON). This also makes writing the day's objective or "I can" statements a breeze!

Motivation Math ROCKS MY WORLD because they have a build in "I do, We do, You do" model.
- Each skill starts with an Introduction page. The questions (written as word problems) are open ended which is a PERFECT way to bridge the isolated skills we've worked on into word problems.
- The next page is Guided Practice. I do a lot of "partner practice" with these pages. I model a few then I let the students work together.
- After that you've got the Independent Practice pages. This is where I see what my kiddos can do on their own. I usually assign this RIGHT after we finish the Guided Practice pages.
- I use the Assessment page in a variety of ways. I might assign it WITH the Guided Practice page. I might pull it and combine it with a few other skills for a more sizeable test.
- There's a homework page, too.
- And journal activities.
- And critical thinking problems (I assign these to my high achievers and early finishers).
- You need it - MM has it. Seriously.

Your students are NOT going to get bored with these questions. The writers of this workbook thought of SO many ways to look at problem. That's why I go back to my previous statement of, "If my kiddos rock out their Motivation Math worksheets, I know they have a solid understanding of the skill."

One of the MAJOR, MAJOR perks of using Motivation Math is YOU DON'T HAVE TO MAKE COPIES. No copying one sided to two sided. No paper jams. No toner mishaps. No stress. Just, "Turn to page ____," and get your teach on.

I am SO thankful that my administration has made sure I have a ton of resources on hand to teach my students. I use a lot of them. The ONLY one I use on a regular basis is Motivation Math.

Do you use Motivation Math in your classroom? What about Motivation WritingReading? or Science? I'd love to hear your opinions!

Sunday, December 13, 2015

Merry & Bright, Bright, Bright!

Merry [almost] Christmas!!
Correction.. Merry [almost] Christmas BREAK!! Because really... what are YOU most looking forward to?? I'm definitely partial to the two weeks of relaxin'! ;)

I'm so excited to be blogging with the We Teach 3-4-5 group to bring you a fun linky with tips to keep you (and your students) MERRY and BRIGHT during this last week leading up to Christmas Break!

Kids love Christmas.
It gets them all crazy-like. 
So my tips today focus on keeping your kiddos CHILL so you can remain Merry and Bright! 

My first tip is to break out the bribes. Yes, you heard me right. BRIBES. Go to the dollar store and stock up some candy canes and pass them out to students who are making great decisions.  To REALLY get your kiddos attention, tell them if they get a candy cane they can EAT IT IN CLASS. Whoa.

Once you establish the legitness of having a candy cane, make them earn it! 

Quiet? Candy cane.
Working hard? Candy cane. 
You WERE working quietly so you got a candy cane and now you're acting a'fool? CANDY CANE GOES INTO TRASH. It only takes one thrown away candy cane to really see those kiddos behave! ;)

My second tip is to plan fun, purposeful and QUIET work. In the past, I've gotten caught up in the holiday spirit and thought, "There's no way these kids are going to work. They're too excited! I might as well just embrace the noise and plan fun Christmas activities for the last week." UH, NO. Talk about leaving after school EXHAUSTED! Now, don't get me wrong - we Christmas in my room. However, I have QUIET Christmas activities planned for Monday through Wednesday. It helps calm the cray. And you really will be able to get some quality work out of your kiddos despite the sugar plums dancing in their heads! 

Here are some fun freebies I LOVE to use (just click the pic to be taken to the product):

And a few engaging (and quiet) spirit-filled activities from my store: 


Thursday is when I finally decide to let the Christmas craziness happen. I'm talking a movie, class party and an eeeeeeeextra long recess.... But Monday through Wednesday my babies are QUIET and WORKING! Woot!


My next tip is TREAT YO'SELF! If you need some candy, forget about the guilt. Eat it. Shove it in your mouth. By golly, you deserve it. Need a little relaxation after work? Get a massage. Shoot, there are like 5 nail shops by me massage by the minute. $20 for a 20 minutes of a shoulder/foot massage? WELL WORTH IT! Saw a fabulous item in your favorite store (*ahem* Target)? Buy it. I'm all about retail therapy! You must do anything and everything to survive this week. So head out to the store and stock up on Reeses Peanut Butter Cup Trees and get your survival on, teacher! 

My last tip is KEEP THE JOY! I know my kids are going to act a little wild... But it's because they're dreaming of Santa and two weeks of no homework. I will choose to be JOYFUL even when my insides are saying, "OMG BE QUIET!"
I know I'm going to leave exhausted every day... But I also know I'm going to make sure my kids are working hard and ENJOYING the last week before the holiday! CHRISTMAS JOY!!

I actually have ONE last tip... Make sure you enter the FANTASTIC Merry and Bright giveaway from all the teachers pictured below! Winning amazing resources from amazing teachers is a surefire way to stay all merry and bright!! 

I'm giving away my Snowman Math Glyph. It's perfect to use this week OR after you return from break. It's definitely on my QUIET WORK to-do list this week! :) 

Make sure you visit all of the teachers in the link up to see their Merry & Bright tips AND add your own! How are you keeping all Merry and Bright? I'd love to hear your ideas! 

You can do it! 5 days! And here's to hoping that last day is a HALF DAY! :)" title="click to view in an external page.">An InLinkz Link-up

Sunday, December 6, 2015

Close Reading with Teaching and Tapas

Hey all! I'm SO excited to be blogging about one of my favorite TPT creators, Alyssha Swanson of Teaching and Tapas!

Back in July, my friend Robin texted me about an awesome giveaway happening on Facebook - Alyssha (Teaching and Tapas) was giving away a fourth grade Close Reading Bundle. I pretty much look to Robin as my reading teacher guru. So when she told me I HAD to enter I listened... and I WON! WHAT! I was so excited!

The first time we used one of the Close Reading texts by Alyssha was in October. On the day before Halloween... I was a wee-bit nervous my kiddos would be cray and get nothing from the lesson (they were in COSTUMES for goodness' sake) but the day was SUPER successful! We started the day reading Stellaluna, then we followed up with a passage from the Informational Close Reading Set on bats.  The best part is I had put the kids in their guided reading groups and had given them LEVELED PASSAGES. How is that possible, you ask? Well, Alyssha has an EXTENSION SET that includes the SAME passages but at a lower level. Same questions, same skills, but two levels of text. GENIUS.

My favorite part of having the kiddos using these Close Reading texts is the TEXT DEPENDENT QUESTIONS. Why do kids hate to look for text evidence?? Seriously, I can't understand it. I mean, who doesn't like correct answers!! And how do you get them? By looking in the text!! To help combat the "I don't like looking in the text" issue, I made up a text-evidence "rap". It goes like this:

Me: What do we love?
Kids: Text Evidence!
Me: I can't hear you
Kids: Text Evidence!
Me: Let's find it!
Kids: Text Evidence!
Me: Dig in, y'all!
Kids: Text Evidence!

This goes on and on and on... We clap, we stomp, and I basically act like a fool to get my kids excited about and looking for TEXT EVIDENCE! The song helps.... but so does the way Alyssha has set up the questions for the passages. She has the KIDS CREATING TEXT DEPENDENT QUESTIONS. If you're looking for rigor for your students, look no further. CREATE is the highest level of Bloom's/ a Depth of Knowledge level 4. Boom!
For each passage, kids are writing 2-3 text dependent questions. And to make sure they're really using the text, there are instructions to underline the cited text with different colors. Easy to check for me and super meaningful for the kids. Not going to lie - the first time we did this the kid's minds were blown... But two months later they are creating text dependent questions like ROCKSTARS. Me = Proud teacher!

Along with the text dependent questions, there are a gazillion other skills covered. One page of questions is dedicated to grade level specific skills and the second page is a spiral of grade level skills. Specific skills and spiraled skills?? OMG FABULOUS.

As you can see, I am LOVING these Close Reading Packs.
And the Extension Packs are rocking my teaching world...
Oh Teaching and Tapas, let me COUNT THE AWESOMENESS!
She has 1st grade sets, 2nd grade sets, 3rd grade sets, 4th grade sets, and 5th grade sets!!

I know all teachers have a range of reading levels in their room. This year, my kiddos range from an A (kindergarten) to a Q (grade level). I have about 7 on level readers in my class, so they get the texts from the Fourth Grade set. I have about 12 kids on a 2nd or 3rd grade level, so they get the lower Lexile level text from the Extension pack. The 2 students who are on kindergarten levels also get the lower level text, but I read it to them or buddy them with one of my on grade level students.

Here's what the kids see:
The texts looks similar and contain the same information. The lower level text is just written at a lower Lexile level.
Both texts answer the same questions, so the rigor remains. The Extension Pack makes my heart happy because it allows my lower level readers to be successful with grade level skills.

I know I have made you GREEN with ENVY if you don't own these packs... But don't worry... Because you can WIN a set!! Merry Christmas to you!!

----> Are you a 3rd grade teacher?? You can win the 3rd Grade Literature and Informational BUNDLE and LITERATURE and INFORMATIONAL EXTENSION PACKS!!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

----> Are you a 4th grade teacher?? You can win the 4th Grade Literature and Informational BUNDLE and LITERATURE and INFORMATIONAL EXTENSION PACKS!!

----> Are you a 5th grade teacher?? You can win the 5th Grade Literature and Informational BUNDLE and LITERATURE and INFORMATIONAL EXTENSION PACKS!! 

Best of luck, my friends!! Winner will be announced on Thursday, December 10th!

Thursday, December 3, 2015


Howdy, all!

I would LOVE, LOVE, LOVE for you to go check out my guest post on Rachel Lynette's blog, Minds in Bloom!! Just click here ---->Thinking Deep with Inferencing 

Sunday, November 22, 2015

All I want for... BLACK FRIDAY!

HAPPY THANKSGIVING BREAK! Are you off for the entire week? I hate to brag but... I AM! WOOT! If you're not, I'm so sorry. May the kids be QUIET, the week FLY BY and you have plenty of REST and GRUB on your days off!

Today I'm liking up with The Primary Pack  for a fun Black Friday linky! 
I'm not really a Black Friday shopper. I'm a lay in bed and eat leftover Thanksgiving food type of girl. I will do online shopping though. And MAYBE if I've had a lot of coffee, I might stop by Target. Buuuuut... That's not likely. It's more likely I'll eat pumpkin pie for breakfast, a turkey sandwich with a moist maker for lunch (any Friends fans out there?? lol) and then have "Leftovers" with the family on Friday night. "Leftovers" gets a capital letter because it is an official event with my family. We heat up all the leftovers and re-do Thanksgiving - no decorations this time though, and we use paper plates..... And no fancy clothes, just elastic pants... My family is a bunch of FOODIES, y'all! Haha. I can't wait!

Enough food talk. Back to shopping. My own personal Black Friday list consists of two things. New pots and pans and EVERYTHING HUNGER GAMES. I just KNOW there will be some online shopping deals on pots and pans.... There HAS to be.... Why the need?? You see, I was watching a Bill Nye video the other day with my class. He told me that if the non-stick coating on your pots and pans have cuts in it, when you cook with them all the chemicals that make it a non-stick get released into your food... and like everything else, THAT CAN CAUSE CANCER. I swear, I haven't cooked with my pots and pans since I saw that (well, really, I just haven't cooked because I hate cooking... Take out menus, please?). Anyway, I NEED NEW COOKING THANGS.
Also, I NEED all of the Hunger Games movies. I'm not a big movie person. Like, I'll watch one every once in a while, but there are only a few I can sit down and watch all the time. Over and over. Again and again. Hunger Games is one of them. I LOVE KATNISS. I don't understand why she can't be real so we can be besties....

For my classroom Black Friday wish list, I have a few FANTASTIC items on it. They should really be on your wish list too (don't worry, I'll link them so you can put them on there).
 If I had a Million Dollars Project by 4MulaFun. Jennifer is SO STINKIN' AWESOME. Love her products. Recently, I've let my students do more PBL type of learning' and it has been AMAZING. This is the next project I want to do with my class!
- Reader's Notebook Response Pages by the Thinker Builder. THANK YOU PINTEREST for helping me find Michael. Everything he makes is AWESOME. He completely changed the way I take notes for Guided Reading Groups. I NEED these response pages!!
- Christmas Labs by the Science Penguin. Why do kids love science? BECAUSE IT'S SO COOL. My kids are going to LOVE me when I bust out with all this awesome Christmas science!

Now, here are some fun things Christmas items from my TPT store - I'd love for YOU to put on YOUR Black Friday TPT wish list!

- Design a Christmas Tree is HOT OFF THE PRESS! I just created this activity after my students LOVED my Thanksgiving Meal Planning project. In this set, you will get 4 pages of "store ads". Students will shop the store ads and purchase items for their dream Christmas Tree. There's a lot of math included in this set but it's disguised as FUN. The kids won't even know how much learning they're doing! HEHE! I've included some problem solving questions as well. It's only $1.50 right now... GO GET IT!
- Snowman Math Glyph is a favorite of my kiddos EVERY YEAR. This is actually the first math glyph I made. All sorts of skills are included in this - what makes this so awesome is each answer has the kiddos coloring their snowman a certain way. My students loved it so much, it's inspired a ton more Math Glyphs!! Go check them all out!
- Looking for a way to give students or coworkers a cute and low cost holiday gift? Go get my Holiday Gift Tags! These cute little signs fit on a snack sized baggie. Then pop in a few sweet treats and BOOM, Christmas shopping is done, son!
- My Christmas Activity Pack and Winter Activity Pack are perfect for your holiday party day to keep the kiddos occupied... ;) SO much fun inside both of them!

Oooohwee! All this shopping talk is making me EXCITED!
Want to join this link? YOU SHOULD! Get over to the Primary Pack's blog and LINK UP and ENTER to win like, a TON of fabulous items.

Whatever you do this holiday, I hope it is full of FUN, FRIENDS and FAMILY.
Wishing you tons of Thanksgiving blessings!

Monday, November 16, 2015

Autobiographies, Biographies and "The Story of Me"

The countdown has started!! FOUR days until Thanksgiving Break. YIPEE!
Only problem is as the holidays grow closer, the kiddos start showing their wild[er] side... So I've been trying to come up with QUIET yet PURPOSEFUL and ENGAGING activities. 

This week we started Biographies & Autobiographies. It's pretty easy to find books and selections that are biographies, but I've found it kind of tricky to find autobiographies... So I decided to make my students the authors! 

Side note: I did use The Story of Ruby Bridges and Through My Eyes (by Ruby Bridges) to introduce biographies and autobiographies. We used a Venn Diagram to compare and contrast the story elements.

Back to my student authors! Each student got an autobiography template. Here's what we did with them. 
- On the front, students drew a self portrait. They turned out SO CUTE. 

--->On the inside, there was a blank time line and a map. On the timeline, I had students write the year of their birth, then we filled in dates all of the students shared (start of Pre-K, Kinder, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, etc). I then modeled how to sequence specific and important life events and record on the timeline. Students added a few dates that were meaningful to them. On the map, students marked where they were born, grew up and now live. 
--->I then had students write an autobiography. I provided them with sentence stems they had to include in their composition. They included:
      - My name is…
      - I was born on…. in…
      - I [now] live in….
      - I started ____ grade in…
      - An important live event was

--->My kiddos SERIOUSLY loved making their books. Once the autobiographies were finished, I paired students with a partner. They read each other’s autobiographies and then wrote a short biography on their partner. I then let them present their biography on their partner to the class!

Would you like your own FREE copy of "The Story of ME"? I've made it a Facebook Follower EXCLUSIVE! All you have to do is go to my Facebook page, LIKE IT :) then scroll down to the bottom left and click on the Freebies for Followers button! SO EASY! 

Enjoy!! And thank you for reading and following!! xo

Wednesday, November 4, 2015

Dia de los Muertos & Inferencing

I cannot believe it's November! So many things going on this month: my husband is growing a mustache for Movember (it's a serious thing in the fire department, y'all, so I'm going along with it), Mocking Jay Part 2 comes out (OHMYGOSHOHMYGOSH) and most importantly: THANKSGIVING BREEEEAAAK!

November also means Dia de los Muertos, one of my favorite holidays to teach my students about. This year we started our Day of the Dead learning with (drum roll please) INFERENCING! Have you caught on that we're working on inferencing BIG TIME in my classroom??

Y'all. I had the best dad in the whole world. I know a lot of people think that about their dad, so you can understand where I'm coming from. He was SO kind, wise, funny, UNIQUE and my number one fan. And I miss him LIKE CRAZY. He passed away last year and not a day goes by I don't think about him. I wanted to share his memory with my students, so for this Dia de los Muertos, I made an altar honoring my sweet daddy.

I included pictures of my dad and his brothers as children (wearing cowboy hats), a few pictures of my family at our family ranch from my childhood (my dad was holding a cowboy hat in one and a baby longhorn in the other) and a recent photo of the whole fam.

My food offering included Oreos, M&Ms, and all the leftover chocolate Halloween candy I could find in my house!

I decorated the altar with battery operated candles, sugar skulls, mini paper picadors and yellow daisies. The finished product made me so happy. I enjoyed creating this tribute to my dad and only cried twice!

I took the altar to school on Monday and let my students know they'd be making inferences about my dad's life based on what I included on the alter. I gave my students a graphic organizer that had them write down three observations from which they would draw one inference. We focused on the photos and the food.

For the photos, I asked them to write down who they saw in the photographs (family), the setting (outside, on a farm, by a barn), and the other items they saw (horses, cowboy hats, fence, cow).
Can you guess what their inference was? They inferred my dad was a COWBOY! And gosh, they were right! My dad raised Texas Longhorns. He had a passion for the business and had a beautiful herd. Check out his hard work on his website,!

For the food, I asked my students to write down three different types of food they saw. Answers included Oreos, M&Ms, Almond Joy's, Whoppers, and Reeses. The students inferred my dad liked CHOCOLATE!!! And boy did he! I shared how my pops would always sneak a tiny corner out of the cake at family get togethers because he just couldn't wait until we cut the dessert! He definitely could have been the poster child for choco-holics!

Guys - my students were SO into this lesson and when I told them it was in honor of my dad, they had so many sweet questions and connections. I was so impressed with their maturity and respect for my memories and feelings. Have I mentioned how awesome my class is??

Do you celebrate Day of the Dead in your classroom? I'd love to hear about your activities! Comment below! 

Sunday, November 1, 2015

November Currently

Hey all!

I'm linking up with Farley at Oh Boy 4th Grade again for a November Currently!

Yesterday was my birthday, and my family SPOILED me! Brunch, family time, trick-or-treating (and possibly scaring a few trick or treaters) and a new Nespresso machine has made me one happy lady! 

To share the happiness that I'm feeling, I'm throwing a SALE in my TPT store! Everything is 20% off and bundles are 50% off! WOOT! Sale ends tomorrow :) 

Have a BLESSED November! 

Monday, October 19, 2015

Math Misconceptions

Howdy, peeps!

I have a confession to make... I was not a great math student... At all.
Math was awful for me. A painful subject that I was forced to take for what felt like 87 years....
I think that's why I LOVE teaching it.
I don't EVEREVEREVER want my students to feel like I did. I try to give them a REASON we do the maths. STEPS for the maths. And I try to make my students PROBLEM SOLVERS and MISTAKE FINDERS.

That's when my "Math Misconceptions" pack was born! I wanted to find a way for students to not only solve a problem and find the correct answer, but to also identify common mistakes that are made.

So far I've made three sets: Place Value, Addition and Subtraction with Whole Numbers and Multiplication. I have plans to make more but.... there are also like 20 other ideas floating around in my head. So... yeah. Stay tuned?

Each misconception pack includes 5 math problems. Each problem is solved by 2-3 people - "He", "She" and sometimes "Pup". Each of the characters solve the problem a different way, but only one is right. Students identify the correct person and justify why they're correct. THEN, they identify where the incorrect person/people messed up. It's AWESOME to see my students catch the common mistakes! The discussion these problems stir up is AWESOME. My students can be reluctant to talk about how they solve math problems... but once I got these baby out I couldn't get them to zip it!

Anyway, here are some pics of my students using the Multiplication Misconceptions. Guys, they LOVED it. They BEGGED to do another... I tried to stay calm, "We'll do another tomorrow, guys" but inside I was JUMPING for JOY!

SO IMPRESSED by my hard working kiddos!!

Do you address the incorrect answers along with the correct answers? I'd love to hear about how you deal with math misconceptions in your classroom!