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