Saturday, September 17, 2016

Flocabulary: GIVEAWAY!!!

Engagement. It’s a word that’s constantly swimming around in the back of my mind. How can I make this content more engaging? Are my students engaged? If not, why? It’s a struggle to keeps kids engaged in this highly technological world of ours.

A couple of years ago, a colleague introduced me to a little website called Flocabulary. I blogged about it last year, which you can read HERE. However, I wanted to take the time to tell you all about it again, but this time I have some very special offers for you!

I’m excited to be partnering up with Flocabulary and giving away free memberships! Read on to find out more about what the site has to offer and the chance to win a FREE year-long subscription! You also have the opportunity to earn a 45-day extended free trial that is accessible to not only you, but everyone at your school just for entering! How awesome is that!

Before I go any further, let me assure you that I would NOT be wasting my precious time (remember I'm on maternity leave!) to write about a website unless I truly believe in it. I have been using Flocabulary for two years and because of it, my students LOVE learning new vocabulary words and they have been more- can you guess what I'm going to say?!- engaged! So please trust me when I say that Flocabulary is a quality resource and I am so proud to be partnered up with them!

Now, let’s dig in to see what this site has to offer!

What in the world is it?
Flocabulary is an educational website that provides engaging - there’s that word again! – hip hop style videos that help teachers teach content in all subject areas across a range of grade levels. No matter what you teach, you are sure to find a video to suit you and your students.  The videos are visually engaging (there it is again!) and the kiddos love them!

In the past, I have only truly utilized the Vocabulary section of the site on a regular basis, which I describe in detail HERE, but today I want to highlight how useful this site is for any subject and show you what they have to offer.

How It’s Set Up
Every lesson is centered around a video. The authors write lyrics that are fun but that also help teach the content. Additional resources are provided as well.

Let's Explore! 
I’m going to walk you through what I would see when planning to teach a unit on the three states of matter in science in my third grade classroom. Keep in mind that for any subject and topic the layout and resources would be similar.

First, I have the option to select my content area. Notice the options below. 'Vocabulary' is a separate section that is further divided into grade levels. This is the area of the site that I have the most experience with and have LOVED. Also, the site offers a 'Week in Rap' video every week that captures the world's current events in a kid-friendly way. It's an excellent way to keep the kiddos in the loop on what's going on in the world! 

After choosing my content, I then choose my grade level range:

Then, I have tons of videos to choose from within the topic of “Elementary Science.” I find the one that fits my needs for my upcoming unit.

For each lesson, the video is the core, but you have several resources to utilize besides the video itself. Regardless of the content area, the resources available to you include the following:

Let’s take a look at some of the resources available for an elementary science lesson on the three states of matter:

As you can see from the picture, I have the opportunity to print the lyrics for my students so they can follow along. I print lyrics so that after my students watch the video a few times, we simply listen and read along. Having the ability to watch and listen is great.

After listening and discussing the video, I have the option of using fill-in-the-blank lyrics that leave out key terms. This is useful because the kids can simply listen to the song instead of watching it and pay attention to the vocabulary.

After watching the video, reading through the lyrics, and discussing what we’ve learned, the Quick Review is great. The open-ended questions allow for discussion and clarification. I love the way the questions are worded and the connections made. I would have never thought to describe gas atoms as kids running around at recess! 

Next we have the option to use a printable activity. The activities vary depending on the grade level and topic, but regardless of what video you are using, the printable activity will give students the opportunity to process what they have learned and practice. Obviously, because videos are designed to appeal to a range of grade levels, the printable activity may or may not be exactly what you need, but having an option is fantastic! 

As an added bonus, a new feature just introduced this year called the “Lyric Lab” gives students the opportunity to develop their own rhymes or rap using the key vocabulary words and their choice of  music! As words are typed in the box, a box of rhyming words automatically pops up to provide students options for their rap. So cool! I personally haven’t had a chance to use this feature yet, but I look forward to using it when I get back! It would even be a great whole-class activity to sum up the learning!

Now, if you aren’t convinced to give Flocabulary a try after seeing all of that, let me entice you a little bit more! Just for signing up below, you will receive a FREE 45-DAY extended trial that’s not only for you, but for your ENTIRE SCHOOL! I mean, it can’t get much better than that! Also, you will be entered for the chance to win a FREE ONE YEAR SUBSCRIPTION! I will be giving away THREE OF THESE! Winners will be announced on October 18th. Even if you don’t win, remember that you will still get that 45-day extended free trial for your whole school! Everyone is a winner!  After signing up, you will receive information to access your free trial the week of October 18th. Sign up now! You’ve got nothing to lose!! Be sure to enter every field in the sign up box and your free trial information will be e-mailed to you. You must enter by OCTOBER 16 @ 11:59pm EST!

For now, Flocabulary has several free videos and resources that you can access without needing any kind of code. I encourage you to check them out!

Believe me when I tell you that I wouldn’t waste my precious time writing about a resource I don’t believe in. My colleagues and I have used Flocabulary and know the impact it can have on learning. Engagement is the key, and Flocabulary provides you with tools to ramp up that engagement! 

If you use Flocabulary already, I would love to hear your thoughts!

Happy teaching!!

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Saturday, August 27, 2016

I'm Back! Plus Place Value FREEBIES!

Happy Back-to-School!!

Wow, have I missed this little ol' blog of mine! It's crazy that it's been so long since my last post. If anyone is still reading this, here's what's been going on in my world!


I know, I still can't believe it. My little guy, Connor, is 6 weeks old and has just turned our world upside down- for the better! He was born on July 12 and our hearts have been so full ever since. I mean, isn't he just the cutest little thing you have ever seen?????!!!


This is even more crazy to me than having a baby, LOL! I'm sitting here, in my pajamas (and yes, it's 1:30 in the afternoon- don't judge) writing this post while my long term sub is holding down the fort at school. I'm not going to lie, I'm missing school. But, holding my sweet Connor and looking into his blue little eyes is the best thing in the world. Of course I had to go to Meet the Teacher Night and meet my new kiddos and help my sub get things set up, but other than that, I've really tried to keep my mind off of the day-to-day happenings at school. The control freak in me is chained up tightly, but she's a fighter and has to be constantly talked down. LOL. Each day gets easier and I'm learning to let go... slowly.

So, I thought now that I have some time on my hands- you know, those short little naps Connor takes during the day- I could get back into blogging! Maybe. We shall see.


Again, CRAZY! I never would have thought that I would not teach reading, but I had a tough year last year and needed a change. I LOVE teaching math and I love that it is much more concrete and visual than reading. Because I am focusing more on math, I'm really digging in and trying to learn more about how to develop number sense and teach more conceptually. I'm very excited!

Right now I'm reading the book Number Sense Routines by Jessica F. Shumway. It's full of awesome routines that are quick and powerful and I'm excited to try these when I return to the classroom in October.

I also found this awesome cursive math alphabet from Life in Room 406 that I love! It has great words for the letters and great visuals. I didn't have a chance to get it up in my room before the year started, but it will be up soon!

I obviously have been away from the blog scene for quite some time, so I don't have much new to offer. However, because place value is a concept commonly taught at the beginning of the year, I thought I would share some resources with you! Hopefully you can find something to benefit your students!

Place Value Quiz-Quiz-Trade- These cards cover naming the value of digits, naming places digits are in, and converting from expanded to standard form. They can be used as self-checking task cards as well! Pick up yours HERE! This will be on sale until I remember to change it! LOL!

Place Value Relationship Pack- This small resource has a recording sheet for students to use to record a number they are given and fill in the relationship statement, a lame little chant I made up :), and a set of 6 task cards. Get your FREE copy HERE!

Place Value Roll-Its These games use dice and playing cards. Students roll the die and follow the directions to practice a variety of skills. Two different versions of the game cover writing numbers in words, expanded form, and expanded notation, rounding to the nearest ten and hundred, comparing numbers, and decomposing numbers in different way. Get your FREE copy by clicking HERE!

Hopefully I will be able to post again soon!

Happy Beginning of a New Year!!

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Saturday, February 6, 2016

Dr. Jean's Amazing Resources!

I realize I have been a little MIA from the blog scene lately. School has been pretty overwhelming this year and blogging has been the last thing on my mind. However, last weekend, I attended the Early Childhood Winter Conference put on by our local county Department of Education and two great things happened. One, I presented my first professional development sessions with a teammate of mine, and I saw THE Dr. Jean in person!

If you teach elementary grades, you may not have heard of Dr. Jean Feldman. She is an amazing woman who has worked in education her entire life. She primarily works with early childhood students, pre-K and kinder, but her resources are great inspirations for all grades. I want to share just a few ideas with you.

First of all, the most important thing to her is that teachers smile. It's such a simple concept, but one that can easily be forgotten. With the stress of more rigorous standards and testing, the pressure can sometimes bring out the worst in me. Regardless of what I'm feeling, my kids deserve to see a happy, smiling adult each and every day. So even on my worst day, I have to try to leave the drama in the car and put on a happy face for my students. Of course this is much easier said than done, but important nonetheless. One little trick to add a little happiness to your classroom is to sprinkle in some cheers!

In college, my classroom management professor gave each of us our own set of cheers and I have had them ever since. These little babies are just quick little ways to say "Good job" in a variety of cute and fun ways. Check out these four below:

She offers all 50 of her cheers on TpT for FREE! Yes, FREE! Click HERE to get a copy for yourself!

Dr. Jean also has a website that she uses to share tons of free resources. Check it out HERE. 

Another thing she is well known for are her songs, both silly and academic. I mentioned that she works primarily with early childhood, so most all of her stuff is for the little ones, but her songs incorporate motion and cross the midline, which is great for the brain and brain breaks. Although she has tons of academic songs for little ones on her website, I want to share one of her silly songs that I heard for the first time last weekend and loved! It's called "Tooty-Ta!"

Y'all. You have to do this video with your kids. You just have to! We did it as adults at the conference and I just about died laughing. It is silly, gets your body moving, and makes you laugh! My third graders and I have done this song at least five times this week and they still get a kick out of it! It's a great brain break, and helps my struggling readers listen, follow directions, and work on oral language. And I promise, if you are feeling stressed, this song will help you relax- at least for a little while! ;)

Dr. Jean has made it her mission to share everything she has to offer with fellow educators and I absolutely love her for it. You can purchase her materials from her TpT store but also get tons of free ideas, videos, and lessons from her website. If you teach pre-k, kinder, or first, be sure to check it out.

The second part of the conference I co-presented two sessions on increasing oral language in the classroom with a teammate of mine. Increasing oral language has been on my mind a lot in the last few years, especially since attending an amazing training called Talk, Read, Talk, Write two summers ago. We shared some simple ways to increase the amount of academic talk in the classroom.

Of course, in true first-time presenter style, we forgot to bring all of our posters and activities with examples on them. LOL. But, we managed to make it through and had some great educators collaborate and share. Despite our mistakes, I think everyone was able to walk out with at least one idea to take back to their classrooms.

I'll do another post soon (LOL, I know! Soon may be a month from now!) and share the ideas we presented about. For now, go check out Dr. Jean and print those cheers for yourself! You'll be glad you did!

Have a great weekend!

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Wednesday, October 28, 2015

Minecraft Challenge... A True Labor of Love!

Well, we finished it! The Minecraft Challenge was a success!

Was it worth it? Yes!

Was it a pain? Yes!

Would I do it again? Yes!

Would I change the some things? Oh yes! I'll elaborate later. ;)

Let me give you some background...

My kiddos this year are obsessed with Minecraft-to the point where everyday at least one of them is wearing a Minecraft shirt. They LOVE it.

So, I knew I somehow wanted to incorporate the game into our classroom, but I literally knew nothing about it. I decided last Friday that I wanted to come up with something fun to review for our math CBA. The idea to do a Minecraft Challenge was born, but I really didn't know how to make it work.

The first step was to learn about the game. I watched videos, asked the kids, and tried to develop a basic understanding. It is much more complicated than I ever imagined! I even downloaded the game on my computer and tried to play, but I couldn't even figure out how to move myself around! It was pathetic! I died several times in a row before I gave up! (Don't tell my students!)

If you don't know anything about Minecraft, here's the basics: You create your own world by "mining" for resources that are all around you, and then "crafting" those resources into things like tools, weapons, building supplies, food, etc. You can play the game in a creative mode where you have no risk of dying and you have unlimited resources, or you can play the game in survival mode, where you are at risk of dying from hunger or monsters.

Because I had a short time to figure out how I wanted the challenge to work (I wanted to do it on Monday, two days after I had the idea, lol), I went of the very limited knowledge I had.

I typed up a text giving some basic information about Minecraft and we read that during reading time. I created comprehension questions to go with it that reinforced the concepts we were focusing on in language arts.

Then, during math, the real challenge began. I decided to have the kids answer questions and if they answered correctly, they could earn "resources"- similar to the mining process in the game. They would then use the resources they earned to "craft" tools. Their goal was to craft all four of the tools I listed in their crafting guide.

I divided the class into four teams. Each team was given a file folder with their team name, their "health bar," instructions, crafting guide, and crafting grid.

I downloaded a free Minecraft font from and used screenshots from a blog I found to make the folders.

The directions were explained in the first part of the folder under the 'Objective' heading. I also got a little ambitious and decided to hang the challenge questions around the school in the hallway, so I also added a map the kids had to use to find where the questions were. Yeah.... it ended up taking us WAAYY too long to move from question to question, and we weren't able to finish in one day. So, I moved the question cards back to the classroom to finish up the second day. :)

The kids had to find a question card and work together to answer the question with their team. If they answered correctly, they earned the resources listed near the question. If they answered incorrectly, they lost one of the hearts on their health bar and did not earn the resources for that question.

As they answered the questions, they earned the resources. They had a small Ziploc bag included in their folder to store their items. 

In the middle of their "mining," Herobrine snuck up and surprised the kids with a special challenge! Everyone had to get together to solve the problem and escape him! 

In the picture above, all of those little pieces of paper coming out of the bag are the "resources" they earned from answering their questions. They could earn wood and cobblestone. And yes, I had to run from team to team as they answered each question to check their answers and either take a heart or award them their resources. It was a great way for me to do some last-minute reteach. Thank goodness I only had four teams! Below are all the baggies that held the resources they could earn as well as the tools they were responsible for creating. It was a lot to juggle! 

Once the kids answered all of the questions, the "crafting" process began. The first objective was to create a crafting table from the wood they collected. Then, they had to craft the four tools listed in their guide. They used the guide included in their folder and the crafting grid on the back of their folder to show the correct recipe, and then they traded the resources they used for the tool they created. I loved this part just as much as the academic part because they quickly realized they didn't have all of the materials they needed to make their tools. They first had to use the wood to make sticks! They really had to rely on their guide and discuss with their teammates to make sure they had the correct materials and put them in the correct order to craft their tools. 

As the kids were crafting, they called me out on a mistake I made! Apparently, the wood shown in the recipe for the crafting table and sticks is called a "wood plank." I used the picture for another type of wood that needs to be crafted into a wood plank first before it can be used to make anything else. OOPS! That's what I get for not doing enough research! LOL! Of course, I told the kids to just pretend it was the right thing! Notice in the picture below how the wood pictures are NOT the same! 

As they used the resources in their crafting recipes, they earned the tools! Once they created all four tools, their mission was accomplished! The picture below shows the crafting table and the four tools they were required to craft. 

All in all, it was a huge success.  The kids absolutely LOVED it and were all smiles the entire time. It was all worth it! 

It was hard to manage moving between teams to check answers, give resources, trade them for their tools, etc. It was much easier to do in the classroom instead of running up and down the hallway to the different teams. Here's what I would do differently if I could have a redo:

1. Keep the challenge in the classroom. It was super fun to get out of the room and use the hallways, but it wasn't the best idea to do it the first time we attempted this. It was too hard for me to move between teams and it wasted valuable time. 
2. Have the crafting grid separate from the folder. The kids had to flip the folders back and forth to see the recipes and then place the pieces correctly. It would have been much easier to have the recipe and the grid side by side.
3. Be sure I have the correct pictures! I should have done a little bit more research to make the game a bit more accurate! 

The great thing about this format is that now that the kids understand how it works, I can simply change out the question cards and we can play it to practice whatever content I want! Next week we may do this again to review for our grammar test! I can also change out the tools they are creating and the resources they earn to add some variety. The kids were begging to do it again, so I just might have to give in! 

Want to try this crazy thing out for yourself?? Click the links below to get a copy of the text we read and the file to create your own challenge! Let me warn you, the wood pictures don't match! Maybe this weekend when I have some energy I will fix it! ;) 

Now to survive the rest of the week! 

Do you have ideas of how to incorporate Minecraft-inspired activities in the classroom?? I would love to hear them!!! 

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Saturday, October 24, 2015

Halloween and Fall Resources- Freebies!!

Happy Halloween Week!

I know it's a little last minute, but here are some Halloween-themed resources I have to share with you! Just click on the link below each picture. I hope you can find something you can use!!

Roll It: Use a dice and a deck of cards.  Roll the die and then follow the directions. This is a random assortment of place value skills. This was from two years ago before the TEKS were changed, so it doesn't include any of the new TEKS. It's supposed to rain ALL weekend, so this *might* be something I update or add to this weekend. ;)

(You'll need digit cards and dice)

Multiplication Word Problems: Just a few word problems with a Halloween theme. We haven't covered multiplication yet this year, but I used these two years ago when I taught math and the kids enjoyed them.

Spooky Multiplication Word Problems

Addition and Subtraction Brew- addition and subtraction with regrouping (computation only).
This activity does NOT include any word problems, it is strictly computation.

Language Arts: 

Pumpkin Prefixes Match-Up: Super simple and quick match-up game to review the prefixes re-, un-, pre-, dis-, and non-. 

Pumpkin Prefixes

Do They Agree? Subject/Verb Agreement: 12 short sentences to quickly review subject verb agreement.

Again, I hope you were able to find something you could use! 

Enjoy celebrating this week with your kiddos! 

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Thursday, October 22, 2015

A Simple Station Solution

Happy Thursday!

I'm dropping in to show you a solution I found for my station activities that is working wonderfully.

Before I share, let me share a little bit of the struggle I have had this year with stations.

My kiddos are very easily distracted. Our desks are in groups, and we mostly work at the desks during stations. So, this presented a problem. When my kids sit at a table group of 4, one partner pair is working on one activity and the other partner pair is working on a different activity. Therefore, it created some distraction. The partner pair working on one side of the group of desks was constantly hearing the partner pair on the other side of the group and would become easily off-task.

One day I had an idea. I love my "offices" from Really Good Stuff and I have several extra. So, I decided to use them to help with station management.

Here's what I camp up with:

I just stapled two sheet protectors on the right and left sides and one of my extra magnetic paper pockets from Lakeshore in the middle section. I only had one of the fancy pockets, so on my other station "offices" I just used 12x12 cardstock and stapled a sheet of construction paper on top to create a pocket. Simple!

I have the title of the station on the left side, the directions for the kids on the right side, and the materials they need in the pocket in the middle. They have everything they need plus the separation from the other group to stay distraction-free!

Now, when my partner pairs are ready to work in their stations, they just unfold the "office" and they have everything they need! When we are ready to clean up, the stations just fold right up!

The sheet protectors allow for me to easily change out the title and directions.

I am loving the simplicity and the flexibility this creates. The kids love that they are in their little "zones" and don't have to constantly tune out the partner pair across from them.

Of course these station offices could easily be moved to the floor. My students just tend to work more effectively when sitting at a desk. You could also easily make this using poster board or a tri-fold board.

Do you have any creative ways that you manage station materials?? I would love to hear!

Have a great Friday!

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Monday, September 7, 2015

Sunday (Monday) Pass Along! Fluency, Math, and More!

I keep thinking it's Sunday. But nope, it's MONDAY thanks to a glorious three-day weekend. It comes just in time after two solid weeks of the back-to-school frenzy. I love how each year brings unique kiddos and challenges and is so different from the last. There is never a boring day!

Now that I am semi-caught up, I have some time to lounge in my jammies and read my blogs!

One of the beauties of having this little ol' blog of mine means that I can pass along awesome blog posts straight to you and you get all the goods! I'm hoping to keep this little tradition of the Sunday Pass Along going (even though today is technically Monday).

Here are some awesome posts I found while browsing my feed that are usable for me tomorrow!!

Parent Brochure from The Thinker Builder

This post from Michael at The Thinker Builder is fantastic. Well-written and comes complete with a free downloadable brochure for parents! I love his language and how relatable he is. You will definitely want to check this out! I will be handing these out to parents as I meet with them individually.

The Reading Strategies Book 

This is seriously the most amazing find ever. EVER! I was eventually going to do a post on this book, but luckily Megan at I Teach, What's Your Superpower already did! This post gives you a peek inside the book and outlines why it is just so amazing. This year I have students on levels C-M. This book is perfect for me because I have concrete strategies to use with each and every one of them. Megan does a great job of explaining everything this great book has to offer. Get your Amazon account open!

Intervention Folder Idea

I love, love, love Cara's (First Grade Parade) idea for keeping track of the concepts students need to work on. It's visual, easy to manage, and you can see everything at a glance. When you click on the post, it's tip #2. As soon as I've had my second cup of coffee, I'll be heading to my room to make one for myself! Click on this post to read more of her sanity-saving tips!

Partner Plays for Fluency

My group this year is going to need LOTS of fluency practice. I mean, LOTS! I've been looking for fun and interesting way to practice fluency and these partner plays from Christina at Bunting, Books, and Bainbridge are going to be perfect! I love my Partner Scripts from Lakeshore, but they are actually a little too challenging for my students this year. These partner scripts are perfect because they have a nice balance of text and engaging topics. Plus, she has them on sale right now!

Amazing Race Number Decomposition 

Greg at Mr. Elementary Math offers some amazing and fun number sense routines as well as a free download for decomposing numbers. There is space for a number at the top and then circles underneath for students to record each way they can decompose the number. He offers two versions- one with more circles and one with a smaller number of circles so you can differentiate as needed. This is exactly what I need this week as we work with decomposing numbers! He also offers a bonus freebie in the post, so be sure to read the whole thing to get that goodie!

I hope you were able to find something useful and maybe even a new blogger to follow. I'm going to enjoy the rest of this lazy three-day weekend and prepare myself for another awesome week!

I'll be back tomorrow to share some place value resources with you so be sure to check back then!

Happy Sunday! Monday!

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