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Tuesday, July 18, 2017

Invest Now 2017 Edition {The Hallway}

Welcome to the 2017 Edition of Invest Now.  Last year I shared with you how I teach and practice my classroom routines and procedures and why I feel it's important to really invest in the time to do it. Click HERE to read it.  In part 2 I shared about how I teach and practice my classroom expectations. Click HERE to read.  

In this 2017 Edition I will go a little more in depth and share with you some of the specific routines and procedures I teach, how we practice them, and why I think they are so important.

Today's edition is all about the hallway!  I know there are many different opinions on hallway behavior...this is mine (again, my OPINION) and we can disagree and still both be great teachers!

Our school is all one big building.  We have to walk through hallways and pass many classrooms and offices on the way to our destinations.

I expect my class to walk through the hallways quietly.  I think it is important to explain to my class WHY I expect that.  Again, this is my OPINION, and we can disagree and still both be husband and I raised a STRONG WILLED child.  I put strong willed in caps because let me tell you...I have taught for 16 years, my husband for 22 and she is the strongest willed child either of us have come across.  Anyways, my strong willed child had no problem being obedient as long as she knew the WHY.  I know that some parents and teachers will disagree and say that children should obey just because we are the adult and tell them to...if that works for you that's great.  But it didn't work for my child and I suspect that it doesn't work for many of our students either.  My child needed to understand why we were expecting certain behaviors from her and when she understood she had no problem obeying.  

I apply this same theory in my classroom.  I believe that we need to not just tell students the behavior we expect from them, but we need to explain the WHY so that they understand what that behavior is communicating and why it is important.

We then have a short conversation about what it is like to be disrupted by noisy people or classes when we are in the middle of something important.  We talk about how it made us feel and the silent message it sent us (that what we were doing was not important to them). 

So, once a class understands what you expect and the why everyone just magically does it and I have perfectly quiet lines as we walk through the halls right?!?!?  HA!  Of course not!  But, I do have some tricks up my sleeve that I am happy to share with you!

One of my favorite tools is something I call "Line Order."  

I know this isn't new, I've been using line order for 16 years and I know it was around before me!  I love line order because it helps us line up quickly and avoid any arguments about cutting in line (seriously...who else hates hearing "no cuts, no buts, no coconuts").

 It also helps me to quickly check and see if anyone is missing before we leave the playground, during a fire drill, or when we leave specials. I can also place students strategically in line to help manage behaviors in the hallway.  If I know I have students who have trouble keeping their hands off of their friends or students who are always talking when they are together, I can place them in spots away from each other in line.  I change line order a few times throughout the year to mix it up a bit and give my students opportunities to be by different people.  If you would like to try using line order, you can download the paper for free by clicking on the link HERE.

Once students are in line order we need to get "hallway ready."  Years ago when the TV show iCarly was popular we started the "iCarly Countdown," to be hallway ready.  Since the show is no longer on TV and most of my third graders haven't seen it, now I just call it the "Hallway Countdown."  I explain how the countdown works on TV, that the camera person counts backwards from 5 to give the on air people a warning and that by the time the countdown gets to one (which they don't count out loud), they are already on air.  The same is true of our "Hallway Countdown."  We start at 5 and by the time we get to 1 (which we don't say), we are ready to walk out the door and into the hallway.  Either myself or my "Hallway Monitor," which is one of our classroom jobs begin the countdown by saying, "Hallway ready in..." and then the whole class counts "5,4,3,2" and by one their voices are off and their bodies are ready.  

This takes some time and practice, as any routine does, but once they understand how to do it properly it pays off all year!

Grab the Hallway Ready poster by clicking HERE.

I am a firm believer that if you take the time at the beginning of the year to explicitly teach and practice your routines and procedures it will pay off all year with a classroom that runs smoothly!  
You can grab my Routines and Procedures Binder HERE.  

It is completely editable and will help get you organized to start the year on the right foot!

Monday, May 29, 2017

Summer is Here!

Can it possibly be true that I haven't blogged since February?!?

I promise I have a good excuse. 

See that girl in the picture below...the one in the graduation gown...she just finished her senior year and graduated high school.  My life for the past several months has been all consumed with not missing a single second.  I was in attendance at her last pep assembly, her powder puff football game (where she scored a touchdown!), prom pictures, senior night, pom banquet and numerous other "lasts."  

I'm sad that these amazing four years are over for her, but I can't wait to see what the next chapter at The University of Arizona holds for her! 

Oh...and did I mention that I get to do this all over again next year with little sister.  Yep, she's a senior now (that's what happens when you have your kids only 15 months apart!).  My goal is the same...not to miss a single moment of her senior year, but I also plan on trying to keep up with my little blog and TpT store better than I did this year.

Now that summer is here I have all kinds of new blog posts and products planned and it's time to get to work...on that and shopping for a dorm! 

How come no one warns you about this part when they are little?  I think this is probably the most heart wrenching stage of motherhood!  

Happy summer friends...stay tuned for all the good things to come, and thanks for being patient with me!

Sunday, January 29, 2017


It's almost February already....I REALLY need time to slow down.  That means that my girl is almost 18 and we are 3 months away from high school graduation...gulp.  My momma heart is so not ready for all of this!

My classroom however is a different story...I'm prepped and ready for this month full of hearts and candy!  Here are a few of my monthly staples that I'll be using this month..and be sure to scroll all the way through to grab the Valentines List FREEBIE!

February Brain Boxes

My Brain Boxes are all switched out and ready for my early finishers!  You can read about how I use Brain Boxes HERE ! 

February Writing Journals

I use Writing Journals during our Daily 5 time.  They are great for students who need a little more direction and accountability!  Check them out HERE!

 Of course, we will be having a small Valentine's Party which means I need to send a class list home for students to get their cards/treats ready. 

 I made this cutie for my kiddos and I made an editable version if you would like to download it and use for your class!  It's my Valentine's gift to you and my other February products are on sale for 20% off in my TPT store!  Happy February friends!

Click HERE to download the editable version!

Happy February my friends!

Sunday, January 15, 2017

My Plans in Pictures {January 16-20}

Last week was our first week back after break and we already have another day off for MLK Jr. Day!  I'm certainly not complaining....especially since this first week back exhausted me and I am loving the idea of an extra day to sleep!  

Since we just got back from a significant break I have been spending a lot of time reviewing our classroom expectations and procedures.  I am a firm believer in investing time in teaching and practicing these with students.  It really makes a difference in making the rest of the year run smoothly.  
We always begin our mornings with Morning Meeting.  This past week and again this week we have focused on reviewing one of our classroom expectations each day during our meeting time.  I used the same activities in my Classroom Expectations pack and it was so interesting to compare their Looks Like/ Sounds Like charts from the beginning of the year to the ones they are doing now! 

 I also copied the compliment cards onto colored paper and encouraged them to keep an eye on their classmates throughout the day.  At the end of each school I read the compliments out loud and then they can take them home to show off.  I have been amazed by how thoughtful and detailed their compliments to each other have been and it has been a great way to encourage positive behavior and classroom culture!
In grammar this week we will be working on Building Compound Sentences.  We follow a pretty set routine for our grammar lessons that has really worked well for our class this year. 

We begin a new skill by entering information into our E.L.A. notebooks and using a PowerPoint to introduce and practice the skill.  We will usually do some sort of cooperative learning practice the next day, followed by a "Write the Room," the next day.  By the end of the week students are ready for a short formative assessment.  All of these activities along with a few others can be found in my Building Compound Sentences pack.

For the next few weeks we will combine what we are studying in social studies with our reading.  In social studies we are learning about the Civil War (in my opinion a pretty heavy concept for 3rd grade) and we will be reading about the election of Abraham Lincoln and continue reading about The Underground Railroad.  I have several passages that I've downloaded from that I use during our reading and small group instruction time.  
A reading strategy that my students LOVE is doing True/False sorts before and after reading.  I have created some True/False sorts to go with the ReadWorks passages that we will use this week.  Here is an example of the one we will use to go with a passage about Abraham Lincoln.

Read more about how I use True/False sorts in the classroom HERE.

During our writing time this week we will work on using what we are learning about compound sentences to write compound sentences.  We will use the activities for "R" in my S.U.P.E.R. Sentences pack.

Our math time each day begins by warming up with our Weekly Problem Solving Journals.  Since we are in our Geometry unit we will be using one of the perimeter journals that was recently added to the growing bundle.  You can read more about how we use the journals in our room HERE and check out the great deal on the growing bundle HERE.

For math instruction this week I will be using many of the Interactive Notebook pages from the amazing Blair Turner.  If you teach third grade math you don't own her bundle RUN to her store a grab it!  

During math center time we will be using activities from my Winter Wonderland centers pack.  Centers is a great time to review and reinforce skills learned earlier in the year while I'm working with small groups!  This year, our district changed the order of some of our math units so I will save the fraction centers to use in just a few short weeks when we are in that unit!

Social Studies
For the next several weeks we will be working on our annual Wax Museum.  It is one of the highlights of our year and our students are so excited about it!  We used this amazing pack from Amanda at One Extra Degree as a starting point and made a few modifications to match our curriculum and students.  Check it out HERE.  If you have ever thought about doing a wax museum I highly recommend this pack as a great way to get it off the ground and organized!

As you can see, even though it's a short week it will be jammed packed with lots of learning and fun!  All of my products featured in my visual plans will be on sale for 20% for the next two days!  
Have a great week!

Sunday, January 1, 2017

New Year...Now What? {Getting 2017 off to a Great Start!}

It's been a blissful two weeks off...Christmas has come and gone and we've rung in the new now what?  It's time to head back to school and you want to make sure you start the new semester off on the right foot.

I'm a firm believer in investing time in teaching your students your expectations and then taking the time to make sure they practice them until they are meeting your expectations.  It may take some time, but I believe that you invest now or you pay later.  

At the beginning of the school year I did a whole blog series with that exact title.

You can read about how I teach and practice procedures HERE.

You can read about my expectations and our Morning Meeting HERE.

I plan on treating our first few days back from back as if they were the first day of school all over again.  This will help all of us ease back in and give us a refresher of how our classroom runs.  

All of the products that I plan on using are on sale in my store for the next 2 days for 20% off!  It's a great time to grab them and get your new year off to a great start!

We will also continue our work with Growth Mindset and I will change a few of the pictures on my Growth Mindset Bulletin Board.

Happy New Year friends, I hope 2017 is off to a great start for you and the year ahead is filled with blessings!

Monday, October 10, 2016

My Plans in Pictures {October 10-14}

We have another short week this week with Monday off and then Parent Teacher Conferences this week!  It will still be jam packed with learning and fun!

We will not have a normal spelling list this week because of the shortened week.  We will continue to practice our phonograms and we will work on our high frequency words.  

Right before spelling time each day we will do our usual Morning Meeting.  This is one of my favorite parts of the day!  We have it down to being entirely student led now and they can get it done in 10 minutes!  It is such a great use of 10 minutes and makes such a difference in our classroom community!

Check out Morning Meeting HERE and you can read all about why I love it so much HERE!

This week we will work on those tricky grammar rule breakers....Irregular Verbs.  I can't wait to "deputize" my students so they can catch those rule breakers! 
I usually follow the same pattern every week when I introduce a new grammar skill.  We put a flip book in our interactive notebook, I use a Power Point to teach and do some whiteboard practice, we use task cards to do a write the room, we do some sort of partner practice and do Plickers {their favorite}! 
My recently updated Irregular Verbs pack includes everything you need to teach and practice this tricky skill!  {Plicker practice not included....Plickers is a free website teachers can use!}

Check out the Irregular Verbs pack HERE

We will continue working on using context clues and finding the main idea this week.  These are both skills that we have learned before but since it's a short week I will be using it to review these important concepts!

We will continue working on stretching our sentences to add where, when, why or how details.

Friday we will write our weekly Home Journal letters.  Grab my Home Journal FREEBIE here!

I am absolutely loving our weekly problem solving journals and I have noticed a HUGE difference in their problem solving abilities.  You can read about how I use the journals on my blog {HERE} and you can check out the growing bundle HERE!  Grab it now for a great price...when the bundle is complete it will be over $50!  I add a journal or two a week to the bundle!

We will work on our addition skills by doing a scoot activity using this FREEBIE!

We will review using some fun Halloween themed math centers. Check them out HERE.

We will also continue to review and practice our multiplication facts.  You can read about the different strategies that I use HERE and check out the wristbands my class is obsessed with HERE!

Friday in our room will be a STEM Friday!  My class is in LOVE with the amazing STEM challenges from Brooke at Teach Outside the Box.
Check out her amazing STEM bundle HERE!

Social Studies:
We have been working on map skills in our geography unit.  Traditionally, here in Arizona many of our families will take this first long weekend in October to travel to Disneyland in CA.  A few years ago, one of my students brought back a class set of Disneyland maps.  So, I created this little partner activity for my students to use with the maps and it was a huge hit!  You can download the FREEBIE here!

We will also begin talking about our culminating project....Create a Country!  I am so excited to get this going with my class! You can read about this hands on project HERE!

As you can see, it's going to be another jam packed and fun filled week in third grade!

You can grab the products featured in my plans in pictures for 20% off for the next 2 days!

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Weekly Problem Solving Journals

Several weeks ago we had a team planning meeting to plan for our math instructional unit.  Our first instructional unit in math is multiplication and division with the factors 2,3,4,5 and 10.  I always feel so much pressure teaching this unit because it such an important concept for students and I want to make sure I do the very best job teaching it as possible.  

One of the things that we wanted to make sure that we give our students plenty of exposure to is using their new found multiplication and division skills to solve problems.  Over the years, I have tried many different approaches to problem solving in my classroom.  I have typed problems on a power point and had students solve them in their math notebook.  I have typed problems on address labels and put them on pages of their math notebooks.  

These methods all worked just fine and students were able to get sufficient practice.  The one downside that bothered me was the fact that our math notebooks stayed at school and parents were never able to see the problems that students were being asked to solve.

The idea for Weekly Problem Solving Journals was born and our problem was solved (like my little play on words!). 

The idea was to take one type of problem and work on it for a week.  Students would get a week's worth of practice and we would be able to scaffold the instruction and practice of those problems.  We use the Weekly Problem Solving Journal as our math bellwork each day.  It takes between 5 and 10 minutes.

On Monday we look at the problem together and I model how I think through the problem.  We highlight important information and then we discuss different strategies we could use to solve it.  I model my thinking as I solve the problem step by step and then how to prove that my answer is correct.

Tuesdays we try a similar problem.  I still provide some guidance.  We do some table talk discussions with peers and solve and prove our solution.

Wednesdays are my students' favorite day, it's "Work With a Partner Wednesday."  This allows them to have some support as they discuss the problem and work through it together.  As I'm walking around and checking in with each group, I also look for different ways that groups solved the problem or proved it and I have them share under the document camera with the class.

Thursday students try it themselves.  I give them some quiet thinking time and they work through it. As they are working, I walk around the room and help those who get stuck by questioning them and coaching them through it.  After our quiet time, we check the answer together.

Friday is our independent practice day.  I always tell my class that it's like going to the doctor for a check up.  I just need to check to make sure they are growing and learning.  The last page of the journal is a review problem.  When they have completed the last two pages of the journal they turn it in.

We've been using the journal for about a month now and I have seen a huge improvement in my students problem solving skills.  I love that the routine is consistent from week to week and that it allows me to provide targeted instruction on problem solving without taking up too much time!

My Weekly Problem Solving Journals are available as a growing bundle in my store!  This means that you can grab them now at a reduced price and redownload the file as new journals are added!!!  When the bundle is complete it will contain 25-30 journals and will cost over $50!  You can grab it now for just $8.50.  The price will increase as each week is added, so grab it now for the best deal!!!

The bundle also includes an editable version of the Weekly Problem Solving Journal so that you can create your own problems!