Friday, November 6, 2015

Five for Friday

Happy Friday!

I've survived Parent Teacher Conferences (except for one last one after school next week), and am excited for an upcoming midweek day off! :)


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Not only do we have Wednesday off, but I'm out Monday for a workshop (all about fourth grade-I'm super excited!), so I've been prepping for a sub.
It's my first full day out (I've only been out for 2 hours at an in school meeting), so I'm hoping they behave...

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Last Five for Friday, I mentioned that I was getting a new cell phone.

Welllll, it turned into a bit of a saga.

I got the reconditioned phone, and was liking it. Except...I only had about two bars in my apartment, and NO service in the area where I teach (which is about 30 minutes away from where I live).

I had some issues with this, as what if I needed to be contacted at school (other than the school number, my only line of communication is my cell phone) because something major happened, and then I only got the message on the way home (which I can't pick up because we're now a 'hands free' and I don't have bluetooth in the car)?

I didn't necessarily need cell service in the building, but I would have liked it in the parking lot!

So, I bought a new phone that was on a different network (my old phone was on the global network, and the new one was on the CDMA network, and the newest one is on the global network), and I now have almost full service in my apartment, good service in the parking lot at school, and even a bar inside school! :)

The only thing I don't like-my new phone is HUGE compared to my old phone. I wish I could mix and match the two smart phones I bought to make a perfect one!
Old 'dumb' phone on left; old 'new' not working phone in middle; my cell phone now on the right

Needless to say, the old new phone is on the way back to the company for a return. Hopefully, that goes smoothly (when I phone to ask about-since it has a lithium-ion battery which is a hazardous material, it was not so smooth).

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Since it's a new month, I have a new garland for my door!
The turkey was a little tricky, and was feathered and defeathered  a few times, but he finally was able to stay feathered. :)
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We've also been working at double-digit multiplication, and I'm so proud at how well they've been working at it! We learned the 'short cut' way (the way that everyone learned before the standards changed) yesterday, and while they were a little resistant to the weird way, they were happy by the end of it. :)
Task Cards are from the Primary Gal
I started by teaching them the area model, then partial products before 'short cut'ing it. Hopefully, we'll be ready to move onto division by next week!

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I had recently entered a contest from Responsive Classroom and was one of the winners! I got to pick my choice of book, and it arrived yesterday!

Since I already have most of their books (in original editions), I decided to go for one of their newer ones. It looks really interesting, and I can't wait to get started!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Smiles and Sunshine,

Tuesday, October 20, 2015

What's Happening

Well, hello teaching peeps!

(As I write the title, I'm hearing Tacky the Penguin in my head! :P )

I've still not doing a great job at taking pictures of what's going on in my classroom-these kids are keeping me busy!

I'm also modeling a lot of my instruction off of what I did last year (when I kind of rewrote the language arts program), with some minor changes here and there-so check out 2014 posts if you're interested!

I've feeling much more comfortable with our math program-and we are definitely moving quicker (I think) than we did last year (our first year with the program), or the previous year (a pilot year), and I love that I have the quick checks and exit slips to help me out! I'm also in love with doing centers-but want to refine the management of it a little bit.

I also have a Methods student this semester (the step right before student teaching at a local college), and she is fabulous! She's done some pretty cool lessons, and it's great having an extra set of hands a few days week. I'm going to miss her when she's gone!

We have a whole new administration (superintendent and principal as well as a new behavior specialist), and while change is often frightening, I think this was a much needed change, and I'm a lot happier coming into work! I feel so much more comfortable going to my admin about things, and our new behavior specialist is actually being helpful with behavior! (a change from our previous specialist, who wasn't all that helpful or proactive).

My first mini observation (we moved to mini observations of about 10-15 minutes-we need 4 a year) has come and gone, and it went very well. My admin and I had a great conversation about it, and the reasons I do some of the things I do-it was great to have such a conversation with someone who respects your professional judgement!

We've been learning lots in 4th grade, and trying out different seating combos (and will continue to try new ones until we have a perfect 'fit'), and time seems to be rushing by! Parent-teacher conferences are in 2 weeks, and I can't believe how close it is! Soon it will be Christmas!

I hope you are enjoying your kiddos like I'm enjoying mine!

Smiles and Sunshine,

Friday, October 16, 2015

Five for Friday

Happy Friday!

We'll still keeping super busy-our days always are flying by!


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Last night, I got a delivery.

After a few hours of following directions, I now have a beautiful
buffet! (Which I'm using to store yarn, because what else would I use it for? :P )

It's a really nice navy color, and ties in nicely with the other furniture pieces in my apartment.

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I have a Methods student this year (the step right before student teaching), and she has been doing some banging math lessons!

She's been doing her lessons on making a table, and she came up with a really cool game (or found it-but I never would of thought of it!)

She came up with Data War!
The kids use a deck of cards to play war normally, but then they create a tally table for each 'battle', win, lose or tie. My kids were super engaged (and loud, but I told her that it was okay, because it was 'productive' talk :), and I think they loved it!

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Since I had a little extra time this weekend, I made some yummy apple crisp!

A photo posted by Smiles & Sunshine (@smilesandsunshineteacher) on
I use the recipe for's about half gone!
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I also got 'Boo'ed!

Since I had to Boo two people in response, they got something a little extra...

A photo posted by Smiles & Sunshine (@smilesandsunshineteacher) on

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Last, but certainly not least...

I finally bought a smart phone! (Right now, I have what the kids call a 'dumb' phone! :)

I do a prepaid plan (because really, I only use it to talk to my parents and get those ever important 'No School' phone calls :), and my 'year' is up soon.

Since I have to re-up my year, I figured it was a good time to switch phones-my other one is 5 years old!

It should (hopefully) be here soon-I did get a reconditioned one to save about half. Here's hoping I like it!

Have a wonderful weekend!

Smiles and Sunshine,

Monday, October 12, 2015

Monday Made It

These first weeks of school have been crazy busy! I have a great class, but they're also the biggest class I've had so far!

We've been so busy that I haven't really taken any pictures of what we've done-I need to remember better!

Glad it's time for Monday Made It! :) I've done a lot of made its, so some of them have been grouped together-prepare for some pictures!

First and most important-my shelves finally got fixed!! :)
Aren't they beautiful!

On those pretty shelves, I have my gorgeous storage which is all labeled :)

In the spirit of organization, I also redid my lunch count/attendance, as I was finding it hard to read the numbers, and I thought it could be neater and more streamlined.

I used square glass tiles (I got them off of Amazon), and I created little Melonheadz (truly headz-LOL! :)), and slapped a magnet on the back.
I have had some shatter (the kids must of dropped them just right!) but the glass did all stay on the cardstock-I was able to peel the cardstock away and glue on a new tile.

It's so much easier to read now! :)

My next, most super important made it is that I finished the hardest part of the supplements I've been making for our math program!

I've been calling them my babies :) (You can read more about them here and here)

I've also been making up some task cards to go along with the lessons-and having fun making them!

A photo posted by Smiles & Sunshine (@smilesandsunshineteacher) on

I've been making them as I go, they're a major part of my math block this year. I think that the kids have been enjoying them as well!
Note: No TPT shop, so not for sale
I also did up some fun little gifts for my teamies for back to school.

I also have a coworker who is expecting (gender unknown), so I've been working on a blanket for her as well!
I've still got some ways to go, but I hope she likes it!
Next up, I took two wonderful products and made them into little books for the kids! (From The Brown Bag Teacher and Tales of a Tenacious Teacher)

I hung them under our writing chart for easy to grab access.
Lastly, I did two new garlands for my door!

My kids love squeezing the pencil and the apples :)

For my October garland, I wanted it to been fun, so I started with these babies.
Aren't they cute?!

They turned out great on the garland with my other October elements!
I also made a new wreath for my door at home-I love how it turned out!

Have a great week!

Smiles and Sunshine,


Tuesday, October 6, 2015

Running the Math Block ~ Part 4: Organizing

This is the last part of how I run my math block. You can catch up with part 1, part 2, or part 3.
This is all about how I organize it all!

(Although, to be honest, some days I'm more on top of it than others! :)

One of the key pieces of my math rotations is task cards.
Some of the task cards I get off of Teachers Pay Teachers (Teaching with a Mountain View, The Primary Gal, and Jennifer Findley to name a few), and some I make myself.

When I make them myself, I make them in PowerPoint, and I use papers from I Teach! What's Your Superpower? and clipart from Melonheadz (when I can add them in! :)

Right now, I'm storing my task cards (all of them-literacy included) in a shoe box, but I forsee them being divided into chapters/skills and stored in Sterilite latching containers (with pretty labels, of course!)
 When I'm prepping for the week, (and I'm actually prepped ahead-which doesn't always happen because I like to take it day by day), I store everything in a bucket on my desk-exit slips and task cards.
This way, it's easy for me to access and find, and I can quickly set up.

For rotations, I store the task cards in another bucket, with the recording sheets underneath.
If we are working on more than one set (and we do, since some of our skills build upon one another, I'll leave the cards out for most of the chapter-this also allows kids to work on what they need to throughout, and they don't feel rushed), I just add another bucket!
Sometimes the kids will need manipulatives to work, and they can easily pull what they need from my new and beautifully fixed shelves ;), since I've made toolkits for the major sections (here and here)

Just in case, you missed a look at my new, beautiful shelves ;) (ICYMI, they fell off the wall last year-and needed to be reanchored-it took some time, but they look so pretty now!)

When we do an exit slip, I don't have the kids turn it into my in-bin - since sometimes I leave things in there for awhile (plus, I don't want them to get lost!), I have them turn it into a bucket.
They fit nicely into the bucket, and it is easy for me to grab and sort through to see what I need to address.

Hopefully/Eventually, I hope to get some iPads or Chromebooks (we have both in my district-but in limited amounts), and work them into our Math block as well (and find some nice storage for them!)-but they're not quite ready for us (plus, I don't know how many we'll be getting for the school)

So that's my revamped Math block! I'm definitely happier with the way it is going, and how I'm reaching more kids. It's taken a few years, and a lot of thought, but I got it to a happy place. :)

Smiles and Sunshine,

Saturday, October 3, 2015

Math Strategies-A Quick Round Up

This month's Together We Are Better is all about Math-which fits in perfectly with the mini-math series I'm doing!

Check out Lucky Little Learners and  Schroeder Shenanigans in 2nd for more!

So if you want to read about my new and improved Math block, you can check out here, here and here. There is one more post left-how I organize it all!

For now, I leave you with some highlights of things I do!

First and foremost, we are a BIG task card classroom.
 I love using task cards because it's easy to differentiate (not only with the problems when I make them myself, but by how many each kid needs to complete.), we can use it as a scoot game, a write the room, independent work or a journal entry.

I make some of my task cards-to tailor it to our math program, but I also buy plenty as well.

We also try to have some fun notebook entries-using our notebooks as a resource!

I've also started doing Math Journal entries this year as part of our rotations-we'll see how it goes!
And, I try to make use manipulatives and games to help us learn our concepts.

If you're looking for a great decimal game, Ideas By Jivey has a GREAT one (I blogged about how we play it here) that is FREE!

We have some tricky concepts to learn in 4th grade, so I try to make it as fun and interesting as possible. Hopefully I succeed in some way-and they remember it for 5th grade!

Smiles and Sunshine,