July 2012Tales from Outside the Classroom: July 2012

Number Sense

I hope you liked the guest post Denise did yesterday!  I never knew you could do so much with Spelling City!  If you missed it, check it out here!

A couple weeks ago, one of my kindergarten teachers and I were talking about their math centers.  Last year, after I saw a great blog post from Adventures in Teaching about BUILD math centers, the teachers tried them out.  While they've loved them, there's been a few kinks we've been trying to work out.  We even talked about doing away with it and trying something else but they decided to stick with it.  In the process, we talked about needing more activities to go along with the hundreds chart.  There are just so many ways the hundreds chart can be used to help build number sense.  I was shocked to find so little about the hundreds chart in the common core standards.  Don't get me wrong, it's there, but I expected so much more.  I think the kids need to use it to add and subtract.  They need to see how it relates to place value.  Have you seen the same thing?  I'm thinking it's just not explicitly clear and we will see more with it as states make their own curriculum maps and we see the standards unpacked more.

A while back, I created these missing number puzzles using the hundreds chart.  There are 20 different puzzles.  They get more difficult (with additional missing numbers) as the pages go on.  You can differentiate them in your class for your students or slowly introduce them as students get more comfortable with them.
Click on either of the pictures above to go over to my TpT store to download the file for FREE! :)

But, we needed some additional ways to practice.  So I brainstormed, and created some rocking activities ;)

I worked on creating some hundreds charts activities that can be used as a center.  I created them in different levels.  This way, you can introduce them at different times throughout the year.  Or, you can use them to differentiate for your students.

There are three different levels for the number lines.  The pages are 0-20, 0-50, or 0-120.  The title changes color to help you identify when the level has changed.  There are two cards on each page and each card has two number lines.
There are also 3 different levels of the number puzzles.  The first level is 0-20 (since you can't do the grid to 20).  The second level is 0-120.  The third level is a 5 grid puzzle instead of a 9 grid puzzle which requires much more in depth thinking.  There are also far fewer numbers filled in.


The final activity is to-do cards.  Students draw a card and use the number chart to solve the problem.  I provided recording sheets with an answer key so students use the number next to the star to record their answer and can self-check their work.  Again, this activity also has three levels.  The first set is again only numbers 0-20.  The second is numbers to 120 using addition.  The final set uses both addition and subtraction.

There are 8 pages for free in my TpT store.  You can get them free here.
The full unit is 58 pages (my biggest yet!).  You can get it from TpT store here.

 How do you use the hundreds chart to help you build number sense in your kiddos?

Finally, yesterday, because I didn't want to take away any of Denise's time on my blog, I didn't mention at all about The Lesson Cloud's Dollar Days sale.  Have you seen it yet?  If not, you can check it out here.  I am happy to be participating with 5 of my products as half off!  Because I didn't get my items reduced on Saturday night, I'll be keeping my items at the special price until I wake up Tuesday morning.  Bonus for my followers who know they have a bit more time!

Spelling City from Sunny Days

Since I've been guest posting all over the place, and sending you to so many blogs to see my posts, I thought it'd be great to have another guest blogger here.  I'm so excited to welcome Denise from Sunny Days in Second Grade!  She has some great tips on using Spelling City in your classroom!

Denise here from Sunny Days. Thanks so much Tessa for allowing me to guest post today. I've been working closely with Spelling City over the last few months to explore the wealth of resources available to teachers and students. I've been so impressed with everything I've found and I'm thrilled to be able to share some with you today!

Let's focus on raising student's critical thinking and vocabulary by exploring analogies. Here's a little picture tutorial that will guide you through the free content available to you!

Be sure to check out all of the other great content waiting for you at Spelling City and if you ever have any questions, I'd be happy to help the best I can. Enjoy, my friends!


I've spent most of the summer apologizing for my lack of posting.  It has seemed like I've either not been posting, or have been guest posting on others' blogs.  It's been a crazy summer!

If you're my Facebook follower (and if you aren't, you should get over there and do it!) you already know about this new site.  But, I wasn't ready for the grand unveil until I got some other stuff figured out.

Much of the time that I've spent this summer blogging has actually been over at The Differentiation Destination.  I had the idea for this blog a few months back.  I sat on it for a while and didn't do anything about it.  It still kept coming back into my head. So, I finally decided to act on it.  It is a collaborative blog, and I've been recruiting some wonderful bloggers to help me with the site, and I hope it to be THE place to go to for information on differentiation.  There's a few posts on there.  I'd love it if you would head on over and check it out and come a follower!

Have you heard about Dollar Days at The Lesson Cloud?  Most of the authors are offering items on sale for $1 and $2 this upcoming Sunday and Monday.  I will announce my items on my post on Saturday.  If you click the image above, you can go to the site and check out some information.  This post will update with all of the items once it goes live!

Tell me more, tell me more....

For this edition of Woo Hooo Wednesday, I'm participating in Amy Lemons's Tell me More, Tell me More linky party!  I'm excited to share some more personal details with you.  
  1. I have changed rooms every year except 1 while I was teaching.  My first year (06-07) going into my second year, we stayed put.  Then, we moved into a new room on the other end of the building.  Then, we were moving into a large {for lack of a better word} closet.  I packed us all up.  But, as it turns out, I left that summer and took a position in a different building.  So, I moved all of my stuff out and 20 miles away.  Well, at the end of that year (09-10), I was RIFed.  Of course, that meant I took a job and moved again.  I got set up in our office, not a classroom, and at the end of that year, our office was part of the new construction, so I got to move again!  I just finished up packing my office to move yet again into a new room.
  2. Speaking of rooms, I have never had my own space.  When I was a reading teacher, I shared the classroom with the other Title 1 staff.  At one point, it was 3 other people.  When I left and was a DI coach, I shared an office with the data coach.  As a team leader, I shared an office with the other team leader.  And now, as Curriculum Coordinator, I will be sharing space with our RtI staff                                                 
  3. When I'm not teaching, most of my time is spent volunteering for my local Jaycees chapter.  I often talk about spending my time with my favorite local non-profit.  I have held various positions on my local and state board of directors.  I enjoy fundraising and giving back to my community.  It also has made me a much better public speaker- I never thought I'd be comfortable standing up in front of a group of adults and talking.  I still get a bad case of the ummms, but I am so much better than I used to be!

That's me laying out some eggs for our Easter Egg Hunt a few years ago

That's me giving a speech at our awards and installation banquet this January.

4. I am a huge sports fan!  I love the Chicago Cubs and the Chicago Bears.  And, of course, I spend my winters watching Butler Basketball!  Go Dawgs!

5. I have an obsessive personality.  I go through spurts with them but they're obsessions for a while.  I played Words with Friends nonstop for a while.  And then I Pinterested nonstop for a while.  And then I became obsessed with creating products for a while.  Right now, I'm not obsessing over anything like that.  But, I currently do have a food obsession.  Of course, that goes through spurts too.  For a while it was Buffalo Wild Wings, and before that it was this little Mexican place, and right now it's the sandwich shop in the town over.  I've gone 4 times in the last week or so.  Obsessed!

6. I don't have any kids of my own yet.  However, I do have 3 kiddos that love to fill in whenever necessary.
Here they are with their mama- my BFF

And, I also have this guy.  I got him from the shelter a little less than two years ago.

I hope you enjoyed reading a little about me and my life.  I am so excited to read all of the other entries!

Back to School with Guess Who

Have you seen the Back to School with Guess Who series over at A Differentiated Kindergarten?  Marsha has a ton of guest bloggers giving fantastic tips and ideas for starting off your year great!  Every day is a surprise!  Well, today, it's me.  Click the cute button below to come on over and check out my cute, FREE, Year Book!


Really Good Stuff

I'm continuing the summer of not being on my blog!  I'm kidding, but that's what it's felt like.  This week will be no exception, though I do have some secrets to share with you all!

First up, I'm guest blogging over at Really Good Stuff's The Teachers' Lounge.  I'm sharing some more ideas for classroom management.  Come on over and check it out!

The Cornerstone for Teachers

Have you heard of The Cornerstone for Teachers?  It's a website focusing on great classroom management tips.  I am lucky enough to be a guest on Angela's blog today.  Come on over and check out my post with some tips I've learned.  There's also a freebie with no-cost rewards you can use with your students!

Common Core Resources

I think a lot of people are spending their time this summer trying to get ready for the Common Core.  I know that every state has their own implementation plan so everyone is at different levels of comfort and understanding.  Here in Indiana, kindergarten implemented the CCSS last year and 1st grade will implement them this year.  All of the other grades are supposed to be working on beginning to major concepts as they are still teaching the state standards.

I compiled some places you can look to for help with implementing the standards.

First and foremost, you should familiarize yourself with the standards.  If you are looking for just the standard itself, look it up here.  Go straight to the source, rather than another site which may or not be correct.  I prefer to look at the standards on the site, rather than opening the pdfs.  The site is easy to use and I like to look at the transgression of the standards just by changing grade levels on the side.

North Carolina offers some great tools to help you understand what each standard means.  I've used their resources for unpacking the standards in helping me develop my daily math warm ups.  While I use them as a resource, and think they are great, they are someone's interpretation of the standard.  At this point, we don't know exactly what the assessments for the CCSS will be, so there is some risk that their interpretation won't exactly match the formal assessments.  Only time will tell.

Common Core Reading Lessons    Common Core Math Lessons
The Common Core Reading Lessons and Common Core Math Lessons sites are great sites if you are looking for resources that can be implemented in your classroom.  Each site begins with the user selecting their appropriate grade level.  Then the user is brought to a page that lists general resources that cover that grade level's standard, or resources that are broken down by individual standards.  As you are beginning to teach the standards, these sites will be so helpful in your lesson planning.  I do urge a bit of discretion.  These resources are user submitted by their creators.  Always verify that the resource you find is teaching the standard to the appropriate level.  Click on either of the images above to head to that site.

Common Core Classrooms   Common Core Kids
These two new blogs are designed just for the CCSS.  They are collaborative blogs with the writers posting articles and resources that they think will help you in your implementation.  I have signed up to be a collaborator on these blogs and I can't wait to see the great resources everyone starts sending out.  You can click the buttons above to send you to the sites to check them out.

I hope I've been able to show you a few new resources to help you with your Common Core implementation.  Do you have a resource that you've found helpful that I haven't included?  Share it in the comments below for us all to benefit from!

It's About Time

I know I've been MIA lately.  While everyone else gets excited about summer because things slow down, things always seem to pick up for me.  I get super busy with the non-profit I'm involved with and we end up having something going on nearly every weekend.  Plus, I'm only officially off in July, and I'm incapable of completely staying away.  Today is July 12th, I only have a few weeks of my break left, and I'm determined to work on some of the items on my to-do list both for my TpT store and my forgotten-about-house.  It's about time I got around to these things before my time runs out.

It just so happens that It's About Time is also the name of my newest product!  (Cheesy the way I did that, I know.)  I reworked my polka dot clock clip art to give it a new color and I used it to create these cards.

My original idea was to have the cards in a center, laminated, where students could write the time either on the clock or on the line.  But after thinking about it, you can really use the cards for whatever you wish.  They would be great as task cards or as cards for a write the room activity.  I created two different versions.
The time to the hour cards are FREEEE!  You can download them here from my TpT store or here from my TN shop.

I also created a file for time to the hour AND half hour.  This meets CCSS 1.MD.3.  You can get the file for $2 from my TpT store here or my TN shop as well.

If you're interested in creating your own activities you can get my Polka Dot Clock Clip Art from my TpT store.

How have you been spending your summer break?  Have you been blogging or blog stalking a lot?  Or are you focusing your time on non-educational activities to give yourself a break?

Pawsitively Perfect Writing

I think Writing is almost every teacher's least favorite subjects to teach.  It seems that no one seems to think that they are a great writer.  Plus, I think there's a lot of misunderstanding when it comes to teaching writing.  At my school we use the 6+1 traits to teach writing.  I found, however, that some teachers were struggling with how the traits fit in with the different genres they needed to teach, and the writing process itself.  The teachers knew they needed to be teaching all of those things, but weren't sure how it all fits together.

I always recommend starting with the genre you need to be teaching and making a plan based on that.  If your ultimate goal is to get students to understand what that genre is, and how to write in that genre, then that needs to be your starting focus.  Then I recommend defining what exactly is going to be written.  For example, you might be working on non-fiction, but it's important to identify if you're going to do all non-fiction or just a sub-genre.  For narratives, you would identify if you're going to do personal narratives, third-person narratives, small moment stories, etc.  Then, you're ready to plan out your trait minilessons as you work through the process.  For example, you might do voice minilessons while talking about writing a rough draft, and when you're talking about revising.  You might talk about organization while you're talking about pre-writing, writing, and revising.

No matter how you teach writing, I think one constant must be there.  The writing process.  Students need to know the stages.  They need to know that rough drafts aren't supposed to be perfect.  They need to know that real writers write, erase, move, erase, rewrite, erase, over and over again.

I always liked having a board that students used to move through the process.  This gave me a visual of where everyone was at, and it allowed the students to feel like they were moving to the next step.  I created a Pawsitively Perfect Writing set that you can use as a bulletin board to track your students' progress through the writing process.  You can print the posters and put them on a bulletin board or somewhere along the room.  You can laminate them and have students write their name on which stage they are at.  I also created little bones.  You can glue these to clothespins or attach them to magnet tape and write the students names on them.  The students can clip their pin or move their magnet on the appropriate poster.  You can download the file for FREE by clicking on either of the pictures below.

What is your biggest struggle with writing?  What do you wish you had more guidance on?