Sunday, October 27, 2013

Forever Friends

My heart aches.

When my daughter started a new day care at the age of four, she made two of the best friends she'll ever have. And I made some life long friends as well.
For several years our girls always got together for sleep overs, parties, special events, or just to play for a few hours with their American Girl dolls.
When the girls went to elementary school, they ended up in 3 different schools, but still managed to maintain their friendships.
When the girls reached the end of second grade, Kelly and her family moved to Kentucky.

The girls have maintained their friendships. Kelly and her mom, Mary Ann, have come back to New Hampshire a few times, and we always got together. These get togethers were always brief, but always enjoyable. These are among those rare friendships: the ones that you can pick up conversations where they left off years before. In recent years, due to the wonders of facebook, we have all kept in touch. I last saw Danielle's mom, Ruthie, 3 years ago, the night of the Senior Prom. (Our local high school always sponsors a "Prom-inade" where family and friends can see the kids all dressed up.) Ruthie and I caught up and chatted about the old days, and enjoyed seeing our girls all grown up.

Kelly's mom passed away today of cancer.

I've been watching the pictures on her facebook page, sending prayers and well wishes whenever I could. She was lucky to spend the last couple of months with her loved ones: Kelly, Kelly's older sister Kate, and Kate's children, Mary Ann's beautiful grandchildren. In every picture, Mary Ann was beaming.

My heart aches. Not for Mary Ann, whose suffering is over, and is now at peace, but for those who loved her.
I lost my mom to cancer when I was 20. My heart is a sea of emotions right now for so many reasons.

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Making Addition and Subtraction Facts Stick

I've been wracking my brain for years, trying to think of a way to get those basic facts to stick! There is way too much math that depends on knowing the basic facts, so we want the little ones to go beyond the "counting on fingers" or "counting on in your head" stage!

We've been using this sequence for learning facts at my school, and I must say, the kids are getting it! We all know it's not a good idea to introduce all the facts at once. There are 200 facts to be learned, and learning them in some systematic way is necessary. My knowledge of brain based learning tells me we need to help the children make connections, use visuals like color and pictures, practice frequently, add a social component, and make it fun. This will all help those facts stick!

I've taken 8 basic patterns and made 8 color coded sets of cards to be practiced based on these concepts:  plus one families, plus 10 families, plus 9 families, sums of 10, doubles, doubles plus 1, plus 2 families, and the remaining facts.  The "families" include 2 addition and 2 subtraction facts for each fact.  (For example, 1+8=9, 8+1=9, 9-1=8, and 9-8=1 are all connected.) These connections help children remember! I've even included a game that's connected to the cute little pictures on each card.

Practicing the facts is only half the challenge.  The other challenge is showing mastery.  

I've included assessments with each set.  There are 2 basic assessments with each family. The 2 assessments are both similar. I just thought you'd like a second option so they aren't taking the exact same assessment each time. Each assessment has 5 columns of 10 facts.  I give the children one minute to complete as many facts as they can. (The timing helps distinguish between the kids who know the facts, and the kids who still need to figure them out.) I have found that kids that get 20 - 25 facts in a minute are definitely ready to move on to the next level. (This, of course, is up to you.) Some kids really need a one on one assessment with the cards, as their writing skills just can't keep up with their thinking skills.

Want to check it out? Click the image below for the freebie version of the first set along with the assessments.

Wednesday, October 23, 2013

Retelling Stories and a World Series Freebie!

I'm so excited that my favorite team, the Red Sox, are in the World Series, that I'm offering a freebie!

 Everywhere I go, there are people wearing Red Sox gear, growing beards, wearing fake beards, and talking about tonight's game!  Even the mallard family in the Boston Common are decked out in Red Sox gear and even beards!

That's when I knew I had to get into the action.  (Sorry to my friends and followers who are Cardinals fans... The Red Sox are in my blood, I just can't help myself!)

This freebie really has nothing to do with the Red Sox or baseball, or even sports! It just happens to be a skill I'm working on with my kids, that I thought I'd share with my readers.  It's a graphic organizer to help the kids with sequencing and reselling stories.


Just click the link to download the freebie!

Here's how I use it:

I have the kids put a picture or a few key words in the boxes to tell the characters and setting, then the main things that happen at the beginning, middle, and end of the story.

Then, they use this to help them remember the order while they tell about their story.  I often remind children to make sure they tell what the story is mainly about in the first couple of sentences, calling the characters by name.  (One of my pet peeves is when children start a retell with a pronoun!)

The children can either tell their retell to a partner, a small group, or an adult.  I find the more times they tell it, the better the retell gets!  So many kids just need to practice talking in a way that makes sense.  The freebie is just to help them get their thoughts organized.  Maybe later in the year I'll have them write reviews of their books, but not until they get good at telling it!

Go Red Sox!

Monday, October 21, 2013

My Fitness Truth

My friend Denise from Sunny Days in Second Grade is having a series of Linky Parties So bloggers and friends can get to know each other better! This week is all about our fitness truths!
The stroke has been tough on me in many ways, but I can honestly say, things could be a whole lot worse. I'm still able to teach, thank goodness, since teaching is who I am and what I'm all about! Since I've had to give up other sources of recreation and find something that I could do sitting down, I've discovered blogging, which is truly a blessing! Be sure to drop by Sunny Days in Second Grade to see more bloggers with their fitness truths! If you're a blogger, join in the fun! If you're not a blogger, just leave a comment below and tell us your Fitness truths!

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Tips for Keeping Creative Sub Plans

Tips for Keeping Creative Sub Plans: Feeling sick? Taking the time to prepare sub plans ahead of time makes life a little easier. This post has several ideas, including several freebies you can print and put into your own Sub Tub.

Did you ever notice it's easier to go to school sick rather than go through the trouble of writing up sub plans? I stayed ultra late at school last night making plans for today's sub. (I'm not known for leaving early anyway, but last night was totally ridiculous!)

Tips for Keeping Creative Sub Plans: Feeling sick? Taking the time to prepare sub plans ahead of time makes life a little easier. This post has several ideas, including several freebies you can print and put into your own Sub Tub.
I've learned to keep a tub of emergency plans. I have a folder for each day of the week, and detailed descriptions of  my day inside each folder. I also have a binder that includes emergency information, procedures, and management ideas.  

I also keep folders for each subject that is filled with already run off materials ready for an emergency day. After having subbed at every level, I know how important it is to have clear, easy to understand directions so the kids stay engaged and don't have any opportunities to make the sub crazy.

The trick is to have the folders all updated to include materials that the children can do which isn't necessarily dependent on something the children are learning now.

Good ideas to have on hand:
1. Practice on a skill that needs frequent review, like math facts, sight words, or parts of speech.
2. Writing prompts.
3. Vocabulary builders.
4 . Mini units that can be done in a day.

Here are some examples of things I keep in my sub tub or leave for subs:

I always keep a supply of these letter writing pages. I usually make a set with one letter addressed to everyone in the class. Then they choose one and write to that person! This is a "win-win" activity. Everyone writes a letter, and everyone gets a letter! (Click image for freebie.)
Tips for Keeping Creative Sub Plans: Feeling sick? Taking the time to prepare sub plans ahead of time makes life a little easier. This post has several ideas, including several freebies you can print and put into your own Sub Tub.

This number booklet to 1,000 can be used any time of year.  (Click image for freebie!)
Tips for Keeping Creative Sub Plans: Feeling sick? Taking the time to prepare sub plans ahead of time makes life a little easier. This post has several ideas, including several freebies you can print and put into your own Sub Tub.


Here's a math game the kiddos can play over and over, and all they need is a deck of playing cards! It practices addition skills, and gets them thinking about strategies! No, we don't do the gambling version! (Click image for freebie!)

Tips for Keeping Creative Sub Plans: Feeling sick? Taking the time to prepare sub plans ahead of time makes life a little easier. This post has several ideas, including several freebies you can print and put into your own Sub Tub.

There's always an opportunity for kids to come up with a themed ABC booklet.  This is a fun activity to start off by reading an ABC book or two.  (Click image for examples and freebie!)
Tips for Keeping Creative Sub Plans: Feeling sick? Taking the time to prepare sub plans ahead of time makes life a little easier. This post has several ideas, including several freebies you can print and put into your own Sub Tub.

Here's a mini-unit that can be done any time of year: (Click image for link!)
Tips for Keeping Creative Sub Plans: Feeling sick? Taking the time to prepare sub plans ahead of time makes life a little easier. This post has several ideas, including several freebies you can print and put into your own Sub Tub.
If you find a couple of books about camping, you've got yourself a mini-unit in a day! Fun activities that practice important skills!

I happen to have a number of "no prep" activities you can find HERE. Most of them are seasonal, which adds to the fun! (I go straight to these sets if I'm going to be out!)

Now I suppose you're wondering why I was at school so late last night if I have all these ideas...  Well, I just hadn't updated my files from last year, and my schedule is totally different!  Now that the files are updated for the year, next time I'm sick will be easy peasy!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Count to 1,000 Freebie Booklet

Count to 1,000 Freebie Booklet: Download this freebie and watch your student develop a deeper understanding of our number system up to 1,000, and have fun as well!

Some of my students have been struggling with counting once they get over 100.  I decided to give them a hand and have them make some booklets where they can count to 1,000 with wa little help. The kids started working on their booklets on Friday and they were totally into it!  You couldn't hear a peep in the whole room!

Click the image above or click HERE to make the booklets.  You have the option of making booklets with the numbers already there, or having the children fill in most of the numbers.  I had my second graders fill in the numbers, one page at a time.  The first hundred were easy for them, but when they got to the second hundred, many of the children needed assistance.  Going through this process will really help the little ones understand our number system and its patterns, and help them develop their number sense!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

October is the Perfect Month for Poems, Chants and Plays

Please welcome my guest blogger, Arlene from LMNTree!  She has a fascinating background and her products show she really know our little guys and their needs.  I've used many of her ideas and products in my classroom and the kids absolutely love them!
It's LMN Tree
I'm so excited to guest blog for Sally today. My name is Arlene and I blog over at LMN Tree. I've spent most of my teaching career in the elementary grades as a regular class teacher, Special Ed Teacher and finally an ESL Resource Specialist. After moving around the world with my army husband and my children, we spent the last 10 years in Anchorage, Alaska where I was an ESL Resource Specialist at a Title I elementary school. The challenges were overwhelming as I was responsible for over 250 ESL students not only in my school but 5 others in the district.

Having grown up just 18 miles north of NYC I dreamed of being on Broadway one day. Well that never happened, so I turned my passion and creative side to writing poems, chants, and plays for my students wherever I taught. If you have struggling readers or ESL students in your classrooms you know that they are very reluctant to participate in class activities. They are afraid of making mistakes and having others make fun of them. What I found is that they loved being part of chanting, poetry activities, and plays as they felt safe to take a risk when everyone was participating at the same time. Not only that, but it was a great way to get the whole class up and moving. Even if they couldn't read the chant they loved doing all the actions! It was a win-win for all. It was so wonderful to these these students smiling and laughing and feeling like they belonged.

October is the perfect month for poems, chant, and plays. Here's a fun chant for your students to act out about Football. What a great chant for finding compound words.
You can find this poem and others about Pumpkins, October, Fire Safety and more in my October Poetry Unit. Just click on the image below to check it out.

Did you know that October was National Popcorn Popping Month? Here's a fun poem about Popcorn and a Punctuation Activity which you can download free by clicking on the image below.
If you would like to find out how you can get this free fall play just click on the image below!
Thanks for letting me share a little about myself and my passion. Thanks for making a difference for all the students in your classrooms. Hope you have a great fall!



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