Monday, March 31, 2014

XtraMath, Anyone?

Math is my life. Seriously. I love teaching math, I love seeing my students problem solve and I love seeing them utilize strategies for adding and subtracting numbers. But let's get honest, sometimes they just need to PRACTICE addition and subtraction facts. In my classroom, we take timed tests every Tuesday & Thursday. We graph our data to see how we are improving. But I'm always looking for more ways to trick my kids into learning :)

So I'm here to share an ah-mazing resource I just started using. As a first year teacher, I wouldn't be surprised if everyone & their brother already uses this.

XTRAMATH. It's a fluency website for students to practice their math facts. We started it today in my classroom. First, the kiddos take a placement test. Then you have them log on everyday to practice. The site will have them work for a certain amount of time before logging them out.  

It's perfect for my class. We get a short drill of fluency practice and I don't have to take the time to think about when to tell them to log off. THE COMPUTER DOES IT FOR ME. Brilliant.

My favorite part is that when it prompts the students to log off, it leads them back to the main screen with all the kiddos' names on it. Every student that has completed their task for the day gets a checkmark by their name. You can easily see who hasn't done their assignment yet. You can even mark students as absent!  We have 6 laptops so it makes my life so much easier since the kiddos work in shifts. Tomorrow I'm going to have the students just find the next person without a check by their name after they sign off. Easy peasy!

Check out more information about XtraMath here. They even give a checklist to set it up in your classroom so you don't forget anything :) Love!

Have you ever heard of XtraMath? Do you use it in your classroom? How do YOU have students amp up their math fact fluency?

Have a great week,

Friday, March 21, 2014

Shop Til You Drop

Happy spring!  While I could not be happier that snow is ending, my allergies are going to be the end of me.  I don't think I've been able to breathe normally for the past 2 weeks.

Today I want to talk about some of my FAVORITE products I've purchased recently from Teachers Pay Teachers.

These are amazing labels from First Grade Glitter and Giggle.

As you may remember, I went through a long process of redoing my classroom library. That tends to be a necessity when you are a first year teacher with over 400 books. Oops. However, I organized my books by theme/character NOT level. I have a ton of leveled books filed away in a cabinet (due to lack of shelving in my classroom) so I pull books for my kiddos. I'm really not a huge fan of that whole situation.  One of my summer projects will be buying MORE of my beloved neon book bins from Really Good Stuff and organize the books from my file cabinet into those.

I'm interested in getting MORE good leveled readers.  Any suggestions??

If you've been reading this blog for awhile, you know how much I love Susan Jones' products.  This one is no exception!  I've struggled with figuring out how to incorporate money into the year when it's not part of the Common Core for 1st grade. This unit is PERFECT! When we come back from spring break (Monday), my grade level is starting data and measurement. We will be taking a mini break from our curriculum in that unit to focus on money for a week. I couldn't be more excited to use this great resource!

One of my other favorite TPTers is Haley O'Connor. I have purchased plenty of her products in the weeks I've been away from blogging. However, this is one of my favorites!

This product is everything I have ever wanted for the end of the year AND THEN SOME.  I can't wait to see how much I love it when it's time to put it to use.

I absolutely adore this seller.  She makes the BEST no prep packs I've found on TPT, hands down. Everything is Common Core aligned, not to mention adorable. I bought this packet, printed it, stapled it & sent it home with my firsties for spring break! I'm anxious to see how much they got done!!  I have her fall and winter packets and am trying my hardest to wait for a sale for the spring packet. (read: I have an addiction to TPT).

However, hands down my favorite product I bought over the last month has to be…

Let me just say, WORTH EVERY PENNY. I'm not going to sit here and pretend I'm Teacher of the Year or anything - I need help with guided reading. It's one of those things where I know I'm helping the kids but I know I could amp it up a little, too. This is seriously an incredible product.  Go look at it.  Not to mention, it's on sale right now.  Thank you sooo much Rachelle for helping a new teacher out!

Now, I don't want you to think that I'm just spending money on teacher things on my break. I still have a life outside of school! Today was an incredible sale at Express (all dresses 30% off!) - not to mention I had a coupon. I got $50 off of this gorgeous dress.  I decided it was a must because of the sale and the fact that we have spring pictures Friday. Yes, the awkward ones where all my kids are on risers and I stand next to them. Please tell me I'm not the only teacher out there who has to endure this.

Next up? I'm basically spending the rest of my break watching Breaking Bad on Netflix and eating. Definitely need to start thinking about getting back into a regular schedule.

I'll be back in a few days to show you WHY I need your help with organization.

Have a great weekend,

Thursday, March 6, 2014


It's been insanely too long. Prepare yourself for an ultra long post. My internet has been super bizarre and slow. It seems to work on every other device in my house EXCEPT for my MacBook.

I have done a lot in the almost MONTH hat I have been absent. Let's sum it up in some pictures:

This basically sums up my last month. An explosion of STUFF. We finished up our character unit with character book clubs; that's all the stacks of books nicely marked with Post-its. The obscene amount of lamination are all of the Cara Carroll goodies that I got printed. One of my student's parents cut it all - BLESS HER. There was even more of that hidden in my cabinet as well.

Anchor Charts Galore!

This puppy was for working on our opinion writing. We did book reviews to finish up the unit. It was crucial to have a good chat about not giving away the entire book in a review. That is a VERY hard thing to do when you are oh-so excited about the book!!

 This is for our new unit in Lucy Calkin's Units of Study - we are on Unit 4 where the kiddos are writing realistic fiction pieces. They are LOVING it!  I have a problem where I only draw redheaded stick people. I blame it on never having enough ginger role models as a child :)

THE LONG AWAITED LIBRARY REVEAL! Guys, I can't even contain my excitement. This is the BEST thing to happen to my classroom since all the wonders over the summer. Seriously, this brings me so much joy. I love organization. I love color coordination. I love books. This is a combination of all of those things.

The bookshelf is still the same ol' scary one I bought off someone's yard for $10. The bins are from Really Good Stuff. They are the same as my kiddos' book boxes. I never thought to use them for my library until I saw some on Pinterest! The labels are from TPT made by the lovely Danielle Mastandrea. I also have her math manipulative labels (a summer project), book stickers (another summer project) and word wall cards (actually up in my classroom).

Don't mind the 3 bins without labels (seriously, they are driving me insane). I'm ordering them! The books in there (in case you're curious) are Fly Guy, Pinkalicious and all of my National Geographic Kids books.  If you have ANY questions about my library or how I organized it, please comment. I am happy to share. I've already inspired one of my teammates to redo her entire library, too. Oops!

 Now onto things that are actually happening RECENTLY. This has been the most insane week. We had a snow day Monday, our first grade dress rehearsal/musical on Tuesday, field trip on Wednesday…today was the first day I've actually had a normal schedule! Soooo nice.

This was how we spent our morning yesterday. AH-mazing. My kids were in tears, they were laughing so hard at this show. We came back for a little lunch in the classroom and did some opinion writing about the show. We also did Venn Diagrams comparing the book and the show. Annnd I forgot to take pictures of it!

This was my life today. In preparation for report cards, I am figuring out some ways to take data on my kiddos' progress. Praise the Lord for Susan Jones. Seriously. I would DIE without her amazing TPT products, especially this. All of the papers all over my desk are from that packet :)  Can't wait to see what all my kiddos have learned!

Annnd here's a little bit of my personal life, if you're interested.

This is my fab sister. We went tubing at a little ski resort type thing in Kansas City last week. It was for people with special needs & their families. There were SO many incredible people there. We had a BLAST.

This is my super fun outfit for the Mardi Gras themed wedding i went to last weekend!
Here's the deets on the outfit:
Top: Express, Necklace: Francesca's, Skirt: Delia's (old)

Thanks so much for catching up on my life! I hit the TPT sale last weekend HARD so I am hoping to do a (super delayed) post this weekend about what all I bought.

Have a great last day of your week!