Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Assessment Tips - Back To School Linky Week 2

I'm so excited to link up again with Miss V's Busy Bees and Mrs D's Corner for the Back 2 School Linky - Week 2! This week is all about... ASSESSMENT!
In case you've missed the schedule, here's what we're talking about each week to get you ready for Back To School!
We all know how important assessment is, and we also know how sometimes it just takes... forever. You know like when your PLC has a set aside a day for you to make assessments, and then you sit there with your team and by the end of the day your eyes are bugging out from all of it... maybe that's just me? 

Well, regardless, I decided to go ahead and make my own quick math assessments so that they'd be ready to go whenever I needed them. I created short, 1/4 page assessments for every 2nd grade math standard. 

You can check out the freebie in my TPT shop.
When copying, I only need to copy 6 pages and quickly cut them out. (I'm thinking this year I might actually go ahead and copy ALL of the assessments so that I can just whip out my binder, cut them out, and be ready to go!)
I love these assessments because they only take my kiddos 5 minutes or less to complete. While I love informal assessments with whiteboards and observing independent or group work, I love to have these handy because I can take the time to analyze where my student may have made a mistake.

The last little assessment tip I have is using these little communication rings. I call them that because I teach my students that this is their way of communicating with me their needs. Students keep these rings in their pencil caddies, and whenever they are working independently, they set them beside their work. They move the cards to communicate how they're doing on any given assignment
Assessment rings during independent work
My students found these most useful during Writing Workshop. It took a lot of teaching for them to get comfortable with continuing to write, even when they had a question or needed help with something. If I was conferencing with another group, they had to learn how to keep writing.

Side note: one of my FAVORITE writing tips for dealing with spelling issues... When drafting, I don't want my students to get hung up on spelling errors (we can fix that later), so I tell them to underline the word they are unsure of and keep writing. Later, once they've drafted their piece and have gotten out all of the "meat", we can go back and address spelling. Side note over. :)

That's a few of my tips and tricks for assessment... I hope you can walk away with some useful ideas! What tips and tricks do you have for assessment? Don't forget to link up!

Monday, July 21, 2014

Teaching Common Core Word Problems

I'm linking up with Kelly and Kim's Kreations for Markdown Monday! 

Today I'm putting two of my word problem resources on sale. My school has pushed a big focus on problem solving, especially with the different problem types listed in the Common Core. The hard part for me: making sure I was teaching all of the different types of problems! 

So I've created... The Word Problem Pals! This is 6 sets of task cards for practicing the different problem types. 
Let me show you some of the problems. This set of cards practices the start unknown problem type. In your purchase, you will receive 2 sets - one within 20 and another within 100 (great for differentiation!) Set up for these problems usually looks like this: 
? + 5 = 12
This next set shows change unknown. Again, in your purchase you will get a set within 20 and another within 100. These problems are generally set up like this:
6 + ? = 13
The final sets are comparing problems - these were the trickiest for my kiddos! Setting up these problems varies from student to student - so I'll just leave you to look at the problems and decide for yourself. (Again- you'll get a set within 20 and another within 100). 
Once my students were comfortable with one step problems, it was time to move on to TWO STEP! But I didn't exactly tell them that at the beginning. ;) 

The Two-Step Word Problem Super Solvers were great for when my kiddos were ready. 
I have added in this product a word problem book. Each day my kiddos would solve one for morning work or math warm-up and we would go over it together. Surprisingly enough, my kiddos LOVED that they had to be little detectives and truly figure out what they had to do to solve it... I loved how excited they got about it. They became little word problem smarties for sure! 
So that's a peek at some of my word problem resources that are on sale! Feel free to snag them on sale through July 25th! Click on any of the product pictures for links to the products in my TPT shop! 

Friday, July 18, 2014

Five For Friday

I'm so excited to be linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for my very first Five For Friday!!!

Here's a little peek at my week!
At the beginning of the week I went to the Dollar Tree and snatched up these reusable lunch containers. They are absolutely PERFECT for organizing base 10 blocks! I have 5 tables of kiddos in my room, so I ended up purchasing 10 containers that way each table can share two during a lesson. I am loving this organization. It's going to make using these so much easier! 

My husband and I live in downtown Lexington and decided to walk to dinner one night this week. The weather has been amazing - 70 degrees and NO humidity... in mid-July!! Anyway, we walked to this cute little restaurant and decided to eat outside. After sitting down and looking at our menus for about a minute, we looked over and realized about a hundred yards away was a community yoga & meditation class! We had a good laugh... and then proceeded to Google when the next one was happening (maybe we'll go)!
My school is currently undergoing renovation, which is super exciting! We've been waiting forever for this to happen! Our 3rd-5th grade classrooms will be in another building close by for the year, and 1st and 2nd (that's me) will be in the half of the building that isn't undergoing renovation yet. Over Christmas break 1st and 2nd grade classrooms will get to move into our new rooms. Yippee!! I've gone in to school a few times, and it's one hot mess. Literally, it's so stinkin' hot in our building. Here's the library and our primary playground. 
I spent another date night out with my favorite person this week. We walked to the center of downtown where they were playing 80s music. Great company, good drinks, and delicious pizza were all enjoyed. :)
As most of you reading this know, I am a new blogger. I started my TPT shop about 7 months ago, but the blogging has just finally gotten started. While working at Starbucks this week I created by own new blog button. I haven't invested in purchasing a blog design yet, but I hope to soon! For now, here's my blog button... and I actually kind of love it! 


Thanks for stopping by! Have a great weekend!


Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Behavior Management Tricks


I'm so excited to link up with Miss V's Busy Bees and Mrs D's Corner for the Back 2 School Linky! It's all about getting ready for B2S with tips, tricks, and advice on all sorts of different topics! 

Here's a look at the weekly topics we'll be sharing.

This week's topic is all about... Behavior!! And don't worry, I've got a freebie for you if you make it to the end of the post! :) #teachersloverewardstoo


Some days managing behavior seems a little bit like this:

We've all been there, right? 

I'm here today to share with you a few of my favorite behavior management tricks that will hopefully help you survive "those kinds of days". The first trick... DUCK BUCKS. I teach with the amazing Brianna Price from The Price of Teaching, and she is the creator of this fabulous tool. 

Duck Bucks is a very simple classroom reward system that is used just like money. Duck Bucks come in $1, $5, $10, and $20. I give them to students as a reward for anything! It could be helping out a classmate, being a good friend, setting a good example, etc. It's AMAZING what my kiddos will do for a Duck Buck. If we are having a hard time following directions during a lesson or activity, I quietly pull a Duck Buck out of my pocket and hand it to one or two students who are making great choices. Before you know it, everyone is back on track. 

(Click the picture to head to Bri's shop to check them out!)




Now, you're thinking... what do the kiddos spend their Duck Bucks on? Great question!

I'll be honest, I'm not a huge fan of the treasure box... mostly because 1.) I'm not very good at keeping it stocked and 2.) The items in it are usually cheap and lame. So, I decided to pick out some rewards that cost ZERO dollars for the teacher and are quite easy to use!

I created classroom reward coupons that were so easy to use! The rewards were things move seats to sit by a friend, first pick for book nooks (read to self spot), chew gum during a lesson, write with a special pen for the day, etc. Admittedly, I did have a coupon that was "Choose a prize from the treasure box," but once my kids looked in the box, they didn't really want anything from it. Sorry, kids!

Here's a look at my reward coupon organizer. I have written on each coupon how many Duck Bucks they cost.


The 2nd trick I want to share with your is my NOISE board. I bought these glittery letters at Hobby Lobby to spell out the word noise. (You could always write it on your whiteboard and be good to go!)


For each activity, the kiddos know the expected voice level, and our school has voice level signs that we all use. When the kiddos are not following the expected voice level, I take a letter down in the word noise. If the class gets down to NO, then there is NO talking allowed. I've also used it for rewards that we may be working towards: No extra dance break (we dance a lot in my room...), No talking at lunch, etc. You get the idea. It's a great visual reminder for the kiddos!

The last quick trick I want to share with you is about managing Class Dojo points. I know many of you have heard and read all about Class Dojo, and if you haven't, there are TONS of blog posts on it! A fellow teacher I work with shared with me how she manages Dojo points, and I absolutely LOVED it. 

Each kiddo has a hundreds chart to track their points. At the end of each day, the kiddos color in the number of Dojo points they earned, and everyone's points reset for the next day. Once the kiddos reach 100 points, they earn a reward. You can use them with the Duck Bucks and reward coupons, or you can have everyone earn the same reward. The choice is up to you! 

If you want a copy of this freebie, you can click the picture and grab it in my TPT shop!


Thanks for stopping by to hear my behavior tricks! I hope you found it useful! I'll be back next week to share about assessment!

Monday, July 14, 2014

New, DIY Bench - Monday Made It


I'm linking up with Tara for my very first Monday Made It post!



Today I wanted to share with you this little hope chest/bench that my husband and I bought at a used furniture shop for $75.

We hated the cover (obviously - it's disgusting). Before purchasing we figured we should see just how simple or not simple this would be. It turns out the cushion is simply screwed to the inside.

I wanted to change the color of it, and we thought spray painting might be a total disaster. We decided to give it a go anyway. :) We bought 4 bottles of white spray so that it would match the other furniture in our home.


Turns out the spray paint works! It didn't look runny or cheap and it went on like a gem!


While it dried, I picked out some fabric to cover it. It was actually very simple to do. I have become best friends with my staple gun that my dad bought me! I now feel like I can reupholster anything! (side not - turns out other reupholstery projects are quite difficult).

Anyway, after I finished the cushion, I decided that I liked it, but I wanted it to make more of a statement in our entryway. Don't get me wrong, it was cute... just not exactly what I was hoping for.


So, after requesting 3 different fabric samples, bringing them home, showing my husband, and finally going back to Hobby Lobby, I found the perfect fabric. It's a thicker, sturdier fabric, and I absolutely LOVE it. 


That's all for my first Monday Made It post! I can't wait to hear what you all have been creating this summer!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

No Desk? No Problem!


Today I want to share with you how in the world I plan to live (successfully!) without my teacher desk! This past year I had a teacher desk. It was huge. It was heavy. It was AWFUL. I bargained with my principal to get a kidney table in my room, which I did finally get. However, they wouldn't take the big, bulky teacher desk out of my room, so I shoved it up against a wall and got over it. (Well, I tried to get over it - but I hated it.)

I resolved to keep it clear and actually use my desk since it was going to stay in my room. But, who am I kidding? It collected papers, books, and weird stuff the kids hand you because they think you want it.

"No, Johnny, I don't want that random scrap of paper you found on the floor. Just go throw it away. Henry, no I don't want your boogers. Please go get a tissue." (the boogers really happened...)

It all (besides the boogers) ended up on my desk. Did I sit at my desk? Absolutely not. It actually kind of stressed me out just to look at it. CRAP EVERYWHERE. Anyone else feel the same way?

This upcoming year, I will have NO TEACHER DESK! Hallelujah!


The custodians took it out of my room during the last week of school, and I was thrilled! Except... I had to empty all that junk that was in it, on it, and under it. I've been a busy little bee trying to get my work area figured out, and I think I've finally done it.
Here's a look at where I'm at so far:


Behind my table I have two black shelves and my colored cart. The shelf you see on the left has all of my teacher read alouds. The shelf on the right contains my teacher toolbox, small supply caddies for when the kids are at the table with me, and binders galore. My binders contain math units, close reading passages, graphic organizers, etc. I'm still working on labeling all of my binders...

Here's a closer look at my read aloud section:



Each magazine file is labeled and contains all of my mentor texts. Do you think I have enough? I frequent Half Price Books a lot. :)

On top of that read aloud shelf, I have five bins - one for each day of the week.


Inside each bin I put my copies for the day. I did not use this last year, and I ended up having my copies EVERYWHERE. My kids got used to helping me find my copies because I couldn't keep track of them. This year my copies and materials will be exactly where they should be! Plus, I loved using some cute letters to spice them up a bit.

This summer I finally created a teacher toolbox. I'm sure you've seen them all over Pinterest for awhile now. I thought about making one last summer but didn't end up doing it. However, now that I don't have a teacher desk, I decided it was the perfect time to make my own!


This little gem now sits on the second shelf, right behind my kidney table. It has everything from staples to post-its to markers and more. I am in LOVE. If you need labels, I've got three different versions available in my TPT shop. Click here to head to my shop!

So, if you're looking to get rid of your teacher desk - DO IT! You can meet with your kiddos AND have everything you need (copies, books, markers, etc) all at your fingertips!

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Starting Fresh!

Let me start by saying - Hello, AGAIN! In January I began this little journey through TPT, blogging, Facebooking, and Instagramming, and I tried to do it all. I was crazy enough to think that I could start all four of those. Epic FAIL.

Soooooo, I'm giving myself a fresh start! Some of you may know me already, but I'm Katie from Simply Creative in KY. I'm headed in to my 4th year of teaching 2nd grade at a little school just outside of Lexington, and I work with the BEST people ever. Here's a little snapshot of some of us celebrating the end of the year.



I've been married for 3 years, and I have the most supportive husband on the planet. 

He's been so encouraging as I've started my little TPT shop, and he's been my biggest advocate to get my butt in gear when it comes to blogging! For over a month now I've been telling him, "I'm going to start blogging again, but I just don't know what to say!" So one day my husband texts me, "Check your email. I wrote your first blog post."

Apparently I have a lot to say. He totally hit the nail on the head. Here's part of what he typed up for me, and I was literally DYING as I read it:

"As a teacher there are few things more fulfilling than those first weeks of summer vacation. Things always seem a little brighter and easier those first couple of weeks. The days of writing lesson plans and making copies have faded away and in their place now sit fun, family vacations to the beach and countless hours hanging by the pool working on my summer tan. I breathe easier knowing that I can sleep in a little later each day and not worry about finishing report cards or about unannounced classroom observations by my school’s principal. 


But about halfway through the summer, my perspective begins to change.  It starts simply enough with some changes I thought I’d make to my classroom – a table moved here, that poster taken down, and the desks arranged in a new layout.  And before I know it I’m dreaming about the ideal year, complete with fun learning activities for the students. Within the week I’m feverishly planning out the year like I’m on a deadline, knowing that this is going to be “the perfect year”.  This unleashed enthusiasm is often accompanied with a visit to the local teacher supply store where I salivate over the latest bulletin board trims or act like I won the lottery at the fabric store as I find three shades of chevron printed fabric on sale that I have decided must decorate all of the walls in my classroom. It takes only a few days to become a hurricane of fervor, making lists of things I need to finish and dragging my husband to ever craft store in town (which he loves!)."

Ya'll, that's why I love him. He gets me. And he'll humor me as I talk endlessly about plans for next year and new products I've made. I won't add EVERYTHING he typed up for me (that's only about half), but I know I can't be the only one making frequent trips to Target and Hobby Lobby and thinking about next year! 

I'll leave you with a picture of part of my first Target stash from the other day (that's right - Target put out their B2S Dollar Spot Deals!!! RUN!)