Tuesday, January 27, 2015

My Math Block in a 1st/2nd Split

I've had a few questions on how I manage a 1st/2nd split with math, and I thought I'd take a quick post to share with you! By no means do I have it all figured out... It's taken A LOT of trial and error and conversations with my coworkers. I'm thankful for the awesome people I get to work with who are invested in helping each other!

My class is made up of high-level first graders and average-level second graders. My first graders are smarties. No joke. Seriously, it's been SO fun to be their teacher. They catch on to new material so quickly! They're very high readers, so differentiating for my class in reading isn't bad at all. However, math is a different story. As I'm sure many of you know, first grade and second grade math is crucial. My firsties are bright, but in no way are they ready for 2nd grade math. 

My math block this year looks a bit like this:
When my class was set-up, the big factor we needed to figure out was, "How the heck should we structure math?!" I had read up a bit on guided math, but I still wasn't sure how to make that work with TWO grade levels of math standards to teach. In the end, it was decided that we needed my first graders to for sure have core, first grade math instruction. So each day, I send my first graders out to 5 separate first grade rooms for 30 minutes of math.

I'll admit... it was hard at first. To let go of control in such a HUGE content area kept me up at night for awhile. HOWEVER... Our first grade team is absolutely incredible. My first grade kiddos love going to their rooms for math, not to mention the fact that they have made double the amount of social connections! The first grade teachers are so welcoming, fabulous communicators, and the best group of collaborators I've ever met. (If y'all are reading this-- LOVE YOU.) 

So while my firsties are with them, I'm left with 11 second graders for 30 minutes of whole group math. And it's glorious. 
With such a small, manageable group, we play games. We share our thinking about numbers, strategies, and problem solving with great success. I L-O-V-E this 30 minutes. I spend so much time sitting on the carpet with these kiddos talking through our learning each day. They love the small group time that we have together, and we get SO much accomplished in those 30 minutes.


My first graders return while my second graders are working independently. Once my second graders finish their independent work, they may choose a math center or partner math game. Because my first graders are coming from five different classrooms, they inevitably all come in about 3-4 minutes apart. To manage the, "What do we do while we wait for our other friends to return..." dilemma, my first graders come in and grab their monthly math journal and a clipboard and begin working on the next journal page at the carpet. These are the same journals my second graders use, only the first grade version. (Thank you Missing Tooth Grins for these LIFESAVERS!)
I get both 1st & 2nd grade monthly no prep journals from Alisha over at Missing Tooth Grins.
Check out her 1st & 2nd grade journals HERE!
Once my first graders are all back, we spend 5 minutes or less going over the journal page. After that, the next 20-25 minutes are spent in enrichment activities. I plan extension activities with another first grade teacher each week. We look at what they're working on in whole group and then plan activities that push their thinking further. Our goal is take what they've done in whole group and take it up a notch (or two). I usually do a quick mini-lesson for 5-10 minutes, and then they're off to complete the activity. These activities are usually worksheet free. We'll play math board/dice games, go on math hunts, or complete various math puzzles. I love when they come in and say, "What math game do we get to play today?!" So cute, and learning is FUN!

Here's a look at what everyone's doing during the last half of math instruction:
I love the last 30 minutes of our math because my whole class is back together. Even though everyone is doing something different, it's so fun to be apart of the learning that's going on. Some days I have to stop myself and just look around the room for a minute and smile at everything going on. Don't get me wrong - it's not everyday... but more often than not I find myself becoming more and more enthusiastic about teaching math to this group!

I hope you found this post useful! I know I didn't get to cover everything, but I hope it gives you a basic overview of how we've structured 1st/2nd math in my room. It's definitely an adventure each day... How do YOU structure math each day? I'd love to hear!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Quick Snapshots of My New Room

I've been the definition of BUSY as we've started back at school this week. As many of you know, my school has been under renovation, and I moved into my brand new classroom over the break! I can't tell you how absolutely BEAUTIFUL it is. Brand new cabinets (we had ZERO before). Matching tables. Built in teacher desk. Everything at KID level.

I. Am. Obsessed. And I've become an organizing monster (I'm a bit proud of myself, actually).

But... while that is all VERY exciting, it's also been stressful and crazy busy! I've had to teach routines and procedures double time because the kids don't know where anything is! And I still don't have it all memorized. On Monday it took me a good five minutes to figure out where I put the markers I designated for chart paper. Whoops.

Anyway, I'll be posting a classroom tour here in the next week or two. I'm still working on getting everything put together, and luckily I have some of the the best classroom moms this year who help me a ton. Until it's completely finished, here's what I've been showing to all of my Instagram followers!







More to come later -- I can't WAIT to show you!

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Getting Organized for the New Year

Happy 2015 friends! Thanks for stopping by my blog for the New Year Blog Hop! I'm excited to share with you today one of my newest tools to help get you organized this year! Stay with  me to the end for a freebie!
I'm not going to lie... I love having a plan. I thrive on having plans, especially when it comes to my week at school. I feel like at least once a day there's something important that I MUST remember and for the life of me I always forget. Maybe I'm getting old? Anyway, I'm resolving this year to stay organized, and so...

Here's The Plan!
I'll be showing you my "Colorful Dots" version throughout this post, but I have two other versions available.
I created daily and weekly planning pages to help me stay organized this year! I included many different versions (and one is EDITABLE on PowerPoint) because some days I have a ton on my plate, while other days/weeks aren't quite as full. Stick with me as I show you the ins and outs of my newest little creation!

I started out with the bare necessities... this week, projects to complete, who do I need to contact, things I must get done, things I can do if there's time, etc. I just LOVE having it all in once place, especially for the day or week.

Then I got to thinking... I always put things in order for myself. Have you ever tried that? Making a list of all the things you need to complete and then ranking them by importance -- it's effective, for me at least! So then I added this little page to my organizing pack.
This organizer includes a "My Top Five" to help you rank items of importance.
You know when you have those certain days where it seems like you have a million and one things to do in ONE DAY? (Think: report cards, conferences, staff meeting, ARCs, grade level planning... the list could go on). Sometimes anticipating those kinds of days stresses me out and keeps me up at night, but not anymore! That's why I love this page, and I can see myself using it especially when I'll have a jam-packed busy day! I can organize my top five priorities, as well as important things that must get done in the morning, afternoon, and after school.
I've already started my to-do list and copies for heading back to school (call me crazy, I know). One of my most FAVORITE products that I have to copy when I get back are No Prep Math Journals from one of my best bloggy friends Alisha over at Missing Tooth Grins! Her monthly journals are super easy to prep and are a daily review for my kids. I LOVE that she has created 1st and 2nd grade versions since I've got a mix in my room! Don't get me wrong, I love interactive journals, but I can't tell you how effective these DAILY no prep ones are -- they're exactly the skills my 1st and 2nd graders need, too! Check out the January journals in her TPT store: HERE!
Finally, I decided having some weekly planning sheets would be great as well. Sometimes I need to write lots of details for each day, while other weeks I only need to jot down a quick note. That's why I've created pages like the following:
Perfect to jot down quick notes for Monday - Friday! 
Perfect for those of you needing more room for each day! 

Weekly horizontal planning pages

Did I mention that they are editable as well? If you don't want to use the headers I've created, feel free to make your own! There is an editable PowerPoint file AND a PDF version in the file.

Now you've gotten to see a closer look at some of the planning pages included in this organizer! Click HERE or on any of the previous images for the link to the colorful dots version. 

I've created two other versions, one with colorful stripes & arrows (click HERE) & another that is ink-friendly black & white (click HERE)! You can click on the preview images to find them directly in my TPT shop!

Last, but certainly not least, I HAD to create monthly calendars to match! I've included two options for you: one horizontal monthly page OR 2-page monthly spreads. 
You can check out the colorful dots calendar HERE.
You can check out the stripes & arrows calendar HERE.
You can check out the black & white calendar HERE.

Now for your freebie! Because I know many of you need ink-friendly pages, I've made one of my simple black & white organizers FREE! Click the image below to head to the download!
Click on the blog button below to head to my friend Alisha over at Missing Tooth Grins for more New Year ideas and freebies!
Happy Organizing & Happy New Year!