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Monday, February 24, 2014

The Liebster Award

I am so excited to have my blog nominated for the Liebster Award. Thank you, Suzanne from Create Educate Inspire!

So what does this mean to me? A lot actually. Starting a blog is a bit scary. You are putting yourself out there in front of a world full of strangers and that's a bit scary. But you get over that quickly when you realize that you put yourself out there, but no one noticed because you're blogging to yourself. Then you start to ask, "Why am I doing this?"  All of the motivation in the world isn't enough to keep you blogging to yourself. So this feels huge for my new little blog! It's nice to know that someone, somewhere might find something I include on my blog useful. Teaching is a tough job and we are all better by sharing ideas. Since it's the Liebster Award, I should probably say Danke to Suzanne.

So what is this?

The Liebster Award is an award given by bloggers for new blogs. Liebster is a German word that means: beloved, cute, lovely, dearest and welcome.

To accept the nomination I must:

1. Link back to the blog that nominated me.
2. Nominate 5-11 blogs with fewer than 200 followers.
3. Answer the questions posted for me by my nominator.
4. Share 11 random facts about myself.
5. Create 11 questions for my nominees.
6. Contact my nominees and let them know I nominated them.

My nominees are:
Greg, a.k.a. Mr. Elementary Math, has a great blog all guessed it...MATH! My favorite subject. I can't wait to read about more of his ideas.

Jennifer at The Teacher Next Door has a great post on Close Readings. Such a hot topic right now and her post had some great thoughts on close readings in the classroom.
The Thinker Builder
Michael of The Thinker Builder has a great looking blog all about building readers and writers. You will want to check out his "Taste Testing Your Writing" post. I love the analogy. He definitely has "a fresh take on editing."

Jennifer has a cute blog at Cupcakes and Curriculum. I was definitely in awe of the amazing organization of her reader's workshop. 

My last nominee is maybe just a bit over the 200 followers mark. But sometimes I'm a rule breaker-I just can't help it.
Beyond Traditional Math

Beyond Traditional Math is the first blog I have ever followed. Oh, maybe this shouldn't be confessional. Talk about great mathematical ideas. I loved her ideas so much I accidentally followed her twice, once by email and once at Blog Lovin! (I've corrected that now. I hope you didn't notice losing a follower.)

Questions for me from Suzanne at Create Educate Inspire:

1. What grade do you teach? Do you love it or would you switch grades?
In 16 years of teaching, this is the longest run in a single grade I have ever years in first grade. I think I'm ready for a change but I just keep looking at all the first grade stuff I've acquired and wondering if it's worth it.

2. What is your biggest pet peeve in the classroom?
How about in the school instead? Teachers who don't share their ideas or won't tell what they are doing in the classroom.

3. What inspired you to start blogging?
I love teaching and thought it would be a fun challenge. I actually debated starting a blog and selling on TpT or getting a Ph.D. We decided that we just couldn't live without my income right now and so I ditched the Ph.D. idea and here I am.

4. What is one teaching supply you couldn't live without?
I love having an online plan book by using I can get to it from anywhere, no more carrying it back and forth, plus it's so easy to use.

5. What is your favorite lesson to teach?
Anything that is inquiry based math. I love to see my students discover something new.

6. What is your favorite dessert recipe?
I make this dessert pizza. Yummy stuff - brownies cooked on a pizza stone, then a layer of a cream cheese, peanut butter and brown sugar mix,  sprinkled with crushed Reese's peanut butter cups and peanuts. For the final layer....sliced bananas and drizzled milk chocolate. I gained a pound just thinking about it!

7. How do you spend your weekends?
Depends on the time of year. I live on an acre so spring, summer and fall Saturdays are all yard work around here. What were we thinking? But now that it's winter, Saturdays are a little more fun. I spend most making products, reading and hanging out with my family. I should do more house cleaning but the teenagers just mess it right back up. There will be time for cleaning later.

8. Coffee or Pop?
 I was a diet pepsi (but only from a fountain) kind of a girl until I developed an allergy to aspartame. Seriously!!!!???? I didn't think I could teach without it. Every morning I would drop off my car at the school and my husband would pick me up in the parking lot for a 44 ounce diet pepsi run before most teachers even got to school. I even knew the special spot in the workroom fridge that would keep the ice frozen until after lunch. Now...water, water, water, boring, boring, boring.

9. Share a technology resource that you love using in your classroom.
I just started using iPads as listening centers and my students love it. I am using QR codes that link to books being read, I saved all the books from Storyline Online on the home screen in a folder and have gotten some Storia books with free points.

10. What is your favorite children's book to read to your students?
The Miraculous Journey of Edward Tulane. It still makes me cry even after a dozen readings.

11. What is your typical bedtime on a school night?
About 10:30-11:00 or anytime I stop moving. I can seriously fall asleep sitting up if I'm not doing anything. TV watching is an especially dangerous activity for staying awake.

Random facts about myself:
1. I was once in the Barnum and Bailey circus.
2. I married my high school sweetheart.
3. Next year for our silver anniversary we are planning a six day kayaking trip in British Columbia. Maybe not romantic, but you can kayak with killer whales!
4. My parents built a house right next door to us. So we just fenced around the outside edges and have 2 acres of backyard.
5. Four summers ago we drove from Utah to Maine and back again on a six week vacation.
6. This summer we will spend 3 weeks sitting on the beach with nothing to do. What a glorious thing to look forward to. Any good book suggestions?
7. We don't celebrate Mother's Day or Valentine's Day at our house. But my husband always shows up on the last day of school with an end of the year present.
8. I just started guitar lessons even though I have no musical talent.
9. When I was 2 years old, I apparently went from person to person taking drinks from everyone one day while at the Colorado River until I become too intoxicated to drive my little push bike. My mom didn't realize what I was doing until it was too late.
10. My dream car would be a 1967 VW Convertible.
11. I love turkish baths.

And lastly, 11 questions for my nominees:

1. What grade do you think is the best to teach? Why?
2. What is your favorite subject/thing to teach?
3. What is your favorite children's chapter book to read aloud?
4. Where is the best vacation spot you have ever been?
5. What is your favorite adult book or author? (I need ideas for my beach reading this summer.)
6. How many hours a day do you spend working at home?
7. Share a technology resource you love using in your classroom.
8. What is the best professional development book you have read in the past year?
9. What is the best gift a student has ever given to you?
10. If your weren't a teacher, what would your profession be?
11. What is your biggest pet peeve?

3 Million Strong

Congratulations to TpT - 3 MILLION teachers! In celebration all of the products in my store will be on sale for 28% off on Thursday and Friday.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

The Answer is...

Looking for a new way to get some more problem solving time in? This may be your answer. The idea for this comes from the article "The Answer Is 20 Cookies. What Is the Question?" by Angela T. Barlow and Janie M. Cates. It appeared in the Dec 2006/Jan 2007 edition of Teaching Children Mathematics. 

The idea is that you can help your students develop deeper mathematical understandings by letting them work backwards. Start at the answer and let them discover the problem. I tried this with my first graders last week. I put the answer 29 hearts on the board and we worked through creating a story, a math question and the number sentence as a whole class. Then I gave them this problem frame:
Click here to get the pdf for this problem frame and give it a try with your class.
For some students it was very difficult to figure out how to ask the question. It requires a lot of thinking and gives them the opportunity to make connections, use relevant knowledge and demonstrate their mathematical understanding.  I really love how easy it would be to differentiate this activity for all grades. You can require specific operations, real life mathematical situations, double digit numbers or larger, use of fractions, negative numbers, multi-step problems, and just about anything else you can think of.  This first time we did it as a whole class activity but next week I am putting it into my math centers. I think it will work great in just about any student configuration.

Here are some samples from first grade:

If you are interested in more problem frames like this, I put together 38 others that you can get at my Teachers pay Teachers and my Teachers Notebook stores and the answer is $3.00.

Thursday, February 13, 2014

First Grade Me Math

I saw a blog post over at Beyond Traditional Math and I loved the idea of writing math problems that told something about ourselves and even better, solving problems to find out information about our classroom friends. The idea originally came from Shut the Door and Teach. On day one we planned our math problems on this planning sheet and we created our charts.
Click here to get this worksheet.

Here are some of the finished products:

On day two, all of their pictures were hung all around the room at their level. They walked from chart to chart solving problems to find out more about their classroom friends.
These worksheets are in the same file as the previous worksheet. Click up above to print these.