Commutative Property

Saturday, September 30, 2017

Happy weekend friends, you survived another week of being a 'super teacher'.  I wanted to share a fun activity we did this week for the commutative property of multiplication but you could certainly apply this to the commutative property of addition too.

commutative property of multiplication, commutative property of addition ideas and tips

As you know I'm always trying to think of a more clever, memorable way to teach a concept that I think will 'stick' with them and if I do, I always share what worked for me.  Last year I focused on the word....commute - and talked about how sometimes parents commute to work.  That when they drive one direction, they most likely commute the same direction back.  You are just flip flopping the directions.  I called on some kids to pretend to 'drive' around our classroom.  They did remember the name of the property because of that which was nice.  This year I tried something very different.
I decided to focus more on the concept and how it flip flops the numbers.  So of course we made flip flops, they had a lot of fun, we also played some dice games and made drawings to match our commutative property equations.

commutative properties in math - lots of ideas, photos and ways to teach it.

So, we talked about how the numbers 'flip flop' and made the flip flop craftivity.  In my pack I've included one for multiplication and one also for addition in case you change grade levels OR have to teach both like in third with Envision we teach both.
I had them come up with a number sentence and as you can see from the above photo - there was a cover on their flip flops.  The cover looks something like this ( I've included a few options )

commutative property of multiplication, commutative property of addition flip flop craftivity
I've included just a simple explanation that the numbers flip flop and I've included the proper vocabulary ( addends, product, etc. ) as another option.  This is the TOP page that would be cute run on scrapbook paper.  The bottom page is the same just doesn't have the words so they can write and draw number sentences to show the commutative property.

I've also included an optional flip flop crown/hat to wear home.  This would be especially cute for first or second graders.  It's very similar to the craftivity but they would write the number sentences on the hat.

commutative property of addition crown or hat to wear home

I took these pictures of the kids with their hands out, these pictures will be added to a bulletin board with the flip flops.

commutative property of addition, commutative property of multiplication bulletin board idea with pictures of your students.

commutative property of addition and multiplication craft, printables and ideas

If you want to use this to teach this concept to your students you can grab it {here} This pack includes the craft, printables and dice activities to use for both the commutative property of multiplication as well as the commutative property of addition.

commutative property of addition, commutative property of multiplication dice games, craft and printables

I hope this has been helpful to you, let me know if you try it out.  Happy teaching! xoxo,


7 tips for mainstreaming a child into your classroom

Tuesday, September 26, 2017

So you are a mainstream teacher, maybe you take turns, maybe you enjoy it and request to do it but however it turns out you are the mainstream teacher this year.  Here are some tips to make the mainstream experience a GREAT one not only for the child and aide coming in to join your class but for everyone involved.
Welcome to another edition in my weekly series:

7 tips to help make mainstreaming a great experience for everyone

Being a mainstream teacher is a wonderful experience for all involved usually.  Sometimes it can be a poor placement and it can be an unfortunate experience but usually it's really is a great experience.  Here are some tips to make the most of it:

Reach out to the parents right away.  Be sure to introduce yourself and let them know how excited you are to be their child's mainstream teacher.  Reassure them that your intentions are to include their child in all things according to the IEP that they are expecting.  That way there is a clear understanding from the beginning and they feel more confident knowing that you are excited to be their child's mainstream teacher.

mainstreaming in the classroom, 7 tips to help you out.

Be sure to introduce yourself to the one on one aide as well.  Most likely this child will come to you with an aide.  Make the aide feel right at home in your classroom, be sure there is a seat available for the child with a name tag as well as a chair for the aide too.  It just makes them both feel like they are part of your class.

Be sure to have some options available in case they are needed...for in stance a flexible seating option - maybe borrow a hooki stool from someone if you don't already have one so if they need some wiggle room it's easy and not too distracting to the other students.

tips for mainstreaming kids into your gen ed classroom

This one sounds easy but trust me it can be easy to screw this part up.  Don't forget to include them...sounds easy enough right?!?!  If your class earned a popsicle party and he/she was in your room for some of the points include the child in the party.  Make them feel like they are just as much a part of your class as the kids on your roster.  When there is an assembly try to remember to include them so they don't miss out ( if it's part of their IEP  and supported by parents, etc. )

Try to have fidget tools available for them.  I know none of us are fans of the fidget spinners but the cube has worked wonders with some of my kiddos with ADHD.  There are several options out there, ask the special ed team for support on this and see what is in their IEP as well.

mainstreaming tips

Sometimes students that come into your room aren't use to the hustle and bustle of a gen ed classroom even with great classroom have some larger headphones available to them 
( not earbuds ) that can actually block out the noise.

mainstreaming tips
It's always a good idea to find some picture books to read to your students to prepare them for their new classmate.  I always refer to the child that comes in whether for 30 min. a day or a 1/2 day as their classmate not a visitor.  This child needs to have a spot to hang their work, a name tag and an invite to open house where they can share their work with their parents.  They need to feel like they are just as much a part of your classroom as anyone else.  So prepare your students so they can be welcoming to this child.  Picture books are the perfect way to get the conversation started and always be sure to make that child feel like they are special obviously but also part of your class for sure!

I hope you found this helpful if you are going to be a mainstream teacher this year.  I remember the first time years ago when I was assigned this very important job.  I felt very inadequate because I didn't have a special ed degree.  You'll find though that reaching out to the special ed team is a great resource.  They will be happy to help you with this transition.
** ALSO Bonus # 8 - Collect work samples from them so that you can be prepared at their annual IEP to show what they are doing when they come to visit you.  This will really impress the parents that you care enough to do this and you are able to speak on this.  If necessary take notes/documentation this has been very helpful in the past to bring up specific instances of when things were off, etc.  To have dates and examples available was beneficial.  
Let me know if you have used any of these tips when you have been a mainstream teacher... what would you add to the list?
As always, happy teaching!


Teaching Context Clues

Tuesday, September 19, 2017

Hi friends, welcome to my weekly series ~ ~ ~ 

This week we are diving deeper into context clues.  How do you teach it, what does it look like in your classroom?  How can you assess on it?  We will be touching on each of these in regards to context clues.  I taught this skill last week and felt like my students had a pretty good grasp of it...however after a ELA quiz last week I saw that they could've done better and that told me I needed to re teach.  I knew I could get my students attention and have them buy into this way of teaching it if I turned them into mini detectives.

So, I made an anchor chart and we reviewed all of the strategies that help us figure out a word when we are unsure of it's meaning.  I went to my favorite go to - Flocabulary for an awesome rap/video and then we got right to work...

Context clue detectives at work, printables, lesson ideas and more

I knew since I was reteaching it I had to make a big impact on their learning and make it memorable.  So I created some fun activities and ways to do just that.  The magnifying glass craft is actually a mini book on the glass part.  It has staples if you look closely.  They have 4 pieces of glass ( stapled ) that they wrote a strategy to help them with unknown words on each of those.  This is something they can keep all year and refer back to because I've included a page for their interactive notebook that is similar.  

First off let me say my kids LOVED this lesson!  It took most of our morning and they didn't mind one bit.  IN FACT, we were due for the chrome book cart and they BEGGED me to let them finish presenting their passages first.  That has to tell you something.  They were so engaged throughout my morning which made me so happy!

We made our magnifying glass mini book/craftivity and that reinforced all the strategies that are used when trying to figure out the word.  Then we took a little power point quiz and they recorded their answers on  their detective notebooks.  Of course they felt like little detectives all morning with this activity which they loved.
Then I modeled how I wanted their passage to look - they had to write a short passage in which they changed important words to silly ( nonsense ) words and had to use clues to help their audience figure out what they were talking about.  They were so CREATIVE!!!  After they wrote 4 nonsense words in their passage with the correct use of synonyms or examples to guide their audience they were allowed to wear their hats and read them in front of the class on stage.  When they finished their passage they called on their classmates to 'guess' what their nonsense words were - this was their favorite part for sure!

context clue detectives in action, lesson ideas and printables

Kahoot is always a great go to when trying to reinforce a skill you've been working on OR if you need to reteach something.

My teacher heart was so full because they were so engaged and excited while learning today!
Keep your kids engaged with this context clues lesson

context clues, detective day, anchor charts, activities, hands on

vocabulary , context clues

We had an amazing day of learning - one that I think will stick with them, especially knowing I had to reteach this to make it stick more.  I'm pretty sure it 'stuck' this time.  If you want to try it out in you classroom you can grab it ( here )
Thanks, and let me know if you test it always ~ ~
Happy teaching! 


5 ways to teach compound words

Friday, September 15, 2017
Word work can be a little mundane - so it's always helpful to spice things up with centers, hands on activities or a craft.  Here are 5 ways to teach or reinforce compound words.

Bring out the legos or unifex cubes.  I know I have a TON of legos from when my son was little.  I've kept them in a huge, Home Depot type bin in our garage for our grand kids someday so every so often I take some to use in a center for an activity to reinforce an other wise boring skill.  Legos to the rescue with compound words.  Kids LOVE manipulating blocks or legos so when you bring these out you will automatically see the smiles.  It's always a hands on, fun day when you can reinforce compound words with legos.  You can either write them on random colored blocks or write part of the word on one color and part on another color so it stands out more.

use lego blocks to reinforce word work at centers

Bottle caps are also fun for your students to manipulate.  If you think they need some scaffolding write the first part of the word in one color and the second part of the word in a different color.  To make it more challenging write them all with a black sharpie.  They will have fun building words and will notice that some will work for multiple words.  For instance - firefly and butterfly.  Just another way to have some hands on activities to reinforce this skill.

center idea to use with word work or compound words with bottle caps

Turn the skill into a craftivity when you can.  I get it - it's not always appropriate or you don't always want to waste paper but occasionally it's fun and the kids will love it.  This pineapple craftivity was a huge HIT in my classroom this past week.  They wrote a compound word on each of the hanging rings and drew a picture to match.  

pineapple compound word craftivity

pineapple craftivity with compound words.

Use plastic doesn't have to be close to Easter or Spring time to use these my friends.  Pull them out and write the compound words on them and put them in a bucket all mixed up so they have to find them and put them together.  Then have them write what they put together on their white boards.  No copying and very low prep.

center idea for compound words with plastic eggs

Create a class paper chain or individual ones that they can take home.  If you choose the class paper chain you can hang it up as a display and a reference for them to look at almost like an anchor chart.

compound word idea - paper chain

I hope these ideas help you teach compound words in a more engaging and memorable way for your students.  If you are interested in the pineapple craftivity you can grab it here: ( click photo )

compound word pineapple craftivity
This pack also includes a fun dice game that your students  will love as well.

Happy teaching! 


UNPLUG with your students and watch the magic happen

Tuesday, September 12, 2017
Hi friends, I wanted to be sure to extend my prayers and love to all my teacher friends that are in the path of Hurricane Irma.  I have been thinking about you guys non stop.  Hoping things aren't as bad as what you are expecting.

Thanks for stopping by ~ welcome to my weekly series...

As each year passes I struggle (along with many of you I'm sure) with thinking about planning my lessons to best meet my student's needs.  When I started 23 years ago there was not a huge internet presence and I'll be honest kids had longer attention spans.  With the onset of technology, the instant gratification and 'never bored' syndromes grew and have in some ways turned into a monster.  I wish my students had the experiences I had growing up of being outdoors until the street lights came on.  I wish they used their imagination more and created their own activities and games to do with friends.  Playing school, turning a box into a spaceship, etc.

I truly look for the best you tube videos when I teach a new concept, I subscribe to flocabulary which is awesome and turns almost any concept kids learn into a fun, engaging rap song.  I have a classroom stage, it never ends.  I'll be honest, I like being a ham in front of my students so I truly don't mind some of this however, I am saddened that almost every lesson needs to be a dog and pony show to keep their attention and interest.

unplug - be more creative with your lessons without having your students having screen time.

What if you UNPLUGGED for the day guys?  Oh, the horror - start sending the hate mail.  My daughter is in a program called Young Life and when they go away to camp for a week the first thing they do is drop their phones in a basket when they arrive at camp.  They can't have them back until the bus ride home.  She always says it's so refreshing and really enjoys not having her phone - she's in high school and well most high school kids love their I right!?!? 
 So you have a 1:1 what???  I struggle with this, if some kids are unmonitored and on technology from 3 -7 pm after school why would I want them staring at a screen even for a couple hours under my watch?  Don't get me wrong and think I don't value the use of technology that's not what this post is about, I see its place and worth for sure and with 21st century learning happening there's no getting away from it.  But I do challenge you to think outside the box and be sure the lesson you are going to teach can't be done without a screen.  If it's still engaging and rigorous and memorable without the computer than...why not use your creativity in another way?
I'm always thinking what can I be doing that is engaging with and without a computer?
So along with pulling all my tricks out of my sleeve I'm always thinking how can I make this lesson more engaging?!?  Sure google classroom and incorporating technology is always a go to BUT ~ ~ I challenge you to NOT do that.  That's a given, that's expected, that's one of the reasons they are the way they are....think outside the box.  Yes, there is a time and place for technology but think about all the other things you can do in that lesson to make it meaningful, relevant and engaging and even memorable for them.
Here are some ideas:
* use dice ( play partner games with dice ) there's not too many things more engaging than this and they love it.
* go outside ( I love to teach concepts outdoors ) especially if it lends itself to that.  For instance, we always teach area and perimeter outside and we walk the perimeter of the playground and then we sit in the area of the lunch tables.
* act things out - I was recently teaching on the commutative property of addition and I called on kids to come up front - 5 were on my stage and 3 were on the ground.  We added them and then the kids switched places so they could visually see what that looks like to flip the numbers around.
* use a microphone and backdrops if you can - My students LOVE when I put my red carpet google slide up and let them use a microphone and stand on our stage to read their journals. They ask beg me to do this daily.
* Use props and call kids up front to act out certain skills with the props -  They love this and it gets them moving and thinking critically.  For instance, I wrote out a sentence and cut it up like a puzzle - including the punctuation marks.  They had to first work together as a group to put the sentence together correctly with the punctuation in the correct spots. ( including quotation marks )  Then they had to figure out how to stand in front of the class in the right spots to have the sentence make sense to everyone else.
* teach them a rap song on whatever skill you are working on and sing with them even if your voice isn't so great ( like me ) they won't care, I promise!

As you can see there are lots of ideas you can incorporate!  Think about unplugging and going old school or doing the things I mentioned.  Just because we unplug doesn't mean we are using worksheets all day...right?!?!  Let me know if you agree to some degree or think I'm crazy in the comments. 
As always happy teaching, 


Classroom TOUR 2017 - 2018

Tuesday, September 5, 2017
Happy back to school friends!  I wanted to talk about 'classroom reveals'.  I think it can be so overwhelming for newer teachers to see class tours and think - I don't have the money for that, I don't know where to start, etc., etc.  Classroom tours are certainly not meant to bring you more anxiety to the start of your school year.  That is definitely not my intention at all and I hope you come away inspired with a couple new ideas rather than feel overwhelmed.  I will tell you my first 'real classroom' had been meeting in the multi purpose room of an inner city school until right before Halloween when I was hired.  I had to throw my class together from noon until 4 one day because we weren't allowed there after hours or on weekends.  It just wasn't safe.
I'm excited to share my 24th year - YES!!! That's right 24th year with all of you.  I can't believe I've been teaching that long, I'm way too young right?!?! LOL  
For the last few years I've had a pirate theme and this year I knew I wanted to incorporate giraffes somehow as I have loved them since I was 3 years old.  I haven't even done a giraffe theme before because I didn't want a typical safari themed classroom and I wasn't sure how to pull off giraffes without it...well I think I did.
I have a shabby kinda themed room with giraffe accents and I really love it.  I feel right at home!  The giraffe items were super easy because I have so many and have collected things over the years.  I can't wait to share how I set my room up and why I did certain things....welcome to my flexible seating classroom and 
 my weekly series...

Come on in...

classroom tour, classroom reveal, classroom decor and set up.

This adorable hello vinyl is from my friend Julie - you can get one here:

classroom tour, classroom reveal, classroom decor and set up and mini me melonheadz

I get lots of questions about my melonheadz mini me.  Nikki made it for me and then I sent it to Staples and they 'blew it up' for me to a poster size.  You can contact Nikki here if you want a mini me:

classroom tour, classroom reveal, classroom decor and set up.

I have 2 desks, one where I sit and plan with my calendar and lesson plan book and the front one where I have my smart board computer set up.

My boards and displays were so much fun to work on, I wanted to be sure to put a positive spin on it and incorporate how strong I feel about growth mindset with some of my quotes, etc. 

classroom tour, classroom reveal, classroom decor and set up plus bulletin board ideas.

Back to school, classroom tour

classroom tour, classroom reveal, classroom decor and set up plus a classroom stage.

classroom tour, classroom reveal, classroom decor and set up plus quotes in the matter.

This is at the front of the room and I love that it is such a focal point in my classroom, reinforcing exactly how I feel about each and every child that steps foot into my classroom!

classroom tour, classroom reveal, classroom decor and set up

Back to school, classroom tour

Lots of flexible seating options in my classroom thanks to Donor's Choose!

classroom tour, classroom reveal, classroom decor and set up

classroom tour, classroom reveal, classroom decor and set up, giraffe ideas

classroom tour, classroom reveal, classroom decor and set up, classroom library, classroom library set up and Ikea shelves

This is part of my library - I didn't get a picture of some built ins I have to store more of my books.

classroom tour, classroom reveal, classroom decor and set up,

classroom tour, classroom reveal, classroom decor and set up, plus class quotes and bulletin boards.

I have gotten lots of questions about my quote at the top of my board.  You can get it in my store here:

flexible seating classroom tour, classroom reveal, classroom decor and set up, plus flexible seating in the classroom

I have more pictures but this about sums it up my friends.  I hope you enjoyed my classroom tour.  Let me know if you have any questions.  I also did a facebook live of my classroom tour which you can watch here:
Happy teaching!!!