Monday, December 8, 2014

Be the Dream!

Mollie and I are so excited to welcome a new program into our classrooms when we return from winter break. Sheree Bos, a wonderful teacher in our district, has been heading a growing initiative called Be the Dream for the past three years. This program seeks out African American males who are looking to give back to their community and partners them with educators and their students. These role models come into the classroom to conduct a variety of activities such as reading aloud to students and sharing their life stories and life lessons to name just a couple.

The beauty of this program is the connection made between the volunteer, teacher, and students. It is so important to expose students to a variety of people who are able to help motivate and inspire them to achieve their dreams. This program has been doing just that and now Sheree is helping us bring the benefits of the program to our kiddos.

To learn more about the program, check out this video!

Be the Dream

We will keep you posted as we move forward with this amazing opportunity! Stay tuned!

Saturday, November 29, 2014

Cyber Monday AND Tuesday Sale!!!

We are so excited for the BIG Teachers Pay Teachers sale that will be held on Monday, December 1st AND Tuesday, December 2nd. Our entire store will be on sale, so not only will you receive 10% off by using the code TPTCYBER, you will also get 20% off-- giving you a grand total savings of 28%!!! This is a great opportunity to take a look at your wishlist and grab those items you just can't live without! Click the pic below to be whisked away to our store, Two Nuts Teachin' from the Same Tree.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

You Oughta Know About...

We are so excited to have this opportunity to join in the October You Oughta Know Blog Hop with some fabulous bloggers. A big thank you to Jasmine McClain at http://buzzingwithmrsmcclain.blogspot.com for organizing the hop and bringing all of these great ideas together!

Data, data, data! It is a word we hear every day as educators. We need data to get a baseline, we need data to guide our instruction, we need data to report progress to parents, and some of us even need data to prove our success as a teacher.

Mollie and I decided that we needed to get our kiddos more involved in collecting, organizing, and analyzing data so we set out to find a system to use. We already have two binders for our kids (one for Literacy and one for storing materials for math, science, and social studies) so we really wanted to steer clear of another binder. We decided on a folder and ring system.

Once we knew how we wanted to store everything, we needed to decide on what data to collect. We knew we wanted a section for reading, math, word study, science and social studies. We created a graph for students to track their monthly progress on their word study assessments.

We decided we really wanted a copy of each reading and math assessment so we hole punch the top of each assessment and students will add them to the rings (under the district assessment trackers).

We also wanted a place to put our district assessment scores so students can track their progress. Our students participate in the Scholastic Reading Inventory assessment four times per year to determine their Lexile score and they participate in the iready math assessment three times per year to determine their progress toward fourth grade common core math standards.

We did not feel it was necessary to keep copies of each of the science and social studies assessments but we wanted kids to track their ability to demonstrate their understanding of informational standards so we typed up each of our unit titles and gave students a place to record their rubric score.

And what is data without using it to set and track goals?? So we created a place for students to set SMART goals.

This is our first year with this system so we are excited about the possibilities! We plan to use these data folders to conference with students as well as to use as evidence of progress when reporting to parents. We will keep you posted on how they are working and changes we make over the course of the year!

How do you involve your students in tracking their progress? We would love to hear what is working for you!

BTW, we use a month-by-month word study plan that we posted in our TPT store. If you are looking for something to use with your kiddos that will engage them in playing with words and word parts, check it out!!

Year-Long Word Study Pack

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Have you heard of Kahoot?!

Hi there, friends!! 

It's Mollie! Have you heard about this new thing called a Kahoot? I don't know if I'm just behind on the times, but I am in love with this awesome technological tool!

Kahoot is is a game-based classroom response system that allows schools, universities, and businesses to interact through quizzes, surveys, and discussions. This tool allows for the audience to answer questions in a trivia-like format WITHOUT any type of clicker system. The benefits of Kahoot are endless. Students are engaged by playing a game and receiving feedback instantaneously. They are interacting with the content in which they are learning by thinking about the topics they are studying. There is a sense of accountability that is created as each player answers the questions individually for recorded results. Using this free website is pretty easy once you get the hang of it. After a little bit of fiddling around, I was able to get a Kahoot up and running in no time. And the website is very informational! (Here is the website... There is no login required for any student, but they would need some sort of technology such as a laptop, netbook, smartphone, iPad, chromebook, P.C., etc. to input the game code and choose their answers (see screenshot above). The interface is very easy for students to understand because it uses shapes and colors to indicate the answer choices. At the end of the Kahoot, there are many possibilities for the teacher to analyze the data they have received from the game. Kahoot also has it’s own blog where they give tips, run contests, share success stories, etc. 

I have only touched the surface with the capabilities of Kahoot! but so far it has been a fantastic resource for my classroom. I dove right in and created a Kahoot! based on our Word Study unit that we were working on at the time (see screenshot above below). I created the Kahoot like a practice quiz before their end of the month assessment. My students absolutely LOVED it! They were literally jumping out of their seats. In fact, at one point I had to calm them down because they were so engaged. They each had a netbook to respond to the Kahoot with (it would be much easier if they all had a smartphone). They easily went to the website to sign into the game. They really enjoyed creating the nickname that would show up on the board as they joined the game. Even more so, they enjoyed seeing their nickname pop up after each question if they were on the points leaderboard. I was a bit worried about whether the students that were not receiving high scores would be shown, but they were not. When the Kahoot was over, they all celebrated and congratulated the winner and I could look back and see who knew what for the quiz! I cannot wait to use more of Kahoot! in the future.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Tricks and Treats Blog Hop

Our first Blog Hop!!! We are so excited to have this opportunity to link up with awesome bloggers from all over to share some helpful tricks and some sweet treats.

First a trick because all teachers LOVE a good trick. Whether it is to help you support your kiddos with a tough concept like writing a solid constructed response, following the steps of the Scientific Method, or mastering those pesky multiplication facts (UGH! THOSE ARE THE WORST!!!), or a trick to get you organized so you can stay afloat with a mile long to-do list and piles of paper work and assignments to grade, teachers are all ears. 

Each summer we try to have as many copies ready to go before the school year starts as possible (yes, we are nutty but at least we own it!!!) so we often run into the problem of how to organize those papers and where to store them. A little over a year ago we ran into these little gold mines,

They seemed like a perfect fit for our little problem. So we purchased as much as we could with what we had left in our budget and started organizing units into each individual bin. Some units fit two in a bin, while others (with more copies) are able to fit one unit per bin. 

As much as we enjoy our jobs and our classrooms, we were growing kinda tired of coming in all summer and hovering over the copy machine with our gazillion copies that need to be made so we came up with another plan. We often have parents who volunteer to come in and help us out. We realized with some of our units we could have parents "refill" the bins with copies we know we need for the following year. Obviously we don't always know what the needs of our students will be and some units we are not able to prepare that much in advance, however, some such as our Math in Focus units are easy to prepare in advance. Below is an image of the checklist we have in the front of each of our bins to help us prepare the bin for the following year.

We are also able to prepare all of our word study copies for the year. (If you are looking for a year-long word study plan that focuses on prefixes, suffixes, and root words, check out our bundle below!)

The best part? We are able to store our bins in our cupboards and only pull out the bins we need! It helps to keep things organized and clutter free!

Now for a treat! Please enjoy 20% off everything in our TPT store today, Friday, October 3rd and Saturday, October 4th. Whether you are looking for math word wall sets, word study materials, activities to practice fractions and line plots, or meaningful math homework, check out the great deals at our TPT store!

Thank you for stopping by and please take some time to hop through to find more fabulous tricks and treats!

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Finally, some pictures!

Hello, there! Mollie, here :)

Now that September is coming to a close, I've finally had a few seconds to upload some pictures. Below you will see a glimpse of what my classroom looked like a few minutes before Open House started. It was not complete, but I hope you can kind of get the picture of what our new learning environment looks like this year!

This picture was taken from my door, looking toward the back of my room. As you can see, we don't have the traditionally classroom desk design! We wanted to provide our students with options for how they learn best so we collected some different groups tables, partner tables, individual desks, etc.
 In our rooms we educate our students on what Common Core anchors are. We have them on our back walls year-round for reading and writing so that we can constantly refer back to them.
 Since we don't have desks for storage, we are using these bins from IKEA. Our students enjoy having their personal space for special pencils, notebooks, etc. :)
 One of the best decor tips that I have is to use fabric, instead of paper, for bulletin boards! They last so much longer and you can find such cute fabrics at craft stores.
 Here we have a little space for our learners who enjoy sitting on the ground when they work.
 I chose to go without curtains this year because my AWESOME teaching partner had these cute paper rosette flowers left over from a shower she threw. Amy rocks!
This is the central station that all my students enjoy working at during our independent work time. The stools are from IKEA and they are actually pretty comfortable.
And here's the last thing for tonight. We like to do a little photo booth at Open House to have a picture of our students at the beginning of the year. We hope to do the same thing at the end of year to see how much how little kiddos have grown!

If you have any questions, feel free to comment and ask! Thanks!

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Meaningful Homework

Amy here! As I sit here finishing up my "homework" to prepare for the week (lesson plans, prepping for Parent Night, etc.) while watching Bill Maher and enjoying my favorite treat in the world, Diet Coke, I realize that there are several reasons I assign homework to my students. It teaches time management and responsibility, as well as providing important practice and it keeps parents informed of what their child is working on and the progress they are making on those skills.

Unfortunately, those important purposes for assigning homework often get lost and forgotten when gathering homework materials. All too often, homework is sent home and parents and students sit at the kitchen table (for way too long) struggling over completing work that the student is not ready to practice and therefore, parents are forced to reteach skills and battle their child to complete their work.

This is a vision Mollie and I try to keep in mind when we assign homework. We do not want our kiddos or our parents spending the better part of their night battling over homework, and we certainly do not want parents to be forced to reteach material in order to complete the homework. We feel good about what we are currently assigning and we work hard to constantly reevaluate what we are sending home and why we are sending it.

We ask that our students read every night and we encourage them to talk or write about what they read. Providing parents with some prompts or questions that can help get the conversation started is a great way to encourage talking about books.

We are currently using this WONDERFUL resource from Forkin4th:

It gives students a week worth of activities surrounding a provided text. The activities are relevant and interesting and it includes a piece to get parents involved by asking them to listen to their child read.

Our math homework asks students to complete a limited number of problems surrounding one skill, as well as to reflect on how they are understanding the concept using a rubric. Here is an example of what we send home:
This allows us to share with parents what we are learning, give students some practice, gather feedback from students on how they feel they are progressing in learning a certain skill, and all of this can be done without frustrating or overwhelming our kiddos or their parents!

We would love to hear about what meaningful homework you are sending home with your students! Leave comments and links below!

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Whew... Made It!!!

Amy here! We made it through our first week back to school. We introduced our students to our new classroom set-up (we PROMISE pics are coming!!!), talked about what "smart" REALLY is, organized supplies, introduced our students to their Word Study Notebooks, started our first science unit, took our first Math in Focus pretest, and had our first Publishing Party! Just typing all that makes me tired. I imagine our kiddos slept well last night!

Here are some links and details to learn more information about our New Year Kick-Off activities in case you are looking for some activities for your own kiddos!

We always begin our year by sharing with kids that being "smart" is all about growth. It's not about the things we can do well the first time, it is about the things we have to work at and areas we can grow in. I love the look on their faces as they start to hear what I am saying: "We should all care more about how far we have come rather than the final outcome!!" We used our "8 Kinds of Smart" posters as a PowerPoint to share with kids the idea that we all possess different strengths that we can use to our advantage when learning new information. If you would like to share this information with your kiddos, check out the our Multiple Intelligences freebie!!

We kicked off our Word Study Notebooks right away this year. Our kids enjoyed them so much last year that we wanted to be sure to start them as soon as possible. These notebooks help students to study prefixes, suffixes and root words in order to spell and read unknown words. We are so excited that we had all of our Word Study lessons/materials planned out for the year. We even sacrificed a summer day (okay, it was a horribly stormy, rainy day) to copy everything we would need for the year!! Now our Word Study block includes stress free, prepared teachers and engaged, motivated students. Check out the year long plan at our TPT store! You can buy the year long bundle, or try out an individual month!

Our pacing guide for Math has us going 100 miles per hour from now til the end of the year. This means we needed to start ASAP! We gave our kiddos their first pretest this week and learned a lot about their test taking habits and behaviors as well as each student's place value understanding. We will begin sending homework home next week. We are so glad we have worthwhile (and not overwhelming) homework that is standard specific and allows our kiddos to think about where their understanding level is so they are aware of the growth they make over the course of the unit. If you are looking for some relevant and useful homework for your students, check this out:

We always start our writing off with a fun activity. We ask students to bring in an artifact that represents their summer. They then use their artifact to write a piece that shares a story from their summer vacation. After giving students two days to prepare their piece, we introduce them to a Publishing Party. This is a celebration of the work students have put into a writing piece. We hold Publishing Parties when we are concluding a unit and students have a finished piece. We place students in groups of four and they take turns reading their pieces. This week they shared their artifact and their story. All of this while enjoying cookies and juice. Our hope is that each Publishing Party helps to give students a purpose in their writing with a specific audience in mind. It also shows students how much we value the time and effort they put into writing each piece. Finally, it gives students an opportunity to hear the author's craft elements that their peers are putting in their writing. Our kids love Publishing Parties and we LOVE watching them take pride in the work they do!

Whew, long post but so much fun stuff to share. We are so grateful to be in the classroom again this year with a new group of kids that are ready and eager to learn. It is going to be an awesome year! We hope your year is off to a great start too!

Thursday, August 7, 2014

Oodles of Freebies!!

Mollie and I are so excited to share with you an awesome set of resources offered by a HUGE group of TPT sellers. Some of our dear friends worked tirelessly to put together several ebooks that share back-to-school tips and freebies from your favorite TPT stores. It is a convenient and fast way to get connected with resources you need for the perfect price... FREE!!!

Here is a link to the 3rd-5th grade Language Arts book. We are very honored to be included in this book with such amazing teacher resource creators. At the bottom of the TPT listing you will find links to the other ebooks, check them all out, you will be so glad you did!

Happy Reading!!!

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Hurry! TPT Sale Ends Tonight!!

Only a few hours left for the Teachers Pay Teachers Back-to-School Sale. Everything in our store is 20% off and TPT will give you an additional 10% off when you enter the BTS14 code at checkout. Looking for a great deal? Take a look at our year-long Word Study pack that includes everything you need for your students to create an interactive notebook while working with and learning key affixes.

Take some time to browse your wish-listed items to see if there is anything you just can't live without! Happy shopping!!!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Blast Off Back to School Sale!!!

Hi, all! Mollie here :) The back to school sale on TPT starts in about 15 minutes!! Last minute product uploads have consumed our weekend and we are definitely okay with that.

Having this sale has really caused me to get in gear and realize that the upcoming school year is not far off! It's time to buckle down on the summer fun and get preparing for the little munchkins that we will be teaching in just one month!

We just finished our a measurement product that we are very excited about! It is called Converting Measurements with the Common Core. The measurement standards in the upper elementary grades are so specific and detailed that we wanted to make something that could practice each part of the very loaded Common Core standard 4.MD.1. We taught this unit in May this year and LOVED it! Click the picture below to see what it's all about!

Happy sale everyone! Until next time :)

Friday, July 18, 2014

8 Kinds of Smart

Amy here! I can't believe how fast the summer is going. Unfortunately my to-do list seems longer than ever and I am no where near tired of the pool yet, but past experience tells me that before I know it, I will be standing in front of my new group of kiddos talking about the year ahead of us.

For several years now, an important element to the start of our school year has been talking with students about the idea of "smart". I think all of us can remember our school experience and those in our class that we considered "smart". It was always the kid who got the great test scores and picked up concepts very quickly. I love the dialogue that has been happening in the education field recently about what true "smart" is because it gives us the opportunity to celebrate all students and these celebrations fuel more accomplishments to celebrate! (What an awesome cycle right?!?)

We work very hard throughout the year (especially in the first few weeks of school) to help our students understand that demonstrating how smart you are comes in the amount of growth you make, not in the final outcome. We help students to become self-reflective about their learning and we encourage them to get excited about the process of learning and the growth they are able to demonstrate through hard work.

One way that we accomplish this is by teaching Howard Gardner's multiple intelligences. We talk at great length about the eight kinds of smart and how we are all our own combinations of smart. We all have strengths and we all have areas that are more challenging. After sharing the eight kinds of smart with students we take them (and their parents) through a variety of activities to help them identify the smarts they are strongest in. Throughout the year we share with students how they can utilize their strengths to help support their learning. It is amazing to see how empowered students feel when they know that they can use skills they already possess to help them learn something new.

We will share more the activities, surveys, and checklists we do with kids and their parents to help them identify their strengths in future posts 8 Kinds of Smart Posters. To get you started, below you will find a link to a set of *FREEBIE* posters that use kid friendly terms to explain the 8 Kinds of Smart. You can print them and hang them in the room as a reminder or you can use them with your interactive whiteboard to present them to students. Continue to check back for more resources on the 8 Kinds of Smart. ENJOY!!!

8 Kinds of Smart Posters 

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

The start of something new...

Thank you Megan Favre at Birds in Hand Design for our beautiful new blog design!!! If you're looking for someone to design your blog, we can't recommend Megan enough. After 31 emails and Megan's immense amount of patience with two beyond nutty teachers, we have a design that exceeds all expectations. Thanks, Megan!! If you would like to visit Megan's website, click here.

To kick off our new blog, we will be writing a series of posts sharing our classroom redesign adventure. Our goal in this journey is to create a classroom environment that encourages the way the 21-century student learns. Follow us to share in our quest for a new classroom design that engages and inspires our classroom communities.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Time for a Sale!

As we watch the number of our TPT followers grow and grow, we are so excited and feel the need to celebrate! We have decided to put everything in our store on sale February 1st through the 3rd. Check out our store and find everything 20% off! Thank you to all of our supporters! 

Thursday, January 30, 2014

Giveaway Begins Today!

Our first giveaway starts today! Carol's Garden is celebrating reaching 100 followers by inviting a few of us to participate in a giveaway on her Facebook page. There are three categories you can choose to enter: K-2, 3-5, and Clipart. You can choose to participate by going to Carol's Garden's Facebook page or use the rafflecopter below! The winners will be chosen on February 10th! Good Luck!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Our First Giveaway!!

We are so excited to be participating in our first giveaway! Carol's Garden is throwing a giveaway to celebrate reaching 100 Followers in her TPT store. She has created three categories for the giveaway: K-2, 3-5, and Clip Art. Check out all of the goodies for the 3-5 drawing below:

The giveaway will go live on January 30th and winners will be chosen on February 10th. We will post a link to join the giveaway on the 30th!

Monday, January 27, 2014

Clipart Addicts!

We are so excited to become the newest member of the Clipart Addicts club. We have always loved a good font and great clipart but since we opened our TPT store it has become an ADDICTION! Our students even take notice which only adds fuel to the fire!