Sunday, March 31, 2013


      When I think about the field of education one thing that comes to mind is our immense amount of acronyms and buzz words.  One of the buzz words that has been around that last few years is differentiation.  I believe that most teachers, the good ones anyway, differentiate all the time wether they realize it or not.  One thing that the emphasis on differentitation has brought for me is being more intentional in my differentiation of lessons.
     For those of you who may not be familiar with differentitaition, it is the process of ensuring that all students are able to learn on their level, or in the way that they best learn.  You can differentiate the process or the product.  I try very hard to make sure that the majority of my lessons and activities are differentiated.  The reading series that my school has, Story Town, makes differentiating reading very easy.  Because we don't have math books and we teach hands-on it is also easy to differentiate math. 
      One of the things I struggle with when it comes to differentiation is determining appropriate activities for my on level group.  Creating activities for the remediation group and the acceleration group is like second nature to me.  To me there is a dine line between maintaining and accelerating.  I guess that is why I have a hard time determining appropriate tasks for those maintenance students.  Luckily, there are a ton of resources available for those of us who are still working hard to differentiate appropriately.
      If you have any ideas or suggestions on how to differentiate I would love to hear them!  You can reply to this post, or email me at

I would also like to say He is risen!  I am greatful for this gorgeous Easter morning full of hope and love.

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Math the new way

   From my very first day of teaching I have always taught math using manipulatives. It has always made sense to me to teach via hands on learning.  I use a book, don't get me wrong, but the book is just for practice.  So this year when our district chose to get rid of all the math books I was not nearly as apprehensive as some of my collegues. 
   One thing I have found is that with no book at all to pull practice problems from We go through a lot more copy paper and ink.  It has been a challenge for some of our parents to help their children with homework as well.  If there is no book or example for parents to reference they often get frustrated and spend hours on homework that should only take a matter of minutes.
    The loss of text books is actually what led me to  My fellow 2nd grade teachers and I began relying on center games to help teach our students for math.  We also use math exemplars to ensure that students are learning by doing.  I can say with certainty that while we love teaching without a book, we are frustrated by the lack of materials and the extra amount of time the lessons take.
     What is the solution?  I'm sure that if they brought back text books some teachers would revert to using the book alone.  However, most of those teachers who used to do so are just using board work and worksheets now.  I truly feel that if they would bring back a book, but require that we teach the majority of our lessons hands-on, the district would see an improvement in math scores and parental happiness.  Until that happens I will continue to buy and make resources for myself.

    What are your thoughts?
     I have included a link to my teachers pay teachers store where you can get one of my math resources for free.  This is a money concentration/matching game.  It can be used in a center, in small group or as an assessment tool.  I hope you enjoy it!

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Formative and Summative Assessments

     This year our district adopted a new lesson plan template.  I was not happy because I dislike change.  One of the things on the template that I had never had to put in my lesson plans before was formative and summative assessments.  I honestly struggled with the difference in the two and coming up with creative formative assessments for the first few weeks.  The more I researched and read other people's plans I became more and more comfortable with these types of assessments.
    Now when I write my lesson plans I attempt to make my formative assessments as fun and creative as possible.  For example, when teaching comparing numbers I would place two numbers on the board.  Students would hold a thumbs up for greater than, sideways thumb for equal to and thumbs down for less than.  This assessment allowed  me to quickly see which students had mastered the standard, which students were getting there, and which students still did not understand at all.  As I perform my formative assessments twice per week I keep a composition notebook with the results.  I simply date the page, put the standard and the task.  Then I have my 3 groups: red (does not understand), blue (understands, but needs more work), and green (masters the skill).  I list red, blue and green in colums and put students' numbers, initials or names under the group they belong in.  This is priceless data and allows me to form my guided math and guided reading groups based on the data.
      I feel that I am much more competent in assessing math and reading than the other subjects.  For reading I usually do running records, and a guided lesson with a formative assessment once per week.  The only way I have found to improve upon this method is printing the standards and group colors on labels.  This saves a little time and also makes the notebook more organized.  I plan to work on setting up my notebook for next year this summer.
     If any of you out there have suggestions of formative assessments for Enlgish/Language Arts, Science and Social Studies I would love to hear them.  I would also appreciate any tips or suggestions on ways to improve upon my current method.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Cause and Effect

Two nights ago we had horrible storms here in middle Georgia. Many people lost power, trees and parts of their roofs. I was really hoping for a storm day yesterday, but we did not lose power at school.  That morning as I began my lesson on cause and effect I realized that the storms were the perfect way to illustrate it.  We talked about the wind causing downed limbs, the lightning causing fires and the rain causing puddles in our yards.  We even had a short lesson on weather (How's that for teaching across the curriculum?).  It was one of those amazing moments in a teacher's day when the stars align and the lesson flows better than you can ever dream. At the conclusion of my lesson I was  glad we did not have a day off due to storms. I smiled to myself, thanked God for the divine intervention and shook  my head at the irritation that lessons like this one are never the ones we get observed on.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Just your average teacher

    I have been exploring other teachers' blogs and finally decided to take the plunge and start my own. I honestly have no idea what topics I will be covering with each post. I'm sure I will talk about lessons and what works. I may tell about the crazy things  that happen to me daily.  Regardless it will be real.

    I suppose I should introduce myself.  I am a wife and mother first.  I am a 2nd grade teacher next.  I have been teaching for 6 years, two of which were spent in 3rd grade  These past four years have been in 2nd.  I am an avid reader and I truly love learning. I adore my students and hold them to the same high standards I hold my son.
     I truly hope you all enjoy reading this blog.