Archives for April 2014

Summer Writing Workshops

Whew!  Testing is OOOOOOVER!  Now…the waiting game…  😉

I don’t know about you, but I’m looking forward to summer.  Don’t get me wrong…I love my job…but I love my family even more, and spending the summer with them is priceless, something I look forward to every year.

Speaking of summer, what are your plans?  Are you able to totally turn off school?  I try, but it still nags at me every once in awhile.


I wanted to personally encourage you to check out Gretchen Bernabei this summer if you’ve never had the opportunity to go to one of her trainings.  She is amazing!  (No, I don’t get paid for advertising–this is just how I feel!)  If you are feeling overwhelmed or confused or even confident in your abilities to teach writing, I recommend her workshops.  She will share so many things that make you go, “Oh!  That’s good!”  She truly makes writing make sense…to both teachers and students…of all age levels.  She is the mastermind behind everything…well, almost everything ;)…that I do in my classroom involving writing.


And you know what else?  I’ll be at the San Antonio and Austin workshops!  She has asked me again to set up my table with some student work and to be there to answer questions from teachers about how I use her resources in my classroom.  I did this back in January and had a great time!  I know these workshops will be just as productive and engaging as the last!


The dates are:

  • San Antonio-June 25 & 26
  • Austin-July 28 & 29

You can register through her website here.  You can even purchase your ticket now and pay later, but hurry–the workshops fill up fast!

So go ask your principal if you can attend.  It will be money well-spent!!  I promise!!


Freebie Friday…And a Celebration!

Happy Friday!  Hopefully most of you are over the testing hump by now!  I sure am glad I am!

I’m linking up this Friday with Teaching Blog Addict for their Freebie Friday linky.  If you haven’t ever checked it out, you really should!  SOOOO many amazing products from great bloggers for free.  FREE, people, FREE!  😉


I recently hit 200 followers on Facebook, and as a celebration, I created a cute “Letter to my Teacher” page that students can fill out and color.  I used black and white line clip art from Melonheadz, always a favorite!  It’s nothing huge, but a simple thank you to all of my followers.

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Want to get yours, too?  Go for it!  It’s in my TpT store for FREE.  Just click the pic or this link.

Be sure to head over to TBA and check out all the awesome freebies from the week…or last week…or whenever.  Be careful: If you’ve never visited, you might want to be sure you have some serious time to spend before clicking around…it’s addicting, just like the title says!!  Just click the TBA pic above.  😉


Egg Hunt Wrap-Up

Today we had our test prep egg hunt. Well, not so much a “hunt” as a find an egg on the ground that isn’t hidden. Haha. We had such a great time. In fact, my kids told me the day went by REALLY fast today. That’s good news!

I put the eggs out as soon as I got to school this morning. This time of year (in the mornings, anyway) is usually very sticky here in Texas. My hair and makeup looked hideous wonderful by about 5 minutes in. 😉

My students grabbed a clipboard and their response papers and we headed outside, excitement hardly contained. I told them the rules beforehand, so they knew what to expect.

They got right to it! Determination took over them as they worked. The promise of amazing prizes had everything NOTHING to do with it. Yeah, right!

I gave them released test questions from the STAAR test from last year, and they really surprised me…in a good way. Many of them really tried hard and worked out the problems just like they will tomorrow.

After an hour, we went back inside. I didn’t want to burn them out the day before the test. We went over the questions quickly and called it a day. A productive day, at that!

Good luck to all of you who are testing this week. From one teacher (and mom) to another…thank you for everything you do to make a difference. 😉

See you on the other side…


The Day Before the STAAR Test

The day before the test.  The day when you go over everything in your head and wonder if you did enough.  The day you want to hammer in last minute strategies.  The day…to have some fun!

You heard me right.  Fun.  That’s what we will be doing tomorrow.  Tuesday is the day of our Math STAAR Test, the state of Texas assessment.  Rather than cramming, we are going to have an egg hunt.  Only our egg hunt will be a little different than Easter egg hunts.


I took all the questions from last year’s released test, cut them apart, and put them into eggs.  I numbered the eggs 1 – 48.  I also created a sheet for students to show their work as they answer the questions.  Students will NOT take the eggs with them after they have completed them.  They will just put the questions back into the eggs and continue on to the next one that they see.


This is a fun way to do some review without it seeming so monotonous.  We have spent the last two weeks reviewing everything we learned over the entire year, so this is something a little more interesting.  It also gets them outside and moving!  Of course, I’ve told them that there will be rewards for questions answered correctly…I just haven’t quite decided what that reward will be.  😉

I’ll do some blogging tomorrow night to let you know how it went.  I’ve done this several times, and the kids always enjoy it.

After we come back inside, we will play a game that is similar to $100,000 Pyramid with vocabulary words.  I know this will be a winner, too!

What do YOU do the day before the big test?  I’d love to know!  I’m always looking for fun ways to help my kiddos enjoy reviewing.  Let me know in the comments!  :)


Five For Friday

Happy Friday!  We made it another week…woo hoo!  Today I’m linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching for her weekly linky: Five For Friday.


It’s been awhile since I linked up, but I’ve had lots going on lately and thought I’d join in the fun.


We tried letting the 2 year old help with baking a cake…

Yeah, that didn’t go so well…

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So he had to watch the hubs and I do it instead.

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 He was so excited…and didn’t quite understand that it wasn’t ready to eat as soon as it was mixed.

He waited patiently impatiently while it was in the oven.

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When it was ready, he wanted to help.

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I should have taken a picture of his face when it finally came out.  Priceless!


I’ve been a little mischievous lately…

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Bad grammar just makes my skin crawl.  Anyone else have this syndrome?


My in-laws came down (a couple of weeks ago) bearing gifts for the little man.

Have I mentioned he LOVES Disney Cars and Planes?

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He was SO excited that Pappy brought him some new ones he didn’t already have.

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It’s hard to see, but he had the BIGGEST smile on his face!

Oh…and Pappy brought the Texas Rangers batting helmet, too!


My husband has a few harmonicas around.

Apparently he has played them some in his past…


You have to click on the link to see the video.  Little man decided to give it a try.


This afternoon was absolutely gorgeous.  So why not spend some time playing outside?

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My mom got him into collecting rocks from the backyard and putting them into his “buckets.”

And he decided to take them everywhere today.  Even on the slide.

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Today was the first time he went down his slide over and over and over again.

He’s a little timid when it comes to slides, so this was a big step!  :)

Obviously, my world often revolves around my little guy.  I love him so much!

Nothing “teachery” for my FFF today…except maybe my OCD grammar problems…

What did you do this week?  Go link up with Doodle Bug Teaching!

Or if you don’t have a blog, just hop on over and check it out!  :)


2 Week STAAR Math Test Prep

Ok, so I’m a couple of days late…considering we started on Monday…but better late than never, right?  I just wanted to drop in quickly to post my lesson plans for our two weeks before THE test.  Since I don’t have Office on my new computer (yay for a new computer!), I’m just typing them into the post.  If you are interested in using them, just copy and paste them into a Word document and print them.  😉

Monday: Place Value and Decimals – TEKS: 4.1B, 4.2D, 4.3B, 4.10A

  • read, write, compare, order decimals
  • relate decimals to fractions
  • add and subtract decimals
  • decimals on a number line

Tuesday: Fractions – TEKS: 4.2 A, B, C, D, 4.10A

  • equivalent fractions
  • proper/improper fractions
  • relate fractions to decimals
  • fractions on a number line

Wednesday: Rounding and Estimation TEKS: 4.5A, B, 4.4A

  • round to the nearest ten, hundred, thousand
  • estimate solutions for +, -, *, /
  • arrays

Thursday: Relationships – TEKS: 4.6A, B, 4.7A

  • fact families
  • multiply by 10 and 100
  • data sets
  • tables

Friday: Probability & Statistics – TEKS: 4.13A, B

  • combinations
  • bar graphs

Monday: Angles & Lines – TEKS: 4.8A, B, C

  • angles
  • lines
  • 2D and 3D shapes (congruent, edge, vertex, face, base)

Tuesday: Symmetry & Transformations; Loop Number Lines – TEKS: 4.8C, 4.9B, C, 4.10A

  • transformations (rotation, reflection, translation)
  • symmetry (exactly, at least)
  • LOOP number lines with fractions and decimals

Wednesday: Measurement – TEKS: 4.11A, C, D, E, 4.12 A, B

  • area (length, width)
  • perimeter (length, width)
  • volume (length, width, height)
  • temperature changes
  • elapsed time

Thursday: Measurement – TEKS: 4.11A, B

  • conversions (all types-use STAAR chart)
  • units (fl. oz., cup, pint, quart, gallon)
  • estimate unit of measurement

And there it is.  We are also doing 30 – 45 minutes of problem solving each day to make sure to cover all of the embedded TEKS that pop up every now and then through the WHOLE test!

Since we aren’t doing writing for these two weeks, we have a good chunk of time to cover everything we need to cover.

Wonder what to do with those kids that already know the material inside and out?  I’ve posted some math task cards to my TpT store.  My students just finished those up today.  While they are working in small groups with those, I’m working at my teaching table with those kiddos that still need guidance and a little extra help.

I have my own class data to see where the kiddos need help, so I’m not wasting their time on things that they don’t need to work on.  We are spiraling through all skills whole group pretty quickly and then getting to small groups so that my higher kiddos aren’t bored and burned out by the time it’s game day.  That’s why those cards come in so handy!  They are able to work on those leisurely and talk about different ways to solve problems.  When they are done, they are allowed to play math games on their Kindles or iPads, whichever they have at the time.

It’s all about small groups!  😉

How are you preparing for your math test?  Are you covering ALL TEKS, or are you just hitting a few?  

Until next time…