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. ūüėČ

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. ūüėČ

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. ¬†ūüėČ

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! ¬†:)


Why, hello there!

It’s been awhile since I’ve sat down to blog much. ¬†It has been crazy chaotic getting students ready for state assessments and creating resources that are fun and engaging to keep them motivated.

As most of you who follow me know, I teach writing and math this year. ¬†Weird combination, I know. ¬†But…it works. ¬†We have been told that next year we will all be self-contained, so I’ll be back to teaching all subjects. ¬†My blog may change a bit due to that, but probably for the better. ¬†I’ll just have to categorize my posts into subjects.

So…our writing test is over (whew!), and our Reading and Math are in two weeks. ¬†We are dropping writing for these next couple of weeks in order to get some serious math prep done. ¬†I have very mixed feelings about it, seeing as writing is my absolute FAVORITE thing to teach, but we will pick up where we left off and do some book publishing at the end of April and pretty much all of May. ¬†That’s always a great way to end the year!

Many of you used my 2 week lesson plans for writing test prep, and hopefully you found it useful and thorough. ¬†I planned on posting my math lesson plans, too, but I left them at school in my haste to leave before the storm hit this afternoon. ¬†:/ ¬†I’ll try to get them posted tomorrow.

photo 1

At the beginning of March, our school had a PLC meeting to showcase things that teachers are doing in their classrooms that are beneficial to learning. ¬†I was chosen to discuss “challenging student behaviors.” ¬†I was asked to speak about a few things I do in my classroom to help minimize disruptions and keep students on task. ¬†Teachers were put into groups and rotated through our stations. ¬†We had a blast!

One of my favorite things I have incorporated into my classroom (that I stole from Pinterest, of course) is scratch-off tickets. ¬†My kids will do almost ANYTHING for one! I use them for any positive behavior I want to reinforce…staying quiet, being prepared for class, answering questions,¬†asking questions, etc.

I’ve always liked it when I can take something back with me to use immediately after learning about it, so I decided to give the last 2 minutes or so of each of my presentations to allow teachers to make their own scratch-off tickets. ¬†I copied several, laminated them, and cut them out. ¬†I set out different colors of paint on the table for teachers to paint over the rewards they chose, and let them take the tickets with them.

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And now on to my Monday Made It.


I’m linking up with Tara over at 4th Grade Frolics again. ¬†If you have never taken the opportunity to head over and check out her monthly linky, I highly suggest that you do. ¬†There are so many neat posts about all kinds of things!



I’ve already posted several of these, but I’ve been hard at work making task cards with QR codes for my students. ¬†They have really enjoyed being able to incorporate technology into their learning. ¬†The funny thing is…they are doing the EXACT same skills, but it’s just more fun because they get to use iPads to check their answers. ¬†And they loved getting into groups to discuss their answers and rules they had learned.

I just finished up a set of new task cards…this time…yep, they are MATH! ¬†ūüėČ ¬†You can grab a set in my TpT store if you are interested. ¬†They cover Category 1 of the STAAR Math TEKS, but I know they align to CCSS, too.



photo 5(1)

If you are interested, you can grab a set from my TpT store.  **Also, the first 2 people to comment on how you would use them in your classroom will snag a set for free!



I’ve been busy creating posters to go along with my math lessons. ¬†I’m sure you’ve seen these before, but I thought I’d share anyway. ¬†One of them comes from a TpT freebie from Catnip’s Word Walls. ¬†SUPER cute transformation posters! ¬†I printed them small and put them onto one poster, but they are a great visual to my students.

photo 1-1

Gallon King: To help students with capacity

photo 2-1


These pictures aren’t great quality, but you get the idea!

Obviously, everything for my MMI is related to test prep. ¬†:( ¬†This is NOT my favorite time of year, but…as they say…this, too, shall pass! ¬†Thank goodness for that!

This post was pretty long, so thanks for hanging in there with me! ¬†If you are a first time visitor, take a look around my blog…I promise most of my posts aren’t this drab. ¬†It’s just THAT time of year. ¬†We’re all pooped and ready for¬†summer test prep time to be O-V-E-R!

Don’t forget to hop on over to Tara’s blog to find more Monday Made It fabulous ideas!!



Differentiated Instruction: Students Teaching Students

Our campus has been discussing differentiated instruction a lot lately. We are focusing on student needs and effective teaching strategies that help all students. There are multiple ways to look at this concept and it encompasses several ideas.


In my classroom, one way I’ve found that reaches all students is to allow the students to teach each other, not just in small groups or within their table groups, but actually working out problems for the entire class and explaining how they reached their answers.


This week we have been working on combinations. Some of these problems are very easy, and the kids catch on very quickly. Some, however, require some serious thinking skills to figure out all possible answers.


This is where the “student teachers” come into play. I could stand up there and explain how to work these problems until I’m blue in the face and some kids would get it, but others will completely tune out. Put a student up there–automatic engagement for all involved.


Not only are the students happy ecstatic to be called upon to help their peers, they extend their thinking and learning by explaining their strategies to others. It encourages them to work harder and think critically about their work. They are more likely to ask questions and seek help so that they may be called upon to teach others.


At first I thought that the idea of differentiated instruction sounded like a lot more work on me (and it can be at times), but this simple technique actually saves my voice and allows the students to find theirs. ūüėČ


Cooperative Learning + Math = SUCCESS!

I had a not-so-pleasant day on Tuesday watching my students turn in their Math Benchmarks. Failing grade after failing grade made my heart sink. Here I thought my students were right on track, and the reality was–many of them needed lots of help. This test had many of the released questions from our state assessment last year (which is given at the end of April), so I shouldn’t expect them to rock it, but still…heartbreaking.

After crying about it with our instructional coach, I scoured the tests a little closer. As I was looking over the tests, I noticed that several of them were just guessing at answers, not showing any kind of work. This has never been ok in my class, but for some reason I had many students that just went through the test without thinking. Grrrrrr!

That afternoon we had a come to Jesus heart-to-heart talk about what each student’s job is. It is their responsibility as the learner to ask questions and ask for help when they need it….but it’s also my responsibility to find a way to reach them and instill some motivation to want to succeed.

So…I thought about this training I went to on Monday. It was for ELL’s (English Language Learners), but all the strategies they mentioned are good for ALL students. By Wednesday, we were trying them out!

One of the strategies was to have the students stand around the room in a circle at the end of class and use a sentence starter to identify something they learned that day. We were told that when students have to verbalize their thoughts and listen to themselves say it, the learning goes up. I gave them these sentence starters: I learned… I’m surprised that… and I will remember… As I listened to their responses, it made me feel that their learning was already increasing, even the very first time we tried it!

Today I used another strategy called, “Stay and Stray,” where groups of students move around the room and talk. We did this with word problems from our math assessment that have them fits. Of course, some of my students were able to complete their test successfully, so here was already some knowledge of what to do. I put the students into groups, making sure that each group had an expert to start.

I wrote word problems on chart paper and taped them around the room. Each group was to solve the problem on their paper together. Each student had their math journal in hand to take notes. It was their responsibility to really understand the strategy, because they would eventually be sharing out a strategy.

However…the groups would constantly change. Before we started, I gave each student in the group a number. These numbers would determine who stayed at a poster and who would move on to the next group. If I called number 4, then all number 4s would stay at their poster, and the other group members would move on. Number 4 would then explain to their new group how they solved their problem.

Then I called time again. This time, number 2 had to stay, and the rest of the group would move on. This meant that by now, the 2s were explaining a poster that they did not create! It also meant that they really had to pay attention to the previous presenter so that they knew how to teach it to he next group. And so on until each student had stayed at a group to present.

What did this mean? ALL students were participating. ALL students were learning. ALL students were actively engaged. No more sitting on the sidelines, folks! The students were definitely accountable for their own learning!

When we were finished with this activity, I asked them for feedback. They told me that it was fun, they enjoyed teaching other students, they enjoyed learning from other students, and they now understood how to solve problems like he ones we solved. Best of all, they wanted MORE! Big smiles followed this conversation–students and teacher alike!

Part of teaching is understanding that we aren’t perfect. Sometimes we just have to step back and think about what is in the best interests of the kids. Every time my students teach each other, they just seem to “get it.” As long as they have some guidance, they can take off with their learning…even when I’m not in the driver’s seat. What a great feeling!


Peek At My Week

Last week was an awesome week!¬† If you’ve been following along, you know that my students just really learned a lot last week.¬† Those light bulbs were going off and my students were actually THINKING!¬† Ya gotta love that! :)

Peek at My Week

My week this coming week is going to be another great week!¬† Here’s what we have on the agenda:

In Writing:¬† Monday we will write letters to veterans, thanking them for their service and time spent away from friends and family.¬† After that, it’s back to the grind with a new expository piece.¬† We are writing about our most prized possessions this time around.¬† We have already planned it out and written our kernel essays, so the next steps are putting it into a flipbook, choosing icons, and then drafting our piece.¬† Oh, and at the end of the week we will be discussing schesis onomaton (a big fancy word for renaming).¬† Come back to see some final copies!¬† (I’ll be posting some expository pieces from our first attempt pretty soon)

In Math: This week is a time to put our skills to the test with related data sets (aka: tables).  Since we have our first district benchmark next week, the end of this week will succumb to review of all that the students have learned this year, with a focus on multiplication and division with word problems.  Another week requiring loads of thinking!

In Social Studies: We will be discussing the impacts of Stephen F. Austin and Martin DeLeon on the settlement of Texas.

It’s another jam-packed week, and I’m praying that we have time to squish it all in!¬† I’m excited for what this week has in store for us!