Sunday, September 20, 2015

Math Without Numerals

     This year, my school is working with Math Perspective's Kathy Richardson to ensure that all of our students are thinking and reasoning mathematically. (Kathy Richardson developed the idea of  "Number Talks.") Today I want to talk about how Kathy's approach is changing instruction in my own classroom! 
     In her professional development session and books, Kathy reiterates the importance of developing number sense. I have always known that it was important to teach quantities before rote counting or numerals. In the past, I began math instruction in my classroom by teaching the concept of one. For example, I might drop a counter into a coffee cup and count "one" aloud to my students, I would have students repeat the activity. We would count out one of different objects, clap once, etc. and I would introduce the numeral 1 toward the end of the lesson. Kathy Richardson believes that students should not begin learning numerals until they can successfully touch and count objects to ten! So here we are at the end of September... and I am yet to formally introduce numerals. I am excited to see how this change in my instructional practice impacts learning in my classroom. 
   I'm embarrassed to even admit this, but the first thing I thought when I made this switch to no numerals (until late September)...... What are my kiddos going to work on in math centers? I figured it out pretty quickly and I wanted to share with you where I have started with my little ones in math center this year.

    My students work on differentiated activities with mixed ability partners in math centers. I place 1 high, 1 mid, 1 low student in a group together. These groups are posted on my blue chart and the numbers let them know where they are working/ what they are working with. I group students by ability on the colored papers above my chart. Students work on the same activity, but work with different quantities based on their ability group.  Here's what my kids have been up to... 

Dough Center

Cars Center

Roll-a-Tower Center

 Count and Graph Center

I did not differentiate this center, because I took it for a grade... but we will begin working with the other levels soon! 

Show Me Center

     I LOVE this center activity! It is perfect, because many of my students were able to touch and count to ten but needed practice counting out a given number of objects. I have been utilizing this activity at my small group table. The different manipulatives keep my kids engaged! Soon it will move to centers. I have black and white cards ready to print on orange, green, and purple cardstock so that I can differentiate the quantities my students will work with. 

Roll and Color Center

I did not differentiate this activity, because I noticed that ALL of my students needed to touch and count the dots on the dice. I wanted all students to learn to recognize the die faces without counting! You can click on the pic to grab this and the early finisher puzzles for FREE! 

     I am so thrilled to report that ALL of my littles are working successfully with these math centers! Sometimes they get off task, but they are quickly learning that it is more fun to use center activities appropriately than it is to spend center time practicing writing their names. In the past, I have always had at least 1 student who struggled in math centers because they weren't yet recognizing numerals...and most of my math centers involved some kind of numeral work.

     I taught my students to touch and count to ten at the beginning of August. We spent some time working on other skills after (counting to 20, sorting, adding, etc.), so that I could give my struggling students some extra time to perfect counting to 10. This week we will begin working with numerals! Switching centers should be a breeze because I created them with a natural progression in mind! 

You can find these math centers in my TPT shop by clicking the pictures below! 


You can read more about my math centers here: 

Friday, September 18, 2015

FALL Into Great Savings and FREEBIES!

     My sweet friends Jessica Plemons and Melissa Dailey are hosting a Fall Sale Link Up and I have decided to join in on the fun. My ENTIRE TPT store is on sale 20% OFF until Sunday!  This is the perfect time to get ready for October. Here are a few items from my TPT shop that I will be utilizing again this Fall:

And here are a few fall FREEBIES to grab while you are at it! 



An InLinkz Link-up

Saturday, September 5, 2015

Back to School Blogger Blitz Giveaway!

Let me just say, I LOVE GONOODLE! In case you don't know, GoNoodle is a FREE website that provides teachers with engaging, desk-side brain breaks for their students. Earlier this year, I honestly believed that EVERYONE had GoNoodle... then I found out that one of my team members didn't have it... "Is that where all the kids get that 'Pepsi Cola' song?" (No worries, she has been converted.)


1. It's science.   GoNoodle improves student academic performance. You can read all the science here

2. Classroom management. If improving student performance wasn't enough to convince you, giving students the opportunity to move in the classroom helps them release energy in a positive way.... and without disrupting your well planned lessons. 

3. It improves teacher performance. For me, gonoodle is a chance to breathe. It gives me an opportunity to relax and laugh with my kids. Sometimes, I NEED that to keep going. GoNoodle makes ME a better teacher. 

4. GoNoodle LOVES teachers.  GoNoodle has donated to several teacher blogger meet ups that I have attended. They LOVE teachers and they LOVE students. I've got a giveaway and a discount code at the end of this post that prove it! 


1. Class Incentive. My students can earn a GoNoodle during the day by participating properly in lessons or staying at the appropriate voice levels during centers. 

2. Morning Meeting. I try to give my kinders a chance to GoNoodle at the start of morning meeting everyday. When my lesson starts and my students aren't participating properly,  I can remind them that they already had a turn to dance/hop/etc. and that now is a time to sit quietly, use walking feet, or do whatever my students are expected to be doing at the time.  

3. Lesson Plans. My teammate just wrote two GoNoodle videos into one of our writing lesson plans. We are using them to activate prior knowledge next week! 

4. Indoor Recess. Cold weather, rainy days. It's all good. I just turn on a GoNoodle Indoor Recess and my kids don't even miss the playground! 

5. Kindergarten Graduation. I have a pirate themed classroom, so naturally, Pirate Prep, by the infamous Koo Koo Kangaroo, came to mind for kindergarten graduation last year. It was adorable! BIG THANKS to Koo Koo Kangaroo for allowing us to use their song!!! 

     I'm giving away 25 GoNoodle Activity Books to help you get your little ones excited the new school year! Enter below for a chance to WIN! And, if you don't have GoNoodle, go sign up for a free account!  You can also visit the GoNoodle shop and use the code BTSwithGoNoodle for 15% OFF EVERYTHING! 

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, September 2, 2015

Classroom Reveal

     For starters, let me just say that I had no idea how many items I had been collecting in my classroom over the past years. The above photo is a picture of one of THREE trips I made from Memphis to Nashville for the sole purpose of moving my classroom. My classroom had to move directly from one school to the other, seeing as neither my old nor my new apartment could possibly fit all of my classroom materials and furniture.  Thankfully, I was able to store my furniture and boxes in different areas around my new school while I waited to get into my new classroom! 

    Getting a classroom ready is unbelievably hard work, and you have no idea what it is like until you have done it. You know, there were many days where I wanted to be relaxing by the pool, since I have the summer "off," but I was getting this room ready instead. Seems to me that we teachers mostly just take off pay, not work. Am I right? It also seems twisted that I am required to decorate my classroom... but I'm also required to purchase all of the materials used for decorating (including sticky tack and staples) myself.  I also get to wear many different hats during the "classroom decorating" phase.  For instance, I sledge hammered that TV mount off the wall...

One of my favorite conversations of the school year so far...
ME: " Excuse me, do you have a sledge hammer I could borrow?"
DISTRICT WORKER: " Well, yeah... but it's a little big. I think what you are looking for is just a hammer."
ME: "Nope, I need a sledge hammer."
DISTRICT WORKER: Points to sledge hammer... "Honey, thats a sledge hammer." 
ME: "Yep, that's what I'm looking for! Thanks!"  

     No, the mess you just saw did not belong to a previous K teacher. I had the joy of moving into the old art room! I also got to clean out all of the old art teacher's cabinets, which were disgusting and crammed full of junk. But, now that they are clean, I have cabinets and I haven't even filled up all of my cabinet space yet! The storage in my new room makes my little teacher heart SO happy! 
     Thankfully the carpet in my classroom was replaced with tile over the summer. Unfortunately, this (combined with having to wait on painting that never happened), left me with only a week to move into my room. I was panicked! I am blessed to have the most selfless and talented mother who drove to Nashville and spent three full days making my classroom happen. Trust me, without her, my classroom would still be looking a mess. She stayed at school with me until almost 10pm one night and I am so thankful for all of her help!

     I am really enjoying this classroom and how it turned out. The kids and I have plenty of space to move about and plenty of storage for our supplies. Obviously, I still have some finishing touches to add to the room, but I am purposely saving wall space so that I can add more as the school year progresses! My NUMBER ONE favorite thing about my new room.... NO MORE HIGHLIGHTER ORANGE! (Check out my old classroom below.)