Sunday, July 26, 2015

Saturday, July 25, 2015

Back to School Books

Hi everyone! Thanks for stopping by. This is my last week of summer vacation. As much as I love summer, I love the beginning of school too. Meeting a new group of kids, decorating the classroom, setting expectations, and all that jazz is so exciting. 

This year, I decided to look for some new books to read at the beginning of the school year. I have some great ones but I am really looking forward to new books. I'm a bit of a book addict so it's an exciting day when I have new books. 

I've ordered a few books off Amazon and found some new ones at Barnes and Noble. As much as I love Amazon, there's nothing quite like going into a bookstore. I've included Amazon links if you click on any of the images of the books to make them easier for you to find.

In this book, the students share something that they do best. This will be great to share about what makes us special.

This book is in the same style as "Who Will Carve the Turkey this Year?" Kids will find it funny as to how to girl gets to school with animals.

I love the Pout-Pout Fish! This is a really cute book.

The kids are going to love this book. The illustrations are funny and so is the text. Personally, I love the font they chose for the book. I think this one is going to be one of my new favorites.

This book is about a surprising new friendship. Very cute story!

This is a great book for those students who may be talented in different areas besides knowing all the answers. I think this book will be a great confidence booster and also lead into a discussion of how each person is smart in different ways.

This book would be great for the first day. Murphy is talking about how nervous he is about school. This book has very little text and relies on the cute illustrations.

These books are by the same author. These are just fun reads that the kids will enjoy.

The kids are going to love this book. It kinda reminds me of "The Black Lagoon" but so cute.

I haven't received this one yet from Amazon but I just couldn't resist the cover.

Friday, July 24, 2015

Moving Beyond the Workbook: Questions and Answers

Hi everyone! Today is the last day in my blog series about "Moving Beyond the Workbook." Now I'm not really finished but next week is my last week of summer vacation so I don't think I'll have time to keep posting. I'll be back periodically with other ideas for you.

Today I'm going to answer some questions that I received about my posts.

(Q1) Do you ever use worksheets?

I do use worksheets. I just use them periodically. I may do one or two worksheets a day. My students usually do a morning sheet and we may do a sheet in math. I would really like to move away from doing a morning sheet but I haven't worked that out yet.  When I use a worksheet, I like to make sure it provides plenty of practice in a fun way. That's why I get most of the worksheets I use from TPT. There are some great printables there that are also fun for the kids.

 (Q2) What do you use instead of worksheets?

In my previous posts this week, I mentioned that I use apps (HERE), would you rather questions (HERE), and songs (HERE). Besides those things, my students do lots of group work. We play games and create our own items. I'll post more about those things later.

(Q3) All the apps you mentioned were for Apple devices. Do you know any for other systems?

No, I don't. I'm a complete Apple girl. But if you know some that you use that aren't Apple apps, please leave the names in the comments.

(Q5) What does your schedule look like?

Well, I'm not really sure what it's going to look like this year so I'll let you know about that one.

Last year, it looked like this:

7:30 - 8:00  Morning sheets, morning announcements, etc.
8:00 - 8:30  Reading groups 1 and 2 (Other students in centers, reading in self, writing, etc.)
8:30 - 9:00   CARE (our phonics program)
9:00 - 9:30    Reading groups 3 and 4
9:30 - 10:00   Reading minilesson
10:00 - 10:45 Special areas
10:45 - 11:15 Grammar/writing
11:15 - 11:45 Math warm-up, minilesson
11:50 - 12:20 Lunch
12:30 - 1:15   Math rotations
1:15 - 2:00     Finish up reading or writing
                     Science or social studies integration
2:00              Pack up
2:15 - 2:35    Recess
2:45              Dismissal

If you have any other questions, please leave them in the comments and I'll try to answer them. I usually email you straight back if you aren't a no-reply blogger.

Thanks for reading this blog series! I hope it helped!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Moving Beyond the Workbook: Singing the Curriculum

One of my favorite things to do with my students is sing with them. I love coming up with my own songs and having the students sing them with me. I'm not a great singer but the kids always think it's wonderful when I sing with them. It's a real confidence booster! :) Plus, there is nothing better than hearing 20 sweet 2nd grade voices singing. It's also really awesome when they just break out singing a learning song that we have sung previously. Singing really helps things sink in.

Over the past month, I've been writing songs to sing with my students for reading, writing, and language arts. I've combined these songs into a pack for you.

Now I'm sure you are asking, "What does singing have to do with not using worksheets?" Well, here's what you can do with songs instead of just singing them.

(1) Print off the lyrics and have students glue them in their interactive notebooks. Have students illustrate the lyrics or add an additional verse.

(2) After gluing the song in their notebooks, students can search for nouns, verbs, adjectives, etc. 

(3) Have students write their own song about a topic. It could be a rap or a chant instead of having it fit a certain rhythm.

(4) Have students act out a song. 

(5) Students can work in a group to create a poster or ad to go along with the song.

My biggest goal when I'm teaching is to get students moving and being creative. I learned so much more when I was allowed to create on my own and I try to establish that vibe in my classroom.

 While you are here, today is also Throwback Thursday. I've been holding a half off sale all summer on an older item in my store. Today I thought I'd throw a sale on something that will help you move outside of using worksheets. I love having students work in cooperative groups. But I also hated working in a group when I was in school so I teach my students that they have a role in a group. It's important to teach that from an early age so they don't become that freeloader that everyone hates working with in a group.  So my "Ready, Set, Groups!" pack is 50% off for today only. Click on any of the images below to head over to TPT.

 Tomorrow, I will be answering any questions about my posts from this week. Email me at or leave a comment here. 

Wednesday, July 22, 2015

Moving Beyond the Workbook: Using Would You Rather Questions

Today I'm presenting to you a way to see if your have grasped a concept without using a worksheet. Some of my favorite writing prompts are Would You Rather questions. Rachel Lynette has some great ones on TPT for seasonal things. I love using them for a quick dicussion or an opinion writing activity. One of my students best writings last year was from her packet - Would you rather be allergic to chocolate or grass? Their responses astounded me with their reasoning.

So I thought..Why can't I use Would You Rather questions to assess if they understand something? I came up with a list of questions for each of our main subject areas for 2nd grade. You may also be able to use these in first grade or third grade.

I've made them a freebie for you if you clicking the image above. Your kind comments on freebies are always appreciated!

Okay, so are you asking, "How can I use this to check what my students know?" Your students must have an adequate grasp of the concepts presented in order to accurately answer the question. If they can't defend their choice, they probably don't know enough about the thing that they chose.

Of course, I don't just expect my students to answer these questions from day one. It's all about modeling. To start, I would show them how to answer a few prompts and let them talk about it with their partner. Then we do a few together and they might do one on their own after Fall Break. In second grade, I'm happy with two reasons for their choice but it all depends on the ability level of your students.

Hope this post gives you some ideas of how to branch out from those worksheets.
After your read my ideas, think of some of your own that I didn't include. Email them to me at or post them here. I'll add them to the list so we have a larger comprehensive list.

Tuesday, July 21, 2015

Moving Beyond the Workbook: Amazing Apps

I'm back for Day 2 of my blog series, "Moving Beyond the Workbook." Today's topic is Amazing Apps. I'm going to share my favorite apps for getting students to practice those oh-so-important skills in a meaningful engaging way.

These are my two favorite finds from last year. I love, love, love Plickers! (pic. on top) You can use it in a one device classroom so it's great when you don't have enough devices for everyone.

Kahoot! is also amazing. This requires more devices so that can be a limitation but when I use it, I pair up my students or put them in groups. This is more like a game show so the kiddos really like it.

My students love Grammar Wonderland. It's fun because they can move animals around to capture verbs, nouns, adjectives, etc. You can also set the difficulty on this one so it lends itself to differentiation.

Epic! is free for teachers. Epic! has tons of digital books for kids and my students loved using it last year.
Here are a few more apps that I love.
(1) Bluster practices prefixes, suffixes, rhyming words, and more. 
(2) I use the Kindle app all the time. I purchase or borrow books from the Prime library. I then project the books on my Activboard. The kids love being able to see a book that large.
(3) Show Me is great because you can write on it and show it on the Activboard too. You can pass it around and have kids show their thinking on the board. This is a great alternative to worksheets. If you need documentation, just snap a screenshot of the kid's work and save it as the student's name.
(4) Hooked on Phonics is great. I use it with my low babies. We just happened to luck out and get it when it was free or at a really low price.

I use apps more in math than in reading.

(1) Make 10 app is a great way to practice those Base 10 concepts. You can also make it harder and have students make 100.
(2) Base 10 Bingo is awesome. I believe it is a paid app but so worth the money. It provides great practice counting hundreds, tens, and ones.
(3) Money Bingo is by the same maker as Base 10 Bingo. This is also a paid app. But if you are like me, I will get anything I can find to practice those money concepts.
(4) Cyberchase Shape Quest is one that I haven't played around with too much but the kids love it. It goes with a PBS show so there's that. Also, it provides practice identifying shapes.
(5) My students love the Geoboard app. This is so much easier than pulling out all those Geoboards and rubber bands. I still do use real Geoboards so they can use their fine motor skills getting those rubber bands hooked but this is a great alternative.
(6) Tens Frames Snap is kinda like 21. Students touch the screen when the ten frames show the same numbers on the top and bottom

I could go on about apps all day but I'm sure that the blog post would be too long to read. If you have any apps that you recommend. please tell us in the comments.

Join me back tomorrow to talk about using Would You Rather questions in your curriculum.

Also, be sure to enter my my giveaway for a $50 gift card to Erin Condren. Click here to enter.