Thinking Partners

Monday, July 27, 2015
We all have those students in our classroom each year that steal the show! They are extroverted, quick thinkers, and want to share all their thoughts and answers immediately after the question is asked! What about the quiet students? What about the introverts? What about the students who need more think time to process? I have found a solution when teaching whole group while building collaborative conversations...THINKING PARTNERS!

Here is how it works! When working with my second graders, I used the board below. Students were designated either peanut butter or jelly. They were then to sit with their partner when coming to the carpet or whenever told to buddy up. When beginning a new conversation or given a question to ponder, I would give the students ample think time. No talking or raising their hands during this time! After their think time was completed, I would say turn and talk and tell whether peanut butter or jelly was to start first. Switch it up after each question, so one isn't always starting! Not only did the students who were quiet, shy and unsure of their answers able to talk out their thinking, but it also forced the more extroverted students to really listen to others' thoughts!

I would then bring the discussion back full group to hear the thoughts of the groups. Through this, conversational moves and phrases were encouraged to help build those language and speaking skills!

As I head into the new year, I want to mix it up with my new fifth graders. I have to tell you - they are OBSESSED with Hot Cheetos and Takis, so I'm going to use those as thinking partners instead of peanut butter and jelly.

There are SO many options for duos to build your own Thinking Partners chart: chips and salsa, Jay Z and Beyonce, dogs and cats, etc. Be creative with what works for your students. I found the images on Google, printed, laminated, and here they are!

Each teacher and classroom is different, so partnering students up can be your prerogative! At the beginning of each week, I would just rotate the cards. If I found two cards next to each other that might not work out because of personalities or behaviors, sometimes I would just switch it out. The kiddos were excited to come in every Monday morning to see who was their partner for the week!

Use however you would like :) It's super simple to create on your own and it really guided those conversational skills for all learners!!!


Great Math Centers - Addition and Subtraction Board Games!

Friday, July 24, 2015
I am a strong believer that students learn through exploration, opportunity to make sense of things on their own, centers, activities, interactive notebooks, games, etc. The past few years teaching double digit addition and subtraction skills have been tough, but after being trained in AddVantage Math Recovery, I have a whole new outlook! I absolutely LOVE teaching math and my students get it! Not only have I changed my thinking about math, but I have also transitioned into Math Workshop and it has made the world of difference.

I decided to create a great game that kiddos can use during math centers to help them practice double/triple digit addition and subtraction skills. These games are differentiated, so students can practice regrouping and borrowing, but not if they're not ready yet.

The game works very similar to Candy Land. Students choose a card from the pile. They have to complete the math problem correctly before moving to that color on the board game. The first to get to the end wins!

I have also included an answer key for students to help keep each other accountable and check their own answers.

Here are the differentiated cards. The star cards do not regroup or borrow, while the triangle cards do. Teachers or students can choose which cards are played or all of them can be played.

Check out the game HERE in my TpT store! You can buy them individually or bundled together for a cheaper price!


My TpT Journey with a Kick of Inspiration

Tuesday, July 14, 2015
Since beginning my TpT journey, I have had so many ups and downs. Some days I have multiple sales and am thrilled. Others I have zero sales and a million questions. Am I doing this right? Are my products good enough? Then I click through successful TpT Authors and think about what I'm doing wrong.

Then comes along an INCREDIBLE post from Schroeder Shenanigans in 2nd! I watched diligently last week at all the amazing posts and pictures on Instagram about #tptvegas15. While I didn't go because I feel too early in the game to be a part of that, I feel like I've learned so much from the others who were able to attend. The one that stood out to me the most was from Ashley. You can find the awesome inspirational post HERE. She includes so much advice that I am taking and flying with it.

1. OWN YOUR JOURNEY: Since the beginning, it's hard not to compare yourself to the amazing authors out there. I look at Amy Lemons, Cara Carroll, and of course, Deanna Jump. My journey is going to be much different than theirs and that's okay! I am going with it how it works best for me. Of course, I will look to these incredible bloggers and teachers as inspiration and for help, but comparing myself to them will only discourage me.

2. TOGETHER WE ARE BETTER: I will be linking up with more bloggers and teachers in the near future. It's tough putting yourself out there when you're beginning your journey, but I truly believe in collaboration. Why wouldn't I reach out to these fantastic leaders? Especially as I transition to a 5th grade in the fall after teaching 2nd grade for 5 years! AND the point of doing this is to help other teachers be better as well. I have knowledge I want to share too! I will be searching for my tribe to help me along the way and share what I have to offer!

3. MAKE A SCHEDULE/TINY TO-DO LIST: Of course I have my master list of to-dos that I keep in my little inspirational notebook from Michael's.

But I also decided to go out and get a new planner that is dedicated to my creative time and small to-do lists. It makes things much more manageable and not so overwhelming.

It's easy to be intimidated when starting, but I cannot thank everyone I've learned from so much, whether they know it or not! Being a part of Teachers Pay Teachers and the teacher blogging world has been so incredible. I'm becoming such a better teacher and love that I can share my ideas as well!

Happy TpTing!

Growth Mindset Behavior Chart

Sunday, July 5, 2015
Reading Carol Dweck's Mindset: The New Psychology of Success has improved my teaching drastically! The way I talk to my students and the language I use while teaching focuses on growth mindset - the idea that a person can continually grow and learn. I found that so many of my students were in a fixed mindset. They were saying phrases like "I'm bad at that" or "I can't do that". Instilling growth mindset has changed the way we do school! It's super exciting and I highly recommend checking it out!

In the transition to using growth mindset language in my classroom, I realized my classroom management was not aligning. I used the typical clip-up/clip-down chart with the different colors meaning different things. I changed it up by using the same concept, but changing the language.

Here is the top half of my new behavior chart (I couldn't fit it all in the picture). It has new language for students to reflect on their learning.

Phrases include:
Pink: I worked through my struggles and completed all of my work! I was a leader today!
Purple: I am acting like a learner and doing my work. I am finding challenges and will not give up!
Blue: I am taking risks in my learning and being a good citizen of the classroom!
Green: I am ready to learn! Today is a great day to make mistakes and overcome challenges.
Yellow: I need to adjust to the challenge I have and get back on track.
Orange: I am missing out on some learning that I need to complete.
Red: I am having a struggle and will need to make a plan with an adult to help me.

I have also just updated the file to include another style for teachers to choose from.

 Finally, I have included monthly behavior calendars for students to track where they ended on the chart each day. It can also be used for a classroom calendar as well. You can see that I have put some of our important dates to remember on the calendar. This is such a great opportunity for some great parent contact!

Students respond so well to this growth mindset language and it truly has made a difference in my classroom! Click HERE for the product!


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