Friday Favorites - Postponed this week

Due to Meet the Teacher today and school starting Monday, this week was a little busier than planned.  I'm going to postpone my scheduled Friday Favorites and move it to next week. So, next week check back for my favorite ideas for building classroom community.

Have a great weekend!

Division - Tip for Conceptual Understanding

I'm popping on today to share a quick division tip focused on students' conceptual understanding of division...

We use CGI (Cognitively Guided Instruction) at my school and I am a huge fan! I know this is not the first blog post that you've heard me say that. I've actually used CGI at multiple schools and have probably been using it for 8 years.  CGI focuses on students really having a solid grasp on the conceptual understanding of a topic. Gone are the days of just memorize a bunch of formulas, but you have no idea how or why you are doing that. That is why I love CGI. The focus is on kids understanding, not just getting the right answer. Now, don't get me wrong, I do know most math problems typically only have one right answer, but CGI focuses on the understanding and that there can be more than one way (strategy) to get to that correct answer.

I recently used CGI with my summer school students.  Division is a skill that can be hard for kids to understand so we broke it down and made it visual for them.  For the problem below, 18 divided by 6, I had them pull out 18 counters. We discussed that the first number is the whole number of what they are starting with.  You can see this student organized them using the 10 frame (my favorite!).


Then we talked about dividing meaning that we needed to separate them into equal groups of 6. So, they physically moved the 18 counters and separated them into groups of 6.


Last, we counted the number of groups they were divided into and they came up with 3 groups. We also talked about how it was related to multiplication and how they are fact families. The visual made it easier because they were able to see that from their work with the division problem, that the multiplication problem was right there.  On the board, they had three equal groups of 6 which equaled 18.  This visual helped tremendously and helped them make the connection between multiplication and division! 



Friday Favorites - Back to School Books

Every Friday this summer I am sharing some of my favorite things with you! The month of July is focused on technology and academic areas.

Check out past Friday Favorites...
PD Books
Read Alouds
Kids' Favorite Series
Book Studies
Tech Apps
PBL Activities



Today I'm excited to share with you some of my favorite books for the first week back to school! I'm sure some of these will be old favorites, but I hope to introduce you to maybe a new one or two as well.

First Day Jitters by Julie Danneberg - This one surprises me every year. This is always the first book I read to students and I think it has been since I started teaching 11 years ago. Every year I ask students if they have heard this book before (I teach 2nd) and surprisingly the majority of the class says no.  Great book to discuss the jitters and nervousness that accompany the first day! It shows students that teachers also have some first day jitters too!


ish by Peter Reynolds - One of my favorite back to school books! This book discusses that it's ok if things aren't perfect.  As long as you are doing your best that is all that matters!


The Girl Who Never Made Mistakes by Mark Pett and Gary Rubinstein - This book is great for the perfectionist child.  I was one of these and am still one as an adult. It's a funny story, but covers the important life lesson that it's ok to make mistakes and no one is perfect.


The Most Magnificent Thing by Ashley Spires - I use this book to introduce Project Based Learning. This is a great book that also focuses on growth mindset.


Tattle Tongue by Julia Cook - This book has been one of my favorite back to school books for many years.  Kids love, love, love to tattle. It does a great job covering what is a tattle and what is actually important to tell. It even has a cute little chant!


The Recess Queen by Alexis O'Neill - I love this book! This book is a great book to use when going over recess expectations. It covers sharing, being kind to one another, etc.


Don't Squeal Unless It's a Big Deal by Jeanie Franz Ransom - I use this book the first week to discuss tattling.  Tattling is a big deal in the lower grades and discussing it using picture books tends to resonate more with the kids.


And I got two new books that I haven't used before...

Spaghetti In a Hot Dog Bun by Maria Dismondy - This book has been recommended by many teachers and I'm excited to use it the first week to discuss how we're all different and unique in our own ways.


Back to School Rules by Laurie Friedman: I'm planning to use this book when we discuss creating rules during my Johnson Elementary PBL.  To learn more about that PBL project - click here...


What are some of your favorite back to school books? Comment below....

Next week, I'll be sharing some of favorite community building activities to use the first few weeks of school.

How I use IPEVO In My Classroom

I was very lucky at past schools to have a document camera and a Smart Board. At my current school, when I first arrived we didn't have either. We did have a projector, an awesome Mac Computer, and an iPad. I could live without a Smart Board, but the whole not having a document camera threw me.  I was used to being able to project worksheets, projects, activities, etc up on the board so students could see exactly what it was like. It was weird not being able to do that.  But, two technology pieces came to the rescue (well three if you include the iPad I already had) - the Just Stand and the app IPEVO.

Image result for ipevo app

With the app IPEVO, the stand, and my iPad, I now had the makings of a document camera. The Just Stand is amazing!  You can move it, turn it, etc, but I tend to keep it level and use it only as a document camera. My iPad fits in the top and using the camera or the IPEVO app you can project whatever is below it.

Here my student is projecting her story on the board using the Just Stand, app IPEVO on camera mode, and the iPad.

As you can see from the picture above it works pretty much like a document camera would. It projects whatever is underneath it. I can use it to project student work and can use it to write and show kids something we're working on! I love that I'm now able to have the functions of a document camera.

It also has another option that let's you actually write on the iPad.  You can do this in camera mode or just on a blank white board of sorts.  I use this all the time for spelling and phonics activities and for math.  I'll just write a problem on my "white board" (iPad with IPEVO app) and then the kids will solve it on their white boards.  It's much quicker to erase than writing it on the real white board and I can walk around and monitor the room while I'm writing.



So there was a quick peek at how I use the IPEVO app.  Do you have a document camera in your classroom or do you use other tech pieces? Comment below....




Friday Favorites - Teaching Supplies

Every Friday this summer I am sharing some of my favorite things with you! The month of July is focused on technology and academic areas.

Check out past Friday Favorites...
PD Books
Read Alouds
Kids' Favorite Series
Book Studies
Tech Apps
PBL Activities



Today I'm excited to share with some of my favorite teaching supplies! I've always loved office supplies. Even when I was a kid I loved looking at all of the pretty pens and papers in the office supply stores. Maybe that was my early calling to be a teacher as we get to work with office/school supplies often! Below are some of my favorites that I use every school year....

Scotch Laminator - This is a must have and I don't know what I did before owning one. Yes, you can use the school laminator, but we all know how that goes. There is a line, it's broken, it's out of film, etc.  Having your own makes life easier and everything always looks pretty laminated!
Image result for scotch laminator

Flair Pens - This is another must for most teachers I know. Flair Pens are the best pens in my opinion. They are bright and colorful and write so nicely! I love using them for everything at school and at home!
Image result for flair pens

PaperPro Stapler - This is one of the best staplers I've ever bought. A simple push makes it staple easily! Hanging things on the wall is also easier too, but you have to be careful because it opens up to staple on the wall in a funky way. But, once you get the hang of it, it works so well!
Image result for paper pro stapler

Ticonderoga Pencils - Best pencils ever! We have different pencils that we have to use at our school and they drive me crazy. They're always breaking and take forever to sharpen. Ticondergoa are the best ones. And, they even have packages where they come pre-sharpened!
Image result for ticonderoga pencils

Chart Paper - I love to use Anchor Charts in my classroom and my bulletin boards and walls are typically covered with them. So, chart paper is a necessity! I know some people like the sticky post-it chart paper, but I personally prefer they regular good, old plain chart paper.
Image result for chart paper

White Board Kidney Table - So I know you can't see the whole table, but this shows you how awesome it is to have a white board table. It makes pulling small groups so easy and the kids can do their math work, writing work, phonics work, etc right there on the table. The kids think it's fun too!  They have different sizes and shapes.  I have a kidney shaped and rectangle shaped white board table in my classroom.


Post-It Notes - I use Post-It's for everything! We use them to respond to our morning message, as bookmarks, to write notes, to do lists, etc. I can never have enough!
Image result for post it notes

Sit Spots - I had been a classroom rug user before, but after getting Sit Spots this past fall I've switched over to Team Sit Spots.  These are easier to keep clean than a rug and you aren't tripping over them. I can't tell you how many times my old classroom rug would get a bump in it or get stuck on something and I ended up tripping over it.  The Sit Spots are bright, colorful and you can position them wherever you want!  Love it!

Plastic Storage Containers - Oh Sterilite- with how many plastic containers I own, I should buy stock in your company. I know I'm not alone in the hoarding of storage containers, I know there are many teachers who join me in this obsession. And, you can never have enough! If you see them on sale, you have to buy them because you never know when you'll need it. I have containers in all shapes and sizes and they are amazing for organization!

What are some of your favorite must-have teaching supplies? Comment below.

Thanks for stopping by and checking out my favorite supplies! Next week I'll be sharing my favorite Back to School/First Week of School books.





Last Day of the TPT Back to School Sale

Today is the last day of the TPT Back to School Sale. My whole store- Jordan Johnson - is 25% off with the code BTS2017.  Be sure to fill those carts for one last day of sale shopping!!!


Day 1 of the TPT Back to School Sale

Yay! The Back to School Sale is finally here! My entire store - Jordan Johnson - will be on sale for 25% off with the code BTS2017.  Check out one of my newer products below! Great for the beginning of the school year.


I know many of us start out with Place Value lessons in the beginning of the school year! My newest bundle (Place Value Bundle) will help provide quick practice in multiple place value skills.  It includes mainly 3 and 4 digit numbers (one Show Me the Number focuses on 2 and 3-digit numbers).  It covers creating place value models, writing numbers in expanded form, writing numbers in standard form, and reading numbers.  The last activity shown - Place Value Review - Around the Room covers those skills plus comparing numbers and adding using expanded form. 

Check it out in my store! It is part of the sale and will be 25% off with the code BTS2017.


New Product Alert and the BTS Sale Starts Tomorrow!

The TPT Back to School Sale has returned! So excited to stock up on some new items for the new school year! My whole store (Jordan Johnson) will be 25% off with the code BTS2017.  Check out one of my newest products below...


Would you rather create your own writing prompts or have a set of 60 already created for you? If you answered have them created for you, then you are in luck! My newest writing product is a set of 60 writing prompt cards. Each card has a different Would You Rather prompt on it that provides students with the chance to practice writing their opinions.  In addition to picking one of the choices, they also have to explain why they picked it.  This covers Common Core Standards W.1.1 and W.2.1.

Check them out...





Fill up those wishlists and carts today! The sale starts tomorrow, August 1! Happy Back to School Shopping!




Friday Favorites - PBL Activities

Every Friday this summer I am sharing some of my favorite things with you! The month of July is focused on technology and academic areas.

Check out past Friday Favorites...
PD Books
Read Alouds
Kids' Favorite Series
Book Studies
Tech Apps
Math Activities


Today I'm sharing with you my favorite PBL or social studies activities. PBL stands for Project Based Learning. It incorporates multiple subject areas into a unit and is very student-led.  I now teach social studies this way and have also been able to incorporate reading, writing, math, public speaking, and more into my projects.

Here are my favorites from this year...

Johnson Elementary - I start the year off with Johnson Elementary. Basically my class starts our own elementary school. I am the principal and they are the teachers. They get to decide what class they're going to teach, what they will focus on, what their classroom will look like, and what the rules/expectations they will have in their classroom. The teachers (my students) also get together to come up with expectations for the main areas (hallway, lunch room, etc).  The goal of this PBL is to get kids interested in PBL, start working in teams, and understand the need for rules/expectations in a school.  For more info - check out my detailed blog post on it - here.



Statue of Liberty - The Statue of Liberty was a new PBL that I started this year. The goal was for this to be a little more guided than the rest of the PBLs, but it is the first research PBL.  I knew that some of my kids hadn't researched before and some didn't have much experience with report writing so I wanted to guide them through this one a bit so they'd be better prepared for our research PBLs later in the year.  We talked about American Symbols and also brainstormed questions that we would want to find answers to when learning about the Statue of Liberty. I created a website on Weebly with links to safe, kid websites for the Statue of Liberty.  Students researched and took notes and we also wrote our first report.


International Week - Holland Presentation - This week our school had an International Week. Each class had a country to research.  My class researched Holland. I broke my class up into partners and the students focused on researching a certain topic - culture, food, kid's lives, etc.  Then, they created a little presentation and presented it to our visitors to teach them about Holland.  For more info - I wrote an entire blog post on our school's International Week - check it out - here.


Famous Historic Figures- One of our social studies standards has us focusing on important leaders in US history. We focus on Rosa Parks, MLK Jr, George Washington, and Abe Lincoln. Students can request certain figures and they work in groups to conduct their research. Then, like the others they create a report and come up with a way as a group to present their information about their person to the rest of the class.

Country Presentation - We did this PBL prior to our school taking on International Week. The kids were split into groups and each group took one of the six countries.  It was very similar to our report on Holland - each group focused on their country's culture, food, geography, schools, etc.  After they researched, they wrote a report about their country and then came up with a presentation to share with the class. Some students created books to share their information, some created posters, and some a KeyNote.



Thanks for stopping by! Next week I'll share some of my favorite teacher supplies for the classroom!

Friday Favorites - Reading Activities

Every Friday this summer I am sharing some of my favorite things with you! The month of July is focused on technology and academic areas.

Check out past Friday Favorites...
PD Books
Read Alouds
Kids' Favorite Series
Book Studies
Tech Apps
Math Activities

Today I'm sharing some of my favorite reading activities and lessons with you. We use the Journey's program at my school, but I also supplement using some of the lessons below. These are all lessons I've used in my second grade class, but could be used in third too!

Strega Nona Character Bubble Maps - I love the story Strega Nona. It is just a great story and the characters are awesome because they are so different.  I also like using Thinking Maps. My current school is not a Thinking Maps school, but I use the maps anyway since it helps the kids organize their thinking.  After reading Strega Nona, the kids and I come up with a bubble map describing both Strega Nona and Big Anthony. Then, they use the bubble map to help them write sentences describing each character.


The Gingerbread Cowboy - Setting Brace Map - Here is another Thinking Maps example.  The story The Gingerbread Cowboy is another great story especially to discuss setting.  I read it to my class and then we came up with the setting on the left of the brace and then evidence from the story that supported that setting on the right side of the brace map.


What's In Miss V's Bag? (this picture is from before I was married) - This activity is from Abby at The Inspired Apple and focuses on making inferences.  This is a great beginning activity before diving into making inferences in text.  I empty out a few items in my purse (select items of course) and the kids have to infer why I have those items in my person. This helps them start to understand the concept of inferring and being able to use evidence and background knowledge to draw conclusions.


Making Inferences - Whose shoe? - I don't remember where I found this activity, but it's another great inferring starter.  You bring in a shoe and the students have to make inferences about who they think the shoe belongs to. While making inferences, the students have to back up their thoughts with why they think the shoe belongs to that person.  

Inference Pictures - I found this one on Pinterest and it's another great start to teaching inferences. If you can't tell, I enjoy teaching about making inferences.  There are a variety of pictures out there if you search on Pinterest for inference pictures. Students then have to use the text/evidence + their schema to infer what is happening in the picture.


Prefixes and Suffixes - This isn't a super involved activity, but a great way to learn about prefixes using a Thinking Map - a tree map.  To help students come up with words that have different prefixes and understand what they mean, we created this tree map as a class.  We discussed what each prefix meant and as students gave examples, we talked about how the prefix changes the meaning of the word. This could also be done with suffixes.

Vocabulary Flip Books - We have about 8-10 reading vocabulary words each week with our Journey's program. One activity I like to do to practice is a Vocabulary Flip book.  Each book has four flaps. Students choose four of their vocabulary words and write them on the front and draw a picture that matches the word. Then, on the inside they write the definition and use the vocab word in a sentence.


Whole Class Book Studies - At my school, in addition to our weekly Journey's stories, we read three chapter books as a class throughout the year. In the fall, we read Charlotte's Web. In the winter, we read The Chocolate Touch. In the spring, we read Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. These books are a nice break from the weekly story and the kids love them. They are entertaining and engaging. We focus on vocabulary and comprehension with these stories.


Thanks for stopping by! Next week I'll share some of my favorite social studies/project based learning lessons and activities!