Story Problem Tip #3

It's Tuesday, so I'm back with another tip for using Story Problems in the classroom.  

For past tips...

So, today I'm sharing tip #3 with you.  My third tip is to let students share their strategies with each other.  

Every Friday in my class we do two story problems. Both story problems are similar - meaning same type, same operation, but different numbers.  I read the first story problem to students and then send them back to their seat to solve it. 

While they're solving, I circle the room and check out what strategies they are using. I then selectively pick a few students to share their strategies with the class.  By selectively, I mean I pick strategies we're focusing on or efficient strategies that I'm hoping more kids will use. I also pick a variety. I do not typically have the same strategy shared - I choose all different ones.

Then, I have each child that I picked come up one at a time to share their strategy with the class.  The audience is supposed to pay attention and see if they can pick up  new strategies that they could use next time. This is also great for kids who didn't get the right answer or didn't know how to solve it. They can now see how their classmates did it and get ideas from them.

I normally use my iPad stand as a doc camera and project their work on the board. The child presenting stands up and explains how they solved it. Some students can explain on their own, while some need some probing questions to get all of the info out.  The pictures below are from a day when technology was not in my favor. I had the students who were picked write on the board how they solved it. While they were writing they explained what they were doing.

This tip is great for many reasons. It lets students teach each other. Students get tired of hearing us all day so it's nice when they can hear the same thing from someone else. It provides opportunities for math communication, which is a huge part of math nowadays.  It also builds math confidence.

Check back next week for my final story problem tip!

Why I Love Sit Spots

I got Sit Spots in my classroom last year and have absolutely loved them! I highly recommend them and don't know what I'd do without them.  

Here are a few reasons why I love them...
  • They are bright and colorful. They come in many different shapes and options to fit your class decor or needs.
  • They last! I used these last year and then washed them over the summer. I was a little nervous, but they look great! I love that you can wash the to disinfect!
  • They really do stick.  The velcro on the back of these is legit! These things stick.  My room gets vacuumed and the Sit Spots are all where they should be.  
  • It's not a rug! Don't get me wrong, I have had a classroom rug for 8 out of my 11 years teaching.  And, I do love a rug, but these are better. Students still each have their own spot and you don't have the issues with tripping over the rug. I can't tell you how many times the rug got caught under something and then there was a bump. I was often the victim tripping over the bump or the edge of the rug. But, that is not an issue with Sit Spots.
  • They are inexpensive. When I bought Sit Spots last year, they were $2 per Sit Spot. Not a bad price and like I said they last!

If you are interested in buying them, check out the Sit Spots

Story Problem Tip #2

As I mentioned in my post about Story Problem Tip #1, story problems are a huge part of math. It's so important that we provide students opportunities to use math with real world situations.  Last week I talked about how students tend to dread word problems. The see words in math and tend to freak out - it's just supposed to be numbers! That's why I started this little mini blog series.  You can find tip

So, for tip #2 to make story problems a little more fun, let the students choose their numbers. A huge part of differentiation is choice.  My example below is from when I taught first grade, but you could change the numbers and story problem skill to fit any grade level.

I often give 3 choices.  One for my struggling students, one for my on-level students, and higher numbers to challenge my kids who are ready.  I let kids pick the numbers. However, I do go around and monitor their choices. If students pick one that is too easy, after they solve it, I suggest they try the larger numbers.  If students pick one too hard for their ability, I suggest they try a different one first and then they can try to go back to that one.

Kids love choice and by giving them choice with story problems we are differentiating for their needs, which will make story problems seem less dreaded and impossible.

iPad Tip

We are super lucky at my school and are 1-to-1 with iPads in the classroom! This is amazing and I'm so grateful that we have technology at everyone's finger tips! This year I wanted each child to use the exact same iPad every time. It helps with log-ins and makes it easier when students are working on iMovie and Keynote type projects.  To help make this easier and manageable in the classroom, I've done two things.

1. I put a number label on the back of each iPad. Yes, simple, I know.  I just took an Avery address label and numbered every iPad.  Each child has their own number in class and now they know which iPad is their iPad.

2.  I can't show a full picture of this due to privacy, but I also came up with another way of "labeling" the iPads.  For the locked screen, I put a picture of the child whose iPad it is. In that picture they are also holding up their number.  So, there are two identifying factors. This makes it easy for my iPad helpers to quickly pass out the iPads.

Story Problem Tip #1

Every Tuesday during the month of September I'll be sharing tips for using story problems in your classroom. While these story problems are often dreaded for most children, they are such an important part of math and a practical real-world application.  So, it's important that they practice them and that they hopefully become less dreaded in the process.  Here's tip #1 for how I make them less dreaded...

Use student's names in your story problems. Kids love being included. Especially if you can include a hobby or something you know they are interested in.  We do weekly (every Friday) story problems in my class.  I use my student's names in the story problems. They always get excited to see who the story problem is about! It's also fun to put in interests and real-life things for them.  The more excited they are to start, the more excited they'll be to solve it!

Check back next Tuesday for my second story problem tip!

Friday Favorites - Community Building Activities

Every Friday this summer I am sharing some of my favorite things with you! The month of August is focused on back to school.

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

I'm excited to share some of my favorite community building activities with you today! Many of these I actually did this past week which was the first week of school. I love team building activities and think it's important that we really focus on building that community the first few weeks of school because it makes everyone feel more comfortable.

Bucket Filling - Such a great book and a great activity to continue all year long. This book talks about how we all have an invisible bucket above our head. When good things happen, drops go in the bucket and our bucket becomes fuller. When bad things happen or someone says something mean to you, drips go out over you bucket and your bucket starts to empty. It's a great visual for kids. After reading, I always explain our bucket filling area. The students can write positive bucket filling notes to each other and put them in their buckets (Ziploc bags). Great way to promote positivity and kindness!

Find Someone Who - I don't have a picture of this one, but there are many versions out there. This is a great first week activity that allows students to get to know one another and find things that they might have in common with others.  For example, find someone who has an older sibling.  Great activity for early in the school year.

Cup Tower Challenge - This activity is all over Pinterest. You give each team the same number of cups, a time limit, and their goal is to build the tallest tower possible with the cups. I love activities like this that focus on the kids working together for a common goal!

Dice Challenge - This is a Minute to Win It Game that I changed up a bit. This activity is again done in teams.  One student holds the craft stick while the other students stack dice on the end.  They have one minute to get as many dice as possible on the craft stick. At the end of the minute, the team with the most dice on the stick win! I will say I tried this out and it is not as easy as it looks! Requires a lot of coordination, but the kids had fun working on it!

Paper Chain Challenge - Another activity I found on Pinterest.  Again, students are in teams so it's giving them a chance to work together and work on problem solving skills. Each group got one piece of paper, a pair of scissors, and a glue stick. The challenge was to build the longest paper chain using only one piece of paper! I was quite impressed with this group below - they made their chain quite long!!!

Snap Cube Challenge - I found the Snap Cube cards at Keeping My Kiddo's and Kinder's Busy... you can find  Then, I had students work with their team to build all 9 snap cube figures. They then had to take a picture of each creation. The first team finished with all 9 won! 

Thank you for checking out my favorite community building activities. Since Summer is coming to an end so is my Friday Favorite Blog Post Series - but stay tuned for many more blog posts and teaching ideas!

Classroom Reveal 2017

I'm excited to share my classroom with you today! Many things are the same as last year, but I have added some things and can't wait to tell you all about my room!  My room is prime real estate at my school because I have 4 windows! Yes - 4 good sized windows. I love the natural light. In addition to 4 windows, I have a great view of the Las Vegas Strip from one of my windows. I definitely hit the jackpot with classrooms!

Here is the bulletin board I have right outside my classroom. I typically create a simple bulletin like this for Meet the Teacher and the first week of school. Then, I turn it into my student work board. I use ribbon and hang the student work with clothespins. The clothespins make it super easy to change work out.

This is one of my favorite bulletin boards of all time - My Instagram Board.  I have each month of school on the board and then will put pictures from that month under the label.  I love this because it's a great way to capture memories throughout the year and showcase them in a timeline of sorts.

Here's the view when you walk in my classroom. As you can see, many windows (and you can only see 2 of them). I love windows because you can see out and don't feel enclosed, but also because it provides a lot of natural light. In the afternoons, we're often able to work with the lights off because of how bright it is from the outside light.  

Here you can also see my desks. I currently have 15 students, but decided to use 16 desks and put them in groups of 4. I like students to be grouped together because I will often have students work with teams and partners and I want them to be able to collaborate.

I won't show you the inside of my closet because it's not pretty lol - but it is better since I cleaned some stuff out last spring. The plastic bags are my "buckets" for bucketfilling. Each child has a bucket that will hold positive notes.

Here is my back wall. Students use the cubbies to hold books, lunches, snacks, etc. They then hang their backpacks on the hooks. As you can see, I have my job chart back here and my Brag Tag display.

Here is my reading area.  From this angle, you can see the picture book section of my library. My bulletin board is blank, but that is on purpose. I use lots of anchor charts so this will become full as I make those with my class.

Here you can see the rest of my library. I have the books in bins divided by catagories - nonfiction, animal, Judy Moody, Cam Jansen, Mystery, etc.

Here is my Writing Bulletin Board. Again it is blank because I like to have the students help me create the anchor charts that will be displayed. I also have a section of this board called "Spotlight On..." This area is to spotlight student writing. I pick a focus area like adding details and then pin up student work that is strong in this area.

I love, love, love, love my white board kidney table. This is my small group area and the white board table makes life much easier!

The white board is where I list our homework. Students have planners that they copy the homework and due dates into.  The cards below are the Literacy Station Task Cards.

So, my desk area is a little messy - and it always is! I have a hard time coming up with a system that keeps it clean, but I always try to figure something out every year.

Behind my desk, I have some great organizational tools. I love using the 3-drawer Sterilite containers for storing my items for the week. It's super easy and makes life easier when you have a sub. I also love my toolbox! This helps keep everything in it's place!

I use this table to keep things that I'm working on with the kids that day. This table also holds my JustStand. I use the JustStand to hold my iPad and use my iPad like a document camera!

Here's my main white board. We also have a projector which makes life easy!  I also have my word wall under the white board. I love that the students have easy access to the words and can take them with them to their desk when they need help with spelling.

I have a second white board table! This is also used for small groups. We are very lucky as we have learning support teachers who come in during small group time. They pull a group at this table, I pull a group at my kidney table, and the rest of the students are working on independent activities.

In this corner you can see my Essential Questions. I have these posted for students to refer to. You can also see the side of my math manipulative storage area.

Here is my math and supply area. Again the bulletin board has a blank space so that I can put anchor charts up.  I have my math manipulatives on one side and supplies (crayons, markers, scissors, etc) on the other. All are stored in containers with labels to make finding things easy.

Here is the last area in my classroom - we kind of made a little circle in this blog tour. I have many different things stored here. The top shelf has math and literacy games stored in bins by topics.  The second and third shelf have books that I use when teaching. These books are organized by topic and teaching area.  The fourth shelf has my writing station materials.  On the ground, which you can't see, I store my math station bins.

That was a lengthy post, but thank you for staying with me. I hope you enjoyed a peek at my classroom/home away from home!

First Day of School - 2017

I wanted to share with everyone what we did on our first day yesterday.  We had a great first day full of lots of fun and learning - mainly procedures and expectations, but we did start with a little math and writing today.

Check out what we did below....

Here was our schedule. It was weird writing all of this on the board again. I need to get back in all of the routines!

Our Morning Message during Morning Meeting was focused on things they're excited to learn this year. As you can see, many are excited to work on division. They were not as excited when I told them we don't go over that until January.

For Morning Meeting Activity, I always start with this Finish the Picture activity. Unfortunately there is no copyright so I'm not sure where I got it. I love starting with this because it gives the kids a chance to be creative and work on something with no right or wrong answers. They can turn the doodles into anything they want and then I have them share their picture with the table groups.

I did give a test yesterday morning. I'm going to be doing Math Rotations this year so lots of small group work.  For this, I'm going to be giving pre-tests before we begin a unit so I know where each child is at. I'm hoping this will help me differentiate more and meet the needs of all of my learners.

Of course we did a first day of school picture - although I'm kicking myself because I totally forgot to get a whole class picture. I decided to jump in and get a picture too. Although - this is not my first day of second grade lol.

In the afternoon, I had the students work on a tower building challenge. Each table group had the same number of cups and their goal was to build the highest tower. The winning group gets to pick our GoNoodle Brain Breaks the next day. Each day this week I've found a challenge/STEM activity that we'll work on. I like these because it gives the kids a chance to work together, practice teamwork, and it's great for me to observe them in different situations.

**The winning tower!

We did work on some other things but I was unable to get pictures of everything. It was a whirlwind of a day that started with a thunderstorm and rain and also had a solar eclipse!  Check out my Instagram and Facebook throughout the week for more first week ideas!

TPT Back to School Bonus Sale - Tuesday ONLY & a Giveaway

Great news! TPT is having a Back to School Bonus Sale.  Tomorrow, Tuesday, August 22nd my store - Jordan Johnson - will be up to 25% off with the code BTSBONUS.  Check out a few of my favorite products below! These are all included in the sale.

Opinion Writing Prompts Cards - Perfect for teaching the opinion standards - W1.1 and W2.1.  Includes 30 different writing prompt cards.
Opinion Writing Prompt Cards

Would You Rather - Opinion Writing Prompts - This is one of my newer products. It also covers the opinion standard. This packet includes 60 writing prompts. Each writing prompt is a different would you rather question and the topics include school, home, sports, animals, and more.
Would You Rather... - Opinion Writing Prompt Cards

Graphing Galore Bundle - This bundle includes my 3 very popular graphing products - Graphing in 2nd Grade, Learning About Line Plots, and Create Your Own Graph Project. Perfect to cover all of your second grade graphing standards!
Graphing Galore BUNDLE

Surprises According to Humphrey Book Study - My students always love working on book studies during small group time.  The Humphrey book is always popular because who can resist a cute hamster.  I also have other book studies available in my store...
Surprises According to Humphrey - Book Study

I'm also hosting a giveaway for a $10 TPT Gift Card that could be used during the boost sale tomorrow. Head to my Instagram account to enter....Team J's Second Grade Fun Instagram

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!