This past weekend, my family went to my brother's wedding in Hershey, Pennsylvania.  It was a blast, but boy am I tired!  Traveling all day with two little ones is hard work!

We spent time at Hershey Park and even took the chocolate tour at Chocolate World.  I ate so much chocolate this weekend!! The wedding was at the beautiful Hershey Gardens with the reception at the Sheraton Harrisburg Hershey Hotel.  Here is my husband and daughter dancing together.  My daughter was the flower girl and my son was one of the ring bearers.  I love seeing my kids all dressed up!

I even sent my class a postcard while we were away - a tradition of mine.  Whenever I go on vacation during the school year, I always send my class a postcard! They love it, even if it comes after I've already gotten back from the trip.

To commemorate our vacation to Hershey, I have updated my Hershey's Multiplication freebies and uploaded it to Google Drive!  Head on over and snag your copy now!

What did you do over Memorial Weekend?  Have you been to any fun weddings lately?
This summer, my goal is to update all my units and lessons on my computer and get them up on Teachers Pay Teachers.  I have so many fun lessons and ideas, I just need to add descriptions to them all so anyone can use them in their classroom.  It sounds like an easy task, but it is taking me forever!

Last night I did get to update one of my products, the Overdue Library Book Note home.  I send this home with kids who have overdue library books.  The notes that come from the library's computer system have tiny font that is hard to read.  I feel that this note is easier to read, only contains the facts, and is not hard to miss.
photo of Teaching With Style Overdue Library Book note home

If you have kids who still have library books that need to be returned by the end of the year, head on over to my TpT store: it's only $1.  

Happy Memorial Weekend!

I was super fortunate to participate in the Pinterest Teacher Blogger Exchange.

For my gift, I got a set of super cute wine glasses that were dipped in chalkboard paint.  They were on the Crafts board on my Pinterest, so I was so excited!

Sandy from Soaring Sandy made them for me.

She also sent glitter sidewalk chalk to write on them with.  The week I got them was my turn to host our monthly Girl's Night dinner party, so it was perfect!

This is what I sent to my assigned person.  She's a teacher in New York, but doesn't have a blog yet.  She told me she loves all things cute and glittery, so I made her a personalized clipboard!

I bought a regular clipboard at Staples, then headed to Michael's for the pink zebra print scrapbook paper, silver glittery scrapbook paper, and ribbon.  I glittered the clip with silver glitter I already had, then spread Mod Podge Dimensional Magic over it, to make it feel smooth and help the glitter never fall off.  Once that was dry, I glued on the piece of zebra print paper and decoupaged over the top with my matte Mod Podge.  I then cut the teacher's name out of the silver paper with my Cricut, and Mod Podged that to the bottom of the clipboard.  I love the way it turned out!

What Pinterest crafts have you been making lately?

I'm linking up with April from A Modern Teacher, Teri from A Cupcake for the Teacher, and Hadar from Miss Kindergarten and creating my summer bucket list - all the things I want to get done this summer!  

#1 - DIY Chore Chart for my kiddos
Via Pinterest
#2 - Explore my city and do all these fun things!
Via Alpha Mom on Pinterest
#3 - Make my daughter Audrey an Audrey Hepburn halloween costume
Via Atutudes on Pinterest
#4 - Make button magnets for my whiteboard at school
Via Big Box Detox on Pinterest
#5 - Make this paper storage rack and use it as an art drying rack
Via Cat's Creations on Pinterest
What's on your summer To-Do list?
I hope everyone thoroughly enjoyed the Teacher Appreciation Jackpot on Teachers Pay Teachers yesterday!  It was so much fun to be a part of.  I also snagged TONS of excellent freebies that I can use next year when I teach kindergarten!

I am on my school's social committee and one of the other members found a poem online that goes with a bag of M&M's.  Being a teacher who loves "cute", she asked me to cutesy it up for her.  I couldn't resist!
Here is a copy for you, too!  There are four poems on a sheet.  Go ahead and print it out in color onto white cardstock, punch a hole in the corner and tie it onto a bag of M&Ms with a pretty ribbon.  Give it to your colleagues, your kids' teachers, or keep one for yourself - you deserve it!

What other things do you do to honor the amazing teachers in your life?
I spend a lot of time teaching my students how to problem solve.  My grade level team does a Problem-a-Day format and works through a whole sheet together as a class.   This shows the students the steps to take in solving a problem, how to know what strategies to use, find the important vocabulary, show your work, and verify that their answer is correct.  My third graders had a really hard time with this, so whole group direct instruction worked well for me, as well as TONS of repetition.  We also have laminated giant posters to do it as a whole group instead of each student having their own sheet every day.  As another option, I have had the kids do it inside their math journals or on scratch paper.  After the kids get the hang of the routine, these are great ways to check in and keep up the skills.  To learn more about where this Four-Step problem solving method came from, read this article from Scholastic.

Once the kids have this scaffolded format down, we move to a less structured format.

I always have them do a Problem of the Day after they finish their Morning Work activity sheet.  I have a large flip book of math story problems from my district's old McGraw Hill math adoption.  It's great!   They just sketch this graphic organizer out themselves on scrap paper.  

How do you teach about word problems and problem solving?
My class is almost done with the state reading test and we are gearing up to take the math test next.  They are loving singing the Four Step Method song to help them get ready for the reading test! To help my students practice for the math test, we have been using the allowable resources by my state in the classroom. If the kids don't know how to use the resources, they won't use them!  A great teacher in my building collected copies of all the allowable resources and put them in bags for students to use.  I thought this was such a great idea, however I needed to make my own so I could teach my students how to use them in the classroom as well.  Instead of using the loose sheets that were copied, I decide to make little booklets filled with the resources.  I wanted the students to be as efficient as possible, and shuffling through loose papers can be frustrating to find what you need and distracting to others who are testing next to you.

In my testing bags there is one copy of my Math Testing Resources booklet, a ruler, a protractor, and a calculator.  I numbered the math bags so they can be used year after year.  Each student in my class has a number on their student mailbox, and that is also the number they line up on in PE and the number of computer they use in the computer lab.  This way, if a calculator is missing from bag # 14, I know which student to ask to find it.

Here are the resources inside the Math Testing booklet:
  • Grid paper
  • 2-D shapes
  • 3-D shapes
  • Fraction strips
  • Multiplication table
  • Addition table
  • Number line
  • Calendar
  • Hundreds grid
  • Thermometer
  • Clock
  • Place Value chart
  • Tens Frame
  • Number words
  • Money
  • Number line
  • Blank back cover that can be used for scratch paper
For scratch paper, I have students fold a piece of blank copy paper into 1/8ths.  They can do 8 problems on one side and 8 problems on the other side.  This way they are using the resources in the booklet and bag, but they are also responsible for working it out on scratch paper.  It helps slow them down from working too fast and making silly errors.  So far, it has been helping!

When we start the test next week, students will turn in the green booklets that are currently in their bags and I will give them each a new pink one.  All scrap papers have to be shredded after the test, so I will be collecting scrap paper and booklets each day and handing out new ones the next day.  Hopefully, it will only take us 3 days to take the test, so I have 3 class sets of pink booklets ready to go.

Here is how to arrange the papers of the resource booklet to get ready to print.  The way the pages face need to alternate and set the copier to 1-2 sided printing.  Then fold the booklets in half and add a couple staples.  You can use a long armed stapler to get a really professional look.  I just used a regular one because I was lazy and in a hurry!

Head on over to my TpT store to get your copy!

Bum, bum, bummmmm. It's here!  State testing!  Run for your lives!

That's exactly how I felt during my first round of state testing this year.  Having never taught a testing year before, I was terrified that my students' learning would not transfer to a computerized, 40 question exam.  Well, I was right.  My state allows students to take the test up to 3 times, and my district mandates that we test in November, February, and May.  In November, I had barely scratched the surface of the comprehension strategies I would be covering and had not taught non-fiction text features at all.  And in math, I had just began to teach multiplication (having done a large unit on multi-digit addition and subtraction), and had not covered fractions or geometry at all.  Needless to say, not very many of my students passed that first round.

Fast forward to February.  My principal noticed that teachers were anxious, and to avoid test fatigue, since many students just finished with ELPA (the English as a Second Language exam), he pushed our next round of testing to the beginning of March.  With one round under my belt and tons of help from colleagues at school and around the web, I was much more confident to help my students succeed.

To help with test prep for reading, I taught my kids this Reading Comprehension song from  The kids seriously love it!  It has a really catchy, modern tune and you can play the song for free from the website.  I printed out the lyrics and the kids glued it into their poetry books so they can re-read it during Read to Self time.  I also purchased the mp3 of the song and downloaded it to my two iPod touches and iPod Nano for students to listen and sing along in their heads during Listen to Reading.

From Have Fun Teaching

Another thing I have been doing is sending home a half page article with four multiple choice questions in their homework packet each week.  This helps my students see the test format and they can practice the Four-Step Method at home.  I have this book from Even-Moor: Daily Reading Comprehension, Grade 2.  Because I send this home as homework and not all my students have parents at home who can help them for one reason or another, I use the second grade book to make sure all my students can access and read the text.  I do have four students who read at a first grade level and they get modified homework anyway.  Click the link to see the book at Amazon.
From Amazon

What great resources have you found for test prep?  What works well in your room?

Some colleagues and I visited an amazing school today in Salem, Oregon: Myers Elementary.  They have been integrating their ELD instruction into the regular subjects instead of doing a 30 minute pull-out model like my school currently does.  My district recently cut all ESL teachers, forcing us to jump into this integrated model a bit faster than we had anticipated.  I really do believe that ELD integration is the way to go: teaching students ways to explain their thinking that they will use all day long, instead of isolated skills that are only applicable to ELD time.

Here are some pictures I snapped while at Myers today.  Notice the use of anchor charts, sentence frames, and OCDE Project GLAD® strategies.

A kindergarten room - working on making observations

CAFE writing board in kindergarten

CAFE reading board in kindergarten

Character trait anchor chart in kindergarten

Words to know by heart

Harder heart words

2nd grade room - Writing is kind to readers/ Reading is kind to writers!

2nd grade CAFE board - love the wooden letters! 
2nd grade teacher filling out a KWL, but instead of "Know" it's "What I think I know"
1st grade CAFE board - no robot reading!

ea anchor chart

Bossy e anchor chart

Academic sentence frames for the calendar area

Teaching inference with nursery rhymes

More inference with nursery rhymes

Good Writers anchor chart

Writing stages anchor chart
More anchor charts

"Beautiful Beginnings" and "Terrific Transitions"

Author's Purpose anchor chart
Systematic ELD anchor charts - telling time

Word Work bags

Systematic ELD strategy - Turn and talk

More observations - but supported with sentence frames

Math Workshop - kind of like a CAFE board

3rd grade CAFE board with Daily 5 rotations below on the magnetic boards

Daily 5 rotations

Math activity - fractions worksheet with models

Fractions games for partner work

Math Workshop rotation chart - colors match the Math CAFE board

Sentence frames for being nice to each other!

More CAFE boards

Another way to set up a rotation schedule

Writing CAFE board with the 6 Traits

Math vocabulary cards with sentence frames

KWL for fractions

Cognitive Content Dictionary in a 4th grade room

CAFE board on a cabinet
Math Workshop rotation board
Wasn't that awesome?? They do reader's workshop, writer's workshop, and some have started using the workshop model in math.  It was a fabulous school and a great way to learn by being there.  Have you visited any great schools or classrooms lately?

I'm linking up with Tessa from Tales From Outside the Classroom!