Wednesday, November 28, 2012

The Place Value Marathon!

Phew! So this is my first year teaching with The Common Core, and I have *finally* finished the marathon of teaching place value to my smarty pants batch of first graders!

Puzzling Place Value Packet

A couple months ago I was laying out my plans for 2nd quarter, and I realized that this unit was going to be some kind of long! I definitely needed to revamp how I pace the teaching of place value to allow time for my students to gain an in-depth knowledge of this important math concept. 

I was super excited after creating weeks and weeks worth of differentiated, guided math centers that I knew would challenge my little ones, and allow them to have fun with their math writing and problem solving skills!

Meet the "Puzzling Place Value Packet" and a little freebie just for y'all:)

Puzzling Place Value Packet

I have an hour math block to fit in A TON of learning! How long do y'all have to teach math? I'm sure you feel like it's not enough time too! To assist me in fitting in a lot of learning in a short amount of time I begin each day of math with a short mini lesson (think 10 minutes) with the whole class. Then, we move into our guided math rotations. I meet with 2 of 3 guided math groups every day! While I'm meeting with a math group the other groups are computating away in their math centers! Here is a sample of some of the place value practice activities we completed over the course of a few weeks!

Here my kids are working with their math partners to group their differentiated numeral cards by groups of 100's, 10's, and 1's. They did such a neat job representing place value with hundreds grids, ten frames, and extra ones!

More samples of the fun game "Place Value Pile-Up"

My little ones loved making these place value foldables! It was extremely helpful in providing another opportunity to think about representing numerals in a variety of ways while also focusing on place value and even how place value relates to dimes and pennies!!

This is my "teacher model." Are you ready to see their stuff?! They all turned out so great! Such math stars!

A few student samples hanging happily in the hallway!

I LOVE writing! So of course, there is a "work on writing" station for math centers every week!

This is my teacher model to guide students who might have a hard time getting started. Kiddos are encouraged to choose their own numbers before switching a reading their riddle to a buddy!

So I love this one...Place Value Puzzle! This was a new activity I developed this year where kids must take the numbers I have provided and discover all the possible combinations of expanded form. Phew! This one was a challenge, but they all got it with some good teamwork!

 I hope you enjoy a sampling of just a few of my class's place value activities that we used over the course of our marathon-lengthed place value unit! We have all mastered this concept and are now well on our way to using place value to be efficient math problem solvers!

Now for your freebie:)

Place Value Bubble Map


Hope y'all enjoy my ideas for place value!!

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Excused Absence?

Good morning teacher friends!

Perhaps you have wondered "Where on earth is Ms. Boyle?!" Well, I must admit...I am embarrassed by my lack of presence here the past month, but I hope you will deem this an "excused absence!"

On June 16, my dearest friend (Mister Ben) picked me up to go on a little visit to our alma mater, Elon University, where we had planned to meet up with one of our friends who is on staff at the university. We arrived at 5:00 that evening which so happens to be the time where there is a 15 minute chime series that Mister Ben has always adored...I always tell him this is one of his many "old man" qualities!

As we pulled onto campus, the bells were ringing and he suggested we go listen to them on one of the benches before meeting with our friend. As we are walking towards the bench he advised me to watch my step as there was a gaping hole in the brick pathway.

It is important to know that it has been a longstanding tradition at Elon to steal borrow a brick on the night of graduation. I use mine as a bookend in my home. 

I then responded by saying how the school must have not been able to replace all of the missing bricks yet! That is when Mister Ben showed his smooth side with the suave comment of "Good thing I'm always prepared" and presented me with his graduation brick engraved with that date and the biggest and most exciting question! He got down on his knee and expressed the happiest words I have heard in my life. In my state of joy, it truly took me a moment to express my resounding YES!

I have spent the last few weeks traveling, visiting family, attending weddings of friends, and...prepping for our upcoming nuptials!

I do promise to return to the sharing of ideas and teacher support found in the blog world though! I felt that I couldn't simply post my next idea share before explaining my extended absence.

So while my lack of contributing has not been due to an "educational experience" I do hope y'all will grant me this excused absence!

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

First Graders Are Poets...And They KNOW It!

Ahh...the joys of poetry. We spend so much time as teachers teaching, reminding, reteaching, and re-reminding (??) the parts of a complete sentence, rules of punctuation, and other basic mechanics...then, poetry comes along.

The joys of teaching poetry is that it does not have to follow some of the same rules of other types of writing we do in the classroom, but that can be a little scary to let your little ones write with disregard of some of the typical "rules" of writing!

However, this is precisely why I believe poetry is one of the most important ways to teach the kiddos, who don't naturally feel drawn to the subject, how to write! I always begin my big poetry unit with reading aloud a variety of poems written by other kids. We also talk about oftentimes kids are much better at writing poetry than adults because they are so creative!

Case in point...can you think of one adult who would instinctively write a concrete/shape poem about an armadillo?? Neither can I! There you have are just so stinking creative, and I just stand back in awe sometimes<3

Do you see the armadillo above? This little guy wrote his poem inside his animal's body!

Then comes the nitty gritty of teaching about the many types of poetry! I teach one form at a time, and by the end of the two week unit, my class has a solid hold on how to write SIX DIFFERENT types of poetry!!

We learn one form at a time, and as students discover how each type of poetry is different from the others, I have them assist with posting my poetry vocabulary cards in a pocket chart at the front of the room. My absolute favorite part about my poetry vocabulary cards is that the word is equally as prominent as the picture cue and definition so that their is a quality visual reminder when students are practicing the forms of poetry during their writing rotation of The Daily 5!

Example of the Rebus vocabulary card...the kids were constantly referencing off of these things!

 It's I-N-D-E-P-E-N-D-E-N-C-E time!!

In case you're interested in checking out the extensive unit I created (and really my kids just adored!) feel free to check it out here!

Ohh-kay...cue the heart melt. Do these types of notes and affections ever get old?! Absolutely not! This proud teacher just had to make a copy...sorry it's so blurry! I zoomed time a zillion from my camera phone:)

 Is it too blatantly obvious that I have a weak spot in my heart for teaching a love for writing? I hope y'all enjoyed the creativisms of poetry from my little hive, and forgive me for making your eyes strain on my last blurry beautiful photograph!
                                             Happy Writing!

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Chain of Words

This is my fourth blog post in my series "Feature Presentation...Word Work!". I ADORE teaching literacy and writing because it is truly the key to unlocking the learning process across the content areas!!

Today's feature presentation is about a super fun activity to enlist the knowledge of a team of little learners in their effort to review the entire word wall...we can't forget about the words we have studied in week's past!

This activity is endearingly called "Chain of Words" by my little ones, and they love to hang their handiwork around the classroom. It is suuuper easy to set up and quickly brightens up a bare wall, ceiling, most teacher's case...adds color to a wall that is already weighed down with the wonderful work of their children!

Teacher preparation is as simple as cutting a stack of long rectangles in a variety of colors (or if you want to get really snazzy you could only cut rectangles in the color that fits your learning space color scheme!) I keep a basket full of these colorful strips always at hand on my Word Work bookshelf space!

To get started with "Chain of Words" students simply work in a small groups of 3-6 to build a chain of words they can confidently read and spell! The small group decides who will kick start the game and this student selects a word from the classroom word wall. Then, they adorn their selected word on one piece of colored paper. The next kiddo in the group searches the word wall for a word that begins with the last letter of the previously chosen word. For example, student 1 chooses the word "these" and student 2 selects the word "each." 

The chain of words continues on with each student recording their word on their paper and attaching as they go with tape. I remember being dubious of my little ones ability to attach and manipulate the tape, but wow-y they always manage! I am convinced it's because they get slightly competitive about making a chain that's ridiculously long in the designated 15 minute time frame!

It should also be noted that each time a whole "round" of students attaches their word to the chain, they are expected to each read and mini "quiz" one another on the spelling of their words so that we never forget our previously studied words. I also like this word work activity because it teaches students to truly use their word wall...they really do reference it while writing!! I promise!

Give it a's fun, practical, and helpful in the beginning of the year when teaching students about how to use the easily accessible classroom word wall! Oh yeah, it's also adorable!

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Let Them Eat Pie...A Second Helping

Word Wall Pie

In my last blog post, "Let Them Eat...Pie!" I detailed one of my most favorite word work games to play with my little ones! Today, I present you with a fun, math-integrated word work activity that is GREAT to plug into a rotation during The Daily 5!

It is a "second helping" because it too has to do with pie...I LOVE dessert! I love the quote from that quirky show "The New Girl" where they talk about how they don't trust someone who doesn't like dessert, and I completely identify with this statement!

So anyways, the name of the game is "Word Wall Pie...Spell with Fractions" and it includes two variations depending on whether or not the students are focusing on searching for vowels or consonants.

Word Wall Pie

I like to first have my students spell out their word wall words with tiles prior to completing the activity. 

Students must count the number of consonants or vowels and then the total number of letters in each word. Next, students manipulate the tiles on the provided circle boards to visualize the fraction of consonants or vowels in each word. I find that it is really helpful for students to see the letters on the circle board to assist them in completing the activity. 

Lastly, students simply write the fraction and draw a picture of their vowel or consonant "pie" on their accountability sheet!

Ta-dah! Fractions made fun by simply highlighting the pie aspect to your own little ones. I hope y'all enjoy!

Monday, May 21, 2012

Let Them Eat...Pie

So after a mini-hiatus from my computer, I am now back to continue on with my blog post series that's all about WORD WORK!

My first introductory post on this topic, "Feature Presentation...Word Work" highlighted the importance of encouraging a high level of accuracy to develop a successful word work program in my classroom. Grab my freebie graph to use in your classroom if you haven't already and would like to have a way of monitoring your class's progress towards becoming fantastic spellers!

Tonight's mini presentation if a fave of mine! I LOVE desserts, and I like to tell my little ones that I planned out these word work activities and games while baking..."I think of y'all even when I'm at home baking!" So true, and I think it makes them feel loved:)

So the first game is a surefire hit called...Lemon Meringue! Yum. I mean how could this game be bad?!

The rules:

 Teacher and students all begin by holding hands while standing in a big circle. The teacher calls out various spelling words (or words that require students to apply the phonics skill currently being taught...they love a challenge!) and selects a student to kick off the fun and games.

Next, the selected students begins to spell the word by calling out the first letter. After exclaiming the first letter they simply squeeze the hand of the students standing beside them to let them know it's their turn to have a go! For example, teacher says the word is "burst." Selected student says "b" and hand squeezes to Student 2 who says "u." This continues until the word is successfully spelled and the hand squeeze is passed to a student who must then state the word that has just been spelled! My little ones favorite part is after they have correctly spelled the word as a team they all hand hug and do a little dance while chanting this sort of happy tune--I think I must have done it once, and it just stuck!

Phew! You have to be on your toes and listening carefully to stay in this game, because if a student's hand is squeezed to spell or state the word and they're not ready then the kids will giggle "You sour lemon!" The sour lemons sit in the middle of the circle and continue to participate in the game with their giggles and stating of the correctly spelled hard feelings...I promise! We talked about how it's hard to spell things on the spot sometimes, and being a sour lemon sometimes is just part of the game;)

Give it a go, and let me know if you and your little ones like it! I think it is one of my most favorite word work games because it requires a lot of focus, listening, teamwork, and ALWAYS results in loads of giggling!

Stay tunes for Let Them Eat...Pie part II before moving on with other staples to the way I like to set up and practice word work in my classroom in the coming week!

Monday, May 7, 2012


I was so humbled yesterday evening when I saw the thousands of downloads of my featured freebie The Academy Awards: A Night at the Oscars, and even more so by the many kind comments...I truly hope this is a helpful and fun treat to you and your little ones!!

While the freebie hop is behind us, I wanted to take a moment to quickly remind my blog followers that I have 3 additional products in my store that are ALWAYS FREE for you! Plus, remember that ALL of my products are still on sale for 20% off plus an additional 10% off when you enter the coupon code TAD12 during checkout!

Also, if you were too busy snagging the many great finds from fellow blog hoppers yesterday and did not have the attention span to go through each teacher's store yesterday (I know I felt that way and will be going through them more throughout this week!) then please take a moment to glance through some of my most popular store items!

I think y'all are fabulous, and I am so grateful for all you do as teachers each day to make a difference in the lives of all our little ones! THANK YOU!!

Discover Plants
Dance the Dance of Poetry: A Complete Poetry Unit
Love Bug Writing Menu
Amphibians Literacy Rotations


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Teacher Appreciation JACKPOT!

 Teacher Appreciation Sale

I hope that by now people have had the chance to pop into my store and pick up my special freebie for the day:  
The Academy Awards: A Night at the Oscars

The Academy Awards: A Night at the Oscars!

This unit is usually priced at $4.00, and includes rotation plans and activities in the areas of word work, writing, and math that will keep your kids celebrating their learning for a whole week!

I completed this unit with own batch of kiddos during the week leading up to the Academy Awards, but think it would be the PERFECT unit to complete as an end of year celebration too!

I hope y'all enjoy this freebie because you deserve lots of teacher love in the midst of this gigantic sale!

Here in sunny North Carolina, the weather is warm, summer is just around the corner, and our little ones are just about ready to move-it-on-up to the next grade!

We have all worked our little tails off this year to make sure our students have grown their brains, and even more importantly, are ready to be successful in their future years as well!

In the true spirit of teacher blogging, which is really all about sharing inspiring ideas with fellow teachers to benefit ALL of our children, it is important to celebrate and reward all of our efforts! I am also thankful to the website Teachers Pay Teachers for its dedication to providing an accessible source for sharing products and ideas in addition to the blogging world...wahoo!

So to show my gratitude to all the fellow teachers out there who go to work with a smile on their face and a positive attitude (even when non-smile-inducing events happen in our lives!) I have teamed up with April from A Modern Teacher, Laura from Corkboard Connections, Adrianne from The Tutor House and over 130 bloggers to bring you an incredible teacher appreciation event! This is a blog hop you do not want to miss!

So my dear teacher friends this Sunday, May 6th, you will have the opportunity to download BUNCHES of teaching materials for FREE!! Over 130 participants, myself included, will be giving away one free product to celebrate and honor YOU! All free products will be valued between $3 and $8. So for all you math whizzes out there, that means you could be pocketing $450 worth of free lessons in just one day! Consider this my Sabbath Day gift to take the day off from planning!

If you are interested in PreK-2 products, be sure to come back and visit here on Sunday for the jackpot where everyone's FREE PRODUCTS will be listed.

Here are all the links you will need:

PreK-2: Teacher Appreciation Jackpot
3-5: Teacher Appreciation Jackpot
7-12: Teacher Appreciation Jackpot
ALSO,  Teachers Pay Teachers will be holding a sale in addition to this grand Teacher Appreciation Jackpot event!! I would be honored if you drop by my store this Sunday to pick up some of my products (which my students think are pretty flipping fantastic!) for your own class of little ones ON SALE!

Happy shopping my friends...this is the jackpot spree you deserve. Feel special, because you SO are!