January 27, 2016

FREEBIE Read Aloud Guides for Books Related to Poverty and Homelessness

My grade level is busy planning for our second EL Expedition of the year. We are very excited to connect our study of plant life cycles and nutrition to learning about food insecurity in our community. It's amazing to have the resources and encouragement for the teaching of social justice issues and project-based learning. Anyways, I'll be sure to blog about it when it's all done (like I did here for our first one). What I wanted to share with you are some HOT questions/Read Aloud guides for 4 of our anchor texts. We are excited to include this year's Newbery Award Winner, The Last Stop on Market Street in this group!

So grab them, print them (right click & print!), and help your students learn about those in need!

January 20, 2016

My Experiences In Teaching Current Social Issues: Refugees

On November 15, I had planned to begin a week teaching my students about refugees. We are an Expeditionary Learning School, and we were using our Social Studies learning about culture and civil rights as a jump off into a partnership with the Global Village School in our neighborhood. A school for girls. Refugee girls.

The lessons were written, the resources were made (I had to create everything since 2nd grade resources on refugees are slim at best). The read alouds were ready to go.


And then, on November 13, Paris happened. And I was nervous. Teaching about refugees? Right now? Really? I had already been nervous about the subject. My Facebook feed had been blowing up with dissenting opinions on the United States' acceptance of refugees for months. And then tragedy struck our world again. And "refugee" became a bad word. As if it wasn't before.

But I forged ahead. And thank goodness! We had a wonderful experience learning about how civil rights issues are still issues for many, many people in our world. My students learned about people who could be so much like them, but have such a different life experience. We took action together to inform others about these issues, and then raise money to help our new friends from the Global Village school with a culminating Walk A Thon. It was all amazing!

An infographic created by a group of 3 Second Graders.

Reflections from Day 1 and Day 10 of our study.

Students collaborating on the creation of an infographic using PPt.

Students reflecting on their interviews with Refugee Girls.

Our map showing the paths of the refugees we met and read about.
Our Walk A Thon to raise funds for the school.

And the parents and community were so accepting. And I was grateful for that. And I learned that I can keep teaching about the hard issues. I can keep teaching compassion. I can keep teaching these precious lives I am entrusted with to be compassionate and brave and to make change.

A flyer we created as a class to pass out during our Walk A Thon to raise money for the school.

January 18, 2016

Monday Made It: January

Monday Made It may very well be one of my favorite link ups. I'm feeling excited to see what everyone's been up to. I actually just unpacked my crafting and cake decorating supplies (which have been in various storage locations since June)-so I'm ready for a new project!

We threw a sort of last minute New Year's Eve party, but last minute always seems to really make the creative juices flow, right? I made the things pictured above for about $4! I used the bulletin board from the seating chart at our wedding, and made everyone create a hashtag for their 2015 and for their hopes for 2016 (this picture was taken early in the night). It was super fun! I used paper and paint I already had, but I did have to buy some new thumbtacks that were a simple color. I also went to the dollar tree and bought gold frames to decorate the table with. I tried out my own hand lettering and design. Again, I had gold paint left from the wedding. It was super easy! I even made the dots just using my fingers! 


This was a project I made to display in our home. I printed out photographs and a map of our city (Atlanta) and neighborhood. I traced around the letters and mod podged over them. Voila-they look super fancy but were really simple! I think the most difficult part was finding a photo or drawing that had high resolution and also fit the letters just how I wanted. The letters are just lightweight cardboard from Hobby Lobby. I would have preferred wooden, but I couldn't find the sans serif look I was going for. 

2nd Grade Math-Dig Deeply Into Money Tasks for Higher Orde

I was inspired to begin a new series of products for my store. Teaching Math and encouraging higher order thinking has my heart. A few years ago, I began developing tasks that my old district would have referred to as "Constructed Response" for different topics. These were tasks that would have different steps building upon the ones in front of them, and just would require students do some deep thinking, and often, writing.

So I have begun putting them on TPT-tasks and assessments for each task. I use them with my kids and they are doing great! It's good for everyone, but especially my kids who need a challenge. I've been using them whole group.  I will keep creating new sets as I try them out and tweak them in my classroom.

January 17, 2016


"You can't take a bigger number away from a small number. "

"Everything in the world is made of matter."

"A circle has one side."

"When two vowels go walking, the first one does the talking." 

Do you ever try to make a BIG statement -usually in an effort to teach hard and fast rules or facts and think to yourself "Did I really mean that?" Maybe you haven't, but I maintain that you should. No matter how confident of a teacher you are.

I think that, especially in the primary grades, we teach more misconceptions than we realize. This is understandable! I get it! I know why it happens. (That's not to say I think it should happen.) We want to help our students make sense of the world, but we realize that the world is really tricky to make sense of.  Because of this, we try to make these big statements, often losing some of the nuance of what we are teaching. We sometimes think that specificity is confusing.

In addition, as primary teachers, it is truly difficult to be experts on all of the theoretical subtleties of each subject we teach. Do you continue to reflect and study some of the facts, ideas, and principles you teach every year? We teachers must continue to question what we think we know and seek answers and understanding.

It's in fact NOT true that you can't take a big number away from a small one. And it's ok to tell kids that. Let me suggest that you add the words "in 2nd grade" or "for now". I have found that students find this more exciting than confusing!

Your students might even call you out on the second statement. Is EVERYTHING really made of matter? What about light? Sound? Those kids, they will get you every time! 

And the circle thing. I mean, talk about blowing adults' minds. And from what I can tell, it is up for debate. 

The last one, though, probably has you thinking about the way you already address these "exceptions" to the rules. And there are always exceptions, right? 

As an aside, it is not just teachers who have this problem with teaching and believing misconceptions. So don't feel bad! I was discussing this issue recently with a group of adults. My example of teaching students through misconceptions was that Earth's seasons are caused by the Earth's elliptical path around the sun. I mentioned this briefly as an "untruth" and was immediately shot down. I should have pulled out my teacher voice! And maybe Google!

Be specific. Be accurate. And above all, be reflective. 

January 3, 2016

Thank You, PBS...

...for planning the final season premiere of Downton Abbey on the night before we teachers have to go back to work.

I am at once delighted and dismayed.