Monday, July 27, 2015

Meaningful Math!

WELCOME, Y'ALL! Today's post is a Facebook link up with the Facebook community, the Texas Teacher Tribe!

I'm so excited to share with y'all the Top 3 ways I create a meaningful math learning environment for my students. A meaningful learning environment is one where the lessons are POWERFUL, IMPORTANT, and SERVE A PURPOSE. Here are a few ways I strive to do this in my classroom!

As teachers, when do we NOT try to incorporate meaningful activities?? I absolutely love to scratch the "worksheet" routine and get my students up, thinking and moving. A few of the activities that I  LOOK FORWARD to teaching are Area and Perimeter Zoo and Pumpkin Math.
- Area and Perimeter Zoo gets students thinking, creating and calculating. Students work together to create a zoo environment for an animal, then have to find the area and perimeter of their irregular-shaped enclosures. Lightbulbs go off for kids EVERY TIME I do this activity and it is so rich with math language. It's such a powerful and FUN activity for my students!
- Pumpkin Math is an activity I LOVE-LOVE. First of all, I'm a Halloween baby so pumpkins are pretty much my favorite fruit (yes, it's a fruit! Look it up!). This activity is SO FUN, incorporates a ton of science, and is incredibly meaningful because it's math skills that are used everyday in REAL LIFE. Weight, distance, circumference, buoyancy, estimating, adding with decimals... And all with PUMPKINS! Can I get a "WOOT"?!

A few of my other favorite and meaningful activities I added to my classroom this year is Bendy Bodies and Detective Math.
- Bendy Bodies is a fabulous idea I picked up from GENIUS teachers at CAMT. Our new fourth grade TEKS has students measuring angles and working with protractors, and this activity incorporates both. I would love for you to read about it HERE (and pick up a FREEEEEBIE so you can do this activity in your classroom!). This activity is HANDS ON and REAL LIFE. That equals meaningful!
- Detective Math is a combination of the UH-MAZ-ING Teaching with a Mountain View's Math Detective Task Cards and my Identifying and Correcting Math Errors. I cut up the task cards, put them in a "Top Secret" file folder, and put in a laminated Identifying and Correcting Math Errors sheet. I had students find the error on the task card, "hire" the correct detective and "fire" the incorrect detective, and then use the Math Error page to justify their decision to fire! This was a test-prep activity and it was SO amazing to see my students understand who was correct and identify and explain why the other was incorrect. My kids loved this SO much they BEGGED to do it over and over! It is definitely something I will be using year after year, so I created a cute sheet to put on the front of the folder and directions for the inside. You can get the freebie HERE!

When students walk away from a lesson talking about it, I know they've been impacted. I stay away from "fluff" lessons and nothing I do is arts and crafts even when my students are using artistic skills. I make sure my lessons and activities serve a purpose and align to our TEKS - and that equals meaningful lessons!

I love math stations. But more than that, I love when my STUDENTS love math stations. And mine do! They think it's "play" time. I just giggle because I know they're actually engaging in meaningful learning and skill practice. Hehehe! Here are a few of the "play" time activities I LOVE.
- Task Card Game Boards: These game boards are made with old DVD cases and work with ANY task card. After practicing a skill in whole group or small group, I throw the task cards into a bucket and let my kids choose which they want to use for their game. Then, they grab a DVD game board and start playing learning!
- Measurement Checkers: WATCH OUT when my measurement unit comes around, because students will RACE to get to measurement checkers. Basic rules of checkers apply HOWEVER, before you can move you have to associate a unit of measurement with a "real life" measurement (example: an inch is about the length of a knuckle). This gets my kiddos learning their real life measurements with tha' quickness (and they think they're just playing checkers.... pssssh)! Texas Teachers, go get a FREEEEE copy HERE! Just buy the big ol' checker games (you can find them on Amazon), Modge Podge them on your play pieces, and you're done!
- Big Board Math: Give kids a dry erase marker and let them write math facts on the "big board". They will GO OFF. You will find your students will push each other farther than we as teachers might think to do. Seriously, HALF MY CLASS became long division rockstars in like, a day just from practice on the "Big Board". They pushed themselves to divide huuuuuuuuuge dividends, and I stop them at 4 digit dividends because that's what the TEKS say... LAME on my part! ADVICE: Have a student that has mastered the skill play "teacher". They're there to observe and help when needed AND the other kids will work 10x harder to earn the spot as teacher! 
- 5 Minute Fact Practice: It's pretty amazing what a couple dice and 5 minutes can do. Have you ever seen a presentation by Boxcars and One-Eyed Jacks? OHHEMMGEE. So many of their activities are so powerful and reinforce skills in just a few minutes. And kids love 'em! I ALWAYS have dice on hand to fill those random minutes when we're early to lunch/recess/specials.... We add them, multiply them, subtract them, divide them - sometimes I bring out the big guns with double and triple dice!!

Stations/ Rotations / Centers should align to instruction and/or work on strengthening skills. How fabulous is it when kids LEARN when they think they're PLAYING??

Y'all. If you don't read anything else, READ THIS. Students have GOT TO HAVE FEEDBACK. I truly believe feedback is why my students are so successful. I provide them with instant feedback almost every day because it is KEY to their learning! Don't let mistakes go unnoticed.... I know that's kind of impossible, BUT with these strategies you'll catch a lot of them.
- Partner Share: MAKE YOUR KIDS TALK. My students sit in pairs (shoulder partners) and I always pair a lower level learner with a higher level learner. I do this for so many reasons (1) The higher level learner can tutor the lower level lerner (2) The lower level learner is PUSHED by the higher level learner (3) The lower level learner feels safe trying new skills with their shoulder partner (no whole class nervousness) (4) Eventually you won't have a high/low pair, you'll have a high/mid or a high/high! And it doesn't just benefit the lower level learner - each time your higher level learner is TEACHING, they're embedding that knowledge deeper and deeper in their brains. Partner share is so powerful!
- Plickers: Have you heard of Plickers?? SO AMAZING. You get the app on your phone, kids hold a card based on their answer, you scan with your app - INSTANT DATA. It is oh, so amazing. You can see RIGHT AWAY the kids who have the wrong answer. SO FAB! It can work for quick quizzes, feedback on homework, or you can throw some task cards or worksheets on the board and have kids respond. SERIOUSLY SO COOL. Data should DRIVE YOUR INSTRUCTION, and this is such an easy way to get data!
- Response Sticks: These can work the same as Plickers but less formal. Whenever I check homework, my students are showing me their answers. Quick scan of the room tells me, "The kids completely understand this", "I need to check with Joe and Jill", "WHOA! None of them got this". They also work with small group and partners. Throw out a question, see if your partner has the same one. If not, why? If so, did you solve the same way? There are so many ways to use response sticks and it sure does help you identify errors QUICKLY. Response sticks are my faaaaaaaavorite. FAVORITE! That's why I've created a FREEBIE to show you how I make my response sticks! Go get it in my TPT store!! While you're there, I would LOVE for you to follow me, and feedback is HUGELY appreciated! :)
- Quick Assessments: Exit tickets are a great way to quickly assess skills - I just don't let my students give them to me as they "exit". They must complete the exit ticket/ quick assessment during class, then bring the paper TO ME so I can check it immediately. If it's wrong, they go get an Identifying and Correcting Math Errors page, find out where they went wrong, and correct for points. I GIVE POINTS FOR EACH CORRECTED ANSWER. Not full credit, but some...  This reinforces the importance of identifying where you went wrong and encourages students to solve for the actual answer (and PROVE their answer).

By incorporating meaningful activities, meaningful play-time, and meaningful feedback, you've got yourself one powerful, purpose-driven learning environment!  Thanks so much for reading-  I truly hope some of my ideas help you and I would LOVE LOVE LOVE to hear how you make learning meaningful in your classroom.

Before I stop my rambling - here's a list of some of my FAVORITE math TPT sellers and products. Be sure to check them out!

Stephanie McConnell - Her STAAR math review games are SO MUCH FUN
Peppy Zesty Teacherista - Great updated TEKS resources!
School House Diva - GREAT TEKS based task cards!
Teaching with Tiffany - Lots of TEKS products!

Teaching With a Mountain View - Check out her Error Analysis & Math Detective sets!
Rachel Lynette - Check out her Word Problem Detective Task Cards!
The Teacher Studio - Check out her Open Ended Math Problems & Concept Sorts!

Sunday, June 28, 2015

TPT Seller Challenge: WEEK TWO

Here are some things I love:
- Teaching
- Week Two's Challenge: Dare to Dream!

Before my Dad passed away last August, he told me, "Katie, God will continue to give you good ideas. So share them". I love that TPT has given me a platform to share the things I make for & and use in my classroom, and I'm constantly encouraged and inspired by the amazing teachers on TPT. TPT is a huge blessing.

God has blessed my TPT store. I've needed a new car for a while. I knew it wouldn't be possible unless I had some extra income. My TPT was doing well, but it needed to do better in order for me to afford a monthly payment. I put it in God's hands and BOOM, my TPT has hit, or exceeded, the number I asked God for. I've learned (and experienced) DON'T PUT A LIMIT ON GOD. He wants to bless you and take you to places you can't even dream of. THANK YOU GOD FOR MY BLESSINGS! And to quote my Dad again, "The Lord keeps blessing me and I say, 'Thank you and send me more', AND HE DOES!" True words, daddy. Miss you every day!

I am SO thankful I was able to purchase my DREAM CAR - a new to me (used) GMC Yukon - thanks to my monthly TPT income. Y'all, I love my Yukon so much. So, so, so much. I talk to her. She has a name. No trash is allowed in her. I constantly wash the exterior. IT HAS RIMS. I love herrrrrrrr!!! BUT.... I need to pay her off ASAP. I have a 15 year old son who is going to drive. SOON. We have the car part taken care of thanks to his dad BUT what I didn't account for is INSURANCE. YIKES! I'd love to get my car payment over with so I can focus on his insurance!! EEK!

I looooooove to vacation. I mean, who doesn't?? I would love to be able to plan and pay for a big vacation each summer for my family without cringing because we're taking out of savings. That would be such a blessing and SO MUCH FUN! 

What's are your dreams?? The sky is the limit!! 

Be sure to link up and share your dream! Just visit these fabulous Blogger Babe's blogs! 

Tuesday, June 16, 2015

TPT Seller Challenge: WEEK ONE

If you haven't heard of the TPT Seller Challenge, it's possible you've been living under a rock... Kidding, but for real---  It's all over social media and it is ROCKING!

If you want to get involved, check out these amazing teacher's blogs for the details:
Peppy Zesty Teacherista 
Teach Create Motivate 
Sparkling in Second 
Third in Hollywood 

So the first week of the TPT Seller Challenge is to find some TPT products that need a facelift and make them over! This is TOTALLY something that has been on my to do list (for weeks... months... years?) but whoever can find the time to do it? This challenge has completely motivated me and I'm feeling SO proud of the products I've made over!

First, I made over my Welcome to Third Grade and Welcome to Fourth Grade packs. These are my best sellers. I loved them... but now I'm straight up head over heals for them!

The Third Grade version looks the same, except it says "Welcome to Third Grade"... duh... ;) 
I added new pages, and gave every page a face lift. THEY. ARE. SO. CUTE. NOW. 
I also included color and black and white versions. It's a big ol' awesome download! Check them out here:

Making over those packs were a lot of work.. And I was kinda thinking it would be the only product I remade because I signed up for................ summer school. YUCK. It drains me.... But I live on the coast in Texas and it's hurricane season. We had a little tropical storm named "Bill" come visit us (he turned out to be totally lame) but everyone got scared and school was cancelled for today. So, I made over another product! I COMPLETELY REDID THIS PRODUCT. I was selling if for $1 because it was pretty lame. Now I've increased the price because it is FABULOUS!! Lots of added content, two options to play, and very helpful posters. 

Want to check it out?? 
Here's the link: Area & Perimeter Practice 

I'm so jazzed there may be more to come.... We shall see!! 

Anyone else participating in the Challenge? Leave me the link to your updated product and I'll follow your TPT store! I'd love for you to do the same! My store name is Katie Texas

Monday, June 1, 2015


I've been seeing some fabulousness happening to TPT storefronts and FINALLY sat down to figure out how to do it myself.

And that cute little pic is a link to all of my math glyphs! 

Want to do know how to do it? IT'S SO EASY! Let's do this! 

You will need this code

I suggest copying it and pasting it a word document or something because you will need to edit it a bit before it's ready to be inserted in your profile.

You need to make a cute little pic. Mine was 2.35H x 4.8W (I truly don't know how much bigger you can make this. I kind of lucked out that my image fit the first time! It might take a bit of playing around if your image doesn't fit). If you find the exact dimensions, let me know and I'll give you credit! 

Upload your image to a hosting sight (I use photobucket) and click on and copy the DIRECT LINK. That will be what you use for "Picture Link" in the code above, BUT you'll need to shorten the link first. That takes me to step "THIRD" ;) 

Part 1) Shorten your picture link with Bitly or (When you insert the final code into your profile, it will have to be 120 characters or less. So this is important). Once you've shortened it, enter in the code below where the text is RED (delete the words that are there)

OPTIONAL Part 2) If you want your picture to link to a certain product or custom category (and why wouldn't you??), you'll want to copy and shorten that link, too. Then enter it into the code below where the text is RED (again, delete the words that are there)

Go to your dashboard.
You'll want to go to My TPT > My Account > Store Profile > Edit >
and then copy & paste the code in the "Personal Quote" area. Here are a few pics incase you're a visual learner :)


I hope this is super helpful! xoxo

Friday, May 1, 2015

Rockin' Giveaway!

I'm SO excited. 

Here are a few of the reasons why:
- State testing is OVER
- My blog looks FAB thanks to Blogs Fit for a Queen
- My Instagram has over 1500 followers

So many reasons to celebrate!! So, I've partnered up with AMAZING teachers for a ROCKIN' Giveaway to celebrate and say THANK YOU to YOU!! WOOT!

Fabulous, right??
That didn't even mention the $50 TPT gift card! WHAT WHAT!!
I 'll get to the phonemail giveaway in a minute. First, I want to tell you a few ways I rock out in the classroom!

How do you rock out in the classroom? 
No I'm not talking about rock music. Or mohawks. 
I just mean the awesome things you do day to day to engage your little learners and save your self from going crazy :) 

I work very hard to keep my students engaged. I try to create a rigorous yet FUN learning environment. Basically, YOU NEED TO PAY ATTENTION THEN WE CAN HAVE A GREAT TIME! It's hard getting kids to pay attention though... 
*Enter the Tricks* 
Here are a few of my faves: 
--->Bingo Dots: (If you have no idea what I'm talking about, check out my post here. It's pretty awesome if I do say so myself! )  
--->Songs & Rhymes: I have a song for everything. Place Value. Numerators and Denominators. Multiples of 6s, 7s, 8s, and 9s. Rounding. Measurement Conversions. We sing quite a lot! At the beginning of the year, the kids looked at me like I'm nuts when I bust out my math jams. You know, they're too cool. All it takes is one to jam-out without inhibitions and the rest are hooked!! Seriously!!  My kids literally BEG me to play the place value (it's pretty snazzy) and they're multiples of 6-9 are fantastic! Check out their skillzzz here!
--->Student Strategies: I try to make my classroom a place where we ALL take part in the teaching. I'm not the only one that knows what's going on. Kids are SMART. And sometimes they put together something that is so smart!! So I name a strategy after them!
Example: Recognizing fractions equivalent to 1/2... As I was teaching this, I had a student who piped in with, "When a fraction is equal to a 1/2, the numerator is always half of the denominator!" You may think DUHHH, but to my kids (and this student who just had a major light-bulb go off), it was an a-ha moment! So now whenever we notice a fraction equivalent to 1/2, we talk about the "*insert student name*'s Strategy"! I have about 5 kids with strategies named after them in each of my classes. It makes their day AND gets other kids working extra hard to put together some awesome thinking so they get a strategy named after them!
--->Candy: DON'T JUDGE. Kids flip for a jellybean. Yes, a jellybean. As in 1. I always have a bag of marshmallows, a bag of jelly beans and maybe a little something chocolate (more for me than them... oops) on hand. Moral in your room down? Kids looking sleepy? Rattle those jelly beans (I have them in a glass candy container), shake those 'mallows and you will see little hands shoot in the air! Boom! Can't give out candy? Again, CHECK OUT MY POSTS ON BINGO DOTS! Or give out a chex! Or a peanut! Kids love food!

There are THREE prizes.

First up: A prize pack for my K-2 Peeps!

Next up: A prize pack for 3-5! 

And.... A $50 TPT GIFT CARD!!!

If you love these prizes, you need to get as many entry points as possible... SO GET TO ENTERING!! GO!!

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Saturday, April 25, 2015

Product Swap with the FABULOUS Funky in Fourth

I LOVE being a TPT seller and buyer. I love sharing the products that I use in my own classroom and I don't think I EVER plan a lesson without seeing what my colleagues have to offer on TPT!

I didn't think there could be anything that could make TPT even more rockin' until I came across Melissa of Jungle Learners idea for a TPT seller product SWAP! GENIUS!

Melissa partnered me up Cassy over at Funky in Fourth for this product swap -- I follow Cassy on Instagram and her products are awesome. I couldn't wait to go shopping!!

After agonizing over which product to choose, I finally settled on this fantastic Layers of the Earth Unit (I'm uhhh... a bit behind on science lessons in my classroom... state testing had us kinda busy... don't judge!). 

This unit is packed full of goodies!!

- 5 different lessons (Layers of the Earth, Classification of Rocks, Rapid and Slow Land Changes and the Rock Cycle)
- 2 labs
- quizzes
- vocabulary cards
- 20 review cards 

We started with Layers of the Earth - my kids ate it up! Even after two days of brain-frying state testing! They were so excited to do something other than a math worksheet! 

I used the vocabulary cards to make a vocabulary flip book for each kid. I plan to have them add more pages to the book as we go through each lesson! 

I cannot WAIT to move onto all the other goodies in this unit. So. Much. Fun. Learning.   

Want to win this pack for free?? 

I get to give you a copy for FREE (for personal use in your classroom and your classroom only, of course!!), all you have to do is go follow Cassy on some of her social media outlets! SHE ROCKS, so GO DO IT!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Since this was a product SWAP, Cassy decided to choose my Rockin' Number Line set. Check out her post here and enter to win it for FREE!! 

There are tons of other swaps and giveaways happening... GO GET IN ON IT! Just click the links below! 


Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Staying STRESS FREE in a Testing Grade

Testing. Is. Here. YAY.

There's so much to look forward to during testing season....

The kids love it, too....

During this time, it can be a challenge for teachers AND students to stay stress free. So I'm linking up with the wonderful Fancy Free in Fourth and the fantastic Ramona Recommends  and am sharing a couple things I do for my kiddos and for myself so we don't go CRAZY!

1) EXERCISE! Original, right? Seriously though, I am the LAZIEST person on the planet. I work, work, work all week and then CRASH on Fridays. My friends know to not call me, because "Friday Coma" starts at about 7 on Friday night. You can find me in my comfy bed, dozing in and out of conciseness while watching Shark Tank. ANYWAY, I've been making time to exercise M-W and am loving it. Mondays and Wednesdays, I dance off my stress at Zumba. Tuesdays, I get my yoga on. Turns out.... I'm not that lazy! I actually love my exercise days!!
2) CHOCOLATE. I keep some sort of chocolate with in reach at all times during the school day. It's ok guys, I work it off at Zumba. :)
3) SMILE! LAUGH! Remember that this test DOES NOT DEFINE YOU AS A TEACHER! It's one day. One [stupid] test. YOU ARE FANTASTIC. What happen will happen. So, to quote Elsa, "LET IT GO!"

1) PUMP THEM UP AND HAVE FUN! All last week, my students kept learning and reviewing but in a FUN way. Here's a break down of the FUN and EDUCATIONAL week we had!

Monday: iUseStrategies iPad
On Monday, we reviewed all our strategies we've learned throughout the year. Be sure to download this in my TPT store!

Tuesday: STAAR Jeopardy Game
Tuesday we reviewed with a fabulous Jeopardy Game made by Stephanie McConnell. The students had a BLAST. It's actually made with 3rd grade standards (I teach 4th) BUT I loved that the kids were confident with EVERY question they answered. This goes back to PUMP THEM UP part of staying stress free!

Wednesday: Problem Solving Detectives 
Teaching With a Mountain View made these FANTASTIC math detective cards. I paired them with my Identifying and Correcting Math Errors set, put them in a file folder, and had my little detectives solve math problems and figure out which detective to hire (right answer) and which detective to fire (incorrect answer). AND they gave me a reason to fire the detective. THEY LOVED THIS!

Thursday: Wrestle the STAAR! 
If you ask my kids, this was the BEST. DAY. EVER. 4 teams, 30 questions, 26 masks, and 26 bandanas = PUMPED UP FOURTH GRADE WRESTLERS THAT ROCKED THESE QUESTIONS! So many smiles this day while learning. LOVE! Another fabulous product from Stephanie McConnell!

Friday: Tour of Knowledge
We ended the week with a Tour of Knowledge. I taped 8 posters around the room with titles of math skills the kids have learned throughout the year. Then, I broke the kids into groups of 2-3, and had them write EVERYTHING they know about the topic (strategies, examples of problems, etc). The challenging part was as the kids circled the posters, they were NOT allowed to write anything someone before them had written! Great activity!

One last tip, ENTER THIS FABULOUS GIVEAWAY because you deserve it! The prized are fabulous, and seriously, SHOPPING is another fabulous stress relief!

I hope your testing season is a smooth one! It will all be over SOON! YAY!!!!!

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