Monday, October 14, 2013

Common Core Math Resources

image via digit
I want to share this fabulous 
resource for Common Core Math!

Today at in-service, one of our amazing Math Coaches showed us the web site for Granite School District in Salt Lake City, Utah.

Talk about impressive and, most importantly, USEFUL……….

Here's the homepage link. Be sure to visit the Superintendent's Blog…..leadership in action! :)

Now, for the treasure trove of resources for grades K-7   ….math vocabulary cards 
(illustrated, printable), games, etc….. 
go here !

                     Enjoy your day!
                         Dixie Pearls

Tuesday, September 17, 2013


image via Google pix

Happy Fall!

     I just posted two new Math freebies on Teachers Pay Teachers. Both can be used in class or for a family Math Night.

                     I hope your children enjoy them! 
                    Dixie Pearls

Click on the image to download……….

You may also like the one I created last year…..using toilet paper! I think it may have a slightly different border….just click to download. :) 

Monday, August 19, 2013

Cute Classroom Signs

Do you have a name sign outside your classroom door? 
Our building does not have plaques with our names.
Most of us make our own.

I teach with some of the MOST creative people! Look at this adorable sign made from silver trays and chalkboard paint.
I had seen these on Pinterest…but not for a classroom. 
Toooooo  cute!

Here are some of my favorites via Pinterest…..
I'd love to see photos of creative classroom name signs. 
Please send any you'd like to share. :)

no chalkboard paint…..but the trays are lovely
I actually have trays hanging like this at home and they add instant sparkle.

These look like plastic plates.

Chalkboard paint for Easter baskets, maybe even Halloween buckets (coffee or paint cans?), 
to hold supplies (crayons, etc)

clever placement of chalk

What about chalk holders?
Again, many ideas on Pinterest……

This one……I just had to add for those who
 have taught as long as I.  :) Remember?

Dixie Pearls 

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Family Shields and Self-Portraits

image via google/

How do you build community 
within your group of students?

     Personally, I think this is the most important "beginning of the year" task we have as teachers.

     Scholastic has an excellent article, Building Community in the Classroom written by Ellen Booth Church here.

An excerpt from the article……

The beginning of the year is a time for creating a sense of community, and your room is the gathering place. Here, all children can feel secure, nurtured and supported by the environment, each other, and YOU. This new group of individuals bring with them divergent interests, abilities, cultures, and families. Each child arrives at your door with a fertile background of experience that enriches your program. By demonstrating your loving acceptance of all children's backgrounds, experiences, and viewpoints, you create an environment that says, "All are welcome here." At the same time you are modeling just how you want children to be with one another. The goal is to celebrate individuals while creating a sense of community.
We know from recent studies that children who feel a sense of identity within a group are the most well-adjusted and successful in school.  As children progress developmentally, their group interaction skills become more finely tuned as well. Children's "world view" expands to add a greater understanding of the relationship between self and other. Studies also tell us that some of the most important skills children need for school readiness and success are the "people skills" of social interaction, communication, collaboration, and problem solving. They are the fertile ground that supports the academics of learning ABCs and 123s! That is what you are doing in the first month of school — creating an emotionally secure "home base" for children to learn in. So don't worry if you are not teaching many specific academic skills in your first month. By focusing on establishing a safe, secure, and nurturing environment, you are teaching children how to learn and are setting the stage for the entire year.
How can you help a child feel secure in a new community? Let's look at a few elements that allow children to feel known and supported.
Building Community Through Identity
Your children need to see themselves reflected in the classroom. Invite families to send in photos of their children and family before school starts or in the first few weeks. Finding themselves "already there" will go a long way towards making children feel comfortable. Not only will children enjoy finding their photos around the room, but they will delight in learning about their new friends and their families. Children may want to make family books in the first few weeks of school as a way of getting to know each other.
  In addition to building community through identity, Church lists the following elements that help a child feel at home in the classroom
  • Building Community Through Familiarity
  • Building Community Through Warmth and Beauty
  • Building Community Through Trust
  • Building Community Through Predictability
  • Building Community Through Family Involvement
     A few of the activities I use………

                          1. Student Crests/Coat of Arms

I use the templates below….you can "google" family crests, family shield, coat of arms templates and get tons of printable crest choices.

Students begin by decorating their crests and then make self- portraits. For the self-portrait heads, I use multi-cultural construction paper and templates (cut from old manilla file folders) that children trace to cut the head shape.

Next, students glue the head to the construction paper and decorate their portrait to reflect what they are wearing that day (details practice). 

I type their names in a large font, print, and they add their names to the finished portraits.

Their personalities really shine through with this project…plus, you get an insight into their work habits (preplanning skills, following multi-step directions, etc.)  family make-up, student interests, fine motor skills, perception/spatial skills, speaking skills when they present/explain their creations to the class etc…..

Here are a few of the finished products……tooooooo cute! Notice the blue glasses…….and the new crew cut! Ha!  Precious! 

templates I use

I mount this laminated construction paper on the wall and to balance color and layout. It also makes for easy removal of the portraits at the end of the year… rips….students always want to take them home. :)

a "Proud to Be Me" sign will hang above the number line

look at the size of the dog :)

love the bangs and the future teacher :)

a future country music singer :)

2. About Me Bags
One of my talented colleagues found this on Pinterest….. (of course!)

The students shared the items in their bags and then wrote about each one….making a book…….focus = complete sentences, details, adjectives, capitalization, punctuation, speaking skills.

       4. Friendship Soup

A dry soup mix that students assemble and families take home

following Parent Orientation.  This unit is on TpT here.

      Finally, as teachers, we often feel we must be omnipotent in the sense that we have all the answers and every moment planned and scripted to proverbial total T! I'm guilty….are you?

        I challenge each of us to be vulnerable with our students….let them see that we make mistakes, we don't know all the answers…..and we love and accept them just as they are.

       BrenĂ© Brown, author, speaker, researcher….. studies relationships in terms of human connections and the ability to feel like you belong in a TED talk here called 
"The Power of Vulnerability".

        Her website is here.

       Also, be sure to hear the late Rita F. Pierson on TED here. Another amazing colleague, our Reading Specialist, shared this brief, powerful presentation with our faculty. 

Hoping we all remember the most important things we teach cannot be scored on an evaluation,
Dixie Pearls 


Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Welcome Back and Resource Ideas

Recognize this????

Yes, it's the messy setting-up-my-classroom desk! 
See the Common Core folder stickers and the huge, empty animal cracker jar that is now an official "estimation jar"…soon to be filled with a mystery number of items weekly ???? 

Welcome to a wonderful new year of teaching!
The first day for my students is tomorrow. I still get butterflies… you?

Here's a bit of what's been going on…..after I cleaned, unstacked tables and moved everything back into place. We have to dismantle our classroom each year so the custodians can wax floors and clean carpets…..which I hope will be replaced with tile soon really soon!

The timeline for our year is in the hall…a poster for each month.
I add photos and student work….by the end of the year you have an expose of the year….excuse the wired window photo…..didn't want to set off the alarm! :)
For the superstar theme info, see this post here.

Atop each pod (tables I call pods….I don't use desks because 1) I just don't like them. and 2) Tables make cooperative learning much easier!) on registration day, students have a welcome gift, papers to the left for parents to complete and give to me before leaving, and a folder of info to take home.
     The Cub Scout popcorn goes with our classroom theme and I wrote a poem about Superstars to go with the rest of the items in their gift pail. Other items are from The Dollar Tree….multiple packs so the each gift costs less than $1.25. :)….sans the cost of the popcorn from one of my scouting students last year.

Then, I placed each pail of goodies in a cellophane bag in our school colors and tied with ribbon in our colors.

Starting to look like a classroom! Behind the kidney table is the jobs chart. I organize the classroom as a community….open markets, we make our own money, students have jobs, etc…I'll do a post about that later.
Resource Idea 1
If you use a Promethean Board, I have a resource to share from Promethean Planet. It's a Daily Attendance and Lunch Count flip chart. While parents were completing the forms during registration, I took the children to the PB and showed them how to use the pens and menu to "sign in" each morning and let me know if they are buying lunch or not.
As you can see, the flip chart table to the left is boys and the girls' table is to the right. Students click on their name under the table, drag their name to the correct column under "present".  Next, they go to the menu, switch the function of the cursor to the pen, select what color they want the writing to be and then write "yes" or "no" under the table question "Are you purchasing lunch today?".
Find this resource here.

Resource Idea 2
     Since the children work at tables and sometimes need privacy, I made privacy screens by pasting two file folders together and laminating them. On the inside, I place a motivational editing checklist. You may download a copy here.

The privacy screens are stored in double-sided buckets along with the dictionaries. Each pod has a bucket containing these items.

Resource Idea 3

Our school systems calls the CCSS "Learning Targets". These are simply the standards put in kid-friendly terminology. :)
Two indicators on our teacher evaluations are:

 *students knowing what they are learning and having the standards visible in child speak…..i.e. "I Can" statements or Learning Targets

*having students reflect on learning (learning to self-assess)

To address these two indicators, I post the "Learning Targets" on the board weekly beside this poster………

and each student makes a "Learning Target" notebook.
On the first day of the week, students record the learning targets
 (I Can statements). 
On Fridays, they complete the reflective part by writing in their notebook….."What I did best"  "What I can do better"…….see below.

These are great for parent conferences, student conferences, accountability and developing metacognition of learning styles/preferences, and even goal setting.

Ohhhh……I saw this and plan on creating an activity using the value of letters……..isn't this neat?  Hhhhhmmmmm….maybe students could even determine the value of the their spelling words …or their name plus or minus a friend's….or which is greater/less than ….their first name or last name……there's literally a hundred ways to use the value of letters….a super review for new second graders. :)

Enjoy your new little blessings!
                  Dixie Pearls