"Count" Math Goal Menu

If you read my previous post during Teacher Week you know that our school emphasizes individual goal setting directed by the students.  I did really well with this using the CAFE menu for reading, but I needed to find a way to do the same in math and writing. 

A few weeks ago I posted about my VOICES (for the six traits: Voice, Organization, Ideas, Conventions, Exciting Word Choice, Sentence Fluency) writing menu. And have that all set up in my room.  You can read more about it here.


So my next step was to do the same for math. I'm hoping that again this will be just what I need to get my students to be the amazing mathematicians and problem solvers I know they can be. I decided to base it on the strands of math listed in the common core state standards which meant I needed to think of a clever acronym for it.  Finally I worked it out so the menu will be called "COUNT" The letters stand for:

Counting and Cardinality (K only, but could still be posted for other grades)
Operations and Algebraic Thinking
Understand Geometry
Numbers and Operations in Base Ten/Fractions
Think about Measurement and Data 

You wouldn't believe how long it took to come up with an acronym that would work. (PACING and MOON GO were also in the running for options...I think COUNT makes a little more sense, don't you?)

So here it is! It includes goals for K5-3rd grade. 


I cant wait to get these posted in my room! Please check it out and give me some feedback if you have ideas that will make it better!

Welcome Back Night

Wow this week flew by! I was so busy getting everything ready in my room for back to school night on Wednesday I didn't have anytime to post this week. 

We had the best turnout this year! 17/19 of my students show up. Such an awesome group of kiddos, I can tell its going to be a great year, I still can't believe I'm really only teaching until Thanksgiving.... So many great questions from parents and excitement for the start of the year. Here are some pictures from our welcome back night.
 It was about in the 90's and humid all week with heat advisories, so me HAD to have some refreshments!
 A place for students to put their supplies.
 Our iPads charging for the first day of school :)
Here is the welcome packet and treat students picked up when they came in to visit.
 Sign in sheets outside of our classroom door.
And last but not least....The door we've been waiting for them to finish ALL summer. (did I mention they finished it that morning? Nothing like waiting til the last minute) Luckily I had enough time to get the rest of our classroom banners put up, our CAFE(reading) and VOICES (writing) boards up and very soon I will have a math menu up on the doors called "COUNT" that's my goal for today.  So I will hopefully post about that tomorrow :)

I'm really excited about the fact that I can have all of my students personalized goals posted on one wall that just happens to be behind my small group table.  It will be soooo helpful when conferring with students and definitely this OCD girl happy!

If you like the banners you can get them here:


There are 8 different banners (84 pages) that match my Freebie Welcome Banner. 
And the VOICES board, my current best seller :) is posted here:

How did your welcome back night go? Are you excited or terrified for the start of the year?

Organizing Your Classroom Library

Of you are like me you are obsessed with buying children's books for your classroom.  I cant believe how many books I have acquired over the past 7 years! I can't tell you how many times I have organized, and reorganized, (and  reorganized again) my classroom library.  If this is on your back to school to do list here is a little advice. :)

1. Find some really sturdy bins.  If you don't want to buy new ones year after year when the old ones break invest in some strong ones.  also try to find ones that wont be discontinued every year if you want them to match when you have to buy more the following year.  These are some great bins I found at Target 3 years ago for relatively cheap ($15 for 6).  They also come in a variety of colors and 3 different sizes and they've had them every year since.
2. Start piling books into categories that you seem to have a lot of.  Things to think about: themes/units you teach, favorite authors, series books, class books, leveled books, etc.

3. Find labels for your bins.  I made these ones for my classroom. 

You can get the labels for your classroom here:

4.  I attach my labels to the baskets with Velcro so they are easy to change if needed. When a basket gets too full I simply pull the label off and put it on a larger basket transfer the books and I’m done! Number your baskets in the small circle on each label.  Use small circle stickers to label your books with the matching number for its basket.  


5. Here are some resources for leveling books and organizing your books as well.



Don't forget to enter to win the labels for free, or any item from my TpT store.



a Rafflecopter giveaway

Daily Five/CAFE Professional Development

     A  few weeks ago I had the opportunity to present at a Literacy Institute for 100 fantastic teachers on Text Complexity and what it means in the primary grades.  I met some WONDERFUL primary educators at that conference and was so excited to get started on my own classroom after I left.  
     Well...the next day a principal that attended the Literacy Institute contacted me asked if I could come to present at her school in a few weeks as well... So I spent this weekend getting ready to present on the Daily Five/CAFE at her private school on Thursday.  I'm still fairly new at presenting professional development for other teachers, and I LOVE it, but to tell you the truth I still get really freaked out!

    I know I'm being super irrational but crazy thoughts start entering my head.  "what if all the teachers are super negative?" "What if no one laughs at my jokes?" "What if I cant find where I'm presenting?" "What if I forget something?" "What if the technology I need doesn't work?" "What if I run out of time?" "What if I have too much time?"  OKAY OKAY! I need to breathe. I'm sure it will be just fine :)

     So as I was preparing my presentation I found some  resources that I'd like to share with you all as well! The first I cannot claim as my own, but the others I have created myself.

1: Check in sheet from Christina Bainbridge. Grab a FREE copy here.
2.  Response Sheets for students to use during Read to Self or Read to Someone.  I put these in students poetry binder with a divider in the middle so they can easily flip to them to respond.  I ask my students to complete one think sheet every day and I collect them each week. Click here for a FREE copy. (If you'd like to see my post on poetry binders click here)



3. My weekly lesson planning page.  I created this page for myself to make sure that I was fitting in mini lessons in all of the areas of CAFE as well as a way to organize which groups and students I needed to pull.  You can download a copy FREE here.  Let me know if you have any questions!

Now just a quick question for all of you out there.  If you use the Daily Five/CAFE in your room, what tips or advice would you give to a group of teachers that have never tried it before? I'd love to share your ideas with the group of teachers I meet on Thursday!

Teacher Week 13: Teacher Tips and Tricks


Hmmm....Where to begin? There are so many great tips that I could give so I  decided to focus on individual goal setting with students.  


In our district we are really pushing for students to be setting their own learning goals in reading writing and math. This was a big adjustment for me this year. I was worried that my little ones couldn't handle this new responsibility, I mean come on they are only 5 right??  
Would they really choose an appropriate goal? 
would their goals be too easy? 
Too hard? 
Would they know when it was time for a new goal?

Well let me tell you that I was amazed at their progress and attribute a lot of that to individual self selected goals.  I feel like I did the best with this in reading last year.  Here's how it looked in my room:

Using the CAFE board was a huge life saver when it came to goal setting.  I could point to the board and after listening to a child read/taking a running record I would help the student reflect on their current goal or set a new goal when they were ready.  Students could then fill in their individual goal sheet independently because they simply had to copy the strategy from the card into an "I Can" statement.  The next time I met with the student we would discuss a learning plan and how we would know when they met this goal.  All of this hard work paid off and I only had 2 students not reading at grade level at the end of the year. (both of which were HUGE attendance concerns, I'm talking 40-50+ missed days of school, GEEZ)  Many of my students were reading a whole grade level ahead and the vocabulary you'd hear them using about their own reading was amazing (and pretty adorable too).

So my goal for this year? I need to do a better job of goal setting and conferring in writing.  Because the CAFE worked so well, I worked on a VOICES (for the six trait: Voice, Organization, Ideas, Conventions, Exciting Word Choice, Sentences Fluency) writing board. I'm hoping that this will be just what I need to get my students to be the amazing writers I know they can be. Check it out here!



Thanks for following along with me this week if you missed any of my other posts click here. 
Meet the Teacher
Classroom Tour
Organizing for Instruction
Classroom Management
Or to catch up with some other teachers, start here!


~Jess

Teacher Week 13: Classroom Management


I usually change my classroom management a little bit each year, but last year I started using the behavior chart/calendars from Angeline over at The First Grade Scoop.  I was so happy with how easy they were to use that I plan on using them again this year.  My kids loved trying to get to purple or pink and their parents really appreciated the daily communication with the matching calendars. Here is how they work and a few pictures too. 


Post the clip chart and attach a clothespin with each child's name. Every child starts on green each day.

I love that there are 3 options for positive reinforcement as well as several levels of reminders.  The matching calendars are what really sold me on this system however. 
Each child gets a copy of their calendar at the front of their BEE binder for the month. Then they color the square at the end of each day so that their parents can keep track of their behavior as well.  If a student is below green I also jot a quick number code telling their family the reason why.  This is a great behavior record for me as well because at the end of the month I keep the calendars in each students file as a record.

I also added an incentive chart from Teacher Ta.m. She has a cute pack of printable incentive charts with clip art themes for the whole year.  

Any child on blue, green or yellow receives one sticker on a sticker chart that they keep in their crayon box.  Any child making it to purple or pink by the end of the day receives 2 stickers! (super exciting when you are 5 years old) And anyone on orange or red does not receive a sticker for the day. Usually I make a phone call home for students on red, or talk to parents at pick up time as well.

Then I added my own binder of prize options for the kiddos when they fill their chart.  The best part? All of the prizes are FREE!  



They can choose to wear a silly hat all day, bring a CD to play during work time, have extra time on the computer, eat lunch in the classroom with me and a friend (always a favorite), and many more.

This system worked great for me last year, so hopefully this group of kindergartners responds just as well to it.  Of course there are always one or two that need more support with behavior.  then I use individual behavior charts customized to each kid.  They are usually broken down into smaller increments of the day and we set a goal for the number of smileys to get that day for example.  Here is one I used with a special little friend last year.

These also get signed and returned so I can keep a record if more intense intervention is needed.  Fortunately this little boy didn't even need this chart after about 2 months.  He actually asked if he could use the big clip chart again, and was super successful with it for the rest of the year.  

Check out the other classroom mangement systems at Blog Hoppin. And come back tomorrow for the last day of teacher week: Teacher Tips and Tricks


~Jess

Teacher Week 13: Organizing for Instruction


On to my
 FAVORITE topic: Organization (for instruction of course)! I'd love to share with you some of the work I have been doing over the summer to get myself organized and ready to tackle the year.


1. Curriculum Calendar for the Year

Here is my biggest project each year...Long range planning.  If you are curious what we are teaching in kindergarten throughout the year feel free to check them out by clicking on the link! We teach in units of Inquiry so the topics change each year on a rotating two year cycle so we have more time to go in depth on a topic.  We purchased the new Lucy Calkins Units of Study in Narrative, Informative, and Persuasive writing as a school as well so I changed up my writing plans which may have to be adjusted as the year goes on. I also added in the Common Core Standards this year which made up a majority of the changes from last year. If you have questions please feel free to ask!

2. Daily Schedule

Here is what my schedule will look like for the year unless anything changes in the next week and a half before school starts! Click on the link to download a copy.

3. Poetry Binders


Finally my poetry binders. I introduce a new poem each week related to the current inquiry topic so they change a bit from year to year. We read the poem on chart paper each morning as a class and practice visualizing the poem (by drawing in the box at the bottom of each page), finding letters, sight words, word chunks, rhyming words, and a million other literacy goals.  Students then have a copy in a binder in their book box that they can practice the same skills.  I find the poems from all different sources around the web and in books.  Here are the poems we are using this year if you'd like a copy for yourself.

Don't forget to check out all the other great ideas being shared at Blog Hoppin' this week.  I know I cant wait to try some new things in my classroom.

~Jess