What I’m Working On: Week of September 15-19th

Last week I started my Sunday blog posts about What I’m Working On and it really did help keep me accountable this week to what I was doing. Out of the four things on my list, I was able to get two of the LARGE items done and I’ve pulled the other two to work on this week as well.


Spanish Solve And Snips You Say?

Spanish Math Resources

Why yes, yes I do! Many teachers have reached out to me wishing that my resources also came in Spanish. I have acquired an amazing translator to work with me to get all of my resources translated just for you!

First up is the Solve and Snips! These interactive word problems, that are also self-checking, are perfect to use in an ESL or Bilingual classroom.

All teacher pages will remain in English while student pages will be in Spanish. Check out my Spanish Resources Category on Teachers Pay Teachers for all of the great resources as they come out!


What I’m Working On: Week of September 8-12th

Every week I receive numerous emails, blog comments and questions about what I’m working on and when things are coming out. I have decided that as a new weekly installment here on my blog I am going to do a post called “What I’m Working On” (WIWO for short). Check in each week on Sunday to see what I’m up to this week so you can see what to expect. Posts won’t be too much detail but rather a simple to-do list, without all the components of each, for the week.
So are you ready for week one?
Check back throughout the week for progress here as well as on Facebook! :)

How Interactive Notebooks Benefit ALL Learning Types {Blog Hop}

Last week I talked about what REALLY were Interactive Notebooks. I wanted to follow up today with how Interactive Notebooks can benefit multiple learning types. Join me today but also check out the other blogs who are linked up below joining me as well.


Every year we as teachers are given the task of making sure that our lessons align with the learning types of each of our students in our given classrooms. We walk in at the beginning of the year hoping for the best and knowing that we will do our best as teachers. What we don’t know is the various learning styles of our students and how they will affect our classroom make-up.

For the longest time (and for sure when I grew up), the traditional method of teaching was what we saw. There was direct instruction followed by practice and then assessment. Most of the practice for students was in the form of a worksheet to make for easy right or wrong answers with little room for creativity.

Using worksheets in the classroom if not implemented effectively and monitored can be counterproductive to student learning. Worksheets do have their place to help build on retaining of skills that students already have prior knowledge. When students are left to work on a worksheet independently, or even in a group, if done incorrectly then it requires extra time to be taken to unteach, reteach and then reassess.

When we as teachers allow students to be a part of their learning and interact with the skills that we are teaching they truly take initiative to go deeper. I know that time and time again I am asked about how Interactive Notebooks can help each student in a given classroom.

7 Reasons to Use Interactive Notebooks

This past Spring I wrote a guest post over at Minds In Bloom about the benefits of using Interactive Notebooks and how they reach each learner in our classrooms. The way that we set up lessons, make them interactive and develop their learning through output activities that they answer on their own most of the time with no definitive answer.

Take time to read the blog post on reasons to use Interactive Notebooks but also take some time to check out the bloggers below and their posts on Understanding Interactive Notebooks. I would love to hear what you have learned from the posts so please feel free to leave a comment (or two) on the blog posts you read.

Understanding Interactive Notebooks Blog Hop

Elementary Workshop Wrap-Up for Judson ISD

Talk about having a blast with a great group of teachers! Tuesday I was once again blessed to be in Judson ISD where I was working with 3rd-5th grade teachers on Integrating Interactive Notebooks in their classrooms. I’m just saying.. we had a blast despite some obstacles.

Obstacles you say? Yes, when I got to the building where the workshop was being held my copies were no where to be found. I didn’t freak despite the fact that my workshop is 100% Hands On. I was going to make it work! Next, I get into the classroom and I didn’t have a document camera to use to project what I was doing. Okay, small enough room I can show and tell. The room was FULL already about 30 minutes before I was even supposed to start… GREAT! No… even after I let another 15-20 people come in I still had to turn some away.

Good news came from it all… copies were made and delivered about 45 minutes into my 3 hour session. THANK YOU FOR THAT! The librarian brought a projector so I could show some pictures that I had synced up to my Dropbox account. The Show and Tell as well as anchor charts that we created kept teachers on task. And a full classroom just means that teachers are already asking administration to bring me back! WOOT!

Teachers at Work

After we went over all the basics of Interactive Notebooks and talked about who should use them, when to use them, how to use them and just what are they, we got busy! You can see the teachers are working hard at cutting and interacting with some BRAND NEW samples so they could create exactly what they could use in their classroom. I love how so many of the teachers had brought their own notebooks to use so they could have their notes and samples all together in an actual notebook.

I shared a lot of resources with the teachers that were there with me and I wanted to make sure I had a place for them to refer to later. If I am missing any link that you are looking for please leave a comment and I will get the link added.

Fonts used: Kimberly Geswein Fonts

Graphics used: Melonheadz

Flippable Template Pack (to create your own)

Interactive Notebook Starter Pack (FREEBIE)

Absent Student Editable Assignment for INBs

All About Interactive Notebooks (lots of links including 2 hour webinar)

Setting Up Your Interactive Notebook (video and FREEBIE Unit Tabs)

Checklists for 2014 Math TEKS (FREEBIE)

Interactive Notebook Contract (FREEBIE)

And of course we had some awesome giveaways! Thank you SO much to EduCents for supplying me with some gift cards to give some LUCKY winners below! I know they can’t wait to use their money to buy some awesome resources for their classrooms!

EduCents Gift Certificate Winners

I also gave away a few of my Flippable Template Packs to 2 teachers so that they could create their own Flippables for their classrooms. Can’t wait to see what they create!


Flippable Template Pack Winners


Book Study: Good Questions for Math Teaching- Algebraic Thinking, Data Analysis and Measurement

jamie and jenn

I’m excited to be back this week to share with you more about Good Questions for Math Teaching: Why Ask Them and What to Ask in Grades 5-8 by Lainie Schuster and Nancy Canavan Anderson (link below on picture of book).

If you missed my last post covering What Are Good Questions and How Do We Create Them, check it out first! Also, if you haven’t ready Jamie’s post from last week on Fractions, Decimals and Percents mixed with Geometry check it out as well!

Chapter 9 is all about Algebraic Thinking and starts with a pretty profound statement, “When we ask students to think algebraically, we are asking them to formalize patterns, analyze change, understand functions and move fluently between multiple representations of data sets.”  Doesn’t that relate to all areas of math? We are always formalizing patterns and representations of data whether we formally realize we are doing it or not.

Having students make predictions in all areas of math is a form of algebraic thinking that doesn’t force them into a formal algebra lesson or activity. When we as teachers ask the “good questions” we spark their want to dive further. Computational practice is important but it is even more important to have our students understand the meaning behind what they are doing.

Mathematical processing standards guide our students to justify their thinking and connect their thinking to prior knowledge. THis can be done at any and all grade levels if done systematically.

Chapter 10 related Data Analysis and Probability with appropriate questioning. Why are good questions important when students are discovering the concepts of Data and Probability? Students must reflect on the actions that are occurring to be able to understand the probability (or chance) in their daily lives.

Data Analysis and Probability is EXTREMELY visual! Not only should students be drawing their thoughts via charts, graphs or number lines but also writing out their thinking. This is where open-ended questions that truly make students think are important.

Incorporating manipulatives is important to help build the visuals in students minds as well… dice, dominoes, marbles, number tiles, spinners, decks of cards and so much more can be used.

And finally we come to Chapter 11 which covers one of the most important areas (in my opinion) that we as teachers need to cover with students. Measurement is a struggle for many and it continues to be a weakness for students throughout the years no matter what grade I have taught.

Questions for measurement need to not only require students to measure but also make connections to what they are measuring and prior knowledge. Measurement can easily be connected to geometry, number systems and analyzing data and therefore we can continue to enforce other skills.

So as to not give too much away, I would suggest that you all grab this book if you are looking for some solid foundations on building on concepts in your 5th-8th grade classroom. The last 5 chapters cover the different strands of mathematics and give strategies on how to stimulate these concepts to be understood with students in your classroom.

Book Study Questions

Don’t miss out on this book. It has definitely changed some of my thinking on how to guide my students to achieve their own success through asking the right questions.

book study large

Guest Post: Tanya Villacis for Earth Science Notebooks

 Today I am bringing you a guest post by a NEW blogging friend of mine. Tanya Villacis has become so excited about integrating Interactive Notebooks with her students that she has spent a great deal of time creating new flippables to make this year go so much smoother for her kiddos! Sit back, enjoy some coffee and read about her secrets to a great year!


Well it’s that time of year. Brand new pencils needing to be sharpened…freshly cut fabric sitting in the back of our cars for bulletin boards….new work outfits hanging in our closets. Back to school is among us. Summer is coming to a close and that twinge in our stomach is starting to set in. It’s not the sensation of sadness because we can longer sleep in till 9:00 (….okay maybe a little), but more the prospect of starting anew. A new school year calls for reflecting on the year before. There are always the grand successes and the unfortunate blunders that force educators to make decisions for the new batch of kiddos coming in. I’m still not over my colossal fail of a science experiment with butter and 44 students. Need I say more?

One new addition that I implemented to my teaching style this past year was flippables. THESE ARE MY RIDE OR DIE. I’ve used interactive notebooks for a few years now, but just recently dove into flippables.

What’s the secret to cutting doors and gluing paper that makes learning so much more fun for students? Whether it’s the flippable fairies sprinkling “engagement dust” on their little heads or the fluorescent cardstock I insist on using that is hypnotizing them, my students enjoy flippables. From my perspective they are more apt to take notes when using them and can really digest the massive amounts of knowledge I shovel down their little throats (thanks standardized testing).

I had great fun purchasing already made flippables on TPT throughout the school year when needed; however I reached a road block when teaching Earth’s rotation in science. OK….anyone who has taught Earth’s revolution and rotation knows my pain. Why do the curriculum gods insist on teaching such abstract concepts to 9 and 10 years old? I needed way more resources than the science textbook offered, but couldn’t find anything online.

Enter the lovely Jennifer and her IMPRESSIVE pack of flippables. This pack has EVERYTHING you could ever want. With extensive formats and options, making your own foldables tailored to your students’ needs, while aligned to your state’s curriculum (WOW, THAT’S A MOUTH FULL) is just a few clicks away.

It took me literally 30 minutes to put together 3 foldables for my students. With them we were able to really grasp the concept of Earth’s rotation and the connection to the seasons.

Earths Rotation and Revolution

*Click on the picture above to learn more about this resource*



  Of course there was also a hands-on component to strengthen understanding. I found squishy balls at Dollar Tree with a globe pattern. We poked a push pin on Florida and then took flashlights (representing the Sun) and modeled the rotation of Earth. SUCCESS. Mental light bulbs were going off all around my room that science lesson…or maybe it was all the flashlights that made it appear so bright.

Since that glorious science lesson I have made flippables for other various topics and subjects…Like these little guys…



You can find these products in my TpT store by clicking the images.

Be sure to check out Jennifer’s pack of templates. Thanks Jen for making our lives easier with your templates and thank you for giving me the opportunity to guest post.

Have a great 2014-2015 school year!