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.

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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!


Math in Real Life: Where Does the Time Go?

It’s the first Wednesday of July which means it’s time for our monthly linky – Math IS Real Life!!  If you want to see how the linky works, or just want other real world math ideas, check out our Pinterest Board of all the posts so that you can look back and find some great ideas and REAL pictures to use in your classroom!  
If you are linking up, please include the below picture AND a link back to all four of our blogs – feel free to use the 2nd image and the links listed below!
A monthly REAL WORLD math blog link-up hosted by
   ~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~*~Do you ever wonder where the time goes? Seriously I could have sworn it was just May and everyone was getting out of school and now it is August and everyone is getting ready for a new school year. What’s with that?Well I guess this summer has been quite busy and I’ve done quite a bit.Boxes Everywhere Summer started with a move across town which took us over two weeks from packing to the almost daily multiple trips. Subway Bathroom Art Got to spend some time this summer crafting it up and decorating the new house. Can’t wait to continue to do more of that as well. All Things Interactive Notebook Webinar Recordings Provided my FIRST of many webinars to all of my followers! Thank you all for attending and continuing to watch the recordings. TpT Peeps Met some amazing peeps (Ciera, Brenda, Amanda and I) at the SDE Conference in Louisiana. Met Deanna as well but that’s for another picture! :) Hospital Had a blast in Vegas until I had to come home early because of a Kidney Stone. Ended up having surgery to remove the stone that was blocking all access to my left kidney. MUCH BETTER NOW! CAMT Presentation Presented at Conference for the Advancement of Math Teachers on the Enhancing Student’s Achievement with Interactive Notebooks. By far the biggest and best conference yet! Met with roughly 400 teachers in my two sessions and over 5,000 teachers in the course of three days at the booth. 5thGradeINB And now back on the road to creating amazing new units just for the teachers that I love! Wow, I guess I really did get a lot accomplished this summer. What about you? How about asking your students what they did over the course of the summer and letting them create it as a story problem. The discovering the fractional part of the summer they spent on various things, or even ratios and proportions…. the possibilities are ENDLESS!

Book Study: Good Questions for Math Teaching (5th-8th)

jamie and jenn

I’m excited to share with you about a new book this week that I am reading, 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).

Good questions make the difference in any classroom no matter the subject matter. When we as teachers take time to ask well thought out questions it will set the stage for deeper understanding for our students. We all know how important it is for students to not only understand what they think but also how to get from point A to be point B.

What Are Good Questions?

Good questions help students not only make sense of their learning but also help to raise students confidence about breaking apart their own misunderstandings. Open-ended questions allow students to provide their own answer rather than just a canned response. Good questions also promote students to delve deeper.

How Are Good Questions Created?

When we take time to plan our lessons we should also think ahead to what our end goal is for our students. With this in mind we can develop questions to implement not only in our lessons but also our assessments. Beginning with the “end in mind” requires that we understand our content and objectives clearly.

What Are the Teacher’s Responsibilities in Presenting Good Questions?

When you are presenting questions in your classroom the NUMBER ONE thing is to understand the question yourself! Knowing misconceptions that will arise with students ahead of time as well as ways to prevent those misconceptions is also key. Spending extra time during the presentation to clearly explain will save you time on the backside from having to unteach, reteach and reassess.

What Classroom Conditions Are Necessary to Support Good Answers?

A supportive and open classroom is necessary at all grade levels. Students should feel open to express their thinking without risk of feeling “stupid”. Building a safe environment in your classroom starts from the first time students walk into your class. They must know that communication is part of their learning and sharing with others helps to develop their learning.

Disagreements are okay and should be allowed as long as they stay in control. When students have different thoughts that they can then talk about this deepens the understanding for all involved.

I am absolutely loving this book and I think it will help me beyond the classroom as well when I am training with teachers. I truly think that we all need to work on communicating better and the basic steps in this chapter on how to do so are great.

Don’t have a copy of the book and want to grab one to add to your professional library? Feel free to click on the image below to grab it today from Amazon!

Book Study Questions

Make sure to take a moment and check out the first post for the Kinder through Sixth grade version of the Good Questions for Math Teaching Book that Meg from The Teacher’s Studio Posted last week.

meg and jennifer f

We are here all summer long bringing you some great insight from these two books! See you again in two weeks!

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Monday Made It: Marketing, Planners and Conferences

Week three of Monday Made Its and I am still going strong! This week is full of organization and preparing for some upcoming (and most recent) conferences. Thank you so much Tara for allowing us to share all of our great creations with the education community once again!


First thing was to create a rack card to hand out at my OCTM conference. These went over well and many new people were able to grab my Interactive Notebook Starter Pack as a FREEBIE! I will be using these for the upcoming conference in New Orleans as well.

Rack Cards for Conference

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This week I also got my planner in from Best Value Copy that I had custom made for me. I had to get started on organizing it and getting it all pretty right away!

First thing was that I grabbed some NoteTabs by Avery just like I had on my planner last year. I really like these because they are not only durable but I can write on them and they won’t harm my book if I need to move one of them.

Organizing my PlannerAdding Tabs

I didn’t stop there with working in my planner. I pulled out some of my Washi Tape and blocked off times in my weekly calendar that showed I was going to be at one thing for a few days. Had to use all different colors! :)

Blocking Off Time

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And the last time that I started just wasn’t going to be finished in time because there are still some steps to do. They should be finished this week but so far this is how things are looking. I spray-painted the edges of some vintage suitcases (there will be 4 in all) with black. Loving how it’s looking so far.

Step One of Next Weeks Monday Made It

And after last week of sharing some storage containers that not everyone could find, I thought I would share these that I found yesterday at Michael’s. They are $14.99 and on sale for 40% off this week! Add in your teacher discount and you are getting the 6 mini containers (photo sized) inside the larger container for less than $9 after tax!

Task Card Storage from Michaels

Thanks again Tara for another great Monday Made It! I’m off to go hop and see what else everyone is creating!


Monday Made It

Book Study: Guided Math Chapter 3

Chapter 3

So happy to be here talking about Guided Math in the Upper Elementary and Middle School classroom once again. If you missed last week’s post, feel free to jump back over and check it out.

Chapter 3a

For years I had students working on a warm-up when they entered my classroom. Middle school students were reluctant at times to get this started much less complete it during the time allowed. All of this led toward frustration for me and therefore the connection wasn’t built for them to truly enforce their skills.

In the most recent years I started using those first crucial minutes as the “Mad Minutes” in my classroom. Students used that time to prepare for our lesson to begin. I noticed that since this time was crucial for them to be prepared they truly did use it wisely.

Students would walk into the classroom, grab the materials for the day from the table next to the door, look at the directions on my screen and get busy. This typically was to prepare their Interactive Notebook for the day (title, date, update Table of Contents, and cut the flippable for the day if we had one).

This did allow students a few moments to get their wiggles out as well as they were interacting and previewing the materials for the day to develop some connection to prior knowledge. This also gave me those crucial moments to take care of the necessary teacher business in the beginning of a class.

Chapter 3b

Connections made to Math in Real World are important beyond measure. One of the ways that I started concentrating on this in my classroom is bringing my students names and interests into the word problems that we solved. What better way to engage them?

Real World Connections in Math using Solve and Snips

My Solve and Snips are all based on real students, real interests and real world problems. Not only do the quick 10 problems engage students to work through things that they may not necessarily connect with being mathematical but they are also self-checking.

Guided Math Book Study 2014

Have you grabbed your copy yet? Well, take a moment, hop on over to Amazon and grab it today! You won’t be disappointed with all the goodness that Laney has to offer!

Another week, another giveaway! Make sure to enter to win as you won’t want to miss out on this great prize!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Don’t forget to check out the other teachers who are participating in the Guided Math Book Study for all of their insights on Chapter 3.