Tuesday, July 30, 2013

Creativity and Choice in Writers' Workshop

My principal has decided to focus on the "4 C's" this year. The 4 C's stand for Collaboration, Creativity, Communication, and Critical Thinking.

As I looked at this list of words, I thought, "Wow, it would be nice for creativity to be more important in our day, but...." I am a pretty literal person when it comes to making changes or setting goals. If you say we should increase creativity in the classroom, I see this huge goal of immediately trying to be more creative in every subject. However, you know as well as I do that creativity often gets pushed out of the classroom to focus on skills, mastery, content, etc. and to make sure we are moving along at a break-neck pace to hit all of our objectives. (All of that makes me feel like I sound like a bad teacher--I promise, I think I'm pretty awesome at this job, but let's be real.)

So, as I sat through our meeting, I thought, "How can I at least incorporate a little more creativity to make an effort towards this ambitious goal?" Writing stands out to me as the time of day where I could surely aim for more creativity (and choice, and student-centeredness). Writing is like art--a creative outlet and process--it's messy, it takes time, and it could definitely be more creative than we allow it to be when we teach students through genres all year. (I now feel like genre-based teaching in writing is what keeps me from allowing students to develop more creativity. Writer's have choices, not only in topic, but also in format, so why shouldn't my students? I'll get to more about this later:)

I came up with a scary idea, but now that I have launched it (about 3 days in), I am SOOOOOO excited about the potential I see for amazing writing and for inspiring students to see themselves as writers with worthwhile things to say.

What if students could choose their genre AND format for (almost) EVERY writing project? At my grade level, we have realized how super-awesome it is to have our reading and writing units connected, at least by a thread. You get so much bang for your buck with this approach (like we did last year with our Holocaust Book Clubs/Literature-Based Essays).

We really want our reading and writing to be highly connected. We are reading Wonder by RJ Palacio as our beginning of the year read aloud, so I started listing all of the ideas I could come up with for ways to write with Wonder as an umbrella. Then, I decided I needed a graphic organizer with categories to help me launch this with students. I came up with: questions, real-life connections, imagine, and reactions. I thought these categories would encompass just about every thought, genre, and topic we could come up with.

This is what we came up with when I introduced this format for "thinking" during a reading minilesson. As students provided ideas, I did my best to make sure I turned them into more generalized topics. (So, if someone said, "Auggie got made fun of and I have too," I turned it into "getting made fun of." (The only place this didn't work--and it's going to be okay--was in the IMAGINE category. I definitely wanted students to imagine re-writing and adding to the story with this category.) To lead the minilesson, we focused on one category at a time. I provided students with one example and then asked for their ideas.
Keep in mind that we are only on pg 80+ in the book and were able to come up with all of these ideas. After reading more of the story, I know students will have more ideas. (After today's lesson, I decided this would be our focus in writing for the quarter--SO EXCITING!)

On Friday, I moved the lessons into writer's workshop. I gave students the typed list of their ideas and asked them to highlight ones that really stood out to them as something they would be excited to "spend a little more time thinking about." Notice, I didn't say WRITING. I didn't want to focus them (or turn them off) just yet. I wanted them to be completely open to just identify topics they were interested in. Next, I had them put star their top topic...and it was time for writers' workshop to be over :)

Today, we created a poster listing "Ways Writers Can Choose to Write."
We then chose one idea from the brainstorming chart for Wonder and thought about all of the ways we could address that topic through writing.

I was BLOWN away at my students' ideas and creativity (and we only had 10 minutes to make this brainstorm). Remember my first chart (scroll to top :)? The one where I identified the types of writing each section would lend itself to? My students were able to totally see through that. (BTW, I never shared the kinds of writing I thought the category would lead too--I didn't want to limit their ideas).  I told them that with "Why is it challenging for most kids to accept someone who is different?" as the topic, most teachers would immediately choose essay as the format. They didn't include essay in their ideas at all! (Although, I know the skills of essay writing will come in handy if they choose to write a blog post or letter). I am totally getting buy-in for all the lessons I want to teach--making those lessons more necessary because students are CHOOSING their format and writing topic.

Why I love this new approach and why I think it will work is because I believe that almost all lessons we aim to teach in "writing class" can apply to all genres of writing. Nonfiction authors use narrative (I just wrote a blog post; I think I've also told you some story.). How to use commas, show-don't-tell, support your ideas with evidence and examples, use narrative to get your point across--I think I've got plenty of lessons to choose from that will be beneficial, no matter the type of writing students CHOOSE to work on.

CREATIVITY and CHOICE. What do you think? It feels great to slowly be chipping away at their list of when "WRITING is the WORST..." :)

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Peek at My Week: Science Genetics Unit and MORE!

Here's to another Sunday spent planning.  The goal for next week is to get a few things planned before the weekend comes! To make this post a little shorter, I am breaking it into two parts. Tomorrow, I will share my reading and writing plans for some Minilesson Magic :)
This week, we have our mini-unit on genetics scheduled. Our students need to learn the following objectives:
* Explain why organisms differ from or are similar to their parents based on the characterisitcs of the organism.
* Give examples of likenesses that are inherited and some that are not.
For my student journal pgs, click here (free and in a pdf).

Monday: Set up science journals. The label shown above will be pasted into their notebook as a divider for our first unit of study. Complete the "Mice" assessment probe to see what students already think about how traits show up in organisms.
After students think about their own explanations, we will use the explanations above to make a bar graph for how they think offspring's fur color is decided. (This assessment probe comes from Page Keeley, Uncovering Student Ideas in Science).
Use 1st page of heredity video to explain heredity.
Tuesday: Fingerprints Lab (found this gem linked for free online)
Wednesday: Observing Human Traits Lab (free from Tamra Young on TPT); explain dominant and recessive traits and draw conclusions about what traits are dominant/recessive for humans based on classroom data)
Thursday: Complete active sort around the room for Inherited vs Acquired traits and make flipbook (free materials from Jennifer Findley)
Friday: Learn about Punnett Squares with Leprechaun Genetics (free from Making it Teacher

on TPT)
Other Resources that might be thrown in w/ extra time: 
Unit Outline from Moore County (includes a smartboard file to guide the mini-unit)
Peas in a Pod (Mendelian Genetics) online freebie; Questions to go along with the reading selection included (I made these last year)
Heredity (from Brainpop)
DNA (from Brainpop)
Animated Videos that explain DNA, genes, chromosomes, protein, heredity, and traits

This week in math, I will be getting to know my students better as mathematicians. I'm using some of the journal prompts/explorations from my Math Explorations that focuses on factors. (Not only will we learn about decomposing numbers, but students will be forced to use their multiplication facts). Since my Math Explorations are aligned with the mathematical practices, I thought it would be a good way to introduce concepts like communicating in math, perseverance, using multiple methods for showing work, using different strategies, etc. We are also going to continue working on our Summer Slide questions, which we started on Friday. 
Given time, I will also begin to introduce some of our math stations. For math stations, my team decided that we would have 4 stations this year, MATH SUPERSTARS, CONCEPT FOCUS, ALGEBRAIC, and something computer-based like Moby Max. 

 Morning Meeting:

 We are going to focus on perseverance all week. We have a county-wide assessment that is designed with all tasks focusing on perseverance, so this fits in nicely with morning meeting. The kiddos may not even realize they are being assessed.
Finish Strong
Erik Weihenmayer on Oprah (start at 1:21)

Hope you enjoyed peeking at my week! Tune in tomorrow for my reading/writing minilesson ideas for the week.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

Peek at My Week~Back to School Tomorrow!!

It's finally time! 
Here's a peek at my upcoming week! 

Farley’s Currently for the Classroom for JULY (I plan to use Currently every month this year! These will be great assignments to post in the hallway and I think Kiddos will love to see what was happening for them month to month.
If you've been reading my blog for a while, you know that I have fallen in love with morning meeting. Last year, I tried to squeeze it in from 8-8:15, but this year, I want to give it more time on the schedule, so I have blocked off 8-8:25. I have also begun working on a "Year's Worth of Morning Meeting Themes and Ideas" so that teachers can have a morning meeting resource ready for the whole year. This is going to take a little while to complete, but what you see above are the themes I am introducing this week. Basically, I want to have a quote, key words w/ definitions, read alouds, and videos/modern songs to match each morning meeting theme. In the future, we will focus on one theme for a week, however, I plan to introduce 5 important "beginning of the year" themes this week and spiral back to them in following weeks. I hope to get to belonging, kindness, perseverance, and legacy during this week's morning meetings.

Here's a peak at my morning meeting bulletin/display boards. I love the clothespins because I can just take down an old theme and put a new one up. (I also plan to have a display board in the room of past themes so that they stay on our minds). By the end of the week, we will definitely have identified a few classroom goals.
In addition to focusing on a theme per week, students will also have "Morning Meeting" journals this year. This will hold their reflections on the quotes we talk about and reflections on their personal goal setting. Who knows what else will end up in these notebooks--I'm sure we will have some classroom issues that need to be solved, so our brainstorms will also go in these notebooks. Basically, morning meeting is a therapeutic time to focus on being better human beings. I CAN'T WAIT to start our mornings like this! This week I will introduce each theme with a read aloud:
Launching Reader's Workshop Plans:
The goals for reader's workshop are simple this week. We won't have a ton of time to launch the full workshop with independent reading, but we will:
-learn about ourselves as readers (and share that with the teacher)
-discuss how to have our best reading life ever
-learn how to use our classroom library by understanding how it is organized
-set up our book bins with books that we are interested in reading
-set up our reader's workshop journals
-identify a book that is an "old favorite" and a book that we abandoned or struggled to read last year (won't this assignment give you sooo much info about your readers?) These books will be important in two future lessons I plan to do
-leave school with a "just right" book
-learn to set ambitious goals for our daily reading lives

Monday: Quick review of what it means for a book to be "just right;" explore classroom library and discuss how it is organized (maybe split class in half to work with two small groups and then come together to discuss these topics)
Tuesday: Read Alouds Aunt Chip; "I read Because sheet"; discuss ideal reading space and encourage students to create this space at home tonight
Wednesday: Aunt Chip; T-Chart: Reading is the best for me when/I don't enjoy reading when
Thursday: That Book Woman- How to Choose a Just Right book, finding books we love
Friday: Richard Wright and the Library Card (reading is a gift; people in the past have had to fight hard to receive this gift)

After lunch, we have a 20 minute block before we go to specials. I plan to do the following "fun" read alouds during this time.
When the kids return from specials, we are going to spend a lot of time on our first chapter book read aloud: Wonder by RJ Palacio. And, then we are going to organize all of our notebooks and materials.
Math and Writing will be my two subject areas that take a little while to get started. At some point, we will cover/decorate our writers notebooks and do at least a few journals/lists of writing ideas/etc. In math, I will definitely do some multiplication facts games to see who needs to study more and perhaps we will do something with our Common Core Math Mathematical practices, which we call norms.

It is a BUSY week for sure!! Are you exhausted yet? If you are still on break, lucky ducks! Although, I am pretty excited to get back into the swing of things and to enjoy this first week of school excitement!

Saturday, July 13, 2013

"Penciling in" a ^Worthwhile Writing Life

Back to School with students on MONDAY!!! :) I recently created a set of journal prompts and quotation posters for my "Building a Reading Life" minilessons. As I was getting ready for our upcoming year this week, I decided that I also wanted the same type of journal prompts and quotations for writer's workshop to help me get to know my students as writers. So, here it is!

***As I was making " 'Penciling in' a Worthwhile Writing Life," I decided that "chart parts" or anchor chart labels would be really useful, so this set includes four different designs of chart parts and I am going back today to revise my reading set to also include chart parts.***

From the teacher's note in "Penciling in" a ^Worthwhile Writing Life: "You might be wondering how you can inspire your students to believe they are writers this year, and in turn, help them become invested in improving their writing abilities. First, I want to remind you that for some of us, writing can be difficult depending on what our worries are. (Who's going to read this? What will they think about it? Am I spelling this right? Does it sound good? What will someone think of me if I actually write this down? Does this only make sense to me?--any of these questions might make a young writer freeze up before getting out their wonderful ideas.)

We can help students by teaching them that writing is a gift. Writing has something to offer me in my own life. Just like running (where I receive a positive way to deal with my stress, create more work-life balance, and reap health benefits), WORTHWHILE writing provides positive benefits. Not to mention, looking back on something we have written is a gift to our future selves. (This is the LOVE of writing perspective that we can express to our students). As a safe love of writing grows, other aspects will surely grow too--grammar, spelling, neatness, etc.—”

Chart Parts/Anchor Chart Title Pages/Bulletin Board:

14 Journal Prompts:

15 Quotation Posters about Being a Writer:

Putting together this set of quotes was so rewarding to me. It made me start thinking about the idea of "what writing gives us" because lets face it, I am a writer. I love to write to share things on my blog and I also do some pretty creative writing sometimes when I am putting together parent letters. I have to write emails, sometimes I have to revise and consider how to reword things to get the results that I want, and I also grab my writer's notebook often to write with my students. I can think of many positive benefits that being able to write with enjoyment gives me.

So, I aim to help my students see that writing is a gift to them too--like being able to talk, taste food, have a heart do the beating for us, lungs that breathe in fresh air, to hear the sounds of music or laughter, to feel the warmth of a handshake, writing is one of our human abilities that we are lucky to have!

My Building a Reading Life set has already received great feedback! 
I am so excited about these two new creations because it relieves the stress of my minilessons for the first few weeks of school. As I get to know my students, I can pick and choose which journal prompts and quotations would be most beneficial for them to reflect on and discuss. I can't wait to get to know my readers and writers this week and inspire them to BUILD and PENCIL IN worthwhile "life love literacy" lives. :) I think the reasoning behind my blog name has finally come to fruition...haha, 2 years later! 

You can now get my "Building a Reading Life" and "Penciling in a Writing Life" sets in a bundle! 

Need more ideas for Back to School Writer's Workshop? 

Happy Weekend! 

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

~Currently: July~

Listening: I have a Luke Bryan addiction. I am going through my country phase again and who better to do it with than Luke Bryan? It's a toss up between "Shake it for Me," "Crash My Party," and "I Don't Want this Night to End." Sexy smile!

Loving: Okay, hate to brag, but I have lost 6 or so more pounds this summer.(I started a transformation journey last August and lost 22 of my "being a teacher, cupcakes, wedding-retirement-baby celebrations, doughnuts, and everyday is a party" weight. I know it is all going to come back to me when I am back to a regular schedule. Summer-late-sleeping, a lack of desire for cooking (and broccoli), I have just ate less this summer. I know it! I've survived on salads, eggs for breakfast, Zone bars, water, a little soda, cheesecake, McNuggets (heck yes!) and I still worked out 2-4 days a week. Maybe I can maintain this when school starts back, but I'm pretty sure my caloric intake will increase and add the weight back on. Oh well, loving it for now, especially since I have guiltlessly ate cheesecake! :)
(Taking Farley's advice and sharing a pic :)
Thinking: Yes, school starts back JULY 15. Teacher Workdays started back this week. And, Monday we met as a staff until 12, Tuesday until 1, so what did I get done those days? Nada! :(
Wanting: Did you read above? Wanting MORE summer. One more week would be sufficient. However, I did turn my teacher brain off for a few weeks, went for a short sabbatical to the beach, and have had some extra special fun (read my "currently needing" :) So, last week, I got my mind frame right and worked on a few back to school things. Still, the stress of the first two weeks-----insanity!
Needing: This one obviously involves a man-boy. I am the most impatient in dating...I want to know, is this going to go somewhere or shall I move on....I hate playing the waiting game. I try really hard to enjoy the ride, but I would love answers to those questions that I hate to wait around on!
Tips, Tricks, or Hints: Don't spam on PINTEREST. I am not trying to hurt anyone's feelings and I bet I do a little spamming from time to time because I'm not sure who all is following the collaborative boards that I am on, but when I get a WALL of the same pin, I don't even look at it. I just scroll for more stuff. For me, pinterest works when something catches my eye. I scroll slowly and repin what I like, so a wall of stuff totally interrupts my pinterest enjoyment. Pin to boards that are VERY different if you can, and sit back and wait for others to pass your pin on for you. If you must pin more, log in later when you see more people have pinned things and pin it again.

Speaking of pinterest, are you following me? :) http://pinterest.com/tammy919/boards/ 
Head over to see what you would like to follow!I especially recommend my morning meeting board and my Get Ready: Back to School Board.

Head on over to Oh' Boy 4th Grade for more currently's and to link up your own if you are a bloggy friend! :)

Monday, July 8, 2013

Bloglovin' Bandwagon: Jump on It!

I finally had the time (WHAT AM I TALKING ABOUT, I started back to work today with teacher workdays!!) to make a bloglovin account.

And oh, how nice to see that I already have 108 people following my blog. That's so nice :) I love followers :) Each new follower I get on my blog and TPT is like a special little pitter patter in my heart. It's like silent little feedback that something in this blogosphere of the W-W-W (world-wide-web :) is resonating with other teachers. That's exciting. If you are a follower, thanks so much. If not, all it takes is a click and now you can follow me on
Follow on Bloglovin

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Top 10 (or more!) Back to School Read Alouds: Love of Reading

What read alouds are your MUST READS during the first few weeks of school? In the next few weeks, I am going to share groups of read alouds that I use for various purposes at the beginning of the year.

One of the main focuses of my read alouds for the first few weeks of school is a "love of reading." Here are some of my favorite read alouds to use to provide students with a variety of perspectives on having a great reading life and developing (or continuing) an appreciation for and love of reading:

Aunt Chip and the Triple Creek Dam Affair, Patricia Polacco
(All time favorite for Reading Life!) What happens to a town when a tv tower comes along? Books become furniture, props, pot-hole fillers. Can Aunt Chip, the town's old librarian bring Triple Creek back to life with a love of story, books, and the printed word? 

Thank You, Mr. Falker, Patricia Polacco
I'm sure you are familiar with this one, but Patricia Polacco was a struggling reader herself. Mr. Faulker was a teacher who made a difference in her reading life.

The Bee Tree, Patricia Polacco
When Mary-Ellen gets tired of reading, grandfather shows her how to follow the bees to a tree with honey. "Just like we ran after the bees to find their tree, so you must also chase these things adventure, knowledge, and wisdom through the pages of a book!"

•More than Anything Else, Marie Bradby
During Emancipation, Booker T Washington pursues learning to read. This reminds me of one of my favorite reading quotes, "Once you learn to read, you will forever be free!" (Frederick Douglass)

•That Book Woman, Heather Henson
That Book Woman makes her rounds throughout Appalachia and turns the most uninterested child into a reader.

The Wretched Stone, Chris Van Allsburg
The Wretched Stone entrances everyone when it is found. The men on this ship turn into monkeys and have a hard time thinking and remembering anything after watching the wretched stone for hours. (This is great for making inferences and discussing figurative vs literal--the wretched stone is a figurative television. Re-read the book after figuring this out to show students all the things Chris Van Allsburg says about the "wretched" television.)

Richard Wright and the Library Card, William Miller
What if you didn't have the right to get a library card? What if a love of reading was something you had to pursue with perseverance and at the risk of being caught? Our students don't know how blessed they are to have parents and teachers who try to instill in them a love of reading and who help them pursue reading, no matter their struggles. (set in the 1920's segregated south, Richard eventually learns to read and becomes a writer.)

The Librarian of Basra, Jeanette Winter  and Alia’s Mission: Saving the Books of Iraq, Mark Alan Stamaty
When Alia, a librarian and lover of books, is caught in the war zone of Iraq, her love of reading transcends her fear of danger. She saves 30,000 books from being destroyed. These two books tell the same story, but Alia's Mission is more of a graphic novel.

•The Wednesday Surprise, Eve Bunting
This book has a twist. The granddaughter and grandmother read together every week. Throughout the book, you may be thinking the granddaughter is learning to read, but at the end you find out she has been teaching the grandmother how to read. Great for discussing illiteracy.

•Amber on the Mountain, Tony Johnston
Another story set in Appalachia. Anna comes along and teaches Amber how to read.

•The Library, Sarah Stewart
Elizabeth is a true bibliophile, so much so that her house is overflowing with books. Eventually, she has to figure out what to do with all of her books. This is a quick read in poetic form. Easy to squeeze in at some point during my back to school week!

• Please Bury Me in the Library, J Patrick Lewis (poetry)
Mix up your love of reading discussions and read alouds with a little poetry. Some of my favorites from this book are "Are You a Book Person?" and  "Please Bury Me in the Library."

This past week, I worked on polishing a "Reading Life" packet to help me with my first few weeks back to school. I created 15 reflection templates (in 1/2 page form) and 16 quotations about reading (these are in poster form and in a form that you can print for students to put into a reader response). This set of journal sheets and quotations are meant to initiate discussions and minilessons about a love of reading and to lead your students in carving out time for the best reading life they have ever had. I also like to participate in this reflection and share my own "reading life" goals with students (like trying to read more for myself, trying to read a book that one of them has recommended to me, etc.) IF YOU HAVE PURCHASED THIS PRODUCT, IT RECEIVED A BEAUTIFUL REVISION 6/26/2016, so please go re-download in your tpt account!

I made sheets of the quotations so that I can copy them and give them to students to analyze, to help us have discussions, and most importantly, to help me learn more about their reading lives so that I will have some ideas about how to help them have the best reading life ever!

I created 15 1/2 sheets to go into the "reading life" section of their journals. I will not use all of these at the beginning of the year, but I thought that the ones I do not use early in the year would be great for "boosters" when we need to revisit our reading life conversation (for example, when we return from our first break or as "New Year's" reflections for reading.
Last year, I called my Reading Life unit "Coaching Your Own Reading Life." I decided to divide students' reader response notebooks into four sections (these are included in my reading life product):

What is the purpose of each section?

My Reading Life holds beginning of the year “Reading Life” journal prompts, responses to quotes, and can contain responses to the end of classroom read alouds. We use an “I remember” structure to celebrate and respond to a book when we finish it.

Coach’s Huddle: a place to put handouts from the teacher, record notes from mini-lessons,etc.

Practice Time!: In this section, students respond to the classroom read aloud; it is used as a space for active engagement during mini-lessons and for students to practice a concept with teacher support.

Game Time: When students respond to their own reading (or book club books,) it’s GAME TIME. This is when students take what they have learned about reading and apply it with their own responses.

Students started to run out of pages in their marble notebooks this year. Some students glued another marble notebook to their first, so this year, I am just going to have everyone glue two together from the beginning of the year. How exciting! (Maybe I will tell you more about how much I LOOOOOOVED reader response this year~we instituted a 10 minute write right after minilesson and it did WONDERS!)

I hope you LOVE LOVE LOVE reading as much as I do. And, I especially love to turn my struggling, apathetic readers into READERS for life. I hope I am ready for whatever challenges my students have in store for me this year...only 7 more days until the first day of school! :)

Monday, July 1, 2013

New MATH Task Cards for Back to School!!


I currently have 6-1/2 days until I go back to work :( Next Monday, we begin our whirlwind of teacher workdays to get ready for the new year that begins on July 15th! I know it's an early start to the year, but I will be looking forward to my 3 week break in September :) (as well as starting a new year with a great group of new kiddos and enjoying every minute of being a 9th---WHOOOAA!--year teacher.)

One of my goals this year is to create more math task cards for the concepts that I have not yet made task cards for. I started making task cards mid-year last year, so now I'm getting my task card ideas for the beginning of year together. One of my convictions with my math task cards is to make them more special than just a bunch of practice problems. I have already made task cards through different themes, but I also try my best to find ways to make them more engaging, authentic, and when I am lucky, I find those real-world connections that hopefully teach students more than just the math skills.

I am soooo getting ready for the first month or so of school, as I have just completed three sets of math task cards. Here's what's new (and ready for "Back to School!")

1. My first accomplishment is my "Summer Slide" set. I created 56 questions related to summer vacation to review 4th grade common core concepts. I was able to make questions to review Number and Operations in Base 10, Number and Operation-Fractions, and Measurement. I am excited to use these problems the first two weeks to get a really good understanding of what my students remember from 4th grade BUT OHHHHHHH SO GLAD not to be giving a traditional paper based assessment to get to know them better as math students. (These would also be good to give to an advanced 4th grade class at the beginning of the year or as a pre-assessment for 4th grade concepts).

If your students didn't have amazing summer vacations, they can look forward to experiencing some of Walt Disney World, Disneyland, a day the beach, the coastlines of the United States, and summer cookouts with these problems. (I didn't go anywhere too amazing this summer either, just the beach, but I loved researching Disney World and random summer facts to make this set of questions, so I know your students will LOVE them too! And, for those who have never visited some of the places mentioned, they can gain some of the background knowledge that other students have.)
The summer slide download also includes concept analysis sheets for you to analyze student strengths and weaknesses. This set of cards is meant to serve as a pre-assessment that helps you get to know your kiddos as math students. These charts will be valuable when you begin individual units during the year as you will know which students need extra support.

2. My newest idea hit me when I was working on the "Summer Slide." How about learning about the 50 States and doing math at the same time? How about using REAL-WORLD data to learn some of the (silly) objectives in Number and Operations in Base 10 required by the common core? Let's compare digits, round numbers, use exponents, expanded form, word form, and more using state populations, by comparing distances from the state Capitols to the largest cities, looking at the longest rivers in the United States, and more! These products have required a lot of research to get the numbers, but it has been so worthwhile. After I get all of my "Around the USA" sets finished, I want to find a way for students to take the information to the next level with some kind of 50 states project that incorporates math but also helps us meet the requirements of our social studies curriculum.

 I'm so excited about these task cards and hope you love them too! I have lots more ideas for the "Around the USA" theme that I hope to get started on this week. I also may have some task cards sets with "Around the USA" theme for lower-grades classes, so please go follow my TPT store.
Happy 4th of July Week!


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