Five for Friday: Say Goodbye to January!
I am linking up with Doodle Bugs Teaching to share what I have been up to this last week in January!

We continued working on our Martin Luther King activities. February is Black History month too, so it is no big deal that we are extending our unit into February, right? We made these adorable MLK crafts from Teach to the Core's 13 American Heroes packet. I am in love with this packet and so are my kids.
My kiddos have been struggling with main idea and details, so I made them some special bookmarks to help them with the concept. 

We made flap books to help identify and use main idea and details. I gave the kids 3 different main ideas about polar bears. They cut and glued them to the front of their flap book. Next, they cut out several details and had to sort and glue them so they went with the correct main idea. They did a fabulous job and were completely engaged! I'd call that success. The bookmarks and flap book activities are a part of my new Mastering Main Idea and Details packet. If you would like to read the blog post about it, click HERE.

We started to get ready for February by making these cute little robots. Isn't he just adorable? This bundle of cuteness is from my sweet friend Aimee from Primarily Speaking. It is part of her Love Bot craftivity packet. Make sure to check it out and bring some LOVE into your classroom too!

Jen Lium's photo.
Are you ready for some football???  I am celebrating the "BIG Game" weekend by throwing a fun, little sale in my TpT store and TN store this weekend! I am going to have select items for 50% off Saturday and Sunday in my TpT store AND my entire TN store will be 20% off all weekend. Be sure to check it out!

Mastering Main Idea & Details!

Do your kids struggle with learning main idea and details? It seems as though it should be a pretty simple concept to teach, but not with my students. We are stuggling! Just when I think they have it, I get the deer in the headlights look on their faces. NOOOOOO! 

I have been doing a bunch of brainstorming and have come up with several new ways I am going to tackle this common core standard in my classroom. I just finished making a Mastering Main Idea & Details packet to help me accomplish just that.

It is full of crafts: 6 to be exact! Each one can be used with any story OR it can be used with the main idea and detail sentences included. Some of them I have made extra challenging because I have provided the students with extra information and they have to sort which sentences go together and which to leave out. Differentiation has to be easy and this is one way to accomplish that.

I have also included sample anchor charts, flap books, topic, main idea and detail activity pages with answers sheets. I find explaining a topic and main idea are hard concepts for my second graders, so I have created different activities to help with that too.

I also created a little student "gift" to help my little guys remember the concept. I finished getting them ready this afternoon. I LOVE how they turned out!

My kiddos are sure to be experts with main idea and details after all these activities. No doubt about it! BUT just to make sure, I also created Main Idea and Details Task Cards. I truly believe they cannot review this concept enough. These cards are great because there are 4 sets of non-fiction text with multiple choice and free response answer choices. This is an easy way to meet all your students' needs at various levels.

I am so in love with my new Main Idea & Details packet and I want to share it with you.  Just leave a comment below with your email and I will choose 2 winners tomorrow evening. Congrats to Laura and Marie M. Check your inbox for a little surprise! This packet will also be on sale for the next couple of days. I hope these activities will get you excited to teach main idea and details to your students too!

Weekly Wrap Up: Giveaways and Freebies for All

Well, I have to say this week FLEW by! We did NOT get most of the week off because of snow, like many of you. However, we did have Monday off for Martin Luther King Jr. Day, so our week was short. I tried to pack my week with activities, and of course, I didn't get to all of it! Story of my life, my friends. But here are the highlights:

Today, my kiddos were working on a very difficult lesson in our math series. They had to use logical reasoning to solve math problems. As most of you know, seven year olds don't have the best sense of logic, so this is a tough topic. However, I was so proud of my kids today. They partnered up and there was great discussion and team work happening in my classroom. Most of them worked through the activities beautifully. 

Are you a Pinterest Addict? Well, I am! Some of my sweet blogging friends and I have joined together to bring you Teachertastic Resources. Make sure to follow this board so you don't miss out on all the awesome ideas and products being created.

I just finished up a set of Parts of Speech task cards to use with my class. They never seem to get enough practice with it. I created this for quick and easy review in my classroom. I love the versatility it provides my students. It can be used independently, at centers, small groups or even as a whole group review. It covers nouns, verbs, adjectives, adverbs, and proper nouns. I also created anchor charts to "refresh" my kiddos memories of each of the parts of speech. There are five sets of task cards with multiple choice and free response answers. And...this packet is on sale through this weekend!

I have teamed up with many of your favorite bloggers to bring you a Facebook Free-for-All this weekend. You are going to want to stock up on your printer ink and clear all those memory sticks to grab all the amazing freebies being offered. Head on over to my Facebook Page. Click on the Free for All tab and like my page. Then, get started grabbing all the freebies! It runs from tonight until January 27th!

I am also participating in an awesome giveaway hosted by my sweet friend Deirdre at A Burst of First! Head on over to her blog to enter and be able to win a boat-load of awesome prizes from some of the most creative bloggers around. This giveaway runs until Jan. 28, so be sure you don't miss out!

Celebrating Dr. King

Today we remember and celebrate the memory of a great leader, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. We also get to have a wonderful day to sleep in a little longer, create things for our classrooms, organize our lives and reflect. I spent part of last week, educating my sweet students about MLK. I wanted them to know why they were getting a day off from school and the importance of MLK's life to our country. I created a packet of activities to use with my kiddos: Martin Luther King Jr. Activities 

We started our week with a story about Martin Luther King Jr. from National Geographic Kids and used the vocabulary cards from my packet to help with comprehension and understanding. We followed up with a vocabulary review page that we used in our ELA interactive notebooks. 

As we were reading about MLK's life, we created a classroom timeline of his life. I chose to use the premade timeline in my packet this year, due to time constraints. However, there are also blank templates in the packet you can use to have your students make the timeline themselves.

We finished the week by making a paper bag book of MKL's life. The kids loved this activity and it was meaningful because they were in the process of learning about his life. I prepped and stapled the paper bags ahead of time for the kids. They spent time coloring and cutting the parts. Then, as a whole group we assembled the books step-by-step so there was little room for error.

The kids were so excited to take their books home and start sharing their new found knowledge with their families. 
We are going to continue our MLK activities this coming week too. We just didn't have enough time last week to fit it all in. Can't wait to show you what we are up to. 

Enjoy your day of reflection, rest and relaxation. Happy Birthday, Dr. King!

A Day Our Way- My Classroom Schedule

A day without a schedule=CHAOS!

I am linking up with Amelia at Where the Wild Things Learn for her exciting linky party:

Before I share my schedule, here is my disclaimer.... This schedule is only a basic guideline for the day. On any given day, something WILL need to be changed, altered or taken out/added to our schedule. My kids know that we do not always get to everything on the schedule, and that it OK. There is always tomorrow! 

Morning Warm Up: This is my favorite time of the day because my students know EXACTLY what to do. They are independent. They know the routine and they get right to work. Each student has a warm up folder in their desk which has the morning work for the week. It includes review of language arts skills, proofreading paragraphs, printing and math practice. When they are done, they work on unfinished work from previous days, read, use IXL etc. During this time, I am taking care of morning business, and meeting with any students that need review. At the end of the time, we correct our warm up as a class.

Language Arts Direct Instruction: We are required by our district to use a direct instruction scripted program. As any good teacher knows, this does not work for every student or teacher. We spend time on phonics review, reading strategies, comprehension, grammar etc. We also work in our interactive ELA notebooks. During this time, I supplement with many of my own materials to make sure the needs of all my students are being met, all while teaching to the CCSS.

Writing: We have a short writing block in the middle of the day. However, it seems to be the perfect amount of time to break up the writing process for my kiddos. Each of the days of the week is usually a directed lesson, brainstorming, drafting, revising and then publishing. It does not always work that smoothly, but we try.

Math: Again, we have a math program that has tried to be Common Core aligned, but doesn't quite meet my students needs. During this time there is always a directed lesson and then small group work/exploration and independent practice. I use this time to reinforce skills in our interactive notebooks too. I also supplement heavily during this time with my own hands-on materials.

Social Studies/Science/Health etc. If this is not integrated during Language Arts instruction, we use this time for it. 

The day flies by and many times lessons overlap and tie into one another to make it more feasible to get to everything.

Head on over to Where the Wild Things Learn and share your schedule with all of us too!

What is IXL Math? Are You Using It?

I have been wanting to write a post about IXL Math for a couple months now, but I needed to use the program in my classroom before I could honestly tell you about it!  I have been using the IXL Math online program in my classroom since November. My school purchased a site license for a year. Each student in grades K-12 has their own account for MATH only. Yes, I work at a small K-12 span school. Finding a program that can meet the needs of all our students, site wide is next to impossible. However, IXL Math goes above and beyond! It is amazing!

Here is how it works:
Each student has their own personal account. All you have to do it input your class roster and IXL generates a list of user names and passwords. I printed this list for my records and keep it in a plastic sleeve in my plan book. At first, students can't remember their passwords or they use capital letters and they need to be lowercase etc. So, it is essential to have a class list nearby. IXL also generates a letter you can use to send home to parents explaining the program and how they can use it a home with their child. I sent this home immediately with the user name and password too.

I have bookmarked the home log in page on my classroom computers to make getting started easier for the kids. Once they are logged in, this is what they see:

It shows every grade level Pre-K through Algebra 2 and how many skills are available to practice at each grade level. My kiddos click on second grade. This grade level happens to have 221 skills to practice. All of the skills are Common Core aligned!!! Yes, that is correct.... Common Core aligned. Just click on the standard you are teaching and it tells you which lessons the kids should work on. I post a list of lessons that review standards I have already taught, so the kids know which standards to review.

This is just an example of some of the second grade skills students can practice. All they do, is click on the skill and then off they go!

Here is the beauty...everyone works at their own pace. If you have advanced learners, they can move ahead. If you have struggling learners, they can go back a grade level and practice the skill they missed and then move on.
The first arrow points to the skill being practice. It also shows you how many problems have been practiced with that skill and how long it took the student to complete the number of problems.

If a student misses a problem this is what they see:
The correct answer is displayed and an explanation shows how it can be solved correctly. If your students are younger, and have trouble reading, the problems can be read to them too!

Another part of the program I love, is the awards screen. As the students answer questions, they earn awards. This is an example of one awards page in my class.
This student has practiced on IXL for almost 2 hours and has mastered 19 skills. I love the visuals and how positive it is for the student. It gives them a goal to their next win and reinforces how well they are doing!

As a teacher, there is a reports section that I love! I get weekly emails about how each student is doing. I can monitor what skills they are working on and how much time they have spent practicing. Everything is transparent! If a student is working on skills that are too easy for them, I can redirect them to the skills they need to practice. It also shows skills where your class is struggling, so you know right away what to reteach!

If you have a computer lab at your school, you can take your class to practice IXL. As they are working, you can monitor what each student is doing from your own computer! Yes, you can "spy" on your students. If you tell them to all work on two-digit subtration skills because you have a test on that skill later in the week, you can see if they are actually doing it and how well they are doing. Then, you can redirect or go help those students who are struggling! Simply incredible! Real time data that can be used immediately to improve instruction!

I could go on and on about the incredible features of this program! I simply love how it meets the needs of ALL of my students, as well as mine, as a teacher. I think the home connection is crucial too! Parents can monitor their child's progress at home. For homework, I ask the students to try and practice for 20 minutes each day. The constant reinforcement is essential for their success! Parents love the at home component too!

Please know I have not been contacted by IXL to write a review in any way shape, or form. This is just my opinion from what I have seen in my own classroom with my students. If you have any questions about the program, please email me or leave a comment below. I will do my best to answer them! 

Currently-Ringing in 2014!:

2-0-1-4!! What is that all about? 
I can't believe another year and another month have ended! I am looking forward to new beginnings and making amazing memories this coming year!

Now, it is time for the first Currently of the year:

1. I LOVE watching the Rose Parade on New Year's morning! I am not sure why. I just remember growing up watching it with my parents and now I do the same with my family. Pajamas...snuggling with my boys....lazy morning... I just love it!

2. I am THRILLED to still have a week and a half off for break. The extra week is such a blessing. It gives me more time with my family and some extra time to work on my classroom planning and TpT products.

3. A new year means a fresh start! 2014 is going to be a great one!

4. I can't wait to book my room for this summer's TpT conference! I am looking forward to finally meeting so many of you in person! This blogging community has given me the gift of amazing friendships and support! I can't wait for all of us to meet and be in one place all together!
5. I know many of us say this for a resolution. But, I really need to exercise more regularly. I always start off pretty well...good intentions and all... and happens. If I could just do it 3 days a week to start, I would be happy. 
6. My favorite holiday tradition is Christmas Eve dinner at my parents' house. My mom always puts tons of effort into making it a special meal. My whole family is together and the whole thing just makes my heart happy and warm. 

I would love to know what you are up to Currently. Head on over and link up with Farley.
Happy New Year!