Sunday, October 27, 2013

Creative Engineering and Ten Frames in a FLASH!

Happy Sunday everyone! I have two apps for your this evening. The first, a creative engineering app highly recommended by my 10 year old and the second, a great app for kindergarteners and beginning of the year first graders to practice their subitizing in a flash!

FlatPack Interactive created Ball Fall Down (FREE!) and it tests your creative genius as you use levers, balls and other objects to construct a marble run of your own design. You can test and adjust your creation as you go. It's challenging and a lot of fun.

The second app is called Number Flash (also FREE) and flashes various configurations on two 10 frames. You can choose how long the image stays on the screen, as well as how large of a number is shown. The student then chooses the number they saw. The app gives the amount of time it took (you can see who really KNOWS and who's counting) and gives the number of correctly answered questions.

Enjoy the rest of your Sunday!

Sunday, October 20, 2013


APPitic is a site that acts as a directory of apps for educators of all grade levels and subjects. APPitic houses an unbelievable list of apps that vary by subject and skill. It is run by Apple Distinguished Educators (ADE) who have tested these apps in many grade levels and classroom settings. (I'm a MAC girl, so I'm loving the fact this has been put together by ADEs!)

When you visit the site, you can search by theme (subject areas, skills, etc) or specialized topics such as Special Education, Bloom's Taxonomy and one just for TEACHERS!

This site even walks you through how to build your own app list for sharing. My plan is to begin creating lists I can share in lieu of our failed Appy Hour. How could you use APPitic? If you've got an idea, let me know!

Enjoy the rest of your Sunday!

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

My Happy Place

We finished the final MEAP tests in 4th and 5th grades today...YAHOO! For those of you not in Michigan, the MEAP is our state assessment. We've been testing for two weeks and are finally done.

This means I can get back to my normal intervention schedule with my kindergarten kiddos! The kindergarten classrooms are my happy place. Being a former kindergarten teacher, I love being able to work with these little sponges whenever I can.

The kindergarten interventions begin as soon as the teachers complete their beginning of the year assessments the first week of school. Our district began this new system last year and it has worked very well. For the first week, our kindergarten students only attend a half day. The teacher's other half of the day is spent individually assessing their new students. As a result, they get to know their students, spend some quality one on one time and I get their data by the second week of school. This means the alphabet recognition interventions can be started during the second/third week of school.

We follow Richard Allington's philosophy that all kindergarten children know ALL 52 letters by Halloween. This means daily intervention by the classroom parapros or myself, and bi-weekly progress monitoring. We're making progress, but still have some kiddos I'm concerned about. So, last week I sent progress notes home to parents with a mini ABC book to trace with their fingers while saying the letter name, and made a cute "I Have, Who Has?" game for my awesome kindergarten teachers to use with all of their students. You can grab yours by clicking on the picture below.

Hope you enjoy the rest of your week. For all of you 3rd, 4th & 5th grade Michigan teachers, do a "Happy Dance" to celebrate the end of MEAP!

Sunday, October 13, 2013

It's Appy Hour!

I think EVERY teacher in our building has downloaded and regularly uses the MasteryConnect Common Core app. Moving between grade levels the way I do, this app has become invaluable to me. Well, these wonderful app gods have created another app just like it for the Next Generation Science Standards. Like their CCSS app, this one is also FREE. Click on either of the icons below to grab yours.

CommonCore        CommonCore 

IXL is great site for math practice. They have now created a great app that covers over 1,500 math concepts and skills for grades pre-k through 6th. You can grab this free app by clicking on the icon below.


Enjoy the rest of your weekend!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Standards Based Grading and a Freebie

This year our district decided to move to Standards Based Grading (SBG). For those of you unfamiliar with SBG, this means our students are no longer given grades, but their academic performance is based on their mastery towards a standard. Student's assessments, performance tasks and other activities are marked as either below standard, working towards the standard, meeting most of the standard or mastery. At each grade level, our teachers are able to speak specifically to a student's academic abilities.

For each of the types of student work, teachers look at between 1-3 standards for each of these tasks. This means we are looking at each unit and each assignment within the unit and asking ourselves, "what is our purpose for this assignment?". Our kindergarten through third grade teachers are realizing that they have essentially been doing a version of SBG, but are now having to tie everything they want to assess to a standard and record it in an electronic grade book...this is the tough part for them. Our fourth and fifth grade teachers who have used an electronic grade book forever, are struggling more with the idea of not giving a letter grade. There is a lot to SBG. I will keep updating you on our progress as we go; we are just starting to wrap our heads around the whole concept now.

So the freebie below comes from working with our kindergarten teachers as they began looking at tying an assessment to two of the Counting and Cardinality standards they have been practicing. Enjoy your copy of Design A Monster by clicking on the picture below. Students roll a die, count the dots (many are subitizing...they love using the word!) and then record the number next to the eyes, nose, mouth,etc. The teachers have also turned this into a center by leaving dice, a monster outline and some playdough nearby.The munchkins use the playdough to form the eyes, nose, mouths, etc.

Enjoy the rest of your week!

Sunday, October 6, 2013

I'm Back!!!

I cannot believe that I haven't posted anything since April! The craziness of master's classes, the end of the year, a final master's class and summer baseball got the best of me. But....I'm done with the extra classes! All I have to do now is pay the State of Michigan more money for a certificate I have to print (ahhhhhh!)

My goal is to post twice a week. We tried to start "Appy Hour" last year in our building. However, it got started with a lot of other things and lost momentum. So Sundays will be Appy Hour at It's All Elementary. The middle of the week post will be dedicated to planning, instruction or resources relevant to your practice.

So, this week's Appy Hour app is:

Math Dictionary for Kids App

This app won the Teacher's Choice Award and is a great homework helper, or in class resource. It has great visual examples and the definitions are easy for students to understand. The app costs $2.99 through the app store, but is worth the money. Click on the icon below to see the description from iTunes.
Have a great rest of your weekend!

Saturday, April 6, 2013

TBA Turns 2 Years Old!


Other than my next door neighbor, Kelly, from The Plaid Apple, I have TBA to thank for my blog stalking addiction. It was through them that I discovered the world of blogging and eventually decided to start "It's All Elementary!" 

If you haven't already stopped by, click on the images below to take you to the TBA's loaded with freebies from bloggers everywhere and it's divided by grade level for easy use. Have fun!

Prek and Kindergarten Free Download - Teacher Celebration on Teaching Blog Addict

First Grade and 2nd Grade Free Download - Teacher Freebies on Teaching Blog Addict

3rd Grade and Fourth Grade Free Download - Teacher Fun on Teaching Blog Addict

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Great Giveaway!

So, I've been looking at my reading list and trying to figure out why it's so LONG! It's because of awesome bloggers like Michelle of The 3 AM Teacher who continually introduce me to OTHER new blogs! Click on the images below (links are attached) to visit Lisa at Growing Firsties, Katie at Teacher to the Core, Kim at Kindergarten 365, Amy at Little Miss Organized and Greg of Kindergarten Smorgasbord for an incredible giveaway....Life is Better With Friends!


Check out these incredible blogs for some sweet ideas and an even better giveaway! I'm on break this week, so I'm hoping to get a couple of freebie posted in between the latest grad class nightmare I'm working on:-)

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Staff Wearing Hats, Like a Well-Known Cat!

On Monday, we all dressed in black and white, donned tall stripped hats and greeted our students with  "Happy March is Reading Month"! The students were also informed of their reading challenge...they have to read 15,000 books by the end of the month! This has been raised by 5,000 due to our students' previous year's numbers. What their goal earns them has yet to be revealed! (Little hint: two principals, costumes and heights:-)

Fabulous in FIRST!
Teresa and Krissy

 Our Awesome Custodian-Kiesha

Spectacular in SECOND!
Kris and Taneia

Have a great rest of your week!

Saturday, March 2, 2013

March Is Reading Month Has Arrived!

It has become tradition in our building that we (the teachers, paras, administrators, secretaries and day-shift custodians) stay late on the eve of March 1st, or the Friday evening closest to March 1st to decorate our ENTIRE building. We have six themes that we rotate through and we keep the year's theme a secret from the kids and parents until they walk in the door the following Monday morning. Now, our building is not a small used to be a junior high! So when I say we stay late, I'm talking 11:00 PM after a full day of teaching. But the energy is unbelievable and our principals have become masters of creativity and organization. We actually broke a record last night and had the building done by 8:15! The pictures below walk you through the building, starting with the front doors and ending in our cafeteria. I'll add pics throughout the month, including the front windows, which are a large mural and the staff who will be in costume to greet the kiddos on Monday morning.


The Greeting Board outside the main office
Entrance Hallway outside of front doors
Entrance hallway
Entrance hallway
Outside 3rd grade pod
Outside 4th grade pod
 Outside of 2nd grade rooms
Thidwick the Big Hearted Moose..outside my room! I LOVE him!!!
Start of back hallway
 Back hallway
 Back hallway
Back hallway
 Back hallway
 Across from kindergarten
Media Center windows...the Sneeches have invaded inside! 
 The tree goes to the ceiling of first grade...this team CLIMBED tall ladders in order
to get the tree and large book cover attached. The new "rookie" was the designated climber...good thing Mike isn't afraid of heights!
Thing 1 and Thing 2 greet the kiddos heading down the stairs.

 Trivia Fact...did you know Eastman studied under "Dr. Seuss" and that's how this book is in the "Seuss" Collection?
Hallway leading back to the office
Office hallway
The kids' reading challenge board...this is where we will track the reading progress...more about their challenge in posts to come!
Our cafeteria
The problem solving and collaboration that went into getting the trees to be free-standing was incredible...and incredibly hilarious! At one point we had plungers involved!

I hope you enjoyed your tour of our version of "Seussville". Stay tuned for future posts...including pics of the staff in costume on Monday morning!

Have a great weekend!

Friday, February 8, 2013

Snowman Number Representation

Early in December, Donna, of Math Coach's Corner, blogged about recreating a project to build number representation using a Christmas tree. I loved the idea, but we aren't allowed to do a lot with Christmas due to the very diverse group of students we have. So, I cornered one of our fabulous first grade teachers who I had been working with and asked if she wanted to be my guinea pig. Luckily for me, she said yes!

Our work began with having the students brainstorming ways they knew how to represent numbers. Once they got going, they were tough to stop! They'd see me in the hall in between our sessions together and yell new ideas out to me. As a result, their final anchor chart looked like this:

(The fabulous Teresa...I know the chart's a bit tough to read, but it's FULL!)

Our second session started with adding more to the chart...the ideas they were yelling at me down the hall...and then on to the introduction of the project in full. Each child began by choosing a number. It had to be between 20 and 99. After telling Teresa or I their number, they got their page of "Snowman Items". These were pulled together from Scrappin' Doodles, Create a Snowman. They immediately chose one of the hats and put their number on it. They then got started on their first representation. 

In all, the snowmen had between 5-8 different number representations on them when they finished. We forgot to add the cool ten frames presents the kids made and Teresa had to have the kiddos stick those on after we took the pictures. These came straight from Donna's great project.

The kids did a fantastic job with these! It was the perfect project right before break, and I'm thankful to have such willing teachers who take risks.