Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Creating our own curriculum- MATH

One of the joys and challenges of working in a progressive school is the absence of a text book or formal curriculum. As professionals in the field of education, we are given the standards and then left to our own devices (and the help of others) to rummage through and discover the best resources for our classroom. While I am thankful for Pinterest and Teachers Pay Teachers, the resources often fall more in the "cute" category, than the "content" category. Finding meaty resources that help you create engaging lessons without worksheets is how a spend a lot of my time. For your convenience and mine, I have created the following list of excellent math resources:

Inside Mathematics

K-5 Math Resources (Great Centers)

Howard County Math Wiki (Performance Tasks/ Assessments/ Resources Galore)

Engage NY Open Source Curriculum

LearnZillion (Kid and Teacher Friendly Video Tutorials/ Lessons)

Illustrative Mathematics

I'd be curious to know where you go for instructional supports when creating your math curriculum. Feel free to post below!


Thursday, June 26, 2014

Summer Science

My summer plans thus far have consisted of directing science-based summer camps at Agnes Scott College in Atlanta. The camp I am directing is one of many Club Scientific camps around the country. It has been a lot of work and tons of fun!  Being fully immersed in science for the past four weeks has reminded me of three things:

1.) Science is messy!

2.) Pulling off effective experiments takes time and preparation!

2.) Kids LOVE science!

So, I have a confession-- I'm a clean freak and like many of you, I avoid doing science projects in my classroom because of the mess and the amount of preparation. But, my goal in the coming year is to immerse my students in inquiry and experimentation on a weekly basis. It engages them in critical thinking and that's exactly what's missing in many schools!

If you want to join me, here are a few resources that will help:

Here's to a year full of messes, squeals, ewwws and ahhhs!

Monday, May 26, 2014

Creativity in the Classroom

In the education world, we often feel crippled by the common core and high stakes testing. Without meaning to do so, we are teaching to the test with kill and drill tactics. This kind of education leaves me void of joy and passion. I feel drained, exhausted, and unmotivated when the focus is only on test scores. I am a firm believer that teachers who teach with passion and motivate children to love learning will perform well on the end of the year test. I've seen it firsthand. By infusing creativity in our teaching and daily classroom practices, we are teaching children to become free thinkers, problem solvers, and navigators of an unknown world. We are also teaching them to be children and to love life and the beauty that it holds when looked at through a different lens. That is equally as important to me as producing top performers.

This print will hang in my classroom as long as I teach to remind me that we are in the business of helping children survive and experience the joys of childhood. It was given to me by an artist named Kathleen Taylor at the Dogwood Festival in Atlanta after she learned that I was a first grade teacher! I will forever treasure these words!

Check out more of Kathleen Taylor's artwork here: Kathleen's Facebook Wall

Monday, April 14, 2014

Tikki Tikki Tembo

During reading today, we read "Tikki Tikki Tembo". Our reading strategy focus for the day was asking questions before, during, and after reading. Before reading the story, I passed out several different pictures from the story. Students were given the task to ask questions about the page they received. I prompted them to think about what was happening with the characters in the story. They carefully crafted their questions on an index card and turned them in with pride. This was a great way to practice writing asking sentences and to review question starters.  I read a few of the questions before reading the book to give us a purpose for reading.

After reading, I asked the students if their questions were answered. It was exciting to see their faces light up during reading when they discovered the answers to their questions. Much to their surprise, the story answered most of their questions. 

I will definitely use this activity with other texts in the future! Happy Monday!

Thursday, April 3, 2014


For the last three weeks, we have been learning about China in first grade! We've had a blast reading all kinds of books about China! Yesterday and today, we studied pandas. My first graders were obsessed with these cute and curious animals! We made text-to-text connections and practiced asking and answering questions when reading fiction and nonfiction books. The two books we used were National Geographic for Kids Giant Pandas by Anne Schrieber and Little Panda by Renita Liwska. You can download the KWL chart that we used for both books and the close reading activity for the National Geographic book here! Enjoy!