Differentiated Math Journals

I don't know about you, but differentiating instruction has been a big push at my school. I'm completely on board with this idea...I know it's so important to meet the needs of all your students where they are. However, I was having a very hard time implementing differentation into my classroom. I felt that I was already juggling so much, and I thought that differentiating meant I would be having to make two or three sets of lesson plans to be able to give my students what they needed. I know this isn't the case now, but it can be a difficult concept to put into action!

This summer I thought of an EASY way to differentiate during math instruction. We're encouraged to use math journals with our students...this was another idea that I loved, but it was hard to find the resources and time to implement them. Well, I managed to solve two dilemmas with my differentiated math journal prompts!

We use Go Math at our school, so I created them to go with our curriculum. Each Go Math lesson has two correlating journal prompts. The "circle" prompts are meant for struggling and on-level students; the "square" prompts are meant for those students who need that extra enrichment.

 Of course I never mention that to my students, and they won't even be able to figure that out -- I am always changing who gets a circle or square prompt. Some students might struggle with a lesson the day before, but knock the next one out of the park...I'm not going to limit that student to using only "circle" prompts. This way they'll be challenged to the best of their ability. My students won't catch on to the circle/square difference because at some point, all of my students have used both! :)

Here's a peek at two of my students' journals from our very first math lesson! That's right...these are from the second day of school... I'm so proud!! :)

To be honest, I gave all of my students the circle prompt for the first few lessons. I wanted them to get used to math journaling first. As I walked around, I loved seeing how different their thinking was. I made a big deal about that in my classroom the first time we used these. I pulled three different students' journals and put them on the document camera to show them how there isn't just one right answer to the journal prompts! It was fun to see the look on their faces when they heard that one! ;)

I also wanted an easy way to manage these journal prompts, and I definitely found it! I bought two sets of these mini drawers from Big Lots and whipped up some quick labels. I prep them on Friday for the next week, and I'm DONE!! Now, after I've walked around and checked my students' work, I just tell them to go get a circle or square prompt for that day. They do the rest! I am loving it!!

If you use Go Math and are interested in giving these a shot in your own classroom, you can check them out here! I currently have Ch. 1-4 up in my TPT store, and the rest are on their way. For the next 48 hours, you can grab them for 20% off!!! :)

For those who don't use Go Math, I'm hoping to take these same prompts and organize them by Common Core standard. I'm not quite sure when that will be, but hopefully sometime in the near future! :)

Thanks for stopping by!


Classroom Tour!!

 I am SO excited to finally give you a classroom tour!! As I was going through pictures, I realized I still have some "empty" spaces in my classroom...mostly just places waiting for students' things and work!! Since we've only been in school for two days, it's not quite "home" yet, but it will be very shortly! :)

I'm linking up with The Primary Gal for her Extreme Makeover: Classroom Edition linkyAND with Swimming Into Second for her Show Off Your Space linky!!! There are A LOT of classroom photos to look at between these two linkies...check them out! ;)


I am one who LOVES a good before and after shot, so here are some pictures of my room when I came in for the first time.

{Please note the weird yellow stripe, and the even more random green square. I could not WAIT to cover that up!!!}

Alright, and here's what you see now when you stand at my door! :)

As soon as you come in the door, this table and writing center is to your right. I love this writing center from Mel D!!! I'm pretty sure my new writing center will have to be its own blog post, there's just too much goodness there...it wouldn't be right to rush through! ;)

This is their Writing and Word Work table. Above it is our soon-to-be interactive word wall! I'll be hanging words on a binder ring and students will be able to come and grab them off the wall to use in their writing. I'm hoping it will be a big hit!!

This might be my favorite area of the classroom...our calendar and carpet area. We are doing calendar math every morning, (I actually have a few more pieces I need to add in!). This is also where we meet for whole group reading or class meetings.

This isn't the best shot, but I HAD to show you this adorable number line!!

Can you tell what our mini-Reading lesson was today?! ;)

Remember that ugly and random green square?! It's now my AR tracking board. My students are making their own superheros tomorrow that they'll put on the board. They track their own progress for their AR goals using this. They love it and it's a great way for them to keep themselves on track! Next to it is a jewelry holder...I use it for headphones and it is perfect for that. I'm also using it to hold students' individual Login Loops.

These empty bins will soon hold my students' math manipulatives!! No more passing them out every day and collecting them...each student will have everything they need to get through the first semester! :) (This is the "empty" part I was talking about!)

This is probably the most colorful part of my classroom...our library!! 

I didn't want my students to be overwhelmed with book choices at first so I've got a few shelves "on hold." Some book baskets are also turned around which means they are off limits for now. I'll introduce them as the year goes on.

I have books, decorations and projects organized by month on top of my cabinet! This was an end-of-the-year project for me last year, so I'm excited to see how it works out for me. The scrapbook squares hold student work and change every week or two.

This is our behavior clip chart...this will also be a separate blog post!! Check back for that soon ;)

Here's my desk area and our small group meeting area. I am not a fan of that red pocket chart being in my pink, blue & green room...but I know you know that it is near impossible to find pocket charts in colors besides primary colors. 

Another short of my desk area! I love that my desk is against the wall this year and out of the way. I know a lot of teachers are ditching their desk, but I personally love having my desk area for planning purposes.

I am in LOVE with my new Objectives headers. They're probably one of my favorite things in my room. As you can see, we haven't delved into too much academics as of the second day of school. ;) My Reading focus wall is to the left and is already coming in handy! It holds posters for our comprehension strategies, genre, grammar, phonics skills, sight words and spelling words.

Another thing I'm loving is our new homework turn-in system!! Students come in and drop their homework into their slot. It is so easy for me to check who has done their homework and who hasn't!

Above that is my job chart and classroom schedule...

Here's what my teams look like. The baskets on the chairs are their personal book baskets, and all of their shared supplies and Kagan mats are in the caddies.

Phew, that's it!!! :) I plan to come back a little later this week to post links to some of the awesome TPT products I used throughout my room. Thanks so much for stopping by!


Meet the Teacher night

Well, our first day back was today and I am completely exhausted!!! I can only imagine what I'll feel like by Friday...ready for another month off probably. I have a very sweet group this year and I am excited to really get started with them!!

I'll be sharing classroom pictures later this week, finally! For now, I have a few snapshots to share from our Meet the Teacher morning last Saturday. There's a few freebies thrown in along the way!

I found this adorable image to project on my Smart board here...thanks Kristine!! I also used some cute handprint cutouts I found in the Target dollar section to create a "Helping Hands" display. This was my version of a class wish-list.

This was the area right next to the door, I had parents sign in and immediately note how their child would get home from school on the first day...probably THE most important information a teacher needs for day one!! I had nightmares last night that I lost kids on the way to the bus and that they all went home the wrong way...luckily that didn't happen today. ;) I love those black picture frames...I picked some up at Michaels and Ikea, and they were perfect for Meet the Teacher night. I'm also planning on using them pretty frequently as signs for center directions.

This was my volunteer table...I set out volunteer forms looking for parents to help make copies, rip out math homework sheets, check out books from the public library and put my Scholastic Reading Club fliers together. I have never asked for volunteers for particular jobs in the past, but I love that now there are certain jobs I won't have to think twice about contacting a volunteer for...they've already signed up for that job for the whole year! :)

These folders were on each students' desk. The folders had labels that said "Take Home & Read" and "Please Fill Out." It was a great system...all of the parents that came stayed to fill out the forms and just took the folders home. Now I don't have to track all of those pesky forms down for the rest of the week! Of course I wanted my new kiddos to get a little treat too! :) Those glowstick bracelets were 15 for $1 in the Target dollar section, can't beat it!! The cute sign is a freebie you can grab here!

I didn't want to have to stay late on a SATURDAY to sort through all of those forms parents filled out, so I had them do it for me! ;) This was such a simple system and saved me so.much.time!!!

I am so glad I planned ahead at the end of last year and had my old kiddos write letters to my new second graders! Families loved reading what old students had to say about my class, and they even had a lot of good advice to pass down. 

Well, that's all!! It's only 8:00 and I'm ready for BED!! Have a great rest of your week, ya'll! :)


Back to School FREEBIES! :)

Hey ya'll!! It's been about a week since I've blogged, but I was in KEY WEST enjoying my last few days of summer vacation. :)
We drove down to Key West (about 5 hours) last Thursday morning and got back Sunday night. Then I was up bright and early Monday morning to go back to school for preplan week! I probably spent more time in my team members' rooms chatting today than I did working in my own classroom on Monday, but in between meetings the past few days I've gotten a lot done!! I'm hoping to post my classroom reveal later this week...just a few tiny details to finish up! :)

Anyway...as I've been prepping for Meet the Teacher and the students' first week back, I have stumbled upon some GREAT freebies I wanted to share with you!! Hopefully they'll be as useful to use as they are to me.

Classroom Prep Freebies:
First up...check out this ADORABLE alphabet from RaraDT!! I couldn't believe it was a freebie...I love it and have already gotten so many compliments on it from other teachers. 
{Snag it here!!}

I am trying to be as prepared as possible and don't want to miss teaching any important routines to my new group of kiddos!! This list from Tamara Russell is so comprehensive and helps you to really think through establishing your classroom routines and will keep you on track when teaching them to your new students! :)
{Snag it here!!}
Meet the Teacher Freebies:
Our principal asks us to write a short introduction letter for students and parents to get to know us. I love that idea, but even more, I love that this template from Whitney Parlin is cute and free!!
{Snag it here!!}
I wanted to have some small surprise on my students' desks for when they come in for Meet the Teacher...I bought glow stick bracelets in the Target dollar section (15 for $1!!!). I found these adorable tags from Teach with Laughter to go with them.
{Snag it here!!}

First Week of School Freebies:
How adorable is this 4-corners game from One Extra Degree?! I love that it gets students up and moving...they will have so much FUN! I also like the questions she includes...it helps to get to know your students' learning styles and preferences.
{Snag it here!!}
This first day of school memory poster is adorable from Miss Helen's Hippos is a perfect quiet activity for students while you sort through supplies or double check how students are going home. I think I'll hang them in my room for the first week and then send them home for parents to see!
{Snag it here!!}

I hope you can use some of these freebies!!! :) If you do enjoy them, make sure you leave feedback for the creator and sharer of that awesome freebie! ;)