A Common Core Teacher's Toolbox!

Friday, December 21, 2012

How can we help? Snowflakes for Sandy Hook.

      Like many of you, the tragedy at Sandy Hook has been on my mind nonstop. Being a teacher and a mom, I have experienced all kinds of thoughts and emotions when thinking of those Sandy Hook families. I've also been thinking a lot about what I can do and what my students can do to show support to that community. Today, I came across the link from the Connecticut PTSA website for  "Snowflakes for Sandy Hook".   The basic idea is to design snowflakes and send them  to decorate their new school. This is a small and simple gesture of support that we can participate in, without having to feel like we have to find the "right words" to say or write.  You can find more information and the address to the new school here.

   There are so many things I thought about writing from both a parent's and a teacher's perspective. I realized though the most important thing for all of us is to honestly, truly make each day count. Let your family know you love them, and let your students know how special they are! Remember, no matter how under appreciated we may feel as teachers, we mean more than we can ever know to our students (and they are why we do what we do ).

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Lights! Camera! Action....Verbs!

    I finally finished up my Verb Unit which I am super excited about! Sometimes I feel like I've lost every ounce of creativity I had back in college, and then some days it comes back in full force, and I don't know what to do with myself! It just so happened I came across some cute clip art from Scrappin' Doodles a couple of months ago, and I was about to begin teaching my students verbs; needless to say the creative lightbulb came on.  So, as I've been teaching my verb unit over the past month, I've slowly created movie themed verb activities to go with each skill. We are finishing up our verb unit, and with that said the unit is complete and now in my TpT store.  I made sure to align it with both 2nd and 3rd grade RLA Common Core Standards.  It is full of super cute movie themed activities that my students loved! If you are teaching verbs anytime soon, or are just looking for a fun way to review, then check out my unit. I'm sorry this isn't a freebie! But its is packed with over 60 pages of activities, and it's very teacher budget friendly!  It's really not in my personality to brag, but this is one creation I'm quite proud of! You can check it out here.

Monday, December 10, 2012

Drawing Conclusions Freebie!

      I've added another freebie to add to your Common Core Toolbox of resources.  Drawing conclusions/inference is a huge skill for 3rd graders. I created a cute little mini-poster you can use as a way to help students understand exactly what they are doing when they draw conclusions. I also created a chart to help them practice drawing conclusions when they read. We have been having some fun with drawing conclusions in our classroom this week. Of course our class elf Nickaless is always up to some mischief, so the students draw conclusions daily about what he has been up to. We also have a little contest each day in honor of the upcoming winter break! Each day I bring in a wrapped present. As they day goes on, I give a clue about what the present actually is. The clues are left posted all day for the students to begin to draw a conclusion about what they think what is inside of the gift box. At the end of the day, everyone is allowed to give a guess as to what they think the present is once they have have been given all the clues.  If they get the answer correct, they are put in a drawing to win that day's present. This has been such a fun way to practice drawing conclusions. The students love it! Pick up your drawing conclusions freebie here!

    In other exciting news (at least for me). My class is finishing up our verbs unit. I have been creating activities weekly for whatever verb related skill we are working on, and I am about to post it as one huge unit in my TpT store! So be on the lookout for a very  cute and fun themed verbs unit! Coming Soon to a TPT store near you! ( Hmm you can use that last sentence to draw a conclusion about the theme of this unit!)

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Twas the Week Before Christmas Break and a Sale...

Well we've almost made it to Christmas break in my school district. Just one more week to go! While we get to do so many fun things this time of year, it is so exhausting. Some super exiting news for me,  I had a TpT sales goal I was hoping to make by Christmas, and I have been extremely blessed to have made the goal earlier this week. With that said, I decided to throw a "Twas the Week Before Christmas Break Sale" as a thank you to everyone who has been so kind enough to help me meet my goal so quickly. If you are in need of some fun activities this week check out my store. I have several freebies that are holiday and winter themed that can be adapted from 1st to 4th grade easily! I also have a Snowman themed unit that includes writing activities, grammar activities, fact and opinion activities, a sequencing snowman craftivity, Frosty task cards, and much more that could be used over several different days for some winter fun Of course this blog is dedicated to being a Common Core Toolbox for teachers, so I have several Common Core related items (many are free)! 

 In classroom related news, my students are just loving the Christmas Around the World unit! Of course Nickaless the Elf is always into something. The children came in to find him in the class treasure box yesterday! I'm thinking how nice it would be if Santa would let his elves stay the whole school year!

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Meet Nickaless, Our Classroom Elf!

I purchased a cute little Christmas Around the World Unit that incorporates the "Elf on a Shelf" idea during TpT's big cyber Monday sale.  Teaching my students about holidays around the world is by far one of my favorite units. When I found the TpT unit that incorporated the Elf on a Shelf with the idea of Christmas Around the World, I thought it just couldn't be any cuter!

   Our elf arrived in our classroom yesterday morning. My students knew to expect a suprise when they came into the room, but I didn't really give them any clue as to what they were looking for. Once they saw the elf, they noticed he had brought along a very important letter from Santa.

The letter included a top secret mission which will have our elf flying all over the world to teach the students about Christmas traditions around the world! We also spent time naming our elf, and my students ended up voting on "Nickaless".His full name is Nickaless D. Elfer, to be exact!

We are doing lots of fun activities these last few weeks before the holidays, as I mentioned before. I created some Elf themed printable writing pages for both the primary and upper grades that you can use to try to incorporate some of those Common Core writing standards! You can download the Elf Themed Writing Resources Freebie by clicking on the picture below:


Sunday, December 2, 2012

Winding down for winter break...

We have 2 weeks until winter break in our district. It sure seems like we are getting out somewhat early in relation to the actual Christmas holiday, but we go back on January 2 which is really early. This is a fun, but crazy time of year in the classroom. I love to pack these last few weeks with fun holiday/winter activities.  We are starting a Christmas Around the World Unit with a little incorporation of the Elf on A Shelf idea this week. I'll keep the blog updated with our all of holiday fun!  If you need a quick winter holiday activity/idea to use with your kiddos in the coming weeks, you should checkout my Design a Gingerbread writing craftivity, or my Differentiated Winter Verbs Writing Activity.  Both are Free downloads! : ) The Winter verbs activity I'm linking below has winter themed writing pages for primary and upper grades that you can use with any writing activities you'd want your students to complete, even if you don't want to use the packet as I have it set up to be used.  Hopefully, these can save you a little planning time in the next couple of weeks!

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Constructed Response Word Problem Freebie!

    My students recently took the state standardized Constructed Response Math test. The test consisted of 4 tasks the students had to complete.  This test was sort of a pilot test, so we the teachers were in charge of scoring the tests.  While this was a huge task, I am really glad we were given the opportunity to score the tests. It was very eye opening to see how thorough of an explanation is expected from the students in order for them to receive credit for solving the problem correctly. It is not as simple as just writing down a number sentence. With that said, I created a general constructed response word problem outline I am going to use with my students so they can get into the habit of very thoroughly showing how they came up an answer to a word problem. It will also get them into the habit of seeing and showing that there are multiple ways to solve problems. This is a very general template, so you can use it with any type of word problems. You can download it for free here from my TpT store. I hope you find this template helpful!


Monday, November 26, 2012

Tis' the season for festive Common Core Aligned Freebies!

    How about some festive fun to incorporate some Common Core Writing Standards? This  is an activity I have my students complete this activity every year around the holidays, and they always have so much fun with it! I have my students design their own gingerbread cookie. They then fill out the "recipe for a good story" to map out their story which will include their gingerbread cookie creation as the main character. We spend a few days going through the writing process until their stories are ready for publishing. The students write their final drafts on the gingerbread themed paper, and their favorite part is always sharing their stories with the class. I hang their gingerbread man/woman up alongside their story!  
    This activity covers the 3rd grade writing standards- 3.3, 3.4,  and 3.5.  This cover narrative writing and the writing process. I am positive this activity also covers standards in other grades. Since I teach 3rd I focused in on those particular standards. My students love this activity, and I will post their stories as soon as they finish them! I hope this can save you a little bit of planning time this holiday season, and I hope your students will enjoy it too!
 You can download this Festive Freebie by clicking on the picture below:

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Nonfiction Text Features Scavenger Hunt Freebie!

I mentioned before that since the Common Core standards have such a huge focus on the students reading informational texts, that I've been working on some resources to help my students with reading non fiction. I recently created a Scavenger Hunt that is meant to be used before the students read a nonfiction piece of text. It focuses on having the student's take the time to notice the nonfiction text features found in the text. Many times students try to rush through and informational piece because they decide it's boring. They tend to miss all the text features (charts,graphs, diagrams, etc) that can help them gain a better understanding of the text. This scavenger hunt will cause them to have to pay attention to all of the text features before they begin reading. I have hopes that in using this scavenger hunt now, that in the future my students will automatically take notice of a the nonfiction text features that can help them comprehend what they are reading.  This works particularly well with sections from the science and social studies textbooks!  I'm also working on piece for them to use during and after reading nonfiction pieces that I will post soon. I hope you find this scavenger hunt helpful for your students as you incorporate more informational texts into your teaching! You can download it here:

Monday, November 19, 2012

Common Core Teacher's Tool Box- 1st Freebie!

I've created my first addition to my Common Core Standards toolbox, which can be downloaded here:

   The Common Core Standards are shifting us to have our students reading more informational type texts. You may have heard of the the 3-2-1 assessment strategy. It basically has the students focus on 3 things they learned, 2 things they found interesting, and 1 question they still have after they are finished with a particular lesson. I adapted that strategy to be used as a reader response's activity for the student's to use with informational texts. You can download the slips I created for free to use with your students. I know this isn't some great,magical resource that I've created. However, I figured it's one small baby step strategy we can all could easily implement in the classroom to help us embrace the the mountain of Common Core Standards in front of us!  Please let me know how it goes  if you use it in your students!

All things Common Core!

Well I'm deciding it's time to just jump right into to all things Common Core. My district is slowly incorporating the standards over the next few years. With that said, I've been doing as much research as possible to see what that means exactly for me and my students. As I've been researching, I've been creating things that will help me create my own little toolbox of resources that will help with all things Common Core. While I teach 3rd grade, many of the items I am creating will be able to be used across several different grade levels. I will post as many of these resources as possible as freebies in my TPT store. So Please feel free to follow my blog and/or my TPT store found here: