Tuesday, April 11, 2017

APRIL Social Studies!!!

We have finished up another AMAZING social studies unit! This one has everything you need for April. If you still haven't checked out our engaging, rigorous, and easy to use monthly units, check out the FREEBIE here!

We were are super excited to show you all that our April unit has to offer. There's so much to pick and choose from to meet your K-3 students. And these units truly are for K-3!

Take a quick look at just some of what our April download has to offer:

LaNesha currently teaches kindergarten and does an amazing job of differentiating that passages that I design for 2nd and 3rd grade. They are getting the same content at a level they can understand! eBooks, reading passages, writing responses, crafts, interactive vocabulary, and activities are available in different levels that you can choose from to best meet your students' needs.

The full color eBooks are the PERFECT way to present the topics in our units to your K and 1st grade students. You can project them on the board for an engaging whole group lesson. They work as an engaging hook for 2nd and 3rd as well, before they go off to independently read and learn in their workbooks.

 (Above is a sample page from the 2nd/3rd grade workbook)

For each month we choose for 4 out of the 5 subjects that make up social studies. Sociology, history, economics, and geography are available for April. Check out the amazing topics your students will be learning about this month:

Grab the full unit for April here! You won't be disappointed. A teacher guide is included to help you plan how to implement these units.

We truly hope you and your students enjoy our units and have fun learning!

LaNesha and Naomi

Saturday, February 25, 2017


We, LaNesha Tabb and Naomi O'Brien, are SUPER excited that we decided to team up and work on these units together! We have our January Unit and February Unit and complete and available for purchase! There's also a FREEBIE to check out, wanted show you guys what you have to look forward to with this resource.

As a reminder, it is always our overall goal with these units to teach young students about different cultures, people, parts of the world, and about our country. We hope to inspire them to be compassionate, empathetic, and knowledgeable about the world around them.month's social studies topics are ones that your students are sure to enjoy! March is Women's History month AND Irish American Heritage Month! We also cover economics and geography in this unit. Let's take a look!

February was Black History month. That, unfortunately, goes hand-in-hand with topics like segregation and discrimination.  When you show students a picture of a segregated bus or school, that is visually clear. Brown people over here, white people over here- got it.  But what about the fact that when the Irish first came to America, they faced discrimination as well? That's not so easy to visually see. It makes us wonder if our students would arrive at the fact that if white people can discriminate against other people with the same color skin... maybe the REAL problem is FEAR? 

In this unit, we remember the past in our e-books and then we celebrate the accomplishments of Irish Americans that have helped to make our world what it is today.  
We recognize the sacrifice that the Sullivan brothers made for our country. 

We learn about the man who invented the first operational submarine- John Phillip Holland. 

March is also Women's History Month! 
We discuss the reasons why we would even need a Women's history month and then we allow for students to research their favorite influential women! 

We learn all about daylight saving time and how that changes. 


We also touch on the time zones so that students can see that the time isn't the same everywhere. 

For economics, we will focus on bartering and trading! Your students will be able to set up a classroom economy and bartering experience! 

Sunday, February 19, 2017

Raising Rigor...AGAIN!

Rigor is my new favorite thing. It makes my life as a teacher easier- I'm not even kidding. If you caught my last post about rigor, you know what I'm talking about. A crash course review:

So rigor lives at the intersection of kids working without you telling them what to do every 5 seconds and a task that requires cognitively complex thinking. Like, actually complex. No recall, recognition, or comprehension stuff.  I'm talking analyzation, utilization, decision-making, problem-solving, and so on. The success that I had in my kindergarten class with making games was so addicting that I needed to see if I could figure out a fresh way to get more rigor in! 

I was sitting in a PD session that was all about a teaching a guaranteed and viable curriculum. One of the things that stuck with me was the phrase "teach less, learn more." They were basically saying that many teachers spend time trying to cover everything and the students end up mastering nothing. The push was for schools to identify critical standards and master those- and then if that happens, there is room to each the other standards that weren't identified as critical. We are in that process now and the great thing about it is that I have a laser-focused curriculum and that makes it SO easy to communicate to my students. 

One of the skills that we identified as critical came from a standard (we are not a CCSS state) that asked students to write their numbers 0-20. I had my students participate in some personal monitoring for learning and they placed a sticky note on a chart that allowed me to see how they felt about this skill. The class was almost split in half. Before my rigor work, I would have looked at that and thought that I needed to take the kids that have mastered the skill and move them to the next "thing" faster. Not anymore! I wanted to keep the class together and come up with a way for them to go deeper. I asked the students that had mastered the skill how they felt about helping the students that needed help and they were more than happy to oblige. 

So we began a peer tutoring service.

I wanted them to be able to help each other not just with this skill but with any skill that they want extra help with. I am very careful to point out that ALL students can be tutors. I give examples of students that are rocking out in math but might need to get help from a friend with sight words. 

On Mondays, they partner up. They identify the roles that they will take (so that no one is always tutoring or being tutored) for the week. This allows students to be able to get extra help in ANY subject all week long and it allows me to have a dozen extra teachers in the room! 

If the students are tutoring this week, they have to...

1. Write a lesson plan. They LOVE this part. That's because I showed them my lesson plan book and I explained why I have to have a plan before I come to teach them. 

2. Select the activity. I have them organized into literacy and math buckets but I also leave a blank space on the lesson plan in case they have their own idea that they'd like to try.

3. Check-in with me. At this point, I review the lesson plan and I ask them to show me the activity that they've selected. I might even frontload them with some "what if" questions (that I am assuming will happen). That might sound like, "how will you know if they really can write their numbers without help? What if they look at the numbers on the wall? What could you do?" ...things like that. 

4.  I have them put their lesson plan and activity in their "tutor tote" and it's all ready to go whenever they are ready to work! I have lots of students that do tutoring during our gentle entry time slot but they also do it during free choice or even during instuctional time.

Once they are into the groove, I give them some options for tracking data. In KG that is as simple as a stamp or a sticker in a box for how they did, but in older grades, you could have the students actually track data with numbers. 

I also encourage them to write a success criteria statement so that they truly know when their tutee's "got it." I only push that part if I have a class-wide tutoring cycle (like when half knew how to write to 20 and the other half didn't).

I have an incentives area, reflection sheets, and awards that students can give each other for a job well done!

I've LOVED this work. These kids are SO smart. I just walk around and watch the magic. 

This tutor came up with her own practice activity. She said, "I'll write a number on the board and you have to count that many."  AMAZING. 

Another student said that her dad helped her with a trick to get over those decade numbers when counting to 100. I watched her get a 100's chart out and show her the same trick. So great. 

Outside of that, I've got tutors that use the iPads, make flash cards, or get extra practice with an activity that we've done previously at stations or centers.

I have had so much fun working with the students that have mastered a lot of the skills that they need to because they really have to do some higher level thinking when they are responsible for someone else's learning. Their own knowledge is deepened when they are tutoring because it's hard to teach what you don't know! They have to:
-Process their own learning strategies in order to show someone else
-Think about a "plan B" if their lesson isn't effective
-Reflect on how they did as a teacher
-Answer questions that they may not be prepared for
-Figure out how to assess and track progress
...and so much more! This REALLY gets those wheels turning.

The best part is that there is just a lovely sense of community when we engage in peer tutoring. 

If you're interested in getting peer tutoring running in your classroom, click the image below!

Also, if you want to learn more about raising rigor with game making, click the image below!

Saturday, January 14, 2017

Work It, Work OUT!

I read some terrifying research by the Journal of Medicine and Sport that found that “the more time kids in Grade 1 spent sitting and the less time they spent being physically active, the fewer gains they made in reading in the two following years. In first grade, a lot of sedentary time and no running around also had a negative impact on their ability to do math.” Not on my watch!  I decided to come up with a fun way for students to take ownership of their learning AND get their bodies moving!

Click any image to purchase! 

On Fridays, I try to do something fun. I also LOVE empowering students and showing them ways to take charge of their own learning. This resource does both of those things! Whatever I’ve had out for practice that week is open for extra practice. I ask them to think about the stations or activities that they felt that they hadn’t mastered. Then, they fill out their boards, practice, reflect, and WORK OUT! I love this because some students are practicing math, some are practicing spelling, and some are reading...but ALL are having fun!

A few ideas for implementation:

There are 15 boards. You could do 1 board a week and then cycle back through. Print one for each child and cover the exercise with a sticky note (optional, but fun!) Pass them out and have them select the skills that they need to work on (OR- students can keep them in a folder throughout the week and record stations/centers that were difficult along the way!). I like to have them reflect on their learning as well. There is a sheet included for this! When they finish, they may grab a timer (sand timers, hand timers, iPad timers- all great ideas!) and complete their workout task. You can decide how much time you give students to get through the board. You might even signal every 10-15 mins to tell them to move on to the next circle so that they move along! You could also put your students into groups and print a different board for each group. They could work on their skills individually but workout together!

Also- I’ve provided two versions of the board- one with 4 skills circles and one with 2 because some need more practice than others. . I teach kindergarten, so I allow my students to pick their board. You might decide that your class all needs one or the other! I will also sit down with my struggling learners and help them select their activities based on my noticings from the week. I hope your students enjoy this!