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Tuesday, December 27, 2016

New year - New possibilities

The new year is quickly approaching! And for most teachers this means your year is about halfway through. Time flies when you're making a difference :)

The cool thing about the new year is that it provides a sense of renewal and new opportunities. This is a perfect time to....

Introduce a new rule or classroom procedure

Often teachers feel that if a procedure or classroom rule isn't succeeding there isn't much that can be done. So not true! Teachers have a lot of power in their classrooms and one of the greatest powers is the power to CHANGE!
-If they just can't remember to clean their desks, institute a "Desk Monitor" for the new year.
-If they always argue about how to line up, have them line up in number order or reverse number order to switch it up.

Reflect on what has been accomplished so far

The new year usually brings a focus to new goals and resolutions but there is value in reflecting on what has already been accomplished. This is important with adults as well as children! This means that reflecting on your teaching career and goals can be beneficial to you as well, super teacher!
But also take a moment and write about what you and your students have accomplished so far. This could be individually done or completed as a class.

Focus on goal setting

There are many resources and activities on Pinterest, TPT, etc. that provide some structure to goal setting, especially tying in the New Year theme. I personally wanted to start the year in August with student goals but the back to school commotion totally distracted me. But of course I don't have to wait until next August to give it a try. So when I head back to the classroom in about a week these are a few tips I want to keep in mind.

Goal setting tips:
-Goals should be centered on student input (otherwise they won't be motivated)
-Display them or have them easily accessible (otherwise they may be forgotten)
-Track progress, not just completion (otherwise students may get discouraged)

But before you head back....relax!

So now that you have some ideas to get the new year started on the right track....head back to the couch and soak up the last few days of relaxation. Do some reflecting and goal setting for yourself. It is a time of renewal after all...make sure you're giving yourself that opportunity as well!

Wednesday, November 23, 2016

Pray for Woodmore - Ways to help

As many of you may know, a school in my community was greatly affected by a tragic bus accident this past Monday. Although it was not my school many of us in this city were indirectly affected. My principal lost a cousin, two of my students had family members on the bus...it has been a truly trying time.

I appreciate all the prayers and kind words sent our way at this time. Our little teacher community really reached out and helped make things a little easier.

I wanted to share some information about how you can help this school and community for those wanting to help.

-Checks can be sent to the "The Woodmore Fund"
Made payable to the Community Foundation of Greater Chattanooga
Please mail to 1270 Market Street, Chattanooga, TN 37402

-You can text "WOODMORE" to 91999 or call 423-265-8000 to donate.

Thank you for thinking of these children and families. 

Saturday, November 5, 2016

Morning tubs - Im lovin it!

Seriously I don't know what took me so long to finally try morning tubs as an alternative to morning work! I have been using them in my first grade classroom for the past two weeks Monday - Thursday and still doing our traditional journal on Fridays. My students are coming in excited to get started in the morning and it's from one little adjustment.

So what are morning tubs?

They are baskets or tubs filled with items the students can use independently or as a small group. I currently have 14 students and use 4 tubs. I spent some time looking through the manipulatives and items in the classroom that I had. I thought about what I could allow students to use freely without worrying about a cost to replace if damaged. I also wanted the tubs to hold items that students could devise their own activities with. 

How do I implement them?

Each morning my students come in and write down their homework. On Mondays they all come to the rug in case I need to explain new tubs briefly or arrange new student groups. I have 3 rules for morning tubs and we often review them before beginning.

1. Be safe
2. Make smart choices
3.Stay in your space

Then I place students in the different areas of the room where the 4 tubs are spread out. I put some on rugs, others at tables. I set a timer for 15-25 minutes and students are allowed to basically have some free play time with the materials. Afterwards I set the timer for a minute, they clean and return to their seats. The next day they rotate to a new tub. They catch on to the rotation cycle pretty quickly.

What do I put in them?

There are tons of great Pins and blog posts about what you can put in morning tubs. I looked through a few blogs and what I had in my cabinets. My first two weeks we used the same materials but in the second week I switched up the groups of children.

Letter cubes- Leap Frog dominoes- Plastic shapes - Plastic links

Leap Frog Dominoes

Plastic shapes

Other items I am considering

Magnetic boards and letters or numbers - Dry erase workbooks and markers - sorting items like buttons - base ten cubes and rods -  math cubes - number bonds - sentence building cubes - peg boards and rubber bands 

Why should you look into them?

Play time!
It seems so hard to squeeze that extra play into the day. We do brain breaks, use hands on learning, and incorporate technology but at times a student just wants to play pretend. I have overheard the cutest conversations as they come up with a game to play together with the items. It doesn't matter that they aren't using the letter cubes to build words, I could have them do that in a center later. For now they can pretend to build a fort!

Social Skills
The students are working together as they share, or all decide to make imaginary cakes with plastic shapes. They are using the manners we work so hard to implement when asking a friend to "Please share the triangles." I am all about giving them time to build the skills that help them work together.

Less on the teacher
This may vary based on the makeup of your classroom schedule but I have a little less of the responsibility on me when we use morning tubs. I used to have students writing in journals daily and occasionally I was collecting them and grading/checking them. It was a mundane task for sure. Now we just write once a week and I can grade that without collecting them.

Students place the tubs in the correct spaces for me after I show them where they belong on Monday. They also clean up quickly afterwards, I give them a minute and give shout-outs or treats to the team that does it quickly or works together without arguing (which sometimes happens!). 

While they are working on tubs I call individual students or small groups to my table for RTI time. I can pull them away without worrying they are missing out on crucial learning. It also allows a bit of a buffer time for some of my students that may roll in a little late!

So with all that I say....

Think about trying morning tubs! Do some research! Try it ou!
I've never had students come in so excited to get to their morning "work".
And a little more play makes for a better day :)

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Counting on: Some ideas for little mathematicians

Howdy guys!

The school year is in full swing and it has totally kept me busy! My goal is a post a month and September totally slipped by me. I'm sure you guys know how that can be :)

So let's get back into it with a post on one of my favorite subjects, Math

Counting on is a task my kiddos tend to struggle with every year. It seems that when adding their instinct is to start at 0 or 1 even when given a specific number.

Example: You ask your mathematicians to solve 5 + 3. They begin by counting from 1 to 5 and then trying to add three more. Sound familiar?

The goal with counting on is to have students begin with a known value and add more. In the example scenario of 5 + 3 a student who is efficient in counting on would pop up 5 fingers and count 3 more by continuing in number order  "6...7...8".

We have to practice this skill intentionally for the students to understand that you don't have to begin at 0. Here are a few ideas...

1. Create and refer often to a good visual or anchor chart

This visual from Top Notch Teaching explains counting on in a clear and concise way. You could print it or recreate for your classroom. 
(The link explains counting on in greater detail and has a game to practice the strategy.)

2. Practice with manipulatives

We used cubes to model the math problem we were solving. Although counting on usually begins with the larger number, in this case it was still effective beginning with the smaller number. In this particular activity we were focusing on not starting at 0. Students  touched each cube to continue counting in numerical order. 

So in the picture they used cubes to count and say "5...6...7...8..9"

3. Practice with a 10 frame

We used 10 frames in page protectors to practice counting on when dealing with a missing addend.  We picked a number and drew that many counters. In this case it was six. Then they had to count on to make 10. Once they get some fluency within 10 we will expand to use the second 10 frame for bigger equations.

Their equations read 6 + ___= 10 and they had to find out the missing number was 4 by counting on.

We continue to practice this skill in math centers and with our math curriculum. 
Do you have some tips and strategies that help make this concept clear for your students?
Please share!

Thanks for reading

Friday, August 12, 2016

5 for Friday: Back to School!

Hey yall! Linking up for

So let's get rolling!

I'm married!!!!
And it was the best day ever!!!!
We don't have all our pictures yet but here's a sneak peek

We honeymooned in Mexico! Neither of us had been out of the country so that was quite a fun adventure to have together. Can't wait to travel more with the Mr.

Registration Day really feels like the start off to the year because we get to meet some of our kiddos. Each grade usually does a little theme and this year, as usual, my team rocked it. And those are our school colors :)

The classroom is put back together and this year it was record time since I spent the past few weeks recuperating from an awesome wedding and honeymoon!

Panoramic pic of classroom



Writing Area



Reflection Area
(Trying it out this year)

Not much else to say except I survived the first week and today is Pizza Friday in our house so I'm greatly looking forward to that. :)
Link up! & Have a great weekend!

Friday, July 8, 2016

Where did June go?! & 5 for Friday

Hey Yall!

I had a goal of blogging at least once a month and June just totally slid by without a thought! it amazes me how much time flies as you grow older.

But I will say it was much needed. I took the time to completely relax and recharge! This past year wore me out. I needed a total break. Someone asked me when school started back, two weeks into June by the way, and I answered that I had no idea. Which was true (and very freeing!). But now I've got a burst of energy so let's join in my favorite linky....

(Sidenote: How cute is it that my fiance knows this linky? He asked if I was joining in today (:  )

I have 8 days until I get married!!!!!
And oh my gosh I can't wait. 
All this planning, anticipating, and it's almost here.

Since I've been planning a wedding I also made some signs to use throughout the reception.
I printed them on Dollar Tree photo paper and put them in Dollar Tree frames.
(Can you tell I love Dollar Tree?)
 A few brides wanted access to them so I am uploading them here.

Click the picture to go to the link!

Since I'm finally coming around to the idea of another school year (lol) I created an editable Meet the Teacher letter and posted it in my store today.

I realized my past letters were too lengthy and no one was probably reading them! So I wanted one that was short and sweet. 

Information about our class rules, procedures, etc, go in the letter I prepare for their "Take Home Folders". I may post more about those later.

Here is my example! Click on it to be taken to the product :)

My bridal shower was a few weeks ago and it was perfect. I am obsessed with pizza so my mom and bridal party planned a pizza shower! And my favorite pizza place made me a heart shaped pizza! It was awesome!

 I've been spending my free time doing some crafting as well which I really have missed! Most of it has been wedding related including this cute flower letter I made! Thanks Pintrest! It's going to be used somewhere in the decor :)

I managed to whip up another product I have had on my list since May! I love having discussions with my little readers about their learning but I noticed that in partner reading the level of conversation was much lower. I wanted to make some flashcards for them to use while reading with partners so they can use the same stems we often use together.

Book Chat
Click either picture to be taken to the product page!

Thanks for reading & Link up!

And if you made it all the way to the end let me offer you a treat. The first two people to comment their wedding colors (or future wedding colors!) Can get both products free! 

Friday, May 27, 2016

5 For Friday

Hello All!
Look at me posting twice in a month! Lol someone take a photo! This is rare :)
But anyways here's my....

Don;t ya just love this linky? So easy to recap what's been going on.

Today was the last day of my 4th year!! I cannot believe how quickly the time flies by. This year has truly been a learning and growing one.It's also my last year as Ms. McGaha

And I have made a new tradition that I do a cartwheel for the last day so here a video of that lol

I found a 4 leaf clover this week on the playground yall!
You may think that is a small task but I NEVER find them.

I have officially graduated!!

Erika McGaha M. Ed: School Leadership 

My honey and I have been featured on another website!
And now we are part of an advertisement for a super cool newly wed gift called The Blanket Box!

P.S. We get married in 50 days!!!!!

I made a cute EOY gift for my coworkers to give out today. Click the picture to be taken to the FREEBIE in my store.

How was your week? Are you done with students yet or do you go into June?
 Link up and share about your week!