Saturday, November 29, 2014

Social Studies Interactive Notebook Bundle 1

I hope everyone had a great Thanksgiving Day.  All 3 of my children were home from college so, I had much to be thankful for.  I didn't even let putting up a 9 ft. pre-lit Christmas tree that has lost approximately 3/4 of it's pre-lit ability put a damper on my holiday.  (I was attacked by the tree numerous times and almost ran out of stands of lights and extension cords to fix the problem.  My blessing was that I kept going up to the attic and finding more stands of lights.)  I do believe it is time for a new tree.

I am also excited about the TpT CyberMonday sale, which begins December 1 and runs through December 2.  TpT will be having its own sale and I will be having my own 20% sale at the same time on ALL the products in my store.  That adds up to a large savings!  Simply click on the Super Cyber poster below to visit my store!  Remember to use the code: TPTCYBER at checkout!

I am also excited that I have completed my Social Studies Interactive Notebook Bundle 1!  It combines all my Social Studies interactive notebooks into one large bundle.

The topics are Native Americans, Explorers, Colonies, The Revolutionary War, Government, and Westward Expansion.  Click on the image below to find out more about the bundle.

I have already began making the interactive notebooks for Bundle 2!  I absolutely love interactive notebooks!

Well...I'm off to trim the tree.  I hope this goes better than putting it up!  Have a great week-end!

Monday, November 3, 2014


Subtraction!  Why don't they get it?  I have been teaching mathematics for over 22 years.  I have taught elementary school and middle school math and it's the same story each and every year.  There are just some children who can't subtract.   Why?  I have yet to figure that out.  After many hands-on activities, plenty of practice of the skill, individual small groups, one-on-one conferences, not to mention computer and iPad games, there will still be a few students who "don't get it." 

I worry about these kids.  Subtraction isn't a fluff n' stuff math algorithm.  Subtraction is a life skill that individuals need in the real world.  

I can tell you everything that a 4th grader will do incorrectly when I first begin teaching subtraction. You know...things such as subtracting from the bottom up, if it is convenient, borrowing from the next place even if it isn't needed, beginning at the highest place value and, (Oh my goodness!), making a complete mess when borrowing across zeros. You would think that once these items are cleared up, every student could subtract by the age of 9 and 10 years old.  

If I had to pick a standard that gives many students difficulty, it is the good old-fashioned subtraction algorithm.  This week-end, while working on my lesson plans, (I'm sure no other teacher has to spend parts of their weekend on school work), I came across a new idea for a hands-on activity for subtracting numbers.  I had already included the basic blah, blue base-ten blocks in my lesson plans for introducing subtraction with borrowing/regrouping.  Once I read the blog post about this new idea, I immediately edited my lesson plan. 

The idea is to use unifix cubes for introducing subtraction with borrowing.  Instead of the students using the base-ten rod to represent the tens place, 10 unifix cubes are connected together.  When a child needs to borrow and regroup, the unifix cubes can be pulled apart and placed in the ones column.  

This activity came from this link:  Break Those Numbers Apart , Beyond Traditional Math  
There is an excellent explanation along with pictures to go with it.

I made the activity a whole class activity.  I participated with the students by modeling the problems along with them.  We took our time and went over each step in detail.  I loved the fact that my students could actually grab a ten and put it in the ones place by breaking it up.  Many of my students did not understand until today that the "1" they borrow actually is 1 ten.  

We began by setting up our unifix cubes to represent only one number, 34. 
(I finally got a chance to use my large jumbo magnetic unifix cubes! YaY!)  

My students had containers of unifix cubes at their desks.  My desks are arranged in groups, so I placed a container in the center of the desks.  (If you teach an upper grade and you do not have enough unifix cubes for everyone, ask a Kindergarten teacher!)  I have as many as 30 students in a couple of my classes, and I am very thankful for Kindergarten teachers today.

Once they decided that color coordination was not necessary and took too much time, my students modeled the number 34.

Next, we wrote down 15 as the number to be subtracted.  As a whole class, we decided that 5 could not be subtracted from 4.  My students talked about how this issue could be solved.  The conclusion was that 1 ten could be moved to the ones place.  This would give the ones place 14 units.

Next, we broke the ten into pieces.  It was an eye-opening experience for some of my kids.  We made sure to use the unifix cube model with the algorithm as we continued the subtraction process.

Next, we subtracted 5 from the 14 unifix cubes in the ones place.  We made the connection to the algorithm.  The last step was to subtract the 1 in the tens place from the 2.  We discussed once again how the 1 in the tens place is actually a ten and the 2 is really 20.  This activity emphasizes that borrowing a 1 is really borrowing a ten.
For some reason, I did not get a photo of the subtraction in the tens place but, once we subtracted 1 ten from 2 tens we all had 1 ten left and 9 ones.

All in all, it was an excellent activity to introduce subtraction with borrowing/regrouping!  I will include it with my lesson plans each year. :)

If you are interested in trying this activity, please make sure and check out the Beyond Traditional Math link above.  

If you think the magnetic unifix cubes are as cool as I do, here is some information about where to order them:

Sunday, October 5, 2014

Math Station Booklets

Last summer I posted a very large Math Station Booklet bundle on TpT for the whole year of common core 4th grade mathematics.  I have had several people ask if they could use the math station pages as whole group classwork or for homework.  Absolutely!  I use the booklets in the way that will be most convenient.  I use the booklets as math stations for some standards.  However, I use the activities and drill practices for other standards as partner, group, or whole class practice.  

There are times when it is simply easier to present an activity to the whole class and let all students work on the same activity at the same time.  This can be achieved in partner sets, small groups, or sometimes individually.  

I love these booklets.  They allow me to have activities and practice pages at my fingertips at all times.  I am never at a loss for meaningful practice with my students.  I use some of the pages just for early finishers.  

I have included a couple of pictures of my class from last week working on a couple of activities that the whole class is completing together.  

This activity is called Three in a Row, although we ended up calling it "Cover All," since my students wanted to cover the whole page.  The cards ask, for example, if students have a 6 in the hundred thousands place.  Each student that does, covers it with a token.  The activity comes with cards for all digits 0-9 to have a place.  It also comes with a Three in a Row page to place the tokens on. My students fell in love with this activity.  

The NBT.1 Task Cards were also used as an activity for the whole class.  Some students worked as partners, and some worked in small groups.  The task cards and recording sheet come with the booklet.

Each standard in the Math Station Booklet Bundle has a booklet with 9 activities/practice pages, along with cards, direction pages, and paper manipulatives.  If you would like to see more, please click on the cover page image below.  It is a yearlong project with so much included, you will never be without activities/practice for your students.  

I also have each individual standard included as a separate booklet on TpT if you are looking for only a specific item.  Just visit my store:
Mrs. Courtney's Classroom

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Back to School Boost Sale - TpT

I am thrilled TpT is having a 1-day Back to School Sale tomorrow, (Wednesday).  I am not sure why but, I sure am excited!  Shoppers will receive a 28% discount in my store as well as many other shops.  

Click on the image below 
to visit my store!

Don't forget to use the promo code:  Boost

HaPPy Shopping!
Here are two of my favorite products
that will be on sale tomorrow: 

(Click on the images to read more
 information about each of these.) 

Both the Hands-On Math Booklets
 and the Interactive Notebook Bundle 
are year-long activities.

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Classroom and Bulletin Boards

It's that time of year again!  I have been seeing all the great beginning of the year classrooms on different blogs and Pinterest.  WoW!  

I am generally on a 4-member 4th grade team.  This year, however, 4th grade has been reduced to a 3-member team.  We have the same amount of students as last year but, less teachers.  Anyone else ever have that happen to them?  So....I have 30 students in some periods...29 in another.  We are packed in!  We are making the best of a rough situation though!  The discussion about student classroom size will be another blog on another evening. :)  I apologize in advance about how I will go on and on about my opinions on student/teacher ratio.

I took pictures of my bulletin boards last week.  I am the mathematics teacher and I begin the year with algebra and place value.  I begin with algebra, then begin easing numbers and operations into the unit.  

I have also included pictures of what my room looks like when we rotate using math stations.  However, along with having 30 students in our rooms this year, the county is tearing our ceilings out of our classrooms before long to run wiring, etc... for new central heat/air units.  We don't know when that will happen so, we must assume that it could be any day.  So, no group math station numbers hanging from the ceiling this least not yet.  When the county does begin the job we will be relocated.  (I'm guessing the gym.)   Oh well, life's an adventure.  

Here are a few pictures of my room.

I will begin with the picture I took of my room last spring before I had to take my math station headings down from the ceilings.  I had my bulletin boards up and ready to begin the new school year.

I purchased the lantern from Party City and I used some name tags that I had left over from several years ago for the numbers.  I hung the lanterns and tags with fishing line.  I attached the fishing line to the ceiling with a paperclip. (I personally love the bright, little bugs.)

These posters are part of an algebra unit I have listed in my TpT store.  Click on the image below if you are interested in seeing the information on the unit.  (Why does my bulletin board paper not look white?) Hmmm?

These posters are part of my NBT.2 unit. 
Click on the image below to read if 
you would like to find out more.

Of course, even though I begin the year with algebra and numbers and operations, multiplication facts are an on-going process, starting the first week of school. 
These posters are part of my Multiplication Starter Packet.  I use it every year to keep track of multiplication tests, etc...  Click on the image below to read more about the packet.

I thought I'd slide a picture of my plastic rolling cart in here too!  I love this cart!  I store manipulatives for my units in the plastic containers.  They are larger than the plastic shoe boxes and hold a lot of manipulatives.  As you can see from the picture above, I have them labeled.

Algebra Word Wall - If you like these word 
wall cards, they come with an algebra unit. 
 Just click on the picture to view the unit.

I also have my rules next to the word wall.  I have been pointing to them quite often last week during the first week of school.  Hey, does anyone still use a projector screen?  I have 2 still in my room...never use them now that I have a document viewer and smart board.  I do remember the day,however, when I thought I had arrived because I had not one, but, two of these babies in my classroom.  I could burn my overhead projector 90 degrees on the rolling cart, and show the transparencies that I had worked all weekend on at a different position so none would get bored.  :)

These containers come in handy anytime!  They contain the essentials!  The Egg-spert is the exception to the rule.  I haven't used it in years.  I am not sure why I still have it with my necessities. I need to let go! :) 

Sunday, August 3, 2014

TpT Sale - Aug 4-5

Hi everyone!  Just wanted to remind you that it is that time of year again!  That's right...the Back to School TpT Sale.  You can save 28% on anything you buy in my store, and up to 28% in many TpT stores both Monday and Tuesday, August 4 & 5.  

I have wish list about 3 pages long! :)  Seriously!  I am going to sit up until 12:01 a.m. and start buying.  I'm obsessed with clip art! I'm a clip-art-aholic!  I love Krista Walden, Melonheadz, and EduClips the most!  

Click on the image below to visit my store.
  I'd love for you to visit!  

  Remember the promo code is BTS14!
Happy Shopping!  

Saturday, July 26, 2014

Free Hands-On Math Station Booklet

Just a quick update from my earlier post.  I have begun uploading individual booklets to my TpT store and have put a listing on for a free 4th grade OA.5 booklet.  It has 23 pages and includes activities and skills practice that allows students to generate a number or shape pattern that follows a rule.  The Common Core standard is completely covered! 

I hope you enjoy the booklet...and that you have a great rest of the week-end!

Click on the image for the free OA.5 booklet:

4th Grade Hands-On Math Booklets

I am happy to say I have finished my hands-on math station booklets!  I am so excited to have yet another resource in my classroom where my kids get to have fun and engage themselves without realizing they are learning. :)

Learning, in my opinion at least, is all about being about to retain the material that has been presented and practiced, and applying it the next school year and the next school year... 
Building blocks are the foundation of learning.  

So far, I have listed only the bundle of math station booklets.  I have created 28 booklets.  That's a booklet for EVERY Common Core Performance Standard!  I not only used the common core standards, my personal knowledge and experience with the standards, but, I used an in-depth overview of the standards while preparing the booklets.

There 900 pages with the math station booklet bundle.  There are pages for the booklets, as well as resources to use along with the stations.  I have also included many pictures, (I'm a visual learner and love pictures), and reference cards. (I also have included pictures on several of the reference cards.) Of course, answer keys, where applicable are included, along with resource dividers, (I'm OCD...everything has to be organized.)  Many of the resources come with an option of a black/white or color version. 

The booklets are consumable each year, since students will be writing in them.  However, most of the resource materials will not need to be copied again.  The booklets use resources, which I have included in the bundle, along with simple classroom manipulatives, such as color tiles, pattern blocks, and Unifix cubes.  There are other items needed that are not generally found in a classroom, such as pretzels, M & M's, icing, toothpicks, play dough, paper plates, and Q-tips, to name a few.  These items are inexpensive and easy to find. 

Each math booklet has hands-on activities, along with a few skills practice pages.  I believe in both!  

Even though the hands-on math booklets were created as math station booklets, there are a variety of uses for them.  

Suggested Uses:

- Rotating math stations for reviewing each standard
- Math centers
- Several of the papers can be used for class work or   
- Students who finish an assignment early
- Partner and group activities – One activity a day could 
  be used.
- Workshop Activities
- Guided Math Groups
- Extra Practice
- Standardized Test Prep

Just click on any image below to visit my store and find out more!  I have the yearlong booklet bundle listed at a more than reasonable price right now!


Here are a few of the cover pages from the 28 individual booklets in the bundle.  (I will be putting the individual booklets on over the next few weeks...beginning today.)

A few more examples of what are included in the booklets and of the manipulatives/resources that are used. With the math stations, the standard classroom manipulatives you use do not need to be a classroom set.  You will only need the amount of items for 4-6 students at a station.  Some stations do not require any manipulatives at all.

I would like to give credit to Ashleigh of Ashleigh's Education Journey for the idea and the support she has given me!  She always has such great ideas!  Thanks Ashleigh!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

TpT Conference / Las Vegas

I am so glad I had a chance to go to the TpT conference in Las Vegas.  It was only an one day event, but it was so inspiring to be a part of what was going on!  

There were all types and sorts of teachers there...teachers who had started with TpT in the early years to teachers who had just signed up for a premium membership and haven't even decided on a name for their stores.  

I was so sad there wasn't enough time to listen to all presenters.  However, I was told by a member of Paul's team that all sessions were recorded and would available for viewing shortly.  :)  

My good friend and partner and I arrived in Las Vegas Wednesday evening before the conference on Thursday.  We stayed through Sunday night so we could get the whole Vegas experience.  It was totally awesome!  I had never been to Las Vegas and let me just say, I was NOT disappointed!

From the time I first stepped off the airplane, I knew I was in Vegas!  There were slot machines everywhere, even at the airport.

The conference was at the Palazzo/Venetian Hotel.  The hotel was beautiful and gi-normous!  I never did see it all...and I tried!  
This is just the Palazzo building.

Even the ceilings in the hotel were magnificent. 

The rooms were beautiful and large!

When we checked in at the conference Thursday morning, we received a packet of TpT items. :)

I finally got to see Paul!  (The founder of TpT.)  I was so impressed with him.  He came in with blue jeans and a plaid shirt on.  He seemed really down to earth and sincere.  One of his staff members sat down and ate breakfast with us that morning.  She was so nice!  We didn't know she worked for Paul at first.  We just assumed she was a teacher like us.  Again, I was impressed.  Paul and his staff seem to be just good people.

This is an awful picture of Paul but, 
I only had my cell phone with me.  

Here we are, enjoying ourselves...waiting for the conference to kick off!  It was a good day!
(I'm the one in the middle.)

After the sessions were over, we all got to wind down and enjoy talking and socializing with other teachers.  I really enjoyed getting to meet other people who I had so much in common with!  Hey, contrary to popular belief, teachers know how to wind down. :)

After the conference ended, I got to explore Las Vegas for a few days.  It was absolutely wonderful!  I didn't want to leave!  

The water fountains at the Bellagio Hotel!

Why yes, Oprah, we are so excited
 to be at the TpT conference!

What happens in Vegas...

Look at that beautiful sky!

New York, New York...Awesome!

I can now mark this one off my bucket list.  It was a great conference and mini-vacation.  I can't wait until next year!  One thing I wish I had done was to have business cards with me though.  Lots of teachers did!  So, next year, instead of having to write my web address, email address, etc...I will simply hand people my card.  I'm excited to find out where the conference will be next year!