Reflections and Resources from Tarheelstate Teacher: August 2016
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BUNDLED Leveled Math Assessments Now Available...

And on sale (listed at 20% and on sale at an additional 20% today, Monday, and Tuesday!)

I have one more week before my daughter goes BTS and starts 3rd grade. One more week to enjoy summer with, that's why you haven't heard from me this week. I've got a list a mile long of topics I want to chat about with you, but I just couldn't do #allthethings and bust out a blog post for you this week. But, I do want to make sure you've heard all kinds of good news that's going on around here.

I have consistently posted to Instagram this week (Yay me!), so if you are not following me there, I'd love it if you did! Sometimes you will get a sneak peak at something fun I'm working on, sometimes you get to see what I'm reading, and sometimes you get a peak into my personal life (like how we decorated and painted the bathroom last week!).
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Let's get to the heart of why I'm checking in with you today. It's something I want to make sure you DO NOT MISS OUT ON!
 4th Grade Common Core Math Assessments

I have spent my whole summer working hard on my Differentiated Math Assessments for 4th grade (and the 5th grade ones are on their way too!). These math assessments are truly my passion. I cannot talk about them without getting louder, antsy, hot and flustered (a little overwhelmed at all I have left to create), but most importantly UBER-SUPER excited about envisioning these assessments being used in classrooms to help students move from one grade level's standard to the goals of their current grade level, and to beyond for those students who master grade level standards quickly and are ready for more more more...because you know what, they all deserve what they need. And, it is not always easy to provide it for them I right or am I convicted? Either way, I know what it has been like to {inappropriately} administer the same exact assessment to every kid (for the most part) for 11 years and I know in my heart that I now discovered and created a better way.

I am so lucky to be partnering with the 5th grade teacher from my last school this year. I'm volunteering my time to plan math with her and create my differentiated assessments fast enough that she can use them for pre-testing her units, reviewing and extra practice work, and post-assessing her students. We just spent the morning planning out the first few days of her math unit and discussing how to use the differentiated math assessments. I'll be in her classroom on Wednesday to co-teach math with her. To my joyful pleasure, I'll be working with the same students I taught last year (in 4th grade), so it is a soul-fulfilling opportunity for me (and it makes me so excited to be able to be "in the classroom" this year helping a newer teacher, obsessing about math instruction, and working with my students again).

If you are not too familiar with my leveled math assessments, I wrote a three part series earlier this year (really, I need a 20 part series on this topic, so maybe that's coming for ya). I focused on what a leveled math assessment is, why I'm so committed to leveled assessments, and all the different ways I discovered that I could use my leveled assessments (for more than "testing").

As I've been working on these this summer, I see the light at the end of the tunnel (well, January really), when these will be completed. I am pushing SOOOOO SOOOO hard to have the Place Value assessments uploaded by August 27th {they are ready!!! :)} and the Fractions uploaded the following weekend. This is realistic because I've been alternating between drafts of the Place Value and Fractions Assessments this month and they are getting close! My 5th grade group that I am working with needs the Fraction Assessments because that's actually their first unit (focused on foundational fractions concepts and addition/subtraction because Math Expressions includes 2 fractions units instead of lumping it all together into an overwhelming heap #smartysmart), but I know so many teachers will need the Place Value assessments for the beginning of the year.

If you are interested in grabbing the bundle to get a huge discount on ALL the math assessments instead of purchasing one at a time, I want you to know, it is marked at 20% of the estimated cost of all the assessments' individual prices AND it is marked 20% off of that for Sunday, Monday, and Tuesday! I know your busy and I don't want you to miss out if you want these! {TPT is having another boost sale and you can get an additional 10% off  with the code ONEDAY from TPT on MONDAY if you want to #saveevenmoremooolah}
And I hope you already know that you can get tpt credits on all of your purchases! I love when my credits build up to 20 or more and I save dollars off of my total purchase. So many ways to save...and I know how relieving it is to be able to buy things you need for your classroom to save your time and sanity. When I switched grade levels two years ago, I loaded up on resources that helped me teach and differentiate for math. It was nice to earn some credits for giving feedback on my purchases.

Please email at me with any questions about my leveled/differentiated math assessments! I'd be happy to tell you more!

How to Ensure You Have Reading Accountability Without Using Reading Logs

Hey Y'all! I know you are busy doing one of two things: relaxing to soak up your last few days of summer and thinking about all the things you need to do OR preparing to head back to school while wishing you were relaxing! Is it possible to have "reading accountability" without reading logs? I believe so, and today I'm going to show you how I did it!
Read about two changes to my independent reading routine that made all the difference last you want accountability without the hassle (and often waste) of reading logs? There's a better way and you can learn all about it here!
I'd say if you like what I have to share, you can plan to implement this in NO TIME, and it will actually simplify your teacher life a little AND add something to your daily schedule that I believe you will absolutely enjoy. Actually, I probably should have called this post "The Best Change I made in the 2015-2016 School Year that Was Amazingly Effective and Soul Full-filling!" I bet you can't wait to hear about it after that introduction, so here goes!

Last year, I decided to make two changes to my reading routine that made a huge difference. The first was to make 20-30 minutes of independent reading a non-negotiable in my class schedule.  I ALWAYS want my students to read, and I always think independent reading is in my schedule as a non-negotiable, but inevitably mini-lessons and read alouds go on too long, small groups push out time for students to read on their own, or other interruptions to our schedule make it hard to give students their independent reading time.

Well, I made my commitment out loud to my students last year and I really stuck to it. We may have missed 2 days the whole year, perhaps on a half day or a crazy snow day, but never because I squeezed it out with too much planned. {If you find your independent reading time being squeezed out, I challenge you to make this promise this year! It is so worth it!}

The second change I made is the focus of today's post. I got rid of reading logs!

First Week of School Schedule to Keep You Sane

I'm sharing the big ideas of my typical back to school schedule with you today. I'm not saying it's perfect by any means, but you are welcome to take notes and use it for your own planning inspiration if you have not yet started your first week of school. Is it really possible to grasp all that you do during your first week back with students, much less describe it to someone else? Well, I've really tried for you today!

When I plan my schedule for the first week of school, I organize it into large blocks of time that will allow me the opportunity to front load key subject areas that will often get squeezed for time after the more relaxed few weeks at the beginning of the year have passed. Think Stephen Covey and the Big Rocks (if you don't know about this metaphor, click for a video explanation. This dude has a seriously awesome mustache; you can also find videos on YouTube by searching for Stephen Covey and the big rocks, but they all had cheesy background music, so I saved you from it!)

Dealing with the Roadblocks of Implementing Morning Meeting

Has "Back to School" got you stressing yet? Well, hopefully I can be just the right dose of ibuprofen to ease your pain! Or cup of coffee, or glass of water--which ever you prefer, really :) Have you tried to implement a community meeting or morning meeting into your upper elementary classroom and struggled with the routines, management, finding the time or just having enough ideas for morning meeting to sustain it?

Well, I am thrilled to share with you that today I have the privilege of guest posting about morning meetings in the upper elementary classroom for my friend Kathie over at Tried and True Teaching Tools. I met Kathie a year ago at tpt Vegas and we have stayed in touch as online friends ever since. When she asked me to guest post on her blog, I thought "of course!," but when she suggested I write about Morning Meeting, I was so excited to figure out how to share my love of morning meeting on her blog! Well, I hope you will LOVE what I came up with.
morning meeting in the uppergrades back to school

Head over to Tried and True Teaching Tools to find out the 5 Roadblocks to Implementing Morning Meetings in your  upper elementary classroom (and yes, I will share how you can deal with those morning meeting routines, procedures, and scheduling challenges that we all face.)

And, stay tuned this week because I am working on sharing my typical back to school schedule and routine so you can see how I plan out my days for the first week back.


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