Sunday, January 25, 2015

Weekly Recap: Fractions and The Mitten!

Hello again! I had one of those weeks where I stopped several times and just thought, “Gosh, I love teaching. I just love being here.”  I’m really starting to get into a groove with my second graders and we hit the ground running even though we only had a four day week. I taught reading and math and planned lots of activities to fill our four days together. In math, we continued learning about fractions and my kids really started to understand them mid-week. Yay! We started the week by reviewing key vocabulary (fraction, numerator, denominator) and how to write fractions. To practice our skills, we played fraction bingo (thank you Aimee from Primarily Speaking!) and my kids LOVED it. They had to make their own bingo boards before we could play and I love that they were getting lots of practice with recognizing fractions quickly. 

Fraction Bingo

On Wednesday, I introduced fraction word problems and I was a little nervous that they just wouldn’t “click” with my kids, BUT I was proven wrong over and over again. We began by going over several word problems together at the rug. We underlined key words/phrases and discusses strategies for solving them. After they had worked several on their white boards with me at the rug, I had them rotate around the room to solve 16 fractions task cards. I created these and used their names in the problems which they thought was awesome!

Fraction Task Cards 2  Fraction Task Cards

On Thursday, I introduced the concept of fractions on a number line. This was definitely a tricky concept to teach AND for my second graders to understand, but we did the best we could. I borrowed the idea to use graham crackers from TeachMama and this helped tremendously! We started out by looking at number lines and reviewing how we use them to help us count. Then we zoomed in on the 0 to 1 and talked about how fractions are smaller than 1.  At first, we used the graham crackers to demonstrate how we can make fourths. I wanted to slowly ease them into using the graham crackers on a number line.

Graham Crackers

After we used our first graham cracker to demonstrate that four graham cracker pieces equals a whole, we moved along to fractions on a number line. I showed them how to draw a number line on their paper and divide it into fourths before laying the graham crackers side by side. Using the graham crackers certainly helped them be able visualize this concept!

Number line

Graham Crackers 2

On Friday, we used food again to celebrate finishing our unit on fractions. This time we did fruit loop fractions! I created a recording sheet for them to identify and write the fraction for each color of fruit loop. They had to show me their fractions and tell me about the numerator and denominator before they could eat their fruit loops. Again, they loved this activity and I loved seeing them learning while having fun.

Fruit Loop Fractions

In reading, we did a week long study on Jan Brett’s The Mitten. I used several activities from Christine Stratzel’s unit on The Mitten. On Tuesday, I introduced the story and we talked about the beginning, middle, and end. We discussed how the beginning always introduces the characters and gives us more information about the setting. The middle introduces the problem and the end covers the solution.

The Mitten

On Thursday, I had my first formal observation from my university supervisor and taught a sequencing lesson using The Mitten. I LOVED teaching this lesson! So. Much. Fun. First, I introduced sequencing and talked about how it’s a skill we use everyday. Since our theme for the week was winter, I played “Do You Want to Build a Snowman?” and then had them help me sequence a set of pictures of how to build a snowman. They love getting the opportunity to come up the ActivBoard and drag pictures into place. After I knew they understood was sequencing was, I read The Mitten and had them pay special attention the order in which the animals crawled into the mitten. We used the ActivBoard again to have them drag the animals into the correct sequence before they had to sequence the events of the story.

Mitten Sequencing

On a completely different topic, I’ve been using classroom timers frequently and my kids get so excited for these. There are different ones to choose from so I switch it up every time and they love waiting to see which one I pick.

Classroom Timer

I also started using GoNoodle for brain breaks and these are THE best. I love seeing them let loose and dance…I even love dancing and being silly with them. Teaching can be so much fun!

Go Noodle

Friday, January 23, 2015

What’s Your Why?

Happy Friday, teacher friends! At the beginning of the week, Sarah from A Rocky Top Teacher shared about her passion for teaching and the reasons behind why she is an educator. Her enthusiasm sparked something in me and caused me to keep coming back to the question “why do I teach?” all week long. Although I am only a student teacher right now, I grew up in my mom’s classroom and have been surrounded by education for as long as I can remember. I saw my mom pour her heart into her classroom and students every school year. I saw the tremendous amount of time and energy that my mom invested in being an effective teacher every school year. Now, I’m starting to experience what my mom did on a much smaller scale as a student teacher and I’m asking myself “why do I teach?” and “what is it about teaching that fires me up?”

As I thought about those questions this week, I kept coming back to a simple reason. I love being in the classroom. I sat down this afternoon after getting comfy and cozy and built on that reason. I love how Sarah described it by saying “there is a reason that you wake up every morning and walk into your classroom ready to tackle a day full of learning with your students.” So, here are a few of my reasons!

I know that I’ll always be adding more reasons for why I do what I do as I grow as an educator and step into my classroom, but this is a glimpse into my heart right now. I’ve definitely chosen a career where I’ll always be learning and growing right there alongside my students. I’m so thankful for that!

Be sure to link up with Sarah to share your heart and answer your own “why?” :)

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Fractions, Fractions, Fractions!

Hello teacher friends! I feel like I need to take a minute and reintroduce myself. I’m Samantha, the face behind “Field Trips and Paper Clips,” and I have done a terrible job of keeping up with this small blog of mine. But, I’m back and ready to share glimpses of what’s happening and what we’re learning in my classroom. Since my last (and only!) post, I have officially started student teaching in second grade and I LOVE this age so much!

I’m slowing beginning to take over teaching different subjects and I started with math this past week. We dove head first into learning about fractions and I was intentional about taking lots of pictures to document our learning. I utilized several activities from other fabulous and creative teachers so I’m sure you’ll recognize many of these activities from their blogs.

We started out by talking about some of their favorite treats (pizza and pie!) and how we usually divide those into equal parts to share with our friends and family. I built on the idea that we use fractions in every day life and introduced basic vocabulary associated with fractions such as equal, unequal, whole, halves, thirds, and fourths. We read Jump, Kangaroo, Jump! and did a flipchart activity on the ActivBoard to practice using the vocabulary. They loved this! The book introduces the concept of halves, thirds, and fourths by having a group of 12 animals participate in a camp field day. First, they have to divide into two equal teams for a game, then three equal teams, and finally four equal teams. It provides a visual for a tricky concept!


After reading, Jump, Kangaroo, Jump! we created “My Book of Fractions” from Cara Carroll’s Fraction Action unit. I had the the fraction pieces pre-cut and placed in sandwich baggies prior to the lesson. That extra preparation made it so much easier to immediately transition into the activity! I loved creating these booklets because it helped reinforce the vocabulary for my students in a hands-on and visual way.

Fraction book

Fraction Book Cover

On Tuesday, we focused on learning how to label and write fractions. I introduced what the numerator and denominator are and we practiced, practiced, practiced. I used resources from The Teacher Wife’s Fraction Fun unit and my kids loved being able to manipulate the arrows and vocabulary terms to label the fractions.


Labeling Fractions

On Thursday, I introduced fractional parts of set which my students really enjoyed because they could clearly see how we use fractions daily. In order to practice identifying fractional parts of a set I used Cara Carroll’s fabulous idea of doing pizza slice fractions. This activity was too fun! I made four pizzas each with a different number of slices and they had to write the fraction for how many had pepperonis, olives, mushrooms, and black olives. I set the timer for four minutes at each pizza station as they rotated in table groups. I loved seeing them engaged in identifying the fractions. Plus, I was able to use this as a formative assessment to see which students understood and which students needed more practice with fractions.

Pizza Slice Fractions 



We had a very full week in second grade! When we start back on Tuesday, we will spend another week on fractions really practicing and applying our skills. In reading, we will be using Jan Brett’s The Mitten as we jumpstart our winter themed week. There is SO much you can do with The Mitten and I will be back to share all of it with you next weekend!