Tuesday, December 2, 2014

December - Month of Giving Part 4


As the holiday season is upon us I find myself coming across the coolest stuff on Pinterest for the classroom. The more I see, the more I miss the classroom. I just love seeing learning!

Right now I am super focused on researching possible ideas for our summer program! I love this part of my job. I love thinking "out of the box" and doing things that have never been done before. I am working on my proposal and lets just say that it involves.....PIRATES and FOOD! Don't want to give it away just yet.

But enough about me....this post is another opportunity for me to share some great FREEBIES from some of my fellow teacher creators!

The first FREEBIE comes from Janice Malone. She has designed a close reading reference cards for students and teachers!
Close Reading at a Glance Reference Card This reference card can help students and teachers when close reading!
You should also check out her Opinion Writing product! Nine easy steps for students!

The next teacher creator is Suzy Palmer. Her FANTASTIC FREEBIE is a all about multiplication and even features QR codes that let students check their answers! I love how she integrated technology into this. You know kids will work hard to check their answer on that QR code!

Double Digit Multiplication Owls FREEBIE

The next teacher creator is Aimee Salazar from Primarily Speaking! This SUPER cute FREEBIE is a must! Get your students excited about writing with Roll A Story - Superhero Edition.

Roll a Story {The Superhero FREEBIE Edition} You can find more of the Roll A Story boards here.

The final teacher creator for this post is Melanie LiCausi from Mrs. L's Leveled Learning. Her FREEBIE is specifically for all those 5th grade teachers out there! Check this out!

5th Grade Common Core Math Student Portfolio with Learning Oh, but it doesn't stop there.....check out more of her goodies here!

Please remember to show these teacher creators some love by following them on TPT if you like what you see! If you didn't find anything in this post for your classroom, no worries, I have lots more to share. Stay tuned....

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

November....Month of Giving Part 3

Happy early Thanksgiving to all of you! I hope that on Thanksgiving you enjoy the great food and Gobble 'til ya Wobble!

For Part 3 of a Month of Giving I have a few more freebies to share with you!
The first Freebie comes from Burke's Special Kids. She has some great stuff for little one. Here freebie is a math puzzle that the little ones will enjoy putting together. I can see how this would be a great addition to a math center for sure!
Freebie Broken Hearts Number Center for Kindergarten

The next FREEBIE comes from Linda Nelson from Primary Inspiration! Perfect for CCSS 1.MD.C.4! Tallies can be so tricky for the firsties!  I also came across a paid product that is jam packed with math games on a hundred chart!

Tallies & Graphs: Collecting Class Data

The final FREEBIE  for today is from Neetu Pinkerton of Cinnamon's Synonyms. 

Are you frustrated, irate, or enraged with the lack of descriptive words that your students use? (See what I did there?) This FREEBIE is all about descriptive words and offers a visual understanding for students. What a GREAT FREE resource for a writing center!
Adjectives: Shades of Meaning for "Angry"

Enjoy the FREEBIES and enjoy your holiday weekend!

Saturday, November 22, 2014

November....Month of Giving - Part 2


It is that time again....going to share another great freebie with you from a fellow TPT'er, Kelly Mallory! Let me tell you, she knows her math stuff! She is a former middle school math teacher turned elementary teacher. She know what students need to be successful in middle school.

Check out this Multiplication freebie from Kelly!Wanted - Missing Factors Multiplication Freebie

She has some really great ideas! You can keep up with her creativity on Facebook by clicking below!

Here is one of her paid products that I thought was GREAT! Multiplication Fact Fluency Program - Kicking It Math     
If you like what you see, send her a tweet @kellys3ps! You know teachers love mail...we also love TWEETS!

I like her style!

More freebies coming soon!

Sunday, November 16, 2014

November...the month for Giving!


I am honored to be a part of group of fellow creative men and women who just love creating materials for teachers. This month I would like to share some of the wonderful things out there with you ....in the spirit of giving!

Check out these AWESOME FREEEEEEEEEEE Multi-Step Constructed Response Decimal Tasks cards!

I love that it is seasonal so kids will love it AND it comes with everything you need to engage students! I imagine this would make for a great partner or group activity. Imagine the conversations your students could have!

Multi-step Constructed Response Decimal Task Cards for Hol

Click on the cover of the item to go get it for FREEEEEEEEEEEEE!

April has an amazing blog you can visit here. I am in love with her love with the book report mobiles she has posted on her blog! She even has pictures posted of student samples. They are impressive!

She has some great ideas! Look what else I found!

Even more GREAT stuff for engaging students!Project Based Learning: Plan a Holiday Party - Apply Math
This is a paid product but soooooooooooooo worth it!

Take it from me...these are some Rockin' resources! 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Here is a tip....QTIP

Last week I had the privilege to attend the 2014 AMLE conference in Nashville, Tennessee. It was an amazing experience and I learned so much. In fact, I am still going through my notes and researching all of the amazing things I learned. I saw Dave Burgess, the author of Teach Like a Pirate, Kim Campbell, the creator of the SOAR program, Grace Dearborn, and many more. I walked away so very motivated to share the strategies that I learned and to also incorporate things into my role as an Instructional Specialist.

Some of the great sayings I noted were....

  • "If the butt goes numb, the brain goes dumb!" - Kim Campbell
  • "Find something more to be concerned about then a test score." - Dave Burgess
  • "It's not supposed to be easy [teaching], it is supposed to be worth it!" - Dave Burgess
Another thing that I heard, not from a session that I attended, but from the recap from one of my colleagues was this..... QTIP.


This has been rolling through my mind all night. I think that this is something that needs to be put out there. 


I recently overheard a conversation about students being tardy or absent. After listening for what seemed like a long time, it hit me! The anger and annoyance were fueled by her taking it personally that students are absent or tardy. It is so bizarre to me to hear teachers be upset with children.....CHILDREN....when they are tardy or absent. Why not just value the the time you have with that student? Why not make the most of that time with that student? Kids don't want to be late...it is out of their control!

I beg of you....if this post makes you think....GREAT....if you know someone who needs the tip QTIP, give it to them. 

Next time a child walks into a classroom late, greet them with a smile, tell them you are so glad to see them. Make their day, make them smile, make them feel safe! 

Friday, October 17, 2014

Happy Happy Halloween!!

I just love, love, love Halloween! The outside of the house is decorated. We purchased a few new ghouls this year! The spider webs are scattered all over the house, trees and bushes! We even have a very large spider is nesting on the side of the house. I love it all! My daughter has her costume. My office is still trying to decide what we can be as a group. It is all just so fun!

So, since I am in the spirit, I wanted to offer a free, yes....FREE product for all the other Halloween lovers just like me!

Click on the image to go to my TPT store to download it for FREEEEEEEEEEEEE!

Happy Halloween!!!!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

This kid is my hero!

So I can't believe I didn't see this video a year ago when it happened, but I am so glad that I have seen it now. I viewed it via Facebook earlier this morning and I just can't get it out of my mind.

You can view the video and a candid interview here.

I think I have watched it at least ten times.

My first reaction was "Way to go kid!"

Then, I admit that I became a little bit emotional. You can hear and feel the frustration of the student. The more the words sank in, the sadder I became that students in America are exposed to this kind of teacher each and every day in classrooms.

Honestly, I think more students should take a stand and fight for their education. Now, I am not trying to start a riot, or encourage students to go at their teachers, but use their voices and be honest about what goes on in classrooms.

In the video, Jeff, the student, talks about how he is meeting with school officials. Although not much detail was given on the nature of the meetings, I really hope that it was because the administration took the time to hear what Jeff had to say. He speaks the truth.

I instantly thought back to a time when I was in high school and I refused to take a "pop quiz" in an English class. I had been absent and did not know the material on the quiz, but the teacher insisted that I take the quiz as it was not HER fault I wasn't at school. Yep. You read that right. I refused. I, too, was kicked out of class. I didn't take the quiz and was not given the chance to make it up. I got a big fat ZERO. The zero grade was my punishment from administration. I remember my parents even had to meet with the teacher, but I don't remember how that panned out.

Jeff's outcome was much better than mine. Why? He got the attention of the administration and well....a lot of people. It only takes one.

In my position, I have the ability to walk in and out of classrooms all over the district I work in and I most often see wonderful and amazing things. (I keep telling myself to carry my phone with me so that I can take photos and put them on here to brag about the amazing teachers I see!) Unfortunately, I do see teachers like the one that Jeff confronts in the video.

Teaching is hard. It is a full time, even off the clock job that takes a lot of preparation and planning. I don't pretend that it is an easy job. Teaching is not for everyone. You must be committed, determined, knowledgeable, nurturing, and so much more. More importantly, you must be supported by the school staff, administration, and district. Most often what I see is that when teachers don't know a better way to do something they fall back to the traditional packet "teaching" style that Jeff is against in the video.

This video does serve a higher purpose. It is a reminder to teachers, support staff, administrators, directors, and all educational leaders that we must support teachers and offer on-going professional development.

I am glad that Jeff's video moved me like it did when I viewed it this morning and ten times since. It is honest. It is raw. It is the reality of what is going on in some classrooms. This is one kid that changed his view of school and what he wants out of life. He sees the value of education.

But this is only one student! I hope that kids see this video on Facebook or YouTube and take a stand. All students deserve a QUALITY education, not someone who just throws information at them.

Plus.....packets kill trees! Save the trees!!!!!

Thank you, Jeff Bliss.

I am done........For now.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

New Math game......We LOVE Math!

I have finally finished the last touches to the sister product of my We LOVE Math Addition game and now have the SUBTRACTION edition!

I am always looking for strategies to engage ALL students. So often when our students play games in centers they are not engaged until each time it is their turn. After a few brainstorming sessions with my good pals, Andrea and Azure, I have finally created a math computation game that keeps all players engaged and computing with each players turn!

Each player gets a game board. Cards are shuffled and placed face down. Players take turns drawing a card. The card might have a subtraction sentence on it, or the difference. If the card has a number sentence on it, all players have to compute the difference to see if they have that digit, or the difference, on their board to cover. If a player draws a card with the difference then each player computes number sentences on their board to find one that goes with it to be able to cover it.

The winner is the first person to cover all spots on their board.

The ONLY time that all players do not compute is when someone draws a WE LOVE Math card and exclaims WE LOVE MATH! This is considered the 'wild' card and the players who draws it gets to cover an open space on their board, but the other players do not.

You should really check it out! I am planning on creating multiplication and division editions in the near future!

I would love to hear your feedback on my newest product! Please feel free to leave a comment.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

I'm just so darn proud!


Today I was a part of a team that presented to the site-based coaches in our school district. I just have to tell you that I am so in love with what I do in  the world of education! I feel honored to be a part of a group that gets to present to the coaches. I remember not so long ago that I was one of the coaches attending the trainings. Today we examined our True Colors and managed to totally surprise a few of the new coaches as we pulled off a skit playing the roles of the colors. We also talked about teamwork and did a team building activity. If you want a great activity check out YouTube and look for helium hula-hoop. A crowd pleaser and YES...it totally works!

My colleague, Andrea, presented on algebraic thinking and focused on 1.OA.D.7, the only standard in any grade that focuses on the equal sign. It was mind blowing! We had the chance to visit the class that I taught for the first three weeks of school and interview 2nd graders to see their understanding of the equal sign. It was shocking. Of the 8 students, only 2 were able to answer the questions in a manner that we knew they understood the meaning of the equal sign. The videos we were able to take of the students really showed the coaches how one standard and the misunderstanding of it, can totally effect learning.

In honor of this standard, I am offering my S'more About the Equal Sign Math Center for FREE for the next 24 hours! If you download it, I would love to hear your feedback, so please take a moment to leave a comment. You can access it here!

I am working on creating even more versions of this center for the older grades to reiterate the importance of the equal sign!


Tuesday, August 26, 2014

It's so hard to say goodbye!

Oh boy, I have been away way too long. Each night I kept meaning to write a new blog but really wanted to include some of the writing the kids did on my last day.

I have had a lot of time to reflect on being in the classroom again and how I planned differently with the CCSS. I felt empowered! The new standards are rigorous and focus on critical thinking. I loved seeing the mathematical practices happening right before my eyes. It was also nice to read literature and informational text outside of what is offered in an outdated curriculum.

I also LOVE LOVE LOVE to create teacher materials and with the planning for lessons centered around the CCSS I was able to try things that before I usually did not have time for since I was following a structured and sometimes scripted program. I am just not a supporter of the one size fits all lesson.

I also appreciate that I was able to reflect on the student learning taking place by examining their work and adjusting what was needed! I didn't need a test to tell me what they learned! I built in ways for them to apply what they had learned! Isn't that the way it should be?

I often think back to when I was in school and had I had some of the opportunities that we have now for students...I think that my performance in school would have been dramatically different. I imagine what I could have shown my teachers had they tapped into my love of reading and creating.....at least I know that this is how my kids will be taught. I am the first college graduate in my family and I do not want to be the last!

So.....back to the last morning with my second graders.....I asked the students to write me a letter during their morning journal time and promised all of them that I would write back. I have not started my letters back, but I envision a sort of pen pal relationship with these kiddos throughout their second grade year. How cool would that be? I hope they are as excited as I am!

I wanted to share a few with you...

This letter was super special to me because you can see at the end of the 4th line and on the 5th line this little girl is recalling how I told them over and over that it is okay to make mistakes and that we learn from mistakes. I LOVE that! She expressed how she loved the games we played in class. She is referring to Kakooma and Math on Our Head that I wrote about in a previous blog. This just proves to me that meaningful learning CAN BE FUN and the fun is what they remember the most. I will cherish this one forever! If they all remember one thing I told them, I hope that it is how I told them about how making mistakes proves they are learning. (This one totally made my heart HAPPY!?)

This letter is so awesome. This child is asking me to come to his house with a box full of pizza and play Star Wars on his xBox! I mean....come on....that is the cutest thing ever! Do you know what this tells me? This little boy KNOWS that I care about him. Building relationships with our students is always a positive thing! If we care, they care, and we all care about school and learning. This one was a JACKPOT for me!

The night before my departure from the class there was a school wide Open House. I attended and was in the room with the new teacher. I encouraged parents to meet the new teacher and brought out my iPad to show parents the free apps (like KAKOOMA) that they can download for their kids to encourage fun practice of skills.

The highlight of my night was a shocker! Two of the little guys in the class live at a local shelter in town. I wrongly assumed that they were in the shelter with their mother. These two little ones live, parentless, in the children only shelter which is like a group home. They attended that night due to a caregiver from the home bringing them over to the school because they BEGGED to come see me. I am so humbled by the fact that in three short weeks I was able to make such an impact on the boys. The caregiver went above and beyond her normal duties to make sure the boys got what they wanted. After all, it isn't that common for kids to BEG to go to school, but these two did and she listened. One of them even wore his vest that he saves for special occasions just for me. The caregiver made sure to tell me this.

For days I have been thinking of these two boys and their siblings. I can't walk away from them; any of them. I will continue to work with the class, but for the impact that these two little guys had on me, I have set a goal, a mission, to create some kind of program, organization, partnership with the children's shelter and our school district. I don't quite know what this will look like yet, but I will be meeting with the director in a couple of weeks to create a plan. I can't wait!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Saturday, August 16, 2014

It was a FANTASTIC Friday in 2nd grade!

If you have been keeping up with my blog posts, you already know that I have been out of the classroom for over 5 years. I am loving my time with these kids. They bring me job each and every day........I totally forgot about how they also bring me GERMS each and every day! After a wonderful breakfast out with the hubs, we hit urgent care! I have middle ear infections in both ears and a super sore throat......and the antibiotics have begun!

Ah, no worries! It is all worth it!

So on Thursday we spent some reading time talking about informational text and it was perfect that our local newspaper runs a special informational text page each Thursday. I have NEVER seen so many kids get so SUPER excited about reading the paper. Seriously, it made my heart so HAPPY!

This week the paper featured the state of Mississippi which was so fitting for our class. We have a little guy in our class that moved to AZ from Mississippi just days before school started. He was my resident expert as I sent them on scavenger hunts for information. I asked them to find things like....tell me the name of the state bird, why is Mississippi nicknamed the Mud Cat state, and who is the capital city of Jackson named after.

We also pulled down the map of the United States found Arizona and Mississippi so we could see the travels that our little guy took by car to get to Arizona. He told us about driving over the Mississippi River. It was just so all perfect! One of the those teacher moments where you *sigh* and think to yourself......yep, this is why I do this.

I also showed them the Mississippi River on the map and told them how when I was a little girl I spent most weekends boating on the same river with my family and how we loved to eat catfish! I also thrilled them with speed in which I can spell Miss-iss-ipp-i! They need to practice!

We also played a math game on Friday.....I called it Math on Our Head. My friend and colleague, Andrea, came to help us play. It was amazing! I wish I would have recorded their giggles and the math language they were using. They told Andrea and I that it was SO FUN! YES! School is FUN, FUN, FUN!

I found the game in this book.
Click on the book to see it on Amazon!
One of the authors, Yeap Ban Har, is AMAZING!!! Andrea saw him in Las Vegas this summer. I follow him on Facebook and Twitter! He is always posting math problems. (The game we played is on page 17.) I can't wait to do the other number sense activities with the kids in my class!

This week was such a great week! I am having such a wonderful time planning from the Arizona College and Career Ready Standards instead of following a boxed program. It is powerful to me as a professional to evaluate the understanding of students and to determine when to move forward, or go back to solidify understanding. I love being able to change my teaching based on what the kids need! This is the way it should be!

On Friday, a teacher was hired for the classroom that I have been filling in for and she will start next week. I have been given time with her in the classroom to help ease her transition and the transition for the students. I look forward to supporting her and of course, the kids! I hope she is open to having me come in to be a guest teacher during the year. There is no way I can just walk away from these kiddos! They already stole my heart!

I am looking forward to next week! I have to get ready for open house. I am going to do a scavenger hunt in the classroom for the students to do with their parents! I am off to prepare!

Check out my new Bloglovin' and Twitter buttons! Thank you to Honey Bunch Blog Design! They are so AMAZING!!!! You can visit them by clicking on their logo on the bottom of my page or here!

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

It was a WONDERFUL Wednesday in 2nd grade!

Wednesday already?!!! Man, the days are flying by! Well we are into the 2nd week of school and the kiddos are definitely getting comfortable. I am learning what makes them smile and how to brighten their day, should they need a little  boost. They are getting to know me as well.

I am pretty sure they think that I bake cookies or doughnuts at school at night when they go home. They are always amazed at how good the room smells. It is a wax warmer and yummy smelly wax! I gotta have my baking smells!

This morning for reading we had a discussion about reading with our pencil. Imagine the surprise on their faces when I told them we were going to write on what we read! Shocker! (I used a text I found on readworks.org, if you don't know this FREE website, check it out!) Here is the anchor chart we created. The kids and I worked together to choose what symbols we would use when annotating.

Side note....I am definitely getting old! I did not think they would know LOL! I mean really, they are 7 and 8!

Anyways, we did it. We read with our pencil. I modeled annotating and did lots of thinking out loud. They copied what I annotated. We had to look up the word conjure, that one really confused them, but now they know!!!!

Tomorrow we will do our second read! Can't wait!

We also started a Dictionary section in our Reading notebooks. I made this little sign for them to put in their notebook and we strategically placed a sticky note on the page so that we can turn to it quickly. 

I also introduced prefixes today and we talked about re-. Here is what they put in their notebooks. (I did not make this....got it on TPT.....you can find it here.)

We have been playing Kakooma on the iPad (gregtangmath.com or in the App store for FREE!) You can also download the game on paper and print it out.....for FREE.....so today we learned how to play on paper. We now have a cubby labeled Kakooma in our room where they can play on paper whenever they are done. No more, I AM DONE, NOW WHAT. In our class, KAKOOMA is what! AND it is leveled, so the kids who want the challenge, get it!

So, as you can see, we had another GREAT day in 2nd grade. We are all growing on each other. I was bombarded by hugs at dismissal today. This warms my heart!

On a side note.......I hear the phrase FUN FRIDAY all the time from kids. My thing is....WHY is it that only Friday is labeled as a FUN day in school? Shouldn't EVERY day in school be fun? Learning is fun! School is fun! Just saying. 

On that note, I am looking forward to FUN Thursday tomorrow!

Monday, August 11, 2014


Greetings! I am Rachel McCoy. This is my 15th year in education. I was in the classroom for 9 years teaching first grade and Kindergarten (my total FAVE) in both Casa Grande and Phoenix, Arizona! I was a site-based Instructional Coach for 4 years and am now a District Specialist. I am originally from Illinois where I grew up on a farm in a small.......small town! I recently started blogging after my fabulous trip to the SDE National I TEACH K Conference in Las Vegas last month. I was honored to be a presenter at the conference!! I also attended the first EVER TPT Conference!

Due to a teacher shortage (what?!) and the start of school with classrooms without teachers, I am enjoying my days in a second grade classroom. I am loving every minute of it! I have missed this!

Besides being a busy with education, I am a mother of 3 sons and one daughter. My furry kids include 4 dogs and one cat. I have been married to my fantastic, amazing, generous, selfless husband for just over two years. We tied the knot in Vegas in front of the Bellagio fountains.

In July we did 5 days in California visiting Disneyland, Universal Studios, and SeaWorld. We took the best family photo EVER!

I am also in school AGAIN! I am pursing a second master's degree! This one will be for Educational Leadership! Go NAU!!!

The sound of rain. The smell of baking cookies. Reading, reading, and READING! School supplies are a weakness. The sound of large groups of children reciting The Pledge of Allegiance (I always tear up). Watching dirt track racing....love the sprint cars! Listening to my kids read. The sounds of my husband's laugh.

I would love to work at Disneyland! I thought about it when I was in college, they had a recruitment going on! LOL! I would say most days I dream of some kind of graphic design. I love creating!

Loud. Passionate. Creative.

Sure, I would love to help you blow your nose....said no teacher ever! (boogies totally gross me out!)

Hmmmmm.....definitely my Grandpa Moody....I miss him so. NKOTB, that would be a party! I would also be thrilled to see my very first class from 2000. If I calculate correctly, they would be about 20 years old now. I wonder what they have become.

Shhhhhh! We heard you the first time! 

Being able to fly would be so cool, but so would being able to get ready much faster in the morning. So why not go big! I would want to be able to wake up all done up and ready to go!

I have to go with two here:
1. If a child can't learn the way we teach, then maybe we should teach the way they learn. -Ignacio Estrada
2. The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones that do. - Steve Jobs

At Last by Etta James (I wish I could sing! That could be my superpower!)

Neither! I love sleeping! Seriously. I do. 

I am obsessed with Greg Tang. I call him my math boyfriend. He inspires so much of what I create. My favorite at this moment is my new resource, Make Ten , which includes math posters and subitizing cards.....

and my brand new Behavior Management System....


I still have one baby tooth! The little guy never fell out because I did not have an adult tooth to push it out! Hehehehe! That tooth is OLD!

Click on the image above to head over to Falling Into First to join this AWESOME linky!
Thanks, Stephanie!!!