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Friday, May 31, 2013

Meeting Your Cooperating Teacher

Please visit my new blog at to read this post!

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Is Recess Important?

Please visit my new blog at to read this post

Monday, May 27, 2013

Number Talks: What is it?

Are you ready for Chapter 1 of Number Talks? I am so excited about this book and sharing it with all of you. Click on the link below to purchase the book and join in with us. You can also read chapter one free online!

A few weeks ago I shared with you my theory and philosophy of mathematics.

Number Talks helps support my theories. It talks about how most people view math as a set of rules and procedure to memorize in order to solve an equation. In reality, math is much more than that. It is the relationship between numbers that provide a solution and there are many different ways to create and build relationships.


There are three factors that students must have to be successful in math!

  • Accuracy – the ability to produce an accurate answer

  • Efficiency –  the ability to choose an appropriate strategy

  • Flexibility – the ability to use number relationships


 What is a Number Talk?

Number Talks are discussions about a particular problem that has been crafted in such a way that the key foundational ideas of mathematics can be evaluated and demonstrated.  These talks take about 5-15 minutes and are typically held 3-5 times a week. These talks allow students to share their thoughts and ideas about math. It can be taught in whole or small groups. This gives you flexibility to meet the varying needs of your students.

This video is designed as a comical introduction but it does provide a lot information about Number Talks including how it is aligned to the common core.


Designing a Number Talk

We will discuss this more in depth in chapter 2 but I love how this book uses the “silent thumb” to give students “think time.” I also like that no answer is wrong. Student “defend” or “dispute” a strategy. The students can agree or disagree with anyone in the class including themselves. Not only is this helpful for number talks but is a great life skill to teach students how to respectfully disagree with someone.

Open ended questions allow the students to clarify and provide additional ideas. By asking more than one student to share his/her thought process, we are seeing that there truly are multiple ways to solve a problem. Students get a chance to see the relationships and explore them.

The classroom environment and community is the key to success. The teacher is seen as a guide not the master. Students are asked to clarify their own thinking, consider and test strategies, investigate and apply relationships, and learn that making mistakes and taking risks can and does lead to success. Students don’t simply find the solution to a problem and then move on. They are challenged to see how many different ways they can solve the same problem.


Let’s look at 2+2. I can count on my fingers (1), draw a picture (2), use the standard U.S. algorithm (3), can count on a number line (4), and I can double the number (5). I am sure there are other ways but I just listed 5 different ways to determine that 2+2 is 4. I can prove it and I can show it in a relationship.

This is what I love about Number Talks. There are a few challenges to implementing Number Talks.

First, the teacher must shift his/her thinking away from: What answer did you get? to How did you get that answer? Also, you have to teach your students to keep their comments on task or else your Number Talks will go on forever!

 In my classroom…

I was first introduced to Number Talks in an 1/2 combo ELD (English Language Development) classroom. While my students struggled with English they excelled with math. I found that the key to success is setting up the procedures and enforcing them.

My school runs on a 6 day cycle for everything so I am setting up my number talks the same way. .  just in a 3rd grade classroom. I schedule only 10 minutes in each day for Number Talks.

Days 1, 3, and 5 … I will lead the class in a whole group Number Talk.

Days, 2, 4, and 6 … each table group will work on a Number Talk that is similar to the one we learned the day before or a review item. I will switch and work with a different group each time.



Here are a few reflective questions to think about regarding this week’s chapter.

  • How is math currently taught in your classroom?

  • What are the strengths/weaknesses in this area?

  • What is your philosophy of math?How is your classroom environment structured?

  • Do you have an extra 10 minutes in your day that you can devote to math discussions?

  • How can you keep students on task during discussions?

Grab the logo and share it with your followers.

Number Talks - Think Wonder Teach

Join the linky party and share your thoughts on Number Talks!

Number Talks: What is it?

Saturday, May 25, 2013

I Spy Dollar Dreams

It’s Saturday! Summer is officially here and Graduate school is complete. I love Saturdays as its the day that I get to spend with my family.

Think, Wonder, & Teach - Dollar DreamsTo celebrate each week, I share with you one of my products for only $1! Its a huge savings and I just randomly pick something each week. I am planning on cycling through all of my products at one point or another. Make sure that you are following or signed up for my newsletter so you don’t miss out.

The newsletter is a new feature that will be available starting in August. I can’t wait and am so excited as I will be sharing a coupon code in each one for a specially selected free product.

I Spy TimeI Spy Time and Other Time Games is one of my first and most popular products. It is CCSS aligned for grades 1, 2, and 3! It includes 33 pages, directions for 4 games, and received a 4-star (the highest possible) rating on Teachers Pay Teachers. This is a great interactive way to teach students how to tell time in 15 minute increments.

I have been thinking of updating this series to include 5 minute increments but have not heard whether or not anyone would be interested. If you are, leave me a comment and I will add it to my summer to do list!

I Spy Dollar Dreams

Thursday, May 23, 2013

Good-bye Grad School!

Yesterday was my final day of classes!! I can’t believe it has been 18 months since I began this journey of switching careers. I always dreamed of becoming a teacher but have long ago given up that dream. Now…

Think, Wonder & Teach has moved…Please come and visit me at

Tuesday, May 21, 2013

Hello world!

Welcome to WordPress!! Lorrea (the bff) is finally done!

Check it out…

(spins around)…

How does the new site look? Is it me?

Yes… in 18 months I have gone through 3 blog designs. CR-AAA-ZZY! But in the past 18 months I have personally been through a lot of transitions myself.

I LOVVE blogger. It has been so good to me but there were somethings that were driving my OCD-ness bonkers! My bff recognized this and since she is the WordPress expert for HBBD she decided a move was necessary.

I know you all are dying to know what this looked like so this is us….


See there I am with my blogger sign. Blogger is easy to use, its free, its easy to customize, its connected to all my Google-ness (yep, just made that one up!). Okay… so that gigantic cloud of categories drives me crazy and a list is worse but Blogger and I are like PBJ… its kinda messy but its still good.

See the happy smiley pointing at WordPress like its the best thing since sliced bread… that would be Lorrea. Funny how IRL I am the one with the lipstick and she is usually missing it but I will digress on the cuteness of her smiley.

She is pointing out that with WordPress you have more options to customize, more features, it looks more professional, you can create a weblog (a blog and a website in one), and all this other techy-stuff that I tuned out and stopped listening as her eyes started to glaze over. She may have even started drooling at this point but I wasn’t paying attention.

She said the words that I knew were coming “not the free site the self-hosted one. That is what we need for your blog.” By we… she means me. When I say we… I mean her. Funny how that works. Anywho, she had an idea, she had a plan, she was off, and I was… hmmm… where was I?

Its okay… we have plans this summer to go through her teaching stuff to see if there is anything I can use for my classroom. She just doesn’t know it yet. See what I mean about that tricky we??

And so here we are… I am told this is my final design. I get no more options to change or tweak. Its perfect. Don’t touch it. Well unless I am going to post something or she is off at scouts and needs a quick code change and sends me directions by text. Then I have to stop pretending I don’t understanding her wonky-tech talk and follow directions!


welcome to

Think, Wonder, & Teach!

Hello world!

Saturday, May 18, 2013

Motivating Dollar Dreams

Happy Saturday, Everyone! It is time for another dollar dream. Since next week is my final week of graduate school (student teaching not included) and my birthday I thought it would be the perfect time to share with you my Motivational Classroom Quotes!


I love the new cover on this product! It so so pretty! This is a complete set of 12 quotes in a chalkboard style. These are the same quotes that I use on teacher board/community board. LOVE them!

yoda quote

This is a favorite quote around my house. My sons liked to try to do something but it had a built in excuse. Trying meant they attempted it not that they accomplished it. They tried to do the dishes but instead gave up and played a video game. They tried to do their math homework but that new novel was too enticing.  

Try has been banished from my house and my classroom. As Yoda says… you can either choose to do or not do it but don’t waste my time trying.

Motivating Dollar Dreams

Wednesday, May 15, 2013


Welcome to Day 2 in my new online lesson planning series.  Today its all about Planbookedu.


Planbookedu and planbook have a lot of similar features. However, there are some notable differences as well.

COST:  You can sign up for a free 14-day trial to see how you like the program. After that it is $25 per year!  Discounted rates are available per school/district. There is also a free version but you are missing out on a lot of what makes the program great. This is about the same cost as your average planner so there really isn’t any built in savings here. Then again, you aren’t spending a lot more either.

FEATURES: Share your plans with anyone. Color coding is available but its complicated…  I love the fact that you can invite people to collaborate with you on your lesson plans. This is a great feature for teams, student teachers, cooperating teachers, etc… I love the calendar feature that allows you to easily select any day of the year and start planning. The cubby is a cute touch for storing items you wish to copy again and again. I also really like the drop and drag feature for moving around lesson plans.

EASE OF USE: I have an intermediate-to-advance level skill in the use of computers and software. For me, I found this cumbersome and difficult to use.

TIME: I gave up after playing with it for 3 hours. I still don’t have things how I would like them visual. To me aesthetics are important. Its one of the big reasons why a traditional planner is not working for me. I do like the option of being able to change where my days/classes show. It was very simple…  just like they said to set up your school year. Its the details that are the issue.

ORGANIZATION: You can attach  Links, PowerPoints, Worksheets, Videos, Smartboard Files, etc… to each of your lessons.

CLOUD INTEGRATION:  Included in both levels.

IPAD/IPHONE COMPATIABILITY: Yes it says so on their site but I have not been able to locate it in the Apple Store.

SEARCHABLE STANDARDS: Yes! This is one of my favorite features of this program but is only included for premium members. I also love this report showing me how many times I have taught each standard and how many more standards I still need to teach. Such a help report!


CUSTOMER SERVICE: Honestly, I have been so frustrated with this program that I have not contacted their customer service so I have no idea on how well they are or aren’t.

ISSUES:  I sooooo wanted to love this program. I read an amazing review by Teach it With Class that made me want to fall in love with this program. I really tried but it just didn’t fit my needs and personality.


This is what my planbookedu ended up looking like.  I have to scroll up and down left to right to see things. The color coding helps but you either set it as a template for color or for what you want in it. Not both. Which means I would have to use the cute cubby a lot!

PLUS… see that white strip, I was trying out the standards. So it pops up in the middle of a section in white and then when I try to color code the entire section it leaves a white bar at the bottom. Its driving me batty! See why I have spent 3 hours trying to make it look pretty and I can’t. Oh… and the color options are sorely lacking. Sigh….

Have you used planbook edu? What are your thoughts?


Monday, May 13, 2013

Lesson Planning Online

I have been working on getting stuff ready for student teaching in the fall. I know that to be successful, I have to be organized. So I finally unpacked my boxes full of teaching stuff (not all of it! I am not crazy!). And set up a place for me to throw things put things away at the end of the day. 

That was one thing off of my long lists of to-dos!

Next, I wanted to tackle HOW I was going to plan out my lessons. I thought about using a plan book… I had an awesome Erin Condren Planner that I won last year. I wanted to love this so much. I tried and tried to love it but I am a perfectionist. I admit it all the scribbles and scratches and arrows to a new day were driving me CRAZY.

I started hating my beautiful planner. I even tried cutting down post-its to fit into the squares of the planner but it was still so messy. So aggravating that I finally shoved it in a drawer somewhere… don’t ask where I forgot where. I am sure it will turn up eventually. Lately I have been using a pad of post-its but I keep losing them. At least those I can wad up and throw away when they are messy.

I needed a better way. I started looking around online and found…

Online Lesson Planning

in a cloud!

There were two programs I found of interest… Planbook and I promise they are different programs. I didn’t know which looked better so I signed up for the free trial for each of them. This was EXACTLY the solution I was looking for.

Stop in on Thursday to read my review about Planbookedu and on Friday to read about Planbook.

Lesson Planning Online

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Happy Mother's Day!

To all the mothers out there….

Happy Mother’s Day!!


and a funny one…

Happy Mother's Day!

Saturday, May 11, 2013

$1 Binders

It’s Saturday! Have you been keeping up with all of my dollar dreams? Each Saturday, I place one of my products on sale for $1!

Featured Image (2)

Today, I put on sale my quarterly and seasonal binder set.  This set includes 8 binder covers. Each one includes the front cover, back cover, and spine and is designed to fit on a 1.5 inch or 2 inch view binder. Set includes covers for Quarter 1, Quarter 2, Quarter 3, Quarter 3, Spring, Summer, Autumn, and Winter.

Think, Wonder, & Teach - Dollar Dreams


this special offer is only available in my store.

I created this set to match my portfolio perfectly! This way when I have them all sitting on a shelf it is not distracting. Since it matches my classroom decor, it just blends right into my classroom but provides all the storage I need.

$1 Binders

Friday, May 10, 2013

NASA and a Tippy Top Award

Wanna hear some amazing news??


If you follow me on any of the social media sites, you probably saw a really random, frantically excited post about being accepted to the Pre-Service Teacher Institute this summer at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. Yes… I am headed to NASA for a week!! Can you believe it??

I am over-the-moon excited!

I can’t wait!

My children are threatening to pack themselves in my suit case. One son is asking for me to bring him a robot and another wants the moon. Not a moon rock.. the entire moon. Oh! And they want a light saber… a real one not a toy.


I also won the Tippy Top Blog Award!

I knew Technology-Adventures was passing out the award this week but I did not know Tippy was planning in including me! I thought I would be excluded as being part of the staff. However, I love that I can now pass this on to 7 of you!

    1. Teaching in Paradise – I love this site. It is so peaceful and calming. I always want to go to the beach after a visit. 

    2. Adventures of a Third Grade Teacher – Amber was one of my first bloggy friends and I don’t know what I would do without her. Now that I am teaching 3rd grade in the fall, I will have to stalk her more!

    3. Dandelions and Dragonflies – I love Jessica! I want her to come decorate my classroom or just move into hers as its already perfectly decorated. She has so many amazing ideas.

    4. Heather’s Heart – There could not possibly be a sweeter teacher than Heather! I love the way she looks at life. Her classroom truly is another home to her students.

    5. Teacher Idea Factory – This has to be one of the best designs I have ever seen! It is so easy to find things and is full of great resources.

    6. Going Nutty! – Miss Squirrels always makes me laugh. She has videos, links, and pictures galore on her site. It makes it super easy to read and plus you know your gonna laugh.

    7. Melonheadz Illustrating –  Nikki is amazing! She has a heart of gold and is always giving away free clipart. Her blog is gorgeous (I know I am biased… its an HBBD blog design) and its easy to navigate.

Congrats Everyone!

I can’t wait to see which 7 people you pick!!

NASA and a Tippy Top Award

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Math is a Language


mathI am so excited about the Numbers Talk book study in a few weeks!! I started to tell you on Tuesday my philosophy of math but then I figured I needed an entire post to share my thoughts.

A few weeks ago I was working with the curriculum coach and he made the comment that “math is its own language. Just as one has to be taught how to speak English; one must also be taught how to speak math.”

I never thought of math this way before. I also never saw myself as a math teacher but here I am. I finally decided that the problem with math isn’t math but how we teach it!

With Language Arts, we don’t tell a student to do language arts. We break it down into tiny pieces for them: reading, writing, handwriting, phonics, vocabulary, spelling, and grammar. Why do we do this? Because its easier to practice a single component than do everything at once.

Why do math?

Now that is the question. Why do students do math but not language arts? What would happen if we broken up math into the same tiny components we do with language arts? Would students become more successful? I think they would! How would we even begin?

Phonics:  In order to read, you must know your letter sounds and names. In order to do math, you must know the names of the letters and their values.

Vocabulary: We teach vocabulary in Language Arts so students can understand what they are reading and to be able to better explain themselves in speaking and writing. In math, we need to teach vocabulary again so the students can find the details within the subtleties of the text. We ask a student to define, write a sentence, draw a picture, and find the synonym and antonym. Students need to do the same thing for mathematics.   What is a synonym for add? (all together, sum, etc..) What is the antonym? (subtract, take away, etc..)

Spelling: We teach a student to spell words so they can understand how to use in them in reading and writing. To me this is similar to mastering place value. We must first understand the values and how a number is written in order to be able to manipulate it.

Writing: To respond to what we read or to communicate an idea, we write. In math, we write to solve a problem or demonstrate a solution or idea.

Reading: To understand a story we must first be able to read the words. To solve a problem we must first be able to read it. To help students become better readers, we focus on sight words. To helps students become better mathematicians we focus on basic operations. To help a student become better readers. To help student become better mathematicians, we teach them strategies.

Grammar:  We categorize letters by vowels and consonants or by the parts of speech. We must be able to classify numbers as well. Odd or even. Prime or composite. Greater than or Less than. Multiples of and in fact families.

Now we obviously don’t want to use the same terms as language arts but if you look closely I was able to break math up into time building blocks in which students can learn. I also did not include all aspects of math. There is still so much more to explore!

I am so excited about putting this new theory into action in my classroom.

I have taken my math time and broken it down into various components. Instead of doing math, my students will practice basic operations (3 minute timed review) and using dictation record a number of the day, write the name of the number in multiple ways, identify place values, and classify the number (5 minutes).

Every math unit will include vocabulary. Student will define, find antonyms and synonyms, write a sentence, and draw a picture. They will also have a math vocabulary test. This is exactly the same thing they do in language arts when learning a new word. I know that this would help so many of my students better understand!

I am planning on using an interactive notebook to record all of our math adventures including our daily review of the various language components of math. I will post more about how this works for us throughout the upcoming year.

Math is a Language

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

Upcoming Book Study: Number Talks

I am so excited about my upcoming book study this summer! I discovered this great resource courtesy of a cooperating teacher I had back in August 2012! I thought about writing a review about Number Talks but new it needed more. So I waited and planned and plotted to share it all with you this summer.

I never visualized myself as a math teacher but when I met with the Dean of Education at my school and we began to talk, she instantly recognized my unique ability to teach math. I hated math in high school. I just couldn’t speak the language no matter how hard I tried but in college I finally figured it out.

You see… that is what so many people fail to realize. Math is a language! Just like English, Spanish, French, or any other 6,000+ languages in our world today.

I believe that the best way to teach math is the same as we teach Language Arts. For Language Arts, we break it down into reading, writing, grammar, vocabulary, spelling, handwriting, phonics, etc… We do not just teach our students Language Arts as a whole, we break it down into small chunks.

To be success in math, we have to do the same thing!

In Language Arts, we teach students reading and comprehension strategies. These strategies make students better readers. Have you ever thought about strategies for making your students better mathematicians?

That is what Number Talks is all about!!

This book is written for grades 1-5 and is all about teaching strategies to help your students speak the language of math. We will be going through a chapter a week beginning May 27th! I hope you will join me as we explore this amazing resource!

Think, Wonder, & Teach

<div align="center"><a href="" title="Think, Wonder, & Teach"><img src="" alt="Think, Wonder, & Teach" style="border:none;" /></a></div>

Grab the button below, a copy of the book, and get ready for a lot of Ah-ha! moments this summer. Each week, I will have a new linky party set up so that we can all learn from one another. I can’t wait!!

Visit my original post at: Upcoming Book Study: Number Talks

Sunday, May 5, 2013


Are you going??

Saturday, May 4, 2013

Tic-Tac-Toe Dollar Dreams

Think, Wonder, & Teach - Dollar DreamsToday’s Dollar Dream is actually at TpT instead of my store! I know, I know…. weird right! But I have been so busy this week that I have not had time to upload the product I wanted to put on sale in the store. I am thinking of making it a Dollar Dream later on in the week so stay tuned for the extra surprise!

My best-selling product of all times is my Tic-Tac-Spell package! Its also one of my favorites. I created it as a direct result of the issues I have seen with spelling and my own children. Things just get to routine and their is no challenge despite the new words. Even when given options, they choose the same thing every time.

Tic-Tac-Spell - Think Wonder Teach

As a teacher, I wanted something that I could teach once and use multiple times. Thus… my Tic-Tac-Spell package was born! Every week of the month has a new board with new activities. Thus each week is a new challenge. On those rare months where there are 5 weeks, I let my students choose their favorite board.

Tic-Tac-Spell Holidays - Think Wonder Teach

I have been working on a secret too and its almost done. I created Tic-Tac-Spell boards for holidays and special events throughout the school year. I am LOVING this as again… it adds some quick holiday cheer while keeping students moving forward on standards. Every board is easily aligned to CCSS in grades 1-5! Stay tuned for this great new product.

Tic-Tac-Toe Dollar Dreams

Friday, May 3, 2013

More funny videos

I shared with you all the Monday Video Funny Countdown to AIMS awhile back. I have since had many requests for more videos and received some suggestions.... I decided to share. =)

From my sons:

Warning Totally not classroom appropriate but my teenage said is HAD to be included or else I would be known as a horrible mama forever and ever. So...

From Chickadee:

From A Day in First Grade:

So what are your favorite funny videos as these just don't make me laugh as much as the last set.

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Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Practical Student Teaching

On the first of every month, I have invited a different veteran teacher to write a letter of advice; sharing his/her experience and wisdom so that you and I can become better teachers.
Think, Wonder, & Teach - Time 2 Teach

These letters are all part of my new series called Time 2 Teach. In June, I will be hosting a weekly linky party in addition to the letters. I hope you will join me!

Think, Wonder, & Teach Divider

Dear Misty,

Student teaching is so fun!  You are going to learn a lot & practice a lot but don’t forget to have fun too.

I thought long and hard about what advice a student teacher might need to know, something that would make your life easier.  It was a hard decision but I finally came to the realization that it was time for a reality check.

When your student teaching you are learning so much, doing so much and extending yourself in ways you never knew you could.  It’s fun, it’s challenging but at the same time the rest of your life is still going on.  Your kids needs to be fed & clothed.  They are going to get sick.  Your toilet is still going to get clogged and your hot water heater is still going to overflow. And your husband is still going to want to see you once in a while even though he’s now stuck with figuring out how to do the grocery shopping and go to work.

So what’s a person to do?  It’s impossible to plan for everything, right!

Of course it is…but you remember how I told you that routines keep the day sane at school.  Certain things the students can count on everyday.  It’s the same at home, you can keep your sanity by establishing routines so that you can weather any storm in stride.  Below are a few suggestions that I used while student teaching so I didn’t have to expend too much brain power on the little things and could focus my energies on the big things:

1. I planned out a months worth of meals.  I had a master shopping list by week that my husband could grab, check off what was already in the house and quickly get the rest.  Yes, I know the variety issue but for the time being…no thinking about meals.

2. All the meals during the week could be cooked in a crockpot or were quick meals that could be made by children if neccessary.

3. Nightly routines…if I was cooking a crockpot meal the night before I made sure that it was prepared and in the fridge for the morning.  That way when I left I just had to grab it out, throw it on and run out the door.  I then made sure everything I needed was by the front door so I could grab and go.  (note: I highly suggest a rolling cart…I kept grading and lesson planning materials in my cart and it went back and forth to & from school every night.  This allowed me to work in small chunks on next weeks  plans throughout the week.  At my school we met as a team on Thursdays.  We would spend about 15 minutes reviewing our plans for the next week and tweaking as needed)

4. Clothing: I had 5 outfits + 2 play outfits for the weekend.  The kids had the same.  On Saturday we washed all the weekly clothes then put the outfits in the closets.  That way every morning we had what we needed already prepared for the week.  (Note: I had a couple of extra outfits tucked in the back for emergencies…you know the weekend when everything went haywire and the laundry didn’t get done.)

5. Take everything moment by moment & trust that you will make it through and you will Shine.  So 1/2 way through student teaching my hot water heater broke, my dishwasher broke and 3 of my 4 kids all got sick at the same time.  Stuff happens & it will for you too.  Just be prepared to take a deep breath…take baby steps each day and all will work out in it’s time.  (remember the signing time video “shine”  at the end the song reads “And they’ll do it in their own time”

With that I’ll leave you with this: