Reading Interest Interview

Quick freebie!

As I started planning for the first week of school I began listing beginning of the year assessments I wanted to be sure and give my students. 

Math: CCSS and mixed Fact Fluency

Writing: Lucy Caulkins 2nd grade baseline writing assessment--Three blank sheets of paper folded and stapled into a book. Directions to students: "What do you know a lot about? Make a book that will teach someone else all about what you know!"

Reading: Read Naturally 1.8 Chocolate Chip Cookies fluency timing (expectation 55-65wpm), MAP assessment at the end of September.

I needed something more for reading so I created a Reading Interest Interview that includes important reading-related questions that will give me oodles of information about my students as readers. 

Head over to my TPT store and download this interview for FREE!

What beginning of the year assessments give you the most information about your students?


Common Core Freebie!

I have been working on CCSS Math I can checklists, cards to post in the classroom, and assessments for over a week now. I am getting super close to having K, 1, and 2 finished!  Whew! It's more work than a I thought it would be. But they are turning out really cute! I am making Pirate theme sets and Insect theme sets.

A new blog-teacher-friend, Terri Paulson-Sasaki gave me the AWESOME idea to create matching Common Core Teacher Binder Covers. Thanks, Terri!

I put together a packet of editable Pirate and Insect Covers, and added them to my store for FREE :)

Here is a sneak peek!

Under the title is an editable text box for you to add your name, school year, grade, school, subject... whatever fancies you!  

Download them now for free!!

*wink! wink* I love LoVe LOVE feedback :)


I've fallen in LOVE with the insects :)

If I weren't about to be Mrs. Helm, and therefore a Pirate and Ships theme is perfect for my classroom, I would TOTALLY have an insects, bugs, and flowers theme!

I have been creating a bunch of pirate stuff, but my love for cute insect clip art has forced me to create some insect themed stuff too!

Visit my TPT store to see my thumbnails and download the preview!  Let me know what you think!

CUUUUUUTTTTEEEEEEE!!!  :) I can't stop staring at the super cute insects!!

What do you think?! Am I the only insect-crazy person out there? 

Coming soon:
*Beginning of 1st Grade Math Assessment + Rubrics
*2nd grade Math I can statement card (pirate theme and insect theme)
*2nd grade Math Teacher Checklist


2nd Grade Beginning of the Year CCSS Math Assessment

For the past five years I have been doing the same boring beginning of the year assessments... fill in a blank 100's chart, some patterning activities, fact fluency assessments...and really, I do not learn a whole lot about my students from these assessments. 

I thought now would be the perfect time to create a new assessment to go along with the new CCSS for math!

I took the I can statements (in previous post) and turned each statement into an assessment question. So my beginning of 2nd grade assessment has all 1st grade standards being assessed. This way I will know what they learned and maybe did not learn in first grade.

I also included a rubric similar to the Teacher Checklist (in previous post). This rubric is also organized with I can statements and has a 4, 3, 2, 1 grading scale. 

I like to use colors to help me quickly see where a student is, so I color:
blue for 4 (exceeding standard)
green for 3 (meeting standard)
yellow for 2 (approaching standard), and 
red for 1 (below standard).

So here it is!!!

I have it on SALE now for 50% off until Sept. 1st!  Get it now at the discounted price!

As always, comments + feedback are greatly appreciated!

Did you know that you earn TPT credits for giving feedback on TPT purchases??!  I just learned this today!!


CCSS 1st grade Math--Teacher Checklist

Is your school district adopting the new math and ELA CCSS?  My district is starting implementation this coming school year in the primary grades, the following year will include the intermediate grades, then middle school and high school. 

It is being called the Common Core Roll Out. I think it is a great idea! I was fortunate enough to be asked to be on the CCSS ELA Committee for 2nd grade this past spring, which gave me an early opportunity to familiarize myself with the format of the new CCSS.  I feel like primary grades, 2nd grade especially, is pretty fortunate, not much is changing for us...atleast when compared to the WA State Reading and Writing EALRs we have been using. 

This summer I wanted to delve deeper into the Math CCSS and develop new beginning of the year assessments for my 2nd grade team.  

To do that I first looked at the 1st grade math standards to see where my incoming 2nd graders should be. Taking into consideration there may be holes in learning as the standards 1st grade teachers were teaching to last year were slightly different than the CCSS, I am creating a beginning of the year assessment purely off the CCSS for 1st grade. This will help me identify the holes in the switch from EALRs to CCSS. 

I am almost finished with the assessment which I am excited to share, but until then I have a 1st grade Teacher Checklist to share!  This checklist was created by turning all of the new standards into "I can" statements. The checklist is 3 pages long and is meant to serve as a running record. 

What I anticipate to be the most beneficial part of the checklist is the visual aspect of it! I designed this checklist to be simple yet meaningful. By adding colors and dates to data boxes next to each standard you will easily be able to track individual student progress. 

You will be able to quickly see: 
*which standards individual students are struggling with
*which standards they are excelling in
*what you need to reteach
*how to group your students based on their needs
*which students need RTI interventions
*which students would benefit most from parent volunteer support
*what to talk to parents about at conferences
*and even, what comments to include for your report cards!

So, are you interested? I hope this checklist can be of some use to you (1st grade teachers, especially!). 

This is available for free at my TPT store for a limited time :) Go get your copy!!!

I hope to have the Kindergarten and 2nd grade checklists completed and at my TPT store by the weekend!

Let me know what you think, please! 
Is this something that you see to be useful in your classroom?


This package now includes "I can _____ " statement cards to use in your classroom as a visual learning targets for students! The cards have a pirate theme. If you would prefer a lady bug and insect themed set, follow my TPT store and my blog, contact me with your email and I would be happy to send you a PDF set for free :)

I highlighted math vocabulary in red on the blue-border cards, 
and I highlighted math vocabulary in blue on the red-border cards.


Back To School Jitters Link Up

I do not meet my students until September 4th (which happens to be my birthday) but I am already all jittery inside!  Check out the poem/student gift idea I wrote all about it...it's free!!!

While I am waiting to meet my new kiddos, let's talk about some things that are making us all jittery. It's more fun to be all jittery together, right?!  Thanks to A Turn To Learn for hosting!

Whew! Feels good to get that out there and off of my chest! Good luck to all of the teachers who have met their students already, and to those of us still jittery in anticipation!


Ahoy, Matey!

My students this year are in for a real treat! From September - April 5th they will call me Ms. O'Brien...then we will go on Spring Break...I will get married, go on my honeymoon...and when we return I will be Mrs. Helm!


My finance thinks I should wait until next year to change my name in the classroom, but I am just so excited to be Mrs. Helm...I just can't wait! And I think my kiddos can handle the change!

When I think of "Helm" I think of the big steering wheel on a ship...and when I think of big ships, I think of pirates! Sooooooo, I have decided to make a classroom theme change to Pirates and Ships! I am soooooo excited!

Recently, I was at a Summer Street Fair in my hometown when I ran across this SUPER cute night light in a baby boutique (shopping for my new nephew, Nolan)

Then there was this book...

And this book...

I spent A LOT of time creating a Pirates and Ships Classroom Theme Set. It includes name tags, Word Wall labels (print and cursive), Calendar printables (day, month, weather graph...), supply labels, hall passes, teacher binder cover pages, table group tags, and banner flags for a classroom welcome banner or teacher name banner. All Pirate and Ship theme in red, white, blue, and black!

143 slides of Pirate and Ships themed classroom documents for just $5.50!!!
Visit my TPT store for more information.

Shiver me timbers!!!  I am in full pirate-mode these days! Thankfully my finace still thinks it is cute that I am changing my classroom theme to match his last name (my soon-to-be-new last name...eeeekkkk!!!! I can hardly wait!)!

So maybe you don't need an entire Pirate and Ships themed classroom set, but you are looking for some super cute, fun, AND educational beginning of the year activities??  Here you go!!!

Download this FREEBIE here

Maybe you need a pirate book...have your heard of Tumblebooks??
Click on Tumblebook Library
Then the Red button (Story Books)
Then search for a story by title
Then click the green and orange button that says View!

You can find, watch, and listen to Pirates Don't Change Diapers with your students on Tumblebooks. Woooo! And technology integration, too! I hope you find Tumblebooks useful. 

I don't get to Tumblebooks as often as I would like to, but when I do my students LOVE them!  There is a great non-fiction book section, too. Be sure to check this site out!

I can hardly wait to get this year started! I welcome any and all classroom pirate ideas! 

Stay tuned for photos of my pirate classroom :)

What's the opposite of Ahoy, Matey?!  
Hmmm... I need to freshen up on my pirate vocabulary asap!


Student Gift FREEBIE!

I have been on the lookout (on Pinterest mostly) for a fun gift to give my students at Open House. I loved the Survival Kit ideas. Unfortunately the person who created the Kindergarten Survival Kit idea did not get proper credit...when you click on the picture it just opens the image in a new window, it does not go back to her blog or information. 

Survival Kits are a standing joke in my house. My finace has made me survival kits for my car "just in case" and he has them in his car and at work for himself. My kit actually came in handy one day when I got half way to school and realized I forgot deodorant!! EEEK!  I remembered that silly survival kit and thought, NO WAY he thought to put deodorant in there...but he did :)  It saved my day!  Ever since then I am fully on board with the survival kits! 

So giving my students a Second Grade Survival Kit seemed fitting, I took ideas from the survival kit I found on Pinterest and wrote a poem. 

Now...I am not a poem writer! In fact, this is the first poem I have written since I was forced to write poems in school. This just kind of came to me one night. 

My sister and mom did help me edit it and make it flow right (thank you, thank you!).

If you like it, head over to my TPT store!  Follow me and download the package for FREE!  I have included the poem for grades Kindergarten - Fifth Grade!

Enjoy! And Happy Almost-First-Day-of-School!


New SCHOOL Year Resolution Link-Up!

Click here to Link Up

I saw this great Linky Party on Amanda's super cute website and just had to link up. I have another two weeks before I plan to go back in to the classroom to start setting up but I have had a list of to-do's growing since June.

Here are my Top 3 Resolutions

#1: Spend more one-on-one time with my students during reading groups. I have struggled (and felt extreme guilt) with finding time to do more one-on-one conferencing with my students during reading. Teaching reading is my most favorite part of my day and I love my small group time. With all of the RTI, LAP, ELL, and SPED transitions in the day I found minimal time to meet one-on-one with my students last year. I am thinking of doing one month of all one-on-one conferencing during group time, then the next month all small group meetings during that time. I am thinking September will start as one-on-one so I can get my Reading Inventories done and beginning of the year testing completed. I hope this will help me get to know my students better as readers. When I tutor students outside of school I end of knowing their strengths and challenges like I know my own and I yearn for that with all of my students!

#2: Do not work during my lunch time. Enough said! I need to allow myself time to chill out and breathe throughout the day. Just like my kiddos need their recess time, I need my teacher-recess time, too!

#3: Take more pictures, blog more, offer more freebies! I am asking for a new camera for my upcoming birthday (Labor Day Weekend!!). I am hoping that by moving away from my crummy cell phone camera to an actual camera I will get better pictures to share on my blog! Seeing pictures in other classrooms is one of my favorite parts of following blogs, it helps me feel connected to the blogger! I hope to get that connection from people who follow me, too!

Link Up! What are your resolutions?