Reflecting Well: A Guide to Ending the Year

This school year has, no doubt, been a year of ups and downs. Full of student breakthroughs, student meltdowns, parent meetings, staff development, new friendships, new-found niches, tears, eye rolls, smiles and loads of laughter. The impact you have had on your students is nearly immeasurable. This influence I speak of must be recognized. Not by me. Not by your boss. Not by the parents. Rather, noticed and understood by the child himself. Acknowledgement of your impact isn't for your glory. Though, you deserve it; not everyone can manage 26 kindergarteners, let alone positively impact their lives. Read this sentence as a sincere and true thank you and congratulations for all that you do. I've given this topic much much thought as of late. What is the significance of reflecting on the year completed? How would this even play out?

In two sentences: Reflection plus a creative outlet breeds confidence. Confidence produces progress.

Students begin each school year with a set of beliefs. A set of beliefs about who they are, what they can do, and what the world says about them. Students walk through 180 school days. I wouldn't dare to say that there is ever a child to leave a school year as the exact same person as when he entered. However, many students' beliefs fail to change as they change. This is where the reflection process becomes necessary.  Reflection is the act of processing past events, in this case, a school year. Reflection is a slow, deep process that derives self-knowledge. Self-knowledge is hard, especially in a world full of a media bombarding us with a less-than-good-enough message about ourselves. Without self-knowledge, how can we realize how far we've come? Without realizing how far we've come, how can we grow?


I refuse to believe that merely thinking about the past is enough to breed confidence. A type of creative outlet specific to the individual must be utilized for optimum success. How many times have I thought about something I'd really like to remember and completely blown it off 37 minutes later? Gosh, I don't even want to know. The times I have spent with my sketchbook or my journal, though, are moments I will never forget. In January, my car was stolen the second day I moved to NC from IA. It was an emotionally draining and, quite frankly, annoying situation. A few weeks ago, though, I sat down on the porch with my journal and wrote my way through reflection. I wrote how I felt, what happened, and how I experienced those moments of distress. Now, I am able to hold that reflection process close to my heart. I can see how much I've grown. I believe in myself to handle other strife that may come my way. I'm full of a confidence based on what I have accomplished; that confidence inspires me to reach even loftier goals. It's next to impossible to be confident in your abilities without a meaningful reflection period. I don't know what this would look like for you or your students. Most likely, it will look slightly different for each individual. It may be drawing, writing, group discussion, painting, nature walking, or singing. The outlets are limitless.

This reflection process has a divine way of breeding confidence. I can't fully explain it; I can simply present my own testimony. Instilling this beautiful, self-endorsed confidence in young students and brilliant teachers has the power to change the course of history. Self-reflectors are full of a confidence that is paired with awareness. Self-reflection not only reviews the past accomplishments, but sheds light on future goals. We are able to see how far we've come and realize how far we can go, all with an inner confidence that reigns most powerful.

You, dear teacher, are brilliant. Thank you for providing students with a past school year worthy of reflection. A past school year with the potential to breed confidence, prowess, and progress.

My name is Monica Wentworth. I live in Charlotte, NC with my studly husband, Travis. I'm a TpT seller, an education advocate, a lover of breakfast, an aspiring blogger, and an amateur traveler. We're off on a 2 month journey of experiencing the world in Europe this summer. Follow our travels on Instagram and my blog for adventure updates and blog-exclusive promotions. 

Personal Financial Literacy for Elementary Students

I am thrilled to be a guest blogger! My name is Kara Hoelscher and I am currently a second grade teacher at a small rural school in Texas. I have taught several grades throughout my 13 years of teaching, but my heart truly belongs in the second grade! Blogging is fairly new to me. You can find my teaching blog at Little School on the Range

I’ll be honest…when I first read about Personal Financial Literacy being added to the new standards I was puzzled as to how to tackle the subject.

However, after I read through the standards, I realized that they were pretty reasonable. The standards require us to teach about savings, borrowing, lending, and making deposits and withdrawals.

The main problem that I faced was how to fit them into our already busy schedule.

After a lot of thought, I thought that these standards would serve as a much needed review of money and basic math operations. Money is something that my second graders really struggle with. It seems that the new standards seem to brush over them quickly and my students don’t quite master the concept of counting money as well as I would like.

We began our Personal Financial Literacy with a basic money review…We reviewed all of the basics. We started with dimes and pennies (reinforce the tens and ones place) and moved on to other coins and dollar combinations. We first covered money early in the year and this was a much needed review!
personal financial literacy for elementary students

We then moved on to discussing saving and spending. We used coins to do this (continuous money review). We crossed out what was spent and circled what was saved. I really like letting my kids cross out the money spent in red. This just reinforces accounting concepts that they will learn later down the road.
personal financial literacy for elementary students

We used charts and looked for patterns when calculating savings over time. This is a great way to integrate our charts and graphs skills from earlier in the year. It also allows us to look for recurring
patterns which is always important in math. Calculating savings also served as a way to practice our skip counting which will help us later in the year as we face learning multiplication.
personal financial literacy for elementary students
The terms deposits and withdrawals were new for all of my students. As teachers, we have to remember that all of our students may not be coming from homes with bank accounts. Some of these terms and ideas are new concepts for many of our students. That is why it is so important that we teach them to our students at an early age. In order to remember these terms, we made a foldable picture to serve as a visual reminder of the difference between a deposit and withdrawal. We put into our math journals to serve as future references. This foldable picture is available in my freebie below.
personal financial literacy for elementary students
To incorporate what we learned about deposits and withdrawals into real life scenarios, we solved word problems involving deposits and withdrawals. For example, Bobby had had $140 in the bank. If he withdrawals $50, how much is left in his account? These are skills that will lead students to being able to balance a check book and maintain bank accounts in later years.
personal financial literacy for elementary students
Lending money was a subject that I wasn’t sure how to approach. However, it was one of the most interesting class conversations we had during this unit. I decided that I would ask the students things that a bank would ask a borrower coming in for a loan. We also discussed things that people may go to the bank to get a load for. Things that came up in our discussion were:
  • What things have you let people borrow?
  • Why would you let people borrow those things? Why not?
  • What makes a person a good borrower?
  • What makes a person a bad borrower?
  • Why do you think a bank would consider a person a good borrower
  • Why do you think a bank would consider a person a bad borrower?
  • What would lead you to think that a person would pay you back money?
  • What would lead you to think that a person would not pay you back money?
personal financial literacy for elementary students
Like any new concept that you are teaching for the first time, it is important to really think about what the students need to take away from the lesson. Although the concept of personal financial literacy first seemed to be difficult to teach, once I broke it down and brought it down to my students’ level, it was a beneficial unit. Like any unit, the key was to make sure that I reinforced previously learned concepts throughout the unit and to make sure that they could relate the concepts to their everyday life.

This FREEBIE is a great way to begin your Personal Financial Literacy unit! I hope that you can use it in your classroom!

Ain't Misbehavin': Behavior Charts in the Classroom

Managing behavior is probably the most frustrating and difficult part of teaching. You've worked hard on a lesson, made it interesting and engaging and one of your students has a different plan in mind. To make it worse, 90% of your friends really want to learn and are excited to participate.

Wait.... 90% of my kids aren't participating. What do I do?
Think about your pyramid. Are 80% of your kids engaged with little to no extra intervention? Do an additional 10% need only light interventions like redirects and short breaks? If your answer is no, then you probably need to rethink how your classroom management system is working. There are lots of wonderful ideas for classroom management systems on my Pinterest board, Ain't Misbehaving, please check it out! Today's post will be focusing on your Tier III, high needs kiddos. If you created a behavior contract for half your class, you would never get any actual teaching done!

Ok.... now what?
You have the majority of your kids working and ready to participate, but you have one or two friends that aren't responding to your best practices. You're ready to start an intervention. Behavior contracts are a great place to start! Think of a behavior chart like an individualized monitoring system. It give both the student and the teacher feedback on how the day is going. In addition, it gives the student a reward or incentive for being a valuable member of the class. That’s a good thing!

Step 1: Lay out your day.

The best behavior charts chunk the day into small parts to allow for small successes throughout the day. For older kids, it works well to include the order of the day by subject: ELA, Math, Social Studies, Specials, or Science. For more difficult behavior or for younger kids, they may need the day broken up into 30 min- 1 hour segments. Kids don’t get time though so try to chunk the day by subject then activity. If a student really struggles with certain aspects of their day, say transition, you can further divide the day into even smaller parts. Here are some examples:
Step 2: Define the behavior.

Now that you’ve made a plan for how you will chunk your day, decide what behavior you are looking for. I usually ask teachers “what is the one thing that would make your day go more smoothly?” I typically start behavior contracts with only two behaviors and never more than three. Nobody is perfect and your special contract friends have a long way to improvement- set them up for success! The behaviors you identify should be observable and measureable. Write a short indicator for the behavior at the top of your table and now you have a contract!

Step 3: Choose a recording style.
Now that you’ve created a chart, decide how you want to record the student’s behavior. I’ve used a number system, smiley faces, and checks. I find that checks work best. Number systems seem great for providing a range of compliance (2= independently, 1= with reminders, 0= not today), but I find that students are confused by the ratings and get frustrated more easily. Smiley faces are cute but hard to read quickly. Of course, kids love stickers but this makes record keeping more challenging and can lead to inconsistently implementing the chart by the teacher.

Step 4: Create buy-in.
When I am starting a behavior contract, I like to meet one on one with a student to go over the contract and determine what rewards would be appealing to them. This can be challenging as a classroom teacher, your school counselor would be a great resource for this! When I meet with the student, I discuss with them what has been going well in class and what has room for improvement. I let them know that I want to help them by allowing them to earn rewards for doing the right thing. I show the behavior contract and explain how it will work. I then ask them what kinds of rewards they would like to earn. Today I am including my reward chart for free on my Teachers Pay Teachers store. This reward chart is fully editable so that you can make it your own. Previously, I charged for this product but I am so happy to share this with the Minds in Bloom readers!

On my rewards chart, I include two types of rewards: every day rewards and save up rewards. Every day rewards are smaller and, as the name suggests, can be earned every day. Save up rewards are larger or require more time out of class or with me and have to be earned over time. These rewards are highly desirable rewards like lunch with me, library helper, or extra recess. Students have to earn their chart 4 days in order to receive a save up reward. The chart does not have to be earned four days in a row.

Once the student understands the chart and is excited for the rewards, I spend a few minutes talking about the behaviors that I will be looking for. If our goal is listening body, we’ll talk about what that looks like. I write the explanation at the bottom of the contract so it’s always visible or make a reminder card for their desk with visuals for younger students.

Step 5: Set reward criteria.
Once the student is on board, it’s time to start using your chart! So how do you know when your precious lovely has earned their reward? My ultimate goal is to earn 80% of their checks each day but remember that these students have been your toughest 10% in their behavior. Start the bar low so they can feel success and then increase over time. I usually start at 50% of checks and move up after they’ve been successful for a few days. I know, you want to scream “Half?! That’s nothing!” The purpose of the chart is to increase positive behavior by rewarding it. The student needs to feel the success of the reward in order for it to work.

Step 6: Daily Setup.
Each morning, I meet with my behavior chart kiddos during morning work time. We go over their chart from the previous day, give out the reward (or record for saving up), and then talk about today. I write the number of checks they need to receive in order to earn their reward. The dialogue might go something like this:
“Rebecca, it looks like you did a great job in math and specials yesterday but had a hard time in reading. What’s going on with that? Oh yeah? OK how can you handle it when Johnny is reading outloud and you can’t concentrate? That’s a great idea. So today you are going to ask to move if you can’t concentrate. You earned 14 checks yesterday and your goal was 12, great job! You can have computer time until the bell rings. Today, you need to earn 14 checks to earn your reward. Keep up the good work!”

How do I know if it works?

It’s amazing sometimes how, in our daily frustration, we can feel like something is not working even when it is. To help think about progress in an objective way, I have created a progress monitoring chart to track behavior over time. I input the percentage of checks earned for each day and the chart creates a graph with a trendline over time. I can look and see if the trendline shows upward movement (yay!), stays the same (are we maintaining?), or shows a downward trend (oh no!). I am a counselor so I create these for each of my teachers who has a student on one of my contracts. I also create a chart when a student is being monitored through an intervention team so they can use this information in their meetings. I always share the chart with students as well to celebrate successes or brainstorm ways to improve.

You CAN do it!
I’ve written over 1000 words on behavior contracts and hope you aren’t feeling overwhelmed. Remember to use this great technique for a very small number of students. If you would like to download a bundle of 15 different behavior charts and the progress monitoring excel file, it is available in my Teachers Pay Teachers store. 

Rebecca Atkins is a school counselor in North Carolina. She is passionate about helping all students learn and be successful in school. She’s an intervention and progress monitoring geek, book lover, and just a tiny bit compulsive. You can find more at:

3 Resources for Paperless Parent-Teacher Communication

Hi everyone! I'm Princess Netherly from Teaching, Love, Cupcakes and I'm excited to be a guest blogger today!

Today I'm going to give you a quick tutorial with screen shots of three resources I use for parent-teacher communication that will help keep you organized. If you're like me the last thing you want is more paper to keep up with. I don't know any teacher who wants MORE paperwork!

Both you and your parents will love how easy it can be to schedule conferences and volunteer opportunities in the classroom. The best part is less paper to keep up with. Say goodbye to lost papers in backpacks or left behind on the floor after dismissal!
First up is Doodle. Doodle is a website that makes scheduling conferences easy. Simply click schedule an event on the homepage and start filling in your details.

The best part of Doodle is choosing what days and times are most convenient for you. For example, I can schedule conferences for Wednesday after school but not Wednesday afternoon since that's my team planning day while students are in specials. 
When you're finished you will have the option to choose your settings. I always choose to make the poll hidden and only one participant per option. These options give you and parents some confidentiality. Sometimes it's not everyone's business to see what others are doing, know what I mean? 

Doodle will send you an administration link. Keep this link saved to make any changes to your poll. You may send out the participation link as many times as needed. Voila! Once parents enter their name and hit submit, their preferred date and time are saved; so much easier on us teachers so we don't spend time juggling paper notes trying to fit it all in. 
If you're not using Volunteer Spot for your room helpers bookmark it to start with next school year. I've been blessed to have a supportive group of parents this year who are always ready to jump in and help when needed. Volunteer Spot lets you schedule classroom help when you need it. Parents then view what dates and times you have available choosing what works best with their schedule. 

I already have an account, so I just need to create a new sign up. Please note when you create a sign up, volunteers will need to give their name, email address, and phone number. 
On the calendar you can choose any days you need.

See the option for repeated pattern? Click on it if you plan to repeat anything in the month. I didn't pay attention to this the first couple of months I started on Volunteer Spot and ended up taking longer than necessary to finish my sign ups.

One of the strengths of using Volunteer Spot is the different ways you can share with parents. How cool would the button be for a class website?

Both you and parents will be sent reminder emails before the date and time of volunteering. 
My last tool for easy parent-teacher communication is Class Dojo. If you've considered Class Dojo before now is a great time to start using it since new features have been added.
Let me start by saying I don't use Class Dojo all year. I start with Class Dojo after spring break when the kids need something new for classroom management.

I've created a "mini me" as an example for this blog post. Of course I had to pick a pink monster!
Did you know that now you can connect parents and students on Class Dojo? Any parent or student connected can log in at any time from the app or website to check their points. They access their account with a special code you have the option to give them.

Once parents are invited and connect, teachers can see their last date to login. Want to send a private or group message to parents? Well, now you can and even check when it was read. Isn't that a lovely feature for when we sometimes are told no message was received? 

Definitely bookmark these ideas so you can become familiar with them for next year. You'll love how much time you can save yourself and parents with these quick and easy communication tools. 

More about me:
I'm a second grade teacher from Texas wrapping up my fifth year of teaching. I enjoy learning about new technology to use in my classroom while still setting the foundations of learning with basic skills my students need. When I'm not teaching/creating products/blogging I enjoy traveling, exercise, and watching my favorite shows on Bravo.

Tips for Decorating Your Classroom

Hello! I'm Patti, Rachel's guest blogger from Primary Wonderland. I'm grateful to her to be sharing today!

        Have you noticed that the time to take care of your physical classroom has gone by the wayside?  By physical, I mean the walls, the bulletin boards, and those ceiling hooks that cry out for something new to be hung up each month. It takes a lot of time to make a room look inviting, but that very time has been swallowed up by curriculum-heavy schedules. So, where DO you find this so called time to take care of your ever evolving classroom? You have to get creative and share the load!  I have some tips that can help.

  • As much as you like it to, a bulletin board does not have to go up complete. REALLY! Don't wait for a whole pile of writing or projects to be staring up from your desk at the end of your long day! As children finish a project, hang it up while the others continue to work.  You save time and once the first few students have their work up, it motivates the rest to finish! You can even grade those projects right from the board!
  • Teach your students where and how to hang projects.  Make sure that your children can use staplers or hole punches safely. Train them how to put tape on the back of their work. Think about more wasting time making hundreds of tape squares after school! To make this easy for small hands, teach children to tear or cut off strips of tape and hang them off the sides of their desks. Then have them loop each piece back over itself, sticky side out. They just overlap the ends a little, stick them together, and place them on their projects.  Even if you will eventually hang the projects yourself, just having the tape already on the back will really speed things up! If the items will be hung from paper clips hanging down from strings, teach children where and how to hole punch their projects before handing them to you. Hang them up as you continue to monitor the rest of the class. An even faster tip is to switch out the paper clips for binder clips.
  • Make one of your class jobs a Bulletin Board Helper.  Older students especially LOVE this! They can arrange, staple, tape, and even hang borders or titles.  They can take down the old items off of the wall or bulletin board and put them into mailboxes.  Show them how and where you store titles and borders and let them put them away for you. What a time saver!
  • If your students cannot manage the suggestions above, get parent volunteers to come in and hang things. Parents who drop children off in the morning may be willing to stay for 20 minutes to get your bulletin board done or hang projects in the hall before the first bell.


  • If something will be hung on paper clips, punch them as you prep OR mark them with an 'x' where students will hole punch them BEFORE you do any copying.
  • Think about each bulletin board and how you will be changing it throughout the year.  As you prepare your room before school starts, layer up the paper or material so that you can remove the current layer and the next one is underneath ready to go.

  • This is one of my favorites! Stop hanging individual letters for the titles. Just type the title on your computer using a COOL, BOLD font and print it out. You can use the banner setting and print that way or print as an  8 1/2 x 11 inch sheet in color with cute clip art added. Quickly mount on top of a couple of coordinating construction paper sheets and you are ready to go!  Laminate it to make it even faster for the next year!
  • Choose bulletin board borders that are neutral instead of decorated and leave them up all year. Then use small seasonal decorations that can be stapled on top of the border. These are faster to switch out then measuring and cutting new borders.
      So, don't give up the look that you want in your room or spend countless hours before and after school every month. Take notice of your habits and see where you can share the load or take a shortcut. The result will be a classroom that you are proud of when you switch the lights on every morning! little about me-I have 9 years of experience teaching 2nd graders and several years as webmaster and technology coach.Visit me on my new blog Primary Wonderland for more tips and ideas or at my teacherspayteachers store!

5 Tips for Setting Up Math Workshop

Do you use math workshop in your classroom?  A few years ago, I was just venturing out into the world of math workshop after successfully using the workshop format for reading and writing.  At the time, there was very little written about it and most of what I knew, I learned from other teachers in my school district. 

At the most basic level, math workshop involves a mini-lesson, independent practice and a share time.  The independent practice part goes by many different names: centers, rotations, math tubs, stations, guided math, etc.  No matter what you call it, small groups rotate through a variety of activities to reinforce the concepts you are covering.  During this time, the teacher can work with small groups in order to better meet the needs of each student. 

Setting up a math workshop format can be overwhelming if you have never done it before.  I simply did not know where to start and had very few resources to help except for my friends, trial and error.  I adjusted and reworked my set-up multiple times until I finally found something that not only worked for me, but worked for my students as well.  They were loving math in a way I had never seen with past classes.  The format that I used went a little something like this.

Monday – longer math lesson, teach games and activities that students will use during math centers that week
Tuesday - longer math lesson, teach games and activities that students will use during math centers that week
Wednesday – math workshop – students rotate to 2 of the 6 stations
Thursday – math workshop – students rotate to 2 more of the 6 stations
Friday – math workshop – students rotate to their final 2 stations

My students were divided into 5 groups (not always equal in size but usually divided by ability level based on a pre-assessment for the unit) and they rotated through different stations during the course of a week.  Now that you have an idea of the math workshop format that I used, here are my top five tips for setting up math workshop in your classroom.

If the way you have math workshop set up in your classroom isn’t working, give yourself permission to change it.  I know your gut instinct is to wait until next school year because your students are already used to the routine and you don’t want to throw them for a loop.  I promise…your students will figure it out and rise to the occasion.  There is no point in continuing on with something that isn’t working for you or your students.  I completely changed how many groups and rotations I had in the middle of the year.  I am not even talking about after we returned from a break.  I am talking Friday it was not working and I was miserable, Monday we changed it all up. 

Between math workshop becoming more popular and the explosion of teacher ideas on blogs and Pinterest, I have seen a lot of different ways to set up math workshop.  There are many ideas out there, but every idea isn’t for you.  When I first tried math workshop, I did what I had seen a few other people do – divide the class into 3 groups (high, medium, low) and have them rotate through three stations (teacher, practice, game) every day.  It just didn’t work for me.  AT ALL.  I loved that I saw every student every day but it was crazy.  It was overwhelming to plan that many activities daily.  My other issue was that dividing 28 students into three groups didn’t really give me “small groups.”  There wasn’t a table that we could all fit at comfortably and I really wasn’t giving each child the attention they needed.  Don’t get me wrong, this format works for some teachers.  Just don’t feel like you have to make it work if it just doesn’t fit you and your students’ needs.

I also tried doing workshop/centers five days a week.  I just assumed you were supposed to, but I was having problems fitting all of my instruction into a mini lesson.  Not to mention the amount I had to prep to have new centers every single day.  That is why I finally settled on the format that I did.  Monday and Tuesday gave me the chance to teach longer lessons in more detail and have time to teach any games or activities that the students would use later that week.  That way I wasn't spending our workshop days explaining each station.  They already knew what to do and could get right to work.

I think a key to the success of math workshop is planning and having everything prepped ahead of time.  Before, when I was just teaching a lesson and giving them a worksheet, I could easily wing it and change if something wasn't copied or ready.  With math workshop, it caused me to be better at planning in advance.  Here is how I prepped:

·         Plan out the unit roughly – what you want to cover, how long it will last, etc.
·         Plan one week at a time – I found that if I planned too far in advance my students would throw me for a loop and need extra time on a concept or catch onto a concept really quickly and then my plans would be off for several weeks.
An example of one week's worth of math workshop plans
·         Copy ahead of time – I planned on Thursday nights and had a copy mom copy for me on Friday.  Then, I had Friday afternoon and the weekend to pull and prep anything needed for the following week. 
·         Set up on Monday – on Monday I would put all of the activities into the bins for the week, down to the manipulatives or supplies that they might need.  That way, I wasn’t scrambling for anything on Wednesday when we started our rotations.

This might be a good time to mention that you do not need to plan 6 new activities every week.  That is overwhelming.  Get the most out of your activities and games.  Students can use them more than once.  I also usually had a review station where we practiced a concept we’d already learned to keep it fresh for them.  Use what you have over and over again.  Math workshop is a great way to spiral the curriculum and make sure students are practicing topics all year long.

Also, being organized does not mean it has to be a lot of extra work.  It has to be functional and that is exactly what my math bins were.  Of course, I now drool over the cute color coordinated math bins with matching labels that I see online, but that was not what my bins looked like at all.  I needed something that worked for me, grabbed whatever bins I had on hand, wrote out labels (I know...gasp...they weren't typed and cute) and taped them on.  But you know what?  It worked!  The bins were organized with any papers, supplies and manipulatives they would need.  I even included little laminated signs to remind them what to do with their finished product from that station.  Then the next week, I would just trade out what was in the bin for the new activities for the week.  Functional!  It needs to work for you!

When I would be looking ahead and planning out the following week, I would check to see how many interruptions we had coming up – assemblies, field trips, testing, meetings for me, substitute teacher, etc.   If they fell during math workshop time, I would first try to see if we could do math workshop at a different time during the day.  If that was not possible, we would cancel math workshop for the week.  Instead, all five days would look like a normal Monday or Tuesday – a lesson and activity, then some math games.  If you skip a day of math workshop with the way that I did my rotations, each student would miss out on two stations and you would miss out on seeing two small groups.  That DID NOT work for me.  Each rotation was too important for the students to just skip so it was all or nothing.  Now, I only had to do this a few times during the year.  Usually, I could figure out a way to move things around and make it work because my kiddos LOVED math workshop days and did not like if I changed things up.

I think one of the biggest reasons math workshop was a success in my class was all of the practice we did when we first started.  When we first started, we would spend several weeks just practicing what rotations would look like – where to go, how to act, how it should sound, what they should do, when they could go to the bathroom, what it they needed help, where do they get supplies, what do they do if they finish early, etc.  At the beginning of the year, I taught them 6 easy games and these were our six rotations.  We would practice and practice and practice and at each station they would play a game with which they were already familiar.  It was not smooth sailing.  I wanted to hit my head against the wall on multiple occasions, but the more we practiced, the better it got and the smoother the rest of the year went.  Even if you are making changes in the middle of the year, I still suggest practicing and having math workshop boot camp before you release the responsibility and let them try it on their own.  I also found it helpful to create anchor charts so that the expectations were written in black and white (or whatever color Mr. Sketch I happened to grab).
An anchor chart of the expectations for everyone, teacher included!

If you need more information about setting up math workshop in your classroom, I have blogged about it HERE and also have created a product with my tried and true tips, as well as, organization and planning sheets for math workshop.  You can find that by clicking the picture below.
I created a free sample to help you get started with planning math workshop.  It includes 3 planning sheets (weekly plan, unit plan and small group planning) to get you started.  Click the picture below to download your free copy.
Sara is a former second grade teacher turned stay at home mom to two little girls.  She creates activities (many for math workshop) that she did not have time to create while in the classroom to sell in her TpT store, Sara J Creations.  She also blogs about teaching, parenthood and crafting on her blog, Sara J Creations: Confessions of a teacher turned stay at home mom.  You can also connect with Sara on Pinterest, Instagram or Twitter.     

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