Teaching since Fall 2001 – 3rd year in 2nd grade

Setting up for the Year


This is the front of my room. The colored baskets have my library. Colored pencils, and dry erase markers are in the plastic containers on the top. The magazine holders have the student dictionaries, their dry erase boards, and their sight word lists. They will also store their guided reading books here.


This area is my presentation station. Since I prefer to work on my laptop, it is set up so I can start presentations for the Promethean board. The document camera will go here, along with the charging station for the Ipads, and storage for my student response system.


These are the beginnings of the anchor charts for the beginning of school. The bottom ones ask 

  • How do you want Ms. Herbert to treat you?
  • How should students treat each other?
  • How should students treat Ms. Herbert
  • What should happen when someone breaks our rules?

The top ones say

  • In the cafeteria we ….
  • At the bathrooms we …
  • In the hallway we ….
  • A friend …. 

The students are going to write their thoughts on construction paper stars, and stick them on the charts using repositionable glue. I learned about this at a Bilingual/ESL workshop last week. Great for making colorful, child generated anchor charts.  Our class contract will be made by summarizing the  information on the bottom charts and the friend one on stars. Those will be glued on the contract and the kids sign it. I’m looking for some glitter glue pens or something similar for them to sign with. Then we will laminate it.


Here is my math wall – I’m waiting to get my Calendar Math box to finish setting it up. The 100 chart has problem solving questions on the reverse side that is out now. I plan on doing this out of order – otherwise the answer will be obvious.  I will have pictures of our data walls and small group areas next week. 


Number Form Centers





I created a  work station that reviews word form, expanded notation, standard form, and building models in numbers up to 1,200. The students can check their work using the QR Codes on each card. Print the cards on card stock, laminate, then cut apart. Click on the picture or the link below to go to the google doc.


QR Spelling/Word Center

English: Child using QR codes in Derby Museum ...

English: Child using QR codes in Derby Museum supervised by parent (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My team and I are going to use QR codes in a spelling center this year. Each spelling list is typed up in color-coded. Red = verb, blue = nouns, green = adjectives, orange = adverb all other words will be in black. In some cases the word has more than one meaning, those words we printed out more than once with differing QR codes. The words will be laminated then cut out. Students will use a pocket chart to put the words in sentences. Blanks will be provided for students to add their own words. Sight words will also be added to the center. After 6 to 9 weeks the first sets of words will be rotated out. The QR codes will take students to a short video that displays the word pronounces it, defines it, uses it in a sentence, and repeats the word. I’ve provided links to week 2 through week 6 below. It starts with week two because the numbering goes with our bell work packet, and we aren’t giving a spelling list the first week. Week six is as far as I’ve gotten. I will post more as I finish the units.

I haven’t talked to my team yet, but I’m thinking that we introduce the words in the center of the week before they are the spelling list. That gives the students a chance to get familiar with the words and their usage.

Week 02

Week 03

Week 04

Week 05

Week 06

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I’m going to be honest. I had a really bad year last year. I dropped the blog because of the stress and fear I would post something I would later regret. I was also struggling with what to post about.

There are the politics that affect teaching, especially here in Texas. Then there are the ongoing protests of parents against all the testing being forced down our students throats. Those things are important.

I could also post just about lesson plans that I create. Or I could have a more narrow focus on tech lesson plans.

I have decided that I will post about all 3.

Storytime on Line

Storyline On Line is a great site. Various actors read picture books for children. The problem in my classroom, is that my students us Ipads. The site runs on adobe flash, so won’t show on the Ipads. I found the Storyline On Line’s Youtube Channel. Those videos do play easily on my Ipads.

So on Monday, I’m going to add specific stories for Storyline to my listening center rotation.
Storyline Screenshot



Last year I used Linoit with my 2nd graders. It was very easy and they loved it. I started by creating an account at http://linoit.com Then I downloaded the app to my class Ipads and set up the account on each ipad.

I would give them a topic that we were going to study. The students in their groups would create sticky notes about the topic. The kids loved how they would type something in on their ipads and it would appear on the website displayed on the board. My tables were assigned colors and would use their color on their sticky notes.

Sometimes I let them go on for several minutes creating a huge number of stickies. I would use this as a parking lot type board, making sure to answer their questions as we explored the topic. Other times I would sort them into different thinking maps as we went. In that case they would give me their answer verbally and get permission to put it up.

I haven’t used Linoit yet this year, yet. I’m glad a friend e-mailed me asking me to do a post about using Linoit. I think we will use it next week.

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I received several @tweets from an education major wanting to know about teaching with dysgraphia.

Some background on me.

4 out 5 1st cousins on Dad’s side were diagnosed with dyslexia/dysgraphia in university. I’m convinced my father was also dyslexic. Several reasons – reading was laborious for him and he wrote everything in all caps with a very prescribed slant.

Unlike my cousins and sister, I was tested a couple of times in public school. Each time the verdict was the same – my reading level was through the roof, so there was no way I could have any type of learning disability.  I was lazy and not trying. In Junior High my math grade went from A’s to D’s and F’s. During a parent meeting, my parents found out that we were having to copy boards of notes because the school ran out of paper.  (This led to my Dad’s Great Paper Drive – I’ll have to write about that later). The teacher felt that something was wrong with my vision and suggested a more through exam than I had had to that point.

I went to University of Houston. I was examined by several students. One of them picked up on something beyond my astigmatism, which was also diagnosed. I’m not left or right sided. I ended up some type of medical study. In the history they found several things that put together can spell trouble

  1. I never crawled. I bear walked with my rear in the air and moving the same hand and foot at the same time.
  2. When I walked I moved the same hand and foot instead of opposite, this made me very clumsy and drove my Dad (former Marine) nuts.
  3. I’m not left or right handed – but should be more of a right hander than a lefty,
  4. Until 3rd grade I would write left handed till I reached the middle of my body, then I would switch hands.
  5. My 3rd grade “teacher” forced me physically to write left handed.  (She actually documented this in my cum file)
  6. My hands lack strength probably because of my atopic dermatitis which left them raw (looked like a chemical burn). Also if I held a pencil hard enough to write with it the skin would fissure/break and I would bleed.  I remember being punished in several different grades for turning in work with blood stains. Thing was there was no way for me to write without bleeding, if my skin was in the middle of a flare up. To this day I avoid buying tops that have buttons, because getting those little buttons through the holes hurts and sometimes the skin will fissure.
The official collegiate logo/symbol of the Uni...

The official collegiate logo/symbol of the University of Houston. This also served as the university’s athletics logo prior to 1999. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

The people at U of  H said the sloppiness of my writing was due to the cross over/skin problems. I got some physical therapy that helped with some things, but not all. Again my reading level (now at above 12th grade and I was in 7th or 8th) meant that an LD diagnoses was “impossible”. The good news I stopped tripping over my feet and my hands didn’t ache so much. Squishy pencil holders let me hold the pencil/pen firmly without fissuring my skin.  Honestly the U of  H people kept me from thinking I was totally nuts. Because adults at school were telling that my reality wasn’t real. That I was capable of things I knew I couldn’t do, like write in a straight line without a guide.

I was finally diagnosed in University (Southwestern University). I wrote an essay test in complete mirror image. It was the first time I did that. I have to give my professor credit. He let me read it to him and graded it that way.  Now the experts were saying how did you get through HS without this being noticed. I had some accommodations after the diagnoses.    COMPUTERS come to the rescue.  Computers let thoughts go around the short circuit between my hands and my brain.

Now for bros402 and others. How do I deal with this in the classroom. Please note I’m not that severe of a dysgraphic. My writing looks sloppy and child like. If I’m stressed, I’ll write in mirror image. If I’m distracted, sometimes I’ll pick up a pen with my right hand and write near perfectly.

  1. I’m honest and open about it. I have dysgraphic  which means even when I try very hard my writing can be sloppy or backwards. Added benefit is it makes it clear that dysgraphia and dyslexia does not mean there is a cognitive problem.  I’ve had dyslexic students look at me and say. “You mean I can be smart even though I’m dyslexic?
  2. If at all possible use a projector/IWB/keyboard and type.
  3. When having to handwrite on the IWB use the grid to help line things up.
  4. Practice Practice Practice. I actually practice handwriting with my kids. I use the same page and do the same exercise. Otherwise I avoid handwriting anything (even my grocery list is on my Iphone and Ipad)  and my writing regresses.
  5. Have the kids write the problems on the board.
  6. Type everything you are going to hand out – it looks more professional
  7. Talk to the experts on your campus they know about the newest research.
  8. The only app that I have found that helps me with dysgraphia  is Splashtop. That way I don’t have to carry around the slate and a keyboard to move around the room an use my Promethean. I can do everything I can on a slate and use the Ipad’s keyboard to type.
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Classroom almost there

UntitledView from the door. I’ve got new curtains coming in. I had most of the furniture set up when I cane in and found 2 new desktops.  They took my writing center table for them, and that really needs to be replaced with a proper computer table because it is already bowing.

UntitledThe cupboards. The first long BB will have our schedule on it. The next will be the job board. The third will be our social contract.  The last two short ones  will have instructions about using the computers.



This will be the desk area. I deliberately organized it so it wasn’t focused on the Promethean board. Students will work in small groups or individually here. I don’t have a class list and the legislature basically threw class size limits out the window. So right now it is general. If the groups have to be close together. I’m going to hang ribbon in the areas that are not passages.

My guided reading/small group area. My word wall will go on the bulletin board. The letters were being laminated.

My CAFE board. I’m standing on the carpet whole group instruction area. It is centered between the CAFE wall, the Promethean, and the Math Wall


The carpet and Promethean Board area. I kept the carpet back from the Promethean area to give me a walk way. It is a big carpet, but the kids were crowded last year. The reason – We lost 2 – 3 feet of it because people needing a place to stand and use the Promethean.


My Math Wall. The area at the bottom is for the math word wall. I can’t finish the rest until we get our Calendar and stuff on Friday – then I’ll have a couple of hours to finish it before Meet the Teacher.

The other half of that wall is for my science wall. Including my science word wall. We are starting with states of matter. So I’m thinking about finding creative commons pictures of water, ice, steam to put up there and let the kids try to figure out the topic.

Oh and we are getting these huge number lines that have to go around by the ceiling. We are getting them Monday and Tuesday – I don’t know if that means
1. We will be handed them at the workshop we are attending and have to take them back to our school
2. Someone will be dropping them off in our room and we have to put them up
3. They will be having the aides put them up for us while we are at the workshop.

I think I’ll be trading off with my teammates. I’m tall enough to safely hang the number lines. They will help me with something down the line.

I made these math word wall cards for place value. The QR codes use http://qrvoice.net to read the word and give a definition.


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An instructional Technology Specialist from our district tweeted here, asking how much we agreed with the post 10 Things in School that should be obsolete. I couldn’t just respond in a tweet.

1. Computer Labs – I agree instead of upgrading labs we should be switching to laptops, tablets, and other portable technology. I think our district is doing a good job with this. New PolyConnect Computer Lab

2.  Learning in prescribed spaces.  Agreed. I like taking the kids out to our garden to work when possible. We are required to be able to see kids at all times. So I can’t have kids in the pod hallway unless I’m standing where I can see the room and the hall.

English: Social Studies classroom at Port Char...

3. TEACHER-CENTERED CLASSROOM – Agreed. I’m playing around with different classroom set ups for my room. I’ve pretty much decided to set up the desks so they are NOT centered on the Promethean board. I want to use the Daily 5 method. Teacher centered lessons are only 5 to 10 minutes at a time. Having the kids on the carpet, will help me keep from falling into old habits.

4. ISOLATED CLASSROOMS – Disagree with part of this. Yes teachers need to collaborate but the kids come first.  My school was built open concept in 1966. It was only a few years ago that we got our walls and doors. Before that the pods were unbearably noisy at times. Kids with ADHD, on the Autism Spectrum, and with various LD’s had a very hard time concentrating. Especially when one of my neighbors was a Spanish BIL teacher. Somehow it was harder to tune out the Spanish than English, maybe her voice just carried more. The kids simply could not focus. I remember a kid with ADHD telling me – Ms. Herbert my brain can’t figure out if it is supposed to be listening to you or Mrs. D. I know I’m supposed to listen to you but my brain keeps switching back and forth.  I have LD’s, and have experienced the same thing. One day last year, a tutor was working with kids in the hall. My door was open. I was supposed to be typing a comment from one of the students into a document, instead I typed what the tutor was saying. Her voice just over loaded my brain. (If I had been handwriting dollars to donuts I would have written the words in mirror image there were just to many distractions)

There are other ways for a teacher to connect with other teachers. I’ve been involved with online teaching community since the only options were BB and listservs. Now my district had a hash tag and I get tons of good ideas just following that twitter feed. If I need more information I tweet back or sometimes e-mail them.  Teachers are welcome in my room at any time.  Just please close the door behind you to keep the noise level down.

5. Departmental Organization. Yes teachers need to see the connections, so we can help our students build links between different types of knowledge.

6. School corridors – We have breeze ways between the pods – every pod opens into a central garden.  The halls in our pods tend to be used as a 5th classroom with various aids, tutors, and specialists.  Only the newest wing has a real corridor – and there are usually groups of kids with an adult working there.

7. Traditional Libraries – Agreed Our campus is heading that direction, but having growing pains as we figure it out. Kids at the library

8. Dark indoor gyms – Why not have PE outside most of the time. Kids need sunshine and fresh air. They shouldn’t be fussing that they NEEEEEED their jacket because the gym is cold.

9.  INSTITUTIONAL FOOD SERVICE. Lets make the food better first.   Hardly any fruit or veg (I don’t care what congress says ketchup and pizza sauce are NOT vegetables), frozen fried junk, pink slime.  I haven’t eaten the school lunches in years – but when I did I was often sick for days after because of the low quality. For some of my kids this and 2 bagged lunches over the weekend from Lunches of Love are the only food they get. We have to make it better.  If you walk through our cafeteria it tends to be being used all the time. 7 – 7:45 breakfast, 8 – 10 small groups, tutoring, PT and OT sessions, mentors with kids. 10 – 1 Lunch 1 – 2:30 small groups, tutoring, PT and OT sessions, mentors with kids. After school various clubs.

10 Large bathrooms – in absolute and complete agreement. The school I student taught in had 2 restrooms in EACH classroom. I believe the plumbing was part of a WPA project.  It was fantastic. You never had to interrupt learning for a group bathroom break. Especially good if you were in semi lockdown.  Several times last year we were in semi lock down due to tornadoes/hail/lightening. Our kids couldn’t go to our large bathrooms because they are outside and the set nearest my room were flooded with 3 – 5 inches of water. (On those days what corridors we have and the cafeteria were filled with classes from the portables.)

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