Expressions and Equations.. Review.. Review.. Review!

We are soon going to be on our Spring Break.. Woot Woot! With all of the awful weather we have been having lately, it is nice to be looking forward to some time off, and hopefully watching the mercury rise as well!
After we come back from break, the state assessments in ELA and Math will be hanging over our heads.  This is always a stressful time of year.  With the adaptation of the Common Core this year and the double whammy I have of teaching both ELA and Math to the Smarties of the sixth grade, we have not had a lot of review time.  But I am so excited about something I created to help them review the standards for Expressions and Equations!  I call them Scoot and Compute Cards.
Basically I took 10 areas of Expressions and Equations and created computation task cards to help review each piece.  I made Order of Operations with whole numbers, a set with decimals, and a set with exponents.   I reviewed properties, one and two step equations, combining like terms, solving inequalities, writing expressions and solving expressions.. whew.. and a partridge in a pear tree..... no just kidding, wrong season.  I know that the CCSS stresses real world math problems, but I also think it is important to just practice solving computation problems.  Since I already had created task cards for word problems, I thought these computation pieces would be a good addition.
Basically I copied each of the 10 areas on to different colored card stock, single-hole punched them and put the cards on rings.  This way I can differentiate the cards.. (some problems are more difficult than others), use them in a math review center for my ECL time, or put a single card on a table and have the kids play SCOOT to review for the assessment.  I'm so excited to use these when we come back!  
If you think this is something that may help your smarties, you can find the pack of 120 problems!! and answer keys {HERE}.  
How are you reviewing for your assessment?  Leave me a comment and let me know what you have found works best!


I *Puffy Heart* My Dad!

Today is my Dad's birthday.

 He is a retired Assistant Superitendent and a major reason why I am an educator today.  My dad was the first person in his family to go to college.  He is the only one of his siblings to earn a Master's Degree and beyond.  My love of reading, writing, and "getting rid of the Box" I'm supposed to think "outside" of  comes from him.  He and my mom live in Florida now,  so I only get to see them a few times a year.  I talk to him on the phone, but I always look forward to the time I spend with him.  He "gets" it when I complain about assessments.  He "gets" it when I am so excited about a new book I have found.  He "gets"it when I am practically jumping out of my chair over the fact that my Smarties can actually formulate a solid thesis statement.  My Dad introduced me to Don Graves writing when I was a first year teacher.  I was thrown into the LIONS DEN that year!  Inner city, 5th grade PEP test for writing, 4 classes of it, and a reading class.  I had graduated with a specialized degree to teach middle school MATH or SCIENCE.   I was a nervous wreck!  After I got my first job and moved, a package arrived in the mail.  It was Graves book with an inspiring note of encouragement.  I devoured the book in one weekend, and good thing because I would NOT have been prepared.  I got so much out of it that first year, I went on to get my Master's Degree in Curriculum Instruction with an emphasis in Reading... just like my Dad.  Now an Assistant Super?  I can't see that in my future, but you never know.
Who has inspired you in your career as an educator? Drop me a quick comment and let me know who has been an important part of your learning community!!
Happy Birthday Dad!!


Percentages with my Peeps Freebie!

Today my Smarties practiced Percent of a Number.  I made this worksheet for them because we have all been a little crazy wishing that spring would arrive.. It is currently snowing and 32 degrees.  Enjoy the FREEBIE by clicking on the picture below.  Be sure to let me know what you think!
and BE SURE TO HEAD OVER TO SEE MY FRIEND GINA AT BEACH SAND AND LESSON PLANS!  Every day this week she is doing giveaways and she is such a sweetheart!  She is talking about my little 'ole Coffee Cups Blog today!  Stop by, enter her giveaways and show her a little birthday LOVE!


Women's History Month: Meet Esther Morris

I've been spending a lot of time over the last two months working with my Smarties on recognizing the traits of characters and then being able to create a thesis statement based on those traits.
I used Salt in His Shoes, the story of Michael Jordan to help during February and Black History Month.  This month I tried another book that goes with Women's History Month.  It is called I Could Do That:  Esther Morris Gets the Women's Vote by Linda Arms White.  Have you read this book? FABULOUS!!

Esther Morris was a champion in the Wyoming Territory.  She was able to convince the governing body to allow women the right to vote in local elections.  She was also the first woman in the United States to hold a public office!  Wyoming was the first place women were allowed to vote.  I loved that this book was NOT about Elizabeth Cady Stanton or Susan B Anthony.  Don't get wrong, I'm a champion for all pioneers for women, but it was so incredibly refreshing to learn about someone NEW!  My smarties were intrigued and interested because it was NOT a person they had already heard of.. no more SAME OL SAME OLD!!

The book is an easy read!  Scholastic puts the reading level at 2.4.  The Lexile level is 780 and the DRA is 28.  I introduced the book as a group, and then used it as a rotational center of activities throughout the week.  I created a variety of activities that I could use with my groups of students.  Some of them are ready for the straight up thesis statement.  They can identify character traits and find evidence pretty readily.  Other groups need to sequence events and then talk through the traits that they identify about the person.  Something new that I tried was interviewing the character.  About half of my group could create pretty decent questions on their own, but some needed prompting, so I came up with a few questions to help them out getting started.
Overall, it was a fabulous way to learn about a historical character who did trememdous things and is not well known.
If you are interested in using my resources, you can find them {HERE}.  Challenge your students to learn about someone new in American History.  


March Mayhem

Happy Friday all!  This week is definatley a week of changes... can you feel it in the air around you?
I love this quote that comes from the story: Let it Shine Rosa Parks.  It is part of our Treasure series, but the entire book is amazing.  Ten stories about beautiful, smart, witty black women who changed the lives of the people around them.. It is a fabulous book for reading and teaching biographies.
I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs for the Five for Friday and hanging on for dear life with the winds of change!  Bear with me that not ALL of my 5 are about my classroom!

#1:  Our team changes came out this week.  I had mentioned last week that our principal was going to be mixing up our teams.  I work on a 3 man team right now. I teach ELA and 3 sections of math.  Well... now I'm a two man team! So I have to teach ELA, 2 math sections and one section of social studies.  HOLY amount of PLANNING!  But I'm not worried.  I spent about half of my teaching time in an elementary building.  I know how to teach across the curriculum.  So, all said and done, THAT change is a good one.

#2:  MATH for my smarties is difficult right now.  H-A-R-D!  They are making the whole process MORE difficult for themselves and THAT is frustrating me!  My smarties are taking short cuts they shouldn't take.  They are not showing their work.  They are counting on my kind hearted retakes and not studying the first time!  BLECH.. if anyone has any suggestions, I would greatly appreciate it.  My smarties take the state assessments in April after our break and we have some work to do!

#3:  My friend Gina at Beach Sand and Lesson Plans is having a BIRTHDAY BASH!  Stop by her blog next week!  She is having a ton of giveways!  Be sure to wish her a Happy Birthday!

#4:  My daughter, "24" has been working hard in her social studies class learning about the branches of government.  Her teacher is very hands on, and she loves the class.  Over the past few weeks she has been campaining to be her social studies class president.  She made posters, commercials, videos, all kinds of things.  The candidates even had a class debate.  Today the period voted, and she tied for the win!  The teacher is going to have co-presidents for her period.  I am so proud of her!

#5:  Lastly, my Syracuse Orange play Georgetown TONIGHT!  This has been the epitome of rivalry this year.  We have lost both games to those HOYAS!  I am hoping that CHANGE is in the air for my Orangemen tonight!!


A little PEEP into my Life

I'm linking up with Flying in First Grade for a fun "Get to Know other Bloggers" Linky.  We were asked to tell  three things about us using our initials.  Mine are MCP.

M:  Mardi Gras! A few years ago my family traveled to New Orleans during Mardi Gras.  It was one of THE best vacations I have ever been on.  The city was AMAZING... the parades were AMAZING... the beignets were AMAZING.. the COFFEE.. AMAZING!  If you ever have the opportunity to visit this city, you won't be sorry!

C:  COFFEE and CONVERSE!! Can't you tell that simply from my blog name?  I totally run on DUNKIN.. or Chickery Coffee from the Cafe duMonde in New Orleans.
P:  Peeps.. I <Puffy heart> Peeps.. and Cadbury Creme eggs.. and jelly beans.. and well any candy basically that you can get at Easter.  But Peeps.. at Easter... YUMMO... NOT at any other time... but Peeps and Easter!  MEEP!!!
Photo courtesy of Syracuse Post Standard
Every year our local newspaper has a contest that is all about PEEPS.. basically people make scenes using Peeps.. sooo funny.  
So that is a little bit about me.. If you are interested, go ahead and click on the Lets Get Acquainted photo above to head over and link up!


Five for Friday.. err Saturday

This first few weeks of March have been a crazy whirlwind of teaching and training.  I have felt so busy both at home and school.  I decided to get up early this morning to get a few things done before my daughter's basketball game, and while I'm sitting in my pjs enjoying my 'Cuppa Joe,' I decided to link up with Doodle Bugs and Amanda at Teaching Maddeness for their linky parties.

#1:  I have spent the last week or so in two different professional development conferences.  The first was actually LAST Friday.  I had the opportunity to hear Lucy Calkins speak.  She is wonderful... I can't express that enough to people.  She energizes, she puts things in perspective, she speaks "teacher."  I have missed Lucy a lot as a sixth grade teacher.  We are the balance year between her writing perspective and Nancy Atwell.  Hearing Lucy speak last week helped me focus more on writing task planning.  It gave me guidance with writing in the Common Core, and just made me feel better as a teacher.. I love THAT type of conference!  I can't wait for her Writing Units to come out for 6th grade.. projected for January 2014!

 #2:  The second professional development I went to was about training people to score our NYS Math Assessment in April.  This training was put on by BOCES.  Very interesting changes coming on the rubrics.  Hopefully in our student's favors!  This is going to be a very difficult year with the shifts in the Common Core.  Across the state they are projecting a 40% drop in test scores!  UT OH!

#3 My Smarites finished up their Middle Ages Literature Circles books.  One of my groups read Max and Me and the Time Machine.  Have you ever read this novel?  It is an "Oldie" but really good.  It is about 2 boys who put together a time machine and travel back to the Middle Ages.  The interesting part is that they are placed into the bodies of people in the Middle Ages and have to assume their roles within the kingdom.  One of the boys actually becomes a horse, which add a lot of humor to the story.  This book is great for your slower readers in middle school.  It lays out a lot of protagonist/antagonist, good vs evil theme, setting etc.. When my group was finished, I had them complete a
DIDN'T DO poem from the perspective of the antagonist.
A DIDN'T Do poem basically is just formatted where the person decribes things he or she didn't get to do, and wished they had done, instead of what they actually accomplished.  I use it at the beginning of the school year as well, to learn about my students and hear what they did over the summer.  If you are interested in using it in your classroom, you can download it for FREE [HERE]
#4  My Smarties are finishing up our unit on RATES.  Our Interactive Math Notebooks have really be a godsend for this unit.  We have to remember how to divide decimals and reduce fractions, and all I have to do is refer to page numbers in the notebook, and the smarties can find the resources they need for work.  I love that notebook.

#5:  Big changes are going on at my school.  We work on 3 man teams, teaching a two block ELA period and then 3 core classess, so I teach math and ELA.  Our principal announced at our staff meeting that he will be mixing our teams up next year.  Our building is in an uproar.  I have worked with my team for  years.  It will be hard to leave them and work with someone else.  He has not announced WHEN he will be telling us our new teams.  I hope it is soon so that we can all adjust and move on!  This is a great example of how March really can be a LION!

Stop by and visit Amy at Teaching in Blue Jeans.  She is celebrating her 40th birthday with a few giveaways.  I donated my Wacky Wordies Algebra Editon.  There are giveaways for several grade levels. Great stuff to be had!


Ratios and the Common Core

My Smarties have been working hard in Math over the past week or two.  We are focusing on Ratios and with the new Common Core Standards, this is TOUGH learning.  Before the Common Core change we also taught ratios, but a lot of it was computational.  Now, it's MUCH MUCH more  about word problems.  I find  myself having to not only teach the mathematical application, but also to teach the "writing translation."  With Ratios being a major concept in sixth grade, this is tough going.
To help keep myself sane, I've been drinking a lot of COFFEE and watching a lot of basketball.
I also made some new WACKY WORDIES, that are focused on RATIO questions.  I think they are a pretty good indicator of the types of problems we will see on our assessments.
You can pick them up {HERE} if you are looking for WORD PROBLEMS to use with your Sixth grade Smarites, RTI groups, Special Ed, Centers.. etc.. you name it!
Next, I'm on to RATES!!!  I am curious to know how you ar fairing with teaching the Common Core.  Drop me a line and let me know!

Currently March Mayhem

It's the beginning of March..... spring is coming.. I'm hoping to be feeling it soon, since right now March is a roaring LION..blah.
To brighten up the atmosphere I'm linking up with Farley at Oh Boy Fourth Grade for her Currently!

Needing:.. Ok, I'm going out of order.. but I am NEEDING to talk to people about the Lucy Calkins conference I just attended.  She is FABU!!  I wish her units of study would come out for middle school.  K-5 comes out this month, and looks awesome.. as in I am wishing I were back in an elementary building so I could teach using this writing program AWESOME... as in I am way jealous that I have to wait until JANUARY for the middle school edition.  I picked up her latest book which discusses the Common Core.  very good so far... If you love Lucy too.. leave me a comment about what you love..
{Clicking on the book will send you to AMAZON}

Listening:  Right now, I am an unhappy Syracuse Basektball fan.  After setting an all time highest EVER basketball attendance record last weekend.. there were 35,012 screaming Orange fans in the Dome,.  They retired Carmelo Anthony's jersey,  BUT Cuse boys have lost 3... THREE.. Tres... in a ROW!  That hasn't happened to us since 2011.  Basketball fans.. it is not a happy place if you are a Syracuse fan at the moment!

Loving  My hubs is home for the weekend.  He is a PhD student and is a busy busy busy bee.  He started his spring break this week, and before he has to jet off again to go with the UF women to Georgia, he is home visiting us.  We miss him tons.. so this is a special treat for us.

Thinking:  Hmmm I have work to do for my ratios unit.  My smarties were NOT smarties when it came to this assessment last week.  They are struggling with the word problems.  I need to make a retake assessment for them, and take some time to reteach a few basic concepts.

Wanting:  Mini eggs.. I <puffy heart> LOVE mini eggs.

Like: Been here done that....
Love: March Madness is coming.. I love watching the NCAA tournament.  We do a huge tournament at school with 64 of the most popular books that have been taken out of our library.  I also do a huge bracket on the wall after selection Sunday and we pull in some geometry, ratios and stats lessons to go with it,
Hate:  Monday mornings.. nuff said!

If you are interested in sharing your Currently, click on the link above and head to Farley's.
Remember if you link up to share some comment love with 2 people before you and 1 after.
And if you love Lucy Calkins too, leave me a comment below and tell me what you like best about her lessons.

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