Thursday, December 13, 2012

Amazing Resource

Quick post for an amazing teaching tool ... check out !
 Real real classrooms...using common core !  - you're welcome :o)

Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Time to Shop!

Ahhh yes, the holiday season is all about giving thanks, spending time with those you love, joy, peace, happiness &... SHOPPING

Visit our Teachers Pay Teachers Store on 
November 26th & 27th for 28% off ALL our products.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

Something for the Parents

Last night I finally got to catch up on some light magazine reading. As I was perusing my October 2012 Scholastic Parent & Child Magazine I stumbled upon a short article about CCSS.  It is entitled Cheat Sheet - Common Core State Standards (written by: Stephanie Eckelkamp - page 20). The short half page article laid out simple noticeable changes that may occur in your child's classroom as a result of CCSS. Amazing. I was looking for a short simple way to explain Common Core to my parents! Here are a few other resources for your parents to visit. Think about printing out an article you like and handing it out at your Parent Teacher Conferences.

On this site you can print out grade specific parent information brochures.

This site also provides a Spanish version

*You can also check your state specific CCSS site. Ours is New York State.

PS: Make sure you go VOTE TODAY!!!

Conference Update

It was an honor to participate in the NYSSBA Rochester Expo. We met many board members, administrators and education advocates. It was nice to share with them how we have adapted to the CCSS using the Math GNOMe. The feedback was wonderful and from the comments we received this was something that will be brought back to many surrounding districts to have a closer look. Thank you to all that stopped by our booth!

Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Come See Us

Attention all educators around the Rochester, NY area ... We will be at the The New York State School Boards Association (NYSSBA) 93rd Annual Convention & Education Expo in Rochester on October 26 & 27. Come see our booth along with some of the fabulous things we do at Byron-Bergen Central School. We are sharing a booth with our Technology teacher and our Robotics lead teacher. For more information on the Education Expo visit

Monday, October 15, 2012

Exhusted Teachers

One of my friends posted this article on her Facebook last week.

I think that every educator can relate to some portion of this article. I think we can all agree that we are all tired AND it is just the start of the school year.  We are constantly taking on new endeavors given by our state while trying to become proficient in teaching the new mandates and at the same time attempting to explain the WHY to parents. ( Why does my 10year old need to know this? or Why is my 6 year old taking so many tests??" etc) After reading this article I am still exhausted but I do feel better knowing that this is a nation wide issue. 
So, as parent/teacher conferences approach just stick to the facts, leave your exhaustion behind and talk about what you know for sure ... you know your know their strengths and weaknesses. Do not let political turmoil, education reform or personal feelings take over your conference. We may not have solutions for the way teachers are being portrayed but you can avoid being a scapegoat if you keep conversations to the point, factual and focused on the individual student.

Unlike the article ending quote would say something like

 "Get Up,  Fix what you can in your circle of influence, Continue to Make a Difference because Exhaustion is a sign of Doing" 

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Back at it !

Let me first wish everyone a successful school year ! I hope all of you had a restful summer and had a chance to explore the CCSS (Common Core State Standards) at some point this summer. Maybe your district offered training, perhaps you attended a Work Wives Workshop, or just researched on your own. We would LOVE to continue the Common Core conversation this year and by now we are all back at it ... 

EXCEPT for me ( of the 3 Work Wives). I am pleased to announce that I welcomed my baby girl on August 22. Lena Rose was a health 8lbs and has been an absolute joyous addition to our family. Some bragging pictures are a must :o)
Leaving the hospital...all smiles and a bit of nerves...we ask ourselves - Can we handle 2 under 2??

Miles is a proud big brother!


Happy In Polka Dots
 To update you all on the rest of our Work Wives... Diane is expecting her second baby in November and Kelly has completed her Administration degree (Wahooo). I could not be happier for both of my Work Wives. We have also experienced some excitement and change in our school. Our administration has been shifting and we welcome a new elementary principal to our building. Kelly has changed grade levels from 3rd to 1st. I will be going back to teach 2nd grade with open arms as I was able to loop with 11 of my 1st graders from last year. Diane will continue until her leave as a 2nd grade teacher. We are all experiencing larger class sizes too. We average about 23 students in our classes this year.  With all this change we also need to embrace SLOs (Student Learning Objectives),  teacher evaluations AND of course CCSS. Is that enough on everyone's plate??? We hope that this blog continues to be a place where we can talk about our frustrations, come up with solutions, ideas of implementation and celebrate all our successes.

If you are an educator trying out The Math GNOMe and Common Core 4 please let us know how it is working for you in the classroom. Let us know if and how you may have modified it to fit your classroom and teaching style. We are open to suggestions and comments, as we are very aware that this is a learning process for all of us.

We hope you will find this blog useful and will let your friends and fellow colleagues know about us - follow us here and on Twitter. We are also available to present for workshops - half day, full day or in depth 3 day on our Math GNOMe and Common Core 4.

Please check our Teachers Pay Teachers store periodically for lessons, freebees, and other useful teaching tools to compliment the CCSS in both Math and ELA. 

Picture taken from

Saturday, August 11, 2012


Announcing the Teachers Pay Teachers Back To School SALE! 
We are excited to participate in this HUGE event. 
20% OFF all our products on Teachers Pay Teachers. 

Enter Promo Code: BTS12  for an addition TPT discount 

2 Days ONLY - 8/12 & 8/13

 Visit our store :
 Happy Shopping & Best Wishes for a successful school year! 

Tuesday, July 24, 2012


July has brought us 2 wonderful workshop opportunities. Who knew other teachers would want to hear US speak??!! We are very humbled and excited that others want to hear about how we are handling the Common Core and what we have done to make it a smooth shift for ourselves and for our students.
So, last week we conducted a 3 day workshop for area teachers (about 90 teachers to be exact...LOL ) Needless to say we were a bit nervous as this was our first time presenting to educators outside of our own school. However, after a few minutes it was like talking to our friends. After all...we are all in the same boat. We quickly found that everyone had the same dreads, concerns, nerves, panic, and a hidden excitement as we did. The 3 days consisted of many discussions "teacher talk", we dove in to what the Common Cores purpose is and its major shifts, gave in depth explanations of the Math GNOMe & Common Core 4, and provided a lot of work-time to get plans and classroom materials ready to execute a Common Core Classroom.  At the end of day 3 the feedback was beyond kind. We had the most receptive, open-minded group of teachers. Thank you again to our BOCES and Letchworth Central School for hosting us AND to Letchworth, Perry, Mt. Morris, & Warsaw teachers for supporting our ideas. 
Tomorrow we will be doing a shorter more condensed version of the previous workshop. We look forward to guiding some wonderful discussions, sharing about the Math GNOMe & Common Core 4 and learning from other educators. 

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Another Year Down

Wow, this sure has been a crazy year. We have really enjoyed developing the Math GNOMe and Common Core 4. As our own school year comes to an end (next week...wahooo) we are already planning lessons, creating templates, and tweaking how all this will look in our own rooms next year. This has been a wonderful learning process and has really allowed us to get in the Common Core mindset. The ELA plan has also come to take form. As we continue to create this summer we will be posting, tweeting and blogging about our ideas. We also have workshops that we will be conducted throughout our region! We will be blogging about those experiences as well.

On top of all this excitement we have to "blog brag" about our book... Our book which has been available on is now available on Amazon for print as well as Kindle version to download !

So, as our school year comes to an end and the summer begins we look forward to taking a bit of a breather and then really focusing on both our ELA and Math Common Core journey. 

What is one to say about June, the time of perfect young summer, the fulfillment of the promise of the earlier months, and with as yet no sign to remind one that its fresh young beauty will ever fade.  ~Gertrude Jekyll

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

New Videos!

Here are some of our newest videos! 

This first video is of a 1st grade GNOMe lesson. The lesson skills comes straight from the Common Core domain for Geometry. Students here are working on Partitioning Circles and Rectangles. Following this clip we have posted a quick video showing students checking in for Common Core 4 directly after the GNOMe mini lesson.  
* A special thank you to my student teacher for conducting the mini lesson and check in. 

This last video we have a panning of 2 classrooms while students are hard at work on Common Core 4. Notice that everyone is working on Math, talking about Math (if there is even any talking) and thinking about Math. Aahhh makes for a calm and focused teaching/learning environment. 
*These are 1st and 2nd grade students using Common Core 4 

What The Kids Are Saying...

Here are a few of our 1st , 2nd  and 3rd grade students talking about Common Core 4.

SALE 20% OFF Work Wives Products on TpT

Click on the banner below to visit our store and check out our goodies! 

Friday, April 20, 2012

Literacy SkiLLS for LIFE

As promised we have began to explore the ELA Common Core Standards and have created 1 page snapshots of the Common Core ELA Standards for grades PreK - 6. We call these snapshots our Literacy SkiLLS for LIFE. This phrase stands for the 6 domains represented in the CCSS. Speaking & Listening ; Language Standards ; Literature; Informational Text; Foundational Skills; Experience Writing. 
Our plan is to use these snapshot boards as you would for the Math GNOMe. We created them to be a tool for both teachers and students to use. This way we have a clear visual of what the learning/teaching expectations are for ELA. You can purchase the Literacy SkiLLS for LIFE snapshot boards at our TpT store (our 5th grade one is FREE!). 
Have no fear because we have also created independent practices that model after our Math Common Core 4. The ELA Common Core 4 activities we have in mind and will put in place with our students next year are...Read, Write, Spell, Respond. Stay tuned for more on our ELA plans. 

As always we are looking for feedback, ideas, and suggestions on all of our thoughts and products. Feel free to comment anytime! 

  With the Common Core in Mind  ~ The Work Wives

Monday, April 9, 2012

To Grade Or Not To Grade? That Is The Question

This post is inspired by a question we received at our TeachersPayTeachers store
One of our newest buyers asked us ... “How do you grade during Common Core 4?”

NO GRADING is required for Common Core 4 activities. That is the BEST part :o) . Take a breath of relief now. LOL. Now, we for sure understand that not having your inbox full of papers to grade and checking to see if every student understands the center you have going on is a change in mindset. You have to remember that Common Core 4 is meant to give you more time one on one with students to work on specific skills rather than waiting for them to fill out a worksheet. The hardest part for us was letting go of a certain amount of control. We felt that without the paperwork we did not have the self validation that we did a good job teaching the specific skill to the class. However, with Common Core 4 the validation you get is amplified. You now have the time to reach all your students on an individual basis. You can focus on their mathematical level to pre-teach, reinforces concepts or meet with small skill groups.

Ok, so you may not be grading everyday but you are summatively assessing. Here is a will always need to assess your class based on the skill you have taught whole group and based on what your district requires you to do. What Common Core 4 allows you to do is that digging deeper with your students that the Common Core Standards asks us to do. What about having a “show me what you know folder” in their math box? Here you can store a GNOMe snapshot , and assessments for each skill. When the student is ready to show you what they know give the assessment and mark it down in their folder and in your grade book. Remember this is for the individual students.

Now, the next step would be finding appropriate assessments. This is where we are at a bit of a road block. Our district does not have assessments set for the core and are in the process of implementing a program or structure for administering formative assessments. In the mean time we wanted to find some assessments that we could use to directly assess the skills from the Common Core. I have come across some websites that have some wonderful assessment resources that I know I will be using right now as well as in the next school year.

These first 2 sites give examples of what is expected from the students for each domain and specific skill

The following sites is what I have found so far to help with the development of assessments to use

As we discover more helpful tools we will post them for sure. Please feel free to comment if you have any helpful sites or tools to add !

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Check Out Our TpT Store

Oh how we are loving the support and the educational forum gives us. It's a wonderful sharing community of fantastic educators displaying what they do best...engaging lessons/ideas, expressing creativity and teaching. I encourage you to sign up , browse around and purchase some fabulous products. You can visit our store directly by clicking on the link in our menu bar on the right side of this blog. We have our 2nd grade GNOMe for free to download!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

There's an App for that!

Educational reform is not just happening in our classrooms, it is happening in technology too. Common Core has made its way into the App world. Here are a few Apps that can help bring the Common Core right to your fingertips. Just download them from your Apple Store. 

App: Common Core Standards (FREE)

Common Core Standards

View the Common Core State Standards in one convenient FREE app! A great reference for students, parents, and teachers to easily read and understand the core standards. Quickly find standards by subject, grade, and subject category (domain/cluster). This app includes Math standards K-12 and Language Arts standards K-12. Math standards include both traditional and integrated pathways (as outlined in Appendix A of the common core) and synthesizes Language Arts standards with the Corresponding College and Career Readiness Standards (CCR's).

App: Common Core Look-fors (Mathematics, Technology) ($2.99)
Common Core Look-fors (CCL4s) is a great app for teachers integrating the Common Core State Standards into their classroom!    *** This link is a wonderful resource for some suggested skill based common core ipad/ iphone / ipod  learning applications.
I am sure that most would agree when we say... by providing students a variety of ways to explore and reinforce their learning they stay engaged, excited and enthusiastic about their own education. 

Wednesday, March 7, 2012

Common Core Videos

As we continue to dive in and learn more about the Common Core State Standards we found that like most things visuals are most helpful. Our state does provide a wonderful website ( for explaining the CCSS. Although the videos on are very informational, sometimes we want to see the "talk" in action.  

 The  provides just that ... teachers using the CCSS in their classrooms.
We found this particular video interesting. Click the link below to view. 

Monday, March 5, 2012

Checking In

This post is all about student choice.
You will see Mrs. Taylor’s (one of the Work Wives) 2nd grade classroom “checking in” for Common Core 4. Mrs. Taylor’s student teacher is in charge of the check in. Here each student chooses which of the 4 independent practices they would like to work on. As a reminder the Common Core 4 independent practices include math facts, technology time, math games, and mathematical practice or what some call paper practice. When the teacher calls on each student they not only say the activity they will be working on but they also state the GNOMe strategy that they are currently focusing on. As another side note, the checking in process does not look much different at the other grade levels. As they get more comfortable with Common Core 4 you can allow the students to check their peers in. This is nice because you can choose the first student to conference with and gain an extra few minutes with individual students. In this video you do not see the teacher keeping track of the students Common Core 4 choice. However, we do keep a check in recording sheet. If we find that a student is doing flash cards too often or technology too often we guide them to make another choice. We love this process because it really allows the students to take ownership of their learning.

Third Grade GNOMe Mini Lesson

Here is a 2 part video of what a 3rd grade GNOMe mini lesson looks like. This is one of our Work Wives, Kelly a 3rd grade teacher, conducting a lesson from the Measurement category. Our mini lessons are typically short (10-15 minutes), very specific, whole group, and come directly from the Common Core State Standards. In this video you will Kelly introduce the new standard (Recognize Standard Units of Area) and then allow the students explore Area through manipulatives. In part 2 she reviews the concept and checks for students understanding before they begin Common Core 4, our students' independent practice.

Recognize Standard Units of Area 
Part 1

Part 2

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Math Boxes

Ok teachers... If it is one thing that we hate is our students' materials all over the classroom. Pencils and erasers in one location , crayons in another , papers in one corner, and math manipulative galore on the floor! Ahhh ! To solve this problem we have given each of our students a Math Box. Actually, it can be a bin or a box. These Math Boxes hold ALL the materials the students would need to work on math independently. 

We include...
- reference sheets ( some examples would be 100s chart ; fact tables; touch math ; number line)
- a ruler
- a calcualor
- pencils / erasers 
- dry erase markers 
- math games binder
- notebook for a Math Journal 
- folder (for on going work) 
- flash cards 

 Here is an video of Michele, one of the Work Wives and a 1st grade teacher, explaining her math box. Please excuse any mishaps in the video - we are still learning how to use imovie .. LOL . 

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

What is Common Core 4?

While teaching and exposing our students to the Common Core Standards we felt it important for our students to work independently and take ownership for their own learning. While students are working independent to reinforce their CCSS skills we are then able to conference with kiddos individually or even in small groups. We have come up with the name Common Core 4 which refers to the 4 independent practice activities our students work on within our math block. Each of our 4 independent practices relate to what the Common Core State Standards would like to see students mastering.

What types of independent practice you we have? 

1. Flash Cards (for fact fluency)
2. Mathematical Practice (pencil / paper work) 
3. Technology Time (working on math with calculators , computers , i pads etc..)
4. Games (math games from your series or that supplement and correlate with the Common Core State Standards) 

How does Common Core 4 fit in my math block?
Think about it like this... if you have a math block of 60 minutes this is how we break it down

15- 20 minutes : Start Class with a mini lesson
15 minutes: Then, a round of independent practice (Common Core 4)
10 - 15 minutes: Another mini lesson
15 minutes: round 2 of Common Core 4
 5 minutes: Wrap up and review concepts from the day as well as how the independent practice went

 Of course this does not mean that EVERY day you will have the time to do 2 full rounds of Common Core 4. We know this first hand. Things come up, lessons need to be longer but for the most part 2 rounds should be an expectation for your day. This way you have enough time to meet with students individually and students are able to have quality time with their math learning.
Here are 2 quick videos of what Common Core 4 looks like in our classroom. The first video has Kelly's 3rd grade students hard at work. The second is of Diane's 2nd grade students working on Common Core 4.

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

What is the GNOMe?

When we first encountered the Common Core Standards like most, we felt overwhelmed by the amount of information and jargon being thrown at us. We immediately decided that we needed a one page document that would be a snapshot of what our students were expected to learn and us to teach. ENTER THE GNOMe...GNOMe stands for Geometry, Number Sense, Operations, and Measurement.  These relate to the four categories that the Common Core Standards utilize in organizing the standards.  We then rewrote the standards in student-friendly, short phrases that were grade level appropriate (without loosing the mathematical terms we felt students still needed to be exposed to).  Throughout the school year, as we introduce and teach these standards, we place each of the standards under the corresponding category. We are then able to refer back to standards that had been previously taught throughout the school year. We wanted the Math GNOMe to be readily available to us as teachers, our students, and anyone who walks into the classroom. We have found that posting the standards in this manner is a great motivator for the students as well as it helps to keep us on track with our math instruction. You can see all of our GNOMe charts (grades Pre-K to Sixth) in our Teachers Pay Teachers Store. Below are pictures of what our GNOMe boards look like in our own classrooms. 

Michele's First Grade Classroom GNOMe Board           FYI: We all have many more strategies added to our boards - these pictures were taken earlier in the year

Diane's 2nd Grade Classroom GNOMe Board - The stars are sticky notes for the category or stategy a particular student is working on

Kelly's 3rd Grade Classroom GNOMe Board

This is a sample of what our Common Core GNOMe chart looks like. Again visit our TPT store and you can have your grade specific chart in your hands in a matter of seconds :o)