The Empty Page


Common Core in America today for most teachers is like the empty page of this blog’s background. With this state led initiative we, (teachers, administrators, principals, and our students),  have embarked upon a journey where the end result is one that should put America on a competitive footing when compared to other countries quality of education.  However, this journey we are all embarking on is constructed upon many facets of professional teaching practices that when first viewed looks to be very daunting for all concerned. As a third grade teacher in a inner city school who is starting to use common core for the first time, I know how frustrating the shift can be.


Hello, my name is Winter and this is my first blog ever! I hope to convey both my excitement and my experiences as an inner city Elementary Private Catholic School Teacher with all the changes and challenges we are faced with along with giving some ideas to those who are struggling to see how to make the shift into Common Core.  So lets get down to it shall we! Last month, I attended a Catapult Learning seminar focused on Common Core and while there I had the opportunity to communicate with other third grade teachers. I realized that the majority of the teachers did not have the concept of aligning the third grade curriculum to Common Core. The teachers were discussing that they also work in a inner city school and there is no money to get textbooks that align to the new Common Core curriculum nor is there very many teaching material that is align to Common Core because of the shortage in school dollars especially within the private sector. After working in the inner city schools I have learned that we need to be creative and open to new ideas. In addition, we also need to network with other teachers and share ideas and again I hope this blog become a way for us teachers to begin doing that.


One idea that I would love to share with you today is how to implement graphic organizers during note taking that students can keep in their interactive notebooks. Last year I used Venn-Diagrams, KWL Charts, Mind Maps, Mind Dumps, Time Lines, Spider Webs, Bubble Maps, Think Abouts, Making Movies/Sequence Frames, Predict-a-Plot, On-Target Predictions, Story Maps, Story Building Blocks, Character Sketch, Setting,Events, and Character Actions, Clueing in to Context Clues, Problem Path, Writing a Picture, Cause and Effect, Puzzling, What’s the Message, and Vocabulary Word Map. The cool thing with graphic organizers is that you can be creative and adapt it to the needs of your students. In addition, you can use graphic organizers across your curriculum. Oh, and don’t forget to have fun! The students can use different color pens and draw symbols or pictures that relate to the topic of study in their graphic organizers.


I used Mind Dumps as an assessment at the middle of my unit, but you can also use them at the beginning of the unit. Mind Dumps will provide you what your students know or the information that they have retained from previous lessons. Mind Dumps allow students to write everything they know or have learned about a specific topic. The great thing about Mind Dumps is that students can also add new information or modify their thoughts. Mind Dumps help students to correct their misconceptions on the topic of study. I used Mind Dumps for all the subjects. The students would write the topic of study in the middle of the paper and around the topic they would write all the information they learned. Then they shared their ideas with a partner and if they liked their partner’s ideas they could record it on their paper.In addition, the students would write the learning target and the standard on top of the paper. The neat thing of having students do graphic organizers is that allow students to keep them in their interactive notebook and reference it during quizzes, homework, or classroom assignments. We are preparing our students to become independent lifelong learners. Keep reading for more ideas to implement in your classroom.

Here are some Resources on Graphic Organizers: Click the Pictures below:



This year our school is preparing children to set goals as well as to develop and  action plan they are going to execute to achieve their specific goal to master their measured skilled. I currently teach third grade and yes sometimes my students get overwhelmed with all these new topics, skills, strategies, and changes because it is new to them and they have not being exposed to think. I always remind my students that we are not perfect and that we all learn from our mistakes. The important thing is to look back and reflect

  • what did I do wrong?
  • How can I do better?
  • What can I do to do better?

As educators we need to guide our students on how to fix their misconceptions, so they can be the best they can. Also, we will be teaching them to set and achieve goals, which we need to develop that skill so we can be successful in live as well as to look back and think what I am doing wrong and how can I improve?

In all my lessons I introduce the standard, learning target, and through out the lesson I point out the strategies we are doing and I also asked them questions. I am teaching my students to take notes, to reflect, as well as to go back and use their notes as reference.

For the past two weeks I am teaching my students to set goals as well as to develop an action plan. We brainstorm as a class and they came up with a lot of great suggestions.

I am posting some great resources that I found on-line for the kids to use for their action plan to master their specific goal.





Fractions for Third Grade


This year my students are a little challenging but that is ok. I always find different strategies to teach them. I am always looking for resources and modifying then to their needs. I am strong believer that all students can learn when you are challenging them and working at their level as well as moving the students forward. I know that teaching is and can be challenging but when I see my students engage during the lesson and understanding a topic I think is worth it.

In the month of February we started on our unit on Fractions. The common errors or misconceptions that I saw with my students was that a few of them were not able to show me different possible ways on partitioning a whole into different ways because they were lacking the concept of symmetry. We are still working on that and I am incorporating art so they can be able to draw.

I do a lot of hands on activities with my students and I use a lot of modeling and guiding with my students. Also, the students are in groups and most of the help each other. In addition, we are also working on evaluating and criticizing each other work. I pick my students strategically and then I will ask do agree or disagree with her and why. They have to tell me why. Also, we are learning to self correct our work. The first thing I did was I model and guide them through the process step by step and I would do a lot of think alouds.

I am also teaching my students to look for key words when we are working on word problems. I also use this graphic organizer with them.

key words:  what is the problem asking you to do?
 what is given to you?  Plan: How are you going to solve the problem

Show me and explain step by step

This graphic organizer has helped the students on analyzing as well as solving the word problem.

This are some resources for the unit on fractions:

 click here

 click here

click here


Mathematical Practices (MPs)

What are Mathematical Practices?

There are eight mathematical practices that encourage all students to think like mathematicians in orders to solve a math problem which will also helped them to solve critical thinking problems in there every day live. The mathematical practices encourage students to think, use prior knowledge, and use multiple strategies. Also, the mathematical practices encourage the students to justify their solution with others as well as explain their conclusion on how they solve the problem and why they think they are correct.

How Can I Implement the Mathematical Practices in the Classroom?

  1. Introduce the mathematical practices- Tell the students that through out the year they are going to be thinking like mathematicians and there are eight practices that will help them to solve math problems.

  2. Have a poster (Friendly language) for students to understand.

  3. During the lesson the teacher can refer to the MPs. (The teacher can only on one MP throughout the lesson or more than one depending on the teacher).

Note to Teacher: Remember to take one step at a time and not to overwhelmed yourself or your students.


  1. click here for Standards for Mathematical Practice- explanation

  2. click here for Supporting the Mathematical Practices

  3. click here for More Resources on Mathematical Practices

  4. click here for implementing the MPs

  5. click here for MP check list

  6. click here for check list on MPs for students and teachers

  7. click here for MP Power Point




Resources for the New Year


2016 is Here and Winter Break is almost over!!!

This is the perfect time to take a look back and reflect what strategies worked and what strategies did not work. By this time of the year we all know are class. We know which of our students need help in reading, reading comprehension, writing, math, critical thinking, science, and so on. Also, we know which students struggle on listening and following instructions. We as educators we are always navigating the internet or book stores for resources on how to renovate ourselves, our children, and classroom to have a better learning environment. Once class begins again, it is perfect to go over classroom expectations, routines, and work habits.

Today I was searching for resources for my students and I found an awesome website for all grade levels. The beautiful thing is that this website is free!!!!!

This website offers a lot of great ideas that we can implement in all subjects. Most of the time we want to get some ideas on how to do something so we can incorporate it our classroom.

Click here to view the website

Click here for language arts and math resources

Click here for More Resources



The Era of Now

Two weeks ago I attended a meeting and they were talking about how students in the 21 century want the answers now and they do not care about the process just the product. What is happening to our kids? I have some students that want the answers for their math problems now, they want the teacher to write the sentence now, they are not 100 percent involve in the process. This is not just my third grade class but I found out in the meeting that other teachers have the same exact problem. Their students also want the answers now.

The question is:

What do I do now?

We need to involve the students in their own process of learning by having them evaluate their work. Teachers can use an evaluation sheet or rubric to evaluate the student’s work. A rubric will be great because the students can see their areas of strengths as well as their areas of needs. Then, the teacher can also involve the student on creating a goal that will help the student to strive for that specific goal that will help him or her to master a specific skill. The teacher can also make a visual graph so the student can see his or her progress. By giving the students fill out a self evaluation form or a rubric students, teacher, and parents would be aweare of the area of needs and strengths. Also, the educator will know if the student has master the skill or concept of that day. The teacher and student then come to an agreement to work on the are of needs. The teacher will write a plan a goal for that student to achieve. In addition, at the end of each lesson or learning center you can have your students fill out an exit sheet and a learning target log.

Remember you always to give your students:

  1. constructive feedback
  2. positive feedback
  3. engage them with their interest
  4. have activities that will get their attention
  5. build a routine

I know that the process is not easy and trust me I know. Their are some success and some struggles throughout the process. I have come to a conclusion that I have to look at the positive all the things that happen and how I can improve them. 

In meetings, teacher lounge, and after school gatherings some of my co-workers comment about how their students will not complete work, read, follow directions, or listen to the teacher. I have come to a conclusion how can teachers ask for their students to do all these things if they themselves do not follow directions, listen to others, communicate, or complete work. The teachers want everything now but they are not doing anything to get it. We need to be the role models of our students.