Primary Chalkboard: Meet the Chalkies: Alyssha & Tamara

Meet the Chalkies: Alyssha & Tamara

We've got an international connection for you today! :)  

There is lots of history between Florida and Spain and so it seemed fitting that we get together and share a little bit about ourselves with you today!

We made up a list of 'getting to know you' style questions.  We will both answer five so you can get a little better picture of our lives in the classroom!


1.) What is your academic teaching strength? Math & Science.  I love breaking things down into smaller pieces for the kids and making things approachable for them!  So fun!! 
2.) What is an intangible that you have that makes your classroom environment special?  I am super relational!  I am great with both parents and kids!  I love to spend time with their families...and to have them spend time with mine!  Last year, I brought my mom to Meet the Teacher.  I told my firsties that it was only fair to bring my mom...since they were bringing theirs!  They LOVED it! :)  My mom told all kinds of stories about when I was a firstie.  And even whipped out all my old pictures. :) The parents thought we were ADORABLE! :)
Daina & I teaching the scientific method with Mentos and Diet Coke.
We are wearing the rain slickers to protect our clothes!
That was a good day!!
3.) What is your classroom routine for literacy?  I do a hybrid version of the Daily Five.  Our district has given us a basal series as a resource, and limits our copies, so, I am a wee bit tied to what comes with the series at times. I have a whole group lesson to introduce the story of the week, and then I do 4-15 minute literacy centers.  Every other week I do skill based lessons in small groups.  On occasion, I will substitute my common core close reading units, and those are always fun to do with the kids! :)  Our phonics program is called Discover Intervention Phonics (DIP).  We use that in isolation of the basal.  It's got a really neat marking system that goes with it! I really like it a lot! :)
4.) What is your classroom routine for math?  I teach a 20 minute whole group lesson and then do 2-20 minute rotations 3-4 times a week.  I typically work in ten day bands.  The first five days, I do the centers with the students...the second five days I do skill based instruction and pull students based on whatever deficiencies they are showing during the whole group lesson.
Click HERE for that freebie!
5.) What is your favorite freebie from your store? I love my 'Flying High with the Sounds of Y' Center.  It goes with my exemplar text close reading unit on How People Learned to Fly.
Last but not's an exclusive freebie for you! :)  I've got a pirate themed classroom, and I whipped these Daily 5 Center Rotation headers up for my learners.  If you have a pirate themed classroom, you may want them for your learners.

 photo Cover_zpsc32c780b.png


1.  What is a bit of advice that you wish someone had told YOU your first year of teaching? I wish someone told me that being "done" rarely happens when it comes to professional development, learning the ropes, or organizing paperwork. I am in my tenth year of teaching and I know I grew as much as a teacher last year as I did in my first year of teaching. Change happens and effective teachers adapt. It's hard, but it's good for us! Every year is another year to re-evaluate what works and what needs to be modified. Yeah, it's probably going to be like this for as long as I am in this career :)

2.  What is your classroom routine for literacy? My school is moving toward a workshop model in areas and I LOVE IT! I have a 45 minute
block for reading and a 45 minute block for writing. For both reading and writing I always start with a 5-10 minute mini-lesson. I try to use a mentor text in these lessons as much as possible which ends up being about 85% of the time. In writing, often my "mentor text" is my own writing that I share with the kiddos. After the mini lesson, my students move off for independent reading or writing. During this time, I confer with students or teach strategy lessons to small groups. Accountability is huge! I keep good conferring notes and I also have students reflect on how they use the strategy on our "Show What You Know" board. I also always have a daily writing goal (i.e. include a small moment in your writing today). In between conferring, I do a quick check of my students to see who tried out the strategy and they get a sticker on our writing goals chart. Afterwards, we all gather together again and share our triumphs and struggles.

I teach grammar and spelling in a separate 30 minute block. We use Words Their Way for Spelling and my own stuff for Grammar. I teach a high ESL population so there is a lot of differentiation going on. Thank goodness for the ability to create individualized lists on SpellingCity!

Sample math journal response
3.  What is your classroom routine for math? I use a workshop model for math as well. We start with a mini lesson (either extending past the work from the day before or correcting misconceptions). Then the students break off and work either independently or with a partner, or even in small groups. I usually give 2-5 challenging problems per day for the students to attack. They can solve the problems however they like, but they must justify their thinking in pictures and words. Communication is HUGE in my math class! We always follow up with a whole group discussion about the strategies used.

4.  Do you have any apps or tech discoveries you are excited about right now? I have an app that I just found that is kind of TOTALLY amazing and I have barely scratched the surface of what it can do. It is called iDoceo and it is a perfect replacement for so much paper! This year I plan to start off using it to record my conferring notes. You can even make audio recordings. AWESOME. Then when it is time for report cards, you can pull up all recordings or notes of a certain student in and BAM, it's there! You can also snap photos of the students work. Then it is filed right there next to the students name. PERFECT. Here is a great review that shows more of the features:

Find this freebie here 
5.  What is your favorite freebie you have discovered from another seller? This year I want kids to be talking more about what they are doing everyday when they get home so I am excited to start using Surfin' Through Second's "What did I do today" exit slips. There are six slips and I am thinking of giving a full page to each student each week. They get to decide which slip they use each day. Some of the questions are academic and some are more more social, i.e. "One nice thing I did for a friend today was..." I am sure parents are going to love this! 

Tune in tomorrow to meet more of the Chalkies!


  1. There is a lot of talent between you two!! I love teaching Math and Science too Tamara :) I am so glad you like the exit slips Alyssha!


    1. Thanks a bunch, Corinna! :) Can't wait to read about you and your partner! :)

  2. I had fun reading this post. Thanks for sharing some info about yourselves. It is always nice to have a face with a post!


    1. Aww! So sweet of you to read about us and comment! :) We are both so excited about getting to share other ideas and resources with you all! ;)

  3. So happy and proud to be a fellow Chalkie with you lovely ladies!!! Loved this post!
    :) Lisa
    Growing Firsties

  4. So fun!!! I loved reading about your classroom routines :)

  5. Wonderful job ladies!!! Loved reading your answers!!! Woot, woot!!

  6. You guys are the sweetest. I love love love the creativity on this blog!