Saddle up for Second Grade
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Online Student Assessments Made Easy

Hey there, friend! I don't know about you but I'm tired of spending hours upon hours on student assessments and analyzing data. Let's not forget about all the paperwork that goes along with that. Then you have to keep up with said paperwork to take to parent conferences and RTI meetings. IT IS A LOT OF WORK!

What if I told you there was a way to save you hours of time when it comes to student assessments? What if I told you that you can have data instantly so instead of spending a few hours after school grading and analyzing that you could take those two hours and go get a pedicure or have some extra time with family?

I have the magical answer to solve all the problems above. What is it you ask? It's ESGI!

ESGI is a total game changer and has become one of my must-haves for the classroom. It has completely changed how we can utilize our time in the classroom when it comes to assessing students and collecting data for parent conferences and meetings. All student assessments are given one-on-one via table or computer. Simple yes or no answers give you instant results!

Let's take a closer look at your new best friend!

Note: This is a mock example. No real student data will be shown.

Online Student Assessments



Once you have created your account, this is what your ESGI homepage will look like. You can manage your classes and students on the left and endless options can be found on the right. Student results will appear in the center.

Online Student Assessments

The ESGI test explorer makes it simple for you to easily find what you need. You can browse through hundreds of pre-made assessments created by the Friends of ESGI or you can create your own. 

When browsing through pre-made assessments, you can preview each one before adding it to your class homepage. You can easily filter by grade level, content, test author and more. 

I told you this tool was AH-MAZING!!!

Online Student Assessments

Let's take a look at a mock test. Most assessments will have 4-8 questions. Some will have more or less. Remember, we are just assessing to see if they have mastered a skill. Directions are given at the bottom of the screen. Students will answer orally and all you have to do is click yes or no. 

When they've answered all questions, ESGI instantly grades everything for you giving you instant data. From there you can access reports on the assessment that was just given. 

Online Student Assessments


One of my favorite features that ESGI has is the printable flashcards. These can be printed of questions missed to send home with parents along with a friendly and editable letter explaining what their child was tested over. AHHHH!! Doesn't that sound amazing!! 

Online Student Assessments


Now, I know you are wanting to know how you can try out this FABULOUS tool in your own classroom. Let's get that FREE TRIAL set up!!! I've only shown you part of what ESGI can do. Click to go to the ESGI homepage. From there, click on FREE TRIAL at the top and enter in your information to get your account all set up. Use the code SADDLEUP  to score some HUGE SAVINGS!

Online Student Assessments


I love ESGI so much that I have started creating assessments for them. You can find me under the Friends of ESGI page and browse everything I've created. There is an assessment for EVERY 2nd grade math standard that is aligned with the TEKS. Don't worry, even if you aren't a Texas teacher, you can still use these assessments in your own classroom. Below you'll find every test organized by standard.

Online Student Assessments


Online Student Assessments


I'm telling y'all, you need ESGI in your life. You won't want to teach another day without this resource. Get those long hours back! 

Let me know if you have any questions.

Online Student Assessments



Have a blessed one!



How to Use Student Mailboxes to Control the Paper Chaos

I'm always looking for ways to make my job in the classroom easier. Today I'm sharing a quick classroom organization tip to help control the paper chaos. Let's talk about student mailboxes.

I have never had a set of nice student mailboxes. They can be very expensive and it was something I never wanted to invest in. This classroom organization system cost me less than $15, takes up way less space, and hides the paper clutter that can become a huge eyesore. What do I use?!?

The past seven years I've used the "pick up folder system" and it has worked great. Instead of classroom mailboxes, I use a plastic crate and hanging file folders. I choose to use these green ones that way there is no arguing over who has what color.

Each child is assigned a folder with their class number on it. Inside their folder is where homework, graded assignments, notes, and miscellaneous papers go that need to be sent home.

One thing I did not like about this system at first was that the plastic tags that held their student numbers would easily fall out. I got tired of having to fix them all the time so I decided to make my life a little easier and save my sanity. I made these number labels on Astrobrights cardstock, laminated them, and taped them to the back of each folder so that their numbers would show.

Student Mailboxes

Would you like these labels to create your own set of pick up folders? Fill out the form below to have them sent straight to your inbox.

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    I'm all about teaching independence in 2nd grade. I refuse to stuff their folders for them each day. I did that my first year and it took up SO MUCH time. This has solved that problem. At the end of each day, they grab all of the papers out of their pick up folder and put them in their take-home folder to go home.

    This best thing about student mailboxes is that it is mostly student-lead. As the year goes on, I'll allow students to place homework and other items in folders for me. I'll check their folders daily to make sure everyone has cleaned their's out, but other than that, students can take care of the rest most of the time. These are seriously the EASIEST student mailboxes ever.

    Student Mailboxes
    This post contains affiliate links. You can see my disclosure here




    Subtraction Strategies: 4 Methods for Teaching Two-Digit Subtraction

    Second grade is a very important year when it comes to fact fluency. This is the time when they are learning to become familiar with two-digit addition and subtraction facts. In my previous post, I shared four addition strategies that I focus on  Today, I'll be sharing four subtraction strategies used for introducing 2-digit subtraction.

    Just like introducing 2-digit addition, I expose my students to multiple strategies and models they can use to solve subtraction problems. We spend lots of time focusing on WHY something is done before we teach HOW something is done. Giving students choice in their learning by providing them with multiple ways solve problems is helping them succeed. Flexibility is key because every child learns differently. 

    The Texas TEK for two-digit subtraction states:
    2.4B: Add up to four two-digit numbers and subtract two-digit numbers using mental strategies and algorithms based on place value and properties of operations. 

    The Common Core Standard for two-digit subtraction states: 
    2.NBT.B.5: Fluently add and subtract within 100 using strategies based on place value, properties of operations, and/or the relationship between addition and subtraction. 

    Note that the bolded text above says nothing about the standard algorithm we learned growing up years ago. Keep reading to learn about four subtraction strategies I introduce and teach my students when focusing on two-digit subtraction. Also, note that these strategies will not focus on regrouping. Students need a strong understanding of place value AND simple subtraction before moving onto that task.

    subtraction strategies



    At the beginning of our subtraction unit, I always make this anchor chart. As we learn a new strategy it is added to our whole group chart. My students keep a matching copy of this in their math journal to use later on when they need extra support. 

    Subtraction Strategies

    subtraction strategies

    Now let's break down these four subtraction strategies. Before we get started, I want you to make sure you are familiar with the vocabulary that will be used. Throughout this post, you will hear the terms minuend, subtrahend, and difference. In the problem 67-33=34, 67 is the minuend, 33 is the subtrahend, and 34 is the difference. 

    Base Ten Model
    When introducing two-digit subtraction, I always start with the base ten models. In addition to using base ten blocks, I also teach them to draw the blocks out on paper. This is because students won't always have access to manipulatives, but they will have a pencil and paper. 

    I always give my students a place value mat placed inside a plastic sleeve. This allows students to also write or draw using a dry erase marker and they can be used over and over again. 

    Here is how this strategy works using the example 59-15=44
    • Build/draw out the minuend (59) with base ten blocks.
    • Take away the amount of the subtrahend (15). Remove 5 ones blocks and 1 tens block. 
    • Count the remaining blocks left and solve for the difference.

    subtraction strategies


    For students to draw out this strategy it works the same way. We draw "sticks" to represent the tens and "dots" to represent the ones. I also teach them to take away or cross out the ones first followed by the tens. This will help when regrouping is introduced later on. 

    subtraction strategies


    Expanded Form Method
    The second subtraction strategy that I introduce is the Expanded Form Method. Your students need a strong understanding of place value and expanding numbers for them to be successful using this strategy. The minuend and subtrahend of the subtraction problem will be expanded and lined up vertically. I always have my students circle the minus sign to help them remember to subtract rather than add. 

    Here is how it works using the example 86-43. 
    • Expand the minuend. >>> 80+6
    • Expand the subtrahend and write it vertically underneath the minuend. >>> 40+3
    • Circle the minus sign. 
    • Subtract and solve vertically based on place value starting with the ones, then the tens. 
    • Solve for the difference. >>> 40+3=43
       80+6
    -  40+3
       40+3
          43


    subtraction strategies

    Number Line Model
    The number line model subtraction strategy tends to be more challenging for students. They need a strong knowledge of mental math and skip counting for this method to come easily for them. 

    I often use skip counting as a warm-up for our math block. Example: Have students stand in a circle. Choose a student to go first and skip count by 10's starting with the number 35. The first person says 35, the next says 45, and so on. For the ones that struggle I will often let them hold a hundred chart in their hand to help. You can have them do this counting forwards or backward. Another way to squeeze in counting practice is to have them chant while they are lining up. Example: Class, let's skip count by 2's as we line up. We will start with the number 40 and see how high we can count. When everyone is lined up correctly, we will stop.

    The number line strategy focuses on students "hopping" and "skipping" backward on a number line to solve for the difference of a given problem. I call the 10's hops, and the 1's skips. I've also found it helpful for students to write out their steps before solving the problem. 

    Here is how it works using the example 57-26.
    • Draw an open number line. 
    • Write the minuend at the end of the number line. >>> 57 
    • Determine how many hops and skips you need to take.
    • The subtrahend is 27. You need to draw 2 large hops and 6 small skips. 
    • Skip count backward to solve for the difference. 
    • 57-26=31
    subtraction strategies



    Standard Algorithm 
    This traditional method is probably how you learned two-digit subtraction growing up and is what our children's parents are most familiar with. 

    For this strategy, students need to line up both numbers vertically underneath each other. The minuhend (larger number) goes on top and the subtrahend (smaller number) goes on the bottom. They will subtract the ones place first and then the tens place to solve for the difference. 

    One tip that can be helpful when first learning this strategy is to have students use a highlighter to highlight the ones place or have them circle the numbers in the ones place first. This helps them visualize where they need to start first. This concept can be more complicated for them than we realize because they are trained to read and write from left to right. 

    subtraction strategies

    At the end of our unit, we always make these Subtraction Strategy Flipbooks to help us review. They can keep these to use later as a reference when needed. 

    subtraction strategies


    subtraction strategies

    Whew! That may seem like a lot of information to process. We all learn concepts in different ways and the subtraction strategies that I have shared are what I have found to be beneficial for my own students. There is no right or wrong strategy when it comes to solving two-digit subtraction problems. Allow your students to choose the method that works best for them and have them stick with it. Once they have found a method that they are comfortable with, it is important to provide them with multiple opportunities to practice. Below are some resources that you may find helpful. 

    This unit features 10 days worth of hands-on and engaging activities for your students to practice all the subtraction strategies for 2-digit subtraction without regrouping that I have listed above. There are daily addition and subtraction word problems, interactive notebook prompts, subtraction without regrouping games and so much more. 
    subtraction strategies


    Want to save these subtraction strategies ideas for later? Pin the image below! 

    subtraction strategies




    Addition Strategies: 4 Methods for Teaching Two-Digit Addition

    Second grade is the first year students are exposed to two-digit addition problems. It is the year that they will be exposed to multiple addition strategies that they can use to solve problems. We spend a lot of time discussing these addition strategies, using models and manipulatives, and doing mental math.

    It is often asked why we teach things so differently from the way we as adults learned growing up. The answer is simple. We need to teach the WHY before we teach the HOW.  We want to give student’s lot of options and flexibility when it comes to solving problems. Each child learns differently.

    The Texas TEK for two-digit addition states:
    2.4B: Add up to four two-digit numbers and subtract two-digit numbers using mental strategies and algorithms based on place value and properties of operations.

    The Common Core Standard for two-digit addition states:
    2.NBT.B.5: Fluently add and subtract within 100 using strategies based on place value, properties of operations, and/or the relationship between addition and subtraction.

    Note that the bolded text above says nothing about the standard algorithm we learned growing up years ago. Keep reading to learn about four strategies I introduce and teach my students two-digit addition. Note that these strategies will not focus on regrouping. Students need a strong understanding of place value AND simple addition before moving on to that task.

    Addition Stratgies



    At the beginning our addition unit I always make this anchor chart. As we learn a new strategy it is added to our whole group chart. My students keep a matching copy of this in their math journal. This is helpful for them to look back on when they need extra support.


    addition strategies


    Let me break down these four strategies a little more.

    Base Ten Model

    When introducing two-digit addition, I always start with the base ten model. We do lots of work with base ten block manipulatives but I also teach them to draw the blocks out on paper. This is because students won’t always have those manipulatives available to them, but they will have a pencil and paper. I’ve found that this strategy is most often used if students have a strong sense of place value. 

    I always give my students a place value mat placed inside a plastic sleeve. This allows students to also write or draw using a dry erase marker and they can be used over and over again.

    Here is how this addition strategy works using the example 62+34.

    1.     Build/draw out both addends with base ten blocks. (Sometimes it is fun to use other manipulatives. In the photo example, I used pipe cleaners cut into pieces for the tens and small pompom balls for the ones.)
    2.     Count the ones first and then the tens. This will help when regrouping is introduced later.
    3.     Solve for the sum.

    addition strategies


    When students need to draw out this strategy it works the same way. I teach them to draw “sticks” to represent the tens and “dots” to represent the ones. I also teach them to draw out the first addend and then draw the second addend underneath. They’ll count to solve for the sum.

    addition strategies


    Expanded Form Method

    The second addition strategy that I always introduce is the Expanded Form Method. This is another strategy that is extremely beneficial, but students must again have a strong knowledge of place value and expanding numbers. Each addended will be broken apart into tens and ones and helps students see that the tens place isn’t just a 6. It’s value represents 60 or 6 tens.

    Here is how it works using the example 52+45.
    1.     Expand the first addend. >>> 50+2
    2.     Expand the second addend and write it underneath the first.  >>> 40+5
    3.     Solve vertically based on place value starting with the ones, then the tens.
    4.     Solve for the sum. >>> 90+7 =97

       50+2
    + 40+5
       90+7
          97

    Number Line Model

    Using an open number line to solve two-digit addition problems is highly beneficial but also tends to be more challenging for students. Especially if they do not have a strong knowledge of mental math.

    This strategy focuses on students “hopping” along a number line to solve the sum of a given problem. Large hops are drawn for plus 10 and smaller hops are drawn for plus 1. To help students visualize this strategy more, I always include base ten blocks at first. When they are more comfortable with this strategy then they can take them away.

    Here is how it works using the example 22+43.
    1.     Draw an open number line.
    2.     Write the larger addend at the start of the number line.
    3.     Then, students use base ten blocks to build the other addended horizontally across the number line.
    4.     Draw large hops over the tens for +10 and small hops over the ones for +1.
    5.     They’ll skip count and write out the numbers to solve for the sum.

    addition strategies

    When it comes to putting pencil to paper your students can easily do the same strategy. If they need to draw base ten blocks along their number line they can. Our goal is for them to be able to mentally add.


    Addition Strategies: 4 Methods for Teaching Two-Digit Addition

    Standard Algorithm

    This traditional method is probably how you learned two-digit addition growing up and it is what our children’s parents are most familiar with.

    For this strategy, students need to line up both addends vertically underneath each other. They will add the numbers in the ones place first and then the tens place to solve for the sum.

    One tip that can be helpful when first learning this strategy is to have students us a highlighter to highlight the ones place or have them circle the numbers in the ones place first. This helps them visualize to add the ones place first followed by the tens. I want this to become a habit for my students. This concept can be more complicated for them than we realize because they are trained to read and write from left to right. It will be more difficult when they learn how to regroup when adding two-digit numbers so getting them in this habit first will be helpful.

    addition strategies

    At the end of our unit, we always make these Addition Strategy Flipbooks to help us review. They can keep these to use later as a reference when they need it. 

    addition strategies

    addition strategies

    Whew! That may seem like a lot of information to process. We all learn concepts in different ways and the addition strategies that I have shared are what I have found to be beneficial for my own students. There is no right or wrong strategy when it comes to solving two-digit addition problems. Allow your students to choose the method that works best for them and have them stick with it. Once they have found a method that they are comfortable with, it is important to provide them with multiple opportunities to practice. Below are some resources that you may find helpful.


    addition strategies

    Want to save these ideas for later? Pin the image below.

    Addition Strategies



    15 Elf in the Classroom Ideas

    The holidays are quickly approaching and we all know that it can be a crazy time in the classroom. I choose to embrace the chaos that is the month of December and enjoy it with some silly elf fun. Today I am sharing 15 ideas and tricks for your classroom elf to do. 

    The Elf On The Shelf Christmas craze is bigger than ever. This blog post features 15 ideas to use with your elf on the shelf in your classroom.

    I always have our classroom elf appear in our tree on the first day. It's always so fun to see their excitement when he is discovered. Once he appears I put kids into groups and each group comes up with a name for him. Then each group shares their choice and we vote to determine the class favorite. 

    This blog post features 15 ideas to usThe Elf On The Shelf Christmas craze is bigger than ever. This blog post features 15 ideas to use with your elf on the shelf in your classroom. e with your elf on the shelf in your classroom.

    On the first day of December back in the classroom, our elf always brings us our calendar cards in a baggie with a special note. Then he just hangs out on the calendar all day.

    The Elf On The Shelf Christmas craze is bigger than ever. This blog post features 15 ideas to use with your elf on the shelf in your classroom.

    I use this elf font to create classroom notes. Our silly elf always likes to hack our Class Dojo account and change their avatar pictures. These can be changed under the student accounts. I used clipart images that I had purchased. You can use any image you have saved on your computer. 


    The Elf On The Shelf Christmas craze is bigger than ever. This blog post features 15 ideas to use with your elf on the shelf in your classroom.

    The Elf On The Shelf Christmas craze is bigger than ever. This blog post features 15 ideas to use with your elf on the shelf in your classroom.


    One of my favorite elf tricks is to have him get into my sticker drawer. I cover the elf in stickers and will place them randomly all over the room such as on their desks, on the pencil sharpener, on the door handle, etc...

    The Elf On The Shelf Christmas craze is bigger than ever. This blog post features 15 ideas to use with your elf on the shelf in your classroom.


    Don't leave any tape lying around. You never know what your silly elf will get into with it. I came in one day and he had gotten himself stuck on our classroom clock.

    The Elf On The Shelf Christmas craze is bigger than ever. This blog post features 15 ideas to use with your elf on the shelf in your classroom.


    Another fun one is bubble baths! Grab a plastic container and add some marshmallows to make bubbles.

    The Elf On The Shelf Christmas craze is bigger than ever. This blog post features 15 ideas to use with your elf on the shelf in your classroom.

    Use a roll of paper towels to wrap them up in a blanket on an extra cold day.

    The Elf On The Shelf Christmas craze is bigger than ever. This blog post features 15 ideas to use with your elf on the shelf in your classroom.

    Tissue boxes make the perfect cozy bed. He overslept one day and they thought it was so funny to catch him still snoozing!


    The Elf On The Shelf Christmas craze is bigger than ever. This blog post features 15 ideas to use with your elf on the shelf in your classroom.

    One day our class got a little too noisy and he had to bust out his earmuffs. Then he left a note on our whiteboard to remind students of their behavior.

    To make the earmuffs I hot glued some pom poms onto a piece of pipe cleaner. Then I added a dab of hot glue onto his ears to make it stick. It is easy to pick off. I tried tape and it didn't hold well.


    The Elf On The Shelf Christmas craze is bigger than ever. This blog post features 15 ideas to use with your elf on the shelf in your classroom.

    The Elf On The Shelf Christmas craze is bigger than ever. This blog post features 15 ideas to use with your elf on the shelf in your classroom.

    They always think it is fun when the elf makes a mess. Here he got into our VIP table supplies and scribbled all over everything.

    The Elf On The Shelf Christmas craze is bigger than ever. This blog post features 15 ideas to use with your elf on the shelf in your classroom.


    Don't be afraid to bust out the glitter! Use it to create a snow angel. Your custodian will love you for this one.
    The Elf On The Shelf Christmas craze is bigger than ever. This blog post features 15 ideas to use with your elf on the shelf in your classroom.

    Grab some plastic cups and have your elf build a tower. Leave some extra cups lying around and allow your students to build their own towers for some extra fun.

    The Elf On The Shelf Christmas craze is bigger than ever. This blog post features 15 ideas to use with your elf on the shelf in your classroom.


    I love this idea from Everyone Deserves to Learn. She used her elf as a conversation starter with her students and asked them if elves can read and write.

    The Elf On The Shelf Christmas craze is bigger than ever. This blog post features 15 ideas to use with your elf on the shelf in your classroom.

    Have something hanging over your window? Hide them behind it and see if your students can spot them.
    The Elf On The Shelf Christmas craze is bigger than ever. This blog post features 15 ideas to use with your elf on the shelf in your classroom.

    This idea from A Cupcake for the Teacher is too cute! Turn your elf into Rudolph!

    The Elf On The Shelf Christmas craze is bigger than ever. This blog post features 15 ideas to use with your elf on the shelf in your classroom.

    Looking for more elf in the classroom ideas? Check out this other post I have called That Silly Elf FREEBIES!  

    Want to save these ideas? Pin the image below! You can also check out my Silly Elf Pinterest board.  


    The Elf On The Shelf Christmas craze is bigger than ever. This blog post features 15 ideas to use with your elf on the shelf in your classroom.

    The Elf On The Shelf Christmas craze is bigger than ever. This blog post features 15 ideas to use with your elf on the shelf in your classroom.






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