Friday, October 31, 2014


We have had a spooktacular time this week with our Prime Pumpkin Prediction Project! 
Students learned about circumference, radius, vertical lines, estimation, alliteration, units of measure, the life-cycle of a pumpkin and of course the grand finale, estimating and counting the seeds of a pumpkin. Thanks again to all the families who donated pumpkins. Watch the video below to see a little snippet of the seed counting fun. 

I create most of my videos on iMovie on a Macbook. On a whim, I decided to try out the iMovie iPad app. I was confused and am thrilled to say, I had a group of 1st and 2nd grade students guide me through creating this video! This is what they learned during our Apple Store field trip and they were obviously paying attention! Great job, students! I was excited to learn something new and am eager to use this iPad app more in the future. 

Sunday, October 19, 2014

Differentiated Lessons via Front Row Math

You may have heard your 1st or 2nd grade student talking about something called "Front Row" when they get home from school. No, this doesn't mean I have rearranged the desks (again!) and he or she is sitting in the front row. Front Row Math is a fairly new online math program that accurately isolates skills and gaps with every student. Then, it fills the gaps and builds on student strengths.
My favorite feature of Front Row is that it is adaptive. This allows students to work at their own pace on skills that are relevant to each student. During our math block I have been pulling students who are at the same or very similar levels and working with them either individually or in small groups. I am able to view data and reports through Front Row so I can see exactly what a student is struggling with or excelling in. So far I have found this data to be extremely accurate!
The students enjoy Front Row because it is gamified! When they get questions correct the earn coins and stars. Every so often the Front Row pig makes an appearance and students can spend their coins on items for the pig. From a teacher's point of view, I love that there is a game feature to keep students excited and engaged, but I also love that the game feature is minimal and limited so students are not able to spend excessive time playing games while not actually learning any math.

While students are working independently on Front Row and get stuck, there are a few options for them. My favorite way for them to get un-stuck is for them to watch a short, one-minute video which reviews exactly what they are having a challenge with. The videos go step by step to help students figure out what they need to learn or what they might be forgetting.
What has created the biggest buzz in education this year? That's right: Common Core Standards! Front Row Math is common core aligned. This program covers common core K-8 standards so students can work well above their current grade level, while still staying on track.
It's Never To Early To Start Learning Math!
Front Row is totally cloud based and students can use it on nearly any device including Chromebooks, iPads (there is a free app), MacBooks, etc. I explore a LOT of technology programs and am lucky I have the freedom and flexibility to be very choosy. Front Row is the best math program I have found so far to accurately differentiate math with my extremely unique group of gifted learners! Students are welcome to log in any time at home and show you what it is all about or use it on the weekends or evenings if they are looking to advance their skills on their own. The link for students to use is: and our class code is lztsbw.

Monday, October 13, 2014

Blogging to an Authentic Audience

Last week we learned all about blogging! Click here to view the presentation I reviewed with the class to learn some of the "rules" of blogging along with some important cyber-safety information. 
After learning about blogging, every student logged into his or her very own blog through and started writing and since then we have blogged three times! is an amazing tool because it includes all the wonderful features of blogging sites like Blogger and Word Press, but makes teacher management and safety very easy. It is incredible that 1st and 2nd grade students are using the same tools as adult bloggers and getting this excellent writing experience, while still remaining safe online.
Be sure to ask your student to show you his or her blog at home! Blogging will soon become a frequent option for the weekly spelling homework. We have several Skype calls set up in thew next few weeks to teach other classes with students in 1st or 2nd grade about blogging. 

Sunday, October 5, 2014

First Mystery Skype of the Year

This week my class participated in our first Mystery Skype of the year! 
Their Cowboy Hats Threw Us A Bit! Turns Out It Was A Spirit Day
Students were assigned roles: greeter, questioner, researcher, answerer or closer. We practiced and eagerly waited for our Mystery Class to dial in.
We asked lots of questions and used maps to try to figure out where the other class was. We knew they weren't the largest state, or the smallest state, their state did not begin with a vowel and did not border another country. We were finally ready to guess.... was our Mystery Skype Class in Nebraska?
Back To The (Virtual) Drawing Board
Nope! We continued asking questions and doing research based on the answers and eventually guessed again. 
Hooray! We Got It!
Our Mystery Skype Class was in Pennsylvania and the Skype was facilitated by Mr. Soskil, an educator I met through Twitter. Mr. Soskil blogged about this activity from his perspective too. My class had a wonderful time with this Inquiry Based lesson and we can't wait to do another one! If you are interested in doing a Mystery Skype with us please contact me! Leave a comment on this post or tweet me @MsMensing