In case you've missed my mini-series on data, you can catch up here...
Day 1: Collaborating to create data displays from scratch
Day 2: Collecting Data and making a plan to keep track of data

In my last post, I blogged about giving kiddos the data and having them build displays from scratch.  They had a blast doing this, but once we had our attributes of a data display down, I was ready to step it up a notch and talk about collecting data.

We used a survey from my Spring graphing pack to find out how many friends in our class liked baseball.

First we reviewed Standard 6 for Math Practices....Attend to Precision.

Then, we brainstormed ways to collect our data in a precise way.  Here were our guiding questions for our discussion:

>>> How can I collect the data? {we finally agreed on asking everyone in our class on their own...I pushed for this one because it was the least structured way and would force my firsties to keep track of their collecting on their own.}

>>> How will I keep track of my data?

>>> How will I know if I've asked everyone in our class if they like baseball?

Then, I let them loose!  No really, this was fantastic!  They had a purpose....they each had a plan...and every. single. kiddo. was on task to collect their data.  And I was in teacher heaven! *wink, wink*

Some kiddos collected their data by writing names of friends once they had asked them....

Others wrote numbers 1-25 and then marked of each friend's class number after they surveyed them...

And one sweetie kept track and collected data all in one....She wrote the class number of the friend she had surveyed in her data table and then went back and counted the numbers for each section...I had to ask her and clarify because this idea wasn't one she had shared with the class earlier! :)

I was so proud of how well my first graders collected, tracked and recorded their data!  I really think our discussions the day before on how important a data display is and what problems happen when we aren't precise really helped focus kids on their precision with data! probably also helped that I challenged them to see who would be accurate in their totals.  When our surveying was over, we collected the data whole group by raising hands and counting.  This group is so competitive, I didn't even reward them for accuracy.  They were just motivated to get it right on their own! :)

Once we all had adjusted our data to reflect the accurate count, we analyzed our data by answering the questions about our data.
Of course, we could've extended this activity by having them make a data display, but we just ran out of time! #keepingitreal

And don't forget to grab my Spring Graphing Palooza Packet for all of the graphing fun I've been blogging about plus much, much more!  Or download the graphing bundle for year long experiences with data displays!

Next I'll be blogging about how to assess data collection, recording and analysis!
In case you've missed my mini-series on data, you can catch up here...
Day 1: Collaborating to create data displays from scratch
Day 2: Collecting Data and making a plan to keep track of data
Data, Data, Data...

My biggest AHA! with data was at a math workshop last year.  For too many years, I handed kiddos a premade outline for a graph, asked them to color in the data, answer some questions about data and we called it success.

And that's not actually how data translates in the real world.  In my world, I have to collect my own data to answer a question that my administrators have (or that I have on my own) reading levels.  So, I figure out the best way to collect and organize my data (reading levels), the best way to display my data so that it's easy for my administrators and me to read.  And then I anticipate and answer any questions I think I might get about my data during my end of year evaluation...and NONE of that looks like a pre-made graphing skeleton.

Nothing wrong with pre-made graphs.  I use them a lot in my classroom.  They just shouldn't be the only exposure we give kids.  Only using pre-made graphs mean less opportunities for kids to make mistakes...which means less opportunities to learn from their mistakes to get better.

My kiddos have been working all year with pre-made graphs and analyzing data.  I wanted to build their schema throughout the year on how data can be displayed.  I used lots of the pre-made graphs from my Graphing Palooza packets.

When we were ready to focus on the attributes of data, we dug a little deeper to build our graphs from the ground up!  

Here's a look at the first part of our data unit (Which was, ya know, WAAAYYY back in March!)...

I started by posing the question: Which easter eggs do I have the most of in my bag?

Each group got butcher paper, a recording sheet, and a bag of 10 easter eggs...3 colors in each bag.

The groups discussed the best way to collect the data, record the data and keep track of which data/eggs had already been recorded.

Then, they worked on making a data display.  The only rules and guidance I gave them was to make sure they made the data display as easy to read as possible.  I told them I should be able to look at the data and immediately see which easter egg color had the most in their bag.

After they finished their displays, we shared our displays.  Yes, I purposefully gave each group a different color to help our discussion.  We did this on the same day because our schedule was wacko that day, but share time could easily be a day 2 lesson!

I posed the question: Look at each display.  Think about which displays are easy to read at a quick glance and which ones are difficult to read.  Which display is difficult to read?  Why?

It may seem negative that I started with what is difficult, but this question pushes kids to talk about the math and data immediately.  From experience, I've learned that talking about the easy to read ones first will get you answers like, "pretty colors," or "they cut neatly," or my all time favorite..."great handwriting!"  Talking about the difficult to read ones gets more meat more quickly!

As kids brought up issues with the hard to read displays, I recorded them on our data display anchor chart...

The yellow group helped us see that sorting categories correctly IS important (notice the pink and purple egg in the same category) AND that categories should be going in the same direction to easily compare data.

Our purple group helped us learn that categories need to be close together for easy comparisons!

Our red group helped us see how helpful labels can be helpful...

Our blue group helped us see how important the same starting point is important for comparing.

My orange group helped us see what happens when we use gaps or overlaps in our data recording!

And it was at this point one of my littles made the connection to how similar data attributes are to measurement attributes! #proudteachermoment {Read about linear measurement and see how similar these anchor charts really are!}

To close up our discussion time we analyzed each graph based on our anchor chart agreements on what an easy to read data display looks like.  I added check marks for each attribute their display showed as we graded them together as a class.  This was great practice and reinforcement of the data display attributes I wanted them to remember!

So, no, not all "instruction" is pretty.  But that doesn't mean great learning isn't occurring.  In fact, sometimes the biggest bang for my buck comes from the "ugliest" materials! :)

And don't forget to grab my Spring Graphing Palooza Packet for all of the graphing fun I'll be blogging about plus much, much more!  Or download the graphing bundle for year long experiences with data displays!  And check out my math talks on data displays which are great for test prep!

Next I'll be blogging about how to accurately collect data through survey questions!  Follow me on Facebook and Instagram for the updates!
{Here's a little guest blog from my fabulous Disney loving husband just in time for summer vacations and the TPT conference in July!}

I'm a planner by nature, I get it honestly.  We have been going to Disney parks since I was just a little kid.  Each trip was meticulously planned to ensure we maximized our value.  Let's face it... when you spend a lot of money on a trip, you want to get the most out of it.  Here are a few of the lessons I've learned through my 20+ trips to Disney.

1.  Not Planning Ahead
Fail to plan, plan to's the message teachers live by from August to May.  Just don't forget to plan out your Disney vacation too!

Know what to expect when you go.  Teachers are locked in to specific times they can travel for vacation.  But any guidebook will tell you these are the times NOT to go to Walt Disney World.  Good news... you can do it and live through it.  You're a teacher and if you can survive the smell of burnt popcorn from the teacher's lounge, you will be fine in Disney in the Summer or Spring Break.  Use a service like (under $10 fee) to help you choose days with the lowest crowds for each park.

Plan out your fastpass+ selections.  Fastpass selections can be made 30 days from your vacation start day if staying off property, and 60 days if you are staying on property (and, yes, you should schedule asap for the best selection).  You can choose 3 fastpasses per day.  While some may say this takes the spontaneity out of your vacation, I look at it as a way to relax and enjoy your vacation because the hard work is done.  So sit down with your family and make a list of must-do attractions.  For small kids, the list might include rides like The Mad Tea Party or Goofy's Barnstormer (one of Cooper's Favorites).  These two attractions are FastPass+ attractions, but rarely see waits times, so using 1 of your 3 fast passes on a ride with little wait time isn't the best idea.  (Tip:  You can make your FastPass+ selections at midnight eastern time or after park closing (if it's later than 12:00) at 60 / 30 days out. )

Here are some great links to FastPass+ strategies / info by park.
Make sure you get your family's buy in on the entire process.  Knowing what their expectations are can really ensure you vacations is a success.  Watch YouTube videos of attraction rides, etc... Make crafts that get the family excited about the trip, watch Disney movies before you go... anything to build excitement.   We usually create some kind of advent calendar so that Cooper can count how many days until we go to Disney World.  This was last year's countdown...

And this year, we used Cooper's love for monorails to make a monorail countdown.

After all of the planning is complete and you are in the parks, RELAX...  Have fun.  Allow me to ruin some of the magic for a second...  It's going to Rain everyday you are there.  There are going to be rude visitors.  Someone is going to stand in front of you during a parade...  The only thing you can control is how you handle these situations.  You might think that some of these things would ruin a vacation, but at the end of the Day your kid might think it was a success because they met Mickey Mouse, ate a Churro and stayed up past their bed time.  Push through the vacation stresses and see Disney through your kids' eyes.

3.  Assuming a Dining Plan is the Best Option
The dining plan can be a mistake or your best friend... it really depends on how you use it.  There are two camps that are either very pro Dining Plan (DDP) or very Anti-DDP.  I'm somewhere in between, but I lean against it.  For starters, the DDP is a pre-paid meal service.  There are several tiers of DDPs each with their pros & cons.

Unless you are a Disney Vacation Club Member or a Annual Pass holder, you must add the DDP to your Magic Your Way package for the entire length of stay and for your entire party. It's an all or nothing option. This means that Mom and Dad can't be on the dining plan and kids eat scraps.  For a comprehensive look at the DDP, check out

I've traveled to the parks using dining plans and paying cash.  You can make either work.  Just do some math.  If you aren't great at math try an experiment.  Get a Disney gift card or Visa gift card and place the amount of money you would spend adding on the dining plan.  At the end of the vacation, if there is any money left on the card it can go back into savings and you'll know what to do next time.  There is a mythical "Free Dining Plan" promotion that Disney runs occasionally.  Typically, when you are buying a package with "free dining" you are paying the rack rate for your room.  This means you are paying more for the same room than if you would have purchased it separately.  Look at this question through this lens.  Is the Walt Disney Company a publicly traded company? (Answer: Yes) Is their number one job to provide shareholders with value for investing in their company by maximizing profits? (Answer: Yes)  Then they will not be giving much away for free.

My personal opinion is the "Quick Service DDP" is the best value if you are looking to maximize time on attractions.  Table service meals usually take a good amount of time and will slow you down.  Enjoy table service meals a couple of times through the week, but try to keep them limited to lunch time (or whenever works for your family)

On the subject of Food, We've all had that friend that came back from Disney World and said the following: "I'm tired of eating hamburgers & chicken nuggets."  But look closer.  You can eat good food for a decent price at some of the quick service restaurants.  There is a great Broccoli Peppercorn Salad at the Columbia Harbor House (Magic Kingdom: Liberty Square) for under $10 as well as rice bowls & other Tex Mex items at Pecos Bill's (Magic Kingdom: Frontierland).

4.  Spending a Lot of Money
You can stay at the sketchy motel by the airport and bring all of your food in to the park, ensuring that you only spend minimal money at the park.  You can also stay on the water at the Polynesian bungalows (roughly $2500 per night) and eat every meal at Victoria & Albert's at the Grand Floridian (AAA five-diamond rated). You determine how much money you would like to spend on this vacation.  You can bring as much food in as you want.  (You can literally bring an entire thanksgiving meal including table decorations and pilgrim costumes.)  The only limitation is bringing in glass bottles.  We typically will bring almonds, granola bars and fruit in our bag.  Every restaurant and snack stand will give you free ice water, so no need to pack heavy water bottles.  For our TPT trip, we have budgeted around $100 daily for food (2 adults, 1 child).  Probably going to eat breakfast at the resort, lunch/dinner in the part and will still have room for a churro.

Another way to save money is to bring your own poncho.  The first afternoon rain shower in the park you will be running to a stand to buy a rain poncho.  From experience, you don't want to wait until you need one.  Last summer we were caught in a downpour.  We bought the real deal ponchos and paid $40 for the 3 of us.  We won't every get rid of them now!  You can also pick up 200 disposable ones for about $15 before the trip.  Throw them away once you are finished and save having to fold and store them.  

Buying souvenirs in the park?  Ship from the park to your resort to save carrying them through the park the rest of the day.  There is even an option to UPS items to your home.

5.  Over packing
One huge mistake is packing more than you need.   This covers packing for your trip and packing for the parks.  First packing for the trip.  All Disney resorts have laundry facilities on site.  We bring a few sets of clothes and wash a few times during the stay.  If you happen to stay in a Disney Vacation Club room, you can do the laundry in your own room.  We typically bring a few sets of clothes and wash a few times during the week.  Tip:  wash all of your clothes before you head back.  Trust me, you'll thank me when you get home and have no laundry to do!

Another consideration is shipping items straight to your resort.  We ship breakfast items and snacks via Amazon.  This is typically cheaper than buying on property.  If you use an airline that charges for bags, this will save you the $75 for an additional bag.

When packing for the parks, think about your bag.  You want it light and easy to carry.  We use a backpack.  We have a stroller so the bag has to fit in the under storage and be accessible when we need it.  Typically, my bag consists of the following:
*rain poncho
*plastic bags to keep things dry
*snacks (we found we need less than we thought...too busy to stop and eat!  About 1 small snack per day per person was plenty for Mom, Dad and our 3 year old!)
*phone battery

You might think of a change of clothes for the little ones.  There are multiple splash pad areas and opportunities to get wet.

Like I said, we use a stroller so there isn't as much of a burden to carry a huge bag.  You want to think about how heavy the bag will be when the stroller is folded up.  When you are waiting for the last bus out of the park and you have a sleepy kid, the last thing you want is a heavy backpack.

6.  Staying off property
There is no sugarcoating what I'm going to say next.  I'm a hotel snob.  My idea of roughing it is a hotel without bathrobes.  The resorts on property rank anywhere from good to excellent.  The lowest class of hotels are "value resorts" and they start at $89 nightly.  They offer great value and the same perks as staying at the most expensive resort.  We have stayed at a value resort and it worked just fine for the little time spent in the room.

Moderate resorts start at $166 nightly and are a great option.  Typically these feature better food options, larger rooms and more activities at the resort.  Pools are generally themed better (although the pool at Art of Animation, a value resort, is one of the most elaborate pools at Disney).  Activities at the moderate level consist of fishing and bike rides as well as shopping.

Deluxe resorts start at $289 and are really top notch.  Food and shopping are upgraded from the moderate level and the service is a step above to match.  For example, the Yacht Club/Beach Club resort has a signature dining location, 3 casual dining locations, 3 lounges as well as a quick service.  You can have a character meal without leaving your resort.  If you stay at a deluxe resort, you might not want to go to a park at all.  There really is that much to do.

Staying on property also allows you to use Magical Express, a bus service from the airport to Disney property.  Resort guests can sign up for Magical Express before they leave.  You attach the luggage tags that Disney mails to you and check your bags at the airport.  When you get to Orlando, go straight to the bus.  Your bags will magically arrive at your resort at no cost to you.  (Make sure you allow a few hours for delivery and pack med or immediate things in your carry on.)

Staying on property can save time as well.  If you stay off site, you will need to drive to the park and find a parking spot.  Depending on which park you are going to you will either take a tram, boat or monorail to the front gate.  All of that after fighting Central Florida traffic.  (Tip: Save more park time by showing up approximately 45 minutes before the opening time scheduled.  If the brochure says the Magic Kingdom opens at 9:00, you will likely be in the park before 8:30 after watching a great rope drop show.)

7.  Buying the Wrong Park Ticket
There are a lot of options for the getting into the theme park.  You can often save a bit of money if you really plan out how many days you are going to be in the parks.

Single day tickets have recently been priced off of three seasons: value, regular and peak.  If you are a teacher, you are likely traveling during the "peak" season.  This means a one park for one day will cost $124 for the Magic Kingdom and $114 for the other parks.  This is the adult (ages 10+) price.  Kids will be $118 and $108, respectively.  

If you are going to be in the parks for multiple days, even if they are not consecutive, you can get a multi-day ticket.  Disney makes it cost effective to go to the park on mutliple days.   The same one park per day ticket over 7 days costs $52 a day ($370).  If you want to add on the ability to go to multiple parks in one day, add the park hopper option for an additional $60 for the 7 day pass.  This will allow you to attend multiple parks in one day.  Add the Water Parks and More option for an additional $40 for the water parks, golf, and Wide World of Sports.

Now...if you really want to do some math, try this.  If you are planning on making another trip within the next 365 days, look into an annual pass.  The break-even point of multip day tickets vs. annual passes is somewhere around 11-12 days.  Owning the annual pass will also get you discounts on dining, shopping and resort activities.  You can also get free parking for the parks.

For my family, the annual pass was the right choice this past year.  Our break-even point was a little lower because we get discounted annual pass prices through Disney Vacation Club.  We took a trip with extended family last July for 8 days in the park.  I had a half marathon scheduled for November which was an additional 4 days in the park.  So now, the days we spend in the park for this conference are just bonus.  

If you are still confused about what ticket to buy, use this ticket price calculator.  Input your info and they tell you what your best option is.  They even have links to certified discount tickets.  Pleas don't buy tickets from that ticket stand on I-4 that is in a strip mall.  If the price is unbelievable, it's probably counterfeit or a partially used ticket.

If you are headed to the TPT conference like Whitney, have fun!  And if you see us in the parks, say Hi.  If you have any questions, leave them in the comments and I will do my best to answer them!

Mrs.  Mr. Shaddock
Sooooooo....I'm on a 2 week intercession/break from school and starting to catch up on blogs.  Good grief!  I've had all of these blog posts floating around in my head and no time to sit down and type!

April was all about continuing our weather unit and focusing on severe weather!  In Arkansas, there is no better time to learn about severe weather than April...especially since we had to take cover for tornado warnings just a few days ago!  YIKES!! #tornadoalleyprobs

It's also about this time of year that I get a little bored with writer's workshop {just keeping it real friends!} because we've mastered narrative, informative and opinion writing.  So focusing on how-to-writing is not only a refreshing change of pace, but it blends perfectly with severe weather!!

I've written about our experiential learning with how-to-writing in a previous post so I won't rehash the peanut butter and jelly fabulousness, but I wanted to blog a bit about how I scaffold my kids' writing so they can eventually write a full how-to paragraph independently!

We do our peanut butter and jelly writing whole group. {Yes, I know this isn't severe weather and feels like a hard right turn, but I promise we are getting there....I like writing about simple things first that we already know about before adding the research step in there too!}

Anyways...We record pictures together and orally give the directions using our order words.  During our oral retelling, I introduce our how-to graphic organizer from my Do You Want to Draw a Snowman packet.

The next day we wrote about how to brush your teeth.  I brought my toothbrush and toothpaste and all! :)

I think this one is usually the most popular with my firsties...and mainly because I'm trying to teach with toothpaste and a toothbrush in my mouth!  {Sorry, no pics of's kinda hard to have toothpaste dripping down your chin, ask kids to tell what the step is AND manage to take a selfie of the craziness happening!  But I can promise you it's a priceless photo!}

Since this was our second experience, we used a graphic organizer to record our pictures together again...but this time we wrote the directions instead of orally retelling the steps.  We drew all of the pictures first.

Then, we went back and wrote the topic sentence and step 1 together.

They finished the rest of the paragraph on their own.  These graphic organizers were the perfect scaffold that helped my kiddos make the leap to writing how-to paragraphs independently.

The next day or two, we brainstormed a list of things they were experts on and could write instructions for.  We also talked about how some things must be sequenced {like brushing your teeth}, but other instructions don't necessarily have a sequence {like getting ready for school}.   I had them draw their pictures first for their topic and then write in their journal.  I was super impressed with how well they did!

Then, I knew we were ready to add the research element to our how-to-writing.

We had been learning about types of severe weather.  I wanted to focus more on tornadoes since...we are in tornado alley after all!

We listed ways to stay safe in a tornado...

They wrote directions for how to stay safe in a tornado and then we used shaving cream and a few drops of paint to make some tornado art! *Pro Tip: make them make their scene with construction paper first and leave a "spot" for the tornado."  Add the shaving cream tornado afterwards!* #yourewelcome #beentheredonethat #muchbetterthistime

The kids had a BLAST writing these and making their tornado scenes to go with them!  It was the perfect end to our severe weather and how-to writing!  You can find the tornado safety paper and more severe weather paper and templates in my severe weather packet on SALE 20% off for the next two days!
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