Magic of Math & Writing Bootcamp

I cannot believe that the first week of school is already over. This new year has already refreshed me and left me feeling grateful and excited for the year ahead.

This year my team and I have decided to adapt some new curriculum changes. We have been incorporating some “magic of math” lessons and “writing bootcamp” lessons from the one and only Amy Lemons (teacher, blogger, and pure genius in my opinion).

In math we have been learning about even and odd numbers. We learned that to determine if a number is even it must have a pair and can be written as a doubles equation. We had some fun with that this week as we created odd and even monsters and played “musical monsters”. Tomorrow we will take our first math assessment on odd and even numbers.

In reading we have been learning about answering and asking questions from a fictional text. We also started to build our reading stamina by practicing reading to self. We read “Dex, the Heart of a Hero” story to understand what stamina means. We had a “book tasting” with Mrs. Blocker in which we got to “taste” the many books in my library to see which ones we would like to read during read to self. We had so much fun!


In writing we started our writing boot camp. During this boot camp we are learning all the essential skills needed to be successful writers in 2nd grade. We practice by creating a 2nd grade survival guide. Today we learned about different punctuation marks and how to edit our papers!


In social studies we have been learning about community helpers and school/community rules. We will continue this until we track out.

I am so excited about this year. I look forward to the new memories we are going to make in Room 302!

Welcome to 2nd Grade! 2018-2019

Welcome to Second Grade!

I would like to welcome you and your child to our second grade class! I am very excited about the adventures this year will hold! Below I have listed important information. We will have a great year!

About Me: My name is Madeline Krautwurst and this is my sixth year teaching. This is my fourth year teaching second grade at Pleasant Union Elementary School and I love working in such a welcoming community. I previously taught third grade in Harnett County, North Carolina. A few years ago I moved here from a small town in New York called Pavilion. I graduated from the State University of New York at Fredonia in 2013 with a degree in Childhood Inclusive Education and a minor in English. I currently live in Raleigh, North Carolina with my husband and my cat named Rue. I recently graduated from UNC with a masters in Literacy. Some of my passions include running, reading, camping and of course, teaching! I look forward to working closely with you throughout the school year. If you have any questions please feel free to call or email me. Together we can ensure success in our second grader! Thank you for your support!  


8:45-9:15- Morning Work/Arrival

9:15-9:20-Morning Meeting


10:20-11:05- Science/Social Studies

11:10-11:40- Lunch


1:10-1:40- Recess

1:45-2:45- Writing/Snack

2:45-3:25-Specials (On a rotating, 4 day schedule)

3:25- Pack Up/Class Dojo

Attendance is very important in the second grade! If the child is not at school or arrives late often, he/she is missing valuable learning time. One goal we have in this class is to maintain great attendance!

Snack: Students will be allowed to have snack in the afternoon during writing time. Students are responsible for bringing their own snack each day. Snacks should be healthy!

Classroom Management: This year I will be using classdojo (SEE SEPARATE PAPER FOR INFORMATION). Please sign and return.

Weekly Work Folders: The Weekly Work Folder will be sent home each Tuesday. This folder will have updates from the office and student work from throughout the week. Please review the assignments in the folder with your student.

Homework/Homework Folder: Students will have nightly homework in reading, math, and spelling. Students have a purple folder that goes home every night. This will have their class dojo chart in it as well as their homework. Please take out papers that are in the “keep at home” section each night. Students are expected to complete homework each night. The next day we will go over math homework as a class or in small groups. Spelling homework is sent home each Monday and will be due at the end of each week. I will check this each Friday. Students complete their spelling homework in their spelling journal. They are expected to do this on a nightly basis. They will get their spelling list and spelling menu at the beginning of the week. Students are also expected to read 20 minutes a night. They will track the amount of minutes they read on the calendar on the front of their homework folder. Each night you can use this sheet to see the points they earned in Dojo and for the students to write minutes read that night. Your signature is required each night. This tells me that you have seen their behavior and have approved the minutes they have read. Students will complete a “tower of books” challenge to track books read. I will go over this at open house and this will not start until we track back in. Students will not have a regular homework schedule for the first few weeks of school.

Transportation: Students must have a bus tag on their bookbag in order to board the bus. They will not be allowed to board if the tag is not on their bookbag. If there is a transportation change (to carpool, etc.) a note must be sent into school to me via email or written note.

Communication: Every week I will send a “weekly update” outlining the updates for the week in our classroom. I communicate A LOT through the class dojo app so please make sure you have this.  Please read updates to stay informed about information from our classroom. I also have a classroom twitter that I would love for all parents to follow! I post daily activities and pictures that we are doing. Please follow us at @mrskscampers. Students will also post daily/weekly things to our class Seesaw and their dojo account.
I am looking forward to a fun, successful year! If you have any questions or concerns throughout the school year please feel free to contact through my email. My email address is

Dash the Robot Life Cycle STEM Challenge

The last day of school is upon us which means that we are finishing up our final Science unit. In this unit we study different life cycles. One particular life cycle that we focus on is the butterfly life cycle. We watch larva transform into a pupa then a butterfly in our own classroom. Every year this is one of my favorite things to teach. The students are engaged and excited.

A few weeks ago it was time to release our butterflies. The students were sad but understood that to continue the life cycle we had to let them go. I wanted a way to culminate this unit that allowed the students to express what they learned in a creative way. Thus a Dash STEM project was born…

If you are not familiar with Dash it is a robot that can be coded and is VERY kid friendly. More info here. This quarter we also learned about recycling and natural resources. I decided to blend these together and create a STEM project to culminate these standards.

Students had to build the different stages of the butterfly life cycle using recycled materials. These recycled materials included:

    • Toilet paper rolls
    • Cereal boxes
    • Tissue Paper
    • Egg cartons
    • Noodles
    • Yarn
    • Scissors
    • Markers
    • Tape
    • Bottle caps

Parents generously donated all the recycled things we needed :). Students could choose what materials they wanted to use for each stage. The only stipulation was that they needed a blueprint for each stage before they could begin building.

After students built each stage they then had to create a script that Dash would “say” as he traveled to each stage of the life cycle. I reminded students that you can only record for 30 seconds so they should keep their information “short and sweet”. Once the students created their script they could start programming! They had SO much fun with this. Check out some samples below!

Example One

Example Two

You can also find the link to the directions and planning page here.


My First Room Transformation

I have officially jumped on the bandwagon. I am obsessed and have completely engulfed myself in every “Get Your Teach On” Twitter and Instagram account. A while ago I started reading “The Wild Card: 7 Steps to An Educator’s Creative Breakthrough” by Hope and Wade King. A colleague introduced me to the book and all the passionate teachers who make up the “Get Your Teach On” entourage. As I read the book I could feel myself becoming a more reflective teacher. With that being said, I decided to try my very first room transformation like the amazing Hope King. Although my first one was small, I feel like I am tapping into my “teacher creativity” or at least I’d like to think so.

I decided to start off small. I only had about two weeks until track out when I decided to do this and I wanted to “spice” things up a bit in my room. March madness was coming to an end and the final game would be when we returned to school after the weekend. I decided to go “all in”. Friday afternoon I told my students to dress up for the finals game on Monday–wear any kind of sports attire (preferably basketball). I told them that on Monday we would have a “march madness” day and to come with their “game faces on”. As soon as I told them I knew there was no turning back. My teacher wheels started turning and this is what I came up with…

I knew that I could not overwhelm myself and decided to try to make all my lessons centered around basketball. I borrowed a basketball jersey from a friend, created a basketball court in my room out of masking tape, bought a Nerf basketball and hoop, and brought in drinks to keep us “hydrated” throughout the day. Looking back it now, I wish I would have had Gatorade supplied for the students but juice boxes had to suffice. 🙂

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Once I got thinking the planning of activities fell into place.

Math–We were learning about different subtraction strategies. I split the groups into different college basketball teams. I set up the basketball hoop and had three different places they could shoot from. There was a one point line, two point line, and three point line. We rotated through the groups and each student had a chance to shoot the basketball at either the one, two, or three point line. Once the student shot the ball, everyone had to answer the corresponding subtraction problem with their groups. One point meant 3 digit subtracting without regrouping, two points mean 3 digit subtracting with regrouping, and three points meant they would have a 3 digit subtracting problem with zeroes. We had so much fun with this!

Social studies – We were learning about maps and how to read them. I created a google maps scavenger hunt in which they could research one of the colleges in the final game (Villanova or Michigan). They then had to navigate google maps to practice their map skills.

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Reading – We were learning about cause/effect scenarios as well as procedural steps. I had created cause/effect scenarios that students glued to a piece of scrap paper. They then crumpled them up into “basketballs” and threw them across the room. Students then had to pick up one of the “basketballs” and find the matching cause/effect scenario by walking around asking other students.

We also read “Hoop Genius” by John Coy. Students then created procedural steps on how to shoot a basketball. During Daily 5 rotations students read about famous basketball athletes and created a flip book about them. I got these ideas from the fabulous Amy Lemons –

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Writing – We had been learning about opinion writing for a few days. Students created basketballs and wrote different facts/opinions about the sport. We created an anchor chart with these and then students wrote an opinion paragraph using the different facts/opinions.

Overall I think I had a very successful first “room transformation”. I hope to have many more of these throughout the year. My students were engaged and excited. After it was all over I felt exhausted but refreshed.

Poetic Poetry Celebrations

Teaching poetry is one of my absolute favorite things to teach. All unit long my students work so hard learning the different elements of poetry and how to turn those “tricks”of poetry into their own poetry masterpieces. At the end of the poetry unit we have a huge celebration and invite all the parents to our “Open Mic Poetry” event. Last Friday my class hosted this event and every year I am reminded why I love this event so much. The students shine as they get in front of the microphone and read their favorite poem they wrote from the entire unit. They learn how to publish the poem on googledocs, how to share it with me in their googledrive, and most importantly learn how to use their voice to celebrate their hard work. I create a stage at the front of the room complete with a microphone and a mic stand. Together we create a program and compile all our poems into a class anthology. We decorate the room like a cafe and I allow students to sign up in the order they would like to read their poem aloud. I make a big deal of the sign up to get the students excited and ease their nerves. This year I decided to combine the event with our book tasting we complete every quarter.


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Everytime I host the Open Mic event in my classroom I like to reflect on how we got there and all the hard work my students did. Teaching poetry is not easy as we ask students to forget all punctuation rules they have learned throughout the year. I always start the unit with a poetry walk. Before the poetry walk we talk about imagery and how to visualize what we read.

How to successfully implement a poetry walk:

1. The teacher will tell the students that there are poems posted all over the room for the
students to read. The students will be instructed to look for the poems that will be in all
areas of the room, and that not more than one student should read one poem at a time.
The students should not be talking and move quietly and smartly around the room to the
different poems. All they should do in this first round is read. The students will walk around the room and read the poems for about ten to fifteen minutes.

2. The teacher will stop the students and ask them to gather on the carpet to discuss the
experience. The students will then go re-visit their favorite poems they already read with a pencil and circle, underline and write short notes of things they noticed or liked. The students should write their initials on their three favorite poems that they read.

3. The teacher will collect all the poems after the student have written their initials on them, and ask one of the names to read a couple of the most popular poems out loud. The
teacher will also read some of the comments made on the poems and the whole class will
respond to the poems. The teacher will ask the students if they see anything different while they listen to the poems. (Compare difference between hearing the poems out loud).

4. Then, the students will choose their favorite poems and copy the poem into their writer’s notebook. If more that one student picks the same poem, they will all gather around the poem and copy it together. The teacher can also assign poems to the students and give them one of their top three favorites.

5. The teacher will then review the visualizing element of poetry in detail again. The
students will be instructed to draw a picture in their writer’s notebook next to the poem of what they see when they read the poem. For students that finish their drawing, the teacher will write several response questions on the board for the students to answer in response to their favorite poem:

o How does the poem make you feel?
o Why is it your favorite poem?
o How does the poem connect to your own life or experiences?

The poetry walk is a great way to introduce poetry to students and expose them to many different topics that poetry can be written about. Throughout the year I collect different poems that I know I will want to use in the poetry walk. This could also be used as a celebration to culminate a poetry unit. Students could use their own poems and put them on display as a classroom poetry walk.

As always, I am so proud of all the poems my students wrote. I am always grateful for the parent support and feel humbled to know my student’s voices were heard.









Studying Character Changes

As we finished the 3rd quarter my students completed a character study activity to showcase their understanding of Common Core State Standard RL.2.3 (Describe how characters in a story respond to major events and challenges). I used this activity last year but I felt like this year I was able to give my students more voice and choice in this activity. Throughout this unit we read many different stories that showed characters responding to major events. Some of these books included: The Name Jar By: Yangsook Choi, Thank You, Mr. Falker By: Patricia Polacco, Those Darn Squirrels By: Adam Rubin, Those Shoes By: Maribeth Boelts, and A Bike Like Sergio’s By: Maribeth Boelts. All of these stories include strong characters that undergo a moral dilemma (some more serious than others). This year I allowed my students to study all of these characters after we read each book. Students had a characters “feelings” chart to help them describe how these characters were feeling. I wanted my students to use “strong” words to describe these in depth character dilemmas and feelings rather than just “scratch the surface” with them using words such as sad, happy, mean, etc. Having this tool immensely helped my students which elevated our conversations.

After we have read all these books, I wanted my students to be able to study a character more in depth. I decided to create a project in which they would have to: 1. Choose one of the books we read in class. 2. Study the characters in this book by creating a character timeline. 3. Showcase their character study by creating a puppet show. As soon as I introduced the project to students they were so excited.

This project usually takes about a week and I like to group my students into groups of 2-3. Below I have outlined how I implement the project in my classroom. Use this link to grab the resources I talk about below. 

Day One: Introduce the project to students. Explain to students that they will choose a story you have read in class and perform a puppet show explaining how the characters in the story responded to a major event (how the character(s) changed from the beginning of the story to the end). After I explain the project, I read the story Red: A Crayon’s Story By: Michael Hall. We then discuss how Red changed from the beginning of the story to the end of the story. We use our anchor charts to use “feelings” words to describe how Red changed. We then create a character timeline together using these feelings words and evidence from the text (see example on next page). I then put students into groups and let them choose the book they would like to do from the various books we read throughout the unit.

Day Two: Students get into their groups and fill out the “Character Changes Puppet Show Planning Sheet”. I display the timeline we created yesterday to remind students to use “feelings” words and evidence from the text.

Day Three: Students get into their groups and create the setting from their story using a poster board. I encourage students to fill the entire paper as this will be the background for their puppet show.

Day Four: Students get into their groups and create their puppets. Students draw/color their puppets then cut them out and glue them onto popsicle sticks. Students should also practice their puppet show today. Remind students of the criteria they need for the puppet show (on the back of the planning page).

Day Five: Today students perform their puppet shows! I like my students to record their skits on Seesaw (app and website) so it is easy to share once they are completed. If you do not have access to this technology I would have students perform in front of the class or rotate through groups performing their shows.

This activity allows students to collaborate and showcase their understanding of character changes in a creative way. This was my second year completing this activity in my classroom and both times my students had so much fun with it. Next year I would like to give my students even more choice in the character they study. I would like them to choose a book we have not read in class and then implement the same project using that story. I think this would peak student interest even more and allow students to showcase a book they want to share with others.

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New Seesaw Ideas

If you know me then you know that I am a big fan of using technology in the classroom. Last year I started using a program called Seesaw. Many people are familiar with this app now as it has taken over the elementary school scene as the next “big thing”. I fell in love with the possibilities of Seesaw at a conference I attended a few years ago where I was shown the different ways that this app could be used in the elementary school classroom.

If you are new to Seesaw then here is a quick synopsis on why I love it so much and how it brings literacy into the classroom on a daily basis. Literacy is talking, explaining, writing, reading, collaborating, and producing–all things that Seesaw allows students, teachers, and parents to do. Seesaw allows students to share and gives them a genuine audience to share with (classmates, teachers, principal, parents, and even the world). This has grown my learning community and strengthened the way my students are becoming literate. Below are some examples of ways in which I use Seesaw to enhance literacy in all subject areas:

Math– EXPLAINING, JUSTIFYING, CLARIFY– All buzzwords students see when they are asked to explain their thought process through a math problem. I have started using Seesaw as an exit ticket at the end of our math lessons. Students either work alone or with a partner and have to explain what they learned that day using any of the Seesaw tools. Many of my students prefer to take a video using manipulatives and white boards to explain or to take a picture of their problem and “draw” on the picture to explain their thinking with text. I always encourage my students to use our vocabulary words in their descriptions. This has given me a focus for my exit tickets and allowed students to summarize what we have done for the day before moving on. We recently finished a unit on money where students had to post a video on Seesaw showing different ways to show the same amount of money. I like to give students an example by creating a video that they can reference. Sometimes I even give students a “script” to follow to help them focus their video. Here is an example of a video I created that students could reference.

English Language Arts– In English I also like to use Seesaw as a form of assessment. For example, we are finishing up our text features unit and I gave my students a text features scavenger hunt to complete using Seesaw (resource here ). The students were able to work together to complete it and it was great review for explaining and identifying text features. I also like to have students practice their fluency using Seesaw. During reading group I will have students read their book and record it or record themselves reading their fluency passages. Some students have fluency folders in which they practice the same passage all week and then on Friday they get to record themselves reading it on Seesaw! I also like to use it as a place where students can post their work. During writing workshop students post their final copies onto Seesaw and comment on each other’s work. This also gives parents an opportunity to see the final copies of student work.


I am always looking for new ways to use Seesaw in the classroom as my students LOVE to share.