First Graders learn about Measurement using non-standard units. This is a fun time for students as they use many different items to measure various objects with! To begin our unit, we spent some time brainstorming about measurement. What kinds of things do you measure? What tools can you use for measurement? At first, most of my students only said “a ruler”. In Texas, students do not use rulers in the first grade, so I explained that they can actually use a lot of different things to measure with. We have used cubes in the past for different things, so I pulled those out for this lesson.


ORIGO Stepping Stones First Grade Lesson 2.10

I used cubes to show how to properly measure items, and we discussed estimating how many cubes it would take to measure a pen. Then we put the cubes together to really measure it!

For a hands-on experience, I set up a measurement center rotation. The students chose a partner and had to work together to measure certain items around the room. They had a recording sheet and a specific manipulative to use.   I gave out cubes, tiles, popsicle sticks, links, and even spoons! The students measured the same items using different manipulatives and compared how many of each item it took to measure the same thing.


This window measured three links across.


The same window measured five cubes across.

My students really enjoyed going around the room measuring the items on their list. They measured the classroom rug, a bookcase, a chair, a book, and so on. Their favorite “thing” to measure in the classroom was themselves! They really enjoyed this partner activity, and it was interesting to hear the conversations from those using different tools to measure with!


Measurement sure is fun in the First Grade!



Rhonda Cravins
Just a Second, It’s Time For First!

Planning for the Summer

It feels like so much has happened since the last time I blogged. In March, our students completed the state proficiency assessment. Our PTO met to elect or re-elect officers and amend bylaws, and our 4th grade students will be departing for their trip to the Grand Tetons at Teton Science School next week. With that said, I am sure most teachers can relate that the end of year can be challenging because enrichment activities increase and it can be difficult to maintain or increase the instructional rigor within and beyond the classroom.

After a thorough reflection of student data from several formative and summative assessments, my teaching partner and I met to develop a summer homework program to maintain student achievement through the end the year and over the summer. This year with ORIGO Stepping Stones, our students exceeded their math achievement goals, achieving 215% of their expected yearly growth. However, that growth is measured from fall to spring (during the year), and historically we noticed a significant drop in student scores from spring to fall (over summer break).

Our challenge was to present a summer homework program to our families that would be practical yet effective enough to maintain the progress students made during the school year. Keep in mind, our school is part of a ranching community, so spring and summer is an extremely busy time of year. As the math teacher, it was most important to me that the summer homework program would be mostly independent work that students could complete with little instructional support.

After much consideration, the summer homework program I presented to our families at our monthly PTO meeting was to send all of our students with a new Stepping Stones student journal, at their current grade level, to complete over the summer. The reason I felt this would be the most effective is because we have completed modules 1-12 in the classroom and have begun to review it for a second time. This summer, when the students complete their student journals, it will be review for them in order to maintain the skills and strategies taught over the school year. The homework program was warmly received by the PTO, and we have decided to move forward with the Stepping Stones student journal as our homework program for the summer.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog and learn about how I integrate ORIGO Stepping Stones at Valley View Elementary. As you can see, the Stepping Stones program has increased the Valley View Elementary math scores to 215% of expected yearly growth and will now serve as summer homework program to maintain student achievement over the summer. I look forward to progressing in my understanding and implementation of the various resources of the Stepping Stones program.


Sarah Skinner
Classroom Teacher
Valley View Elementary
Albany County School District One

Planning for the Summer

Num Fu

As a First Grade Teacher, I am always on the lookout for ways to make addition fact mastery more fun. We use a variety of strategies to understand and memorize the necessary facts. My favorite way for students to practice their addition facts is by using iPads! My school has an iPad cart that we can check out for classroom use. I bring my personal iPad to school sometimes as well. I often look for new Math apps for my students. I have recently discovered ORIGO’s “Num Fu” addition app and I just love it!


“Practice the art of Num Fu while mastering basic addition facts.  Num Fu allows students to master important number facts while playing fun educational games.”

Available on iTunes and Google Play


The cute frog and lively music get the game going on a fun note! Players start on Level One: Orange Belt, and work their way up to different colored belts.



On Orange Belt Level 1, players choose the correct answer for the addition problem on the lily pad.


Then students work their way up to harder questions while increasing their accuracy and speed.


My students really enjoyed playing this game! My personal iPad just isn’t enough for all of them to use, so I plan to download this app on every school iPad we can use! What a fun way to master addition facts!


Rhonda Cravins
Just a Second, It’s Time For First!

Num Fu

Learning Area with Index Cards

The third graders and I just had a phenomenal lesson on area.  I followed the ORIGO lesson plans (even though it originally seemed like a pain) and had my 5th graders use masking tape on the floor to mark rectangles.

The third graders then had to use a few pattern blocks and 3X5 index cards to figure out the area using each.  I was worried because I knew the 3X5 cards wouldn’t be a natural fit, but the book recommended to use them exactly because they wouldn’t fit.  I couldn’t believe the conversations I overheard and the problem solving as well.  Check out the picture below:


One group figured out that an index card is made up of five rows of three pattern blocks.  The extra space is 2 rows of 3.  I jumped in at this point and helped them find the total area of that space (8 rows of 3), and we talked about the fact that the area would be equal to one whole index card with 3 rows left over.  Then we discussed that 3 rows out of 5 needed would be 3/5.  So one tile has the same area as 9 3/5 index cards.

These conversations don’t happen if we don’t take the time to do the activities and build the conceptual understanding.  When we piloted ORIGO, we were given the manipulatives we needed.  I have 4 sets of pattern blocks.  Did any of the other 3rd grade teachers in either building ask for pattern blocks?  Did everyone skip or have to modify this amazing lesson?

This is also why we need to be looking ahead in ORIGO lessons during PLC’s for the materials we need.  We should be looking at  least a module ahead.  I have 4 sets of pattern blocks that I would’ve gladly shared.  I think the Fast Track teachers have always done these kinds of activities which may be why those students grow with ORIGO.  Gen ed teachers might shy away from this kind of thing because it is not in their comfort zone or they believe their students cannot learn like this, but it is exactly what we need to be doing.

I have no doubt these kids will never mix up area and perimeter after spending 45 minutes with me on the floor!

Glen Oaks Elementary School

Learning Area with Index Cards

Learning Money in First Grade

Money is a fun and exciting concept to learn in First Grade! Students love to work with money! First, I introduced the coins. We concentrated on the penny, nickel, dime, and quarter. After discussing the characteristics of the coins, we move right into counting them!

We use many different ways to practice coins. One day we grabbed a handful of pennies, nickels and dimes, sorted them, and then counted them. Another day I used signs. The students stood up at the front of the room, put themselves in order by greatest to least value, and then the rest of the class counted the coins they stood for.

money 1

While we continued to practice counting coins, we also learned about Financial Literacy. ORIGO Stepping Stones has added a special section on Financial Literacy. We had a great time learning about jobs, income, spending, saving, and giving. Giving to charity is something we do as a school when we collect money for United Way or Red Cross, but we had never really explained in detail about charitable giving before. The Financial Literacy section had a lesson on it, which opened up a great deal of discussion!

Money 2

We talked about how income is divided into spending, saving, and giving using this graphic. We had some very interesting discussions during this lesson!

money 3

My students still need more practice counting coins, especially when you add the quarter into the mix! We will continue practicing money in our center time. I set up a grocery store for the students to practice with. One student picks out an item and pays their partner with exact change. This has been a big hit! It is definitely a fun way for students to practice counting coins!

money 4

Rhonda Cravins
Just a Second, It’s Time For First!

Learning Money in First Grade

Students Excelling with Stepping Stones

Happy Leap Year! My name is Sarah Skinner, and I am a teacher for the Albany County School District One (ACSD1) in Wyoming. I teach at Valley View Elementary, a rural school, in Laramie. Our school has 9 students, in grades K- 4th, and two teachers. My teaching partner, Mrs. Leathers, and I divide all of the instruction. I am the classroom teacher for all students and provide the math instruction for grades K-4. This year is my 3rd year teaching with ORIGO Stepping Stones.

As we begin the month of March, each continuing contract teacher (tenured) receives their summative evaluation. ACSD1 evaluates classroom teachers in five areas; teaching and learning, engagement, classroom management, curriculum, and professionalism. My teaching partner and I opened Valley View Elementary last year with six students, K-3. In our second year, we now have 9 students and teach grades K-4. Next year, we will increase our enrollment to 11 students, and will teach grades K-5. This data along with student performance is considered in our summative evaluations.

Each year, our principal includes student performance data as part of our evaluation. As the math teacher for our school, I am responsible for our students’ performance in math. Last year, during the 2014-2015 school year, our students exceeded the growth target, achieving 198% of the expected growth, as measured by the national, state, and district MAP assessment. This year, in the 2015-2016 school year, our students increased their math achievement by achieving 215% of their expected growth.

To me, this data indicates that I have become more proficient in implementing the Stepping Stones program. As stated, this is my third year teaching the program, and my 2nd year teaching at Valley View Elementary in varied grade levels. Each year, my Stepping Stones instruction integrates more resources and teaching tools, including assessments and manipulatives. I utilize more components of the Number Cases, Big Books, Flare Tools, and activities. Even being in my third year teaching with Stepping Stones there are still so many resources and components of the program that I look forward to learning about and implementing. All of the these components allow me to continue to improve my instruction and the achievement of our students in math.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog and learn about how I integrate ORIGO Stepping Stones at Valley View Elementary. As you can see, the Stepping Stones program has increased the Valley View Elementary math scores from 198% to 215% in one year. I look forward to continuing to progress in my instruction by continuing to learn, comprehend and integrate the various resources of the Stepping Stones program.

Sarah Skinner
Classroom Teacher
Valley View Elementary
Albany County School District One​

Students Excelling with Stepping Stones

100th Day of School

The 100th Day of School is a BIG deal in primary grades! We count down all year until this special day. We fill the day with fun activities, especially MATH activities! We count by ones, fives, and tens to get to 100. We fill out Number Charts and read special 100th Day books. But my favorite 100th Day activity involves Number Charts and cereal!


First, I printed the Number Chart 1-100 from ORIGO’s Honey Pot. Some years I will use the blank chart for the students to fill out first, other years I will use the one already completed. It just depends on how much time I have for this activity.


I gave each student a Number Chart 1-100 and put paper plates filled with ring-shaped cereal on the desks for students to use.

cereal and number charts

Each student filled up their Number Chart with full pieces of ring-shaped cereal.

ceral necklace

Once they had 100 pieces of cereal counted out, we checked it, and then they put all 100 pieces onto a long string of yarn to create an edible 100th Day Necklace! This was a very fun day for Math!

Rhonda Cravins

Just a Second, It’s Time For First!

100th Day of School

Word Problems Made Easy


Fourth graders learn to represent the quotient of a whole number divided by another whole number using arrays, area models, and equations.

Shannon 1

ORIGO Education’s Student Journal offers realistic word problems for students to practice these long division skills.

Shannon 2

In the problem I’m using as the example from the page shown, students are asked to calculate the monthly payment for a cellphone. The price of the phone is $486 and is to be paid for in 6 equal payments. These kinds of problems from ORIGO lend themselves to rich classroom discourse involving vocabulary words like dividend, divisor, and quotient.

Shannon 3

Shannon 4

In order to achieve the goal of every student mastering the required division concepts, I begin teaching with hands on, conceptual activities. My objective is for the kids to ultimately learn the algorithm to perform long division, but it’s best to go back to the basics and understand how place value relates to the entire problem.

Shannon 5

Once we’ve physically divided out the place value blocks into six equal groups of 81, we’re ready for the next step: introducing the ORIGO Number Expanders.


Shannon 7

The place value expanders help bridge the conceptual process of actually splitting the blocks into groups and moving the students toward using the standard algorithm for long division. Eventually, students recognize the importance of place value when dividing and they no longer need or use the expander.


shannon 6The students then create Division Guy or Division Girl as a visual reminder to aid them in remembering the steps for solving long division questions in the correct order: Divide, Multiply, Subtract, Bring Down, Repeat/Remainder

Shannon Kaiser

Word Problems Made Easy

Math Skills and Concepts

Happy New Year! My name is Sarah Skinner, and I am a teacher for the Albany County School District One (ACSD1) in Wyoming. I teach at Valley View Elementary, a rural school, in the city of Laramie. Our school has 9 students (we have a new kindergartener), in grades K- 4th, and two teachers. My teaching partner, Mrs. Leathers, and I divide all of the instruction, and I am fortunate to be the math teacher for all the grade levels. This year is my 3rd year teaching with Stepping Stones by ORIGO.

As we begin the month of February, we direct our attention to the math skills and concepts frequently assessed by the Proficiency Assessment for Wyoming Students (PAWS). As a teacher, one strategy that I use to identify frequently tested skills is to review the released items from the Wyoming Department of Education. These released items provide insight into the type of questions that students are assessed by every year. The released items also include the percentage of students that selected each of the choices on multiple choice questions, and rubrics or exemplars for constructed responses.

With this information, I am able to determine the essential skills and concepts to teach or review before the 3rd and 4th graders take PAWS, in March. To further prepare students for the PAWS assessment, we provide an additional 60 minutes of direct instruction (DI) per week, to students that did not score at benchmark on their winter MAP assessment. For this quarter, the DI group is focused on 3rd grade math instruction. I have made the instructional decision to begin with module 1 of the 3rd grade program for DI time. In this DI group, students are provided the opportunity to review skills and strategies from previous modules while still progressing through the program during their normal math time.

Thank you for taking the time to read my blog and learn about how I integrate Stepping Stones by ORIGO at Valley View Elementary. As you can see, I utilize the Stepping Stones program in conjunction with resources from the Wyoming Department of Education, to provide classroom instruction and interventions in order to meet performance standards at the student, school, district, and state levels.

Sarah Skinner


Math Skills and Concepts

Fact Families

In First Grade we have learned related facts in addition and subtraction. Finally we are ready to put it all together in Fact Families!

photo 1


We spent some time reviewing addition and subtraction after Winter Break. The students enjoyed using cubes and dice to create problems to solve. They recorded their problems with answers in their Math Journals, while working with a partner.

photo 2

For this First Grade lesson on Writing Fact Families, we used ORIGO Stepping Stones Texas Module 8, Lesson 3.

photo 3

After the lesson, the students made their own Fact Family houses.

photo 4

We do not often have class time to cut and color in Math, so the students really enjoyed decorating their Fact Family Houses! We have proudly displayed these cute houses in our hallway!



Rhonda Cravins, Just a Second, It’s time for First!


Fact Families