STAR Project, Giveaways, & Blog Award

I finished another semi-crafty project.  I don't get on Pinterest as often as I used to, which might be a good thing.  However, everytime I do someone I know has pinned a set of wooden letters spelling READ that have been covered with paint or decorative paper.  I had to do something like it.  Our class motto is going to be, "Be a Super STAR".  STAR will be an acronym representing our classroom rules. I found the idea for what each letter could stand for over at the Second Grade Teacher's Club.  From there, I added details about what each really means to me:



Here are the letters I made to go on the wall.  They are painted black on the front.  The sides of each letter are painted to match the coordinating star.  Once I get these up on the wall, I will hang smaller posters underneath with the matching descriptions for each letter.





Have you seen this linky & giveaway?  You have until July 11th to link up and be entered to win an Erin Condren gift certificate ($50 value).


This summer giveaway is going on until July 4th!





I have been blogging for just under 2 months now.  I have learned so many fabulous ideas from so many of you.  Today I received this lovely surprise from Julie over at Math is Elementary:

When I visited her site, I also found out there are some "rules" for this award. 


1.  Follow the person who gave you the award.
2.  Link back to the person who gave you the award.
3.  Pass the award on to 15 new bloggers.


So, here's my attempt at 15 blogs, in no particular order.  I apologize if you've already received this award.  I guess it just makes you that much more deserving :)  Oh, and I know some of you are counting to see if I really chose 15.  I confess...I didn't.  If you aren't following one of these sites already, I encourage you to take a peek. 



Sweet Seconds




2nd Grade Pig Pen







Button




Rowdy in Room 300








 Marvelous Multiagers





Blog Button









The Sweet Life of Third Grade




Just Wild About Teaching







Whew!  That was harder than I thought it would be!  Now I just need to go tell each and every one of them the good news :)

Guided Math - Chapter 5

It's that time again :) 

Guided Math
Chapter 5: Using Guided Math with Small Groups



This chapter focuses on the following:
  • Advantages & Disadvantages to Small-Group Instruction
  • Effective Uses of Small-Group Instruction
  • Forming & Organizing Small Groups
  • Teaching a Guided Math Lesson with a Small Group

I have always used small group instruction for reading.  It just never made sense to me to use one book with a second grade classroom whose reading levels vary from Kindergarten to 6th grade.  Even though it might seem easier to plan one lesson for ~25 students, I think it becomes easier in the long run to plan each small group lesson around the needs of the group.  You also have flexibility to move at the pace your students need, not the pace the book tells you to use.  This is one of the reasons I want to move towards guided math.  I get frustrated with myself that I am not doing enough to challenge my top math students and discouraged that I cannot slow the pace for my students who are struggling to grasp the concepts taught each day.



I feel confident about using formative assessments to form groups and being able to keep those groups flexible.  Where I struggle is how/when to use the pieces of Everyday Math lessons with small groups.  For those of you using E.M., are you still teaching part 1 to the whole group and then using some of parts 2 and 3 for small groups or will you sometimes use part 1 for the small group lessons?  The author does get into a sample of a small group lesson, but I wanted to see how the small group lessons were differentiated in comparison to the mini-lesson of the day.  Am I the only one who felt this way?



I have also been working on ideas for math workshop.  You can see my thoughts about that here or by clicking on the picture below.  I think I'm going to have three groups most of the time.  However, this approach allows me the flexibility to break into four groups, if needed.


Classroom Library Labels

I finally finished updating my classroom library labels.  They have been created using blue, green, and purple backgrounds.  Click on the picture to get these labels from my TpT store:



This file contains book tub labels with pictures. You will receive 90+ labels in all three colors. The labels I made are targeted towards the primary grade levels, but I have also included blank labels for you to personalize for your own classroom library. Some of the labels include:

Series books (Magic Tree House, Black Lagoon, etc.)


Popular Characters (Arthur, Amelia Bedelia, etc.)

Authors (Kevin Henkes, Tomie dePaola, etc.)

Genres (fairy tales, poetry, etc.)

Holidays (Christmas, Valentine's Day, etc.)

It's Math T.I.M.E.

I have been playing around with different ideas for math workshop for a few weeks now.  I saw this idea on Pinterest.  It comes from Cassie at Adventures in Teaching.  To read more about how she uses BUILD in her classroom, click here.

Since this will be my first year trying Guided Math & Math Workshop, I wanted to simplify things.  Here is what I have so far.  I would love to hear your thoughts on this one.

(squiggle frame courtesy of From the Pond: http://frompond.blogspot.com)

T - Teacher
(guided math lesson)
I - Independent Practice
(skill review, catch-up work)
M - Math Buddies
(partner games & activities)
E - Extend the Lesson
(journal pages or other differentiated activities related to the lesson)
I envision the rotations moving to the left so that right after I teach a guided math lesson, students immediately begin working on the journal pages or extension activity.  The group starting on extend a lesson will be continuing work from the previous day's lesson.  I would have one of my top groups be in this position.

Group 1 - Teacher - Extend a Lesson - Math Buddies - Independent Work
Group 2 - Independent Work - Teacher - Extend a Lesson - Math Buddies
Group 3 - Math Buddies - Independent Work - Teacher - Extend a Lesson
Group 4 - Extend a Lesson - Math Buddies - Independent Work - Teacher
My district uses Everyday Math. I think the Math Boxes and other Everyday Math Routines would fit well into Independent Practice. Independent Practice would also be a great time to review those basic skills that need continuous practice (time, money, etc.)


I also started brainstorming a list of Must Do/May Do ideas for early finishers. Here are some of ideas I have:
Calendar Pages
Number Scrolls
Versatiles
Think Tank Cards
Graphing Activities
Tangrams
Create a Math Box


Feedback is greatly appreciated.  If you have any other ideas for my Must Do/May Do list, please don't hesitate to let me know.

Guided Math - Chapter 4

Guided Math - Chapter 4
Using Guided Math with the Whole Class
is being hosted by


"Whole-class instruction provides teachers with a quick method of presenting information to all students.  Everyone receives the same information...at the same time." (Laney Sammons)

At the beginning of a unit, I post our learning targets in the classroom.  I open up a discussion with the students about what they already know and what questions/concerns they have about the learning targets (I feel this is kind of like doing a KWL without writing down all of the student responses on the chart).  As we progress through the unit, we revisit the learning targets frequently and students have opportunities to self-assess their progress towards those learning targets.  I feel that this can be taken one step further next year.  I can conference with students who feel they are not making progress towards specific targets (or the opposite - students who aren't making progress, but think they are).

I also feel that there are plenty of opportunities for practice and review already embedded into the way I teach math.  The book offered a new game idea that I haven't tried - Fly Swatter.  The class is divided into teams.  One player from each team comes to the front of the room.  Several answers are written on the board.  The teacher asks a question and the first team to correctly swat the answer wins a point.  One of the reasons I was drawn to this game is I can see the differentiation opportunities. 

This chapter spends time discussing the importance of math literature...again.  I guess it's time to get serious about this one.  Does anyone have a list of math books they recommend?  I teach second grade.  Since school is out for summer it is a bit difficult to talk to the librarian.

Since I already use mini-lessons for reading and writing, I feel comfortable with the format of them.  My biggest weakness is when I get really passionate about a mini-lesson, it becomes a mega-monster lesson and the next thing you know, 20-25 min. has gone by...whoops!!

When I think of a workshop approach, I think of starting whole group with the mini-lesson.  Students break off into different small group or independent activities.  At the end, we come back together as a whole group.  In reading and writing, this last portion of time has been used for students to share their attempts (both successful and unsuccessful) at using the mini-lesson strategy.  I often ask specific students to share things that I noticed that day.  When I read about the author's "Math Huddle", I see this ending time of the math block being a great way to incorporate more math conversations.  It may be short, but by doing so it keeps the students focused on how their peers attempted the mini-lesson strategies. 

I have been (not-so) patiently waiting for the next chapter: Using Guided Math with Small Groups.  I'm hoping some of my questions will be addressed there :)

Number of the Day Worksheets & Writing Mini-Offices

After my last post about Guided Math, I received numerous e-mails and  comments asking about the Number of the Day worksheets.  I have to point out that I did NOT create these sheets and for many of them, I do not have the original source.  Therefore, I feel bad about sending them off as files.  Instead, I went back on Pinterest and did a search.  Here are links to some of the ones I found there:







If you have a Number of the Day worksheet and want me to add you to this list let me know :)  On a semi-related note, is anyone willing to help me figure out how to set-up a linky party? 


I just found a new blog called Krazee 4 Kindergarten.  She has created some amazing mini offices.  I think they look fabulous.  Go check them out!!

Guided Math - Chapter 3

Guided Math - Chapter 3
Using Math Warm-Ups in Guided Math
is being hosted by:



It's not too late to join in on this book study.  Even if you don't have a copy of the book, check out what others are saying, ask questions, and leave a comment if you have an idea or suggestion.

"No matter how [students] feel as they arrive, they are here to learn, and we are here to teach them.  As we plan our lessons, we ask ourselves how we can stimulate their curiosity, motivate them, guide them, and challenge them - all of them, without exception." ~Laney Sammons

I believe that the purpose of morning work is to get students to transition into school mode while providing practice or review of skills taught.  While reading this chapter I began reflecting on my own expectations for arrival and morning work.  I expect students to enter, hang up their backpacks and coats, take out their homework folders, turn in homework and important paperwork to the appropriate basket, put their homework folders in their mailboxes, check in for lunch, and begin morning work.  All of these things are mentioned in the book (phew!). 

The book offers suggestions for "math stretches" for students to complete as morning work.  These include:
  • Data Collection and Analysis - various graphing activities
  • Number of the Day - representations of numbers (Name Collection Boxes in Everyday Math)
  • What's Next - number patterns (What's My Rule/Frames & Arrows in E.M.)
  • How Did My Family Use Math Last Night? - making math connections, seeing math in the "real world"
  • Make's Me Think Of... - activation strategy when introducing a new skill
Other items mentioned:
  • Calendar Board
  • Math Current Events
  • Problem of the Day
I feel like I am strong at including data collection, number of the day, what's next, and problem solving (I do problem solving one day a week).  I am planning more calendar activities for this upcoming year.  It did make me feel good to know that some of these skills are already being taught and practiced regularly in Everyday Math.

I feel weak at incorporating "real world" math talk and current events.  Similar to incorporating math literature in the classroom, I would LOVE to hear how you fit those pieces into your day/week.

Now, the author mentioned tackling one math stretch a day and {possibly} creating a predicable routine for these stretches (ie. Mon - Number of the Day, Tues - What's Next, etc.).  Before I even reached this chart in the book, the wheels in my brain were already spinning this direction except my focus for this was on data collection and analysis. 

Here's what I was thinking:
At the beginning of the year I could post a question every Monday near our calendar board.  As students entered, they would answer the question by moving their name card to the appropriate location.  On Tuesday, I would model making a graph for the class.  On Wednesday, students would make the same graph and glue into their math journals.  On Thursday, we could discuss our findings.  On Friday, I would ask students questions about the graph. 

As the year progressed, I would be modeling different types of graphs, different scales, etc. on Tuesdays.  On Thursdays, students would begin recording their findings into a math journal, sharing during whole group time, and recording new findings they heard from different students.  On Fridays, we could alternate between asking questions orally and answering questions on a worksheet (I think the author might cringe on that one).  What do you think - could this work?

Also, have you seen these types of number of the day worksheets floating around the internet?  I do not know where I found them or I would give credit where credit is due.  I think they are a good way to practice representing numbers in different ways.  I wouldn't use them all the time, but I do think they could be used as on-going assessment for number sense.


Discussion for Guided Math, Chapter 4 - Using Guided Math with the Whole Class will be on June 24th!  Now, back to fixing all of my Book Labels...grrr!!!

Making Progress on Projects

Busy, busy, busy...that doesn't even begin to describe what I have been up to.  I finally decided that I'm going to be using blues, greens, and purples in the classroom this year.  Now that I know that, I have started working on some classroom projects.  I had my classroom library labels created, then I realized that I made a measurement mistake and need to go back and fix every single one.  Whoops!  I guess that's why they say measure twice, cut once :) 



Birthday Balloons

I'm sure you've seen this idea all over Pinterest and other blogs.  I covered a container with Happy Birthday wrapping paper.  Then I started creating the clipart to go on the birthday balloons.  I made them in purple, green, and blue which will go with my classroom color scheme.  I just need to get the crazy straws, make the balloon cutouts with my Cricut, and attach the birthday clipart.  Do you think the pattern on the wrapping paper is too busy or do you think it will be okay?




Clipboard - Attempt # 1
Again, another Pinterest project.  This was my first attempt at using Mod Podge, too.  There are a few spots I goofed on, but it was definitely a learning experience I will try again :)



Clip Chart
I have blogged about this several times now.  Here is my (almost) finished product.  It just needs to be laminated so I can hang it in my classroom.  I changed the language on the chart to match my own teaching style and language I use with students.  I'm happy to share my files for the chart, family letter, and other notes if you are interested.

Pink - Super Citizen
Purple - Role Model
Blue - Making Good Choices
Green - Ready to Learn
Yellow - Think About It
Orange - Make a Change
Red - Teacher's Choice






Guided Math - Chapter 2

Guided Math, Chapter 2 - Using Guided Math to Create a Classroom Environment of Numeracy

In this chapter, Sammons discusses various elements for a successful math classroom.  Here are some of those elements:
- Large Group Area
- Small Group Area
- Workshop Area
- Manipulatives
- Calendars
- Problem of the Day/Week
- Word Wall or Vocabulary Display
- Math Journals
- Class-Made Charts
- Math Literature


Some of these elements I have already had in place with a lot of success.  I already have designated spaces for whole group and small group reading lessons.  They can double up for math lessons.  I think the areas where children are taught to work independently or in partners for Daily 5 choices could also double up as workshop spaces. 

My manipulatives have been stored in tubs on shelves for years.  The only modifications needed would be to add labels to the tubs.  The books touches upon the fact that some teachers shy away from manipulatives because the kids play with them, they take too much time to distribute/clean-up, etc.  I have a plan in place that has worked for years with my students to avoid these types of problems.  I won't get into details about it here, but leave me a comment with a way to contact you if you want more info.

I have done problem solving journals one day a week for several years now.  I teach the problem solving steps and we focus on different strategies for several weeks before moving on to another.  I think I could modify this, too.  I'm thinking I could post the problem around the room.  During workshop, students could make their own attempts to solve the problem.  Students could share their approaches to solving the problem to allow for mathematical conversations.  Then, I could model a way to solve the problem to really drive home the pieces I expect students to include (labeling work, using words to explain thinking, etc.).



Now, the pieces I still have questions about:

Calendar - I have used this as a time during the day to orally review various skills.  We d on't always do the same skills day to day.  With second grade students, do any of you have them fill out calendars or do calendar related worksheets?

Word Wall/Vocabulary Wall - I agree that these words need to be on display.  However, I do not feel strongly that I have enough games/activities to engage the students in using the word wall regularly.  I saw one example in the chapter, but would love to hear more ideas from you.

Class-Made Charts - I have always posted learning targets for each unit of Everyday Math.  We review the learning targets daily and I make sure the students know which target is our focus of the lesson.  I do most of my math instruction on paper under the document camera.  I'm trying to imagine how I could transfer this into an interactive chart during workshop.  Any ideas?

Math Literature - I'm going to be honest and tell you that this is a very weak portion of my math instruction.  I feel like there has to be an easier way to incorporate this.  For those of you that use Everyday Math, when and how often are you reading math literature to your students?


Guided Math - Chapter 1

Are you involved in the Guided Math Book Study?  If not, head on over to Primary Inspired to get more info.  I just got my hands on a copy of Guided Math yesterday so I'm a few days behind the book study group and trying to catch up.  I finished Chapter 1 and have some lingering thoughts and questions.  At the end of Chapter 1 there is a Review and Reflect section.  I'll start there:
Think of the way you currently teach mathematics.
1.  What aspects of it are successful?
2. What aspects of it trouble you?

My district uses Everyday Math.  I think this curriculum is successful in exposing students to math skills from an early age and building upon them through a spiraling curriculum as the years progress.  While that is great, I have some concerns.  First, when new students move in from outside our area and have not had Everyday Mathematics, you have to stop and re-teach all of the routines that are unique to Everyday Math.  Next, the curriculum spirals.  We are supposed to trust the spiral and that if students don't get some of the concepts now, they will pick them up later.  That's great for most kids, but as we know, some kids just need more time to practice and stick with a skill until they have gained confidence.  Finally, the program needs supplementing with computation and problem solving. 

I have been wanting to approach small group instruction in order to meet the needs of my students and close some of the gaps I see.  I have not found the resources I need to implement it while meeting the requirements for Everyday Math instruction.  I am hopeful that Guided Math will help me put those pieces together.  I also hope that by sharing these questions, concerns, and ideas with those of you participating in the book study will help me prepare to embark on this next fall.  Now, on to Chapter 2 :)

Two New Freebies & Project Updates

Today I began putting my clip chart together.  I have each of the sections mounted on black paper, but I still need to measure out the colored papers so they overlap correctly.  I began working on my weekly behavior recording sheets and family letter about the new system, too. 

My classroom library is still a work in progress.  I have finished my book inventory and have started working on my basket/tub labels.  That should take awhile...

In the meantime, I have two more freebies I wanted to share with all of you.  First up is a set of graphic organizers to use when comparing/contrasting.  I have included the Box and T-Chart as well as the Venn Diagram for comparing/contrasting two or three items.  Below that you will find a plural word sort.  It is similar to the -ing sort I shared earlier.  Both files are available for FREE at my TpT store.  Just click on the pictures to go straight there.  Since they are freebies, all I ask is that you leave me a little feedback. 


Teacher Binder & Clip Chart

When I'm not working on my classroom library and scrapbooking projects, I have been organizing.  I find that the same system doesn't always work from year to year.  I'm always making changes to meet my organizational needs.  This year, I think I'm going to re-visit the teacher binder.  I had an earlier post on my desktop filing system (click here to see that).  As I was thinking about it more, I wanted to have some of those pieces in a binder so that I could easily grab it to take home, if needed.  So I began compiling ideas and a new teacher binder was created.

The binder has dividers with the following tabs:
  • calendars
  • schedules
  • lesson plans
  • grade book
  • staff meeting notes
  • grade level meeting notes
  • power standards
  • other information

When I move to this system, I will also be changing my desktop file organizer:
The top 6 sections will hold:
  • clipboard (used to take anecdotal notes & to-do list items throughout the day)
  • papers to be graded, copied, filed, taken to office, etc.
  • book orders, permission forms, etc.
  • grade level standards books
  • extras (worksheets/activities to be used as back-up)
  • ??? - possibly a section for volunteers
The bottom 2 sections will hold:
  • communication log
  • sub folder

I have also been trying to work on my clip chart.  I have already decided that I want to change the language up a bit.  I have played around with a few different designs.  Right now, I'm leaning towards this:




The Winners Are...

Yes, you read that correctly - winners.  I decided to give away my math games to TWO of you.  Thank you for everyone who entered my 50 followers giveaway.  I appreciate everyone who took the time to comment on their listening centers, too.  

Drumroll, please....



I will be e-mailing you soon with both math games.  If you weren't one of the winners, you can still grab the math games over at my TpT store for $1 each.

Math Workshop & Guided Math

I recently spoke with a friend about the possibilities of trying a math workshop approach in the classroom.  My district uses Everyday Math.  While I love the idea of really reaching my math students at their instructional levels, I can't wrap my brain around exactly how this would all tie together with Everyday Math.

Tonight I was looking around at other blogs and I stopped over at Primary Inspired.  She mentioned that several bloggers were getting together to do a book study on Guided Math.  This seems like a great (and safe) place to dive in, gather more information, ask questions, and try to put all the pieces together.  They are starting chapter one on June 11th.  Hmm....do I have time to get my hands on a copy of the book (and read a chapter) before June 11th?

Are you using a Math Workshop or Guided Math approach?  If you are using Everyday Math with a Math Workshop/Guided Math approach, I am most curious to know how/when you have your students completing math boxes. 

If you do not use Everyday Math, I would still love to hear your thoughts and ideas for making this run smoothly and effectively.

Don't forget that you have just a few more days to enter my giveaway to celebrate 50+ followers.



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