Thursday, June 30, 2011

Place Value Activities / Stations

YAY!  I can't believe I managed to get this done today!  I'm so proud of myself :)  Here's the finished preview.  This packet includes 10 awesome activities / stations to teach place value {it even includes money and base ten blocks}.  If you're like me, you can use any help you can get with PV!!  Go check it out at my TpT store.  Click on the link below to be directly connected!

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Hello Long Lost Friends!

Hello There!
While I'm ahead on my homework-- this doesn't happen often...ha!  I wanted to share with you some things I am working on.  For the past MONTH I have been trying to put together an activity {games, stations, whatever you want to call them} packet for place value.  This is the first unit I cover in the school year.  It will be listing this in my TpT store.  It contains 10 fun and exciting activities to help your students learn place value.  YES!!  Fourth graders still struggle with place value!  The packet includes identifying place value, word, standard, & expanded notations, rounding, values of digits, and a lot more.  Here's a sneak peek!

Hopefully I will have this completed by the end of this week!

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Thursday, June 23, 2011

It's Me :)

Has it really been two weeks since my last post?  I have been busy, busy, busy.  No, not with things I want to be busy with like finishing my place value activities or getting together my next post for guided math.  I have been going to the University of Georgia since Fall 2010.  I am working on my Ed.S. in ECE.  I will finish Spring 2012.  While I am there, I thought it would be a GRAND idea to go ahead and get my gifted endorsement.  What was I thinking?  I have been so consumed with assigned readings and coursework that I have had no time to enjoy my summer.  It's only the beginning.  I will not finish these two courses until the first of August.  I need much prayer as I continue my journey!  I am hoping {once I get on top of things} to start back with posting.  Oh yeah... on top of my coursework, I have been attending a Marilyn Burns Institute all week from 8-3.  Tomorrow is my last day of that so I will finally get my days back!  Wish me luck ;)

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Friday, June 10, 2011

Drum Roll Please....

And the winner is....

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Thursday, June 9, 2011

Fifty Followers Freebie!

The contest is now over!  Thanks to all who played.  I've been wanting to reply to all your wonderful messages, but I didn't want to mess up the count :)

<3 you all!

Here are the ways you can get an entry:

1. Follow my blog and leave me a comment on this post stating so.
2. Mention my giveaway on your blog and leave me a comment with the link.
3. Follow my TpT store and leave me a comment stating you do.

The drawing will be next Friday evening, June 10th.

Good Luck!

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Guided Math: Part 2

How do I Group & What's My Schedule?

How do I Group?
Figuring out how to group your students is one of the more difficult tasks of guided math.  It took me a long time {practically all year} to find what worked for me.  What works for me may not work for you.  We are all different, our teaching styles are different, and our students are different.  I wanted a way to group my students so they could change groups.  I wanted them to be able to 'move up' once they mastered a particular skill, and I didn't want them with the same kiddos every time.  How could I do this and how will it work?

Every Friday I give a short {no more than 10 questions} weekly assessment.  This assessment has some things we have already introduced in class and some things we will introduce the following week.    

What it is:
o different every week
o quick
o used for the following week's instruction
o standards-based questions
o easy to grade
o used to drive instruction

What it isn't:
o an assessment that should take longer than 10 minutes
o the same standard asked 10 different ways
o end of the unit test/quiz
o something that will never be looked at
o summative

So every Friday my students complete this assessment.  I then {quickly} highlight the questions the students got incorrect.  I then take that information to help me form my groups for the following week.  The great thing about my schedule {which we'll talk about later in this post} is that I have Friday & Monday to grade these assessments and put the kiddos in groups.  Depending on how a students does depends on the group he/she will be in the following week.  My groups do not stay the same every week.  I try to already have the groups posted on Monday so the kiddos will know what group they will be in for Tuesday {our 1st day of guided math}.  Again, I will post pictures when I get back in my classroom.  The picture below is a photo {and link for printing} of my groups poster.  This is where I write the students' names for which group they will be in.  Since I have two math classes I have two of these posters {one for each class} posted in my room.  *Please note that sometimes I have 3 groups and sometimes I have 4 groups.  Last year I had 3 groups in one math class and 4 in my other math class.  I'm not sure what my classes will be like this upcoming school year.  If you would like me to make a poster for a different number of groups let me know :)
During our guided math, we review some problems from the assessment {the ones they missed} and do more examples.  Also, I do not do a lot of talking during this time.  I let students lead discussion and guided the group.  It's amazing what these kiddos can do with just a little guidance.  When school starts back, I'm so looking forward to actually recording one of these sessions for you to watch.

What's My Schedule?
Okay, so guided math will definitely put you on a tight schedule!  I'm constantly looking at my watch to make sure I get started on time.  If you don't have a timer... get one!  There's a timer on the SMARTboard that the kiddos love because it plays different tones.  However, I have yet to learn how to make it start over automatically after each rotation.  If someone knows how to do this I would LOVE to know.  Usually, I just use a hand timer that counts down and beeps.  The kiddos are pretty good at hearing the beep and automatically doing what needs to be done!

FYI- I have 100 minutes of math time {per class} each day.  We have a core & more.  I teach my curriculum and guided math during our core time.  During more time is when we complete enrichment activities.  So, here's the schedule I follow every week for my core time.  I am going to explain each day for you :)

o Monday- we do not conduct guided math on Mondays.  We always complete or grade an Exemplar, have a whole group lesson, and review the previous week's Math Calendar.

Tuesday - Thursday: {we follow the same schedule each day}

First 5 minutes of class: review homework from previous night.  On Mondays, when we have no homework to review, I have students spend this time writing their HW in their agenda for the week.
15 Minutes: mini-lesson {which is determined by pacing guided}
15 Minutes: rotation 1
15 Minutes: rotation 2
15 Minutes: rotation 3
10 Minutes: seat reflection in journal

Friday- this is the day I have my students complete the weekly assessment to drive instruction for the following week and we have a unit assessment OR whole group lesson.  YES- some Fridays we have two assessments.  But, please remember that the guided math assessment is only 10 questions!

Don't Miss Guided Math: Part 3

What I Use As My Stations

*Questions? Comments?  Something you want me talk more about?  Leave them below :)

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Friday, June 3, 2011


Well, I never got around to posting Part 2 of my Guided Math.  Okay, I have a good excuse... I guess :)  Today I went and bought a MacBook Pro.  I love it :)  I've spent most of the day playing around on it!  The thing that really stinks {sort of} is that we are leaving for vacation in the morning.  I haven't decided if I'm going to take it or not.  I'm not sure what to do...  Anyways- I haven't forgotten about my post... I've just been pre-occupied:).  Anyone else just L-O-V-E their MacBook??  I have an iPod touch that I also love.  I think I just love anything that Apple makes.

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Thursday, June 2, 2011

Guided Math, Part 1

So... I've had A LOT of people ask me about my guided math model I use in my classroom along with the components of it {i.e. stations, calendar, etc.}.  There's SO MUCH for me to share that for the sake of time and my sanity, I'm going to have to present it to you in parts.  So, here's Part 1.  We'll call this 'The Setup' of my classroom.  I really wish it wasn't summer vacation so I could take you on a video tour of my classroom.  Maybe I'll edit this post once I get back in my room with a video component.  Until then.... I'll just have to give details and a few pictures.

Please Note: just because I teach 4th grade doesn't mean a 1st or 2nd grade teacher can't use these ideas.  I think it will work great with any grade.  I have been in a first grade classroom where the students were amazing and very independent during reading centers while the teacher was conducting guided reading.... IT CAN BE DONE! :)

The Setup
Before I begin, please know that my room is very large.  I have one of the largest rooms in the school {Lucky Me!}.  However, this model can be done in a small classroom, but you have to be SUPER careful where you set things up.  Even though my room is large, I make sure to have the least disruptive environment WHILE giving the students a chance to talk and share.

For Guided Math, I have four areas of my classroom I use on a daily basis.

o Whole Group Area- this is where my mini-lessons take place.  In this area I have a whiteboard on the wall, a SMARTboard, a small carpet area, and a wheasel {I love my wheasel}!  During Mini-lessons, we only spend about 15 minutes here everyday.  This area is located at the font of my classroom.  Also, I want to add that I do not have student desks.  I have two trapezoid tables put together to form a hexagon.  I have five of these.  At first, I was reluctant to have tables, but I love the way it encourages collaboration with my students.

oSmall Group Area- this is where I conduct my guided math to my students.  In this area I have a kidney-shaped table, whiteboards, dry-erase markers, paper, pencils, and a shelf that stores any extra materials I will need for the day like manipulatives.  I had an issue with having enough space to put as many chairs as I needed.  I have big kids so the chairs are adult size.  To solve this problem, I added a few stools to fit where chairs would not.

oCalendar Area- I use my math calendar that I created as one of my rotations during guided math.  I like to use it because it is a spiral review of concepts taught all year long.  Students complete one calendar per week.  I made an area on my whiteboard for each section of my math calendar {I have two whiteboards in my room.  This whiteboard is different from the one I use for mini-lessons}.  I used blue painters tape to separate the sections.  However, this year I'm going to use the cute zebra print duct tape :)  Here's a picture of the board the students work from.

oStation Area- This area is probably the kids' favorite place to go.  They love stations!  Although I have all my stations located in one place, it's really not that bad considering only 6-7 students are there at a time {more on that later}.  If you have a lot of kids going to stations at the same time, I would recommend having two or three different areas around the room to house the stations.  This way, one area of the classroom will not always be congested.  I've posted this picture before, but this is what my station area looks like.  Nothing fancy.

My stations are on the bookcase in the tubs.  The baskets on top of the bookcase are where my students turn in their work.  The magazine holders above the bookcase is where I store all stations not being used at the time.

Here's a rough draft of my room layout.  I'm really looking forward to using my new Flip camera once I get back to school and get everything put back together.  I just made this real quick in Word to give you an idea of how my room is setup.  

It's important to know that...
oCalendar work is independent.  There is no talking.
oSmall Group is student-led with little teacher direction.
oStations are usually completed at the front of the room on the floor or at collaborative groups with a partner.  Students are allowed to whisper.  
oStudents know that stations are NOT to be completed near the small group table. 
oWhole group instruction is led by the teacher AND guided by the students.

Okay, so this is my... 
Guided Math Part 1

I hope it wasn't too much information.  Here's what's coming up for part 2:

How Do I Group & What's My Schedule?

I'm leaving for vacation Saturday morning.  I MAY BE {this is a BIG may be} able to post it tomorrow.  We'll see!

Please leave me feedback {as comments} on whether or not this was useful.  I hope this has answered some questions that some of you were asking.  I know there are many other questions.  I'll get to those, I promise :)

Have a fantastic evening!

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Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Math Work Stations Linky Party

Mrs. Wills Kindergarten is hosting a linky party of the first two chapters of Debbie Diller's Math Work Stations book. I do have to admit that I do not differentiate my math work stations.  But, I can answer most of these questions....

  1. Materials used by the teacher first, then placed in the station: NO
  2. Materials do not change weekly, but rather changed to reflect the students learning objectives:  YES
  3. All students go to stations daily:  TUESDAY-THURSDAY
  4. Materials are differentiated: NO
  5. The teacher observes work or meets with differentiated math groups: YES

    These are my math stations.  As you can see, my tubs are labeled with station 1, 2, etc.  I've changed this.  I now have labels like fluency, vocabulary, geometry, etc.  It's more around the concepts we learn.  I keep my directions in a two-pocket folder with the name of the station on front.  I want to laminate these this year because the kiddos keep messing them up!  Above the stations, I have shelves with magazine holders.  These magazine holders are also labeled with fluency, vocabulary, geometry, etc.  When a station is not in use, the folder goes there and the materials get put away.  Opposite of my stations I have a bookshelf with baskets.  These baskets contain our math manipulatives.  It's nice to have everything in one place!

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