Sunday, July 22, 2012

Math Workshop Presentation

Hey ya'll!  I am steadily working on my presentation for my upcoming math workshop that will take place this Tuesday and Wednesday.  I'm going to be honest.... I am SO nervous!  I have never presented in front of fellow teachers before, and I am so afraid I'm going to stand up there and sound like I have no idea what I'm talking about.  The Good think is that I am going to share my presentation once I have finished presenting.  I have even thought about adding audio to it.  I'm not sure yet.  After my stressful two days of presenting, I will be leaving Saturday to FINALLY go on vacation!  I can't wait to put my toes in the beautiful sand in Destin, FL.  I love that place.  What I love even more is bringing my new class salt water taffy.  I do this every year when I am talking about what I did this summer.  Some LOVE it and others do not.  To be honest, I am not a huge fan.

If you email or comment this week, I more than likely will not be able to respond.... sorry :(.  I will be trying to get some things done before I go and working at my workshop.  Have a great week!

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Friday, July 20, 2012

Guided Math: Chapter 9

Adding rigor to any classroom can be challenging for students.  But adding rigor to a mathematics classroom where students already struggle can be frustrating.  Many students come into a math classroom with previous experiences {a lot of them bad} and attitudes and feelings of defeat.  Other than learning to read, mathematics is a subject area that most students are not comfortable with.  Many have learned their frustrations from elders in their home, while others just struggle.  Implementing math workshop in a classroom can help eliminate harsh feelings students may have towards math.  I've had SEVERAL students tell me that they hated math... until they had my math class.  This makes me feel accomplished as a teacher.  I have learned a method that works for helping my students develop a love for math like I have.  I've always been a math geek, and I guess that's why I love it so much....  I always have :)

Many may be skeptical by this method, and I've even heard some say that it seems like a lot of wasting of time.  Students are playing games, talking, and moving about.  What can you possible get accomplished?  Well, All I have to say to that is A LOT!!  Here are my state assessment results for this past year (this is math only).  I taught my students using the math workshop model for the entire school year (except for the amount of time I was on maternity leave).

Last year, I taught 39 students total (3 were special education students).  Here were my results.
Level 1 (Does Not Meet): 2% (one student)
Level 2 (Meets): 30%
Level 3 (Exceeds): 68%

98% of my students passed (with most of those exceeding) the state assessment.  This is PROOF that this model works indeed.  I'm not here to brag, but when these results came back, I felt like a proud Mama.  We all worked hard, and I was so pleased to announce our scores to my students.  The other 4th grade math teacher had similar results.  She also had several students who failed the previous year and several special education students.

As a current math workshopER {I guess this can be my new word.. lol}, the most difficult thing about math workshop is sticking with it.  It is SOOOO easy to give up and quit.  Honestly, it is not easy.  Especially in the beginning.  You will want to quit because the students have NO.IDEA.WHAT.TO.DO!  It's okay... take a deep breath and stick with it.  You will be so glad you did!

Perhaps the most meaningful concept from this chapter is to take the time to slow down, listen to your students, and get to know them.  Even though we have one million + one things to do, it is important to acknowledge them and their interests.  This sounds a lot easier than it actually is, especially with the stress of NCLB.  Try to make some type of personal interaction with at least one student a day.  It was difficult to create something for this chapter, but I will leave you with an idea to help you develop relationships with your students.  Create a classroom roster.  Go down the list each day and make an effort to have a 'student of the day' {only you have to know this!}.  This student of the day can be your contact for the day.  Regardless of how your day goes, make yourself have a non-school related conversation with that student.  I think I'm going to try this!  What a great idea :)

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Monday, July 16, 2012

Cute Giveaway!

Hey Ya'll!  I have found the cutest giveaway.  You must go check it out.  Nicole over at Rowdy in Room 300 will give two custom {CUTE} burlap signs to two lucky winners.  Here is what they look like.  She has several to choose from.  Head on over and check out her cute blog!

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DIY Magnet Board: Tutorial

YAY!  Finally a Monday Made It!

Okay, so I've seen all these wonderful and cute ideas about using a cookie sheet and drip pans for magnetic boards.  Usually I have my filing cabinet beside my desk so I can throw a bunch of magnets on it and put important things there like our school calendar, etc.  Well, I changed my desk around a little so my filing cabinet wasn't there.  What was I going to do?

I knew I wanted to fill the void space between my computer desk and my diploma frame.  I knew I didn't want a cooke sheet.  I wanted a flat sheet of metal that would attract magnets so I went to the Lowe's website and found them for like $6.  I conned my husband into picking it up for me (he's so sweet).  He was like, "why do you need this agani?"  My response to him usually is don't ask!  So my sweet husband brought it home and even loaded it in my car for me.  Here's the only thing... those edges are sharp.  You could fold them over using needle nose pliers.  I knew it would be in an area where the students couldn't touch it so it didn't bother me.  Here's the beginning {I forgot to take a picture before I started gluing!}  This sheet of metal is used in HVAC work and measures 3 feet by 18 inches.

Disclaimer: please excuse my 'Hot Mess' of a desk.  It's a work in progress ;-)  

Below are the supplies you will need. Glue gun, scissors, ribbon, and of course the metal.

Glue the ribbon down in small increments.  The metal is cool and will dry the glue VERY fast.  I did maybe an inch at a time.  {BTW- please excuse my leg!  ha}

Leave a tad extra on the ends so you can glue it over the edge and make a clean corner.

Glue the edges over. repeat for each edge.

Then, I just hot glued it to the wall.  Isn't it lovely?  It fits perfectly in my small space!

Okay, so this has nothing to do with Monday Made It, but isn't this lamp just lovely??  I just love the glass base.

UPDATE:  Two days before school started, I was standing on my desk to hang something and knocked the lamp over... into a million pieces!!!  :(

What are you waiting for?  Hop on over to 4th Grade Frolics to check out Tara's Monday Made It!

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Thursday, July 12, 2012

Guided Math: Chapter 4

Whole class instruction is perhaps the most difficult planning time for me.  What will I do to get my students' attention?  How can I make it engaging?  What can we do so students can have a firm understanding in a brief amount of time?  First, let's discuss some pros and cons of whole group teaching.

o you can address any issues/concerns with ALL your students
o ensure each student is receiving the same exact information
o save time by presenting it all at once

There are, of course, some cons to whole group teaching.

o communication with individual students is limited
o struggling students may "fall between the cracks"
o students may not feel comfortable asking questions
o direct & individualized feedback cannot be given to students

There are some great factors as well as some disadvantages about teaching whole group.  The best thing to remember is that a balance is what really matters.  Finding a balance between all the components can really make a difference with your students and their learning.

Speaking of whole group instruction.... one of my main methods of whole group instruction is through mini-lessons.  Sammons gave some useful insight for mini-lessons. Mini-lessons should be...
*BRIEF {no more than 10 minutes}
*VALUABLE {use your time wisely... don't waste on non-related things}
*TEACHER DIRECTED {sorry students... your time is in small group:)}
*EXPLICIT {hello.. you only have 10 minutes.... get to it!!}.

I really liked the chart Sammons listed on pg. 112 (figure 4.1).  As I've mentioned in my previous posts, I am working on my curriculum binder, and this is something I was interested in including.  I want to become better about mindfully planning my instruction.  I believe the ideas Sammons presents in her book, specifically those in her charts, are ideal for holding myself accountable.  I have included the chart in PDF so you can include it in your binder if you are interested.  You can access it by clicking the picture below.

I LOVE this chart because I want to make an effort to include each of these components sometime during my whole group instruction.  It's a great file to have for reference.  You could use it like a menu and choose one from each row each day.  Change it up a bit to give your students variety.  You can also add your own for even more variety!

I also want to create a file for you for activating strategies {okay, for me too!}, but I'm going to need a lot more time for that!

Sammons also discussed the importance of taking time to teach how math workshop will work in your classroom.  I can not tell you how important that is.  If you take the time early in the year (first 2 weeks) it will save you TONS of time during the year.  Here are a few things I teach my kids.

oNo talking during calendar.  None.  What-SO-EVER!
oDo not disturb me (unless you need an ambulance) during small group
oYou better not leave those stations on the floor!  I mean it!
oClean up after yourself... I'm not your Mama!

My sweet babies are 9 & 10 years old so I can joke around with them a bit... they get it.  And, I love that they do!

I can't wait for chapter 5.  Maybe I'll get it posted sometime between now and next year!  Hopefully now!

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Saturday, July 7, 2012

Editors for my 'STUFF'

Hi there!  Just a reminder to 'like' me on my teaching resources facebook page.  This is my 'go-to' place when I need editors for my products.  See them {and maybe get them for free} before anyone else.  My next product will be Common Core ELA vocabulary cards for 4th grade.  Like my page to be notified when I am searching for editors.

One more thing... I know I said I wasn't going to do it, but I think I'm going to dabble in blog design for a bit.  Check out my design page by clicking the design tab.  I'm looking for someone to be my first!  My prices are reasonable considering some I've seen before.  The only experience I have is my own design which I think is soooo cute!

Thanks and have a SUPER SATURDAY!

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Thursday, July 5, 2012

Guided Math: Chapter 3

YAY!  Chapter 3!!!  I tell ya, working on those Common Core vocabulary packets really put me behind this summer.  I did enjoy making wonderful things for teachers to use in their classrooms.  I know I will be using mine this year!!

Chapter 3
Activating my students' interest is always a weakness of mine.  With pacing guides and assessments, I am always eager to just jump right in!  Chapter 3 reminded me that activating student's interests and getting them involved is as important as the lesson itself.  Without engagement from the students, learning {and meaning} is not going to happen!  Here are my post-its for chapter 3.  If you are not sure what I'm talking about, go check out my chapter 2 post!

Chapter 3 starts off by discussing the importance of making learning fun and meaningful for the students.  This reminded me of the many times I've had students stop me in the hall and ask what we are doing in math class today.  It is soooooo rewarding to have students excited about learning.... especially about math.  Math is such a difficult subject for so many.  However, I have often spoken to parents who tell me that this was the best year their child has ever had in math.  That confirms that what I am doing is the right choice for boys and girls.  

I wanted to really focus on the section of arrival work.  I STRUGGLE WITH THIS!!  At my school, we change classes for each subject.  Our activity if first thing in the morning, and when my students come in from homeroom, I barely have enough time to take attendance and get them out the door.  There is NO time for seat work.  The easiest thing for me to do is have them read when they are ready for the day.  When students enter my classroom for math, most of them enter together, but at times, I do has some trickling in the first 5 minutes.  I've wanted something to do to encourage my students to hurry to class.  As I was reading I came up with an idea to have {very}brief seat work waiting on them as they enter the room.  I have given an example on the above green post-it note.  To encourage the students to get busy, I came up with the idea of a weekly grab box.  As students finish their seat work, they have until the end of the class period to place their slip of paper {problem, work, & name} in the grab box.  At the end of the week, I will draw one name from the box.  The work must be complete to claim a prize from the prize box.  The more slips of work you have in the box, the higher your chance of winning.  I think I'm going to try this!!

Figure 3.1 on page 77 had some great examples of types of discussions used in the classroom and level of guidance for each tier.  I have created this in PDF format so you can place it in your lesson planning binder if you have one.  I think it's a great tool when planning math instruction.  I think math discussions can make a HUGE impact on student learning.  Click on the picture to get your free copy.

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Monday, July 2, 2012

Guided Math: Chapter 2

I'm on a roll here!.. hehe

I loved everything about chapter 2!  A note-taking strategy I use while reading professional learning books is to use post-its to record any thoughts, connections, questions, etc.  As I read, I jot these down and place them on the pages where the thoughts, connections, questions, etc. occurred.  With that said, I would like to share my 'post-its' with you!

This is a B-I-G deal in my classroom, and one of the biggest adjustments that have to be made.  Fourth grade is a tough grade for a lot of students.  It is when they become responsible for their own learning.  By the end of the school year, these kiddos are ready for the big FIFTH grade.  I love helping my students value the feeling of accomplishment and doing things on their own.  As harsh as it may sound, by Thanksgiving, students are not allowed to come to me for questions or guidance on certain assignments.  There comes a time when I want to see what they can do independently.  At first.... it is so difficult.  They whine, they cry, the complain, but eventually... THEY GET IT!  This is part of what I call my 'training'!  You can't just expect students to become responsible students over night.  You have to really work with them, be there for them when they fail, and encourage them.  Although I may not allow them to come to me for every bump in the road, it doesn't mean I don't love and care for them and their education. 

 This section of the book just revisited what I already have going on in my room, and helped me to reevaluate what I am doing and if I want to change anything about it.  Here's a snapshot of what my areas look like.  I am hoping to do a video tour once I get my room together.
Home Area- my students switch classes for every subject, so I see about 50-75 students a day.  It is difficult for each of them to have a home area in my room.  However, I try to make them feel comfortable with using my supplies while they are in my classroom.  I have groups in my classroom created by two trapezoid tables combined to create a hexagon and seating for six {I only allow 5 at a table so the 6th person is not sitting with their back to me during whole group instruction}.  On their table, I have these cute bins from Really Good Stuff.  Inside I have crayons, pencils, markers, and a pencil sharpener.  I also have a large cabinet that stores classroom supplies like large quantities of markers, crayons, construction paper, and additional supplies {in a labeled container} for each table.
Large-Group Meeting Area- this is where I have my whole group lessons as well as my homework board.  I have a podium, SmartBoard, and an easel {which I'm trying to move somewhere else in my room}.
Small-Group Area- In this area I have LOTS of lamps, a kidney-shaped table, stools for student seating {takes up less room than chairs}, and a rolling drawer organizer that houses paperclips, post-its, dry-erase boards/markers, timers, and several other small things.  Behind my table I have a counter.  This is where my students' portfolios are stored in a portable filing box.  I am going to get better this year about using these... I promise!!!  I also have a clipboard with charts for anecdotal notes during my small group instruction.
Workshop Area
For workshop time, I have two activities going on...
Calendar Area- this area has my calendar board {actually a whiteboard divided into sections} and an area for students to sit.  They have a calendar book they work from.  You can learn more about that from this post.
Workstation Area- this is where I store my workstations.  Students are allowed to take baskets any where in the room as long as it is away from my small group area.  You can learn more about this area in this post.

Journals, Journals, Journals! This is something new I tried in my classroom this past year.  I used these...
I would write our journal prompt on my Wheasel and have my students write and solve it in their math journal.
It is a great way to get students thinking about math, but it was very time consuming.  I thought time management would get better as the year progressed... it did not!  So, I began thinking of ways to have the same idea, but to save a lot of time.  I have posted about my standards checklist folder here.  In this post, I used a metal prong to hold my papers.  I have recently went back to just stapling at the top.  I decided to do the same thing for my journals, but to keep them on the left side of the standards checklist folder.  
Here's a preview of what they looked like.

I have the prompts typed and ready to go on Mondays.  I already have the pages stapled in their folder when I hand them out for their Monday journal.  However, at the end of the school year, these boogers became a battlefield of wounds.  There were so many staples on both sides that it was impossible to NOT prick your finger and bleed.  So, what am I going to do about this?  I am going to create new folders every nine weeks.  I plan on keeping the finished folders in the students' portfolio so I can use them at parent conferences and such.

I did have some comments on graphic organizers, but I think I am done for now :)  This post is already WAA-Y too long!

There you have it... my lengthy thoughts on chapter 2!.. FINALLY!!!

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Sunday, July 1, 2012

Guided Math: Chapter 1

Okay... I'll admit that I am behind the times with the Guided Math book study.  It seems like every time I turn around it's a new chapter.  Well, I'm determined to post on each chapter since I use this model in my math classroom every day.  I also have tons of information on my blog under my Guided Math Tab.  I will also be linking these posts up there as well.  Okay... on to the book study!

Chapter 1
This chapter really lays the foundation of why guided math is so important in mathematics instruction.  Guided reading seems to be such a natural method of teaching reading instruction.  However, guided math is a new concept to many.  It truly takes all the components of effective math instruction and brings it all together into an instructional model that provides conceptual understanding and rigor to math concepts.

The last part of chapter 1 discusses the daily components of guided math.  You can find more information about my daily/weekly schedule here.  I did want to briefly share a visual representation similar to the one on pg. 30.  This is my weekly schedule at a glance. {PLEASE CLICK ON THE PICTURE FOR THE PDF FILE}

I only use all the components of guided math on Tuesdays - Thursdays.  On these days, my instruction usually consists of HW reviewing, mini-lesson with activating strategy, math workshop, summarizing strategy, and math journaling.  Mondays and Fridays are the days set aside for whole class instruction, calendar review, distributing HW for the week, Exemplars, and assessments.  This seems to work well for me, and I love how I have two days set aside a week to complete whole group activities and instruction.  I will be posting chapter 2 soon so stay tuned!  I have to play catch up... we are on chapter 5 right now.  Maybe one a day?  If I'm lucky... lol

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