Monday, August 18, 2014

Reading log FREEBIE

Teachers have two “New Year” celebrations: one in January and the other one in August. Start the year off right by establishing a routine for reading, even if your students are not able to read or write yet. 

This reading log is designed for beginner readers. It contains a parent letter (English/Spanish), and a reading log calendar (September-June)

I hope you can use it in your class! Click on the picture to download. 

Saturday, August 16, 2014

Classroom Organization

Susan's Organization Tips
To go to Susan's store, click here.

Organization is key in the classroom!  Ask anyone I work with, even my students, and they will tell you that I am a freak about being organized.  One thing I like to do from the first day to keep us organized is color coding.  My students have colored duct tape on their notebooks.  Each color is for a certain subject.  I also have a sign that hangs on the board and tells them which notebook we are currently working in.  Each morning when students I arrive I have signs telling them which supplies they will need from their cubbies for the day.  These signs include the colors of the books and notebooks.  I also have students turn in their work to a bucket that is color coordination.  Y'all, I'm here to tell you, color coordination is awesome!!!

 Carmen's Organization Tips
To go to Carmen's store, click here.

With so much going on in the classroom every day, there are two places that I MUST keep organized in order to stay afloat: my desk area and the front board.

The stacks of important papers on my desk cannot be contained on just one desk. I use extra student desks along the wall to create more surface area, and hide the actual desk with a table cloth. :) On these extra desks I use crates with HANGING FOLDERS to organize papers. This is a lifesaver! In one crate I store all my texts and running records for guided reading. In another I have a folder for each day of the week. All my copies and plans go in—every morning I pull out what I need. Super simple!

#2. THE BOARD.  The school day goes MUCH more smoothly when I have a clear idea of our schedule and when the kids know what to expect next. Having the schedule posted on the front board is vital for my sanity. :) I also post our learning goals on the board. It helps me stay focused on the tasks at hand throughout the day, and I love having a visual organization that everyone in the class can refer to.

(Here's a link for the picture of the Daily Schedule:

Jessica's Organization Tips
To go to Jessica's store, click here.

I use colorful file folders for organizing my classroom.  In 5th grade, students have trouble keeping their work in one place.   I number the file folders with calendar numbers (this way I can reuse them year after year).  Each student is assigned a number, and they put all of their work through out the week in their folders. On Friday, I have the students sort out the work from their folders into *my folders*.  The teacher folders are labelled with the assignment name.  Inside of each teacher folder, I have a grade recording sheet.  After I am done grading each folder, I just need to enter the grades from the grading sheet into my grade book.  When I return assignments to students, they can 1. take them home, 2. throw them away, or 3. store them in a hanging folder file to show off their work during parent teacher conferences.  Most good students like to store their work through the year.  This system helps my students stay on track.  Many of them choose to keep an assignment sheet in their folders, so they can "check" things off as they go.  I also keep extra file folders with me in case of a surprise test or pop quiz, so I can easily find them.

Timeless Tips for Teachers

For the guest blog posts this month, we are talking all about fun teacher tricks for classroom organization!  First up, we have timeless tips from Trisha.   Click here to visit her store!

The Number System:
Assign each student in the class a number
based on alphabetical order. Put the number on each desk nametag.
All textbooks for the student will be that specific number. The student
will need to put both their name & number on all papers.
Benefits of the number system:
 * Easy to find the owner of a lost textbook
 * If a volunteer is needed, chose a number.
 * Easy to put papers in alphabetical order for entering grades
 on the computer or in a gradebook.

Deck of Cards Groups:
 Use a deck of cards to put students in groups
of 3 or 4.
Example: All 8’s are together. Then assign jobs based on
the suite:
 Diamonds: LEADER

SMARTIES candy: 
A quick way to reward students for simple tasks.
It’s smart to….
 * Keep your desk clean!
 * Help a classmate!
 * Follow directions quickly.
 * Listen quietly!

Give each family a 9 x 12 envelope with
directions to address it to a favorite family member: Grandparent,
Aunt, Godparent, etc… Then, sometime during the school year,
allow the child to send an artwork to the special person along with a
friendly letter.

BUSINESS LETTER WRITING: When doing the business letter
lesson, have students write a letter to a company requesting an item
from the Freebies for Kids website. Students look forward to getting
the free item and it makes the lesson more meaningful.

Also, check out these freebies from Trisha's store. This first freebie's job is to help with documenting behavior and to hold students accountable for their own behaviors.

Click here to go to the Behavior Journal Freebie!

And check out this student information sheet as well to help with classroom organization.

Click here to go to the Child Information Sheet Freebie!

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Guided Math Book Study- Chapter 9

Well, we've made it to the end of the book! I can't help but to reflect upon all this book offers us as math teachers.  Guided Math allows us to step out of the traditional ways of teaching math and into an exciting world of student-focused math explorations.

Chapter 9 talks about putting Guided Math into practice.  When all of the components are in place.... what occurs is simply classroom magic.

Students feel comfortable sharing ideas in a risk-free environment.

Students work collaboratively and build upon one another's ideas.

There are multiple solution paths to problems, and students find satisfaction in the productive struggle to find them.

Students make mathematical connections to real world situations and begin to see mathematical patterns.

Math vocabulary and discussions are abundant. 

Isn't that exciting? We're no longer bound to a "sit and get" type of math lesson. We have the flexibility to use not only whole group instruction, but small group, math workshops, or one-on-one. We have the flexibility to do what's best for each of our students. 

The possibilities are endless- and so are the rewards. 

Just as with any other change, I think it's best to "chunk" the change. Trying to implement all components of guided math might be too much and result in frustration. Instead, I think it's best to choose one component you'd like to change. Focus on that one component for a while, and when that becomes a natural part of your lessons, add another.

Working in a team or partnership is the way to go! Everyone needs someone to collaborate with- so find SOMEONE! Someone in your school, in your district- or maybe even someone in an online group for teachers. We all make more progress when we work together!

Thank you SO MUCH for joining me this summer for the Guided Math Book study! I've learned so much along the way. 

I'd love for you to keep in contact with me! Please follow me on TPT to keep up with new math products. 

Join me on FB for flash freebies, updates, and links to any and everything math related! 

SECRET: I've got a FAN FREEBIE on my FB page! Click the link above to join me on FB and grab my fan freebie!

a Rafflecopter giveaway>

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Sunday Special Tidbit

Hey everyone!

Welcome to the first Sunday Special Tidbits link up! 

Today's tidbit: keep your math manipulatives available and accessible to your students! Plastic shoeboxes with labels work great! As students need a particular manipulative, encourage them to grab the one they need and return to the activity. 

Another idea-- create a math "toolbox" to keep inside students' desks. Base ten blocks, number lines, counting chips and more-- any tool your students will need to succeed in math can go in their tool box!

This is an excellent way to differentiate, as students can choose the manipulative that makes sense to them whenever they need it! 

Now, it's your turn! Please link up and share your small bit of helpful information. It can be a tip from your own experiences like mine, or it can be about a useful product or TPT item you have been using. If it has been useful for you, chances are it will be useful for someone else! I am looking forward to reading what others have to share.  

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Guided Math Book Study- Chapter 8

Chapter 8 was all about assessments and the importance of them in Guided Math.  There are many types of formative assessments, all of which lead teachers to a better understanding of where their students are along the path to mastery.

When we talk about using formative assessments to guide instruction, there are 4 main questions I think every teacher needs to answer about their students:

What do students need to know?
How do I know if they know it?
What do I do if they know it?
What do I do if they don't know it?

Without using some type of formative assessments, teachers will have a difficult time answering these questions and creating  purpose-driven math lessons. 

Along with assessments, Laney Sammons also mentions the need for descriptive feedback. Feedback should be:
- Corrective in nature ( let them know specifically what they're doing correct or incorrect)
- Timely
- Specific to criterion ( based on checklists or rubrics)
- Sometimes student generated

If students are given positive examples, rubrics, and goals on what is expected, they can begin to evaluate their own work- and many times rise to the occasion! Making students aware of their progress puts them in the "driver's seat" of their learning. They take ownership and personal responsibility!

To guide students into a habit of monitoring their own learning, I created a Student Data Notebook. Each child has their own that they keep in their desk. We record their progress on entrance and exit tickets, formative assessments, and effort on homework. 

By graphing their progress, they begin to see the their increased abilities on paper and take the process of learning far more seriously. We also use this data to guide our discussion in student-lead conferences.

To grab a sample, click here

The entire Student Data Notebook is on sale this week! 

Assessment in the Guided Math Classroom is assessment FOR learning- not always assessment OF learning. That destinction is important! When we assess for learning, we're determining where students are in their academic understanding and use that information to guide our small groups and math workshop activities. Assessment of learning is  more evaluative in nature. They most likely occurs after a unit, where we want to see if students have learned what need to know and how well they know it. 

There are a variety of assessments that we can use in our daily lessons that provide us with great insight as to what our students understand. Many of these ideas have been discussed throughout our book study this summer:
-Entrance and Exit tickets
- Observations in small group
- Conferencing with students individually
-Pretests, district benchmarks, etc

All of these can be used interchangeably to assist us in determining the next steps for our students. 

That's it for this week! We've got one more chapter to go, where we'll talk about putting it all into practice! 

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Sunday, July 13, 2014

Getting Families Involved

For this month's post, our Gloggers (Guest Bloggers) are talking all about parent engagement.  We asked the question, "How do you encourage parents to stay involved in their child's education?"  The responses we got were wonderful.  Keep reading to access some great ideas as well as some FREEBIES!

Rosie Says....
Here’s my usual plan of attack for getting my class communication off to a positive start every year!  Understanding that people prefer to communicate in different ways is a good way to start building open communication with your class and their extended families…
Have this sheet available during the meet-the-teacher night!

·         At the initial meet the teacher event, I always circulate several large class lists that ask for people’s most up to date e-mail and phone numbers ( this normally produces different contact details to what the school office has on file….!) 
·         I ask them to highlight or circle their preferred communication method so I know I’ve got a greater chance of reaching them when I need to.
·         This is also a good way to secretly ‘roll-call’ parent attendance, as you can see at a glance afterwards who did not attend.
·         If confidentiality is of concern where you work, you can also hand out separate sheet for parents to complete individually.

·         I send home my ‘First week of school - getting to know you’ homework sheets which are available here as a freebie:  (this was also mentioned in last month’s glogger report!)
·         This is a great way to discover what parents think is important for their student to achieve in the coming year and what their strengths and weaknesses are.  Understanding parent priorities and values is a great support for teachers when deciding if parent meetings about child progress are necessary.
·         It also contains a section for parents/caregivers to complete which asks about skills the parents may have that could be utilized within the classroom.  This means you can target specific ‘parent help’/support if you need it.
·         It’s also good to find out about languages spoken within the child’s home – always important if you’re aiming for good communication!!

·         Make sure you initiate communication with as many families as possible (preferably positive!)
Check out this "thought you'd like to know" freebie!
·         I like to have a pile of these ‘Just thought you’d like to know’ notes printed and ready to go in the classroom should the need arise!  It’s available here as a freebie in my store:
·         Whenever an amazing effort is made by a child (academically, socially or emotionally) that warrants some extra recognition and praise, I send the child to grab the note which we address to the parents and fill out together - the children LOVE the prescription section of this note, and love watching  you record a message that’s all about them J
·         This special note is best used in moderation for perseverance or effort that is above and beyond and is a really powerful and immediate affirmation of a job well done.

And finally – communication is a 2 way street!  Does your parent community understand how best to make contact with you?  Are they aware of appropriate times to reach you and how long they can expect to wait for a reply? 

Wishing you all a positive start to your new school year with lots of cheerful communication!!

Carmen Says....
Communication is key! The school year goes a lot more smoothly when I have a good system for parent communication set up. <when parents are connected to what goes on in the classroom, there is less confusion and more opportunities for parents to provide support. At the very beginning of the year (preferably at Back to School Night) I make sure that I gather all the email addresses to make a contact list. Every Friday I send a class newsletter via email to all the parents (be sure to use BCC). In the newsletter I include:

*the topics we will be learning about in the coming week
*announcements & reminders
*requests for volunteers (for school or classroom needs/events)
*upcoming test dates

Along with setting up regular communication, I also emphasize the essential role that parents play in their child's reading skills. The habits they develop at home are a huge indicator of their reading success in school. I recommend 2 books to every parent:

*Reading Magic by Mem Fox
*The Read Aloud Handbook by Jim Trelease

Both books outline the basic, simple things that are so important to literacy in the home!  

Click here to visit Carmen's store!

Amy Says...
Getting to know my students and making parents a part of the learning process are always two top priorities for me, especially at the beginning of the school year.  As many of you know, these are never easy goals to accomplish.  That is why I was excited but skeptical when I stumbled upon a simple but powerful tool called a Million Words or Less. 

Last year, I tried this with my students and it was a huge hit. The kids loved the idea of giving their parents homework and most of my parents seemed to enjoy the assignment.  Below is a link to a free product to use this assignment in you classroom.  It is an amazing way to get insight into children in your classroom, and to also let parents know that you care about their input and opinions.  I felt that after I did this activity last year that I was instantly a part of each student’s life.  It was truly amazing to see how much parents had to say about their children and how honest they were in their responses. I even had several parents thank me for giving them the opportunity to tell me about their child. I will definitely keep A Million Words or Less in my back to school toolbox for years to come.

Susan Says....
We all know that parental involvement can make or break your year! One way I keep my parents informed and involved is through my weekly newsletter. I send him a newsletter every Monday. It includes our weekly homework and spelling words. It also tells parents what we are learning that week and any important upcoming events. 

Click here to go to Susan's Store!