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!

MEET THE TEACHER…
·         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.

FIRST WEEK OF SCHOOL…
·         I send home my ‘First week of school - getting to know you’ homework sheets which are available here as a freebie:  http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/First-week-of-school-Getting-to-know-you-homework-sheets-1280069  (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!!

IN THE FOLLOWING WEEKS…
·         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:  http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Positive-note-home-template-fun-teacher-prescription-reward-1316241
·         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
*homework

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!

Thursday, July 10, 2014

Guided Math Book Study- Chapter 7


This week's chapter focuses on one-on-one time with you and your kiddos. Conferring with your students is a wonderful opportunity to build build a partnership with them and learn about their math understanding and misconceptions.

Initially, my thoughts on this chapter were " yes, conferencing with your students is important- most teachers do this several times a week already." After reading the chapter, I think most of us are probably "conferencing on the run" with our students-- addressing the needs as they arise without preparation-- which isn't quite as purposeful or as productive as the types of conferences Laney Sammons describes in chapter 7. 

For conferencing to work, there's got to be a firm routine-- SOLID classroom management. If you're working briefly with students one-on-one the the majority of your students are working independently.  What classroom management techniques do you have in place to assist students with working independently?
Students need strategies in place to know what to do when they don't understand the directions or are unsure as to how to begin.


Chapter 7 gives some specific advice on how to structure a conference with students:

Research Student Understanding-
Observe the student working for a few moments. What are they trying to do as a mathematician? 

Decide what is needed-
Begin the conference with something positive you see. Stating the positive not only builds up self esteem, but also promotes a team effort between you and the child. Next, decide what next step you can teach to move the child forward and spend the last few moments working with the child on that specific skill. 

Teach to Student Needs:
While you're working with a child, use a teaching strategy that best fits the student's learning style and one that best addresses the skill. Many teachers use a combination of guided practice, demonstration, and explaining an example.  


Conferences should be quick, purposeful, and used to form your future instruction or small groups. As with all things we do in education, it is important to keep records of your quick conferences with students. 

I've created a record sheet that I'd like to share with you! Print one off for each child and place it in a binder. As you walk the room conferring with your students, jot down a few notes.
I like this document because each child has their own sheet in your binder. When it's time to meet with a principal or parent about a child, just pull the sheet and share as necessary.  This is a great way to highlight your individual work with each child and share  strengths and concerns. 


When we listen to students explain their thinking, we get a better sense of where they are mathematically. We begin to see what they understand and what misconceptions they have. By asking questions about their thinking and LISTENING, we are better able to pinpoint the next steps for them and scaffold the skill appropriately.


I think the number one thing that prevents us from conferring with our students on a regular basis is the lack of planning. If you're going to confer with students, even if it's only 2-3 minutes, you've got to plan for it. Set a goal for yourself, write it down in your plans and hold yourself accountable. That's just another reason I love the Student Conference Sheet I shared above, as it is written proof that I'm conferencing with my students. 

Thanks for reading! Next week we'll take a closer look at assessments. Have a wonderful week!



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Thursday, July 3, 2014

Guided Math Book Study- Chapter 6



This week chapter 6 focused on math workshops- what they are and how to run them effectively. 

I wasn't quite sure what a "math workshop" was, so I was intrigued to get started on this chapter. What I found was a pleasant surprise-- I've been doing "math workshops" all along! As a matter of fact, math workshop activities are the primary focus of my TPT store!

A math workshop is a set of activities that encourage students to take ownership of their learning. This isn't teacher directed! Laney Sammons lists quite a few activities that fit perfectly with math workshops:
- review previously mastered concepts
- fact fluency
- games that reinforce concepts
- problem solving practice
- investigating mathematical concepts
-writing in math journals
- computer related work
- math related activities intertwined with other subjects
- completing work independently from small group instruction

Just about everything I've created in my TPT store falls under one of these categories! I've chosen a few to highlight-- all with extended samples, of course!

Fact Fluency
Math workshops are an excellent time to practice fluency! Often, these games can be repeated over and over  and become a classroom favorite.  I've created an entire year's worth of themed Triangles for addition/subtraction and multiplication/division. To play, just hide one of the numbers with your thumb. Your partner should add/subtract or multiply/divide to find the number that's hidden! 
Want a sample of my Back to School themed Triangles for addition/subtraction and multiplication/division? 


Want to see all the sets available?

Math Games Galore-
Lanney Sammons also states that games are an excellent way to review a variety of concepts. The games, however, must have simplistic directions and be mathematically relevant. My sets of Math games Galore might be a perfect fit for your classroom!

Students choose one of 5 game boards. You choose one of 5 math concept decks of cards, depending on the needs of your students. 

Each edition is tailored to specific math skills important to that grade.  





Organizations and routines are vital to the success of  your math workshop! I begin teaching routines at the beginning of the year. It does take extra class time, but I believe it's essential that students understand the process. Here is a link to a poster I made. These rules are posted at each station and are reviewed prior to the start of math workshops.

I also keep my classroom organized and introduce students to the organization as well. Once students understand the organization, they'll be much more able to work independently during math workshops. 

Here are just a few of the ways I keep my stations organized:
- Stations always rotate clockwise.

-All materials- instructions, paper, pencils, etc.- are located at each  center in colored tubs.

- If students finish a station early, there's a "challenge" folder at the station. They may only accept the challenge if all other assignments are completed. Sometimes it's a journal prompt, other times its an independent "game." Students know they are to be working the entire time- down time isn't allowed!

- Any activities not completed become homework. This seems to motivate students to complete all math workshop stations in a timely manner. :) 

Another idea that I absolutely love from a fellow teacher-- she has one of these little battery powered lights hanging on a bulletin board close to her small group table. 
When she's leading a small group, she turns on the light. That's a signal to others that she isn't available for questions. When her small group is over, she'll turn the light out for a minute or two and assist students before beginning her next small group. This gives her uninterrupted time with her small group of students! 

This light came from the Dollar Tree



That's it for this week! See you next Thursday for Chapter 7, where we'll talk about conferring with students!

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Saturday, June 28, 2014

1,000 TpT Fans Celebration!




1,000 fans on Tpt- absolutely amazing. This calls for a major celebration! 

I've teamed up with the best of the best TpT sellers for what I'm sure will be an amazing giveaway! 10 winners will each win one of the prize packages listed below. Each package contains a $10 shopping spree to 10 different stores- that's 
a $100 shopping spree and a total of $1000 in products in all!














You can enter right from my page. Best of luck! 


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Thursday, June 26, 2014

Guided Math Book Study-Chapter 5


" We want to have time to work with our struggling students and to scaffold their learning.  We want to challenge those students who demonstrate their understanding quickly and are ready to move on. We want each and every student to feel challenged, and yet supported, in their mathematical learning."

That just about sums it up, doesn't it? :) 
That's exactly what we strive to do in our classrooms. Small groups can help that dream become a reality. Chapter 5 was filled with a LOT of good information, so I've picked a few pieces of information to highlight with you today.

Just like with whole group, there's pros and cons to small groups as well.  Personally, I think the the advantages far outweigh the negatives!

Advantages of Small Group Instruction:
1. Small groups allows for flexibility
2. Teachers are better able to address specific needs
3. Increased communication between peers
4. Teachers can monitor behavior more successfully
5. Teachers can identify and address misconceptions more quickly
6. Teacher are better able to assess conceptual understanding

Disadvantages of Small Group Instruction:
1. More Intensive planning
2. More Independent student work
3. Increased need for an established routine

What types of activities work well in small groups?
1. Differentiating lessons
2. Teaching the "hot spots" of the grade ( a grade's focus standards)
3. Using manipulatives
4. Using formative assessments to "fill in the gaps" or misconceptions
5. Activities that are engaging, thought-provoking, and encourage work on the Mathematical Practices


There are many different kinds of data that guide me into creating my small groups:
- Teacher observation and notes
- Pretests
- District benchmark tests
- Exit and Entrance Tickets ( Formative Assessments)

I want my small groups to be purposefully organized-to accomplish this, I must use data to form my instructions.  
One of my favorite ways to gather data is by incorporating entrance and exit slips into daily lessons. 


Want to "Try before you buy"? I've got you covered! Download a few to see what you think! 

That's it for chapter 5. I'll see you next week where we'll discuss math workshops!