Thursday, May 29, 2014

Guided Math Book Study- Chapter 1

This summer I'll be participating in a book study on Guided Math by Laney Sammons. I'll read a chapter each week and blog about what I've read!

Before we begin our look at this week's chapter and questions, let's chat for just a bit about what Guided Math is and why it's important.

Think about your reading instruction. How many teachers would you think might say small group reading stations are important? Just about everyone, right? The same should hold true for math, but for some reason this seems to be more difficult for us. That's why this book and what it has to offer is so important. Guided Math is a resource that shares with us successful strategies for implementing successful, purposeful math stations and small groups. 

This topic hits home for me. In my state, we are undergoing a change in our RTI format. Our state focus will not only be on intervention, but on instruction as well. We're putting our focus on the general education classroom- this is a new concept for many teachers across the state! RTI is no long a "fast track to SPED," but rather an approach to meet each child's needs in the most appropriate setting. This leaves many general education teachers wondering just how they're going to meet such a variety of needs within the classroom.  I think Guided Math might be our answer!

Let's get started with our first focus question from Chapter 1- Guided Math: A Framework for Mathematics Instruction.

Laney Simmons discusses 7 different components of Guided Math:
1- A classroom environment of numeracy
2- Morning math warm-ups and calendar board activities
3- Whole-class instruction
4- Guided math instruction with small groups of students
5- math workshop
6- individual conferences
7- an ongoing system of assessment

Of these seven components, my math instruction is most successful in component 2- math meetings. I've spent a significant amount of time reading and researching the importance of a daily math routine- it's the one component of math I'll never leave out again!

A math meeting, or Number Talks as I call them, is a chance for students to solve problems in a variety of ways- looking for multiple solutions and learning new ways of solving from their peers. If done consistently, this can easily become the most powerful 15 minutes of your math lesson! I've absolutely fallen in love with the Number Talks book by Sherry Parrish. Every math teacher, grades K-5, should own a copy. 

Along with the Number Talks book, I'd also like to encourage you to include a "Number Bond" card each day. During number bonds, students generate ideas of way to create a specific number.  How many equations can you create that equal 26? Any combination that equals 26 will work! 
Want an extended sample to test them out for yourself?
  Click here to download!

Want the full set (1-120)? Need other sets of cards specifically created for math meetings? 
I have many other sets to get you started in math meetings! 

One more book suggestion that really helped me in creating purposeful math routines: Number Sense Routines by Jessica Shumway. You can down load that book free by clicking here.

I am most concerned with component 7- creating and maintaining an ongoing system of assessment. In order for this system of purposeful small groups to work efficiently, we need to constantly assess what our student know. If we don't understand their misconceptions about math, how can we possibly meet their needs? A system must be in place for collecting and documenting the evidence we collect on our students' progress.

Along with this thought, I've also been working this week on ways for students to document their own success and progress in math.  I think it is equally important for students to monitor their academic growth! I've thought a lot about the types of daily activities that I'd like for students to document and compiled them into what I call a "Student Data Notebook." Here,  students will keep track of their progress on bell ringers, exit tickets, homework, and assessments. There's even a place to keep track of goals and accomplishments! When it's time for student-lead conferences, I've got you covered there too- student lead- conference forms are included.

Want to download a sample? Click here to test it out for yourself 

That's it for this week! I'll be back next week with Guided Math Book Study, Chapter 2!

P.S.- We're having lots of fun over on FB! Click the "like" button to get math updates! 

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Monday, May 19, 2014

Stitchfix Review for May :-)

            I have a new Stitchfix update for all of our readers.  I had originally decided not to order another Stitchfix for a while because I needed to save some money.  However, two people clicked on my referral link last time, so I had $50 of credit waiting for me.  I couldn't resist!  If you missed my first Stitchfix Review, click here to go back and read it.

 (A huge thanks goes out to those two people who clicked --- I don't know who you are, but you rock!)
          When I signed on to Stitchfix this time, I told them that I was interested in pieces that would be good for travel since I am planning some summer adventures.  I also told them not to be afraid to be BOLD!  I like fun colors and fun prints.  
         As an elementary teacher, one would think that I possess an infinite amount of patience.    When it comes to surprises, however, I have zero patience.  As soon as I knew that my fix was being sent, I logged into my account to find out what they were sending me.  I also googled these items so that I could see pictures of people wearing them!    When I saw all the items, I knew I was in trouble.  I had planned on only keeping one item from the very beginning since I wanted to save money.  I liked all of the items!

        When the box arrived, I ripped it open and held a little fashion show in my bedroom.  I was almost hoping some items wouldn't fit so that giving them up wouldn't be too difficult!  

1.) Harriet Aztec Print Fit and Flare Dress (top left in the picture above)  ---- I liked this dress, but it didn't "wow" me when it was on.  The price wasn't worth keeping it.

2.) Jenna Bermuda Shorts (top right) ---- I liked the color of these, but they were nothing different than something you might see at Target or Old Navy, and the price tag was heftier.

3.) Skylar Asymmetrical Zip Up Jacket (middle) ---- This is the item I chose to keep.  It is unlike anything I already own, I have never seen something like it in stores, it was very comfortable, and would also be very practical for plane rides.  It was a little bit pricey, but the quality was great!  See the picture below.

4.)   Kahlo Maxi Dress (bottom right)  --- I absolutely LOVE maxi dresses and had seen this on other blog posts about stitchfix.  I wanted it!  When I knew it would be sent to me, I thought almost certainly that it would be item that I would choose to keep.  However, when I tried it on, it was too loose in some areas and wasn't the most flattering.

5.)  Madeleina Embroidery Detail Tank (bottom left)  --- This was an item that I knew I would wear a lot.  The price was very reasonable and it was comfortable.  Since I was only planning to keep one item, however, I did send this tank back.  See the pictures of the tank below!

Do you want to try Stitchfix?  Click here to get started!


Friday, May 9, 2014

What are *your* hopes and dreams for your students?

Last week, I published this letter to my students.  In this letter, I highlighted the hopes and dreams that I have for them.  I then opened up the floor for wonderfully passionate teachers from around the world to talk about what *they* hope and dream for their students.

I know that education is a difficult field in the United States these days.  With rigid testing schedules and extreme time demands, it can take everything we've got to stay positive for the kids.  Interestingly, teachers often find that they have both a lack of support and a lack of creative freedom in the classroom.  It was refreshing to hear from all of these teachers who have the best interests of their students at heart.

                                         Alicia Lykins says...

"My hopes for my students are that they find something that excites them and 

ignites a passion for learning. I hope they all have the confidence

and support they need to pursue their education and remain fully engaged."


 Getting Nerdy with Mel and Gerdy says...
"We hope that our students leave our classroom with a fascination about the 

world around them and a love for all things science.  We want our students to see

that they should embrace their inner nerd because it is SO cool to be an insightful,

reflective, and innovative individual."

Erin Holleran says...

"I hope that my students remain as confident and creative throughout their lives as

they are at right now at 5 years old!"

Allyson's Creative Corner says...

"I hope my students become lifelong learners who nurture their creativity. I also 

hope my students develop a love of storytelling in all its forms, whether it's through

poetry, plays, short stories, novels or film."

Autism Educational Resources Says...

I hope that my students will continue to be challenged to achieve their potential 

throughout their lives, and that they will be given the opportunity to showcase their 

talents and skills to their peers and community.

Daisy Designs Says...

"My wish for all children and students everywhere is that they are always striving 

for something amazing. Don't let the world get you down and know that if you set

 your mind to it, anything can happen."

Play to Learn Preschool Says...

My hope for my students is that they develop curiosity, compassion and a lifelong 

love of learning.  I hope that they always have teachers who put their needs as 

human beings above their needs as students, and just love them.

Chalkboard Creations Says...

I hope that I have helped to inspire them to live out what they believe with all their

hearts! I also hope for my students to become life-long learners, and that they will 

never be able to quench their thirst for knowledge!

A Shep Says...

My hope is that my students will remember our wonderful "class family" from this 

year and that they will always try their best to  soar to new heights in everything

they do.

Mrs. Plemon's Kindergarten Says...

I hope my students remember the love, acceptance, respect, learning and laughter

we shared in kindergarten and that they bring that with them throughout the rest of 

their schooling. I want them to continue to be supportive/collaborative learners 

that push themselves to set and achieve high goals.

Astute Hoot Says..

I hope that my students with special needs will discover their strengths and be 

confident in all of the wonderful gifts they have to offer.

Mrs Schlachter Says...

I hope my students find their passion; then it will never feel like work everyday to 


Caitlin Howald Says...

I hope my students' imaginations continue to grow and that this creativity sticks 

with them through all that they do!

Two Teachers on a Limb Say...

I hope that the lessons they've learned about how to treat others and themselves

extend beyond the four walls of our classroom and this school year.  Most of all, I

hope that what they've learned is evident in the interactions they have with others

not just at school, but in their lives forever.   

Which of these hopes and dreams stick out to you?  What hopes and dreams do you have for your students?

Wishing all of you all the best as you wrap up your year!

Wednesday, May 7, 2014

As you go out into the world, this is what I want for you.

Dear Students,

Life is not like a multiple choice test  You are not limited to four choices, nor should you be encouraged to carefully stay within the lines.  While I am sure that you are better at taking tests at the end of your 2nd grade year than you were at the beginning, I can assure you that this is not the most important  thing for you to learn.  Not even close.

So as you move forward to 3rd grade, then 4th grade, then 5th grade and on and on until you are an old person looking back at your life, I hope it is these things that you take with you.

6.)  THE POSSIBILITIES ARE ENDLESS!  The world is a BIG place, and it is only limited by your imagination!   Your imagination has no limits.  The world is limitless.  THINK OUTSIDE THE BOX.  There are infinite dreams that you can dream, infinite ideas that can flow through your mind, and billions of people with whom to collaborate.  Dream your big and beautiful dreams, then do something to make them happen.

5.)   Listen.  Observe.  Appreciate.  Celebrate.  Do not judge.    I hope that you look back at collaborative projects this year and appreciate that  every single student in your group brought different strengths with them.  I hope you understand that they might not think the same way you think, that they may not believe all of the same things that you believe.  I hope you know that this is not only okay, but that it makes the world a more beautiful place to be.   I hope that you will remember to never dismiss a person's ideas without carefully listening and thinking about their ideas.  Everybody's voice should be heard and celebrated.

4.)  Rosa Parks.  Susan B. Anthony.  Martin Luther King Jr.   Nelson Mandela.  Helen Keller. 
What do all of these people have in common?

In class this year, we have talked about many people who saw problems in the world that needed fixing.  We spoke about people who faced adversity .  We spoke about people who were ridiculed, hurt, and berated.  Remember the names of the people above and look at them as role models.  If you see a problem in the world, do what you can to fix it.  If you are going through something difficult, keep on working through it.  Work to make the world more beautiful and inclusive.

3.)  Everybody deserves to feel welcome.  If you see somebody alone on recess, ask if they want to play with you.   If somebody is left out of the circle during class meetings, scoot back and make some room.  Think about how much better you feel when you feel like an important member of the group.  Help everybody feel good!

2.)  Sometimes you will feel angry or upset.  This is okay.   It is a part of life.  I hope that you remember how to be calm but assertive in moments where you may feel like losing your cool!  I hope that you remember to be patient with friends and to realize how your actions affect others.  In times of stress, I hope you remember to take a deep breath and think before you act. 

But the most important thing that I want you to remember is:

1.)  You are loved.  You are cared for.  You are respected.  If you ever need somebody to listen to your ideas, to give you encouragement, or to help you think through an issue, know that I am here.  I want to be this person for you, and I hope that you will try to be this person for somebody else. 

Now, go out into the world and let your light shine!


Your Teacher

Click here to go to this BINGO activity to help with summer learning loss!

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Getting Started with Interactive Notebooks

Interactive notebooks seem to be a newfound staple in classrooms- but what exactly are they and what benefit can they offer our students over traditional note-taking procedures?

Today I’ll introduce you to Interactive Notebooks, or INB, and show you just how powerful they can be in your classroom!

Interactive notebooks are just that- they’re a more interactive way to organize pieces of information. Most INBs use 4 ways of note-taking: pockets, foldables, spinners, and mini-books. Some are easier to make than others, but I’m certain there’s a template out there to meet all your needs!

Before you begin incorporating INB into your lessons, it’s best to introduce yourself to some of the most popular templates available. Keep the templates in mind as you plan- when one fits with your unit of study, add it in!

This is the most basic type of INB template- a foldable. It’s easy to make. Just cut it out and cut between the “pieces” so the flaps move freely. Label the template and place your notes inside.

Spinners are another easy way to incorporate INBs into your classroom.  Cut both circles out and layer one on top of the other. Use a brad to fasten the two together.

Pockets aren’t difficult to make, but there’s certainly an extra step or two! I like to use pockets to store math manipulatives, like a hundreds chart or number line, or some type of cards. Some pocket templates have “flaps” while others simply have an open top.

The “mini-book” is the last type of template. It definitely takes an extra moment to complete, but the finished product is really remarkable! The minibook pictured in the photo is a tabbed book. Student label the tabs and quickly open to the section they need.

Getting started with INBs:

Again, my first recommendation is that you simply begin to take a look at some INB templates and simply become familiar with them. Print one off and cut/fold/glue to see how the process works. Don’t force an INB into every lesson- let it come naturally. Are you teaching a concept with three parts, like right, acute, and obtuse angles?  That brings to mind a template I recently saw that was divided into three parts, so I think I”ll incorporate that template into my lessons.

Once you’ve familiarized yourself with a few of the basic INB templates, think about how you’d use it in your classroom. If this is their first experience with INB, you’ll probably want to print a few extra copies and walk them through step by step where to cut and where to fold.  Using a document camera is an excellent way to walk your students through the cutting and folding.  If one isn’t available, try the activity in small group rotations.

I like using the same templates repeatedly, as it becomes more of an independent activity. The students will recognize the templates and recognize where to cut and fold. Teach the template once and students will create foldable more quickly in the future!

Next, jot down a few ideas on what types of information students might right in the foldable. I’d suggest assisting students with the labels on the foldable to get them in the right track, but allow them to determine what information and details to include. Remember- this is an INTERACTIVE notebook, which means students should be engaged throughout the process, not just writing word for word what’s on the board!

I love interactive notebooks because it helps students organize information. If it’s organized in a meaningful way on paper it will more likely be well organized and retained in memory. Encourage students to return to the INB to review the material they’ve included or to add more information as their learning progresses.

Ready to get started?

I'm actively creating INB templates for math! Currently I have three available:

All the photos in this blog come from one of my current INB. See one you want? Want to take a closer look? Click the link below! 

Very soon I'll have an Interactive Notebook for Place Value in my TPT store!

What resources or tips do you have to share about INB? Please share links or ideas in the comments below!