Monday, July 30, 2012

Advice for the Incoming Class

Stephanie from Teaching in Room 6 has this really cool linky going on for giving advice to new teachers. I know I was a new teacher not too long ago, but I still have some advice to pass onto even newer teachers!

1. Find someone at or near your grade level who you can talk to (a kind of second mentor) if you are not lucky enough to have a mentor at your grade level. They will be an invaluable resource of things to do, how to solve problems, deal with parents, etc.

2. I know it will be hard, because you want to impress, but leave school work at school. If you try to be super teacher and are taking home work every night, or staying late, you will get burned out and teaching will consume your life. Pick one night to stay late and get stuff done. Your kids won't really care if it takes a week or two to get graded papers back...but they'll care if you start to lose patience and not be the fun teacher that you normally are.

3. It's okay when that lesson bombs. Reteach it and move on. It'll actually be a great example to the kids that everyone makes mistakes and that's how you learn.

4. Most importantly, have fun. Learning should be fun! Joke around with your kids, play games (as long as they still respect you and your classroom management is good). They'll enjoy coming to school more knowing they have the super cool teacher :)

Smiles and Sunshine,

Sunday, July 29, 2012

School Year Resolutions

Hi Peeps!

I'm linking up with Amanda from Teaching Maddeness for her

Resolution # 1: Implement some sort of Math Workshop, with whole group, small group and center teaching. My mentor for the new school suggested that the 1 hour math block was all whole group teaching, but I think it needs to be divided up into sections (like calendar, problem solving, whole group lesson, practice, etc.)

Resolution # 2: Staff bonding (hopefully!) I'm moving to a new area, so I know no one (and I'm further away from my friends), so I'm hoping to make some friends among the staff (which is hard, because I'm more of an observer/introvert)

Resolution # 3: Track my kids progress better. I want to have a better idea on where my kids are at a given time, and a better handle on what skills they are strong on and where they need to make more progress

Resolution # 4: Better organized! I'm hoping to have a better handle on my organization this year. I found a system that works for me (at least it did last year!), and it took until Feb/Mar for me to feel comfortable with the organization. I'm hoping that I can do it a little quicker this year!

Well, those are my resolutions for this school year. Folks, I know that you will be uber disappointed ;), but there will be no Monday Made It from me's more like Monday Move It! I've been packing all week and tying up loose ends for my move at the end of the week! I still have a little ways to go, but I've been to busy to craft (unless you count creative packing and trashing!)

Smiles and Sunshine,

Thursday, July 26, 2012

First Day Jitters

Hi all!

I'm linking up with Fierce in Fourth for her First Day Jitters Blog Hop. I'm sure we've all read the book to our students at some point, but she wants to know some of our worries!
1. I'm in a new district and school. Again. I always worry about working with new colleagues, administration and learning the new curriculum. And if my kids will like me.

2. I'm moving out on my own for the first time ever. Little nervous about how it is going to go, but excited to have my own space, and not have to commute very far.

3. I'm jittery about how the curriculum stuff is going to go. The whole district has a new literacy program, so we'll all get training in that, but I haven't been impressed with the Math and I'm wondering what the principal will require for lesson plans and how I am going to integrate CC into it (if the district is even there yet).

Well, those are my jitters!  Go check out this fun blog hop!

Smiles and Sunshine,

Super Summarizing

Hi Bloggy Friends!
This was the guest post that I did for Amber last week, hope you like it! :)

One of my favorite things to teach is Reading. I also love making things with the students, or having them create something to respond to the reading with. I have a fun activity for you today that your students will find pretty cool (it's been kid tested and approved! :) You can use it for summarizing, or critiquing a book (or anything else you can think of!)

First, you need to have a sheet of paper (cardstock, construction or regular). Fold it in half the hamburger way.
Then you need to draw a half circle on the paper (or, as mine turned out, an oval)
Cut it out.
Here comes the fun part! Students are to pick a book (or do this with a book that they have previously read), and they decorate the front of the circle with the title, and maybe some scenes from the book. This is what mine looks like.
On the inside, students can write a summary of the book, or write a critique of the book, what they liked, what they didn't and why.
They can also add another scene from the book on the inside cover, maybe their favorite part. My kids loved doing this year, and they all turned out beautifully. 

I hope your kids love it as much as mine did!

Smiles and Sunshine,

Monday, July 23, 2012

My Teacher Story

It seems that I've wanted to be a teacher forever. My clearest moment of this was in 2nd grade. My 2nd grade teacher was wonderful! She made learning seem like so much fun, like we weren't learning and just playing games. I knew that one day, I wanted to do the same.

Everything I have done in school has been to prepare for being a teacher. My high school was awesome, as it had voctech programs that we could do (cosmetology, food, banking, hospitality, CADD, automotive, etc). It was a 2 year program, and I of course, did the education one. The first year, I worked with 3 year olds in the preschool. They were a lot of fun, but it taught me that I could NEVER be preschool teacher, I don't have the patience! The next year, I worked in a 2nd grade classroom and LOVED it!

 The college I choose to go to had a student teaching aboard program, so I did a student teaching in 6th grade in Scotland (Glasgow). It was pretty cool, and I loved learning about how another culture views and implements their education system. I did my second student teaching in Painted Post, NY in a 2nd grade.

When I got out of college, I did some subbing in a local district (okay, a lot of subbing). The last 2 months of the year, I covered a maternity leave in 1st grade. Funny thing is, I had never wanted to teach K or 1st, because I thought they were just too young. It wasn't until I subbed in a 1st grade that I thought I could handle it.

The next 2 years, I taught Kindergarten. The first year, I did a maternity leave cover at my elementary school (which made the teachers that I had still working there feel old! :). The second year, I taught at a private preschool (BIG mistake!).

After realizing that I could no longer continue working at a preschool, I took a para position in Transition (the step between K and 1st, when they need more time). It turned out pretty good, because the teacher was out more than she expected, and I picked up the slack.

Last year, the day before school started (literally!) I interviewed and was hired for a 4th grade position. The district received unexpected money from the state, and they were able to add in teachers. I had a wonderful time, but the last weekend in March, the principal told me I wasn't needed for next year. They had a maternity leave come back unexpectedly in the district, know what happens then.

There have been a few times (twice in college and once a few years ago), that I've stepped back, looked at my life and asked myself, do I want to do this? Is it worth it? Is this what I am meant to be doing? The answer has always been yes, and this last bump was not one of those times. 

Fortunately, I knew early enough to start the job search (for the 6th YEAR in a row). This time though, something amazing happened! I started getting calls at the end of April (which had me flabbergasted!) and I interviewed in three districts before my new district offered me a 4th grade position (because of my previous experience and my 5-8 SS cert). So, for the first time ever, I had a job before the end of May.

I truly believe that everything happens for a reason, and that wherever I go, I help those students before I need to help others. I'm hoping that this will be the last move, and that I've found my teaching home, but only time will tell.

So, that's my (surprisingly long!) teacher story. I've been working with kids for over 12 years (a long time, I think, for someone under 30!) and I truly believe that this is what I am meant to be doing. Working with kids, advocating for them and trying to teach and enrich their lives. What's your teacher story?

Go link up at Tales of Frogs and Cupcakes!

Smiles and Sunshine,

Monday Made It

Happy Monday Peeps!

For my first made it, check out my new background! I changed it in honor of my birthday this weekend :)

Next, I made these cute Letter Puddles!  I originally got the idea from Tara, who has wonderful Word Work post that you should check out. 

New teachers in my district don't have to report back to August 24 (veteran's even later), so I still have a month of summer left. Hopefully, some of that will be taken up with moving and settling into a new apartment (I found a place and put down 1st month, but I haven't signed the lease yet, but the realtor says its coming...however, I thought I was supposed to move in August 1, and I found it over a month ago, so we'll see. They'll be getting another call Tuesday if I haven't heard from them!)

Smiles and Sunshine,

Friday, July 20, 2012

Guided Math, Chapters 8 & 9

Chapter 8 in Guided Math is all about Assessment.
  • Usually, to me, grading math is black and white. The answer is either wrong or right. I use a point system, where each question is worth 1 point, and the grade looks something like this: 31/35. The top number is the number they got right, and the bottom number is the total number of points available. At the end of the semester, I add all the points up, divide by their points by points possible and I have the grade.
  • Sammons introduced checklists and rubrics in this chapter for Math. I have used checklists and rubrics for other things, but never for math. I am really intrigued by the idea of using this to help my assessment in math.
  • I think the checklists will work really well in the small group, as I will able to see easily who has it and who doesn't. I could also give the checklists to the students, to have them do self-assessments and see where they feel they are in Math.  
This chapter really opened my eyes to different types of assessment that I could use in my Math block.

Chapter 9
  • Chapter 9 is all about pulling it all together, and basically sums up the book.
I really liked this book. A lot of what Sammons said made sense, and she gave us the information with different ideas on how to implement it. The best things, I feel like she was saying to us that this how you can set it up, but you need to make it work for you and your students.

This has definitely given me some great ideas for next year and how I want to set up my Math block!

Smiles and Sunshine,

Fonts and Guilty Pleasures

I've seen a couple of cute linkys out there, so I thought I would join in the fun!

Run! Miss Nelson's Got the Camera is having a font linky.

I've bolded all the fonts so you could see them a little better...and I'm sorry Pea Stacy got cut off, I don't know what happened?!

Ashley at The Resource Room Teacher is having a guilty pleasures linky party.

Blog Title

1. Romance Novels...people, aside from professional books and children's books, this is all I read. I love the happily ever after, and the story of how people find each other. I have almost 200 on my Kindle and then an additional 300+ in regular book form. (I reread like crazy, so I never get rid of any, unless they are really bad!)

2. Coke...I love this soda! I have at least one can a day, and my kids know when I have soda, I am happy. :)
3. Fun Sci-Fiction! I do like science-fiction, but I like the ones that have a happy vision of the future, or that are funny. So, some of my favorites are Eureka, Warehouse 13, Star Trek (Next Gen, Voyager)
4. Sleep. Peeps, I love sleeping. I can sleep for 12 hours at a time if I'm tired enough. Summer has really screwed up my schedule, since I'm not working this year, so I basically stay awake almost all night and sleep during the day.

5. Fast Food...I know it's really bad for me, but I just love a cheeseburgers from McDonald's and Burger King. They are oh so yummy to me. :)

Go check out these fun linkys!

Smiles and Sunshine,

Thursday, July 19, 2012

Guest Post

Hi Friends!

I'm over at

today for her

so stop over and take a look!
Smiles and Sunshine,

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Morning Meeting

On one of my posts awhile back, I mentioned that I do Morning Meeting. I've had a few questions about how I run my Morning Meeting, so I thought I would share with you what I do.

The Morning Meeting format that I use comes straight from Responsive Classroom, which I was trained in a few years ago.

The are 4 sections to this Morning Meeting. Overall, Morning Meeting should be anywhere from 10-20 minutes, depending on grade level, things you choose to do/focus on, and attention span.

Every meeting starts with a Greeting. Students should be either greeted by the teacher, or each other every day. Greetings can be anything from a quick handshake, to a ball greeting. If you do not have a lot of time to devote to Morning Meeting, having a short Greeting is a place that you can save some time by doing something quick.

Greetings are important because it helps the children feel welcome and that they are appreciated and part of the community. New greetings should be introduced and modeled before having the students do it on their own.

The next section is Sharing. Students share something about themselves. At first, I would recommend a group share, which is asking a question and having the students respond (favorite color, food, etc.). I would slowly move to individual shares, where students could share whatever they wished (although I would limit that number of students who would share in a day, probably no more than 3 a meeting).

Sharing is important because it helps the students feel a part of a the community, and that we really care what is going on with them and their lives.

The third section is the Activity, which is a game that you play with the students. It's great community and team building, and usually gets the students up and moving and their brains working. Activities should be introduced step by step and modeled thoroughly.

The last part of Morning Meeting is the Morning Message. Depending on your grade level, your Message will look different. The Message lets the students know what is upcoming in the day, things they did well yesterday and can be a part of the activity, if you ask a questions on the bottom.

A lot of teachers also use their Message to practice sight words, grammar, fill in the blanks and more. Especially in the younger grades, the Message should be read a couple of times, once by the teacher and then as a group read as the class. In the older grades, you can move the responsibility of reading the message from the teacher to the students.

So those are the 4 parts of my Morning Meeting. I have a few book recommendations if you are interested in starting Morning Meeting. It takes a bit of time to set it up in the beginning, but it is well worth it and a great community building activity!
If you can only buy one, this is it! It has the structure, and greeting and activities in the back!

This is also another good resource.

Great for Activities, leveled for grades

Gives a good idea on how to structure your message for different grade levels

Really good resource, split up by grade level, has plans for the first 6 weeks

If you click on each book, it will take you to its Amazon page.
I hope you found this helpful, and if you have any more questions, please let me know!

Smiles and Sunshine,

Monday, July 16, 2012

Monday Made It

It's time for another Monday Made It! Nothing too fancy this week. I made a cute notepad cover:

and I finished a cross-stitch (counted, not a stamped pattern):

Happy Monday!

Smiles and Sunshine,

Sunday, July 15, 2012

Guided Math, Chapter 7

This chapter in Guided Math is on conferring with students. I've conferred with students during Reading, checking in on what they are reading, checking comprehension, but I've never thought about conferring with students during the Math block (or maybe I was conferring with them and didn't realize it!).

I love how Sammons showed the high points on how to do a conference in the Math block.
  • Check in with the students to see where they are 
  • Decided what skill they need to be working on 
  • Show the student how to do a task
  • Link it to how it will help them in the future

A lot of times in my Math block, I would teach something whole group, we would do a little practice together on the board, and then I would send the kids to work together in partners. I would sit at the meeting table, and those that needed extra help/individualized instruction would come back and I would work with them one on one.

Sometimes, I would wander around the pairs, checking in with students and redirecting and reteaching as necessary. So, in my own way, I guess I was conferring with students!

Although one thing that I am going to really take away from this chapter is to keep records of the conferences, even just keeping track of who I worked with that day and the skill. I think that it could really help me track those students that are struggling and where their weaknesses are.

It would also be really beneficial when I make my small groups, because I could use my observations to match those kids together who really struggle with certain skills (provided it's a skill we worked on before) and give them more attention and hopefully get them up to speed. 

So while I didn't really think about conferring with students in Math, I guess I was doing my own version of it all along! Funny how those things work out!

Smiles and Sunshine,

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Daily 5, Chapter 5

This chapter was all about Listen to Reading and Read to Someone. I love the idea of Listen to Reading, but am wondering how well it will work in the older grades. I have a vast collection of books sets with CD's (Thank you Scholastic!), but they are all on a younger level. I haven't seen any in Scholastic for the upper grades, so I am wondering how to run this. Thoughts? Suggestions?

I love the Read to Someone, we did this a lot this year in my class. However, I didn't really set guidelines down, which I really want to do this year. I love EEKK (Elbow, Elbow, Knee, Knee) as well as haven't the partners sit face to face.

This will take some modeling, but I think that it will be well worth it in the end. Hopefully I can find a way for these two to work for me in Grade 4!

Smiles and Sunshine,

Friday, July 13, 2012

Daily 5 Chapter 4

Chapter 4 on Daily 5 was all about Read to Self.  I talked a little about children picking their books and what they should be reading here.

I like the idea of building stamina on reading to yourself. However, I teach  4th graders, so I feel that 3 minutes is too small a time to start with. Maybe 5 minutes? I also get why the Sisters want to add minutes each day, but I was also thinking (again, applied to the older grades) that maybe we could build stamina 2 or 3 times a day.

You know, start in the morning, teach Math, build more stamina, have lunch, build stamina. That way, the students can keep trying to top their time that day. We could also start with the middle time the next day. I think it would be a faster way of getting the students to the expectations, but again, it depends on the grade level and make-up of the class. Thoughts?

I also think that their should be a response piece in the older grades. Whether it be a creative piece, a letter to the teacher, filling out a Graphic Organizer, or just conferencing with the teacher, I feel that the older kids should be a little more responsible for their reading. This will also cut down on the 'pretending to read and turn pages, since I think my teacher won't notice' .                

Those are my thoughts on Chapter 4!

Smiles and Sunshine,

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Daily 5 Chapter 3

Hello Bloggy Friends! I'm a little late with posting this (ironically, I got sucked into reading a really good series, and couldn't put my Kindle down), but I hope to catch up with everything soon.

Chapter 3 was all about the routines, concepts and materials for doing the Daily 5 in the classroom.

One of the first things that the Sisters mentioned was to have a gathering place for mini-lessons (focus lessons). I try to always have a gathering place, I'm a big fan of Morning Meeting (which I'll post about it a few days), and think kids can learn a little better sitting on the rug in a whole group (less fidgets in their desks!). 

The rest of the chapter was dedicated to picking good fit books, having a place to store the books, and important signals (which should be a put of any classroom routine).

Now, while I agree that children should be reading at their level, they are interested in and can understand what is going on, I also think that at times, children should not only be reading Just Right books, they should also be reading easier books and more challenging books.

Sometimes, our brains just want a break. We ask a lot of our students, and I feel, that sometimes it's okay to have the 4th grader read a picture book. It gives our brain a break, but allows us to keep practicing our skills (hence the reason I have almost 200 romance novels on my Kindle :).

I also think that students should challenge themselves. If they are really interested in a book or topic, but it is above their reading level, I think they should give it a try. I think it stretches their brain to maybe think outside the box, and they can learn from it.

Now, I do think children should be reading Just Right books most of the time. But sometimes, it's okay to read that really cool, but really easy picture book or the harder book about that really cool topic. But those are just my thoughts. :)

Smiles and Sunshine,

Monday, July 9, 2012

Monday Made It and Freebie

Folks, it's time for another Monday Made It!

Remember the fun tags from last week? Well, I made an alphabet to go along with it!
You can click on the picture to get your freebie copy of them. I'm hoping to use it for a Word Wall (if I have one), but they could be used for other things as well.

I also made this cute cupcakes for the 4th of July.

Happy Monday!
Smiles and Sunshine,

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Guided Math, Chapter 6

Bloggy Friends...this is the view I had today while relaxing with my friend...
Yep, I spent some of my day sitting on the beach, reading my Kindle and Guided Math book! :)
It was a little chilly, and the clouds went in and out, but it was nice just to sit, and breath the sea air (and also to spend time with my friend!)

I also made these cupcakes for the 4th of July, using  this trick from Pinterest. I used three colors instead of 2, and I think it turned out quite nice!

Now onto Guided Math!

Chapter 6 was all about the Math Workshop and the advantages and disadvantages of it.

  • I really like the idea that students can be working on different learning activities, and even different Math skills. I could have some students working on their multiplication facts, some working a a previously taught skill learned earlier in the week, some doing their Problem Solver and some working on real-world applications for the math that is being taught.
  • Some challenges I see are coming up with all the workstations for the students to do. I should have about 15 students this year, so that's 5 groups of 3, 3 groups of 4 and 1 of 3, or 3 groups of 5. I really like the ideas of using task cards to help with the workstations, and I've started bookmarking them at TPT on my wishlist.
  • It's important to have routine, routine, routine, and guide the students through your expectations and gradually release the choice to them on what they do and increase their independence as the school year goes on (kinda like the Daily 5 for Math was the impression I got from this chapter)
  • Sammons also went into more detail about the different components you could have when doing Math Workshop (Math Journals, Problem Solver, Math Automatically, and Computer Work)
  • Organization is key! This is important for any subject, but since math has many manipulatives that are used, they need to be organized in a way the is easy for the kids to understand and well as clean up when they are done. 
  • If you are one of the lucky people that has a co-teacher or an assistant, she also includes info on how to plan with you co-teachers!

I really liked this chapter, and can't wait to read my Debbie Diller book on the subject, because I think that will make it clearer in my mind. I also think that it will be a lot of trial and error while I'm finding my feet with the new curriculum, and just how I want my classroom to run! But that's a topic for another day! :)

Smiles and Sunshine,

Wednesday, July 4, 2012

4 on the 4th!

Happy 4th, Bloggy Friends...again! (I figure, since it's summer, and there are so many wonderful linky parties/book studies out there, and I have time, why not post twice a day if I want?!)

Ms. M over at Ms. M's Blog is having a linky party about 4 new things that you want to do for next year!

1. I want to implement a Guided Math/Math Workshops next year. I think that this will be a good way to reach all my students needs, as well as helping raise those pesky test scores!

2. I really want to try and do Interactive Notebooks next year for different subjects. I think that it would work great in Reading, Science, Social Studies, Math and well.....everything! I think it would be a wonderful resource for the kids, and help their learning as well.

3. Really focus on creating a classroom community. I truly believe that Responsive Classroom can work wonderfully, but I really need to take the time and do my way. Last year, I really wanted to do it with my 4th graders, but my mentor told me that there was no time in the day for things like that. I wish I had listened to what I knew was right for me and my style and done it anyway, and stole time from somewhere else. I'll make it a priority this year!

4. Really focus on having a CAFE/CRAFT board, as well as a VOICES board (Kristen at Ladybug's Teacher Files has wonderful, free resources for this). I think that having the lessons up for the kids to see will help them remember, as well as making the classroom cute and wonderful! :)

Those are my four things that I want to focus on next year! Go link up!

Smiles and Sunshine,

Daily 5, Chapter 2

Happy 4th of July!!

I'm off to visit a friend for a few days...but I won't leave you behind! :) (She has to study for her Social Work Licensing Exam, so I told her I'd bring stuff to is coming with!) Hopefully I'll be spending some time on the beach with my Kindle! :)

Now onto the Daily 5!

Chapter 2 was about the management and the foundations of Daily 5.
One of the first thing the Sisters talked about was Trust. Trust is huge! The trust that a teacher builds with the class is one of the most important bonds that a teacher can have. Children need to trust that the teacher knows what she/he is doing, and the teacher needs to trust his/her students to do their best work and put an effort into their learning.

Sometimes, when my children came to me with something (minor), I would look at them and tell them "I trust you. I know that you'll do the right thing/your best work". They would just look at me, nod their heads and walk away. They usually walked away with their heads held higher, since they then had the confidence knowing that their teacher had trust in them.

Choice is also mentioned in this chapter. I am a big believer in having choice for the kids. I don't bug them about what books they are reading, as long as they are reading. I think that when I implement workshops/centers in my classrooms this year, I'll let the students choose what order they want to work on things. I'll still have the must-dos that will need to be completed by the end of the day, but they can decided what they are working on and when.

My students really liked it when I gave them an open-ended project (see here for an example), but let them choose who they did, or what book it was on. We did Literature Circles for the last two months of school, and they got really excited when  I told them that they were going to have a choice on what books they read (they put down 3, so some of them did not get their first choice).

Stamina is one of the most important things that we can help our students with. I had one child, when I taught Kindergarten, who could not sit still for 5 minutes. By the end of the year, he was able to sit still for almost 15 minutes. We did it by gradually increasing the time I expected him to sit still, and any time I notice any squirming, I had him stand up and move a little.

We shouldn't expect children to be able to pay attention or attended to a task on the first day. We have to gradually increase the time that we expect them to work. I love to read, and can literally read all day without any breaks...but then, I've had almost 30 years of building my stamina in that area! :)

Building independence and routines is also talked about in this chapter. I'm a firm believer that the first 6 weeks of school are the most important, because that is when you build the routines and expectations for the class. You can introduce routines and expectations later on in the year...but I feel that it runs more smoothly if you start it off that way.

Have a wonderful 4th!
Smiles and Sunshine,

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

Guided Math, Chapters 4 & 5

So I finished my 4th of July cupcakes...which you'll see a picture of later! :) They turned out super cute, and I used a trick I found on Pinterest to ice them, and it worked out well.

Now onto the Math portion of our evening...

Chapter 4
  • This chapter was about Whole-Group Instruction. I think a lot of teachers...myself included...think, or used to think, that whole group was the only way to teach Math instruction. I began to realize this past year that while it has its place, it's not the only way to teach Math.
  • I love how she included how to run a mini-lesson and the structure of a mini-lesson. I started using this a lot this year, teaching a whole group mini-lesson, then sending the kids to work in partners or groups of three to practice the skill. Some kids preferred to work alone, which was fine, and I was available to help those that needed it (People coming in often found me sitting on the floor and couldn't find me at first...I blend in! :)
  • I really liked how she took things that we normally use in Reading and other subjects (KWL, Anticipation Guides) and showed us how we can relate them to Math and use them in our math instruction.  This is definitely something that I want to use next year, especially when introducing an new unit or concept. 
  • Math Workshops were also introduced in this chapter, as an introduction to do after the whole group teaching. I'm wondering how well Debbie Diller's Math Work Stations would work within this structure? (I still haven't delved into my copy...)
  • Sammons also had a small section on technology in this chapter, which really interested me, especially since I have a SMART Board this year. I know Khan Academy is a wonderful site. Bloggy Friends, do you have any other suggestions?
Chapter 5
  • This chapter was about Small Group Instruction. Just like Language Arts has its Guided Reading groups,  Math can be taught in small groups as well. 
  • I think that this would be very beneficial to students, since they'll be getting focused teaching. However, what about the students that I'm not reaching that day and still don't understand it? I think it will be a matter of finding a balance between all of the components, and something I can't do until I meet the kids and have a few weeks with them.
  • A great deal of this chapter was focused on assessment and forming the groups. We use NWEA (MAP to some of you) to test three times a year, but how reliable is that data? It looks at one day, a few hours, and I don't think it is the truest reflection of a student's skills or knowledge. 
    • Do I change groups for every unit? Sammons suggested pretesting at the beginning each new unit, and use that data to help form the groups.
    • When working with the groups, how am I measuring their progress? I know I want a lot of the activities to be hands-on, but I need to show how the students are progressing. 
  • I love how she went through a structure of a lesson with a small group. It will definitely come in handy when teaching!
  • I was thinking about how Guided Reading and Guided Math groups are similar in their structure and purpose. For GR, I use post-its to record my thoughts/observations on a student (they're all on a clipboard) and I transfer them to a binder later on. I was thinking I could do the exact same thing for GM, (same binder but different sections!), and then I would have anecdotal data on how the students are progressing.
    • This would also help when planning for the next day's lesson, or the skills I need to go back and review with the group, or even the whole class. 
  • One thing that struck me while reading, is that I feel (and I also got the impression from Sammons), that the groups need to be flexible based on the students. Some of my kids last year were really good at computational math, but had a hard time with the more abstract math, like geometry, and vice versa. By having flexible small groups, those kids that struggle with those certain skills can get the reinforcement that they need and not be stuck in the lowest group for the whole year. 
Thank you for listening to reading my ramblings!!
Smiles and Sunshine,

Guided Math, Chapters 1-3

Y'all, I know that I am WAY late with this one. But I thought that I would share my thoughts up to this point, and try to join in on the rest of the chapters.

Last year, I used the Four Frames Framework to guide my math instruction. It divided my hour long math block into 4 sections:
5-10 minutes- Perfect Practice-a quick review of previously learned skills
10-15 minutes- Calendar Math- we used Every Day Counts
10-15 minutes- Problem Solver- taught the kids how to problem solve uses word problems and different techniques
Rest of the time (hopefully 15-20 minutes)- Direct Instruction- we had a curriculum map to follow and used Scott Foresman Math-this was mostly whole group

This year, I have an hour again, but this is the Math curriculum that I received when I went in for a few hours:
According to my mentor, there is no Calendar Math, and instruction is supposed to be mostly whole group. She did say something that I found kind of shocking when I thought about it...she was talking about some of the problems in the early units, and how the kids would not be able to do some of them because.....they do not know range (median, mode, etc.) is OR how to do simple division.

I was blown away. These are supposed to be incoming 4th graders, and I think (and in my experience) that they should at least have a vague idea on what division is!

Okay. That's where I am right now. I walked away from that meeting knowing that I wanted to try some sort of Math Workshop (or at least not doing all whole group teaching), and I needed to come up with a plan for Calendar Math (which I think is very important in practicing daily skills). I went home and ordered some books...
Just ignore that Guided Reading book for this post! :)
I got Math Work Stations first, but I haven't had time to delve into it. I got Guided Math last week.
Here are my thoughts so far.
Chapter 1
  • I liked how she gave an overview of the framework, and then went into more detail for each chapter.
  • I totally learned Math in a whole class way-and had some trouble along the way
  • I like how she included the schedule to show that not everyday has to be a workshop day...some days can be whole class lessons.
  • The emphasis of this and how it will work for you is based on the needs of your students. She does state that, which makes me happy. I feel like she knows that everyone needs to tailor the approach to their teaching styles and the needs of their students. 
Chapter 2
  • Numeracy seems to be the standard that most schools/districts have the most trouble with. Creating a numeracy rich environment and continuous practice of these skills is one way that we can help raise those test scores.
  • I love how she talks about creating a learning community. I am a big proponent of Responsive Classroom, and I feel that the ideals of this fit right into that. 
  • I like how she breaks it down, for storing the manipulatives, to classroom arrangement, to having Math Journals (makes sense, since my kids had Writing Journals).
  • I think that a lot of the time, teachers can fall back on the paper/pencil routine for math. We can forget how important it is for kids to be doing and creating. Sammons talks a lot about how we can make math more hands on for students, which I really like.
    • On a side note, I started incorporating foldables more into my my instruction when I was teaching Geometry and Angles, and the kids ate it up. I felt they learned those skills much better because of the way that I changed my instruction, and they told me they liked having the foldable to go back to! :)
Chapter 3
  • I really like the idea of Math Stretches. I think that it is something that could be easily incorporated into my Morning Meeting,  and a great way to introduce students into the day. Just like Morning Meeting gets them ready for the school day and bonding as a community, Math Stretches flexes those brain muscles to get them ready for thinking.
  • Math Stretches or using Math could also be included in the Morning Message (I write a letter to my kids every day telling what we are going to do, or things they did well).
  • Calendar is HUGE! I think it is important to have daily work with numbers, problem solving, graphing and more. It keeps the kids skills sharp on things that we are not currently doing, as well as keeping me on track for the date! ;)
  • I love the fact that she included a problem solver, whether it be daily or weekly. I feel like a lot of common sense or problem solving skills are missing in the world, and if we teach our students to think outside the box, and to think of creative solutions to solve things, or to look at all aspects of a problems to figure out a solution. 
    • We could make a problem solver journal, which they showed how they solved the problem, and dissected it to find the important information. This could be 1/2 a composition book (something I saw at a 4 Blocks Workshop)(so 10 books makes 20), with the problem typed up and glued to the top of the page. 
Whew! I think that's enough Math for now. I may post my thoughts on Chapters 4 and 5 later depends on how my 4th of July cupcakes go!

Smiles and Sunshine,