Tuesday, October 29, 2013

My Truth Monday/Tuesday...

I'm linking up with sweet Denise over at Sunny Days in Second Grade for My Truth Monday (but on a Tuesday).  She is one of the first bloggers I started following so long ago and I adore her!

I missed the fun last week, but I'm joining today for the CREEPY edition.

I love all things Halloween.  Perhaps it's because my birthday is the next day ;)

Seriously...the food creepy is just creepy, people.
Scary movies?  I don't think so...
What creeps me out the most?  Yes, it's THAT sound.  My personal kids sometimes do it on purpose, the rats.  {By the way, do you find yourself calling your own kids your "personal" kids to clarify you don't mean your students?  I do it ALL.THE.TIME.}

I'll leave you with a little trick I pulled out of my bag again today.

It's the CUBES method for solving word problems.

We used it today to help us SLOW down when reading word problems.

We glued the notes in our notebooks and practiced using the method to solve word problems in our textbook.  I'm hoping by adding this method, my students will SLOW down and THINK in order to solve more difficult word problems.

You can grab that CUBES poster from my TPT store for FREE :)  Just click on the poster or {here}.

Happy Halloween!!

Monday, October 28, 2013

What I've Been Up To...and Math Workshop Monday {10.28.13}

Hi, friends.  It's nice to see you again.  I've been on a little bit of a break.  It wasn't planned. It was needed, though.  I have been swamped and couldn't keep my head above water.  How many of you are also feeling it?  I just finished Parent/Teacher Conferences...a long day...and I hope that as this new quarter begins, things will settle down.  Please tell me that they will :)  Lie if you have to...

Here are a few things that I've been up to in addition to being swamped.
First: I got a "new-to-me" Miata convertible.  I had one 17 years ago but when I got pregnant with this beauty with me, I had to get rid of it.  Now, I have one again!
So, I had to chop of my hair a bit:
Still getting used to it.  In this picture, I'm heading off to Denver for my cousin's wedding and to visit my brother and his family.

Then, this past weekend...I had another adventure:
I was lucky enough to head to the Michael Buble concert with my partner-in-crime concert/Disney fanatic friend!  It was fabulous!  If you haven't had a chance to see him and can...you must!

Check out his ending.  He is truly so thankful for his fans and it shows.  I love that about him.


How genuine.  Loved it!

Now, on to the reason for being back.  I'm back with another installment of the Math Workshop Monday Series.

This week's focus will be on the third rotation:

During teacher time, I am teaching my small groups.  I've changed this a bit over time, too.  I feel like I say that with every post, but it's so true.  I think that each year/month/week/day, I'm learning something new and changing yet something else.  That's what I love about teaching.  Each day is a new day and I can strive to make math workshop work better every day.

Last year, I taught the lesson that the students would be working on during "At Your Seat" the following day.  This worked for my groups last year, but didn't for my groups this year. This year, I teach a brief review of what they are working on during "At Your Seat", but I'm starting to teach a review skill with each group, too.  I am so excited that I'm starting to do this now.  To me, this is what small group instruction should be.  I should be focusing on the needs of each student/group.  True differentiated instruction!

I use the Math Moves Daily Spiral Review assessments to guide what I teach in my small groups.
Each week, we complete the Math Moves daily "morning work".  At the end of the week, I give an assessment based on the skills that were covered that week.  I am LOVING this!  It allows me the opportunity to see my students' strengths and weaknesses in all of the Common Core Standards.   I can work on fractions in my small groups based on the Math Moves assessments before teaching the whole unit on fractions.  The benefit in doing so will allow that skill to be mastered more easily when the time comes.

Does this happen every day?  No.  Sometimes the skill that we are covering (and then reviewed during "At Your Seat") is more difficult and takes up the entire small group time. When I do have time to throw in an added mini-lesson, I squeeze it in!  Every second counts!

How do you organize Math Workshop?  I'd love to hear and learn from you!  Email me or comment below :)

Monday, October 14, 2013

Math Workshop Monday and Monday Made It {10.14.13}

For the last few weeks, I've been blogging each Monday about what is working for me in Math Workshop (and sometimes not working).

This week's focus will be on the second rotation:

You might have read in last week's post that I am not teaching my small group a day ahead anymore.  I did teach it that way last year.  You can read more about what I mean {here} if you are interested.  Basically, I taught the lesson the day before in small group, gave a mini lesson the next day and that was the lesson they would complete during "At Your Seat".  I quit doing that this year because I found that the students were a little confused about what they were supposed to be doing by being a day behind on their independent practice.

Another reason I quit doing it that way is because I want my small group instruction time to be spent teaching the students what they need rather than just teaching the lesson we are completing that day in class.  This also allows me the opportunity to use my small group time more effectively.

This year, my students are completing the "Independent Practice" from the textbook.  Sometimes, I change it up a bit and have them complete some other type of activity that I've found somewhere or that I've created that teaches the concept better than the textbook.

Why do I even use the textbook?  Well, the main reason...it saves on copies.  I don't know how the copy ration works at your school, but for mine, copies are like gold.  You really have to ration out what you "spend" your copy allotment on at my school. I'm sure that is the same in a lot of places.  I choose to spend my copies primarily on assessments.  I have to give grades, so I have to use my copies to give those assessments.  This also helps parents see what their child might need to review.

Sometimes during the "At Your Seat" time, students finish early.  If they do, they start on their work for "Math Facts"/Calendar Math or they go back and finish extra questions that I've given to early finishers.

Now onto something a little more exciting:

Last year, I created a few things for my home for Halloween/Fall decorating.  This year, I only created one thing.

But, I did it twice.  I'm mailing my mother-in-law the second one that I made.  She put in a special order.  It only took me three weeks to finish it.  I wonder why???

Happy Monday, everyone :)  I hope you have a great week.

Thursday, October 10, 2013

Bic Brite Liner Highlighter Tape Review

A few weeks ago, well actually back in late August, I was contacted by a Bic representative to review their new product the Brite Liner Highlighter Tape.  I was happy to agree to try it out with my students.  I am always on the look out for new and different school supplies.

It works similar to the white out tape (which I love, love, love).  So, I figured it would be easy to use.  I will admit it was a little trickier than I thought it would be, but I got the hang of it after my teenager helped me out.  The great thing about it is the little white dial on the side.  If too much tape comes out (by pressing too hard), you can wind the extra tape back up inside the container.  Thank goodness....because at first I thought I had broken it.

Getting my students to use it correctly took some guidance from me and from some students who were patient and knew what to do...but they worked like a charm.

We were working on our reflection on addition and subtraction a few weeks ago and we used the highlighter tape on our graphic organizers.

It even worked on the thinner paper from our textbooks as you can see in the picture above.

Have you tried these highlighters yet?  Definitely worth a try!

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Free Printable Flash Card Maker

Do you ever find yourself wishing there were a simpler way to do things?  I do ALL.THE.TIME.

I have my son make flash cards to help him learn his gazillion vocabulary words that he is tested on every two weeks.  OK, maybe not a gazillion, but close.

Each two weeks, we languish over making them.  He hates to copy the definitions.  I hate for him to copy them, too.  What's the point?  Sure, I know for some students it helps with retention....but for my son, not so much.  It just leads to frustration.

Surely there must be an easier way?

Enter my handy, dandy friend, Google.  Why haven't I done this before now?  Why have I been so "old school" about these flash cards?

Well, Google told me about my next best friend and in doing so, this website might have shot up to true B.W.F.  (Best Website Friend).

If not for me, at least my son.

Not fancy.  No bells and whistles.  And, yes...a lot of ads.

But, *ahem* free.

Basically, you enter the words and definitions.  Download the PDF and print!  

Simple, right?

Why did it take me so long to figure this out?

Do you have an even better way?  I'd love to hear it.  

Because let's face it, I can use all the help I can get ;)

Monday, October 7, 2013

Math Workshop Monday {10.7.13}

For the last few weeks, I've been blogging each Monday about what is working for me in Math Workshop.  I don't have all of the answers; just what has worked (and hasn't worked) for me.  I'm also tweaking what is working on a weekly, heck...daily, basis.  Often I find that what works for one of my classes doesn't always work with the dynamics of one of my other classes.

Today, I'm breaking down what I do during our rotation titled "Math Facts"~ The "M" of the acronym that I use for our 4 rotations.  You can read more about the actual rotations {here} if this is your first time reading.

This is the rotation that I have been "tweaking" the most over the last two years.  Originally, I started with having my students complete their Math 4 Today sheet (back when I was using it).  That didn't quite work for me.  I found that the students zipped through it too quickly and then played around.  So, I added for them to complete their independent practice that they would also work on during "At Your Seat" time.  That worked for me for the last year and a half.

However, this year, I am not teaching a day ahead in my small group.  You can read more about what I mean {here} if you are interested.  Basically, I taught the lesson the day before in small group, gave a mini lesson the next day and that was the lesson they would complete during "At Your Seat".  I quit doing that this year because I found that the students were a little confused about what they were supposed to be doing by being a day behind on their independent practice.

Another reason I quit doing it that way is because I want my small group instruction time to be spent teaching the students what they need rather than just teaching the lesson we are completing that day in class.  You know, more differentiation and all that jazz.

So, what do I do now in Math Facts since what I was doing before didn't work?

Several things, actually.  The most important thing that I do during that time is I have my students complete half of our "Calendar Math".  This idea came from the fabulous Stephanie at Teaching in Room 6.  Please, please visit her {here} or {here} to read all about Calendar Math.  She is the expert!  Basically, it is a method of completing a spiral review (you know how I love that) based on a number of the day.  You really should go check her blog out if you don't already adore her as much as I do.

During this time, I also have my students complete some type of problem solving activity where they have to work as a team.  I am really working hard at trying to find the right way to incorporate the Common Core Mathematical Practices and I think that by having my students work together to solve problems might be the best way to make sure I incorporate it every single day.

For example, last week we were finishing up our work on place value.  I had my students write a 7 digit number on a foldable in their notebooks.  When they were in their groups for "Math Facts", they put themselves in order from greatest to least and then had to write a few sentences explaining their thinking.

This group meets on the floor right next to my small group table and I must admit, I was distracted by the groups on the floor.  Not because they were being loud...but because of all of the wonderful "Math Talk" I was hearing.  It was amazing!

So, to sum it up...what I do for my Math Facts time has evolved to fit my needs.  I think you can most certainly do the same.

Do you have any questions about Math Workshop?  How do you incorporate the Mathematical Practice standards into your classroom?

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Currently October

Happy October, everyone!  I love October.  We are *almost* settled in to a routine at school (and home), the weather is beautiful and hello....there's everything PUMPKIN :)

Yes, someecards does it again.  I'm ashamed to admit how many PSL I've consumed already.  It's too many :(  But, when I'm not having that, I'm looking for pumpkin flavored/smelling anything and everything.  I even washed my face the other day with a pumpkin smelling scrub from at Birchbox shipment.
Ahhhh, fall.  How I love thee :)

Anyway...on to the Currently for this month.

Listening~Why, oh why, must I always hear a washing machine running?
Loving~Hello, fall, y'all.
Thinking~Even though we are falling into a routine around school and home, my "To Do" list isn't shrinking yet.  Help!
Wanting~'Nuf Said :)
Needing~So that I can tackle that "To Do" list.

Easy Grader App....love it.  My old, worn out and tattered green easy grader is now digital.

Love it!

What have you been up to lately?  Catch us up with your Currently over with Farley: