Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Guided Math Galore

One of my favorite times of the day is math.  I adore the concrete to abstract discovery that I see in my students year after year.  The manipulatives oh the manipulatives.  My first year as a teacher I received three large boxes and when I opened them, they were full of bright colorful math "toys".  There's no denying my love for school supplies, containers, and other teachery things, but when I laid eyes on those math toys.  It was done.  Head over heels.  {with a sprinkle of anxiety because I had no idea what they were for}
18 years later, those math manipulatives are still being used daily. Unconventional or seasonal items bring motivation and excitement to your lessons while making great learning tools too!  {Thank you Target dollar spot}

Another big shift occurred in recent years which has teachers feeling more pressure in an already overwhelming subject area to teach.  It's not just math anymore, it's guided math.  There are many components happening at once.  There's essentials and supplemental, readiness and priority.  Then of course data and analysis.  God bless the new teachers.  It's a lot to take on.

Through the last few years I have been working to make life easier for myself (and hopefully you too) by creating units and components that I can turn to during the school year when there's absolutely  no more time in the day for being creative! {or for making dinner, helping with homework, grading papers, doing laundry, or basic human functioning} 

My most recent one, I just posted yesterday.  I am not sure if I have ever felt more connected to a posted unit!  I took my math lesson plans and transformed them into a teacher friendly plan book complete with games and activities.

To begin math, we gather on the rug for a warm-up!

I don't have time to come up with a fancy starter activity for 180 days of school, do you?
I learned this method of Alliteration years ago and I love it.  I like to take it month by month rather than day by day.   Here's our warm-up card for the first 20 lessons.

From warm up, we move into whole group time!
This is your mini-lesson.  Time for direct instruction to everyone at once.  Unfortunately I have little to no pictures of this time because I am usually the one running my mouth and knee deep in unifix cubes and dry erase boards...

I have written out lesson plans for guided math whole group in my newest unit!  Guided Math Lessons!  {It has a lot more than whole group!}

From whole group time we move into
Small Group Rotations
I have my guided math rotation system both in card form for the wall as well as projected.  We only use the wall version during training in order to refer back when we are learning it.  Our rotations are short and sweet and jam packed full of learning!

If you look at my screen behind the girls in this picture (it's a little hard to see)  you can see that we are on round 2.  A timer is keeping track and will make a noise when it is time to clean and rotate.

One rotation in my room that is heaven sent is our math journal rotation.  I have blogged your ear off about math journals because I adore them!

I sell monthly sets of journal activities as well as bundled sets.

This summer I created some math tools for our journals.  We will get into these as we learn the year's concepts.  The first section of our math journals will be a reference section for the larger pieces to be placed.  The smaller hands on pieces will go into the little math tool tub on the cover.   The math tools cover a range of skills from K-5!

If we need our tools during independent work rotation, we can grab them to help us!  No more wandering the room for a hundred's chart.  {Can I get an amen!}

Another beloved rotation for math is our math tub rotation.  It's an independent math game that students play alone or with group mates.  {Did I just say group mates?}  If at all possible make your groups EVEN numbers.  You will thank yourself.  Of course having a group of three happens due to absences and class needs, so teaching teamwork and expectations is high priority for a year worth of fun and learning.

To begin the year, we explore manipulatives without an academic goal.  This is the time where we set expectations about moving in the room, noise level, math talk, cleaning up.  It's a good week and a half to two weeks before I prep my first round of real math tubs.

To start I begin with these two math center units of mine.  They are great for August and September.


I bundled one set of math centers for each month too!

We have a technology rotation in our guided math block.  To begin the year, my favorite apps are The Subitize Tree, Teach Me First Grade, and Ten Frame Math.

Then finally my favorite rotation of all, the teacher table!!!  {cue the fireworks}
This is where we really get into the nitty gritty.  I can see each student up close and personal.  It's a time of talking, teaching, playing, explaining, modeling, and loving math! 

 My guided math unit from above goes from whole group lessons right into differentiated small group lessons!  It's all there for you!  The games and activities in the lesson plans are there too!

To keep everything all together in one spot.  I created a guided math binder.  This baby has all the planning, RTI, and student tracking pages I need for my small group table.

 Guided Math Binder for First Grade  Guided Math Binder for Any Grade
 Guided Math Binder for First Grade  Guided Math Binder for Any Grade
Guided Math Binder for First Grade  Guided Math Binder for Any Grade

Guided Math Binder for First Grade
Guided Math Binder for Any Grade
I hope this post has helped inspire you to start getting excited about teaching math this year!  If you are looking for anything you saw in this post just click the picture to see more about it on tpt. 

Wednesday, June 24, 2015

Morning Meeting: Let's Discuss

As long as I have been teaching I have had morning meeting guilt.  At first it was because I didn't know what it was and every other teacher on the planet just nodded knowingly when it came up in conversation.  I didn't dare ask.  It was common knowledge and all.  ahem...but I missed that professional development.   And this was before the internet.  So there I was.
 I know right?  A brand new teacher in a portable with no internet invented. (to my knowledge)

One day I went into a teacher's room and I saw a fun little letter she had written her students so I asked her about it.  She replied, "Oh don't read that!  It's just my morning message."  That was the beginning of a world of fun morning messages! Or I thought ... after a week I was so over it.  Again, I didn't get the purpose behind it. 

I was doing it for smelly markers and chart paper or maybe because I was keeping up with the teacher a mile away in the building.  Again with the guilt.
Over time I searched, (hooray internet!!) read, and asked about the morning meeting.  Once I understood it, I worked at making it great for my students.  But around year ten I decided I really didn't like it.  I gave it up.  Just cold turkey.  No more writing the same four sentences that my students have already memorized and don't read anyway.  I AM DONE! 

I didn't miss it.  But the guilt.  It stayed.  It nagged.  I ignored. Until I couldn't anymore.  My class was definitely missing out but I had no idea how to make it better!  I tried different ideas but nothing really stuck for more than a few days. 

Then I found a book online that looked promising.  The Morning Meeting.  Catchy no?  It changed my morning meeting feelings forever!  If you are relating to these feelings at all I really recommend you get this book! This is a true story about a teacher finding her real morning meeting after years of searching.  I am not affiliated with this book or endorsing it in any way! (Also this isn't just for younger grades!  This book has examples for K-8)

Let me show you what it has done for our class!

There are actually four components to the morning meeting.  I didn't know that before this. I thought it was about the morning message!  The components are:  Greeting, Sharing, Group Activity, and Morning Message. 

Students carry their own experiences into our classroom.  There are so many things we can not control that enter our safe little classrooms. Thankfully we can control our classroom community.  It may be the most positive time of the day for some students with tough home lives.  Our morning meeting connects us together, gives students a sense of belonging, and sets them up for an academic day!
It starts with the greeting.  There are so many fun ways to greet!  There's no time to get bored! I have my favorites and so do the students.  In the book you will find all sorts of ways to get your students talking and connecting. 

This one below is something I named mix and mingle.  Some students have the answers and some students have the questions.  Students take a card on the way to the rug and then greet the student with their match.   I use already played game cards from math and literacy centers so the task is quick and independent.  It's a stress free zone for students.

 Here's a little video of this happening. 
 This one is called, it's May and I am going to let you go around the circle and greet each other because it's field day and I am super preoccupied right now.  What I love is that they answer each other, feel comfortable, and it's a loving environment even on a crazy day in May.

After the greeting it is time for sharing. Insert eye roll and heavy sigh.   This is where we lose them right?  One student gets up there and rambles on about a toy and we all either have it, want it, or don't care.  I can't take it.  I almost shut the book when I saw sharing.  Let me tell you about real sharing; structured intelligent sharing!!!!
Two days a week we have class pet sharing.  This one is not in the book, but it was happening in the mornings already so I made it the automatic share on those mornings.  When the class pet returns from his adventures we get to hear about it.

 The kids name our class pet when he gets delivered to our class.  This year it was Buster the Bobcat. 
 Buster went home with everyone 4 times this year.  His notebook was bursting with adventures. 

What about the days when Buster is gone?  No problem!  There are so many great ideas for sharing that truly develop student speaking and listening skills!

 There are different groupings to try with your class that keep things fresh and fun.   Manipulatives play a big part in keeping students on track for sharing.

One of my favorites this year was what I named Bear Share!  A student holds up the yellow bear and gives an opening statement.  Next the student holds up a green bear and shares one detail about the opening sentence topic.  Then two more green bears and two more details about the same topic.  Finally, the student holds up the red bear and delivers a closing statement.  drop mic.  or bears.  Because you just blew me away.

You can vary the manipulatives.  Change up how many details...ANYTHING!  Sometimes I hold up the yellow bear and give the opening sentence and they have to turn to a partner and finish the story.  You name it you can try it!  We use buttons, blocks, any colored objects! 

Following sharing is my student's favorite part of the morning meeting.  The group activity.  It's a fun game, song, chant, or warm-up. 
 I like to mix it up between learning games and fun or team-building games.  I was reluctant to play a non academic game so early in the morning for fear of never getting them back on track for the day's work.  It was not the case at all.  I explained that it is important for us to work hard AND have fun together.  For some I am sure it is what helped motivate them to come to school!  Be wary of competitive games that pit students against each other.  Stick to teamwork, fun, or learning games to ensure that you don't accidentally upset students at the start of the day.  Also explain that part of playing a game is learning how to cheer for your classmates when they need you.  We spend a lot of time sharing about how good it felt to be encouraged.  We point out great manners too.

 Here we are playing the get the hoola hoop around the circle without letting go of our hands game.  I time them and keep the fastest time on the board all year.  We play it about once a week.  Try different sizes of hoola hoops!  The dollar store has them. 

 The fourth and final component of morning meeting is the morning message.  It can be so much better than 4 memorized sentences!
 Contrary to popular trends, I choose to write a weekly morning message.  It's a great way to lay out my objectives in kid friendly terms.  I also make sure to include vocabulary, while writing to the reading level of most of my readers.  My morning message changes over the year as my readers become more developed. 

Each day we do something important to our morning message to keep it fresh.

Monday- Read it whole body
Tuesday- Find words we don't know.  Discuss them using context clues and then give them special hand motions for the week.
Wednesday- Find Conventions that the teacher wants to highlight and discuss
Thursday- Sight word detective  Find words we know.  Give clues for finding words. 
Friday- Last chance to read like a rockstar!  Reflect/Review

We read the morning message with our bodies.  I have no idea how or where I picked this up, but it is wonderful for teaching about conventions while also making everyone responsible for participating!

This picture was taken in May.  I give up the smelly markers and chart paper and let them write a message at this point.  They can't wait for their turn to try it out. 
Here's a video of what it looks like in real life.  This student is moving fast, so we are reading fast.  I model how to stay with the pointer.  I get really dramatic in my modeling.  It's FUN!!

 Here you can see all the hand motions.  If I include something new in the MM, we just make up a hand motion to go with it!  Make up your own! 

 That concludes the morning meeting!  But not really!  I barely touched the ideas you will find in the book!  There's so much more about the responsive classroom, classroom community, and engagement.  Let go of the teacher guilt and begin your day the way you have always wanted to!  (or maybe that's just me!)

Friday, June 19, 2015

My Astrobrights Story: An Incredible Partnership

I am honored to share that I am working with Astrobrights Papers this year as part of their Astro Bright Minds team!  It means that as part of their  team, I will get to try new items, provide feedback, and find new and exciting ways to use their beautiful papers and products right along side you!  You have already met Maria from Kindercraze, and Marsha from Differentiated Kindergarten.  Myself and the other ambassadors will help launch the program and share how you can participate for your chance to win a yearlong sponsorship from Astrobrights!
Many other incredible bloggers are working to share their expert ideas and inspiration this summer too!  It is going to be a dynamic summer of inspiration for our classrooms and resources!  

Additionally, as a member of Astro Bright Minds, I will serve as an ambassador to the 2015 Colorize Your Classroom contest.

A contest that I am humbled to say that I won last year!
This honor is still a major highlight of my teaching career.  Not only did I win a prize, but more importantly, I won a year long sponsorship with Astrobrights!  I donated the prize money to our school and the Astrobrights paper was a tremendous blessing to every single classroom!  Our entire school was transformed with color!

Let me tell you my Astrobrights story!

I have always had a BIG love for Astrobrights Paper since seeing my first ream of paper sitting on the shelf at the office supply store.  ...sigh...
It was a multicolor pack with the most vivid oranges and yellows I had ever laid eyes on.  That discovery was almost a decade ago.  Since that discovery I have put Astrobrights paper on my wish list and newsletter in hopes to continue this colored paper obsession for myself and my students.
I never dreamed I would hit the jackpot like I did last Fall!

On a Tuesday morning in October of this school year I walked my students to what I thought was a red ribbon assembly...

 I saw this

The drum line played loudly as we all filed in.  There were camera crews which I totally did not think twice about.  #itwasearly  I had no idea about what was about to happen to me!

My principal came up and said some nice words to the crowd and introduced the special guests that had joined our assembly.  I turned around to see the members of the school board that were being introduced, when out of the corner of my eye I saw my very own  family members out of their schools and workplaces sitting in my school assembly!  I connected it to the mountains of Astrobights paper on stage and then to a classroom picture I had entered into the Colorize Your Classroom Contest on Facebook earlier in the Fall!
I immediately realized that this assembly was not at all what I was told and I let out a strange uncontrolled gasp. Just as all this realization was happening, this video began to play.  #uglysobbingcry

This day was surreal.  I happy cried all day.  I can not describe the amount of love I felt. Deep down amazing happy shock!  

These little turkeys knew a whole day before and I had NO IDEA.  They amaze me.  

Then once the ticker-tape parade ended, Astrobrights truly stayed by my side throughout the year with many packages, emails, and amazing Astrobrights products!

Astrobrights is bringing this same incredible contest back with some new exciting twists from the Bright Minds team.    You aren’t going to want to miss out on a single tip, idea or chance to win, so make sure you’re following me on Facebook and Instagram.  Additionally,  Astrobrights will be posting updates and pictures on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and Tumblr throughout the event.  It’s going to be a huge event!  But don't worry!  It's simple! 

Disclosure of Material Connection: This is a “sponsored post.”  I was compensated me via a cash payment, gift, or something else of value to write it. Regardless, I only recommend products or services I use personally,  believe will be good for my readers and truly love.