Monday, September 1, 2014

Student Goal Setting in Elementary School

We have such an awesome opportunity to empower students to set goals and celebrate with them when they reach their goals.  Most students don't reflect on their own learning naturally.  It's not an innate skill that students have when they come to school.  Actually, most adults don't have that skill either.  It's something that needs to be taught.


This past week, we've done quite a bit of work in our year-long journey of setting goals in second grade.

Super Improver Team

First, as I've mentioned in previous posts, I've been implementing Whole Brain Teaching.  One of the components is a Super Improver Team.  Here's our wall:


Each student has a star and for making improvements, they receive a sticker.  When their star has 10 stickers they move up to the next level (blue - learner).  They keep going.  For every 10 stickers, they move up the levels.

The introduction of the Super Improver Team led to a discussion about how to make improvements and goals setting.  What kinds of improvements could students make?  What would "count" to get a sticker?

SMART Goals

So we started talking about SMART goals.  We started with the concept of setting "specific" goals and made this anchor chart of the concept of SPECIFIC.  We looked at the word specific in a Frayer Model and looked at some examples and non-examples.  That aspect is the most powerful part of the anchor chart.  I didn't make it very "pretty", but students got the idea of what they word specific means.

Set Specific Goals

For our first goal, I decided to focus on behavior.  It is a bit more tangible than an academic goal, and students are still learning how to "be" in our classroom, so it's the perfect opportunity to change a few things before they become a habit.

I gave students some ideas on good behavior goals.  Basically, I wrote down all the things that have been annoying me, behavior-wise, for the past week.  I listed them in a positive light, i.e.: what a student could do, not what they can't do.


I gave students an opportunity to look over the goals with their table groups.  Each student chose one goal to work on for the next week.


I put the "Improvements" in page protector sleeves so that I can use them when I conference with a student.  I can circle three or four and say something like, "I notice that you could really use some improvement on these.  Which one would you like to choose to work on?"  That way, there's choice within structure.  I can guide what a student chooses, but the student still has choice.

I did add a couple more at the end (on the copy you see above), that aren't necessarily annoying behaviors, but improvements that my quieter students could make.  You know, those kids who just sit there, but aren't disruptive!

Our First SMART Goal

After students determined what they wanted to work on, I had them write it down. I'm sure there's research on this somewhere, but I've heard that writing down a goal means that you're more likely to accomplish it.

In addition to the more complicated Goal Setting and Data Portfolios I have, I came up with this simple goal setting form that I can tape down to a student's desk and that we can collect over the course of the year.


We set to work writing down our behavior goals.  Here are a few student examples.

Finish my work before I talk to my friends / not talk to my friends
follow directions quickly / be quiet with the teacher {is talking} 
use kind words / say think you, your welcome, hello 
work on sit up in my seat / try my best / keep my desk clean

follow directions / use kind words / sit up in my seat

look at the teacher when she is talking / sit up in my seat

You can see that some students need a bit of work on choosing ONE goal.  I also realized after we did this activity, that the "I will . . . " part of the goal setting form, doesn't always lend itself well to behavior goals, since most behavior goals are an action in and of themselves.  They don't always require an additional action statement that tells how you're going to accomplish the goal.

I changed up my form a bit to have a variety of options, including learning and behavior goals and a couple of different formats.  Would you like a copy?  Click here or the picture below.


Celebrate!

The final part of goal setting that is very important, especially for children is the celebration!  Children need to know that there's something waiting for them when they accomplish their goal.  Some people have an intrinsic motivator to set and accomplish goals.  I'm one of them.  But, most people don't.  The celebration is a great motivator.


As a class, we brainstormed a variety of celebrations, both big and small.  Most celebrations were for our class goals, but a few of these could be for individual goals, too.  The idea was to get students excited about accomplishing their goals.

Whole Class Goals

SMART Goal setting isn't just for individuals.  I use to all the time to set class goals.  We set behavior goals on our ScoreBoard (more positive than negative points), percentage goals on our computerized math program, number goals on how many stars we got for doing homework, etc.


There are a myriad  of possibilities for whole group goal setting.  Figure out what you want your class to do and set a goal on it.

Other Resources

I've done a few other blog posts on Goal Setting, if you're interested in more information:


Do you set goals in your classroom, either individual or whole class?  I'd love to hear how you help students see that their actions are important and make a difference in their lives.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Peek at My Week ~ Sept. 1-5

The first couple weeks of school are so tiring!  We haven't quite settled into a routine yet, and probably won't for another week.

Reflection on Last Week

Last week, was much like the week before . . . jammed packed with too much and not enough time!  I wrote a post yesterday about what we did during two of our afternoons.  The students had so much fun!  We also did some work on goal setting (saving the details for another post) and practicing the rules.  We need so much more practice!

This week

This week is going to be interesting!  One, it's a four-day week, because of the Labor Day Holiday.  Two, we have an early release on Tuesday, in addition to our normal early release on Fridays.  I only see students for two afternoons this week!

Plus, I'm doing two model lessons this week, which requires a bit of a schedule change from our normal routine.  I'll post more on the model lessons, after they're completed.

Here are my plans for the week.  It's actually much of the same from last week, since we didn't get to finishing everything!  As always, click this link or the image below to download them.


Reading Comprehension

I decided to switch up my reading comprehension / read aloud time.  I do most of my instruction in small groups (which we haven't started yet) and I want to make my read aloud time (really only 15-20 minutes) be really good texts that students will get "into".  I want to help them love reading good books.  Reading our textbook during this time or even some picture books, wasn't helping students LOVE reading.  I also have higher readers this year who are interested in longer books and a good story.

Last week, I finished Amber Brown in one day (I'd scheduled it for two).  I decided to scrap the Rainbow Fish and instead move onto chapter books.  After several suggestions from various people in different forums, I decided to read The Magic Finger, by Roald Dahl.  I've read George's Marvelous Medicine to my students and loved it.  This book is no different.  It's a little easier and great for second graders at the beginning of the year.  At the end of this week, we're taking break from chapter books to read Mr. Peabody's Apples.  I'm using that in the model lessons.

I'm thinking that our next chapter book will be Stink: the Incredible Shrinking Kid. Most of the books I've been reading have girl main characters.  We're in need of a few boy ones.  What other chapter books do you love for your second grade students?

We're still establishing our Daily 5 routine in the mornings.  We only got to do Work on Writing for one day last week as the other days had interruptions.  This week, we'll get to practice a lot more!

Math

We're continuing our study of strategies for addition facts, this week, focusing on doubles.  I'm also going to introduce a lot of math games that we can use during math stations.  We'll do some focused work on doubles on Tuesday and the introduce games on Wednesday and Thursday, as well as how to move through our math stations.  Most of the games come from the two resources we've been using for our addition facts.  I have a few others thrown in there too, but will wait to include them until after I *really* figure out what I'm doing for math stations this year!

Writing

Since we only have two afternoons this week, we're not doing writer's workshop yet.  In fact, I put a hold on it until the following week given our wacky schedule.  Instead, we've got to do some work on Digital Citizenship and how to be safe while on the internet.  Our district is using lessons from Common Sense Education.  I'll do two lessons this week.

That's about it, I think.  It's a crazy week, even though it's so short.  Because of the wacky schedule, it really feels much longer!  Hopefully it will go quickly!

Head on over to Mrs. Willis' Kindergarten to see other plans!


Saturday, August 30, 2014

Working Together

Learning how to work together is SO important.  Students need purposeful activities that engage them in team building and group work.  Most of what the workplace requires these days is collaboration.  Very rarely will you find a job that is done in isolation.

I'm part of a collaborative blog, Who's Who and Who's New and we're doing a blog hop all about working together.



Here's an idea of what we've done in our classroom this week to prompt collaboration and FUN.  There's a freebie at the end, so read on!

On the first day of school, I took a risk and let students choose where to sit.  The only thing on their desks was a box of crayons and a puzzle piece. These puzzle pieces are part of my Community Building Puzzle, another great way to get students working together in groups.


Students made okay choices about where to sit, but after a week and a half, I realized that they needed a change.  There were a few combinations that weren't working so well.  So, we changed seats.

One thing I like to do when we change seats is immediately follow the change with some sort of fun group task, something that isn't too difficult, but that brings the group together and teaches them how to work together.

I've been investigating STEM projects and love the engineering projects that ask students to work together to create something.  I decided to use the Spaghetti Tower STEM Challenge that I saw last year on Sunny Days in Second.  She's got some awesome directions on her blog and tells you all about her experiences.  I pretty much followed what she wrote for our STEM Challenge. 

Students had to make a spaghetti tower that had to be free-standing with the marshmallow on top.  There are a few conditions and a restriction on the supplies, which is what made it challenging!  Here are a few examples of the groups working.





At the end of Day 1, only two groups were successful.  We debriefed about what went right, what went wrong, what was useful and what tool they wanted more of.  It was a wonderful discussion!  

My biggest goal was for groups to learn to work together.  This activity provided students with an opportunity to negotiate how to work together.

The next day, I gave students 10 mini-marshmallows.  The other thing I did, which wasn't included in the original directions, was talk about the need to plan.  I gave students a piece of paper and gave them four minutes to make a plan.  Given their experience the previous day, the planning went well.  I'm not sure the planning would have gone as well on the first day, without the experience of building a tower first.

Here were a few plans:



The second day, only one of the groups was successful, but, again, it's about the experience of working together.  There were a few tears, so bouts of frustration, and a "this is boring" from my most challenging kiddo because their group's tower didn't stay up.  Overall, though, I'd say the two days successfully gave students the experience of working together with their peers.

I plan on doing one of these type of STEM engineering projects once a month (hopefully).  I do need more ideas though.  If you know of some good engineering resources for second graders, leave me a comment!

The other thing that we do to build teamwork is Cooperative Learning through Problem Solving.  I've written a previous post on it, so I'm not going to go too in-depth about it, but I did repackage a part of it to offer you today for free.  Click on the image below or this link to access the file.


Do you want to see some more ways to help your students work together?  The next stop on the blog hop is Stuckey in Second.

Stuckey in Second

Head on over to find out some more ways to build community in your classroom!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Peek at My Week ~ August 25 - 29

We're into the second week of school!  I over-planned a lot last week and we didn't finish it all!  Oh well.  That's what you want to do during the first week of school.

Reflection on last week

The only thing I didn't do in last week's plans was math.  Actually, I did do math, but I always forget that our math routines always take so much longer during the first few weeks.  We didn't get to the Addition & Subtract Word Problems until Friday and didn't get to any of our Number Sense Routines.

I have big plans for math this week.  I'm hoping we'll get to it all!

This week has a lot more packeted into it.  As always, click on the picture or this link to be taken to the PDF with clickable links.


Whole Group Reading Comprehension

This week, we're focusing on Story Structure.  I'll use one story from our reading program, Treasures, as well as two other read alouds.  With each one we'll determine the characters, setting, problem and solution.

Math

We will continue our Daily Math and Addition and Subtraction Word Problems.  We are starting our addition fact strategies, focusing on Count On and Plus 10 this week.

Writing

We're starting narratives this week!  We'll focus on choosing a small moment and drafting a writing piece using some tools in my Narrative Tools packet.

We're also going to start Work on Writing during Daily 5 time.  This morning I sat down and created the wall headers for all the students' choice.  I'll introduce a couple this week, but I'll be pulling resources from the linked packets.  Our Daily 5 Work on Writing time is separate from our Writer's Workshop time in the afternoon, but I didn't want to rework my template above!

Community Building

We're going to continue with our community building this week from the linked packets.  My main purpose is to be able to sit down and assess a few students throughout the week.  Overall, I've got a great group of kiddos, but there are a handful that are going to need some extra attention.

Want to see some more lessons?  Head on over to Mrs. Willis Kindergarten to see others' Peek at My Week Lessons.

Week One is Over!

I've met my kiddos.  They are AMAZING!  So different from last year's group of students.  I can already tell that we're going to have an AWESOME year together!  I only have one student who is super challenging, behavior-wise.  One other who has some coping issues, but it's manageable, I think.  Another who is super low academically, but we'll work on it!  Overall, a much different class than last year's group of students.

Last week, I posted a peek at my week.  Let me tell you . . . we did not do it all!

Here's a few glimpse of what we did get to this week and a few cool new toys we get to play with!



On the first day, students came into the classroom and colored their puzzle pieces.  My requirement is that they had to put their name on the piece and use lots of color.  On Friday, I broke the students into two teams and each team put together their puzzle.  This team did very well working together, except for one student, and was able to complete their puzzle.  The second team couldn't figure out how to get started and work together.  They needed a bit more hand holding and never did finish their puzzle.

The puzzle pieces come from my Community Building Puzzle packet.
I'm really working this year on positive reinforcement, instead of negative consequence.  I've gotten rid of our color card / clip system.  I even had my most challenging student ask at the end of the first day, "Do we have a behavior chart?". I said no, we've go something even better.  He asked what and I said he had to wait to find out.


Enter the Super Improver Team from Whole Brain Teaching.  I'm going to LOVE doing this over the year.  The wall cards are free here.  The stars I cut out from my Cameo.  Next year, I may just use paper and cut it into rectangles.  The stars were time consuming and a pain to cut out.  But, I LOVE the effect.  Students have seen the wall cards and the title, but not their stars, as I put them up Friday afternoon after they left.

I'm also leaving daily notes on students' desks.  I have a checklist and try to leave 4-5 notes a day, with the intention of leaving one note per student over the course of a week.  I may slow down as the year progresses, we'll see.


This is my student with poor coping skills.  When he was one of the few who didn't have a computer / iPad (we don't quite have enough), he was very disappointed.  But, he came around and played the math game (after he complained loudly about not knowing what to do and about it being boring!).  These are just things I know I need to set as goals for him.  There's definitely room for improvement!

I think the biggest challenge for the Super Improver Team is noticing my students who aren't as vocal or problematic.  They're quite and I spend so much more time with those who are louder that I forget to pay attention the others.  Any suggestions?  If you do WBT and the Super Improver's Wall, how to do you keep track of student goals / improvements?

Are you ready for some new toys?  Donor's Choose is now shipping for all the projects that got funded at the end of last year and during the summer.  On Friday, we received our new printer!  It came into excited open arms.  I have a ton more resources coming from DC over the next few weeks, so be prepared to see all the wonderful classroom items people have purchased for us!  If you don't know about Donor's Choose or don't use them yet.  What are you waiting for?  Go now.  Seriously.  It's an awesome resource.


Our school is also trying to use more and more technology.  We have a ton of it, but don't necessarily integrate it into daily instruction, beyond students using specific apps for practice / review.

This past summer, we got ceiling mounted projectors and I can use my iPad as a document camera (I'll talk more later about a few apps useful for this).  My principal ordered two toys for me to experiment with:



 These two iPad stands come from ProComputing Products.  I generally don't like a stationary place in the front of the room that houses all the tech equipment. I pulled this desk and stand together on Friday.  I'm not sure I'll keep it that way, but it is effective as a stationary place.

I love the mobile one, but the base is a bit inconvenient when writing on things.  I can work around it by placing a whiteboard or other hard surface underneath.  I like the mobile one because I can plop it down on a student desk without having the student move.  So fast and convenient!

I actually like both stands, but for different purposes!  We'll see which one I end up using more.

Overall, my kiddos did an amazing job during the first week.  We learned our WBT rules, we practiced how to do Teach-Okay and Switch.  We did some community building.  We got to know each other.  Success!

So, how was your first week?

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Back to School - When - Thursday


Here's a look at our daily schedule and when we do things each day.  I did a post on our schedule last year.  The post is located here.  It gives a little explanation to some of the components on this chart.  Partway through the year, I redesigned our afternoons to look like the version below.


This was our daily schedule for last year.

This year will be slightly different during the afternoons.  Since I'm also doing Whole Brain Teaching, I'm going to change things around a little bit.  I'll added in Oral Writing to our afternoons and the Genius Ladder, probably in the mornings.  I also want to have a dedicated phonics / word study time, but struggle with where to add it in!  Maybe I'll do it sometime in the afternoon and switch it out with the Language time slot.

I also am not sure that the computer and library times are set yet, so things may switch with those, too!  I may also add in some math stations in the afternoon.  We don't spend nearly enough time on Math and the end of the day is always so difficult for students to focus.  I'm thinking having some partner / station work might be the answer to their restlessness.

Compared to other parts of the country, it really seems like we don't have a long school day at all!

The beginning of the school year is definitely a bit different than the rest of the year, but once we get into a routine, this is how our week generally goes.

As you can see, my schedule is still somewhat up in the air, at least for the afternoons.  I want to meet my kiddos, see where they're at, and see how our day "falls together" before I commit to doing any one thing a certain way.

What's your schedule look like?  Visit Blog Hoppin' to see some more sample schedules!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

TpT Boost Sale

TpT is having another BTS sale on Wednesday, August 20, only.

That happens to be our first day of school!  I gotta do my shopping before the kiddos come tomorrow so I won't forget!

Wish me luck with 22 new students.  Last year was a difficult year, so I'm super excited about this year and all the potential with a new group of kiddos!

I hope all your years are starting off well!

Monday, September 1, 2014

Student Goal Setting in Elementary School

We have such an awesome opportunity to empower students to set goals and celebrate with them when they reach their goals.  Most students don't reflect on their own learning naturally.  It's not an innate skill that students have when they come to school.  Actually, most adults don't have that skill either.  It's something that needs to be taught.


This past week, we've done quite a bit of work in our year-long journey of setting goals in second grade.

Super Improver Team

First, as I've mentioned in previous posts, I've been implementing Whole Brain Teaching.  One of the components is a Super Improver Team.  Here's our wall:


Each student has a star and for making improvements, they receive a sticker.  When their star has 10 stickers they move up to the next level (blue - learner).  They keep going.  For every 10 stickers, they move up the levels.

The introduction of the Super Improver Team led to a discussion about how to make improvements and goals setting.  What kinds of improvements could students make?  What would "count" to get a sticker?

SMART Goals

So we started talking about SMART goals.  We started with the concept of setting "specific" goals and made this anchor chart of the concept of SPECIFIC.  We looked at the word specific in a Frayer Model and looked at some examples and non-examples.  That aspect is the most powerful part of the anchor chart.  I didn't make it very "pretty", but students got the idea of what they word specific means.

Set Specific Goals

For our first goal, I decided to focus on behavior.  It is a bit more tangible than an academic goal, and students are still learning how to "be" in our classroom, so it's the perfect opportunity to change a few things before they become a habit.

I gave students some ideas on good behavior goals.  Basically, I wrote down all the things that have been annoying me, behavior-wise, for the past week.  I listed them in a positive light, i.e.: what a student could do, not what they can't do.


I gave students an opportunity to look over the goals with their table groups.  Each student chose one goal to work on for the next week.


I put the "Improvements" in page protector sleeves so that I can use them when I conference with a student.  I can circle three or four and say something like, "I notice that you could really use some improvement on these.  Which one would you like to choose to work on?"  That way, there's choice within structure.  I can guide what a student chooses, but the student still has choice.

I did add a couple more at the end (on the copy you see above), that aren't necessarily annoying behaviors, but improvements that my quieter students could make.  You know, those kids who just sit there, but aren't disruptive!

Our First SMART Goal

After students determined what they wanted to work on, I had them write it down. I'm sure there's research on this somewhere, but I've heard that writing down a goal means that you're more likely to accomplish it.

In addition to the more complicated Goal Setting and Data Portfolios I have, I came up with this simple goal setting form that I can tape down to a student's desk and that we can collect over the course of the year.


We set to work writing down our behavior goals.  Here are a few student examples.

Finish my work before I talk to my friends / not talk to my friends
follow directions quickly / be quiet with the teacher {is talking} 
use kind words / say think you, your welcome, hello 
work on sit up in my seat / try my best / keep my desk clean

follow directions / use kind words / sit up in my seat

look at the teacher when she is talking / sit up in my seat

You can see that some students need a bit of work on choosing ONE goal.  I also realized after we did this activity, that the "I will . . . " part of the goal setting form, doesn't always lend itself well to behavior goals, since most behavior goals are an action in and of themselves.  They don't always require an additional action statement that tells how you're going to accomplish the goal.

I changed up my form a bit to have a variety of options, including learning and behavior goals and a couple of different formats.  Would you like a copy?  Click here or the picture below.


Celebrate!

The final part of goal setting that is very important, especially for children is the celebration!  Children need to know that there's something waiting for them when they accomplish their goal.  Some people have an intrinsic motivator to set and accomplish goals.  I'm one of them.  But, most people don't.  The celebration is a great motivator.


As a class, we brainstormed a variety of celebrations, both big and small.  Most celebrations were for our class goals, but a few of these could be for individual goals, too.  The idea was to get students excited about accomplishing their goals.

Whole Class Goals

SMART Goal setting isn't just for individuals.  I use to all the time to set class goals.  We set behavior goals on our ScoreBoard (more positive than negative points), percentage goals on our computerized math program, number goals on how many stars we got for doing homework, etc.


There are a myriad  of possibilities for whole group goal setting.  Figure out what you want your class to do and set a goal on it.

Other Resources

I've done a few other blog posts on Goal Setting, if you're interested in more information:


Do you set goals in your classroom, either individual or whole class?  I'd love to hear how you help students see that their actions are important and make a difference in their lives.

Sunday, August 31, 2014

Peek at My Week ~ Sept. 1-5

The first couple weeks of school are so tiring!  We haven't quite settled into a routine yet, and probably won't for another week.

Reflection on Last Week

Last week, was much like the week before . . . jammed packed with too much and not enough time!  I wrote a post yesterday about what we did during two of our afternoons.  The students had so much fun!  We also did some work on goal setting (saving the details for another post) and practicing the rules.  We need so much more practice!

This week

This week is going to be interesting!  One, it's a four-day week, because of the Labor Day Holiday.  Two, we have an early release on Tuesday, in addition to our normal early release on Fridays.  I only see students for two afternoons this week!

Plus, I'm doing two model lessons this week, which requires a bit of a schedule change from our normal routine.  I'll post more on the model lessons, after they're completed.

Here are my plans for the week.  It's actually much of the same from last week, since we didn't get to finishing everything!  As always, click this link or the image below to download them.


Reading Comprehension

I decided to switch up my reading comprehension / read aloud time.  I do most of my instruction in small groups (which we haven't started yet) and I want to make my read aloud time (really only 15-20 minutes) be really good texts that students will get "into".  I want to help them love reading good books.  Reading our textbook during this time or even some picture books, wasn't helping students LOVE reading.  I also have higher readers this year who are interested in longer books and a good story.

Last week, I finished Amber Brown in one day (I'd scheduled it for two).  I decided to scrap the Rainbow Fish and instead move onto chapter books.  After several suggestions from various people in different forums, I decided to read The Magic Finger, by Roald Dahl.  I've read George's Marvelous Medicine to my students and loved it.  This book is no different.  It's a little easier and great for second graders at the beginning of the year.  At the end of this week, we're taking break from chapter books to read Mr. Peabody's Apples.  I'm using that in the model lessons.

I'm thinking that our next chapter book will be Stink: the Incredible Shrinking Kid. Most of the books I've been reading have girl main characters.  We're in need of a few boy ones.  What other chapter books do you love for your second grade students?

We're still establishing our Daily 5 routine in the mornings.  We only got to do Work on Writing for one day last week as the other days had interruptions.  This week, we'll get to practice a lot more!

Math

We're continuing our study of strategies for addition facts, this week, focusing on doubles.  I'm also going to introduce a lot of math games that we can use during math stations.  We'll do some focused work on doubles on Tuesday and the introduce games on Wednesday and Thursday, as well as how to move through our math stations.  Most of the games come from the two resources we've been using for our addition facts.  I have a few others thrown in there too, but will wait to include them until after I *really* figure out what I'm doing for math stations this year!

Writing

Since we only have two afternoons this week, we're not doing writer's workshop yet.  In fact, I put a hold on it until the following week given our wacky schedule.  Instead, we've got to do some work on Digital Citizenship and how to be safe while on the internet.  Our district is using lessons from Common Sense Education.  I'll do two lessons this week.

That's about it, I think.  It's a crazy week, even though it's so short.  Because of the wacky schedule, it really feels much longer!  Hopefully it will go quickly!

Head on over to Mrs. Willis' Kindergarten to see other plans!


Saturday, August 30, 2014

Working Together

Learning how to work together is SO important.  Students need purposeful activities that engage them in team building and group work.  Most of what the workplace requires these days is collaboration.  Very rarely will you find a job that is done in isolation.

I'm part of a collaborative blog, Who's Who and Who's New and we're doing a blog hop all about working together.



Here's an idea of what we've done in our classroom this week to prompt collaboration and FUN.  There's a freebie at the end, so read on!

On the first day of school, I took a risk and let students choose where to sit.  The only thing on their desks was a box of crayons and a puzzle piece. These puzzle pieces are part of my Community Building Puzzle, another great way to get students working together in groups.


Students made okay choices about where to sit, but after a week and a half, I realized that they needed a change.  There were a few combinations that weren't working so well.  So, we changed seats.

One thing I like to do when we change seats is immediately follow the change with some sort of fun group task, something that isn't too difficult, but that brings the group together and teaches them how to work together.

I've been investigating STEM projects and love the engineering projects that ask students to work together to create something.  I decided to use the Spaghetti Tower STEM Challenge that I saw last year on Sunny Days in Second.  She's got some awesome directions on her blog and tells you all about her experiences.  I pretty much followed what she wrote for our STEM Challenge. 

Students had to make a spaghetti tower that had to be free-standing with the marshmallow on top.  There are a few conditions and a restriction on the supplies, which is what made it challenging!  Here are a few examples of the groups working.





At the end of Day 1, only two groups were successful.  We debriefed about what went right, what went wrong, what was useful and what tool they wanted more of.  It was a wonderful discussion!  

My biggest goal was for groups to learn to work together.  This activity provided students with an opportunity to negotiate how to work together.

The next day, I gave students 10 mini-marshmallows.  The other thing I did, which wasn't included in the original directions, was talk about the need to plan.  I gave students a piece of paper and gave them four minutes to make a plan.  Given their experience the previous day, the planning went well.  I'm not sure the planning would have gone as well on the first day, without the experience of building a tower first.

Here were a few plans:



The second day, only one of the groups was successful, but, again, it's about the experience of working together.  There were a few tears, so bouts of frustration, and a "this is boring" from my most challenging kiddo because their group's tower didn't stay up.  Overall, though, I'd say the two days successfully gave students the experience of working together with their peers.

I plan on doing one of these type of STEM engineering projects once a month (hopefully).  I do need more ideas though.  If you know of some good engineering resources for second graders, leave me a comment!

The other thing that we do to build teamwork is Cooperative Learning through Problem Solving.  I've written a previous post on it, so I'm not going to go too in-depth about it, but I did repackage a part of it to offer you today for free.  Click on the image below or this link to access the file.


Do you want to see some more ways to help your students work together?  The next stop on the blog hop is Stuckey in Second.

Stuckey in Second

Head on over to find out some more ways to build community in your classroom!

Saturday, August 23, 2014

Peek at My Week ~ August 25 - 29

We're into the second week of school!  I over-planned a lot last week and we didn't finish it all!  Oh well.  That's what you want to do during the first week of school.

Reflection on last week

The only thing I didn't do in last week's plans was math.  Actually, I did do math, but I always forget that our math routines always take so much longer during the first few weeks.  We didn't get to the Addition & Subtract Word Problems until Friday and didn't get to any of our Number Sense Routines.

I have big plans for math this week.  I'm hoping we'll get to it all!

This week has a lot more packeted into it.  As always, click on the picture or this link to be taken to the PDF with clickable links.


Whole Group Reading Comprehension

This week, we're focusing on Story Structure.  I'll use one story from our reading program, Treasures, as well as two other read alouds.  With each one we'll determine the characters, setting, problem and solution.

Math

We will continue our Daily Math and Addition and Subtraction Word Problems.  We are starting our addition fact strategies, focusing on Count On and Plus 10 this week.

Writing

We're starting narratives this week!  We'll focus on choosing a small moment and drafting a writing piece using some tools in my Narrative Tools packet.

We're also going to start Work on Writing during Daily 5 time.  This morning I sat down and created the wall headers for all the students' choice.  I'll introduce a couple this week, but I'll be pulling resources from the linked packets.  Our Daily 5 Work on Writing time is separate from our Writer's Workshop time in the afternoon, but I didn't want to rework my template above!

Community Building

We're going to continue with our community building this week from the linked packets.  My main purpose is to be able to sit down and assess a few students throughout the week.  Overall, I've got a great group of kiddos, but there are a handful that are going to need some extra attention.

Want to see some more lessons?  Head on over to Mrs. Willis Kindergarten to see others' Peek at My Week Lessons.

Week One is Over!

I've met my kiddos.  They are AMAZING!  So different from last year's group of students.  I can already tell that we're going to have an AWESOME year together!  I only have one student who is super challenging, behavior-wise.  One other who has some coping issues, but it's manageable, I think.  Another who is super low academically, but we'll work on it!  Overall, a much different class than last year's group of students.

Last week, I posted a peek at my week.  Let me tell you . . . we did not do it all!

Here's a few glimpse of what we did get to this week and a few cool new toys we get to play with!



On the first day, students came into the classroom and colored their puzzle pieces.  My requirement is that they had to put their name on the piece and use lots of color.  On Friday, I broke the students into two teams and each team put together their puzzle.  This team did very well working together, except for one student, and was able to complete their puzzle.  The second team couldn't figure out how to get started and work together.  They needed a bit more hand holding and never did finish their puzzle.

The puzzle pieces come from my Community Building Puzzle packet.
I'm really working this year on positive reinforcement, instead of negative consequence.  I've gotten rid of our color card / clip system.  I even had my most challenging student ask at the end of the first day, "Do we have a behavior chart?". I said no, we've go something even better.  He asked what and I said he had to wait to find out.


Enter the Super Improver Team from Whole Brain Teaching.  I'm going to LOVE doing this over the year.  The wall cards are free here.  The stars I cut out from my Cameo.  Next year, I may just use paper and cut it into rectangles.  The stars were time consuming and a pain to cut out.  But, I LOVE the effect.  Students have seen the wall cards and the title, but not their stars, as I put them up Friday afternoon after they left.

I'm also leaving daily notes on students' desks.  I have a checklist and try to leave 4-5 notes a day, with the intention of leaving one note per student over the course of a week.  I may slow down as the year progresses, we'll see.


This is my student with poor coping skills.  When he was one of the few who didn't have a computer / iPad (we don't quite have enough), he was very disappointed.  But, he came around and played the math game (after he complained loudly about not knowing what to do and about it being boring!).  These are just things I know I need to set as goals for him.  There's definitely room for improvement!

I think the biggest challenge for the Super Improver Team is noticing my students who aren't as vocal or problematic.  They're quite and I spend so much more time with those who are louder that I forget to pay attention the others.  Any suggestions?  If you do WBT and the Super Improver's Wall, how to do you keep track of student goals / improvements?

Are you ready for some new toys?  Donor's Choose is now shipping for all the projects that got funded at the end of last year and during the summer.  On Friday, we received our new printer!  It came into excited open arms.  I have a ton more resources coming from DC over the next few weeks, so be prepared to see all the wonderful classroom items people have purchased for us!  If you don't know about Donor's Choose or don't use them yet.  What are you waiting for?  Go now.  Seriously.  It's an awesome resource.


Our school is also trying to use more and more technology.  We have a ton of it, but don't necessarily integrate it into daily instruction, beyond students using specific apps for practice / review.

This past summer, we got ceiling mounted projectors and I can use my iPad as a document camera (I'll talk more later about a few apps useful for this).  My principal ordered two toys for me to experiment with:



 These two iPad stands come from ProComputing Products.  I generally don't like a stationary place in the front of the room that houses all the tech equipment. I pulled this desk and stand together on Friday.  I'm not sure I'll keep it that way, but it is effective as a stationary place.

I love the mobile one, but the base is a bit inconvenient when writing on things.  I can work around it by placing a whiteboard or other hard surface underneath.  I like the mobile one because I can plop it down on a student desk without having the student move.  So fast and convenient!

I actually like both stands, but for different purposes!  We'll see which one I end up using more.

Overall, my kiddos did an amazing job during the first week.  We learned our WBT rules, we practiced how to do Teach-Okay and Switch.  We did some community building.  We got to know each other.  Success!

So, how was your first week?

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Back to School - When - Thursday


Here's a look at our daily schedule and when we do things each day.  I did a post on our schedule last year.  The post is located here.  It gives a little explanation to some of the components on this chart.  Partway through the year, I redesigned our afternoons to look like the version below.


This was our daily schedule for last year.

This year will be slightly different during the afternoons.  Since I'm also doing Whole Brain Teaching, I'm going to change things around a little bit.  I'll added in Oral Writing to our afternoons and the Genius Ladder, probably in the mornings.  I also want to have a dedicated phonics / word study time, but struggle with where to add it in!  Maybe I'll do it sometime in the afternoon and switch it out with the Language time slot.

I also am not sure that the computer and library times are set yet, so things may switch with those, too!  I may also add in some math stations in the afternoon.  We don't spend nearly enough time on Math and the end of the day is always so difficult for students to focus.  I'm thinking having some partner / station work might be the answer to their restlessness.

Compared to other parts of the country, it really seems like we don't have a long school day at all!

The beginning of the school year is definitely a bit different than the rest of the year, but once we get into a routine, this is how our week generally goes.

As you can see, my schedule is still somewhat up in the air, at least for the afternoons.  I want to meet my kiddos, see where they're at, and see how our day "falls together" before I commit to doing any one thing a certain way.

What's your schedule look like?  Visit Blog Hoppin' to see some more sample schedules!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

TpT Boost Sale

TpT is having another BTS sale on Wednesday, August 20, only.

That happens to be our first day of school!  I gotta do my shopping before the kiddos come tomorrow so I won't forget!

Wish me luck with 22 new students.  Last year was a difficult year, so I'm super excited about this year and all the potential with a new group of kiddos!

I hope all your years are starting off well!