Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Using 10 to Add (+9 & +8)

Do you find that your students are having difficulty using advanced strategies when adding numbers?  Boy my students are!  Are they still counting on their fingers? Fingers are a great tool, but students need to develop other strategies to add besides their hands.  It's just not efficient when you get into adding and subtracting larger numbers!



I just finished creating a set of games and activities for my students to do during our next set of math stations that help students develop strategies for using ten to add nine and eight facts.

The games and activities in this packet will give students a variety of experiences with adding and subtracting numbers using 10 as a benchmark number. The activities are divided into +9, +8, and +9 & +8 combined.

Here are some examples of the activities in the packet:


Equal Equations can be used in a variety of ways.  For each plus 9 and plus 8 set of facts there are three sets of cards.  Two cards can be matched together or all three cards can be matched together for a more challenging activity.  A recording sheet is provided for both two matches and a three-card match.

Use the Facts is a board game where students draw a card from the pile and find the +10 fact that helps solve the problem.  In the above example, it would be 10+3.  The board game has cards for +9 and +8 and is available in black and white as well as color.


Four-in-a-Row is a game where students must draw a card and cover a space that matches the card.  The winner is the first to cover four in a row.  This game is available in +9, +8 and a combined version of +9 & +8.


Number Puzzles Addition provide practice in match different +8 and +9 facts with the whole number.    A recording sheet is provided with this activity as well.


Addition Chart Fill-in is a simple activity where students draw a card and find the sum, writing it in the correct place on the addition chart.  This helps prepare students for the third grade standard of finding patterns in an addition chart.  Most of the squares in the addition chart are shaded, except those for the +8 and +9 facts that use 10 as a benchmark number.

Teacher directions are given for each activity to prepare the materials (see above examples) as well as student directions (either on a separate card or the recording sheet) that can be added to the game for independent math stations.

 All recording sheets 
are 1/2 page to save copies (for those of us with limited copies)!

Monday, September 15, 2014

FarFaria ~ Giveaway

Recently, I had the awesome opportunity to explore a new app called FarFaria.


This app was created for families with children ages 2-9. It has over 750 stories available.  They add 5 new stories each week. With the free version, you can read one story per day.


The stories are totally engaging as evidenced by my four-year-old.  He started on the preschool playground, but quickly ventured into other stories.



He moved onto more advanced book about sea monsters.  Liam is very into dragons right now (think How to Train Your Dragon).  Sea monsters are close to dragons, right?


What I love about the books is that the text is highlighted as it is read to the child, so they can follow along.  Liam's not reading yet, but it's still great for him to notice the letters on the page create words and those words have an order to them that make sentences.  Every little bit helps!


No, the picture of the sea monster is not too scary for him.  He is a typical boy who loves adventure and all things boyish.

You can check out FarFaria on the Apple iTunes app store, download a copy and play around with it.  It's also available on Google Play, too.

Want to win a copy?  The people at FarFaria have generously donated a three month subscription for one lucky reader!  Enter the rafflecopter below to win your subscription!

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

** Disclosure: I was given a limited subscription to FarFaria so I could review the app and offer the giveaway.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Peek at My Week ~ Sept. 15 -19

Okay people.  I know it seems like we have a lot of days off, and we do at the beginning of the year.  I'm somewhat thankful for the breaks, but at the same time, kinda annoyed that we don't have a routine yet!

This week, we have another Monday with no students, because it's a Teacher Inservice day.

Reflections on Last Week

Testing through me for a loop in the afternoons.  I expected it, but it took way longer than we scheduled on the first day, so I had to get creative.  We also didn't get to our read aloud on Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday, because of testing, so things got pushed into this week.

I also decided, after three days of implementing the Units of Study for Writing, that I don't have the time and energy to read the book every day for the next day's lesson and that I don't have all the materials I need to implement it well and that my students don't have the amount of language they need to write stories well with this program.  Ugh. . . I think both of us could get there, but at what cost?  My frustration and time away from planning other things?  They're lack of on task writing and only having a certain amount of time to teach narratives before the end of the trimester. (I so know that is not a sentence!)

So, I've decided to switch back to what I've done in the past with narrative writing and have all the students write about the same topic at the same time.  Each student is writing a different story, but we're all doing the same topic and I'm leading them through prewriting, drafting, publishing process.

This week

Click on the photo or this link to access a PDF of the plans.


Reading Comprehension

We did do some author study on Cynthia Rylant last week and will finish it up this week with our current Scholastic News article about her.  What perfect timing!  We will also start another chapter book, Stink: The Incredible Shrinking Kid.  I think I will keep to the ebb and flow of doing picture books for a couple days then an easy chapter book, switching back and forth for a while.  I want to reach all my kiddos and feel like that might be the best way to do it.

We also started our Daily 5 small group rotations last week.  Last week, I just gave students some somewhat independent phonics worksheets that will become part of our Work on Words station, once I get it together.  I basically wanted them to have the experience of moving without me being tied down to instructing a group.  This week, we will start our official small groups with instruction.  I'll eventually add that to the weekly plans.

Math

This week, we are continuing to focusing on addition facts and will focus on Using 10 to add nine and add eight.  We're almost at the end of our addition fact review, but my kiddos need a lot of help with their fact practice!  I started using my Automaticity Assessment packet with them last week and most of the students top out at +2!  For the most part, those kiddos just need to work on their speed.  We're working on it!


Here are our math stations.  They're the same as last week.

Writing

I mentioned about writing above already.  We're writing a story about a trip or a vacation we have taken.  I'm much more pleased with the on task-ness of my students.

Social Studies

We're finally getting starting in our social studies content!  We're starting our Location and Map Skills Unit this week, with grid maps.  We make a grid map of the classroom, read a grid map of our school, and then do some worksheets with neighborhood grid maps.


So, how is your week shaping up?  Go check out some more great plans at Mrs. Willis Kindergarten.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Five for Friday - on Saturday!

Is anyone else exhausted at the end of every day?  I don't know what happened to my stamina, but it's just not there anymore!  I'm so sorry it's been quite on the blog, but it seems that the weekend is the only time I have time to catch my breath and work on bloggy / TpT things!  I'm hoping this week will be a turning point as we move into established reading groups!

I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs Five for Friday a bit late just to give you an idea of what's been going on in my neck of the woods (or suburbia, that is!)


One

As I mentioned in a Peek at My Week, we started our math stations.  I don't have photos of all of them, but these two are going somewhat successfully.  The cut and paste is taking way too much time, so I may need to move that to a whole group lesson.


Finding double dominos is just right, though!  We have a long way to go to getting to know our facts!  Most of my kiddos topped out at +2 on our Automaticity Assessment for Addition and Subtraction Facts.  I have one who definitely knows all his facts and about four others that are pretty solid, but not quite there yet.


Two


We've been Working on Writing.  I worked hard this year to establish routines and find interesting things that students wanted to do.  It has always been one of my least favorite choices for Daily 5.  I find a few more students making it a choice this year, but my students still don't love writing like I want them to.

Three


This little guy, who is two and a half, BTW, has been wanting to practice riding his brother's pedal bike.  He can go quite a distance before he stops pedaling an inertia takes over!  I see a pedal bike in his near future!  His brother was four when he started riding his pedal bike.  This little guy is two.

Just for fun, we put the four-year-old on a neighbor's "big bike".  He can't reach the pedals, but he can balance!


Four


The boys got a gift from their aunt and uncle last week.  They got to take home the little guns and we emphasize that they have to wear protective eye wear ("You're gonna shoot your eye out!").  We are all about letting our boys be boys.  

Five


We had to rearrange classes this week to do some testing. I had the group that wasn't being tested, so we did some art.  The artwork turned out awesome!  It was based of this pinterest pin:

So, how was your week?

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Peek at My Week ~ Sept. 8 - 12

People.  I almost didn't make it.  Why is it that the shortest weeks are the longest?  This next week really is a LONG week.  We have Back-to-School night on Wednesday, which makes for a late evening, and it really is a normal five-day week for us.

I almost wasn't able to link up for a Peek at My Week, either.  I just didn't have the time to get the visual plans together, until I woke up this morning and couldn't sleep.  At what point after tossing and turning do you just get up?  For me it was 4:30 AM after two hours of tossing.  Oh well.  At least I can be a little productive!

This week we are starting our Daily 5 rotations.  We've been practicing for the past three weeks and {most} students can Read to Self for 20 minutes.  I have a couple kiddos who need a little encouragement, but for the most part, they're trained.  I've introduced several activities students can do for Work on Writing and we've established the "rules" for using our devices for Listen to Reading. This is our "getting our moves down" week.  I have students sorted into my instructional groups and we're basically just practicing doing Daily 5.  I won't be teaching a "teacher group" although students will have activities at my teacher table.  What are they doing?  They're working on some work work activities from this Interactive Working with Words Bundle.  Eventually, these will be part of our Work on Words rotation, differentiated by spelling level.

Here's what we're doing:


Reading Comprehension

I've decided that my whole group reading time needs to, for the most part, be just reading good literature.  I don't do enough read aloud and appreciation of what good writing looks like.  I want students to really love reading and getting into books.  I'll use the stories from our reading program as appropriate, but for the most part, my reading instruction on strategies and skills will take place in small groups during our Daily 5 time.

This week, I'm introducing students to Cynthia Rylant (Mr. Putter & Tabby Pour the Tea & Henry and Mudge) as well as Megan McDonald (Stink: The Incredible Shrinking Kid).

Math

This week's math time is a bit shorter because of some state testing.  Although we are still working on our addition strategies, there's not too much new this week.

I did start math rotations last week.  We might be able to get to them on Thursday and Friday this week, depending on how the testing goes.  Here are our math stations.  They all focus on addition fact practice, except for our computerized math program, which is kind of all over the place, depending on how quickly students work through the program.  Here's an idea of how I do my math stations.  I do not always introduce my math stations to students before having students engage with them.  I just don't have the time, and for the most part, the stations are pretty user-friendly.  The one exception this week is the Wild game.  I have my student teacher sitting with a group of 2-3 students helping them play the game.  



Writing

Our school site uses the Lucy Calkins Units of Study.  We are encouraged to use them, but can supplement as needed.  I have a love-hate relationship with these units.  I got them mid-year last year and didn't feel that I could implement the opinion and informational one well enough given the level of students I had.  This year, the Narrative unit look more promising.  Admittedly, I've only read one lesson.  They're really text heavy and cumbersome to read and plan for.  Hopefully, I will get into a pattern and routine with them and be able to implement it with ease.  I also use resources from my Narrative Tools packet.

Community Building

Yes, people, we have not gotten to Social Studies nor Science.  Next week, hopefully.  Because of the testing this week, I will have a different group of kiddos for an hour each afternoon, Monday - Wednesday.  I've decided to do some art projects with them.  We generally don't have time to do art in our classroom, so this is the perfect opportunity.  The projects and Pinterest links are in the file above.

I'm sure I'm doing much more this week than the plans above reflect, but it's basically what I have in tangible form to show you all.  What's your week look like?

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!


Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Using 10 to Add (+9 & +8)

Do you find that your students are having difficulty using advanced strategies when adding numbers?  Boy my students are!  Are they still counting on their fingers? Fingers are a great tool, but students need to develop other strategies to add besides their hands.  It's just not efficient when you get into adding and subtracting larger numbers!



I just finished creating a set of games and activities for my students to do during our next set of math stations that help students develop strategies for using ten to add nine and eight facts.

The games and activities in this packet will give students a variety of experiences with adding and subtracting numbers using 10 as a benchmark number. The activities are divided into +9, +8, and +9 & +8 combined.

Here are some examples of the activities in the packet:


Equal Equations can be used in a variety of ways.  For each plus 9 and plus 8 set of facts there are three sets of cards.  Two cards can be matched together or all three cards can be matched together for a more challenging activity.  A recording sheet is provided for both two matches and a three-card match.

Use the Facts is a board game where students draw a card from the pile and find the +10 fact that helps solve the problem.  In the above example, it would be 10+3.  The board game has cards for +9 and +8 and is available in black and white as well as color.


Four-in-a-Row is a game where students must draw a card and cover a space that matches the card.  The winner is the first to cover four in a row.  This game is available in +9, +8 and a combined version of +9 & +8.


Number Puzzles Addition provide practice in match different +8 and +9 facts with the whole number.    A recording sheet is provided with this activity as well.


Addition Chart Fill-in is a simple activity where students draw a card and find the sum, writing it in the correct place on the addition chart.  This helps prepare students for the third grade standard of finding patterns in an addition chart.  Most of the squares in the addition chart are shaded, except those for the +8 and +9 facts that use 10 as a benchmark number.

Teacher directions are given for each activity to prepare the materials (see above examples) as well as student directions (either on a separate card or the recording sheet) that can be added to the game for independent math stations.

 All recording sheets 
are 1/2 page to save copies (for those of us with limited copies)!

Monday, September 15, 2014

FarFaria ~ Giveaway

Recently, I had the awesome opportunity to explore a new app called FarFaria.


This app was created for families with children ages 2-9. It has over 750 stories available.  They add 5 new stories each week. With the free version, you can read one story per day.


The stories are totally engaging as evidenced by my four-year-old.  He started on the preschool playground, but quickly ventured into other stories.



He moved onto more advanced book about sea monsters.  Liam is very into dragons right now (think How to Train Your Dragon).  Sea monsters are close to dragons, right?


What I love about the books is that the text is highlighted as it is read to the child, so they can follow along.  Liam's not reading yet, but it's still great for him to notice the letters on the page create words and those words have an order to them that make sentences.  Every little bit helps!


No, the picture of the sea monster is not too scary for him.  He is a typical boy who loves adventure and all things boyish.

You can check out FarFaria on the Apple iTunes app store, download a copy and play around with it.  It's also available on Google Play, too.

Want to win a copy?  The people at FarFaria have generously donated a three month subscription for one lucky reader!  Enter the rafflecopter below to win your subscription!

  a Rafflecopter giveaway

** Disclosure: I was given a limited subscription to FarFaria so I could review the app and offer the giveaway.

Sunday, September 14, 2014

Peek at My Week ~ Sept. 15 -19

Okay people.  I know it seems like we have a lot of days off, and we do at the beginning of the year.  I'm somewhat thankful for the breaks, but at the same time, kinda annoyed that we don't have a routine yet!

This week, we have another Monday with no students, because it's a Teacher Inservice day.

Reflections on Last Week

Testing through me for a loop in the afternoons.  I expected it, but it took way longer than we scheduled on the first day, so I had to get creative.  We also didn't get to our read aloud on Monday, Tuesday, or Wednesday, because of testing, so things got pushed into this week.

I also decided, after three days of implementing the Units of Study for Writing, that I don't have the time and energy to read the book every day for the next day's lesson and that I don't have all the materials I need to implement it well and that my students don't have the amount of language they need to write stories well with this program.  Ugh. . . I think both of us could get there, but at what cost?  My frustration and time away from planning other things?  They're lack of on task writing and only having a certain amount of time to teach narratives before the end of the trimester. (I so know that is not a sentence!)

So, I've decided to switch back to what I've done in the past with narrative writing and have all the students write about the same topic at the same time.  Each student is writing a different story, but we're all doing the same topic and I'm leading them through prewriting, drafting, publishing process.

This week

Click on the photo or this link to access a PDF of the plans.


Reading Comprehension

We did do some author study on Cynthia Rylant last week and will finish it up this week with our current Scholastic News article about her.  What perfect timing!  We will also start another chapter book, Stink: The Incredible Shrinking Kid.  I think I will keep to the ebb and flow of doing picture books for a couple days then an easy chapter book, switching back and forth for a while.  I want to reach all my kiddos and feel like that might be the best way to do it.

We also started our Daily 5 small group rotations last week.  Last week, I just gave students some somewhat independent phonics worksheets that will become part of our Work on Words station, once I get it together.  I basically wanted them to have the experience of moving without me being tied down to instructing a group.  This week, we will start our official small groups with instruction.  I'll eventually add that to the weekly plans.

Math

This week, we are continuing to focusing on addition facts and will focus on Using 10 to add nine and add eight.  We're almost at the end of our addition fact review, but my kiddos need a lot of help with their fact practice!  I started using my Automaticity Assessment packet with them last week and most of the students top out at +2!  For the most part, those kiddos just need to work on their speed.  We're working on it!


Here are our math stations.  They're the same as last week.

Writing

I mentioned about writing above already.  We're writing a story about a trip or a vacation we have taken.  I'm much more pleased with the on task-ness of my students.

Social Studies

We're finally getting starting in our social studies content!  We're starting our Location and Map Skills Unit this week, with grid maps.  We make a grid map of the classroom, read a grid map of our school, and then do some worksheets with neighborhood grid maps.


So, how is your week shaping up?  Go check out some more great plans at Mrs. Willis Kindergarten.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Five for Friday - on Saturday!

Is anyone else exhausted at the end of every day?  I don't know what happened to my stamina, but it's just not there anymore!  I'm so sorry it's been quite on the blog, but it seems that the weekend is the only time I have time to catch my breath and work on bloggy / TpT things!  I'm hoping this week will be a turning point as we move into established reading groups!

I'm linking up with Doodle Bugs Five for Friday a bit late just to give you an idea of what's been going on in my neck of the woods (or suburbia, that is!)


One

As I mentioned in a Peek at My Week, we started our math stations.  I don't have photos of all of them, but these two are going somewhat successfully.  The cut and paste is taking way too much time, so I may need to move that to a whole group lesson.


Finding double dominos is just right, though!  We have a long way to go to getting to know our facts!  Most of my kiddos topped out at +2 on our Automaticity Assessment for Addition and Subtraction Facts.  I have one who definitely knows all his facts and about four others that are pretty solid, but not quite there yet.


Two


We've been Working on Writing.  I worked hard this year to establish routines and find interesting things that students wanted to do.  It has always been one of my least favorite choices for Daily 5.  I find a few more students making it a choice this year, but my students still don't love writing like I want them to.

Three


This little guy, who is two and a half, BTW, has been wanting to practice riding his brother's pedal bike.  He can go quite a distance before he stops pedaling an inertia takes over!  I see a pedal bike in his near future!  His brother was four when he started riding his pedal bike.  This little guy is two.

Just for fun, we put the four-year-old on a neighbor's "big bike".  He can't reach the pedals, but he can balance!


Four


The boys got a gift from their aunt and uncle last week.  They got to take home the little guns and we emphasize that they have to wear protective eye wear ("You're gonna shoot your eye out!").  We are all about letting our boys be boys.  

Five


We had to rearrange classes this week to do some testing. I had the group that wasn't being tested, so we did some art.  The artwork turned out awesome!  It was based of this pinterest pin:

So, how was your week?

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Peek at My Week ~ Sept. 8 - 12

People.  I almost didn't make it.  Why is it that the shortest weeks are the longest?  This next week really is a LONG week.  We have Back-to-School night on Wednesday, which makes for a late evening, and it really is a normal five-day week for us.

I almost wasn't able to link up for a Peek at My Week, either.  I just didn't have the time to get the visual plans together, until I woke up this morning and couldn't sleep.  At what point after tossing and turning do you just get up?  For me it was 4:30 AM after two hours of tossing.  Oh well.  At least I can be a little productive!

This week we are starting our Daily 5 rotations.  We've been practicing for the past three weeks and {most} students can Read to Self for 20 minutes.  I have a couple kiddos who need a little encouragement, but for the most part, they're trained.  I've introduced several activities students can do for Work on Writing and we've established the "rules" for using our devices for Listen to Reading. This is our "getting our moves down" week.  I have students sorted into my instructional groups and we're basically just practicing doing Daily 5.  I won't be teaching a "teacher group" although students will have activities at my teacher table.  What are they doing?  They're working on some work work activities from this Interactive Working with Words Bundle.  Eventually, these will be part of our Work on Words rotation, differentiated by spelling level.

Here's what we're doing:


Reading Comprehension

I've decided that my whole group reading time needs to, for the most part, be just reading good literature.  I don't do enough read aloud and appreciation of what good writing looks like.  I want students to really love reading and getting into books.  I'll use the stories from our reading program as appropriate, but for the most part, my reading instruction on strategies and skills will take place in small groups during our Daily 5 time.

This week, I'm introducing students to Cynthia Rylant (Mr. Putter & Tabby Pour the Tea & Henry and Mudge) as well as Megan McDonald (Stink: The Incredible Shrinking Kid).

Math

This week's math time is a bit shorter because of some state testing.  Although we are still working on our addition strategies, there's not too much new this week.

I did start math rotations last week.  We might be able to get to them on Thursday and Friday this week, depending on how the testing goes.  Here are our math stations.  They all focus on addition fact practice, except for our computerized math program, which is kind of all over the place, depending on how quickly students work through the program.  Here's an idea of how I do my math stations.  I do not always introduce my math stations to students before having students engage with them.  I just don't have the time, and for the most part, the stations are pretty user-friendly.  The one exception this week is the Wild game.  I have my student teacher sitting with a group of 2-3 students helping them play the game.  



Writing

Our school site uses the Lucy Calkins Units of Study.  We are encouraged to use them, but can supplement as needed.  I have a love-hate relationship with these units.  I got them mid-year last year and didn't feel that I could implement the opinion and informational one well enough given the level of students I had.  This year, the Narrative unit look more promising.  Admittedly, I've only read one lesson.  They're really text heavy and cumbersome to read and plan for.  Hopefully, I will get into a pattern and routine with them and be able to implement it with ease.  I also use resources from my Narrative Tools packet.

Community Building

Yes, people, we have not gotten to Social Studies nor Science.  Next week, hopefully.  Because of the testing this week, I will have a different group of kiddos for an hour each afternoon, Monday - Wednesday.  I've decided to do some art projects with them.  We generally don't have time to do art in our classroom, so this is the perfect opportunity.  The projects and Pinterest links are in the file above.

I'm sure I'm doing much more this week than the plans above reflect, but it's basically what I have in tangible form to show you all.  What's your week look like?

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!