Sunday, October 27, 2013

Peek At My Week Linky

Hey all.  It's Sunday night.  All my plans are written.  Copies are made. Laminating is {mostly} done.  And I'm ready to share my week with you all!

 We are nearing the end of our unit of ecosystems!  I found a cute book called What if there were no sea otters? that I'm going to read to begin a conversation about cause and effect and conservation.  The students will have an option to create either a food web, food chain or energy pyramid with the information they gather from the book!

Photo Credit: Amazon
 On Tuesday, we will begin the writing portion of our first performance based assessment.  We've spend the last few weeks learning about characters and their responses and reactions and writers' techniques for crafting interesting stories.  This week, students will craft their own narratives!

 I've been working with one group of kiddos on Lovin' Lit's Citing Text Evidence lesson.  On Wednesday, those students will become the experts and they will teach some other students what they've learned!  My experts are really my lowest level readers, so I'm excited to give them the opportunity to show off what they've learned.

 Halloween!  We invited parent to the classroom for morning literacy on Halloween.  We are going to ready Creepy Carrots (so cute) and work on Runde's Room Plot Pumpkins.
Photo Credit: Amazon

Our admin invites everyone to dress as a storybook character, so I'm going to be the bee from Thank you, Mr. Falker.  (A stretch, I realize).  But I've always love the line "Honey is sweet and so is knowledge, but knowledge is like the bee that made the honey.  It must be chased through the pages of a book."  So I suppose I'm really dressing as a simile!
On Friday, we'll be making some crafty ocean animals.  I spent a good chunk of time procrastinating researching.  You can check out my pinterest board if you are looking for some crafts.

And after school, I'll hop on a train and pick up my packet for the NYC Marathon on Friday.  OMGoodness.  I can't believe it's almost here!!!

Be sure to check out Mrs. Laffin's Laughings!
I hope everyone has a great week!

Monday, October 21, 2013

Student-Moderator Discussion Prompts in Action!

In my excitement about finding a means to make my scripted literacy program a little more student-led, I hastily threw together yesterday's blog post.  I shared some prompts for a student-moderator to use when leading a whole class discussion.  But I didn't share how I planned to use them.  Oops!  So sorry....and here goes:

 Prior to today, I emphasized making eye contact with classmates, using text based evidence, using accountable talk stems, responding directly to claims made by classmates and not taking differing opinions as a personal attack (this is still an ongoing lesson!).  Our conversations have been meaty and really interesting!

Today, I handed over responsibility for leading this discussion to a student.  Before the whole class discussion, the rest of the class prepares in small groups.  The students answer an opinion based question and defend their idea with details from the text.  While the class prepared, my student-moderator read the prompts and we briefly discussed ways to keep the conversation moving.  When she was ready, she jumped in a took over the discussion.

Of course, I handed off this responsibility to my most capable student, but I anticipate other students being successful and over time being able to ditch the prompts and lead the conversation independently.

If you want to grab a set of prompts, click HERE to download them. You can edit the portion that says EDIT to remind your student how to grab the attention of their classmates.  You will need PowerPoint to edit the file.

Sunday, October 20, 2013

Student Led Discussion Prompts - FREEBIE!

One part of our literacy program, ReadyGen, is called "Team Talk."  During this part of the morning, students respond to an opinion based question with text based evidence.  Since all of the students have copies of the texts, this has been a really productive portion of our morning.  I post the question on my SMARTboard and give teams a few minutes to discuss before we launch into our whole class discussion.

My school, like many others, has a focus on student led learning.  I much prefer to sit back and observe during these whole class conversation. I usually wait until much later in the year to relinquish responsibility to the students, because I believe that the teacher has the responsibility to challenge students with higher order thinking questions, but part of our evaluation refers to student led lessons.  To help my students along, I created these prompts to help my "Student Moderators."

I haven't used these yet, but I wanted to offer them up to anyone who wants to try them out.  I'm certain all teachers will be able to use them for their whole class text based discussions.  There is one editable frame for you to add in your routine for getting the attention of the class.  We are a Whole Brain Teaching classroom, so I use the "Class?"  "Yes?"  routine.  I tried embedding the font into the file, so please let me know if the font doesn't show up correctly.  (It's KG Second Chances Solid by Kimberly Geswein, if you want to download it.  And I did pay for the license...just in case you are curious!)
My routine for getting the attention of the class

Grab your set of discussion prompts HERE.  Let me know what you think!

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Sparking Student Motivation: Homework and a TpT Sale!

I'm linking up with Joanne at Head Over Heels for Teaching for Sparking Student Motivation!

Ugh.  Homework.  I had no idea how terrible homework could be until my oldest started Kindergarten this year.  I had this adorable image in my head that he would sit at the dining room table doing his homework while I got dinner ready.

Yeah, right.

So now I can better sympathize with the parents of my students when they complain about their kids being difficult when it comes to homework!  Here is what I do in my classroom to try to keep the kids motivated to complete their homework:

I saw this idea on Fourth Grade Frolic's Instagram and then read her blog to find out the idea originally belongs to Lessons with Laughter.  You can check out Fourth Grade Frolic's Homework Club Freebie HERE.

I check homework daily.  I know some teachers have had success spot checking homework, but when I've tried that, I've found the quality of the work has really decreased.  On average, I assign four or five pieces of work each night and I estimate that it would take a focused student no more than 45 minutes to complete their assignments, including the twenty minutes of reading I assign in the beginning of the year.

You can spy the homework club in the background of this image.  This was only the second week of school, so we were just getting into the swing of the things. There were many more club members this week!

Students who complete all of their work in the week (even if the work is late) are in the homework club. On Mondays, I leave the names on their desks so they can put their names in the club themselves.  If they miss an assignment, I have the students remove their own names.  I feel there is a level of accountability in removing your name yourself and that physical act may be a good reminder to the student to be responsible.

Sorry for the instagram picture!  

Being in the homework club earns the student a very small reward (two pieces of candy and an eraser or pencil). Tangible rewards are very rare in my room and it's working for me.  The kids get loads and loads of genuine praise, but not so many trinkets.

So what about the students who do not complete their work?  They fill in a missing homework sheet that I found on Pinterest.  I keep these sheets filed away in a little binder the students can access.  When the student completes the missing assignment, then I add in the date it was returned.  If the homework isn't returned by Friday, then the student completes the missing assignment during art.  I had three students this week who needed to spend about ten minutes working on a missing assignment and then a few minutes talking to me about responsibility before they could work on their art work.

You can download the form there.

Also, did you know TpT is having a site wide sale???  To celebrate reaching 100,000 Facebook fans, they are having a 10% off sale.  I'm joining in and putting my entire store on sale!

I'd love to hear how you manage homework in your classroom.  Do you check daily?  Do you offer free homework passes?  I'm kind of interested in introducing those as a super special reward, but I don't want my kiddos to skip their reading logs or their math homework!

Tuesday, October 8, 2013

Fall Math Centers! {Freebie!}

Happy fall!  I'm so in love with the cooler temperatures, the changing leaves, fun fall activities and pumpkin-y baked goods!  We will be celebrating fall in our math classroom with these Fall Themed Math Centers I just finished :-)  Take a peek!

Although we are working on Halloween Centers right now, we will move onto these in November, and I know some of you love to be super prepared and think ahead like I do!  These centers are focused on decimals, which is part of the major work of fifth grade.
 I love math centers that students can visit multiple times!  For Know that Number, students can revisit the center several times by selecting a new number.  Just be sure to keep the center stocked with worksheets!
 This center activity has addition, subtraction, multiplication and division with decimals in separate sets.  You can easily differentiate by assigning students to different sets or remove pages you haven't taught yet.  The student sheet has big spaces for students to show all of their work.
 All of the centers have easy to read instructions and are fairly intuitive for students to complete.  You won't need to spend precious class time teaching and reteaching the directions for the center.
You can check out these centers here on TpT.  They are on sale for $3 from now until Sunday night (10/13).  You can also take a look at a freebie page for adding decimals.  I've included the student sheet and an answer key so you can get a closer look at one of the centers!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Five for Friday! Character Organizer Freebie

Oh, sweet Friday!  I'm so happy it's here finally!

Here are a few things that have been going on in my room this week:

1.  We launched ReadyGen.  Our first unit is Depending on Each Other and we are reading Night of the Spadefoot Toads.  My students are really enjoying the story and having really great conversations about the book.  I am loving having a copy of text for each student!

"Team Talk" - students state an opinion and refer back to text for evidence

2.  We are studying character.

Our essential questions focus on character.  Our discussions have focused on how traits are revealed, external and internal conflict and character motivations.  ReadyGen does not come with homework, so I designed some graphic organizers for character study.  This week, my students worked on this mini organizer at home and at school during independent reading.  You can grab a copy of it HERE or check out the editable product on TpT HERE.  (It's on sale for the weekend!)

3.  We are wrapping up Back to School Math Centers!  This was a great way to assess the kids skills in a low stress way.  I used the data revealed through their work to help students write their beginning of year math goals.  They were also a great way to get kids into a math workshop routine!  Next up: Halloween Centers!

4.  We experimented with complimentary colors.  I have an amazing artists in my room....but one in particular who is just knocking my socks off with his awesomeness.

5.  My favorite kindergarten-er turned five this week!  I'm really looking forward to his party this weekend :-)

I hope you had a great week!  Be sure to check out DoodleBug's linky!

Thursday, October 3, 2013

Thursday Throw Down: Manipulating Number Tiles in Math

Hi friends!  I'm linking up with Erin at Lovin'Lit for another edition of Thursday Throw Down.  I'm excited to (re)share a quick tip that REALLY worked wonders for my students this year!

Leah has $40 dollars.  Jacob has 1/10 as much money as Leah.  How much money does Jacob have?

This question correlates to 5.NBT.A.1 ("recognize that in a multi-digit number, a digit in one place represents 10 times as much as it represents in the place to the right and 1/10 of what it represents in the place to the left.") and it drove my students batty last year.  They didn't understand how they could use the place value chart to solve a problem like this and really weren't successful until we did more work in division and with fractions.

This year, I made manipulative tiles (erm, or just numbers they cut out and moved around like the letter tiles used to make words).  I shared these in a previous post, but now that I've used them, I'm going to share them again with a lot more detail.

We began the lesson by cutting out all of the numbers.  The place value mat does not need to be cut.

I displayed the same place value chart on my smart board, but whiteboard or chalkboard would certainly work as well.  On my SMARTboard, I used the marker to write the number and then dragged it to the left to model ten times as much.  When my students came to the SMARTboard, they were able to do the same.  If you don't have a SMARTboard, you could add magnets to the back of number times to move them from one place value to the next.

I called out numbers for students to build using their number tiles.  A quick observation confirmed that my students had no difficulty hearing the word form and creating the standard form of the numbers.  I kept the first few numbers very simple.  I started out by asking the kids to build single digit numbers and powers of ten.

Next I reminded the students that when we move to the left on the place value chart we are multiplying by ten.  We did this whole-brain teaching style - students put their hands up, bent at the elbows, shoulder height and moved to the left when they said left.  Be sure to get your shoulders into it so it feels like a dance!  Then I asked the students to multiply 7 times 10 by moving the digit 7 to the left (move your shoulders!).  After modeling whole numbers twice more, we moved onto decimals.  Students built single digit decimals and then moved (to the left, to the left! Think the left, to the left.  Everything you own in the box to the left ;-) to demonstrate ten times more.

After modeling, the students completed a very brief workbook page and then we came back to the place value charts to model "1/10 as much."  This proved more challenging for students with a weak ability to compare decimals because they didn't notice that the numbers were getting smaller.  For some students, because the number was lengthening (0.07 as opposed to 0.7) they thought the number was growing.

We used the same method for modeling 1/10 as much, again using our hands and our shoulders to move "to the right, to the right." I called out numbers for the students to build and then asked them to find 1/10 as much by moving the digit to the right.  I gave lots and lots of praise to the students who realized they needed to add zeroes between their digit and the decimal point.
There's something so powerful about a tactile experience, especially in math!

If you are interested in the place value chart and number tiles, you can grab it HERE. 

Be sure to head over to Erin's blog to read about more great ways to make learning more interactive!