Saturday, September 29, 2012

Self-Guided Math AND Reading Buddies all in one day!

So this week in Math we are having a test. How do you 'normally' get ready for a test? I usually play a game, or do a cooperative activity. In Guided Math we would do a small skill focused  group, usually....NOT this week! This week Christina (the intern) came up with a "SELF-GUIDED" activity.
I loved it! (When she is gone I am going to steal this idea too!
I number my students, it makes grading and sorting so much this activity was easy to start because of the number system in place. There were 20 questions hung up around the room in order. Each child had a clipboard and a piece of paper and a pencil. They started at their number, (So Bill, #20 started at question 20) then they just kept rotating from question to question as they wrote down their answers. They had to show some work if it was applicable. My room has never been so quiet at Math Time...EVER! Usually they are moving from small groups to teacher group to tools...but not today, they were serious mathematicians!

Later that day we were in for a treat!
Our 5th grade Reading Buddies stopped in and we got right down to business! I showed them a rubric for listening to other's reading. I found it blog hopping this summer.
Then I told each 2nd grader to rate themselves, then to rate their 5th grade Buddy, as well as the 5th graders rating our 2nd graders! What fun! Next week I will give them questions for Before, During and After reading so they can practice with their Buddies.
A lot of good questioning skills were being tested!!!

I really enjoyed listening to her reading an informational text to her buddy!

I love how my girl has her hands on her mouth! She is involved!

And here another one of my girls is really engaged!

5th Grade Buddies are AWESOME!

Saturday, September 22, 2012

STEM, it's not what you think!

First times are always the best or the worst,right?

So today I tried a new to me activity. STEM
The kids took 'notes' in the Science logs.
I have heard of STEM activities and we even have a STEM team at our school, but I have never really used the concept of STEM to introduce an idea and work with it hands-on!
The activity had nothing to do with the standard that we are working on in Science right now. It is purely a stand alone activity. So before we just "did it" I told the kids that I noticed something about our class, that I have NEVER noticed about ANY of the other classes I have taught. I told them that I believe they have an affinity (one of our vocabulary words this week) for Science, that they have a natural aptitude for it. (They LOVE it)! I also told them about our school's STEM team for 3rd, 4th and 5th graders! (the true KEY to a good STEM team isn't so much how smart they are, as it is in the fact that they can communicate and work as a team to get the job done)~ you'll see how this idea creates a little drama in the hive!
For our 1st ever STEM activity, I went to the Science book for help.(I know an unlikely source,) In one of our teacher resources I found a little gem (who knew!)  " A STEM Activity Book" (for real!)
There are only 6 STEM activities for 2nd graders, so I told them we will be doing one a month or one every two months depending on how short the month was. This way they can get used to the idea, but not drive me bonkers about "When are we doing STEM again?"
Our activity focused on casts and splints. I spent Thursday showing them pictures of splints and casts, and answering questions about them in our Science logs.
(Sorry it isn't right side up...sometimes I can't figure it out)
Then on Friday I introduced the materials and the teams. I explained how the real key to solving the problem was working with your friends. They were chomping at the bit to get started...but I wouldn't let them UNTIL they agreed on a few ideas and could communicate those ideas clearly to me. (boy oh boy, did that take a long time, I had two girls crying over year we will brainstorm how to share ideas first)
Immediately  one group really clicked. They were sharing and collaborating nicely. They got the first box of supplies:

In the kit: Popsicle sticks, fabric strips, paper strips, a broken pencil, a broken crayon, and two different types of tape.

This group worked together very well. You can see them repairing the bones. (broken pencil and a broken crayon)

Here they are wrapping the 'finger'.
Once all the groups figured out how to work together, a quiet hush came over the room. (Well, except for the drama in the back with the girls still crying...but they stopped once they saw the other teams having fun!)
The kids were wrapping and taping. Once they finished, I gave them a few more questions for their Science Logs.....

Once each group finished I lined up their 'fingers' and we discussed how each splint worked or didn't. I did not know which group got which 'fingers', but I did put the purple pencil and the purple crayon in the same box, same with the reds, blues, greens and yellows. So when I displayed them, I told them don't let me know which group did what...this way I can judge fairly. They actually helped me judge...funny thing was they used the black paper as a frame instead of using it as a prop for a splint. I guess I use black construction paper too much to frame things in my classroom. (LOL).

We discussed how many groups had the same idea with the crayons. They really liked the tape!
Everyone agreed we can't wait for the next STEM activity! They really had a good conversation about teamwork too! I think the next STEM activity has something to do with plants...messy, messy, messy...I hope I can handle it!

Place Value Fun, my Intern Rocks!

I don't know about you, but my kids are struggling with place value. They can tell you 123 is one hundred twenty-three, but have no clue what place the 2 is in. We have been struggling early on with this concept. I say 'we' as in me and my intern, Christina. We have been trying everything, using base 10 blocks, drawing pictures, ten frames, using kids as physical representation...ugh... we are going crazy! Then BAM! Christina arrives at school on Wednesday and says.."Kids today we get to use scissors!" ahh the magic phrase! and look at what these kids did...they made their own base 10 blocks and labeled their own 3 digit number.
Hands-On MATH
Here, as you can see, she hasn't got the 4 hundreds as 400 yet, but once I snapped this picture I said to her, "Hey I was looking at your number, how do you pronounce it?", She quickly used her finger to track her words(numbers) and said "four hundred...OH!" and fixed it!

Hands-On MATH
Here you can see all the tools we used!

Hands-On MATH
Once they made a number. They glued it down in their Math Journals. (A little folding was needed.)

Here is a great example of neatness! This kid is a really 'clean' worker...notice the problem solving pencil? I got that from a bloggy friend's (Farley over at Oh Boy 4th Grade) TPT store! Best idea for problem solving ever!

Stay tuned for my Science post, we did a STEM activity!

Monday, September 17, 2012

I Have Nothing to BLOG About...said No Teacher Ever!

Thanks to Elizabeth over at Fun in Room 4B, I am posting today!

I have been in a funk, of not knowing what to write, I have no pictures of things I have been doing...I feel like I am behind the 8 ball with the beginning of the year and all the new curriculum changes and the new Marzanno excuse list just gets bigger and bigGER and BIGGER....No MORE!!!

 I am here today to blog!

What IS happening in my room...Let's see...

1. Math time is going great, even my sweet intern has embraced the routine of Guided Math, and taken over my Math time! (yeah)

2. The Daily 5 is in full swing, now I can start my small groups on a regular continue to work one on one with a higher frequency. TODAY I found time to teach writing! (HUGE news since we are missing our usual time to write by working with Math Tools)

3.We are on Book 5 in the Magic Tree House series, the kids love it! (so do I)

4. I LOVE Science! This year I have started a "Science Log" to go with Jack and all his note today we went outside with our hand lenses and examined soil! Good Times. We then wrote in our "Science Logs" all about what we saw, smelled and felt. The kids are so excited to act like Jack and real scientists too!

5. Our Tool Time is a lot of fun too! My sweet intern has taken that area over too, and is really experimenting with all the base 10 blocks and getting creative with place value! I know the class is having fun and learning!

6. Next week we are going to write to our Pen Pals in Missouri for the first time! I let my friend know we are writing! AND a 5th grade teacher e-mailed me today and invited our 2nd grade class to be their Reading Buddies! So excited to collaborate with an older grade!

7. How could I forget, Constitution Day and FREEDOM week coming up...doing a lot of patriotic activities!

So here I am thinking about "I have nothing to blog about" (waaah, waaah, waaah) and look! WOW it's like a whole article!

We are busy, just like you.
Elizabeth thanks for the kick!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

MATH-aliscious! (TOOL TIME revisited)

Recently I posted about our school's new  (Math )TOOL TIME!
On Wednesday we had our first Professional Learning Community (PLC) featuring the Math Manipulatives. We are grouped together for this PLC as: K-1; 2-3 and 4-5...I like the pairing but hope that at the end of the year we can meet with 1st grade too, so we can discuss what they need to be doing to help bridge the Math gap.
At our first meeting, the 3rd grade team made a list of Math deficiencies, or concepts that seem to be problematic, and I must say I agreed with the list. They listed things such as : Basic Math facts, subtracting across zero, problem solving...
As a team we also made a list: place value, basic math facts, transposing numbers, following directions (problem solving)... but I felt that our list wasn't as helpful to the 3rd grade team as it would have been to the 1st grade team!
 I wonder if we can articulate these needs sometime during the year?? No I don't want ANOTHER PLC, just maybe visit with our colleagues and have a math discussion now and one at the end of the least we know what to fix for our 3rd grade teachers and they see what our issues are.

During our time together on Wednesday we had a lesson presented to us using manipulatives. They used buttons. We sorted them by categories that we had to come up with. Then we were challenged to use this manipulative or idea in a lesson during our TOOL TIME. Easy enough...we were also asked who would like to teach a lesson using manipulatives for next month's meeting...yes I did volunteer first...but I also have the intern remember...funny thing is I have to work with a 3rd grade teacher on this lesson. My friend in 3rd who also happens to have an intern volunteered first too...we are thinking the new kids on the block can handle this challenge! L.O.L

If you know me then you know I already have an idea that I want to share- (Place Value of course). ...  the Math Coach posted a base 10 block math mat  and someone else posted "Mystery Number" build the number and solve the mystery...yeah for my fellow blogging buddies and Pinterest...lesson done! (It's not even due until October something!)

If you are wondering how my Guided Math time is's FINALLY taking a turn in the right direction. I think I was over thinking it! I wanted to do it exactly like in the book:
...but then I really like the T.I.M.E idea that has been flying around Pinterest...I was trying to make BOTH of these ideas work at the same time and decided to STOP and re-group! I am using the "system" I used last year AND making it fit into the structure of Guided much better...I feel like I know how to function in this zone. After 19 years of teaching you would think I would know better than to try and re-invent the wheel!!!!!
All's well that ends well!
Now that I have a good handle on Math, I am still struggling to find adequate writing time...I started a Reading Response Journal as part of the Daily 5- (keep tract of your CAFE lessons type idea) I am hoping this will let me find a little writing time with-in the 90 minute reading block....not too worried about this week I need to tackle FAIR testing!!!
Wish me Luck! 

Monday, September 3, 2012 of my FAVORITE BLOGGY things to do!

This one was easy...Farley only said to follow the rule of three:

"Go 2 behind your link and comment and go 1 ahead of yours and comment"
I am also currently working on trying to fit Writing into the 90 minute Reading block...once my entire day is scheduled to where I like it to be, I will check in with you and share all the projects and ideas I have been up to this year! I want to share with you more...

Sunday, September 2, 2012

How do you GRADE, so you don't go crazy?

Labor Day week-end, a time to reflect on the first two weeks of school!
I already switched a few seats....

I really want to switch over to the Common Core Curriculum, THIS year instead of waiting...but I am having a little issue...and maybe those of you who have already switched can help me figure this out! How do you GRADE?
All the research I am doing lets me think I can throw away the Teacher Editions and start using real literature and solid curriculum standards instead of the textbooks and normed how do you use a rubric assessment and translate it into A,B,C,D,F?? Do you have a formula?
This is what I was thinking...take all the standards, divided it into four (for the 4 nine weeks of school) and use a check-off sheet to determine the % of standards they master in each nine weeks, as compared to the whole year.
As an example, let's say in Math they have to Master 20 skills...(20/4=5) in the first nine weeks they should master 5 out of 20..10 in the second nine weeks, 15 in the get the picture!
Let's pretend they master 7/5 skills in the first nine weeks...that is an A (over 100%)...then they master 2 more skills by the second nine weeks 9/10...still an A (90%) comes the 3rd nine weeks and they now have 10/15 now they earn a D...Do you see how this is going? So maybe my plan isn't going to work.....
I really NEED your help...using the CCCS how do you score and grade?