Saturday, October 26, 2013

Learning Scales

I know what you are thinking...this looks familiar right? It looks like Pinterest exploded all over my white board! Actually these are Pinterest inspired, Teacher Pay Teacher bought,  classroom décor done right!
Here is a picture of my original white board at the beginning of the year!

This post is NOT about my room décor, it's actually about reading!
I switched the ideas on my white board to reflect a better learning scale. Did you notice? I have four response choices now. Why is this important in reading, you ask? Well let me tell you.
I was teaching and asking if they understood "Story Structure" I got  a lot of one fingers up or three fingers up...which at the  time was , one finger =I am not sure, and three fingers= I think so...
I continued on with my mini-lesson and used the words Beginning, Middle and End. They all understood that! So I asked again, this time I got all five fingers up, that means you see the flaw here? They couldn't answer my question, because my choices were so narrow! My new scales are so much better! Well okay they aren't "mine" in the sense I created them, oh no my friend over at "Run, Miss Nelson's Got the Camera" created the awesome BEE themed scales, and they are terrific! So much better, so much more CLEAR...
1= "I'm just starting to learn this, and don't understand it yet"
2 = "I kind of understand but I  still need help"
3 = "I understand and can work on my own"
4 = " I fully understand and can work on my own and teach it to someone else."
The feedback is so much better and the children seem to answer honestly. We spend a lot of time at the beginning of school getting to know the scales and how I expect them to use them.
Which brings me to my next point. Reading - Story Structure. How much time do you think it took me to teach story structure? With the new scales, in no time! I made a small group real fast of the kids with a one or two, and worked with them, modeling what it is, my TN said to me, "If they don't understand in the first group, I keep them for the second group to keep them working on that skill." Brilliant! You know what I am doing when I start teaching tomorrow? I am starting with my ones and twos and keeping them in my group until they feel comfortable as a 3. (Unless they have to go...I mean they can do the skill.

Thursday, October 17, 2013

Yoga Balls?

At my school this year, some innovating teachers decided to go out and hit Donors Chose and get YOGA balls for their classroom. Seriously? YOGA balls? I immediately thought , no way, kids will be kicking and bouncing balls everywhere...crazy intermediate teachers!
I had to investigate this! I walked into this 5th grade classroom, here they are doing Math.
Maybe it is my own attention deficit, but I was floored over the fact they write on their DESKS! Say what? Yoga Smoga, tell me about this strategy of writing on your desks? My Fifth grade cohort said, "You can't do math on scrap paper anymore, that is so 2000!"
 All the while I am taking notes on how to erase and clean the desks the kids are bouncing and doing math. when I say bouncing, I don't mean bouncing high or crazy, just a soft steady bounce.
Remember I teach Second Grade, I have only been in the Primary grades, here these kids are doing long division, a process that I haven't done in forever. (Well except for crying over it at homework time with my Sweet Boy)
So here I am walking around this classroom in awe of their work, in awe of their concentration and BAM...they get up and teach me a new dance move! Ok it wasn't a dance move but you be the judge!

"Divide" /

"Multiply" X
"Subtract" -
"Bring it down".....

Their teacher says "This group ends it with "oh yeah" they are SO CUTE!!!"

I was so impressed with these kids! So impressed with their teacher, kinesthetic, fun and educational...I want to bounce around in here!
I even got the chance to sit on a Yoga Ball...oh my I think I need one of these for my you think she'll notice if I grab just one?

Next stop...Third Grade!
When I walked in, they were doing Reading Enrichment, so it wasn't her regular class, a few were my Sweet Bees from last year. I was excited to see them interact with the Yoga Balls.
 A little shorter, means a little less air in the balls. This group seemed a little more bouncy than the Fifth Graders, but to be fair it was only their third day on the balls.

I will have to revisit these classrooms at the end of the year and see how the progressed over the year!

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Data Notebooks

I love my Data Notebooks!

Each week we graph data, we graph test scores, A.R points, Reading and Math fluency...I could have them graph behavior, and  high-frequency. words too, but let's not go too crazy right?
Last year we only graphed our test scores, and Fluency, so this year I added A.R points.

The purpose of the data graph is two folds. The first reason is that when I am having  a parent conference it makes it easy to have all that information right there at my finger tips! The second is that they empower  my students to become accountable for their learning. The notebook also documents progress that can predict grades, providing "no surprises" at the end of each school quarter.

I started using them last year, as part of my DPP (Deliberate Practice Plan) it also covered 'Element two' in our TEAM evaluations. (Thanks Marzano! Really, no sarcasm there, I like it!)

Since I have implemented them, I have noticed that the children do enjoy watching their charts go up! It happens every now and then that they see some dips here and there, but it serves as a little motivator for them, especially in Fluency!
Looks like they are graphing a good grade!
I use different colors to easily find each sections. Math is blue, Reading is pink, Language Arts is green, Spelling is yellow, the fluency pages are white as is the A.R points. I found most of the graphs for this notebook from Hillary Lewis, she has a blog called Rocking Teacher Materials.
Here is a Sweet Bee discovering that studying for vocabulary pays off!

Each week I have them use just one color to color in the graph. This way they can see their scores go up from week to week. (Last week we didn't have a Friday, so we are graphing two weeks of data this week, if you notice from the pictures.)
Here is a good view of the ups and down of graphing! He's putting in an 80 this week! Last week was a 40.

The ups and downs, RTi?

It happens, that week when they realize that graph is looming, they don't want to graph the bad grades! So what do you do? You talk them through it, you show them others graphs. (With their permission of course) You keep encouraging them to work at it. I got lucky with a Sweet Bee, he had a rough week last week and didn't want to graph. He was more than thrilled to do it this week...big smiles and "I told you-  YOU could do it!"
RTi, where does that fit into Data Notebooks?  For me it goes hand in hand. Tracking data is already a huge part of the RTi process, but this kind of data also sets me up to see who might be a candidate for Rti. It is a nice visual, right there staring at me!
"Is it getting harder?" This child asks
Watching them graph is fun, and yet another opportunity to keep teaching. I model every week how to graph the right way. I ask permission to use one of my Sweet Bees data to graph on the projector. We make sure all our tests are in order, then I show them how to put the correct date on the bottom, or the X axis, then we count up the Y axis to the number of their grade, draw a line and write that number on the top of the line. Then we color it in with ONE color! (Last year I didn't make that part so and learn.)

I also have a few pages of goal setting for each discipline. Have I used them yet, well no, maybe at report card time...yikes that is  in a few weeks!
I also have the CCSS grade level checklist for them to check off when they master that benchmark. We do that in small groups, we check off the "I Can..." statements!
I am hoping to keep adding, and develop my Data Notebooks. I have enjoyed learning about tracking student data, it has become a powerful tool on our classroom!