Monday, July 20, 2015

Math Journaling Part 2..... Working with a Buddy

Hey y'all! Last week we talked about how introducing a daily math journal into each day, has huge benefits for your little mathematicians. If you missed that post, you can see it here... Math Journaling Part 1. Do you ever find an idea easier or clearer after you have talked about it with someone? I mean really talk it through....... I recently sat down with my best friend who is also a teacher and discussed the framework of a readers workshop lesson.  We talked for about 2 hour straight hours that day, and I walked away with a bag full of new ideas, old ideas validated, and a fresh outlook on a new year of reader's workshop.  During this conversation she and I took what she knew about reader's workshop, what I knew, and what research supports and put it all together.  We agreed, disagreed, and pondered over many ideas. In the end we both seemed to have a clear understanding of the work of reader's workshop and how we would create an even deeper workshop learning environment than before.  Working with a buddy really helped me solidify my understanding in this topic.  This is exactly how our students work.  As students are becoming risk takers in math journal and numbers, they need someone to talk through their problem.  Math buddies offers a great way for students to connect math thinking, share ideas, and grow understanding.  
 In my classroom students work with their math buddy during math journal time, 3 days a week and on their own the other 2 days.  They love working with their buddy and it really fosters that good conversation between two learners. When thinking about grouping my buddies, I always group on like ability level.  I want my students to grow and they need someone on the same level as them.  I would never group a high and a low together as math buddies, because the high has no one to have a deep conversation with and the low will continue to be confused.  I try to think about a few things when grouping buddies....
1. like ability levels (strategic with strategic, high with high, etc.)
2. Who will have good conversation together?
3. Which students will nurture each other's thinking?

Then I group my buddies and change them out each quarter.  Wow, think about how powerful that is to have four different people throughout the school year that they have had a chance to think deeply about math with for an extended time.

I also have math buddies work together during mathematician work after the mini lesson from time to time.  Sharing a conversation about numbers builds such good foundations in number sense and problem solving.
This is a way that I display my math buddies in the classroom. Students know who their buddy is, no confusion, and that equals more focused mathematicians. Click on the poster pic. for a freebie copy. 
I put their pictures on the poster with velco and switch them out each quarter.  I've also seen teachers use post its on this chart and just write the students' names. 

Thursday, July 16, 2015

Math Journaling....An Important Part of the Day

 Hey y'all!! About 4 years ago, I realized that my kids needed more practice with problem solving and they needed a longer amount of time to do it.  I also realized that I wanted them to be stronger communicators in order to deepen their understanding of the concepts.  I decided to introduce math journaling into my math block.  I wasn't sure at first how this was going to go, but I will say now that I would never teach math with out the component of math journaling.  When I talk with other teachers, they too feel like introducing math journaling in their daily routine has built strong foundations in their students' number sense.
Each morning, my kids come in and immediately get started on math journal.  They'll work for about 30 minutes in their journal.  It's my favorite part of the day!!! Whether you choose to purchase a math journal or just have your students do story problem solving with some deep analyzing, it's the purposeful thinking they carry out in this process that really grows dendrites.  

During journal we play classical music in the room. I find this helps set the tone for the work that needs to be done and it promotes that deep thinking. My favorite part of math journaling from a planning point, is that you already know your kids are doing for morning work.  There is nothing worse than having to plan something new for morning work every single day!
As I started liking math journal more and more, I began to see that there were 4 areas of need to focus in on.  Students needed a deeper understanding of problem solving in a story problem.  I don't know about y'all, but when I was in elementary school and the teacher said word problems, you could bet there was a long sigh from the whole class. I didn't want that for my kids.  I find that math journals promotes... deep thinking..... structured conversation...... risk taking.....and a love of math. 
Each day when my students come into the classroom, they immediately begin math journal.  Our journal is comprised of four components. 
1. Number of the Day- This is a safe place for students to take ownership of thinking deeply. They can be comfortable taking risks using numbers.  Students are writing and creating ways to make a given number.  
Y'all it's sometimes so amazing the things they come up with. One day our number was 47 and this is what one student came up with.  1,000- 200- 200- 200- 100- 100- 50- 50- 30- 20- 3= 47 It was amazing! The greatest part of this was when this child shared out during journal check, the other student were just as amazed and they started taking risks like that in the following days.  
2. Thinking about numbers- I wanted my students to have a deep understanding of number sense. In thinking about numbers, students have a focused problem to help build a strong sense in numbers.  
3. Story Problems- This is where students get to analyze and think deeply about problem solving. Students 
4. Daily Data- This is where I thought my teaching really lacked.  I didn't like the idea of only doing a unit on data for two weeks out of the school year.  In this journal, students work with a new set of data each week.  They use an interactive graph for the entire week. The data is generated by the students each Monday. 

This graph was so fun y'all!  You wouldn't believe how difficult it was for the boys to pick a favorite.  

 All I did to create these graphs was take put that cute patterned duck tape on a poster board.  You can have your students write their name on a post it or use their picture and velcro each week.

Here is a little sample to download of the math journals we do each day in our class. Sample Click

If you like it, you can check out the math journals in my store.  The graphs are included in the journals as well.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

A Thriving Community of Math Learners
Y'all, I love back to school time, because that means the beginning of community building in the classroom. If I had the say the most important contributor to student success in my personal classroom, one of the top placeholders would be building a community of learners. Meaning that students learn from each other, a safe place to make mistakes, a safe place to be a risk taker in thinking, a safe place to build upon each other's thinking, and a place to grow together as learners.  In my math class, we work on building each other up when a fellow classmate is confused or doesn't understand.  We do this through providing a help line.  Students ask the classmate if they 1. Need help 2. more think time 3. or the question asked again. This way another student can lend a thinking helping hand and either explain how to solve the problem or send the student on the right track of thinking without blatantly giving the answer and doing all their thinking work for them.  I love when they are so in tuned to  helping each other think through the problem.  This is one way for the students to visually see how to help each other in those early stages of building community.  The are helper ques. I lay them out in our circle during teaching time and hold them up when a student is stuck.  I have even had a sweet baby go and grab a helper question when they were in need. I find they really provide that visual support for help. All you need to do is print, cut, laminate, and hot glue to a popsicle stick. They can be used for any subject.  I particularly use them in math.

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Check out the newest blog in the family......

It's been soooooo long!!!!! We'll I can tell you I've been crazy busy! Since my move from first grade teacher to curriculum coordinator, I've been working with all grade levels this year.  I decided that if I was truly going to keep this blog about first grade, then I would need to start a second blog to share all the great things we're doing in all the other grade levels.  I'm excited to kick off my new blog
i heart learning and teaching. This blog is dedicated to show a glimpse of my day as curriculum coordinator. Here, I'll be sharing what I'm planning with teachers across grades PreK-7th in all subject areas.  I'll also be featuring youtube videos about teaching and learning that we create right here in my own house classroom. Isn't that just about the funniest thing you've ever heard?? Who sets up a classroom at their house? Well I missed my own classroom so much, that I had to recreate the magical feeling!

Sunday, February 1, 2015

Bringing Fairy Tales to Life

Last week was crazy sock day at school and I had everything laid out the night before. Oops.....It was 5:30 that morning and I remembered that I needed to wear some type of crazy socks.  I started racking my brain to try and come up with something. Then, I remembered we are on to our fairy tale unit next week. What if I made a fairy tale come to life on my socks???  Then I thought "why not build a beanstalk with tissue paper?" Then, by 6:00a.m. my beanstalk making was in full swing. I printed out Jack and the Beanstalk clip art and hot glued it all to my socks. I HIGHLY recommend putting your fingers on top of your leg until the glue dries, otherwise you will have hot glue burning your leg!

We're traveling to the magical world of fairy tales this week!! I can barely wait to read all those wonderful tales!  I have just uploaded my latest product to TPT, Fairy Tales- A thematic unit.  
It covers 4 fairy tales with tons of activities: Cinderella, The Three Pigs, Jack and the Beanstalk, and Goldilocks.  You'll find an interactive retell....

Three interactive poems for whole or small group instruction. 

A science experiment where students will build piggy houses out of three different materials and then act as the wolf to see which materials were strong and which were weak. 

It also includes letter writing with Goldilocks.  It never occurred to me as a child that Goldilocks could actually be a villain.  In this unit we'll write a letter to the three bears from Goldilocks. 
Click here to take a look in my TPT store.  Fairy Tales- A Thematic Unit

Sunday, January 4, 2015

Interactive Notebooking in Math is Time Well Spent in the Classroom….Plus a Notebook Freebie

Who would have thought that school could get any more exciting?? Well add in an interactive notebook and you've got the kiddos lined up and bursting to get in to the classroom! At least that's been my experience with interactive notebooks. Since my newest job as curriculum coordinator at an elementary school, one thing we've implemented school wide from PreK4-7th grade is interactive notebooks. It's been an amazing addition!  The kids not only love them, but grasp the teach point over and over again.  

Why I love interactive notebooks??
1. They are meaningful. 
2. They serve as a constant aide in revisiting topics to build fluency and understanding.
3. They also work like a portfolio and students can take them home at the end of the year to keep track of all their learning in the classroom. 
4. They are way fun and exciting!!
5. The list really goes on.... and on..... and on!

How fun and exciting does this look? Firsties can measure different objects by ordering them from tallest to shortest.  This can be done as a quick assessment, review, buddy work, extension activities, classwork, and the list of possibilities goes on and on! 

I recently added into my TPT store a new addition. An interactive notebook for 1st grade math. It covers all the standards for first grade. You'll have no prep to do in this notebook packet:)
 Here are some pics of the notebook. Click here to check it out in my TPT store. 

Monday, August 11, 2014

Back to School Festivities

So it was my first full PD week to plan!!!! AAAhhhhhh I was so scared that it wouldn't be cute enough or everything would be to expensive, or that I just couldn't pull it off. Then I turned to Pinterest! How did we live without it? So each teacher got a pencil wreath for their door and this amazing teacher posted a welcome back to school decor packet for free! Thank you so much for your generosity. It brought lots of smiles to the teachers' faces. 

It was such a powerful day! We discussed accountable talk, curriculum mapping, and math journaling.