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Congratulations to Karen Freemantle who was the winner of the Disrupting Thinking book giveaway!  I hope you are all as anxious to get started talking about this powerful book as I am!  As a reminder, the discussion schedule is as follows:

June 7:  Discuss Part 1
June 14:  Discuss Part 2
June 21:  Discuss Part 3 and the Conclusion

Participation is easy!  Just get the book (I have included an affiliate link below if you need it) and be ready to add some comments in on June 7 about the first part!  I will be posting about it both on my blog AND on Facebook, so you can participate in either location.  Be ready to share "aha" moments and goals.

There will be more information coming soon about my Summer of Learning Webinar Series as well...but I am excited to say that the first webinar is ready to roll!  This one is all about teaching place value and number sense in the upper grades, and I hope you will join me.  There is a freebie handout in my TpT store to use to take notes if you want--or just tune in and listen!  There are currently 5 dates available for this webinar (It's free--don't worry!), and I can't wait to release information about the second webinar in the series--all about word problems. Stay tuned for FB live and email reminders as well.  Interested in signing up?  Click the image below to take you to the freebie and sign up link.
teaching place value and number sense

Still need a copy of Disrupting Thinking?  Here is an Amazon link if you are interested.


Stay tuned for more updates...and I hope you find this book as powerful as I do!  Want to make sure you don't miss any details?  There is a sign up link for my emails on the right side of my blog!  Watch for a FB live with more details Tuesday night...8 pm central.  See you then by clicking HERE!


last days of school
I know many of you are starting to celebrate--another school year is in the book!

For many of us, we have days or even weeks left--and it's hard to keep students motivated and focused and LEARNING until the very end.  I have a few tips today to help you keep your students--AND YOU--ready for a successful ending!  I know the paperwork for us is crazy--but that isn't our students' fault! Keep your stress under control, your "to do" lists handy, and check out these tips!

1.  Keep students busy doing meaningful work!

It's easy to forget that students crave routine...and when you throw in end-of-year field trips, assemblies, treats, assessments, and more--it's easy to let it all fall apart.  The more we can keep students doing quality, rigorous work, the better!  I know that I am always looking for that last minute data to help with report cards as well--but there is no reason it can't be made a little more fun as well!

I needed a few last reading grades, so I gave this easy to give demand prompt.  The students had a BLAST describing their "dream" classroom and I got what I needed for report cards!  (This and other prompts are available in THIS RESOURCE)
last days of school activities

I also use this time of year to do TONS of problem-solving...whether it's "themed" word problems like
end of school math activities
or
end of school year

or review problems with all the content from the year, keeping math going strong is super important...even if you have "finished" the curriculum.  Even consider having your students write some of their own!  Tell them that if they write some good ones, you can use them with next year's class!

Speaking of next year's class...I love to do this project with my students--and it gives me a perfect bulletin board for BACK to school as well!  I've killed two birds with one stone...there are a number of options included and the letters and everything you need are right there!
end of year bulletin board

I also keep up with our daily independent reading and writing times and make sure my science and social studies activities are meaningful yet fun.  We do "BizWorld" at the end of the year--and if you haven't heard of it, it is well worth checking out.  It's an amazing simulation.  I have blogged about it in the past...just click HERE if you want to see a few blog posts about it.

Now don't get me wrong...I sprinkle some "just for fun" stuff in there as well--especially in the final day or two.  Here are some of my favorites!
summer classroom ideas

2.  Take more frequent breaks and keep activities shorter.

I don't think this is rocket science--but just accept that the students are going to have a harder time focusing!  Instead of planning a 60-minute math lesson, plan three twenty minute ones!  Get them moving and transitioning and give them fewer opportunities to get off track.  For example, we are working on adding and subtracting decimals.  Instead of pages of practice on Tuesday, we are warming up with a summer word problem...

then we are getting out our whiteboards for some practice problems...

then I am introducing the swimming pool problem (involves adding money) for them to work on over the next few days...
end of year math

then we are going to do the book work in partners.

The same is true for all other subjects...keep switching things up!

3.  Choose a powerful read aloud.

One thing I started to do a few years ago is picking a very compelling read aloud book that I deliberately map out to finish on the very last day of school.  For the last few years, that book has been "Wonder" for me...it's an amazing book and it talks about transitions and growing up--and my fourth graders leave me to go to a new school and it's so fitting.  I've also read "No Talking" at the end of the year and "Out of My Mind"--both excellent "school" books that keep them interested and begging you to read more.

After we finish reading at the end of that last day, it leads into a perfect discussion about our year, their hopes for the next year, and so on.  It's a great bonding time as we finish our year together.


4.  Keep their bodies moving.

In addition to taking more frequent breaks, make sure that you are giving their bodies time to move and wiggle.  Whether you build in more time for things like GoNoodle (a favorite of mine!), can get them outside for some learning, or just have them out of their desks for centers, partner work, or projects--this can really help keep students engaged and on task.  Sometimes even moving the learning to a new place--a hallway, the cafeteria, or any extra spaces can be a great break.  We have an odd space by our elevator that is the perfect place for a quick task card exchange, concept sort, or partner editing!  Even doing a simple science lab instead of reading out of textbooks can be so much more fun and meaningful at this time of year.  Big number division is more fun on the playground with sidewalk chalk!  Build angles with your bodies on the playground!

5.  Keep yourself calm and maintain your classroom as a learning environment.

One thing I have noticed over the years is that despite our desire to wrap things up, students are acutely aware of these transitions as well.  When we start taking down bulletin board, boxing things up, and changing routines--they can't help but feel like it's all over. If you need to box things up, keep them out of sight.  Taking down bulletin boards really doesn't take that long--save it for the very end.  When students feel their classroom is "gone", they don't feel the need to be students anymore!

The more we can keep ourselves centered, calm, and happy in the last weeks, the more likely our students are to rise to the occasion!  Stress leads to stress...so plan ahead, take a few deep breaths, and do more than survive--THRIVE in those last weeks!

To say "thanks" for all your support over the year, I have marked every product listed in this post on sale for the next two weeks.  Just click any image to take you to the link.  I hope you find a tip or a resource that can help you enjoy the last days with this group of students...remember--you made a difference for them!

I wrote a different end-of-year blog post a year ago--if you want to check out that one, just click the image below!

Rather pin this post for later?  No problem!


Disrupting Thinking
OK...I promised some more sneak peeks of my "Summer of Learning"--and I want you to all get involved!  I am excited to be partnering with Kylene Beers to share her newest book with you!  I have read it and LOVED it--which was no surprise as "Notice and Note" (Also by Beers and Probst) was seriously one of the most influential professional books I have ever read.  I so appreciate it when professional books make me think and push myself to shift my ideas--and both of these books do exactly that.

This newest book is all about preparing our students to read in an ever-changing and challenging world--and how reading should be something that impacts us as human beings and pushes our thinking.  The book is SO easy to read and really helps show what we, as teachers, can do to help instill this sense of "real" reading in our students.

Want to join in?  Here is the plan!
book study

1.  I'm going to give away a copy of the book to a follower.  If I get a ton of entrants, I'll give away two.  If you want to take a closer look, I have put an affiliate link to the book below.  I will announce the winner next Wednesday which will give everyone plenty of time to order the book if you want to read it with the book study.

2.  The schedule is super simple...I will post some "thinker questions" for each of three Wednesdays...June 7, June 14, and June 21.  Chime in on the comments with your "a ha" moments and piggyback off other people's ideas!  My focus will be REAL LIFE classroom applications! 

June 7:  Discuss Part 1
June 14:  Discuss Part 2
June 21:  Discuss Part 3 and the Conclusion

3.  Tune in for an upcoming interview with Kylene Beers herself!  She has been gracious enough to agree to give us some additional insight!  

I am hoping that this book really gets us all thinking about how we want to start our 2017-2018 school year to really provide our students with the absolute best, most powerful reading experiences possible.  Are you interested?  Feel free to enter the giveaway to win your own copy--or grab your own copy if you want to get started early!  It's well worth the $22!  Here's the affiliate link if you are interested.


Want to pin this for later?

standards for mathematical practice
So I just wanted to share a super quick lesson idea that you might want to try.  It was NOT in my plans, but I saw that a ton of my students made errors on a decimal number line problem and I knew I needed to do something ASAP.  Those Standards for Mathematical Practice are SO important, so I took this opportunity to really give my students some work on critiquing the reasoning of others!

First...I grabbed the pile of papers and divided them into piles of students who got the same or similar answers.  I then grabbed three pages off of different piles to form trios of students who had DIFFERENT responses.
critique the reasoning of others
Why?  I wanted to get them talking!  We have worked hard on creating a climate where students welcome feedback from others and understand the purpose--and it's a good thing because there was a TON of feedback being given!

Their task?  CLEARLY explain why they assigned a certain decimal value to the point on the number line and then be able to defend it when the others ask questions.  The others in the group?  Try to find misconceptions and errors and politely make their point to try to convince others to adjust their answers.

My rule?  No pencils allowed--just highlighters.
standards for mathematical practice
 My reasoning here is that I want students to be ok with being wrong...that FINDING mistakes and misconceptions is the game...not getting the right answer.  With pencils, the temptation to "alter" responses is too great--and it isn't where the learning happens.  I have taught my students about the brain research (If you haven't read Mathematical Mindsets by Jo Boaler RUN to go get it.  I'll throw in an affiliate link at the bottom of this post if you want it.  It is a game changer) that simply making mistakes grows brains.  If you can FIND them, the learning is magnified.  We celebrate them!

I had so much fun walking around and listening to the discussions/explanations/debates and watching students really use their number sense to help their classmates clarify their thinking.  I did this lesson with number lines--but there are a ton of other ways this could be done in other contexts.  It was great to hear the students really using their decimal knowledge to explain how they used benchmark numbers and divided their number lines into different segments.  Like it? Give it a try!
critique the reasoning of others
If you are looking for number line resources, here are the three I have at this time.  Each is separately linked to this posting as well.

But wait!  Have you heard?  It's the big Teacher Appreciation Sale tomorrow and Wednesday!  My entire store (yes, bundles too!) is on sale.  Don't forget to use the code "THANKYOU17" when you check out!  I really and truly do appreciate each of you and can't wait to finish out this school year with a bang.  Want to shop around? Just click the image below.  Want to pin this post for later?  See the pin image below.
Pin for later!
And last but not least...the AMAZING book by Jo Boaler...some of the best $12 I've ever spent.  For real.


webinars PD and FB live for teachers

I. Am. So. Excited.

I still have a ton of school left...and you may too...but I know the school year is wrapping up for many of you.  I have been hard at work planning a wonderful summer of learning for me--and you!  Because some of the fun is starting soon, I thought I'd give you a little sneak peak!

First of all, one of the first things I am doing this summer is hosting a book study on a brand new book by two of my favorite experts, Kylene Beers and Robert Probst.  Watch for a post with more details later this week where I will be giving away a few copies to kick it off!  I'm super excited as well that Kylene Beers has graciously offered to speak with me to give me some additional insight about this exciting text.  Stay tuned!

As the summer goes on, I will showcase several other professional books that I think might get you thinking as well.  So what else do I have in mind?
teaching webinars and pd
Well, to begin, I am SO EXCITED about a series of webinars that I am working on for this summer--all focused on different math content to help you get motivated to try some new things in your classroom!  Fractions...problem-solving...place value...writing quality units and weekly plans--and more!  I hope you find them helpful and meaningful.  I will offer them multiple times throughout the summer and they are all FREE!  Watch for details coming later in May.  I hope you will be able to join me.

Although I don't love being on video, I also have a number of Facebook Live videos planned this summer to bring some other ideas and resources to you as well as opportunities for Q and A and more!

Watch all summer long for new blog posts, children's book reviews, giveaways and more!  I can't wait to share new books, ideas, and suggestions with you all summer long.  Check back soon for more!

Want to pin this post as a reminder or to share with friends?  Here you go!
teaching webinars and FB live



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