Thursday, July 31, 2014

It's August "Eve" and the classroom prep begins!

It's started.  Those days of saying, "You should really go to your classroom and check it out--you packed up in a hurry and it could be reallllllly bad."  I ignored myself for a few weeks and finally caved the other day.

SIGH...

Guess who forgot to leave the custodians a room map? That's right.  Me.  Our custodians are great-and they like to have a map to put things back just right.  No map?  They leave it all in the middle of the room until they get information.  I didn't feel like waiting so I dug in.  Ready for day 1's "photo stream"?  HERE GOES!

What I walked into...no--I didn't finish taking down boards last year.  I may just leave them.  I love that we can leave our paper/fabric up.  I haven't taken it down in 7 years.
I decided to move my library into my back "nook".  This is where it was when I first moved in the room 7 years ago and then I switched it a few years ago.  I'm indecisive...we'll see if it's still here at the end of August.
Are you kidding?  This is literally ONE HOUR after arriving!  Notice the box of Pringles sticks in the foreground.  I think I ate four packs in three hours.
TWO hours in.  I hate that I make more mess trying to get organized.
My 7 year old black paper is coming down--and being replaced with fabric.  BIG job but so worth it.
And....not quite enough fabric.  CURSES!
UGH...cutting fabric around obstructions--not fun.
So...I left the room in a TOTAL shambles.  I'll be brave and go back one day next week...with a crystal clear "to do" list--and more snacks.  Thanks for taking a sneak peek!

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Texts on Tuesdays...an August book study!

Just a quick blog post today to make sure people know about my upcoming book study for the first three weeks of August!


Many of you are familiar with the work of Laney Sammons and her great book on guided math.  I am excited to share with you her more recent book about teaching comprehension in math class.



I am on my second time reading the book, and am getting even more information out of it this time!  If you are a fan of teaching reading strategies, you will be a fan of this book. It helps make the connection between what we know to be true about good literacy instruction and what we need to be doing in our math class.  See if THIS page doesn't intrigue you!



If you are interested in joining me on a three-part study of this book, get your copy out of your closet or get your hands on a copy so we can begin next week!  

The schedule will be as follows…

Tuesday, August 5:  Discuss chapters 1-3
Tuesday, August 12:  Discuss chapters 4-6
Tuesday, August 19:  Discuss "A ha's" from the remaining chapters

Anyone else in?  I chose this book right before school starts because I really want to continue to push my thinking about what math instruction looks like--and this book can do that!

Not sure?  Here is a link to the book so you can read more.


Remember, you can follow along even if you don't have the book!  Hope to have some of you chiming in with your thoughts and ideas over the next few weeks!  Have a great day, everyone.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Monday Made It: A Little Classroom Organization!

It's already Monday and once again it's time to link up with Tara at...

So the first "made it" isn't really much special...but I wanted to redo these from last year and make them smaller.

I print, laminate, and magnetize these bad boys and use them for my schedule on my back white board.  I really try to be thoughtful about what learning targets I write up by them...I try to focus equally on process and content standards.


Thanks to Mary at Teaching With a Mountain View for the fantastic storage idea for anchor charts!  I took her idea and tweaked it a little when I found this awesome squishy laundry basket.  I threaded some adorable polka dot ribbon through it, labeled it, and voila! Now I need to take all my old anchor charts and roll them up and get them in there.  It looks kind of small in the picture, but this is a full sized, tall laundry basket--should be GREAT for the rolled up anchor charts. THANKS for the inspiration, Mary!

Disclaimer:  I do NOT reuse anchor charts very often...but I do keep them as reminders to me.  I really think they need to be made with the students most of the time! 

Finally, I was able to finish some resources that I hope you will like!

If you have followed my blog for any length of time, you know I LOVE teaching math...and have been a firm believer in CGI (Cognitively Guided Instruction) for 20+ years.  I have finally organized myself enough to put a resource together to help grade 1-3 teachers teach the different problem types or--in my case--to use for intermediate students who need remediation in problem solving.  I have addition and subtraction finished (and bundled) and more are in the works!  Here is a post I wrote explaining a little more about CGI if you are interested.

Interested in seeing the resources?  



 I also have had MANY requests for my triple format word problems for younger grades (and--again--to use for remediation in upper grades) so the first one is finished and ready to roll!  More are coming...


I worked VERY hard this week---but didn't get much else "made"!  I did put them all on sale for those of you who might want to grab them.  Thanks so much for stopping by!  Make sure to check out all the other great posts at 4th Grade Frolics...just click the button above or RIGHT HEREhttp://4thgradefrolics.blogspot.com/2014/07/monday-made-it-summer-week-9.html to see more!


Finally...I'll talk about it a little more tomorrow on my blog, but the first three Tuesdays in August are going to be focused on the book "Building Mathematical Comprehension" by Laney Sammons--the guided math guru!  I LOVE this book and think it's the perfect book to reread before school starts to really get me in the mindset of getting students thinking mathematically.  Interested in following along?  Here is a link to the book--and I will preview it a little more tomorrow.  Grab it or dig it off your bookshelf if you want to chime in!


Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Texts on Tuesdays: CGI Math!

As I have been feverishly working to finish my CGI subtraction resource this week, I had some discussions with teachers about CGI and realized that not everyone is familiar with "Cognitively Guided Instruction"!  I attended the University of Wisconsin during the development of CGI, so I "grew up" teaching with it!

For today's "Texts on Tuesdays", I thought I would share some resources that you might be interested in if you ARE wanting to learn more about how children learn to solve problems.


What is CGI?

Cognitively Guided Instruction is an approach to teaching math developed at the University of Wisconsin in the late 1980's and early 1990's (yes, this is when I was there!).  It is based on using students' own thinking as the foundation for instruction...in other words, teachers base what THEY do off what the students already know.  The researchers (Carpenter, Fennema, and more) base their work on the assumption that students come to school with a certain amount of informal understanding about numbers and math.  The teacher's job is to learn what students know already, build upon it, and help students make connections between real-world math "stories"/experiences and--eventually--the abstract symbols we use to represent math (like +, =, etc).

This is VERY different than how math is traditional taught where we start very early by teaching the abstract symbol ("+) and then try to attach meaning to it.  In other words...we need to teach math IN a REAL WORLD CONTEXT well before we introduce those abstract symbols!  By immersing students in story problems from the day they enter our schools, we can better help them understand math and help them to be better problem solvers with better number sense.  The implications for us as teachers is that we need to become experts in "reading" our students, learning what they know (see why mathematical discourse will be so important?!?), and then making smart educational decisions for them.


As teachers we must also learn about the different processes and strategies that are typically used by children to solve these problems, and the various stages that students go through as they develop their math knowledge.
Ok...I know this was wordy and I STILL didn't convey the essence of CGI...if you are intrigued, I am including links to a few articles that you may find interesting!  I seriously wish I could convey it better...but if you are intrigued, I hope you might find some of these resources interesting.

Interesting Article about how CGI is making a difference in an at-risk school

CGI article explaining more about what it really is!

I love this book...if you really want to learn more about CGI, I think this is the book to get.  It's a little pricy, but on Amazon I did see used ones for about $10!  I put the link below so you can check it out.

So...CGI is really critical in the early years...but for ME, as a fourth grade teacher, I feel I need to backtrack with some of my strugglers to give them some of these experiences.  I worked to organize my thoughts and created some problems to create an "intervention" group of sorts...and as I kept going, it grew and grew.  I wanted sets of word problems that were "real world"...I wanted students to be able to select "just right" numbers to use--so different levels could use the same problems...I wanted BIG sized problems to use for teaching.  THIS was born!

Here are a few snapshots!
Blank pages to glue problems to use as assessments...the rest of the problems got glued into math journals
Students pick the numbers that are the right size for them...
Full sized problems to use as teaching tools
Love watching how students solve the problems...and then use as a part of our mathematical discourse

So...I had great success with helping my students recognize the six different types of addition problems when I worked with them in small groups, so I have gone ahead and made the same resource with subtraction AND have bundled the two together for anyone who is interested.  The individual resources are on sale today...and the bundle is always discounted by quite a bit.



Anyhoo..thought I'd share!  I really hope you take the time to read up about CGI...there are tons of articles and sources out there...especially if you teach primary grades or struggling mathematicians!  Keep on learning, everyone!


Monday, July 21, 2014

Monday Made It! Notice and Note Mobiles?

It's already Monday and it's time to link up with Tara at...

So the first "made it" isn't really even a "made it" technically....
GRASS!  I have been watering our new grass (because of our massive landscaping project...that's another post!) and I "made it" grow!  I can't wait for the mud and straw to be gone!

Now for my "main" made it...I read and LOVED "Notice and Note" this summer and wanted to find a way to really keep those strategies visible in my room as I teach them.  In fact, I wanted them hanging from my ceiling so we could all see them. I plan to hang them one at a time as I teach these lessons.  Here's what I did!
I found these cute paper circle fans online in my classroom colors...
After that, I used some bright cardstock to print off some coordinating circles with the lesson "titles" on one side and the essential questions on the other.  

Front sides...
Back sides...

So I am super excited to display these in my room and to use them as a real teaching tool!
Finally, I didn't finish the project I was hoping to finish this week, but I did update my resource that is geared toward helping teachers launch reader's workshop.  I added in some bulletin board letters and a great way for students to review books and display those reviews. If you already own this resource, make sure you go download it again to get the new features!  If you don't own it and want to take a peek, here is the link!

Thanks so much for stopping by!  Make sure to check out all the other great posts at 4th Grade Frolics!  Just click the button above or RIGHT HERE to see more!

NOTE:  I've had a few inquiries about where I got the fans...I got them from Amazon. Here is the link.



Saturday, July 19, 2014

Bright Ideas! Line orders and Lockers


This month I am again joining up with our fearless "Bright Ideas" link up crew to bring you a simple yet useful back to school tip or two!

First of all, one thing I started a few years ago was "line order".  By having a set order, there is no pushing, racing, or shoving to get in line.  We practice doing it quickly and silently for the first days of school, and the expectations is that they do this for all line ups--with the exception of emergencies!  The first person in line holds the first door we come to and then goes to the end of the line, and so on.  We keep our line order all week and then our leader moves to the back and the next person in line leads for the next week so we never have the same door holder all the time.  It's a quick way to know if someone is missing from line and a way to "keep calm" and move around the school!  I try to alternate boy/girl as much as possible to avoid "herds" and "clumps"--if you know what I mean!

The second "tip" involves assigning lockers/cubbies.  If you are lucky enough to have a few extra lockers, try skipping a locker every 5-6.  I use these empties to store tissues, wet wipes, and so on--and the MAIN reason I do it is so that if I get a new student on day 3 or day 15 or day 47, I can use one of these lockers for the new student.  So often, the new student gets plunked wayyyyy at the end and misses some of the interactions that happen "in the pack".  I also try to put any students who I feel I might need to check in on as close to the door as possible...I really work to great each and every student as they come in, but by having them closer to me, I can watch for sad faces and listen a little more easily.
Here are the signs I made for this year...I changed the names for display purposes.  How CUTE is that clip art by Scrappin' Doodles?
Each year I hang our locker order RIGHT by our door so it is clear as can be...and our locker assignments hang right next to our lockers.  In grades K-3, the students have a name tag right on their lockers, but in 4th we transition them a bit for intermediate school by having them recognize their locker by number.
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Like this "Bright Idea" and want to see a bunch more?  Check out the dozens of amazing ideas by some amazing teacher/bloggers in the links below.  Thanks for stopping by! 



Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Texts on Tuesdays: How do we make time for professional reading?


Greetings!  Today rather than focusing on a specific text, I have a question for you.  As we move back into even busier lives once school begins, how do we find the time to keep up with all the professional reading?  I LITERALLY have 5 cupboards full of amazing professional books!  I admit that I have a bit of a problem...but there is SO MUCH TO LEARN!


My most recent conquest!  Check OUT those post it flags!


So...with professional books being released faster than ever...and with professional journal (Ed Leadership, Teaching Children Mathematics, etc) articles being at the cutting edge...and now with Twitter feeds of resources--HOW can we prioritize our own professional reading?  We could read 24/7 and still never keep caught up, yet we know we need to do our best to tune into the research and best practices.  

I have REALLY started to use Twitter to keep up on current trends.  I follow my favorite authors plus a few other key sources like Edutopia, ASCD, and The Teaching Channel.

I am going to try to set a goal of 15-20 minutes of professional reading per day this fall...whether it be checking articles on Twitter or reading from my stash of books.  What are your thoughts?  What are your professional reading habits and goals?

Not on Twitter yet? Give it a try!  I try to retweet interesting articles and infographics when I find them so feel free to follow me to catch some of what I find.  Twitter chats are another GREAT way to learn new information.  So...let's hear it!  Talk about your professional learning goals for 2014-2015!  Share titles, websites, people to follow on Twitter--or anything that could help all of us continue to learn and grow!