May 2014 - The Teacher Studio: Learning, Thinking, Creating
  If you have followed me for long, you may remember my posts last year about "Biz World"--our A-MAZING end-of-year economy simulation.  If you aren't familiar with it, I highly suggest you visit their website by clicking here to see what they have to offer.

In a nutshell, this simulation asks students to form into companies where they take a business (a "Friendship Bracelet" company) from idea to manufacturing to marketing to selling.  Students do everything from apply and interview for jobs to "pitching" their idea to the venture capitalist (yours truly!) to creating an advertising campaign, selling shares, paying taxes, and more.  And YES--this is fourth grade!  The kit is so wonderful...it gives you everything you need and makes it so meaningful for the students.  

Here's how far we are...

We've talked about what a good business is--for both the customers and the employees.  I want them to be thinking about their own business and what will be important as they move through this process!


As the students started to get excited, I talked to them about all the job opportunities available within their companies...from president to any one of the 5 vice president positions--marketing, sales, manufacturing, finance, and design.  We talked about how people often try to look for jobs that use their "strengths" so we learned about each job and students had to think about whether or not that job might be a good fit for them!  Next steps?  Applying!
(yes...one student failed to turn it in--it was noted on interview day that she came without one!)
Students were asked to fill out a job application for the job they most wanted (and 2 back ups!) and the process began!  Students were very excited--until I took a quick survey and found that I had 8 wannabe presidents and 10 wannabe VP's of Design!  Here's where reality hit--I told them there are FOUR companies--so we only need FOUR of each job.  I asked them to think long and hard about how they would handle things if they didn't get their first or even second choice...

Up next?  Resume building!  I showed the students several samples from past years of "student created" resumes, and we headed to the lab to get creative. The students had a BLAST and were super proud of all they have learned about formatting and word processing as they created their resumes.


After that, we did some talking about interviews, being professional, and so on.  We practiced looking each other in the eye and having firm handshakes.  We practiced answering questions without saying "ummm" and "like".  We made THIS chart to help us prepare for our interviews...I didn't post the final version because some personal information (names, etc) were on it.  You can get the picture...looks like no fidgeting, smiles, handshakes, eye contact...sounds like good manners, easy to understand speech, and so on.
The briefcases will be where each company stores its resources!
What's next?  The interviews!  I had two dads from my class volunteer to come in and play the part of interviewer.  They were GREAT!  The students were called to the office two at a time to sit and wait their turn...

Then...based on their feedback, their job applications, and my common sense...I assigned everyone their jobs over lunch and quickly got their new name tags stuck to their desks...with their name on one side and their new title on the back!  They came in after lunch and saw their new desk tents and their jobs and were so excited!

Next steps?  Each company was color coded...either blue, purple, green, or yellow name tags and the students worked to move their desks together to form their companies!  Let the fun begin!

Stay tuned for an update!  Coming next week...naming our companies...making our "pitch" to the venture capitalist, raising some money and beginning the design process!
It was such an honor last week to be able to go and listen to R.J. Palacio speak about her career and her amazing book "Wonder".  For those of you who haven't had the opportunity to hear a professional author explain the labor of love that goes into writing their book, it is well worth seeking out such an opportunity.  I remember when we had a few "authors in residence" come to visit our school in the last decade or so (Debbie Dadey...William Durbin) how REAL it made the entire writing process feel.  As a listener, I felt even more connected to the text.  Watch your local community listings to see if your public library or other organizations are bringing anyone to town this summer!

R.J. Palacio was brought to our town because "Wonder" was a community read book this year.  The schools, libraries, book clubs and the community at large took on "Wonder" and made it our own.  When the book was selected, one of the requirements was that the author be willing to come and share her story--and she was.

Super easy to listen to!  The entire audience was captivated the entire time!

Here message--both in the book and in her presentation.  Message sent and received.

R.J. was gracious enough to stay to chat and sign books despite her rigorous schedule.  My students were SO excited!

It was amazing to hear about her history in the publishing world as well as the "catalyst" that got her to write the book.  I loved how she explained about her inspirations and the impact the book has had on her and millions of readers.  She even shared photos of some of the emails and projects students have sent her related to her message of "choose kind" in the book.  I took quite a few more photos, but I don't want to "steal" her presentation--so leave you with this...if you haven't read "Wonder", put it on your to-do list.  If you haven't heard an author speak about his/her craft, put it on your bucket list.  And above all..."If given the choice between what is right and what is kind, CHOOSE KIND."

Enough said.

Have a GREAT week, everyone!

Are you ready for a summer of learning?  Me too!

To keep myself focused this summer, I have declared Tuesdays to be Texts on Tuesdays" at The Teacher Studio!  Every Tuesday starting on June 10, I will be blogging about professional resources that can help us all to be better at our craft.  Ready for the round up?

To start, I am teaming with some of my math buddies to co-host a multi-grade, DOUBLE books study!  This book is the perfect choice--because there is a K-6 version (that I am hosting with Jennifer Findley) and a 5-8 version!  If you are looking to improve the level of discourse in your math classroom, you will definitely want to join us!  You are going to want to grab your book NOW because our first post is coming up on JUNE 10!


If you want to follow along with me, this is the version you will want--"Good Questions for Math Teaching:  Why Ask Them and What to Ask--K-6" by Peter Sullivan.  Grab your copy now and join us!


Another book study I am guest hosting is on the wonderful "Notice and Note" book by Kylene Beers and Robert Probst.  I am doing this collaborative book study with a ton of GREAT blogger friends!  I will be hosting TWO of the chapters on June 17 and July 10 (yes...this is a Thursday.  Don't judge).


THEN....You won't want to miss AUGUST!  Each Tuesday in August will be focused on a section of the amazing book by Laney Sammons "Building Mathematical Comprehension:  Using Literacy Strategies to Make Meaning".  This book is definitely going to help us work smarter, not harder--and to help us help our students see that good "learning behaviors" are key to learning in EVERY subject!

All the other "off" Tuesdays are going to highlight some of the other professional books I have on my "to do" list this summer...so be ready to feed your book addiction!  (Be honest--you have one.)  All the fun starts SOON so pick up any of these book that interest you...and I'll be seeing you EVERY Tuesday this summer to learn more about this complicated world we call "school"!  Watch for even more details coming up!
If you are like me, this time of year is really tough. The kids are getting spring fever and you have tons of curriculum to finish and assessments to do. Today I did another version of a math workshop format that I designed to free me up for a good hour to pull kids for assessments. It worked!

First of all, I taught my main lesson and made sure to keep it short and sweet. I picked today's lesson because I knew the content was primarily review and that the students should be able to do the guided practice in pairs without any support from me.  After the mini lesson, I gave the students the bullseye math sheet and explained how it worked. The rules? Start from the center and complete the tasks in the rings.  Students had to finish each ring completely before moving to the next.



The tasks?  The center of the bullseye contained the required pages that accompany our math series.  Students were told to work on it independently and then to partner check their work. Partner checking is one of my favorite techniques because I require that the two people end up with the same answers so they have to debate back-and-forth and try to resolve any discrepancies.

The next circle? We have been struggling working with accuracy and precision so I asked students to use one of the many ways we have learned to practice big number computation by getting three problems correct of each operation.  Many students love to write problems for each other to solve, and others chose to work independently by rolling dice to make problems. The goal? Draw circles each time They try a problem and put an "x" in the circle if they get it correct. They need three "x"'s in each operation before moving to the outer circle.  All work was checked on calculators.




The outer circle had four separate problem-solving activities for students to choose from. They could do some measurement task cards that were introduced in the previous unit… an open ended problem-solving activity related to summer… Some challenge cards… Or an algebra thinking packet that we have in our challenge folders.  Most students were able to spend a good chunk of our math block working on these higher level activities.

My students loved working at their own pace and being able to accomplish a ton of math either alone or in pairs. I felt good that they were getting some precision practice and some problem-solving practice as well as finishing the work needed for today's lesson.  Not only that...I got five one-on-one assessments finished!  

Hope all of you have a fabulous extended weekend...the end is in sight!  By the way--a hearty "congratulations" to
for winning my end of year giveaway!  I don't know about you, but I LOVED reading about everyone's successes!  We need to do that more often...we have so much to celebrate!  Be safe this weekend everyone...oh wait!  To thank those of you who entered but did NOT win..I've marked all these products on sale through the long weekend.  (See the post below for the links) Thanks!




Because I go to school until June 13, my school year still feels like it is in full speed ahead motion. As I've watched different people posting recently, I realize that many of you are in your final days with your current group!  I'm not going to lie… this has not been the easiest year of my 22 year career. However, as I look over some of the work my students have been producing lately, I realize just how far they have come.  As hard as it has been, I know I will (as always) be shedding tears that last day.

I would love to hear what some of YOUR best accomplishments were with your students this year! Let's brag a little bit… Spill it! Did you help a student develop a love of learning? Did you get a student hooked on a great series of books? Did you learn some new technology yourself? Share below and brag a little!  Let's celebrate with each other all that we did...and maybe your brag will win you a little "help" for the end of the year!

I thought I would share a few of my resources that might be helpful for you as you wind things down… I've hooked up a little rafflecopter to reward you for sharing! This is going to be a quick little giveaway though… I'm only going to open it up for two days so leave your great success stories below by the end of the day tomorrow and I will announce the winner on Friday.

Here are the resources I'm offering up to a lucky winner!

So....click the rafflecopter, add your great moments...and sit back and enjoy your students--whether it be for only a few more days or a few more weeks!  Thanks for stopping by!

"Math Workshop" can be a daunting task...but please remember that math workshop doesn't need to mean ROTATIONS--it is simply a way for you to get students working on meaningful, "just right" math so you can be freed up to work with small groups or individuals as needed!

So today's "tip" for you is to help you keep students actively doing quality math.  As you know, one thing that I do a LOT of in my classroom is problem solving.  We do problems to warm up.  Problems if we finish early. Problems alone.  Problems in partners.  

I like students to be able to have some choice in their problem solving choices at times, so many years ago I started using small pocket charts to have problems hanging in my room at all times.  Sometimes these problems tie to my unit, sometimes they tie to another content area (ex. human body word problems), sometimes they are to review other concepts, sometimes they are seasonal, and sometimes I throw out a random assortment of problems to keep it interesting!

To help differentiate, I sometimes use a green, yellow, red coding system so students can self-select just the right problem type to try.  Green means "GO AHEAD!"...these problems should be accessible to everyone.  Yellow asks students to "SLOW DOWN" and read the problems first to see if they are a good fit.  Red means, "STOP!"  and try the other ones first before tackling them!  I don't always "level" my problems...but sometimes it's helpful when I want to make sure students are working at a just right level.
I use lots of different types of problems...these are actually some task cards I printed in black and white--most of which are review and challenge fraction problems.
Here is one of my mathematicians making his selection!
We glue these problems right into our math spirals and students are ready to roll!  It's a great way to differentiate and have problems ready at all times.

I love being able to prepare ahead of time and know that my students will always have a meaningful activity to work on if they finish early.  It's also great for math rotations or partner work--and you can make sure the problems are a "just right" level of challenge for everyone.

Want to check out some of the word problems in my store?  Just CLICK HERE to take you to my word problem "custom category" in my store.

 Not a follower of mine yet?  Check out all the "follow me" buttons on the right side of my blog to follow me on Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or more!

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Hooking up again with Doodlebugs for...


I'm going to keep it short and sweet because this week has been CRRRRRRRRAZY!  I have had baseball or meetings (usually 2!) every night after school.  I can barely catch my breath!  So here goes...
Happy Mother's Day...it might not look like much to you all, but this is the project my son's caregivers had him make for me.  The fact that they took the time to have him do this is priceless.  He is such a challenging child to work with...yet they treat him with such love and dignity.  We are so blessed.
My Mother's Day gift to myself.  It arrived yesterday and I am sorta kinda figuring it out.  I'm sure I will be very thin and healthy by the next Five for Friday.  Mmmmhmmmm.


This week we are finishing up our big informational text project--and my students really rose to the occasion.  Yesterday they organized all their work, finished up their google presentations--and next week we present!

 


My students had a blast playing measurement "trilogy".  It's a game you could make...but I have a few versions in my store if you don't have the time.

If you follow me on FB, you know I love inspirational quotes and post them frequently.  This one really hit home this week.  Hope it "connects" with you as well.
 Have a great weekend everyone...stop back later this week for more!


Two weeks ago (yes, I'm behind) we finished "Flutter", and--once again--this group of students LOVED it!  If you have been following me for a while, you'll recognize this project from last year.  We have been working hard on the difference between summaries and retellings throughout this book, and I decided to challenge them to work to write a short summary of the entire book once we finished it.  Students worked together to do some brainstorming about the "heart" of the book and what would be key in the summary, and then I had them work independently to make google docs of their summaries.
We printed them off and then decided to display them with our "Flutterfly" project...it only takes 15-20 minutes total and the students LOVE doing it.  Check out the results!
Adding the "veins" with sharpie...

Stapling the middle only to the black background and adding the paint dots with cotton swabs
Letting our wings dry!
Displayed with our summaries!
Hope everyone had a good start to the week...it's going to be a busy one in my room as we finish our big informational text project and work on starting our social issues book clubs.  More to come!


I'm pretty excited about my new linky party and decided I had to link up a lesson myself!  Our current reading unit involves looking deeply at texts with "social issues".  We are reading aloud "Wonder" as a class and then are reading picture books to deepen our thinking and will be starting book clubs this week with some really amazing books.  I am hopeful that my students will be able to take some of the great discussions and thinking we have done together and will work to apply it on their own!

The other day I read aloud "The Great Kapok" tree to my class (only a FEW had ever seen it!) and I asked the students to be thinking about why they think I selected to use it as a text in our "Social Issues" unit.  After some discussion, we came to agreement that it was a book about protecting our environment.  After our discussion, I sent the students away to work in teams of 3 to go hunt for text evidence to show how the author was helping us see this issue.  I walked around and heard some really great discussions!

We came back together as a large group to share out our ideas about what we found.  I tracked them on our chart.

We then had a discussion about how this information in the text impacted us. I had students each write a "reaction" to the text on a post it note and had them bring it up and place it on the anchor chart next to the evidence that triggered the thinking.


A few students placed their notes on the top of the chart because they were reacting to the text as a whole.  It was a great way for us to continue to develop the difference between responding to what was actually IN the text and our REACTIONS to the text.  We will continue to work on this with our unit so that our reading response notebooks have a nice blend of the two!


It's a super easy lesson that kept everyone engaged and could be done several times to push students thinking on different texts.  Our next stop?  Trying it in our notebooks with our book clubs where we will be reading about friendship, the environment, children being bullied, family struggles, and more.

Make sure to stop by and see some of the other posts in the "Loved That Lesson" linky and stop back next month for another lesson idea!
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