Looking for an easy math lesson idea to help you get some much-needed one-on-one time or small group time with students?  See what you think...
 I always have a pocket chart or two on my wall where I keep word problems or other challenges at all times.  I can change these out to be more seasonal, to be more review, or to match the topic we are studying.  In this case, I loaded up this anchor chart with some Earth Day problems!
It's testing season so I am having to switch my schedule all around and squeeze in math throughout the day.  One thing that helps me do this is having a ready supply of challenges ready to roll so students can work cooperatively and I am freed up to pull small groups for coaching.  Those "wall problems" sure come in handy!  Right now we are wrapping up our big division unit, and I still have a large handful of students who really need some one-on-one coaching.  While I pulled them today, I let the others work on these fun Earth Day problems--which were quite challenging for them!

My only direction was that I wanted them to work ALONE to try solving the problems first--
--and then to partner up to compare NOT JUST ANSWERS, but strategies as well.  I encouraged them to "teach" the partner the strategy they used so they could see a new way of solving the problem--and you should have HEARD the discussions!  It was super cool to see some groups really putting their heads together and studying each other's notebooks.  I heard things like...

"I never thought about that!"


"Your work is so organized!"


"I can't believe you were right--I was positive I was!"


"Never mind--I totally see what you did now."

We spent about 30 minutes working on problem-solving and it allowed me to meet with 1 small group and 8 individual students for error analysis on their exit slips!  (Not sure what I mean by this?  When I give an exit or entrance slip, I quickly sort into "got it" and "oh boy" and then pull students to study their work.  If they are making careless errors, I ask them to "proofread" and try to find their errors.  If they are struggling with the content, I reteach them either one-on-one or in a small group.)  I love having these slips handy for whatever I'm teaching...they really help me keep taking the temperature of the class in only a few minutes!  Click the image below to learn more.  Interested in the Earth Day problems?  Click any other image or RIGHT HERE.
division assessment

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gradual release of responsibility
Today is my day to blog over at Upper Elementary Snapshots, and I'm talking about how I really used the Gradual Release of Responsibility model to teach my students about improving their summaries...summaries are SO hard for students to do well, so it took a lot of time, a lot of modeling, and a lot of patience!  Just click the image to take you there if you want to see more!

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gradual release

reading learning targets
I can't believe we are in our final quarter of the year!  Report card time always gets me a little nostalgic...I think about what we have accomplished--but also what more I really want my students to do before they leave me!

I really believe that goal setting is important--but I also think that it's really hard for students to set meaningful goals.  They are so broad with their thinking...."I want to get better at reading." simply doesn't do much!  They also don't always REALLY understand some of the more subtle things--that reading isn't just about how long the book is or how "hard" it is.  Because of that, I work hard all year on trying to help them realize how complicated reading is...and how it can be broken into all sorts of different strategies, skills, and behaviors.

We had a community circle chat today about what we really hoped to accomplish in our last quarter together...I told them some of the ideas I had for class goals...improving our written responses to reading, making sure that we add sufficient details when we elaborate, writing ALL genres with good conventions, and making sure that we are using vivid vocabulary.

I then explained that we each have PERSONAL goals as well--and that we need to make sure we always know what we need to do to get better--whether it's baseball, making cupcakes, or reading and writing!  We then spent some time browsing my reading target flip books to remind ourselves of SO many of the mini-lessons we have explored this year.  We used these a lot at the beginning of the year, and I use them in intervention groups, but it's been a while since we dug into them.  We had some great discussions, and I had students working in small groups to discuss them and do some self-reflection.
student reading goals
 After a while, I asked them to think hard about one or two goals for reading and writing and to record them on these adorable pencil notepapers...
reading learning targets
 I told them that they could use the exact targets from the flip books if they wanted, but they could go off on their own as well.  I encouraged them to think about the processes we use when we read and write--so not to write goals like, "I will read more books." but to really get to the heart of learning.  They turned them into me and I had a quick chat with each student as they did so.
reading learning targets
 I hung them all up as a visual--and our next steps are to do some planning.  HOW will we work toward these goals?  What steps will we take?  Finally, in a few weeks, we will add an "update" sticky note to show our progress.
reading learning targets
We had some great discussions--and I think it will be a fun way for us to keep these ideas very "present" in our last 9 weeks together.  We've come a long way--but we still have a ways to go as well!

Want to see where the learning target flip books came from?
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reading learning targets

Math coaching
After years of just doing little bits on the side, I have made the decision to take my professional development and consulting to the next level!  I'm super excited to share my love of learning with teachers around the country.  If you have snooped around my new blog design at all, you may have noticed a tab for "Professional Development"--well, it's up and ready for action!

One of my very favorite things to do is work closely with teachers to build their "toolbox" of teaching strategies--and to get them super fired up to teach math.  I have consulted with individual teachers to help with planning, worked at the building level to make systematic changes, and have even taught week-long workshops...and I'm ready to take my show on the road!

If you think your building or district are looking for someone to come in and work with teachers in any number of ways, I'd love to chat with you.  Wondering what kinds of things we could do together?

  • I can spend a day in your building or district working with different groups of teachers...
  • I can work with a large group for short or extended professional development....
  • I can come in, observe, take notes, and then work with a leadership team to plan for how to take math instruction to the next level...
  • I can help work with a staff or group of staff members to look at curriculum and find ways to help teachers better deliver it...
  • I can work with new teachers on best practices in math...
  • Or we can design our own plan!

As you know, TEACHERS tend to be the agents of change in their school communities.  I'd love for you to share the information with the decision makers in your district.  How can I connect with them?

  • Share the link to the "Professional Development" tab to my blog...Just CLICK HERE  for the link.
  • Share the link to my brochure on Teachers Pay Teachers.  You can find it by CLICKING HERE.
  • Print the brochure and hand it to your administrator!
As an added bonus, any teacher whose "share" of my information results in a booking will receive a $100 credit to my store as a thank you!
Staff development  professional development

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math coaching