Thursday, October 29, 2015

Trick or Treat TpT Sale!!

My entire TpT shop is 20% off!
 Click HERE to snatch up something sweet!

Sunday, October 25, 2015

Math Journaling: A Powerful Problem Solving Tool

After several years of using math journals in my classroom, I have witnessed first hand how they transform students into amazing problem solvers. Today, I'm going to highlight the reasons why I believe math journaling is such a powerful problem solving tool to use in any and every classroom! 

Little Prep with BIG Results
As a classroom teacher, I know how important it is to keep things simple. The beauty of math journals is that to get started your students only need a composition notebook and quality math journal prompts. At the beginning of math workshop, I pass out a math journal prompt to each student to glue into their math journals. After reading the prompt/problem together a couple of times as a whole class, the students work independently for about 5 minutes to solve the problem. Then, we share how we solved the problem. During our share time, we use the document camera to project students' math journaling work on the Smartboard for everyone to see. 

Daily Problem Solving Practice
Math journaling is a daily part of my math instruction. In just 10-15 minutes, it provides my students with opportunities to work at their own level to represent their mathematical ideas, find multiple solutions to a problem, explain their thinking, work with partners, evaluate the work of other students, and participate in meaningful discussions about problem solving.

At the beginning of the year, it is so important to constantly model how to solve a math journal problem. This is a time when I give my students a lot of support and encouragement to help them communicate their thinking. The more practice they get, the easier it will become, which is why I think daily practice is key! Trust me, it's worth your time and effort!! 

Here are some examples of math journal problems I've used in my first grade classroom. 

The math journal prompts I use cover first grade skills and increase in rigor throughout the school year. You can check them out HERE.

Incorporates Higher Order Thinking Skills
Math journaling is a special time for us to stretch our thinking! We are always celebrating multiple solutions and out of the box strategies to work out a problem! 

Instant Assessment Tool
Math journaling is a wonderful way to understand your students’ mathematical thoughts, problem-solving strategies, misconceptions, opinions, etc. A math journal also acts as a differentiated assessment tool, as well as documentation of your students' growth throughout the school year! 

Meaningful Math Discussions
As I mentioned above, math journaling gives students opportunities to share and talk about how they solved a problem. It is during this time that students are able to justify their reasoning while also evaluating the reasoning of others. Powerful! 

Remember, it's never too late to start math journaling with your students! If you're already using math journals, I would love to hear how you use them in your classroom in the comment section! 

Happy Math Journaling! 

Click HERE to find out more about my math journal prompts.

Thursday, October 1, 2015

Get Your BOO On!!

Hey y'all!!! Halloween is in the air and my teacher buddies are getting boo'd left and right at my school this week!! It's so much fun {and easy} to play that I had to come here and share it with all of you!! To get your BOO on, print two copies of this adorable poem that I have no idea who wrote. If it is yours, please let me know so I can give you the credit!!! Love it!!

Also make two copies of the BOO cards!
Click {HERE} to download the BOO poem and cards!! 

Then make two treat bags & secretly deliver them with the poem and cards to two people in your school!! Can't wait to deliver my special treats tomorrow!!! I challenge you to get the BOO chain started at your school this week!! 
Have FUN!!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

My Guided Reading Must Haves

Guided reading has always been one of my favorite parts of the day. It's a time for me to work with small groups of students to help them become stronger, more confident readers. I meet with at least 2 groups a day for 15-20 minutes (groups are flexible and based on skill/reading level). My struggling readers work with me each day. Every guided reading teacher has a little toolbox of resources, tricks, and can't live without tools that help their readers grow and be successful. Today, I'm going to share with you my favorite guided reading must haves!

The Daily 5
 Before I can even start to think about pulling guided reading groups, I have to teach my students how to work independently. I've been using the Daily 5 for several years now and love it! It does take time at the beginning of the year to establish the routines and procedures, but it's so worth it! It gives me such peace of mind knowing that my students are engaged in meaningful work that is developing them as readers and writers while I pull small groups! 

Leveled Readers
This is a no brainer, but I couldn't teach guided reading without a variety of leveled readers. I'm fortunate to have access to a leveled library room at my school. I also print a lot of books off of  Reading A-Z .  I try to stick with our theme for the week and/or integrate different subjects when picking out leveled readers. 

Group Organizer
You have to have some sort of organizational system to keep up with materials for 4-5 reading groups. I use this organizer from Lakeshore to organize my guided reading books and materials for the week. It stays right behind my table so I have everything ready to grab and go for each group. 

Dry Erase Boards
I use dry erase boards all the time for making words activities, sight words practice, guided writing, etc. I found lined boards this summer at Target and love them for also squeezing in a little letter formation lesson or two as my students are using them. 

Magnetic Letters
My students use magnetic letters almost every day to make words. I found these mini magnetic letter tubs on Amazon this summer. My favorite thing about them is that students don't have to search and search to find a letter...they have just what they need at their fingertips! Perfect for individual use during guided reading!     

Fun Pointers
Pointers are great tools to use as trackers or for finding specific things in a text (ex. point to a word that has a blend, point to a noun, find and point to the table of contents, etc.). My students think they are so special and are instantly engaged in a lesson when we use them! I found my pointers in the picture from Five & Below for  only 5 bucks! Steal! 

Reading Response Activities
I believe it's important for students to respond to what they read in guided reading. I like to use a variety of reading response activities (board/dice games, graphic organizers, brochures, foldables, etc) to build and strengthen their reading comprehension. I make sure to use different levels of reading response activities depending on the groups' needs. 

All of these reading response activities can be found in my Reading Response packs. The games, activities, foldables, and graphic organizers are great for whole group instruction, small groups, and independent work! Click on the pictures for more information. 

Save 25% when you buy the bundle

Need reading response activities for your high readers? Check out my H.O.T.S. (Higher Order Thinking Skills) Reading Response packets

This Book
Every single guided reading teacher needs this book. It's broken down by reading levels and gives word study ideas, reading strategies, and lessons to use for each level. Seriously, it covers everything you need to know and more about teaching guided reading! Saying it's a must have is an understatement! 

So, what are your guided reading must haves??? Share them with us in the comment section!

Sunday, September 6, 2015

Beginning of the Year Math Stations in First Grade

Teaching math to my first graders at the beginning of the year involves a lot of  modeling routines, procedures, and new games/activities. We start off by focusing on numeration- identifying and counting numbers to 120, learning how to use different math tools (tens frames, number charts, and number lines), as well as how to make groups of ten when counting a large quanity of items.

Over the last few weeks, we've been learning and playing a ton of  games/activities to build our number sense. I introduce and model each one as a whole group. Then, students practice it with a partner, small groups, or independently while I'm either facilitating a group, conferencing, or giving assessments. These games/activities will later be rotation station choices when we completely launch our Daily 3 Math Workshop. Fingers and toes crossed this will happen next week!  

Today, I want to share some of the games I have had great success with in my classroom. I try my best to find or create activities that get my students excited about math! This usually comes in the form of a hands-on game. I love how adding dice, spinners, manipulatives, and a whole lot of excitement to an idea can instantly hook my kiddos into practicing skills. 

The very first math activity we learn is called "Start With, Get To". To put my own spin on this Investigations activity, students drop a green and red counter on their 0-120 chart. The number that the green counter lands on is the number they start counting with and the number the red counter lands on is what they get to. 

In this game, students are racing to get to 120, but they have to write in the numbers each time they roll their die. For example, if they are on 7 and roll a 2, they will write the next 2 numbers on their chart. This can be played independently or with a partner. The materials are super simple...all you need is a blank 120 chart. I like to put mine in page protector sheets so we can use them over & over! 

Pass the Paper is a simple game designed for small group practice  to reinforce counting and writing numbers 0- 120. I put my students in teams of 4-5. When I say “GO”, each student in the group writes one number in the blank 120 chart. For example, student 1 writes a 0 and passes it to student 2 who writes a number 1. This continues until their chart is completed with numbers 0-120. The first group to finish their 120 chart wins the game! 

I also give each student a blank number chart in a page protector (Can you tell I love page protectors? HA!) to keep in their work folder. This is a great early finisher task and/or independent math tub for the beginning of the year. 

Then, we have a big discussion on the number patterns we see in a number chart. After the students have identified several patterns, I model how they can use them to help find missing numbers. To practice this, my students play a game called "Who's Missing??" with a partner. Partner 1 covers up 3-10 numbers on their chart with cubes while partner 2 isn't looking. Once the numbers are covered, partner 2 has to figure out "Who's Missing?".

For extra practice, I print several different levels (each level on a different color of paper) of the "Who's Missing??" printable and slip them into page protectors to save paper. This makes great early finisher practice and/or a math tub rotation. 

After learning about using a number line and how it's alike/different than a number chart, students cut apart their 0-120  chart by rows to create one. This really helps students understand the connection between a number chart and a number line.  Lots of light bulb moments! 

After creating our  number lines, we play "Who's Missing??"! This is just like the number chart version except we use number lines! 

We also played Number Line Scoot! For this activity, students move around the room to identify the missing numbers on each Scoot card. This is a great way to channel those back to school wiggles into a learning opportunity. You can download a free copy of this activity{here}!

Another classroom favorite are number puzzles! I have some that are already cut out for my students to put together, but also let my them cut out their own, too. During this lesson, I encourage my students to use what they learned about the number patterns in the number chart to help them put together their puzzles. 

Counting a large quanity of objects by making groups of 10 is also a standard we work on at the beginning of the year. My students love playing Collect 30. They roll a die and collect the same number of cubes they rolled until they collect 30 cubes. Students can make 10 sticks with their cubes or use tens frames to group by tens. You can also differentiate this activity by having your kids collect different numbers of cubes. I usually have kids collecting 30, 50, 75, and 100! They love it!    
In this activity, students go to different counting stations. In each station, they are counting the objects by making groups of 10. It's important to pick real life, fun objects to engage my students! I used old keys, toy dinosaurs, shells, pencils, counters, crayons, popsicle sticks, straws, and tiles. The possibilites are endless!  

My kids can't get enough of our Mystery Counting Bags! Trying to guess what's inside always gets them hooked! Once the objects are revealed, they count and represent them on their paper! 

This is a fun partner game to practice counting and representing objects. Partner 1 spins a number and collects that number of cubes. Then partner 2 spins a number and collects that number of cubes. This continues until time is called. When a minute is up, each partner counts how many cubes they collected by making groups of tens with the cubes.

Spill the Beans is an activity designed for independent or small group practice to reinforce counting and representing a large number or objects. You can differentiate this activity by giving students different amounts of beans based on their counting abilities. Students count the beans by making  groups of tens & ones using the tens frame mat. 

Place Value Pick Up Sticks is also great for reinforcing counting tens and ones. Sunny Days in Second Grade  and First Grade Wow taught me about this one. Students took turns dropping 12 sticks. After they dropped the sticks, they organized them by tens and ones. Then, they wrote the number they made on their white boards. My kids didn't want to stop playing:)

At the beginning of the year, I also start teaching my students how to use their math journals. We practice how to put our math journal prompts in our math journal and how to explain our problem solving with words, numbers, and/or pictures. For the first few weeks, I'm modeling, modeling, and modeling the process! It doesn't take long for them to take off though. I highly recommend that you carve 10-15 minutes out of your math time for math journaling. I have a whole year of math journal prompts in my TpT shop here if you are interested. 

I hope these ideas help you kick off your math block this year! Many of the activities and games can be found in my Numbers to 120 unit here