Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Guided Math--A Starting Routine

Two years ago Natalie, Carrie (our amazing intervention specialist) and I started team teaching math together.  It was completely new territory for all three of us.  And, honestly, I was a little (nope...a lot!) freaked out about teaching math.  I have been a literacy girl my whole life.  Math...not my thing.


Something changed that year.  I really think it was the passion that I saw in Natalie, our learning to co-teach for the first time, and our combined efforts for those kids.  I started to really love math.  Like, REALLY love math!!! This was a first. I wanted to read about math, research math, go to PD for math. 

And so I did and so did Natalie.  Together we came up with a game plan for our second year together.  Looking back on it, I think it was pretty successful.  We were happy with their growth and the changes that we made.  But also saw room for us to improve and grow (as we always do!)

Some changes we made for our guided math during  that second year: a set math routine, guided math templates for review, dot cards, and better learning space.

My groups always start with behavior expectations.  We use both CHAMPS and whole brain teaching.  I also remind my students that I am looking for their effort as mathematicians, not just correct answers.  We use this rubric and self-assess our effort at the end of group.

We also go over the learning objective for the group.  I have a binder that contains my daily guided math sheets.  On the front of the binder is where I write the "I can" statements for that particular lesson.  Last year my sheet looked pretty boring....this year....oh yeah!! It looks awesome!

Then it is time to start.  Before we jump into the meat of our lesson, I like to have a "warm up" period.  I do the same in my guided reading group.  (I do much better with a set routine, so I figure that they do too! ) Our warm-up begins with some type of dot-card.  Sometimes it is tens frames dot cards, two colored dot cards, or just one colored dot cards. 

The warm up continues but with some daily guided math sheets that Natalie and I created.  We wanted to practice/review skills that we had previously worked on.  But we wanted it to be quick.  We thought the best way to do this was to come up with templates that we could use every single day but with different problems.  We also wanted to be able to use them with different groups, meaning the problems on them could be easy or hard, depending on the group level. So we did.  We came up with a binder full of them :)

We created sheets for:
Telling Time
10 more/less
1 more/less
Multiples of 10
Place Value
Missing Part
Story Problem
Fact Families
3 Addends
T/F Equations

We put all the sheets that we made into sheet protectors.  This way we could write on them and erase them quickly.  We really wanted this to be quick.

Each week we would look at the skills that we had previously taught and the skills that students were still struggling to grasp.  Those would be the "quick" sheets that we would do during this time.  Typically, I would do about 2 to 4 sheets a day.  But it all depended on how much time we had to spend on each sheet/problem.

Here is an example: if my group was struggling with missing addend.  Then we would work on that sheet during this "warm up" time.  I would write the problem on the sheet with dry erase marker.  Then I would hold up the binder for my group to see.  They would solve the problem on their own, using a strategy that worked for them.  After they had their time to think, they would either tell me the answer to write in or they would write it in with the marker.  We would discuss the different strategies used to find the answer.

Another sheet that I did use just about every day was number identification.  They got really good at this and we could complete the sheet quickly and with very little think time.

 Then there were other sheets that I used periodically because it came pretty easily for them, but I wanted to ensure that they did retain the material over time.

Once our warm-up/review sheets were completed, we jumped right in!  Our guided math lesson went in to full swing.  I always teach the skill, we do it together, and then they do it on their own.  My guided reading lessons follow a very set routine.  But guided math is different.  My lessons are sometimes games, sometimes partner work, sometimes they create something.  It just depends on the skill and the best way to teach it.

But my warm-up routine is one part of our group that remains constant and is never skipped.  I really found that my students truly learned from each other during this period in the group.  The dot cards and sheets really allowed my students to have good conversations about how they solved the problems.  I would watch, over time, students tried out new strategies because they saw someone else in the group using it.  Because of this, the confidence in the group would strengthen and they got really good at these quick sheets!  I was able to create more challenging problems, since the templates are blank.

This was a really positive change that we made to our guided math groups and I will use them again this year.  I even added some more!

But I am always looking to better to my skills.  How do you set up your guided math group routine?

Monday, July 21, 2014

Giveway Anyone?

I am excited to be teaming up with 90 other fabulous TpT authors to help Jamie Sears from Diary of a Not So Wimpy Teacher, celebrate 1,000 TpT followers!

How would you like to win one of TEN different $50 TpT SHOPPING SPREES?! All you have to do is enter using the rafflecopter below. Next week, ten winners (one for each giveaway) will be chosen. If you win- you will get to spend $5 in each of the stores listed on your giveaway. That is a total of 450 in TpT products of your choice!

Check out all of the amazing stores that are participating and then get yourself signed up!

Good Luck!!! I hope one of my Curious Firsties followers wins :)  I know I could use a shopping spree right about now!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Saturday, July 19, 2014

A Rug Alternative

Hardwood flooring as a rug alternative

I know, I know.  It is this dreaded thing that we don't really like to talk about....but it is reality for some.  Little critters like to come to school with our kiddos.  Sometimes it is lice and sometimes it is a bed bug that likes to tag along.
We have had to make some changes to deal with these annoying bugs!  It stinks and it is hard to give up some things that you may love.  But we had to because...OH MY!...I don't want those things joining me on my trek home!

The first thing to go....rugs.  Those bugs love to cozy up in them.  No, thanks!

So 2 summers ago, after a frustrating attempt to install an Ikea hardwood floor, I had a box of hardwood planks that snapped together.  Maria (my idea girl!) decided we should use it in our writing classroom.  So we snapped the pieces together, put cute duct tape all around the edges, and VOILA! A homey-looking, cheap, clean (bug free) floor!

There are a couple of other options if you like the hardwood flooring look.  This wood is actually from the paneling section of a hardwood store.  It was under 10 bucks and it is just one full sheet.

 Another option is stick tile.  This is a big sticker that looks like hardwood.  You could easily peel it, stick it to a flat piece of cheap wood, and that's it!  You would have a new floor for your room!

This was our bright idea for our writing classroom!  If you enjoyed this idea, please consider following us on Facebook or Pinterest  Please check out more Bright Ideas below!  There is a variety of topics and grade levels!  Happy reading!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Vegas...with a Dual Purpose

Quite a few months ago, my friends and husband encouraged me to take the trip out to Vegas to meet all the fellow bloggers out there that have helped me to learn and grow.  Honestly, I went back and forth on this idea for weeks.  I am a quiet girl--eager to learn and try but not quick to jump into a crowd.

But I also love a challenge.  And this was a personal challenge for me, just like blogging and selling on TPT have been.  Putting myself out there.  Jumping in.

I booked the tickets.  Registered for the conference.  And then my parents and sisters decided to go. WHAT! An adult family kids, no husbands.  Just two parents and their three adult daughters.
Vegas just turned into a trip with two missions: spend time with family and meet some amazing bloggers (and can I throw in--win thousands of dollars!)

Well....I am so happy to say that my mission was accomplished on both accounts (but not the money winning)!  I met so  SO many people and walked away with such a great understanding of the community within the blogging and TPT world.  I feel honored to say that I am a part of these worlds.  They have changed me.  Helped me to grow.  Pushed me out of my comfort zone.  And resulted in me becoming a stronger educator--my ultimate goal!

I wanted to share some of the people that I had the pleasure to finally meet face to face. 

I am in the middle :)  But Amanda is on the left.  She is from A Very Curious Class and I could NOT wait to meet her!! We have been sharing and communicating for months now.  I had to hug her the moment I saw her!  And Jenny, on the right, is from Luckeyfrog's Lilypad.  I was very happy to see her--she is a fellow Cincy blogger and we get to have lots of fun together!

Lisa from Growing Firsties has been a blogging buddy of ours from day 1!  I couldn't wait to finally see her face to face!

Catherine is another blogger that I have been reading since I discovered blogs.  She is from The Brown Bag Teacher and I am excited that she will be joining the first grade world this upcoming year!!

Jenny and I got to meet Susana from Whimsy Workshop and Shelley from The Write Stuff.  This was a big deal because I really admire the work they do.

Molly was one of the last people that I met!  She is from Lucky to be in First and I have enjoyed reading her blog along the way!  And I can't wait to share about her new app she let me try out!

And this is Elizabeth, my new blogging friend!  We spent much of our TPT conference day together!  She is from Seconds at the Beach and I can't wait to hear about her journey in first grade this year!!

These are my fellow Ohio bloggers!  I am so happy to have met them!  I am proud to be an Ohio teacher along side all of them.

As a side note...SDE had 4 different conferences going on at once.  I could not go.  But seeing ALL the teachers collaborating, going to sessions, collaborating, going to sessions, was killing me not to be along side them brainstorming and learning!  Okay...side note is done. Maybe next year.

First purpose to Vegas-meet blogging friends...CHECK!
Second purpose to Vegas-spend time with family...

My parents took us to Vegas 13 years ago.  My sister found that old photo and we compared it to our trip this year!

We really enjoyed our time together eating good food, seeing "Love," eating cupcakes, gambling (not a big winner!), Red Rock Canyon, Hoover Dam, eating more cupcakes, and relaxing!  So here are a few shots from our little adventures together!

I also have a few Vegas "favorites" now! 

 I could have stared at the glass flowers all day long!

 Sadly, Gordon's burger was not better than my husband's burger.  But I was still excited to go there!

Yep!  I went to this cupcake place, Sprinkles, 4 times. I'm not ashamed :)

First purpose to Vegas-meet blogging friends...CHECK!
Second purpose to Vegas-spend time with family...CHECK!

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Winner, Winner!

Thank you to everyone who entered our giveaway for
Our winner is....... Allee!!!  This guy will be coming your way.

And for growing your authors the winner is......  Carrie!!!  This guys is coming your way!
Thanks again to everyone who entered!  We heart you guys TONS!  :)

Saturday, July 12, 2014

Celebrating Authors in our Classroom

Who here doesn't LOVE a celebration?!?!?!?  Our first graders LOVE to party, especially when they get to show off all their hard work! 
We try to have a celebration after each writing piece is completed.  Some of these celebrations take place with parents, some with other school friends, and some with each other. 
While we thoroughly enjoy watching the faces of our firsties when they read to their audience, we just feel like we need to celebrate them more.  We want each firstie to know what he or she does daily, is noticed.  This is how our next idea was born. 
What kid doesn't love a bracelet?  Our girls get them EVERY time we visit Kings Island.  They are so proud each time they put one of these guys on, ESPECIALLY when they get a new color.
On this day our youngest moved to a new color bracelet and she's now able to ride the Blue Beastie AND the Viking Ship!  I think she smiled for about 8 hours this day! :)
  Our girls also  get bracelets when we go to the gym so they can go down the slide and swim by themselves.  Now if you notice the bracelet on the left.... it's so worn down.  When I ask our oldest to take it off, she says, "Mom, I can't.  It's a part of me." What?!?!?!  A part of you?  Yikes! 

I see how much my girls love these bracelets, I mean my oldest won't even take hers off, so my wheels started turning.  I started thinking.... how can we incorporate this into our classroom.  So... BAM! I made bracelets.  Yep!  These were made so our kids know how proud we are of the steps they are taking in becoming authors.  We want our firsties to know that their hard work IS NOT going unnoticed, even though we give verbal praise often.  We are also thinking this is a way to keep our parents informed. 
What do you think?
I've printed them horizontal and vertical.  Both seem to work on my daughter's arm, but her arm is so skinny.  It was loose, but that's ok.  I also tried both on my arm.  They worked, but most first graders aren't my size.  :)  I decided to stick with the words going vertical so you will be able to fold a little over if you need to make it fit better without losing the words.  :)  Thinking about adding the vertical bracelets later, but I was just so excited, I wanted to show you these guys.
ps.. Sorry about how they look.  Our printer needs new ink desperately and I need our printer to not drink it so quickly. :)  Do you feel my pain?!?!?!?

 These guys would also look great on backpacks or lunchboxes.
Em also thought you could print them on Post-It paper or label paper and just stick them on a folder, clipboard, or child. :) 
We're so, so, so excited to use these guys in our classroom that I'm giving away two packets. One is for first grade authors and the other (which will be finished tomorrow) is for first grade readers.  Lots of other bracelet packets will follow.  So... if you want to win one of these guys, enter the Rafflecopter below! :)       
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck our sweet, sweet friends! Keeping our fingers crossed for all of you! :)