Sunday, November 25, 2012

2nd Grade Math Daily Review

At my school, we don't follow a set textbook for teaching math. Instead, we followed the state's curriculum map and created our own. Typically, standards are taught to mastery and assessed within a month. What we found, however, was that students were losing skills from earlier in the year because everything was so fast paced. We needed a spiral review to keep them practicing the different standards. It helped tremendously! I created these daily math warm ups to fit this need. They were perfect for what the teachers in my building were looking for. After many requests, I made a set for the entire year. There are 4 different sets of 40 pages. You can buy one, two, three, or you can save a dollar on each by buying the entire bundle! It is 160 pages- enough for morning work, homework, or as a fast finisher resource for the entire year! Click on the picture below to find out more from my store!

Nonfiction engagement through Wonderopolis

I've been trying to find different ways in which to incorporate the following informational reading standards into my curriculum:
Key Ideas and Details
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.6.1 Cite textual evidence to support analysis of what the text says explicitly as well as inferences drawn from the text.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.6.2 Determine a central idea of a text and how it is conveyed through particular details; provide a summary of the text distinct from personal opinions or judgments.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.6.3 Analyze in detail how a key individual, event, or idea is introduced, illustrated, and elaborated in a text (e.g., through examples or anecdotes).

Craft and Structure

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.6.4 Determine the meaning of words and phrases as they are used in a text, including figurative, connotative, and technical meanings.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.6.5 Analyze how a particular sentence, paragraph, chapter, or section fits into the overall structure of a text and contributes to the development of the ideas.
  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.6.6 Determine an author’s point of view or purpose in a text and explain how it is conveyed in the text.

Integration of Knowledge and Ideas

  • CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RI.6.7 Integrate information presented in different media or formats (e.g., visually, quantitatively) as well as in words to develop a coherent understanding of a topic or issue.

And I've discovered that Wonderopolis is a great tool for this. Our 50 minute language art block is jam packed with stuff to cover - grammar, spelling, reading workshop, poetry - how could I fit another component in??  But I loved the site, particularly the way in addressed many of the Common Core Standards I want my curriculum to incorporate.  
I launched the project this way:
1. Call up the site and navigate through/explore it with my kids using the projector.  I see this as our time to ask questions, figure out all the components, and generate some ideas about extension activities we could use Wonderopolis as a springboard for. 
2.  Use a minilesson to set up our reading journals to track our reading in the following way:

Then, my kids are  responsible for checking out the site all week - Monday through Friday - and tracking their learning for the one "Wonder" that really captured their attention/interest the most.   They complete their Wonder Tracker in their reading journals, which we share in small groups on Wednesdays.   
I grade these for a total of 25 points - so they are held accountable for this reading.  So far, this has become a truly "wonderful" (sorry, I could not resist!) learning experience.  My kids love the fact that they can choose topics they are interested in, and they are learning all sorts of cool stuff - plus how to become engaged with nonfiction.

Saturday, November 24, 2012

Adding and Subtracting without Regrouping Freebie!

We have been hard work practicing adding and subtracting without regrouping.  We are about ready to move into regrouping, but wanted to give students a refresher since we have been off for the Thanksgiving Break (yahoo! ).

Sometimes practicing adding and subtracting can get rote...and boring so I put a little fresh spin on practice with the game below.  The kids LOVE it!

Hop in over to get your free copy of the game!

Friday, November 23, 2012

Exemplar Texts for the Common Core - Informational Texts

In the last couple of months, I've posted Exemplar Read Aloud Texts for the Common Core , and  Exemplar Texts for the Common Core - Stories.

Today I'm getting to my favorite category of Exemplar Texts:  The Informational Texts!

The Exemplar Texts are books that are recommended for this level because of the complexity and quality of the texts.  Children in these grades should be reading many books of this complexity and quality, these are just examples.

Here are links to some of the Informational Texts recommended for grades 2 and 3.

For more information about the Exemplar Texts for the Common Core see my blog at Elementary Matters.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Rockin' Teacher Materials: Get'em While They're Hot!

Rockin' Teacher Materials: Get'em While They're Hot!: The Thanksgiving Mini-Mystery by Hilary Lewis is here! It is half of a regular math mystery. I have them for 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grades. They follow the Common Core State Standards too!

This will make a fun activity for the short week . . . and the kids will be learning too!

Sunday, November 18, 2012

Writing Workshop: Planning Writing Pieces

One of the most important aims in the Common Core Standards for writing is to make sure that our kids know how to plan their narrative writing pieces so that each section transitions to the next and that there is a purpose to the piece as a whole:

3. Write narratives to develop real or imagined
experiences or events using effective technique,
relevant descriptive details, and well-structured 
event sequences.
a. Engage and orient the reader by establishing 
a context and introducing a narrator and/or
characters; organize an event sequence that
unfolds naturally and logically.
b. Use narrative techniques, such as dialogue,
pacing, and description, to develop
experiences, events, and/or characters.
c. Use a variety of transition words, phrases, and 
clauses to convey sequence and signal shifts 
from one time frame or setting to another.
d. Use precise words and phrases, relevant
descriptive details, and sensory language to
convey experiences and events.
e. Provide a conclusion that follows from the 
narrated experiences or events.

Planning is a learned process in writing workshop.  And I think our kids need lots of guided practice in this process before they are ready to take off on their own and fulfill the stands on their own, in a timed, test-taking setting.  
Most of my sixth graders struggle with launching their ideas from notebook into longer writing pieces.  And yet, many of the ideas in their writing lists and heart maps are things they would like to transform into longer pieces for their writing portfolios. When I first began teaching Writing Workshop, I let my kids choose their own planning tools - our mini lessons covered webbings, and timelines and any b-m-e charts, and then I left it to each student to pick a tool that worked best for them.  Sometimes this worked, sometimes it did not - and we usually discovered problems halfway through the drafting process when the student was stuck: where  should I go next? what should I include? something is missing, but I don't know what.  At this point, there were many writing conferences and I left each feeling that something had gone wrong in the writing process and we should have fixed whatever it was long before the drafting even began.
 Obviously, I needed to go back to the planning stages and figure out a better way to plan, to create a framework to guide the writing.  Now, every student must create a three-part "plan of action" in their writer's notebook before they can begin drafting on their yellow writing pads:
  • they must choose three ideas from their writing lists for every genre piece we do (we're working on memoir now) and create purpose statements for each: "I am writing about _________________,because I want my reader to know___________________.  I feel these statements really force my kids to focus on their topic and ensure that there is a point to this writing piece - it's not random, they are clear about the "so what?"  This purpose statement serves as our anchor as we confer as well, which helps me guide my students through their drafting/revising stages.  
  • They must create a timeline of events - sometimes this can be detailed, and sometimes not (as in the example below - Eric's notebook), but this timeline also serves as an anchor and a tool for me to offer advice in our conferences.  In Eric's case, for instance, we conferred about the timeline itself - he needed many more specifics in order to be sure he knew where he was going with this piece.  Once he'd done that, he was ready to move on to the next stage.
  • Using the timeline, each student also charts a beginning-middle-end sketch: three columns (b,m,e) with specifics from their timelines sketched out in the appropriate column.  

We meet again to confer and make sure that all questions are clarified and that the student is really ready to begin drafting...and then they're off!

All this pre-writing work lays the groundwork for a more independent drafting process.  We still meet to confer everyday, but both the student and I are so anchored in the "so what?" of their piece due to all that planning work, that the conference is more about improving the writing from a technical and emotional point of view that what it used to be:" I'm stuck, I don't know where to go next!"
Last week, after working on these plans every day, I am happy to say that each of my kids left workshop feeling armed and ready to begin drafting tomorrow, Monday. Hooray!

Sight Word Organization & Word Collectors

sight word dictionaries and collecting vivid verbs, amazing adjectives, character traits, and figurative language

My post today is kind of a 2 parter- 2 different thoughts/situations I wanted to fix, but with the overall idea of words and how wonderful they can be! 

First situation:  I have had a problem the past couple of years managing my sight words with my students.  I used to write their sight words on index cards as I introduced them and stored the sets in baggies.  But that didn't work as efficiently as I would like.  It seemed to take their little hands too long to dig them all out.  Then as the year went along, the stacks got bigger and took more time to go through all the words.  But there was no efficient way of sorting through them to have them read the ones I wanted them to get extra practice on.  

And soooo.... I decided to make a word collector for the students to collect their sight words in.  In a way, it is like a personal dictionary.  But I don't use the dictionary for spelling.  We are using it for READING.  

sight word dictionary

First students make a personal connection to the letters and draw or glue a picture in the box.  The more personal the book is the more meaningful and useful it becomes.  Then as sight words are introduced (which common core states students need to be able to recognize and read), students add them to the word collector.  

sight word dictionary

During reading time, you can have students read all the words they have entered under the letter "b" or the letter "w".  That way you are controlling what words they review according to their needs and it is not time consuming.  Instead it becomes differentiated and efficient!  That's what I like of course and I am sure you do too!

prefixes and suffixes

At the end of the word collector is a place for students to add prefixes and suffixes.  Learning to read words with prefixes and suffixes and using the meanings of these word parts is also a part of common core and a big part of becoming a better reader.

Second Part:  Now past the sight word and word parts problems, I have this desire to teach students to be aware of language and how authors and writers use words in their craft.  I want them to be a true collector of words and poetic language!

Again, I was looking for efficiency and a good way to manage this.  There just seems sometimes so much that I want to get accomplished, but so little time!  As common core raises the bar, I feel this need to teach students about the use of words and language even more.  

vivid verbs

As students are reading and being read to they can be mindful of the words authors use and collect those words into their word collectors.  Here on this page they can collect verbs that are strong and specific.

amazing adjectives

As students learn to use adjectives and how they can make writing more descriptive and paint pictures in our minds, they can add the ones they particularly like to this page.  I also have a character traits page for collection of words that describe the characters they are reading about.

collecting figurative language

And for one of my favorites that I am really excited about- collecting wonderful, wonderous words!  I want to be able to talk more about how authors use language and the way they string words together.  I want students to notice these wonderful phrases and figurative language.  I believe if we have more conversations with students about the use of language and begin to notice (and collect) it more, students will transfer this and be more mindful of the word choices they make in their own writing!

Thank you for sticking with me on this long post!  I truly believe in collecting words, having conversations with students about language, and applying it to their writing.  Their minds are wonderful and once they are shown how this works, they can take off and be as creative as they can possibly be!!  If this looks like something that will help you help your students to love and collect wonderful language, click here to be taken to my store.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Upper Grades Calendar Math Freeebies

We all want to pack in as much instruction as possible into our crowded schedules, and with so many standards moved to different different grade levels now, we have to be careful not to let anything slip through the cracks. What better way to fit in a lot of math in a little time that to implement a short, daily review? Lower grade teachers have been doing calendar routines for years, but as an upper grade teacher, I wasn't too sure where to start. So I researched what others were doing, and thought about what my 4th graders needed the most practice with and created a pretty effective routine for my kiddos. 

I decided to include these daily/weekly routines to begin with:
  • counting large numbers
  • number line (using multiple markers based on Every Day Counts)
  • date/day calendar questions
  • daily depositor and coin counter (based on Every Day Counts)
  • decomposing numbers
  • rounding and place value
  • elapsed time
  • facts practice
My daily routine: I spend no more than 15 minutes total on this, so I don't always do every part every single day. We start with facts practice. Sometimes this is a timed drill sheet, or I use the links I put on the flipchart (file below). Then I pretty much follow the pages in my flipchart. Although we do the same activities every day, I like to keep it interesting by varying the way we do them. There are basically three formats I use on different days of the week:
  1. Whole group using the the IWB. Any student who is not at the white board writes the answers on their individual dry erase boards.  
  2. Small group: I used poster board to make 5 calendar math posters. The posters have the same things on them that we do on the IWB (file included below). I just laminated the posters, and groups of about 4 work together to compete each section. The first group to complete every part correctly wins a treat. 
  3. Individual: I created a worksheet that looks like what we do on the IWB, and students write in their answers on their sheets independently, then we check together.
Every 2-3 weeks I test the students using a sheet similar to the independent practice worksheet. I'm so glad I've implemented this! It's a lot of math in a short amount of time, and a great way to review those skills that need to stay fresh. 

Now for the files. I've created a highly interactive Promethean flipchart that can be used on your whiteboard. There are also copies of the tests, worksheets, a PowerPoint version of the lesson (though not as interactive), and black and white printables to make your own small group calendar posters. Just click the link under the picture to download the zipped file. If you decide to download, please leave me a comment and let me know what you think.

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Rockin' Teacher Materials: Inference Skills Made Easy and Fun!

Rockin' Teacher Materials: Inference Skills Made Easy and Fun!: Whether you teach kindergarten, 1st, 2nd, 3rd, 4th, or 5th grade, you can make inferring fun and easy. . . and cover CCSS RL.7 at the same time! Head on over to see how well my little kiddos are doing with this difficult skill!

Don't Be a Turkey!

It's me, Sally from Elementary Matters!

One of the Common Core Standards for second grade math is:

CCSS.Math.2.OA.2 Fluently add and subtract within 20 using mental strategies.

Once they have a good understanding of the 9 more trick, they're ready to play Turkey Nines!  It works like "Old Maid", so they pair off all the addends and sums with nines, and one of your little turkeys will end up being the "Thanksgiving Turkey".  This is one of those games that "even the losers are winners" because there's something about cooking a turkey that makes the little ones giggle.  Plus, they're getting better at that mental math!

When they've mastered the plus nines up through 20, there's a more challenging version of the game to work this standard:

CCSS.Math.Content.2.NBT.B.8 Mentally add 10 or 100 to a given number 100–900, and mentally subtract 10 or 100 from a given number 100–900.
Have fun practicing mental math, and don't be a turkey!  (At least, don't be a cooked turkey!)

You can download your freebie at my blog, Elementary Matters!

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Writing Workshop: Launching the Slice of Life Project in our sixth grade classroom

Hello readers,
Mor was kind enough to invite me to join this wonderful community of teachers. 
I teach Writing Workshop, Language Arts and Social Studies to sixth graders at middle school in suburban New Jersey. My  blog "A Teaching Life" is my attempt to capture all the "stuff" that goes into my teaching life - the planning, the dreaming, the reading, the preparing, the hoping and (above all) the kids.
I am so looking forward to learning and sharing in Common Core Classrooms!  My first post is one I shared on my blog just a few weeks ago. 

Launching the Slice of Life Project in our classroom

Last year, I launched our Slice of Life project early in the school year, and both my morning and afternoon classes sliced away all the way from September to June. Just as I look forward to Stacey and Ruth's Tuesday morning slicing at Two Writing Teachers, my kids looked forward to posting their slices by Friday and adding comments by Sunday. On Monday morning, we'd vote for two winners (one from the a.m. class and one from the p.m. class) who'd be awarded small bags of jellybeans as a prize. This, too, became a class tradition that everyone looked forward to (nothing motivates sixth graders quite like candy!).

Our school website uses School Fusion as a platform, and discussion blogs are a part of what is offered as a tool. I set up each discussion on Sunday, numbering each and reminding my kids that their slice is due by Friday. This is what that looks like (I borrowed that graphic from Stacey from years past - thank you Stacey!):

Here we go...our Slice of Life Project! Your post is due by Friday, and your comments are due by Sunday.
FYI: The blog is set up so that I must approve every comment and post. So, it may not show up immediately but not to worry. I check in frequently, so your post will be visible soon.

I usually start the discussion by posting a slice of my own, and I try to vary the way I write to model strategies we've been discussing in reading and writing workshop. Then it's up to my kids. Because the discussion board is set up for me to approve of every post, I need to check in frequently - but that also allows me to leave comments (I'm modeling, essentially).

Of course, we had a mini lesson to discuss what a slice of life is all about:

...and I was able to use last year's archived slices to model the way it all looks and works. This is really important for my sixth graders who need concrete example of everything they're expected to do.
I use the projector to display our discussion board from time to time - just so that they get a feel for all the writing they're doing (we had 205 posts and comments for the first round. Everyone was really enthused!).

I have a rubric for each student - 50 points for the quality of the slice/50 for the quality of the comments - so that this project becomes part of their Writing Workshop grade on a weekly basis. This has become a cornerstone of my Writing Workshop - a way for my kids to practice strategies and learn how to become better writers from each other in a supportive way. Here, for example, are some comments they left this week:

  • Filip : I like how you described the moment very well.
  • Katherine : I liked how you ended your story and I think that you focused on the moment you were writing about very well.
  • Kobie: I love how you said "tomato red" it was a really good detail, the beginning was great, I liked how you started it with question.
  • Julienne : Wow, you described the scene very well. I like how you slowed down the moment with all that detail.
  • Elizabeth : I really like how you had a reflective ending and how you painted a picture of your surroundings.
  • Mrs. Smith: You did a really nice job sharing exactly how you felt as your happy day took a turn for something else!
    If we did not have the School Fusion platform, I think I'd use Blogger or something like it and set it up to moderate the discussion privately. Two things to keep in mind to get the most out of this experience - you (the teacher) have to participate and the project has to count as a grade. It does make for a lot of work, but I find it so rewarding for all of us. We really do learn so much about each other - as people, and as writers. Which is exactly what our Tuesday slicing also allows us to do - enjoy ourselves as a community of practicing writers who celebrate each others' efforts.
Please let me know how it goes!