Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Common Core Test Prep

With the Common Core, we're all unsure of how exactly are students are going to be assessed.  Until the tests get seen in public, our students' work scored, there's only speculation.  With that said, there have been samples that have been released and information keeps coming out.

The one area I've continued to see is on text complexity.  Students are expected to be working with texts at much deeper levels than their current reading level.  They should be talking about and exploring texts to build their skills.  With scaffolding, students are able to build their skills that are needed to comprehend and decode these texts.

With my RtI students, I'm trying to work to bridge that gap with them.  One thing I've found with my students is that they don't often understand the questions that are being asked of them.  Or, alternatively, they don't answer the questions that are being asked of them.  We spend many hours working on dissecting the questions and framing their answers so they are better able to demonstrate that they know what they're reading.  One strategy I use with my students is PQA.
We use it at my school to remind students to fully answer the question by putting the question in the answer.  It's a common acronym and it's terrific for our RtI kids who aren't always able of articulating their answer in complete sentences without it.  You can click on the picture above to come over to my blog and learn a little more about it and to download the poster for yourself.
I also developed some comprehension passages and questions that help us practice this skill with our second graders.  While they don't take the big scary test, we want them to see questions in similar formats.  It also helps prepare them for all of third grade.  A sample page is below.
You can click on that picture to head over to my blog to see another couple pages and download two pages that you are able to use with your kiddos.  While they don't completely meet those text complexity heights, they prepare students with the skills they need to tackle those more difficult texts.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Procedural Writings: How To Books

how to writing unit

It's time for a break from writing narratives and on to procedural writing.  How To writing to be exact!  

We read how to books and made charts on what they had in common.  We also tried to focus on the small ideas of what we were good at and not the big ideas, like how to hit a baseball and not how to play the game of baseball.

It was a chance for students to decide what they were experts at and could explain to other students how to do.  

After making lists of what we were good at, we practiced putting in order how to make a peanut butter sandwich.  I wanted them to get a feel for what it would sound like if it were out of order.  

how to make a peanut butter sandwich

This little girl loves make-up, dresses, and all things girly!  So obviously she decided she was an expert at putting on eye shadow and lip balm.  

How to put on makeup

 I love her illustration of what she looks like when she puts on her lipstick.  Isn't that what you would think a 1st grade girl would look like putting it on herself??  :)

how to put on makeup

This little boy likes football and decided to teach how to kick one.  I like how he drew movement lines when he kicked the football!

how to kick a football

We had so much fun learning about How To writing!  If your students are ready for a break from other writings and want to show what they are an expert at, let them do some How To writing!  

Click the picture to be taken to my TpT Store

Procedural Writing
Click the picture to be taken to my TpT store

Happy spring to everyone!

Conversations in Literacy

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Adding Easter Eggs

I am excited to share with you a freebie to practice addition with your little ones!  This is a math center for the students to practice adding Easter Eggs!  Head to my TpT Store to pick up a free copy.

Happy Spring!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Eggs-cellent Easter Activity

Looking for some ideas for those cute little plastic eggs you find everywhere this time of year?

I've got a few ideas!  Come on over to Elementary Matters to download this freebie, and check out a few other ideas!

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Structuring Math Workshop

I  feel like I have organized, restructured, and tried about 1,000 new systems. It is just one of those years!

We decided to reorganize our math block (again) to better meet the needs of our kiddos.  Since I co-teach in an inclusion classroom there are two teachers my classroom: myself and another teacher.  It is a fantastic arrangement.  We are lucky that we see eye to eye on instruction and kids in general and she has quickly become one of my closest friends!  One thing we noticed is that our students needs are quickly changing   Some kids are ready to move on to more complex topics, while others need to take it slow and easy.  At the beginning of the year, there wasn't as much of a divide.

To remedy this we have decided to break the class into two groups (give or take) and parallel teach.   This lowers the student- teacher ratio and makes it easier to "touch" all the kids.

Here is a glimpse at my "big picture" and schedule:

11:45-12:15- whole group lesson with my small group of 13 kids
12:15-12:45 independent practice/ centers with my small group of 13 kids
12:45-1:00 whole class (all students) closure
1:00 Recess

This means I will have about 13 kids in my group.  I am thinking that I will do a whole group lesson with all 13 kids, then the kids will complete a worksheet (oh, the horrors!  A worksheet!) that I will use as a formative daily assessment.

Please hop on over to my blog to read more about how my centers are organized (I included tons of photos) AND for a free copy of the sheet above!