Saturday, November 15, 2014

You Oughta Know About: A Blog Hop ~ November

Joining up again with Buzzing with Mrs. McClain and the November You Oughta Know Blog Hop. It seems to be my trend to share a technology find on the hop. This month is no different. Technology is a great conduit for learning. There are so many great resources out there, but here is one you oughta know about: The National Geographic Young Explorer website. (Note: Flash is required.)

What is exciting is that students can either listen to or read the text based on readiness. This website could be used for a reading center, as a partner activity, as part of a shared research project, or part of a nonfiction reading task. There are some many possibilities.
National Geographic Young Explorers

Click on the image above and see what happens when students click on the Listen & Read Tab. Students can turn the pages, read the text themselves, or listen to it being read by clicking on the voice icon. This makes it accessible to all types of learners. This resource could provide for some differentiation!

Skim and scan past issues and you might find a piece that you can embed in your current or future units of instruction. The topics and vibrant pictures are very engaging.

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Saturday, October 25, 2014

You Oughta Know About: A Blog Hop ~ Resources for Teaching Math

So glad you stopped by. I am linking up today with some other bloggers for the You Oughta Know Blog Hop hosted by Buzzing with Mrs. McClain.

I wanted to share a snapshot of  some math resources that you oughta know about. What I really like about these resources is that they have resources for many grade levels. So please check them out. You may find something you can use in your classroom next week.

The first resource I share with you is Illuminations by NCTM ~ Resources for Teaching Math (K-HS).

If you visit this site you can search for activities based on a grade range of activities or the following math strands: numbers & operations, algebra, geometry, measurement, and data analysis & probability.

Once you sort by grade band, you can skim and scan the activities to find an activity that fits your goals and objectives.

With Common Core, the number line is the math tool of choice. Check out this activity: Hopping on the Number Line.

Once here, you get an instructional plan, the standards, the materials needed, questions that can be asked, and related resources to extend/recycle learning. You have the option to print off what you need to use the activity in your classroom.

Might you find an Illumination's activity that might work with your students?

Another resource I wanted to share is Inside Mathematics (K-HS). If you click in the box in the upper right hand corner, shortcuts by grade or strand, you could narrow your search to what would be most beneficial to you and your students.

Here you can see I did a search for numbers and operations in base ten. Then I clicked on second and third grade. Here you can find different problems of the month and performance assessment tasks. Use these activities to encourage math talk in your classroom. Adapt the activities to fit the needs of your students.

There are video resources available also at Inside Math that can be helpful as well to the teaching of mathematics.

The final resource I am going to share is K-5 Math Resources. Here you can search for activities by grade level band and strand: number, geometry, and measurement/data.

As you can see here, I searched third grade activities in the number strand. The standard comes up along with possible activities. If you click on the link, you can print off a pdf to use with your students.

Here is another example if I searched second grade activities in the measurement and data activities.

As with any resource, you have to evaluate the activities based on the needs of your students and the goals you hope to accomplish.

I would love to hear what math resources you use for your students. Thanks for stopping by, and I hope  you can add some ideas you found on these sites to  your math toolbox.

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Friday, October 10, 2014

Spooktacular Halloween Bash ~ Blog Hop

So glad you stopped by for a spell to join in on the fun! To begin with...check out this spooktacular fraction FREEBIE. Have students design ghosts with certain features while practicing multiplying a whole number by a fraction (4.NF.4). Click on the image to download your FREEBIE!

Looking for some monsterific activities?

Monster Mania can be used as part of a center, as an anchor activity, or as a whole group activity. Students do not have to complete all the activities. Teachers can differentiate according to students’ readiness levels and interest. Monster Mania is a perfect complement for October fun, but it also can be used any time your students need some monsterific activities.

Writing Task Cards There are 6 writing task cards with a monster theme. The writing tasks are intended to be short writing pieces that can easily be further developed by students if time permits. Students can work independently or with a cowriter. The following types of writing are included: friendly letter poetry: quatrain jingle summary: The Important Thing About… movie review recipe

Roll-a-Cube and Booklet Roll-a-Cube is a way to engage students in reviewing 6 literacy/language skills and applying these skills to short tasks with a monster theme. Review target words found on the Roll-a-Cube using the Monster Anchor Mat included in this download. Copy and assemble the Roll-a-Cube and have an activity you can use in a writing center, during group work, or as a quick review during transitions. Have 5 minutes during the day use Roll-a-Cube and have students generate ideas orally to review key skills!

Check out this product, MONSTER MANIA, writing center activities and tasks.

Trick or Treat! Smell my feet. Give me something good to eat! Hooo doesn't like a tasty treat? What is your favorite candy? Does it make the list of Top 10 Halloween Candy  (Kidzworld 2014)?

1.   Kit Kat
2.   Reese's Peanut Butter Cups
3.   Smarties
4.   Starburst
5.   Nerds
6.   Twix
7.   Sour Patch Kids
8.   Whoppers
9.   Skittles
10. Tootsie Roll

Bats all folks! Thank you for stopping by Pam's Place and joining The Teaching 2 Step Halloween Hop.

Don't forget to enter for your chance to win! a Rafflecopter giveaway
Follow me on Facebook and Pinterest. Hop through more Halloween Bash Bloggers below. You are sure to find some "fangtastic" posts!

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Saturday, September 13, 2014

You Oughta Know About: A Blog Hop ~ Webcams

Have you used webcams in your classroom? Webcams are a way to bring the world into your classroom virtually.

Doing an animal study? How about bringing the animals into the classroom? Well, not literally. Students can take a trip to the zoo via computers. Some zoos have live cameras set up that allow students to view the animals. Check out some of these webcams. Note: Sometimes animals may be inactive.

Check out the Animal Cams at the San Diego Zoo. Click on the image below and pick your animal cam of choice: tiger, panda, koala, polar, ape, condor, and elephant.

Students can make observations and record their findings over several days. Varying the time of day when students observe the animals, they can draw conclusions and make generalizations about animal behaviors. Students can compare the type of habitats the animals live in. If students have access to the computers at home, they can observe the animals at home! Great school-home connection.

Here's an Observation Log Sheet you can use to get your students started. Click on the image to grab your copy. To begin, we would observe the animal as a class. Then I would model how to complete an observation entry with specific details.
This observation sheet comes from my Animal Research: Observation and Research Journal product.

Webcams can be used for other units of study as well. Learning about famous United States landmarks? Check out Earth Cam. Visit the Statue of Liberty. Or how about Mount Rushmore in South Dakota?

Hope might you incorporate the use of a webcam into your classroom? Visit some of the other blogs below to find some other helpful ideas and tips.

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Saturday, August 9, 2014

You Oughta Know About: A Blog Hop ~ Back to School Time

It's August. Back to school time. Linking up with Buzzing with Mrs. McClain for a blog hop filled with ideas. Please join along.

How can students get to know you, their teacher, while providing them with a task to keep them engaged when they first arrive? Try this activity at the beginning of the year. Welcome students to your classroom by having a word search about their teacher on their desk! Immediately a connection is made and students can settle into the classroom with a familiar activity.

Simply write a short paragraph about yourself and/or about the coming year, type it up, underline some key words, and then create a word search using Discovery Education's free Puzzlemaker. Have you used this website? Click here to watch a quick video on how to create a word search.

Once the word search is created, copy and paste it into a document and type the paragraph underneath. Or print it off and attach it to the paragraph.
This activity can easily be adapted for younger students by varying the length of the paragraph, the complexity of the words used, and the number of words used in the word search. When making the word search you can set the size of the of word search to have fewer letters overall. You also can choose whether or not the words will share letters.

One activity to consider is to have students create their own paragraphs about themselves or their summer and have them create their own word search. The completed word searches make a great classroom display for the beginning of the year! Another idea is to have students place their word searches into plastic sleeves and switch with a partner. Using a dry erase marker students can learn about their classmates while completing a word search!

Have you ever used Two Truths and a Fib? This can be used as an icebreaker/get to know you activity for the beginning of the year. To help students get to know some things about their teacher write two statements that are true and one statement that is a fib. Picking the not so obvious truths about yourself make for an interesting introduction. Share with your students. Have students guess which is a fib.  Then have students create one about themselves to share with their classmates. This activity then can be used later in the year during a novel study or content area study. Click on the image below to grab the freebie.

Wishing you all a great start to the new school year.  Don't forget to visit some other blogs for some great ideas!

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Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Guided Math ~ Chapter 9: Setting the Stage

Well, we are at the final chapter, and this book study is coming to an end. Thanks to Sarah and Courtney from Adventures in Guided Math for hosting the book study this summer!

For me, there were two key takeaways mentioned in the beginning of this chapter.
  • Time. Persistence. Consistency. When getting started with math workshop it is important to keep these in mind. 
  • Dr. Newton mentions, "Make it comfortable for yourself!"
To get teachers started with math workshop, Dr. Newton outlines a 20 day framework.

Getting Started ~ Week 1
It is important to set the foundation! The structure of math workshop is discussed so students can explain it in their own words. Time is spent exploring what math workshop will look like, sound like, and feel like. During this time, students explore what it means to be a good mathematician. Students will begin to understand their role as mathematicians. Students will see that they are expected to share their thinking through discussions and writing. They also will review their role as respectful listeners.

Week 2
At this time routines, procedures, and expectations are discussed. The parts of math workshop also are discussed. Students are introduced to what their role will be during routines, mini-lessons,  and math centers. Modeling is important here. If things go awry, it is important to revisit the routines, procedures, and expectations!

Week 3
During this week additional time is given to practicing procedures and understanding the structure of math workshop so students can work independently of teacher support while guided groups are pulled. Once all the components of math workshop are put together, it is important to debrief with students how everything worked and what goals need to be set to ensure a successful math workshop. Time is given for students to practice transitioning, gathering materials for center work, and working with others during center time.

Week 4
Debrief. What does this mean to students? How has math workshop been going? What improvements need to be made? What needs to be clarified? It is important for students to reflect and summarize what they have learned. It is a time for math discourse and engagement of all students. Practice runs of math workshop occur this week to iron out any kinks and redirect students when/where necessary. Consistency in maintaining the structure of math workshop is essential!

Some things to think about and do to begin the journey...
  • start slow and build with consistency
  • create a lesson plan structure that is informative yet manageable
  • "hot topic" centers/resources to help recycle/review skills
  •  continue to create preassessments that measure what students may already know to create groups of "best fit"

Things I will continue...
  • meet students where they are so I can take them where they need to go (pg 9)
  • make things work for my students with the time we have
  • help my students view themselves as mathematicians
  • foster questioning by students and have students work to discover their answers (Questioning Pencils - Click to view one of the questioning tools my students use.)
Thanks for visiting Pam's Place throughout this book study. Wishing you all good luck on your math workshop journey. Best wishes for a fantastic school year!

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Sunday, August 3, 2014

Guided Math ~ Chapter 8: What Are the Other Kids Doing?

"Math centers allow students to concretize their knowledge and intensively practice their math skills (pg 99)." As Dr. Newton goes on to explain, "The goal is for all students to be doing work that improves their skills and allows them to practice and self-check their work (pg 100)."

In this chapter, you will find the nuts and bolts about math centers.

Variety is the spice of life here! Students should have opportunities to work independently, with partners, and in groups. Depending on the target, students can be heterogeneously or homogeneously grouped.

Regardless of the type of grouping used, it is important to focus on the students' zone of proximal development. Not too easy; not too tough. It's important to target activities that are "just right" to meet students where they are so you can take them where they need to go (pg 9).

Individual Work:
During individual work, students can sit together as a group in a designated location while working independently. Dr. Newton references this as parallel work.

Partner Work or Group Work:
Games. Tasks. Problem Solving. Let the learning begin!! During partner or group work, the focus can be collaborative or competitive. For some students, they enjoy the competition; for others not so much. It is important to mix it up. I really like the suggestion to have students play games in rounds of five turns. This eliminates the focus on winning a game and refocuses the goal to the task at hand (100). Regardless of the task, the focus needs to be on gaining and reinforcing content and skill knowledge.

Math Center Logistics

Using Standards-Based Task Cards:
It is important that tasks are connected to standards. Math centers are not about "fluff and stuff."

Using Scaffolded Activity Sheets:
Scaffolded activity sheets can help students know what to do. It is important that students are able to work without teacher assistance during math center time. Spending a little extra time up front providing visual cues and scaffolding sheets to meet the needs of learners can SAVE time in the long run and MAXIMIZE learning.

Using Leveled Centers:
Dr. Newton highlighted the following as must-have centers: Basic Facts Center, Hot Topics Review Center, Geometry Center, Word Problem Center, Math Poem Center, Math Journal Center, and Math Vocabulary Center.

I really like to use poems in math. You can read the poem "Smart" by Shel Silverstein here. Great to add to a poem center during a unit on money.

It is suggested to keep centers current based on students needs. The belief is that centers are about practicing for proficiency (pg 108). It is important to differentiate the centers by student readiness levels. Think BIG IDEAS!

Student Accountability:
Feedback and reflection are important. Having conversations with students, reflecting in math journals, or using exit tickets are ways to hold students accountable and monitor student engagement and progress.

Whoa, that is a lot to think about and consider when setting up math centers. Ultimately, I have learned that I have to do what is right for my students and what I know will work with the structure of time I have.

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Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Guided Math ~ Chapter 7: Building Mathematical Proficiency

Being mathematically proficient is more than just knowing how to do something. It is an attitude, a way of thinking (pg 86).

This chapter goes into more detail about mathematical proficiency which I briefly mentioned in my post on Chapter 5.

5 Components of Mathematical Proficiency:

Conceptual Understanding:
Students need to understand math on a conceptual level. In guided groups, students learn about the concept using manipulatives, scaffolds, and tools. It is much more than just knowing how to do something.

Procedural Fluency:
Students need to be able to "do" math and think flexibly about math using different methods: written procedures, mental math, calculator, and manipulatives. In guided math groups, math discourse ensues while students work on procedures.

Strategic Competence:
Students need to be able to solve problems and represent their thinking. There is more to math than just getting the answer. In guided math groups, the focus is on students identifying/using different "pathways" for solving problems.

Adaptive Reasoning:
Students need to be able to explain and justify their work/thinking. In guided math groups, math discussions occur where students reason, listen, interact, and make connections. Students are encouraged to use more than one way to solve a problem.

Mathematical Disposition:
Students need a disposition that will allow them to be confident in math and are willing to persevere and appreciate math while reflecting and monitoring their own learning. Mathematical disposition is about ways of thinking, doing, being, and seeing math. In guided math groups, learning can be scaffolded to foster confidence and success. Perseverance can be nurtured when students are given time in guided math groups to wrestle with problems. Small guided groups create a safe environment for students to take risks.

Sometimes my students need help seeing themselves as mathematicians. I spend a lot of time focusing on this at the start of the year, and I revisit this notion when I see their perseverance start to wane. As a visual reminder, I have posted my Mathematician Mini Posters on a bulletin board and made a bookmark of the mini posters for students to keep in their math book.

Getting students to model their thinking using different representations is not always easy. Many times my students are so proud to be the first to get the answer! This, of course, is not what I focus on. I work hard to try and change this mindset. Some students have their set way of doing/showing their math. In guided math groups, I believe modeling different methods and having students see other students share different methods can help build stamina towards this goal. 

Conceptual understanding is the core of my instruction. Many of my students come to me with a strong foundation in math. My goal is to fill the holes with conceptual understanding. Why is that answer correct? What is that algorithm really showing you? I want my students to be able to justify and explain conceptually why something works/does not work. One time I gave a problem to a group of students that did not have a solution. Sure, students could "do" the problem using the steps in the procedure we learned and get an answer, but the solution would not make sense. One student came back the next day and made a case for why the problem would not work conceptually. He was right! The rest of the group solved the problem using the steps of the procedure and got an "answer." Unfortunately, this answer did not work in the context of the problem. We had a long discussion about "doing" math and "conceptually understanding" math. It made students realize math is much more than just doing the steps to get an answer to a problem!!

When problem solving, I have found that my students lean towards showing math with numbers. That's what they feel most comfortable with! Pictures are sometimes used. When they get stuck, I often encourage them to represent the problem in pictures. But, this is not something they do naturally, yet. Words. Written words. Oh, my. If they could avoid them in math...they would! When they have to...they do it...and they do it well. But this is not a go-to-method to represent their thinking. Definitely this is a work in progress to get students to model their thinking using numbers, words, and pictures.

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Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Two for Tuesday!

Time for Two for Tuesday! Can you believe it is the last Tuesday of July, already?!?

The two products I am putting on sale today for 50% are below. 

This product went through a major revision!  It not only includes panda specific pages, but also pages for any animal research! I felt this would make the product more versatile for classroom use. In the first part, I included a quick convergent thinking activity to get students thinking. Four animals. Four clues. Guess my favorite! This activity can easily be adapted for other subject areas. Even students can create the template and then have them share with the class.

The second part focuses on learning through observation. The Panda/Animal Observation Journal is designed to supplement a unit of study on animals to show students how they can learn about animals through observation. One way to observe animals is through photos. To record their observations, students fill out the Photo Finish organizer. This organizer can be used with any photo for any subject!

After looking at photos, the second part of the observation journal focuses on students observing animals via a webcam. Webcams are a way to bring the world into the classroom virtually. Simply search panda/animal webcams online, and you can see how amazing they are! Check out the panda webcam at the San Diego Zoo by clicking here.  Check out other animal cams at the National Zoo by clicking here.

The Panda/Animal Research Journal can be used during an animal study or a research unit. Different organizers and templates are included for students to record their information. Different organizers and templates are included. Pick and choose which work best for your students. As a synthesis piece of their research there is a sense poem template for students to complete from the point of view of the animal they researched. Check out this product here.

And my second product featured for Two for Tuesday is a REAL DEAL.

Grouping Cards & Clock Partners is a product that has three different ways to group students into partners or triads. Included in this product are Partner Duo Cards, Triad Grouping Cards, and Clock Partners. A quick and easy way to group students. These might come in handy with the beginning of the year and all those Get to Know You and Building Community activities. Take a closer look at the product here.

If you stop over at The Teaching Tribune you will find more deals!

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Sunday, July 27, 2014

Guided Math in Action ~ Chapter 6: Framework for Guided Math Lessons

Planning. Planning. Planning. In order to maximize learning during guided math, it is important to constantly monitor data and performance of students.

The key takeaway for me was right on pg 69 when Dr. Nicki Newton talks about teaching at the concrete, representational, and abstract levels. I have written about the C-R-A sequence of instruction in a previous post. Click the image to read that post.

When I plan for instruction whether I am working with elementary or middle school students, C-R-A has become a habit of mind. Sometimes it is a challenge, but it is definitely exciting to see the progression of learning by students.

The chapter goes on to talk about the framework for guided math lessons. The key components include:
  • mini-lesson
  • student practice
  • share time 
One thing I have found is keeping mini-lessons mini. Dr. Nicki Newton outlines that in presenting a mini-lesson you should (pg 70-72):
  • hook the students into the lesson
  • explain the focus of the lesson
  • present specific learning expectations 
  • model/demonstrate 
  • check for understanding.
 That is a lot . . . which goes back to the need to plan carefully and thoroughly. 

Student Practice:
This is the exciting part of the lesson for me. I get to interact and have math conversations with my students. One key component of this time is to ask effective questions that foster student thinking. It is a time to observe students in the moment and really get a front-and-center perspective on how they are engaging with the math. It is a time to record observations that can help drive future instruction. This time never seems like it is enough time!

Share Time:
This is the time when synthesis of the lesson occurs. It also is the time that I have to consciously ensure happens before the end of math class. The debrief is so important for student learning. It brings everyone back together to restate the goal or focus.

Dr. Newton recommends having some sort of planning sheet. To be honest, I have not found a planning sheet that works for me. I have found in the past when I have used a template, my planning becomes too contrived and I feel like I am just filling in the template because I am suppose to. I do have a checklist of points to keep in mind, and I plan from there.

It is one thing to plan a great lesson, it is another to spend time reflecting on the lesson. I really like the questions mentioned on pg 76 to help keep a pulse on how students are progressing.
  • Are students learning and independently applying the concepts, strategies, and skills?
  • Do students transfer the learning to their daily/independent work?
  • Are students developing fluency and flexibility of numbers and thinking?
  • Are students able to explain and model their thinking?
I think Dr. Newton sums it up best when she states, "Guided math lessons follow a particular protocol. You just don't pull some students together and work with them randomly (75)." On the teacher's part, guided math lessons take planning, forethought, and using best practices for teaching.  On the student's part, guided math lessons allow for active engagement where exploration, conversation, questions, and demonstration of understanding occurs.

Hope to have you back on Wednesday, July 30, for a discussion on building mathematical proficiency!

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