Friday, November 6, 2015

Organizing Reading Groups

Today, I would like to share a little about how I organize my readers into guided reading groups.

I am a huge believer in students taking charge of their own learning whenever possible.  My first several guided reading skills groups come from student-selected topics.  I post several skills on the SMART Board, and students sign up for which area they feel they need to work on.

Some of these groups meet several times, while others only meet once.  I first heard this idea from Franki Sibberson's awesome book, Day to Day Assessment in the Reading Workshop.  I love this idea because students are able to see that the purpose of guided reading groups are to help them grow as a reader.

As the year progresses, I try to keep track of students' strengths and weaknesses through conferencing, daily work, Benchmark Assessments, and reading letters.  Recently, I created a new form to track my groups.  So far, it has worked out quite nicely.

I just keep a running list of students who need to work on a particular skill. Sometimes, I try to address these with conferences, and other times through groups.  My biggest obstacle is definitely time.  I am trying to get better at keeping my reading groups and conferences short and focused. This year I have improved, but I will keep working on it!

I added this form to my (updated) guided reading planning sheet (a freebie in my TPT store).  

You can download both forms by clicking here.

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I would love to hear any tips you have for organizing guided reading groups.

Thank you, and have a great weekend!

Monday, October 19, 2015

Comparing and Ordering Large Numbers

After taking two years off from teaching math, I have really come to love using centers as a way to practice and reinforce skills.  (A huge thank you to my awesome teammate for this!)  I truly believe in the hands on practice and teamwork involved in math centers.

This Friday, my students will take an assessment on their understanding of place value.  Today, I had students practice skills in a variety of centers while I worked with small groups.

Students are expected to master comparing and ordering numbers to 1,000,000.  One of the centers I have requires students to work in a group to place these forty number cards in order from least to greatest.

If students have time before they go on to their next center, they were instructed to use the cards to play "War".

If you would like a copy of these cards, you can download them (for free) here or by clicking on the image below.

I will be back soon to share a few other center ideas.

Thank you and have a great week!

Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Preparing for conferences

This Thursday we have our first night of parent teacher conferences.  I am in the process of organizing all of data I have collected in a presentable format for parents.

Although our conferences are not student-led this time (they will be in the spring), the students will still be involved.  We are having the students attend the conferences to participate in the discussion of their strengths and goals.  As part of the preparation, my team designed a self-evaluation for students to complete and share during conferences.

It is our hope that this reflection, along with student participation in conferences will lead to students taking ownership in setting and reaching reasonable goals. 

If you would like a copy of this form, I put it on a Google doc that you can access here.  

Do you have students involved in the first round of conferences?  If so, I would love to hear how!

Thank you, and enjoy the rest of the week!

Sunday, September 27, 2015

Sunday Scoop

Hello, Everyone!  Today, I am linking up with The Teaching Trio for their fun linky, Sunday Scoop.  Here are some of the things I have planned for this (very busy) week.

This year, I am excited to teach science again.  To help save our sanity, our team had decided to alternate teaching social studies and science.  After teaching social studies for the first six weeks of school, I am excited to start science tomorrow.  Our first unit is Earth Changes.

Image result for brainpop earth 

This Saturday, Christopher Lehman will be in the Columbus area.  I am super excited for the opportunity to see him.  I read his book, Falling in Love with Close Reading over the summer, and I absolutely loved it!

Those are some of the highlights for the upcoming week.  I'm off to see what everyone else has planned.  Thank you, Teaching Trio for hosting this fun linky!

Have a great week!

Saturday, August 22, 2015

Spark Student Motivation: Tagxedo (Freebie)

I really enjoy getting to know my students the first couple of weeks of school.  Today, I am linking up with the fabulous Joanne from Head Over Heels for Teaching to share one of my favorite activities from the past couple of years. 

I love using with my students.  It is so much fun to see the words and shapes they choose to describe themselves.  I have created a couple of forms that I hope will make things run more smoothly as students are getting back into their routines and learning a new program.

First, I have students list 20 words about themselves.  Here are mine.

I have the students turn in their words so that I can check them over (and get an idea of who they are "at a glance").  After I have checked the words, I model how the program works by typing in my words.  Here's how my sample turned out.  (If you know me, you won't be at all surprised by the shape I chose!)

When the student go off to create their own shape word cloud, I give them this set of directions to make sure they stay on task and minimize "How do I...?" questions.

 If you are interested in downloading these two forms to assist your students in creating their own word clouds, you can download them here or by clicking on the image below.

Do you use in your classroom?  I would love to hear some new ideas for how to use this awesome site!

Now, I am off to check out the other motivating ideas that are linked up.  A huge thank you to Joanne for hosting this awesome linky!

Have a great weekend!

Friday, August 21, 2015

Personal Word Wall

Hello Everyone!  I just finished my first full week of school.  It was definitely a huge adjustment after the summer.  However, I have been blessed with a great class, and I am very excited to see what this year has in store.

This summer, I worked on a couple of things to help improve my writing workshop.  One of the tools I created for my students was personal word walls for my students.  I got the idea from some professional development I attended this summer.

The idea is for students to record the words that are challenging for them to spell.  Because there are so many different levels in my class, I love the idea of individualized word lists.  Students will record their words on these sheets.

I stapled each page to a file folder that I am going to allow students to decorate.  I can easily attach more sheets, as needed.

I am looking forward to incorporating personal word walls in my classroom soon!  Students will then have a writing resource as well as their own personal list for Word Work during Daily 3 time.

If you have used personal word walls in your classroom, I would love to hear any thoughts or advice.  If you would like to give mine a try, I put them on a Google doc that you can access here.  I will let you know how this works in my classroom.

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Thank you, and have a great weekend!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

Sunday Scoop

Wow!  One week of summer  left!  I am linking up with the Teaching Trio to share some of my plans for my final week of summer.

I will definitely be in my classroom every day this week.  I will post pictures on Instagram as I complete projects, and I will definitely share a blog post when my room is student-ready.  I'm also squeezing in a trip to the dentist, trainer, salon, and a happy hour.

I never seem to get close to finishing all of the books I plan on reading over the summer, but at least I put a pretty good dent in the stack.  This week, I should be able to finish these two.

 Finally, I am super excited about the big TPT sale Monday and Tuesday!  I have a total of 98 items on my wishlist.  The challenge will be to narrow down my list to what will meet my most immediate needs.

I will also participate in this sale as a seller.  I have been able to create and update several items in my store this summer.  I hope you have time to check it out!

Thank you!

Friday, July 31, 2015

So many learning targets... so little room

I can't believe that students will be arriving in my classroom in just ten short days!!!  As we are all busy preparing, planning, and decorating, I am running into the very common problem of limited wall space.

Last year, I was able to post all of my learning targets.  I kept many up for the whole year because they were always applicable.  However, this year, our team is going back to being self-contained, so I am trying to make the most out of my wall space.  In an effort to conserve space, I decided not to post all of the speaking and listening learning targets.   Instead, I place them on this form.

I am going to have students place the form in their data binders to refer to as a means of self-assessment.  My goal is to make separate checklists specific for different group projects and presentations.  However, I would like students to have one complete set of all the speaking and listening learning targets.

If you would like to download this set of Fourth Grade Speaking and Listening Learning Targets, you can do so by clicking here.

Speaking of posting learning targets, I now have learning targets for fourth grade math available in my TPT store.  You can see them by clicking here or on the picture below.
Enjoy the rest of the weekend!
Thank you!

Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Writing Goals

I made it back safely from vacation in North Carolina.  There was one shark sighting while we were at the beach, but we certainly enjoyed ourselves regardless!

Image result for animated shark
One of the first projects I tackled when I returned was making a display for students to post their writing goals.  During a conference I attended this summer, we reviewed the importance setting writing goals.  We talked about ways to display the goals in our classrooms.
Image result for goals 
Our presenters also shared the idea of having an "Expert Board".   Students could use this area to write down their areas of expertise.  When a student is struggling with a particular writing skill, they can refer to the expert board to find a helpful peer.

While I would love to have two separate displays in my room, space is definitely an issue.  I decided to come up with a way to combine the two displays.  Here is what I came up with.

My plan is for students to write their goals on (super sticky) Post-it Notes.  They will post their goals underneath the "We are working on..." side next to the appropriate category.  For example, a student might write, "I will write leads that grab my readers' attention."  They would place that goal to the left of the Structure poster.

After we complete our first writing project, I am going to have students reflect on their goals and change them if needed.  I am also going to have students identify their areas of expertise.  Students will post these in a similar manner.  For example, a student might write, "I can use similes to make my writing more interesting."  They would place that Post-it Note to the right of the Development poster.

If you are interested in downloading these posters, they are free in my TPT store, and you can get them here.

Thank you!

Friday, July 17, 2015

Vacation Sale!

I am getting ready to head down to the beautiful beaches of North Carolina.  I have my sunscreen, beach towel, and shark repellent all packed up and ready to go.

To share the vacation joy, I have everything in my store marked 10% off from today until Sunday.  Here are a few items you may find helpful as you prepare to go back to school.

Editable Seasonal Binder Covers and Side Labels

Getting to Know You: Task Cards, Surveys, BINGO & More!

36 Student Reward Cards & and 4 Editable Cards

Writing Prompts for August and September

I also have a wide variety of classroom decor items.  You can check those out here.

I am looking forward to sharing all the craziness that is involved with getting ready to go back to school.  I will be back in about 10 days, and it will definitely be that time!

Have a great weekend!

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Organizing Writing Groups

One of my goals for this year is to get better organized with my writing groups.  I feel like my reading groups go well, and my individual writing conferences go well (usually).  However, I want to improve my writing groups.

I am linking up with The Primary Peach for their Organizational Tricks and Tools linky to share my plan for organizing my groups this year.

During the first week of school, we are required to get an "on demand" writing sample to assess where students are at with their writing skills.  My plan is to evaluate this writing and immediately record the area where each student would most benefit from additional instruction.  I created this form so I can write students' names in as I check their writing.

I plan to use this form for all three required types of "on demand" writing (narrative, opinion & informational) as well as any time I feel it is necessary.

Once I have my students organized into groups, I will need a better way to organize my plans.  Last year, I created a guided reading planning sheet (free here) that worked out very well.  I made a few adjustments to the form, and I am going to try it out for writing groups.

Next comes the fun part - designing the lessons.  I will be sure to share a few with you during the school year.

If you would like to use either or both of these forms, you can download them here.

Thank you, The Primary Peach for hosting this very helpful linky!
Have a great week!

Tuesday, July 7, 2015

Energy Sticks

For the past two years, the fourth grade has departmentalized in our school.  I taught two sections of ELA and social studies, and my partner teacher taught math and science.  This year, we are down to three teachers, and we are going back to self-contained.

One thing that I am super excited about is that I get to teach science again.  Since the curriculum changed, the energy unit was moved from fifth grade to fourth grade.  When I taught fifth grade, that was my favorite unit.

Earlier this summer, I attended some professional development to learn the fourth grade standards, and I left with a bag of goodies.  I am most looking forward to using the five Energy Sticks.

These sticks have a super sensitive circuit that can be completed with the very small amount of energy that travels through your skin.  When the circuit is complete, the stick lights up and makes a sound.  During the seminar, we all stood in a circle to represent a circuit.  When any two people released hands, the circuit was broken, and the stick no longer lit up.

Here is a quick video demonstration of the energy stick in action.

I can't wait to use the Energy Sticks for activities like creating circuits and testing materials to see if they are conductors or insulators.  I will make sure to update you when we give it a try.

The Energy Sticks are available on Amazon for $7.99 ($7.69 on Prime).

I'd love to hear if you've tried these in your classroom.  Let me know if you have any advice or ideas.

Thank you!

Thursday, July 2, 2015

Technology Thursday - Math App

This year I will go back to teaching math after teaching departmentalizing for the past two years.  Although I am excited about teaching math again, I know a lot has changed since the Common Core was implemented.

One of our first units covers prime and composite numbers.  I would love to incorporate some math rotations, including use of the iPads, so I went searching for an app to use for this unit.  I am linking of with the Teaching Trio for their Technology Thursday linky to share an app I found.

The app I plan on using is called Ninja Chicken. 

Image result for prime and composite game app ipad

A variety of numbers come passing through the screen, and student slice the spikes with composite numbers.  The game moves pretty quickly, and it is great practice for automaticity. 

Although I found several apps that practiced this skill, this one was definitely my favorite.  I hope my students will have as much fun playing this game as I did.

I am headed over to read all of the other great technology link ups.  Thank you, Teaching Trio for hosting this great linky!