I decided to take some time and develop a planning form that would allow me to easily bring all of these elements to the forefront, keep me organized, and help me plan.
Here is an example of a recent plan for 3rd grade:
This past summer, while planning and designing our math workshop format, I had also attended a SIOP workshop and was learning about the new WIDA standards my state was adopting. All of these different pieces - workshop, SIOP, WIDA - left my head spinning. I felt like they were all disconnected but should somehow be interwoven in my instruction.
I decided to take some time and develop a planning form that would allow me to easily bring all of these elements to the forefront, keep me organized, and help me plan.
After a few tweaks here and there, I finally have something I LOVE. It is so easy to use - I just pull up the form in Word, fill in each box, click a few check boxes, and done! It helps me think through what vocabulary I'll be addressing each lesson, and how to address that vocabulary. It goes through each stage of lesson implementation, with simple checkboxes for ideas in each stage, and reminds me to incorporate all 4 language domains. I also learned a fair amount about Word's "developer" tab, which made me feel super smart :)
Here is an example of a recent plan for 3rd grade:
Your free download will look something like this:
Click on the links below to download and use whatever files will be most useful for you. There is one for unit overview and daily whole group lessons, one for daily small group lessons, one for planning your assessment, and one with helpful hints.
I have found these so helpful when planning my instruction. If you use any of these files, I would love your feedback! Leave me a comment and let me know what you think!
This week has been "WIDA Mania" at my school, as we work to get all of our 150ish students tested using WIDA's English language proficiency test, called ACCESS. I hate that testing takes me out of the classroom, but after dealing with Michigan's English language proficiency test for the past few years, I am ever so grateful for a quality instrument like the ACCESS. I mean, color pictures IN the test! YES!
Since testing has been so exciting(?), I have taken some time to reflect on what has been going on in each of my math classrooms. As I previously posted, we use Evernote on the iPads, plus sentence frames, for students to write about their work in math. The only problem is that I wasn't getting the deeper, detailed responses I was looking for, or that our standards require.
For example, one sentence starter said: "If someone were absent today, I would tell them______" The response I got was "... that we did multiplication."
Ummm... yes, you did do multiplication. But how? Why? What strategies did you learn? What strategies did you try? How did you solve the multiplication problem today?
I went back to my Guided Math book by Laney Sammons, and found the section on math journals. There were quite a few great sentence starters in there. I had a few more that I wanted to add. One was from my days of teaching in Chicago, when the students had to write their problem-solving steps on the state's math test. The third grade teacher at my school came up with the (brilliant) idea of teaching the students to use a t-chart with "What I Did" on one side, and "Why I Did It" on the other side.
I created about 10 sentence starters for math journals. The way I have used these is to laminate them, and have students use a dry-erase marker to write their responses. Then the students take a picture of their response and put it into Evernote. I generally let students choose which sentence starter they want to use, since they may have had an "ah-ha" moment, or may still be struggling with something.
Click on the image to download all 10!
I'm looking forward to putting these to use once testing is over. I'm so curious to see if these will help guide students towards the more thoughtful responses we are looking for.
If you use them, please comment here and let me know what you think!
I love playing math games. Well, let me refine that statement. I love when my students play math games. Sometimes they don't even realize they're doing math. And they are communicating with each other, using the language of math, as they play. Double bonus!
Today in 4th grade, we played a game called Remainders Wanted. I found it for FREE at this Teachers-Pay-Teachers shop, and it was a gem.
What I loved about it was not the fact that it was a fun game, but the way my teaching partner and I set it up.
The students played in pairs and followed the directions for the game. The student whose turn it was solved the problem on his/her whiteboard. The other student was responsible for coaching her/his partner. So, they had to watch each part of the process carefully and look for mistakes. Since they were using the partial quotients ("Big 7") method, the coach could suggest something like, "I think you can make a bigger guess." Or, "I think your answer is going to be too big." Or, "You need to check your subtraction. You should regroup."
Before the students played, my teaching partner and I spent some time modeling how to be a good coach. We modeled how to say thing like, "Look for a fact family." Or, "Check your subtraction." This gave the students a guideline of how to interact with each other as they played.
If I were to use this game again, I would also provide some sentence stems/examples with more specific math vocabulary. The sentences would include things like, "I think your product will be too big." Or, "Your remainder is bigger than your divisor. You can divide again." Or, "Your partial quotient can be bigger/smaller." These could also be student generated during a whole group discussion before they played the game.
How do you see this game being used in your classroom?
These student examples come to you courtesy of my 5th grade math group. I co-teach this class with the mainstream classroom teacher. Our class is made up of the students with the highest math needs. These students have always struggled academically, whether it's due to special education needs, language background, truancy issues, or other factors. We are finding that the workshop model we've adopted has allowed us to differentiate for this group of students, and we are looking forward to doing this even more so as we get the workshop up and running.
We use Evernote as a way to develop academic langauge. Students usually need to complete an assignment with manipulatives, take a picture of their work, and then write about, or make an audio recording of what they did. While their answers are not incredibly insightful or in-depth, they are using math language in a real and authentic context.
(For more on using Evernote, see my previous post here.) Our goal is to continue to provide support and scaffolding that will develop students' ability to express their thinking in math. Look for a post next week with some fantastic sentence frames!
Here are two of my favorite examples from this past week's work:
Diego - The audio record feature in Evernote allowed him to record his thoughts 4 times over. As I listened to each one, I heard his fluency improve. He went from stumbling and groping for words to being completely fluent in his thoughts. Click on the image to hear his recordings.
Jaritza - She not only wrote out what she did, but also used the audio record to say what she did. I love when students are able communicate using more than one language domain! Click on the image to see her full note.
How do you get students communicating in the classroom?
In my 4th grade class, we have (finally) started working on division. We scrapped the "traditional" algorithm a couple of years ago in favor of the partial quotients ("Big 7") method. This has meant a LOT less tears, frustration, and hair-pullilng.... on the part of the teachers and students!
My students constantly struggle with number sense, and understanding what algorithms really mean. So, before we could dive into the Big 7 method, we had to make sure the students had a solid understanding of what division is, what the remainder represents, and have exposure to some division terms.
Bring in... the Blocks in Groups activity! You could also call this Chips in Groups, Bears in Groups, Legos in Groups... it just depends on what manipulatives you choose to use. We used unifix cubes because that's what we readily had on hand.
Here's how the activity works:
1. The student grabs a handful of cubes/blocks/chips (we'll just call them blocks from now on). The student counts the blocks and records that number in the first column. This is the dividend.
2. The student rolls a die. We used 10-sided dice, without the zero, to incorporate a larger range of numbers. Regular 6-sided dice will work just fine too. The student records the number rolled in the second column. This is the divisor.
3. The student divides the big pile of blocks into the number of groups rolled in step #2. So, if you rolled a 4 in step #2, then you would equally distribute your blocks into 4 groups. The number of blocks in each group is recorded in the third column. This is the quotient.
My co-teacher and I had an interesting discussion about this step. His "natural" way of figuring out division is to count x number (the divisor) of cubes, and see how many groups are created. My "natural" way of thinking of division is to create x number of groups, and then figure out how many cubes go in each group. We decided it's good to understand both ways, so we had our students play my way the first day, and his way the second day. This led to a great discussion about what "dividing" means.
4. The number of blocks left over is recorded in the fourth column. This is the remainder.
After students had a while to play, we came back together as a large group. We had the students look for any patterns they saw in their charts (ie: the remainder is always smaller than the divisor; the divisor is always smaller than the dividend; patterns when dividing by 1; etc). We even had some students who were able to describe how, mathematically, the 4 parts of the division problem fit together!
The only thing I would add to this activity is to expand it and add a writing component. To really stretch it, I would have students take one of their rows and write a story problem using those numbers. Then we would have ready-made story problems for others in the class to solve, and it would be great mathematical writing practice.
If you use this activity, I would love your feedback!
In most of my classes, we have gotten math workshop up and running! It is wonderful! Students are choosing their station/ zone and working independently. We as teachers are conferencing 1-on-1 with students as well as supporting students in small groups. There have been some bumps along the road, but overall we are loving it!
One of the tools we have been using for the "Explore" or "Using Maniuplatives" station has been Evernote. This allows students to document their work as well as explain their thinking. In 3rd grade, students take a picture of their work, and complete a sentence frame to help document their thinking. The process is SO simple, as it supports students' language, and requires NO typing! Here is an example of what one student did:
Here is another example from a different student and different problem. I like this one because it shows how he used the manipulatives to solve the problem, but he still doesn't understand how it all works. This is an easy flag for me to know that I will need to follow up with him during a 1-on-1 conference.
I'm hoping to be able to use more open-ended questions as we advance, and / or have a blank t-chart where students can record "What I Did" and "Why I Did It", putting into writing the steps they took to solve a problem.
Here are the instructions our students follow in order to complete their Evernote documentation. Having students tag their work makes it so easy for us to find what they've done on a particular topic.
And there you have it. Evernote + writing in math. How would you use this in your classroom?
It's only the 2nd official day of summer, and already my brain has turned to mush. My daughter has ensured that I don't get to sleep in, and that my days are filled with Curious George, animal names, and a million renditions of "Twinkle Twinkle Little Star." Not that I'm complaining. After the year I've had, I'm pretty sure my brain needs this break.
However, I'm not taking the summer completely off. I have plans to attend a 4-day SIOP (Sheltered Instruction) training next week, which I'm looking forward tot. I'll be sure to post highlights!
I'm also leading a book study on this little gem.
I get to go through it with a group of teacher friends not only from my school, but from two other schools. I'm looking forward to hearing everyone's different perspectives, since our view of "normal" or what could work often gets shaded by the population of students we work with.
Annnnnd.... I've been working very hard (dare I say "fighting"?) to implement an amazing parent engagement program called Academic Parent-Teacher Teams. I am SUPER excited about this opportunity for both my school and our families, and I have quite a few teachers who are already on board and ready to start! Check out this video for a snippet on how this program works:
Once we get this started, we will be the first school district in Michigan to implement the APPT. I love pioneering things like this!
What are your plans for the summer? Relaxing? Learning? Both? Whatever you choose to do, I hope it is restful and enjoyable!
I know, I know... I promised a while ago an update on our math B.U.I.L.D. workshop. Well, finally, here it is!
We have been working our way through figuring out this math stations thing... and while we love it for most students, we don't love it for some other students. We are also finding that this would be much more difficult to do with only one teacher in the room.
So, what do we love?
- Students are becoming MUCH more independent in their math thinking. We love the "Using Manipulatives" station, as we see it training students to use tools to help them think through a problem. Students are grabbing these tools even if they are not at that station to help them with work / problems in other stations. Hooray!
- Students are thinking through the meaning of math. Even if their thinking is not always correct, they are thinking. This is HUGE for some of our students.
- It is very much student-led, as the students choose which station they go to each day.
- Small group instruction is awesome.
- Through small group instruction, and through documentation of their manipulative work, we can easily see who "gets it" and who needs more support. (More on this documentation in another post!)
- We are able to incorporate math games - which are great language builders for ELs - much more so than in a traditionally structured math class.
- Students are required to write about math. We are finding that this is a very difficult, but needed, skill.
What don't we love?
- Without a "float" person to monitor the stations, there are some students that just fall through the cracks. We have two students in particular who, without adult guidance, would never attempt or complete anything.
- This model - at least the way we have it set up - would be difficult to execute in a classroom with just one teacher. It would definitely need some refinement.
And one thing we sorta have a love/hate relationship with:
When formally assessed (for data, you know), students show exactly what we taught them in small groups. Exactly. For example, we taught them how to find equivalent fractions, and all of the examples we used had either the numerator or denominator of the equivalent fraction already filled in. (eg: 2/3 = ?/6). When given the test, students completely bombed the section where they had to create their own equivalent fractions (eg: find 3 equivalent fractions for 2/3). But, they did fantastic on the section that looked just like the examples we had done together! Soooo.... we really need to work on creating a flexibility in their thinking, so they are not so rigidly tied to the exact examples we use. How do we do this? Well.... that is a question still in progress...
One tweak that we made early on was to designate a "catch-up" day at the end of each 5-day BUILD rotation. We do the BUILD workshop for 5 days, and the 6th day is our catch-up day. Students turn in their workshop folders at the end of Day 5. We go through their work, check for understanding, do some grading, and look for what still needs to be completed. Then, on Day 6, we have students complete any work that is missing, fix any work they did incorrectly, and pull individuals or small groups for remediation. This seems to work really well. It gives us time to keep track of the "paper trail", and really track the students who need additional support.
Overall, we are loving the BUILD math structure. I'm excited to do some more "tweaks" this year, and into next year and really make it work!
We have been having a great time in third grade! In social studies, student have been learning all about Michigan's economy and crops. We have been focusing on all of the wonderful fruit that is grown in Michigan, and using nonfiction reading skills to learn so much information!
We have also tied in the weather and climate standards from the Next Generation Science Standards. This goes along perfectly with social studies, as changes in climate can dramatically affect the crops here.
I love this unit because it ties in social studies, science, reading, writing, and math. Whew! I put together a googledoc of the whole unit plan, which you can access here: https://docs.google.com/document/d/17YlQDZAOxRFa-2JrxUfqrTIOLzmg4-nMOtWnIJjMVZw/pub
One part of this unit involved students choosing their favorite Michigan fruit, and voting for it using a tally mark. Here is what our class data looked like:
Next, we put the students in to groups. Their task was to create two graphs - a bar graph and a picture graph - using the class data. They were given two blank pieces of grid paper, so they had to make their graphs from scratch. I was very impressed with how well the students worked together to plan and create their graphs. Everyone was a part of the process, everyone had a turn, and their graphs turned out great!
I think this lesson was effective because it engaged all of our students. Yes, all 40-something of our students were actively engaged!
I also loved this lesson because there were so many components incorporated in to it: the 4 language domains, math literacy, group work and collaboration, and science and social studies content. Awesome!
This week I had GREAT fun being the owner and president of a chocolate factory!
Ok, so I wasn't really the president of a chocolate factory. But pretending sure made for some fun in 3rd grade!
We have been using the book Lessons for Introducing Multiplication by Marilyn Burns to build a solid foundation of understanding in multiplication. We can teach facts all we want, but facts without number sense and understanding is worthless. This book has some awesome lessons!
One lesson involves an investigation of multiplication arrays. The students have been working with arrays for about a week already, so they have a basic understanding of what an array is, and how arrays relate to multiplication.
I would define this lesson (really a series of lessons) as "problem-based" learning.
The problem was set up like this: I had a (pretend) meeting with the marketing team of my chocolate company. My (pretend) marketing team wanted to know how many different ways we could arrange boxes of 6, 12, and 24 chocolates. Mrs. Root, the co-teacher I work with, told the design team (aka: students) that I needed some help. So, my design team (errr... students) worked with grid paper to figure out different arrays for boxes of 6, 12, and 24 chocolates. Working in pairs, the students drew and cut out various arrays on grid paper. Then, they wrote me a memo describing the different options they found, and what their recommendations were.
I then informed my design team of their NEW challenge. My marketing team decided that we needed to sell chocolates in ANY amount - from 1 chocolate to 36 chocolates. I needed my design team to design boxes for any number of chocolates. The students were sooooooo excited to work on this project for me!
They got back into their small groups, and chose a number (1-36) from a bowl. Then they used manipulatives to design different arrays with that number. Here is one student's work for the number 12:
They drew and cut out their arrays on graph paper, and taped their findings to our class chart:
After they completed their array task, the students grabbed a clipboard and a lined piece of paper. They sat in front of the class chart and wrote down anything they noticed, and what patterns they saw. I love this pic:
Tomorrow will bring a whole-class discussion of their individual findings and what patterns they noticed. I cannot wait to hear their recommendations for my boxes, as well as the math discussion about arrays, multiplication, prime numbers, even numbers, "square" numbers, and whatever else comes from our discussion!
We have found this series of lessons to be highly effective with our students. All students are engaged, they are discovering ideas about multiplication and arrays, they are using a (pretend) real-world application of multiplication, and all 4 language domains are incorporated. Because the students are doing meaningful work, and finding patterns on their own, I know this understanding will stick with them and really help boost their understanding of muuuuuuuuultiplication!
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.