Sunday, December 14, 2014

Christmas and Computation

Am I losing my mind, or is it really the last school week before Christmas break? This year has flown by, and I think I'm almost getting to the point where I can finally catch my breath! Grad school finals are over, and I feel like I finally have a chance to blog about what's going on in my classroom. 

Before I get to my sweet fourth graders, check out my cute family. The hubs, me, mom, dad, and my sister. My mom was determined to get all of us to wear silly hats :)

My fourth grade kiddos have been working super hard on division concepts. We have been exploring multiple strategies like Partial Quotient, Area Models, Distributive Property, and Grouping Strategies. It has been so interesting to see which strategies my students have enjoyed and how they have strategically arrived at solutions multiple ways..

Oh, and we were encouraged by Peyton manning before beginning our division unit. Have y'all seen this Face Talk app? It's hilarious, and the kids LOVE seeing their role models talk math. Peyton challenged my students to master 3 and 4 digit division using multiple place value strategies, and encouraged students to persevere. Peyton may or may not have sounded like my husband.....but, I don't they noticed :)

To break away from tedious computation, I wrote various division equations on large construction paper and posted the paper around the room. Students were challenged to go around the room and complete only one step of the division problem. This activity was so meaningful because students were challenged to continue to solve the problem that was started by the student before. Changing their individual division methods definitely got the wheels turning in my fourth graders's brains! Students initialed next to the step they contributed, and were also instructed to check the previous step before they continued the problem. Students found a few errors, and really enjoyed fixing their classmates' mistakes :)

As for the CRAZY week before Christmas, I decided to review the skills we've already learned this year. To spice up my spiraling review, I made a Christmas themed math review geared to specific fourth grade skills. Some word problems have students convert basic measurements, solve using addition and subtraction, or require students so solve multi-step problems involving multiplication and division. These 24 cards can be used in pairs, cooperative groups, as a SCOOT, or as an around the Room. I am posting my cards around the room, allowing students to choose a partner, and the first pair to bring me all 24 correct answers wins a special Christmas Challenge prize. 

Also, as a basic computation review, students will be solving these cards as an individual SCOOT this week.

You can click on any of the images to get your own :) Good luck this week!  I am praying for patience and sanity!

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Student Feedback

Happy Sunday!  I wanted to take a break from grad school and lesson plans to give you a sneak peek into how I involve students in holding themselves accountable, evaluating their classmates, and evaluating daily lessons.

Mastering Math Talk

I always begin the year helping students develop a sense of mathematical community by understanding how to talk to one another while problem solving. I often give students three conversation starters, and then over the first month of school, they help to develop an entire list of math talk starters. The Math Talk statements are typed, printed on cardstock, laminated and placed in my table buckets. Usually, by January, students are holding themselves accountable and using these statements without the cards. It's amazing how much these conversation starters can enhance a lesson. These kiddos can talk math, y'all :)

I will be writing an entry soon on how my students used their Mastering Math Talk cards while completing a Strategy Harvest. Keep an eye out!

 Sticky Note Feedback

Sticky notes are an essential piece to my everyday lessons. I use them in a variety of ways, but my favorite, by far, is utilizing stickies for student feedback. My students work in groups often, sharing multiple strategies in order to arrive at a common solution. I am absolutely amazed with what students are developing, but I sometimes feel like my students are not able to see the finished product of all of their classmates'. Since students are busy working in small groups, I needed to come up with a meaningful, time sensitive way for students to examine, reflect upon, and evaluate each other's work.

My solution: sticky notes. In this lesson students worked in groups to solve multi-step word problems involving metric and customary conversions. Students developed a poster representing all strategies and problem solving steps then posted their solutions around the room. Once students were finished, they each took 4 sticky notes, walked around the room, and provided feedback to each group. Students could write what they liked abut the other groups' strategies or offer suggestions about how strategies, methods, and organization could have been improved. After the Feedback Gallery Walk, students returned to their original posters, read the feedback, and discussed the compliments, constructive criticism, and suggestions with their groups.

Talk. About. Meaningful. 

This activity held students accountable, showed me that they know my mathematical expectations and now know what to expect from their classmates, and helped students see that different strategies and methods can be used to solve the same problem. 

 Lesson Feedback

Have you ever been just over the moon about a lesson, but then sometimes, the students don't quite reciprocate the same sense of excitement? I've been there!  Or sometimes I'm just left guessing how effective a lesson actually was with my students.  My solution...

Lesson and Class Feedback

At the end of my lesson, students have a choice on how to provide feedback. My kiddos can give me feedback on the lesson: what activities they liked, something they would like to do again, what they want to see changed, what they didn't like, or how the lesson helped!  Students can also give class feedback: How did the class persevere together today? How did you feel the class performed as a whole during group work? Is there a way we can improve a a class on this topic?
Students have a choice on where to place their sticky, but can only post one sticky a day.  I LOVE reading these!  I also keep them up until the next day so that students can read what their classmates have written. My sweet friends also love when I utilize their feedback in future lessons or just mention their suggestions :)  I care about what they think, and I want to do everything I can to help them learn. This strategy has helped me learn so much about my fourth graders and how they learn. Check out some of their stickies....

 See...they will be honest :) The next time we did a SCOOT, we tried partner solving!

Hope you can use these ideas!  I'd love to hear how you utilize student feedback within your lessons, so please comment below!  Have a fantastic last week of October :)

Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Measurement Mania

I have to be a complete teacher nerd and admit that I am having  the most fun with my fourth graders as they are exploring metric measurement!  Hands-on is the way to go, and has truly helped my sweet kiddos understand the conceptual aspects of measurement as well as the importance of metrics in the real world.  I am so glad that Take a look...

I began the unit with metric length and challenged my students to find the relationships between centimeters, decimeters, and meters.  We used centimeter cubes, a meter stick, and a decimeter template.  I was inspired by an activity on K-5 Teaching resources., and if you haven't seen this site, check it out for some amazing, free activities, templates, and station materials!  My students still refer to this activity, especially when they are trying to convert meters to centimeters.  Sometimes they want to multiply by 1,000, but as soon as they think, centimeter cubes, the 100 benchmark pops into their little brains :)

After we explored length and metric length conversions, mys students worked in pairs to complete a metric length sort. Partners ordered centimeters, meters, and kilometers in order from least to greatest, and were challenged to do some mental converting.  I think they thought Mrs. Brown was giving them an easy assignment, but it turned out to be more rigorous than expected!  They had a blast with this and were determined to solve the puzzle.

Metric mass and weight were next to cross out on our master metric list, and we had an absolute blast differentiating between mass and weight.  This was a great opportunity to let students experience both the balance scale and spring scale, and they loved utilizing each tool.  Students did a grams scavenger hunt and created their own 100 gram weights, which we combined to make a kilogram.  Having a kilogram benchmark really helped students get a feel of kilograms and items that are appropriate to weigh in kilograms.  We spent two days on mass/weight exploration and the students did a fabulous job making etimatesand recording actual measures.

Next up, capacity! My fourth graders were amazed at how tiny a milliliter actually is compared to a liter.  We had a fabulous discussion about the difference between milli and kilo.  I had to explain that milli is a prefix that means 1000th, like a fraction.  A milliliter is 1/1000 of a liter. Kilo means 1,000 and is 1,000 wholes.  This helped bridge measurement and fractions, which got my little math self pretty excited! One of my students favorite activities was trying to estimate the liquid volume of these containers.  In groups they ordered the containers from least to greatest, based on how much water they thought each would hold.  Then they were actually able to experiment with the containers, water, and graduated cylinders.  SO much fun, and hardly any spills!

Even though our exploration and hands-on discoveries have been super fun, we are all super exhausted!  Sooo, this week we have been doing some task card reviews, metric sorts, around the room conversions, and, their all time favorite, headbandz!

Some of these measurement activities can be found here at my TPT store.  Enjoy!  Be on the lookout this week for an amazing formative assessment idea for word problems AND some "feedback fun"

Sunday, September 14, 2014

A Peek at My Week

You know that feeling when you wake up on Monday at 5:00 and the next think you know it's Sunday night and you're about to wake up on Monday, again?!  Or, in other words, does anyone know the feeling of pure exhaustion?!  Honestly, this has been the craziest start to a school year I have had in my eight years as a teacher, and I'm struggling to keep up!

I am taking a few minutes to link up with Mrs. Laffin's Laughings for the wonderful A Peek At My Week Linky.  So, here's what I have going on this week...

This will be week 6 with my sweet babies, and we are already wrapping up our first unit, which was place value.  I have to say, I miss the comfort of third grade, but I really enjoy the content of fourth grade math.  Teaching two advanced classes gives me the opportunity to try some really neat things that I plan on sharing with you all soon. Here are just a few snapshots of my fourth grade lovies over the past few weeks,  They are doing a great job with cooperative learning and communicating their math ideas :)


I am so excited to be able to share that my class and I have received our first DOnor's Choose grant!  Our rugs and math manipulatives arrived on Friday, and this week my students will begin writing thank you notes and documenting how the materials help with personal growth in mathematics.  We are so excited to send out thank you packages to the donors who believe in mathematics education!

On Wednesday, I am beginning measurement with two of my classes.  I. Am. So. Excited!  I love teaching measurement,  LOVE, LOVE, LOVE!  We are beginning with the metric system, and I absolutely cannot wait for my students to create, explore, and discover measurement concepts.  Pictures to come for sure!  

On Friday I have to plan for a sub (booo) because I have been selected to serve on a state committee to create test sample questions for our state assessment.  I hate being out, but I guess this will give me an opportunity to give my students a "review" day.

Our state has suggested that our district use Eureka Math as a guide for math curriculum.  Not, I am not the biggest fan of mandated curriculums or teaching from a book, so I have to tweak things a bit and make my lessons meaningful for my kiddos.  So, to go along with our measurement unit, my project for this weekend was to create some task cards, hands-on activities, and student evaluations that "go along" with our Math Module 2. I think my students will enjoy these tasks, and I am excited to implement some of the task cards into my Guided Math rotation.

Have a good week!

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Long Time, No Posts!

It feels good to be back!  After a CRAZY school year, I took the summer off from blogging to focus on graduate school, my house, and my family and friends.  I am amazed with how fast the summer flew by, but I am excited to get back into the classroom and share my journey with you all...

I am thrilled to announce that this year I will be moving up to fourth grade!  I felt that I needed a change along with a challenge, which landed me in a position teaching fourth grade math in a three way split.  This means that I will have three classes (2 advanced and one average group) and my primary focus will be math!  Get ready to listen to me ramble about interactive notebooks, differentiation, math workshop, formative assessment ideas, and much more!  I may even have a new blog design coming your way in the next few months :)

As for now, I have linked up with Farley over at Oh' Boy 4th Grade for the August Currently linky. 

Oh, and if you haven't already heard, there is a HUGE Back to School TPT sale going on tomorrow, August 4 through August 5. My entire store will be 28% off if you enter code BTS14 . I know there are tons of resources I have "wishlished" that I will me moving to my cart tomorrow :)

If you are looking for first day ice-breakers for your kiddos, check out my Back To School Task Cards 


Enjoy your last few days of summer, or if you're like me, your last few hours!

Monday, May 5, 2014

Teacher Appreciation Sale

It is so nice to be appreciated one week out of the year!  Today my third graders brought me sweets, and I think I'll be on a sugar high for a few days :)

I am also loving that TPT is throwing a sale in honor of Teacher Appreciation week.  I am linking up with the sale, and you can check out my store by clicking here.

I have some fun, new End of the Year booklets for 2nd, 3rd, and 4th grade.  My kiddos are so looking forward to working on these the last week of school.

Hope you all enjoy shopping and get lots of treasures from your students!