Wednesday, January 29, 2014

Fractions, Formative Assessment, and a Freebie!

These last few weeks have been a complete mess!  We NEVER have snow days in south Louisiana, but we are now on number three and I'm thinking we may have a fourth.  I can only imagine the frustration all of you teachers from the North are feeling right about now.  I am so behind on my plans, and I am slightly stressing out thinking about much math I am going to have to throw at my kiddos.  I hope they are holding on because I am about to kick 2014 into super speed mode...

Before the snow day break we began a unit on fractions.  I love to kick off my math units with literature, and I found the cutest book.  My Half Day is a rhyming book and my students loved this silly story.  I asked my kiddos to put their thumbs up when they heard a fraction "jackpot" word, which was a great informal assessment tool to help me get a sense of what my students already knew about fractions.

After diving into the unit and allowing my students to explore the concept of fractions having equal parts, my kiddos worked together to create these interactive anchor charts. They traced multiple items around the room , cut out the shapes, and folded their shapes into different fractional pieces.  Here you can see halves, thirds, fourths, and fifths.  Clearly, my friends had more trouble dividing shapes into thirds and fifths.  I used this as a teachable moment to discuss why this may have been more difficult than halves or fourths.  The students also created charts for sixths, eights, tenths, and twelfths. 

To wrap up the lesson, my students completed an activity sheet for independent practice and then completed a very familiar formative assessment technique....

Parking Lot

This is of my go-to formative assessment strategies.  First and foremost, students get a CHOICE on which category they would like to complete.  Teachers, you know how important choice in the classroom has become these days :)  Secondly, my kiddos can express their opinion about the lesson so I know if it appealed to their interests, was confusing, was a success, or maybe it was one of those lessons that never needs to be initiated again!  My favorite part of the Parking Lot is the question category.  This is where students can post a sticky note creating a question  about the content presented in today's lesson.  I use these specific stickies to ask the class the student created questions.  THEY LOVE THIS!  Questions can also be asked the following day as a review of previously taught content.  Y' easy, and so fun.  Grab some chart paper, some sticky notes, and some markers and you are good to go!

Ok, I know I am getting lengthy here, but in honor of my Broncos and my Manning boy in the Super Bowl, I have created a little fraction freebie.  Sorry Seattle fans, the product is ALL navy and orange :)  Click the link below to grab yours, free!  Oh, and check back after the super bowl because if
Peyton wins, EVERYTHING in my store will be 18% off!

Friday, January 17, 2014

Formative Assessment FRIDAY

Whew!  It has been a whirlwind of a week!  Between actually finding time to teach and administering a practice state assessment, I am exhausted.  Oh, and did I mention that I will be staying at school until midnight with 70 third graders tonight?  More on that subject at the end of this post...

 Commit and Toss

This week's formative assessment strategy is Commit and Toss.  This is an awesome strategy to make students' thinking visible to the entire class.  The assessment process is anonymous so students are very comfortable sharing their answers and evaluating their classmates answers.

First, give students an assessment probe.  I like to use probes where they have to agree or disagree with a prompt, and explain why :)  These types of questions lead to VERY meaningful discussions.  So, students read the prompt and solve the assessment probes independently.  Make sure that your kiddos DO NOT write their names on the papers (so answers will be anonymous).

After completing the assessment probe, students will crumble up their papers into a ball (but not too tight because then the writing gets hard to read).  At your signal, students will toss their paper balls into the middle of the room.  I tell mine to aim for the large rug, and I think giving them a target is for the best :)
Student evaluation is a very big component in common core as well as in the COMPASS teacher evaluation system that my school adopted.  This assessment probe is an excellent way to wrap up your lessons while including students evaluating one another.

Next, I call a student up to select a paper ball from the rug.  The student reads the prompt, again, and reads the answer that was written on the paper they chose.  Here is my favorite part: Students now evaluate the answer they just read aloud.  They can say if they agree or disagree with the answer, if they think the answer was unclear or if they would like to add any additional information to the answer and why.
Teachers...students LOVE this "game".  They really get into the critiques and love when their questions get chosen.  I usually call up about 3-5 students to come up, choose a paper ball, read and evaluate the solutions.  This activity helps students see that "wrong" answers can provide additional learning opportunities and that each answer allows a chance for them to construct new ideas.  I love watching my students connect with classmates by relating to each others' thinking and by comparing their own ideas.

 If you want an overall picture of how your kiddos are thinking, this is the strategy for you.  Try it out!  If you a third or fourth grade teacher, try the Commit and Toss prompt my class completed this week.  Click the picture below to grab yours :)

Now as for tonight, myself and five other teachers are trying to pay our way to some national conferences.  To raise money, we are hosting an after school "Dinosnores: A Night at the Museum".  Students will participate in workshops on geology, paleontology, and Egyptology.  I'm excited but exhausted already.  Come on midnight!

Monday, January 13, 2014

Monday Sneak Peek

I know I am a day late, but here's a little peek into what I have going on this week. Thanks to Mrs. Lauffin's Laughings for this weekly linky :)

My week actually started off GREAT with a Broncos win!  I had a blast hanging out with my sister and a friend while eating horribly greasy food and cheering on Peyton at a local restaurant.  I am incredibly anxious about the Tom Brady match-up this weekend, but I am believing that the Broncos are going all the way!

This week in math we are multitasking.  Our district has scheduled a practice standardized state test for two days this week, so my poor babies are going to get worn out, fast.  So...I've decided to introduce multiplying by multiples of ten.  I think my students will love finding patterns, multiplying "huge" numbers, and of course, completing task card games, Around the Room multiplying, and dice and spinner partner tasks.  I cannot wait to introduce them to this unit! Click below to see a preview!

In science we are diving into astronomy.  I LOVE studying space almost as much as my third graders love studying space!  This week we are creating nebula art using pastels and I have some interactive experiments planned to help make connections with how the Earth rotates to cause day and night.  Hopefully we will get into the tilt and the seasons, but I'm not getting ahead of myself :)

Lastly, I wanted to share the results of the Pass the Problem Formative Assessment Strategy.  Let me just say that this is a PERFECT tool to use with your students for multi-step or basic word problems.  I could seriously do this activity  The discussions my 8 year olds developed to form arguments for this word problem were insane.  They are growing into such confident learners and are embracing math.  It is hard to believe that these are the same babies that walked through my door in August.  My students embraced the suggested changes to their problems, accepted feedback, and learned multiple ways to solve a problem.  They love observing that a problem can be solved multiples ways.   I even observed students CHOOSING to use the distributive property.  This alone, made my Monday :)

Friday, January 10, 2014

Friday Formative Assessment

Hooray for Friday!  Last night I couldn't sleep because I was thinking about how I was going to update my math stations with Common Core Math games...that are fun. Since I love Valentine's Day, and I love creating V-Day classroom activities for my kiddos, I came up with this Valentine's Day Scoot.  The focus is single and multi-step word problems that address all four operations. I am slightly proud of the title of this activity! Are you ready for this...?
You can get the SCOOT set by clicking on the image!

I know that I told all of you I would be posting about a mathematics formative assessment strategy today...

I am going to keep that promise, but I have to be honest and admit that I over-planned for today and did not get to the assessment with my kiddos.  Confessions of a real life teacher :(  Unfortunately, I will have to push back the activity until Monday, but I want to go ahead and give everyone a preview of the strategy.  This is a basic technique that I use often to get my students communicating about math...

Pass the Problem

Pass the Problem is a strategy that allows students to collaborate with classmates to share and express their ideas and multiple strategies.  Students are able to become active speakers and listeners and are able to practice evaluating one another within mathematics.  First, students work in pairs or groups of three to respond to a story problem or basic algorithm.  Give students enough time to only partially solve/discuss the problem. On Monday, my students will work in pairs on the problem below (Click the image to get yours, free).
Give students 3-5 minutes to begin discussing and solving the problem, then call TIME.  When you call time, students will exchange their partially completed problem with another pair or group.  The groups will then examine the work that has already been completed, modify the work, add to the work, or change the work how the pair sees appropriate.

How does this method help students learn?
  • Collaboration and discussion allows students to come to a consensus of thinking with their classmates.
  • Students practice HOT skills while examining other students' work and deciding if they agree, disagree, or can come up with an additional way to complete the problem.
  • Students must discuss and explain why they chose to continue with the strategy or why the previous strategy was not working.
  • Students are required to provide constructive feedback.
  • Learners are able to make the connection that by showing your work, step-by-step, others are able to follow your thinking!  (LOVE!!!)
The discussion that you will hear throughout your classroom will blow your mind.  I am excited to complete this with my class on Monday.  We haven't completed a Pass the Problem since November, so I will get a chance to see how my students' have improved with delivering their thinking :)

Now I get to go rest for a few hours before attending a workshop tomorrow (Yes, on Saturday) from 9-3.

Enjoy your weekend :)

Thursday, January 9, 2014

The BROWN-ies are Back!

Finally, after a 2 week Christmas break plus days missed due to cold weather, my third grade brownies are back to school and ready to learn!

I have to be honest and say that I was slightly worried that my kiddos wouldn't remember how to multiply and divide after the break, but I was MORE than pleasantly surprised when they picked up right where we left off before the holidays.  All year I've been worried that I've been pushing my students too hard, too fast.  I still feel that way at times, but this week has proved that my students are so much more advanced at this time in the year than my third graders were in the past.  I even have the "lowest" students, academically, that I have ever had in my 7 years of teaching third grade.  It is so powerful to see students persevering through mathematics each and every day!

For example, each day my students come in and complete Daily Math and an Daily Application Problem.  I display the Daily Application Problem on an easel, and following the story problem, I always write R, D, W.  (R) Read, (D) Draw, (W) Write. Our curriculum suggested this technique;  I really do LOVE the three step strategy, and I think my third graders love it just as much!
I always encourage my students to read the problem and visualize what is happening throughout the story.  If they are unsure, I ask them to read it through, again.  Next they should identify what is unknown and what must be done to arrive at the correct solution.  Here is where the D(Draw) comes into play.  The drawing allows students to focus on a strategy to model the problem.  They love having a CHOICE in which strategy to use.  Every day I see arrays, tape diagrams, groups, equations, count-bys, and number bonds displayed in my students' math journals. Sometimes I even see multiple strategies used to check their answers!  In the example above, the student said he used basic facts to solve the problem because time would have been wasted if he would have drawn a tape diagram.  This was also a two step-problem, so you can see that there is multiplication and a subtraction algorithm.  My absolute favorite step is the W(Write).  This step allows students to use their answers in sentences to show further understanding.  My students love creating different sentences, and I always have at least 8 more students who raise their hands to share additional sentences they've created displaying their solution.

This is such a great warm-up for our day, and implements all of the Standards for Mathematical Practice; especially precision, accuracy, and perseverance!

I always want my students to take more leadership in the classroom and become more responsible for their own learning.  We implement Classroom Economy in my classroom, which means everyone has a different classroom job.  However, my students work in groups multiple times a day, so it is important that I have consistent jobs at each group that are used to minimize distractions and maximize learning.  I've been using these cards all year, and they really help with student responsibility.  There are 4 jobs at my tables:  Team Leader, Materials Manager, Time Keeper, and Clean Up Captain.  I chose these 4 jobs because I ALWAYS need these jobs throughout activities.
 In the past, my students have gotten the cards out when I asked them to do so for an activity.  Every day, they would have a brief discussion and assume the role of each job, which would practice cooperation, compromise, and good classroom citizenship :)  This task usually took at least 3 minutes, so to save time, we have a new procedure for assigning table jobs. Each group took 5 minutes this week and discussed a plan for choosing jobs each day when entering the classroom. Some groups decided to keep the same job for two days then rotate clockwise, some put the cards face down each day and choose, and some rotate counter clockwise each day.  Whatever it is, the members know their system, and each day this week, within the first 5 minutes of class, job cards are on desks and there is no arguing or lingering discussions!  Since they do this before or during their morning work, it takes zero class time...LOVE!

If you want a set of these job cards, click the images below to grab yours free! (There is a color set and a black and white set)  I know they look basic, but these cards have helped so much with class time and management.  The students love taking on responsibility!

Tomorrow, I will be sharing my first mathematics formative assessment post.  I am excited about sharing the start of this series, so make sure to check back tomorrow!

Sunday, January 5, 2014

A Peek At My Week

Tonight I am linking up with Jennifer at Mrs. Laffin's Laughings to give you a sneak peek into my week ahead.

Tomorrow, I return to work after two luxurious weeks of relaxation, family, pajamas, procrastination, and of course, extreme snacking at all hours of the day.  I have to be honest and say that I am not looking forward to the meetings we have scheduled, especially since I'm in charge of the third grade math agenda.  I guess this blog post is a form of procrastination...

Monday and Tuesday are also supposed to be some of the coldest days so far this year in Louisiana. Tomorrow, the low is supposed to be 12.....12!!!  Ok, I do feel a little guilty complaining about that because some of you have been blogging about the negative temperatures and the snow.  You all are better people than I because I am a total wimp when it comes to cold weather. This week will definitely entail lots of scarves and coffee!  Coffee is the only thing that gets me through dark, dreary, cold days.  

Tuesday will be exciting because I will get to see my kiddos for the first time since December 19.  Though I was ready for a break from the madness, I am ready to see some smiling, eager faces.  I cannot wait to dive into some exciting lessons with these babies!

One of my goals this year has been to incorporate more forms of Formative Assessment into my math lessons.  I have been reading Page Keeley and Cheryl Rose Tobey's book, Mathematics Formative Assessment and have really loved some of the strategies and techniques that they suggest using.  This week my plan is to begin blogging at least once a week on a successful formative assessment strategy that worked for me and my students. I hope this will be helpful to some of you.  Anyone already familiar with Page Keeley and her formative assessment strategies for math?

Other than the above, my week should be pretty slow.  Grad school doesn't begin until after MLK Day and my house is actually clean :)  

If you have a blog, don't forget to link up and tell everyone what you're up to this week.  Stay warm, everyone!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

Football = Freebie

My husband is a HUGE New Orleans Saints fan, which makes sense because we do live in Louisiana.  I, however, am a Peyton Manning fan, meaning my heart belongs to the Broncos as long as Peyton plays in Denver :)

Tonight the Saints played the Eagles so I had to find something to keep me busy since my husband is a raging lunatic when his team is playing on TV...the playoff games are even worse.  I am also very anxious because if Drew and Peyton meet again in the Super Bowl...well...I'll leave that to your imagination.

Anyhow.  The Saints and Eagles battled it out, while I created a little Valentine's Day Math Freebie for all of my readers and followers.  After all, "Love is a Battlefield".  Sorry for the bad joke-it's late!

Click below to get your free addition and subtraction dice and spinner activities all dolled up for V-Day!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

January Currently and New Year Math Activity Pack

If you haven't already heard, Oh' Boy Fourth Grade is hosting a January Currently linky...

Here's what I am currently up to this January morning...

Listening- I cannot get any work completed without Pandora music on in the background.  I am currently LOVING everything about the One Republic station.

Loving- My husband went back to work today; hooray!  I love him very much, but I have also been missing my quiet time in the mornings during my break.  He likes to get up and go, go, go, and that is the LAST thing I want to do on my Winter break.  My choices: Pajamas and coffee.

Thinking- The time has come for me to get back into the classroom.  I have enjoyed every moment of my break, but it's back to reality, and I've got some serious work to do before my kiddos walk through my door on Tuesday.  I can't stop thinking about EVERYTHING I still have to finish!

Wanting- My morning obsession; a Cafe' Au Lait.  I like mine medium sized, with flavored coffee, skim milk, and three Splenda.  Heaven in a cup!  Especially when the flavored coffee at PJ's Coffee House switches to King Cake coffee in January. Yummmmm!

Needing- To. Clean. House. Yuck.

Memory- Marriage.  This was my first Christmas and New Years with my husband.  The holidays were definitely different than what I'm used to, but new memories were made with both sets of families.

Now it's your turn!  Head over to Oh' Boy Fourth Grade and Link up!

I am also thrilled to announce that I have completed my New Year Math Review Pack for Third Grade!  Second grade and fourth grade teachers, you may also find some activities you can use or modify within this packet.  Students can review, practice, and perfect the following skills: addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, rounding, bar graphs, pictographs, line plots, and mental math.  I am very excited to bring these resources into my classroom next week.

Click the image below to check out the free preview!

Enjoy the last few days of your break, everyone!

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Ringing in the New Year with a...Freebie!

Happy 2014 everyone!  To celebrate a new beginning to a new year, I have created an addition freebie for your kiddos as they come back into your classrooms.  Just grab some dice and you are good to go!

Click the image below to grab yours!

If you like what you see, check back later for the complete New Year Math Review Pack.  I am on a Math Mission as I am sitting here watching my Tigers play Iowa.  Let's go LSU!