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!

https://drive.google.com/file/d/0B0mSxzU5yHuIUlhwamFNcmVrVUk/edit?usp=sharing


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!



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