Organizing Math Manipulatives

One of my many goals this winter break was to get my math manipulatives organized. I want to use the differentiation cards through Math Expressions for early finisher work, but each lesson has 3 different cards and the materials piece was a nightmare to try to have ready. I had all the 'stuff' (well, almost everything) I just didn't have them accessible for my students.

In comes Mama Lynch with a request: A Christmas Idea for my classroom; she wants to give my sister and me a little somethin' somethin' to our classrooms each year (how sweet is she?!?) First, I asked for those super cool pencil sharpeners I've been seeing on Pinterest (I got 2 from her- they are AH-MA-ZING!) Then I remembered my manipulative dilemma. I had a vision of using those clear, smaller drawers, but they can actually add up pretty quickly. I asked her for a couple of them to at least get me started. As I unwrap my presents, one of them was a set of clear drawers with a post it note saying that she didn't want to wrap them all. She got me 5!! That means enough for 15 different maniuplatives and supplies (or even more, since I am doubling up on some of them).  It might be a bit pathetic with how excited I get over organizing things, especially for my classroom. Anywho, let me reveal to you my new math resource station!
 I decided to use one of the sets of drawers for some word work things, so I had to rework my vision a bit, but I am so excited to lead the kiddos in a guided discovery when we get back from break! I still have the decks of cards in a separate tub, as well as the dice.
I made labels with the name of the manipulative and a picture to help keep it organized. How we take out resources and use them will be modeled next week in hopes that it stays this neat. I have a separate smaller drawer set for some of our math center game cubes and dice. Normal dice are kept in my little pail, and extra dry erase markers will be stored over here also for the use of the Smart Pals.

Rulers, Fraction Tools, Number Cards
Various Paper: Dot, 10x10 Grid, Index
Cards, Inch and Centimeter Paper.
This is also where I will keep the
activity cards they can work on.
Pattern Blocks, Connecting Cubes,
Counters, and Spinners
Clocks, Place Value Markers (no label yet)
Play Money, 3D shapes
I also have the challenge problem located on top of the drawers. This will be an option for students to try to complete. Since we are already in Unit 7, I didn't go back and look at what materials they would need for the cards. However, I am sure that most of them are here. I'll add next year if need be. With that said, I will have everything they need for every card, for ever lesson, for the rest of the year.
Smart Pals
To try to save some paper, we'll be using the Smart Pals (posted here). Students can slip in the paper they need (dot paper, grid paper, etc.) and use dry erase markers. That way, I don't have to worry about making a ton of copies and running out. I only have 19 Smart Pals though, so some sharing might need to take place if they all need it, but I don't see that happening very often.  I'll also keep up our math center games as occasional options; but I do love the idea that they will be extending their understanding on the topics we are learning that day. The math centers will be great for review every once and awhile on topics like place value and multi-digit subtraction. 
File folders with Duct Tape and magnets to house some of our math centers!
I'll leave you with one other project accomplished: Leveling and labeling the 200+ new books to our library! I got some PTO money and through Scholastic, I was able to use my own account to get bonus points. That means double the books and I get to keep some of them should I not stay at my school forever. :) It's a win-win! I gave my kiddos a glimpse on the last day of school and boy, were they excited! Until next time!



It's about time! Charts, charts, and more charts

My last post was in September.. (I think). That goes to show you how crazy busy this first year of teaching has been. It's had a ton of ups and downs and has completely consumed my life. On top of that, I am trying to plan a wedding. The wedding has been helpful however, as it gives me a different focus so that I don't drive myself crazy. I love my kiddos at school, they teach me something new each day. I just hope that they know I am doing everything I possibly can to help them. I'm at school at 7 am (school starts at 9:10) and stay until 6:30-7 pm (school ends at 3:45). I also take more work home and work for another couple of hours before repeating. I've found a better balance over the last month or so, but I just have so many things I want to do and not enough time to do it all!
Here's a glimpse into some of the things we've created as a class to help us in some of our studies this year!

These were some of the charts we created for our character unit in RW. We used the front bulletin board as a reference board to help us with the narrative elements. We used this often to help us (solution was not up yet when I took the picture) 

We are in the middle of our non-fiction unit in RW. This is our text feature chart. We did an inquiry activity in the form of a scavenger hunt. This was a great formative for me, as I could see what text features they already knew about and used and which ones they didn't. We later (for review) had to match examples of each text feature to the actual t.f. I often see students looking at this chart to help them with their think packet (which will be talked about later).

Close up of actual features. Wording isn't perfect, next year I need to write down exactly what I want the chart to say and try to mesh that with what students say to have a more accurate chart.

Close up of actual features. Wording isn't perfect, next year I need to write down exactly what I want the chart to say and try to mesh that with what students say to have a more accurate chart.

Close up of actual features. Wording isn't perfect, next year I need to write down exactly what I want the chart to say and try to mesh that with what students say to have a more accurate chart.
Here's our context clue strategy chart. We found different strategies and kept adding to the chart each time. I've seen major improvements after these lessons in terms of students being able to figure out unfamiliar words.

Boxes and Bullets introduction to main idea. It has gone over really well!

Our NF reference board with most of our charts!

After a verb lesson, we created a chart to help us remember!

After a noun lesson, we created a chart to help us remember!

After an adjectives lesson, we created a chart to help us remember!

During independent reading time, students use a think packet (talked about HERE). The main purpose of it is for accountability and additional practice with their metacognition. Students write down 3 "codes" a day. For example, if they come across an unfamiliar word, they write down a U and then follow the example/sentence stem. This way, I am able to see who is using but confusing the strategy, or if I don't see any particular code over a week, I know I'll need to work with that student more on that particular strategy. 

Here are some of our writing reference charts in our writing center for our research paper.

Parts to a paragraph intro chart

Research Tips Chart

We are constantly using Post-Its for formative assessments. This idea has been floating all over Pinterest, so I don't know who to give credit to, but it's not my idea! Not to mention, my great mentor also created these before me, and gave me the push to go ahead and do one myself. I made a post-it parking lot and pick up board. That way, I can move their post-its over after I am done looking them over and they can pick them up to put them into their notebook and clear up the board for another post-it later that day.
We've done many, many, other things, but this is just a glimpse into why I haven't been around for the last 4 months. Hopefully, it won't be another 4 months until I get around again!

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