Multiplication Math Charts

We just finished our first unit in mutliplication. My kiddos were so excited as this was what they were waiting for all year. I feel like through our inquiry at the beginning of the unit and all our practicing throughout, helped even my most struggling mathematicians to understand the concept behind multiplication (which is HUGE!) We made the bottom chart together during our inquiry lesson:
 I gave a word problem on the board and had students solve it anyway they thought made sense. We then did a gallery walk around the room to see how our classmates solved it. We asked questions if some of them didn't make sense to us and acknowledged others that helped us understand the problem better. We then charted what we saw people do on the anchor chart and I saw many of my kiddos use it throughout the lesson. We also practiced vocabulary for both multiplication and division (although the division anchor chart is on a different board) and we used that vocab often when speaking.

Now if only we could all master our basic multiplication facts... that's a different story. :)


Hopes and Dreams take 2

We created our hopes and dreams way back in our first week of school. I had this amazing image of what I wanted to do and then reality hit and I realized- I didn't have time to do an elaborate art-related hope and dream. Instead, I printed out a starburst image with lines. They wrote, colored, and cut and we called it done. They still turned out nice and all, but I was slightly disappointed that I didn't get to do what I wanted to do.

Then January came. I had been with my students for 4 months and I knew so much better what they were capable of handling. We had be doing a lot of following written direction exercises so I thought this was a perfect way to incorporate independent directions and our hope and dream craft. I still walked them through our writing of our hopes and dreams. I had them follow this format.

My hope and dream for 3rd grade is ______________________.
To reach this goal I will _____________________.
I will know that I reach my goal when _____________________.

We looked at our old h. & d.'s and some realized they didn't know if they reached it yet because it was so broad. Perfect time to discuss goal setting. This made them think a lot more about a specific task, what work it will take to get there and how we will know come June if they reached it.

The rest of the project was done over a week or so during their morning work time. I had directions labeled 1, 2, 3, etc and an example. The directions took them step by step and were detailed enough that their shouldn't be any confusion. It really showed me the importance of holding my students accountable of reading and following directions. They did this whole project without me having to stand up and do it for them- but rather, they could finish it by following simple, written directions.

The finish product, all of my students having a complete, measurable hope and dream and a fun keep-sake for them. They loved seeing the finish product and looking at each other's. I blurred out the faces to protect them, but they all look so animated and excited in their pictures.



Start of our Mystery Unit!

We've ended Non-fiction in RW and have moved into mysteries. I welcome the change. It's nice to get back into the narrative elements with a specific genre. We did a really fun launch involving donuts- more on that in another post. But we also got to start a new read aloud! Non-ficiton read alouds were a bit tough on me. I'm glad to get back to a story with a plot (although our final non-fiction was more narrative and they kids and I loved it)!

We started with a fun and easy to follow mystery to set us up for success. I chose a Jigsaw Jones book after my mentor suggested it. I didn't have the first one, so I just picked up a different one- I would have liked to use the first one in the series, but we are getting by just fine.

One thing I learned in our PD on this unit is to map out the events. Duh.. why haven't I done this from day 1 in our read aloud?!? It's a great tool in terms of determining important events, and let's a do a quick retell of what has happened so far! I've add a bit more to it as well to make it even more helpful for my students.

My kids (and teammates) know my love of post-its. And so they noticed when I brought in these big sticky notes and made comments on how much I must like them. They are so right! We have mapped out important information so far that has happened in our book and we are making a timeline of events. This is great because we can always go back and remove ones that turned out not to be super important to hold on to. The different colors are due to the chapters. I switched between the red and the blue so that we could go back to the chapter if needed.

We plotted and marked what the actual mystery is in the book (very easy to identify, as it was the first sentence, "My frog is missing," croaked Stringbean.)

Each post it has about 1 sentence or note about an important event from that chapter. I started too add some of our extra noticings or inferences with yellow post-its next to the events that we though up about.

I'm really liking this visual and plan to use it throughout the whole mystery unit and beyond. It will work AMAZING for our next unit as well- biographies.

Not to mention, my love of post-its will be in full force, which is always a bonus!



Guided Reading Job Management

I am getting better at this blogging thing... that is... doing it more often than just once very 4 months! Here is how I am trying to keep track of my guided reading groups and their jobs. I have 6 groups for guided reading. Some I meet with every other day, while others I meet with 1 time in our 6-day rotation (they meet more often together as a group as a book club). And of course, there's others who meet somewhere inbetween. I want to keep them all engaged with their book and thinking about their guided reading books more in depth, even when they aren't meeting with me. I tried to assign jobs for them to work on during independent reading time, but the management piece got to be tricky. I would have what they needed to to written down, but they wouldn't remember. I tried giving them post-its, but some of them would loose them. I tried to write them on the board below, but it got messy and it was hard for me to remember to add it to the board. I problem solved a bit and am trying out this system- and so far, so good!

I've got to redo the group numbers and laminate them, but for now it works. I've separated the board into what they need to read to be ready for group next time, what they need to do before they come to group next time, and a due date space if their job is due before they meet with me again. I write them out right in front of them at the end of our meeting as a way to remind them. Then, I have one of the students, go and put it in the boxes for their group. Now, if they should forget, they simply walk over, read the board, and take a seat. I no longer have to get up, erase the board, rewrite it, and put it back- only to go repeat that again in 15 minutes for the next group. Now, it stays put, and the post-its come to it.
Here's another view to show where students turn in their jobs.

I've attached a blue bin from the dollar tree to the wall, right next to the board. Now students just need to plop it in there and I can take the whole bucket to my table to sort it.

It's been really simply, and I like having the board and job drop off bin right next to each other.

Click to enlarge: Beyond the Text Question Stems
Click to enlarge: About the Text Question Stems

These are the bookmarks I've made for my students to use for their jobs. A focus for all my groups is deeper thinking comprehension- both beyond the text and about the text. I've printed these front to back so students have both comprehension focuses. They have question stems that they use to create their own questions about their guided reading book. Then they bring those questions to group and we use those to start our conversation. If I noticed the questions are all very similar, I have my own questions ready and we plot their answers using this graphic I whipped up thanks to google images and powerpoint: 

I tell my students that we want to think deeper about our book. The "strong, powerful" thinking is like a treasure chest on the ocean floor. In order to get there, we have to ask and be able to answer deeper questions about the book. I have this graphic laminated and attached to my small whiteboard stand and I plot their responses to the questions. If it was a 'surface' level response, it's on top of the waves. Then, they often try again and try to think of something less obvious, more inferential, etc. It is a good visual and feedback tool for my students to know if they are pushing their thinking. It also becomes like a 'game' as they want to get to the treasure chest. 

Now if only I had an extra 20-30 minutes added to our reading block....

Until next time!



Independent Reading Accountability: Think Packet

Accountability during RW can be tricky. Last year, there wasn't much accountability at the school I was student teaching, but that was also because we had 3 adults in the room during the time, running groups, so many students weren't independently reading. This year however, being all by my lonesome, I knew I needed to think of something to help make sure students are held to a high standard when they are reading independently.

My AMAZING mentor used something that she coined, "The Think Packet." We talked as a team this year on how we may use it. We made some tweaks to it to make it less intimidating, but something that would give us enough information as to what they were working on during their independent reading time (IRT)
This is the page we use for the think packet. We have enough pages for the entire month stapled together, that way, at the end, it is easier to see the work they've done for that unit. Let me go over the parts.

Each day, they write the date and a goal that they have for themselves. Some goals might be to get to a certain page number or chapter; others are the types of codes (more on that in a bit) they will get; still others are about time and being on task.

Then there's space for a book log. This way, I am able to see what they are reading and how far they get each day. If I notice that students aren't reading as many books as they should be, I can write them a note about that. There's a space also for the level of the book, as some students still struggling with reading appropriate books.

Next, the meat of the packet: the codes! When we learn new skills, we create a code for it. Students then write their code in the left hand box and write about it more in detail to the right. We created charts for different units with different codes and examples. Here's a sample of some codes from our non-fiction unit.

U- Unfamiliar Word (vocabulary): write the word and sentence stem "It means _____."
C- Connections: write a part of the book they have a connection with and how it helps them understand.
T.F.- Text Feature: identify the text feature, what page it was on, and how it helped them better understand the text
M.I- Main Idea: do a box and bullets for the main idea and details of the section of their text
?- Questions and Answers: create a question you still have about the content- try and find the answer.

Some other codes we use for reading fiction include:
P- Prediction: "I think _____ will happen next because _______"
T- Trait: "I think (character) is _______ because ______"
E- Empathy: "I feel _____ for (character) because _______"

Students take 1 minute to fill out the end of the day reflection which includes the total minutes we read, if they met their goal, if they met with me at all that day, and then an on-task evaluation.

Lastly, there's the feedback box. I try to pull think packets each day and look at their work and fill this box out. They really enjoy getting it back, looking at my notes, and getting excited over their excellent work. If a student did not complete the expectations, I circle the ones they need to work on and check the appropriate box.
At the end of the unit, we do a little graphing activity to show us better what type of thinking we were doing as readers. This is great for those kiddos who didn't do 3 codes everyday like they are suppose to, as it shows them where they need to improve (as well as myself). Plus, it's always nice to use real data to practice our graphing skills. We use the tally chart and graph section to set goals for the next month.

I'm not sure if I'll keep this up next year or go to more of a notebook style. I like how I have all these components structured. I could see the notebook be a real pain to set up. I do want to incorporate a little more writing into this block of time, so perhaps next year, every Friday, we'll take 10 minutes to write about our reading that week- either with a prompt, or just a free write on a character's choices, facts we've learned, or new ideas we have about a book.



Teaching Health

Our school does SASH time: Science, Art, Social Studies, Health. We decided this year that each of us (we are a team of 4) would take a subject matter and teach all the 3rd graders that subject. We are on a daily rotation, which I'm not loving, but we are making it work. I only get 30 minutes with each class every 4 days, so really the lessons have to be short, sweet, and wrapped up relatively quickly, as 4 days in-between lessons is a really big gap for me, especially in a subject matter that many of my students haven't had a whole lot of experience with.

I teach health. Our first unit was all on nutrition. It got long, and I didn't plan it out like I should have. Knowing that, I did unit 2 differently. Since the only curriculum we have is Health Teacher, an online resource, I am able to let the standards guide me and come up with what works to meet those. This unit, I decided to focus on Mental and Emotional health. I combed the online resources and put together a packet to use this unit. I want to have students have a resource of what we focused on and to have it all in one place.

I made a packet of 7 different lessons. Click on the picture to be taken to these resources!

The lessons included:
-Positive Self Image and Self Esteem
-Stess Management through deep breathing
-Role Models
-Feelings (identifying comfortable/uncomfortable and communicating these feelings)

You can pick these activity pages up at my TpT store! (click the picture)

All of these lessons were guided by Health Teacher, I just made most of the work pages to make them a bit more appealing and to work with the time I am given. I've made Interactive Smartboard Slides for each lesson too. These pages are usually for a debriefing for the last 10-15 minutes. 


First Sick Day

I had to take my first sick day(s) of my first year. I was determined to not miss any school days due to sickness and "power" through- but really, that's a selfish idea. With all the flu going around, I don't want to contaminant my room, students, and coworkers, just so that I don't have to make sub plans.

It hit me like a ton of bricks! I was fine all day, even stayed late for planning with the team. Got home, took a seat on the couch to watch my beloved Gophers (who have been dominating this year) and feel asleep early (boo- didn't get to finish the game). When I woke up around 10 to head to the bed room, I felt a little under the weather, but thought it would wear off.

Fast forward to 12:30 a.m. - it was getting worse. I couldn't sleep thinking about getting stuff ready for a sub (and even finding a sub). So I stayed up and prepared stuff, took a shower, and crashed out on the couch until 3:30. I woke up at 6, tried to get ready in case I had to stick it out at school and made my trip to school. I printed what I needed for the sub, cleaned up my room (I've been getting into the bad habit of just leaving my room- mainly my area- a mess after school and cleaning it up in the morning), and checked in with the office about my sub situation. Luckily, our amazing secretary was making phone calls and found me a sub. I left, feeling like the day will be what it'll be and went home to sleep.

3:00 pm rolled around and I felt like it was getting worse than better. After emailing our secretary and team, I decided to stay home for a second day-- gaaaahhhhh! My team was awesome and got a few things ready for me, and good thing- I spiked a fever later that night, couldn't eat or drink anything, and was just miserable.

I won't know how it went until I get back to school on Monday, but I'm thankful I had partial emergency sub plans planned. But I'll need to work on that this summer for future years so that I am not going crazy, nor my team, in the event of sickness.

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