Tuesday, January 27, 2015

How I Plan...

So I wanted to stop by today and talk about how I plan. I love to read about how other teachers plan because I am always up for something easier or more organized. I actually planned this post for about a week ago, but as you know report cards + snow days + testing + PD + planning + TPT creating + grading papers  = one busy teacher!

My students and I received a student teacher who joined us right after winter break and will be with us until May. I have had teachers and students come and observe before, but never teach...by themselves...for a whole month...right before state testing. I am a tad nervous because I have been told I can be all "mama bear" with my students and have a hard time giving them up. But, no worries! This experience has already been great for me and my students. I will keep you posted and please, Please, PLEASE leave me any tips or comments or advice you have for student teachers. I honestly want to make sure I help her become the best teacher she can be.

Ok, So for me, it really all starts with the team plan. My team splits planning weekly and we each take a subject, I have Science/Social Studies. At first this made me nervous because of that control issue I mentioned above, but now I love it! We have gotten to the point where we know how to modify plans for our specific kids and what to include in our plans to better help the team. If you are considering switching to team planning, here are some things that have helped us stay on the same page.

1. Create a Template: Templates really help, otherwise you really have no idea what you will be getting week to week. Before we even started team planning (back in November), we discussed what we needed for each person. For example: I do science so we discussed that what they need from me is five 45 minute lessons, one content center for reading workshop, and unit tests with at least 2 technology-enhanced items. What we needed from the teacher doing math was five 30 minute lessons (at least one lesson from our state site), and ideas for math workshop stations.

We also wanted to make sure our template had everything our principal requires in our plans. It is so easy to turn in plans now, I just collect the plans everyone gives me at the meetings, clip them, and put them in my principal's box.

(As you can see, I'm still working on these. )

My team has also started adding pictures and anchor chart ideas from Pinterest to plans when it fits and it has been great!

Since I plan science and social studies, our units are 2-4 weeks long. I plan whole units at a time and then I don't have to plan for weeks.

2. Set a Timeline: Our goal is to have our plans for the following week emailed by Sunday night. So, I would have my plans for the week of February 9th emailed by Sunday, February 1st. That gives enough time to differentiate, make copies, and ask questions.

3. Come Prepared: This is actually one of our team norms. When you come to the meeting your plans should be done, you should have pulled all the resources listed in your plans, and you should have a copy of everything available for each team member.

4. Talk it Out: Because we have other things to talk about at meetings, we split up our planning days. Two of us present our plans at our Tuesday meeting and two of us present at our Thursday meeting. We typically have to set a timer because our time together is so precious, but this is when we run through our plans and describe the activities. We show copies of the worksheets, activities, or resources listed in our plans. We also give each team member a hard copy of the plans and one copy of each of the activities. Then we make the decision on who will need class sets of copies and that person puts it in the copy shop for everyone. Since the plans are emailed out by Sunday night, it is an expectation that you have at least looked at everyone's plans by Tuesday so you know the gist and can ask questions.

Alright, so after the team shares their plan, then what? Well, as class sets of assignments come rolling in throughout the week, I have to put them someplace safe...and that some place is my mailbox sorter in this picture of my messy desk area. (Just so you know, we had a workday yesterday and now my desk is much neater and my mailbox organizer has been cleaned out!)
1. The first column of slots is labeled by subject. When I get class sets, I place the piles in the subject slot.
2. The slots right beside the subject slot are where I put extras of work that I have already used and originals. At the end of every quarter I go through this slot to refile my originals and throw away extras that no one needed (which is rare).
3. Each of the stacked baskets has something in it. The red basket is where I keep homework. I copy for at least 2 weeks in advance.

Then...I map. I love having all of my plans detailed and typed nice and pretty for me, but in order for me to make sense of it, I have to write it down. Around Wednesday, I fill in my Erin Condren planner for the following week, so I can see it all laid out.

By Friday, I have all my copies made and I am ready to prep my bins. I lay out my planner and my daily bins. I place the papers in each bin in the order that I use them, so in my Monday bin, reading is on top because that is my first subject and homework is on the bottom because that is the last thing I will need.

Once I have filled all of my bins, I stack them neatly on my desk and I leave for a care-free weekend. Ha! I usually stay until at least 5 on Fridays, but at least my planning and copies are done so when I walk in Monday I don't have to scramble or wait for the copier.

Tell me how you plan or leave comments below with your thoughts. I can't wait to see what you do and steal some ideas. Thanks for stopping by!

Wednesday, January 14, 2015

Multiplication Interactive Notebooks: Humpday Highlight

I love teaching multiplication and I love interactive notebooks. The teacher part of me leaps for joy every year when this unit comes up. It definitely helps that the students are even more excited for learning multiplication than I am for teaching it (if that's possible). I decided Mrs. Stanford's Humpday Highlight Linky would be the perfect time to show off our work so far.

Before I get started, I have to add a disclaimer that we are not done with our unit yet. My goal for interactive notebooks during this unit is to create a resource that students can refer to for help and examples, not necessarily creating cutsey-lots-of-cutting-involved-activities. I tell my students all year to look in their math notebook first when they have a question, but this is the first unit that they finally catch on. It's awesome to watch them become problem solvers.

Our county has us teach this unit in the same order every year: single-digit multiplication, division, and then double by single digit multiplication. Since, I have low ESL students, I always start with vocabulary. I have students glue the vocabulary sheet into their notebooks and then we color code each feature and word as I explain and describe the vocabulary to them. These pages are one of the most referred to throughout the unit by my students. After introducing and practicing the vocabulary, the students will complete the guided sort below.

Every day or couple of days, I introduce a new strategy and have the students glue in a pre-typed notes strip.  I have the students extend the lines in between the practice problems along the bottom of the strip and we solve these problems together as practice. I have found that students benefit from having pre-typed notes already in their notebook to refer to, along with guided practice. For multiplication and division, I teach: number line, repeated addition (or subtraction), array, area model, sets (equal groups). For double by single digit multiplication, I teach: Sets, Number Line, and Repeated Addition.

We also do property sorts. Our county focuses on Commutative and Identity Property of Multiplication for third graders.

We solve journal prompts a lot during this unit too. Students have to be familiar with every strategy because on our state tests, they will have to figure out the equation from a representation of the problem (number line, equal sets, repeated addition, etc.).

If you are interested in any of the activities in the pictures, you can check it out here. It also comes with some activities not pictured. I will be sure to come back and post more once we finish the unit.

Ice Cream Multiplication is also a big part of my students learning their facts. I use this freebie, from Rachel Parlett, to quiz my students each Wednesday on their facts. If the pass, they advance to the next level and if they don't they repeat. It all leads up to a big ice cream party in June!

I always love to hear from you guys and find out what you are doing. Please leave me a comment with any feedback or ideas. Don't forget to swing by to see Mrs. Standford and this week's Humpday Highlight.

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Wednesday, January 7, 2015

Division Cookies and Humpday Highlight

Today, we jumped into division and the kids had a blast! Equal sets is typically the first division strategy I teach, so I thought I'd kick it off with food. I started by reading The Doorbell Rang by Pat Hutchins. Have you ever read this book? It's super cute and a quick read. I remember reading this book when I was in elementary school. Basically, the mom makes 12 cookies for her son and daughter to share and they are happy because they each get 6. Then two more people come and they have to split the cookies by four, then six, and finally twelve.

After I read the book, I gave the students a recording booklet for our math interactive notebooks and a baggie with 24 pieces of store brand Cookie Crisp cereal. I told my students to take out twelve cookies from the bag and we worked through the booklet together, one row at a time, sorting our twelve cookies each time. Some students really struggled with this portion. They didn't understand (yet) how to figure out the number of groups to make.

When our booklets were done and the student had practiced with only twelve cookies, I had them take the remaining cookies out of their Baggie. I called out random division problems (with quotients less than 24) and had them sort their cookies to find the quotient. Eventually we eased into drawing circles with tallies instead of using the cookies and the students got to have their snack.

I will definitely be doing this lesson again next year, the students loved it and I really got to see who was struggling with the concepts. If you would like to try this activity with your students, just click on the pictures above for a free download. Let me know what you think!


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