Saturday, 30 August 2014

Green Pens and a Freebie

I'm always trying to come up with new ideas for marking Math that will leave me more time to work with individuals.  Here are some things I've tried over the years:
1.  Mark after school, at lunch time, at home....We've all done this and wished we didn't have to.  Apart from the obvious drawback I found that students needed immediate feedback on their errors for best results and there's never enough time the next day to work on corrections.
2.  So I went to having everyone line up and wait while I marked on student's work at a time, then did their corrections and went to Math centers.  Better for getting the corrections done, but OOHH that line got noisy!
3.  This was better:  When work is done students stand behind their chair and work on a Math colour-by-number sheet, and I circulate and mark.  When the marking is done, the student does their corrections and goes to Math tubs.  I did this one for a long time and it worked pretty well.
4.  Last year I wanted to do Guided Math and I needed that marking time to work with small groups.  So I went to my latest system:  Green Pens.
I put out two answer keys for the daily Math sheet, and 2 green pens.  When they are done they head over and mark their own sheet using a green pen.
If they get all the answers right they take a green pen and an answer key to an open space in the room, get a mini desk, and become an Official Math Marker.
Students who finish can then go to either the Official Math Marker or to the second answer sheet (if they haven't both been claimed already).  If they don't have all their answers right they return to their desks, do their corrections, then go to Math centers. 
Each time the Official Math Markers marks work that is 100% correct they pass the pen along to that person and go to Math centers.  I make this optional.  Some kids would rather just go to centers. 

It's a WIN/WIN set up.  Students are highly motivated to get all their answers correct the first time around, and I get to have time for my small groups! Yay!! (And they love going to Math centers so it's not a huge negative if they get one or two wrong).

As an added incentive I always have a set of stickers that are related to the season or theme that we're studying.  If all their answers are correct the first time the Official Math Marker gives the one sticker for the front of their Math book.  They put them on in lines of 10.  Each time they fill a row they earn a tag for their lanyard.
Here's the tag I made for them:
Click here to get a free set. 

I just found this excellent linky from Head Over Heels for Teaching as I was blog surfing, and thought I'd join in this week.

 There are so many great ideas here!

Have a great long weekend. And check in next week.  I'll be offering more freebies.

Friday, 29 August 2014

Last Friday of Summer? and a wagon load of freebies

Five for Friday link

Here in B.C. we go back to school the Monday after Labour Day.  Usually.  Almost always.  Every year I can remember since I started grade 1 myself (and that was a LONG time ago).
But not this year.  We are on strike.  We went out on strike on June 13th after being locked out by the government before school, during recess and lunch hour, and after school :(

We are all hoping this will be resolved soon so we can get back into our classrooms (hastily abandoned in June) and do what we love and want to do - TEACH!

Meanwhile, I'm resolved to put on my Pollyanna face and make the most of my extended summer "holiday".  Five for Friday is a perfect venue for that.  And it was a wonderful week!
The weather was beautiful, with warm days and cool nights, and a hint of fall in the air.  Here are my five weekly highlights:

I have done a better job of blogging this week.  I am resolved to get this thing under control and become a fluent blogger. I offered several freebies this week.  I'm going to include them again in this post.  They'll be available for free in my TpT store until Saturday morning, and then I'll make them paid items again.  If you want them PLEASE follow my blog, then go download them by clicking on the titles.
1. Monday - Pattern Train Task Cards

2. Tuesday - Back to School Survey Questions

3. Thursday - Weigh Away
5. Friday - Two for today because I missed Wednesday!
Telling Time
and Roll and Order

My daughter did the weather this week on our local television station.  She did a terrific job and I'm so proud of her!

I walked 3 miles every day this week!  I started walking 2-3 miles a day at the end of July and have managed to keep it up at least 4 days a week since.  My dog, Jack, loves to come along. My grandson Noah came along yesterday, too.

We live in a hilly area that is built on silt bluffs.  This makes walking a bit more challenging and provides spectacular views of the South Thompson River Valley.

This actually happened last week, but I'm still reaping the rewards:
I won a HUGE Giveaway from Marcy at Saddle Up for Second Grade. THANKS SO MUCH and congratulations on your 1000 followers milestone.

I received amazing items from a generous bunch of teachers who donated to the giveaway.  Thanks to:
Marcy at Saddle Up for Second Grade,  Courtenay form Ramoma Recommends, Angela from Hippo Hooray for Second Grade, Heather from Second Grade Perks, Chelsea from Kickin' It Whole Brain in Texas, Arisbeth from Sailing Into Second, Dixie from Teachin' Little Texans, Allison from Stuckey in Second, Sarah from Rocky Top Teacher, Lori from Owl in a Vowel Tree, and Cassandra from Mrs.3rd Grade!!!!!!!!!!!

As if that wasn't lucky enough, earlier this month I won a $10 TpT gift coupon from Victoria at Enchanted Learning. It was just in time to use it in the Back to School sale!

Victoria has uploaded a whole bunch of books that she reads for kids onto YouTube (and run through safeshare software). They are available in her store in sets of 4. I spent a chunk of my windfall on a couple of her sets. My kids love listening to books. I bet yours do too.  

Have a wonderful Labour Day weekend!

Monday, 25 August 2014

Mark Less and a FLASH FREEBIE

Anyone out there having issues with time?  Management, I mean.  

It seems to me that the days at school FLY by and even though I work through most recesses, and usually only grab 15 minutes for lunch, I was still ending up at school until 5:00 most nights.

Not that I didn't love being there (I do), but by the time I got home, cooked supper, watched a TV show or two, and read a couple of blogs I was worn out and ready for bed.  I had no time left for healthy planning, exercise, keeping up with friends, social activities, or blogging.  I was done.

One of the things I've done to try to rectify this situation is MARK LESS.  It's taken me 20+ years to realize that I do not need to see everything that the kids in my class do, much less mark it.  Most of what they do in Language Arts or Math centers is practice what they've previously learned (and I've seen and marked).  When I set up the centers I put a cover sheet with the instructions in a sheet protector, back to back with the answer key so that they can mark their own when they've finished.  When I first started doing this I thought there might be a problem with students who just copied the answers down instead of figuring out the answers for themselves.  This actually rarely happened for two reasons:
1.  Davey Do-Gooder and Watchful Wanda (every class has a couple) were quick to report that copying was taking place.

2.  I made sure that the activities in the centers were about the right length for the time available (maybe even taking a wee bit longer than time available for most kids).  Then if somebody was done a center in 5 minutes when it should take 20 to 30 I would know right away.  They didn't usually try it again.
3.  I tried really hard to provide open-ended centers that would be interesting and hands on so that they would be engaged in the activity. 

Here is a center that I just finished making for my class to use.  It is part of my start up Math unit on patterns.

The center is one I've used for years in my Math centers (it just looks better now...).  The kids love it because it's fun and I love it because it is easy for them to be successful at it.  
The kids choose a task card and make the pattern indicated on it.  This picture shows on of the more challenging patterns in this set of task cards.

Once they finish making their train they draw, colour, and label it on their sheet.  All I need to do is glance at their papers after they've finished drawing their train. I can quickly see if they're understanding the concept of a repeating pattern.

If you'd like to grab it click here.