Friday, 25 September 2015

Setting expectations: Keep it simple

In our school we have a sheet of expectations and a rubric of expectations that include examples.  These are posted in each classroom, but I find that they are cumbersome and have too much print on them to catch students' attention on an ongoing basis.  So in the past I have gone over them on the first day of school and then posted them in a remote corner.
This summer I read an article about setting expectations in the classroom.  It said that it is best to keep expectations to 10 or less so that students can keep focused on them.  
At first I thought "That's impossible!  I spend most of the first TWO WEEKS talking to them about my expectations!"
Then I realized that most of the things I'm telling them are how we do classroom ROUTINES and that the expectations are overarching principles that encompass ALL of these.  And more.
I can't remember who wrote the post I read or I'd cite that for you (I think I followed a link and another link), but it included 8 basic expectations that were used in their school that I thought were very universal and covered the areas that I think are important for my students.  The source for the 8 expectations is a group called Great Expectations. If you go to their website you will find more resources to use. The link in their logo goes to the elementary site. 

I changed the language a bit because they were geared for older kids, (I have second and third grades this year) but I left in some that I considered changing because there were terms I thought they could learn and are important for them to become familiar with.
An article I read a few years ago (again I don't know who it was, but that one was research based - I read it for a paper I was doing for my Masters degree) said that there is no point in putting up any printed material in a classroom (including charts, posters, etc.) unless you are going to spend time on it REGULARLY.  If you don't it becomes part of the landscape and is ignored. I have noticed that this is true in my classroom, and I took it to heart.  I took down all the cute posters that were up on the walls, and replaced them with only things that would be used and that I would refer to at least once a week.  It doesn't have to be a big deal every time, but if you want the kids to use them they need to have their attention drawn to them.  
When I first put something up I do make a big deal of it, and we go over it a bunch of times.  They probably get tired of hearing about it.  But they remember.
So I made up 8" X 5" cards for each of my expectations.  They are very plain and to the point because I want the students to stay focused on the message, and they don't need any visual clues for them because we cover them over and over until I'm sure they know them. I put them up two at a time the first 4 days of school and we discuss them.  

Here's what they look like posted in my classroom:

If you'd like these for your classroom you can get them HERE.
I'm joining FREEBIE FRIDAY  at Teaching Blog Addict this week. Hop over and grab a few freebies. 

Friday, 18 September 2015

Math Workshops: Great Resources

 I've been seeing so many great posts on Math Workshops that I thought I'd gather some of them up so you can check them out too.

1.  The first is from Mandy Gregory from Mandy's Tips for Teachers.
This post includes a FREEBIE that gives a 6 day plan for setting up your Guided Math program. 
(There's another one for setting up Writer's Workshop, too!)
Click here to access her blog post about Math Workshops. 

2.  Next from Mrs. Beattie's Classroom:
In this post Erin from Mrs. Beattie's Classroom explains how she organizes and runs her Math time using the M.A.T.H. acronym. 
She also has a good selection of products in her TpT STORE for you to use during Math Workshop time.  These resources are focused on Grades 2-4.
 The Growing Bundle is on sale right now.  It is mostly made up of centers that you can use while you are working with small groups.  The center packages have varying numbers of activities included. For example the fractions centers file contains 13 different activities for students. 
This Odd and Even Numbers pack is a FREE SAMPLE of Erin's centers.  It includes three different activities: a game for 2 players and 2 activities for individual students.  One of these uses manipulatives and would also useful for small group instruction.

3.  Reagan Tunstall from Tunstall's Teaching Tidbits has oodles of ideas. This is a recent post showing her newly created bundle of Math lessons for whole/small group. A whole year's worth!  I was so impressed that I bought it during the TpT BTS sale and it is worth every penny. A truly impressive document!  The post has a FREEBIE SAMPLE of the package.

Another post from Reagan tells how she sets up her Math Workshop time and offers these FREEBIE POSTERS.
4.  Tammy at The Owl Teacher did a 4 part series on Math Workshop to kick off 2016. She presents LOTS of great info on how she implements it in her classroom.

HERE IS THE LINK to the first installment, which is a quick overview. 
PART 2 is a rundown of Math "stretchers" that she uses as warm ups. 
PART 3 is a detailed breakdown of how she runs her Math block. 
PART 4 is a brief post on assessment. 

I found lots of useful info in this series, especially the second and third parts. Tammy included links ahead and back in each post to help you easily navigate between them (you don't have to come back here every time, but I did put links in the pictures above).  

5.  Dr. Nikki Newton has a Guided Math blog that you can visit HERE.
She has HUNDREDS of posts on this site for you to peruse. They include categories such as:
Assessment, Differentiated Instruction, During the Guided Math Lesson, Math Centers, and Math Workstations.  Many of these include links to resources that you can use in your Math Workshops.
Here is one that I plan to use with my third graders this year:

She also has an excellent PINTEREST BOARD for you to check out.   

I hope this post has been useful to you.  I know I certainly got LOTS of great ideas and information as I was putting it together!

Saturday, 12 September 2015

Weigh Away

One thing that I find is that any kind of hands-on activity will keep kids engaged and be a popular center in the classroom.  That is why I've cut back the time my class spends on doing worksheets in Math to about 5-10 minutes and given them lots of time (45 minutes) to go to Math centers.  While they're there, of course, I'm with small groups, often working on similar or even the same type of assignment that they would've been doing if the worksheets were longer.

I needed a weighing center for Math a couple of years ago and couldn't find one that would suit my needs.  I wanted it to have a variety of different tasks for the kids to work through at their own pace.  I ended up making these task cards and they have become the best seller in my TpT shop.  (I thought I was just being too picky, but it looks like there was a niche in the market! Lol.)

There are 3 different activities included. The first is finding how many unifix cubes weigh 
the same as the given item.

The second is predicting which of 2 given items weighs more.  

The third is comparing objects to a given weight. I made two copies of these cards; one with ounces and the other with grams. 
Each of the 3 activities requires a prediction before weighing.   

I also made all the cards in black and white to save the pricey coloured ink. 

set up the balance scales, along with all the items that they need for weighing.  All they have to do is grab a recording sheet and a few task cards and they're off and weighing.  They love it so much that I've had kids ask me if I could include it again when we switch out the centers.  I might have to make a second set! 

To look at Weigh Away in my store click here or on any picture of the task cards above. 
I'm joining Joanne at Head Over Heels for Teaching today for her Spark Student Motivation Saturday linky. 
Click to head over to pick up some great ideas for your classroom.

Friday, 11 September 2015

Journal Starters for Freebie Friday

We are back to school and today we will get our new classes.  I just found out yesterday afternoon that my class would change from mostly grade 3's to over half second graders.  We have more kids who registered in our school this week, especially in kindergarten.  Last year we had one class of kindergartens and a k-1 combo with about 8 kindies.  This year we have 2 full classes of kindies and a handful that will be in with one of the grade one classes!  That's lots of kids coming up!
So we all spent several hours re-configuring our classes.  I am very excited to meet my new class!

Last year half of my class were firsties.  In the many years that I've taught grade one I have always had them write daily in their Journals, starting on Day 1.  Well, maybe Day 2.......

Since most of them didn't know HOW to write yet, this involved me printing "I like" in EVERY Journal and then drawing an ink line (even though the notebooks they use are already interlined - I noticed that many of the kids didn't "see" the lines that came printed on the page and wrote huge or slanty or randomly on the page.....).  Major time drain!

Last year I had an inspirational moment and made a page on my iPad with sentence starters and nice dark lines for them to print on.  They look like this:

They worked perfectly.  I just printed them off on the photocopier, cut them down to size and the kids did their printing on them, then cut them out and glued them into their notebooks!  Why didn't I think
of that 20 years ago?!?  (Well to be fair with myself I only got the iPad 2 years ago.)
If you have emergent writers you might find these really handy, too.  I used them until about mid-November when most of the kids were becoming more confident and independent writers.

There are quite a few different sentence starters, and extra lines for your high achievers who are ready to print more.
Sentence starters include:
I am                     I went to        I saw a...It was...
I like
I can                    I want
I have
Here is a
I see a
I see a...It is...
I have a...It is...

To get a set go to my store to pick up the freebie.
Then hop over to Freebie Friday at Teaching Blog Addict to see more goodies.

Have a great weekend!

Friday, 4 September 2015

Freebie Friday Calendars

What a busy week!

My staff had a highly productive 2 day planning retreat up at Sun Peaks, B.C.  Fall was definitely in the air up there. No snow yet, though. Thank goodness!

I spent Tuesday and Wednesday at school working on my classroom. I thought I'd be done and have a 4 day weekend, but when I left yesterday the room was messier than when I left on Tuesday. I guess I shouldn't have started to organize my Math centers........

I made this set of school calendars for my classroom yesterday. I tried downloading some from the internet, but couldn't find any that were just what I wanted. While I was at it I decided to add American versions in case others could use them too. 

I'm linking them up with FREEBIE FRIDAY over at Teaching Blogging Addict. Click HERE on the calendar preview above  to download them!

School is only a long weekend away now in B.C.  Last year I got completely bogged down and didn't blog while school was in session.  I'm hoping to do better this year, and over the summer I've started a bunch of blog posts to keep me on track.  I've even finished next week's post for Freebie Friday.  It's a set of templates for Journal Writing that I made for Emergent Writers.  Check back for that!

Happy Labour Day!