Sunday, 22 November 2015

Sunday Scoop: reading assessment and freebie

Report cards are looming. You know how that feels. Stressful. On the positive side, I've been pro-active about getting running records done over the last month so I only have 6 left to do. And 3 of those are kids who are "exceeding expectations" in our current educational jargon, so they'll be fun to listen to. 
In our school district we are required to do running records for kids in second and third grades every term. Grade one's get a hiatus first term. From this particular assessment, anyway......
We use Nelson's PM Benchmarks kits. I really enjoy doing running records with the students, for a whole bunch of reasons. 

1.  When it's their turn, they feel very special to have me all to themselves. This still surprises me after only a thousand + times (16 years x 22 kids x 5 assessments each - I usually do at least 6/year/student now, but lots of years I had firsties). Seriously, I sometimes think I could give out prize tickets for this and they'd be thrilled!
2.  I get a really good first-hand snapshot of where they're at, and what their strengths and challenges are. 
3.  I know you're nor supposed to jump in, but I do anyway, because it's a great opportunity for one-on-one instruction if you notice that they're encountering a difficulty. But not a minor one; those can wait until they're done reading. Usually when I do this it's to get them to try a reading strategy that they're missing. And very often it's the one I call "my magic strategy":  skip over, read on, then go back and read the sentence again. Even though I teach this strategy at the beginning of the year (except in grade one where it's a bit later) many of the kids who have struggled a bit with reading are so stuck on sounding out that they've never tried this strategy until they do it during a running record session. I LOVE the way their eyes light up when they figure the word out from reading it in context. It definitely is magical FOR ME!  (Even though I code it as an error:  TG "skip over strat". ) The next time I listen to them they're just about sure to use it with a look of triumph. 

I made reading strategy bookmarks that they glue onto construction paper and I laminate. They keep them in their Home Reading bags to remind them of some options if they're struggling with an unfamiliar word. I also keep one out on my table during my running record sessions. If you'd like a FREE set click HERE
4.  I get to make an immediate positive comment or two about their reading. 
5.  I get to listen to them retell which not only gives me excellent insight into their comprehension, but provides information for the 'Listening and Speaking' reporting section. 
6.  I find out things beyond what level they're reading fluently at. For example, it sometimes is surprising when a child struggles through a book, sounding out lots of words, and then demonstrates excellent comprehension of the text. Or the opposite:  they read fluently and expressively, but hardly recall anything (which is often not that they CAN'T comprehend it, but that they're so focused on doing an impressive job of reading that they're not listening to what they're reading). In this case I usually tell them that I'd like them to read a different passage silently, paying attention to what they're reading, and then I have them retell it when they're done. Usually they do a great job the second time when the pressure of performing isn't part of the equation. 
7.  I get a very good idea if it's time to do a mini lesson on a particular aspect of reading with the whole class or a small group. 

I hope you're having a wonderful weekend.  Tomorrow I'm going to the Barra MacNeils' Christmas concert with my family.  (It's a birthday present!)  They come around this way every couple of years and it's always a treat to hear them perform. The highlight is always when Lucy sings O Holy Night.

 I was also lucky enough to attend the Lunenberg Folk Festival in Nova Scotia a couple of years ago and they were there all week.  It was fabulous!

I'm linking up with Teaching Trio this week for The Sunday Scoop.  HOpe you've had a great weekend!

Saturday, 21 November 2015

Adding 2 digit numbers on an open number line

I've been busy writing reports cards, and have gotten way behind on blogging.

I'm almost done and made this set of pages for my students to practice adding 2 digit numbers on an open number line.  Grab it here if you can use it.

I'm going to link it up to Fern Smith's Freebie Friday over at Teaching Blog Addict - day late.

Wednesday, 4 November 2015

QR codes and Quick Math review cards

I am joining up with Teaching Trio's Favorite Things again this month.
Here are my November faves:

#1 - I've been using QR codes on lots of things I've been making for my class lately.  The kids love using them.  I've put them on Math  and Language Arts task cards and most recently on Scan to Win tickets that they can buy for 5 classroom dollars.  I got the idea from Joanne at Head Over Heels for Teaching HERE.  I personalized the set of 25 different tickets for my younger class.  You can get hers at TpT HERE.  
QR codes are super easy to add and to use.  I get them from QR Stuff.  Here's what the page looks like:

Just select "Plain text", fill in what you want the text to read, and click on DOWNLOAD.  Don't bother with the 4th step.  After the code is downloaded just right click on it, select COPY, then paste it into your document.  To read it you need to download a QR scanner.  There are plenty to choose from.  I use Quafter.

#2 - I made this Home Time Clean Up chart last week and has it ever made a difference in the classroom.  Everyone is focused on their job, and things are done quickly and efficiently.  I've done this before and I'm not sure why it took me so long to get it established this year.

My class sits at 4 hexagonal tables - 6 kids at each table.  I put numbers  stickers under the lips of the tables, so that each student has a number from 1 to 6.  When a student is away one of the "floaters" from tables 3 or 4 fill in for them.  The supervisor checks that the jobs are done and everyone has stacked their chair before they leave.  They also help everyone out.
Every other week I get them to rotate one place to the right so they have a different job. About every 6 weeks I change the seating plan completely.   

#3 - Every day when my class meets together to start our Math block I do a quick spiral review of  3 concepts.  They aren't necessarily something that we are going to be working on that day.  I used to do this fairly randomly, but then I decided to get more organized to make sure we covered everything they should know and needed to be using, both in school and out of it. So I went through our B.C. Math curriculum to see what they are expected to be learning over the course of the year, prioritized them, and put them in order.

I made a set of cards (grade 2) for these.  There is a concept to review for each day of the week and there are cards for each month of the year.  I cut them into individual months, mounted them on construction paper, laminated them, and put them onto a ring that I hang on my Math wall for easy access. 
They only take a couple of minutes to do each day but this year I have third graders and I can see the difference they made, especially with concepts that you cover and then move on from.
Things like time, for example.  When time is on my daily card I pull out my big Judy clock and set it to whatever increment of time I want to cover.  Then I turn it around and show the class.  Last year I had first and second grade, so I'd show an hour or half hour time on the clock and have the one's call out the time.  The grade two's would rate their answer with a thumbs up or thumbs down, then I'd change the clock to an increment of 5 minutes for the two's to answer.  In a minute there's time to do about 3 or 4 of these for each grade.  If you don't have a combined class you could do double that many!
I have been amazed this year by what a great handle the kids who were in my class last year have on this concept, while the others have forgotten what they learned because it was taught in a short period of time and not reinforced over the year.  I didn't actually do a time unit like I usually do with my class last year.  I just threw a time worksheet in every now and then for them to work on, and included time activities in my Math drawers (centers) three or four times during the year.
Other concepts included in the grade 2 set are counting on and back, skip counting, partners for 10, 10 more/less, count by 10's then count on by 1's, months of the year, ......There are 3 for each day of the week.
If you'd like a set for free click HERE.  I could make them fancier and cuter, but WHY?  They WORK!
PS: If you teach grade 1-I used these same cards for my firsties, since I had the combined class last year, so this year they're all feeling  confident with the grade 2 concepts.