Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Buzz Words

Happy Hump Day Teacher Peeps!

Isn't it interesting how education buzz words keep popping up? Five years ago, it was Learning Focus Strategies and we were all talking about activators and summarizers and H.O.T. questions. Now, the buzz words on everyone's lips are close reading and text evidence.  Why do we need new words for what everyone has been doing?  Maybe we haven't been doing it exactly right.

I think about my own comprehension as a reader. I love to read, but I was never great at remembering all the details about every book I read.  As for taking tests, forget it - we had to remember what we had read - not show text evidence. In 2014, students are required to show how they know what they know.  Isn't that the best? We want our students to know how to find the information, not keep all of it in their memories so they can pass a test, then forget it. 

So, I have been working on this skill with my third graders and I have to say, they are getting it!  I ask them all the time, how do you know? They know I want to hear them say, "It's right here Mrs. Hanneken."  The next step has been giving them the words to tell me what text evidence supports the questions I have asked. This is the cool's only a few phrases, but it has given them a huge boost in their ability to show text evidence especially in writing.  The author states.....the author states on page XX....because....for example....for instance...according to the text. Even my struggling third graders can synthesize the question, find text evidence, and respond in the correct way. I think this is a huge improvement in reading instruction.  Students aren't left to wander around in text trying to make sense of what the author is saying AND answer these hard questions that we teachers torture them with.

I feel hopeful about the new buzz words and the reading strategies that they bring.  Seeing these young readers being successful with the harder text they are required to read and comprehend is making me happy.  How about you?  What do you think about close reading and text evidence? 

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Guided Math Freebie

As the journey into Guided Math continues, I found that I needed a specific planning sheet for math center/rotations.  As my knowledge about how to do this in my classroom evolves, so will my planning needs.  For now, I have come up with a planning sheet that I can quickly plan out who is doing what during guided math.

With that in mind, I have created a planning sheet that first, shows what everyone (including myself) is doing, what materials are needed, the whole group mini-lesson taught, vocabulary,  summarizer/wrap up activity and the standard being taught.  In my district, the emphasis is on knowing the standards, so I included space for this too.

If you are doing Guided Math or a 3 Center rotation in your classroom, you may be able to use this planning guide. As we all know, time is EVERYTHING to a teacher, so this planning sheet is available FREE in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

Hope you find this as helpful as I have!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Facebook and Stepping Outside the Box

Last Sunday, I continued my blogger's journey by creating a Facebook page. I wanted to be able to share my posts with my teacher friends and their friends and not bore my family and friends with my teaching blog updates. So I invited all my personal teacher peeps to "LIKE" my page and they did so immediately, which was heartwarming and very appreciated.

I had only shared my blog with some of my closest teacher friends because frankly, I was a little scared to have my thoughts "out there" for everyone to read and maybe critique. Well, after posting my Guided Math blog post from September 7th, I received so much positive feedback from teachers and administrators. Several colleagues forwarded this blog post to other teachers and a few to middle school teachers. They love the idea of guided math and feel like the method described in my post could work even at the middle school level. My elementary peeps of all grade levels are eager to try it. The beauty of this 3 centers only plan is that it isn't a huge amount of extra planning, which absolutely nobody has right now. Here in Florida, we are implementing a totally new set of standards and a new way of teaching them, so time is not something we have.

I am so proud of all of the teachers willing to step outside the box and try something new while at the same time implementing new standards.  As I said - no guts, no glory - thank you for your sweet, sweet comments and for being exactly the opposite of what the politicians say about teachers.

Sunday, September 7, 2014

Guided Math - To Do or Not to Do?

Periodically over the past few years, each school principal that I have had has hinted that they would like us to teach math more like reading - code: please teach in small groups.  The question for me was always, what is the rest of the class doing while I am meeting with a small group? Now, I know that many of you will say, "centers, of course!"  Seems like a no brainer, right?  WRONG!  I loathe centers.  I know this is not a popular opinion, but I just can't take all the distractions that come with centers.  When I am trying to meet the needs of my small group, I cannot worry about what the rest of my class is or is not doing (especially in this age of teacher evaluations).  Nor can I get my head around some massive rotation schedule that somebody at NASA has to decode for me (you know 8 centers,18 students, rotating every 15 minutes, blah, blah, blah....) So, although I wasn't happy with the whole group method, I just didn't know what else I could do. knew there was going to be a well.  I read a really interesting article on Guided Math that made me think, "I can do this, I can get my head around this idea". Basically, the idea is that there are 3 centers only and the teacher is one of them. Totally doable.  I was really jazzed about this and I jumped right in the 2nd week of school and I LOVE, LOVE, LOVE it! 

Here's the routine: 1) I spend about 15 - 20 minutes doing a mini-lesson on the concept, 2) Centers begin with the lowest group practicing the mini-lesson concept with me, the medium group practicing math facts or working on word problems based on previously learned concepts, and the high group practicing the mini-lesson concepts in partners or independently.  This way there is differentiation in each group ( good for them, good for my evaluations).  3) After 20 minutes, we rotate and the low group goes and continues working on the practice, the medium group comes to me, and the high group does math fact practice, or word problems. 4)  20 minutes later, we rotate again and I see the high group, middle continues the concept practice independently or in partners, and the low group does math facts/word problems.In order to make sure everyone stays on task, I always have an Early Finishers Assignment listed on the board which could be Math task cards,  or an assignment related to the math calendar.

The positives are many!  First, I feel like I really SEE how all of my students are doing each and every day. I can solve the misconceptions immediately and assess what I need to do with that group or individual student right away.  No need to grade papers to find out how the class performed on a new concept.  Second, the students really love it! They like that they get personal attention from me, but also independent/partner time to practice. Third, I feel much less stressed during math lessons, because I am not constantly running around trying to help all of my students at the same time.

I have been raving to my third grade team about how much I love this and some of the brave ones have jumped right in with me. No guts, no glory - love them!  I will have to provide a progress report in a month or so, but right now I am super excited about math block!

 This is the article that inspired me, but I am not doing it exactly like the author. She has been doing this awhile and her guided math time is a little more in depth, with more activities.  I'm going to take it slow and hopefully gain speed as the year progresses.  If this intrigues you, check out the link below.

Good luck - let me know your thoughts!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Thrifty Thursday Sale - 20% Off

Since tomorrow is Thursday, I'm throwing a 20% off sale on my entire Teacher Pay Teacher store!   

Here are a few of my biggest sellers -

Fluency Pack #1 Start with Basic Blends and Syllables
This resource is perfect for those struggling decoders.  With repetitive practice, they will show improvement in no time.
Fluency Pack #2 Phrases
After they master their blends and syllables, help
 them put it together in short Fry phrases.
Fluency Pack #3 Pyramid Sentences
Let them show off their much improved fluency by practicing
with Pyramid sentences.  Students LOVE to practice these!
Wonderful Word Wall Words Pack
A complete word wall perfect
 for 2nd or 3rd grade.

It's the perfect time to stock up on the basic resources that will help you move those struggling readers along. Just click on my TPT link and save BIG time on my Thrifty Thursday Sale!