Today we wrote some math (thomas) valentines. Here are some of my favourites translated. These kids are hilarious.
"Dear Area - You fill my heart with love and make me feel all warm and cozy inside. Love, Rectangle"
"Dear Mode - You are beautiful and smart. You'll always be my favourite. Love, a data set."
"Dear 536 - Things are not working out. We need to break up and go our own ways. I've found someone new. From, Division"
"Dear numbers, I love you in my life. Our love keeps growing and growing. Love, ascending pattern."
"Dear addition - We belong together and will be together forever. You are my match. Love, subtraction."
These valentines were part of some voice trait learning. We've been talking about adding voice to our writing with some quick-write mini lessons. One of the ways we can add voice is to change the point of view of the author. Above is a picture of my hallway bulletin board devoted to the voice trait. Included with the valentines are some "Show, don't tell" paragraphs and some voice-embedded opinion grocery lists. I also put some self-portrait collages - because if they aren't full of voice, I don't know what is.
Someone somewhere (on Pinterest) made a twitter board. Then someone else copied. Then I thought it was cool - being an "on-and-off" tweeter myself, so I copied too.
It's been up since September. Each kid has a username (mine is @madammie) and I usually write something like "What is your favourite genre of book? Why?" or "What is your opinion about finding the perimeter of polygons?" or "How are you feeling today?" under my name, and throughout the day (or week) students add their tweets. I'm a bit too nerdy for my own good.
You might also recognize the kids flying with the balloons which have their "hopes and dreams" for the year from Pinterest. Come on in... let's learn about things!
I altered a Guess Who? game. I replaced all of the heads with 3 or 4 or 5 digit numbers. The rules are the same, as kiddos are trying to guess their opponent's number. Is it s 3-digit number? Is it greater than ___? Does it have a 5 in it's tens column? Is it an odd number?
I altered a Jenga game with multiplication facts. The tower gets set up (like in normal Jenga), and as kids take out a Jenga block (and it doesn't fall) they have to answer the multiplication fact. If they get it right, they are safe. If not, they have to pull another block.
DOMO. (So the game is really called SNAKE, but I teach French Immersion and our class pet is my stuffed DOMO-kun, so we renamed the game DOMO.) This is a whole-class game. Each kid draws a tableau on some scrap paper with each column a letter in the word you are spelling (DOMO). Round 1 is round D. All students stand up and I roll two dice. Once I roll I ask if they want to stay in the game. If they stay, they write down the total of the dice on their table and I move on. I roll the dice again, and before i tell them the total, I ask if they are in or out. If they are out, they keep all the points that they've accumulated so far. If they stay in, they are facing risky business. You see, if I roll a 1, they lose all the points. If I roll a double 1 (snake eyes) they lose all points from the current round and any round before. Once I roll a 1, students add all the points from column D and we move on to Round 2:Round O and all kids stand up again. They love it. We also have a (first to 100) bébé DOMO version that kids play in pairs.
**More games to come soon. Also I want to share the crazy-ness that is my triple-grade numeracy block! Until then - try some of these games.
*Note: Pinterest doesn't really drive my instruction. The data (is the roadmap that) drives my instruction and student interests, but there are so many amazing resources for teachers waiting to be pinned. And since I have over 200 pins on my schooled board (that I am actually doing!) I thought I should share them with the world.
To desk or not to desk? No teacher desk. I haven't had one in years. I have some shelves with teacher books and curriculum documents, as well as unused science/social studies texts. I have a horseshoe guided reading table to work at (I keep my laptop on it) and a couple of cupboards and drawers behind it to store some of my stuff. I don't need any more space than that. I felt that when I had a desk I just used it to dump things on and shove stuff in. It wasn't useful and I quickly got rid of it.
Tables or desks: I wish I had tables. I have desks set up in groups. I rarely teach a lesson with the kiddos at their desks. It makes it seem like I am talking to more kids than there actually art. I like them on the carpet in front of me. I sometimes sit with them on the floor, or stand/sit in a chair. I feel much more confident when I am taller than my students. For most work, students have the opportunity to work wherever they want in the classroom. I have camping chairs, a plethora of stools and ottmen, a bunch of pillows and a couple of carpets. Students are usually at "their desk" for artwork and eating.
What's on your walls? There isn't much....yet. We create anchor charts together as a class and put them up as we create them. Since I do have 13 of the same kids as last year, I've kept some of the anchor charts - since technically we did create them together so that they can continue to refer to until I "re-teach" it to the entire class. Some teachers still put up motivational quote posters, but I can't stand them. Even if I did like them, you can't find them in French anywhere.
Are you in the room? Not really. There is a picture of me with silly glasses on the door with the rest of my class. I suppose it would be nice to have a picture of Rob & Eli somewhere, but I don't - just like the students don't have photos of their families on their desks. My writer's notebook has some photos of them plastered on the cover. I have a class photo from each of the classes that I've taught along the top of my Religion board, and a couple of sculptures (past art projects), my rubber chicken and my stuffed Domo (class pet) on some high shelves.
Which way do your desks face? I keep my desks in groups. It saves space, my kids are (quiet) hard workers and we do a lot of group work. If they turn their heads one way they see the SMARTboard, and if they look the other way, they see the white boards. But as I mentioned, most mini-lessons happen from the carpet or at the small group table.
Are there places for the students to work that doesn't include their desks? They can work wherever they feel that they work best and stay on task. They choose.
Can they get what they need? I keep containers of things (pencil crayons, markers, pencils, erasers, staplers, tape, pens, glue, paper clips, paper) all at the writing shelves. They can grab it if they need it. Unless it gets trashed or abused, they have access.
Where are those rules? I don't have rules/consequences posted anywhere. The first week of school we practice routines over and over again. We also discuss and internalize our classroom rules (My most important two: Listen to instructions the first time and SPEAK IN FRENCH). We practice and practice. If at anytime throughout the year the expectations are not met, we'll stop and review again - but my kids are pretty great.
Where's the tech? We have a SMARTboard and 4 classroom computers. We have a class iPad and a FLIP video camera. I often have my camera at school too. The kids become very comfortable with the gadgets quickly. This year we'll be blogging, tweeting, animating, playing math games, listening to audio books, creating photo and video projects and doing a lot of media literacy. I think we'll try skyping with Rob's class too!
guiding questions from: Pernilleripp
I haven't sat down to actually blog in a long while. I know. And I apologize to you, my friends. Today won't be that day either, but soon. I think. It's just not time yet. I can't explain what that means exactly. I stare at my wordpress dashboard on a regular basis telling myself "Just publish something. Anything. You've been blogging for almost 10 years. People seem to like reading it. Just do it." But I keep sitting there not writing. Writer's block? Lack of Inspiration? Self-Confidence? No, no, none of those. I have a variety of drafts started and stopped. Started and stopped. And then I just click "save draft" and log-off. I'm almost back. Almost.
I've been doing a lot of crazy projects at school. I love extra-curriculars - but for some reason they all tend to fall in June - I am happy I took a break from directing/producing a play this year. Track & Field (school day and regionals), Talent Show, "secret" Assemblies, Yearbook, Toronto trip, Medieval Fayre and a Lipdub! On top of that, I am moderating some common math assessments next week, EQAO started off the month, Reading/Writing data collection was due to the board and report cards should probably get started. I'll also be going to grade 8 grad (I taught those kiddies!) and end of year parties and golfing. I'm not complaining. I love this stuff - but it might attribute to my absence on the Interwebs - That and my ridiculous influx of Etsy orders.
I've also been spending some time with my fam.
Let's chat soon. Real soon. xo
Where the heck....? I am a bad teacher-blogger turned mom-blogger turned teacher-mom-blogger. It's been almost a month since my last post - eek! Here is a quick update (with many more frequent posts to follow - I promise!).
I've had a huge influx of Etsy orders (maps, seating charts AND paperdolls). I've drawn 6 maps, 2 sets of paperdolls and 3 seating charts - and it is only April. Do you want to add to my madness? http://funkylindsay.etsy.com (or maybe wait a few weeks)
We have a walker! It started with just a few steps and in a matter of days Eli is doing laps around the living room, carrying objects, picking things up and pulling himself up without any help. He is so sturdy and so excited. Sometimes he gets a little too excited and tries to run. This has resulted in two fat lips, a bloody nose, a black eye and an assortment of other bumps and bruises. He barely crawls anymore.
I'm still loving being back teaching and I am working smarter than ever too. I carpool with a girl who doesn't like to get to school too early, I don't linger after school in the staff room after school to chat, I use very good use of my prep period, lunch and recesses that I don't have duty, and it is my 7th year in this grade. I am only doing school planning once Eli has gone to bed or Sunday nights when my parents arrive for their weekly reunion. The last two months are my favourite time of the school year because so much is crammed in such a short period of time. It is nuts, but I love it. (Medieval Times trip, Track & Field, EQAO, performances and assemblies, rumours about the next school year, and gym outside!) This year I decided to take a break from producing/directing an epic school musical - but I can't wait until next years!
I have 1000+ unread blog posts in my google reader, 15 unwatched tivo'd things, 6 games of words with friends awaiting my turn and personal blog posts swirling in my head. I have a slew of marvellous things I want to make and do. And emails to reply to and letters to write before June.
xoxo. Stay Tuned.
I have one more month left of my Maternity Leave.
This time last year I was apprehensive of being away from my passion for an entire year. I didn't want to stop teaching. Teaching inspired me, motivated me, challenged me, excited me and brought out the best of me. It also fostered my creativity and shoved me completely out of my comfort zone. I loved the thrill of a zillion projects on the go and making lists and schedules and newsletters and mini-lessons. I also liked collaborating with teachers and modelling lessons and daily staffroom banter. I knew that I was going to miss it.
The other part of me was giddy to begin my new role as baby maman. I knew that I was going to have a year unlike any that I have had before. And I was right. It started off with a teensy little newborn in my arms and is ending with a baby zooming around the living room and talking up a storm. I couldn't have imagined today back then. In those early wintery months, I spent days on end in pjs with Eli sleeping on my chest while I watch Saved By The Bell and the Golden Girls. He ate a lot (and we overcame some breastfeeding challenges together), napped infrequently (the bouncy chair was a saviour) and cried if he wasn't near me.
I found a passion for cloth diapering, grew a collection of wraps/slings/carriers, found a deeper love and appreciation for my hubby, renewed self-esteem about my body (I was proud of my mama doughiness), met best friends through La Leche League and fell in love with sharing a bed with my entire family. We went on picnics, made scenes, went swimming, had playdates, took photos, rode the streetcar, traveled north and south, read lots of books and sang lots of songs, and most importantly formed a trusting relationship with each other.
Like teaching, mothering inspires me, motivates me, challenges me, excites me and brings out the best of me. It has fostered my creativity and shoved me completely out of my comfort zone.
But I think it is time for the next chapter. I feel similar feelings as I did a year ago. I will miss being home with my baby tremendously, but I am giddy to resume my role as Mme Wright. I might not put in as many hours planning for my class as I once did, and I'll squeeze my extra-curriculars in during recesses instead of after school, but I will have a fresh new perspective in my profession. I think that is a good thing. xo.
“Everything that has a beginning has an ending. Make your peace with that and all will be well.” - Buddha (via a Being Erica episode)
Thank you Marian Small. This is sooo much faster than the traditional carry-over algorithm for subtraction. I will be using this from now on, if I don't have a calculator!
I also particularly love the "adding-on" strategy...
And did I mention I only have 4 more teaching days left? And then no classroom for a year. So unreal. woah.
i have 4 more teaching weeks left. That's 20 more days. (minus about 5 days for PD)
i've put together a "transition" plan of sorts for my replacement in a nice and organized binder. i am finishing up report cards and working on data collection (both due in the next 4 weeks). i did a major clean of my cabinets in my classroom. i haven't cried yet, but i probably will.
On a completely opposite note, check out these amazing blocks that my grandpa made for us (well baby... no, for us) for Christmas. Andrea and I had a set when we were little and I really wished we still had them. but- luckily i have an awesome carpenter grandfather (many years of experience as an industrial arts teacher) who gladly made them for us. It was an easier project than the amazing bookshelves he built last year, but probably more meaningful. LOVE them. xox
Our addition strategies!
Some may argue that the traditional algorithm is the best and fastest addition strategy- but that is probably because it was the only one that you learned (and were drilled with!). We teach our kids many ways to solve the same question - we also encourage them to come up with their own ways of solving problems. That is what differentiating instruction in math is all about! I don't care which strategy they end up using to answer their questions as long as they consistently get the right answer and can explain what they've done. The splitting strategy is actually very popular for many kids.
We spent this past week learning a different addition strategy and practicing each one. Next week we'll do more problem solving and they can use whichever strategy they'd like.
The kids are proud that they know how to add in more ways than their parents can. They love playing with numbers in different way. They are like mini-teachers at home. They ask me if I teach them to Rob at home. So awesome.
Check out the six we learned! (yes, me too! I love learning new ways to do old things.)
For more cool strategies for addition/subtraction/multiplication/division of more than 1-digit numbers, do a youtube search - there are some really rad multiplication strategies out there.
(yes. I love math. And I try to make as many of my kids love it as much as I do!)
NOTE: Please don't judge me if I've made errors. Blame it on the preggo brain!!
Solve problems requiring the greatest or least number of two-dimensional shapes (e.g., pattern blocks) needed to compose a larger shape in a variety of ways.
Here is a sample week in the life of my math classroom. (It is always changing. My weekly plan this week was quite different than a month ago and might be quite different a month from now.) - see my Math Planning Sheet - based on Mandy Gregory's. If you'd like to see my (french!) SMARTboard minilessons for the week, please let me know (I can't seem to upload them here...)
Mondays: Open-Ended Problem based on expectation of the week. This week I translated one of Marian Small's problems - Choose any pattern block. Use 20 of the same pattern block to create any shape. Now, choose a different pattern block. How many of this type of block do you need to cover the shape you created? As you can see, this question is extremely open so that all students can have an entry point.
We did an introduction to the manipulatives and reviewed the names of the shapes. Students then split off into teacher-selected partners* to respond to the question on chart paper with markers. After 25 minutes, we gathered together to share our learning. (Based on what I saw, I was able to form my groups for the week). *I choose partners for this activity to so that one person doesn't do all of the work. I try to match them up with an "equal" partner the best I can.
Tuesdays/Wednesdays/Thursdays: We started with a SMARTboard minilesson to reinforce the curriculum expectation. After 5-7 minutes, we moved into our Guided Math groups. The expectation that I am working on will determine the centre activities the kids do. This week, one centre was working on the NLVM (virtual manipulatives) website creating different 2D shapes with pattern blocks (they have it in French - yahoo!), one was doing paper and pencil practice at their desks (I usually make up my own sheets as the math textbook is a bit too wordy/irrelevent - but sometimes the text) and the other was a tangram challenge with "real" manipulatives. Eventually I would like them to be able to choose which centre they would like to work on, but for now they are on a rotation. The kids do two activities during this block (20 minutes each). At the end, they come back as a whole class and different students volunteer to share their math thinking of the day.
One of the rotations is working with me on the carpet in a small group. For Guided math groups - just like in reading - I make sure I see my lowest group daily (this is usually based on what i see on Monday) - and then plug the rest of the groups in. When working with me, we either work together to build on the skill/concept of the week - this is done with a mini problem, question, activity - usually done orally with a small whiteboard and manipulatives.
Fridays: Independent assessment (taken from EQAO or a parrallel task or a quiz/test) - summative of the expectation of the week to see if they "got it". This is done completely independently. This week I chose an old EQAO question for them to tackle. - Many of them did well! Yahoo!
(feel free to give me feedback - or ways to improve!!!)
I am a self-proclaimed "obsessive self-PD'er". I spend way to many hours learning new things about how to improve my teaching. This may at first seem like a marvellous thing - but in fact, I go a little bit crazy.
This weekend (besides writing progress reports, planning my math week - including creating my weekly SMARTnotebook lessons and open-ended tasks, marking writing and reader's notebooks, gathering evidence for an IEP, help plan a parent literacy info night, ....) I have decided to research Poetry Workshops.
I have found a number of good blogs with poetry ideas (like this one and this one). I would like to teach them free verse/open prose because I think they'll be successful, but myself as a student always loved the challenge of following the formula for different types of poems (ie. cinquain, haiku, acrostic, concrete).
My biggest challenge (as it is with all of my teaching) is that there are wonderful, wonderful mentor texts for poetry and tonnes of websites with great sample poems ... in ENGLISH. I have a couple of French poetry books at school, and I have found some basic (and sometimes lame) French poetry sites and I can copy some song lyrics from my CDs, but it doesn't compare with the multitude of amazing resources en anglais. I sometimes wish I taught in English for the ridiculous amount of literature there is to use with kids. It would save me a lot of time. You can search for books based on your teaching goal for the day, you can get them from the book room or the school library or the public library and even from a real bookstore (Southern Ontario has a pitiful amount of French books in their bookstores - if any! I either have to order online or drive a few hours). If you wanted to teach a mini-lesson on visualizing or good sentence fluency or inferring, you can refer to a list or a website for a multitude of titles to choose from. In French, I have to read each book I have to see if it *might work for that lesson. <end rant> So.... to TRANSLATE SOME POEMS I MUST GO.
As I continue my obsessive PD, I leave you with GUY-ku (haiku for boys).
(NB: these poems could definitely apply to any girl)
Some favourite GUY-ku:
If this puddle could talk, i think it would tell me, to splash my sister.
With the ember end of my long marshmallow stick, i write on the dark.
Hey, who turned off all the crickets? I'm not ready for summer to end.
What they should have learned in grade two: 1) Estimate, count, and represent (using the ¢ symbol) the value of a collection of coins with a maximum value of one dollar; and 2) add and subtract money amounts to 100¢, using a variety of tools and strategies
What they need to learn from me in grade three: 1) represent and describe the relationships between coins and bills up to $10; 2) estimate, count, and represent (using the $ symbol) the value of a collection of coins and bills with a maximum value of $10; and 3) add and subtract money amounts, using a variety of tools to make simulated purchases and change for amounts up to $10.
What they need to learn from me in grade four: 1) read and represent money amounts to $100; and 2) add and subtract money amounts by making simulated purchases and providing change for amounts up to $100 using a variety of tools
What they must be prepared to learn next year (in grade five): 1) read and write money amounts to $1000; and 2) add and subtract decimal numbers to hundredths, including money amounts, using concrete materials, estimation, and algorithms
Let's go plan the week !! (I am saving the MAKING CHANGE expectation for a bit later in the year when we are doing add/subtract again. That tends to be a really hard concept for 8 year olds)
<another excerpt from my weekly newsletters>
Every morning as a part of our literacy block, we have a Reader’s Workshop. Reader’s Workshop consists of a mini-lesson, small group rotation, independent reading and sharing time.
Mini Lesson (5 Minutes): Our Reading Block begins with a mini lesson that lasts approximately 5-7 minutes. Each mini lesson will focus on a reading strategy. There may be times where a strategy will be studied over the course of several days, in which case the mini lessons that week will be related to that strategy.
Rounds 1 & 2 (20 Minutes):
1) Mme Wright will meet with students in two different ways: in a small group or one-on-one
2) While Mme Wright is working with the above students, the rest of the class choses one of the following:
1. Lecture à Soi (read to self): Students practice a skill or strategy from mini-lesson or small group. The best way to become a better reader is to practice each day with a “good fit” book.
2. Lecture avec Quelqu’un (read to someone): Read and talk about a text with a self-selected partner. They may be reading the same book or different books. Partner reading provides opportunities to practice strategies, improve fluency, check for understanding, and hear your own voice while sharing.
3. Écoute (listen to reading): Students listen to books or songs on tape. Hearing fluent and expressive reading expands vocabulary, helps build stamina and makes better readers
4. Les Mots/Grammaire (word work/grammar): Students will work with grammar and words talked about in mini-lessons in a number of different ways, including magnetic letters, white boards and pipe cleaners. Expanded vocabulary leads to greater fluency in reading, therefore increasing comprehension. Becoming a more proficient speller leads to writing fluency and the ability to get your ideas down on paper.
5. L’Écriture à propos de la lecture (writing about reading): Students turn in reading response journals each week. They talk about their thinking while they read - and strategies that we’ve been working on. Writing each day makes better writers. Writing about our reading thinking makes better readers.
Sharing (5 minutes):
During this time the class might: Meet as a whole group to refer back to the mini-lesson and think further; Meet together to think about and respond to questions such as:
What did you learn about reading today?
What did you learn about yourself as a reader?
Meet in small groups to have a quick chat about how the reading is going