Saturday, December 8, 2012

We Love Hot Chocolate {Math Motivator}

Most of my chickadees struggle with knowing their basic math facts (and I can tell their isn't a whole lot of practice going on at home).  To motivate them to practice and learn their facts  I came up with the Hot Cocoa Challenge. 
We made cups of cocoa out of constuction paper.  My chickadees were told what facts to practice for the week and that they would be quizzed at the end of the week (I am differentiating, some students are practicing add./sub. facts and some are working on multiplication facts).  If they scored 80% or above they would earn a marshmallow to put in their cocoa.  We will be doing this each week from now through January. 
After they have earned 3 marshmallows for their cup, they earn a cup of hot cocoa.  After 5 marshmallows, they will earn cookies and cocoa.
This pic is from the first week (not all of my student's cups are pictured).  I can not tell you how excited my students were about being able to earn a "marshmallow" for their cup.  They kept telling me all week that they were practicing and on Friday, all of my students who were in school that day earned a 100% on their math facts and earned their first marshmallow.  We just finished up our 2nd week and not only are all my chickadees still talking about practicing at home, they did well on their 2nd assessment.
If you need a way to motivate your students to learn their math facts, give this a try.  I am still amazed and happy at how giddy my chickadees were when they got to glue their marshmallow onto their cups of cocoa!

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Place Value Cups

Happy Fall everyone!  It has been well over a month since my last post.  School has been b*a*n*a*n*a*s!!
I wanted to share with you a great resource shared with me by a fab colleague.  She found the idea on the internet.  I do not know the whe who or where she found it (maybe pintrest?) so I can not give the proper credit/link to the idea.
Have you ever heard of place value cups?  They are cheap and easy to make.  All you need are Styrofoam cups and Sharpie markers (I love for any excuse to use Sharpie markers).
To make your place value cups, simply write the digits 0-9 along the edge of the cup.  Use a different cup and color for each place value holder in the number.  We were working on 3 digit numbers, so I used 3 cups.
My chickadees used these with a Brace Map to show the different parts of a number, and with the
co-operative learning structure Rally Coach to show the different forms of a number.  They loved that they got to spin the cups around to create their own number.
When I was walking around helping/monitoring I could not believe the number of times my students kept saying to one another how much fun using the place value cups were.  They thought they were the best thing ever.  What more could I want!!?
My hubby (who teaches 1st) plans on using the place value cups when he teaches 2 digit numbers.
Give place value cups a try.  You won't be disappointed!
Have a great 1st week of October!

Thursday, August 2, 2012

Rubrics/Scales for Learning Goals????

Last year my district adopted a new evaluation system for teachers.  The Teacher Evaluation System, Bridge, is based on the research conducted by Dr. Robert Marzano connecting Effective Instructional Practice to Increased Student Achievement.
It was a heck of alot of information to digest at once. 

Part of our evaluation/effective instructional practice that will lead to increased student achievement was to post a learning goal on the board for each lesson that was taught throughout the day.  While this did take up considerable space on my board, and was a pain to write, I understand the importance of having it posted for the students to see and refer back to.  The learning goal was also accompanied by a generic rubric that students used to "rate" themselves.  For my chickadees this was an easy, peasy 0-2 rubric that they would use to rate themselves privately using their fingers over their heart.

2-  I got it
1- I am beginning to understand, but still need some help
0- even with help I.D.K

This year we need to have a specific scale/rubric made for each learning goal, for each lesson, that is taught throughout the day.  This is an enormous amount of rubrics/scales that have to be created.  In my district one of the pre-planning days when I go back is dedicated to the task of creating these rubrics.  We are also implementing the Common Core this year along with a new grading scale for k-2.  We previously used letter grades (E S P N) and will now be using numbers (0-4).  To give you an idea a 3 will mean working proficiently at grade level for the skill.  I have not yet had any type of training for the common core or the grading.  My district will be training everyone the day before we have to make the rubrics/scales.  I want to make sure I have a correct understanding of the Common Core and grading before I start making any rubrics.

Is anyone currently using the Marzano based evaluation system and/or a different rubric/scale for each lesson that is taught?  What do you think of using a specific rubric for the lesson vs. a general rubric?  Do you have any examples you would be willing to share?

Saturday, July 28, 2012

A Peek At My Room...Pre-Set Up

Since my "official" day back is about 2 weeks away (wahhh!!) I decided to swing by my classroom to pick up a teacher's edition I needed to start my lesson plans for the upcoming school year.  My team shares lesson plans and I am responsible for the 1st two months of school so I thought I'd get a head start.

Now as you may (or may not know) from a previous post we have to pack up our classrooms(and make sure as much as possible is off the floor) at the end of every year so that maintenance can come in and wax the floor/clean the room.  While inconvenient and time consuming I don't mind doing this so much because it gives me the opportunity to clean and organize everything for the upcoming school year.

This is what greeted me (besides a mildewy/garbagey smell) when I walked in my classroom door.
Empty boxes that were damp and had mold growing on them!!??
A book shelf blocking the entrance to the bathroom
Some of my items that were neatly stored by yours truly thrown haphazardly in the bathroom.  Notice the items on and in the toilet!!!!
Student agendas, ink and books for the team were delivered to my small hybrid classroom

Why would there be numerous damp, empty boxes with mold growing on them in my classroom you might wonder.  Well, teacher friends, that is due to maintenance accidently throwing all of the brand new math books that you see in the photo above, away in a dumpster for a day (the boxes that the books were in were clearly labeled to be delivered to my room and had my name on them). Oh, also, it may have rained on the day they were in the dumpster.  They thought they were trash (I kid you not). When the mistake was finally realized maintenance retrieved the books and told the school's bookkeeper that only a handful of the books would be unusable and that they would deliver the books that could be used to my room.
Well nobody checked the "usable" books that were delivered to my room, but thank goodness I went to my classroom when I did or who knows what I would have returned to.
The boxes were damp and had mildew growing on them (why they would think I would want dirty, wet, empty boxes is beyond me) as did many of the books.
Multiple pages in this one book looked like the page you see above.
I had to go through each book one by one to see what was really salvagable.  I won't even tell you about the mess this made.  Some of the books still had garbage and dirt stuck between the pages.

I. was. very .livid.

I ended up only being able to keep around a quarter of the books.  Thousands of dollars down the drain.  What infuritates me even more is that the head of our school's maintenance stopped by room and was insisting these books were usable.
Usable?? Can. You. Believe. It.

Was it wrong of me to tell/ask this individual "Who in their right mind would use a book that has mold growing in it or give it to a child to use? Who thinks it's okay to put damp, dirty books/boxes in my room and expect me to clean the mess? I also stated it was not in my job description to have to come to school and clean, never mind clean a mess that was left by adults who should know better.  And what's with my stuff in the toilet?  I don't spend my hard earned money on things for my classroom so it can be flushed down the drain."
I also may have told this individual that maintenance needed to read a book on cleaning or take a cleaning workshop. 

Maintenace at my school leaves much to be desired.  I sent an email to my admin. with many pictures to go with it and am waiting for a reply, unfortunately they were on vacation when this happened.  I just hope there is money left in our school budget to re-order books and that we get them on time.  I am trying to think positively about this, at least this issue was found out about sooner rather than later and I have started steps to rectify the issue.
What does continue to bother me though is that maintenance sees nothing wrong with the way my room was left for me and that they feel the books can still be used.

I'm sorry for this rant, but I thought writing it in this blog would be cheaper than therapy.

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Back to School Unit

I was in Target and Walmart yesterday and could not believe all the back to school items that are out already.  I had to contain myself from buying too much.  The hubs (who is also a teacher) could not have been any more disinterested in all the brand new pencils, crayons, pencil grips, plastic storage containers I need storage container intervention  that were surrounding us.  Hubs thinks I am a weirdo sometimes because the smell of new crayons, or a bunch of newly sharpened pencils gives me a little thrill!  Come many of you get a thrill from brand new school supplies???  I know I am not the only one!!

I usually start thinking about the upcoming school year in earnest from mid to late July.  What do I need to buy? get ready? make? revamp?

In preparation for the upcoming school year I have put together a Back to School Unit that includes activities for First and/or Second Grade for the first week/few weeks of school.  This is what is included:

Playground Safety Writing Stationary (2 diff. line sizes) and circle map
* Summer Memory Writing Stationary (2 diff. line sizes) and Craftivity
 *All About Me Tree (students choose adjectives to describe themselves and add either the leaves or apples to their tree). I usually only have students choose 5 adjectives and add a background to their tree paper.
 *My Favorites (students tell about their favorites or draw a picture of their favorite)
 *Find a Buddy Who... (great ice breaker, great way to introduce cooperative learning structure)
* Odd and Even Number Sort with differentiated recording sheets and word cards included, so this activity can be used with cooperative learning structure Mix and Match or with slight modification Quiz, Quiz, Trade
* Before and After Bus Fun : students will tell the number that comes before and after a specified number (with differentiated recording sheets)
* Crayon Box Short Vowel Sort with sentence extension
 *Rhyming Apples : students will make pairs of rhyming words (with differentiated recording sheets and sentence extension); this activity can also be used with cooperative learning structures
* Apple-solutely Craftivity

I myself, use all of this activities during the first week(s) of school.   
You can snag yours here!

Friday, July 6, 2012

Friday Font Find and Clickeritis

Clickeritis: (verb) The process by which you go on the computer looking for one thing, but something else catches your eye and you click, go to a new page...see something else to a new hour goes by...hubby asks did you find what you were looking for (or you finally look at the clock)...think to self "what was I looking for again??"

I suffer from this almost everytime I go on the computer.  How 'bout you??

Here is a cute font I found while suffering from "clickeritis".
Love the stripe details.  You can get this free font here.

A good book and fruity beverage are calling my name!!
Happy Friday