Saturday, April 12, 2014

Bright Ideas: Popsicles Sticks Galore

Life has been absolutely crazy since I have become a mother.  On top of that, school life is busier than ever with teacher evaluations (I don't like doing them as much as you don't like having them done) and state testing, testing, testing.  I am pretty sure I spend the last nine weeks of school organizing one test or another (district test coordinator).  However, one of the bright spots is the Bright Ideas link up each month.  I hope that you have enjoyed the last two as much as I have.  If you missed them, no fear, check them out HERE and HERE.  I have filed away a ton of useful ideas for next year and found some great ideas to finish the year strong.

Today I am here to talk to you about popsicle sticks.  They come in a variety of colors and sizes.  Almost every teacher has them in his or her room.  There are a ton of ways to use them, and I am going to share a few of my favorite with you.

Engaging Fluency Practice in Math

Common Core Standards that apply to fluency:

     + add and subtract within 5
     + Add and subtract within 20, demonstrating fluency for addition and subtraction within 10
     + Fluently add and subtract within 20 using mental strategies
     + Fluently add and subtract within 100 using strategies based on place value, properties of
         operations, and/or the relationship between addition and subtraction.

     + Fluently multiply and divide within 100 know from memory all products of two one-digit
     + Fluently add and subtract within 1000 using strategies and algorithms based on place value,
          properties of operations, and/or the relationship between addition and subtraction.

     + Fluently add and subtract multi-digit whole numbers using the standard algorithm.
     + Fluently multiply multi-digit whole numbers using the standard algorithm.
     + Fluently divide multi-digit numbers using the standard algorithm
     + Fluently add, subtract, multiply, and divide multi-digit decimals using the standard algorithm
         for each operation.

Engaging Ideas:

Activity 1
Students need fun ways to practice their fluency in math facts.  I pinned this fabulous idea from First Grade Parade a looonng time ago.  The little pumpkins are fun and festive for fall or Halloween, but I needed something that I could use all year and that I could store flat in a file folder or binder.  Instead of containers, I used index cards to write the numbers on and I fancied them up a bit with some washi tape.  Now everything fits in a small ziploc bag.

 I work with different grade levels, and I was able adapt the activity as I moved between groups of students.  In K-3, I put the sum/difference/product/quotient on the index card and the equations on the popsicle sticks.

Activity 2
I wanted a way to use the concept of I Have, Who Has but individually.  This worked really great with the 3-6 students in helping them becoming more fluent with bigger numbers and get practice using all four operations.

Multiple Ways to Group Students

Along with working with small groups of different grade levels, I also work with one second grade class.  Every student has a popsicle stick with their name on it.  I use them to make sure I am calling on a variety of students instead of the same ones every time.  I also use them to group students.  At the other end of their stick I have different symbols that allow me a variety of ways to quickly group students.

I can group students by:

the type of washi tape - This was created to be completely random.  I put the washi tape on the stick first, mixed them up, and put them upside down in a cup.  Then I randomly drew a stick out and wrote the students' name on the stick.  Thinking ahead to next year, I am going to type the student names on small address labels, so I can use the same sticks year to year.  Then each year I just have to put a new label on top of the old one.

the shape - After I had student names on the sticks, I laid them out and grouped them based on specifically to make sure that I had one strong reader in each group.  I was working with the students on citing evidence this year, and we worked with some short passages that were a little above where most of the students were reading.  Knowing I had one strong reader allowed me to use those passage for group work as well as my model.

color of their name along with letter on washi tape - In the instances that I wanted to use a jigsaw with my students, I wanted to make sure that I could quickly put them into groups and also give students a reminder of where to report back to for home group.  The color the student's name was written in indicates the home group.  The letter on the washi tape indicates the expert group.

If you enjoyed these bright ideas, please consider joining me on Facebook, Twitter, or Instagram for more ideas.

The Bright Idea bloggers also created a Pinterest board so all the great ideas from each month are housed in one place.  This is definitely a board to follow for great ideas.

For more bright ideas from 150 different bloggers, browse through the link-up below.  The titles give you a glimpse of the topic and grade level of each post, so you can choose the right ones for you.  Thank you so much for visiting today!

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Bright Ideas: KWL Plus Chart

Today is a BRIGHT idea day.  It is time to grab a cup of coffee (or your favorite would be Dr. Pepper) and wander your way through the bright ideas brought to you by some great blogger friends.  I love this Bright Idea hop because it isn't about freebies; it isn't about products; it IS about sharing with you great ideas that you can immediately implement in your classroom to help you and your students.

My bright idea began with wanting to help the students in my school be better organized as they read nonfiction texts in order to conduct research about a specific topic.  One of the ways I introduced to my teachers (as an instructional coach) to help their students is through an expanded KWL chart.

Many of the students were already familiar with a KWL charts, but I wanted to make sure we were all on the same page.  I had my teachers introduce (in preschool) and review (in kindergarten through third grades) the basic KWL chart.

One of the preschool teachers took the KWL chart and made it work for students in a couple of ways.  She had "Today we are going to read about ______" already on the chart along with the green question (What do you know about girafffes) and the blue question (What do you wonder about giraffes).  She showed them the Giraffes book (LOVE the about grabbing students' interests) and had them share what they thought they knew about giraffes while she wrote a few on the chart.  Then she told them to think about what they wanted to know - what they wondered about giraffes.  They are four years old and struggle with asking questions, so she gave them some stems to help them out.

I have one teacher who teaches a combined kinder and first grade class.  She made the KWL chart her own also.  She went through the same process but with a book about seeds.  They completed the whole thing as a class.

One of my third grade teachers chose to put each part of the KWL on a different piece of small chart paper and used bulletin board letters to put "know, wonder, learn."  In third grade, students are more independent and each student wrote on a sticky note what they knew and wondered before the book was read.  Then they came to the front of the room and put the sticky notes on the chart.  After the teacher read multiple excerpts about Abe Lincoln. they put what they learned.

Let me stop a minute and talk about the LEARN category.  Students are not just putting random facts they learned after the book is read.  Students are putting information that MATCHES their WONDER questions in the learn column.  The whole point of this chart is to help students organize their research about a topic, so any random fact will not help with the research.  The students have a purpose for listening/reading because of their SELF-GENERATED questions.  They are more MOTIVATED to listen/read because they want to know something about the topic.

Now, here comes the expanded portion.

Expanded KWL

Students are moving their wonder questions to the learn column if their question is answered during the reading.  Students are also moving the information in the KNOW column to two new columns:  CONFIRM and MISTAKEN.  After the reading, students reexamine what they thought they knew and decided if it was:  CONFIRMED (text gave evidence that what they wrote down was true) or MISTAKEN (text gave evidence that what they thought they knew was incorrect).  If the know sticky note could not be confirmed or denied, then it stayed in the know column.

All of my teachers, except the preschool, added cofirmed and mistaken to their KWL charts.  One of my third grade teachers thought the two categories were best put under the know column (like you see above).  One of my first grade teachers put the confirm column after the know and the mistaken after the learn (like in the picture below).

Next up on the Bright Ideas blog hop is Julie from Second Grade Style.  She has a wonderful post on tips for keeping a clean classroom.  Just click on the button below to check it out!

Want some other BRIGHT IDEAS?  Check out the linkies below.  There is a K-2 group and 3+ group.  Each blogger put the idea they are sharing as the title, so you can pick and choose what you would like to read about today.  ENJOY!

An InLinkz Link-up

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Saturday Night Teacher Feature - Curious Firsties

Being a teacher can be so difficult.  Aside from just day to day teaching, we have to attend meetings, talk with parents, fill out paper work, find and create materials, grade papers, plan, plan, plan, etc. etc. etc!  Often times it seems that we cannot do enough.

Today, several of my teacher friends are taking some time out to recognize how hard every teacher works.  We have had the amazing opportunity to get to know each other, share ideas, and learn from each other.   Today is our day to "feature" other teachers and recognize their amazing work!  I am recognizing Em from Curious Firsties.

Em became a teacher because she was the oldest child in her family and it came natural to her to teacher her siblings.  She has taught first and second grade for 10 years.  For five of those years she has been a Title I teacher for first grade and specialized in Reading.  She earned her Masters Degree in Second Language Literacy.  She loves to teach in a small group format, especially guided reading because it is a fun challenge to help each student reach their reading potential.

Em is from Cincinnati - living her whole life in Ohio, except for 2 years in Knoxville, TN.  She met her husband in high school, and they have been together for 17 years now, with this being their eleventh year of marriage.  I have two little blonde haired girls - one is 5 and one is almost 4.  She loves to bake, and she cooks about one-two NEW recipes each week.  (Holy cow!  I am good to make dinner once a week!)  She spends fifty percent of her summer at the local amusement park.

Here are her " Top 3 Greatest Hits!"

Curious Firsties wrote two fabulous blog posts on improving student fluency.  First, she describes how she makes fluency CONCRETE.  She explains, "We wanted to really illustrate how we group our words naturally when speaking and that doing this when reading allows us to read fluently.  We wanted to also explain that fluency allows your brain to think about what you are reading (metacognition)."  After reading the book, Wolf, she had had the students each become a word in a sentence from the book.  What she does after that is fantastic.  I am not going to tell you because I want you to go check our her post by clicking HERE.  In another post she builds on that lesson by restructuring how she teaches fluency on a daily basis by using poetry.  She explains, "Here are my goals:  increase fluency and phrasing, provide a purpose for reading, and keep their eyes on the text.  So I have started using poetry (mostly nursery rhymes) at the beginning of each small group.  But one of my concerns was that the students would quickly memorize the poem, instead of focusing their eyes on the text.  Because of this concern, I came up with this weekly schedule."  What is that weekly schedule, click HERE to find out.

The Case of the Missing Nursery Rhymes can be used as a classroom activity or it would make a wonderfully fun activity for a Parent Literacy Night.  After students read the nursery rhyme book with you, they will record three mystery clues. Then they will analyze those clues to determine which nursery rhyme they would be matched with.

Looking for more great literacy ideas, check out her store HERE.

In her Heart Diagram Word Sort, students use the Venn diagrams to sort twelve words.  There are two versions of each word sort to help you differentiate for your classroom of students.  She also included one colorful Venn diagram.  The following phonics patterns are covered:  long and short vowels, consonant digraphs ch/ck, and consonant blends nk/ng.


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