Sunday, July 27, 2014

Classroom Library

I have to admit it- I have too many books!  And, believe it or not, I gave a ton of them away when I left kindergarten!  It's a problem this year because I came back to my classroom after the Kids Camp had been in it all summer to find two of my own personal book shelves broken.
 And, I have spent SOOO much money on my classroom already this summer, I couldn't spend any more on new bookshelves.  So, I have to make due with the two ugly metal ones that the district provides (well, they provide one and I sort of took the other one from my kinder classroom...but don't tell).  Here's a picture of all my boxes of books on the ugly metal shelves.
My next problem is how to display them???  I bought some cute bins, but again, spending too much money, so I had to use the ones that came in the cubbies.  I think the students used them as storage boxes for their stuff because they were NASTY!!!  

After about three hours in the classroom today (Saturday), I have them looking pretty...
But they are not organized at all!  The chapter books are organized by AR levels (sort of) but the picture books are just randomly in tubs.  My next question is "How do I want to organize the books?"  I see the benefit of AR leveled tubs because students can find the tub that is at their level and choose from those... BUT, part of me wants to organize some/most of the books by author/series.  That's the  real way libraries are organized and I think it's valuable they see this organization in the classroom as well.  I think I was reading in the Daily 5 book, or somewhere, and the authors mentioned a student (I think he had recently moved to the U.S.) who had a classroom library organized by levels.  When that student went to the public library, he was very confused and frustrated because he couldn't find a book in his AR level. Funny story, but it makes you think about how inauthentic it is to organize the library that way.  On the other hand, I know how messy students can be in the library AND if the books are organized by levels (the books have colored dots on the spines) then it is easier to maintain books in the correct locations...  So, I don't know how I am ultimately going to organize the books!  But, it's a lot to think about.
One of our first week activities is to organize the library.  I give each table a couple of tubs of books and together we figure out an organizational system.  We organize the holiday books, the fairy tales, the books with animals as main characters etc...I've done this mostly with the picture books but this year I will also do it with chapter books.  Maybe I will just let the students decide- or do a combination of both- organize the chapter books within that level range by author/series but still maintain the AR level ranges.

I do this as a beginning of the year activity because it gives students ownership into the classroom.  We talk about treating books correctly and how to maintain the library. Students get to see all the cool books I have, and it's fun too!  It's a little crazy and chaotic with books all over the place, but I think it's worth it!  Once we do the organizing then I have pretty labels that will go on the bins.

Happy Reading!


Saturday, July 26, 2014

Number Talks

Last year I was introduced to a book called Number Talks: Helping Children Build Mental Math and Computational Strategies written by Sherry Parrish.  It is a little pricey, but well worth the investment.  It is a wonderful resource for grades K-5 because it provides chapters on how to create meaningful number talk and gives lots of samples that you can use.
So, if you've never heard of number talks- what is it? In a nutshell, it is a time to develop mental math strategies and a time to practice communicating and listening in math.  It's designed to be short, but powerful.
Here are some guidelines the book provides for Number Talks.
1.  Pick a location in the classroom where you are close together so it is easier for you to observe and interaction.
2.  Give plenty of wait time for all students to be able to attempt the problem.
3.  Accept, respect and consider all answers.
4.  Encourage students communication throughout the math talk.

In Kindergarten,  I used the SmartBoard to do my number talks.  I focused primarily on Dot Cards and different representations of numbers.  At the beginning of my math talks, I focused on subitzing and they were more Tell Me Fast kind of things where students looked at dots on a ten frame or random dots and figured out how many there were.  Here's a blog post about it from last year and a freebie.  Later on in the year, I focused on how students added to get their answers.  I would give them a dot configuration and students would see combinations of numbers and add to get an answer.  For example, if I showed this:
Students might see the top 5 and the bottom 2 and say "I see 5 on the top and 2 on the bottom.  That's 7."  or a student might see the 3s on the side and say "I see 3 on one side, 3 on the other and 1 in the middle- that's 7."  I would write down the number sentence that they did just to connect it to an equation.  Students LOVED this- it was one of their favorite parts of the day!  Sometimes I used dice, sometime I used dominoes, sometimes I used 10 frames and sometimes I used rekenreks.   You can get my dot configurations that you see above by clicking on the link.

The great thing about the book is that they give you samples of what to do!  That's such a time saver for me!

So, moving to 3rd grade I still want to use number talks in the classroom as a piece of my math instruction.  I went to the book for help!  It gives you sample sequences for addition and subtraction and multiplication and division.  I began with addition.  I made cards that look like this.

The author broke the addition into different categories:
  • Making 10
  • Friendly Numbers
  • Doubles and Near Doubles
  • Place Value
  • Adding up in Chunks

I made header cards for each of these.  I plan to print, laminate and cut out the cards and store them in those index card holders that Target has right now in back to school supplies.  We will begin easy with the making 10 cards, I think, until I get a feel for what they know.  Then we'll move wherever they need to go depending on their needs.

We will do Number Talks in our meeting area and I will write the number sentences, one at a time, on my white board/easel.  Then I will give students time to process.  The book suggests a signal that students do that shows they have an answer- like a thumbs-up in front of their chest or something like that.  Then I will ask students to explain how they got their answer and I will record their thinking on the white board.  We will talk about their strategies as a class and ask questions/discuss as needed.

I don't think students will have done this a lot in previous classrooms so it will be difficult at first to get them to share their thinking.  But once they begin number talks, it is such a powerful way for students to talk, discuss and ask questions about math.  It hits upon the mathematical practices standard MP1: Make sense of problems and persevere in solving them. MP7: Look for and make sense of structure and a whole bunch of Speaking and Listening standards.

If you'd like to try Number Talks, you can get these addition cards here


Friday, July 25, 2014

Daily 5 and Cafe

I know there are tons of Kindergarten classes that used Daily 5 successfully- I just was never one who thought I could, so I didn't.  Now that I am moving to 3rd grade I feel like I can better wrap my head around Daily 5.  Good thing, because our administration has decided that they want us to do Daily 5 this year.  Of course, no training has been provided or information or resources- but that's a story for another day.
For the last I-don't-know-how-many-years I've been toying with the idea of Daily 5 and this year I think I am ready to make that leap.  I reread the books this summer- the updated version of Daily 5 is really good- and I think I am sort of ready to begin.  To start I made these cards to go on my CAFE wall. They go with my color scheme of navy blue, teal/turquoise and lime green. Get the freebie here.

Then I made these cards for Daily 5.  I plan to attach them together with a cute ribbon I think.  

I have high hopes for Daily 5 in 3rd grade!  I will post more about my journey and the pictures of the final product!


Thursday, July 24, 2014

Meet the Teacher Night

Our Meet the Teacher Night is July 31st and I am busy, busy, busy getting things ready for the parents and students.  In Kindergarten, Meet the Teacher can be kind of daunting because you never know what you will get- you never know if the students are going to be running rampant through your classroom pulling out legos, puzzles and anything else they can kind find or staying close to Mom and Dad.  I generally stay away from a Station approach in Kindergarten because there are so many Kindergarten parents that are so needy at Meet the Teacher.  It never seems to work the way I want it to.  But, since I will be teaching 3rd grade next year, I decided to go ahead and try a station approach.  I don't have it all set up yet, but here are my station cards.  I am going to have the students and parents go around to six different stations.
 In the folders, I have PTO information and some other forms like one for email addresses, a get to know you form for parents and a "fridge facts" sheet with school information and a QR code that takes them to my school webpage.
 Parents always bring lots of supplies to Meet the Teacher.  I will have bins, tubs and boxes labeled for those community supplies.
 I want them to choose where they want to sit the first day, but will explain to them that I will most likely move them after the first few days.
 I will have a tub for books at the middle of the table for students that first week.  Once we've explored the library and taken the STAR test then students will have book bins that are individualized.
 The students will write their names on a small white board and I will take their pictures.  This is so I can learn their names more quickly, but also it's nice to have a beginning of the year picture. In Kindergarten I used this to see if they could write their names- not so much in 3rd grade, but it does give a quick assessment of handwriting legibility.
These next two ideas are floating around Pinterest, so they are not my original ideas.  I just changed them a bit to fit my needs (and school colors).  Both parents and students will take a little treat.
 You can get the Parent freebie here.
You can get the student freebie here.

I have a couple of more things that I will share with you in another post.  Hope you are excited for the new school year.  And, I hope your Meet the Teacher Night runs smoothly. :)


Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Active Listening Proficiency Scale

Back a million years ago when I taught 3rd grade before, I used to make a t-chart to show what Active Listening was and what Active Listening was not.  Then we would do some practice scenarios where students were actively listening and some scenarios where students were not actively listening and we would talk about the differences.
In Kindergarten, we always spent a lot of time talking about what it means to listen.  We practiced a lot- we practice the whole year.
There are a million cute visuals out there on active listening- or whole body listening. And they are all wonderful!  But this year, with my brain thinking about proficiency scales, I decided to create a proficiency scale for Active Listening.  I plan to go through this process with my students, but I needed to do one ahead of time to think it through.

When I do proficiency scales with my students I explain the numbers this way:
4- Above and beyond
3- Just right- exactly where you should be
2- Almost there- just missing a few things
1- A good start but a long way to go

I started with that "just right" listener- and asked myself what that student is doing. Going back to my kinder days, this listener is listening with his ears, his eyes, his body, his hands and feet, and his brain.  Those became the criteria for the "3".  Then I bumped it back to a "2"- maybe they are doing everything except one of those.  Then I bumped it back to a "1"- maybe they are missing two of the criteria.  Then we always end with the "4" and it's always the hardest because sometimes the "3" has everything you want.  For the "4" on the active listening proficiency scale, I decided that I would use the last criteria we talk about in Kinder and that is the heart- the listener cares about what the speaker is saying.  But I added to this and said that the listener is engaged in a conversation with the speaker.  I thought that would add that extra above and beyond that the "4" needs.

It's not perfect and you'll need to make it your own with your students, but it's a different twist on a common back to school topic.  Here are some pictures of what's in the FREEBIE. To help you make your anchor chart, I added some adorable pictures from Melonheadz that you can use as labels for your descriptors, the numbers for the proficiency scale and a title if you want to use it.

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Back to School Proficiency Scales

Proficiency scales became a large part of my classroom last year in Kindergarten.  We had one for our math journals (See blog post here) and several for writing (see blog posts here and here).  I want to continue with proficiency scales in my 3rd grade classroom because I feel like they are a great tool for students to assess their own learning.  But, I want to introduce proficiency scales in a fun way for students. I recently made some homemade chocolate chip cookies.  When I finish a batch, my son always looks at the cookies cooling on the rack and he takes a very long time deciding which cookie he wants.  While he was doing that this weekend, it hit me- why not make a proficiency scale for the perfect chocolate chip cookie?  It's not the best idea- there are flaws inherent in the process because everyone likes their cookies a little different- some like chewy, some like crispy etc... so when you look at this, keep that in mind.  But, I think it serves its purpose- to introduce students to the concept of proficiency scales in a fun way.  I began by thinking about characteristics of the perfect cookie- size, texture, and color.  Then I created the "3" which would be the "just right" cookie.  After I created the criteria for the "3", then I went down to the "2" and to the "1."  Get the whole freebie here. I included a little background on how I created the scale, the final scale, and then some cards you can use to have the students grade the chocolate chip cookie.  My grand plan is to bring in different kinds of chocolate chip cookies and have the students score those cookies on the scale (and then have an extra snack-yum!), but the cards will work too. I think this will make a fun first week of school activity.  Tune in tomorrow for my "Active Listening" Proficiency Scale.

Monday, July 21, 2014

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