Teacher’s Notebook Giveaway

Just a quick post tonight to let you know about another giveaway I’m hosting over at my Teacher’s Notebook store.

On Thursday night, 2 winners will be selected to receive a set of my editing and revising task cards with QR codes! Be sure to tell your friends!!

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While you are there, please take the time to follow my store if you are interested in receiving info about future promotions and new products. And who knows…I might just offer those cards at a discount for everyone who enters. Wink. Wink. 😉

Not a member of TN? You are missing out! It’s free to join, there are giveaways all the time, discounts larger than TpT, and more of your money goes to the seller rather than the site itself. It’s a win-win for everyone!

So what are you waiting for? Head on over to Teacher’s Notebook and check it out!

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Cooperative Learning + Math = SUCCESS!

I had a not-so-pleasant day on Tuesday watching my students turn in their Math Benchmarks. Failing grade after failing grade made my heart sink. Here I thought my students were right on track, and the reality was–many of them needed lots of help. This test had many of the released questions from our state assessment last year (which is given at the end of April), so I shouldn’t expect them to rock it, but still…heartbreaking.

After crying about it with our instructional coach, I scoured the tests a little closer. As I was looking over the tests, I noticed that several of them were just guessing at answers, not showing any kind of work. This has never been ok in my class, but for some reason I had many students that just went through the test without thinking. Grrrrrr!

That afternoon we had a come to Jesus heart-to-heart talk about what each student’s job is. It is their responsibility as the learner to ask questions and ask for help when they need it….but it’s also my responsibility to find a way to reach them and instill some motivation to want to succeed.

So…I thought about this training I went to on Monday. It was for ELL’s (English Language Learners), but all the strategies they mentioned are good for ALL students. By Wednesday, we were trying them out!

One of the strategies was to have the students stand around the room in a circle at the end of class and use a sentence starter to identify something they learned that day. We were told that when students have to verbalize their thoughts and listen to themselves say it, the learning goes up. I gave them these sentence starters: I learned… I’m surprised that… and I will remember… As I listened to their responses, it made me feel that their learning was already increasing, even the very first time we tried it!

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Today I used another strategy called, “Stay and Stray,” where groups of students move around the room and talk. We did this with word problems from our math assessment that have them fits. Of course, some of my students were able to complete their test successfully, so here was already some knowledge of what to do. I put the students into groups, making sure that each group had an expert to start.

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I wrote word problems on chart paper and taped them around the room. Each group was to solve the problem on their paper together. Each student had their math journal in hand to take notes. It was their responsibility to really understand the strategy, because they would eventually be sharing out a strategy.

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However…the groups would constantly change. Before we started, I gave each student in the group a number. These numbers would determine who stayed at a poster and who would move on to the next group. If I called number 4, then all number 4s would stay at their poster, and the other group members would move on. Number 4 would then explain to their new group how they solved their problem.

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Then I called time again. This time, number 2 had to stay, and the rest of the group would move on. This meant that by now, the 2s were explaining a poster that they did not create! It also meant that they really had to pay attention to the previous presenter so that they knew how to teach it to he next group. And so on until each student had stayed at a group to present.

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What did this mean? ALL students were participating. ALL students were learning. ALL students were actively engaged. No more sitting on the sidelines, folks! The students were definitely accountable for their own learning!

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When we were finished with this activity, I asked them for feedback. They told me that it was fun, they enjoyed teaching other students, they enjoyed learning from other students, and they now understood how to solve problems like he ones we solved. Best of all, they wanted MORE! Big smiles followed this conversation–students and teacher alike!

Part of teaching is understanding that we aren’t perfect. Sometimes we just have to step back and think about what is in the best interests of the kids. Every time my students teach each other, they just seem to “get it.” As long as they have some guidance, they can take off with their learning…even when I’m not in the driver’s seat. What a great feeling!

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Lightbulb Moments

Today was one of those days where everything went right.  I don’t have many of them, but today was exceptional.  I love those days!

In writing, we once again used Gretchen Bernabei’s resources to look at a mentor text, and light bulbs started going off across my room.  The students were really connecting to the text and noticing many patterns and the craft of the writer.  Brilliant!  I plan on devoting a post to this activity soon to share what we did and how incredibly powerful it was…so stay tuned!

photo 1(24)In math, I ran only small groups today.  Since there isphoto 4(14) one of me and about four groups that need different skills, I chose to have students run the other groups.  Wow!  They did an amazing job!  While I worked with students on subtraction, other students led the rest of the small groups and shared their knowledge of the skill that the others needed.  This not only allowed me some time to work with the students who really needed my help, but it also extended the knowledge of my student helpers.   Most importantly: ALL students were learning at an appropriate level.

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What’s that saying?  Students learn better from their peers than they do from adults?  I definitely think that’s true…most of the time, anyway.  Today was a fine example of that.

I’m so glad that I am surrounded by such awesome students.  Do they drive me nuts some days?  Of course.  But I love each and every one of them for who they are.  Their willingness to learn and the smiles on their faces are what I look forward to every day.  They are the reason I do what I do.

Today was awesome.  I can’t wait to see what tomorrow brings!  :)

 

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Multiplication with Manipulatives (and a life lesson)

About three weeks ago, my students began multiplication in math. I always enjoy watching as students use manipulatives to show their answers. What I love about math is that there are numerous ways to think of numbers and solve problems, but in the end we all get the same answer…most of the time, anyway! 😉

I took some pictures just to show how differently my students think. Some are very organized, while others are not. Some think in arrays, while some think in groups. I embrace that diversity!!

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I guess I like it so much because of an experience I had in college. On one of my tests, we were asked to draw a parallelogram. Well, I drew a square…and the teacher counted it wrong. As I sat and pondered my incorrect answer, I was unable to figure out why it was wrong. After class I approached my professor and asked the question. Her reply: “Because that’s not the way I taught it, and most people don’t know that a square is a parallelogram. I expected you to draw a rectangle.”

Now, anyone that knows me knows that I’m a fighter. I just couldn’t accept that answer. A few minutes later, I had to walk away with a 92. She wouldn’t budge!

Even though I could live with my 92 (because after all, an A is an A, right?), I will never forget that conversation and my teacher’s neglect to see that we are all individuals with our own unique knowledge. I was right, but because she didn’t expect that right answer, it was wrong.

I made a promise to myself that day that I would never be that way. Diversity–bring it on! :)

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Only 4 hours left to enter the $50 giveaway!

Good evening, friends!

I just wanted to send out a reminder about my $50 online credit giveaway to Teaching & Learning Stuff.  You have 4 hours left to enter!  Hurry!  Don’t miss out!  Anyone who is a follower can enter (WordPress or email follower).   Click the link below to enter.

Rafflecopter giveaway for $50!!!

**And thanks to all of my followers!  If it weren’t for you, this wouldn’t be possible.  Thanks for the love!**

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Moon Phase Simulator Website

I have to give credit to my husband for this one.  He was on Reddit and saw a link to this awesome lunar phase simulator.  Kids have such a hard time understanding why we only see parts of the moon, as well as the physics of it all.  This website is great to show them how it works!  Click here for the website.

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