Sunday, February 22, 2015

Exit Slips makeover and another possible "cold day"??!!??

Are you using exit slips to bring closure and accountability to your math lessons?  Exit slips are the perfect way to inform your daily instruction and create intervention and enrichment groups.  The best part is they only take up 5 minutes of your precious time.

I just gave ALL my math exit slips a makeover.  For more information on how I use these exit slips in my classroom, check out my blog post HERE!

Anyone else getting tired of these frigid temperatures?  They were fun the first three "cold days" off from school - but now another wind chill warning for tomorrow?  Shockingly, I'm ready to go back and almost wish the warning would go away.  Yikes, I can't believe I actually said that out loud.

The good thing about all of these cold days off, is that I've had some time to work on my TPT to do list.  I've been meaning for a while to update the covers of my math exit slips.  I just wasn't in love with the fonts I had chosen and I wanted them to pop a bit more.  So, ta da!!!  I updated every single set yesterday and I L.O.V.E the way they turned out.  I hope you do too!

Here are the 5th grade new cover designs:

Here are the 4th grade new cover designs:

Enjoy your Sunday and stay warm!  Anyone else have another "cold day" off looming tomorrow??  Post where you're from.  I'm hoping it's more than just Michigan suffering from the bitter cold.......

Monday, February 9, 2015

Are your students writing during math class?

We all know that students need to be writing during math class.

Explaining mathematical thinking with pictures, numbers and words is how students make sense of mathematics.  When we don't give our mathematicians time to put their investigations, discoveries, ideas and theories into words - we are just breeding formula memorizers instead of conceptual understanders.  I know, I was a formula memorizer for many, many years.  I always did well in math because of my good memory, but never truly had a strong number sense.  It wasn't until I became a math teacher and began talking deeply about mathematical relationships, patterns and rules, that I finally understood why the formulas I had memorized - worked. I want my students to have the same understanding that I reached so late in life, so I try my best to incorporate inquiry, talk, and writing into our math class daily.

We need to give our students TIME to talk and write about their mathematical ideas. But TIME is what we always lack, isn't it? We have so many standards to cover and so little TIME. One solution that is working for me is quick, formative assessment, journal response prompts. 


How do they work?

After each math lesson, find the journal prompt that best matches your daily learning target (or use a blank one at the end to create your own). This set of fractions journal response prompts contains 44 prompts that focus on unit fractions, comparisons, equivalence, mixed numbers, addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, relationships, patterns, formulas and MORE. Each prompt is aligned to the Common Core standards (3rd-5th grades) and is marked with the actual standard in the corner.

Copy and slice out enough journal prompts for your entire class to attach to their math notebooks (or for a quicker option - print one and project it for your students to copy into their math notebooks). Send students off to work on the daily learning target with a purpose to focus their math practice. They can write their response during practice time (which saves TIME) or at the conclusion of math class to bring closure to your lesson. Lastly, give your students time to share their response with a partner to practice speaking and listening skills.

Best of all, you can collect (or spot check) math notebooks to inform your instruction, give grades, gather data, and discuss during math conferences and small groups. No longer will your students be able to hide in the corner during class and memorize formulas or fake understanding. They will be held accountable daily for understanding the learning target, responding, and sharing their response with a partner and the class.

I have found these journal prompts to be truly powerful.  I'm so excited to share my fractions set with you (on sale through tomorrow) and plan to add many more sets to my store throughout the year so stay tuned!

Monday, February 2, 2015

Follower Celebration, Month of Love, Snow Day Giveaway

Snow Day!!!!!!!!!!   Our first one of the year - last year we had 10 so this girl has been feeling pretty left out this year.  I am so happy with the results of Snowstorm 2015.  In fact, I'm so elated that I'm hosting a giveaway to pay it forward.

Since it's a Snow Day!!!!!!! and it's February, the month of love, AND, I just noticed that I am soooo close to 2,000 fans on TPT plus I hit 600 fans exactly on facebook, a GIVEAWAY is a must.

This giveaway my friends is going to go to 3 lucky winners, to celebrate all 3 occasions!  I'm going to giveaway for FREE 3 sets of my Valentine's Day Decimal Math Centers.

These centers are perfect for Valentines Day activities, parties, and for those of you who are using a Math Workshop, Guided Math or Small Group type of math instruction. Though you can also use them whole group or as interventions/extensions to differentiate your instruction. Just print, (laminate if you wish), cut if needed and go! Math plans for an entire week in February!!! Now that's what I call LOVE!

This set of Valentine's Day Decimal Centers includes 3 task cards centers, one independent work center and one math game center. All recording sheets, directions, and answer keys are included. Your students can move through these centers throughout the week while you are meeting with small groups.

Targeted skills include:

* Multiplying decimals by whole numbers and by decimals through thousandths
* Dividing decimals by whole numbers and by decimals with dividends through thousandths
* Decimal patterns when multiplying and dividing by powers of ten
* Finding the missing factor when multiplying decimals
* Using a calculator to check work, guess and check problem solving strategy, and comparing decimal amounts

All you have to do to try and win a FREE copy of these lovable centers is enter the Rafflecopter below.  The giveaway ends next Monday night!!  Good luck!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Ways to conquer the cooped up craziness!!

Anyone else's students a little rambunctious lately?  In Michigan, our kiddos have been cooped up way too long without fresh air and Vitamin D and its causing an unhealthy case of "stir crazy!"

When this starts happening every year, I always start to pull my hair out in frustration, but then I remember that the crazy can be conquered with routine consistency and 'sticking to my guns' per say. Otherwise, I'll end up looking like the meme below.......Ahhhhhhhhhh

Instead of trying to pull out all the bells and whistles or doing a little song and dance to keep em' entertained, I just rely on structure. In our school we use "Give Me 5" as our attention grabber. When I need their attention (after a quick turn and talk to a partner, or voices are just getting a little too loud) I put one hand in the air and say Give me 5, and then I quietly count backward until 1.  I show the counting backward on my fingers and other students join in as well. When I get to 1, any students who are still talking receive a warning. Be strong, if a student earns a warning give it to him/her regardless of how you feel. Students crave fairness and it will only take a time or two before the craziness begins to subside. Click HERE for a FREE editable template (created by my teammate Stephanie Rye of Forever in Fifth Grade) to help you set up a warnings consequence system with your students and to help you keep track of those warnings.

And, here's a cute free Give Me 5 poster I found by Confessions of a Teaching Junkie on TPT.

Unstructured time is also a nightmare during these long winter months when the kids don't get near enough exercise.  So I make sure to plan for every. single. minute. of. the. day! To fight the frenzy, I return to the uber organized and over prepared teacher I was in September!!  Sometimes, at this point in the year, we have all started to slack a bit in our routines and expectations and that can fuel the fire. When I'm well planned, our classroom runs like a well oiled machine (most of the time LOL).

Further, transition times are where all heck begins to break loose when we haven't had recess for a week.  So, I make sure that every transition follows the SAME routine.  Before we make the transition I always say "When I say Go - (and then I give the directions, for example) - quietly bring your reading folder, notebook, pencil and book to your spot on the carpet.  I'll meet you there in 2 minutes. You may GO." Or, "When I say Go, you need to put your math paper inside your math folder and line up for library. You may Go." This way students are listening because they're waiting for me to say GO, they also don't move while I'm giving directions (that drives me insane).

If several students are not transitioning properly, I take time to have some students act out a review of what it SHOULD NOT and SHOULD look like when coming to the carpet, or lining up.  Then, I give out warnings to students who are not following procedures.  I remind myself to 'stick to my guns,' be fair and be consistent and I will conquer the crazy!!!  Good luck and fingers crossed for some warmer temperatures to get these kids outside running around!

Friday, January 9, 2015

Fifth Grade Freebies Blog Hop

I'm so glad you're stopping by the Fifth Grade Freebies Blog Hop.  Thanks for joining us.  I hope you pick up some GREAT freebies along the way.  Make sure you follow our blog and facebook page so you'll be notified every time we post an AMAZING freebie!!

I'm sharing with all of you WONDERFUL fifth grade teachers, a set of learning target posters for FREE.

Do you display daily learning targets in your classroom?  I created these posters so I'd have a quick and cute place to write the learning targets for our lessons each day.   In my opinion, posting learning targets is a critical way to keep students accountable and aware of what they are learning.

Just print, laminate and hang! Each day I use a vis a vis marker to write on the posters and I use a wet paper towel to wipe off the learning target at the end of the day (actually it's a student job to clean them off in our classroom).  The learning targets are the first thing we talk about during our morning meeting.  I also bring them up again before each lesson, and tell students how they can accomplish each target. At the end of the lesson we review the learning target one more time with a discussion, journal response or exit slip. We also self assess our mastery of the target before, during and after each lesson.  We use a simple 4, 3, 2, 1 scale to assess our understanding.  


Taking time to explicitly make your daily learning targets known to students is crucial to helping your students become more self aware and accountable for their own learning. Give it a try, if you're not already!!!

Now head on over to see my friend Diane at Fifth in the Middle to snag her AWESOME freebie!!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

Back from break management tips and book recommendations

House is cleaned, tree is down, grocery shopping is done (almost - just sent hubby with the list), menu is planned, lessons are written, papers are checked, backpacks are packed - we are ready for the first day back from break!  Well at least physically, definitely not mentally. But it feels good to be organized!  Now, its time to make sure my students' first day back from break is just as well managed.  So, here are my top 3 favorite back from break classroom management tips.

The first day back from break is the PERFECT time to review your classroom procedures and expectations. Kids love to act out the wrong and right way to follow the rules.  Choose a few students to model specific procedures (entering the classroom, starting work, getting teacher's attention, handing in work, what to do when you're finished, pencil policy, working with a partner, etc.)  First, have a student or two show the wrong way (kids LOVE this) and then have other students share what they noticed.  Next, have a student or two show the right way and again have other students share what they noticed.  Comment all day when you notice students following procedures correctly.  This exercise will only take 10-15 minutes but it's valuable time that will pay off in the long run.  I promise.

 Give your students time to share their break experiences.  Otherwise you will be fighting these conversations all day long.  Here's how I do it quickly.  Have your students write down 3 words to explain their break (can be gifts they received, places they visited, things they did, etc.).  We call this our 3 word week.  Next, set a timer for 5 minutes.  Have your students walk around and share their 3 words with as many friends as possible.  When the timer goes off, share your own 3 words and then move on to your necessary curriculum.  Again, you will be thankful you allowed this time.  Your students will be ready to learn once they've let everyone know about that Xbox One they received from Santa.  LOL

Talk about all of the great books you read over break.  Before break I start a stack of books from our classroom library that I plan to read.  My students love to see my stack grow and it inspires them to start their own break stacks. When we return, one of the first things we do is talk about the books we read. I also take time to recommend a bunch of new books that I found out about over break.  The nerdy book club blog is a great place to go if you need grade level book recommendations.  Here's the stack I'm sharing with my 5th graders on Monday.  I can't wait to add each of these titles to my 40 book challenge door. (Most are new reads, but the Harry Potter books are rereads to prepare for my visit to Universal Studios later this year).

What are your great back from break management tips?  Or how about books you read over break?  I need to add some new titles now that my break stack is finished.

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