Sunday, February 24, 2013

Mentoring adds to Differentiation

   One of the best intervention days happens on Fridays for my group.  This group is the enrichment and RtI tier one students who need fluency practice.  Two of our fifth grade intervention groups have coupled with our two kindergarten classrooms. 
   During our intervention period, it is the kindergarten Daily 5 period.  Fifth graders go to the kindergarten room with which we are paired.  The students in both classes look forward to this day.  That is natural engagement!  The kindergarteners believe they are special to have the "big" kids come listen to them read.  My students walk down the hall with a skip in their step and smiles on their faces after a mini lesson on how to "teach" or support their reader through questioning.  Wow! Verbalizing questions happens to be a weakness of even my higher students. Fifth graders in the past two weeks had to be able to assist with characterization, summarization, plot, and setting.  This has done more for my students abilities to apply their knowledge than any of the other activities I have developed.
My students who need additional fluency work do not know that they are getting extra practice by partner reading with their kindergarten student.
    This week both classes are working on onomatopoiea.  Since, figurative language is an emphasis before state testing this gave us the perfect oportunity to practice writing simple onomatopoiea sentences.  During our Monday intervention period, the figurative language types were reviewed.  In small group and large groups, we brainstormed onomatopoiea examples that kindergartners would understand.  This was a great challenge/enrichment activity.  It forced those who always think above and beyond to switch brain functions to bring it to a lower level.  Those who are not as strong in writing were given a reprieve from the constant push of fifth grade level writing. Once sentences were checked, okayed by myself,  and typed, the students illustrated them.  I put the parts into a wonderful book.  The classroom received the color copy and each kindergartener had a black and white copy to add to their book boxes. 
    The kindergarden teacher stopped me later to let me know that she shared the color copy with the students later.  All the students had their copies out as well.  She said they LOVED it!  I hope they continue to look at it to increase their fluency as well. 
     The only issue I had was two of my students did not complete their pictures. So, I made a quick black line sketch for their sentence.  Then I let the other teacher know that the last two pages were interactive.  The students can draw in bacon on the pan so it can sizzle and draw cars to zoom around the race track.  Sometimes, I just have to kiss my brain!
           Please, share what brain bursting activities in which you are involving your students.

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

Dividing, Fractions and Cartwheels...

UPDATEI have been very impressed with my students.  I just finished grading a grueling, Saxon, test!  I listened to several students a cartwheel...stand up...multiply (X) and flip/reciprocal.    When I looked at the results out of my 20 students (1/3 SPED) only 2 missed the division of fractions.  YES!!! I wanted to do cartwheels...but I might break something... We won't discuss the rest of the assessment!   

Good Morning!
    I had to send a comment out about our introduction to division of fractions yesterday.  It always seems the best teaching hits you in the moment.  Well, it does for this teacher.  The resource teacher is in my room for math.  We have a great co-teaching relationship.  We bounce off each other and add to the lesson as it progresses with ease.  I love it!
   Yesterday afternoon, I started with a quick bingo math terms game.  In the last few weeks, the emphasis of warm up has been math vocabulary.  I believe a few terms are starting to sink into their brains.  The lesson set was simply one review problem for adding, subtracting and multiplying fractions.  Excellent! We are making our way through the fast paced 5th grade Saxon math.  After the review problems, I asked the students which opperation were we lacking.  A resounding "division" was offered.  So, I asked if they thought they were ready to give me a "Woowhoo!"  I am sure there were a few voices missing, but most enthusiastically responded. 
    I would like to take a side trip here about the verbal responses. However, I think I should use that for another longer post and keep to the subject at hand, division of fractions.  We use our personal whiteboards to extinction each year.  The students copied the problem presented on the mimio board (similiar to a smartboard).  Then it hit me....cartwheels!  And I have a former cheerleader/cheer coach in the back of my room.  What more did I need?!?!  I called my co-teacher forward and whispered that I needed her to do a cartwheel.  She happily, with a "what are you up to now, Kim?" look, fullfilled my request.  The students LOVED it! It is great to have someone who will be insane with you as these thoughts POP into the brain.
    Luckily, she is an expert mind reader as well! She then explained how to divide fractions.  To do a cartwheel, you start standing tall.  The first fraction stands tall or stays the same. She rewrote the first fraction below the original.  Students do the same on their boards. Asking the students, "What does operation does a cartwheel look like?" demonstrated the changing of the division sign to a multiplication sign. Below the division sign the multiplication sign is placed.  Finally, the question of what does the person performing a cartwheel have to do to be successful was posed.  Thumbs went up right away to explain they have to turn or go upside down. The second fraction does the same.  Again, the "upside down" or reciprocal fraction was written beneath the original. Finally, asked the students if they could successfully complete the problem that was now on their board.  "Yes!"
   As we worked in small groups, I noticed how the vast majority of the students were having no issues with division of fractions.  That is a first!  Usually, it takes a few reteaching lessons for them to completely comprehend the steps.  I just hope they remember it today!
    THOUGHTS:  Not everyone has a cheer coach in the room to demonstrate a cartwheel.  However, we all have access to the internet.  I am sure there are videos of how to do a cartwheel or at least some fun clipart somewhere to use.  Not as engaging as a teaching flipping in front of the room, but it still may help connect braincells.

Saturday, February 16, 2013

I have been nominated! Thank you!
I am not 100% sure what to do.  There are some rules:
  1. Link back to the blog that nominated you.
  2. Post 11 random things about yourself.
  3. Answer the 11 questions posted by the nominator.
  4. Create 11 questions for the people you nominate.
  5. Choose 11 other blogs with less than 200 followers and link to them on this post.
Here I go trying to accomplish them.

1. Thank you to Desktop Learning Adventures for nominating a blog that really is barely off the starting blocks. 

2. 11 random things about me:
   a. I have lived in Greece, Germany, Utah, Michigan (3 times), Ohio (4ish times), Illinios (2 times), Iowa, Texas (2 times), South Dakota, and Nebraska.  I think that covers it.
   b. I am an Air Force brat.
   c. I really don't like chocolate.  I know how can I be a true women.
   d. I hate to listen to one kind of music.  I love iTunes so I can mix it up!
   e. Good Friday is my favorite Holy Day.
   f. I live 13 hours from my sister, 12 hours from both sets of parents, and until Jan. our son lived 8 1/2 hours away.
   g. My bed time is 8:30pm.  I wake up at between 4-5am.
   h. I am addicted to Sonic Route 44 Raspberry Ice Tea.
   i.  Vacations consist of state or national parks, zoos, wineries, or historical sites.  We do stop in on family if they are on the way.  My favorite vacations were to the Oregon coast and Alaska.  Mt. McKinley as we were driving up was completely overcast.  As soon as the bus stopped, It completely....completely...opened up.  The tour guide had never seen it completely open.  VERY RARE!! A blessing to behold.
   j. Our Christmas tree consists of electric candle lights and bells.  The bells are what we collect on our vacations/travels. 
   k. I tap dance in class.

3. Answer 11 questions:
  1. Would you rather play sports or watch them? What’s you favorite? Ummm...I danced and still do around the house.  I watch college football and the Olympics.
  2. Is teaching your first or second career? If it’s a second (or third or fourth:), what did you do before this? First career but have had breaks.
  3. There’s been a lot of talk about this- MAC or PC? Both...I want to find a techy to build me my perfect computer with the stuff I want from each.
  4. Are you an introvert or extrovert? introvert
  5. What is your favorite way to relax? Sit, smell, listen, and just soak up nature
  6. What/where is the best vacation you’ve ever taken? Alaska and Oregon Coast
  7. If you woke up tomorrow and there were no more schools and you could do anything you wished, what would you do? Creating curriculum for churches...I have tubs full so I have a great start.
  8. What are you listen to right now? The vows go unbroken
  9. Considering birth order, where are you in the chain of command? Which is the best? oldest...mine!
  10. What is the best part of your job? Laughing with my kids and making them think outside the box.
  11. Would you rather go to a movie or a play? Which was the last you saw? That is hard.  I like the last movie I saw... Le Mis...But usually I like plays/musicals best...last one was Chicago.
Talking about movies. I need to get moving to see a movie with my daughter. I will work on finding my 11 blogs and make 11 questions. 

Autopsy IT!

 Teamwork                                                Looking through assessment               Marking charts

YES! I am back!
   Computer issues are not welcome when one is trying to get their feet wet in blogging.

  We had a great week in fifth grade!  Valentines parties, moving desks and digging deeper into fractions made for an interesting week.
   The best part was the math autopsy.  I am finally getting it down to a flow.  The students are finding it worthwhile and catching onto the questions that pull them through the steps. It is so much fun to watch them as they discover what they are doing correct and celebrate those accomplishments.  The goals they are setting are much better than any prior to the autopsy.  The self reflection brings out the best goal setting.  I have been dabbling in personal goal setting with my student for a few years.  This autopsy process has done more than anything else I have tried. 
    I have had so many people who have added their brain cells to this product. My partners in insanity are my 5th grade teaching partner, Michelle, and resource teacher, April, who co-teaches in my room.  They have given many hours of conversation and ideas as I was never quite satisfied.
    If you want to dive into student self reflection/evaluation which will lead to outstanding goal setting, visit my Teacher pay Teachers store and check out this resource ($3).  There is also a free goal setting recording page.  It is one of my "duh...why didn't I think of this earlier!" pages.  Download it...print it...stick it to their desks with clear contact paper....then....students start recording and keeping track of their personal goals.
    One of my professional goals was to increase my students abilities to self-evaluate, set goals, and track their own success.  First two parts are improving.  The last part is in need of tweaking. 
   Have a great week watching the light bulbs glow brighter!