Wednesday, July 31, 2013

Mega Management: Turning in Homework

Welcome back for more Mega Management.

If you missed the first two posts in this series you can check them out here:

Today we're looking at turning in homework. Keep in mind that what you actually assign for homework is a whole post in itself. This is just the procedure part for collecting it. 

There is one bin for homework. Any kind of bin will do. Fancy ones, plain ones, wire ones, plastic ones, stacking ones, see through ones...well, you get the point. 

Semikolon Paper Tray - See Jane Work - Photo

Last year I had a bin for every subject so kids could turn in papers as they finish their work, but now looking back it seems a little unnecessary. Here's why I like one bin over one bin for every subject. First, it takes up less counter space and second, it is just overwhelming to me to look at all those trays full of paper! Call me crazy, but it does...

Once homework is turned in, students cross their name off the list.  I haven't decided the fine details of how the list will look yet, but it will either be a laminated class list that is always on top of the stack of homework or it will be a cutie-patootie frame that they can Expo marker their name out with, OR {last "or" I promise} it will be some sort of clip type system. Stay tuned for that. 

I keep a clipboard with a check in sheet on it to keep track of homework and other assignments that I use to account for a Work and Study Habits grade. Here's a version of what that looks like. I always seem to tweak it a little bit here and there each year. 


So what do I do with all those papers kids have to turn in? Stay tuned for more Mega Management ;0) How's that for a cliffhanger...say what!!! {Wow, I don't think I've ever said that in real life, but it's pretty safe to say that your imaginary version of me saying it is probably way cooler than the real me saying it...}

For more on homework, check out Christina from Bunting, Books, and Bainbridge. She has some cute ideas for a homework club that you can see here

When it comes to what to assign for homework, I like Stephanie's post at 3rd Grade Thoughts on a Universal Homework Model

Monday, July 29, 2013

Monday Made It- Ruffle Bags

Today I'm linking up with Tara at Fourth Grade Frolics for another Monday Made It. 
Wahooo, that's two in a row. Unfortunately, this is related to school 0%. But, I was so proud I just had to share. 

My dear friend has the cutest twins who just turned 6 and I made them these ruffle bags. Matching, but not matchy-matchy if you know what I mean :)

They're the same size, the picture on the left is just closer up. The one on the left is the one I did first. I definitely had to work out some kinks when I made that one. The one on the right was much quicker and a tad straighter. Good thing little girls don't notice stuff like that!

Here's a link to the Pin that inspired this fun little project. 

And here's why I was not able to get anything school related (or otherwise) all week long...well except for my sewing project which took me about one long ol' nap time to complete: 

My niece and nephew (the two on the right) came to visit for the week. So it was me all day by myself with a 10, 7, 4, and 3 year old. Oh. My. Word. And that's all I have to say about that. 

And after the first poopy diaper {yuck!} I had the brilliant idea to potty train my nephew. Good thing he was totally ready for it and it was the easiest potty training ever!
 Doesn't he look so happy! 

Now run along and check out all of the other amazing link ups for this week's Monday Made It

And don't forget to come back for the next post in my Mega Management series. 

Sunday, July 28, 2013

Mega Management: Entering the Classroom

Oh yah! Time to get to the nitty gritty of...

Am I serious you ask? Do I really need a plan for how students are to enter the classroom? Umm, yes! If little Johnny doesn't know what you expect him to do here's what he's going to do: speed through the door pushing everyone out of his way, forget to mark his lunch choice, throw his backpack in the closet, he'll probably leave his homework in there, and if he remembered to grab out his lunch box he'll throw it in the general direction of the lunch cart and proceed to bother everyone else while they're trying to enter and get unpacked. Don't you just love sweet little Johnny...

This little darling is not Johnny, nor I have I ever taught a mischievous little Johnny before....I HAVE taught a mischievous little ....well, I better not say ;o)
At the beginning of the year we practice doing this routing quietly, quickly, and safely. 

When students enter the class they'll move their number to the “Hot Lunch” or “Cold Lunch” column on the pocket chart. Last year I used these as magnets just to track attendance, but they kept getting flung off the file cabinet and that mischievous "Johnny" was always hiding his under the headers. Maybe the pocket chart will work better this year. We'll see. 

Backpacks are unpacked and put into the appropriate shelves in the closet.We have tiny rooms at our school so it's worth saving the cabinet space to have these things out of the way. Kids put them in cubbies last year, but the ones I have are gigantic and take up so much space!

Snacks are put in the snack bin and water bottles will go in the hydration station according to their class number. Kids have snack at morning recess, not in the class. It makes recess line up time easier if snacks are out of backpacks and ready to go. I cannot stand water bottles at desks, but I know it's important for students to stay hydrated throughout the day.

I got this idea from Multiage Moments last summer. Honestly I still haven't decided if I want to take up the counter space next to the sink, but it's not like I really use it for anything else. Once I put a stack of papers there and by the end of the day they were all splattered with water from kids washing their hands. saw this "image only" on Pinterest and that seems like a clever idea. Yep, that's a water bottle holder for bicycles! They're at least 4 bucks each on Amazon...maybe cheaper at Walmart or something. I don't know if I'd do $4 each for those.

Lunches go on the lunch cart. Only 3 people are allowed in the lunch cart area at a time. Others must wait behind the duct-taped line. Seems a little neurotic, but the lunch cart is in a small corner of the room blocked in my those gigantic cubbies, and it's a major traffic jam if the cold lunchers storm the cart all at once.

Two pencils should be sharpened for the day. Ugh! I hate the pencil sharpener. The last two years our school requested that students bring mechanical pencils in 3rd grade and I hate that even worse. They need to sharpen first thing so I can get that nightmare out of the way. Throughout the day they can get a pencil from the "sharp" cup. Dull and broken pencils are put in another cup. 

All of these things should happen in the first few minutes or so that students are in the class. Whew!

Saturday, July 27, 2013

Mega Management: Series Kickoff

I'm kicking off a series of posts focused on classroom area where MEGA planning is required. Since school is fast approaching, this series will post frequently so I have time to cover it all. Fasten your seat belts and hold on folks, it's time for....

So why all the focus on classroom management? Well, I remember being in college and having to type up a 1-2 page classroom management plan. The directions were vague and included things like how you would arrange desks, how you would collect and return papers, where would you store materials and how would students access those materials, etc. The paper was hard to write when I was considering an imaginary classroom with an imaginary group of students. 

woman with thought bubble on chalk board
Photograph: Tara Moore/Getty Images
It was during my student teaching that I realized that my 1-2 page little paper wasn't even scratching the surface of what I had to plan for to make my class run smoothly.
As I was thrown into my first year of teaching under really extreme circumstances mid year, I realized I was more disillusioned than I thought. I didn't have time to put a lot of thought into classroom management. Sounds crazy right? And like horrible teaching right? Well, consider this: I got my curriculum books on a Sunday night and I started in the class at 8:30 the next morning! I just had to make a quick decision and get things going.

The next year wasn't a ton better as far as time to plan. I was at a new school in a new state and was hired with only 5 days to prepare! Again, I had to just get a plan together and go with it, and as the year progressed I knew a lot of things were falling through the cracks. last year was a bit better, but again, some things were just not running as smoothly as I knew they could. And even worse, there were some things that I hadn't really thought about at all. I had no plan for certain circumstances that would occur in class and that led to confusion and disorder. 

See that lady drowning in papers? Yah, that is how I felt at the end of oh so many days!

When it comes to classroom management we all know that what works really well for one group might not work so great for the next. On the other hand there are some parts of a classroom management plan that stick around from year to year. 

So this summer I have spent a lot of time thinking about all those things that I've done successfully, things that I would like to implement, and things that I'm going to keep in my arsenal of tools to implement for those "special" students, parents, and circumstances. 

See you next time with my first topic:

Friday, July 26, 2013

Building Mathematical Comprehension- Chapter 9

Second to last post of this book study. Crazy!! Catch up on my old posts by going here:

Chapter 9-  
Monitoring Mathematical Comprehension

The good news: Many students take part in this mostly subconscious act of self monitoring meaning as they read and do math. 

The bad news: Not ALL students are able to do this on their own.  In fact, in the beginning of the chapter Sammons says that so many children don't expect to understand math. (249) If I don't expect myself to be able to understand, then I'm not going to have much motivation to persevere when it gets hard. It's easy to give up when the expectation isn't there. This really speaks to the importance of building a safe learning environment in our classrooms and having high expectations for ALL students!

This great anchor chart from First Grade Brain Sprinkles can easily be adapted for math.  

The great thing is that this strategy of metacognition encompasses all the other strategies!

Metacognition in math, however, is twofold. First, students must monitor their conceptual understanding (252). Then, students must monitor their understanding of the meaning of the problem (254). Many math students are so engrossed in procedural understanding that conceptual understanding suffers, thus problem solving suffers.

Here's what students need to know about monitoring mathematical comprehension:

1. They are responsible for their own understanding. Students must be aware of times when they don't understand. 

2. Students need to know when they don't understand. 

3. They can pinpoint their misunderstanding. In other words, students know what got them confused in the first place. 

4. Students can use strategies to fix their comprehension. 

5. Strategies should be used flexibly. When one doesn't work, student know to reevaluate and try something new. 

Concrete Example: When a car breaks down, we don't try to keep driving it. We fix it! When our comprehension breaks down, we don't keep working, we stop and fix our comprehension first. (258)

Red Flags Students Should Watch For:
  • My internal voice isn't working 
  • I can't visualize the problem
  • My mind is wandering and I can't focus
  • I can't recall the details
  • When I ask questions to clarify, I can't come up with an answer (259)
Here are some great thinking stems to assist with metacognition.
no source for the above Pinterest pin :(

Red Flags Teachers Should Watch For:
  • Students who rush through their work
  • Students who don't make mathematical connections
  • Students who give up easily (260)
Strategies for Monitoring Mathematical Comprehension

Have students put a post it with the word "huh" written on it next to the confusing part of the text. If the confusion is cleared up they add a light bulb. The teacher can walk around and see what areas of the text/work should be addressed. (263) 

Ticket Out the Door
This strategy requires students to solve a problem, rate their understanding, or show their understanding in some other way before leaving the class. The teacher then uses that formative assessment when planning the next day's lesson. (264)

(Ticket Out The Door poster from Teach-A-Roo)

Color-Code Math Stretch
Similar to the Ticket Out the Door, students rate their understanding of the day's lesson on color coded sticky notes. Green if they understood it well, yellow for moderate understanding, and orange for very confused. On the note students write a quick statement about the concept. (266)

Here's a bit of a spin on this math stretch from Timeouts and Tootsie Rolls.  

So, so, so much to take in. After giving your brain a little break you can check out these other links too! 

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Building Mathematical Comprehension- Chapter 8


Only two more chapters to go. That just reminds me that summer is coming to an end. Bummer! But the journey to the end has been filled with a lot of interesting math info. You can find little recaps of each chapter by visiting the links below:

Chapter 8- Synthesizing Information 
Students should be synthesizing during and after their reading and math work.
But what does synthesizing mean for students? It means that they take the information they know about a topic and merge it with the new information they are learning to create a completely new idea or way of thinking about that topic. (227)
What should students know about synthesizing?
1. Mathematical thinking changes as new ifnormation is encountered. It's okay to revise our previous thoughts and ideas about a topic in light of new information that we're learning. Reflection is a great way to make that happen! (231)
2. New information should be tied to prior knowledge in order to create meaning. Students need to be sure that there is consistency as they build on their prior knowledge. (231)
3. Synthesis is what you get when you combine information from various sources that you already have experience with and with various new sources of information. (231)
4.  Synthesis changes as we encounter new information. (232)

5. Synthesis helps with mathematical understanding. Discussion is important in helping students see how synthesizing deepens their understanding of math concepts.(232)

Concrete Examples to Teach Synthesis
Nesting Dolls- Just like nesting dolls, larger ideas can be made up of smaller details, ideas, and concepts. All the little pieces and parts work to build the big concept. (236)
Baking a Cake- Separate ingredients are used to make a cake. Separate ideas can all contribute to one overarching concept. (236)

One of the most effective ways to promote rigorous thinking in students is to have them make conjectures, or educated guesses or predictions. (237)
Boy is Sammons right when she says that teachers struggle with this idea. Well, this teacher does anyways. It's much easier in my mind to teach math the "traditional" way. I teach the concept, kids practice the concept, I test if they've learned the concept.
But deeper understanding is gained when students have to do the hard work themselves to arrive at the big concept. Teaching math concepts through problem solving is key. Not my natural tendency let me tell you. Another reason I'm glad to be a part of this study. Push  myself a little a guess :)
As always Sammons suggest Math Stretches as a way to implement this strategy. This time, however, she suggests taking a backward approach. Give the synthesis, have students provide the details. For example, asking students to Support or Disprove This Conjecture helps them come up with the proof. (240)
I love one thought she includes at the end of the chapter: "Students deserve the opportunity to delve more deeply into the discipline of mathematics, to become more than procedurally proficient." (246)
Students deserve that opportunity. Far be it from me to take that opportunity away from my students! I've got some work to do when it comes to teaching math, but as always I'm up for the challenge and can't wait to get out on that limb!   

Monday, July 22, 2013

Monday Made It

Okay, so today is my FIRST Monday Made It of the summer. I cannot believe I just typed that!
Before you read on too far here is my disclaimer: No paints, glue, glitter, Mod Podge, frames, ribbons, crates, stamps, fancy stickers, magnets, sequins, burlap or fabric of any other kind were used in the making of any of these "Monday Made Its". 

Ugh. I cannot believe I just typed that either!

Ok, so nothing that I made is extremely "pinteresting" or even pin inspired...well, except for one thing...BUT,  I worked hard on these little projects (I have the aching fingers to prove it!) and above all they were made with L-O-V-E love which in my mind qualifies this post as Monday Made It material. 

Without further first (and possibly only) Monday Made It of summer 2013:

This first one was something I pinned oh so long ago from First Grade Glitter and Giggles:

I tried to make mine a little smaller and a bit more 3rd grade friendly. Thanks to My Cute Graphics for the darling images I used.   

Here's where the aching fingers begin...

I typed 322 high frequency syllables that I'm going to use for a word study program I'm implementing this year (more on that in a future post). 

But it didn't stop there. 

Not only did I have to type all those words, I had to cut out 322 flash cards, laminate all the flash cards (and I can't really take credit for that...huge shout out and many hugs to Karen in my school office who totally rocks and did it for me), then cut all 322 out again! 

So sad to think of how long it took to fill that tiny little Ziploc....

As if that wasn't enough punishment for my fingers, I cut and laminated these two activities also.
 Check out that stack! Can I get an "ouch" from anyone out there!?

Update: These poke cards are from Flapjack Educational Resources
Click HERE to get them free. 

I love that it's a self checking activity and it was a freebie I found last summer. I just can't remember who I got it from. 

UPDATE: It was a flash freebie from Hooty's Homeroom,
but you can still purchase it from her TpT store by clicking here.

I can't remember where this one came from either...YIKES. Anyone have a way for managing this stuff. My brain can't hold all the information. It's amazing that I even remember my own children's names any more! (If either activity belong to you please let me know so I can link up appropriately!)

And yes, those are frosting cans. I actually had this printed last summer, but it took me that long to remember to save those stinkin' cans. I remember that being a suggestion on the blog I found this on...I think...either way it's so clever, huh.


This is a huge pile of all the things I need to start my Multiplication and Division Boot Camp from 3 Teacher Chicks. I know I didn't really "make" this, but that was a lot of copying, cutting, and paper clipping. It just feels so darn good to share something I've checked from the To Do List! And...I also copied all of my Bible tests and spelling pattern take home pages for the year...glad I could sneak that one in at the end ;o)

Head on over to Fourth Grade Frolics and see what everyone else has been up to this week.

Friday, July 19, 2013

I'm a 3rd Grade Blogger

I have been trying so hard to get the blogs I follow organized on Bloglovin. I specifically have been trying to get all the 3rd grade blogs into one group. As much as I love reading ALL the blogs I follow, sometimes activities and such aren't quite appropriate for 3rd grade. Sometimes I don't have time to browse, I just need to get to what is more specific to my grade level. 

Mandy over at Caffeine and Lesson Plans has a solution! Check out the top of her blog for the Blogs By Grade tab. You'll find links to all the blogs in your grade level. Sweeeet!!

I'm proud to link up with the rest of my 3rd grade gals...or at the risk of possibly leaving someone out...3rd grade gals and guys...
Third Grade Blogger 

If you're a blogger be sure to grab the button for you sidebar and link up with Mandy. If you're a reader, bookmark her page so you can quickly get to your grade level blogs. Thanks Mandy for the link-up! Maybe now I won't spend a gazillion hours on the, doubt it. Oh well, it was worth a shot.  

Thursday, July 18, 2013

Building Mathematical Comprehension- Chapter 7

I'm so sad about missing this week's Throwback Thursday with The First Grade Pararde, but I'm determined to not get behind again on my book study posts. Since chapter 8 starts tomorrow, I have to squeeze this bad boy in today!

So here we go...Chapter 7: Determining Importance

Apparently some young adults (and probably full blown adults) still don't have this skill down, because as Sammons touches upon later in the chapter, you often find college students who highlight every last sentence on their page in a zillion different colors just hoping that the important stuff is going to stick. What they get is just a really colorful, very expensive textbook. 

 (picture from the Sharpie blog)
The strategy of determining importance can be taught by reminding students that:

1. Determining importance happens at the word, sentence, and idea level.
  • At the word level students need to be aware of mathematical vocabulary and their meaning as related to the task/topic. (200)

  • At the sentence level students understand that important words often mean important sentence. (200)

  • At the idea level students are guided through navigation of details so they can hone in on the significant idea. (201)
2. Determining what is important is will be based on-
  • the purpose and/or goal of the task at hand
  • the student's background knowledge 
  • the student's knowledge of word problem structure
  • the ideas shared during discussion and collaboration
3. Mathematicians are able to explain their reasoning when deciding on important information. (204)

4. Mathematicians evaluate the validity of text and information as they determine importance. (205)
  • This is developed as students discuss, examine, and interpret data with others. 
5. Students use their important information to solve problems. 
  • Remember, the goal is increased understanding, not expertise and using the Determining Importance strategy itself. 
How To:
Here's what we all really want to know. How to teach this strategy. Here are some ideas from Sammons.

Teach students to skim over text before reading. Locate the important words and the question first so students have an idea of what to expect. (207)

Students need to be taught how to highlight. Don't just hand them highlighters and let them go at it. Remember those rainbow textbooks I mentioned at the beginning...yah...we don't want those. Be sure to model highlighting!! (208)

Read a Little, Think a Little
Break the mathematical text into chunks. In a word problem this means going sentence by sentence. Pause after each chunk to carefully consider the text. Have students put the chunks into their own words. This make retrieval later much easier! (209)

Build on the Concrete
Sammons gave a great concrete example for determining importance from the book Comprehension Connections by Tammy McGregor. You use a strainer and a pot with water and spaghetti to show how your brain lets the less important things fall through only to catch the really important stuff. Life in 4B has some great pictures and an anchor chart. Click a pic to be taken to her fab post. 

Math Stretches
No chapter would be complete without some math stretch ideas. This one is the "What's Most Important About _____?"

Students add what they think is most important about that topic. Once everyone has responded you can discuss with the whole group. This would be when you clear up any misconceptions and make confirmations as to the important details of that topic.  

Brenda over at Primary Inspired talked about this pin that she had found when covering chapter 6.

I loved the idea and I think it could work for this stretch too. I'm thinking of making some Velcro titles so that I can change the response questions. Pictures of that coming soon hopefully. 

Problem Solving
Make sure students are familiar with the structure of word problems.

Usually the first sentence sets the context...
The second sentence gives the facts...
The last sentence asks the question...

Be sure students understand this is a guideline and that some word problems will be structured differently.   

Whew! Glad to be caught up. Hopefully I'll stay on track and see you next week for another chapter and a throwback on Thursday. Maybe even for my first Monday Made It of the summer! That's so embarrassing to admit...I can't believe it!