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Tuesday, April 23, 2013

Managing Pencils

I am sure that if you know about pencils. Somehow, it seems like they dissapear faster than ice cream on a hot day! I don't know how, but it just happens that way!

How do you solve the amazing disappearing pencil challenge?

I just read a great post from The Ladybug's Teacher Files on her Great Pencil Challenge! She  created a game where she numbers the pencils  with a permanent marker and challenges her students to keep the pencil for as long as possible. Can they make a week? She has pictures and more about the challenge at her blog. Sounds like fun!

I have also tried having students use pens. With older children, this works really well. I put a piece of masking tape on each pen (actually I had a student do that) and then wrote their number on the pen. This way it was clear which pen belonged to who. The students did really well with not loosing their pens. If they did loose a pen, they had to "buy" one with classroom points.

This year, I just have a bucket of non-sharpened and sharpened pencils. There are 5 or 6 hand pencil sharpeners I got from dollar tree. When a pencil is broke, they put it in the non-sharp bucket. When they need a new pencil, they grab from the sharpened basket. A few kids are always happy to keep the pencils sharp during recess or snack time.

Tuesday, April 9, 2013

Common Core Math Standards for ALL my students

This year I have started implementing the Common Core math standards for all of my students. It has been quite the challenge! I have some special education students in my 3rd grade group who had yet to master all of the kindergarten standards. I only teach my 2nd graders math one day a week. (ther days they walk to math.)

For the first 6 months, I just taught the lessons as I was guided to teach them. I then used a free trial of MobyMath.com to assess my students. (I am in no way related to the company, but do like their product). What I found is that my students were way behind. Actually, even my top TAG students were not meeting the common core.

My average student of color was over a full 1.5 years behind. Clearly, I was failing.

I now have much more targeted instruction. I have gone back to reteach the kindergarten math standards that close to half of my class had yet to master. One of my SPED students has made a full two years worth of gains, but is still very far behind.

I am clear with my students on exactly where they are and which math standards they have yet to meet. Time management, technology and the support of my building administrators have been key.

During silent reading time, I now teach a double dose math group to all 3rd graders that are behind in math, no matter what class they are normally in. I carefully plan out all of my prep times so I am prepared to teach such a wide range of students. I use technology to differentiate my teaching and reduce my grading load.

Of course, I still have a long way to go! My goal this year is that all of my 3rd grade students reach 100% mastery of 3rd grade common core and 20% mastery of 4th grade common core. My second grade students have a similar goal for their grade level. (I teach a blended classroom.) My only exception is that students who are more than 2 years behind have a different goal. Their goal is to increase their proficiency by 2 years during this school year.

Eight out of ten 3rd graders have met their goals.
Nine out of fourteen 2nd graders have met their goals.


Online classes I offer for teachers through HOL.edu:


RENEWING OURSELVES & OUR TEACHING 
FIRST DAYS OF SCHOOL: From Stress to Success
ORGANIZING FROM THE INSIDE OUT 
SAVE TIME: Time Management for Your Teaching & Your Life   
EDITING MADE EASY: Strategies For All Writers 

Monday, April 1, 2013

Best Practices Weekly: Using American Idol to boost reading fluency

I wanted to share an ingenious idea from Best Practices Weekly. If you don't know about this site, it is a wonderful free site. Every week or so, the author takes some research and presents it in ways that you can immediately use in the classroom.

One of my favorite gems is how to use American Idols to boost fluency rates. The gist of it is that each week you choose a poem. The students practice the poem over the course of the week (choral reading, partner reading, echo reading etc.) On Friday three students are chosen to "perform" with a pretend microphone and use a secret ballot to mark choose the most fluent performer. Everyone gets a certificate of performance!

Check out the great video and resources!

Sacha

http://bestpracticesweekly.com/?page_id=1113



Online classes I offer for teachers through HOL.edu:


RENEWING OURSELVES & OUR TEACHING 
FIRST DAYS OF SCHOOL: From Stress to Success
ORGANIZING FROM THE INSIDE OUT 
SAVE TIME: Time Management for Your Teaching & Your Life   
EDITING MADE EASY: Strategies For All Writers