Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Guided Math in Action: Chapter 5

I'm back today for our Guided Math book study! I can't tell you how much I love this book. If you haven't gotten the book yet you need to!! It really helps you to understand how guided math works and how to set it up. Grab the book here.

In chapter 5 Dr. Newton discusses the value of pre-assessing every student to get an accurate view of each student. There are several ways to accomplish this.
  1. Math Interviews 
  2. Math Conferences
  3. Entrance Slip/Exit Slip
  4. Quizzes
  5. Math Running Records
  6. Math Profile
  7. Questionnaire
  8. Checklist
Each of these will provide you with a better understanding of what the child knows. Dr. Newton writes that, "The teacher shouldn't be the only one who knows what is going on. Students need to know where they are and where they need to be and what the plan is to get there." 

Continuing assessment is vital to guided math. Groups should be fluid and flexible. Continuing assessment allows you to gauge the effectiveness of the groups and the students' needs.

What types of pre-assessments, ongoing assessments, and summative assessments do you use?
At the beginning of the year the second grade team gives a beginning of the year assessment. This covers all the things that second graders need to know by the end of the year. This gives up a good jumping off point. We use Everyday Math for our math program. After every unit we test students on what they have learned. Throughout the unit I also make up 1 page quizzes which cover the lessons that I previously taught that week. This gives me great insight of who may need some extra work on certain topics before the test.

Our second grade math inventory

What new ideas have you gathered from this chapter?
I love the idea of having math conferences with the students to let them know where they are and where they need to go. I do this in every other subject but I never thought to do it in math. This is something that I will be trying this year. I also need to work on getting better at giving out pre-assessments. I'm not always consistent in this aspect but I am going to *try* to be better at this, this year.

Don't forget to check out the other amazing bloggers participating!

Saturday, July 19, 2014

Guided Math in Action - Chapters 3 & 4

I'm back with you to discuss Chapters 3 and 4. Before I begin I just wanted to let you know that Dr. Nicki Newton is coming out with a new book in October! I am very excited for this. I've already wish listed it and will order the book when it comes out!

Click here to check it out!

Chapter 3:
In chapter 3 Dr. Newton writes that teachers should spend the first few weeks of school teaching and establishing routines. It's important to note teachers should:
  • Teach the math block schedule. Students should know and understand the math block. 
  • Know the expectations of the math block. This includes independent student time as well as  small group time. 
  • Model and discuss expectations
Lastly, I like love how Dr. Newton writes, "It's just as important to teach students how to act when they win as it is to teach them how to act when they lose."

Chapter 4:
Dr. Newton writes that a teacher should have a specific area where guided math groups meet. In this area, teachers should have all the tools that they will need to teach lessons. Students should also know the expectations when coming to this small group area. 

Before you begin forming groups you must have data on each child. This could be in the form of a pre-assessment, an interview, a survey, or a quiz. 

Students should be then grouped into 4 different categories:
  • Novice Learners- no basic understanding of concepts
  • Apprentice Learners - basic understanding but need to work on reaching a deeper level
  • Practitioners - working on grade level
  • Expert Learners - working above grade level 
Flexible vs. Ability Grouping

In flexible grouping students are grouped according to specific needs based on a unit of study. With ability grouping students are grouped and labeled according to general achievement levels and students work on concepts based on their level. With flexible grouping the teacher creates targeted interventions. These groups are also very fluid and the teacher uses a variety of assessments. 


The teacher should have some sort of way to record student progress. Having records of your work will allow you to see the progress your students have made and what they still need to work on.

Do you have a teacher toolkit? If so, what's in it?
 I have a teacher tool kit. It is kept up behind my bean table. The bean table is where I conduct all my small groups. At the end of every week I take a few minutes to "reset" my math bin. I look at what supplies I'll need for the coming week. Then I'll make the copies and add the supplies I need. 

Do your students have toolkits? If so, what's in it?
In the past every student had a toolkit. After a few months most of the pieces were lost or missing. I always had students that never had the pieces they need. This then required me to go through my own supplies to find the pieces they needed. This got old very quickly. This year I decided that I would lay out all the pieces in our math area and when students needed them they would go and get them. I liked this way for a couple of reasons. First, it required students to think about what they needed versus me prompting them to use their materials. Secondly, we had way fewer instances of students losing the materials. 

How do you establish routines/expectations?
In the first weeks we model, model, model, and oh yeah, model some more. I can't stress how important this is. We also create anchor charts about expected behaviors. Throughout the year we go over the expectations. Any time I notice that behaviors are not where they should be I stop them immediately and we discuss why I stopped them and model the expected behaviors. 

Do you meet with students in small math groups?
I meet with small groups everyday. I only meet with 1 group a day. This is all my schedule allows. Usually, my groups last about 20 minutes. I try to start with a warm-up to get their math brains thinking. Then we transfer into our math work. I end the session usually with a game. 

If so, how fluid are those groups?
My groups are very fluid. They usually change every 1 to 2 weeks. To create my groups I make up a short 1 page quiz with all the skills I have taught up to that date. From there I look at what skills they missed. This will be the basis for my small group meetings. If a student is proficient in everything, I will then begin to look at 3rd grade skills. Click here to get a sheet to help you form small groups! 

What kinds of records do you keep?
This is something I need to get better at. I have a 1 subject notebook that I keep all of my notes in. Once students take an assessment I mark it in their data folders. Check out this post to read more about my data folders. 

Don't forget to check out the other bloggers involved!

Wednesday, July 16, 2014

Guided Math in Action Book Study - Chapters 1 & 2

I'm back with my first post for the Guided Math in Action book study. Can I just say how much I am in love with this book already?! It is a fabulous resource and I highly suggest you go out and get it. Like Right Now!

Dr. Newton writes that as a teacher we must use a variety of strategies to reach students. Sometimes this can be hard when you have a student who just isn't getting it and you've tried to teach them every way you know how. This requires you to stretch your thinking and look outside of the box. I have to say this is something that I struggle with. I like my box and sometimes I have students who just don't understand the way I teach a certain subject. I am continually trying to improve this aspect.
One thing that my college program did really well was to prepare us to reflect on every. single. lesson we did. I cannot stress the importance of this. During my days as an undergrad I would often be the one grumbling about having to reflect because I wasn't that good at it. Over time I got better and now I can't imagine teaching a lesson and not reflecting about what went well and what did not go so great. My plan book has sticky notes all over it about what I need to change for next year. I think reflecting is one of the most informative tools we have when it comes to our teaching.

I think it is very important to set the tone in your classroom that tells the students that it's not okay to give up. One thing that I always make sure that I do is to give lots of positive reinforcement. I always congratulate them for sticking with it. This made a huge difference in my classroom.

When I first started teaching I really didn't like to teach math. It was not my strong subject. I would teach my lesson and then students would do 1 to 2 practice lessons and be done for the day. I often felt the students were not grasping the concepts. Throughout the course of last year I revamped my math block. I created or made games for every unit of study. These games coincide with our math program.Another thing I changed was to include many hands-on activities when learning math.

 I also started grouping students based on ability. These groups would change weekly or bi-weekly and always focused on an area of needed improvement.
The other big change I made was to have students prove and be able to explain every answer they gave me. I saw an incredible change in students abilities and thinking.

I'll be back on Sunday with a post about Chapters 3 and 4! In the meantime, check out the other bloggers participating in the book study!

Sunday, July 13, 2014

Guided Math in Action Book Study

Hello All,

I hope everyone is having a restful and peaceful vacation. I have to say this is my best summer vacation by far. I actually relaxed this vacation, which is very hard for me to do. I still have over a month and a half until I have to report back and start working on my classroom. To fill that time in between, I will be participating in a book study with the fabulous Sarah and Courtney over at Guided Math Adventures. I can't even express how excited I am for this to begin!

Here is the schedule for our book study!

I will be back on Wednesday for my first post for Chapters 1 and 2! See you then!

Monday, June 30, 2014

Back on the Work Train

Hey all! I'm back and wanted to show you something I have been working on. I decided to take about 2 weeks off before I jump back on the work bandwagon. Today I am going to show you my new and improved student data folders. You can see my post about my data folder from last year here.

Here are pictures of my old data folders.
I had a graph for math tests and reading levels. I colored these in every time I gave a math test or tested students on their reading levels. Honestly, these were a lot of work to color in! I also wasn't the best in keeping them colored in so I wouldn't often have coloring sessions filling in a bunch of data at a time. 

I also had every Common Core standard listed. Those would also get colored in too. Lots and lots of coloring!

I also kept tons of work samples in this folder too. 

I decided to revamp these. I needed something that I could easily fill in and keep on top off. I found that the data folders were super useful whenever I had to go to an IEP meeting.

Drumroll please. . . TA-DA!

Okay, I know that was a bit underwhelming but stay with me!

Here is the inside. I got rid of the graphs and instead I can just write in their score. I also included sections for our writing prompts and NWEAs. These scores are something that I was always asked about during IEPs and I always had to look up the information. Now they are included on this sheet. 

Right behind the front sheet I have the science and social studies section. This will house all of their science and social studies work.

The front pocket will have all of their Fountas and Pinnell assessments as well as their running records.

The back pocket will have most or all of their writing that they did throughout the year. 

I have to thank Teacher By the Beach for the wonderful idea. Click here if you would like to grab your own copy. If you would like anything added or taken away I would be happy to do it!

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Wordless Wednesday! (My first for the summer!!!)

What a crazy couple of months it has been. Last Wednesday was my last day. It was bittersweet. I had an amazing class this year and didn't want to see them go but I was also excited for summer!

Today I'm linking up with the fabulous Miss DeCarbo for her Wordless Wednesday Linky!

This past weekend my husband and I completed the Color Run! I loved it and I am signing up for another one in September. This was a goal I set for myself back in January. In the process I have become so much healthier and I have lost almost 40 pounds! 

What is something that you have accomplished?

Monday, June 9, 2014

Monday Meet Me Linky

Today, I'm linking up with The Teaching Tribune for their Monday Meet Me Linky!

Don't forget to link up!