Sunday, July 26, 2015

Math Charts to Start the Year

The school year is almost here for us down in the South. With that in mind,  I am linking up with some of my favorite teacher bloggers to bring you some Back to School Survival Tips and a chance to win TWO $25 TeachersPayTeachers Gift Certificates on EACH of our blogs! For my tip, I wanted to share with you my favorite math charts to start the year. These are the math charts that I use to set the tone and introduce a lot of my common procedures in math. In fact, these are my math mini-lessons the first week of school. If you want your students to be successful with math instruction, you have to clearly lay out the expectations from the beginning of the year. These charts, hopefully, do just that. They also hang in the room, providing a written reminder all year long.

I am also linking up with some amazing upper elementary bloggers to bring you a variety of helpful tips and a GIVEAWAY to start your year. Check out all of these amazing topics to help you survive and thrive in the first weeks of school and the entire school year! Links to the blog posts will be at the bottom of this post.  And make sure you stick around to enter for a chance to win TWO $25 TpT gift certificates!


The first chart I want to share with you is all about my math center expectations. We do math centers at least two times a week in my class. This is the time when I reteach and meet with struggling students. I also use this time to challenge and enrich. Read more about my Guided Math instruction here. I start the year off doing math centers after clearly going over the expectations with the students. The first week of math centers is all about ensuring the students meet the expectations and follow the procedures. When I meet with groups during this week, I assess the students on basic math facts, word problem understanding, and number sense. For the math mini- lesson, we go over each expectation and talk about how to meet that expectation and why each expectation is important. As the students participate in math centers, we refer back to the chart to make sure we have met those expectations. Depending on the group, we may do one center rotation then come back as a class to do a check up. During this check up, the students self assess and discuss whether or not they met the expectations. We also talk about any roadblocks or problems with meeting these expectations during this checkup. If the group is doing well with the expectations, we do the checkup as a class after all the center rotations (typically 3-4).

My favorite math centers to use are the ones that focus on content and engagement, and not complicated prep or student directions. This allows the math center time to be productive and the students are able to meet the expectations. Here are a few of my favorite math resources to use during math workshop:

Math Choice Boards are fabulous for differentiating and allowing for student choice. The students can challenge themselves at their own independent levels. Read more about my Math Choice boards by clicking here.
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Jennifer-Findley/PreK-12-Subject-Area/Math/Search:math+choice+boards
Roll and Answer games are perfect for practicing and reviewing key content, and they are self checking. The students can work with a partner or independently. The answer keys allows the students to self-assess their learning. Then, the students work with their partner to learn from their mistakes. Click here to read more about these games and grab some free ones to try out!
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Jennifer-Findley/Category/Roll-and-Answer-Centers

 The next chart that I make helps the students take ownership of their math notebooks. I make this chart with the students but these are the statements I usually guide the students to if they don't come up with them on their own. We create this chart because I want the students to understand what a great tool their math notebook is and how it will help them succeed in math. This allows them to have ownership of their notebook.

 After helping the students realize the importance of their math notebooks, we move right into Math Notebook Expectations. I keep the expectations simple but important. As we read each expectation, we discuss why this is important and connect it back to the chart shown above.
 
One of my new favorite resources for Interactive Math Notebooks are my Interactive Word Problems. They are easy to use, but so important as the majority of state testing is done in word problem format. Click here to read more about them and grab some freebies to try out.

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Jennifer-Findley/PreK-12-Subject-Area/Word-Problems/Category/Interactive-Student-Notebook-Resources

And finally, this last chart is one of my go to charts that I refer to all year. From the beginning of the year, I like to set the expectation of working hard and get the students to buy in. I pose this question of the students: "What do mathematicians do when they are stuck on a math task?" Together, we brainstorm a list of possible responses. I have this list handy to help guide the students if they are stuck. This chart is a staple in my classroom after making it. When students are stuck on a math task, they are reminded to look at the chart to see what they should do next.
Those are my favorite math charts to start the year on the right foot. What are your go to Math Charts that you make in those first weeks of school? Let me know in the comments!

Now for the giveaway! Enter for a chance to win a $25 TeachersPayTeachers gift certificate! I will be giving away TWO!
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Then, don't forget to head over to these blogs and read their survival tips and enter their giveaways for more chances to win!

Thursday, July 23, 2015

Data Tracking Forms {Free}

With the new teacher evaluations in my state becoming more and more rigorous, I knew I needed to create some very specific data forms to show how I was tracking my data and what I was doing with the data in my instruction. I created these forms last year and used them in some form or another throughout the year. Some I used more than others, but I definitely liked having the variety to use. To be completely transparent, I fabricated the forms shown on this post to protect my students' data.

Sunday, July 19, 2015

A Simple Strategy to Stop Arguing and Talking Back


Those first few weeks of school can be rough when you have students who test authority and like to talk back or argue when given a reminder or asked to do a simple task. It is even harder in the beginning because you have not had time to build a mutual relationship of respect. While you are building this relationship, you need something simple but effective to stop any back talking in its tracks (especially before it spreads to other students). I have used this strategy for two years with great success. Remember this is for when you are asking the student to do a task or reminding them of a procedure they should be following. This is not for instances where a lengthy discussion needs to be had because the behavior is more serious.

Sunday, July 12, 2015

Solving Multi-Part Word Problems {Freebie Printable Chart}

 Solving multi-part math constructed response tasks is such a tricky skill for my students. Not only is the actual solving the problems tricky, but my students also struggle with organizing their responses and their work. I have spent a lot of time this past school year thinking of how to combat that and help scaffold my students. This post sums up what I have come up with so far to help.

Sunday, July 5, 2015

Using Wonder to Teach All the Common Core Literature Standards


The summer of 2014, I read this book and fell in love. I immediately knew I wanted this to be my first read aloud of the year. Not only are the messages and themes in this book fabulous for children today, but the book literally allows you to teach all the Common Core Literature Standards with this book! Seriously....Read on to find out how.

Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Constructed Response Freebie {Math is Real Life}

Free Math Task

For this month's Math is Real Life, I am writing about a few of our recent trips to the lake. On the way back from the lake, my mom texted me and asked me how much gas we used on one trip. After telling her about 1/4 of a tank and that the tank held 32 gallons, I realized this was a good example of using math in real life. Fast forward to the next trip to the lake when we almost ran out of gas. We had about 1/3 of a tank of gas, which should have been more than enough. However, we did a lot more driving and less "hanging out and swimming" on that day. This affected the amount of gas we used. Thankfully, we made it back to the ramp and to the boat trailer. This is a great example of how outside circumstances in the real world affect math sometimes.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Organizing Papers in an Upper Elementary Classroom

After reading this post by 2nd Grade Stuff last summer, I knew I had to get a handle on my incoming papers for the following school year. This post shows three very simple ways I organized some of my student papers this year with great success.
To Teach is to Inspire...