Tag Archives: Setup

Lesson Close

I have a hard time blogging during the school year, but I love to spend the summer reflecting on the past school year and thinking about my goals for the coming year. I have been watching #lessonclose and loving all of the ideas. And then I saw this one….

It all came together for me. I love the flow chart, I love the google sheets, I just love! Thank you!

I started using exit tickets more consistently in my seventh grade class this past school year. I saw was able to use the data to form flexible groups based on my plans for the day. I saw a lot of growth and could pinpoint which concepts students were struggling with. I sometimes had days that students weren’t ready for the exit ticket, and I had to quickly change my plans and save it for another time. I want to see some self-reflection about group work and so I created the rubric below.

I also wanted to find a better way to quickly assess different skills and I’ve been using formative.com so I created this…

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I did all this before I read @rawsonmath‘s post. Now, I’m seeing things in a new light. I think I can still use some of the tools I have created, but I’m seeing the organization of everything a little differently.

Thank you!

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Are stations the answer?

My time as a math coach taught me that stations are the bomb! I observed masterful first grade teachers regularly manage many different math levels without breaking a sweat. I experienced fourth grade teachers manage a room full of wiggly students during flex blocks and everyone was “getting what they needed.” Somewhere along the way we begin to believe that our students can sit for longer, focus for longer, and we don’t need to use stations to reach all learners.

A few years ago my district purchased the Connected Mathematics curriculum. I had used previous versions of the curriculum in the past and many of the problems were interesting and rich. The new version is clunky, disjointed, and difficult to use. Many of the problems are long, requiring several class sessions to complete with very little conceptual understanding. My students lose interest and are unmotivated by the time we finish a problem. The math they may have gleaned from the problem is lost in the euphoria they feel to be done.

As the year came to a close and I reflected on what went well and what didn’t, I was reminded of the times my students were engaged, challenged, and motivated to learn. The times this happened the most this year was when I was using stations in my classroom. They felt as though the tasks were interesting and at their level.

I began to think about my first unit in terms of stations using the math workshop model thinking about how I could use the best parts of the CMP curriculum. I came up with four stations including one where I will meet with students in small groups. These small group meetings will force both remediation and enrichment to happen within the station rotation.

Then I ran across this tweet….

After I read a little about responsive stations it seems like this is exactly what I need to add to make my stations even more productive. By first spending time to teach the necessary skills before starting a new unit I can really meet my students where they are. Looking at what students know and how to build off of that I can make all students feel successful.

So, my first unit is no longer my first unit. I need some station work before we start the first unit. The skills they really need to have solid are their multiplication and division relationships. I started planning my stations here. I think this will also be a great time to teach some of the classroom routines that need to get done at the beginning of the year so I’m only going to use three stations. More to come…

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First Day

September will mark my tenth year teaching in my current school district and my fourteenth year teaching. It is overwhelming to look back at all of the different ways I have started the year. I don’t feel like any of my first days were spectacular. This year things will be different!

I have been doing a lot of reading about the growth mindset. I recently purchased Carol Dweck’s book Mindset:The New Psychology of Success and I think I have the gist. It is all starting to make sense now. I have been trying for years to convince students that making mistakes is the only way to learn and if you aren’t making mistakes you aren’t learning. If you haven’t been reading about the growth mindset and fixed mindset, the premise is that once you believe that your intelligence can’t grow, it can’t (fixed mindset). You need to believe that learning comes from challenges and learn from the mistakes you make along the way (growth mindset). Great! Now that I had some research for these ideas I want a way to start off the year teaching them.

Two years ago I attended the Building Learning Communities Education Conference, while I was there I attended a session where the presenters were doing The Marshmallow Challenge. In the Marshmallow Challenge teams of four are given tape, 20 pieces of spaghetti, string, and a marshmallow. The task is to build the tallest structure that will support the marshmallow in 18 minutes. There is a great TED talk  by Tom Wujec that is also on the website. Tom stresses the importance of just trying something as soon as you have the idea, making a mistake and learning from it.

I’m really excited to start my year this way. I know there’s not a lot of math, but I want to set a tone. I want my students to be ready to accept a challenge, to make mistakes, and to learn.

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Today.

Today was one of those days, well actually, maybe it was yesterday. It was one of those days I question if I am really moving forward. School starts in two weeks, and I was told yesterday that my classroom is moving and I have vacation plans with my family beginning tomorrow until the day before school starts. I know, poor planning, but my room was ready to go.

Now, I have to start over. I went in today and took everything off the walls. I undid every bulletin board, and emptied every closet and shelf. I can’t even start to move into my new room because it is a disaster. No, actually a disaster, things attached to the floor disaster. It was one of those days.

I didn’t want to write this post. I’m trying to be more positive. I had all these really great ideas. I was ready to start and now I can’t even remember what they are. It’s a good thing I wrote them down in this blog.

Now that I’ve started writing, I can go back and read about the better days. I can read about the triumphs and great ideas.  I think that’s how I’m going to deal with the days that are …., well you know.

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