Thursday, October 30, 2014

Management and Task Cards

Hey y'all! Cassie here from Mrs. Thomas's Class 

I am just so beyond excited to finally have my day come where I get to share with you all and provide a couple freebies and ideas for your classroom! The Primary Pack girls and I are so excited! 

I'm going to start today with showing you how exactly I implement task cards in my classroom as well as the set up of my stations (centers) whatever you want to call them :) (We technically can't call them centers in 3rd grade, so, they're stations here)

I have this nice little handy whiteboard that I use to keep track of who goes where and am able to move them easily when they progress up reading levels. It's such a blessing to have something that I can erase easily and the kids can understand. At first it was definitely super confusing to them, but we had to figure out how to read a crazy graph first ;) 

This is the set up of my word work stations. As you can see on my graph of stations beside each group they have a letter, R - G - B, that stands for red, green or blue. Those are the colors of the buckets for word work. 

In my red bucket are BELOW level activities, in the GREEN bucket are ON LEVEL and some ABOVE, blue buckets hold ALL ABOVE level activities. 

Then in the clear buckets hold all of my materials. Okay okay, so I haven't gotten THAT organized yet, don't judge me ;) I need to bring in more materials from my lovely kindergarten extra spare bedroom in my home. My husband just loves it ! :) 

NOW on to my favorite thing EVER! 


I swear, I buy task cards off TPT, I make task cards off TPT, I find some on random websites. Really, anywhere I can find them, I get them. I love how different everyone can make task cards. What I also love is how quickly my kids pick something up by using task cards. 

(This is how I store them! Gallon ziploc bags. The kids know to get them and read the direction card and immediately start working)

My second favorite thing is to incorporate the season, holidays, theme, etc into my task cards. So with Halloween, I go crazy. I am all things obsessed with the months of October-January. These holidays are my favorite! 

So with that being said, I make task cards that are decorated for whatever is coming up! This week we worked on all Halloween themed activities. Kids LOVE LOVE LOVED them. So win-win. They're super engaged and they're learning. Who can beat that right? 

Now, a lot of times to reteach a lesson, I use task cards. Then I walk around and confer with each child at their tables. I love this because it shows me what they really aren't understanding. If they're still having trouble I know to pull them during interventions and work with them individually.  Perfect! Just in a couple months I have kids who were on Tier 3 in iStation and have moved up to Tier 1! I love it. 

Here is a FREEBIE for you lovely friends of mine for task cards. I know tomorrow is Halloween, but hopefully you can print them and use them for fun during the season. I'll attach a page also of some that aren't seasonal! 

Thanks for visiting y'all! You can find me on my facebook page HERE, my instagram HERE, or my blog HERE!

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

How to make PARENT CONFERENCES more manageable and less stressful!

 It's that time of the year when things are getting CRAZY!  We've got Red Ribbon Week, Halloween, my formal assessment, and a ton of Professional Development.  We have a ton of district assessments for the next two weeks because our trimester is ending and you know what that means...REPORT CARDS and PARENT CONFERENCES.  Oh my!  I use to really dread conference time.  It wasn't that I didn't have friendly parents, but it felt like a a lot of pressure and sometimes I feel that I'm not good enough or have no clue what I'm doing.  Can you relate?  In my head, I'm wondering what the friendly faces sitting across the table from me are thinking. I found that it's best to be as prepared as possible.  Since I've implemented this system, the anxiety on both sides has come down quite a bit.

Want to learn more about it?  Head over to Easy Teaching Tools to learn about making parent conferences more manageable.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Student Led Conferences

Hi everyone!

Alisha from Missing Tooth Grins here! I'm super excited to have my very first post on The Primary Pack today. Please don't go anywhere, but just in case you want to check out my blog for the future, you can click the button below.

Today, I want to talk to you about student led conferences. Now, some of you may be thinking, "This girl is C-R-A-Z-Y." Or you could be thinking, "What a lazy teacher not conducting her own conferences!" And maybe a few of you are thinking, "What a teaching goddess! Wow! Look at her go with such wonderful ideas and what-not!" Well, I'm here to assure you that all of those things are correct (joking)! I am crazy. I am lazy. And, I'm kidding about the teaching goddess. I am not that one.

However, there is absolutely nothing crazy or lazy about conducting student led conferences. It will actually transform your typical parent/teacher conferences into a collaborative connection between you, your student, and the parents. 

This year was the first time I've ever done student led conferences. I teach at a Leader In Me school and so therefore, it was decided that we conduct these this year. I, of course, am not an expert on this subject whatsoever. However, I'm not an expert in anything. That's the great thing about teaching; you are always learning. 

Anyway, let's get started!

First, you'll need to keep a data binder for each student. If you already have a data binder, then boom you're ready! In this binder, you put... Data! Any data you find that your students' parents would like to see. This quarter, the data in our binders included behavior, attendance, reading levels, and sight words. Typically, we would have math as well, but we didn't include any for this quarter.

Now, remember... I teach first grade. This is how it worked for us. I'm going to walk through our data binders with you the same way I did with my kids. When teaching them how to lead the conference, I first modeled with an example binder. The next day, each of them brought their binders to the carpet and I modeled again with an example binder. I would say what I needed to say about a page, then the students would turn to a partner and share their page to their partner. The next day, our fifth grade buddy room came in and practiced with us. All of the practice really helped for the actual conference. I find it mandatory to conduct these mock interviews.
Click the picture above to download.

1. Welcome To My Classroom! The student comes into the classroom and show the parents around. The student introduces the teacher. Many of mine said something like, "Mom, Dad... Remember Miss Sanders? Miss Sanders, do you remember Mom and Dad?" (Yes, my firsties really did introduce us and it was adorable.)

2. Data Binder: This is my data binder that I've been using all year to track my data. 

3. Data:

"This is my behavior chart. My goal was to have 8 days on green or above for October. I had 16 so I met my goal."

"This is my attendance. My goal was to be here 23 days and so far I have been here 17 days this month."

 "These are my sight words. I am able to read all of the first list of sight words." There are four lists so the students continued to show all four lists.

"This is my reading level. At the beginning of the school year, I was reading on a level D. Now I'm on a level F. I jumped two levels."

 4. Goals: It's very important for students to make goals, whether you have student led conferences or not. It's also important for students to look back at their goals regularly to determine how they are doing.

"My personal goal is I want to be here everyday. My academic goal is I want to be on a level G by Christmas." The student also may tell the parents how he/she can help the child reach these goals.

5. Celebrations

The student shares some celebrations he/she had from the quarter. Some examples are:

A 100% on a math test
 A 100% on a spelling test
 Certificates for Reflex (this is a computer "game" we have a license for to practice math fluency)

 Other examples include, but are not limited to:
  • Receiving Leader Of The Month (student of the month, character of the month, etc.)
  • Honor Roll
  • Improving reading levels
  • Improving in anything really :)
  • Clipping up on the clip chart
  • Anything worth a celebration!
6. Questions: The student asks his/her parents if there are any questions they would like to ask. I sent home this sheet full of questions ahead of time so parents had an idea of what they should ask:

Click the picture above to download.
Students also share a reflection of what they feel they rock at, what they feel they are okay at, and what they feel they need to improve. I made it in a flipchart form so that the students had more fun filling it out than just color in the smiley face form.

Obviously, there are many ways to hold student led conferences, but this is what I have found works for us! If you are interested in trying these out on your own, you can pick up my Student Led Conference Pack for HALF OFF today (October 28th) ONLY! Sidenote: the sight word lists are not included in the pack, but I'm working on making an editable list to include. So, if you purchase today, you will still get those!

Thanks for reading my post! I will be back to post again on the 28th of every month!

Monday, October 27, 2014

All About Math Workshop!

Hello, Hello!!

Happy Monday!

I’m Amber from Mrs. Masters Kinder Love and I am sooo excited to be writing my first solo post for The Primary Pack!

 I am going to be blogging and sharing ideas from my Kindergarten classroom on the 27th of every month.
Today, I am going to be sharing all about Math Workshop! I LOVE teaching math and I enjoy finding ways to differentiate learning for my students. A couple of years ago I read Math Work Stations by Debbie Diller!

If you are looking to start math workstations in your classroom, I highly recommend this book! It is a super-easy read and provides illustrations and examples to help you create the best version of math stations for your classroom.

First and foremost, what is Math Workshop?

Math workshop is a teaching structure that focuses on small group instruction and hands on stations that support mathematical thinking!

What does this look like in the classroom?

Math Workshop, like reading workshop can look different in every classroom.  My math block consists of the following five components:

1. Math Journals (10-15 mins.)                                                       

 Math journals are problem solving notebooks that encourage students to practice problem solving strategies and deepen their understanding of mathematical concepts. I use math journals on a daily basis to assess student learning. 

All you need to get started is a notebook, and some questions! This journal prompt was all about measurement! You can create your own questions based on your standards/math series, or you can browse TPT.  Easy peasy!

2. Fluency Practice (5 mins.)                                                       
We all know the important role that fluency plays in reading instruction, so why aren’t we focusing on it during math?! I use this time to do flashcards whole group with my class (these can be hand-held or even on the interactive whiteboard) . We are currently working on number identification up to 20. Throughout the year we will cover 2D and 3D shapes, ten frames, double ten frames, coin identification, addition facts, subtraction facts, etc.  

3. Whole group Math lesson/Math Word Wall (15-20 mins.)                 

I don’t know about you, but in my district I have to use a math series. I am just going to go ahead and say that I do not do everything in our lesson for the day. I only have an hour for math and if I followed that lesson plan, I would not accomplish anything else during our math time. I use what I believe is “best practice” when I teach and cover what is beneficial for my students. I am grateful to be in a district that supports teachers using best practice, but know that may not be an option for everyone.  I also use this time to introduce and add a new word to our math word wall! A math word wall encourages students to use math vocabulary in their math journals/stations and helps to deepen their understanding of concepts. My word wall is on sale today in honor of my first post!!! Wooooohoooo!!!

4. Math Stations/Guided Math (15-20 mins.)                                

During this time, students are working in small groups (homogenous) on activities/tasks that reinforce and extend prior classroom instruction. I use a three tier system (red, green, blue) to differentiate for three levels of learning (when appropriate) during math stations. Students know their level by looking at the color of their name on the work board. These change throughout the year based on collected data!! If the math station is tiered, there will be a red, green and blue folder inside to hold the differentiated materials.

 It is important that students work with other students at or around their same level. This encourages students to ask questions, justify their thinking and collaborate with others at their same instructional level. As students are working at their math station, I am pulling small groups to re-teach, reinforce, or enrich concepts and skills. I use a variety of assessment data when planning for my small group lessons.

 I currently have 9 math stations and I change them out monthly. My students work in groups of 2-3. The pictures below are some of the stations we are currently completing!

-5. Math Talk/ Reflection (5 mins.)                                                      

This is a time that we spend talking about what we learned during math that day. It is a great opportunity for students to share new discoveries, and ask questions.

Math Workshop in my classroom lasts roughly 1 hour depending on the day. This DOES NOT include the math we cover during calendar in our morning meeting. 

I hope you feel inspired to begin Math Workshop in your classroom! Here is a freebie to help you plan your small group instruction! Enjoy!!

Have a fabulous week!