Monday, February 1, 2016

Diving in to Reader's Workshop!


I have been calling 2016 the year of the epiphanies. As soon as the year began, I felt like a lightbulb went off in my head. I spent the majority of the first half of this school year starting something, not liking how it worked, and starting something new all over again. Let me be real here-I was staying at work until 7:00 at night, reinventing the wheel constantly and thinking things would totally turn around in my classroom and they never did. That was until I made the decision to change the way I teach reading. 


I have a very diverse group of learners this year. We started off the year using Daily 5 during our reading block. Our Daily 5 was running smoothly, my kids knew the routines, knew what they should be working on, and what they needed to complete each week. But what I realized I was seriously lacking was genuine teaching time. Now, I am sure that Daily 5 works wonders in classrooms, in fact it was working very well in mine, but at this point in the year I realized we needed a little change. I know Daily 5 is a form of Reader's Workshop, but I wanted something more.

After a PD meeting with our ELA curriculum director that covered the basic ins and outs of Reader's Workshop, Language Workshop, and Writer's Workshop, I was hooked. We don't have a set curriculum in our district, so the flexibility of creating my own reading block led me to the decision to switch to Reader's Workshop. I currently use Amy Lemons and Katie King's Rooted In Reading program each week and I LOVE it. But, just like Amy and Katie say - their units are designed to guide your instruction, not to replace it.

That was where I was sorely lacking, I wasn't teaching with guided practice. I was teaching once and expecting my kids to get it right away. We were reading our story of the week each day, learning all about the standards that needed to be covered, but I wasn't getting through to my kids. I was so pressured to do a mini-lesson, followed by a round of Daily 5, and another mini-lesson and another round that I couldn't keep up, which meant neither could my class.

So today we tried our first crack at Reader's Workshop. Like I said, I use Rooted In Reading, so this week our story is Each Kindness by Jacqueline Woodson. 


We started off just reading the book. We sat at the carpet and I read the book to the class. I asked questions about the pictures, talked about new vocabulary words we might not know or words we need to use our context clues to understand. It was AWESOME. I was doing this before, but never with the freedom I wanted to just talk about the book. I was always rushing though our read alouds to get on to our first round of D5 so that I could meet with all of my guided reading groups. Today with the pressure off, our conversation flowed and my kids were making connections like I have never seen.

After reading the story, we moved into our language lesson. This is a new way for us to tackle our grammar/speaking/listening skills. Our skill this week is subject-verb agreement. I had a already made an anchor chart to walk us through this concept, but the nice thing was we went back and found subject-verb agreement examples in our story rather than just doing a worksheet or something like that. This really helped the kids get it! 

Our next step was to find a spot with a partner, and take a look at the books in our book bins. Each of my students has a book with books at their level, so I know they can read them. They worked together in random pairs, not grouped by ability, to find examples of subject-verb agreement in their own books and wrote them down in their Reader's Workshop journals. I won't lie-it wasn't pretty. It was tough but it was also our first day working on this skill.

My favorite part of this lesson was the end. Not because it was over, but because we came back to the carpet with our notebooks and SHARED! I had walked around while the kids were working, and had conversations with a few kids, but not everyone. The sharing/debrief time allowed me to hear what most of my kids had found, and I can adjust tomorrow's lesson based on our understanding from today. 

I'm sure that most of your are saying-WE KNOW THAT ALREADY, and I get it. I knew I should be discussing things with my students, and using guided practice and the gradual release model to teach my kids, but I just wasn't able to fit it all in with everything else going on in our room. I was doing the rapid pace, keep on chugging with no time to think or share version of guided practice in my classroom.

After our language lesson we moved on to the comprehension piece of Reader's Workshop. In our story, each kindness, we talked all about the importance of being kind. Amy and Katie provided a lesson using small hearts to discuss kindness, and I just tweaked it a little to fit in with our Reader's Workshop.

First we made a list of different words that describe how we feel when someone is unkind to us. Then I gave each student a blue heart and they wrote a word that describe the way they feel on their heart. Then we crumpled our hearts to demonstrate someone being unkind. We quickly opened our hearts to see if we could "straighten them out" and fix the damage we had done. We quickly realized this wasn't possible, and that being unkind to someone can leave quite a bit of damage on their heart. We put all of our "unkind hearts" in a jar in our classroom, and promised to do our best to keep those bad feelings inside our jar, and not let them out into our classroom. Yes it was a little cheesy, but they took it quite seriously!







After we took care of our unkind hearts, we decided we wanted to share different examples of kindness just like the students in our story did. Each student wrote an example of kindness on a pink heart and shared it with the class. Some kiddos definitely struggled, but everyone was much more eager to write and SHARE their writing than they ever have been in the past! We hung our examples in the hallway in front of our door to show that our hearts were FULL of kindness. Here are some examples of our kindness hearts.





Here is our display outside our classroom. I am so happy with how it tuned out!!! :)







There was more to the rest of our reading block, included more comprehension practice that went deeper into discussing how our characters responded to events in the story, and discussing our new vocabulary words. I'll talk more about those next time, but for now I just wanted to share these few special moments. Although it was a lot of work, today was the first day I didn't have to ask kids to "stay on task" or "get to work" during reading. Everyone was working and listening and participating and genuinely engaged the whole time! It was wonderful, and the first time in a long time that I have felt excited about teaching reading this year.

I would love to hear how reader's workshop words for you in your classroom! The more ideas, the better! I'm off to watch a little Mad Men on Netflix. I just started-and I'm HOOKED!!!


Thursday, November 5, 2015

November Number Sense


Math is probably my favorite thing to teach in second grade. I was never a math whiz in school, and don't particularly love math in the real world, but once I started doing guided math it quickly became my favorite part of the day!

In the past I have used a form of Math Daily 3, but found that it wasn't quite working for my kiddos this year. We really needed math centers that helped build our number sense in my classroom. That's when a coworker of mine introduced me to BUILD MATH. I had heard of it before, but it always seemed way too complicated for me. Boy was I wrong. Once I saw it working (flawlessly I might add) in my coworker's classroom the wheels started turning.

Here's what BUILD looks like in my classroom:

Bear with me - this post is CHOCK FULL of pictures! 

BUILD consists of 5 stations:

B - Buddy Games

U - Using Manipulatives

I - Independent Reading/Work

L - Learning About Numbers

D - Doing Math



Every day my students get to choose which rotation they want to go to. There are only two rules when choosing:

1. Go to each station once before going to another one for a second or third time
2. Students who go to "D" or "Doing Math" are assigned by me and are working at the teacher table during that time.

I know not everyone who uses BUILD math runs their stations this way, but that is what has been working for us in our classroom!

Let me walk you through what you can find in each center. B stands for Buddy Games. I usually put different games that I have created or found that students can use to practice things like basic addition, subtraction, number sense, and place value. You will always find a roll & cover game that matches up to whatever season we are in. Right now we have our Thanksgiving Addition game in Buddy Games, but our Halloween Addition is pictured here. 




I'm going to skip to what you would find in "I - Independent Reading/Practice" because the other stations are very similar. I gives students a chance to read about math. I was REALLY nervous the kids would hate this, but find them constantly asking to go visit this station. I put math books, and any other books that have even a shred of tie to mathematics in them just to keep my kiddos engaged. 



I also have students complete their math "must do" at this station. Their must to is a write the room activity that focuses on our skill for that week. 

Aside from going to "D - Doing Math" which is meet with the teacher, my kids can also go to "U - Using Manipulatives" or "L - Learning About Numbers". At first I really struggled with this because I wasn't finding any math centers that matched the skills I wanted my kids to work on. BUILD is all about BUILDING number sense and that's what I needed, so I decided to make my own stations. Here is what they look like this month:

Most of my activities are housed in these Sterilite containers. I have a combination of both large and small containers.



All of my boxes have a "U" or "L" on them so that students know which ones to choose. I keep most of my games in plastic baggies inside the container just to make sure we keep all of the pieces together!


All of the following images are from my Thanksgiving Number Sense Pack that I have been using in my classroom. I have seen a huge growth in the number sense since starting BUILD, and using centers that help develop those skills. 

In "Match It Up" students are matching their standard form turkeys to their pie ten frame forms. I let them play this like memory, where all cards start facing down and they flip two up at a time to try and find a match 

This one is always a blast. They start out by writing down the number of feathers on their turkey. Then they need to draw more feathers until the have the amount written on the card. Then they write the addition problem the just completed on the dry-erase sleeve to solidify it. My kids have no clue they are even working on addition here, they think they are just drawing! Also-I use those dry erase sleeves in just about every center. They are AMAZING!


"What's Missing?" is a classroom favorite. The concept seems so simple, but when I ask my kiddos to find a number on a hundreds chart they struggle so much! With this activity there are ten numbers blocked off with Thanksgiving themed pictures, and students use their recording sheet to write down what numbers are missing from the chart.




Turkey counting on teaches students to count on within 50-starting and stopping at random numbers to really make them think!



We recently worked on adding and subtracting ten within 100. This was sooooooo hard for my kiddos. I made this center so that they could continue to practice the skill even though it is not our weekly standard. Simply role to dice to build a number, and then add or subtract ten!




Domino addition and subtraction gets their brains working on those subitizing skills!

Tangrams is another favorite! I found tangrams in the dollar spot at target earlier this fall and I knew I had to use them! The students build their tangram picture puzzle first, and then recreate it using tangrams right next to it. I'm trying to help the develop spacial skills and understand how smaller shapes can make bigger shapes. 

I store each Tangram puzzle in a plastic baggie and write the number of that puzzle on the back of each piece just in case we have a mix up! ;)



I was looking for Thanksgiving clipart and stumbled across these cuties! I just loved them so much so I created a match the shape to its name game. Once they finish that, they can apply the same skill on a recording sheet!



Turkey number bonds was created to help with those tricky fact families. I give them two different baskets with manipulatives and tell them to take a few from each basket. Then they write down how many they took of each, the sum of the two numbers, and work their way through the fact family!



We just started measurement so I knew I needed to include that in our math centers somewhere! "I'm On A Roll" teaches kids to estimate the length of their roll in inches, and then to measure it and compare. I let them role out a matching play-doh role just for fun too! :)



Turkey links ties in Language to our math unit. I have an ESL classroom so we are always struggling with out pronouns. Students link together the chains to find the sum of their two numbers. They also have to decide the correct pronoun to go with their friend's name! :)


They were so excited when they realized that I used all of their names in this one!



And that's what BUILD is looking like in my classroom these days! I'm hoping to continue with these centers throughout the year and just to adjust the theme and the complexity, so keep your eyes peeled for more! If you interested in purchasing the items in this packet just click the picture below!



And now, it's bedtime. TGIF!!!!!



Monday, September 28, 2015

Pumpkin Place Value


We've been wrapping up place value in our classroom this week. I love beginning the year with place value because I think it builds number sense and sets my kiddos up for success for the rest of the school year. We always refer back to tens and ones no matter what we are working on, so I love that they have that background knowledge right away to help propel them through the school year. 

Today we had a ton of fun with our pumpkin place value! I got the original idea here from one of my favorite bloggers, Reagan Tunstall. I thought this would be a perfect way to wrap up our place value unit, and help transition our classroom into "Fall" mode  - my favorite time of year!!!

We started our pumpkin place value out by taking a look at this jar. As soon as my kiddos saw the candy everyone was suddenly veryyyy excited about place value!


We talked about how many pumpkins we thought were in the jar. Some kids said 300, and others said 5, which led perfectly into a discussion about how we could use our place value skills to help us guess. We talk about grouping our pumpkins into groups of tens-maybe even a group of 100, and then using however many ones we thought would be leftover to create our estimate. Everyone got one of these little pumpkin papers to write their guess down.


I made a point to talk about realistic guesses so that my friends who has guessed that there were 300 pumpkins could be a little more on target.


Then we headed over to the floor to share our guesses and glue them on our estimating pumpkins anchor chart.


Whenever someone handed me their estimate, they had to tell me their number in standard form and how many tens and ones it had before I glued it down


I had a few friends who had trouble telling me their tens & ones, so I brought out our trusty base ten blocks to form their guess. This was a big help for my kiddos who need to visualize their tens and ones and aren't quite able to see them when numbers are written in standard from yet.



Then we used these pumpkins and pumpkin seeds to count out the pumpkins in our jar. We decided we wanted to started by making groups of ten, and then using our ones once we didn't have enough to make a group of ten left.




We ended up with 73 candy corn pumpkins once we had counted them all. Everyone got their own pumpkin to eat, and the leftovers all went to the kiddo with the closest guess! She guess 70 pumpkins and was so happy when she realized she won! :)



And now as an added bonus, I have a cute anchor chart to hang up and help bring in the autumn them to my room! 

If you want to grab your own pumpkin place value, just click the picture below! I'd love to see how you use it in your classroom! Enjoy!!