Tuesday, July 19, 2011

Guided Math

One of my favorite professional books is currently Guided Math by Laney Sammons.  If you are interested in the Math Workshop format, this book is a MUST!  I spent last summer reading it and formatting my own way of implementing the workshop format into my 4th grade classroom.  I would say, after a year of implementing it, I would never look back!  My kids rocked their state test this year, and I walked away from the year truly feeling like I was able to cater to all of my students' needs.  

I have 3 formats in my room, all football themed.  “GAME day,” “Math Huddle,” and “Playoffs.”  Math Huddle is when we do whole group instruction, and Playoffs are days with tests/quizzes. 

Here’s an outline of what I do on “GAME days.” 

G: Games that teach
A: All by Myself
M: Mathematicians Meeting
E: Expanding on our math facts

I split the kids into four groups based on their levels for that particular unit.  I usually just use the Math Boxes from the previous unit or add a couple questions to a test to see where they are on the concepts.  On GAME days, we spend the first 20-25 minutes or so doing Math Message, reviewing the previous night’s homework, doing slates, and introducing the lesson.  Then, we split into our groups. 

The high group does their “All by Myself” work first.  This is usually the journal page associated with the lesson or something else connected with the lesson.  They do this first because they “get it” after the mini lesson and can move on to bigger and better things, after a little practice!

The middle two groups go to the “Expanding on Math Fact” and “Games that Teach” station first.  Our fact practice is a game called Super Speed math (adapted from the Whole Brain Teaching method).  Sometimes, I get out the laptops and the kids can play Everyday Math games online.  The “Games that Teach” play the Everyday Math games associated with that particular method.

The low group meets with me at the “Mathematicians Meeting” station first.  This way I can ensure I get as much time with them as they need.  We play it by ear here.  Sometimes we do the readiness activity from the book, sometimes we do slates, and most of the time we use manipulatives.  Plus, we get started on our Journal work together to clear up any confusion. 

We meet for about 15-17 minutes, then switch.

The high group usually does the enrichment activity with me at “Mathematicians Meeting”.  The middle group gets a nice little mix J

Of course, we don’t do this everyday.  Not every lesson calls for it, and there are many times where whole group instruction is more beneficial, in my opinion.  We do what works for the lesson.  J 

We spent A LOT of time in the beginning practicing: walking from station to station, modeling the right behavior for each station.  The main thing that I absolutely LOVE about this is that I actually get to differentiate and supervise while doing so.  Last year, I had a hard time giving my advanced kiddos the enrichment they needed and still giving them support for that enrichment- same with the low group.  This year I felt like I was able to reach out to the different levels much better. 

Monday, July 18, 2011

Memory Tricks: Learning Through Song

I am always looking for new and interesting ways to capture the attention of my students and lead them to a deeper understanding of the content.  One of our class projects this year was to create a music video to a song I had written about the process of long division.  It provided the students with an opportunity to collaborate with each other and get their creative juices flowing, all while focusing on math.  We spent many indoor recesses filming and recording, and had a blast doing it!  It gave me a chance to see a different side to many of my students, but most importantly, I am confident that my students really know how to divide!

  So, do you know how to divide?

Why teach?

I feel that education is the most important thing that we can provide one another. However, having the opportunity to educate children is the icing on the cake. I remember the positive role models that nourished my enthusiasm for learning during my early years of school. As I grew older, I realized that I wanted to be that teacher who sensed a child's eagerness to learn, relished the stress of constant questions from inquisitive young minds, and cherished the pride that evolved when the light bulb went on. Teaching also provides me with the opportunity to use my creativity to help others learn and succeed in non-conventional ways. Perhaps, most importantly, I love children and realize that by being their teacher, I can also be their "dream weaver" by modeling hard work, opening their minds to different passions, and showing them their true potential to succeed. Lucky to turn my passion into my career, I am rewarded everyday.