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Spring Break Writing

Are you heading back to school from a nice, relaxing spring break? You know those kids are going to want to talk your ear off to tell you all about their spring break. Don't try to prevent it, and don't you think for a second that 20 minutes of share time is going to be enough. I've learned the hard way!

I take their passion for sharing and turn it into a week long writing unit. This allows the children to share all they want about their spring break. They talk about & write about it until they really have nothing left to share. It's a great way to revamp your classroom community and get the jitters out of the kids. You know they're missing their families.

INSIDE THE WRITING UNITThe Spring Break Writing Unit includes important mini-lessons that are great review for really any age.
These are the two mini-lessons included
  • Identifying complete and non-complete sentences
  • Adding detail sentences to each part of your story
A DAY BY DAY LOOKHere is a day by day look at how to teach this Spring Break Writing Unit! It's very simple to do and so engaging for the students!
  • Day One: Brainstorm!
  • Day Two: Complete & Incomplete Sentence Work
  • Day Three: Make your sentences complete
  • Day Four: Adding details to each part of your story
  • Day Five: Publish your writing and complete the craft
A PEEK AT THE ACTIVITIESHere is a peek at the teaching posters and activities included in the mini-unit!
Brainstorming Activity Sheet

 Complete and Incomplete Teaching Poster

Incomplete & Complete Sentence Activity
When we did this, I gave students and brand new brainstorming paper and had them rewrite each part. They had to turn each sentence into a complete sentence!

Adding Details Teaching Poster

Students add details to each part of their story. I just had my kids use their brainstorming sheet. If they ran out of room in their box, they used the back of the paper.

The final product! 

If you are interested in using this mini-unit in your classroom, you can find it by clicking the image below!

Free Audio, Non-Fiction Rabbit Text!

Did you read the title of this post? Does life really get any better than that? I made a little non-fiction booklet a few years ago for my kids to read and learn all about those cute little rabbits! This year, I am going to be incorporating my book into my listen to reading center. I wanted to share what I made with you today and show you how I will be using it this week in my room!

Before I give each student their own "All About Rabbits" book, I will introduce a schema poster and gather student schema about Rabbits. It is always SO MUCH FUN to see what the kids already know.

During student's Listen to Reading station this week, they'll be using their book and following along to an audio recording of this book. 

All the kids will need to do is grab their iPad, scan the code, get their book and listen.

When students finish listening to their book, then I want to them to record their learning. My main focus when kids are listening to reading is that they listen to fluent reading, learn new words and comprehend what they've just been read!

Since we've been focusing a lot on non-fiction in my classroom, then I'll be using a printable from my Text Features Pack that allows students to focus on what the text taught them.

The students will fill out their Schema part of the printable as we do the whole group lesson together. If you have a more independent class then they could do this independently before they hit play!

If you're wanting to use the free book and audio, then click below!

Tracking Data to Drive Instruction

Welcome to a series of blog posts all about GUIDED MATH! It seems like a scary thing to jump into and I want to let you know it's not. The nine bloggers you see below and myself have joined together to bring you a series of posts to inform you of ALL THINGS guided math! Let's get started!
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I'll be tackling How to use DATA to drive INSTRUCTION!
 We love it, we hate it, we hate it some more, BUT we NEED it!
I have a system my school uses called DMA to help us out, but I like to use a little more than just that. 
I'll explain more below! 

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The first thing you need to know before being able to USE your data effectively to drive instruction is a way to do it.

You'll want to ask yourself these 3 key questions:

1. How is my math block structured so I can attend to the needs of my kids?
2. How will I record the data?
3. How I will I update my data?

Here are my answers to those questions:

1. The way I structure my math block is in a four station rotation (teacher table, on my own station, games station and technology station). My students rotate every 15 minutes. This structure allows me to meet with every group EVERY DAY!

2. I record my pre-assessment and post assessment data in my math binder. In between the assessments, I record math data using a math binder on  a daily basis. I jot down things I notice them doing or not yet doing. Doing this allows me to remember what they need when they return to me the next day AND to see if I'm noticing a pattern in the class.

3. I update my data as I teach. If I notice a student or the group of students have mastered a concept, I make note of it and make any instructional changes that I feel are needed. If the data is showing a student is struggling with understanding a concept, I update that students data and decide what to do next.

I use my planning sheet a lot to record observations that I see during math group time. I always start the week with a focus for each group. As I teach, the focus changes based on their needs. You can see that by looking at the top box of each groups plans below.

As I teach, I also fill in activities for small group for the week. I always start with ONE for sure activity that we'll begin with. Then, I will decide what to do next based on what the kids do. Honestly, I don't always do worksheets with them, I am not always printing stuff off. I've got math tools, my whiteboard, note cards and white computer paper. One time a week, we WILL play a prepped game for review of the skill overall.

 When I am talking about analyzing data purposefully here, I am really talking about more of the summative assessment type of data. Always, always use your formative assessments to guide your instruction every. single. day. During my math workshop I have a station called 'On My Own.' This is where students display their understanding of a certain math concept on their own, without help (unless I state otherwise).

Normally, 'On My Own' is review work of previous concepts. Sometimes, I will throw in an activity to really assess their understanding of what we are doing at that current moment. I take more time to analyze that data. I do this using a four box system and STICKERS!

This is what my little table looks like when I go to analyze my data. Again, everything is kept in my math binder so I don't have to waste time gathering my materials. I keep their papers in a folder, I have my data forms and stickers to mark levels of understanding.

Here are the papers sorted into piles and what the stickers mean.

Blue - Concept mastered and a little beyond.
Green - Concept mastered
Yellow - Gaining an understanding of concept
Red - Concept not understood yet

As I am analyzing data, I determine and organize student names based on four factors:

1These students have mastered the concept and beyond.
2. These students have shown mastery.
3. These students are beginning to understand the concept.
4. These students do not yet understand the concept.

I sort my papers into four piles, write names in four boxes and put stickers on the top of each pile to make the piles easier for me to find if I need to look at them again to gain more information. You can grab the printable I use here.

 I also look for patterns when I am analyzing data. Sometimes, the majority of the class is having a misconception and I record that information on the 'Data Breakdown' form. This is where I get my ideas for my mini-whole group math lessons before we start our math rotations.

Once you've analyzed all that data, it's time to GET TO WORK! Open up that math binder, meet with those groups and instruct them based on where they are! Take notes as you teach them of things your noticing! You will be absolutely STUNNED to find that you actually become a much better teacher by doing the front load work.

When your planning to meet with those groups, you also need a plan in place. No you don't need different activities for each group, or laminated cards or worksheets all the tie. Honestly, get those math tools you need and write down a 2-3 step plan. Use note cards to write math problems, grab a worksheet and provide a different level of support for each group, use a game and change the numbers. It's very easy to differentiate when you KNOW THE NEEDS of your kids!

This is what I use to write out a plan for my kids and what they need:

To read more about guided math, click the links below!