Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Workshop Wednesday - Strategy Lesson - Book Introductions


My first post on the Primary Peach. I'm so excited!

Okay, so my school sent me to a staff development back in February. All the Assistant Principal told me was that it would be about working with Guided Reading. Okay, that's fine. Our school is already pretty big on Guided Reading Workshop Model (think Fountas and Pinell), but okay.

It was a horribly cold wintry Tuesday with big fat flakes falling from the sky. The ten of us were huddled around the principal's door to see if they would cancel the conference. They didn't. We braved the elements and drove downtown in the driving snow. If you remember the incident in Atlanta from last winter, you'll understand our trepidation. No one wanted to spend 15 hours bundled up inside a car stuck on the highway. I had thrown in some blankets and water bottles to the trunk just to be safe.

We arrived with only one small icy slide to the Cobb Galleria and walked in to meet Jennifer Serravallo, an educator, professor, and author of several books on the teaching of reading. It was a fantastic day spent looking at the methods and strategies surrounding Guided Reading.

The best thing I learned that day was something she referred to a Strategy Lessons. I've heard of them before from Stephanie Harvey's texts floating around at school. Jennifer presented them in a very clear concise format that I immediately jumped all over. This format is from the Teacher's College.

She starts with a Compliment Connection  where she doesn't over enthuse with such stuff as "Great job yesterday reading quietly!" She wants to correctly name the procedures she noticed them doing and call attention to the skills involved.

Next is the Teaching Point, or what it is we will be working on today. Once again correctly naming the skill being focused on during reading time. For example, we might be Reading with a Question in Mind. The students are asked to read a passage or a chapter in their books looking for evidence to bring back to group that deals with only one specific question.

Engagement was the third step. It involves giving the students an assignment. Something they must accomplish during the Reading Block. In my example they might need to pick a character and hunt down information the author provides on this person in order to make a judgment about them.

Finally comes the Link portion where you remind them that they can use this skill with other books they read in the future.

I tried it out with my class to great success. We had just started our new extended text, The Homework Machine. I wanted to introduce it so they really paid attention to the characters they were about to meet. Also, I was not going to be reading it aloud to them as usual. This time they would take 'parts' and read out their parts as if the book was a Reader's Theater.

You can see a video of my lesson below.

That was the compliment connection portion of the program. I specifically named the strategy they had employed, Active Listening,

Here's the Teaching portion. I explain that we will be paying attention to our Inner Monologues to make decisions about characters.


In this section I give them an assignment to write their thoughts on a sticky note on Page 6 of Chapter 1 with evidence to back up their thinking.

After they have completed the assignment I bring them back in together and remind them that we've paid attention to our Inner Monologues to make decisions about characters. They share their thoughts with each other and then continue with their regular Reading Workshop activities.

As we continued to read through the book, I was walking around monitoring that they stay on task. It was so funny to  hear them all using voices that fit their characters. Oh, sure. They all giggled and laughed when their friends first began using these voices, but they got over that soon.

Strategy Lessons are a way to make sure your students know exactly what they are expected to learn and begin to use these not just for today, but for any book they read in the future.

Let me know how it goes!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Using the Trading Card app to teach Social Studies

Hello Fabulous Followers!

It's Erin from The Elementary Darling. Welcome to day three of our blog :) 
We are so excited that you have stopped by !

Today is our first post for Technology Tuesday and I will be talking about how I use the Trading Card app for my students to learn Social Studies!

Just a little recap, I teach first grade Advanced Content and Gifted students. I am constantly looking for new ways to make Social Studies interesting. I know we aren't the only grade with a ton of people to learn about, so this app allows for some creativity while learning. One great thing about the Trading Card app is that it is FREE! Free, my friends, you can't beat that! It is also made by so you know that it is going to be a great resource!

Basically you can use this for SO many different things, but the feature that I want to show you today is the "Real Person" feature. As you can tell from the picture, you could use this for characters in a book, a place you are learning about (Georgia of course :)) or any other wonderful topics!

First you click the card you would like to make. I chose Real Person. Then type in your topic name into the card title. This week we are learning about George Washington Carver.

Next, you  create a new card.

Then, you type in your information. Some of the information may be harder for younger students, so for my kiddos I skipped the quotes section. They can even change their card design, which they love!

Front of the card

Back of the card

These can be emailed or saved. If your students have access to send them, it really would be a great way to share with other students. Since my students are young, I had them complete this activity on paper before they typed them. It helps us organize our thoughts. 

I created a freebie just for you guys! I hope you can use this for one of your lessons in the future!
(Please excuse my terrible drawing skills, the students haven't finished their papers yet.) ;)

Monday, April 27, 2015

Mastering Math Facts with Reflex Math!

Hey y'all!
It's Lacey from The Fabulous Life of an Elementary Teacher :) We're so excited that you've stopped by our fun new blog!

Today is our first post for Monday Math Days, and I will be talking about my favorite math fact fluency program ever! :)

I teach 3rd grade, and I don't know about you, but my students have a lot of difficulty with their math facts. Addition, subtraction, multiplication, name it, they have issues. I have tried so many things to try to help my students improve their math fact fluency, but I always find that my ideas fall short. Don't get me wrong - I've tried tons of {free} websites, teacher resource books, flash cards, games, etc. While my kids love those things, it just hasn't resulted in my kids truly knowing their facts.
Enter Reflex Math...I saw a post from a fellow friend (and teacher blogger) about this website, and I immediately went over to check it out. OH. MY. GOODNESS. According to their website, multiple studies have shown that students who can automatically recall math facts are more capable problem solvers, learn new math skills more quickly, and are more likely to succeed in their future mathematics courses. Isn't this so true? Once I visited the website, I felt like I hit the jackpot for math facts! I have seen so much success in my classroom since we began using the program in January.
Reflex Math is presented in a fact family format. It builds on the knowledge of the commutative property and the relationship between the operations.
The games in Reflex Math are different than most math fact games in that they require students to think quickly, which helps build automaticity.

One of my favorite things about Reflex Math is all of the data that is available to you as a teacher! Once you log into your account, you literally have SO much data at your fingertips! I'm going to share some screenshots below of the data reports that I use the most.

This report shows the overall class fluency. Since the end of January, my students' multiplication and division math fact fluency has increased by 39%! While we are still only at 55% mastery, that's AMAZING compared to where we were! I can't wait to see where we are at the end of the school year.
Each student has an individual growth report. I print these out and send them home for parents to see. It also shows when they hit "Milestones" - these are certificates that I print out for the students. I print 2 copies - 1 to send home and 1 to hang on our wall outside the classroom.
Each student also has a Family Pyramid report. This shows which facts they have mastered, which ones they are not yet fluent in, and ones that have not yet been assessed.
This is one of my students' multiplication mastery grids. I print these for each student once per month so they know exactly which facts they need to be studying. One of my favorite parts of the Reflex Math program is how individualized it is!

This is the Student Growth Report - it graphs a student's number of fluent facts vs. time.
When we first started using Reflex Math at the end of January, all of my students began in addition and subtraction. Once they hit 90% mastery, I moved them up to multiplication and division. Just last week, I moved all of my students over to multiplication and division because our standards tell us that students should demonstrate multiplication mastery by the end of 3rd grade. The program assesses students first, and begins the lessons and games based on how the students performed on the assessment.

I was fortunate enough to receive a 1 year grant from Reflex Math - they have a great grant program for teachers! You can click here to sign up for a free trial!

Don't forget to enter the giveaway we've got going on for the chance to win one of four TPT gift certificates! Click below to go to the Rafflecopter to enter :)

Have a fabulous week!!

Sunday, April 26, 2015

It's a Launch Party!

This little guy has been a work in progress for awhile.  And we are FINALLY ready to get this party started!  We are so glad you stopped by!

We are a group of over 20 Georgia bloggers that decided to collaborate to create a blog full of engaging and exclusive content for Georgia elementary school teachers (Grades PreK- 5th)! We can't wait to share all the goodies we have for you!

To start off, we will be doing a GIVEAWAY! We will be giving away 1 GRAND PRIZE $50 TPT Gift Certificate, plus three other lucky winners will each receive a $25 TPT Gift Certificate!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

That is just the beginning!  We ALSO are celebrating the blog launch with a FREEBIE!  Each Primary Peach author has written a post introducing themselves and an exclusive freebie, just for you!  The freebies are themed to meet your end of the year needs!

Ready to get started? Hop on over to Mandy's Tips for Teachers to meet the first author and freebie!  Enjoy!

Sunday, April 5, 2015