Interactive Math Journals

31 August 2012
Oh my goodness - it's FINALLY done!  When I dream about my summer, I'll be dreaming about my math journals ....

If you've been following my blog and my "Math Journal Sundays" posts, you already know how much I enjoyed creating interactive math  journal activities with my students - hands-down, the best addition to my math program last year.  I've had a lot of questions about my math journals over the last year, and I've tried to answer most of them.  (Sidenote:  all the ideas are still available on my blog.  For some reason, when I had my blog redesigned this summer, my "see older posts" button stopped working, which I know makes it difficult to scroll through all the posts.  I promise to try to get it working again next weekend (even though scrolling through all that html code frightens me a bit.  For now, you can still see the posts by clicking on the months on my right sidebar - September - June).

Earlier this summer, I promised you all I would be creating an "Interactive Math Journal" resource that would contain all my math journal ideas.  I didn't think it would take as long as it did to put it all together, but after literally hundreds of hours of work on it, I'm DONE!!!

The 165 page resource contains 38 different interactive math journal activity (btw - through writing the resource, I found out the word "foldable" is trademarked, so from now on you'll hear my say "folded tools" or "interactive tools").  Each activity contains pictures, full instructions, and templates to create the folded tool.  I have included assessment ideas, details on left-side and right-side thinking, and more.  I have also aligned the whole resource to common core standards for grades 4-8, as well as the Ontario curriculum math strands.  You can click on the picture to the right to preview my newest resource (and if you download the full preview, I have included two journal activities you can use in your classroom right away ...)

So ... after working non-stop on this for the last while, I FINALLY have the time to head out to school and attend to my very neglected classroom.  Off I go ... can't wait to share pics with you when I'm done decorating.  First day back on Tuesday!!!

Happy Friday!!!


My Vistaprint Order Came In!!!

21 August 2012

Yesterday, one of my favourite visitors came to the door yesterday ... the Fed Ex guy.  Back-to-school mode for me means a steady stream of delivery trucks to my door bringing all the goodies I've ordered for my classroom.

I used Vistaprint last year, and because I was a new customer, there were so many freebies to hook you.  And yes, I was hooked.  I didn't get as many good deals this time, but I love everything so much, I'm OK with that.

The large "listen to your teacher" poster is for the door.  LOVE it!  I had it made from a freebie I found at The Learning Tree and it's absolutely perfect!!!   The smaller "in this room" poster is from Venspired Learning.  I fell head over heels in LOVE with Krissy's posters over a year ago.  She has generously shared all of the beautiful and inspiring posters she has created HERE.  I also used her posters to create a wall calendar for myself.  I made one last year, too, and it was a hit with my students.  At the beginning of each month, we changed the month (page), and I put the poster under the ELMO to project it over the board.  We took a few moments to discuss the quote on the poster, and what it means to our own lives.

I also had these little library slips up from the business cards (sorry for the blurry picture).  After 12 years of teaching, I'm still trying to come up with a good system for tracking the books in my classroom library ... and not ending the year with less books than I started with.  When a student chooses a book, he or she will fill this card out and put it in their pocket on my library chart.  Seems easy enough and seems to work for our school library ... here's hoping it will work in my classroom.  ;)

But ... the best part is that I had posters made from some of my own work ... I've never made my own posters before (and to be completely honest, it may be a little bit pathetic how excited this makes me).  I had some of my posters from my writing units made into posters - one for summarizing and one for text features.  I also had my two self-reflection assessment strategies made into posters.  They will be great to post in the classroom at the beginning of the year when the students are getting used to these strategies.

Well, that's about all the treasures this cardboard box held.  Oh wait ... there was one more treasure ... a coupon for a percentage off my next order ... which just may happen ... very soon!


Comprehension Question Fans

16 August 2012
Reading Comprehension Question Fans keep reading questions accessible for teachers and students during whole group discussions, guided reading groups, literature circles, paired discussions - and the various questions included provide that needed choice for students when crafting their best reading responses.

Lately, I've received a few questions about my question fans I used in one of my lessons I wrote about last year.  I whipped up this question fan using questions from my persuasive writing unit.  You can read the blog post from last year by clicking HERE. I really enjoyed using the question fans for reading comprehension - they were handy, I had multiple questions to choose from, and more importantly, the students really liked them.

Comprehension strategy questions for any novel

Now that I'm finally wrapping my mind around getting back into back-to-school mode (I apologize to those of you who are already back), I decided to make up a larger question fan resource.  This Reading Comprehension Questions resource covers all seven comprehension strategies:  asking questions, determining importance, inferring, making connections, summarizing, synthesizing, visualizing, and can be used with any novel.  There are 140 different comprehension strategy questions in this resource that can be grouped altogether on a binder ring, or can be grouped by strategy.  I can use these fans when studying the different strategies in isolation, or can pick and choose from the questions on different fans when doing a review or during a novel study.

I made up a few packages so I can add these to my students' guided reading buckets.  They are perfect to grab when conferencing with students.  Each guided reading group has a comprehension strategy they focus on, so these question fans will help them during group discussions.  I can also pass them out for partner discussions after independent reading, or put at a literacy center.

I made an extra set with all the questions and attached them together with a binder clip circle (or whatever those rings are called).  I can hook the whole set on a wall by my desk, and I can choose from the questions for reading response questions (I can put it under the document camera and project it over the board).


Back-To-School SALE and a Bit of Catch-Up

10 August 2012
I've been a little MIA lately as I've been vacationing with my family.  It's been long over-due, and we've had a BLAST!  We're heading out to the cottage tonight for the rest of weekend to relax before my husband heads back to work on Monday (however, I'm not sure chasing three little girls around the cottage qualifies as "relaxing", but I know it will be a good time).

I did schedule a few posts before I left that I wanted to share with you.  If you've been following our Daily 5 / CAFE book study, my post on Chapter 6 (Whole Class Instruction) went out on Monday.  Click on the button below to see all of our posts.  I can't wait to start implementing some of these strategies into my classroom next year (I think I may be even more excited to make the bulletin board).
We Read, We Blog, We Teach

I also finished my latest installment for Classroom DIY.  I made the cutest little name plate for my desk out of scrabble letters.  Click on the picture to see my post and read all about how to make your own (it was SO easy!).

I am also participating in a Back-To-School Cyber Search for grades 3 - 6.  On Saturday, August 11th, I will be teaming up with eleven other bloggers to help make your back-to-school transition a little easier.  We will be giving away over $45.00 worth of resources for FREE.  Click on the button below to read all about it.

Lastly, I will be participating in the BIG back-to-school sales happening on August 12th-13th.  ALL my products at my TPT and TN stores will be on sale for 20% off for those two days (it's a great time to clear some of those items off your wishlists).  In addition, TPT is offering an extra 10% off by entering the code BTS12 at the checkout!!!   Click on the buttons below to view my products.


Back To School Cyber Search

08 August 2012
Are you getting ready to head back to school (or perhaps you've already started)?  Well, I've teamed up with eleven other fabulous bloggers to make your life a little easier.  Each of us will be offering you one of our resources for FREE on Saturday, August 11th!  You'll be able to use these resources during your first month back to school - and we all know we can use all the help we can get during the "busy season".

On Saturday only, you will be able to get my Reader Response Journal Package for FREE.  This package contains over 100 reader response questions and prompts organized into different reading comprehension strategies and text elements.  These questions can be used for any text, which makes them a perfect companion to minilessons, independent reading, guided reading groups, etc.  The document also contains a set of success criteria and rubric for assessment purposes.

Be sure to visit all the blogs listed below before Saturday - you'll be able to see what each of us is offering, and you just may find a new blog to follow.  Then make sure to return on Saturday so you can start downloading your new resources.  We hope you enjoy!!!


Quick and Easy Assessment Strategies

02 August 2012
For every assignment I do with my students, we must have a list of success criteria.  These criteria must be co-created by the students and myself (I can "guide" them to include criteria I want in the assignment, but they must feel that they have ownership over the list).  Because they are so invested in setting up the criteria, they are more able to accurately assess their own and other's work before handing in for teacher assessment.

Two of the strategies I use most often in my classroom for self-assessment are "glow and grow" and "traffic light comprehension".  I've discussed both these strategies briefly in some of my other blog posts, but feel they are worth a second mention.  These strategies WORK because they are quick, visual, easy for the students to comprehend and remember, and work for ANY subject area.  I've created a little freebie for each of the assessment methods, and because google docs is changing to google drive (with a price), I've uploaded them to my TpT store.

  • Glow and Grow Strategy - For this strategy, students use a yellow and green highlighter to show areas on their work where they have glowed or need to grow.  I keep a bucket of yellow and green highlighters in my classroom for students to use (I actually had to use green crayons this year as we didn't have a large supply of green highlighters).  Once students have finished highlighting, I have them fill out a handout where they explain WHY they have chosen to mark certain areas as glow or grow.  I have included two handouts - one for self/teacher assessment, and one for self/peer assessment.  I have students complete this assessment strategy on their own or with a partner before they hand their work in to me.  I also allow them time to fix or improve the areas they have marked as "grow".

Click HERE or on the picture to the left to get your free copy of the "glow and grow" assessment strategy.

  • Traffic Light Comprehension Strategy - For this strategy, students put a green, yellow, or red dot in the corner of their work after they complete it - whether working individually, in pairs, or in small groups.  A green dot shows they felt they completed and understood the work without any problems, a yellow dot shows they felt they had a few problems or questions about the work, and a red dot shows the students felt they had a lot of difficulty completing or understanding the work.  This quick little strategy makes such a difference for me once the work is handed in.  I can quickly group the work to see what I need to look at first (red and yellow dots) and make plans to conference with students or give some extra small group instruction.  It's amazing how accurately the students assess themselves - and it's also fun to hear them discuss what they should give themselves when working in pairs or small groups.  ;)

Click HERE or on the picture to the left to download your freebie poster for Traffic Light Comprehension., education, upper grade, 5th grade, 4th grade

I'm linking up to Teaching in Room 6:  Advice for New Teachers.  New teachers, my advice to you is to not feel like you have to mark every single thing the students complete.  And have them help you with assessments by trying some of the strategies above.  By having students identify areas (and potentially fixing areas) of need in their work, hopefully you'll begin to see some of the same errors disappear.  And by having them more aware of their own understanding of the work, and giving a quick visual of this understanding, you'll be able to see at a glance what students you need to work a little more with - and you'll be able to do this in a timely manner ... before it's too late and you have moved on.