Math Journal Sundays - Decimal Numbers

23 September 2012
We moved on to place value with decimal numbers this week.  Again, as I'm trying to do a different interactive tool for each concept this year (different tool than we did last year), this week we made flaps to study our decimal columns.  You can see our pocket place value activity from last year HERE.  My grade 5 students need to know up to the hundredths column, and the grade 6 students need to know up to the thousandths column. As a whole class, we made our folded tool go to the thousandths column.  If your students need to know more decimal columns, you could do the same tool but just add more flaps.

We started with the learning goal in curriculum language, then student language.  They then moved on to "what I know".  I had a question from a follower last week, wondering what to do because it was taking her students too long to copy this information.  These journals should be fun for students (and you), so please consider doing whatever works for your classroom.  If my students were taking too long (they do get faster as the year progresses), I might only ask them to write the learning goal one way.  You could also have the students discuss "what I know" instead of writing it down.  Please alter the ideas so that they work in your classroom.  

We made 5 flaps on our interactive tool, and wrote the place value column names on the front of each flap.  Under the flaps, we wrote a decimal number in standard, expanded, and written form.

After we were done, my grade 6 students worked through the rest of the left-side of the page thinking on their own (they had done journals with me last year when they were in grade 5), and I worked with the grade 5 students to come up with a problem for "proof" and an example of a reflection (we used money).  Next week the grade 5 students will have to complete "proof" on their own, as I begin to release the responsibility to them.  They also added a traffic light comprehension dot to the top corner of their page.  All in all, a job well done!

If you're looking for more ideas for interactive math journals, or more thorough explanations and examples of all my math journal entries from last year, check out my Interactive Math Journal resource by clicking on the picture to the left.
Happy Sunday!!!  It's a beautiful sunny day here (it's been a few days since we've seen the sun), so we're thinking of going on a fall colour run (drive).  ;)


Math Journal Sundays - Place Value

16 September 2012
Well, we've got week two under our belts ... and boy oh boy, it was a long one!!!  Even if it felt long, we still learned a lot and had a lot of fun while learning - always my goal!

We actually completed two journal entries this week.  On Tuesday we completed our first journal entry.  Last year we did concept webs as our final journal entry of the year.  Students went through their journals and "mapped" all of their learning throughout the year.  You can read about it HERE.  Some of you commented that it would be a great idea to do these webs at the beginning and end of the year, so the students could "see" their learning over the year.  Well, thank-you for a WONDERFUL idea.  That's exactly what we did.  I showed students examples of our concept webs from the end of last year, and showed them how to set it up.  We started with the word 'math' in the center of our page, then drew 5 branches for each of our math strands (in Ontario we have 5 math strands:  Number Sense and Numeration, Data Management and Probability, Geometry, Measurement, and Patterning and Algebra).  From there, I asked students to think about things they learned in math last year, and to write the concept and a small picture off the branch they thought it related to.  (I completely forgot to take pictures of this entry last week, but I'll take some on Monday and add them to this post.)

On to Place Value.  We've been doing a lot of operation review during the first two weeks.  As part of our daily calendar/number of the day review at the beginning of each class, we've also been examining number forms (standard, expanded, written) and factors and multiples  (I'll do a blog post about this in the near future).  With students already familiar with some of these concepts from our daily review, when we started officially learning about place value on Thursday, the transition was an easy one.  This was the first journal entry we completed with left-side and right-side of the page thinking, so we took it nice and slow.  I modeled each step for the students, and took them through each section of the left-side of the page together (where they show their own thinking).  I will probably do this for one more journal entry, and then gradually release the responsibility to them.

After we recorded the learning goal (curriculum language on the right side, and in our own words on the left side), and completed "what I know", we started.  We made an accordion fold interactive tool for place value this year (I want to do a different interactive tool from last year for each concept we include in our journals, as I have half of my students from last year and want to keep things different for them).  Last year we made pockets and number strips for place value - up to the hundred thousands.  You can read about that entry HERE.  A few of you wrote to tell me that your students are responsible for numbers up to the billions.  Where I live, my students need to read numbers up to the millions, but are only responsible for knowing place value up the hundred thousands (grade 6) and ten thousands (grade 5).  So, I decided to make our interactive tool include place value up to the billions for you.  I gave each student 1/2 a sheet of paper (lengthwise), and asked them to make accordion folds for 10 sections - I modeled this process to the class.  After we had labeled our columns, and glued the tool into our notebooks (glue only the ones column), we drew in base 10 blocks below, and practiced the written and expanded forms of a number chosen by the class.

I took them through the rest of the left-side of the page slowly (I did give my grade 6 students the opportunity to complete the page on their own since they were already familiar with this from last year when they were in grade 5).  We came up with examples that we could use for our proof, and decided on a mnemonic device to help us remember the order of the columns.  I let the students work in pairs to come up with a mnemonic device, and we voted as a class on the one that we included in our journals - "Olived tried ham that tasted horribly moldy" - (ones to millions). ;)

As my grade six students could work independently on the right side of the page, one of them asked to share what she had come up with.  She displayed it under the ELMO and showed the students what she had (which was fabulous because she made a picture/diagram, so the students had the opportunity to see two different forms of reflections).

That's about it ... did you happen to see the TeacherspayTeachers newsletter this morning?  My Interactive Math Journal was the #1 product of the week!!!  YAY!!!  Thank-you so much for all your support.  I have received so many wonderful comments from all of you - and am so excited about each one.  This is something I truly believe in.  For the first time ever, my students were actually excited about math journals, and their math scores (from our provincial testing) showed that they are comprehending the concepts much better!  If you are using interactive math journals in your classroom this year, I would love to hear how they are working in your classroom.
Happy Sunday!!!


Friday Art Feature - I Am ...

14 September 2012
We had our first official art class of the year this week.  I decided to start off with an easy one so everyone could feel successful with their project.  And the final results couldn't be more beautiful in our classroom!
I think I may be a tad OCD - that empty space in the bottom is driving me crazy!!!  I have 23 students this year, so with room for 24 spots on our blackboard, I also plan on making an art project each time we do one.  Unfortunately, I am STILL waiting on one student to finish his ...

I plan on turning all our art and poetry projects into books for the students to take home at the end of the year.  You can read about the books we made last year HERE.  For this reason, most of our art projects will be completed on 8.5 x 11 size paper.  I also plan on having the students write a poem to match each of our art projects this year (I didn't do this last year).  For this piece, I decided to combine the art and poetry into one.  

We started out by discussing the art principles of line and color.  We talked about how curved smooth lines draw your eye across the page and give the illusion of movement.  We also discussed choice of colors - which I ultimately left up to them.  I really like the variation of color on all our art.  Using a pencil, students drew 8 - 12 curved lines across their page.  Then, they painted each section, often mixing the paints to achieve different color effects.  We use paper plates (from the dollar store) for our paint palettes.  We let the paint dry out after each use, and then we can reuse them many times.

When the paint had dried, students use sharpie markers to outline each section - being careful to still keep that smooth curved line.  I bought sharpie brush markers this summer, and they were perfect for this project! (I included the link below so you can take a peek at these).

I asked the students to fill the spaces with adjectives that describe them.  All students started with "I am ...".  We started this project on our fifth day of school, so an "all about me" project was perfect timing.  Plus, this will be a great first page for our art/poetry books.  I am so happy with how they turned out - BEAUTIFUL!!!

You can take a peek at my full lesson for this I Am art here.  The lesson includes a full PDF as well as PowerPoint lesson with pictures and detailed step-by-step instructions for students, as well as a rubric for assessment and student reflection sheet.
Hope you had a fabulous Friday, and are getting ready for a wonderful weekend!  Happy Friday!!!


Daily 5 and CAFE - Week 2

12 September 2012
I had a great response to my post last week on how I was implementing the Daily 5 and CAFE strategies in my grade 5/6 class.  I wanted to take the time to answer some of these questions in my post tonight.

I'll start with timing.  I have a 100 minute literacy block, 5 days a week, which is lovely.  I also integrate reading and writing into my content areas (1/2 hour daily).  

I will admit, starting the Daily 5 and CAFE is taking a lot of my language block.  But it is very important to model, model, and model to build that stamina and muscle memory.  When the program is fully implemented (which I expect to happen within the month), it will take up about 55 minutes of my 100 minute literacy block, leaving me with 45 minutes daily to teach other units / writing genres not covered with the daily 5/cafe.    Those 55 minutes when the students are engaged and comfortable with their routine will give me MORE time to meet with guided reading groups, confer with students independently, do a little small group intervention, etc.  Being able to have more time to meet with smaller groups of students will only benefit these students so much more.

Okay, so set-up.  My students all have a language arts binder that they keep in the classroom.  This binder has sections for reading, writing, and media.  We have a small Daily 5/CAFE notebook, and a reader response notebook that we keep in the front pocket of our binders.  We will also have a Work on Writing, and Word Work pocket folder we will keep in the back of our binders.  We just made our Work on Writing folder today, as today was the first day Work on Writing was introduced in class.

 We begin each language arts block by reviewing the CAFE strategy we added to our board the day before. In our notebooks, we record the strategy, draw a small picture to help us remember, write the secret to success, and then students reflect on what the strategy means to their own reading comprehension.  I've been really impressed with how well this is working.  It takes about 10 minutes for students to complete.

We then discuss our Daily 4 rotations (again, I am doing the Daily 4 in my classroom - Read to Self, Work on Writing, Word Work, and Listen to Reading {which is my read aloud}).  In my room, we will always to Read to Self first - the main reason is that we've just reviewed the cafe strategy, and I want my students to work on applying that strategy to their independent reading.  This week we've been working on discussing what "good readers" do and look like, and setting a purpose for our reading.  Any important information is recorded in the daily 5 (4) section of our notebooks.

Today was the first day we started discussing Working on Writing.  We began by brainstorming reasons why we write (think-pair-share activity), then I modeled the strategy of underlining words that are difficult to spell while working independently.  We recorded both minilessons in our notebook.

Following this, I introduce our new CAFE strategy for the day (the book recommends adding 3 strategies a day, but with everything else going on in our language block, I feel that reviewing the last strategy and adding a new strategy is enough for one class).  We discuss what the new strategy means, then post it on our board.    During our read aloud (next), I model how the strategy is used, and ask students to help me use the strategy and apply it to our reading.  When I finish reading for the day, I choose a question from my Comprehension Question Fan for students to answer in their reader response notebooks.  Students need to show where they have used our "RESPOND TO READING" strategies (CRAFT board) in their answer.

Whew ... I think that about covers it.  Right now I'm only left with about 15 minutes at the end of each language block.  We've been using that 15 minutes to start our personal memoir writing workshop unit.  So far, all is good in the language arts world.  My students are really starting to be able to explain the CRAFT strategies, and apply these strategies to their own reading.  They are building their stamina during independent reading, and I'm so excited that we've added Work on Writing this week.  I'll let you know how it's all coming together next week.

So, this was a long one ... hope you're all having a fabulous "wordy Wednesday"!!!


Math Journal Sundays - A Brand New Year

09 September 2012
Are you ready for a brand new year of math journal Sundays?  I am so excited!!!

I first want to thank-you for your response to my Interactive Math Journal resource - the response has been overwhelming (in a good way).  My math journal was the #4 top seller for TeacherspayTeachers last week, and the comments you have given me there and on my blog have been incredible.  Thank-you SO much! 

So, onto our brand new year.  For those of you that don't know, I teach at a small school, so my grade 5/6 class has all the grade 5 and 6 students in the school.  Therefore, I have each grade for two years.  Because of this, I have to keep things different each year (don't want to bore those kiddies).  When I pulled out the notebooks and told the class we were going to do math journals again this year, my grade 6 students actually cheered.  They told the grade 5 students how cool they were, and how much they were going to enjoy them.  LOVE.  I told my grade 6 students that many of the concepts we cover in our math journals will be the same this year, but we will be taking a different spin on them, and creating new interactive tools.

We've only been back at school for 4 days - the first day was a fun, welcome to our class kind of day, and on Friday we had a School Spirit assembly during my math block.  So, we only had two full blocks of math class this week.  (Sidenote:  the way I've worked my schedule this year gives my a 100 minute block of math first thing in the morning 4 days a week.  On the fifth day we have a 60 minute block in the middle of the day).

This week has just been about setting up our journals (we have also been reviewing operations and basic skills during the rest of our math blocks).  We are using plain old 3-hole, lined notebooks for our journals (80 pages).  We spent part of one of our classes decorating the covers of our math journals.  I want students to take ownership of the journals, and make them something they're excited to see.  I let the students decorate them by creating collages with pictures and words from magazines.  I did ask them to include the words "math journal" somewhere on the cover.  Just before the end of the day on Friday we quickly covered our journals with a coat or two of mod podge.  This will (hopefully) keep the images from coming off.  The students will keep their journals in their math binder, so they do have some protection in their desks.

We also began setting up our journals this week.  I showed them pictures of "left-side of the page thinking" and we reviewed the handout I created for my interactive math journal resource.  We glued this sheet into the front cover for easy access.  We also created a set of success criteria for our journals.  Our school board recommends that we co-create success criteria with our students (again, for that ownership), so after looking at the checklist assessment (in the interactive journal resource), we created our success criteria.  We wrote this on the first page (after the table of contents).  We glued an envelope to the inside of the back cover for spare parts (for those days we don't get our interactive tool finished, or to keep some of our cootie catchers in).

That's about it - I like that we took our time setting up our journals.  I can't wait to share a brand new year of journals with you.

Happy Sunday!!!


Starting the Daily 5 and CAFE

08 September 2012
Well - we've been back at it for a week now, and I'm EXHAUSTED!  But it's a good exhausted, and I'm so looking forward to the year.  I've a got a great bunch of students this year, and I'm excited to share this year with them.

So, after our Daily 5 and CAFE book study at We Read, We Blog, We Teach, this summer, I've been excited to start these strategies with my class.  As I shared in my last post, I got my bulletin board set up (click HERE to read my last post and see where I got my printables for my bulletin board).  

We are doing a "Daily 4" in my classroom.  We have left out "read to someone".  We are still in the process of setting everything up.  Last week we started each class with Wise Guy's power point presentation for introducing the Daily 5.  After a few slides, and some discussion, we've been modelling good reading behaviours and building our independent reading stamina.  I started with 5 minutes on Wednesday and have been building one minute per day.  (I have many students who are ready for so much more, so I'm hoping the few that are keeping us from longer times will be on board really soon).  As you can see from the first picture, I have laminated the daily 4 signs and I am writing our daily tasks on them with a dry-erase marker.  We have also been introducing the CAFE strategies.  As I stated in my last post, I am using "CRAFT" as our acronym for CAFE strategies.  This week we were able to study two new strategies (a little slower than what the book recommends, but it's working for our classroom).  

The students are keeping a Daily 4 / CRAFT notebook (one notebook separated by a sticky note in the middle of the book).  Each time we learn an important concept in Daily 4 or a new strategy in CRAFT, the students are adding to their books.  This week in the Daily 4 section they wrote about "I PICK" for book choice, and made a web for why we need "trust" for our Daily 4 program to work (I let them work in pairs for this).  For the CRAFT side of the book, they will be recording the strategy, the "secret to success" (from the CAFE book), and "what it means to me" - where they will write a reflection about how they will use this strategy.

We've been practicing applying our CRAFT strategies during our independent reading and listen to reading sections of the Daily 4.  For our listen to reading, instead of the kids listening to reading in groups at a tape recorder or on ipods, I'm using "listen to reading" for our read aloud.  Thanks to the fabulous suggestions for read alouds given to me in the comments of this post, I decided to start our year with Wonder, by Jay Palacio.  We are LOVING this book - I'm so glad it was recommended to me - thank-you!  I have a few students in my class with different disabilities, so starting the year with a book that reminds us of the importance of empathy is so important!  When I am reading aloud, I am modelling the strategies we've discussed for CRAFT, and I am asking them questions from our Comprehension Question Fan at the end of each chapter.

The students are really responding to our Daily 4 / CRAFT strategies during our language program.  At the end of today, I gave them each a sticky note to comment on our learning goals - something they have learned or has stuck with them through the week.  I am LOVING their responses!  :)

Stay tuned for a whole new year of Math Journal Sundays starting tomorrow ... 
Happy Saturday!!!