A Peek At Last Week - TACK, Fractions, and Characterization

22 March 2014
When I went through my pictures to write this post, I couldn't believe that St. Patrick's Day happened on Monday - it seems so long ago now.  It's been the longest week ever ...

I was so excited that St. Patrick's Day fell on a school day.  It's almost always during our March Break, and although I do love making the day special at home for my own kiddos, it was a lot of fun in the classroom, too.  I grabbed a couple of freebies on TPT and added in some activities of my own, and leapt in to some lucky learning.  ;)
(Do you see the piles on my desk?  Yikes!  I really need to find some time to organize)

We're diving into fractions right now.  We started our new unit on Monday, and with a lot of hands-on activities planned, the kids are going to love learning.  I think the I also started my new TACK board on Monday.  You can read more about it in a blog post I wrote HERE.  It's a great way to keep track of current learning goals and success criteria.

 I think the highlight of their week in fractions was creating these adorable Reducing Fractions Mr. Potato Heads from For The Love of Teaching Math.

In Language we finished the second book in our Shadow Children series, and started on the third.  I never planned to read past the first book (I like to hook them with the first book of a series, in hopes a few of them want to continue reading on their own) ... but they are literally BEGGING me to keep reading ... so how can I refuse?  (Happy Teacher!!!).  We're looking at characterization right now in these novels.  I do these novels as a read aloud, so I provide them with sticky notes and the purpose for reading before we begin each read aloud session.  This week we built an anchor chart on characterization, looking at physical characteristics, character traits, growth/change, and conflict (within or with the character).  Each day we talked about our focus, and while I was reading they would make notes on their sticky notes.  At the end of the session, they would add their notes to the chart.  We also started on our Paper Bag Character Projects - this one is always a hit and the kids are so excited to be making them!  I can't wait until they finish up and present them next week!

Which brings us to the end of the week ... and the official start of Spring.  It's not looking like Spring here, that's for sure (and it's still snowing today).  So, if you can't beat the weather, embrace it.  My two oldest girls had their Cross Country Ski Meet on Friday ... and loved every minute of it.

Happy Saturday!  YAY for weekends!!!


Using TACK for Math Instruction

19 March 2014
Just before the March Break, I found a bulletin board idea for math goals on Mrs. Beattie's blog.  She has been using the categories on the Math Achievement Chart (Ontario Curriculum) in a similar way to the CAFE board - keeping track of lesson goals and success criteria for mathematics through the acronym, T.A.C.K.  I LOVED it!  I knew I wanted to create something similar for my classroom because we have also been working on this as a school focus.

The acronym T.A.C.K refers to the 4 categories on our Math Achievement Chart:
  • Thinking - The use of critical and creative planning, thinking, and processing skills
  • Application - The use of knowledge and skills to make connections within and between various contexts
  • Communication - The conveying of meaning through various forms
  • Knowledge / Understanding - Subject specific content acquired, and the comprehension of its meaning
Over the break I worked to set up my board, and we started implementing it on Monday.

I will be using the "K" to post our daily learning goals - and how the students will show they can successfully show mastery of the goals.  It will list all the goals for a particular unit, then I will probably take down the goals and start fresh under this category when we start a new unit (we've just started our fraction unit).  The "T.A.C." will be more cumulative.  It's still quite new to me, so I am working through the content I will include under the other categories.  Thinking will be about how we plan to solve a problem - and how we choose what strategies to use.  Application may be about the actual use of the strategies, and Communication will focus on the different ways we can show our mastery of the knowledge expectations.  It's definitely a work in progress, but I really like how it's so similar to our CAFE (CRAFT) board, which my students know and refer to often.  Having that familiar format makes the task a lot less daunting to me ... and hopefully them, as well.

If you're interested, I've uploaded the T.A.C.K. headers to google drive.  You can grab a copy HERE.

In keeping with aligning everything to the achievement chart, I've also started to work on my formative assessments for each expectation.  I'm working on creating assessments that include all 4 categories, and I added a cross-strand problem, as well.  This is DEFINITELY a work in progress ... and I'm still working through it all - I'm having some difficulties separating thinking from "knowledge" or "application", depending on the question I've chosen.  But ... I'll keep at it, and hopefully "get it" soon ... I definitely know how some of my students feel when they are struggling.  ;)  Here's a peek at one we worked on today.

I'm also differentiating the sheets by including 3 different "levels" for each expectation (which came in handy today for one of my kiddos).  Definitely a lot of work, but if it helps the students understand on a deeper level, then it's worth it.

So, that's about it.  Now you know how I've been spending my nights ... ;)

Happy Wednesday!