Monday, September 15, 2014

A Peek into My Class...The First Weeks Back From My Maternity Leave

No, I didn't forget about you guys and my little ol' blog over here. I just didn't quite anticipate how much more juggling there would be with 2 kids and going back to work. Add in an entire new focus on working out and getting fit (I'm talking 7 days a week) and there just isn't enough time in the day!

I have some pictures of my class to share and I promise to try and be back more regularly to share....
Fingers crossed.

The start of our lesson on "Just-Right" books...notice that the t-shirts are all different sizes. 

Finished posters to be posted soon!

Our carpet and Morning Math Meeting area. 

Class library

Bulletin boards
 (I love that I painted them black!)

More carpet area

View of the room from the back corner. 

Our first Math Huddle....success!
We focused on math talk and didn't worry too much about the actual math being done (good thing...) and it went super well.
We've done a second one since that I want to post about soon. 

Close up of the Math Huddle board. 

Anchor created during the Math Huddle...notice where it says "kids loving math"?
Totally their input.
Love it.

Turn a card behaviour system used school-wide. 

Small group meeting area...under construction as well are still getting our routines in place.

View of the whole room. 

And that's where the magic happens folks!

I have promised myself that I will set time aside for blogging...and I will do it.

If I don't- can you all drop me a line and yell at me?

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Soils in the Environment Learning Goal Statements and Assessment Strategies (New Product! Plus the Boost Sale)

 My newest product is in my TPT store and just in time for the BOOST Back to School Sale!

Here in Ontario we study Soils in the Environment as part of the Grade 3 curriculum. I know a lot of my American teacher/blogger friends teach about soils as well because I've seen so many great posts, pinned wonderful ideas on Pinterest and purchased your products on TPT! 

This product  is a great companion to your soils unit.
It contains: 

- all of the Big Ideas related to Soils and the Environment from the Ontario Science Curriculum

- the specific expectations re-written in student-friendly language as "I can..." statements. These can be posted on a bulletin board or in your room as you teach through the unit. 

- Individual Student Learning Goal Statement Cards that can be glued into a science notebook or used with the Learning Goal Reflection sheets that are included in this pack

- three different Learning Goal Reflection pages (2 are pictured here)
- Written Learning Goal Reflection, Glow and Grow and Postcards for Learning- lots of different ways to differentiate and help your students self-assess in Science

If you haven't already checked out my Growth and Changes in Plants Learning Goals Pack click here to check it out!

Click on the image to head straight to my TPT store.

Right now this new product, as well as everything else is on sale in my store for the BOOST Back to School Sale.

Don't forget to use the promo code BOOST to get all the deals!

Thursday, August 14, 2014

Guided Math Posters and Planning (FREEBIES)

“Graphics by The Hazel Owl @

One of my biggest goals for this coming school year is to have a solid Guided Math/ Math Workshop program in my class. Over the course of this year I have been doing a lot of reading, pinning and planning to get ready for this... and here we are, only three weeks away from the start of school!

I've posted a lot about my learning and my plans for my Math Workshop and you can find those posts starting here.

Below you can see the posters I have created for each of the 4 rotations/ centres/ stations (whatever you want to call them) that I will have in my class. I really liked the idea of using MATH as an acronym for my Math Workshop so I played around with it and this is what I came up with.

**On the Teacher Time page of the freebie it will say "Small group lessons that will be done with your teacher." instead of being customized like the one above for a teaching colleague of mine.**

Please click on any of the above images to be taken to my Teachers Pay Teachers store to grab this freebie for yourself. 

I am also in the process of planning out the first 20 days of my Math Workshop...and beyond. I have purchased Guided Math in Action by Dr. Nicki Newton as well as downloaded this AMAZING freebie from Mandy's Tips for Teachers
Another blog I recommend visiting is Tina's Teacher Treasures. Tina has some amazing products in her TPT store as well.   

I've also created a Workshop at a Glance template for both my Math and Literacy Workshops. I like to see where I'm going and where I've been as I plan my lessons and move forward through the year.

Click on the image below to grab your copy!

I hope you can make use of these freebies, either in your own classroom or in your planning. I am working on a weekly planning template for both my math and literacy workshop and plan to have those ready soon.

Thursday, August 7, 2014

A Name Art Project- A Wonderful Way to Start Your Visual Art Class

In anticipation of the coming school year I am hoping that I get to teach my own visual art. It is an area of the curriculum that I love and really enjoy teaching. 

In the Ontario curriculum for art we concentrate on the elements of design: line, colour, value, texture, shape and form, and space. I found a great resource for explaining the elements on this site. You should definitely check it out if you are teaching art this year.

This is a great project that could be used as a display for an Open House night and even double as the cover of our art portfolios.

Deep Space Sparkle had just the art activity I was looking for, Name Designs: Line Art...go take a look at this fantastic project to do with your class.

What an amazing many ideas, techniques, supply lists. 
Everything you could ever need to teach art!

The last time I taught this lesson I started with a discussion on lines and patterns. 
My class and I looked at some art by Keith Haring, Van Gogh and others (multiple mediums) and discussed the moods, emotions and types of lines we saw. 

It was very interesting to talk to the kids about their impressions of the famous art works. 

Then we did a lesson on how to draw block letters and we practiced various size letters, shapes of letters and talked about the contours of the lines. Once we had spent a good deal of time on the block letters we moved on to different types of patterns we could create using lines... thick lines, wavy lines, round lines, thin name it. 

The students created a tic-tac-toe board on their practice paper and drew 9 or so different types of patterns. 

When we had finished that we did a gallery walk to get new ideas from what our classmates had tried. 
(This was my first art class gallery walk and I LOVED it!)

Now we were finally ready to start the project! I must say that the kids were focused, quiet and hard at work make their name projects.  

As a side note: my teaching partner thought this project would be way too hard for grade 4 but I disagreed and felt that if we teach high they will learn high...and I was right! 

 Here are some pictures of my students working away on a rainy Friday afternoon. Some are close to done, some are done and moved on to other line drawings but many are still in the process. 

I can't wait to see what they all look like when they are done and on display!

This student's name only has three different letters and they are all very angular, no curves. 

He has added a TONNE of patterns and I can't wait to see the finished product.

This is one of the finished ones! 

This student chose to use pencil crayons instead of markers for his letters. 

It's going to take more work to colour everything in so that it pops! but he is pretty determined.

This student used a ruler A LOT. 
It will be an interesting contrast to this students who worked free hand.

Click here to see the finished projects on display. 
(Grade 4 students)

Click here to see some more examples taken from a different year. 
(Grade 3 students)

This post was originally published in 2011. 

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Ohhhh! I just had to go back and do some shopping today!

I know, I know...
I posted about some great resources yesterday but let's be honest here... this girl just can't resist a sale!

I've been dying to buy an Erin Condren planner forever now but the cost of shipping to Canada pretty much doubles the price of the planner.
Just a little too steep for me.

But of course, the FABULOUS Tina has created something that will fit my need for a cute planner just perfectly.

Just go and look at this amazing teacher planner!
And it's on sale.
Oh my word. 

That's right folks.

It's a must see for sure. 

Aaaaand, I love this calendar set from Brandi Miller at Swinging for Success. 
She sent me a free copy during the Guided Math book study (thanks again!!) and I am super excited to use it in my class this year. 

You can go wrong with rainbows and math!!

Monday, August 4, 2014

Need Something to Fill Up Your Cart? Back 2 School Sale

Have you been shopping yet? I sure have!

It's been a crazy busy summer and I haven't been able to upload any new products to my own TPT store...but I do plan to soon. Here in Ontario we don't go back to school until September 2nd so my mind hasn't been on school stuff too much yet. 

So here's what I'm thinking. 
Since I didn't have any new products posted for the big sale I will just host my own sale EVERYTIME I post a new product from now until back to school.

But until then here are some great products from other sellers that I would love for you to check out.

Oh my word! I can't say enough about the amazing products that Tina has in her store. You couldn't go wrong with buying anything or everything in her store.

My top recommendations are:

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Chapter 9- Guided Math- Putting It Into Practice

We made it!
I am so happy about the learning and re-learning I've done over the course of this book study and want to thank all of you for joining me on this journey.

It's not over yet... of, course we all need to go back to school and like the chapter says "put it into practice". 

I'm looking forward to many posts to come, here on my blog and on yours to see how people adapt and modify the Guided Math framework to fit their teaching style and the learning styles of their students.

Some things that stood out for me during this chapter were:

* the list of "look fors" on page 246 that describe students who are learning mathematics. 

I'd like to make this into a lesson or anchor chart...or something!

* the questions on page 247 for teachers of mathematics to consider

This is a great place to start your planning for sure!

Well, isn't that a loaded question!

Since I technically started implementing the Guided Math framework in my class two years ago this isn't really the beginning for me, but it is a new start.

So what are my goals?

Background papers from:

So it looks like I've got some work to do!

And I'll be back to post my progress on these goals and to update you on my Math Workshop series.

Thanks for joining in on this great book study.

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Chapter 8- Assessment in Guided Math

Another chapter that I didn't post on the first time around! Fun!

I am amazed at how comfortable I have become with assessment in the last few years. I'm not sure if it has to do with the principal I was working for a few years ago or the fact that I now have about ten years of teaching under my belt but I know that I feel confident using anecdotals and observations for assessment where I didn't in the past. 

I love the analogy that Laney Sammons makes on page 227 to the inuksuit in the tundra...assessment as a guide post!

She states "without this guidance [of assessment], the effectiveness of instruction is lost."

Some other quotes that stood out for me are:

"When this evidence of student learning [meaning the gathering of data done my teachers- formally or informally] is used to develop teaching practices and enhance learning, assessment is being performed." (page 228)

"Teachers plan, teach, assess learning, and then adjust their instruction. Eventually teachers may even be able to assess and adjust as they teach." (page 229)

This is where I feel I am... sometimes!
And when it happens isn't it a great feeling?

"Students improve their performances and increase their learning when they know precisely what they have done well and exactly what they need to do to improve, and then are given opportunities to do so." (page 229)

I have totally seen this in my own class as there as been such a big push for using success criteria is every subject over the past few years. Co-creating the success criteria, keeping it posted and having students self assess has changed the way students view their own grades.

Something I want to improve is my descriptive feedback and my use of checklists to inform parents of their child's progress on a more regular basis.

On page 234, Sammons writes about using checklists for assessment, something I have grown to really like. She states that "[a]fter the checklist has been completed for a piece of student work, the student is then given an opportunity to revise his or her work so that it meets the criteria."


I LOVE the criteria for problem solving rubric that is shared on pages 236-237 and will definitely be using that in my class this year!

A goal for me this coming year is to involve my students as much as possible in the assessment process and have them self-assess and set goals. This isn't something I've been very good at in the past and I really want to improve in this area.

I try to use lots of different kinds of assessment in my class and in the past years I have found myself using formative assessment quite a lot (yeah me!) as well as anecdotal observations and conferences/interviews.

Here are some posts I've done in the past on assessment:

Talking Pictures- love this for formative/diagnostic assessment
Glow and Grow- a strategy I learned at a workshop and then was expanded on by the amazing Jen from Runde's Room!

(it is actually only one post! LOL...looks like I need to finish that up! OOPS)

Well, it looks like we are almost done our time together for this book more chapter to go.
But don't forget about the Guided Math Conferences Book Study that has started.

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