Monday, March 19, 2012

Daily 5- Word Work Update!! (Freebie)

I am still loving the Daily 5 in my classroom and I am more and more impressed everyday with how well my students work during our Daily 5 time. I do, however, have lots of things I want to change next year in order to make it even better! One thing that I am constantly struggling with is Word Work. I find that my grade 4's are too old for a lot of the hands on type of activities...even though they may really enjoy them. They just don't focus the way younger students do with the tactile activities.

So we first tried a modification of some of the activities I had been seeing on other blogs and Pinterest. I created a bunch of activity cards and bought some plastic chick/eggs (Easter style) for the cards to go into. The students were able to choose a different chick each time that we did our Daily 5 and that's how we practiced our spelling words and worked on our grammar lessons. But.....the students were not very good at making sure the chicks were put away neatly, the cards were always falling out and no one could find the card they were working on from the time before.....le sigh!

What to do? What to do??

Here's my new plan....I created a BINGO board with a variety of spelling and grammar activities based on the language arts expectations for Grade 4 in Ontario. Then I set some point values for "playing" Word Work Bingo! The students are expected to completed at least a straight line, in any direction, for 5 points. After that if they want to complete an X, a box or the whole board they can earn practice more spelling, vocabulary and grammar.

The best part kids were really into it when I introduced them to it today. They did, however, want to know what the points would be going towards. Mostly, it will be for me to track who is putting forth a great deal of effort to practice their skills but of course, I want to reward the students as well for all their work. I plan to start a classroom economy soon so that my students will be practicing their adding and subtracting decimals/money skills so this seemed like a good time to make a trip for prizes. I went to the dollar store and party packagers after school to stock up on small little trinkets for the prizes. I am also going to add in certificates like "sit in Mrs. Lyons's chair" and homework passes...but naturally that will be worth A LOT of points!!

If you are interested in using my bingo board in your own classroom just click on the image below to get a copy!

I'll be posting each new bingo board so be sure to check back often! I would also LOVE any and all suggestions for other activities to add to future bingo boards. 

Thanks for all the advance of course!!!

Friday, March 16, 2012

Calling all Grade 4, 5, and 6 blogs!!

One big difference I've noticed about Americans and Canadians is how we refer to elementary and secondary school grades...we say Grade ____, i.e. Grade 4....whereas my lovely American friends would say 4th grade. Interesting little cultural difference, eh? (yes, Canadians also say eh...and I am proud of it!)

That being said Fabulous 4th Grade Froggies is having an upper elementary blog linky party! If your blog is aimed at Grade 4, 5 or 6 head on over. You should also go if your blog is for 4th, 5th or 6th grade! LOL

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Busy busy....

I'm super busy these days... Enjoying my March break with my daughter. Although I must say that a 14 month-old is exhausting! At least my grade 4's stay put.

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Thinking of Next Year...

Tomorrow is the day that we learn what our tentative assignments are for next year. I am very nervous. I have a feeling in the pit of my stomach that I am going to be moved out of Grade 4 and I really don't want to go!

We had a new principal start at my school right after the Christmas holidays and things have been going well. Each teacher completed a sheet outlining what we were interested in for next year (I put Grade 4 as my first choice, with 3 and 2 after that) and we sat down for a "fireside" chat with the principal. I tried to make it very clear that I really wanted to stay in Grade 4 as last year I only taught for 4 months before going on mat leave so this is my first full year in Grade 4 and I would like to get a few more years under my belt before tackling a new grade. However, we also had to indicate what our last 5 years of teaching experience included and mine is all in Grade 7 and 8! We have a very tough group in Grade 7 this year and I am very nervous that my new principal will see my previous experience with the intermediate students and move me back there for next year...especially since so many current intermediate teachers have requested to leave the grade. (Intermediate in Ontario is Grade 7-10) .......

I know that this point I have done all I can do and have requested to stay in the lower grades but that doesn't seem to do anything to help this knot in my stomach!!

Friday, March 2, 2012

Math Talk and Two New Strategies to Try!!

I've had a goal this year to incorporate a lot of math talk and journaling into my math lessons. I want my students to have the opportunity to talk about their thinking and learn from their peers.

We have been studying multiplication for quite a bit now and my students have a really good handle on when we started division I was a little shocked at how many of them seemed to struggle with the concept. It turned that a lot of them had memorized their multiplication facts but didn't really understand the concepts behind the multiplication and therefore couldn't apply it to their division problems.

Using a simple problem from the text book that required the students to use division we worked through a step-by-step process and took the time to have the students do a "gallery walk" through the room in order to see each other's strategies for solving the problem. Since it was a multi-step problem we were able to do two gallery walks!

I love using the gallery walk in my math class for a variety of reasons:
#1- it validates all the students work without having to post incorrect response in front of the entire class
#2 - students are able to see different ways of solving the same problem
#3 - students are able to see that other people are using the same strategy as them and it gives them more confidence.

After our gallery walks I had the students "collect" two different strategies than the one they used and copy them onto their own page, this way they would have a collection of ways to solve a division problem. Of course, we also made an anchor chart!!

It seemed to really help and I think my students had a better understanding of division.....but of course, being a teacher we need to assess it right? Even if it is just a formative assessment!

So, today I tried a new strategy I learned yesterday at my workshop on Culturally Responsive Practices. It's called a Talking Picture. The ideas is that it helps students who may not be comfortable expressing their ideas in writing or in conversation, instead they can show their understanding in a picture. I put up a very simple prompt.."What is division?" and then briefly discussed the strategy with my students. I told them that they could use words, pictures, symbols, numbers, colours, speech bubble...basically anything they wanted to show their answer to the prompt. Here's what some of them look like!

This an example of the original student work.

This shows where I have used orange marker to highlight where the student is glowing- this is similar to a strategy like "Stars and Wishes". You highlight where the student has demonstrated their understanding by using a colour or a symbol that indicates glowing. 

Then, to assess or indicate where a student had some mistakes or misconceptions I used a green marker to show that they needed to grow. 

Glow and Grow!! It's a great way to quickly do formative assessments of your student's understanding!

Both the "Talking Picture" strategy and the "Glow and Grow" were ideas I picked up at the Culturally Responsive Practices workshop and something I can see myself using again and again! I think "Talking Pictures" will make for a great diagnostic task for my next math unit on MONEY!!

How would you use these strategies...or have you already? I'd love to hear about it.

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