Saturday, October 25, 2014

A Year of Awesome - Week 8

Wait a minute... WEEK 8?! How can the year be flying by so quickly?! As quickly as it is going there are lots of awesome things going on in Mrs. Beattie's Classroom!

Now that I've had several weeks to observe my students' writing skills (and habits!) I was able to begin working with them today to set some more formal personal writing goals.

Moving from grade 5 to primary last year was extremely eye-opening for me. In the past, my students came to me with the basics (usually!) and I was able to focus on the content and style of what they write. In the primary grades, I realize there are so many layers to writing tasks that the job is huge for these little ones. Not only do they need to come up with good ideas for writing, but they also need to remember to form their letters correctly, put spaces between their words, capitalize, use punctuation... phew! That is a LOT of work!

I have all these little parts posted as part of our required success criteria for writing so the students can refer to them whenever they are writing. To keep track of which skill each child is working on, I have each of the children place a post-it note with their name on the appropriate poster. This makes it SO easy for me and the students to keep track of what everyone is working on! AWESOME!

My Writing Goals Monitoring Chart is available in my Teachers Pay Teachers store or Teacher's Notebook shop. I am always happy to customize either the clip art images or the goals themselves - don't hesitate to drop me a message if you're interested!

Our CAFE board is growing!!
Daily reading conferences are going extremely well, and I'm working with students to set personalized reading goals. My literacy block is rocking and that is AWESOME!

I'm far too tired for a whole detailed post today, but I'll give you a sneak peek at some things I'll soon share in a post about our reading time!
I am pausing my celebrations today out of respect for the soldier who was senselessly killed in my nation's capital, Cpl. Nathan Cirillo. My thoughts and prayers are with his family, and with everyone in Ottawa who experienced the horror of today.
Today we spent some time reflecting on our recent problem-solving activities by building our T.A.C.K. board! During my Guided Math time I've had the opportunity to observe all of my students closely in small groups as they tackled an addition word problem. I now have a great sense of their skills and know exactly where to go from here. You can read more about my T.A.C.K. board HERE and HERE. Specifically tailored to the Ontario curriculum, it is a great way to display mathematics learning goals and success criteria, but could also be modified for other classrooms! AWESOME!

What a spectacularly beautiful day here in Eastern Ontario! The sun was shining and the temperature crept up to almost 19 degrees Celsius! Despite the unseasonably warm temperatures, things were all fall in Mrs. Beattie's Classroom! Let the Halloween fun begin!

We had an art period today and I decided to break out an old favorite - Halloween Ghosts. The kids were NOT disappointed... they loved it! I used the ghost templates at this site. I printed them on card stock and let the kids choose which ghost, or combination of ghosts, they'd like to use. They cut their chosen design out, colored around the perimeter of the shape with a piece of white chalk, placed the outline on top of a sheet of black construction paper, then wiped the chalk from the ghost to the black paper using a finger. After layering and repeating the result is ghostly fun!

This art activity is perfect for small hands, requires few supplies, and there is little clean up afterward! AWESOME!

One final bit of Awesome for your weekend... my entire Teacher's Notebook shop is on sale, plus you earn DOUBLE reward dollars! That's totally awesome! :)

Do you have an AWESOME story to share from your week in the classroom? Link up or leave a comment below! 

To link your blog: Grab the button below, add it to your blog post, link it back here, and then add your link at the bottom of this post!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Success in the Mathematics Classroom

Learning goals and success criteria have become an important part of classrooms around the globe. Teachers have always had goals for their students, and have always expected a certain set of criteria, but the process has become more transparent and we now share these things with students at the outset of our units of study. Some teachers refer to them as learning targets, but no matter the name the goal is to provide students with a reference for the required learning. 

Anyone with experience in the classroom knows that learning expectations are incredibly layered and it can sometimes be difficult to tease out all of the important pieces without overwhelming the students. In mathematics, the T.A.C.K. board makes this task a little simpler.

Here in Ontario, students are assessed using four achievement categories from the curriculum. No matter the subject, student work is measured against:
  • Knowledge and Understanding
  • Thinking
  • Communication
  • Application
These are the foundation of the T.A.C.K. board - Thinking, Application, Communication, and Knowledge & understanding.

A Little More About The Categories

The Ontario curriculum documents describe the four categories of the achievement chart in this way:

Knowledge and Understanding:

"Subject-specific content acquired in each grade (knowledge), and the comprehension of its meaning and significance (understanding)."

Thinking:

"The use of critical and creative thinking skills and/or processes, as follows:
  • planning skills (e.g., understanding the problem, making a plan for solving the problem)
  • processing skills (e.g., carrying out a plan, looking back at the solution)
  • critical/creative thinking processes (e.g., inquiry, problem solving)"

Communication:

"The conveying of meaning through various oral, written, and visual forms (e.g., providing explanations of reasoning or justification of results orally or in writing; communicating mathematical ideas and solutions in writing, using numbers and algebraic symbols, and visually, using pictures, diagrams, charts, tables, graphs, and concrete materials)."

Application:

"The use of knowledge and skills to make connections within and between various contexts."

Building The T.A.C.K. Board

The T.A.C.K. board helps students to understand what is expected from them in each of these categories. The ideas are posted in kid-friendly language in a way that is easy for them to see and follow. We build the board over time, as I introduce and students have the chance to try out the skills. At this early point in the year our board looks like this:
I began introducing these ideas during my small-group instruction. I was able to draw out the expectations with each group at a level that was appropriate for individual students. My "high flyers" are able to dive into this in far more detail, but all of these things are still accessible to my students who require more support.

You'll notice that the Knowledge category is blank. This is where I will be posting the specific learning goals/success criteria for the unit we are currently working on. This is the only part of the T.A.C.K. board that will change throughout the year. All of the Thinking, Application and Communication will remain the same as these are skills that are found across all math strands. For example, we are just moving away from a focus on representing numbers so I may have posted goals such as "I can represent numbers to 100 in a variety of ways." or "I can represent numbers to 100 using base ten blocks." As we head into our unit on addition and subtraction I'll be adding the specific learning goals.

As the year progresses we will continue to build and expand our T.A.C.K. board. If you're interested in creating one of your own, I have posted the headers you see above HERE in my TpT store.

Saturday, October 18, 2014

A Year of Awesome - Week 7

Monday was the Thanksgiving holiday here in Canada, and that means a 4-day work week! :) Combined with a sick day at home, I worked for only three. Then why is it that this week feels about 6 weeks long?!

Woo hoo!! Who doesn't love a holiday on a Monday?!  I spent time with family, got some creating done, did some laundry, and had a lovely supper with my hubby!
I finally finished my initial reading assessments today!! Home reading is now underway and I can finally get into my Daily 5 program! Last year, The Daily 5 was one of my favorite parts of my day. I loved listening to my students read, providing them with strategies and watching their skills absolutely take off!! Having two of last year's students, I am excited to watch them continue to progress as readers! I created a Daily 5 & CAFE freebie last year as I was putting together my own classroom display.
If you're interested in grabbing a copy, click the image below! You can also grab some new posters that I wrote about HERE.

I am thrilled to have my Guided Math groupings started and my kiddos engaged in the first activities. I am only doing one rotation at this point, and using this time to observe my students' problem-solving skills in action. My rotation board looks like this:
I have the activity choices written on the large cubes, and the student names written on the small ones. As I get initial assessments completed and have more obvious needs jump out, I will create groups that will rotate through the activities together.

The first of my Guided Math centers is published and available. My Basic Addition and Subtraction Centers includes four activities for each of the stations (except Teacher's Choice!).

Math With Someone Activities - 

This includes my "Candy Run" board game, Addition Bump, and Addition Go Fish games...

At Work On My Own Activities - 

This includes work with fact families (adorable Melonheadz families, that is!), comparing sums and differences, "Spend It" - a menu activity, and a color by sum or difference page!

Hands-On: Manipulatives - 

This includes four activities involving dice, dominoes and cut-and-paste matching tasks! 

My students are so engaged and I'm gathering such informative data! Awesome!! I now have my second unit, Data Management & Graphing, finished as well and I'm so excited to share it with you!

Today was my first sick day of the year. Not awesome. It was a rainy morning, perfect for snuggling back under the covers. Awesome. Being away from school is a lot of work... plans take forever. Not awesome. My hubby is retired now and took great care of me all day. Awesome!

One awesome thing about Thursday was the writing my kiddos did when I was away. You have to see some of these...
Haha! "Shopping for clothes and makeup and shoes and accessories. So much accessories!"You'd think I was a diva! (I'm not!)

Not much of a donut eater either, but Donut Mania sounds like a great place! ;)

Thanks to this little one for sending me to Punta Cana for the day. That WOULD be "the life"!!

I just loved this picture!

I promise I was NOT at a bar in Toronto!!
AWESOME!
The most awesome part of today is that it is Friday and it is over. Let's just say that I sure didn't find my room in the state I left it on Wednesday. The mess was ridiculous, things were ruined or misplaced, and that's really hard for this organized girl to take. Add indoor recess into the mix today and you can probably feel my pain.

I AM part of a fun Halloween Blog Hop this weekend, and that IS awesome!! If you haven't already, hop over to THIS POST to enter to win one of 5 TpT gift certificates! While you're there, grab a freebie, then pop over to the next blog post to grab some more! That's awesome for sure!

Do you have an AWESOME story to share from your week in the classroom? Link up or leave a comment below! 

To link your blog: Grab the button below, add it to your blog post, link it back here, and then add your link at the bottom of this post!

Friday, October 17, 2014

It's a Halloween Blog Hop and Giveaway!!

Halloween is a favorite time of the year for children of all ages! That's why I'm joining a group of Teachers Pay Teachers sellers for a "How We Celebrate Halloween" Blog Hop and Giveaway this weekend!
Halloween has traditionally been a pretty low-key event at my school - no costume parades or dressing up. Most years we have orange and black day and teachers have their own fun events planned in their classrooms.

This year, I am planning on celebrating Pumpkin Day in my classroom - a day of everything pumpkin with some Halloween safety thrown in... keep reading!

We are going to estimate and measure pumpkins, cut them open and empty them out, and estimate and count the number of seeds inside.
All this weighing and measuring and counting will be documented in a Pumpkin Investigation Notebook, one of my newest TpT products!
When our investigating is complete, we are going to dig in to some pumpkin treats - pumpkin pie, tarts, cookies... whatever I can find or convince someone to make for us! ;)

Now, Halloween in my classroom wouldn't be complete without spending some time talking about trick-or-treating safety. I would never want to have a student injured by not following some simple safety guidelines. We'll be reviewing these using my Halloween Trick-Or-Treating Safety Sorting Cards. Grab them for FREE!
Finally, what would a party be without some prizes?! Since this party is for you, so are they! FIVE lucky winners will be walking away with Teachers Pay Teachers gift certificates!!
What are you waiting for? Grab your freebie, enter below, then head over to my store and start your wish list! Have a hauntingly Happy Halloween!!

a Rafflecopter giveaway Oh, and one more thing before you go...

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Happy Thanksgiving!

Here in Canada this is the Thanksgiving long weekend! Hooray for long weekends!! I am ready for some sleeping in, time with family, good food, pumpkin pie, and R&R!

I am thankful for so much, and that includes YOU! I'm thankful for each person who has chosen one of my classroom resources for their own students, and to show my thanks I'm joining some other amazing Canadian teacher-sellers by holding a sale this Sunday only!
You can get all of my products (including bundles!) at 20% off on Sunday only! Be sure to check out the other awesome stores participating as well. You can find direct links to each of them below.