Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Common Sense Approach to Differentiation

  I'm super excited to tell you that I revamped my book A Common Sense Approach to Differentiation (A Teacher in the Trenches). I updated it with new information and feel honored that my idea in the book was implemented school wide this past year. PIE-Practice Intervention Enrichment. I also gave the book a fresh new cover.

    To celebrate the start of the new school year, my book is offered FREE on Kindle this week. It's a short read with simple ideas to differentiate your lessons. Check out the contents list below.

Differentiate Your Classroom-Materials Needed to Set up your Classroom for Differentiation
Catch Them at the Core-Differentiate your Core Lessons 
A Week of Math Differentiation-An inside look at a week of math in my classroom
Begin with the End in Mind- Concept is illustrated with a Writing Unit
Reading Differentiation in Action- Another look at a week in my classroom
Wrap it Up- Recap of my main points. 

One of my favorite quotes from the book....   "The means by which each student accomplishes the outcome may look different, but my goal is to get everybody there."  Tammi Booth

Friday, August 5, 2016

Classroom Management 101

     I used to believe that along with the core teaching classes, there should be a class dedicated just to classroom management for undergraduates. In reality, every teacher has their own way of managing their classroom that is learned through trial and error along with tips and tricks from other teachers.
    I cringe when I think back to my first couple of years as a rookie. Yikes.  I had a lot to learn about keeping a classroom running smoothly.

Experience and good teacher mentors armed me with the skills not only to keep my classroom running effectively, but to eventually have a classroom that manages itself.
   I'm going to share with you some of the tips and tricks of classroom management I've learned over the years.  My hope is that you find something helpful you can use in your classroom.

Classroom Management Tips and Tricks
 Routine, Routine, Routine, It's imperative to establish class routines and procedures from day one.  Kids need it. It gives them comfort to know what is happening and what is expected. 
          a) Have the daily agenda posted somewhere each day. 
          b) Establish a consistent routine and place for turning in work.
          c) Keep transitions during the day running smoothly by forming clear expectations for this time. Example, call one table at a time to line up. The table that has materials put away and quiet lines up first and so on. 

Here are some questions to ask yourself to ensure that your class procedures and expectations are in place. 

  • Do my students know when a good time is to sharpen their pencils and what to do if their pencil breaks if it's not a good time?
  • Do my students know the rules for working in groups or partners?
  • Do my students know what to do if they need help with something?
  • Where can the students look to find what their homework is for the evening?
  • What is my classroom procedure for packing up at the end of the day? 
  • How do the students know when it's time to be quiet?
These are just a few tips. There are many tricks I have to share. In my next post I'll address the tricks I've learned for the questions above. 

Click below for a Freebie to get you started. 

Saturday, July 23, 2016

Gearing Up


 If you're anything like me, this is probably what you look like when you check out the calendar and realize summer break is coming to an end. When I find myself in this situation, I tend to do one of three things.

1. Ignore it for another week and convince myself that next week I'll get motivated to go back to school.

2. Bite the bullet and get started on my classroom. (Yeah...that's so not happening yet.)

3. Continue to enjoy the summer while reading something motivating and stalking Pinterest for new ideas. This works well since I can do this beside the pool. We have a winner!

   This year I'm teaming with two other teachers and will have three classes throughout the day. Needless to say,  a lot of planning and consistency between the three of us will be required in order to for things to run smoothly. (Well, as smoothly as possible). Something cool I found on Pinterest that I want to share with my team are the teacher call backs by Herding Kats in Kindergarten. Call backs are great for grabbing student's attention, quieting the room down, and so on.  Check out my Start of the School Year Board for more great ideas from other teachers.

To gather motivation, I'm rereading Teach Like a Pirate  by Dave Burgess on my Kindle app. I read this the first time with a book study group.  I like this book because it's a good reminder of why we are teachers and what's most important...our students. It's so full of ideas that I couldn't possibly implement them all. I chose a couple of ideas to start with at the time. One of my favorite was something simple, yet it increased motivation. At the start of each day, I wrote something on the board and asked what the question could be. For example, from a story we've read or are reading I could write,  Alexander kicked his brother. The question could be Why did Alexander have to pay a fine? Why did Alexander get in trouble by his father? How can you tell Alexander was angry by being teased by his brother? ...and so on. It's an informal way to check comprehension and start discussion and the kids get into thinking of possible questions. 

Chances are you've already read this book, but if you haven't, I recommend it. It's worth reading.  You can find it to right of this page as one of my affiliate links. 

Enjoy the rest of your summer!

Thursday, March 10, 2016

Spring into Learning Blog Hop

Happy Spring! This is my stop on the Springing into Learning Blog Hop. Thank you to Elementary Antics for hosting this fun way to start Spring.

  My students are springing into fractions in math right now. Something I like to do since it's close to Easter is give the students plastic eggs with jelly beans inside. The children sort their jelly beans and write fractional amounts for each color. They then write the fractional amounts on a number line. Each  fractional amount on the line is written in the same color it represents.

                         Click the picture if you would like a copy of the activity.

 I also created a spring themed printable for finding fractions of a set.  This concept can be difficult for students at this age, so I made the first page interactive. You can guide the students through that page then have them complete the second page on their own.  Click on the picture to download.

Check out these other great stops on the Spring into Learning Blog Hop. 



Thursday, March 3, 2016

Three Books for Teaching Skills

Welcome back! This is my second week of Three for Thursday. Today I'm sharing three books that I use to teach skills.

Who doesn't like Amelia Bedelia? The kids love reading about her. Amelia takes everything literally and does exactly what she's told. When she's told to strip the sheets off of the bed, she rips the sheets into strips.  Her stories are excellent for teaching the difference between literal and nonliteral language.

A book I like to use to teach the structure of  paragraph writing is The Important Book.  This story tells the important things about various objects. It repeats the same format for each thing. Topic sentence, three detail sentences, and a closing sentence.  Example....The most important thing about a spoon is that you eat with it.  Three more details telling about the spoon and retelling the most important thing about a spoon again.

A cute story for teaching pronouns is I and You and Don't forget Who. The story is told with rhyming and has all the pronouns written in color. The illustrations are engaging with colorful creatures. This is a good story for children to understand how and why pronouns are used.

See you next Thursday!


Thursday, February 25, 2016

Three for Thursday

   Welcome to my first Three for Thursday. Every Thursday I'd like to post threes of anything....thoughts, teaching tips, books, lesson idea...and so on. For this post I'm talking about three of my favorite Read Alouds. Really, it's hard for me to narrow it down to three, there are so many good books. 

Anyway here they are with the literature standards they can be connected to. 

1. The Lemonade War
 The children LOVE this book. The book alternates between Evan's point of view and Jessie's point of view. They are siblings with their own lemonade stands competing against one another to reach one hundred dollars in sales. It's a great example of two different viewpoints of the main characters and my students like to discuss who's viewpoint they agree with. (CCCS RL 7)

  In addition the literature connection, this is an excellent book for the economy aspect of the Social Studies standards.

2. Because of Winn-Dixie  

This book pulls at your heart strings. Told from the main character's point of view, this story tells about a girl's desire to know her mother. She lives with her father and develops friendships with people of various ages and backgrounds. The first and most important friendship is with a dog named Winn-Dixie. 
   This story is an awesome example of character's feelings changing throughout the story.(CCCS RL 6)

3. Sadako and the Thousand Paper Cranes  

 If Because of Winn-Dixie pulls at your heartstrings, this story yanks at them! This is story I read toward the end of the school. It's about a real girl who dies from leukemia as a result of the atomic bomb dropped on Japan. I don't want to give too much away if you haven't read this. The story opens up serious discussions and really can be used with any of the RL standards. The RL 1 is probably the one I tend to gravitate toward as the students have so many questions. 

There are my three read alouds for my first Three for Thursday. See you next Thursday! 


Saturday, October 31, 2015

Catch Them at the Core

A Glimpse of Differentiation in a Core Lesson
from Teachers in the Trenches

I’ve learned the best way to differentiate, in order to reach all learners, is to do it right at the core of every lesson. I’d love to individualize instruction for every student, but with twenty-five to thirty children in the classroom it’s next to impossible. Catching as many learners as I can at the core of each lesson is my solution. The Merriam Webster definition of core is: a central and often foundational part usually distinct from the enveloping part by a difference in nature. 

The core of your lesson is the foundation upon which everything else is built. It makes sense to deliver each lesson with a conscious awareness of the different learning modalities. I keep the following learning modalities in mind when teaching my lessons…auditory, visual, tactile, and kinesthetic.

When teaching new concepts, I begin with direct teaching of the concept. This method tailors to the auditory and visual learners, however I need to begin with a hook to grab the attention of everyone before I move onto direct teaching. I also have to be aware of the time span before boredom sets in. Attention span can be calculated by subtracting two from the age of the children. My kiddos are eight turning nine during the school year. Nine minus two equals seven. I have six to seven minutes to introduce the new concept directly before I need to change it up. 

Let’s look at a math lesson on subtracting two digit numbers with regrouping. 

Hook: I review the concept of regrouping from our previous lesson using base ten models by calling students to the front to help me.(visual, auditory) 

Direct Teaching: I demonstrate subtraction directly with a problem on chart paper that will later become an anchor chart in the classroom for reference. I color code the ones and tens places. The students use the same colors to write the example in their Math Notebooks.(visual, auditory, kinesthetic)After a couple more demonstrations, my attention span time limit is up. So I have the students use wipe off boards with color markers for practice.  They use the different colors for tens and ones places just like the examples in their notebooks. I give a couple of problems orally to the class.  Students  write the problems down.  Next, I tell them to turn and talk through the process with “elbow partners”. (auditory, visual, kinesthetic)

Assess on the Spot: I circulate around the classroom to get an idea of who is grasping the concept and who is struggling and then I call the group’s attention back to me. At this point, I assign some problems from the math book for the students doing okay with the concept. I call the students that were struggling to the table with their wipe off boards to practice with me, using base ten models as necessary.(visual, auditory, tactile)

Further Differentiation: Something I need to mention is that I scrounge old math workbooks from the grade ahead of me to use for my students that need challenged, I assign problems from the corresponding lesson in the workbook from the grade ahead for those students in place of the problems assigned to the rest of the class. 

Did you see all of the ways I differentiated in one lesson? It doesn’t take tremendous amounts of time to pre-plan. I’ve already made sure my classroom is stocked with the supplies needed. I didn’t plan an extravagant lesson. It was pretty simple and easy to implement and met the needs of all of my learners.

Read Teachers in the Trenches free on Kindle November 2-7


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