Tuesday, September 29, 2015

Giving kids choices

One of my favorite ways to keep my students engaged is to give them choice. Sometimes I over think this concept. I try to find small ways to incorporate student choice in our daily activities.

Today in science we started a new unit on soil. I wanted the kids to brainstorm what they already knew about soil. My plan was for students to make a graphic organizer - we use thinking maps at my school. I told them they could make a bubble map or a circle map (2 organizers that include a topic in the middle with facts surrounding it). The kids had a choice of using paper/pencil or any app they had on their ipads. I'm always amazed by how creative the kids can be - I'm also amazed at how different they are!

Here are some samples of what they came up with. You'll notice they're all very different, but they also achieve the same purpose.

I love that each student got to let their personality and unique learning styles show. How do you incorporate student choice into your classroom?

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Digital Number Lines & Rounding

This week my kids are learning to round large numbers. I really want them to understand rounding and not just memorize tricks. In the past I would teach my kids a poem, and while they could round, they didn't really understand why.

Since my classroom is digital, I'm always looking for ways to use our ipads for our math workshop activities.

I found this *free* app called Number Line.

My kids are going to use this app to practice rounding some larger numbers. They'll take screen shots of each number they round and then put them together in pic collage. I made a video to show them how they'll be using the app for the activity.

Check it out:

Here's an example of one of my student's finished products:

How do you teach your kids rounding?

Sunday, September 13, 2015

Launching Math Workshop, Part 4

Just joining in? Check out the rest of this blog series!

Read on to find out what day 4 of math workshop looks like.

By day 4, I'm just excited that I've made it to the end of the first week! I'm also amazed by how well my kids are doing with math workshop. The structure is very different than what they're used to and there's a lot for them to figure out.

Day 4 is all about creating workshop rules & becoming independent.

Before the kids start working, we create an anchor chart on our math workshop rules. The class helps decide on the rules based on their experiences throughout the week. Of course I forgot to take a picture of our anchor chart...

Our rules focused on working the whole time, using math tools appropriately (tools, not toys), working together (helping, not giving answers), problem solving, and reading the directions (I really try to make a big deal out of this one). 

Once we've reviewed the rules and the structure of math workshop, I have the kids hold up a number to show me what box they are on in our blendspace. (Wondering what blendspace is? Check out this post).

Then we spend the rest of the time working on finishing up the activities. Here are a couple of pictures of my kids hard at work.

You can find all of the activities my kids did, including the video, in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

That ends my week of launching math workshop! Over the next couple of weeks I'll be reinforcing routines with students and helping them understand where and how to turn their work in. By the 3rd week, I'll start pulling my guided math groups. 

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Launching Math Workshop, Part 3

If you missed the first 2 parts of the series, you can check them out here:

Read on to find out what the 3rd day of math workshop looks like.

Day 3 is all about gradually releasing responsibility

I start off by having the kids talk about what we did the day before in math workshop. Through our discussion, they remember that we use the website blendspace and that they watched a math video. 

Wondering what the heck blendspace is? Check out this post

Then I let them know that today they'll be watching the video on their own. 

We are using Google Classroom this year, so I shared the link to the blendspace with my classes through that website. So to start off, the kids get onto Google Classroom and we walk through finding the blendspace. 

Once everyone has found the instructional video (included in their blendspace), we quickly review our anchor chart on watching videos. Then, they grab their headphones, spread out & get started. 

I walk around while they're watching the videos and make sure they're:
1. actually watching it
2. not experiencing any technical difficulties
3. remembering to complete their anchor chart

For today, I have them go back to their desks and read a book when they're finished. Once everyone has finished, we glue our charts in their journals and quickly review how the process went. I was pleased to see how much the kids enjoyed watching the videos. 

Then we looked at the directions for the next activity together. I model what the activity will look like and where they will find the math tools. We don't spend a lot of time talking about the rules for workshop yet. That will come tomorrow.

Once everyone understands what they need to do, they spread out again and get started on the activity. The activity they did was using place value blocks to build a number. Then they took pictures of each number and put them into PicCollage. Finally, they added the expanded notation for each number into their collage. 

Not everyone finished, but that was okay. I let them know that they will always have 2 days to work on the activities in each blendspace.