Teaching since Fall 2001 – 3rd year in 2nd grade

Posts tagged ‘education’

Just Finished Reading Daily 5

The Daily Five: Fostering Literacy Independence in the Elementary GradesThe Daily Five: Fostering Literacy Independence in the Elementary Grades by Gail Boushey

My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I really like this system it is practical and not about cute little centers. The idea of breaking whole group teaching into smaller parts will help me stay focused and not go off on my GT tangents. The kids get large blocks of uninterrupted reading time.

I recommend this book for all elementary teachers. There are some modifications that would have to be made for the intermediate grades – but that will result in longer periods of reading. Also the techniques used for introducing Daily 5 would also work great with literature circles.

View all my reviews

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Google 101 Response 01

I’m “taking” Google101: Google in the Classroom from ItunesU

I just finished the assignment of reading http://electriceducator.blogspot.com/2009/11/google-proof-questioning-new-use-for.html and this is my response.

Regarding Google Proof questions – I’m of several different minds.
1. In high school my Mom approached the principal about the nature of our finals. She questioned the wisdom of having us memorize and use correctly 20or more formulas. She explained as a scientist, she didn’t rely on her memory, when running tests. People’s lives depended on the results (she was involved in some of the 1st kidney transplants). She always double checked formulas.

2. The same Mom made sure my sister and I had our math facts memorized. Before scanners my Mom could mentally add up the contents of her shopping basket faster than the clerk could ring her up.

3. Dr. Suh at university. After on of those Americans are stupid survey/tests was published, we asked him why he chose to teach Americans in a US university. He told us that Americans might have to look up facts his Japanese students would have had memorized, but the Americans could do more with the information. After I started teaching with the TAKS Testheld over our heads, I always wanted to know if this held up for him or did the ability of hisAmerican students fell off as THE TEST became the focus education.

My conclusion – There are somethings that students need to memorize. Math facts are a big one. We can show the all the different ways to think about putting numbers together and taking them apart, but at some point they need to stop counting on their fingers and know the facts. They also need to have a sense of history. They don’t need to know the date of every battle, but they need to know the American Revolution comes before the American Civil War.

There are other things, where it is way more important to be able to understand the facts and used them to think, ask, and answer more abstract questions.

I was also interested in the comment from the Mother back at the main article. Her daughter was in a remedial class. Instead of having face to face conversations, the class of 13 were blogging. First I have to question the assumption by the Mom that there was no face to face conversations. I agree with the people that pointed out having students blog is a way of improving their writing, and making sure everyone responded. Also I hope that the teacher was encouraging outsiders to comment on the students’ blog posts. I had a big problem with the tone of some of the responses. I felt they were arrogant and the type of response that earn teachers bad reputations.

The Cullen Building at Southwestern University...

The Cullen Building at Southwestern University in Georgetown, Texas (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

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Post Test Discussion

My goal today in math was to talk to each student about the assessment we had yesterday. I asked them each 3 questions.

  1. What was the easiest part of the assessment?
  2. What was the hardest part of the assessment?
  3. What was the the best activity we did last week? What did you learn from it?

Their answers

1. The most common answer was division problems.  Reason variations on it is easy to break the numbers into smaller pieces.

2. The majority split two ways – The problems with charts, and #8. Honestly #8 was badly written and we should have caught it. It read “Which of the objects below does not have a flat surface (forget some of the wording) that is a rectangle or square.  The kids interpetted that to mean does not have a flat surface.

3. Split 2 ways working with the 3D objects, using the cubes do do division.

The post lesson assessment showed an across the board improvement in understanding of the concepts, so I am very happy with that.

The best thing I can do to improve instruction in this area is to get more 3D figures. Also this group is capable of working with more complex figures.

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Problem Solving – What works for my brain

It was interesting watching my students take their Post Unit test. The test was over three units – Division, geometry, and number lines. It was interesting to watch the students as they selected different problem solving strategies. The manipulatives we had used were on the back table. Students could go pick up a set and take it back to their desk. Other students used their dry erase pens to draw on their desk. When we have rotations today – I’m going to ask them about their thinking. I figured out that on average my students score on improved 28 points from their pretest to their post test.




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Math Work Stations – Chapter 1 Reflection and Dialogue

Response to Chapter 1 of Math Work Stations

Math workstations are different from math centers. Stations are more focused on the needs of the students, and are designed to make it easy for the teacher to differentiate for different groups. Students should be engaged in higher level thinking at stations. On challenge I have in a self contained classroom is storing and setting up both literature and math work stations. Another challenge I have is that sometimes if feels like our administration does lip service to the ideas of work stations, but really wants busy work centers. I’ve been told that giving the kids choices leads to off task behavior.  In my observation it is 3 or 4 students that are off task. 1 because he thinks he should be able to play in centers. 2 because they lacked confidence to try new things. That attitude has been improving, because making mistakes is not failure in my classroom but a sign you are learning something new. Then there are 2 students that are so far above the others in some ways it is hard to challenge them.

My students are engage by puzzles, they enjoy problem solving it presented as a puzzle.  They are becoming more comfortable with the idea that there are many different ways to the correct answer. They are also engaged by contests and technology. They love number battle on the Ipad. They are more comfortable making mistakes on the Promethean Board, so they are more engaged in those activities.

I need  to teach more problem solving strategies going beyond what Envision does. My students are held back by the low level of the problem solving lessons that Envision gives them. They need more strategies for higher level problems. They also need to be writing their own problems to challenge classmates with.

My locations work well.

Computers at computers

Ipads in the library area this gives me space to post QR codes.

Promethean at the promethean board. Only problem with this is that kids need to talk and my 1 mile voice kids can be disruptive to the teacher table.

Number sense on the floor at the back of the carpet.

Problem Solving at the Yellow table desks.

Review at the back table/writing center. Since this is going to include several make a movie/Ibook activities for the students to publish having the writing supplies handy will work out.
Using IPads

This is actually a literature station, but students use the Ipads in math stations also.

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A spiral review for Math

During the first semester my students worked on addition, subtraction, US Money, place value, and fractions.  One problem with math is  the skills can be used in isolation.  That makes it easy for previously learned skills to become rusty. I wanted a quick an easy way to review skills. Both as a whole group activity and a small group activity. So I made this spiral review. Student choices change up the problems on many pages.

Example of page from Spiral review

On this page the problem changes depending on which fruit the students choose to buy.

I use these problems as both part of our warm up in the lesson, and as a center. I keep the orginal safe by dragging and dropping slides into  other flip books.

To get this flipbook go to


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Replacing Centers with Menus

iPad with on display keyboard

Image via Wikipedia

In order to differentiate more, I’m replacing centers in my classroom with menus of activities. I’m using the series Differentiating Instruction with Menus by Laurie E. Westphal to create the menus. I also found the wiki Dare to Differentiate to be very helpful.

The Good

  • I’m tapping into the different strengths of my students
  • I’m getting good thoughtful projects from most of my students
The Bad
  • Accountability for 2nd graders. I had one boy do very little last week. A 2nd boy threw away all his projects when we cleaned out our desks on Friday. We were able to rescue them.
  • The pull of the tech. I include both  tech and low tech projects. The Tech ones are still new and shiny and the kids gravitate to them even when a low tech project would be a better fit. I’m also getting some nonsense projects because they want to play with the tech.
The solutions
  • Meet more frequently with the kids. Daily check ins with the kids who are having trouble with focus.
  • Take up projects more frequently.
  • Students must submit a plan for tech projects before they get to touch the tech. Then a schedule is set up for the next day. Child A and B have use of the Ipad 2 from Time to time. Then they must give the Ipad 2 to Child C and D.
  • Teaching the kids to video themselves using the front camera.
  • Using the Original Ipads for gathering information. I have to see if the mobile part of Discovery Streaming allows student user names and passwords to be used yet. (Saving the clips on the Ipad doesn’t always work – often there is a problem with the volume on the clip being very low even when the volume on the Ipad is turned up.
If you would like to see some of the menus from last week or this week check the links below
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