Friday, January 31, 2014

A Sweet Linky Party...full of Freebies!

I have a quick little freebie for you to use with your students for Valentine's Day. It's just a simple word sort but your could definitely extend it with your class...add more words, use the words to write a poem/story, change the words to other parts of speech. So many ideas!

Hope you like and that you head over to A Class*y Collaboration on February 1st to grab more freebies and link up your own. 
(The linky will be open all month!)

Monday, January 27, 2014

Movies That Get Brains Moving!

Brenda from Primary Inspired is hosting a super fun linky...all about movies!!

I just learned about from one of the teachers in my online Math Additional Qualifications course. I haven't used it in my classroom but I spent sometime looking around and there are some great resources, including MUSIC VIDEOS, that you'll want to use in your class. What a great way to hook students into a lesson. 

My favourite movies for Science are The Magic School Bus videos!

My school board has all the videos on a database for us to access easily, but you can also find most of them on Youtube. I love how the visually present complex science topics to the students and help them to understand the ideas we are studying. 

What are your favourite movies? Link up with Brenda!!

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Some blog posts you should be reading!

My fellow Class*y Collaboration authors are posting some great things on their personal blogs! 
You can follow this great group of talented ladies by clicking on the image below to go to the Class*y Collaboration blog 
(we have a new updated design too!).

I love working with this great group of ladies and reading their blogs. I wanted to share with you some of their most recent posts that I really enjoyed. 

Brenda from Primary Inspired has a post about a great linky, Movies that Get Brains Moving!

Go grab this great addition doubles bump game from Kathy at First Grade a la Carte!

Ciera has the CUTEST activity for asking questions...I "must ache" you to check it out.

Mary over at Pitner's Potpourri has a great multiplication usual. Mary always has the best freebies!

Last but not least, Learning with Mrs. Leeby has an amazing post on how to become a blogger! A must read for anyone starting out or looking to amp up their blog. 

Monday, January 20, 2014

Math Workshop Series - Part 2 - What Will It Look Like?

Click here to read Part 1 of my Math Workshop series.

PART 2- What Will It Look Like?

There are lots of different acronyms and names for Math Workshop out there. Some people have 5 rotations, some have 4, some have less. None of them are more right than others as I've discovered. You have to find what's going to work for you and your style of teaching. 

When I first implemented a math workshop into my class I had 4 rotations- Teacher Time, Buddy Games, Math Tubs and Problem Solving. It worked for awhile but I found it very difficult to keep up with each week/unit. I had hoped to differentiate each rotation based on my student's greatest area of need within the unit we were studying but finding and creating that many games/activities/worksheets each week was exhausting...and impossible. 

Ultimately this type of system didn't work for me. 
So it was back to the drawing board. 

A quick search for "math workshop" on Pinterest will deliver endless adaptions on how a Math Workshop can be organized.

I really liked the idea of using the acronym M.A.T.H to organize the rotations, which is an idea I first found on Mandy's Tips for Teachers.  

Some other acronyms I've seen during my research are:

Some teachers don't use an acronym at all!

I suggest reading through as many of the posts as possible in order to get an idea of the different options for organizing your workshop. It may be that someone else's system will work great for you, or that you need to totally revamp. Perhaps, like me, you can use a mish-mash of ideas!

So, like I said above I really like the acronym M.A.T.H. It keeps things simple and organized. I had a brain surge awhile back and posted my idea for my math workshop here. I am, however, going to modifiy the M.A.T.H. acronym to fit my needs.

M- Must Do Math Work (Differentiated Practice)
A- All Together (A menu of choices with games/activities using manipulatives)
T- Teacher Time (Guided math lessons)
H- Helping Others (Problem solving, practicing facts, calendar math)

So how will this actually work? Good question. 
Here's what I'm hoping to do...

First of all, my math workshop is not going to run using rotations. 
Must Do Math and Teacher Time will be scheduled by me.

All the students will be required to complete their Must Do Math  first, (except for whichever group is meeting with me!). I plan to use this station to follow up after our guided sessions, complete Math Journal prompts, assessment, build math vocabulary etc. Once the students have completed their Must Do Math they will be  assigned to work at either the All Together station or Helping Others station. The choice of activity at the assigned station will be up to them. In order to avoid having too many students using the materials at one station I plan to use a tracking sheet or some other management system (to be decided). 

So what might a usual math workshop day look like in my class?
Since I have decided not to use rotations I can have as many groupings as I want based on the student's greatest area of need (GAN). For this example let's say that I have created 4 groups. 

I usually am able to schedule an 80 minute math block first thing in the morning. We have about a 15 minute entry time and I often use this to gather the students on the carpet for a math stretch or calendar (more about this later). For the sake of this example, let's say that I will use 15 minutes for a whole group mini lesson before starting Math Workshop.

Mini-Lesson: 15 minutes (math stretch, math calendar, etc)

Cycle #1: (20 minutes)
Group 1: Teacher Time 
Groups 2, 3, 4: All students completing their assigned Must Do work first! They are then able to move on to the All Together or Helping Others station as assigned.

Cycle #2: (20 minutes)
Group 2: Teacher Time 
Group 1: All students completing their assigned Must Do work first! They are then able to move on to the All Together or Helping Others station as assigned.
Groups 3, 4: Continue to work at the All Together or Helping Others station as assigned. They may choose to switch to a different game/activity at this time or continue with the activity they have chosen. 

Cycle #3: (20 minutes)
On some days I may continue to work with my groups, so it would be Group 3's turn and the rest would continue with their Must Do, All Together or Helping Others stations. On other days I may gather the class for a Math Huddle, assessment, Math Journal prompt etc. 

Debrief: 5 minutes
This time could be used for an exit slip, cleanup, agendas for homework, etc. 

So this is how I envision my Math Workshop

 running...thoughts, comments, suggestions?

Still to come!!

- Planning for Guided Math Lessons
- Math Huddles
- Problem Solving
- Math Games and Independent Activities
- Math Journals/Notebooks
- Math Vocabulary
- Math Calendar
- Interactive Math Notebook Ideas
- Using Manipulatives
- Anchor Charts

Next in the series

Saturday, January 18, 2014

Have you checked out my Facebook page yet?

It's relatively new, my Facebook page that is... and I'm not totally sure how to use effectively but I'd still love if you'd visit and "like" it!

Also, I'd love to hear how you use your FB page to promote your blog or share ideas.

Friday, January 17, 2014

Five for Friday

Happy Friday!! Congrats to all you working teachers that have successfully made it another Friday.
 Relax and enjoy, you earned it.

My five for Friday will be very child/baby oriented as I am on mat leave...sorry if it's not too exciting. 

My daycare provider fell and broke a few ribs on Wednesday so she asked that I keep my oldest daughter home with the baby and I the last 2 days. Even though it's been exhausting, I have learned that I can survive the day taking care of a newborn and a pre-schooler all by myself!

The trick has been an outing every day! We are going to try a new pre-school class at the library on Monday...maybe it'll become a weekly thing.

 I love my ring sling. It has saved the day many a time in the past 2 months. Like right now as I type on the island in my kitchen while my baby sleeps...finally. 

Bouncing a baby for hours on end is like an extreme exercise class. My calves and thighs are killing me.

No matter how tired or stressed I get, when my baby smiles or my daughter hugs me everything is right with the world again.

It's 8:04 and I plan to be in bed in the next 30 minutes or less!

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Math Workshop Planning Series - Part 1 - Getting Started

I have tried to implement Math Workshop and Guided Math in my classroom over the course of the past 2 years. It's been a bit of struggle since I switched grades and just finding the time to make all the plans, activities, etc. One of my goals for the next year, while I am on maternity leave, is to develop and cement my Math Workshop/ Guided Math program. As I work through this process I will be sharing my ideas with all of you.

I welcome all suggestions, questions, comments and links to any of your own posts that you think I or my followers may find helpful. 

Learning is a journey so let's travel together!

My first step was to gather the materials I needed to record and organize my ideas. I bought a large notebook and coloured pens (of course!). Inside the notebook I created a Table of Content so I would be able to easily find all the ideas I was recording and then began to make notes!

Over the past few months/years...ever since Pinterest took over my life started to inspire me, I have been pinning Math Workshop/Guided Math ideas so that's where I started. Having attempted a Math Workshop set-up in the past I had an idea of how I wanted the program to look in my class compared with the ideas posted by others, I even blogged about it here. I did want to revisit some posts and check to make sure I was happy with my plan so I started to go through my pins one by one and take notes in my book.

The first pin/blog I visited was Mandy's Tips for Teachers
Mandy has a great resource that outlines a day by day step-up for Guided Math...and the best part is that it is a FREEBIE! I love the simplicity of Mandy's outline and plan to follow it next September when I return to work. If you are planning to implement Math Workshop/Guided Math or want to revise your current program be sure to check out Mandy's resource.

Coming up: 

What will Math Workshop Look Like in My Class?

- Planning for Guided Math Lessons
- Math Huddles
- Problem Solving
- Math Games and Independent Activities
- Math Journals/Notebooks
- Math Vocabulary
- Math Calendar
- Interactive Math Notebook Ideas
- Using Manipulatives
- Anchor Charts



Next up: 
Part 2- Getting Started
 Part 3- Organizing Your Materials

Tuesday, January 7, 2014

A New Year and New Picture Books

Hello from Ontario and sub-freezing temperatures! From what I can tell being home by the fire on maternity leave is a pretty good place to be today. Snow days! Ice storms! Polar vortex!

It looks like Old Man Winter means business this year. 

I've always purchased a tonne of picture books for my classroom, even when I taught Grade 7 and 8, but now that I have 2 daughters of my own buying picture books has become even more easily justified! 


Here are some great ones that I received from Thomas Allen & Son to review. I can't wait to get back in the classroom and use them with my students as part of our vocabulary studies. 

Petey, Pru and the Hullabaloo by Ammi-Joan Paquette

The pictures in this book are fabulous and the vocabulary is out of this world! If you are a fan of the Fancy Nancy books and teaching students to use "fancy" words then you will love this book as well. There are some great words like "tranquil", "cacophony", and "peeved". The end papers are even used as a dictionary with the definitions of the words in the book. Genius!

Your students will love this story as well. Pru is feeling "tricksy" and ruins Petey's lovely day in the garden with all sorts of tricks and shenanigans. It would be a great book for  teaching about problem solving among friends. 

Another great book for both vocabulary and problem-solving/ inclusivity is Xander's Panda Party by Linda Sue Park. 

Xander wants to host a panda party...but he's the only panda at the zoo! So then he invites all the bears, but a koala isn't a bear so he invites the mammals and so on and so on. This book is super cute! And what a great way to introduce classification on animals to young children. I also really enjoy the rhyme scheme that runs throughout the book and the challenging vocabulary that will help to stretch your student's abilities. 

Just for Fun!

Have you ever read a Barney Saltzberg book? If not, you are totally missing out. I bought Beautiful Oops a few years ago and love reading it with my daughter (it makes a great introductory picture book for a visual art class) so I was very excited when I saw A Little Bit of Oomph in my box from Thomas Allen & Son.

This book is super cute. I love how it uses phrases and amazing pop-up illustrations to deliver it's message of hope, positivity and forward thinking. This is a great book for any collection-home or school. Do yourself a big favour and look into more Barney Saltzberg. 

Wouldn't it be great to have students make their own pages for this type of book? Researching pop-up books? Quotes and favourite sayings? I see a class book in the making. 

Last but not least...

Frog Trouble by Sandra Boynton

As a big fan of country music I was super happy to see this book emerge from the box. A picture book with a CD of kids songs sung by some of my all-time favourite artists. Yes, please!

I am by no means a musical person myself...other than singing along badly to the radio so I don't really have too many ideas for lessons or classroom involvement for this one. But I can say that you won't be disappointed when you check it out. Maybe one of the songs would be good for any upcoming Spring concerts? 

You know, when old man winter let's us out of his icy clutches. Hope you are staying warm!

Saturday, January 4, 2014


As I look forward to 2014 I have a lot of goals...blogging, teaching, personal and I'm hoping to share them all with you here. Now that my baby is 7 weeks old and we are getting a little more sleep, I'm feeling ready to come back to blogging and have some great posts planned for all of you.

For now, I'm starting out small and joining the Currently bandwagon. Hope you had a great holiday, wonderful New Year and are looking forward to an amazing 2014. 

Before Christmas we had some newborn photos done of my daughter Stella and I wanted to share some with you. This is who I've been spending all my days (and nights with).

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