Friday, June 27, 2014

100 Minutes- My Thoughts on Chapter 9 and the Conclusion

We made it!!

Thanks to Tina from Croft's Classroom for hosting our last chapter (and conclusion). Great job.

This chapter was all about integrating new literacies- like technology- into our reading and writing programs.

Sure seems like a no brainer to me.

Lisa talks a lot about ways that media and technology can be integrated into the literacy block throughout this chapter and offers a wide variety of of examples of websites that could be useful to teachers and their students. 

On pages 140 - 143 Lisa lists the 6 C's of Digital Literacy

1. Connect
2. Communicate
3. Create
4. Collaborate
5. Consolidate
6. Critically Analyze

(And how well do all of those fit with what we do in the teacher-blogger world?)

I loved looking at media and technology from this point of view, especially with the examples of media/ websites/ apps that Lisa has provided.

As always, please link up with your thoughts!

I want to thank everyone that joined in with the book study, especially all the co-hosts. 

I have a celebration giveaway in the works and hope to have that post up and running ASAP.

As well, I have sent an email to Lisa with the questions that were submitted over the course of the book study and hope to hear back from her very soon!

The linkies for each Chapter will remain open until July 25th if you are still interested in posting about the book/ book study and wish to link up. 

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Chapter 5- Using Guided Math with Small Groups (FREEBIE)

How funny/ cute/ embarrassing is it to look back and see your own writing. I'm enjoying it, of course, but sometimes I think "Really? I wrote that? Hmmmm."

Each new chapter opens my eyes to new possibilities for my math program and I am especially happy to be ready it in conjunction with the Guiding Readers book study because my minds is continually working around the idea of guided teaching!  Look out, September. It's going to be awesome.

In other Guided Math Book Study news....Laney Sammons commented on my Chapter 3- Math Stretches post. 
Oh. My. Goodness. 

I just about fell out off my chair with excitement. 

Just like always, you will find my original thoughts about Guided Math in pink and italics at the bottom of this post.

I've decided to put all my current thoughts in one spot at the top of the post using the headings provided by Amanda from The Primary Gal. 

Such an interesting question!

I have noticed that in the last 2 years since I started using much of the guided math framework and strategies that not only are my students able to "get" the math we are studying more quickly, but that I am able to identify their greatest areas of need quickly.


I almost never schedule math groups, and by that I mean my groupings are decided on the fly as I see the needs arise. As my students are working through a math problem solving task (where I do strategically partner or group students) I walk around the room taking anecdotal records and questioning/prompting my students. based on what I see/ hear I put a symbol on my student's work, make a note on my records or provide a coloured sticky note.

When I am ready to call groups I use the symbols/ notes/ sticky notes to group the students. 

So if I see a group of students starting to do their 3-digit addition in the hundreds column (ouch, hurts my teacher's heart...poor little muffins) they will all get a blue star on their page. When I call the blue star group to the carpet we can work more with base ten blocks, place value and specific regrouping while adding so they can improve and grow as mathematicians. 

The one thing I find with this method is that I need to be super aware of what my students are doing during their problem solving tasks. 

This is where strategic partnering and grouping is a must and I need to be constantly circulating and talking to my students.

The teacher also need to be on top of the curriculum they are teaching and be as knowledgable of the possible misconceptions that may arise during student work as well opportunities to challenge students who are already well on their way to mastery.

I can't say that I never plan my math groups either- that would be a lie. 

But with my teaching style and in my experience of using problem based learning and math huddles, grouping students based on what I see during a math task is working for me!

See above!! 

I also really enjoy doing diagnostic tasks with my students- talking pictures (see here,  here and here), quick pencil paper tasks, word splashes, group problem solving, etc.

This is a great way to gain data on what students can do on paper for a particular math concept. 

I also enjoy having a class discussion and creating an anchor chart (this is a literacy example but you get the idea) on what we know before starting the unit and then adding to it as we grow. 

I'd love to know more about how you group your students for guided math!

My Standout Moments:

- I love this quote from page 133;

" When kids are given time to puzzle through something that's challenging (with just enough support from their teachers to be successful), they're not only learning about the task at hand, they're learning about who they are and how they go about figuring things out. They're developing those can-do, let-me-have-at-it attitudes that we want so much for them."

Advantages of Small Groups:

- focused lessons

- easy to manage materials
- conversation is open and flowing
- student efforts are monitored in a timely manner
- teachers have the opportunity to recognize the learning styles of their students and can adjust their teaching
- frequency of meeting and length of meeting can vary according to student needs
- planning is customized (differentiated)
- communication becomes an integral part of instruction and learning (explicit teaching, modelling, questioning, listening)
- the social nature of learning is respected and supported
- continuing ongoing assessment (anecdotals)


- some things need to be taught to everyone

- planning can feel overwhelming
- keeping the rest of the class engaged in meaningful to do it?
- each student receives less direct instruction (!)
- expectations, routines, procedures need to be modelled and practiced, practiced, practiced

When to teach using small groups:

- differentiation (ESL/ELL, Special Needs, Gifted)

- mathematical "hot spots" (concepts students struggle with year after year)
- manipulatives
- formative assessment tasks/activities
- mathematical process standards

Forming Small Groups:

- there are many different ways to form small groups, but for me the most important thing to remember is that groups should flexible and based on student achievement

- this is where formative assessment, observations and anecdotals become very important

As I was reading through this chapter I wanted to create a lesson plan template for my future guided math lessons. As with anything, I won't know if I actually like this template until I start using it but at least it is a start. Plus, it's a freebie here for you! Just click on the image below to get your copy. (The font used is from Sugar Frog Fonts- Chaney)

I am thinking that I would like to add a spot for a Must Do, similar to what Lori Jamison Rob does for guided reading...something in their Math Journal, a problem to solve, etc. 


Wednesday, June 25, 2014

100 Minutes- Chapter 9 and Conclusion- Building In New Literacies

We've done it!

Can you believe how much you have learned in just a few short weeks by sharing your thoughts and ideas with others? 
Me neither.

I love book studies.

But of course, we're not done quite yet. 

Tina from Croft's Classroom is hosting Chapter 9 AND the Conclusion of our book study (big job!) and I hope you all will give her some comment love after you head over to her blog and check out her post.

Last but not least, (I hope...) I'll be back for my last post of the book study in a day or two. 
Don't worry though! 
The learning doesn't end here...I foresee lots of future discussions as we all take what we've learned and out into practice in the fall as we head back to school.

Reunion anyone??

Plus keep your eyes peeled for a GIVEAWAY!!


If you've got some time you should head over to Teachers Pay Teachers this weekend!!

Sunday, June 22, 2014

100 Minutes- My Thoughts on Chapter 8- Small Group Learning

Wow, Chapter 8 already!
Where has the time gone?

Thanks to Emily from Emmy Mac's Class for hosting Chapter 8.
Be sure to head on over and check out her post if you haven't already.

Small group learning is something I have really embraced in the last few years, especially in my math teaching but I still struggle with it in reading and writing. Coming from the intermediate grades (7 and 8) there wasn't any guided reading being done in my class or other classes, and while I did have writing conferences they weren't a regularly schedule thing.

If I could go back in, would my class/teaching be different.

But I guess that's what reflecting and growth is all about.

One of my goals for this coming school year, and part of the reason I chose to read this book and use it for the book study is that I really want to have a guided reading/ writing conference program in place this year that works for both me and my students.

Really this whole chapter was a great refresher on small group learning but I especially liked-

- the ideas about how to form your guided reading/ writing conference groups on pg 122 (by interest! awesome idea)

- how often to change your groupings (p 123)

- the outline for how to conduct a guided reading lesson
(this reminded me that I want to get out my copy of Guiding Readers by Lori Jameson Rog from the book study 2 years ago and re-read that as well!!)

- the guiding questions based on the reading strategies provided on pages 130-134

- the entire section about Feedback and Writing Conferences on pages 126-127

- "A writing conference is not a time when students hand over their work to the teacher in order to have it corrected." YES!!! YESS!! YESSSSSS!!

- on page 128 Lisa talks about assigning a role to each student during a writing conference so that they have a specific task to do and focus on, she provides some really cute suggestions too

- the feedback prompts for writing conferences on page 135

Lisa states that students should spend the majority of the time during a guided reading lesson actually reading. If the lesson is only 15-20 minutes in length ... is this reading all reading aloud? Shared reading? 
How many lessons do you spend on one text? 
Should the children have had an opportunity to read the text to themselves before coming to the guided reading lesson so they are prepared to read and discuss??


How I will structure my guided reading lessons so that it works for me and my students.

How I will track my student's writing goals.

My plan to embed word skills (getting ready to start reading Word Nerds very soon!!)

Now that we are into the nitty gritty of the book (and near the end...giveaway coming soon!) I am starting to have so many more questions about how everything will look in my class and how I will structure my 100 minutes. I foresee a lot of time spent re-reading this book, making MORE notes and planning.

And to be honest... I can't wait!!

So what does all this mean for my classroom?
To be continued...

I'd love to hear more about your guided reading lessons and writing up below.

One chapter left!!

Tina from Croft's Classroom is our last co-host for the 100 Minutes book study.

I hope you will go visit her on June 25th.

Saturday, June 21, 2014

100 Minutes- Chapter 8- Small-Group Learning

Small group learning has become the cornerstone of my classroom ever since I read Guided Math for the first time two years ago and loved it. If it works in language why wouldn't it work in math?

Chapter 8 is being hosted by my fellow Canadian teacher-blogger Emily from Emmy Mac's Class. 

I think this is a "don't miss chapter" and opportunity to post your thoughts. I hope see lots of link ups for this one.

Don't forget, I'll be back tomorrow with my own post on this great topic. 

Thursday, June 19, 2014

Guided Math- Chapter 4

I can not believe how much I am re-learning by re-reading this book and my old posts!

It's been a very interesting journey so far and I am very thankful to Amanda from The Primary Gal for allowing me to take part in this book study. 

Once again you'll find my original thoughts in pink italics below with my new thoughts in black. 

This is a bit of a longer post but if you hang in there you'll find a freebie at the end!

So teaching the whole class, eh? Yep, that's kind of been my style. This is the first-ish year that I have taught math. I taught it for 4 months only last year before I went on mat leave so this was my first full year of being a math teacher. To my surprise, I really enjoyed it. I worked hard to use problem based learning as much as possible and to work with small groups when I could. I was learning as I went to I can honestly say that I didn't work with small groups as much as I should have and I probably used worksheets far too often. But that's the whole point of reading and participating in this book study right? To get better at teaching!

Working with small groups has definitely become the norm in my math class after reading this book for the first time 2 years ago. I can't say that I officially have a guided math/math workshop program in place but it's getting there. I found that switching grades and attempting to implement guided math was too much to do all at the same time.

This coming year will be my second year in Grade 3 and my 4th year teaching math so I think it's finally time to really focus on having a Math Workshop program.

To that end I started a series of posts back in the winter outlining my plans. If you are new to Thinking of Teaching (welcome!) you can follow the links below to check out my posts. The series isn;t finished yet, although it's been a wile since I posted, I do plan to go back and add more posts. 

Math Workshop Series 

The Three-Part Lesson is by far my favourite way to teach a whole class, especially when it ends with a Math Huddle...or a Bansho as it's called in Japan. 

I have several example posts of Math Huddles I have done in my class-

Sorting by Two and Three Attributes

Math Problem Solving

Using a T-chart to Solve Patterns

Addition and Subtraction Strategies

Two years ago I wrote this...

On page 108, Sammons writes "Even experienced teachers using  whole-class instruction often find that the lesson goes over the heads of some students, leading to passivity and lack of attention, while failing to challenge others, leading to boredom." YEP.

The one thing I have learned is that no matter how great your lesson or your activity- there is always someone who has no idea what you just taught!

And that's where the guided portion of Math Workshop comes in.

Some standout moments-

* Mini-lessons: good for setting the tone and introducing concepts, can be used to summarize the learning that took place, no more than 10 minutes, identify the teaching point, demonstrates/models strategy, students try out strategy in a brief guided practice, teachers need to provide activities for those students who quickly finish so they are actively involved in further learning, end off by reminding students to remember the strategy and link to future work when possible

Love doing mini-lessons, especially when I notice a mis-conception that is common through the entire class as well as when I notice that my students are really getting something...then it's time to push them even further. 

* Word Splashes: I have often used this to start off a math topic and I think it is because of my literacy background, you always go to where you are most comfortable! I have always had my students create the word splash with me, however, I have not presented it to them all at once. That will be something new to try. 

I kind of forgot how much I love Word Splashes....gotta do more of these in the new school year. 

* Math Related Children's Literature:  This is a huge goal for me. I really want to focus on this next year and tie in math related literature as often as possible.

Still a goal...sigh.
Don't you wish you could just do everything?

* Math Huddle:  This has been a focus for my school in the past few years as we have worked towards a problem based teaching model. Our province has been promoting a teaching method known as bansho, which comes from Japan. I like the name Math Huddle much better! This is also a goal for me. I want to be more comfortable discussing my student's math understandings on the fly and in class as their problem solving takes place. I like the idea that students are "held accountable for expressing their ideas and listening thoughtfully to each other and justifying their mathematical thinking". 

As I stated above...LOVE. LOVE. LOVE.

And now for the freebie(s)!

In the winter I completed a course on teaching mathematics to primary/junior students and I was required to create three three-part lessons (say that three times fast!) for my final assignment. It's based on the Ontario Mathematics Curriculum for Grade 3 but if you know your own curriculum well enough I'm sure you'll be able to see if they are usable/adaptable for you. They might also just be good to look at for an example of how to plan a three-part lesson for your whole class. 

Click HERE to download the lessons. 

If you head over to my TPT store you'll also be able to download a free Three-Part Lesson Plan Template

Don't forget to check out all the other posts by my fellow book study hosts....

And enter to win!
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

100 Minutes- My Thoughts on Chapter 7 "The Foundation of Independence"

Another amazing post and fabulous chapter.
Thanks to Brenda from Primary Inspired for hosting Chapter 7. 

A great friend of mine in transitioning from many years in Grade 6 to Grade 3 next year (hello Sonia!!) and as I read through this chapter my first thoughts were, 
"Yes!! Sonia is going to love this and wow will it really help!"

And of course I texted that to her right away!
Love you, Sonia. 

It's funny. A fellow teacher asked me how I ended up picking this book for the book study and it's strange. I hadn't seen it anywhere else, or read a review of it. While I was browsing the Pembroke Publishers website it stuck out for me, I asked one of the reps about it and thought it sounded good...and here we are.

Aren't you glad I happened across this book by chance? 

I sure am!

So on to my thoughts about the book. Here are some things that really stood out for me...
Reading and Writing Cycle

Throughout my reading of the book I've been a little concerned (but keeping it to myself) about the idea that students would do 2 days of a reading cycle and then 2 days of a writing cycle.

Would this mean that they wouldn't have 
independent reading or writing 

But upon reading through this chapter I have decided to let go of my concerns and when September comes to go with the outline of the 100 Minutes framework. Everything makes so much sense and I am ridiculously in love with the idea of intentional sequencing that I MUST give the framework a fair chance before I attempt any kind of adaptation.

On page 107 Lisa talk about the "triangulation of student data" which is  HUGE thing in my board right now.
Using observations, conversations and products to assess and evaluate our students is so important. I have found in recent years that I am much more comfortable with this type of assessment and have learned so much more about my students as learners.

One of my goals for the coming year is to have my students track a personal goal for their own writing. It's something that I have read a lot about and have really wanted to try but just haven't done yet. Silly me.


A lot of this chapter reminded me of The Daily 5 and the importance of building stamina and practicing routines in order to set the stage for a successful literacy block. If you haven't read the chapters in The Daily 5 where the Sisters discuss the first days/weeks of the year and setting up your routines and developing the students' stamina- I recommend getting your hands on a copy and checking it out. 
So worthwhile.

If you're like me and have read it...then re-read it.
There is nothing more important than the first days/weeks of your literacy block.

Using Book Boxes

Lisa talks about giving your students some time to browse and select up to 6 books for their book boxes prior to starting your independent reading routine (page 111). This is something I haven't really tried before, book boxes I mean, and it something I really want to do this coming school year.
Starting Independent Reading First...
Then Independent Writing

In my class and in my experience, it's better to start reading first and get a routine somewhat established before starting independent writing. 
You may disagree and that's ok!
One of the best things about teaching is that we all have the opportunity to try it our own way.
Somethings I'm going to consider over the summer:

Writer's Notebooks? 
Artifact Box? 
Writing Inspiration Board?
Family survey- "What did you write today?" (weekly homework?)
Reading logs?
Genre challenge- when to start? how will my program fit in to the 100 Minutes framework

I'm going to end with my favourite quote from this chapter...

"When you invest time in establishing routines for independent reading and independent writing, students will understand that the work they do independently is just as important as the work they do when working directly with the teacher."
(Page 116)

What was your favourite part of this chapter?

Don't forget to link up with your post and
 thoughts on Chapter 7.

Emily from Emmy Mac's Class on June 21st.

Stay tuned for Chapter 8- Small Group Learning. really should head over to Learning with Mrs. Leeby and checkout the amazing giveaway she has going on.
I heard a little something about Tiffany earrings!!


Tuesday, June 17, 2014

100 Minutes- Chapter 7- The Foundation of Independence

Oh my long time book study friend, Brenda from Primary Inspired is hosting Chapter 7!

I have never been disappointed by anything the Brenda has shared on her blog or during a book study. She'll have some great insights for, her book study on Guided Math Conferences starts soon. 

Can't wait for that!

Say hi to Brenda for me and I'll see you all tomorrow.

Saturday, June 14, 2014

100 Minutes- My Thoughts on Chapter 6- Exploring Different Purposes and Audiences

Thanks to Erin from A Piece of the Apple for hosting Chapter 6.
Well done!

Didn't you just LOVE this chapter?
I mean so much that it requires all capital letters?

I did...and I needed to make a new graphic just to express my love!
This whole chapter just spoke to corny as that sounds, and it made me so excited to get back to school in September! 
(And yes, I know the year is wrapping up for a lot of you and you are looking forward to a well deserved break, but I've been on mat leave since September 16th and I am ready to work again!)

There were quite a few quotes that really stuck out for me and made me think as I read through this chapter.

On page 79 it says, "students need opportunities to become disciplined thinkers so that they can learn how to communicate their ideas effectively."

Isn't that so true and really the definition of a literate citizen? Especially nowadays with so much social media and methods of communicating with others. Students need to think about how they are communicating, what they are communicating, if they should be sharing the information they want to share and with who...the list could go on and on.

Using Writing Prompts

I love using prompts with my students because so many of them do struggle with getting started and often a prompt can jump start their thinking. The prompt cards provided by Lisa through out this chapter for "Recall and Reflect", "Entertaining Ideas", "Inform Me!"  and "HOT Topic" are amazing. I am looking forward to not only using them with my students but taking some time to brainstorm our own prompts as well. 

The Artifact Box (page 80-81)

First of all, this idea is genius and I am super sad that I have never thought of it before. I'd love to tell you all about it...but I'd rather you grabbed a copy of Lisa's book and read it through for yourself. 
Long story short...a box of tangible writing ideas!


Writing to Reflect

This section was by far my favourite of the whole chapter. Writing retells and recounts can get very boring very quickly so I am glad to see that Lisa has provided a graphic organizer (p 89) to prompt students to delve deeper into their experiences when writing a recount.

I am very interested in thinking more about this as an ongoing project/assignment throughout the year...but more on that at the end of my post!

Sample Success Criteria

Throughout this chapter Lisa provides lists of possible success criteria for each of the purposes of writing and they are awesome. This is something I always struggle with as I want to have a list prepared before my students and I co-create the anchor chart so that I can help to guide them towards the criteria they need to know and understand. 

I also loved how Lisa words the success criteria as "I am learning how to write..." and then each criteria starts with "I will...". So positive and affirming for students.

Emily from Emmy Mac's Class shared a great example of how she has her students deconstruct a piece of writing using the success criteria in her post on Chapter 5 of 100 Minutes. If you have checked it out, it's awesome. 

If you click here you can grab a freebie I created last year for writing that contains the success criteria for a procedure that my class I brainstormed. 

Guiding Questions

Along with the lists of sample success criteria Lisa provides a list of guiding questions that teachers can use when teaching each of the purposes of writing or conferring with their students. 
Each list is designed to fit with the sample success criteria that when made into task cards (do I see a freebie coming?) they would be very helpful for both teachers and students during the independent writing and conferring time.

Media Integration

Lisa provides a lot of ideas to think about how media can be integrated into our writing lessons in order to provide authentic writing experiences for our students. I am really enjoying that as so often media is seen as an add-on when if it is integrated effectively it can be a powerful teaching tool.

WHEW!! I have been typing so love for this chapter has just been flowing out of me.

So what's next?

* I am very interested in developing a Writing to Reflect program that can last throughout the school year and be used across the subject areas. I want to go back and re-read that section of this chapter and start brainstorming ideas. There are a lot of expectations dealing with metacognition in the Ontario Curriculum and I think a consistent writing assignment such as this will keep my students thinking about their own learning as they grow over the course of the year.

* More time needs to be spent looking at the guiding questions and sample success criteria to make sure that I have cemented my own knowledge of the purposes of writing. I want to create some checklists, task cards, reminder prompts...something that will help my students to really understand each of the purposes of writing as well as provide for myself a reminder of good questions to pose during conferences.

*What are some areas where I can effectively integrate my student's writing, media use and subject area learning?

*How do I plan to organize my student's writing? Portfolios? Writer's Notebooks?

*What will be the year long plan for writing in my class? Since I am moving to a new school in the fall I will need to look into the curriculum mapping done by my new Grade 3 colleagues.

Don't forget to link up with your post...I am super excited to see what everyone else thinks too.

The incredible Brenda from Primary Inspired!

She will be talking all about Chapter 7- The Foundation of Independence.

Hope you are having a relaxing time if you are already on summer break...and if not, hang in there! 

It'll be your turn soon.

In other news....I'll also be contributing to the Guided Math Conferences Book Study that starts soon.

Here is the schedule.

As you can see I'll be hosting Chapter 1 with....
 Brenda from Primary Inspired!!
Whooo hooo!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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