Check out my guest post over at Lisa McCleod’s blog about why you should be using interactive notebooks in your classroom TODAY!
Check out my guest post over at Lisa McCleod’s blog about why you should be using interactive notebooks in your classroom TODAY!
Last year, in the middle of my third year teaching 6th grade math, I was approached by my middle school’s instructional coach about a new (to me at the time!) model of teaching called math workshop. The general idea was that students would be placed in small groups that would rotate through different stations, or centers, throughout the class period.
I’m not going to lie, I was pretty skeptical at first. It was a little overwhelming to think about completely overhauling the structure of my everyday classroom routines, and in the middle of the school year none the less! Pair that with the fact that I coach high school baseball in the spring, and I was envisioning what would have been close to zero free time dwindling into the negative numbers! Ultimately I decided to give it a try, and am I glad that I did. I truly believe it has benefited all of my students.
Math workshop can be set up in a lot of ways, depending on what works for that teacher and their students. So let me start by telling you about what I have been doing in my classroom. This year, because I have smaller class sizes of around 22 students, each of my classes are divided into four groups of 5 to 6 students. Last year I had larger class sizes, so I had them rotate through five centers. In general, I create groups based on the level of the students. I have thought about mixing the groups up, but I really like how I am able to differentiate instruction when the groups are based on how well the students are understanding the material. The four centers include a center at the front table with me, a homework center, a technology/hands-on center, and a problem solving center. I teach four classes that are 60 minutes each, so after accounting for a 10 minute warm-up problem, a very brief introduction to the lesson and a wrap-up at the end of class, I have about 10-12 minutes for each center. Below is a chart I made to keep track of groups and stations. I also have a document posted that shows what color group each student is in. So you might be asking yourself, what do each of these centers include?
Teacher Center: This is BY FAR the most important center for students and really the number one reason why I decided to switch to a math workshop structure. It benefits the struggling and advanced students in so many ways, not to mention all of the students in between! For my struggling students, I am able to work essentially one-on-one, in their small group, to see what they aren’t understanding. With these students, I start with basic problems, which I have ready ahead of time, and work up from there. For my advanced students, I have spent a lot of time creating enrichment problems for various topics. I sometimes have these higher groups do one regular problem, just to make sure they’ve got it, and then they begin on the enrichment questions for the day. Here is a link to the enrichment questions I use! I laminate and cut out six copies to have ready, so each student has their own. Originally I had students working in their notebooks at this station, but I recently switched to white boards…and am I glad I did! Just be sure you order enough dry-erase markers…I learned the hard way this year and am already running out!
Homework Center: I always have students head to this center directly after they have met with me at the teacher center. This is their chance to practice what we have just learned at the previous station. We use a textbook series for our math curriculum, so my assignments are usually 10-15 problems from the lesson we covered that day. The issue that arises with this center is that you will have one group that needs to start their day at homework, without having gone to the teacher center. I have my advanced group always start here, since they can usually do the homework with little introduction. Then by the time they get to my station at the end, they have practiced on the homework and are ready for the enrichment problems!
Tech/Hands-on Center: This center by far is the most loosely defined (and sometimes the hardest to plan for!). Our school IMC has iPads available to check out, so usually on Thursdays and Fridays I have students play math apps (from a list I have pre-selected!) on six of the iPads that I have checked out. On days without the iPads it varies greatly. A lot of times, at this center, I will incorporate math games that either review a past concept or relate to what we have recently learned. Other times I will create a more hand-on activity for them to complete. For example, when multiplying fractions, I had students use fraction dice and cards to create their own problems. They wrote their work on the answer sheet (FREE!) found here.
Problems-Solving Center: This center can also fluctuate a bit. I usually have students working on these awesome (and once again free!) Problems of the Month, which are from the Inside Mathematics website. These problems are progressively more challenging applications of recently learned concepts and skills. I print and laminate six copies of one of these problems to have ready to go at that center. Students have about a week to work on each problem. The great part is that there are different levels, from easy to difficult, so students can work at their own pace.
Some common questions arise about starting math workshop, so I will try my best to answer a few. One of the most common is how and if students stay on task at all the different rotations. This was my biggest concern going into math workshop. After using math workshop for about a year now, I’ve found that if anything it has been easier for kids to stay on task. By moving around and changing activities every 10-15 minutes, it helps them get a quick movement break and refocus on a new activity. Sure, there will always be behavior issues at times, but these behavior issues probably would have occurred if students were being asked to sit through a “normal” class and work time. Setting up routines at the beginning is very important and I have already done a better job this year compared to last year. I’m sure, like everything in teaching, I will find a way to make it that much better next year. I also use a behavior system where the class starts with four letters, P-U-M-A. If I need to take away all four letters for not following expectations, then we lose math workshop for the next day. This is pretty good motivation for them, especially when we are planning to use iPads the next day!
Another question that comes up is the amount of preparation. To be honest, it is quite a bit of preparation up front. Having a bank of math games and some form of technology for the technology/hands-on center has been important for me. I do spend a lot of outside the classroom time getting things ready and creating activities, but it hasn’t been completely overwhelming. I have been using math workshop for less than a year and I am already starting to notice less preparation because of materials I have ready to go!
If you plan to start a math workshop structure in your class, my advice would be to find what works for you! I know some teachers who don’t have a schedule that allows every group to go to every center each day, so they have them go to one or two centers per day. As far as I am concerned there isn’t one right way to use math workshop. I would love to hear any ideas or answer any questions that you have in the comment section below!
Today I am bringing you a guest post by a NEW blogging friend of mine. Tanya Villacis has become so excited about integrating Interactive Notebooks with her students that she has spent a great deal of time creating new flippables to make this year go so much smoother for her kiddos! Sit back, enjoy some coffee and read about her secrets to a great year!
Well it’s that time of year. Brand new pencils needing to be sharpened…freshly cut fabric sitting in the back of our cars for bulletin boards….new work outfits hanging in our closets. Back to school is among us. Summer is coming to a close and that twinge in our stomach is starting to set in. It’s not the sensation of sadness because we can longer sleep in till 9:00 (….okay maybe a little), but more the prospect of starting anew. A new school year calls for reflecting on the year before. There are always the grand successes and the unfortunate blunders that force educators to make decisions for the new batch of kiddos coming in. I’m still not over my colossal fail of a science experiment with butter and 44 students. Need I say more?
One new addition that I implemented to my teaching style this past year was flippables. THESE ARE MY RIDE OR DIE. I’ve used interactive notebooks for a few years now, but just recently dove into flippables.
What’s the secret to cutting doors and gluing paper that makes learning so much more fun for students? Whether it’s the flippable fairies sprinkling “engagement dust” on their little heads or the fluorescent cardstock I insist on using that is hypnotizing them, my students enjoy flippables. From my perspective they are more apt to take notes when using them and can really digest the massive amounts of knowledge I shovel down their little throats (thanks standardized testing).
I had great fun purchasing already made flippables on TPT throughout the school year when needed; however I reached a road block when teaching Earth’s rotation in science. OK….anyone who has taught Earth’s revolution and rotation knows my pain. Why do the curriculum gods insist on teaching such abstract concepts to 9 and 10 years old? I needed way more resources than the science textbook offered, but couldn’t find anything online.
Enter the lovely Jennifer and her IMPRESSIVE pack of flippables. This pack has EVERYTHING you could ever want. With extensive formats and options, making your own foldables tailored to your students’ needs, while aligned to your state’s curriculum (WOW, THAT’S A MOUTH FULL) is just a few clicks away.
It took me literally 30 minutes to put together 3 foldables for my students. With them we were able to really grasp the concept of Earth’s rotation and the connection to the seasons.
*Click on the picture above to learn more about this resource*
Of course there was also a hands-on component to strengthen understanding. I found squishy balls at Dollar Tree with a globe pattern. We poked a push pin on Florida and then took flashlights (representing the Sun) and modeled the rotation of Earth. SUCCESS. Mental light bulbs were going off all around my room that science lesson…or maybe it was all the flashlights that made it appear so bright.
Since that glorious science lesson I have made flippables for other various topics and subjects…Like these little guys…
You can find these products in my TpT store by clicking the images.
Be sure to check out Jennifer’s pack of templates. Thanks Jen for making our lives easier with your templates and thank you for giving me the opportunity to guest post.
Have a great 2014-2015 school year!
DIVIDE, CONQUER, AND MAKE A FLIPPABLE.
Hmmmm, Something is amiss here.
I bet you’re feeling the same way the kids feel when they walk in, see a substitute, and think: What have you done with the person who is normally here when I arrive?!
By now you have figured out that Jennifer is off doing an assortment of fun things, and some of her Blog Friends have stepped in while she is away. Today it’s my turn. I’m Kim from Finding JOY in Sixth Grade… and I’ve never shared a post on anyone else’s blog before. The thought always made me nervous. But when Jennifer asked me to chat a bit at 4mulaFun, I decided to set aside my fears and just jump in and say Hi. So…
|My favorite Janda Manatee font by Kimberly Geswein can be found HERE|
Jennifer gave me the freedom to write about whatever I wanted (as long as it was related to math, I’m assuming). So, I am taking the easy way out and talking about HER and how getting to know her has influenced the way I teach math to my students. Here’s what I have learned about Jennifer…
1. Jennifer is passionate about math. She truly loves making products and activities that help other teachers teach math in a way that makes sense for kids. I appreciate that about her. She simply enjoys what she does. When I have spare time, I usually eat ice cream and watch meaningless TV. Jennifer, on the other hand, has been filling her time making grade level math units. I already have this one and I can’t wait for more!
2. Jennifer knows that we don’t all learn in the same way. Just like we do for our students, she considers the needs of her audience. Keeping in mind diverse learners (like me!) who really need to SEE things, Jennifer posts videos on YouTube so that you can watch her explain how to effectively use notebooking in your classroom. If you haven’t seen it already, click the graphic below to go to a great video on setting up Interactive Notebooks…
3. Jennifer has amazing ideas for Interactive Math notebooks. Her flippables are a huge hit in my classroom and I want to share with you the way we use (and re-use!) her flippable for place value…
We made the place value pockets in my class and added them to our math notebooks. We discussed the concepts and talked about what “place value” really means. For many of my students, the kinesthetic component of notebooking really helps to cement their understanding.
The following week, when we were reviewing for a quiz, we used these same pockets in the form of a game. The goal is to beat your partner by placing the numbers in the pockets and “making” the number with the greatest value.
Students worked with two or three partners for this activity. The first player rolled 2 dice. This determined how many “places” they would need to fill–and how many “number cards” each player would take. The person who rolled the dice also chose the place in which the number would end.
In this example, Carly rolled a (total of) five. The number must
include at least one decimal place… and she chose to have the 5-digit number
end in the thousandths place and the game began.
Now here’s where strategy comes into play. Five numbers cards are chosen from the pile (the game comes with lots of numbers–perfect for this game) and the cards remain face down. Selecting one card at a time, the student needs to place the cards strategically to result in a number of the greatest value…
First up was a 0. Smart choice to put it in the thousandths place.
Then a 4. Not large enough to “use” in a higher place, but a lower number would be better in the hundredths place… so she aimed for the middle!
Ah. The next card was a six. Not an 8 or a 9, but it could be worse, so the choice was made to place the card in the ones place.
Uh oh. That pick was a 3. Best to fill up the hundredths place and hope for a large number for the tens place.
WooHoo. An 8 is a good choice. Perfect for the tens place. It’s looking good!
But… Let’s see what how her partner, Sam, arranged his number cards…
Now, to win, the person with the number of greatest value has to read the number correctly to win the round. Sam read “eighty-nine AND three hundred thirty-nine thousandths… and won the round!
To me, the mark of a good product is versatility. And this one is designed so that there are opportunities for whole group, partner work, and independent review. I’m sure there are other ways to use this set as well, but this was a favorite with my sixth graders.
I enjoyed visiting at 4mulaFun today. It was fun being able to hang out with “the math kids” for a bit. And the next time you’re in the neighborhood, I hope you’ll stop by Finding JOY in Sixth Grade and say hello…
Enjoy some fun from some friends of mine this week (with the Interactive Notebook Linky by me) as I am away training some Georgia teachers!
First up is my Sparkly Ninja friend… Mr. Hughes!
I was thrilled when my good friend 4mulaFun asked me to guest post here. So you get to hear from me while she is off adventuring and doing workshops and such!
Let me start by introducing myself. You may know me as MrHughes or Created by MrHughes on the “web”. I am an upper elementary teacher, teaching computers for 1 year, 5th for 3 years, and 6th for 7 years before becoming the language arts (writing) and science teacher for the past two years to the 4th, 5th, and 6th grade students.
Phew! Add to that my six children and amazing wife, and you have one interesting daily adventure. I definitely don’t find myself saying anymore is that “there is nothing to do”. I am either playing with my 2 year old or being Taxi dad to my 13 year old, and everything in between. I LOVE IT! WAHOO!
The past week I headed back to the trenches, as they say. I am okay with going “back”. I miss being able to work on personal projects at home and spending time with my children, but nothing beats working with kiddos and watching them get a concept or skill!
I don’t know about you, but I spend a lot of time during the summer months pondering a good theme to use. With my homeroom class being the 6th grade, I try to be less cutesy. In the past I have done Indiana Jones, Star Wars, Looney Tunes, and others. These were all successful and fun. Last year, because I had an especially hard class, I wanted to choose my theme a bit more carefully this year. After bouncing around a lot of ideas, my administrator sent me a song that she thought I might enjoy. Turns out she was right! I DID enjoy it. In fact, I enjoyed it so much I based my theme off of it!
This year my classroom theme is BRAVE! I based it on the SONG by Sara Bareilles. This song has the most amazing lyrics, and I knew that I wanted to work with my students on being “BRAVE“.
I started by making a bulletin board in the hallway. (Well, actually, in full disclosure, my wife makes pretty much everything I use. Glad she loves me!) On the board, we wrote “I wanna see you be BRAVE!”.
I added the students names around it. Then we wrote words and phrases from the song around the board. I like how it turned out, I just wish the words would have stood out better. We have used chalk in the past but decided to use white crayon this year because the students smear the chalk during recess- little stinkers!
Then, inside my room, we made another board. She wrote BRAVE vertically in white crayon outlined in white chalk. It really made it stand out. I originally covered the rest of the words that I choose for each letter to represent with black paper so the students didn’t even know there were words there.
I knew I wanted to do a lyric study with my students on the first day of school. They needed to KNOW the power of the words in this song. We listened to the song (just the song), and they made notes of words or phrases that really stood out to them.
We shared and discussed what they gleaned from the song.
Next we watched a video version. I chose not to use the original video linked above, as I felt the dancing would distract them from what the song was saying. After all, they are 6th graders. There is a LYRICAL version that I used. Again, they listened and made notes on words or phrases that stuck in their minds. Again, they shared with a partner and with the class.
For the final listen, I handed them a lyric sheet and they highlighted words and phrases that really stuck out to them. For the final time we shared their findings.
Next, I handed out a collection sheet with BRAVE down the side of the page. Students worked alone or together to gather words that described the class and started with that letter. So, for “B”, they wrote words like Brilliant.
After they had good-sized collections, I unveiled MY words for BRAVE.
These are the words I wanted them to have for goals this year. They added those words to their collections.
To end the activity, I gave them a 1/2 sheet with BRAVE down the side and they created mini-boards with the words THEY thought would work well for our class this year.
I hung those up next to the class words. (You can see that a few students still need to finish… ha ha).
I am excited to use this THEME this year. I have already selected 3 more songs that we will do a lyric study on each month for the next three months that support the idea of BRAVE.
What about you? What is your theme?
Go on, don’t be shy- SHARE!
Cheers (and thank you to 4mulaFun for having me)-
Hello! I’m Ari from The Science Penguin. Big thanks to Jennifer for allowing me to do a guest post today on interactive notebooks.
I started using science notebooks my first year teaching. It was a bit of a mess, but I’ve developed some tips and tricks since then. Starting off the year with notebooks is usually pretty smooth, but maintaining them throughout the year can be accomplished easily with a few tricks.
I’m going to share 5 ways to help your students maintain meaningful notebooks.
Tip 1: Chances are pretty good you will get at least one new student. I’ve gotten anywhere between 1 and 7 new students throughout the year in my homeroom. Trying to catch them up with notebook expectations can be difficult if you don’t have the supplies ready. Depending on the student population trends at my school, I make extra notebooks before school starts or that first week for any new students.
Tip 2: Before starting a unit, I like to think about what entries I want students to complete. What questions should they be able to answer? What labs or activities will they record in their notebooks? What sort of fold-ups will we do for notetaking? Answering these questions usually lead to a variety of meaningful notebooking activities.
Tip 3: I don’t know about you, but I like to use a lot of little bits and pieces when notebooking. If something doesn’t get completed, paper can be stored in an envelope attached to the notebook. You can use a small manila envelope or even just make one out of paper.
Tip 4: I will have 3 classes of science next year and want to make sure their notebooks stay in shape and are always available. Instead of storing each class’s notebooks in one container, each of the 5 groups in each class have their own container. That means having 15 containers, but they are easy to access and clean up. I am using the containers shown below from Really Good Stuff for the first time next year.
|Containers from Really Good Stuff|
Tip 5: Keep a notebook along with the students. If you teach multiple classes, you may only be able to really maintain one notebook. You can model filling out the Table of Contents each time and keeping pages organized.
If you’re using Interactive Science Notebooks, stop by my blog to see more about how I use them.
Howdy! I’m Elizabeth Hodges from Hodges Herald.
I am so excited to guest blog today for Jennifer. We both seem to be obsessed with interactive notebooks. I am starting my 20th year in August. I have taught kindergarten, first, second-fifth math, and now I am a middle school math teacher. I have used math notebooks with all ages. Recently though, the extent of my use has flourished.
I started the second semester of my first year in middle school. I had to do something, middle school and middle schoolers were kicking my butt. INBs made teaching fun again for me.
I started slow. We made some resource pages, and then used them for notes and warm ups. We did a lot of foldables which the students really enjoyed. That was about the extent that first try.
Then I found blogging and found so many more resources on line.
My second year in 6th grade, we used them daily. My students knew the routine and we rarely waivered from it.
That’s not to say we made something everyday, that is not possible. But, they had it on the desk everyday. This way they had a reference when working on things. If I asked a question and someone couldn’t answer it, my next question was “where can you find the answer?” I would wait until someone opened their notebook and found the answer.
I teach 6 classes a day, 50 minutes in length. That time flies by. To successfully incorporate the interactive part of math notebooks, the key is to be prepared and organized.
I spent some of last summer stalking, searching, no stalking is accurate, blogs and finding so much out there on this topic. I took what I could and made it work for me.I truly think this is key. Do not try and be the super teacher you see on the Internet.
Planning: My planning starts with this. Just a good old fashion yellow pad. I listed subjects I teach. Then, I went through my notebook from last year and jotted stuff down. I also keep this handy when I see things on the Internet. I have also learned to revisit all my pins on Pinterest. I just pin away and forget about some of the great stuff I want to try.
I plan the actual notebook layout with these two documents.
The evolution of my INB’s:
Year 1 (half a year actually):
We used 97 pages. Student notebooks were much thicker because they kept their completed work inside them.
For year 3:
This upcoming school year, I am trying binders. I want larger paper for my kids. I also want to include different type pockets. This was an issue when keeping loose papers in the composition notebooks. Not sure how it will pan out, but I will try anything once.
The cover is my first Math activity with my students. I want them to love numbers. Click here for a free copy of it.
I hope that you will love note booking and if you haven’t started, I hope this will give you some place to begin. Make it work for you! Be sure to check out Jennifer’s INB’s link parties as well. There are some fantastic ideas for all subjects there!