Thursday, July 31, 2014

Guided Math in Action - Chapter 7

Can you believe today is the last day of July???

I've been working feverishly to accomplish my summer goals. It seems like summer is slipping away--and I know it has already for some of you! CRAZY!

I'm glad you're back for the book study. We are closing in on this thing too...only two more chapters after this one!

Before we jump in to chapter seven, I played around with my lesson plan template. I started thinking that my whole group lesson would already be on my weekly lesson plans, so I didn't need to rewrite it on my math group plans. Instead I made a template that would work with one group for the entire week...saves some paper that way too! The other one is still available if you'd like it, click here. Click the picture to grab the new one.

This chapter takes a closer look at the five components that build mathematical proficiency. 

Conceptual Understanding - students know what they are doing on a conceptual level, requires we have a toolkit available with different manipulatives and tools

Procedural Fluency - students understand how to do mathematical procedures and know when and how to use them to solve problems

Strategic Competence* - students are able to solve problems and represent their thinking

Adaptive Reasoning* - students can think logically about math and they can explain and justify what they are doing

Mathematical Disposition - includes confidence, flexibility, perseverance, interest, inventiveness, appreciation, reflection, and monitoring

Now, forgive me as I climb up on my soap box(es).

*Strategic Competence - "Strategic competence stresses that students don't just go straight for the answer but rather look for a "pathway" to find the solution... (pg. 90)." 

I think it is great for us to teach students a variety of strategies and models to solve problems and give them opportunities to practice those strategies and models; however, as an adult mathematician I certainly don't try a bunch of models and strategies to solve problems. I have my favorites, and I use them. I expect my students will be the same way as they begin to develop problem-solving skills.

*In regards to adaptive reasoning, this is where I've seen the biggest complaints about the new Common Core math standards. It is as if some teachers are either not explaining this well to the students, who then are not able to explain it to their parents, or it is just completely misunderstood. 

I've actually had people say the new Common Core math standards are bad because it doesn't matter if kids have the wrong answer as long as they can show you how they did it. 


Someone is confused. 

I can't believe any teacher would congratulate the thinking process of a wrong answer and do nothing to guide the student to the correct answer. 

Instead, by having students show their thinking, we are able to understand where errors are taking place and help them correct it. Students "proving it" as discussed in the chapter are challenged to put their answers to the test. It does not mean we, as teachers, sit back and watch them conclude the wrong answer, congratulate them for their nice pictures, and send them on their merry way!

Climbing off my soap box sorry!


Not enough! As I mentioned in the last chapter post, I sometimes felt that "concrete" step was a waste of time. Why? Because I understand math. I'm a numbers gal. However, after reading this book, I'm thinking about that conceptual understanding in a whole new way. I will definitely be doing more of this next year!


My students use a lot of numbers and pictures to model their thinking. I believe where I have lacked is in giving students a chance to share their thinking (in words). I'm looking forward to doing this in my guided math groups this year.

I'll leave you with my favorite quote from this chapter.
"Success breeds success and confidence (pg. 95)." 

Head on over to visit the girls at Adventures in Guided Math. They have some great freebies for you!

If you missed the previous chapters, you can see them by clicking below.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Wisdom for Wednesday-Doing What you Love

Welcome to this week's: 

Crystal and I got together the other day and you know what happens when teachers get together even as friends.  You know that you talk about school stuff.  Well, we were catching up and of course also started talking about this coming year and things we were going to do in the classroom.  A young gal was by us and stated that it was so nice to hear teachers talking like this and seeing us excited for a new school year.  She said that she could remember being in school and having teachers that you could just tell that they didn't want to be there and just weren't excited anymore.  I admit that I do enjoy my summers and breaks that I have, don't get me wrong and it is hard to go back and get back into the routine especially since you have been on your own schedule the whole summer.  Although, I do still get excited about starting a new year with a new bunch of little ones and to see your last bunch and how much they have grown over the summer.  Crystal and I made a little pact a long time ago that if either one of us get to that point where we are burned out (because we all know that teaching can be very hard) and we lose the excitement, we will tell each other it is time to go do something else.  Anyways, I came across this quote after the incident with the young gal and thought it was very fitting.   

Hope you have a great day! 

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

New Planner - My birthday present to me!

I'm linking up with Barb for show-and-tell to show off my new planner, a birthday present to myself that actually arrived on my birthday (last Friday). You can't beat that timing!

It is the Family Planner from Plum Paper Designs on Etsy.

I'm so stinkin' excited about this thing! I'll give you a peek inside down below, but let me show you first why I wanted this planner.

Take a peek at the binder/planner I used last year:

I added these weekly planner pages to my binder because I wanted it all in one place. I didn't want a planner for home and one for school. The problem was that the binder was too big and bulky to take to and from school, so I left it at school every day.

I also had a blog planner. Take a look:

You can see that the blog planner slowly became a lot of wasted paper. The last picture is fuzzy because the only thing I write in there now is our income and expenses for our TPT and TN store.

Don't get me wrong. I think some people need a blog serious bloggers. Not someone like me.

Okay, now for the inside of my planner and why I am loving it!

First, it is small enough to fit in my purse so I will be able to take it back and forth to school in my school bag with no problems.

Second, it has stickers. ;-)
(I'm easy to please, ha!)

The Mondays are covered up because that is my bills and I'm sure that is boring to you.

I made a key of my color-coding stickers until I can remember what color is for each of us.

Okay, now for my favorite thing about this planner!

Custom sections on my weekly view! Hooray! You can customize seven sections. 

Notice I left the first one blank. I really wanted it to be free for my memory verses--the next few months, I'm working on Psalm 19.

My next sections are fitness, morning, afternoon, evening, blog, and meals.

I love being able to keep track of my workouts (especially now that I'm mixing it up on the BeFit channel with hubby's smart TV).

The morning, afternoon, evening, and meals sections are the easiest way for me to schedule my days.

Did you see the heart by the blog section? That's because I love just having a few lines to jot notes--instead of a whole separate planner. PERFECT!

Thanks for letting me show-and-tell! Check out Barb's linky party for more (hers is hilarious--so much like me I had to laugh and grab the poster).

Monday, July 28, 2014

Monday Made It-Plus Freebie and Discount!

Our school has decided to go to an Owl theme this coming year.  I have done a frog theme for the past 13 years (can you tell I have a hard time with change?).  So when I tried to wrap my brain around a different theme, I started to panic a little because this meant that I was going to have to make a change.  LOL!  But, I will say as I started to make things for the new owl theme I started to get excited and glad that I was finally changing my theme.  It is about time that I did it, don't you think?  

I started doing whole brain last year and loved it!  My rules came from whole brain but were tweeked a bit to fit my classroom.  My Monday Made it is that I made these rules with the decoration of chevron owls and it is a freebie for you!  Just go to TPT or TN to download it for free!

I also decided that since I finally finished my Owl pack that we should make it 50% off for today.  I thought it might be a good idea for the following reasons:

1.  It is getting closer to school and what a great thing to do to help those out looking for decorations for their room.

2.  It would save some of you some money and you wouldn't even have to leave your house to go to a store and get it (I know that we all are using our last days to rest up and the last thing we want to do is to be busy right now).

3.  It is nice for our followers.

4.  It is an editable version-so you could adapt it to your needs in the classroom.

5.  Finally, I just think it would be a nice thing to do!

So, if you are interested, head on over to TPT or TN to download it.  

Hope you have a great day!

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Guided Math in Action - Chapter 6

Good morning! 

I'm glad you came back for chapter six in our book study. I am learning so much through this study and reading all the posts from the other blogs. I hope you are enjoying it, too.

This chapter is all about the actual guided math lessons that we teach our groups. It is packed full of examples, planning sheets, and templates that were very helpful for this newbie. :-)

Dr. Nicki Newton gives eight things the teacher does during a guided math lesson.
1. Presents a brief mini-lesson.
2. Presents a focus for the meeting.
3. Outlines learning expectations.
4. Models or demonstrates the concept.
5. Allows discussion and practice.
6. Monitors the practice time and takes notes.
7. Brings students back together for a debrief.
8. Discusses their next steps (such as practice or homework).

My main take-away from this chapter is that I will need to use more detailed lesson plans for my groups! 

"Guided math lessons follow a particular protocol (pg. 76)."
This stuck out to me because the word protocol was used a lot in the Pathways to Reading training that I just attended. Protocol is important! We can't just pull some students back, throw a lesson together, and hope for the best. Our teaching needs to be very focused and intentional. 

1 and 2

I'll be starting guided math this year, so I haven't used any of those templates yet. 

All of my lesson plans were done on last year. Here's a picture:

Not very detailed, right? 

Even my reading is not detailed and I have reading groups! I knew how I would differentiate for each group (in my head and in group folders...), but after reading this chapter, it makes me want to get more detailed and intentional in my reading groups too. 

I loved using If you aren't familiar with it, it is all online. The best features were the "bump" or "extend" options. It was so easy to make adjustments if needed. Not like my plans I used to make in Word tables...that were all marked up with arrows going everywhere by the end of the week. Then as I typed up the next week, I would have to copy and paste all those lessons that got "bumped" or "extended." I also liked color-coding things. In my plans above, green highlight meant it was in their workbook. Blue was for things that I needed to make sure I had copied for the week. It is only $12 per year.

I may continue to use it as I did last year and add a more detailed lesson plan for my groups (reading and math) on paper.

I took some of the ideas from the book and tried to come up with a lesson plan that I thought would work for me. I am planning to have three groups, but I went ahead and made one template with four. Click on the pictures to download if you would like!



I hadn't realized it until reading this chapter, but Saxon really does a good job of introducing concepts in a concrete way. Lessons then move on to the pictorial level, followed by the abstract level. I'm thinking specifically of how the curriculum introduces adding two digit numbers with dimes and pennies. For me (math-loving girl), it seemed a little confusing and like a waste of time. BUT some of my students really needed this concrete way of learning.

I'm so excited to do guided math this year! It will be so much easier to meet the needs of all my students.

See you back here on Thursday for Chapter 7 - Building Mathematical Proficiency!

If you missed the previous chapters, you can see them by clicking below.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Five for Friday - Happy Bday to me!


Happy Friday! 
I don't usually get in on Five for Friday...only because I usually don't have any pictures!
Well, I had plenty this here is five random things about my week:
It's my birthday! Hubby makes fun of me for "celebrating" all week long. This year I think he just surrendered to it and gave me a birthday card every day! LOL! The first four were kind of goofy, but the one on the left was for today (my actual birthday) and it was SO sweet!
Any followers of Amanda at Teaching Maddeness? If not, you should be! Run over there and check out her series on homework. I was so excited to see her post on math homework. I had been wanting to go to a "game" type homework. Check this out:

Amanda has already "invented" it. It was a steal of a deal at $3.99! Those are all my instruction cards, printed on colored cardstock, cut and waiting to be introduced to my students. They are going to love it!

Wow! This picture is kind of blurry...this is the beginning of my classroom set-up. I just had to see what it looked like with fewer desks! Last year I had 23 students. This year I am expecting 16 (or so). My classroom is sooooo small. I'm hoping I won't be stepping on, I mean over students this year.


Here's a few other things I accomplished this week in my room. Top picture is my music bulletin board. My son has been working tirelessly on it! So thankful for him! When school starts, each of the K-2 kiddos will have a "note" on the board. Middle picture is my door decoration. My daughter tackled that one! Again, so thankful for such great kids. And finally, the beginning of my Daily 5 anchor charts...all ready for those first days as we go over each one as a class.

I know, I know. You've been seeing Jamberry everywhere. I'm here to tell you there is a reason! Someone like me--who never paints my fingernails because I mess them up the same day and doesn't like to spend the time and money in a salon--can have cute fingernails.
I'm not selling, but I am definitely buying them! Ha! In fact, I'm hosting an online Facebook* party right now to try to earn some free wraps. If you are curious about Jamberry, joining my event (I thought I could link to the event, but it doesn't seem to be let me know if you'd like an invite) will give you all the information you need. Plus my consultant is Tori from Tori's Teacher Tips! There's no pressure to buy, you can just play along with us and see what all the fuss is about. :-)

That wraps up my Five for Friday. Head on over to Doodle Bugs to link up.

*If you are familiar with Facebook and having a fan page, I'd love to ask you a few questions if you're willing! See our e-mail icon in the upper right corner.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

Guided Math in Action - Chapter 5

Welcome back for chapter five of our book study!

Before I jump into this chapter, Sarah and Courtney have big news from Dr. Nicki Newton. Check it out here!

Assessments! Oh my!

This chapter was all about having a balanced assessment plan in place. I especially enjoyed this chapter because one of my professional development goals this year is centered around data driven instruction. 

A couple of things that stood out to me:

"Often there is a discrepancy between what students think they know and what they actually know (pg. 55)"
Um...YES! My experience is only with first and second graders, but I have often found that some of my students over-estimate their understanding of a concept.

"Students need to know where they are and where they need to be and what the plan is to get there (pg. 55)."
This was actually said a lot in this chapter in several different ways! Why? Because it is so important! I found this last year when I did this with my struggling readers, they were much more motivated to practice and apply themselves during our small group time. 

Love the two sided folder idea (in fact had pinned this recently).

Math data folders were also mentioned. I had seen a post before the study began by Brittany at Excelling in Second (she's doing the study too) that had me thinking about data folders and what I would want to include in mine.


Part of growth is admitting failure, right? Well, I have to say that I hadn't been doing ANY pre-assessments. This will be my fifth year teaching and I have always just followed my curriculum for math. I knew which lessons we didn't need to spend much time on or which ones I would need to supplement and extend, but no formal pre-assessments.

Ongoing assessments were also a weak area for me. In the way I structured the math block, finding time to conference with students and do oral assessments was a challenge. I'm excited about the math workshop approach and how it will free me up to do more of this.

Summative assessments, such as chapter tests, were done a lot at the beginning of the year. Saxon has a test every five lessons! I did them faithfully at first and then decided it was just too much "testing." I started doing the tests after every ten lessons instead. Now I can see that using those assessments in a different way might make more sense. As I mentioned in my last post, I'm still wrapping my head around how I will be able to use my curriculum with the guided math structure.


This is a little hard for me to answer right now because I need to really do some thinking about Saxon and guided math.

I know I will start doing pre-assessments!
I also know that I will start doing more ongoing assessments, such as anecdotals, checklists, and conferences.

As far as summative assessments, I definitely want to add in a self-reflection. It might take some training in order to get the kiddos to give an honest reflection, but I know it will help them to think about where they are (and where they are going).

I promise when I have this all figured out, I will definitely let you in on my more specific plan (though it will very likely evolve throughout the year)! ;-)

Thanks for stopping by! Please don't let me think I'm the only one who needs to work on this assessment thing. Leave me comments and suggestions below! 

In case you missed them, here are the links to the previous chapters.

I'll be back on Sunday with chapter six!

Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Wisdom for Wednesday - Embrace the Day

Good morning!

Today I'm going to get a little personal with you. I'm going to let you in on one, okay two, of my character flaws.

1. I am a major homebody.
2. I am slightly obsessive.

Those who know me well may possibly be nodding and giggling at this point, but let me explain.

I have seen a couple of quotes on Pinterest lately that have really stuck with me. Here's one of them:

I've been considering that quote a lot this summer.

I don't like to be busy.
I like to have plenty of time at my home.
Remember, I'm a homebody?

That makes me have the tendency to "wish away" busy times of my life. 

Every Sunday, I look at my calendar for the week. If I don't have much time at home, I start to feel a sense of dread and think 'I can't wait for this week to be over.'

So why have I been thinking about this so much this summer?

I'm getting ready to start what I know is going to be an extremely busy year. My son will be a freshman in high school and my daughter will still be in middle school as an eighth grader. That means that there will be times that they will be involved in activities on different nights of the week. For example, during basketball season high school games take place on Tuesday and Friday. Middle school games are on Monday and Thursday. We go to church on Wednesday, so a week like that would mean no evenings at home. 

I know it is coming and I do not want to "wish it away." My kids are growing up way too fast! I want to enjoy each moment, day, and week. I don't want to wait for that someday when I'm not busy to live my life and enjoy it!

You may be wondering what this has to do with my other character flaw - being obsessive. It is really the flip side of it all. It is me creating my being busy because once I start something, I have to finish it! 

I mean...I will work on something for hours at a time because I want to be done. Kristi is saying AMEN right now in case you are wondering because she knows me too well.

Take for example when I decided to learn to sew while making my first quilt. It was a king-sized quilt because well, I don't do anything half-way. I worked on the quilt for days (and nights). I thought about that quilt every moment that I couldn't work on it. I dreamed about that stupid quilt! Obsessive, I tell you!

This summer I am trying really hard to find balance. To realize that the project I think is so important will still be there tomorrow if I have something come up or if I don't feel like working on it (gasp!).

I'm trying really hard to embrace the day.

I know I'm on the right track because this picture is of a plaque by my kitchen sink that I see (but don't if you know what I mean) every day. I took time to notice it this morning.

The Lord is definitely trying to prepare me for this year. I'm determined not to wait around or wish for someday.

Will I get tired and weary? Oh yes, but I must remember "...the LORD is the strength of my life..." Psalm 27:1

Thanks for stopping by for...

Don't hold those character flaws against me!

Go out and embrace the day! :-)

P.S. Our editable I Have...Who Has... games are one of the Daily Deals at Teachers Notebook today! That means 40% off an endless resource! You can create all kinds of games for your classroom with these. Math, reading, you name it! 

Monday, July 21, 2014

Favorite Pinterest Boards Linky

We have joined the favorite pinterest boards linky at What I Have Learned because who doesn't love pinterest and all the cool ideas that you can find out there!  I love that this linky is for a board because that way you can get more than one great idea from each person that links up here.  

It was really hard for me to pick just one board because I have so many favorites but I picked The Daily 5 board from:

I started using Daily 5 two years ago in my classroom and loved it!  This board has a lot of great resources to help implement Daily 5 into the classroom.  It has great ideas on how to schedule Daily 5 and many ideas and resources on each component of Daily 5.

Make sure you link up and share your favorite pinterest board. 

Have a great day!

Sunday, July 20, 2014

Guided Math in Action - Chapters 3 and 4

Happy Sunday, friends!

I'm back for the next chapters in our book study.

 Remember I will be posting on Thursdays and if only I could remember that! Did you notice I posted too early last time??? If you missed that one (chapters 1 and 2) click here.

Chapter 3 (my thoughts)

Practice, practice, practice. This chapter on managing the math workshop reminded me a lot of how I begin the Daily 5 each year. Expectations must be clear. Lots of modeling--desirable and less desirable behaviors. Dr. Nicki suggests spending the first four weeks of school practicing routines. 

The chapter also had a lot of good thoughts and examples on organizing the workshop. I especially loved this quote from page 35, "Staying organized is going to help you keep your sanity." 

I don't have a teacher's toolkit, but I need one now! Ha! I spent time making sure I had all the necessary materials and manipulatives ready for my class each day. Most of them were centrally located on a shelf in my classroom, but I can see now that by organizing a toolkit I would actually save myself time.

My students do have toolkits. They have rulers, templates (with shapes and rulers on the side), base 10 blocks, coins, cards for card games, dice, whiteboards, markers and erasers. As I mentioned in the first post, all of these items were kept in team tubs and the students could access them at any time.

Establishing routines and expectations is hard work! I feel like the first couple of weeks of school that is all I do. 
I explain a lot. 
I model a lot. 
I have students explain a lot. 
I have students model a lot. 

Do you see the repetition? That is really what establishing routines and expectations is all about. We practice over and over again. 

I get to the point where I just want to teach already and feel like pulling my hair out. Anyone else?
Psst...this is when I miss my previous class the most. :-)

But I persevere, knowing that one day my class will be working like a well-oiled machine and I will stand back in awe of how independent my students have become.

Chapter 4 (my thoughts)

I really appreciated the opening to this chapter called Working with Everyone. Too often I think teachers either choose to or they are expected to work with the low kids and push the higher kids off to the side. It is just not fair! Maybe I'm more sensitive to this because I have two pretty smart kids and I don't want them to be pushed to the side. I want them to be benefit from their teacher's instruction and be challenged as well.

Dr. Nicki says, "All students need the teacher's attention at some point to push them to the next skill level (pg. 41)." She also cautions against having a teacher's assistant work with the same group all the time.

Forming groups (which should be flexible) should be based on math data that the teacher collects on each student. One example would be a pre-assessment as you move into a new unit. I'm definitely weak in the area of record keeping in math and will need to get a system in place so that I can group students and move them as needed. I'm looking forward to seeing ideas on this from those who have already started guided math.

"There is no one right way to schedule (pg. 43)."
"Create a system that you will use (pg. 45)."

Thank you, Dr. Nicki!

I love the freedom the above quotes give to teachers. Teaching is all about what works for you and your class. Sometimes I think we feel pressured to follow a certain structure or routine when it is really okay to "make it work for you."

Yes, but not consistently. Guided math here I come!

Very fluid. I normally pulled students who struggled with a particular skill or problem based on what I was observing (or grading).

Remember I said I was weak in this area... I keep math grades and test scores. I also keep a record of where the kids are on their facts practice. I don't keep notes on individual students (at least not on paper anyway). This is definitely a goal for me this year. I can see the value in getting to know my kids more mathematically and having records of where they are (and where they need to be).

Now I have started thinking...
How will I do this with my curriculum (SAXON)? Hmmm...

Anyone out there have suggestions for using a curriculum in a guided math structure? I'd love to hear it!

See you on Wednesday Thursday for chapter five! :-)

P.S. Look what I found on YouTube...Dr. Nicki Newton. Lots of goodies!

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