Monday, February 17, 2014

Countdown to STAAR: How I'm reviewing for math STAAR in my classroom

STAAR is coming fast!!! This is the time of the school year where I begin to feel an incredible amount of stress as I enter panic mode, but somehow this year I still feel stress, but I also feel more prepared. I want to share with you how I am reviewing for the math STAAR test in my classroom. (All concepts have been taught, so now I am reviewing and fine tuning any misconceptions).

First, below you will find my 'plan' for reviewing (I already know I will need to be flexible).
Feb. 10-14 Reporting Category 2
Feb. 18-21 RC 3
Feb. 24-28 RC 4
Mar. 3-7 RC 5
Mar. 17-21 RC 1
(I am purposefully leaving RC1 and RC5 until the end (well technically I never stop RC because my PODs are always RC1) because of the # of questions STAAR has from those RC-29). I like to leave those until the end so that they are fresh.

I waited until this week to post my plan because I wanted to see how things went with the first week of review. This is what I did:
I pulled problems for all the S.E.s in RC 2 from various resources that I have (Kamico, Mentoring Minds, STAAR Ready) and created a packet for my students (20-25 problems). For this RC I focused heavily on 5.5A because it is the readiness standard in the RC.

Everyday (I have 70 minutes for math) I started class with a quick 1-Minute-Mad-Minute to practice our facts, then I moved on to our Problem of the Day (POD) that I use to spiral RC1 S.E.s (I ALWAYS spiral RC1 because 18 test questions come from it and I feel my students have a great chance of passing if they can get the majority of RC1 questions correct).
After that, I jumped right into RC2. For the week we focused on function machines and writing the relationship between sets of data. I posted a picture of a function machine with a # for the input and a # for the output and we worked together to write the relationship for the function in 2 ways so that they would have lots of practice with finding patterns and describing relationships.
After doing that, I set a timer and moved on to the "We do, You do" portion. I set the timer for 4 minutes and I modeled a problem-I modeled determining the concept and starting point, ask myself what I need to find, asked the kids questions, did a think aloud of strategies I could do, used grid paper to solve, etc.. Then I set the timer again for 4 minutes and now the students practiced a problem on their own. I found that this kept them engaged more than just me solving all problems or them working independently all the time. Now, my students are keeping a tally of the problems they are getting correct on their own. I challenged them to get 80% of the problems correct and I did notice that adding some competition has helped motivate them.
***My students have been trained to think of the concept and starting point when they are solving a problem, so this helps them at least have an idea of how to attack a problem. ( I could elaborate more on this if you guys need me to).

On Friday, I did pull all the questions that belong to RC2 from the released STAAR (old-fashion cut and paste) and allowed students to work in pairs to solve. At this time, I pulled in a group and worked with them. I did notice that all the week's practice did help them and they had an easier time with the released items. (If any of the students finished, they worked on their math centers).

I do plan on following the same format for all the RC (and I also plan on spiraling the RC I have already reviewed so that they continue to practice and concepts stay fresh). I have noticed that doing the Daily Math Reviews has helped them retain concepts so I will also continue that. I should also mention that I am pulling small groups and doing lots and lots of review whenever possible (I use my math station cards for this).

If at any time I see the kids are becoming bored or need a small break, I pull a Marilyn Burns 'Guess my Number' to provide a short 2-minute break and then we jump right back into STAAR mode.

To keep kids organized during these hectic weeks, we are using a pocket folder where they are keeping all their math packet reviews and using them to study at home (parents have really liked this).

I am still working on how I will review the week of Mar. 24-28 (Review all tested S.E.s). I know I will have stations, but I haven't completely planned it all out.

Please let me know if this is helpful and also what tips you may have as we get closer and closer to STAAR.

*Next week, I will be posting how I am reviewing for reading.

Have a blessed day!

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Thursday, August 15, 2013

Sale! Sale! Sale!

It's that time of year- the TPT back to school sale will soon be here! TpT is holding their annual back to school sale from August 18-19th!!! Run and get those items you've had your eye on!! I will be taking advantage and getting some bundles I've been eyeing!

My entire store (yes!!!! Bundles too) will be on sale!! Don't forget to use the BTS13 promo code for additional savings!!

P.S. my store will be having a sale from August 18-20th!!

Happy, happy shopping, everyone!!!

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Friday, August 2, 2013

My new favorite poem

Ever since I was little I have always been fascinated by dragons! (My favorite animated movie is How to train your dragon!!!)
Tonight, while my Baby was watching Disney Jr. they ran their 'A poem is..' segment and I heard the most amazing poem EVER!
'Once they all believed in dragons' by Jack Prelutsky. It is narrated by Doctor Who and Downtown Abbey actor Matt Smith. It has a beautiful animation to go with it. Watch it here. I am definitely adding this little treasure to my list of poems to teach :)

 Just wanted to share! 
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Thursday, August 1, 2013

Begin with goals in mind!

August already?! :(
I've had a great time staying home this summer and even though I love teaching, I'm not ready to go back! I think that setting some goals will steer me in the right direction. Here I go!
I am linking up with I Heart Recess to share my Back to School Goals.

 Personal: I will be leaving work no later than 4:00 PM! I don't want to miss moments with my family at home anymore, therefore I have to learn to prioritize to get things done! I plan to do this by running my copies for lessons a week ahead, filing paper as I go, and utilizing EVERY.SINGLE.MINUTE of my planning time to get work done!

Organization: Ok, so I've created my DIY teacher binder with dividers to help me stay organized- this will help me not waste time looking for stuff in a pile of paper! I am also using binders to store my lessons for each subject so that I have them to refer back to and they are not just piled behind my desk. I'm going to use a crate with hanging file folders to keep my students' work, documentation, etc so that I have it handy when I need to speak to a parent, admin, refer for interventions, or any other need that may arise.

Planning: I've done some planning this summer, specially in science and language arts and I plan to stay at least 2 weeks ahead of the game. I'm revamping my math this year so I'll be learning as I go- I'm going full on with Math Workshop this year. I've done bits and pieces in the past, but this year it is on!

Professional: I'm going to attempt to integrate technology into at least one subject I teach on a daily basis. We have access to ipads and computers and I want to ensure that my students are exposed to technology constantly. I want to go beyond apps- it's a lot to take on, but I'm up for the challenge!

Students: I will consider it a huge success if I can teach my kids to collaborate with and respect others. That is my main goal going into my classroom this year. I want every kid in my class to feel empowered, safe, respected, and to be thoughtful of others.

Motto: "If you think your teacher is tough, wait til you get a boss." Well said, Mr. Gates. I do love my students and I by no means want to be Mrs. Mean, but I do aim to make them problem-solving-working-doers (too much Mickey!!!). They will become self-sufficient and will need to make decisions to empower themselves as learners. Responsibility will bea repeated often.

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Sunday, July 28, 2013

Reading Centers/Stations in 5th grade

I'm getting ready to finalize the stations I'll be using in readers workshop this year. Our state assessment for reading includes passages in different genres (poetry, fiction, drama, and non-fiction), therefore, I decided that our stations are going to reflect that. I'll be using the following stations:

1. Poetry/drama: in this station students will read either the assigned poem or drama and complete a graphic organizer. I use these graphic organizers during my reading instruction and then during my stations. For this station I gather, copy, and laminate poems I find in books, Internet, and our released state tests. I usually put about 4-5 poems and allow students to choose one for their station assignment. The dramas I use come from our textbook adoption. I rotate one week a poem and a drama the following week.

2. Fiction: in this station I include myths, fables, tall tales, and any other type of fictional text I can find. I use the same organizers from the poetry station. The texts I use in this station include picture books from my classroom library, copies of short stories I find, myths from several Scholastic resources I own. I usually have a bin with several books/readings to allow my students some choice in what they read for the day.

3. Non-fiction: this is by far my students' favorite station. For this station I use Super Science magazines, National Geographic, newspaper articles, and Science A-Z readings. I try very hard to include text my students will find engaging. For this station, I use my non-fiction graphic organizers (I choose the one with the skill I want my kids to practice).

4. Word Study: we begin this during our mini lessons and then students are required to finish this in their station. In this station I target prefixes, suffixes, and figurative language. They usually complete a 4-tab foldable or an idiom of the day. I provide resources for them to complete their assignment.

5. Independent reading and response: for this station, students read a book of their choice and respond using prompts I have created according to the genre they read.

Stations management:
-use bins to store readins and graphic organizers
-kids will need 15-20 minutes to complete the reading and graphic organizer (provide a visual of time)
-use a pocket chart to show the station rotations
-be consistent- keep up with the stations so that your students are constantly exposed to various genres
-be flexible! Allow room to grow, reflect, and change!

How are you running your reader's workshop?

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Thursday, July 18, 2013

Liebster Award!

I am very happy to have been nominated for the Liebster Award by Catia over at Always a Teacher & Forever a Mom. I look forward to sharing my experiences with teaching upper elementary self-contained class. 

The Liebster Award is given to blogs who have less than 200 followers but that deserve to have many more. 
The rules for this award are as follows: 
1. Thank the Liebster-winning blogger who nominated you and link back to their blog.
2. Post eleven facts about yourself.
3. Answer the eleven questions your nominator asked.
4. Create eleven questions for your nominees.
5. Nominate 5 to 11 blogs of 200 followers or less who you feel deserve to be noticed and leave a comment on their blog letting them know they have been chosen.
6. Display the Liebster Award logo.

Here I go:

Catia- Thank you bunches for the nomination. I truly appreciate you including me :) Be sure to check out her TpT store. She's got some adorable FREE frames and lots of other great items!!!

11 Facts about Me :)
1. I am a Mommy to a beautiful soon-to-be 2 year old.
2. I have been a happy wife for 7 years.
3. I speak English and Spanish.
4. I have taught grades 4-6. 
5. I am passionate about equality in education- I firmly believe equality means every students deserves the education best suited to their needs.
6. I am obsessed with reality TV!!
7. My favorite book is Great Expectations-Dickens.
8. Disney's 'How to train your Dragon' is my favorite animated movie.
9. I love dragons.
10. I want to go on an African safari.
11. I LOVE handbags!!!

Catia's questions:
  1. Where are you from? I am from Mexico. 
  2. How many languages do you speak fluently? 2-English and Spanish.
  3. If you could learn a new language, what would it be? French! I am working on this!
  4. What is your favourite thing to do when you need to relax? READ!!!
  5. Name 3 people that had a huge impact on your life and tell us why. 1) My mother taught me to be strong and ambitious. 2) My Dad taught me to love unconditionally. 3) My Baby Boy taught me to never take life for granted (he had a scary first month of life).
  6. What is the dream you most wish to have come true? I want to own a business- a cupcake shop or go into professional photography.
  7. Favorite animal and why. Dinosaurs- strong and ferocious!
  8. Coffee, tea or neither? Coffee. I am an addict!!!
  9. Where do you usually go when on holidays? Beach, camping, cruise….? Stay home- I love hosting family gatherings.
  10. Something or someone that makes you get up in the morning with a smile. My Baby Boy- he changed my life.
  11. If you could describe yourself in one word, what word would that be? Determined. If you want something-make it happen.

My 11 questions:
1. Mac or PC?
2. Do you use an iphone?
3. Do you like to read on a tablet or book?
4. Favorite subject you love to teach?
5. Who do you admire?
6. Are you a DIY-type of person?
7. What has been your greatest accomplishment so far in life?
8. Do you like cupcakes or a slice of cake?
9. What is the last book you read?
10. Who is your favorite superhero?
11. Tell us your favorite food!

Blogs I am nominating:

Happy Bloggin'!!!

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Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Some of my favorite science resources

One of my very good friends just got a 6th grade science job!!! I told her I would share with her some of the resources I use when planning for science.

One of my absolute favorite science resources is Science A-Z (our school has a membership-we've had it for years and NO ONE knew about it!!!). I am unsure about how much it costs but check with other teachers at your school to see if your school already has a membership OR checkout the website for some free samples. I use Science A-Z to get reading material for my reading AND science stations/centers (I will be blogging about what stations I do a bit later on this month). They publish monthly science-related magazines, offer short and long science leveled readings and MUCH, MUCH more. One of my favorite things on the site is the Scientist and Inventor packs. There are several collections of various scientist and inventors. We used them in my class last year to springboard into an end-of-year science research project. You just have to check out Science A-Z (there is also a Reading A-Z equally great!!!).

Another science resource I love to use is Discovery Education.  Your school will need a membership but let me tell you it is well worth the $$$. There are videos on science, social studies, math, and any other topic you can think of. I use it daily in my technology center as a way to teach my kids to take notes from media.

Who does not LOVE Study Jams?! A free site from Scholastic with an abundance of science and math short videos. My kids LOVE them!! The videos usually offer a karaoke song and a quiz at the end. This would be great as a supplement to a lesson.

Lastly, I use a lot of technology in my classroom so I provide links for my students to log on to, take notes, and report back on their learning. This NASA one is a great example of free resources on the web (I always preview the content). The link is one I use to review the solar system.

These are some of my favorite resources I use to supplement my science lessons. What are your favorite resources?

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