Thursday, February 28, 2013

Measurement Fun

We are finishing our second unit on measurement. This topic is so big.

Our math consultant from our Region Center gave us a conversions project. Students have to choose a recipe, make the recipe for the class and complete 3 conversions. It's a very simple project.

Students are bringing in snacks galore. It has been so fun. They are pumped up. We have had cakes and cookies and today, coke floats! I teach a lot of kids, that is a lot of food! But they are loving it. I wish I would remember to take more pictures.
This was a cake brought in on Monday. She was so excited that she spelled out math. The kids loved it too.

Today, we had chicken salad in one class. I was sure the kids would hate it. Boy, was I wrong. They LOVED it and asked for seconds. There were peas in it people!!! Who knew sixth graders liked peas??!!! This was also my most challenging group of students. They were pretty well behaved too. I was pleasantly surprised by their behavior. This was the left overs.

We also completed a buddy measurementt activity from Mandy at Teaching with Simplicity. My students loved it. What I couldn't anticipate was how nice they were to each other. The activity is to find a buddy to do the measurement or conversions. I told them they could only go to each person once. I have large classes so this worked out well. When I said "go" they went off and they worked so hard. They said thank you, please can you do this, and just all around polite.  This activity also was short and my students had time to work on this and practice conversions as well. This is definitely a keeper for me!
It really helped my mood throughout the day because they had been rats the day before! 

 I needed to share this, because this week has been tough. But today seemed so much better and this close to Spring Break, I definitely need something to be happy about.

I hope to share more about the conversions project later and hopefully will have more pictures to share.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

MS Sunday Funday- Life Preservers Being Thrown Out!

It's Sunday again, so time for some Middle School Math Sunday Funday.

Today's topic: How to help kids that are behind in Math

In class, when students are behind in their work, they are normally behind on concepts as well. In my school, we have to do 1 hour a week of mandatory tutoring time. We do offer busses and snacks after school. I do mine on Mondays and Tuesdays from 3:30-4:30pm. Most teachers do two days, even though an hour is the expectation.

We also assign Saturday School for students to catch up on work they are missing. We normally have 1 teacher and one aide work this. It is 4 hours each Saturday, students must provide their own transportation and we do not provide snack.

Right now, we are in STATE TEST MODE so we are full steam ahead. We are throwing out life preservers and hoping kids take advantage of them.
I work on a campus that is in Stage 5 with the state. Meaning, we are in BIG TROUBLE.
We made HUGE gains last year in Math and if we succeed this year, we will get "out of stage 5" for Math.
We track sub pops, big time around here!

Starting Monday, we are providing Enrichment Camps after school. For two hours on Monday, students have been invited to attend Math and Reading tutoring for 6th-8th graders. They will do one hour of Math and switch (if needed) to one hour of Reading or vice versa. We invited targeted students from targeted sub pops. But, we will never turn kids away. If they show up, they can stay. We are providing busses and snacks. We will be at school until 5:45pm!

On Tuesday, our 8th graders will have Science and Social Studies Enrichment Camps, and our 7th graders will have Writing Camp.

This past Saturday we also began offering a Math Camp for our Sped students. They can come from 9-12 and work on a computer program we have, Ascend Math, for them to receive extra practice on their. Sixty-nine students were invited, three showed up last week. I am actually working those camps, every other Saturday. Another teacher is doing the other weeks. The three that showed up, worked HARD and got some great practice in. Ascend Math teaches them where they are, so it is remedial. They really needed it. One student and I worked on calculator skills because he has that accommodation, but if he can't use the calculator, it does him no good.

We work our butts off. (I know we all do) We give ample opportunities for kids to get extra help. All they have to do is show up. If we do not succeed, it is not for lack of effort.

I would love to hear what other teachers, schools, and distrcts have in place.  

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Link Party- All things Upper Elementary

We all love free things!

Mine is for ratios and proportions. Students create proportions with given details and formulate which is greater, less, or equal?

My 6th grade math lab kids did this and it was a GREAT activity.
Hope you can use it!

Click here or on the picture for the freebie!

Sunday, February 17, 2013

MS- Sunday Funday- Observation Lesson Plans; Dog and Pony Show?

Time for Sunday Funday!
Julie asked us to post our "official" observation lesson plans.
Here in Texas we are observed by PDAS. I should know what that means, but I don't.
It has several components to it. We are given a formal 45 minute classroom observation early in the year. Mine was in November. We also have self evaluations to include and we get many, many walkthroughs throughout the year. And, I do mean MANY.

In my district, we input lesson plans into Eduphoria. It is a computer program that stores our lesson plans, test and data, PDAS info, staff development. Its nice because everything is in one place. We no longer "turn in" lesson plans either. Our administration has access to all of our information.

Each week, I kind of "fill in the blanks". The cool thing is we can share our plans with other teachers. Same subject, same grade, click of a button and plans are done!
These are pretty basic. Some days I have more written, some days maybe less. My students did stations for my observation. I will admit though, my observation was in first period. I tried this with my 3rd period and it was a disaster, so I scraped stations and the rest of the day was much different.

The idea was for students to work independently on known concepts while I met with students about their previously taken test. I also incorporated the Promethean board because that has been a focus with our principal. More interactive lessons is the key. Students needed more help from me with this. That got scraped during the other classes. We worked on that and now they could probably do that, but November was too early for that one.

Overall, my PDAS observation went well and I am very pleased. Last year was a different story, but man, have I improved since then. So glad I tried this middle school thing again.

Monday, February 11, 2013

You Spin Me Round and Round

We are studying circumference of circles.

We started by using this awesome idea I saw on Pinterest. My kids loved doing this for vocabulary instead of writing definitions. 

I created two lessons and the kids LOVED LOVED LOVED them!

The idea was for them to practice finding the diameter, taking  that information to get the radius and then find the circumference to practice using the formulas. Click on the picture to get this activity for free.

 I have been collecting lids and round things for a while now. I needed 6 of each thing since I have six groups in some of my classes. I labeled each object to match the recording sheet.

 I had rulers for each student. I ended up laminating the paper rulers from Ikea. They worked like magic!

We even found the circumference of their head and worked "backwards" to find the diameter and radius. They of course, loved that part.

I have seen several lessons using food online. I thought this would be awesome, but looking at my class numbers, over 100 students total, and my budget, it just wasn't going to work.

So, I created this lesson.  Click to get for free.
I thought my kids would think it was cheesy, pun intended. But, they actually liked it a lot. They said it made them hungry. It kept me safe on my weight loss quest.

(sorry for the glare)

The activities were very successful. The first day was tough, but they were similar, so the second activity went much smoother.

The next part of our unit included rotations. We included some review concepts so students could work independently. In reality, I don't think that went very well. We are still in the midst of them though. Time will tell. We are completing 20 minute rotations, which in reality have turned into 15 rotations. We get through two a day with warm up and reviewing homework. What it has done is make the classes fly by.

What I am really enjoying is meeting with each student in small group. One of the rotations is "Teacher Table". We are working on problem solving together. This has been great. These are how they will be tested.

I will admit. It's been trying at some points, but I feel that the kids are getting great practice and that is what they really need. I just wish I had more time. Don't we all though?

My partner and I decided, we'll do it again. We have a few things to adjust, but we know this will benefit our students.

Sunday, February 10, 2013

MS-Funday Sunday- Homework Differentiation

I haven't linked in a while, but this subject keeps popping up this week. I feel compelled.

The topic is Homework Differentiation.

I don't differentiate homework. Then why post, right?
Because, I think the way we do homework works.

First, we do it three times a week, mostly without fail. It is usually not longer than five problems. The reason it's so short is so we can actually go over it the very next day. Any more than that and I am going into my lesson time.

I use the No Homework Binder from Jack of All Trades. It really works. It holds students accountable and has been very helpful with parent conferences. I assign Saturday School when kids consistently don't bring homework. They have to call their parents when they reach 3 missing hw assignments.

Students may not do the hw, but they have learned to bring it back, even if its blank. I make them copy the homework notes on blank paper if they don't have the actual paper. If they choose to use a hw pass, I do the same. All they have to do is copy. No way am I letting them sit there doing nothing while we are reviewing it. They still have to sign the binder if its blank, it's minus 5 for each time they don't actually complete their hw.

 They receive an end of the six weeks daily grade based on the homework sheet. Their favorite part is when I award a free homework pass for each person who has brought every homework back, completed, the entire six weeks!

My homework percentage has sky rocketed since last year.

What I love about our homework is students are seeing more practice problems. Let's face it, for Math, they need that.

Here's a sample of what a hw assignment might look like.

Can't wait to see what everyone else does. I love trying new things!

Saturday, February 9, 2013

Measurement Anchor Chart

I can't wait for the next Anchor Chart Link Party by Miss Klohn's Adventures of a 6th Gade Teacher
I have to share this.

Our art teacher made these for all our Math Department

It's a "yard".
3 FEET in the YARD.
12 INCHES in a foot.
36 INCHES in a YARD.

My kids LOVE it and when I explained it, they collectively said, "ahh... I get it!"

Oh Happy Day!

Thursday, February 7, 2013

The 100th Day of School

Today was the 100th Day of School! I love this day. So many years in elementary will do that to ya. Middle schoolers, don't care.

My first grader did! Here's his 100 day shirt. It was a home project we had to do. It was so fun! (Of course, I love this kind of stuff though) He's got a goofy smile, but I just want to eat him up!

This was the project my students had to turn in today. It was 100 problems. They have had a month to complete them. It is a major grade.
Click on the picture for a copy

They were less than thrilled by this project. They thought it was hard. I offered tutoring twice a week to help. We had a few days in class for them to work on it. I had about 30 kids NOT turn it in. I teach 110 regular ed kids. It's only a 72% turn in rate. I was making phone calls like crazy. I was making kids calls their parents. They have been assigned Saturday School. I have a list of kids to be called by our translator. Their parents only speak Spanish. I was really feeling down about this today. The students had seen all these problems before. I copy and pasted them from tests, reviews and activities we did.

I even offered 10 extra points for early turn ins. I had about 10 students take me up on that.

I stand by the project though. It was a good, mathematical project. I will do it again. I refuse to be discouraged by this.

I am curious, does anyone else have these issues? If so, what do you do to motivate your students to turn work in.

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

February's Monday Made it

It's that time again... Monday Made it with 4th Grade Frolics again!

This month was board appreciation round here. Each department made something to put in a thank you basket.
This was from the Math Department.

For my classes:
I made station cards for equivalent ratios. We are using these this week in my Math Lab classes.

 Click on the picture to get this activity for FREE! This is for our next unit, measurement, specifically elapsed time.

I also made two activities for us to teach circles. I will be posting about those next.
Here's a sampling though.

Stayed tuned. We just completed these activities and I will be posting about them this week!

Can't wait to see what everyone has made!

Saturday, February 2, 2013

February Currently

It's the 2nd February, only the second day of February... there are over 100 people linked up with Farley over at Oh Boy, Fourth Grade, already...

But here's mine:

It's a busy day since it's my hubby's birthday. But, what a great Saturday!
Hope your February is starting off as wonderfully as it is here.