Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Hands On Math Linky

Math, math, math! I love math! So no doubt I was going to join this linky with Deedee from Mrs. Will's Kindergarten!
In my classroom, about 66% of the students are English Language Learners. Our former principal required us to include the use of manipulatives in every math lesson in order to assist these students with understanding what we were saying and I agree! It's so easy to make math a hands on activity. You. Can. Use. Manipulatives. With. Every. Math. Lesson. No joke- every single one! Here are some ways I have used manipulatives to help my kindergartners learn with hands on math:

Easy, right? You can make patterns using ANYTHING! I have my kinders make them using manipulatives and then draw them in their math journals (or you could have them do it on that dreaded worksheet if needed I suppose).

When we are learning to count by 5's and 10's we play the 1's, 10's, 100's game from Everyday Math (I think that's where it's from... it's been too long since we actually used it...). The students actually use popsicle sticks to to do their counting and regrouping until the winner gets to 100! It's great and the students get to see the single sticks and trade them in for bundled sticks and actually see how they are counting! BOOM

 Skip Counting
Skip counting is hands on? What? We skip count using bundles of sticks, stacks of cubes, links, etc. It's so easy to include something concrete for the kids to count so they can actually see the idea behind it. Now, I couldn't find a picture of this BUT here is a picture of a skip counting race I do. Each kid at the table gets a couple cards so everyone is participating and they race against the other tables to put the skip counting cards in order.
Decomposing numbers is one of my favorite things to teach throughout the year in Kindergarten! We use cubes and tiles to help with this concept, along with playing Shake and Spill! Here is a very simple way to use any sort of counters and a popsicle stick to decompose:

 Simply put the popsicle sticks in between the counters and write the matching equation or partners! 

Comparing Numbers
Of course we use stacks of cubes and graphing to compare numbers BUT why not play a fun game that requires students to be up and moving and guessing and comparing. Enter the game Monster Squeeze! Again, courtesy of Everyday Math. But here I have a GIANT floor model so the child in charge is up and moving around and most importantly- moving the monsters in a hands on way!

Not sure about this whole Hands On thing? Just give it a try. You will see how truly easy it is to work manipulatives in to EVERY lesson for EVERY subject! Happy Teaching!

Friday, April 15, 2016

Where is the Partnership?

So, I wrote this yesterday and still want to post it after sleeping on it. Would love your thoughts :-)

Why should I care if you don't?

That's all that's going through my head right now. But I also know the answer- I care too much because you DON"T. Or maybe it's because you don't know how...

I work in a school with over 80% English Language Learners and over 80% free and reduced lunch. No, I don't know the exact numbers right now, but that shouldn't matter anyway. We struggle every year to get our students to the level they need to be. We, as teachers, bust out butts both at school and "when we aren't working" at home to make sure the children in our care are making progress, learning what they need to learn, getting the things they need to have a successful life. But where is the teacher parent partnership?

Are we in this ALONE? Because on days like today, it feels like it. This year we put together a new program called Kinder Klub. Our Kindergarten team (7 teachers plus our EL teachers and reading specialist) put on programs for our kindergarten parents to teach them best practices for helping at home. We have covered behavior at school and home, math strategies, language arts strategies, etc! It's been such a wonderful program. We've been SOOO excited about it- until no one came...

We started with like 40 or so, which is great! (until you think about the fact that we have 156 kindergarteners at our school). Then the numbers just went down from there. We only had 9 at the meeting in February. The meeting in which we invited the PreK friends, so 190 kids total, and prepared 5 centers for families to visit to learn about literacy activities for home, AND had translators, AND provided FREE child care courtesy of our wonderful para professionals. Yeah... that one hurt a little bit.

So today we had our final meeting. We targeted the parents that we've never seen come to a meeting who have a child who is progressing slowly and we have concerns about. Calls were made to each, people confirmed. We decided to do the same literacy centers because they were so great! There was so much excitement! And we had 17... 17 of the 50 families that were called and told about this and how important it is so that their child can be successful AND ONLY 17 CAME!!!

I don't know friends. It's just so disheartening. Do parents not care? Do they not understand the importance? Do they know how hard we are working to make sure their child is ready for life and that if they would help it would be even better?!?!?!?!

So, I guess I'm reaching out to see if any of your schools have something that ACTUALLY works. That ACTUALLY gets parents in the door for these programs. Because free food and giveaways is not working for us. Any tips on how to help us build the partnership with our parents?!?   

Thursday, April 14, 2016

All About Plants: the Air, Water, Sun, Soil Game!

The past two weeks have been all about plants. We've covered the life cycle, we've planted beans and lettuce seeds, and now we are talking about what all plants need in order to live. Enter the Air, Water, Sun, Soil Game! Yes, yes, it probably is the worst named game EVER but it's really really fun and helps the kids understand that plants need air, water, sun, and soil in order to thrive. Most importantly, it helps kids understand that not all plants will live because not all plants get what they need.  So, here we go...

You will need word cards to sprinkle around the floor:

You can get a copy here. They are not fancy at all, but super, super simple so you can throw them out at the end without feeling bad :-)

1. Have students spread out around the room. I let them stand anywhere in the room but they have to plant their feet on the ground and cannot move them!

2. Sprinkle the word cards around the room, making sure to flip all words over so students can see them.

3. Choose a word card to start with. I usually start with Air because it is the most readily available resource/card. The children have to try to touch the word air WITHOUT moving their feet! Now, I let them stretch just as much as they can, but their little toes have to stay put. It's so funny watching them trying to get there. 

If they CAN touch the card, they are alive! YAY! If they CAN"T touch the card they are dead and have to sit down.

4. Continue the game until you have called about all 4 resources and see if you have any winners! Sometimes I have a lot of plants still alive and sometimes all of them die. But one thing is always for sure- the kids understand that not all plants will live after playing this game! Enjoy!

Sunday, April 10, 2016

A Peek at my Springy Week

Happy Masters Sunday friends! Popping on real quick to share my plans then its back to the TV for more Masters fun! I need my guys to do good today- the hubs and I have a bet... He was in the lead on Thursday, I took it over on Friday, he got it back yesterday, and now today is the day to find out who will be the winner! Loser has to do the 6am walk with the dog next weekend. So, if I lose, not big deal because I always do it... lol 

This week we are continuing the Plant Life Cycle but focusing on what plants need in order to grow. We will play the Air, Water, Sun game. I will ACTUALLY post about this later this week after I have pictures. If I don't write it then I am giving up blogging all together! 

We will be continuing with poetry this week and will begin writing it!!! My poetry writing unit has been the same for a few years now and I LOVE it. I feel like the kids really learn how to write some solid poems. Should be good again this year.

Last, math brings a review of addition and subtraction but we will be focusing on partners of 10. The goal being for the kids to memorize the partners, making math easier for them in first grade- woot!  

OK, this is already longer than I was expecting.  Here are the plans:

 Hope it's a great week for you! Happy Teaching!

Sunday, April 3, 2016

Peek at my Week: Poetry, Comparing, and Plants

Happy Sunday friends!!  I'm back to posting lesson plans!! I thought I was back before, but then.... my computer crashed :-( I'm talking blue screen of death. It said there was no more hard drive!!! AHHH!!! Luckily, I had just back *almost* everything up onto my external hard drive- thank goodness! This is the 4th work computer I've had in 2 years- is it me? Is it the crap computers they buy? Nobody knows... Here's to hoping this thing stay around for a while though :-)

This week we are starting to dive into poetry, which is fitting since April is National Poetry Month. I believe it's the 20th anniversary of it actually, so we have to go all out this year, right? 

Whenever poetry rolls around I bring out this gem:
I got this book while in college- had to buy it for a literacy class I was taking. 10 years later and I am SO thankful to the professor for making us get it because it is great! There are poems about anything and everything. Short poems, long poems, serious poems, funny poems. I'll begin by reading some poems for fun and then the kids will start visualizing and drawing what the poem made them see. 

In math we will be comparing numbers. We touched on this in the first quarter and it's time to go back to it. The best part about hitting it again is that we get to play Monster Squeeze!! It's a game from Everyday Math and it's fantastic! There is a free app version:

But I LOVE the giant floor version that I made. I don't have a picture of it for you today, but check back on my Five for Friday to see it- giant number line and big monsters :-)

We will begin studying plants this week. On the docket first will be parts of a plant, then we will discuss the plant life cycle.  All of this is perfect because on Friday we go into our school garden to plan lettuce with our wonderful garden teacher! (um, yeah, I made up garden teacher... I don't know her title but she takes care of our garden and invites classes out to teach them).

Here are the plans:

 Unfortunately my cute fonts aren't loaded onto this computer yet... 

Also, I see people are now linking up all the resources they are using throughout the week- UMMMM, I'm gonna hafta look into that... I don't know how to do it... 

Hope it's a great first full week of April for you all. Happy Teaching!

Monday, March 7, 2016

Peek at My Week: Graphing and Asking Questions

Happy Monday friends! I didn't finish up my plans yesterday... But they're done now!! Ha! So I'm linking up with Deedee from Mrs. Will's Kindergarten for a Peek at my Week.
 Before I get to the plans I just have to share- I did my very first presentation at a conference!! WOOT! I presented at the VCTM 2016 State Conference- that's in Virginia in case the V was throwing you off.  There were 43 people in my session (!!!!) and I talked about differentiation in whole group, small group, and independent centers.  Despite being crazy nervous and not remembering the first 10 minutes it felt really good! Here I am shortly before:

Anywho, moving on to the plans. This week we are working on asking questions in language arts. It always seems that kids either really get this or really don't get this! My first group today really got this! They did great. My second group today... well, they have some learning to do.  So I introduced some question words and we will keep working on it!

We are introducing graphing this week and tallying next week! I LOVE graphing and tallying! But the best part is when we get to finish up the 2 weeks with a full graphing project. The kids each come up with a question and possible answers. We go to another classroom to collect data in the form on tally marks and then turn that data into a graph. They then analyze their data. Following through with the idea of differentiation: my friends who are having a hard time will only have 2 possible answers and MIGHT just graph, not tally, their data. We'll see how they are doing with tallies when we get to that point. I'm so excited about this!  Side note- have you seen The Great Graph Pack by Michelle Oakes?? It's amazing! You can find it HERE!

Last note: I've decided to be a better blogger. I know I write all the time- "More on that later" and then I NEVER write a post... So, here is officially my pledge to be better at it! To start, I will be blogging about the info I gave in my presentation. So, more on that later (and I really do mean it this time!)

Here are the plan:

Hope your Monday was successful and here's to a great week! Happy Teaching!