The post 2017 Printable Calendars appeared first on Tales from Outside the Classroom.

]]>My students have binders that we use to house our frequently needed documents. Morning work and story problems are stored in the binder and are copied every month or so. We also keep poems in binders that we’ll go over when we have some time throughout the day. My kids keep their printable calendars one month at a time at the front of their binder so they always know where to find it.

Students can record the title of the book they read that day, or the number of pages that were read in a chapter book. This can be helpful if you ask for a reading log for homework or during SSR time in the classroom. Because we do AR in my school, I have my students use the printable calendars to record the score they earned on their AR test. It helps them self-monitor their scores and testing frequency.

If you do a choice-based centers system where you want students to have the freedom to choose which centers they work through, but still want them to work through a variety, an open calendar may be helpful for having students indicate which center they went to on which date.

I have students come in during breakfast and recess time to get additional minutes on our mandated online programs. I then use the printable calendars to record which students came in on which date so later I can quickly and easily find approximately how many additional minutes of instruction a specific child received. I’m still such a paper-oriented data person and like to store this in my data binder. You could also use this as a recording tool during one-on-one or small group intervention time to indicate a student’s progress monitoring score, their attendance, or the skill covered during the group.

One of the things I try to instill in my students is personal responsibility. As a third grade teacher, I expected my students to know where they were at with virtually any part of our day: their goals, what they were working on, what expectations were, etc. As a first grade teacher it doesn’t look quite the same in my classroom, but is still something we’re working through during all parts of our day. My first graders can and do fill in their personal calendar with what I’ve asked them to. They need to be shown how and monitored closely in the beginning, but once they get into the routine, they’re able to do it independently. That means calendars can be used with virtually any aged student as a means for that student to monitor themselves and be accountable. An open month-long calendar is great for having students record that they completed a task, a score on a task, or that they worked through a task. It’s a great visual tool that students can use independently to monitor whatever it is he/she is working on.

To download the free 2017 monthly printable calendars for yourself, just click here or on the image below.

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]]>The post An Art Filled Halloween appeared first on Tales from Outside the Classroom.

]]>I gave each student white paint and blue paint on a small paper plate. Students drew a white circle in the top corner of their white construction paper. Students who wanted to their backgrounds to be purple also got red paint and then mixed the red and blue to make purple. This resulted in every student having a different color purple bringing some authenticity to their work.

Then using just the paint on the brush from mixing (or grabbing just a dab of paint if students used blue) students mixed the color into the white to create a very light shade. We talked about how just a little bit of colored paint would drastically change the white color. Students then created a ring around their white moon. We did that 3 times, each adding just a little bit more blue to the shade.

As we got further down the page, we added more of the dark color in each mix. We talked about how the gradient would change faster.

When we got to the bottom of the page, we switched gears. Students used the darkest paint at the bottom and then we combined the two to mix the top and bottom. We talked about shading and how we wanted the color change to be more subtle on the bottom so we used our brush (with no additional paint on it) to blur the lines.

In the afternoon students were given 3 black construction paper rectangles and we discussed how we could make towers and the base of a house using a square. We also took the construction paper to free cut triangles. I showed students how they could make triangles out of squares and rectangles. I passed out yellow pieces of paper for students to create windows in their haunted house.

I showed students how to round the corners of their rectangles if they wanted to create rounded windows.

Using Sharpies, students created birds in their scenes. I showed students how to make a bird using a stretched “m” and students did a great job trying it out. Each students’ scene is just a bit different, making it a great art (not craft) project.

The week before students were trying to write story problems as part of our math problem solving unit, but were really struggling with it. I told students to make their own number of birds and we talked about how that would be the number remaining in their story problem. I modeled writing the story problem (and it also helped with grammar and spelling for the students’ work) and we talked about how we could represent a some, some went away problem with the birds.

I love the way these turned out. It was a great way for us to practice our math work, introduce and discuss some topics we won’t get to until much later in the year, and have a change in routine, but not too chaotic, on Halloween.

I also love that this project brought in some differentiation both on the art and on the math side of things. Students chose the number of birds they wanted to use. Those unconfident students just used the information from my model. Others applied numbers they’re comfortable manipulating.

And others, like the kiddo who worked below, pushed herself to work with a much higher number. She kept it at -1, but I was proud to see her working to push herself.

This will probably continue to be what I do on Halloween, or the weeks before, for several years.

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]]>The post Quick Tips for Back to School appeared first on Tales from Outside the Classroom.

]]>Coupon organizers are great storage for task cards. They have dividers so you can sort by skill. Or, you can have students store things in there and use the dividers to identify which cards they’ve finished and which they have not. It’s perfect for fast finisher activities if you use it that way. Or, you an use them to store sight word cards that students can sort known and unknown words into.

It seems that nearly every classroom has one of these toolboxes in them at this point. But, if you’ve been a hold out, take another look. These are the perfect storage solution for all of those little things that get stored and lost in your desk. My building doesn’t provide desks but gives a movable podium with 5 super little shelves in it (which you can’t pull out therefore you can’t see what’s on the shelf). I literally would never find a paperclip or a new strip of staples if I didn’t have this toolbox behind my desk. You can see the specifics on this toolbox itself, and grab my labels for free, by heading over to this post.

Photo albums from Dollar Tree are another favorite of mine. I hope these never go away due to digital photo technology because I use them in several ways in my classroom. Or, maybe I should stock up now. Especially for just $1 a piece.

I use them in my Word Work bins to store weekly spelling lists. I print them 4 to a page and then keep 4 albums in my bin. The size fits easily inside the album and students can then quickly see both current and past words. For more Word Work ideas, you can read my post here.

I also use these photo albums to store my punch out letters that I’ve bought from the teacher store. I took out the front and back cover so that I can see exactly which one is in it. Because they don’t have quite enough pages, I store some of my lesser used letters (like x and v) together. It took a bit of time to get them in there, but it’s so much easier to find letters now and I actually return them to this spot.

I also buy these little round food containers from Dollar Tree and use them to store so many things in my classroom. I originally tried storing my borders by clipping them on a binder clip and then hanging them in a closet. It worked at first. But then every time I wanted a set, others would fall off on the clip. Or if I bumped it, they’d fall. These stack so nicely, I can see exactly which one to grab, and I can store a border for like 20 cents. I’ve also heard people using frosting containers, but I love that I can see what’s in these.

To help you make your Back to School time even easier, I’d also like to give away a $25 gift cart to TpT! Enter below using the Rafflecopter and then check out the awesome posts by a few of my friends, and enter to win their gift cards too! We’ll announce the winners soon so that you can use those gift cards during the 1 Day Sale on Monday!

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]]>The post Calendar in the Primary Classroom appeared first on Tales from Outside the Classroom.

]]>Classroom calendars used to be commonplace in nearly every first grade classroom, and even a lot of second grade classrooms. As the push for standards accountability has grown, I’ve noticed fewer and fewer teachers implementing calendar in their classrooms because the “standards” don’t “dictate” it, or because they just are feeling the time crunch and with the struggle to fit everything in, calendar has been cut. Today I’m going to share with you why I think calendar is so important in the primary grades to help convince you if you’re on the fence, and also give you some support if you need to justify the use of the time to someone questioning your practices.

Successful calendar routines are so much more than just singing the days of the week and the months of the year. While this is an important part (I don’t care what the standards say as much as I would much rather have adults that know how to say and spell days and months and know how many days each month has. I digress) there are so many more math standards that can be included as part of your daily calendar routine. These help give students a tiny bit of practice every.single.day and helps build their number sense as they apply their number into different formats and math applications.

Clearly, part of the calendar routine is the actual calendar. This is when you can talk about the days of the week, the months of the year, the number of days, concepts like yesterday, today, and tomorrow, etc.

I have the months lined up on one side of the calendar, and then my today, tomorrow, and yesterday system on the other. I use abbreviated days of the week for that because it helps students see the abbreviations in action and understand what they are, so when we get to that standard, they have a frame of reference. (See, here’s a standard).

We’ll use the months to help us sing the month song from time to time, and with the days along the top we can use that to sing the days of the week as well. We’ll write the date each day on the date sign practicing different forms of the date and bringing in those abbreviations.

We’ll track the seasons throughout the year. I made cards for both autumn and fall so we’ll talk about the different terms and trade them out at some point. We’ll also track the weather each day. I made cards for basically every type of weather we have here in Chicago (though it often changes more than once a day) and they should cover what most other people experience (science standards). We’ll also use a thermometer to track our temperature each morning (math and science standards).

And now comes to the real “meat” of the calendar routine; the why it’s so important. We’ll use the number of the day (the number of days we’ve been in school) to practice and review various number sense skills and math standards. We’ll begin with the first day of school, but we won’t go through the entire thing, and will gradually add and build the skills within the first two weeks.

We’ll write the number in ordinal form (1st, 2nd, etc) to help us track where we are in the year. We’ll also read the sentence aloud so students are hearing the proper way to say those numbers.

We’ll also review various number sense skills. We won’t begin this one until after the third day of school so we don’t have to work with negative numbers, and we’ll go with the hundreds chart frame beginning on the 10th day of school. Every day we’ll review even and odd, number lines, greater than and less than, and place value. As the year goes on, this job will be given to a calendar student to complete independently during morning work time, and we’ll quickly review a couple components. This one page covers and reviews so many math standards. With daily practice, it helps to solidify for students what each of these concepts are.

We’ll also use the number of the day to review money. We’ll begin this on day one, and a change from some of the other routines is that we won’t erase this page each day. So when we come over on the second day, we’ll see one penny and add one more for the second day. Then on the fifth day, we’ll add that penny and discuss how 5 pennies are the same as 1 nickel and we’ll erase and exchange. By writing the amount in dollars and cents each day, we help to show the decimal system in a little way beginning right from the first day of first grade. It also helps build the concept of 10 as the tenths place gets used.

Finally, we’ll use the number of the day to show multiple ways to make the number. During this time, after modeling, students will offer their ideas for ways to make the number. I can use this time to also show that the money can be made using coins in different ways than we’ve used above. This is an amazing time that is naturally differentiated as students who are ready to apply more difficult concepts offer them up. You can quickly explain them as you record them.

Vickie from Primary Press does an amazing job with this in her kindergarten classroom. Yes, that’s kindergarteners using parentheses to multiply.

It naturally fits that as the kids are ready for more, the numbers get larger. It’s also really easy to apply different math concepts you’re learning during this time. For example, teaching fractions: you can write a fraction for how many days have already passed this week. Practicing subtraction: How many days are left this month? Graphing: Record the weather each day in graph form for a week or two. The entire calendar time will take between 10-15 minutes. As skills become easier for students, less time needs to be spent on it whole class and you can use that time to quickly review choice concepts and then spend additional time with students building the numbers. It’s a low stress way to continue to spiral back to key concepts throughout the year.

My calendar system matches the black and white theme of my classroom. If you’re interested in either my decor set or calendar system just click the images below.

Or, if you’re interested in both sets, I offer them as a bundle at a discount.

If black and white is not your favorite or your theme, I offer a couple different styles and am working on others. You can see all of them by clicking here.

Do you do a calendar routine in your classroom? Do you work on anything different during that time?

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]]>The post A Look at my Math Block appeared first on Tales from Outside the Classroom.

]]>My math block is basically always in the afternoon because I do reading and writing in the morning as much as possible. So, the kids are a bit more tired and energetic. Maybe this is part of the reason they didn’t work for me. Maybe it’s because I’m less patient in the afternoon. Maybe it’s my fault in planning and/or execution. Either way, for a year and a half I tried various different models and groupings trying to find what worked for me. And, I couldn’t.

I tried 3 centers each day in about 45 minutes and the students would rotate to the other 3 the next day. I even blogged about how I used Powerpoint to help me manage it all.

While not all of them changed each day, some of them did, and it was a lot of planning and effort. This was my favorite set up, but something just felt “off” to me. I could see students in action every other day, but I struggled with what I had students do independently on the day they weren’t with me because I often had students do their independent practice while I was nearby so I could keep an eye on what they were doing. I also had a hard time with spending 45 minutes of my block (half of it essentially) all in centers. I just didn’t feel like what I had students doing during that time were meaningful enough, and warranted half of the block. I tried just doing 1 group each day and students rotating through, but I didn’t feel like it was enough time for me to see my students working live. It wasn’t giving me enough time to work with my needy students. I tried reading every blog post I could find on Guided Math and couldn’t quite wrap my head around exactly what it should look like, and how it was different from what I was already trying to do in my room. I also couldn’t quite go with the idea that I was teaching everything in small group every day without a lot of whole class instruction.

But then I found what did work for me. I split my students in half and taught my lessons twice. My kids were engaged and I was able to differentiate for them in smaller groups to meet their needs.

Essentially, after our daily, introductory activities, I split the class in half and taught the lesson to both of them. However, I taught the lesson differently with both groups. I’ll explain more about that in a bit.

Here’s a look at how our typical 90-minute block was scheduled in this format.

Problem of the Day- The beginning of our block is *always* a story problem of the day. My first year in the classroom I quickly realized that my teaching of problem solving for a day at the end of another unit, or as a unit itself, just was not enough practice for my kids. I immediately began implementing a “Problem of the Day” format and have seen the difference that it makes with my kids. We now implement it school wide and I’ve developed 1st grade and 2nd grade year long bundles that the staff at my building use. At the beginning of the year, this takes much longer than 15 minutes, and there are days throughout the year that it takes a few minutes longer, for sure. But, I’ve learned that giving students daily practice with various levels of rigor, and spiraling through the standards, is key for my students to feel not only comfortable on their state assessments, but also confident that they can read a problem and develop a plan of attack to solve it. We use my Problem of the Day bundle during this time. I’ve also linked to the 1st grade Problem of the Day bundle as well.

Number of the Day- This past year I started using Blair Turner’s Number of the Week. I also started doing my own Number of the Day based on the book Number Talks. This few minutes talking about numbers and building students’ number sense was so beneficial. I’ve often seen many students in third grade who don’t understand place value and how numbers work, and so I’ve held this time as crucial during our day. Click the links below to learn more about Blair’s Number of the Week or the Number Talks book.

Groups- I split my class into two groups: one with the average and above average students (the kids that “get it” after they see it, or the ones who already have a ton of background knowledge); the second group is the below average and low students (with a few average students that need a bit more repeated practice to get something). Depending on my number of students at the time, the groups range from about 9-12 students. While this is higher than my group numbers when I taught in centers, I still could group the kids into smaller groups for on the fly reteaching. I taught the two groups slightly differently.

For the groups, students bring their dry erase boards and markers and come and join me on the floor. This allows me to get down and see what each of them are doing throughout each step. When I would do this whole class, it was so much harder to keep tabs on everyone and circulate. This allows me to jump right in, quickly put a couple kids together to reteach, or to show something to the entire group. Students also often jump in and assist each other when someone isn’t getting it. Because we’re all sitting close together and have fewer students to wait on to finish the students stay engaged with what we’re doing. They also know that if they work hard with me, I’ll generally give them a few minutes to have free draw on their boards before they put them back. 2 minutes of drawing time does wonders!

The big differences between the way I teach my two groups is the “We do” part of our lesson. With my higher group, after a very quick two problem or so review of yesterday’s lesson, I quickly explain the new lesson and we practice a couple together. The bulk of our time is students practicing the skill on their own with me checking. I do this one problem at a time so I can clear up misconceptions right away. After the group has demonstrated mastery we often are able to take the skill to the next level: to quickly apply the next step in the standard, or even sometimes doing the next grade level’s standard for the skill. We often continue this practice as “we do” as well, but it sometimes is done independently depending on how the students are doing. Previously, I’d never been able to really push my strong students in math to apply their learning beyond our current standards. Giving them these little opportunities to try out and apply the skills at a higher level gave them confidence and helped them solidify the current standards, too. This has meant that by mid-week, group 1 has generally finished the week’s skills. When I plan, I plan out the week for group 2, and look to see where I might be able to take group 1. We often were able to reach that next level.

With group 2, we spend most of the time working on the problems together. This is the group that needs additional practice, that often has previous misconceptions. We discuss the steps together and do problems step by step before I “turn them loose” to try on their own. Even when they do try it on their own, I’m still closely monitoring to see who is getting it and who is not. Often, even within just that few minutes, I’d do a quick reteaching with a small group, or the whole of the group to make sure students understand.

This set up is the first time I’ve been able to feel like I can push my high students and also reach my low students who need a lot of “cleaning up”. It’s allowed me to really differentiate and meet their needs.

Technology- When I’m working with one of the groups, the other group is on Technology. We have students computers and a small group set of Kindle Fires I got through a grant so students are further split in half and go to one of these. They rotate between the two each day; so one day they’re on the computer and the next their on a Fire. This time is important to me as well since it’s a big chunk of time. I wanted students to stay engaged and really be furthering their knowledge. They are usually Front Row or Moby Max but occasionally I’ll throw in something different to keep their excitement up. These two websites allow you to assign specific skills/standards and also allow students to practice on their individual levels. With Front Row, I love that I can have students work within the domain that we’re practicing but working at THEIR level. I would tell students to practice a specific standard from time to time, but often they’d work where they need to work, and with my low group it’s been great to know that they’re practicing those skills that need to be cleaned up. To see more about Front Row, click the image below to head to that post.

Math Facts- I often use our Rocket Math program during this time but we also play fact games as well. My favorite way to spend this time is doing Skip Counting. That’s really been the best way for my students to learn their facts. You can see more about it in this post by All Things Apple in 2nd.

Spiral Review- I do a daily spiral math review every morning as part of our morning work outside of our math block. I like to do this sort of system because it gives students a chance to work through all of the standards several times a year and gives students practice on various standards each day. We do one set of second grade (40 pages so that makes it through about the first quarter of the year) and then do three sets of third grade throughout the year. I have spiral review sets for 1st, 2nd, and 3rd grades. You can click any of the images below to head to my TpT store to check them out.

I hope you’ve enjoyed taking a walk through our math block and I explained our structure clearly. I would love to hear if you do something similar in your room.

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