Monday, July 15, 2019

Free Teacher Workbook to Learn How to Organize Small Groups

When it comes to organizing your math & ELA small groups and centers, it can get a little overwhelming!

Be honest - Do you...

  • Feel lost when it comes to organizing your small groups?
  • Worry about meeting with all of your students regularly?
  • Dread trying to put together the rotation puzzle?

If that sounds like you, you're not alone! Figuring these key components of your small groups is so important, but it's also super stressful! That's why I created a free workbook to help you out!

The FREE workbook will teach you how to:

  • Create a clear plan to conquer your small groups
  • Organize your time rotations, and students
  • Design a flexible, functional schedule to meet your classroom needs

In this workbook, I'll walk you through a step-by-step process to create a classroom rotation schedule that will work! You'll see sample schedules, find example rotation displays & charts for students, and get free printable planning templates to help you get started!

Click the image below to get your free copy of my workbook in your inbox today!

Friday, June 28, 2019

Creating a Classroom Focus Wall Display

Putting together a focus wall is a great way to display learning, so I wanted to share with you a few tips & ideas on how to put one together to fit your classroom!

Why Should I Use a Focus Wall?
I like to think of focus walls as the "hub" or reference center for my students. It's a place for them to constantly refer back to content so it really STICKS! As a teacher, I like to use them as well because they help me stay focused and remember what's most important, too!

What Do I Display?
I've done it a few different ways, but I've found the most success creating a focus wall that I only have to change a few things out every few weeks. There's already so much on our plates as teachers, so I knew this needed to be something I could realistically keep up with!

I like to use the miniature $1 pocket charts from Target to add vocabulary words, sight words, spelling words, phonics skills... you name it! This makes it easy to change out the cards without worrying about stapling everything. PLUS, when you introduce something new for the week, like sight words for example, you can have a student do the job for you. This helps them take ownership of the wall and recognize that this wall changes as we learn new content!

This pocket chart was perfect for hanging our math vocabulary for various units! 
Every week we change out these phonics posters (printed mini-sized) to match our skills for the week. I used to have a long, narrow bulletin board across one wall of my classroom where I would hang previous skills. You can also add them onto a binder ring to use in your word work center or small groups!
How Much Space Do I Need?
Honestly, dedicate one bulletin board for your focus wall (or two if you want to separate math & ELA), and LEAVE THEM BLANK at the beginning of the year! Hang up an empty pocket chart or two, but then wait to use it and add the learning to the wall WITH your students. I like to hang up these headers (shown below) to label everything, but we add all of the content as a class!
A few years ago I used a giant chalkboard in my room and divided it in thirds with bulletin board borders so I could have space for math, ELA, and science/social studies, but that wasn't as successful as I'd hoped. Honestly, it was too much! I've found the most success just having one or two in my room (Math & ELA).

Focus walls don't have to be huge AT ALL. Even if you just want a small space for displaying vocabulary words or anchor chart(s) for what you're working on, a focus wall is great place for it.

Need Focus Wall Resources?
Here's a list of some classroom resources that are great if you're trying to put together a focus wall in your classroom!

Friday, May 31, 2019

Quick Ideas for Spiral Review Math Warm Ups

With busy classroom schedules, it can be extremely difficult to fit in continuous practice of all of the math standards. Have you ever taught a certain skill in September and then didn't review it or go over it again until April? So frustrating!
Oftentimes I feel like scripted math curriculum or district pacing guides do that to us. They require us to teach something at the beginning of the year and then we never review it again! Don't they know kids need repetition and exposure of these skills for mastery?

Let me show you what I came up with to help spiral math content for the year during quick math warm ups at the beginning of my math block.

I always love a good theme, so I started by theming the days for each month. I called Mondays "Money Monday" and Tuesdays "Telling Time Tuesday"... I know, cheesy, BUT it helped give me an idea of what skill/standard I needed to review with my students each day. I sat down and mapped out this Skills & Standards At a Glance page (free download at the end of this post) to help me make sure I was hitting every standard. 
So when it came time to start math, I would begin with a super quick spiral review. I'm talking 3-5 minutes. Many days I would simply write a problem or question on the board and we would spend 3-5 minutes quickly reviewing it, solving it, and talking about strategies to solve it. Other days we'd review an old anchor chart. Sometimes I'd pass out a sticky note and students would take a minute to solve a problem and they'd bring their sticky note to the carpet to share. Quick, targeted spiral review!

I ended up deciding that I could really use a printable page to work on these spiraling skills, so I made some for the year. You can have students do a little bit each day, or you can use it as a quick formative assessment at the end of the week. Right now I only have 2nd grade because that's what I needed for my classroom, but I'm working on some for my 1st grade teachers, too! 
They are simple and only one page for the week! The include the themed days, standards, word problems, and quick problem(s) for your students to solve each day!

You can get a free, one-week sample of the warm ups below, and I've also included my 2nd Grade Skills At a Glance page for those of you that just need cheat sheet for hitting all of the standards!

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Skill-Based Elementary Math Interventions & Strategies

Think about targeted, skill-based intervention in your elementary classroom. For me, I think: Too many students. A huge variety of skill levels. Where do I start? How do I find the time?! What intervention activities will I use? 

Sound familiar? You're not alone!
I had all of those questions/stressors thinking about math intervention. However, my one beacon of hope was my one classroom assistant/aide that came to help in my room while we were doing math rotations for 30 minutes. You better believe I wanted to make her time in my room as effective as possible.

I needed a routine that would allow her to get started right away, without me having to pull her aside to talk to her about who needed what (Plus, I was in the middle of teaching a small group when she arrived, so I definitely didn't want to stop teaching to give her instructions!)

So here's what I came up with... Skill-based math intervention folders. Each folder had a different skill: counting to 120, place value, addition, subtraction, etc. Inside each folder, I filled it with printable worksheets or activities that I wanted my students to practice with help. I slid all of the pages into sheet protectors and added them to the pronged folders so they could be reused with my assistant over and over.
On a shelf near the door in my classroom, I had a small bin with the different intervention folders, dry erase markers, math manipulatives/counters, and anything else she might need. To let her know which students I wanted her to work with that day, I simply put a post-it note on top of the folder she would need for that student. Sometimes I would add little notes telling her to use base 10 blocks when you pull __, or only spend 5 minutes working on this skill with __.  

In the front left pocket of the folder, I typed out a little page for progress notes. Before my assistant finished with a student, she'd quickly fill this out so I knew exactly what they worked on and how it went.
If you're struggling with how to fit in a little skill-based math intervention in your classroom, I highly suggest trying this out! These folders are SO easy to put together, and you can use resources & activities you're already using in your classroom to fill the folders! Plus, once they're put together, you can have any extra hands (think parent helpers, too!) work with your students!

If you don't have the time to find activities to fill your folders, I have a few already good to go for you. Click here to check them out!