Saturday, September 20, 2014

Bright Idea {Problem Solving}

Hi, Friends! How are ya? Are you ready for another Bright Idea?


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Like most things that work out well in the classroom, this idea developed out of necessity. I needed something simple, quick, but meaningful as a daily opener for math. We begin math each day just after recess and it had to be an attention grabber to move forward with the lesson! Enter daily problem solving……


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One sure way to get your firsties’ attention is to make learning personal! I incorporate students’ names into story problems each day. Because they know SOMEBODY’S name will be a part of the problem, they enjoy watching the problem pop up to read and see who it will be.  I also sneak in our current phonics patterns and sight words to get in additional reading practice….(gotta get the biggest bang for my buck)! Winking smile


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When I shared this little guy via Instagram and FB, I really didn’t think it would get as much attention as it did! Seriously, ya’ll…..it’s a very simple slide. It’s just a text box for the story problem and two doodle frames with a white center for us to write over and manipulate objects to help solve the problem. As we return from lunch, we take 3 minutes to “cool down”. As they’re cooling down, I’m gearing up for problem solving! I just click and type in a new problem and we move forward. It really is just that simple…..

The trick is tying the story problems to real world situations that students can relate to.


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In Guided Math:  A Framework for Mathematics Instruction, Marilyn Burns is quoted as stating the following criteria for problem solving practice:
  • There is a perplexing situation that the student understands.
  • The student is interested in finding a solution.
  • The student is unable to proceed directly toward a solution.
  • The solution requires use of mathematical ideas.
By keeping these criteria in mind and incorporating the requirements for problem solving from our new state standards….we’re involved in math talks, using vocabulary, exploring mathematical concepts, applying concepts we’ve learned in math and learning to explain and justify our thinking! Using student names in problems and our {Mimio} interactive whiteboard makes it all f-u-n! The student that is featured in the problem also gets to come up and help solve it!

As we move through the school year, problems will increase in difficulty and students will be expected to write to explain their thinking during math writing. Simple. Effective….daily problem solving!

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For more bright ideas from more than 100 different bloggers, please browse through the link-up below and choose a topic/grade level that interests you! Thanks for stopping by =)



Friday, September 5, 2014

Five for Friday~Routines, Routines... & Making 10

Hi, Friends! How are ya?! Another Five for Friday has rolled around….and we’ve officially survived the first two weeks!!  Whooo hooo! Sit back and stay awhile….check out these 5 happenings from our TODAY!

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Routines are taking shape! My little crew of firsties and I are getting to know one another and meeting expectations has become the name of the game!

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1 of our classroom expectations is knowing how to use an appropriate voice level. Sometimes you also just need a little space for yourself to get your work completed. With the switch to {round} tables this year, there’s no space for big, rectangular privacy folders. To gain a little privacy students learned to divide their tables into 4 individual spaces by placing their book boxes on the table extending out from the supply caddy set in the middle.

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After taking time to learn procedures for showing what we know….students earned their first crack at smart art! Smart art is our weekly reward activity for meeting expectations during Daily 5 throughout the week. Our story this week was about pals, so students worked in pairs and used verbs to tell things that friends or pals do! Turn & talk, reading response and art all rolled into one….=)

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Having a classroom library that students are allowed to access for good-fit book choices requires organization. Last weekend, I had my [personal] kids return all of the books back to the library bins because….let’s face it….I was just too exhausted to have the class do it for themselves! This week….however…I knew that it was important to teach this routine and hovered just a bit to ensure each student neatly returned their “good-fit” books back to the correct library bin by matching the sticker or letter on the bin. They did a great job!

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I posted this picture earlier today onto the FB page and it’s gotten A LOT of attention! {Thank YOU to all!} We started this lesson by viewing a quick video clip about different ways to make 10 on DiscoveryEducation.com. The title of it was The Making of 10 (Math Monsters). We discussed what the little monsters were doing to create groups of 10 as we watched and then used this little activity to review the week by showing the pattern found in creating the same number different ways.

We worked on 2 or 3 of the little rectangles together and then…..I asked the class to stand and pretended that I couldn’t remember the next combination that would come in the pattern, sent them to talk about it in small groups and to build it using their own set of cubes {for each group}. They were charged with the task of holding up cubes that would be an example of the next combination needed…FIRST….THE FASTEST….and it involved a “clip up” action for getting it done! Engagement, movement, good behavior….all in one!

A little friendly competition makes things fun and interesting too! =)

After working to create the needed combination, the class was called back to the carpet and we completed additional squares together. Students making wise choices were chosen to record the numbers for each part to be joined to create a group of 10. Oh, how wonderfully a firstie will sit in order to get their hands on one of the teacher’s FAVORITE markers!

It took a couple of times to go back and forth before completing the chart and our room was a little rowdy, BUT the kids really enjoyed the lesson and it was a great wrap up to subitizing, spatial patterns, counting in easy ways and counting in hard ways, etc… It was so much fun to watch them challenge each other!

ANNNNNd guess what?! All I did was put the chart together and facilitate the discussion…the kids did EVERYTHING else! Score! ANNNNNNND, little did they know…..as soon as they were off on their way home, the chart was laminated and placed in a bin for math stations next week! No excuses about not knowing what to do because… guess what?! They created it! Extended practice……deepening of understanding…..here we come! You can see the blank poster that was set into stations by visiting the FB page.

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Before ending the day, we settled down and settled in to routines for writer’s workshop. Today, we completed the assembly of our folders and began to write across 3 pages for the first time. Because it was our first time, I simply stapled 3 blank pages together. No copies. No wasted ink. 3 blank pages of printer paper. Students used their pencils to draw a line across the page from the middle staple to divide their paper in half. Illustrations went above the line. Words/writing went below the line. We use that same routine in our morning work journals. It saves pages. =)

Reference resources are kept on the prongs that run down the middle. So far, we’ve added our heart maps and a mini-poster to practice the path of motion for forming our letters. Each student also has a personal word wall that is kept in the folder. The pocket on the left houses writings that are still a work in progress. The pocket on the right houses writing that is complete.

I searched all over and couldn’t find green and red coding dots….soooooo, instead we incorporated color coding plain white labels as part of our discussion about the use of our folders! Glad I never found them….

Well, friends…..that was our Friday. There’s been so much happening on the homefront since school started that I’d loved to share! One day that I don’t come home and collapse…we’ll play catch up! Until then, keep visiting…more fun stuff to come! Click the pic below to grab a little freebie for Making 10. Next week….beginning addition!

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My favorite thing that has happened so far this year? One of my shy guys walked over and quietly asked…. “Is it ok if I put your name on my heart map?”….{heart melted}. It’s been just 9 days, but……..I think they like me!!!!!


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Sunday, August 31, 2014

First Week Jitters

Hellllo……is anybody out there? Can you hear me now…OR are you coming out of a first week coma too!?? I think I might've forgotten how much work goes into the first week of first grade! Don’t laugh….BUT it reminds me of child birth. Only the labor is spread out over an entire week! My bed is still perfectly made from a week ago because I never made it to sleep in it last week! I dropped as soon as I could right onto the couch and found myself waking up there each morning. Thank God for a charged iphone battery and SEVERAL morning alarms!

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Now that I’ve regained a little of my senses, I’m checking in with Kacey for a little Five for Friday catching up!

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With each passing day, routines and procedures began to take shape. Our first crack at building stamina lasted for a whole whopping 30 seconds! I was flipping cartwheels (in my imagination) by Friday for having built it up to a whole 7 minutes!

I usually draw our anchor charts, but with the sonshine having started his first football season the same time as school, well……ain’t nobody got time for that! Clipart spruced up our anchor chart and to keep them uniform, I’ll be printing pictures for all 5 of them.

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I did, however, whip out this little guy over a cup of yogurt Tuesday morning! This chart was definitely the class favorite of the week. We’ve learned that we can do tough stuff without quitting or giving up! There were lots of smiles as we raised our arms to flex our muscles before practicing read to self each day…

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By Friday….we had gotten to know each other a little better and were ready to be on our feet for some learning fun. We used Dr. Jean’s Rhythm rhyme to generate a list of rhyming words. These little items came from Lakeshore Learning’s rhyming basket. Each student was given an object to “hide” in their hands. When I gave them the signal “ready…rhyme” they walked around the room to find their matching rhyming partner. 

Learning on our feet? Fun!

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Later that day, we also learned how to format our math journals. The sheet of chart paper is laminated. Each day, I’ll write and wipe 4 spiral review topics for students to copy and complete in their math journals. Because this was our intro lesson….we worked through one square at a time. I covered the remaining squares with construction paper so they wouldn’t get overwhelmed. As students begin checking into math writing next week, they will work through all 4 squares at their own pace.

Introducing this activity whole group allowed  me to see who has trouble copying too. Now, I know how many students I will need to provide a copy to glue into their journal.

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….and you know that last post? The one about the room set up? How happy I was with the finished product? Perfect plan…..? Ha! You know what happened the minute the kids showed up, right? Yep! I found out what really worked and what really did not! Kids know best…..and every afternoon, I tweaked things until we got to a format that will work best for all of us.

There’ll be no riding dead horses for us. What doesn’t work, gets tweaked until it does! 

I think this one is a winner!

Lesson plans included lots of Kindergarten review and time for getting to know one another.

Today was a day of rest….tomorrow, it’ll be time to prep for week 2! As we get ready to move full speed ahead, I thought it might be a good time for a little pick me up! A little something to help get energized….How about a fun Give Away? I can’t send you a caffeine boost, but I can help with adding a little fun to those fingertips as they work to mold little firsties!

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The first week is a wrap! Enter below to have a little fun and win some Jamberry nail wraps from my teaching bud, Dani! 


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