Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Getting Ready for Reading Tests!

This post is a compilation of my reading test minilessons from last year. I'm starting this next week and wanted to share...for some reason people keep purchasing this set of materials from my teacherspayteachers store ;) Tis the season!

I have created a "Test-Prep" Minilessons Bulletin Board that I use to review strategies for reading comprehension that I have taught students all year long, but with a "this is what it looks like on the test" spin. This board allows me to move from what students KNOW about reading in general to how that applies to reading for a reading test.

This method considers “test prep passages” as another reading genre that students develop an understanding of how the test/passages are designed. (I’m sure you have done this all year with poetry, nonfiction, realistic fiction, science fiction, fantasy, opinion-based articles, etc.) Together, you and your students discover how a test is put together AND how what you have taught them to do all year as intelligent readers still applies in the setting of “test reading.”

My version of Question-Answer-Relationship is based off of the types of questions on our Reading EOG. All questions can be classified as "Right There"/"There and There," "Inferencing," "Overalls," and "Apply Prior Knowledge." Once studnets realize what question type they are working with, they can then go about the appropriate steps to figure out the right answer. I love these four types because it helps me remind my students that there are questions that ARE NOT directly answered by the text. The test will require them to THINK (at least a little) for themselves and use the knowledge they have learned.
I use a 4 step method to help students when they are finally answering questions. (WE do ALOT of work before we ever touch the questions!) I guide them through learning how to reword the questions (when necessary), mark out the obviously wrong answer (or 2), collect clues for the other answer choices, then make an educated decision (not a guess!) based on the information they have collected. Students are also required to write evidence (for or against) for each of the 4 answer choices. By the time they do this, they have typically figured out the right answer. You may decide to only use one of these questioning strategies (as I have in the past).

We are still in the beginning stages of our test prep because I know what my kiddos were capable of last year. We are still reading our independent books and I am conferring with students during our independent time. I'm sure we will dabble in reading and answering some of the passages this week, but I didn't want to get them started to soon (as 5th graders) and then have them burn out closer and closer to the test. Our first few lessons this week will be analyzing the types of questions they will be asked and talking about how we should think to answer those types of questions. I have typed up all of the Reading EOG questions from 3rd-8th grades for a student sorting lesson. This is included in the test prep download, but I have also uploaded it as a freebie (since I didn't write the questions myself, but made the sort so that we could use the questions in a different way). You may want to check out the grade levels before and after you as you work with students. I was uber surprised that 5th grade had no text-based features types of questions (we have NO NO NO graphics in our released set at all), but looking at 3rd or 4th (can't remember), they did have some text-feature based questions. Of course, I don't want my kiddos to be surprised by anything.

Although I am preparing my students for testing, I have lived by this ALL (of-my-teaching-career) YEAR!

Reading Tests: Questioning Lessons

What’s the purpose of having students sort questions independent of reading the text?
Allowing students to closely analyze questions helps them to make generalizations about the types of questions they can predict will be on the test and that they can expect for specific genres. Yes, you can do the sort for them and hand them a list of questions, but allowing them to come up with generalizations about the test questions takes your “test prep” from teacher-centered to student centered and considers testing a “genre” or “type of text” rather than an unpredictable “test.”

Today I wanted to share how our questioning lessons are going.
Day 1:  I had students work in partners to sort the questions into categories that made sense to them. It was interesting (and telling) to see what kind of categories students came up with on their own. I went around from group to group listening to their ideas and pushing them to reconsider some of the questions they had placed in different categories. (We completed this sort prior to the kids reading the text--based on my experience, you can decide what kind of question MOST of them are without reading the text yet.)

Day 2: I gave students a copy of my Question-Answer-Relationship handout. I went through each type of question (which was review from last year) and then had them meet with their partner again to sort the questions into these four categories. Now, not having read the text, there are a few questions that fall between two of the types of questions.
Day 3: During minilesson,  I gave each student two of the question cards and decided to start the lesson with the ones I had leftover. (Totally random, no strategic planning here). I called out one of my questions and we discussed where we would place it~"Right There/There and There," "Inferencing," "Overalls," or "Apply Prior Knowledge." Then, I asked students to raise their hands and share if they had a question like the one we had just categorized. Students read their questions one-by-one and we decided as a class if it fit the category. We continued until we had grouped and classified all questions. You can see our findings in the picture below. Each of these categories helps students tap into what skills and strategies they should use to answer the questions given. For example, if I have an overall question, I am going to pull from the beginning, middle, and end of the text (or a specific paragraph).

Here's how our questions fell into the categories:
"Right There/There and There"
* Literal Questions-We can go right back to the text and put our fingers on these.
Example: "Based on the selection, how did Roberto get to see the game?"
* Compare/Contrast Questions (need us to use information in two different places in the text)
Example: "How are butterflies and mosquitoes different?"; "Which statement shows a way some insects are similar to spiders?"

* Interpreting Figurative Language questions, using context clues for unknown words, and comprehension questions that go beyond the literal
Examples: "In paragraph 19, what is meant by 'Roberto's heart was in his stomach"?; "In the selection, what can be inferred about how the people viewed the old man?"; "What does the word shabbily mean as it is used in the text?"

* Main idea, summary, theme, generalizing, author's point of view, etc.
Examples: "Which statement summarizes the theme of the selection?"; "What main ideas are supported by the selection?"

"Apply Prior Knowledge"
***We talked about how none of the questions on our test would be true "prior knowledge" questions and that all of the questions were text-dependent. Now, when we take our SCIENCE EOG, ALLLLLLLLLLLL of the questions will fall under "prior knowledge." Interesting findings!

What are some ways I can use the questions for sorting?
• I think all sorts should be completed with partners or in small groups to encourage students to discuss what they are noticing and negotiate the categories.
• Allow students to sort the questions into any categories they see and then discuss as a group. (This would work well before you have introduced any of your Question-Answer-Relationship lessons and your “how to answer questions” lessons)
•After teaching your QAR lesson, have students re-sort the questions into the 4 categories (“Right There/There and There,” “Inferencing,” “Overall,” and “Apply Prior Knowledge.”) Within the 4 categories for QAR, see if you can come up with different types of each category. For example, “overall” questions include main idea, summarizing, theme, etc. while “inferencing” questions also include context clue questions because you use the text and your mind to infer word meaning.

My full Thinking Through Reading Questions Bulletin Board/Minilesson/Questioning Strategy Materials can be found here!  

Sunday, February 2, 2014

Happy February Valentine Heart Personalities Anyone?

Hi All,

This is a quick post as I have to leave the house in a few minutes, but I wanted to share that I uploaded my Valentine Personalities Vocabulary and Creative Writing Project like my Snowman and Pumpkin Personalities products. Students research a chosen personality trait in-depth (finding synonyms, antonyms, definitions, etc), complete a character questionnaire to explore their character and word in more detail and then plan a story, poem, blog post, etc. Last, students write their story and design their Valentine/Heart Character.

Here's a sneak peak:


Choose Trait: 
Explore Trait:
 Explore Character:
 Plan Story/Write Story:
 Bonus Activity: Design a Valentine Card from this Heart/Valentine Personality:
 Design the Valentine Character (thinking about facial expressions and features):

I like to use these seasonal activities to infuse my year with creative writing. At this point, my students are involved in research-based writing and they spent last quarter writing essays. It was nice to take a week to write "Snowman" stories. And, during Valentine's week, students will research their Valentine Personality trait and write a creative piece (it can be a poem, narrative, blog post from the character, a wanted ad,--anything to allow them to breathe creatively for a mini-writing project. 

Snowman Personalities
Pumpkin Personalities

Thanks for checking out this new product. It's cheap and ~EASY~ to implement if you are looking for something simple for V-Day. ~Put a little love in your <3~

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

Multiplying and Dividing Fractions Plans

You might recall that going into this quarter, I figured out a planning routine for differentiation that I think is AWESOME applesauce! I take all of the materials I have (task cards, worksheets, etc) and place them on a continuum of difficulty. (If I need to fill in holes for lower levels or higher levels, I begin searching for resources or create my own). In addition, I outlined the quarter with FOCUS CONCEPTS (new material) and REVIEW CONCEPTS (1 day/wk).

I outlined my fractions unit {loosely} before the quarter began, and of course, things have already changed a bit. Mainly, I realized that it would be okay to push a few things to next quarter (like coordinate planes) and spend an extra week on multiplying and dividing fractions. {Keep in mind that I do not suggest only teaching fractions for 4 weeks. We already spent a large chunk of 2nd quarter on fractions--adding, subtracting, and a little intro to multiplying. Can you tell I could literally spend ALL year on fractions and be in MATH~nerd~HEAVEN?}.

I thought I was differentiated to the max already, but as I began to teach my three classes, I understood that what I had considered lower-level needed to be even more straightforward or scaffolded for one of my classes (for this group, I have went back to my old math workbooks). Now, don't get me wrong, these kiddos that I have to drop back to the worksheet for CAN get it and have done so, but I found that they need a more straightforward approach first and then they move into the task card sets. With a worksheet, they seem to get more accomplished and grow more in their confidence that they CAN solve the problems--and they know they will be moving on to task cards, which they have a positive attitude about.

Here's my fraction outline in a continuum format. The first icon will be the easiest/basic entry level, with the activities/practice work moving into increasing levels of difficulty. Also, it is important to note that some of the individual sets of task cards (like the Chili Math Multiplying Fractions) already include questions in increasing level of difficulty. This pack of task cards has 60 cards that I broke into sets. Some of the first questions are straightforward multiplying fractions problems, while some of the later task cards make students think backwards to figure out the factors that were multiplied instead of just the product. Needless to say, these cards have kept us busy busy for a week (with whole group minilessons also included at the beginning of each math class). The extension column includes materials for those students who finish the tasks above and beyond and are ready to move on to other concepts or look at the focus concept in a new way.
Based on my routine math schedule that I brainstormed before the quarter began: 

Mon-Wed: Practice with Focus Concepts (new material we are trying to master, students work through the continuum)
Thurs: 1/2 time Data Day (charting our exit slips performance and assessing on an OLD skill); 1/2 time: Algebraic Thinking Day
Friday: 1/2 time remediation on old skill (based loosely on assessment performance) and 1/2 time continued work on Focus Concept (some students may be working on extensions while others are 'secretly' being remediated, and others are completing work from the week that they understand but just need more time to work on). Some students may also use as a differentiated spiral review/to fill in some unmastered skills.

I will say that in getting the quarter started last week and getting to know my new students, I decided not to implement the Thursday/Friday schedule until our second week back. We will definitely have assessment/data/algebra on Thursday and Remediation/Review on Friday this week.

By the time I teach math for the third hour, I am burned out...and worried that I can't fix everyone's issues and misunderstandings. But, after having a little lunch and getting to my planning time to further differentiate and plan for the next day, I get really excited and LOVE the ability to focus on only a few subjects (I'm also teaching reading/social studies integrated into an hour and 20 minute block).
I hope your teaching life is happy, and please comment with questions as I am hoping that I am able to explain what I am doing clearly, but I am not always sure it is!

Sunday, January 12, 2014

Pre-Assessment: Multiplying and Dividing Fractions

This past week, our run at departmentalizing our grade level began. If you have been checking in to the blog, you know that I was lucky enough to be the one who gets to teach math! I see the other two classes first, then my class returns to me for math. I was initially worried about behavior, routines, etc. but I really think behavior has improved dramatically because I am a new teacher to these kiddos and they get the impression that I am not going to put up with any mess. I love math and my main goals are to help them feel confident, learn to persevere, and to teach them what they need to know. I recently shared my math outline for the quarter which {of course!} changed a little once this week began.

Since I'm teaching two groups of students that I don't know, it was important to me to get to know them as math students as quickly as possible and to be ready to differentiate for them immediately. To prepare, I had each teacher group students into the following descriptors:
* Needs extra support
* Understands/Average
* Quickly Understands (Above Average)
* First to Finish (will always need something more)

These groups were recorded in a chart in google docs and I printed off multiple copies of it to help me learn student names, know how to group them for lessons, and to take notes on how they were doing with concepts during the week.

Since classes are at different levels and each of us got to different points in teaching multiplying and dividing fractions, I started on Monday with a low-pressure assessment that was also leveled in depth of knowledge demonstration. My students who easily know how to solve fraction equations had to write steps for solving the problem and then explain why they did certain steps. Why do we multiply fractions straight across and not have to find common denominators? :)
This assessment was more interesting than I expected and truly did what a pre-assessment is supposed to do. With the first class, many students completed the first problem by multiplying the numerators and keeping the denominators the same. Then for the second problem, some students began trying to find a common denominator. It was interesting (and nice) to be able to tell them that they were remembering how to add and subtract fractions and I was very proud of them for that. I explained that it is important to have a common denominator when adding/subtracting fractions, but you don't have to have one when multiplying. I tried to convince them that they would love multiplying fractions more because you don't have to have common denominators...they had already learned the harder concept last quarter! For students who knew how to multiply, I was able to see if they would simplify the final answers and turn improper fractions into mixed numbers. 

I hope this assessment was able to help students feel confident, rather than like they didn't have any idea what to do. (I was afraid some of them would shut down and not try anything, so I know I'm repeating myself, but I was really glad to be able to say "This is what you do know! I'm so glad you remembered that.")

I also have the same type of worksheet ready for dividing fractions, although I may use it differently with different classes. I haven't talked to my students about dividing fractions yet, so we may use this together to think about WHY flipping the second fraction makes sense. (If you want these, click on the images. I have put the file in my google drive for sharing with you.)
In my next post, I'm going to share with you how my plans {really} worked out and the modifications/change in pace that I already made this past week. 

You can catch up on other posts from my Departmentalizing Math Journey by clicking the icon below!
Happy Sunday Funday :) I hope you are looking forward to the workweek ahead!

Sunday, December 29, 2013

3rd Quarter 5th Grade Common Core Math Outline

I'm ready to share my outline for math for 3rd quarter. These plans show the standards we will learn each week, the review standards I will focus on on Fridays, and the materials that I have to work with so far. Some of the weeks may seem a little slim, but I'm still working on planning out the specifics of those. I also plan to do a Week-By-Week "Peek at My Week" for math where I will outline the gist of my daily plans. Hopefully, this will help me plan better and you can enjoy the specifics. Did you already read about my math routine?                                                              
These plans are in a PDF with clickable links. Click on the image to go to the PDF. Poke around and see what you find. I have linked a few freebies that go straight to google doc files, so you might find something useful and free.

Modeling Multiplication of Fractions

It sure feels like I have been writing about fractions like CRAZY~CRAZY, but we spend almost all of 2nd quarter and part of 3rd quarter learning fraction concepts. Are you looking for a way to launch your unit on multiplying fractions (read-elicit some prior knowledge and a reality check on where students are in their fraction understanding?) I created these task cards to do just that with my students. I wanted to focus on representing situations/word problems with models and equations. I also incorporated the opposite--representing models and creating word problems. It was interesting to see my students try to color the fraction models to represent the word problems.

Did I mention that these cards grew from the fact that I was pretty sure that many of my high-achieving students could solve the equations for multiplying fractions, but I was not sure that they truly understood what they were doing or why you would multiply a fraction by a fraction or a fraction by a whole number. With these cards, students were exposed to examples, had to represent what it meant on a picture, and had to create their own situations/word problems.

I included 16 task cards each for multiplying fractions times a whole number and fractions times a fraction. 8 of the cards in each set focus on modeling a word problem and 8 of the cards focus on writing a word problem and equation to represent a model.
The student answer sheets for these task cards include all parts students are to complete (IE-models, equations, written word problems, etc).
I also made a version of the task cards that are one to a page so that you can show them on the smart board. This is actually how I used the problems to launch the lesson (students had their recording sheets and I displayed the cards on the board so that we could "math talk" about what we were thinking and share our representations.) After day 1, students worked on the task cards independently. These task cards fit 4th and 5th grade Common Core standards for fractions.
Have you checked out my other recent math posts? Here's a run-down: 
Fractions Fractions Fractions  (differentiation strategies and subtracting fractions with regrouping)
Division with Fractional Parts (Multistep and CHALLENGING!)

You can check out all of my fractions products HERE @ TPT

Oh yeah, I also made an "Everything Fractions" pinterest board, if you want to follow along. I've already pinned some goodies, especially websites for integrating technology in math, but I will keep pinning every time I see a great fraction idea.

I'm cooking up one more idea for an interactive fraction lesson that I hope I can make work...

Thanks for stopping by!

Saturday, December 28, 2013

Math Routine: Algebraic Thinking Day

I love to integrate algebraic thinking throughout the year, rather than as a separate unit. Over the years, I have come to love a number of materials. Today I'm going to share websites and a new set of task card that I purchased for Algebraic Thinking Thursdays. You can check out an outline of my math schedule if you want more info.

Math Playground houses my favorite online games for Algebraic Thinking, and since we just went 1-1, this will be a perfect way to use the laptops in math. I'll be sure to have discussions where students share some of the strategies they have developed (as well as push them to verbalize their strategies with me one on one as they are working).
1) Algebra Puzzle
 2) Algebraic Reasoning
 3) Calculator Chaos
 4) Weigh the Wangdoodles
I have a set of really cool Algebraic Thinking worksheets. These sets of activities are special because each problem builds and gets more challenging as students move through them. In addition, students are successful when they are able to carry previously learned strategies and concepts with them to future puzzles. (Unfortunately, I can't find an example of these anywhere online, so I will have to share them in another Algebra post when I return to school and can get some pictures!)

I love this game called "24." Students must use all 4 numbers and any operations (make an equation basically) to get a result of 24. In poking around on the net today, I found out there are multiple versions of this game--providing for challenge at many grade levels.

I also bought Order of Operations Task Cards from Chilimath. I thought the cards were great because they have three different sets that require students to find answers in different ways:           1) simplifying an expressions, 2) multiple choice where students simplify the expression then pick a multiple choice answer, then 3) students have three choices of expressions and choose the one that gives the listed result (I like this one because potentially students have to solve three problems to get the answer to the task card and problems of this type often show up on state tests).

I hope you found a resource that you can incorporate into your math time. Did you know that if you use blogger or a google site for your classroom, you can straight copy my links and pictures above and paste it into your site? I'm going to do this to share the algebra links with students. Easy peasy!

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