Wednesday, September 25, 2013

DIVISION w UNIT FRACTIONS~ Multi-Step Word Problems Around the USA theme


                                                            ~ FINALLY FINISHED!!!~
Sorry, had to take some breaths there. I had no idea what I was getting into with this brain child. I wanted to make some task cards to connect unit fractions with division (to help students go ahead and make that leap in their understanding and make connections more easily once we get to our fractions unit); simpler cards like those are probably on the way eventually because I know we will need the practice, but I also wanted to take my student work on task cards to a higher level this go round. Hence, I decided to make one paged task cards like my Multi-step Word Problems School Supply Themed Task Cards. Needless to say, I have put in the HOURS on this product, but I am loving it!

Although the inspiration for this set of word problems was division, you will see many common core concepts embedded in the questions. Because I want my students to have to think on their toes and continue using previously learned concepts in meaningful ways. For this set of "Around the USA" task cards I used data for the land area of different states and regions and the length of coastlines. Students will end up adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing while having to use their mastery of different number forms to interpret the numbers they are working with (word form, base-10 expanded form, expanded form, etc).

Here's a sample task card:
These cards will not be the kind of task cards that students can ~zip~ZIP~zip~ through (like mine are used to with other task cards we have worked on this year). I think these will be a good change of pace and I would expect that the average student only completes one of the ten task cards in a 20 minute station rotations. I plan to launch these in a whole group lesson (using one of the cards as a model), then to set aside at least one day for students to get a good grasp on working through the task cards. Next, the cards will move into one of my math stations and small groups for students who need extra assistance.

Here's the nifty Student Recording Booklet and the Teacher Answer Key:
Rather than kicking back and relaxing, I am off to put together my free Student/Parent Led Conferences freebie for you guys and work on some social studies ideas.

Friday, September 20, 2013

Student/Parent/Teacher Conferences and FREEBIE

Since we just wrapped up our quarter, we also had report card conferences. Have you ever implemented Student Led Conferences? I have done a number of conferences where I ask that students are present where we also set 1-2 goals. I'm a big fan of making sure that all involved parties (student, parent, and teacher) are on the same page, having the same conversations when appropriate, but this year I had a totally crazy idea!

What if students and parents led the conference? {I have to admit, part of this idea was PURE selfishness. Conferences take up a ridiculous amount of time, including many late evenings. This idea quickly started to evolve into a way that I could have multiple conferences happening at the same time and potentially finish them in less days and less long afternoons.} I had other great reasons too, including the positive experiences I have had with leading goal setting sessions with students and parents and having students attend their report card conferences.

How did I go about setting this up?
1) I chose 4 evenings that I would block off (over the course of 3 weeks) from 3-6 for parents/students to sign up. (I ended up doing this in only 3 evenings because I was sick one of the days and had to cancel all of those conferences.) I then sent an email to parents explaining how I wanted to do conferences this year.
Click the image to Go to the GoogleDoc version that you can copy and modify for yourself

2) Students completed a reflection on all subject areas during class prior to the start of conferences. (**I want to share this with you, but my best version is on my school computer. I will upload it later.)
3) I prepared a list of guiding questions for parents. (This matches the same order as the student reflection)
4) I decided what materials students would need in order to successfully discuss their learning. These items included:
* Readers Workshop Notebook
* Math Workshop Stations Folder and Math Notebook
* Writing Draft Folder
* Social Studies Assignments, including a nonfiction reading assignment

On the day of each round of conferences, I pulled the scheduled students together and asked them to sticky note two places in their reading journal that showed their best thinking. (One had to be a write about reading entry, but the other could be from minilesson and read aloud). Then students pulled all of the materials they would need and placed them in a basket.

* Students are in charge. Students are responsible for sharing what they have learned this year, including classroom routines and procedures.
* College and Career Readiness {baby}: Don't we all have to undergo annual reviews where we explain the work we have done so far this year, explain what we are working on, goals we have achieved, and things we would like to do better? This is such a great, real-world, career-related experience for students!
* I felt that parents received MORE infromation about what goes on in our classroom. Rather than presenting a report card and explaining 2's, 3's, and 4's in each area, they really could get a sense of what their child is accomplishing this year.

Wow! I didn't realize how rewarding this would truly be. First, just taking a look at students' reflections and seeing (in their own words, without any influence from me) how much they were loving 5th grade, how they were capable of recognizing the improvements they have already made, and how they were able to come up with ways to improve themselves was huge.

Second, it was AMAYahzing to hear students tell their parents what we were learning in class. I could not believe how everyone was able to spout off lessons I had taught...HELLoooo! They are listening!

What did I learn?
1) 3 sets of parents/students in the room at the same time is probably ideal. At one point, I had 4 in the room and I was concerned that parents might not have felt they were getting enough attention from me (although I don't think they felt this way, I was a little anxious for criticism of this new way of doing things).
2) Having a set of parents/student scheduled for a time slot ALONE was not ideal. It changed the feel of the conference. Since they were the only ones in the room, I was all to available for them and probably did too much leading of their conversation. These conferences also tended to go on for an hour because there was no pressure to finish or understanding that other groups of parents/students were moving along faster.
3) Some students were able to "blow smoke" when talking to their parents. I allowed the child to explain things from his/her perspective, but I was hoping the parents would probe more. When they didn't, I may have asked a probing question or let it go. In the end, the report card demonstrates a more accurate picture.

All in all, I think this was a great success and will do it again next year. For 2nd and 3rd quarters, I plan to have students complete the same type of reflection and invite parents in to do a check-in on what their child has accomplished with his/her goals that they set during 1st quarter conferences. I will probably offer two evening sessions for this and let it be solely parent/student led.

I've uploaded an editable version of the student reflection and conference questions to TPT. Of course, you will want to modify the questions and directions to fit your needs. If you use these materials or ideas, I would love to hear how it goes!
Are you following my facebook page and instagram? I'd love to have you join me on social media!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Facebook Fan Page~~What? What! So Excited!

I just made a facebook fan page for Lifeloveliteracy. I hope you will HOP ON OVER and click LIKE to follow along with all things Life, Love, Literacy and Tarheelstate teacher. I'm excited about the fan page because in addition to the ways you can already follow along with me, a facebook page gives me a fast way to share resources that I find and may not have time to write an entire post about. Come follow along. Come on, I know you wanna :) Just click the image below!

Seriously, thanks for your support!

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

September Currently~Remember Me?

Yes, remember me? It's tamaralynn @ finally checking in to my good ol' blog. It has been a busy quarter, but I won't lie and say I didn't have time to blog...I just chose to spend my free time elsewhere! I have had a million bloggy ideas and now I am on my FALL BREAK!!! CHEER, CHEER, CHEER! Never have I wanted to be on my break so bad as I have for this one. To tell the truth, I think I have the best class in the world right now, but I have SOOOOO wanted extra planning time, blogging time, and creating time that I get when I am on break. Not to mention, I hate to hear the alarm clock go off, and for a few weeks, I can sleep a little later.

What better way to get checked back in to my blog than with a "CURRENTLY" from Farley?

Listening: SILENCE (is GOLDEN? :) Every teacher knows that silence is amazing! It's late and I really haven't watched TV or listened to much of anything today. It's been quite nice!

Loving: ~~~FALLLLLLLLLLL break~~~Nough Said! I'm going on a mini-vacation to Charleston in a few weekends, but hey, the next few weeks are mostly full of vacationing! Cooking, sipping my coffee, blogging, movies, cuddling with my Gracie cat, running, and enjoying slow dinners with good company. :) It's like Saturday every day for the next few weeks!

Thinking: It's WAYYYYYYYY past bedtime and I think I have already messed up my sleep pattern, but I spent the day being pretty lazy! (I give myself a PASS on this "technically" first day of my break!)

Wanting: I have a lot of products on my mind, like my Morning Meeting theme set, some new "Around the USA" math task cards, and other random ideas. I was able to get my Words Their Way Word Searches for Letter Name Alphabetic Spellers finished and uploaded today (so I wasn't SOOO lazy, was I?)

Needing:  Did I mention I teach in North Carolina? I feel like the entire public is tired of hearing teachers complain about pay, but I feel like I am stuck under a glass ceiling that will never move! It has been a tough month with an air conditioner breaking and a trip to the ER (which will cost a few hundred with my fantabulous insurance). I'm tired of struggling, I love teaching, but I need a RAISE!

How I'm Going to LOVE Myself: My personal training membership ran out a few weeks ago and I decided not to re-new. Now I am on my own. I need to run, run, run, and make sure I don't gain. I will be joining a cheaper gym near my school when we return from break, so that will help.
Ummm, did someone say PSL? You know, pumpkin~spice~lattes? How about some PB? pumpkin~beer? I will say that in the past few weeks, I have had two PSL and lots of PB. I LOOOOVE fall, especially the temperature drop, the blue jeans, and the boots!

Yes, I want to blog more, so here's hoping that I can check in at least once a week when 2nd quarter begins.

Head on over to Farley's blog to link up for your own currently or find out how {nearly} every other blogger in the universe is doing! 

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Newish Logo!

I am so excited to unveil my new logo. It merges the old "lifeloveliteracy" logo with a North Carolina design that represents my teacherspayteachers store name. When I first got into this blogging and TPT gig, I didn't really think about having both my store name and blog name be the same. The pressure of coming up with a store name and a blog name was sooooo challenging for me, but I wanted to get started, so I jumped right in with the best I could think of.

Over the past year, I have went back and forth about changing my TPT store name to lifeloveliteracy so that it matches my blog, but I know so many other seller-bloggers have different names and I have more followers on TPT than my blog, so I decided to figure out a way to merge the two names.

I hope you love it! This was one of my *few* accomplishments today on my first day of fall break!


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