Thursday, October 25, 2012


google image

Ditto that Barbie.

Math is even harder to teach.

At our district, we teach using the Everyday Math Program.

If you are unfamiliar with the curriculum, here is a synopsis: If you look at the "Big Picture" it is a great program, providing intense spiraling of skills, but if you glance at a day in the life of a first grade teacher, it looks more like a nightmare.

After 2 years of teaching with it, and trying almost every possible teaching format, I am here to announce that it cannot be done I still haven't found the exact formula- BUT I am getting closer!

What is the most effective way to teach math in first grade?

What have you tried that works?

What have you tried that doesn't work?

What about centers? whole group lessons? small groups? conferences? math tubs?

Here's what it looks like for me at this point in the school year:

Calendar Morning Work (5 minutes) 
Check calendar work/ addition speed drill (10 minutes)
Math Mini Lesson (10 minutes if I'm short winded- which never happens!)
 Math Guided Practice/Independent Practice in their math Journal (10 minutes)
RECESS BREAK (aka put my head back on and find all of my hair that I pulled out)
Center Rotation 1 (teach small group or one on one)
Center Rotation 2 (teach small group or one on one)

The way that we introduced Centers this year was much like the way we introduced The Daily Five in Reading this year.  There are 4 skills that we knew our firsties needed to practice weekly.  We wrote out an anchor chart for each and gradually introduced them to our students- building their stamina for each.

M-math manipulatives
A- math alone
T- math together
H- helping build math

They rotate to 2 centers a day, which *almost* means they get through everything twice a week. (I've added iPods and computers to the mix which slows things down a bit).

Here's more on the actual centers:

Math Manipulatives is a place where students can explore certain math tools for learning.  I usually put the manipulative here a few weeks before we use it in a lesson.  This cuts down on the desire to play with the tool during the lesson. Brilliant!

Math Alone began with students scrolling on a 100s chart.  I have to brag and say I have students who are currently working on numbers past 1,000!  We have since introduced their math journal and math boxes to the center.

Math Together is for playing math games with a partner.  I am thankful that Everyday Math provides a lot of game ideas.

Helping Build Math is exactly what it sounds.  In the beginning, when our first graders had not gained the independence, we included puzzles.  Currently, we have students building linking cube patterns, but the possibilities are endless.

I  still have not perfected pulling my small groups yet.  It seems there is always something that takes my attention and squishes my teaching time.

With the help of this book:

I plan on mastering the art of teaching math. 

How do you make math work in your classroom?  

Saturday, October 6, 2012

New Student

I  got a new student on Wednesday.

Brand new.

Brand our school.

Brand new….to Read to Self.

Brand new….to Partner Reading.

Brand new… Word Work.

Brand new….to Listen to Reading.

Brand new… Writer's Workshop.

Brand new… Math centers.


After 34 days of training, teaching, modeling, building our stamina, and modeling some more my students were getting the hang of it. (More than getting the hang of it…they were ROCKIN OUT at the Daily 5!)

This week I was challenged with the task of starting from scratch with one student while maintaining the rest of my student's routines and behaviors. It was as if we all forgot what the expectations were.  I had so many students raising their hands and coming up to me with questions- which we had NOT done in the past!)

Let me tell you, I was overwhelmed.  Playing catch up and expecting to squeeze 34 days worth of instruction and routines into this student's first day was NOT happening well.

Today, I ran across an article on the Sister's website that eased my worries.

Here's what they recommended:

1. Model, review, and Model again.  There is no harm in having students model the correct and not correct way to read again.  It benefits all students!

2. Provide your new student with a buddy.  This relationship should act like a "shadow" (much like you would see as a new waitress in training).  The new student will follow the veteran student around during the D5.  This is a chance for the helper to explain the whys and hows with a whisper in the ear.  That way, the teacher is able to conference with others and not break her routine. (Brilliant idea!)

3. Model, review, and model again!

I'm wondering what you do when you get a new student?

Do you have any helpful tips for me?

I'd love your feedback!

Friday Flashback

I am linking up with Teaching Maddeness for a look back at what has happened in the classroom!

Here is a week in photos:

In math, we introduced IPods into our center rotations!
Hip Hip Hurray! 

We learned a new game called Penny Nickel Exchange.

We also added computer centers to our math rotations!  It was a BIG week in First Grade!
(Website: Spacey Math)

Math Puzzles Review.

Listen to Reading with big books!
*Favorite photo*

Word Work with Wiki Sticks

Sorting Letters, Words, and Sentences to get ready for next week's focus lesson:
complete sentences.
(I found this freebie from Heather's Heart.  Click here: Pete the Cat Sort Freebie to get your copy!
 I love her blog and you will too!)

In writing, we added our Special Places Map into our Writer's Notebook!
This firstie picked to add the library.  :)
This idea was inspired by Leach Teach.  Go check out her blog.  You will LOVE her! 

In Science we focused in on Oceans.
Here we made a replica of the Ocean floor complete with mountains, valleys, high and low tides,
and currents (with straws).  

It was a busy week! Add a new student to the mix and trying to teach him 34 days worth of routines and instruction! I am one tired teacher.  But I *LOVE* my students.

They are super sweet and helpful!  Especially to the new student. I cannot tell you how many times I heard someone helping him figure out our routines in First Grade.  It made my job so much easier!  I am so thankful to have such a sweet bunch this year!

Now I am off to see one of my firsties star in his first soccer game.  He invited me at recess yesterday and told me all about how he is going to get to play goalie and wear fancy gloves that makes his hands sweaty! I love their honesty!

What have you done this week?

Link up with me here:   *Flashback Friday*