by C. Elkins, OK Math and Reading Lady
I’m going to repost a few of my favorite beginning of the year articles along with some math and parent involvement tips (since last week focused more on literacy tips). I know this is coming to you on a Tuesday again this time (which is different than the normal Sunday release), due to some out of state travels (to see our grandson). I’ll get back on track here very soon.
- Here is a link to a post I made previously regarding a great back-to-school math/ literature activity: Name Graphs with “Chrysanthemum” by Kevin Henkes
5 letter first name
6 letter first name
- Looking for some good stories to read to encourage classroom community (Grades K-5)? Try this post: Back to school stories and activities
I am in the middle of a great book study: Accessible Mathematics: 10 Instructional Shifts That Raise Student Achievement by Steven Leinwand (Heinemann Publishers). Click HERE to get more details about the book. I’ll give you a rundown of what I’ve loved from this book so far:
- The quality of instruction has more impact on student achievement than the curriculum or resources we use. This means the instruction is “enhancing, empowering, energizing, and engaging.”
- “We can demonstrate, tell, and let our students practice, or we can engage and focus on understanding and application.”
- Where do you fit? Where would you like to be? Which model provides students with the opportunity for productive struggle?
- The more traditional: Teacher instructs, teacher solves example problem with class, students practice on their own while teacher assists those who need help. Or . . .
- The focus on understanding: Teacher poses a problem (though-provoking). Students struggle. Students present ideas to class. Class discusses various solutions. Teacher summarizes class conclusions. Students practice similar problems.
- Teacher questions like “Why?” and “How do you know?” invite students to explain their thinking and show different ways to solve a problem.
- Daily cumulative review is important. (I will touch more on this in later posts on ways you can incorporate this into your daily math routine where it is interesting, informative, and engaging. In the meantime, check out the categories section of my blog “Number Talks and Math Meetings“).
Miscellaneous parent involvement tips:
One of my goals the year I worked on National Board Certification was to improve parent involvement. In the last post I mentioned keeping a log of parent contacts and writing a weekly or monthly class newsletter or blog. Here are two other things I initiated that proved very successful, so I thought I’d share them with you.
- Invite parents to write to you about their child. At the beginning of the year, I asked parents to write a note telling me about their child. I invited them to tell me the special things they wanted me as the teacher to know – to include their successes and proud moments. Perhaps even share the goals they have for their child, information about siblings, their feelings about homework, etc. This information was helpful to me to get to know the child better. Parents really appreciated the chance to tell about their child, and it set the stage for open communications with the parents. I hope you will try it.
- With the students’ help, we put together a memory book of the year’s events at school. I took lots of pictures (even of routine things like eating lunch, lining up, library time, where we put our coats, etc.). Every couple of months I printed the pictures and students chose 1 or 2 to write about. After editing the writing, the pictures and written captions were put together in a memory book (big scrapbook). We added borders, stickers, and other scrapbooking type visuals. We tried to finish the main parts of it by February so it was ready to share with the parents. It was available for viewing at conference times, and students could check it out to take home for parents to see. It was especially valuable to those parents who were not able to visit school. I put a few comment pages in the back for parents to leave notes. You wouldn’t believe how many had a much better understanding of the complex day-to-day school events and appreciated the chance to see what really goes on at school all day. After 2-3 years of making a book version, I changed it to a digital format (power point) instead of a book version (because parents wanted copies). With a digital version, you have the capability of importing graphics, etc. to make it “fancy.” I still have my books and will always cherish them.
Enjoy!! Coming soon — I’ll share more from the book “Accessible Mathematics” as well as some cool things I’ve learned from a Building Math Minds summit I attended.
Be sure invite some of your new teachers to join this blog.
by C. Elkins, OK Math and Reading Lady
Welcome Back! Here are a few links to some of my previous posts regarding literacy and math you might be interested in to help you start your journey this year. And in case you didn’t see it, I have an easy link to most of my own free resources. Click here to get it now, but it is also available in the black bar above. Have a great start to your year and Enjoy!!! Please invite some of your new teachers to check out my blog!
- Getting to know you literature connection and math activity
- Building a classroom community (includes link to great team building practices)
- Writing part 1
- Guided Reading Part 1: Getting Started
- Guided Reading Part 2: Routines and Procedures
- Meaningful Student Engagement: Whole Class Reading
- Daily Math Meeting Part 1: Building Number Sense
- Daily Math Meeting Part 2: Subitizing
- Addition and Subtraction Part 1: Numerical Fluency
- Addition and Subtraction Part 3: Facts Strategies
- Multiplication Strategies Part 1
- Fractions Part 1: The basics
Some other tips to get prepared for your literacy lessons:
- Organize your classroom books. Small tubs that can be brought to desk pods is helpful. Labels such as these help get the books returned to the right tub: animals, friends, plants, weather, Clifford, by author, etc. Think about a gradual release of your reading materials so students aren’t overwhelmed at the beginning of the year. This way you can go over procedures for book selection, silent reading, how to treat books, etc. When I was in the classroom, I selected 5 tubs to put out onto desk pods each week (1 tub per pod). These were rotated daily. The tubs were selected based on developmental level and theme. At the beginning of the year the tubs might be: friends, school, alphabet, problem solving, etc. Students could select from the tub at their pod during the day instead of everyone gathering at the bookshelf. Each student made a bookmark with their name on it (which I laminated). They could put their book mark in it to signal to others in their group that they wanted to continue with that book later in the day. Each group had a “captain” for the week and they were in charge of making sure the books were in good order.
- Plan for your word wall. I recommend building the word wall as the year goes along, with the children involved in placing words there (rather than coming in with a complete “busy” word wall).
- Make a pledge to keep your guided reading table cleared and ready. Do you have these materials handy? Small whiteboards, markers, erasers, pencils, letter tiles or magnetic letters, sight word cards, pointers, small magnifying glasses, post-it notes, laminated graphic organizers, small teaching reference charts . . .
- Literacy activities for students to do while you are assessing. Get out those task cards for students to review skills from last year so you can do your required assessments. Try to include a running record if possible to help determine each child’s strategies. Procedures for the activities will be important to establish so that by your sixth week of school you will be ready to start guided reading.
General welcome back tips:
- Sharpened pencil(s): This is my most recommended tip. Give each student 1-2 already sharpened pencils to start their first day. I learned this the hard way. First graders couldn’t sharpen their own pencils so I just about tore my arm/shoulder up sharpening pencils for them. Plus the electric one can’t take so many attempts. So it’s worth it!!
- Welcome bag: Check out this link for a cute poem and ideas for goody bags to welcome your students to your class: https://blog.reallygoodstuff.com/welcome-back-to-school-goodie-bags-by-hadar-maor/
- Think about how you are going to keep contact with parents. I recommend some of the following:
- Keep a separate log to keep track of phone, text, or email contacts (date, student name, parent name, reason, result)
- Make it a goal to contact a specific number of parents each week with good news.
- Try a weekly or monthly class newsletter. This is a great communication tool to let parents know what stds. you are working on, what they can do to help at home, activity ideas, sharing successes, advise them of things coming up, etc.
- Start your own blog for your class. Then you can include the above newsletter type items, plus pictures, etc.
- Work to create a classroom community. I love the Responsive Classroom approach (Morning Meeting is one highly recommended routine). Everything you can do to build the sense of a classroom community will pay off in many ways!! Here is their website link to great articles and advice: https://www.responsiveclassroom.org/articles/
by C. Elkins, OK Math and Reading Lady
I am pleased to be able to make my blog even easier to search for topics of interest to you! On the side bar you will now see an expanded category list with a number indicating how many posts I have written on that particular topic.
If you are looking at this on your phone, then the category list might appear at the bottom.
To get right to my FREE stuff, look at the black bar at the top and click on “Links to free downloads.” You will also see things arranged by math and literacy categories.
Do you want to make task cards and cool colorful activities for your students, but can’t afford the cost of the color ink to print these things? I feel I just have to pass this tip along to you because it has been a real money saver for me. When I bought an HP home printer, I enrolled in their HP Instant Ink plan hoping it would save me money on ink costs. With an HP Instant Ink plan, I can choose a 50 page a month plan ($2.99), a 100 page a month plan ($4.99), or a 300 page a month plan ($9.99). The best thing is that I can print color or black, whatever I choose, and HP monitors my usage (via wireless) so I can check at any time. There’s no extra cost for printing in color!! When the system sees I’m getting low on ink, they mail new cartridges to me in plenty of time so I never run out. And they provide an envelope to return the used cartridges. Any unused pages are rolled over to the next month. If I go over the allotted pages, I am billed $1 per each set of 20-25 pages. I can cancel or change plans any time I want to. For example, during the school year I use the 300 page plan each month, but during the summer months, I use the 50 or 100 page plan. In essence you are paying for the number of pages you print, and not the ink cartridges.
Because I think it’s such a great plan, I want to pass along the information. If you are interested, click on the link below. If you enroll (check to make sure your printer is eligible) using my link below please, you will get 1 month free (and so will I).
USE GOOGLE CHROME or FIREFOX for this link ——————— NOT INTERNET EXPLORER
Click this link for more info. If you sign up, we will each get 1 free month: try.hpinstantink.com/gLHdm
I am not getting paid to make this statement (other than bill credit if you enroll)– just trying to help us all out with teaching expenses any way I can!
Be sure to check out my new links to my free downloads (in the black bar on the home page).
Cindy Elkins – OK Math and Reading Lady
by C. Elkins, OK Math and Reading Lady
I am thrilled to announce that a link to my FREE downloads is now up and ready! You can preview it HERE now. Or you can always find it on my blog homepage (cindyelkins.edublogs.org) and look on the header in the black strip. This may help you quickly find what you are looking for.
You will find links organized by Math, Literacy, and Misc. Within each subject area you will see specific target areas (such as number bonds, multiplication, fraction, guided reading, writing, and so on). I linked the posts that these downloads are in so you can get the full story. Often within the posts are links to other free stuff (by other bloggers).
Let me know if this works for you – or if you have suggestions for future posts for this coming year! I will be ready soon to address more issues you care about as I celebrate two years of blogging (started August 2016).
Enjoy!! C. Elkins