Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Workin' On It Wednesday

I'm working on getting back into the swing of school!!
How about you?

Friday, August 22, 2014

Planning My Planner...

I spent yesterday morning putting all of my school dates and all of my daughter's after-school commitments on my monthly calendars. On the calendar, I also included the plan for completing my units, which I have color-coded (I saw this idea on Pinterest and really felt the need to do it myself). I'm hoping that having all of this on month-at-a-glance calendars will help me stay on track a little better with completing my units "on time" and will help me be a little more organized all around.

Download editable template.
I also spent a bit of time tweaking my personal lesson planner. I've made my own planners on the computer for years, so that I didn't have to spend time writing out the class names, times, regularly scheduled parts of the day, etc on each new planner page. My planners have changed over the years, as I transitioned from teaching elementary to middle school, and as I've chosen to add different aspects to the planner (like standards, reflections, and notes sections). Part way through last year, I added a "supplementary" planning page for each week, to document differentiation, homework differences by class, and progress by class. So, yesterday I combined what I had on the regular weekly planner and the supplementary page to create a planner that is a 2-page spread for each week (I had kept everything to one page in the past - until I added that supplementary page last year.)

This template is different from the one I included in my organizational binder, because it's specific to my needs. You can download the ppt version of this template and edit it for your own needs, if you'd like (the version on Google docs is a little different from my ppt version, so if you want the ppt version, just email me and I'll send it to you - . I know the picture is hard to read, but the pages below should give you a better idea of what each section says.

I'm hoping this layout works well for me this year!

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

Working on it Wednesday!

I can't believe it's already Wednesday again!
What are you working on??

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Good Use of Time?

There are so many things to get done this week and next, and so when I was in my classroom, what did I do? I used duct tape to decorate my trays!  These trays are pretty old, but are so sturdy that I can't part with them. I noticed that they were a bit marked up, so I thought the duct tape would make them look cleaner and neater. The pictures aren't as bright as the actual trays/tape...guess the lighting wasn't great.

So, with all the things I need to do, this probably wasn't the best use of my time, but it was fun:)

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Workin' on it Wednesday

It's a rainy kind of Wednesday here (this morning). I've been working on organizing "anchor activities" for math class. So far, I've collected a list of ideas, but plan to spend the rest of the week getting things physically organized.

Please link up below:)

Monday, August 11, 2014

It's Funny...

Sometimes, I think it's funny (only kind of funny, because it's also a little disturbing) when I read about an idea for how to do something, only to realize that this great idea is exactly what I USED to do. It's "funny" because I HAD already been doing these great things, but a bit disturbing because I had completely forgotten them!

The most recent example of this came the other day, as I was reading The Together Teacher (which I started reading to be able to link up with Kelly at An Apple for the Teacher - I'm contributing a post about Chapter 10 in September).

So, I was reading chapter 1, where the author was explaining how to create a weekly schedule that shows every day by the hour, so that you can plan for and see when you will complete the tasks that need to done, and I was like - "Wait a minute, I used to do that!" Quite a few years ago, I used to spend much of my "spare" time working on my Mary Kay Cosmetics business. I went to meetings every week, held skin care classes, etc, and I learned SO much about ways to plan my time so that I could fit in all of my activities (and my children's activities), without letting anything slide. The weekly planner templates could be ordered from MK, but after a while I created my own on my computer. What a flashback when I saw a similar template in this book!

This led me to remember that I also used to create monthly, color-coded calendars of everything our family needed to do (color-coding was also a MK recommendation). I kept a copy in my school planner and gave copies to my husband and my mother-in-law (because she helped with child transportation and wanted to attend sporting events, school events, etc).  I started doing all of this at least 15 years ago, and wow, those calendars were full.......
I think I stopped being so dedicated to making them when my oldest daughter graduated from high school (6 years ago!!). At that time, my youngest daughter was not involved in many activities, so it was mainly my son's sporting events that we needed to know about (and school things). The color-coded calendar wasn't so critical any more, so I gradually stopped making them. (And, I wasn't as active in MK any more...there just wasn't I didn't have the constant reminders to use these scheduling practices.)

This chapter has been a great reminder to get back to some of my old practices!

Sunday, August 10, 2014

The Differentiated Math Classroom: Chapter 10

Chapter 10: Pulling It Together: Lessons, Anchors, and Tools

In this chapter, the authors summarize how they have characterized differentiation in a math classroom:
1) Responsive teaching
2) Organized and flexible approach using a diverse collection of strategies
3) Purposeful adaptation of teaching and learning processes to accommodate the ways different students learn
4) All students have access to math knowledge and are appropriately supported and challenged
5) Teaching and learning in a problem-solving environment
6) Providing all students with opportunities to reach high standards, to reach their full potential, and to become proficient, independent learners in math.

They have included a handy table of the lessons that were referenced in the book, along with the grade level and math strand addressed, so it's easy to go back and find any lessons you'd like to use.

The authors address anchor activities again, review the idea that these are activities that students use when they have completed their work or are waiting for assistance. Anchor activities could also be used as warm-ups, in order to introduce them. Routines are needed for the storing and managing of anchor activities. The authors again recommend MATHCOUNTS materials as an excellent resource. They recommend a few other resources: The Joy of Mathematics and Math Talk: Mathematical Ideas in Poems for Two Voices, by Theoni Pappas (these are good for middle grades, to explore “intriguing” math ideas); books by Marilyn Burns (grades 1-8); Nimble with Numbers; Continental Math League Problem Collection. Farkle is a game that the authors use as an anchor activity, with students sometimes organizing tournaments. This is a game I did not know until I read the directions. The scoring rules are adaptable, so I will likely try that. If you’d like the directions as written in the book, let me know…maybe many of you already use this game:)

The anchor activities are the items I need to work on the most - I need to gather, create, and ORGANIZE in the next two weeks (two weeks!).  Last week, I was happy to find that the 24 Games I ordered with budget money have arrived – these sets include ones I haven’t had before, including integers, variables, and fractions/decimals). I can definitely use these as anchor activities!

Do you have certain anchor activities you use (or could use)?


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