Wednesday, July 8, 2015

Standard Mapping

I will be teaching a new grade level, 4th, next year.  (Argh!)  I am excited about it, but nervous at the same time.  To prepare for this change of grade level, I wanted to map my standards out for the year.  In order to do this, I've printed all of my standards on post-its.  You can find this free resource on my TPT page.  Printing on post-its can be a little tricky the first time you do this.  I print one page without post-its, so I know where my post-its will be placed then I put my post-its on the page, like this:

I then can put blank paper on top of this one and I know where to place my post-its.  Make sure all of the sticky edges of the post-it are the same direction, on top.  You will need them facing the same way so they do not jam your printer.  Before I print on post-its I use a blank page and draw an arrow on it, and run that through the printer.  This tells me which way the paper is pulled through the printer when it is printing.  When I place my post-it paper in the printer I make sure my sticky edges of the printer will be pulled through first.  I also make sure all of my post-its are all the way down, you don't want a corner sticking up, which may jam your printer.  If you have the edge that is not sticky being pulled through first, you may jam your printer as the post-its may lift off of the paper. After I've done all of this it's time to print.  I'm overly cautious and will only print 1 page at a time.  After printing, your page should look like this:

I have ELA, Math, History Social Studies, and Next Generation Science standards, so I pick 4 color post-its to easily see the subjects.  I use chart paper and divide my paper into subjects and decide how to divide my time line.   In this case I wanted to divide it into trimesters.  My paper looks like this:

I then go through and plot my standards.  I place the post-its on the time line as to when I will be introducing each standard.  The final chart looks like this:

I then transfer my information into a word document.  BUT I keep this timeline all year.  I love having them on post-its because as I teach I might find that a standard I thought would be introduced in 3rd trimester really is introduced in 2nd trimester, I can easily pull it off and move it.  I then have a record for next year.  I hope you find this useful in your planning of the year.

You may want to visit my store.  At the time of this post many items are kindergarten and first grade related.  I'm sure I will be posting more 4th grade items.

July 15, 2015 - I just finished watching a webinar by Dr. Jayme Linton.  She suggested mapping your standards by the verb, looking at the difficulty level of each standard.  This way you can introduce less difficult standards before the more difficult ones.  She suggests mapping the standards on a grid similar to this:

You could use the post-its if you were doing this with your PLC, this way you could discuss and move post-its, then when complete a word document could be created.  If you'd like to use the word document please click here and I've already created for you.

Saturday, July 4, 2015

Recall Games/Activities

I have finally sat down and completed my SmartBoard game with addition and subtraction problems.  I've had one created for kindergarten with a few facts, but I wanted to make one that is specific to addition and another specific to subtraction.  Pages getting more difficult as the class progresses through the game. 

My class has loved playing these SmartBoard games.  I have students throw a Koosh Ball at the SmartBoard and the circle disappears and exposes the problem underneath.  What I have found through playing this is that you have to find a Koosh Ball that has some weight to it.  The very light ones will not trigger the circle to disappear.  What is a Koosh Ball?  Well it looks like this:
Image result for koosh ball.png

I also use an elongated squishy ball, that has a ball inside of it, this gives it enough weight to trigger the circle to disappear.  Mine is similar to these:
 Image result for long koosh ball

While I see my students enjoy these games, I've wondered, are they really learning from them?  So I've done some research, this quote, "There is also evidence that games allow students to focus well enough to learn better." Lepper and Cordova, 1992 struck me.  The way I play the game is, half of the class is a team and the other half the opposing team, my rule is only the person who's turn it is may speak.  As it is only one child's turn, you'd think kindergarten and first grade students would become antsy, but they don't they are intently waiting for the problem or word to appear and they are waiting to see if the child gets the answer correctly.  This quote supports that, they have more focus during our game then compared to sitting down completing a worksheet. The above quote was from the article, Why Use Games to Teach?   The article continues by talking about how kids today are immersed in technology, we need to be supporting this.  And playing educational games in technology help do this. 

Those of us that teach the very young, see everyday how they learn through play.  They use their imagination and they problem solve.  It feels like as a kindergarten teacher, we give our students less and less time for that imaginary play, but it is such an important part of learning.  This article talks about a longitudinal study on play, How Do Young Children Learn Through Play?

Upon further research, I may want to call my game an activity.  This article defines games Learning Mathematics Through Games.  We as teachers often times feel like we have to justify why we are using a game to teach.  When an administrator walks in, I know I fear it looks like we are "playing", but I have to come to realize that playing is a huge part of learning.

These games/activities I've created are based on recall, recall is the lowest domain on Blooms Taxonomy, but if students can not quickly recall they will have difficulty moving up Blooms Taxonomy as tasks get harder.  Recall helps build working memory.  As I researched I found many recall games/activities.  This is a list of pretty good resources,

I have always played games as a class or have a game in a center.  I think if you purposefully choose a game that fits what you are teaching or what students are learning about, it is a great way to make learning fun and purposeful.  It helps that subject come alive for students.  If a teacher is just throwing a bunch of games out there that do not tie to anything that is being taught, kids are still learning from playing, but they are not making connections.  We need to help students make connections, build a love for learning, and make learning fun!