Thursday, April 28, 2016

Six Ways to Survive the Last Six Weeks of School

Well if today was any indication, my class has definitely hit end of the year fever. I’m sure my class isn’t the only one that’s starting to feel the fever, so today I’ve put together a list of six ways to survive those crazy last six weeks of school.

Six survival tips for teachers during the last weeks of school - Suggestions from Raki's Rad Resources

1.) Keep your routinesIf your school's like mine, there’s a lot of special things going on and it’s easy for kids to start seeing school as “over”. This affects their behavior and makes it very hard for you to get their attention for the things you still need to get done. A good way to stop school from being over is to keep up the routines you’ve built all year long. My students do a full school day every day that I can swing it. We are still working on spelling and vocabulary packets, novel studies, calendar books and math facts. I emphasize every day that we’re still here, so we’re still learning.

 2.) Reteach and Preteach – This is the time of year that students think they know everything. Remind them that they haven’t yet mastered all there is to know by reviewing concepts that you have already covered. They’ll be amazed at how much they have already forgotten. If they truly have mastered all of the concepts you have covered this year, preteach a few things from next year’s standards. Second graders love learning about multiplication because they know that’s a “third grade thing”. Kids love feeling like they’re learning something they’re not supposed to know, so give them a sneak peek. The kids will be thrilled and next year’s teachers will be happy they have background to connect to.

3.) Connect the dots with projects – Thanks to standardized testing, we often have to cover all of our standards well before the end of the school year. So what do we do with the last six weeks of school? Well just because we’ve covered topics doesn’t mean they’ve mastered them. And with literacy topics like doing research, there’s always room for kids to grow. So take time in those last six weeks to give students projects. These projects can cover multiple topics and help students connect all of the separate dots they’ve learned about all year. Some of my favorite projects to use at the end of the year are: Real Life Math Projects, Biography Projects, The Great Plant Experiment and Creating Your Own Cookies.

4.) Start something new – My students are bugging to learn cursive and keyboarding skills and this seems like a great time to teach them this. They’re starting to be sick of the same old stuff, so give them a bit of something new and different that they can sink their teeth into. Since you’ve probably taught all of your standards, this is a great time to learn about something that is interesting to your students. Let them pick a topic and run with it for a bit. You’ll be amazed at how they’ll come back into the learning realm with a bit of new information.

5.) Play games – Games can be used to reinforce many skills.  We’ve pulled back into the word family games we’ve been playing bit by bit all year. Now that they’ve mastered all of the word families, they can play little tournaments. Regular old board games are also great for this time of the year. In our world of video games, many students don’t know how to play classic board games like Yahtzee or Monopoly. Take time to teach students the rules of these games, or check out some of my old Board Games in the Classroom Posts and take the games to another level.

 6.) Reflect on the year – Look back over the year and all of the things you have learned. Compare current writing samples with ones from the beginning of the year. Graph the end of the year data. Build online portfolios using the projects you have completed all year long. Have students write letters to their parents about everything they have learned. There are so many ways to reflect on learning, and these reflections help students build metacognition as well as being a great way to wrap up a year.

 So those are my six survival tips. How do you get through the last six weeks of school?

Sunday, April 24, 2016

Life Sized Number Lines

During our last few weeks of school, we are working on reviewing math concepts and building up an understanding of numbers using number lines. We started out practicing skip counting in various ways, including ways that are not skip counting starting at 0, giving students a chance to look at counting by 5's and 10's in different ways. Next we started putting these skip counting patterns onto a number line as increments. Now we are using number lines to explore operations. We have reviewed addition and subtraction on a number line and now we will make the connection to an introduction to multiplication.

Creating life sized number lines with index cards - math ideas from Raki's Rad Resources

One of my students' favorite projects was putting together life sized number lines. For this project I had every student come up with their own number and write these numbers on white index cards. We lined up the numbers in order from least to greatest. Then, split the students in half. Each group used their numbers to create their own number line with increments. 

We first brainstormed these number lines on scrap paper and then once I conferenced with each group, the students wrote out their increments on colored index cards. These colored index cards were glued onto butcher paper to create life sized number lines. Once the number lines were made, the students placed their number cards onto the number lines. When their number lines were complete, I gave each group a few extra number cards and asked them to add these numbers to their number line as well. 

Creating life sized number lines with index cards - math ideas from Raki's Rad Resources

The students loved working on these group projects and the lifesized number lines have been a great teaching tool. We have used these life sized number lines to compare numbers and to work on operations. From my observations on this project, I was able to create three differentiated groups for my Prove it, Solve it, Fix it Tiered Activities for Number Lines.

What math activities are you working on during these final months of the year?