Saturday, October 25, 2014

You Oughta Know About...

We are so excited to have this opportunity to join in the October You Oughta Know Blog Hop with some fabulous bloggers. A big thank you to Jasmine McClain at http://buzzingwithmrsmcclain.blogspot.com for organizing the hop and bringing all of these great ideas together!

Data, data, data! It is a word we hear every day as educators. We need data to get a baseline, we need data to guide our instruction, we need data to report progress to parents, and some of us even need data to prove our success as a teacher.

Mollie and I decided that we needed to get our kiddos more involved in collecting, organizing, and analyzing data so we set out to find a system to use. We already have two binders for our kids (one for Literacy and one for storing materials for math, science, and social studies) so we really wanted to steer clear of another binder. We decided on a folder and ring system.

Once we knew how we wanted to store everything, we needed to decide on what data to collect. We knew we wanted a section for reading, math, word study, science and social studies. We created a graph for students to track their monthly progress on their word study assessments.

We decided we really wanted a copy of each reading and math assessment so we hole punch the top of each assessment and students will add them to the rings (under the district assessment trackers).

We also wanted a place to put our district assessment scores so students can track their progress. Our students participate in the Scholastic Reading Inventory assessment four times per year to determine their Lexile score and they participate in the iready math assessment three times per year to determine their progress toward fourth grade common core math standards.

We did not feel it was necessary to keep copies of each of the science and social studies assessments but we wanted kids to track their ability to demonstrate their understanding of informational standards so we typed up each of our unit titles and gave students a place to record their rubric score.

And what is data without using it to set and track goals?? So we created a place for students to set SMART goals.

This is our first year with this system so we are excited about the possibilities! We plan to use these data folders to conference with students as well as to use as evidence of progress when reporting to parents. We will keep you posted on how they are working and changes we make over the course of the year!

How do you involve your students in tracking their progress? We would love to hear what is working for you!

BTW, we use a month-by-month word study plan that we posted in our TPT store. If you are looking for something to use with your kiddos that will engage them in playing with words and word parts, check it out!!

Year-Long Word Study Pack

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Have you heard of Kahoot?!

Hi there, friends!! 

It's Mollie! Have you heard about this new thing called a Kahoot? I don't know if I'm just behind on the times, but I am in love with this awesome technological tool!

Kahoot is is a game-based classroom response system that allows schools, universities, and businesses to interact through quizzes, surveys, and discussions. This tool allows for the audience to answer questions in a trivia-like format WITHOUT any type of clicker system. The benefits of Kahoot are endless. Students are engaged by playing a game and receiving feedback instantaneously. They are interacting with the content in which they are learning by thinking about the topics they are studying. There is a sense of accountability that is created as each player answers the questions individually for recorded results. Using this free website is pretty easy once you get the hang of it. After a little bit of fiddling around, I was able to get a Kahoot up and running in no time. And the website is very informational! (Here is the website... There is no login required for any student, but they would need some sort of technology such as a laptop, netbook, smartphone, iPad, chromebook, P.C., etc. to input the game code and choose their answers (see screenshot above). The interface is very easy for students to understand because it uses shapes and colors to indicate the answer choices. At the end of the Kahoot, there are many possibilities for the teacher to analyze the data they have received from the game. Kahoot also has it’s own blog where they give tips, run contests, share success stories, etc. 

I have only touched the surface with the capabilities of Kahoot! but so far it has been a fantastic resource for my classroom. I dove right in and created a Kahoot! based on our Word Study unit that we were working on at the time (see screenshot above below). I created the Kahoot like a practice quiz before their end of the month assessment. My students absolutely LOVED it! They were literally jumping out of their seats. In fact, at one point I had to calm them down because they were so engaged. They each had a netbook to respond to the Kahoot with (it would be much easier if they all had a smartphone). They easily went to the website to sign into the game. They really enjoyed creating the nickname that would show up on the board as they joined the game. Even more so, they enjoyed seeing their nickname pop up after each question if they were on the points leaderboard. I was a bit worried about whether the students that were not receiving high scores would be shown, but they were not. When the Kahoot was over, they all celebrated and congratulated the winner and I could look back and see who knew what for the quiz! I cannot wait to use more of Kahoot! in the future.

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Tricks and Treats Blog Hop

Our first Blog Hop!!! We are so excited to have this opportunity to link up with awesome bloggers from all over to share some helpful tricks and some sweet treats.

First a trick because all teachers LOVE a good trick. Whether it is to help you support your kiddos with a tough concept like writing a solid constructed response, following the steps of the Scientific Method, or mastering those pesky multiplication facts (UGH! THOSE ARE THE WORST!!!), or a trick to get you organized so you can stay afloat with a mile long to-do list and piles of paper work and assignments to grade, teachers are all ears. 

Each summer we try to have as many copies ready to go before the school year starts as possible (yes, we are nutty but at least we own it!!!) so we often run into the problem of how to organize those papers and where to store them. A little over a year ago we ran into these little gold mines,

They seemed like a perfect fit for our little problem. So we purchased as much as we could with what we had left in our budget and started organizing units into each individual bin. Some units fit two in a bin, while others (with more copies) are able to fit one unit per bin. 

As much as we enjoy our jobs and our classrooms, we were growing kinda tired of coming in all summer and hovering over the copy machine with our gazillion copies that need to be made so we came up with another plan. We often have parents who volunteer to come in and help us out. We realized with some of our units we could have parents "refill" the bins with copies we know we need for the following year. Obviously we don't always know what the needs of our students will be and some units we are not able to prepare that much in advance, however, some such as our Math in Focus units are easy to prepare in advance. Below is an image of the checklist we have in the front of each of our bins to help us prepare the bin for the following year.

We are also able to prepare all of our word study copies for the year. (If you are looking for a year-long word study plan that focuses on prefixes, suffixes, and root words, check out our bundle below!)

The best part? We are able to store our bins in our cupboards and only pull out the bins we need! It helps to keep things organized and clutter free!

Now for a treat! Please enjoy 20% off everything in our TPT store today, Friday, October 3rd and Saturday, October 4th. Whether you are looking for math word wall sets, word study materials, activities to practice fractions and line plots, or meaningful math homework, check out the great deals at our TPT store!

Thank you for stopping by and please take some time to hop through to find more fabulous tricks and treats!