Do you teach math? At my school we use tons of screeners for reading, but math was sort of left up to us. We know we are supposed to use the same RTI model with math, but with no screener, how can we?
I thought I'd take a few minutes and share with you how I've worked around this screening issue. I knew my students were struggling with my grade level content, but I had no idea why.
When I started looking into Common Core I noticed that the elementary grades were split into domains; adding, subtracting, fractions, etc. And depending on if you are looking up grade levels (K to 5) or down the grade levels (5 to K) the standards in these domains just build on each other. If a kindergarten student is adding to 10, 1st grade is adding to 20, 2nd grade within 100. And, well, you get the idea. They just expect more as the students go to the next grade.
So now I had the knowledge of the standards, but how would that help? Honestly it didn't. At first I started printing common core worksheets from commoncoresheets and mathworksheetsland so I could get an idea of what lower level math was hard for them. That became super time consuming and hard to manage.
I then created example problems for each of the standards for all of the grade levels K to 5 (yes it was a lot of work). I only wanted a couple just to see if that was where they were getting stuck. And I needed them organized in a way that I could pull them back out over and over again. I also needed a way to organize and keep track of the data otherwise assessing the students was a waste of both out times.
It has worked out great. I use them 2 different ways. I can use them to get an idea for my math workshop groups. 4th grade subtraction is going to be tough for you if you are still struggling with 2nd grade subtraction. That means I will initially place you in one of my guided math groups that slows down and does some review first.
But, I mainly use them for intervention time. My school has dedicated RTI time (we call it WIN- What I Need). And two days a week we are expected to work on math intervention. These quick and easy assessments, along with the sheets I created to track the assessments makes creating intervention groups a piece of cake. It lets me know exactly what the students need to work on to get them back to grade level... or beyond!
Feel free to use my worksheet idea to get an idea of where your students are at, or I've already done it for you and you can check them out here: Math RTI!
Genre. It's always on the test, but never really part of the curriculum until the upper grades. And some students just get it; it makes sense. But for others it doesn't. They need explicit teaching of genre.
We've been using this great set of posters and talking about genre as we read. We also added this great file folder activity to our list.
The students read the back of a made up book and decided what genre that book fits into. Then they match the back of the book with the book's cover (the genre).
If we have time they record their answers, but since we work on it during small group sometimes we run out of time and don't always use the recording sheet.
If you are interested in this genre matching file folder game it can be found on my Teachers Pay Teachers store for Free! Just click on the pictures or HERE!
I love sharing topics we are currently working on (and that I'm so excited about because they are actually working!!!!). In our reading groups we have been working on actually remembering what we've read and then rereading if they have no idea. Now it's time to make it harder and go to the next step! Main Idea for informational text.
We've been using a great strategy that I modified a bit from Jennifer Servallo's The Reading Strategies Book. It works wonders, is super simple, and really helps main idea click.
We call the strategy What? and then BUT what about it? Main idea is so easy in younger grades/levels. You ask them, what was this book all about and they all yell trucks. The problem is some of them still just yell trucks as they get older and into harder text.
So, to help them out we use this great strategy. We ask what was this book all about (trucks) and then we ask yes, BUT, what about trucks? Then, they are able to think a bit deeper about the topic. Even with my struggling students it really clicks.
Hearing a lot about student-led conferences? Wondering how they are different from parent/teacher conferences? Which one should you use?
Typical parent-teacher conferences have the teacher (teachers) and family members present (mom, dad, grandma, aunt, etc). The teacher does a lot of talking, sharing, of grades, what is being taught and observations about the student's learning. The student is not usually present at all, or if they are present, they are very passive.
Student led conferences are just the opposite. The student is active, doing a lot of the talking about what they are learning, their own observations of their learning and what their grades are.
The big difference between student-led conferences and parent-teacher conferences is that the student owns the learning in the student-led conference. It becomes more about what the student learned than what the teacher was teaching.
I highlighted some of the differences below.
So...which one is best? Should everyone be using student-led conferences? Well... I think the answer is BOTH!
They both have their time and place (in my opinion). I like to use the official conference time for student-led conferences (in my district it's at the end of the first marking period, almost 9 weeks into the school year). It's a great time for my students to show off their learning, how we do things in our classroom and share their goals for the rest of the school year.
I use parent/teacher conferences all year long. Honestly, as soon as I have a concern I set up a meeting (on the phone or in person). I don't like to wait until report card time - more than 25% of the school year is already done by then!
Parent/teacher conferences are pretty straight forward. Interested in student-led conferences, but don't know where to start? Check back in a few weeks to see how we do them in our classroom!
This week I'm going to deviate from the usual reading and math strategies that I usually post about. This year we've been really working on growth mindset. As part of their growth mindset work we've worked really hard on owning our behavior. It's so hard for any behavior to change or grow when the behavior isn't acknowledged!
To help my students take charge of their own behavior we are using 2 important strategies!
The first is a Chill Zone. Some younger grade teachers might call this a time out spot, but I've found that naming it something more grown up works better for upper elementary.
A chill zone works slightly different than time out. I usually give students a warning (my warnings are very specfic and I give the reason why). "Cam'ron please stop humming while I am speaking. It is considered rude by many people, and it makes it hard for me to think and speak at the same time". I think it's vital to do this part for students when we want them to grow from a correction. How will they know to change something if they don't understand what to change?
How does a time out help a student grow? In the Chill Zone I ask the students to think about their behavior and reflect on it using a behavior sheet! It helps them take ownership because they aren't just getting a time-out and stewing while sitting there. They actually need to reflect and think about the reason an adult corrected their behavior.
Now, I'm not going to lie, often times they are not happy about taking a chill, and some do forget or not realize why they are there. So, sometimes we need to have a conversation about the initial redirection I gave them. Or, they need to realize that no matter how much they whine or argue about having a chill they will need to fill it out before joining the group again.
The newest addition to our classroom is a Peace Corner (for lack of a better name I'm using the Montessori name for it, but I'm totally open to name ideas). I'm so excited about this! This is the chance for students to really take control of their own behavior! Students place themselves in the peace corner, for 2 minutes, if they feel like they need a break. On the first day we spend a lot of time around situations that would require a break (being upset, feeling depressed, feeling out of control), and how they would give themselves this time-out.
We also talk about what you do in the peace corner. They can read books (I have a pile of books geared towards behavior), draw, write, play with a stress toy, or even shred paper if they are really angry or upset!
Unfortunately we have a young lady that tragically lost her little brother earlier this year and she has spent a lot of time in the peace corner shredding paper.
Interested in starting a peace corner in your classroom? Click HERE or on the pictures to download the posters placed in our peace corner. The Chill Zone pictures and behavior sheets can be found at my Teachers Pay Teachers store, or by clicking HERE.
I'm a mom, wife, and teacher that loves to read, hang out with my family, and learn. I love to use our blog to share ideas with others and to help keep me learning!