Sunday, August 9, 2015

Back to School Prep: Math

It isn't a secret that I have spent much of this summer chillaxin' as the kids would say. Last year wiped me out in so many ways and I needed time to just process it all and let it go. Plus, of course, grad school keeps me plenty busy! 

That said, once my birthday rolls around, I usually begin to get my behind in gear. Since today is my last day of being 36, I guess that means it's time to get going! I've done a few things here and there but not very much. Some things I can't do until I can access my school materials on the 17th so that limits me some (there is a huge benefit to not being allowed in your school over the summer--you are forced to either take it all home, which I don't, or forget about it and enjoy summer!).

Since I am moving grades again (although this time by choice!), I decided to get smart and organize my materials by unit. We have used Everyday Math since I started teaching. Not everyone loves it but I don't mind it....because I hated math growing up because it made zero sense to me. This kind of math...I totally get it. It works for my brain. So I have a much easier time explaining it to my students. I show them multiple ways to do things and then let them figure out what works best for them. Ultimately the goal is for them to get the right answer and be able to tell me how they got there. If they can do that with some method I didn't teach them but they get, I'm good with that! 

Two years ago, we "unspiraled" the Everyday Math (because we are still using the non-Common Core version) and put the like skills together. It's only a pain when you have to keep flipping through both of the journals. But the kiddos don't know any different so it's not that big of a deal. They enjoy being able to work more toward mastery anyway. 

Today I decided to really unpack my Unit 1 for 3rd grade. It is all about adding, subtracting and place values. The unit is 5 weeks long and covers the standards 3.NBT.1, 3.NBT.2, 3.0A.8 AND 3.0A.9. Thus I went through all of the math goodies that I got on TpT at the Teacher Appreciation Sale in May and the Back to School Sale last week and pulled out what fits those standards and got to work.

In the past, I have tended not to print things until I needed them, but this year, since I don't plan to leave 3rd grade in the near future without making a huge fuss (*wink*), I decided to get my master copies together for things by unit and just keep them in a file. I do not have the storage space to buy a million plastic containers to keep things in--I'd much rather use my huge file cabinet instead. I can pull the folder out by unit and then put it back when I'm done a month or whatever later. (And now that I'm on this kick, I may do this for my content area units also.)
First I got a folder and labeled it with the CCSS that I know will be covered in the unit.Then I printed out a master copy of all of the materials I have that fit those standards. 
*Grateful to TpT sellers who label things by CCSS!*

Then I went through and sorted by standard and paper clipped the items together and used an index card as a label. The card says "masters" on it so that if I'm not the one pulling them out, whomever has that task knows that these need to go back into the folder. It's really hard to see but at the top of each of these pages is a big yellow M written in highlighter to remind whomever might be making copies that this is the master.

You know about the yellow highlighter trick right??? You can write on anything with  yellow highlighter and when you make copies it won't show up because it's too light. This is not true with the other colors--they will show up as I learned when I tried to be slick and color code once lol 

I have the materials for all four of these standards covered in Unit 1 in this folder paper clipped together and ready go to. The items include Interactive Notebook pages, Common Core Worksheets for the INBs, Standards Based Assessment pages, and Journal prompts that will also go into the interactive notebooks. Since everything is together by standard, I can select activities based upon what we are doing that day in math as it fits the standard.
I also purchased this fun Math Menus unit and printed the Addition and Subtraction Snacks and the Place Value Platters menus to put into this folder since they are the most applicable to the skills we will work on in unit one. Last year I used math menus and absolutely loved them--the students were able to create projects to demonstrate their knowledge of the concepts. It was a lot of fun for me and for my students. But the ones I used last year are for big kids; thus I decided to get this set because it's really ideal for 2nd and 3rd graders.
What I also like about these is that the kids don't really need to do any paper-pencil activities that they have to turn in. Instead they can use their whiteboards and practice in a team. I could have up to 30 students this year so I printed 10 copies of each of the two menus for this unit and laminated them with my Scotch laminator. Now they look like real menus because they are plastic coated :) 

These are stuck together with a binder clip by menu and placed in the folder as well. This way when we use them, they are all together and when we are done, they can just be clipped back together and slid into the folder. Ideally the kiddos will work in pairs or triads (probably triads if I have closer to 30 friends) and can help check each other as they work. I definitely plan to blog more about this after we have tried them out in this way.

Using these menus like this really appeals to me because a) I don't have to use ANY paper outside of the copies I already made if I don't want to b) the kids can use their whiteboards but also can use any of the manipulatives we have available c) they can support each other by either working together and discussing (math conversations anyone?) OR by doing them separately and then checking each other's work and finally d) I am then free to roam around the room during this time and have authentic conversations with my kids about math. I love that because I get SO MUCH MORE INFORMATION on how they are doing with concepts when I utilize things like these menus (the upper grade ones I used last year taught me a lot about who really was getting things and who wasn't--and who was copying from her table mates!).

I'm super excited about trying this system out. I know people love their plastic tubs but it overwhelms me to think of where I would keep all of that stuff. Plus I have moved around grade levels too much to feel comfortable doing that just to end up starting over again a couple of years from now! 

I only did Unit 1 so far but that takes me through the first five weeks of school so I'm good on that if that's the only one I get done for math before school begins. It feels good to be on track and really have a solid handle on what I'm going to do and how I am going to present these skills to my students.


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