Transfer of skills is the best way to see if students are understanding various concepts in class. This past week, which was the last week before spring break, we had just finished up a unit in math and with only two units left, I knew it would be a good time to review things we have learned.
I came up with the idea of doing a small math economy with my first graders. While I already had some ideas of what I would want to see happen, I wanted to get ideas from my students. Involving students with the development of activities creates more buy-in and gets the more excited about participating. I have to say that I have never seen my students so excited to do something in math.
We did this for three days and students had a different job each day. At the end of the first day, I asked my students what they thought of math for that day. The response from them was "That was math? That was so fun and awesome." It makes me feel great as an educator when students are applying their skills and have fun at the same time.
To have them prepare for the math economy, I told the students that they had to take some exams to see which job they would qualify for and that when they are older, they will take other tests to prepare them for their future. They completed small assessments so that I could have more data on their skills and the areas they might need more support. The first day I had them in jobs where they could continue to work on their areas of need.
The first grade math economy involves a lot of different jobs that require students to show their knowledge. Each of these jobs connects to another job. The jobs are as follows:
As you can see from the jobs above, the banker is also the tax collector. I wanted each of the jobs to stay busy throughout the math economy. The teacher is going to be a manager who oversees all of the different jobs, but also the person who grades the timed tests and telling time sheets. I do this because I can easily grade these worksheets and keep students moving and engaged throughout the process.
Attached are resources you might need for all jobs, except farmers and factory workers, at the bottom of this post. I didn't include these resources since I simply found addition/subtraction and telling time worksheets online and printed them out. You can easily find these types of worksheets from an online search.
I did make an adjustment with this activity. While I did create smoothie recipes, I did not use them with my students and just had them buy as much fruit as they could within the math period. You could see how many recipes they would create at the end, but with every classroom, you make adjustments based off your students.
This can also be connected to many other real-life scenarios. You can have discussions about how all the jobs are connected, supply and demand, and why prices were cheaper at the farms compared to the stores. I tried to talk about each of these things at the end of each day as a way for students to make those connections with their learning.
Hopefully you try it out with your students. Please comment or tweet me and let me know how it goes with your students.
Twitter can connect you with so many great educators and products that give you ideas for supporting instructional within the classroom. While great instruction is important, we still have to take some small brain breaks throughout the day. Let me introduce you to GoNoodle!
GoNoodle is a free online resource for brain breaks throughout the day and each video is less than five minutes. There's no prep and all you need is a computer, internet, projector, and a wall to project on in your classroom. There are activities to get them stretching to start their day, energize in the afternoon, or breathing activities to use before a big test. The CDC recommends 60 minutes of physical activity a day and GoNoodle can help with this, especially when being stuck inside with cold weather and snow.
It not only provides students with great physical activities, but incorporates gaming into it as well. Students choose a classroom Champ to help grow. The more GoNoodle activities they do and the more time they earn, they help their Champ to grow. Students go wild as their Champ goes through each of those stages.
I have been using GoNoodle for about two weeks now and my kids are always asking to do more activities. What student love is they have the opportunities to do some awesome activities, such as Zumba dances, track and field events, among many others. I like it as an educator because it allows my students to take a short break and then be ready for the next part of our day.
For teachers that might have students off task at times, tired, or those that might have some behavior issues, try GoNoodle. I have seen a huge change in my students whenever I tell them that if they are working hard during literacy stations or during independent writing time, we will earn more GoNoodle time. It is even great when transitioning between activities.
Let me tell you about some of the activities that you can do with your kids that are very highly recommended by my students.
Make sure you check out and sign up for GoNoodle at GoNoodle.com. It's a free resource for you and the benefits to using it are endless. Comment or tweet me (@mitchmosbey) to let me know how effective it is in your classroom.
Gotta go because it's time to GoNoodle!
Teachers are always looking for ways to check for understanding, record student work, etc. Students also move at different paces. For example, in math, some students grasp concepts faster than others. Rather than hold these students back from independent practice, allow them to continue with independent practice and still give them feedback.
Classwork allows for students to work at their own pace, while still allowing teachers to see their students' progress in real-time. Teachers can give feedback to each of their students on their iPad, which shows up only on that individual student's iPad. Another great thing is that lessons are not deleted unless you choose to delete them.
When using Classwork and logged in as a teacher, you can create different classwork assignments for your students. You create questions and can give answers with or without hints. You can type or draw/write them. Each question is given its own whiteboard. When students are finished with a question, they can move onto the next questions with a nice, clean whiteboard to show their work.
For students to log in to the questions for the day, they simply enter in the unique code and then their name. They will then see the questions you have written out in advance. Students have the option to write or erase things on their digital whiteboards.
Teachers can see students working at their own pace. Each question is currently in a column with each student having a row across. You can see their responses because it will show up on your screen in real-time. If they have not gotten to a question, you'll see a icon on their tile. You can click on a student's response and it will then fill your screen. You can give students feedback on their responses. It will be different colored writing so that your students can differentiate your writing from theirs. The feedback to students will only show up on their iPad and you can help highlight their strengths and where they might need extra support.
Classwork is an app that is still in development, but I have the privilege of piloting with my first graders. While the app is preparing for an App Store launch , they are making tweaks to make sure it is a product that teachers are going to love. And I have to tell you, my class and I are already loving this product.
Be on the lookout for this product on the App Store in the spring. Make sure to follow them on twitter at https://twitter.com/classworkco
Typing in websites can be very time consuming for teachers trying to have students visit various websites. One of the apps that I have been using for a few months that is very helpful is called QR Journal. It is a free app that you can download from the App Store.
What I've done is pre-printed some of our most visited website that we use in class. During literacy tasks, when students go to the technology station, they are able to choose the website that they would like to visit. To use the app, all the student has to do is hold up the card with the website's icon and QR Code, the computers camera takes a picture, click on open link, and it will easily take you to website.
I told our technology teacher and she has been using it in her classes. Imagine saving all that time by not having to enter in web addresses to each computer. Bookmarking sites is alright, but simply holding up a QR code to the iSight camera is so much easier.
When I tell people some of the apps that I use in my first grade class, they are very surprised at what my students can do independently. While some apps take time, most of them can be adjusted to be used with primary grades.
I remember during my college days how my professors always told me how important it was to collect exit tickets to be able to reflect on your teaching. As I entered the world of being a classroom teacher, I could see how checking for understanding was key to student progress. My colleagues used a lot of sticky notes to check for understanding. They had their students put them on a big board as they walked out the door. While I thought it was a good idea, I knew that was not something I thought would work great for my class. The information I got from those would work at times, but it was hard to know exactly how to help my students based off what they tried to write. Oh the joys for first grade writing.
When I discovered ExitTicket, I knew that the breakdown of information would help me to better address their needs. Keeping all of their responses, seeing if my teaching was effective for the day, and having an app tell me who to put into intervention groups based off of skill was just what I was looking for to use in my class.
To start using ExitTicket with my students, I decided to make their accounts easy to use. For their username and password, I chose to use their lunch number. It was something that my students used day in and day out.
Steps to have students use ExitTicket.
You can visit http://exitticket.org/deploy-in-your-classroom/ to help you to set up your classroom.
Introducing the app happened over the period of a week. I told students that we would be using this app to check for understanding and to "make sure we are listening throughout the day." I didn't want to students to focus on the score portion of the app in the beginning because I wanted them to know that this was a way for me to help them be a better student.
We went over the following lessons and added onto the previous day's lesson:
The questions that I asked my students were based off the Learning Objectives for the day. I started off with three questions a day that talked about reading, writing, and math. After the Common Core State Standards were a part of ExitTicket, I put my class into two groups: Math and ELA. We moved from just three questions to multiple questions based off of certain standards.
The next important piece of using an app, such as ExitTicket, is when teachers can use it with primary grade classes. If you're a bit hesitant about using the app, I recommend doing it when students arrive and/or when they start to pack up their belongings. The time that I chose to do it with my students was when they left for the day. I called them over to get their homework and take home folder. Before I gave them their things, I had them take their ExitTicket. At the beginning of the year I had to read a lot of the questions since their reading levels sometimes required help. Now we are at the point where they can read and answer all the questions independently. Kids hold me accountable because they are now asking "When are we going to take another Exit Ticket?"
Give ExitTicket a try and I know that you will see how it can transform your teaching and help you become a more responsive teacher. Keep it simple for starters and your kids will begin to fall in love and make sure you're giving them their ExitTickets.
Subtext has already been shown to be great for reading. You can collaborate with peers, ask and respond to questions, among many other wonderful things. If you've already checked out my last blog post about Subtext, you would know how much my students and I enjoy using this app.
Subtext isn't just restricted to guided reading and closed reading of already published texts with K-12 students. It can be used for so many different things, such as writing. That is where BookCreator comes in. These two apps together make a beautiful friendship. You get the combination of creating eBooks with Book Creator with the collaborative features of Subtext.
Once you have created your book with Book Creator, you can export the book to Subtext. Simply click on Export as PDF, Open in another App, and Click on Subtext. Now you have your book ready to share with others.
There are two aspects of using these two apps together. First is that you can simply share published pieces with each other. The second aspect of using them together is to have the class help revise and edit texts.
By using Subtext with Book Creator, you can send the book to so many other people before you end up with your finished published work. Try these apps together and you'll love the results. Students working together to get books ready for publishing.
Below is a slideshow of all the steps to take to use Book Creators books in SubText.