Small group instruction is a more effective way of working with students. You are better able to check for understanding, provide them with additional support when there is confusion, as well as increase their participation.
I have been doing small group math rotations in my first grade classroom, or guided math as many call it, for most of my teaching career. Yes, I have only been teaching for a few years, but I quickly realized that whole group was not very effective. Whenever I was doing whole group, it was just too difficult to see how was grasping concepts and who was having trouble. You could walk around the room and make come anecdotal notes, but I found that some students that "appeared" to understand concepts were actually lost or confused.
Guided Math has been very effective. Working with a small group of students, which the biggest group in my class is 8, allows me to instruct them on a level for them to better understand concepts. For students that easily grasp concepts, it allows me to push them farther so that they are still being challenged.
What if you could get data before you ever taught a lesson in front of your students? How would you like to see which parts of a lesson you need to spend more time? How can you know whether your teaching is being effective?
ExitTicket can help you do all of those things and more. ExitTicket gives you individual student data that is stored in a Scorebook. It will track student's scores on various standards.
Before students come to your teaching station, they can use ExitTicket to take a Pre-Assessment. It can give you real-time data on which parts of lessons they already understand, what might be challenges, and where you can push your students.
When they arrive at your teaching station, you can then quickly glance on the data and click on reteach. You can look through each question to see how your can adjust your lesson with each individual group.
Depending on how comfortable you are with adjusting lessons on the fly, you could always have students take the pre-assessment the day before to make adjustments ahead of time. For example, if you are teaching lesson 5.2 on Tuesday, you could have them take the pre-assessment as a station on Monday.
After you have completed your lesson, you can have students take a quiz or an exit ticket to see how effective the lesson was with the students and what you might need to reteach the following day. If you have RTI time built into your day, ExitTicket will even put students into an intervention list.
Just think about what you just read. You can adjust your instruction to spend more time on concepts that your students might see as a challenge. You can also collect lots of data on each individual student. And the best part is that you never have to spend hours grading these assessments and putting them into a grade book. If you haven’t put a huge smile on your face by now, it might be time to do so.
The best part of ExitTicket is that it is free. Continue to look for updates on this blog, as well as on their website, for more information about how it can change they way you reach your students.
Teaching math whole group or small group is always better whenever the students are better to able to see what you are teaching. The technology you use, the way present to you class, and the level of engagement are all part of having an effective lesson.
I have recently found a great app to help make teaching math more engaging and exciting. This app is called Teaching Table-math with addition and subtraction for kids by Openset. Previously I used other apps and tried to upload photo after photo of manipulatives for lessons. I always hoped that there was an app to make this easier. That app is Teaching Table.
Their website states that creating lessons take only minutes. After testing it out all the features for awhile and going through their sample workbooks, I would completely agree. Once I got the hang of all the features, I was able to create a lesson for the day in under 20 minutes.
There are so many different manipulatives that you can choose from within the app. They even make it easy to duplicate them to make teaching very engaging.
The manipulatives include:
Presentation and engagement pieces include:
When creating your workbook, you can interact with the manipulatives in your presentation. You can have them move wherever on the page, resize them, make them negative, change the colors, and duplicate them as well.
What I enjoyed about this app was being able to easily move the manipulative on the page and use the other features to have students check their work. I recently had students count money using the coins and the Counting Areas feature. They simply dragged coins in the box and clicked on the green box to check their work.
I will soon be having students try this out on their own. Students will work on base ten blocks, counting coins, answer multiple choice questions, and open ended answers.
There are two versions: a lite version where you can only create one workbook and opened up emailed workbooks or a paid version for $2.99. I highly recommend the paid version because you can create multiple workbooks, email them out to other peers, and even share them with parents.
If you want to check out more, visit http://teachingtableapp.com
Teachers are always needing to collect data. You can hear the word "data" countless times throughout the school year. Data should drive your instruction and inform you on how effective your teaching is to your students. The problem can sometimes be finding the best method for collecting data. I am the type of teacher that does not want to spend hours collecting, grading, and analyzing data to guide my instruction. This is why I use ExitTicket. The best part is that...it's now free!!!
ExitTicket is a web-based program that can be used to create assessments. This can also be done on the iPad, but I have found that creating them on the computer is much easier. Students respond to these assessments using a web-enabled device, such as a smartphone or iPad. I have my first graders use iPods and iPads.
Once you have created an account you can begin to create tickets. What is a ticket you might ask? A ticket can come in the form of many different things based off of what you you what to assess. You can choose from the following things:
•Launch-a pre-assessment to help guide future lessons (graded)
•Practice-simply a way to practice what's being covered in the lesson
•Exit Ticket-check for understanding (graded)
•Quiz/Test-check for understanding (graded)
•Quicket-a quick check that can be sent out on the fly
What I like about ExitTicket is your ability to connect your assessments to Common Core Standards. In their Scorebook it gives you an overall score and then breaks it down by standard. Hello simple data collection!
Another major part of teaching is being a responsive teacher. ExitTicket gives you immediate feedback based off of student responses. It will even group your students into intervention groups to help them correct any difficulties and improve scores. Being able to identify these areas for growth early allows for you as an educator to make sure that no student is left behind. Instead of waiting for you to take the time to grade assessments, you get real-time information and can even make adjustments as you're teaching.
If you want to get started in a quick and easy way, have your students take it as a pack-up procedure at the end of the day. I started out by having my students respond to questions based of the learning objectives from the day. It gives me feedback immediately on how certain students respond, whether to reteach, and keeps all this information in the scorebook. ExitTicket gives me the information on RTI groups for the following day.
Look out for other posts on how I get feedback and make adjustments in my teaching.
Math Fact Fluency is one piece of data that my school collects on all students. To improve your math fact fluency you have to have good number sense, develop strategies that lead to mental math, and practice, practice, practice. This helps students with higher order math skills down the line.
Operation Math Code Squad ($2.99) is a great app for practicing math facts. Up to four students can play at the same time. You can do addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division. There is a easy, medium, and difficult level for each game. While there are similar apps out there that are for free, I hands down prefer Code Squad.
I have my first graders do addition and subtraction on the easy level. There are five rounds and each round there are more math problems to solve within a minute. The game starts out pretty easy for students in the beginning rounds, but is definitely challenging once you get to Stage 4 and 5. Students have to work to together to answer all the problems to complete the mission.
To hold kids accountable and not guess, which makes it far superior to those free apps, students are "disconnected" whenever they enter five wrong answers. They can rejoin the game in the following round. It really builds good teamwork because I constantly hear "good job guys" whenever they are passing each Stage.
At the end of the game, whether they complete all stages or Dr. Odd won during one of them, each individual player can see how they did in each round and the total number of questions they answered correctly.
You can view it on the iTunes App Store at https://itunes.apple.com/us/app/operation-math-code-squad/id555750694?mt=8
Operation Math Code Squad's website is http://www.spinlight.com/apps/codesquad.html
One of the hurdles that a lot of primary grade teachers face when trying to incorporate more technology is ease of use. They ask themselves whether or not their students will be able to use an app.
I'll admit when I first learned about Subtext that I did not think that I would be able to use it with my first grade classroom. There were too many features and I could not find any books that would be on their level. Then...it all changed. To give you some background knowledge before I continue, I want to say that I have used Subtext with my class for roughly two months. I have three iPads in my classroom at all times with five grade level iPads that I can checkout throughout the week.
Subtext has radically changed the use of iPads for literacy in my classroom. I am able to have an additional dose of guided reading per week with each student. Since there is never enough time throughout the school day, Subtext allows for you to increase your interaction with each student even though they might not be at your kidney table. They are not only reading more, but are more engaged in their reading.
I was able to solve my initial concern of not being able to find grade-level appropriate text with the help of my district's technology bookmarks. Most school districts adopt a reading series to support literacy instruction. The reading series in my school district has online resources that includes online level readers. Once I had the leveled readers to use, I knew it was time to start using Subtext.
To use the level readers, I ended up having to download them, email them to myself, open them in Safari, and then click on "Open in Subtext." Yes, this might seem like a lot of steps, but you really get the hang of it after awhile.
You can also find articles online directly from the app. If you are searching for things on Safari from your iPad, you can click right below the tab bar and click on "Open with Subtext." There will be a future post on some of the other apps you can use with Subtext.
Login and Groups
Subtext allows you to login in multiple ways: Google email, Facebook, or Edmodo. Once you've logged in, you can join groups where you can discuss texts.
I decided to go the Edmodo route with my first graders. A suggestion would be to create your groups first so that you can have the group codes when registering students. Students were put into two groups once they had Edmodo accounts. I put them into a guided reading group and a whole class group. I wanted them to be in the two groups because I wanted the primary purpose of Subtext to be for guided reading. They were put in a class group so that when PBL (Project Based Learning) was going on in the classroom, I am able to share research articles with the whole class. I can also use the whole class group for going over different reading strategies, such as highlighting evidence, main idea, and details.
SubText gives you so many different options for how to check for understanding, as well as give students the opportunity to discuss texts with each other. Here is a rundown of the features I have used with my students. Included with each features is how you can use them with primary-aged students.
There are a lot of other features in Subtext, but these are the ones that can be used easily with primary grades.
Use in Readers Workshop
Students are given their literacy tasks each Monday morning. One of their independent literacy tasks is to read their Subtext book. Student have from Monday-Thursday to complete their book.
On Friday I meet with each of my six guided reading groups for roughly ten minutes each. This takes up 60 of my 90 minute literacy block. The reason I still meet with each group is because it gives them the opportunity to talk about the book in person, as well as clarify how they wanted to answer certain questions. This is important with primary aged kids, especially when they are using Siri to dictate their responses. The benefit to meeting with these students is that it gives them that chance to explain their answers, as well as get their feedback on the app and what changes might need to be made for the following week.
Use in PBL
One important component of PBL is research and collaboration. Students are driving the unit based off their findings in research. When students find different articles that could benefit the class, they need to be able to share them. Subtext gives you the ability to share articles with your whole class.
After articles have been shared, students can look through the new sources of information. They can highlight important facts and things to help them figure out their "Driving Question." This highlighting can be done individually or can be shared with the whole class. They can comment on sections to to discuss why their finding is important.
Why I love Subtext?
If you haven't noticed by now, I enjoy using this app. My first graders look forward to reading their Subtext book each week. The possibilities are endless and I continue to find more ways to use it with my class each and every day. There are so many other ways that you can use it throughout the day, which is why this is just the first of probably many posts on Subtext. Look out for part two where I will be covering Subtext with writing.
One of the things I love about Notability, besides when I got it for $.99, is how many different things you can do with this app. The more popular it gets, the higher the price it gets.
This app allows you to:
I have been using this app for a majority of the school year. I started the year writing out my guided reading lesson plans on paper, but wanted them to be in a format where I could easily send them to others or refer back to them without having to look through stacks of papers or in folders. I finally turned to the app Notability.
I first started out by creating a template for my guided reading and then saving it to Dropbox as a PDF. I have created numerous templates throughout the year and am still tweaking it to meet the needs of my students. I'll attach one of the ones that I've recently used at the bottom of this post. Once the PDF is in Dropbox, I open up Notability and then import that document by creating a new note. I would suggest renaming the file based off the group and the book being read. As soon as it is open, you can easily write on the document using a stylus, which is what I have done a lot in the past.
*I will be posting another post in the coming weeks about how I will approach my guided reading plans for the following school year.
You can organize all your lessons based off of your guided reading groups. Below you will see that I group my students into the colors of the rainbow. These are like my digital folders for each group that I can refer back to when I need to see what has been covered and what strategic actions I need to work on to have them become stronger and move up in reading levels.
You can also use create folders for each of your students, which I have done. There names are below the purple group. I color code them based off their groups. As you can probably tell, I like to keep my digital files organized since paper organization is not my forte. When creating these student folders, you can take a digital running record. If you have a PDF of the reading passage, you can upload that file to their folder and then write on the running record using your stylus. Another great feature about Notability is that you can also voice record. I have used this because I believe that is important to sometimes have your students hear what they are saying in order to help them along with their individual reading goals, especially in terms of decoding.