Sunday, June 30, 2013

Collecting and Organizing

We started our second and final Math In The City unit this past week. In my school this unit is typically held for the first graders but our math coach encouraged us to modify it and give it a whirl. I was really excited to try this new unit. I like the Math In The City units. I like that the kids learn through exploration and that it isn't a teacher direct lesson. 

Anyway after reading over the plans I had to find a way to organize 12 bags of stuff in such a way that the items wouldn't get mixed up. Did you ever have one of those DUH type moments where something so simple hits you right in the head and you wonder why you never thought of it before? Well for the past few years now we have been using Math Investigations one of the centers that's comes up frequently is inventory bags. This center drives me nuts! We use brown paper bags and put items in the bags and without fail by the time the first group is done with the center all the bags are mixed up and the centers is a complete mess! I can safely says I hated doing inventory bags. Well the other day I had my AHA/DUH moments and I couldn't believe I hadn't thought of the idea sooner. I went into my supply closet and pulled out gallon sized baggies and a permanent marker. I then thought of 12 different items, one item for each bag. Here are the items I chose:

  1. Index cards
  2. Pencils (not sharpened)
  3. Black pens
  4. Blue pens
  5. Binder clips (large ones)
  6. Binder rings
  7. Large paper clips
  8. Snap cubes
  9. Popsicle sticks
  10. Small glue sticks
  11. Pencil top erasers
  12. Gh
On each bag I wrote the name of the item that was in the bag. Then I made an organization sheet for them to use. It had two columns. The first column listed the name of the item and the second column said Amount. This was the simplest fix to inventory bags and yet it took me years to think if it. The kids did and amazing job with the bags - we only lost two Popsicle sticks over the course of two days!

On the first day the kids were divided into partnerships and each group got one bag. They had to work together to count the items in their bag and record it on their sheet. The best part - my students who struggle with reading could match the word on the Baggie with the word in their paper and fill in the sheet without any support! I let the kids get up and swap bags with one another on their own, which between you and me I thought was going to be a complete mess and what have you, but yet again my kiddies surprised me. They shared and took turns without any problems. They did a really great job with this activity. I did find that they needed extra time for this so we ended up doing it over two days but they had fun and were enjoying it so it worked out perfect. I had my fast finishers help the groups that were workings slower by organizing and getting the bags they needed. So the slower groups didn't waste time walking around to get the supplies they needed. Oh I should add in that when I made the baggies I picked specific numbers for each item. With 12 bags of items I focused in the teen numbers and then threw in three bags that were whole numbers, 20, 30, 40. I printed an extra copy of the student recording sheet I made and I wrote down exactly how many of each item was supposed to be in each bag. This was very helpful because as I circulated I could quickly see if any group counted incorrectly and work with them.

The next lesson was a bit different. I again made a sheet but this one had four columns: item (which I had filled in), total amount, how many bundles if ten, how many singles. This part of the lesson worked on getting the students to think about making groups of ten to organize their inventory and count it. I have to say almost all of my kiddies did a great job with this activity. I had a few kids struggle with it but most of them got it. They enjoyed counting the objects and then I showed them that since we can't physically bundle some of the objects we could make piles of ten.

I'm really enjoying this unit. I think it's working on their counting skills and organizing skills. I think I would consider trying this unit in the fall. Not necessarily the counting out and making piles of ten but the simple idea of counting the objects and recording them! I know I will be using baggies and an organization sheet for inventory bags in the fall! Such a quick and simple fix I can't believe I didn't think of it sooner!!!!!!

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Saturday, June 8, 2013

Close Reading

The big push in my school right now is close reading. My principal has been encouraging the early childhood teachers to introduce the idea of close reading to our kids, as young as Kinders, to better prepare them for the state exams.

I for one thought this was a bit of a challenge and wasn't sure my kiddies would understand or get much out of a close reading. Boy was I pleasantly surprised by what happened last week!

Each week we study to pieces of music. We have been focusing on The Beatles and last week we were listening to and reading "Good Day Sunshine" and "Octopus's Garden." I was trying to find parts of one of the songs that would engage the kids in a good conversation. I decided that I would hold a discussion and close reading of "Good Day Sunshine" and talk about leisure time.

First things first is I printed just these lyrics and made them nice and big on the overhead (man a smart board would have been awesome to have for this lesson!) Here are the lyrics I put up.

We take a walk, the sun is shining down,
Burns my feet as they touch the ground.

Good day sunshine,
Good day sunshine,
Good day sunshine.

And then we lie, beneath a shady tree,
I love her and she's loving me.
She feels good, she knows she's looking fine.
I'm so proud to know that she is mine.

Once the lyrics were up I introduced my kids to the idea of leisure time. I explained that leisure time is a period of time that you are not working or at school or doing homework. It's a time when you are free to have fun and play or do the things you like. The kids really seemed to grasp this new term. After a lively discussion of what leisure time is and some things they might do and what they think leisure time is I turned on the overhead and I read through the lyrics once. Then I said to the kiddies that i was going to read the lyrics one more time and they had to listen for text evidence of something the character in the song did for leisure. They were so excited about this activity they were practically jumping out of their carpet squares to answer my question! They did a great job and were able to find the lines "we lie, beneath a shady tree" and "We take a walk." 

Not only were my kiddies able to find text evidence of leisure time but then they could back up their text evidence by explaining what leisure time was. I was super-dee-dooper proud of my kiddies!!