Monday, September 26, 2022

5 Ways to Get Your Students Reading to Boost Achievement!

Are your students reading 15 minutes a day? If not they should be! Research shows that 

reading for 15 minutes a day makes all the difference between a successful student and a struggling student. But why 15 minutes?

 


Importance of Reading

A study comparing the engaged reading time and reading scores of more than 2.2 million students found that students who were reading 15 minutes a day or more got a higher reading score than the national average. Growth in a student's reading skills only happens when that student reads for at least 15 minutes a day. 


In this same study it was found that students who read less than 5 minutes a day saw the lowest level of growth in their reading scores. Their scores were also well below the national reading average. Students who read between 5 and 14 minutes per day did a little better, but their scores were also below the national average. “15 minutes seems to be the ‘magic number’ at which students start seeing substantial positive gains in reading achievement.” Renaissance

 


Reading Linked to Student Success in School 


According to a study of the Programme of International Student Assessment (PISA) scores of over 174,000 students around the world, there is a connection between a student’s reading practice and performance. Talentnook


So what is the difference between a student who reads for less than 15 minutes a day and a student who reads for more than 30 minutes a day? It can’t be that big of a difference, right? Wrong. There is actually a huge difference. The difference is 12 million.

By the time a student graduates high school, a student reading for 30 minutes or more a day will encounter 13.7 million words. And the number of words their classmates who aren’t reading 15 minutes a day will encounter? 1.5 million words. It is so important that our students are reading 15 minutes per day because it will greatly impact their success and achievement in school. 

SO WHAT SHOULD YOU DO WITH THIS INFORMATION?!


1. Encourage Reading in Your Classroom, in any way or form.  

It is so important that we encourage our students to read. Some of the ways we can do this is to invite them to reread, or read it again and again. Rereading builds speed and accuracy and helps students gain confidence in their reading skills.

For our youngest readers, teaching them that reading the pictures is also a form of reading. This will help them to feel capable of reading and begin a love for reading at an early age.


2. Teach Students to Find Just Right Books

Teaching students to find books that are a good fit is also extremely important. If students are reading books that are too difficult for them and/or not of interest, that is surely a way to discourage them from wanting to read more. By teaching them how to properly shop for books, we can help to build that love of reading.


When teaching students to book shop, have them open up a book and read through a few paragraphs. Can they read and understand most of the words? Is it too easy? Does what they are reading interest them? Is the type of book interesting to them?


If so- this is a good fit. If not, they can return it and find a new one. I also like to let students know that it's totally okay to start a book and decide that you don't like it.


 3. Organize Your Class Library to Make Book Shopping Easy

 Let's be honest- finding books in a library are rather difficult if you are just browsing and don't have a specific author or title in mind. I believe it's important to organize your own classroom library so that it's easy for students to find books they love reading. We don't wan't students to get discouraged from reading because it's too difficult to find a book!



Book bins are a great way to keep books organized and the best thing about it is that students can pull a bin out and easily look through to find a book they like. Students often check out books by looking at their covers. They are much more likely to pull out a book if they can see the cover versus just the spine.


The other great thing I love about the bins is that you can choose different ways to organize your books to make book shopping easier for students. In my own classroom library, I had my books sorted out by popular chapter series, favorite authors, and genre. This way, students could stick to the books they love, discover new books by their favorite author or even explore new books in their favorite genres. You can grab my library book bin labels here.

 

 

4. Host a Book Drive 

Another great way to make books accessible to students is to host a book drive at your school!

If you have never heard of a book drive, it is where students bring in gently used books and swap them out for a new one. The great thing about a book drive is that it provides new books to students and also makes reading more accessible to those who may not have books at home. It also helps to encourage reading at home. I held one at my school a few years ago and it was a total hit!

 


To ensure book swap inventory stayed up, I required children to swap for the same type of book they brought in (chapter book for chapter book and picture book for picture book). To keep track, when kids came to give their books, they would get a colored ticket (indicating picture or chapter book). They could then choose however many books for the number of tickets they had. 


If you have any questions for me about hosting your own book swap, feel free to DM me over on Instagram @teachinginparadise

5. Make Time for Read Alouds, Daily

I know that as teachers, you are always strapped for time. However, research shows how important it is for students to be reading daily. By Incorporating read alouds into your school day you are modeling fluent reading for students, introducing them to new books and authors, and most importantly, helping them to find the joy in reading!

I love to use Read Alouds to introduce new concepts that we are learning about. It's a great way to throw in a fun picture book. 

In addition, during the month of December, we read 1 Christmas/Winter story a day. The kids are so excited and look forward to these daily holiday read alouds. You'd be surprised how many students are not read to at home on a daily basis. 

So, no matter how old your students are, they all love to be read to! I've seen 6th graders in our school library so excited to sit on the ground for our librarian to read to them!

If you're a 3rd grade teacher, get my list of favorite Gr.3 Read Alouds here.



As educators, we want to do all we can to ensure that our students are successful in school and later on in life. One of the best ways we can do this is to make books accessible and ensure that they are reading the magic number of 15 minutes a day.

 

Until next time.

Aloha,

Sources:

https://www.renaissance.com/2018/01/23/blog-magic-15-minutes-reading-practice-reading-growth/


https://talentnook.com/blog/the-15-minute-magic-elevate-your-childs-reading

Thursday, October 14, 2021

12 Ways to Quickly Check for Student Understanding

Teachers around the world are picking up the pieces and filling in learning gaps caused by school closures, distance learning, and concurrent teaching. Students haven’t had a normal school year in 3 years. Sadly, this means a loss of learning time for many and teachers are having to fill in those gaps and address those needs. 


Despite planning stellar lessons to teach your grade-level standards we must not forget about checking for student understanding. This simple act of checking up on learning throughout your teaching will make a huge difference in your students getting it. Let me say it now...Do NOT worry about your pacing. Instead, worry about making sure that your students understand what you are teaching. It’ll all pay off in the end, I promise. 


Let’s dive into different ways on HOW to check for student understanding.



Turn and Talk - Turn and talks are so powerful because they can be used with any subject in so many different ways. You can pose a question to students such as "share with your partner what you think the main idea of this paragraph is and why". You can have them solve a problem independently then share with their partner how they solved it and why. You can have them explain a concept that was just taught.

As students are sharing with their peers, you can walk around the room to listen to their conversations. You may pop into some of them to ask follow-up or clarifying questions. Depending on how students respond, this gives you an idea of their level of understanding.

While walking around, be sure to jot down quick notes about what you're observing!

Click here to get this observation sheet.

Thumbs Up, Thumbs Down- Teach students to put their heads down for this one (to avoid them looking around and copying others) OR have them place their thumbs by their heart so only you can see them. Pose different questions to your kids and have them give you thumbs up or down.

You could also use this one to get a gauge of student understanding after introducing new concepts. Thumbs up if this is making sense and you feel confident. Thumbs sideways if it kind of makes sense and you need a little extra practice. Thumbs down if you are confused and need more help.

*This of course will take talking to your students beforehand. Let your students know that it is OKAY if they don't understand and give you a thumbs down. If they aren't honest with you (and themselves) you won't be able to help them. Let them know that nobody else knows what they're showing you. Teach your kiddos to keep their thumbs showing until you tell them (to give you enough time to write down who needs extra help).

Whiteboard Checks- Whiteboard checks are great to use for math. Have students solve problems (teach them to hold their boards down while they write), then have them hold it towards their chest with the back of the board facing out. This is your cue that they are done. When most of your students have their answers completed, you can have them flip their boards and hold it above their heads. You can do a quick scan to see who got the answer correct and who didn't.

Jot down notes about how students are doing. Again, you can use a checklist like the one shown for student observations to mark how kids are doing with the concept. You can choose to make 5-6 kids at a time for each problem.

Whiteboard checks also pair well with task cards. This helps you to not have to think up of the problems. It can also be utilized well with multiple choice questions for longer answers like ELA.

Pinch Cards- Pinch cards are great to get quick snapshots of student learning. You can use double-sided pinch cards so that you have a variety of question types that you can use. True/False, ABCD, Yes/NO, Agree/Disagree.


If you're interested in the pinch cards shown above, click here.

Quick Checks/Exit Passes- Assign quick exit passes to your students to check for understanding of the day's lesson. Use these quick checks to determine what you will cover in tomorrow's lesson and/or to determine your small groups.


Utilizing Exit Passes like this will truly help you to avoid serious intervention issues later on. Your pacing may get slowed down, but it's better than keeping up with pacing and then later finding out that half your class do not understand what was taught in the last month!

I am currently in the process of creating these Quick Check Assessments for every single Grade 3 Math Standard. You can pick up what I have completed so far here.

Be sure that you are following me on Instagram and TPT so that you can be notified when I post new resources (and Quick Checks). Any time I post something new, I will ALWAYS mark it down 50% off for the first 24 hours!


Graphic Organizers- Graphic Organizers are a great way to assess reading comprehension! It's a quick snapshot to see if students are understanding the various comprehension strategies.




I have a ton of Comprehension Graphic Organizers readily available for you. The best thing about them is that there are both printable and digital options available.

Frayer Model- Yes, I know. Technically the Frayer model is a graphic organizer, but I felt this one needed to be a stand alone option. This is great because you can have students show their understanding in a variety of ways. You can truly see the understanding or lack of understanding through the various ways of representing something.



DLIQ- This is another great Exit Pass. This comes in the form of a Graphic Organizer. Students fill out each section below:

To get a copy of this DLIQ sheet, click here.

Whip Around- Whip Around and Pass works well for anything that can be answered with a quick response. You can decide if you want to allow students the opportunity to pass or not.

This works great with math facts, phonics practice, reading of sight words, etc. You can have a list on display, whip around the room and point to a different word, problem, or sound. Students must quickly respond then it's on to the next student.

This is a fun one that students often feel like it's a game. I used to time how long it would take us, and they would set goals to beat their previous records!

Hashtag it- Hand out sticky notes to students have them come up with hashtags for certain concepts. For example, you might ask them to hashtag multiplication. They might come up with #equalgroups #repeatedaddition #arrays #rowsandcolumns

As they exit the room, they can submit their sticky note (be sure to include names) so that you can quickly and easily see if they understand the concept.

Observations- Similar to the turn and talks, you would want to have some type of checklist to use while observing students. You could conduct observations while students are working independently (watch how their solving problems), listen in on conversations, observe them working on the computer, etc and take notes of what you notice.

Share Out- Have students share their thinking! This gives you so much insight into their own understanding of certain concepts. You can ask follow up questions to really dig deeper at student understanding. This is so much more powerful than a paper pencil test because you can truly see conceptual understanding through students sharing aloud their thinking and reasonings.

Regardless of how you choose to formatively assess your students, make sure you are doing it on a daily basis! In addition, make sure it's quick and easy so that you're actually able to check those assignments and use it to inform instruction for the following day. 

If you use any of these ideas, freebies or resources offered in this post, I would LOVE for you to share it and tag me on Instagram @teachinginparadise .. It would truly make my day :) 

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Until Next Time...Aloha!

Thursday, October 7, 2021

7 Tips for Planning Parent Teacher Conferences

I remember my very first year of teaching, I was SO NERVOUS for Parent-Teacher Conferences that I thought I was going to throw up. Luckily, I had prepared well for conferences so I had all of my talking points, which was a good thing!

Over the years, I've perfected how I plan for conferences which have helped ease the nerves...but it is still a stressful time for sure. Today I'm here to share some tips on preparing for your parent-teacher conferences to help ease those jitterbugs.


1. Send Home a Parent Questionnaire

Sending home parent questionnaires can help you to plan for your conferences. Choosing a questionnaire that asks parents what they feel their child's strengths and areas of need are can help you to know beforehand if the parent sees the same things you see in school. It can also help you to get a gauge of how your conference will go as well.

In addition, plan to ask about any concerns that the parents have in your questionnaire. This will allow you the opportunity to address those concerns during your conference time. Knowing the parent concerns ahead of time will help you to plan out your talking points and gather any necessary evidence pieces or resources that may be needed.

2. Share Glows and Grows for Each Child

Many times, students are totally different at home than they are in school. We as teachers spend the majority of the day with these kids, we actually see them more than their own parents get to! Because of this, it's nice to share Glows (Strengths) and Grows (Area for Growth) for each child. 


Having a checklist similar to this one makes conference prep easy. Not to mention, this sheet will become a sort of "cheat sheet" for your talking points.


When planning for each child's conference, I check off the boxes or add notes for each individual child. I try to grab student work samples to show as examples for both grows and glows. I put them in order and paper clip them to each checklist. In addition, I add in any beginning of year assessment data to share with parents so they have an idea of how their child is performing academically.

As you go through the talking points on this sheet, you can pull out student work samples that address those Glows or Grows. Place the student work in the order of what you plan to discuss. 

3. Plan and Organize in the Order of Your Conferences


Know that you do NOT have to have ALL 28 of your conferences prepped and planned before any of your meetings begin!

A good rule of thumb is to be at least 2 days ahead of schedule in your planning. For example, if it's Monday, you have Monday and Tuesday's conferences all planned and prepped. At the end of the day on Monday, you can begin working on Wednesday's meeting prep. If something comes up for you on Monday afternoon, you don't need to worry about scrambling for Tuesday's conferences since it's already done.

Decide on what you would like to share with your parents. They truly appreciate seeing work their child 
has completed, so try to incorporate showing samples while you talk. It also helps parents to better understand what you mean when you're able to show examples. 

I use the above checklist to gather student work and figure out my talking points for each child's conference. In addition, I add the parent questionnaire to my paper-clipped stack. I go through the questionnaire to see if there are additional things I need to address and I'll write it at the bottom of my checklist (above). Any additional items I'll need will get paperclipped to that child's conference packet. 

I add all of my paperclipped conference packets into a basket in the order that the conferences will happen with the most recent conference being at the top. I'll add a schedule into my basket too so I can refer back to it to keep myself on track/time. 

If you have breaks in between your conferences, use that time to begin working on prepping more meetings! 

4. Send Reminders

Be sure to send out reminders to your families notifying them about conference week coming up and the modified school schedule. In addition, you'll also want to send home reminders to families about their specific conference day and time. 


You can print out simple reminders like this, fill them out for each child and staple them in the child's planner or communication notebook. 

I suggest sending home the reminder a few days in advance just in case a parent will need some time to rearrange their schedule.

Sending reminders home for each child does take a little extra time, but if you can save yourself from missed conference blocks (and making them up later), that time on the front end to send reminders will be worth it!

5. Set Up a Waiting Area Outside

Set a waiting area up outside for your families in case they arrive early for their conference block.Set out chairs for families to sit and wait and a table that has books or student work that parents can look through. This will help them to pass time comfortably.

In addition, be sure to include a sign on the door that reminds parents that you are currently in a conference. You'll be surprised how many parents will try to enter your room if you don't have a sign up!

 Next to that sign, it is also helpful to include a conference schedule so that families can see what time their conference begins and what time the conference before them ends. Sometimes parents with multiple kids get confused about which child is during what block. That schedule helps them to check and head off to the correct meeting!


6. Set a Timer

You'll be surprised at how quickly your 15 or 20-minute conference block will go by! Set a timer at the start of each conference so that you don't get off schedule. Let your parents know that you'll be setting a timer so that you can honor the time of all families.  


Set the timer to go off 3-5 minutes before the actual end of your conference so that you can address any final questions the parents may have. 

7. Have Parents Write Letters to Their Child

One of my absolute FAVORITE thing about conferences is having parents write a letter to their child. I ask parents to write an encouraging letter focusing on their child's strengths, what makes them proud, and to encourage their child to keep doing their best. 

I provide a simple half sheet of paper and an envelope.  Some parents will finish their letter during our meeting, work on it outside (and drop it in a basket I leave on the table), or some take it home and secretly send it back the next day. 


**If the child is in the conference, I kindly ask them to leave while I share a secret surprise with their parents. 

Once all conferences are done, I'll leave the letters on each child's desk. Their faces are SO surprised and they LOVE reading what their parents have to say. Many of the children keep the letters in their binder or pencil boxes. I've seen students take them out to read when they're having bad days. 

If you're interested in any of the conference sheets I shared in this post, you can snag them here

I hope this post was helpful for you in planning and preparing for your Parent-Teacher Conferences. One thing to keep in mind, most of the time, parents are probably just as nervous as you to hear how their child is doing. 


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Until Next Time...Aloha!

Tuesday, September 21, 2021

What are the SMPs Part 2

Why hello, there teacher friend! I'm back this week to share about the last 4 Standards for Mathematical Practices. If you missed my previous post that included information about the first 4 practice standards, you can find that here.


Let's jump in, shall we?! 




Standard 5: Use appropriate tools strategically

Standard 5 is all about students being able to select the most appropriate mathematical tools to be able to successfully complete a math task. Typically when you hear the term math tools one might think of a ruler, protractor, or calculator right? While that isn’t incorrect, the term math tools have a much broader definition when we’re looking at Standard 5. Tools are anything that can support students to perform a task. This could be concrete materials such as base-ten blocks, connecting cubes, counters, a number line, etc. Calculators, paper and pencil, and mental math are also math tools. 


Often times there is more than one tool that can be used for a task, but some tools are more efficient than others. This standard is all about students choosing the tools that are MOST efficient in solving their math tasks. 


Standard 6: Attend to Precision

This standard in particular is referring to precision in calculations and performance of math tasks as well as precision in communication. 


In math, there are times where estimation works. There are other times when precise calculations are vital (balancing a checking account, ordering window blinds to fit within a frame, calculating hourly pay, etc). Initially, precision may be answers expressed in whole numbers, but as our students get older and progress in their understanding of math, that precision is refined with answers expressed as decimals to the tenths, hundredths, or thousandths. 


In addition, students must also be precise in other math tasks such as constructing graphs, determining the probability of events, using a ruler, measuring angles, etc. As primary students learn about measurement, they may start with lining up cubes to measure an object. They might notice gaps between the cubes whereas their neighbor doesn’t have any gaps and their measurements differ. As students develop their skills, attention is placed on moving the cubes together to eliminate gaps, and in turn, their measurements become more precise. 


When we talk about precision in communication, we expect students to thoroughly describe math ideas, precisely explain how they solve a problem, and give specific examples as they construct their mathematical arguments. In order to do so, students must know the words that express their thoughts. This is where math vocabulary comes into play. 


If a student is explaining that they measured “around it” rather than talking about the perimeter of the figure, this student doesn’t quite have the vocabulary to precisely explain their thinking. 


How do I get my students to be able to do this?

  • Model precise communication by using grade-level appropriate vocabulary.

  • Discuss important math vocabulary and explore the meanings of math words through familiar language, words, pictures, and examples

  • Expect precise communication and ask students to elaborate on ideas, choose specific words, specify units of measure, and explain symbols they use.

  • Orchestrate ongoing experiences for students to talk and write about math. 

  • Require students to label units, quantities, and graphs 

  • Expect students to justify labels (e.g., what area is labeled as square units and volume is labeled as cubic units

  • Model specific and thorough explanations

  • Allow students opportunities to work with partners to come up with explanations 


Standard 7: Look for and make use of structure 


Standard 7 focuses on understanding the structure of mathematics and using this understanding to simplify things! For example, when adding up how much your grocery list will cost, you don’t worry about the order in which you add the items. If your students understand math properties, they know that the order in which numbers are added will never change the total. Another example of this standard in real life is when baking. If you can’t find the ¾ measuring cup, you could simply use the ¼ cup three times because you know it’s the same amount or quantity. 


This standard is where conceptual knowledge is necessary. Students must truly understand how math works to be able to apply properties and see patterns. The goal of this standard is to get students to see the flexibility of numbers, understand properties, and recognize patterns and functions. Below are a few examples of each.


The flexibility of Numbers: This is the understanding that numbers can be broken apart and put together in a variety of ways. Using this understanding can help students to be more efficient in how they choose to solve problems. This also helps students tremendously with mental math. 


6 x 8 is the same as 5 x 8 plus 1 x 8. 6 x 8 is ALSO the same as 6 x 4 + 6 x 4.


53 + 18 could be solved by adding 53 + 20 = 73 - 2 = 71. Here the student understands that it is easier to add 20 to 53 and knows that 18 is 2 less than 20. 


Understanding Properties: Understanding the different properties helps students to be able to solve problems more efficiently. 


If a student was asked to solve the following problem:


The cafeteria had 14 rows of seats and 8 seats in each row. How many people can be seated? 


A student that understands properties can quickly and easily solve this problem in their head. They will immediately break the 14 rows apart into 10 rows and 4 rows. In their head, they would figure out 10 x 8 = 80 and 4 x 8 = 32 and 80 + 32 = 112. This understanding of how distributive property works helps the student simplify the task. 


Recognizing Patterns and Functions: When students are able to truly make sense of math, they can look at the numbers to find patterns. Look at the table below.



1/2 = .5

1/3 = .33

1/5 = .20

1/4 = .25

1/6 = .167

1/10 = .10

1/8 = .125

1/12 = .083

1/20 = .05

1/16 = .0625

1/24 = .0467

1/40 = .025


In this table, we see that as the fractions are being halved, their decimal equivalent is also halved. Using this knowledge students can solve other types of problems. 


For example, if you don’t know the decimal representation for 3/8 but we know that 1/4 is .25 and that 1/8 is half of that or .125, you could triple .125 to find that 3/8 equals .375


Standard 8: Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning. 


Standard 8 is all about students seeing and finding patterns and repetition in what they are doing in math. By recognizing the repetition, students are then able to develop shortcuts- like algorithms or formulas to make tasks easier. 


In Kindergarten students notice repetition in the counting sequence, always following a 1 to 9 sequence. Once they recognize this, they are then able to continue their counting with “twenty-one, twenty-two, twenty-three….thirty-one, thirty-two, thirty-three….forty-one, forty-two, forty-three…..”. 


Standard 8 is where you as a teacher help your students to discover patterns and make sense of them to gain a deeper understanding of math as opposed to just telling them. Letting students discover on their own will make the learning stick.


How do I get my students to be able to do this?

  • Set up learning opportunities for students to gather data and observe repetitions to find shortcuts.

  • Ask students to explain shortcuts

  • Frequently ask “What do you notice?” “Do you see any patterns?” “Have we seen this before?”

  • Pose problems that draw attention to repetition

  • Ask students to think about how new problems are like previously solved problems

  • Ask students to use familiar problems as a way to decide on an appropriate strategy


I truly hope that these blog posts helped you to gain a better understanding of what the SMPs are as well as how incoporating
these math practices play a critical role in getting your students to achieve true proficiency with the Common Core Math Standards.

If you're interested in learning more, this is a wonderful book that has many examples of each Practice Standard across various grade bands.


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