Teaching with Intention {Chapter Three}

So I think it’s safe to say that classroom environment is
important.  I am also willing to bet that
something stated in your beliefs on education that you have been pondering
about (and hopefully recording :D) regard the environment of your
classroom.  The environment sets the tone
for what happens in the classroom throughout the entire school year. 

But how the heck do we begin to create a classroom
environment that fits all of our hopes and dreams?  That’s a difficult task.  Debbie Miller suggests that you start by
purging and organizing all of the things that sometimes clutter our
classrooms.  If you’re a hoarder or hate
organizing, I’m sorry….don’t hate me, but it must be done.  (Don’t
worry, I’m right there with ya.)
by making three piles.  I also do this
when I’m cleaning out things at home. 
Make a pile of the things you know you need to keep.  And be honest
with yourself; don’t store junk just because you have a hard time letting
go.  (I’ll
think about taking my own advise on that later….)
  Make another pile for things that someone
else in other grade levels or positions might like or need.  Worse case scenario, if they can’t use it,
Goodwill is always accepting donations. 
Load it up in the back of your car (or
truck….or U-haul…..or semi trailer)
and PURGE!  Don’t be afraid to throw things
away.  If it is old, worn out, or hasn’t
been used in years, THROW. IT. OUT.  You
are just cluttering your classroom and making it harder for both you and your
students to be productive. 

Next, begin thinking about the set up of your classroom.  I think many of us do this without even
thinking about it based on our teaching styles. 
You know what you want and that’s great.  Debbie suggests asking the following

*Do the children and I need a meeting area?

*Do the children and I need areas for small group work?

*Do the children and I need a library area?

*What about the configuration of kids’ desks or tables?

Now, here is a little challenge for you posed by Debbie in
this chapter:  Walk out of your room and
come back in with a fresh, critical eye. 
By clicking on the image above, you can download a freebie to help you
complete her challenge but you could do the same with a piece of paper.  When you walk back into your room, ask
yourself, “What are the things I like
about my classroom?  What is working well
here?”  Record all of these things on the
right hand column.  Don’t make any
changes to these areas.  Instead, try to
think about what makes these areas so perfect!

Next, ask yourself, “What doesn’t make sense in my
classroom?”  Record all of the things you
feel don’t make sense in the center column. 
Start looking for possible reasons why they don’t make sense and begin
thinking about solutions.

In the last column, record what you would like to see.  If I were you, I would toss the budget out
the window for this column.  After all,
you’re just jotting down ideas not signing a contract to actually do it.  But it could help you to develop creative
solutions to achieve the look and feel you want without the price tag.  After all, when I get a crazy idea, I search
eBay, Craigslist, post on Facebook, go to garage sales, scour sales ads;
ANYTHING to find what I’m wanting without paying full price.

Now, the challenge gets even more difficult….are you
ready?  This could sting a little but could
also be the most helpful.  Ask a colleague
to fill out the second page of the freebie above.  These questions are pretty deep and you need
an honest opinion, so choose someone who will be honest with you.  Don’t pick me….I’m a sugar coater.  :/

Have your colleague tell you:

*What do you know I value based on looking around in my

*What do you know I believe about teaching and
learning?  What’s the evidence?

*What do you know about the kids in the room?

Now, if we’re only talking about environment, don’t ask your
best friend to do this.  Their opinion
will be a little skewed.  They KNOW how
what you value.  They KNOW what you
believe about teaching and learning.  You
need someone to be honest with you and see if the environment of your classroom
actually matches what you are striving for.  

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Inside My Flipped Classroom!

Hey there!  Did anyone notice that I have fallen off the blog planet lately?  You know how the first several weeks are perfect and you have everything planned, copied, and ready to go…then real life hits you and you are SwAmPeD?!?!?!  That has been me these last couple of days!  But today, I had to share a post about my flipped classroom set up!  
Several weeks ago, I posted a FB question that asked if anyone out there uses a “flipped classroom” model.  I wanted to see what others were doing, what programs and routines they implemented, and so on.  Well guess what, NO ONE even knew what it was!  Therefore, I had to do a little post to share a peek inside my flipped classroom!

So what a is a flipped classroom anyway?  It is a basically taking the idea of what is typically done in the classroom (teacher instruction) and what is usually done at home (practice problems for homework) and FLIPPING them!

For homework each night, my students have a short video that they must watch for their homework.  I create my videos using Educreations but you could also use videos from YouTube or Kahn Academy.  As they watch, they take notes and record any definitions, examples, or problems that I complete throughout.  My videos are typically between five and ten minutes.  Students often need to pause in order to write down the definitions or rewind if something doesn’t make sense to them.  In total, most of my students spend approximately fifteen to twenty minutes per night working on math related homework.

When they walk in the door for math class each morning, I check to see that they have completed their notes, address any blaring issues that I see at the time, and pass out an Exit Ticket.  The students will complete their Exit Ticket without any help or assistance from me.

As I collect them, I sort them into groups.  Typically, the skill typically determines how I sort them.  For example, on the day that I snapped this picture, I sorted tickets by:
 *Students who were able to correctly answer all three questions
 *Students who missed questions due to math fact issues
 *Students who didn’t add in a number they carried
 *Students who were completely clueless to the process.

On other skills, I might just sort them by who got them all correct, who missed one, who missed two, ect.

From there, I have activities designed to target each group.  Sometimes, all groups have the same activity and the only thing that is different is addressing their specific needs whereas other times I need manipulatives or other resources to address them.  This varies, of course, by the skill.  
From there, I am able to easily make use of my special education support, RTI support, and cadet teachers.  When they walk in my door, I am able to hand them a few exit slips and an activity.  What I LOVE about this is that on *most* days in my classroom, I am able to have at least 75% of my students working in a group of less than four students and addressing their specific needs.  
When students are not being pulled into a group, they work on Bubble Pages in order to keep them doing meaningful activities without needing to be closely monitored by others.  
I have also heard of many teachers including videos into morning work, math centers, or other independent work time if the technology is not available for students to take home the iPads for homework.  This still allows “math class” to be used for addressing specific needs!  

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I Heart Math Centers {Choice Boards}

Hey there!  Welcome back to my second post in my I Heart Math Centers series!  I am so excited to share this post with you as well.  Today’s post is all about my Choice Boards Center.  

To make this center possible, I discovered the ever-wonderful Jennifer at Teaching to Inspire in 5th‘s 5th Grade Common Core Math Choice Boards Bundle.  This bundle includes a choice board for each and every 5th grade Common Core Standard.  The choice boards require students to demonstrate their knowledge of various skills by using models, creating diagrams, explaining in words, and so much more! They are available for purchase in a bundle or by Common Core Domain.

In my classroom, each student’s Bubble Page requires them to complete a certain number of choices from the Choice Board.  Higher achieving students are required to complete more activities from the Choice Board where lower students may only complete one or two.

I’m not going to lie, at the beginning of the year my students avoided this center because it really challenged them to think.  In the last week or two, I have noticed that it is becoming more and more popular.  I couldn’t resist asking a couple of my students why they are no longer avoiding that center.  One of them replied, “It is actually easy once you stop over thinking and just show what you know!”  Another student told me that he loved it because “On most of the things you can draw pictures or other stuff to explain decimals.  You also get to make up some of the decimals you use instead of someone telling you what to use.”  I don’t know about you, but that sounds perfect to me!  🙂

If you are interested in winning a 4th or 5th grade bundle of these Choice Boards, enter the Rafflecopter giveaway below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway
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I Heart Math Centers {I Can Math Games}

Thank you for joining me in my I Heart Math Centers series of posts!  I am excited to launch this set of posts where, one by one, I’ll share all of my math centers that are used in my 5th grade math class.  Each day this week, I will be showing off one of my centers as well as giving away the item in which I am showcasing.  Thanks for reading along!!! 
Today’s post is my “I Can Game” Center!  For this center, I purchased the “I Can 5th Grade Math Games Bundle” from One Stop Teacher Shop.  Now, I’ll be honest, I have a TpT addiction and have made a LOT of purchases and this is seriously my favorite.  I am in awe of how complete and perfect this product is!  Let me give you an example of the thoroughness of the product in the picture below!  
Included in the product are four versions of the same questions.  In the image above, the first version is just a simple decimal problem where students would work it out and record their answer.  The second version includes a QR Code for technology rich classrooms to allow students to self check as they complete the problems.  The third and fourth cards are the same question with multiple choice options.   The fourth card also includes a QR Code for self checking.  
In my classroom my students complete the multiple choice version with QR Codes.  This allows them to choose five cards of their choice and record them on the recording sheet for this center.  I use a different recording sheet than what is provided in the product to fit in with our classroom procedures described here.  When they complete a question or set of questions, they scan the QR and mark their paper with a check or an x.  

If you follow my blog, you have probably read about my Bubble Pages.  I use the I Can Math Games as part of their Bubble Page activities.  What I love about this product is that I can switch out jars depending on the skill we are currently working on or one that I see needs a review!  This bundle contains Order of Operations, Place Value, Multiplying and Diving Whole Numbers, Decimals, Addition and Subtraction of Fractions, Multiplication and Division of Fractions, Classifying 2D Figures, Coordinate Planes, Measurement, and Volume!

If you are interested in winning an I Can 5th Grade Math Games Bundle, check out the Rafflecopter Giveaway below!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

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Teaching with Intention {Chapter One}

I don’t know about you, but I
believe that God puts certain things into your life at just the right
time.  While reading Guided Math by Laney Sammons, she referenced the book Teaching with Intention by Debbie Miller
and the “feeling of endless time” that Debbie discusses.  I felt so intrigued and just had to check out
the book.  I downloaded a Kindle sample
and read through the first couple of chapters. 
I was instantly in love.  I think
I fell in love so quickly because it was just what I needed as I moved from a
special education position to a general education position. 

In my special education role,
I loved being in a variety of classrooms and having the opportunity to work
with a wide array of teachers and styles. 
I have always said that this is a perk for me as a special education teacher.  I get to experience so much and truly develop
as a teacher.  When I think back though,
the classrooms that stick out the most in my mind are the ones where you can
feel the love as soon as you walk into the classroom.  Learning is more comfortable and engaging
because students are in a stimulating environment. 

Debbie Miller’s quote from
above comes after leaving a classroom that she couldn’t forget.  She thought about the “room, those kids, and
their teacher well into the night.” 
(Miller, 14) She was in love with the environment of the classroom.  She sarcastically hypothesized that this
teacher must have “by some lovely quirk of fate, got all of the brilliant,
motivated, and well-behaved children.” (Miller, 14) I couldn’t help but ask
myself if the practices that I was planning for my general education classroom
will be as motivating and warm as I want them to be.  By reflecting throughout this book, I have
tried my hardest to make sure that my classroom emits this feeling year after

So what do I want my
classroom to look like?

I want to see a classroom
that is designed for cooperative learning, discussions, and occupied by
friendly and helpful students.  I want to
see students who are independent and ready to learn.  I want to see students who care about the
quality of their work that decorates the classroom.  I want to see a room where students are
accepted by all for their strengths and are diligently working to improve upon
their weaknesses. 

What do I want my classroom
to sound like?

In my classroom, I want to
hear students discussing and collaborating using grade level appropriate vocabulary
and helping one another in need.  I want
to hear students sharing the knowledge that they have mastered to help others
who might not quite “get it” yet.  I want
to hear students taking ownership of their learning and the classroom

What do I want my classroom
to feel like?

I want my classroom to feel
like home to my students, especially those who don’t have an ideal home.  I want them to feel welcome and
respected.  I want them to feel
challenged and motivated to do their best. 
I want others, whether it be students, teachers, administrators, or
parents, to walk into my classroom and not want to leave.  I want them to have the urge to stay because
they are enjoying what is taking place and the “feeling” that they get when
they step over that threshold.

What do you want your
classroom to look, sound, and feel like? 
I’d love for you to comment below!

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