Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Workshop Wednesday #6- Small Group Instruction


Every Wednesday for the remainder of the summer  I will be blogging about the components of math workshop,  how I implement math workshop in my 7th grade classroom, the tools and resources I use, and I will be answering any questions posed by readers.  I have previously written several posts about doing Math Workshop in middle school.

These are the previous three posts I have written in this series:

Workshop Wednesday #1-Getting Started
Workshop Wednesday #2-Opening
Workshop Wednesday #3-Mini-Lesson
Workshop Wednesday #4-Work Time
Workshop Wednesday #5-Sharing and Reflection

Today is the sixth post of the series; Workshop Wednesday #6-"Small Group Lessons". 

Small group lessons are probably one of my favorite things about math workshop.  I also think it's one of the most effective things I do to meet the needs of each individual learner in my classroom.  

I do not have much need to do small group lessons with my Honors Math class, but once in awhile I would pull a few small groups if formative data showed the need for it.

I frequently pull small groups in my regular math classes.  We have a computer program MATHia that our students work on two days a week (on average).  This is the time I will typically pull small groups.  The students who are not working with me in a small group are busy working independently on MATHia.  It works out very well.

I previously blogged about how I did Small Group Lessons during our unit on two-step equations.  I plan my small group lessons based on formative assessment results.  We do Standards Based Grading in my school, so students get a score between 0-4 on anything I grade (which is just formative or summative assessments).  

I will quickly group the formatives based on scores.  Students who receive a 4 need do not need a small group lesson.  Often students who receive a 3 don't really need a small group lesson, they just need to chat with me for a minute or two.  I tend to focus mainly on students who score 0-2 on formatives.  Obviously I need to spend the most time on students who score 0-1 because they have the greatest need for some small group reteaching.

I mix up which groups I start with for small group time, so one day I may start with the students who scored 2 and another time I may start with those who scored 0.  I tend to prefer to start with the higher scores first because those lessons don't take as long the others.  I feel that sometimes if I start with the 0 or 1 I use up all the class time and don't get to everyone.

Each time I do small group lessons this all varies based on the results I get from the formatives and how many small groups I need to have.  My small group lessons are between 1-5 students.  I try to work with groups of 4-5 students most of the time because when you have class sizes of 30 students, it's a more effective use of time.

A couple things that are built into our daily schedule that I really love are Core Plus and Homebase.  Some days I just do not have time in math class to meet with every student that needs small group or one on one intervention.  There is only one of me and 30 of them.  I use Core Plus a lot to pull small groups when I can.  If I run out of time I may have students come back during Homebase for a small group lesson.  I don't need to do that too often because I have a pretty good handle on grouping students effectively and using that Core Plus time.

This blog post explains how I had students request a Small Group Lesson via google form.  I need to do that more often.  I like giving students the chance to request small group instruction when they feel the need for it.

During small groups students either write on their formatives or use whiteboards and dry erase markers.  They love using whiteboards and will usually choose those when given the chance.  We will work through the problems they had trouble with and also do a few other similar problems until they show mastery on the concept.

Small groups are a great way for me to understand their thinking by listening to their reasoning as we work through the problems.  I love to see how students will start explaining to each other how to do the problems once they understand.  I think it's helpful to have students learn from their peers whenever possible.

Feedback from students on my end of the year survey that they really appreciated small group lessons:

What did you like best about this class?

  • Something I like about this class would be the small groups because if we do need help we can fully understand what we were confused
  • I like how Mrs. Nackel gives time for kids who don't understand to get extra time to work with her in small groups or independently.
  • The lessons are easy to understand, and if you don't get something Mrs. Nackel will help you if you need it

What helped you learn in math class this year?
  • The one on one time
  • All of the example that were available such as the small groups or asking questions.
  • The small groups
  • Just that I was in her Math core plus since I struggle in math. 
  • The formatives, because through the formatives I was able to figure out I did not know and what I needed extra help on. 
  • The core plus helped a lot. 


Be sure to stop back next Wednesday when I will discuss my plans for "Conferring" this year as part of my math workshop.





Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Workshop Wednesday #5- Sharing and Reflection



Every Wednesday for the remainder of the summer  I will be blogging about the components of math workshop,  how I implement math workshop in my 7th grade classroom, the tools and resources I use, and I will be answering any questions posed by readers.  I have previously written several posts about doing Math Workshop in middle school.

These are the previous three posts I have written in this series:

Workshop Wednesday #1-Getting Started
Workshop Wednesday #2-Opening
Workshop Wednesday #3-Mini-Lesson
Workshop Wednesday #4-Work Time

Today is the fifth post of the series; Workshop Wednesday #5-"Sharing and Reflection". Two years ago I wrote this post on Sharing and Reflection.  These were the notes I took from that chapter:

Sharing and Reflection:
Students gather as a whole group to discuss solutions and challenges.  Reflections can be verbal or written and offer the teacher an opportunity to formatively assess students in order to plan for the next day's instruction.

This chapter is so important because sharing and reflection is really key to making sure the learning "sticks" for students.  Metacognition gives students a chance to focus on what they learned and synthesize their understanding of the concepts.

The purpose of sharing is for students to think about their own ideas and to evaluate their thinking.  It's important for the teacher not to jump in and take away the student's chance of explaining his thinking.  We need to facilitate the students' sharing of ideas.

Reflection is the learner considering his own growth and progress as a mathematician.  The author gives some great reflection prompts on pages 162-163.  This reflection can be oral or written.  This reflection time is so important for the students to solidify their learning and to be able to justify their thinking to others.  This is such an important component to the workshop model and I can see how it is easy to run out of time when you only have a 60 min period (and some of you less) everyday.  I think I will need to have some sort of system in place to make sure we save enough time at the end of class for sharing and reflection.
------------------------------------------------------------------------
Ok so let me give you some honest feedback about Sharing and Reflection in my classroom. It continues to be one of my biggest struggle areas with workshop delivery.  We do not always come back as a large group at the end of class to wrap up our day's learning.  I will say that I always check in with table groups during work time.  So even though we don't always share and reflect as a large group, I do that with individual groups every day.  This year I am really going to work on setting a structure that we close down the last 5ish minutes and ALL share and reflect together.  This means I need to be very purposeful everyday about what the prompt or problem will be that we discuss or write about.  I do a good job of this with my #1st5days lessons that follow the workshop format, but once I start teaching Carnegie lessons I tend to fall off the wagon quickly.


Be sure to stop back next Wednesday when I will be discussing how I do Small Group Instruction as part of my math workshop.

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Currently August 2015

I'm linking up with Farley for August Currently.  I'm currently on vacation in Door County, WI or what I affectionately call my "happy place". 




Listening:  We're on vacation and my husband and boys are out playing Pickle Ball and I was just chilling in our resort room and was flipping through the channels and started watching Bones.  Not a show I typically watch and I'm not used to watching regular TV with no fast forward option.  I miss my Direct T.V.  LOL

Loving:  We are having an absolutely wonderful vacation in Door County.  The weather has been gorgeous, sunny and in the 80s every day.  We've been dining out at all our favorite restaurants.  I've been hitting my favorite stores and did some clothes shopping for school.  I also purchased three Christmas gifts.  I always find cute things here and save them for gifts to give later.

Thinking:  I cannot believe it's August already.  The summer is flying by at warp speed as usual.  We need to hire a principal and new U.S. Studies teacher for my team.  Hopefully interviews are going well and they will hire those positions soon as school is starting in a few weeks.

Wanting:  I'm really trying to enjoy every minute of this vacation.  My oldest son is a junior in HS this year and I know our family of five vacations are limited as he gets older, but that's not something I want to dwell on.  I'm taking lots of photo and thanks to Instagram and blogging I will have memories of these precious vacations to cherish forever.

Needing:  I really need to buckle down next week when we get back from vacation and continue on my summer to do list.  I have a lot of cleaning and organizing that needs to be done around the house.  I also need to finish planning out things for back to school.  I won't be able to get into my classroom for a couple of weeks to start setting up my classroom, so I want to get things done around my house.

B2S RAK:  I've picked up a few little things here and there to surprise some friends and coworkers when school begins.


Friday, July 31, 2015

Five for Friday- July 31st



I'm linking up with Doodlebugs Teaching for her Five For Friday link up.



I missed last week's Five for Friday and we've been busy busy soaking up every moment of summer fun we can.  Our former next door neighbors moved to New York in December and they were in for a long weekend visit.  We had so much fun hanging out with them and miss them so much.  Our friends treated the neighbor boys to some jump time at Helium Trampoline Park.  The boys sweated up a storm jumping around and rock climbing.

Rock Climbing

Neighborhood Boys

Every night the big boys slept at one house and the little boys slept at a different house.  We had the big boys on Friday night and the little ones on Sunday.  This is such an awesome group of boys and I'm so glad my boys have the opportunity to grow up in such an amazing neighborhood with great kids and parents (and you can see there are an abundance of boys).  There are four houses right by each other that each have three boys!

Breakfast is served


One of the best things about summer is getting to have leisurely lunches (not 30 min long like during the school year) with girlfriends.  I met my friend Laura at Cafe Lulu recently and my friend Charla at The Horny Goat.  I have been making the most of the gorgeous summer weather (finally) and dining al fresco every chance I get.  I also love getting to have brunch with my husband and boys and went back to The Horny Goat.  Bay View has so many great restaurants and we are indulging this summer.

Cafe Lulu-Bloody Mary with light chaser

Cafe Lulu-Chips and Blue Cheese Dip

The Horny Goat-Strawberry arugula salad with salmon

Horny Goat-Bloody Mary and Triple X mimosa

Horny Goat-Cinnamon rolls


Horny-Goat-Crab cake benedict


We are quickly running out of time to hit all the restaurants we want for the Nackel Boy's Summer Lunch Tour 2015.  I let each of the boys pick two restaurants to have lunch at.  Of course they only picked one that is right near where we live.  It's been hard finding time to hit these restaurants with basketball, football, and lacrosse camps!  #3 was Mitchell's Fish Market in Brookfield.  The boys love their calamari and clam chowder, as well as, their fish and chips and shrimp.

Mitchell's Fish Market



Ben went to Badger State Lacrosse Camp last week.  We've heard nothing but great things about this camp so we signed him up this summer.  He also attended the shooting mini camp.  He roomed with his good friend Shaun and knew lots of friends and teammates from his summer tournament team.  He had an absolute blast.   It was such a fun and worthwhile experience for him, even though I missed him being gone that long.  I don't know what I will do in two years when he leaves for college.  It sort of felt like foreshadowing of that, when we dropped him off.  Didn't I just bring that my baby boy home from the hospital?!  I could not believe how teeny tiny the dorm rooms were.  I don't know how I ever survived living in a room this small for a year (although I think our dorm rooms at Eau Claire were a bit bigger and definitely had better storage!).

Saying Good-byes 

Dorm room for the week



Next week's recap will be all about our Door County vacation we are currently enjoying.  We left a few days ago and stopped at Starbucks to pick up some breakfast.  I seem to always being doing some sort of professional reading on my many road trips.  I recently got this book and LOVE it!  It is geared toward grades 6-8 which is really helpful.  I was not a math major in college (Eled/Spanish double major) so this book is a great resource for me. I started out with the chapter on proportional reasoning because we start the school year studying ratios and proportional relationships.  

Soy peppermint mocha and professional reading for the win

Hope you are all enjoying the lazy days of summer.  Before you know it we'll all be back in school!

Wednesday, July 29, 2015

Workshop Wednesday #4-Work Time




Every Wednesday for the remainder of the summer  I will be blogging about the components of math workshop,  how I implement math workshop in my 7th grade classroom, the tools and resources I use, and I will be answering any questions posed by readers.  I have previously written several posts about doing Math Workshop in middle school.

These are the previous three posts I have written in this series:

Workshop Wednesday #1-Getting Started
Workshop Wednesday #2-Opening
Workshop Wednesday #3-Mini-Lesson


Today is the fourth post of the series; Workshop Wednesday #4-"Work Time". Two years ago I wrote this post on Math Workshop: Work Time.  These were the notes I took from that chapter:



I strongly suggest you read a previous post I wrote about finding Rich Tasks to use during your math workshop work time.  If you do not have a strong math curriculum with good problems for students to work on that post will point you to some possible resources.

My work time almost always consists of working in the Carnegie Worktext which is our consumable math text the students write in.  Carnegie does a great job of giving lots of problems and various representations.  We don't do every single problem in the book.  We're able to pick and choose the problems that  best help us achieve our learning targets for the day.

We are able to differentiate because the text has so many problems available and often they get increasingly difficult as the lesson goes on. I know I have to do a better job of differentiating.  I have enough material to choose from, I need to spend more time on choosing the problems each of my groups need to specifically work on.

As far as grouping goes, I generally grouped my students by their MAP scores.  I found that having my highest achieving group together allowed them to challenge each other and move at a pace that did not seem too slow for them.  I also usually had two groups of students in need of most teacher assistance grouped together.  Those were the groups I would check in with first.  I would often sit with one of the groups and get them started during work time.  These groups changed throughout the year and there was lots of shifting based on different strengths students had with different strands of math.

Remember that you are the expert on your math class and your students so try out different grouping arrangements and see what works best for you.  My groups changed around sometimes on MATHia days (when students were on computers).  I often grouped students by what unit and section they were working on so they could help each other out if needed.

Altogether I had 6 or 7 groups of 4-5 students working in each class.  I would prefer to only have 6 groups that I need to check in with, but now that I have tables I try to keep 4 to a table instead of 5.  Next year our class sizes are so large I will probably have more groups of 5.

I spend work time walking around the class mainly listening to students collaborating in their groups.  I offer assistance when needed or check in with the groups to see that they are on the right track.  Sometimes I have the students in the group take turns sharing their answers with me or I might just scan the book of one student and tell them if there are any errors (when I check with the group they should have come to consensus on their answers, unless they call me over because they cannot agree).

During work time if I see that most of the students have the same misconception I will temporarily halt them and we will discuss that as a whole class for a couple minutes.  Every day work time looks different depending on what we are doing.

These are the comments my students wrote about work time when they took my end of the year survey:

What are your opinions of math workshop? (answers that focused on work time):

  • I like the work time as it allows us to work with our groups and be productive, much more than in a mini-lesson, in my opinion. 
  • I like worktime
  • I like it. It is an easy and fun way to do math class, and it helps me personally understand what is expected of me.
  • I like having work time so you don't have to do the whole lesson by yourself. 
  • I think that it is a good balance of independent work, group work and teacher guiding.
  • It's okay
  • I like the workshop because we get to go at our own speed. 
  • It's fine.
  • I actually really liked the math workshop that we did this year and I really liked it a lot
  • I liked the mini lessons, and Work time was also good this year because we were able to have good discussion if there were different answers. 
  • I think It was a good system of doing things however, we really for most of the year skipped sharing and reflection. Other than that though it was good. 
  • Math workshop really helped me understand the math concepts especially in 8th grade math. Mini lesson helps me know what I need to know to complete the rest of the lesson. 
  • Work time because we get to work in a group
  • It works well, especially since last year at <school name redacted> I didn't really get much help at all.
  • good
  • I really enjoy the way they are set up, because you can go at your own pace, and still have the teacher there to help you
  • I like that order of events because it makes sense to have it that way
  • I like Math the way it is and am sad that I am leaving a great teacher.
  • I like how you do the mini lesson then we go on our own and do it, and then you come back and see how we are doing.
  • I like it
  • Fun and we got to learn a lot.
  • I don't really like them just because I am more of a working by myself type of person but sometimes they are fun.
  • I thought that all of that was very helpful
  • I really like work time because we get to work with our group and if I had any questions I would ask my group members.
  • IT IS GREAT WOUNDN'T CHANGE A THING
  • I think that math workshop is fine the way it is, collaborative groups, sharing answers, there's really nothing to change.
  • I like the mini lesson and work time but the sharing and reflecting isn't the best (I don't like it).
  • I think it gives us time to process the lesson.
  • I liked work time because we got to share our answers and get help from others.
  • I kind of like to work on math alone because other people have different answers and then you have to tell them why yours is right, or maybe wrong, but yeah I like the mini lessons, they are helpful.
  •  I like the way we did math this year
  • Great
  • okay
  • They are good
  • work time is good
  • Work time is fun because you are in your group and reflecting helped me explain my answers 
  • I like the math workshop because its easier to get the content.
  • I think that we should have partners instead of groups because in groups most of the time only one person does the work and the others copy.
  • I really enjoyed the math workshop. 
  • It's better than what we did in elementary school because the teacher would just tell us the answers not really give us time to work which helps us learn a lot more.
  • I thought it was very nice and I got a lot out of it. They made math more helpful to me.
  • Work time people don't really collaborate that much
  • good
  • It is a good method of learning.
  • Have more time to work on problems 
  • I like the work time with groups 
  • I wish we could have more time sharing with partners. 
  • I didn't like the work time because sometimes groups wouldn't work together.
  • It's fun and helps me get ready for the summatives
  • I liked the work time and how we did it with our group. 
  • I like work time if everyone in the group is participating, and sharing is okay. 
  • I thought it worked really well
  • good pace and has time to work
  • I like the process a lot.
  • productive.
  • I think the math workshop is good. Starting with the mini lesson then leading into worktime.


What helped you learn in math class this year:
  • You and sometimes the people at my table
  •  the textbook helped me refresh in math class.
  • A lot more than I did before, and I was able to review and understand things I learned last year better.
  • long worktime
  • I really liked group work time because if we had a problem we could consult with our peers.
  • Working with others helped get questions answered.
  • I really liked the group work time this year compared to last year where we did the work time as a class 
  • The math book.
  • my table groups
  • The strong material, and how it was explained
  • Marking the text helped me understand what we were learning
  • Mrs. Nackel and doing collaborative work time
  • What helped me learn this year was the mini lessons. I knew what I was doing after them and it helped me get through the lesson a lot quicker and more efficiently. 
  • Having fun while working, Mrs.Nackel's support, and,yes, there were sometimes that I thought she was being mean, but I think it was that push that really helped me. 
  • The mini lessons then work time
  • Being focused on the topic
  • The mini lessons and working with other people
  • Paying attention (Most of the time ;) 
  • Paying attention and taking notes
  • The thing that really helped me was the geometry unit because i never understood the unit on "How much area is in the shaded region" but now I do.
  
What do you like BEST about this class:
  • We get to work in groups for math, so if you're confused, you can ask your classmates to help you.
  • long work times
  • I like being able to go at my own pace in worktime after the minilesson.
  • I like that we have group work time and near the end of class, you review the answer.
  • I enjoy the free time that we sometimes get. I also like the fast pace of the class.
  •  Sitting wherever we want. Working in small groups (with friends)
  • I like how we get to work in our groups together, but we can still ask Mrs. Nackel questions if we have to.
  • I liked that we were able to move at a faster pace and that we would have time for mathia after assessments. 
  • I like how during our work time, we are allowed to talk with our friends as long as we get our work done. This makes it more fun to do our work.
  • I really like your sense of humor. It really wakes us up in the midst of the early morning. It always puts a smile to my face. The people are very hard working including you and work time is at your own pace.
  • I like how we get to work in our groups
  • When we get to do worktime, and finish homework
  • The mini lesson because it helps with work time when we have it in our small groups
  • I like how it is okay to get an answer wrong at times.
  • the fun math-related activities
  • I like how fun it can be and the toughness it brings to solving a problem.
  • I liked that we got to play games if we completed something.
  • I really enjoy math in general but what I like best about this class is that there is always something math related if you finish early for any reason.
  • We get a lot of time to study 
  • All the fun we have.
  • I like that we have work time, and we get to talk with our friends.
  • I like when we get a little free time in this class which lets us get away from the work a little bit.
  • How its fun but you can learn while u are having fun  
  • It gave me the best chance to learn
  • I like how each day we learn new things.
  • We are able to talk a lot during group work time
  • Working in collaborative groups different Math Assignments.
  • That you are never just sitting around you are doing work or paying attention to us
  • It challenges me and pushes me to do my best.
  • We can goof off a little when work time is not needed. 
  • What I liked best about this class, is we got to have fun and got to work with partners
  • We don't have to do what every other class does with claims and evidence and analysis which is a nice thing also, with out 5th hour class specifically we aren't the most normal which makes it fun. 
  • How I knew all the materials and the materials were given to me to do well on the test 
  • I like that I feel like everyone respects me, and that Mrs. Nackel is not mean and will talk to me. I really love that everyone helped me when I was having trouble with concepts. I have a hard time with math, and this year was fairly easy for me, and I learned a lot. 
  • That it's not like other classes where you have to write big long essays about things. It's just a matter if you get how to do the material or not. 
  • The time not being spent on chromebooks
  • I like how Mrs. Nackel gives time for kids who don't understand to get extra time to work with her in small groups or independently. 
  • Working in groups and figuring out problems with them.
  • I like working in groups to figure out problems
  • It's not too hard, I know I can do my best and still be able to do great. 
  • We first learn what we are doing and then go on to do it with our groups.
  • The learning 
  • I liked how we got to work with our group and play games when we were done with mathia. 
  • I like that we know what needs to be expected of us so we can make sure to do those things and be responsible.
  • have chances to do fun things
  • That my classmates are willing to help me if I don't understand and so is the teacher Mrs. Nackel



Be sure to stop back next Wednesday when I will be discussing the Sharing and Reflection of math workshop.