Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Kindey or Horseshoe Table- Please comment!

I need feedback from teachers on what your thoughts are regarding a kidney table vs a horseshoe table. I am planning on using part of a stipend I earned to purchase either type of table for small groups.  I pull small groups all the time in my classroom and I think one of these tables would work better than me sitting on the edge of a rectangular table with two students on each side and one on the other end.  My groups can vary from 1- 5 students.

For some background, I teach 7th grade math, so this table would be used for middle school aged kids. Typically when I pull a small group the students come with a pencil and exit slip, otherwise they might be working out problems on a whiteboard.  I use a whiteboard to model problems for them.

Kindey Table
Horseshoe Table

I would appreciate any feedback or suggestions about which table you think would work best and why. I have been doing some online research and people seem split on preference, so bonus if you teach actual middle schoolers (or upper elementary students) because they are much bigger than primary students.  TIA for any feedback!

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Small Group Google Form Request and Spreadsheet

I'm linking up this post up at Head Over Heels for Teaching and her Spark Student Motivation Saturdays, because I got very positive feedback from my students when I let students request small group intervention via a Google Form

I'm home today with a sick boy and am finally blogging about something I did in my class last week that far exceeded my expectations.  I didn't take any photos while doing this and I'm home today so perhaps I will update this post later with more photos, but everything is at school and I'm home today.  The main focus of this post is the Google Form and Spreadsheet I used.  I had a last minute idea, the stars aligned, and when I called my tech coach he had a few minutes available to help turn my idea become reality.

I spend lots of time pulling small groups for mini-lessons or conferring about formative feedback I get via entrance/exit slips.  Last week we had a MATHia day prior to our Chapter 10 Assessment on Triangles.  Students had the option to work on the computer or request extra practice/small group instruction on various concepts being assessed the next day.

With the assistance of the best teach coach ever @chadkafka I created the google form shown below where students could sign up for some extra practice/discussion any concepts they felt they still hadn't mastered.  I created a google shortcut for students to access the google form.  This form seriously took me about 10 minutes to create. If I can do it anyone can.  Really, the creation is a fairly intuitive process. Interested students completed the form and I had instant data on who I would be working with during math class/ Core Plus that day.

If you click to picture below you can see the results of my form.  It was so easy to see everything in one place in Google Drive.  I hid the student name column so I could post this for you to view.  That would be located directly left of the class hour.  I ended up using the purple shading because I had students in 6th hour that were separated and I was not able to sort them by class hour because the sorting feature was being problematic the day I was using this.

Google Form results allowed me to form small groups.
I do like the idea of shading the box (dark purple) once the student has completed a learning station/small group lesson on a concept so I can keep track of who has completed what. There was a lot of different things going on at once based on student request.  I also keep notes in the last column if students worked on this during Core Plus or Class.  I love having this data to refer back to and also to inform parents if students are taking advantage of these added opportunities or not.

This worked so well for me.  I did a post about the three Learning Stations I created last year.  I had students use these to practice independently after I modeled for them how the station worked.  I wrote the answers on a post-it on the back to the center and gave the student the sheet protector with the card in it.  Students really enjoyed using these to review for the assessment.  They checked in with me after completing the station and most were able to solve for a missing angle x using the concepts of either the triangle sum theorem or exterior angle theorem.  I'm posting the photos below because they are saved on my computer from when I created the stations last year.

Each color is a different station

Direction sheet.

Each station had six cards.  I also attached the answer key on the back of the white sheet. The cards were actually on the other side of the sheet protector when I handed them out. 

I also made worksheet that had two different triangle constructions for students to practice.  The constructions have been really challenging for many of my students.  While many have mastered how to construct a triangle using given sides or angles, many still struggle.  If students just wanted more practice they worked on this independently, but many preferred to have me model the construction for them in a small group.  During mini lesson time in workshop I use the SMARTboard compass to construct triangles.  Some students prefer watching me use a real compass to do the construction step by step while they complete their own construction.

The last three concepts, determining congruence in triangle, determining possible side lengths for the third side of a triangle when two are given, and whether three side lengths would form a triangle, were all done in small groups with me using whiteboard examples and lots of discourse.

What I loved about using the Google Form for students to request small group lessons was the ownership it put on the students.  This gave every student access to work on concepts they still felt they needed more work on.  I pull small groups all the time, but usually I use entrance/exit slip data to determine the groups.  This gave students choice and voice in what they still needed/wanted to practice prior to the assessment.

I will definitely be using Google Forms more frequently to get feedback from students.  I would also like to create some entrance/exit slips on a form.  I will be sure to share on the blog anything else I do.  Let me know if you have any questions and I definitely recommend you try making a Google Form yourself.  It's so easy having the data collected on a Google Spreadsheet could not be easier to view!

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

April Currently

I'm linking up with Farley for this month's Currently.  I cannot believe it's April 1st and third quarter ends this Friday.  The school year is flying by so fast.

Listening:  I wake up most days at 5 AM.  I usually have a good hour of peace and quiet to myself (which is very hard to come by in my life).  This is when I read blogs, check twitter, respond to any emails from the night before, look over the lessons I'm teaching that day.  I love having that quiet time every morning to start my day.

Loving:  That Winter seems to have left the building finally.  The last two days it has smelled like Spring, fresh and new.  I think it was a big mistake that we did not go somewhere warm for Spring Break this year.  Lesson learned.

Thinking:  In WI we have something called Educator Effectiveness that involves hours upon hours of time writing goals, and uploading artifacts to proved you are an effective educator.  It came to be because WI got a waiver for NCLB and had to come up with a system of teacher evaluation.  We had to upload 12 different artifacts for Danielson Domains 1 and 4.  I also have been waiting for my informal observation to happen and it FINALLY did yesterday morning. I feel the biggest wait has been lifted off my shoulders and now I can just enjoy working with my students!

Wanting:  To have a strong finish to the school year for both me and my students.  I have seen tremendous growth from so many students and I want them to all continue to learn and finish strong.  They still have so much to learn and I want to continue to help each student achieve his/her potential. In my regular classes we are doing Geometry and Probability & Statistics.  In my Accel class we will be starting the 8th grade curriculum next week, mainly Expressions & Equations and more Geometry. We are teaching three more 8th grade chapters than we did last year!

Needing:  To get active again.  My husband and I started out strong working out over my long Winter break and kind of fell off the workout wagon the last two months.  I love working out before school, but now that my son who is a freshman starts school 10 min earlier everyday (to make up time for our four cold days  in Jan) there is not enough time.  I can however bring my workout gear and go right after school and need to get a routine down for that.

Hours and last day:  My official teacher day is 7:30-3:30, but I am usually at school between 7:00-7:15 and I rarely leave school before 5 PM.  My goal for the rest of the year is to leave school earlier more often.  We'll see how that goes!  Students come into out rooms starting at 7:40 and the end of the day bell rings at 3:15.  Our middle school has the longest student day in the district.  It's annoying having so little prep time before and after school, but I'm used to it.  The students' last day of school is June 11th and they have a half day. The afternoon is for teachers to finish grades and start packing up.  The last teacher day is June 12th for close out procedures.  We always have a cookout for lunch that day as one last hurrah.