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. 

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.