Saturday, March 10, 2012

Math Work Stations Journey, continues

I am stuck!  I am reflecting on my attempt to implement Math Work Stations and it has been more of a challenge than I expected and I am reflecting on why?  Are there other teachers out there who are struggling?  I want to meet and collaborate with them!  It helps me to collaborate!  I learn so much from others and there is something inspirational and freeing in that moment when I discover that someone is having some of the same struggles!  A sort of 'ah-ha...hey, I'm having that SAME issue!" I have searched many blogs, and, while I find their successes inspiring and hopeful for where I wish I were, there is a piece of me that finds  myself feeling lonely and wondering what I am missing. 
     I also know that when I keep asking 'why', I usually have to face my own self and push to be 100% honest with myself.  Then, I am pushed to the point of naming the problem, which in turn means that I..and only I...can make the changes to solve the problem! 
     There are some things that I know need to change, but, the environment I find myself in does not have me trusting that I will be able to make some of the changes I think would help.  Feeling this way (hands tied), has me feeling I just want to throw my hands up and give up!  wow!  Did I just write that?!  
     I will not give up, I will reflect more, identify changes that can work along with what my kids need and figure out how to make Math Work Stations coordinate with what the data gathering/producing tools measure! 
     If anyone reads this...please leave a comment, advice, etc that might be helpful!  Thanks! 

Friday, March 2, 2012

Importance of Positive work environment

I did not have the greatest week...without getting into too many details publicly, let's just say, in all of my 23 years of being an educator, I have never felt the way I felt this week!  As a human being, my natural inclination is to seek out answers and solutions to problems.  I love to figure out things and to make things work well.  This is personally and professionally!  So, with that said, I almost went into a tail-spin of self-doubt!
My experience is a complete learning experience but the negative effect it had on me trickled into my classroom, to my home, to my interactions with others and I did not like's not me!  This (I'll call it what I believe it to be) NONSENSE has me reflecting on our profession and the environment we work in, the effect it has on us and how that effects our students!  I was so negatively affected that I did not have passion, love, a positive attitude and I was stressed out.  I found myself so frustrated and angry, I caused one of my children emotional pain.  As soon as the ugly attitude and words came out the child burst into tears...I felt awful!  I immediately apologized, I hugged her, I told her I was wrong in acting in such a way and I should never have allowed my feelings to get the best of me. I told her I love her and that the way I acted was not about her, it was my bad feelings and me not controlling them.   I apologized to my class for being a crabby teacher.  I told them that I didn't mean for my feelings to get the best of me and I owed them all an apology.  Talk about kids being forgiving!  Hugs, and more hugs...and "I hope you feel better!"  (Me too!)
     That moment, this day,.... does not have anything directly connected to Math Work Stations...or does it?  We did not have time for them!  Part of the pressure I am feeling is the directive to PM math, and Dibels weekly!  My job is tied to the success of my students and  I went into panic mode!  How does all of this 'assessment' ever allow us time to reflect and effectively plan?   I don't feel like I am allowed the time to provide my students the experience of Math Work Stations.  I feel more like I don't have time to reflect and plan for them.  How many other teachers out there are in a situation where they would love to be doing more as a teacher, but, the craziness of all this assessment is curtailing their creativity? 
How important is the work environment to the success of students?  Do schools with positive work environments and happy teachers have higher achieving students?  Have schools had administrative changes that created negative or positive environmental changes and student achievement reflect that?
How do we create and protect positive learning environment so our students reach their highest potential?  wow...
Sorry for the long winded post...but, WOW!  what a week! 

Tuesday, February 28, 2012

Math Stations Journey...Success?!

I have been making a point of ensuring my students have at least 15 minutes at Math Work Stations each day.  It is interesting to observe and see where the strengths and challenges lie.  The whole idea of students working in pairs, on different tasks, and remaining engaged is extremely interesting to watch, but, not always pretty!  My students, overall, struggle with following the routines of Literacy Stations as well as Math Work Stations.  I have a few who just LOVE to do things thier way.  I have been floating around the classroom during this time, watching, listening, & coaching students on how to use the work, and, still, how to organize thier work and solve problems.  Today, I took a large step back and just 'got busy' away from the students.  It was amazing!  Even though they may not be 100% efficient with the materials/concepts at each station, there was not 1 pair of students who was NOT engaged! They stayed engaged for 10 minutes without any interruptions from me! (super hard not to step in!).  I heard/saw some disagreements get solved,  1 guy & girl challenging each other for speed in addition/subtraction, and they were all talking to each other!
     My next step is to add more choice to the Work Stations, but, after our Mclass math meeting today, I am not sure I will have time to take a breath, let alone think through more choices!  We'll save that 'discussion' for another day!
     How is it going for you?  Please leave a comment or share any other blogs/websites that show how others are doing with Math Work Stations!


Wednesday, February 22, 2012

Math Work Stations = Learning about teaching

This format was/is supposed to be one way for me to track my implementation of Math Work Stations in my classroom and my own learning, but, I have been keeping a journal in more than one place!  My learning  may not always be pretty...but I will be as honest as I can in public!  (yikes!) 
     This past summer  I was so excited when I saw the Math Work Station 'Frenzy'...all of the collaboration around Debbie Diller's newest book.  I felt all the sharing might be just the support I would need to try Math Work Stations myself.  Let's just say getting Math Work Stations up and running has been a very bumpy and lonely ride!  Boy I love to share my learning with someone, and, I absolutely love-love-love to learn from others!  I thought I had struck gold finding blogs...and in many ways I did/have.  What I didn't understand is that bloggers do not stay on one topic, and what I really need, as a learner, is a partner to travel along with, bounce thinking off of,  compare interpretations/learning, and really learn to trust the process. 
Update: Math Work Stations are not going as well in real life as they did in my dreams!  I just have not been able to find/make the time to allow students consistent time at Work Stations and it really showed up the past 2 weeks! 
Oh how important consistency is to student/teacher learning!
Struggle:  scheduling enough time to teach current content and allow time for working on past concepts.

Good news:  Last week we were able get time at Math Work Station 2 out of 4 instructional days. 
This week:  last week taught me to refresh/review how to set up and clean up work stations.
                    Yesterday:  review/reteach set-up/clean-up
                     Today:  Work Stations!  Observations/share out at end by students. 
What went well?  2 girls on computer:  "It was hard at first but, then I remembered that Mrs. Chappetto told us to take turns!  We took turns and we learned some new addition!"
                               Another pair of boys, one functioning below level in most areas of school and another  very quiet, but well developed student.  The more capable student shared:  "We worked together and he finished before me!"  My little struggler had the biggest smile on his face and the other students spontaneously broke out in applause!"  Talk about affirmation! Wow!
**While these are two good stories/highlights, we will continue to work on defining good partnerships, taking turns, being patient and understanding and using the materials correctly. 

Oh how I wish I had 1000 followers who were all working on the same things and we could share the good, the bad and the ugly of Math Work Stations.  I am super-grateful that there are so many teachers out there that create and share their incredible creations for Math Work Stations. 

I will continue to post because that was my commitment to myself...and if anyone ever reads my blog, hopefully my honest and candid reflections help them.  If you read all of this, leave some feedback! 

Sunday, January 8, 2012

Math Work Stations Journey

What is your math curriculum like?  Do you ever feel like there is never enough time spent learning/working on a concept before you need to move on so that you keep pace with the pacing charts provided from the powers-that-be?
I have and I do!  I feel it more and more each year and I struggle with it!  I don't know much about the Common Core Standards or how it will affect our profession and student learning.  What I do know, is that I have felt that I need to find a better way for students to practice what they have learned so that they will retain what they have learned and develop stronger strategies for problem solving.

I have read Debbie Diller's Math Work Stations, and I intend to create some of the activities she suggests, but I took a short cut this weekend and visited another website which has activities that are aligned with the Common Core!  I felt it might be easier for me to start with pre-aligned activities then add to it as I create/find more activities.
I spent  much of yesterday and today organizing games I found at k-5math teaching resources.  I found that each game or activity is easy to find materials for and  hopefully the students find them engaging!
So here is what I have so far for 'organization'.  BTW...if you are looking for ideas, support or motivation to get organized, you should join the Clutter-free Classroom Project.

I copied each activity onto cardstock, inserted it into a plastic sleeve and placed it into my 3-ring binder.

Having each activity/game in a sleeve will make it easier to just place it into one of my Math Work Stations
bins once I have taught the students how to use the materials.

My next goal is to use plastic tabs to divide the activities into the different standards.  Then I can just add to it as I find or create more activities to support student learning. 

I will keep you updated on student response! 

Saturday, January 7, 2012

Math Work Stations Journey

One of my goals this school year has been to incorporate Guided Math into my instruction.  It really has been a goal for a long time!  I have really been mulling, reading, pondering, wondering for a few years now...that's what I do when I cannot visualize something.  When I found out Debbie Diller was publishing her book for Math Work Stations, I knew I would finally have something that would help me along.  This past summer I began pulling things together, but, continued to feel stuck so I went searching on the web.  I started with Debbie Diller's site.  THAT is when I discovered blogging!  I was beyond excited to find out that teachers were sharing thier learning, thier work and their advice!  WHAT!?  This is how teaching should be!  Of course I had been visiting websites that other teachers had created and shared gobs and gobs of their materials...does ring a bell? But blogs?  I had no idea!
Anyway, I am  on the journey to better math learning in my classroom (I hope!)   Last spring I applied for and was granted  a Fellowship to do action research in my classroom and my Math Work Stations are my focus!  How is that for accountability!  Now I am going to be accountable here, on my new blog, to anyone who may come along and read it...

I have decided on this forum because, perhaps, I will do a better job keeping up with my 'Journaling' about what is happening in my classroom, and maybe, just maybe, I will help someone else along on thier journey.

There  many other teachers whom I have never met,  who don't even know that they have been my teachers!  Once I figure figured out the "link up" thing on blogs, I will re-scoure will continue to scour the blog world and give a shout out to each and every one I can find!   Honestly, so many teachers share their teaching life and put it out I will too!

Math Work Station Tubs

I have my Math Work Station tubs set up just inside my door on 2 shelves I bought a few years ago.  I raided my local Staples for the Really Useful Boxes. I love the boxes for several reasons: they are clear, they have locking handles, they stack really well, can be carried by little hands and can be packed away with ease!   My blue tub on top holds the Math Journals we will be using more diligently in the new year!.  My prompts right now are from my math series, on the web, and random teacher resource books I have collected over the years.  I would like my journal prompts to have more order too! (on the to-do list). The blue tubs are from the ever wonderful IKEA.

Hey! This linking thing is working out! 

So here are the first few blogs I found on Debbie Diller's site:
Lory's Page

From hopping around from site to site I was amazed at how many teachers have blogs, then I discovered that it is a business for some!  Wow!  Who knew?!  You did, now I do and hopefully more will!  This is fascinating stuff!

Ok, back to the Math Work Stations...
I am in the process of updating them for Monday, and I will take pictures and share with you what each contains and why I make my choices. 
Please, if anyone out there reads my blog and has something to share, a comment, a bit of advice,  PLEASE feel free! 

I will also share the books and reading I have done in preparing for my action research in a later post. 

Math Work Stations

One area of focus for me this year as a teacher is Math.  I read Debbie Diller's Math Work Stations, Guided Math, some of the Number Sense Routines, and Math Exchanges.  I really think these books are a great package of information and each seems to dive into an area all their own, but is connected beautifully to the whole picture of differentiating for our learners in a very intentional way. 

Guided Math: A Framework for Mathematics Instruction               

I also wanted to share a site that I often refer to as I brainstorm my work stations.  It is helpful for materials and games.Math Teaching Resources

math manipulatives and books sorted by concept

Once I feel more confident and sure of my management of Math Work Stations and Guided Math, I want to learn more about using Literature in Math. 

What do you do to incorporate Literature into Math?