Monday, January 27

Self Reflection Sheet for Conferences (Freebie!)

My team and I are trying something new for Parent Teacher Conferences.  The elementary schools in our district are set up differently in that each person on a grade level team "specializes" in one subject area and teaches it to all the classes in that grade level.  I specialize in math, so I teach math to all three first grade classes in my building.  I love getting to know all of the kids, but it's hard around Parent Teacher Conferences because I can't connect with every parent about their child's math progress.

Enter...Student Led Conferences!  We are trying it this way for February conferences because we hope it'll give kids an opportunity to take some more ownership of their learning.  It will also allow us to meet with more parents than the traditional conference format.

To prepare for Student Led Conferences ("SLCs" if you wanna shorten things up), we are having our kids complete a self-reflection sheet.  They will share this with their parents at conferences and do some goal setting for the 3rd trimester.  If you want a copy of the reflection sheet, click here or on the pictures below!

Sunday, January 12

A makeover, a bundle, & a SALE!

I have been meaning to give a little facelift to some of my older TPT items, and I've decided to make that my project for the next few weeks.  Yesterday, I updated my More or Less pack, which has math centers for 1 more, 1 less and 10 more, 10 less.

I also bundled my Addition & Subtraction Sorts, which are great for practicing fact fluency!

What I love about both of these items are that they include centers for every month of the school year, so you don't have to worry about it being the right time of year to bring them out!  To celebrate FINALLY getting around to doing some product plastic surgery, I'm putting both of these items on sale for 20% until Tuesday night!

Sunday, January 5

Hands-On Fractions {Using Playdough to Show Equal Shares}

We just completed the bulk of our fractions unit before break, although we'll still be doing some fractions review in the coming weeks!  I've found that many kids have the misconception that one fourth is bigger than one half, because four is bigger than two.  The 1st grade Common Core addresses this with 1.G.A.3, which says students will understand that "decomposing into more equal shares creates smaller shares".  To try and model this concept, I did some illustrations on the board, and I gave many food examples about sharing brownies, cookies, etc.  Some of my kids "got it" through that modeling, but I still had many who didn't understand.  They knew that the object got more parts, but they couldn't tell me what happened to the SIZE of each part.

One day, I was struggling to explain this concept when I spied a can of Playdough on my desk.  (Because everyone has one of those on their desk right?  No...just me?) ;)  Even if you aren't weird like me and don't keep a can of Playdough on your desk, if you've been in a primary classroom, you know that Playdough is quite a hot commodity.  In fact, I'm sure you've broken up many arguments involving "so and so getting more playdough". 

I started by pretending that I was the only one who wanted to play with the playdough, which meant that I would get the whole thing.  I had them tell me that it was "one whole".

Next, I pretended that someone else came along and asked to play, which meant that I would have to share.  At first, I broke just a small part of the playdough off to give to the other person, and the kids erupted saying, "No!  No!  That's not fair!"  I had them explain this to me further using the words "equal" and "unequal".

After the kids told me that my friend and I should split the Playdough equally, I had someone come up and split the Playdough into two equal groups.  We then reviewed how two equal parts were called "halves" and figured out that if I got to play with one of the parts that my share was "1/2".

Then, I pretended that 2 more people wanted to share our Playdough, and now we needed to split it into four equal parts.  We repeated the same procedure that we did with halves.  I kept pretending that more and more kids wanted to play with our Playdough, until we had split the playdough up into 16 equal parts.  Since only halves and fourths are in the 1st grade Common Core, I mostly focused on identifying and labeling the examples that showed two and four equal parts.  I did ask about eighths since I've been talking about other fractions with some of my higher kiddos, but I told them it was a "challenge question". :)

By the time I got to sixteenths, the kids were freaking out about how little Playdough each person got.  It was a great real-world example for them and really drove the point home that if you have to split something into more parts, each part (ie: how much THEY would get) would be smaller.  I encourage you to try this experiment with your class and see what kinds of connections they make with it!  If you do try this, I'd love to know the results!  Just leave a comment below or email me at 

If you're a visual person like me and want to view this whole experiment in one fell swoop, feel free to pin the image below onto your Pinterest boards!

Happy Teaching!

Wednesday, January 1

Happy New Year!!

I hope your year is filled with joy, peace, and wonderful moments with your loved ones!

I am putting everything in my TPT store on sale for 20% off today and tomorrow!

Happy 2014!!
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