Sunday, February 10, 2019

Art for Kids: Snowy Trees

Classroom art for kids. Snowy Trees - Beautiful winter art projects for the elementary classroom brought to you by Literacy Loves Company.

Happy Sunday Afternoon!  I'm sitting here in my living room looking out at the beautiful February sunshine.  The funny thing is, this weekend we were forecasted to have the snowstorm to end all snowstorms...  grocery stores were rampaged.  Gas station lines were miles long.  Teachers and students alike were prepping for snow days this week.  It's now Sunday and I am looking out at bare ground and glorious sunshine.  I'm not sure if I should be disappointed or relieved.

As a type of precursor to this "snowpocolypse", my students completed their snowy tree art project this week and we finally got them on display.  They turned out beautifully...  each one is unique and the whole display is magical!
Classroom art for kids. Snowy Trees - Beautiful winter art projects for the elementary classroom brought to you by Literacy Loves Company.

I often get my inspiration for classroom art from the internet.  While searching for a winter project, I came upon a photo of a project similar to the one you see above.  As I prepped for writing this post, I tried to search it out so that I could give the original poster credit and was unable to find it.

One of the things I love to do is find an original piece of art and try to figure out a way to make it accessible to my own students.  This means determining which medium to use with our limited resources and the step-by-step order for the project since we have limited time.  This project takes at least two sessions with drying time in between.

For this project we used these materials:
white card stock cut into 8 1/2 by 8 1/2 squares
white, blue, and black tempera or acrylic paint
sharpie markers
larger black permanent markers

Prep:
I cut the paper into the squares.
I put plates and paint brushes on each group table.  On the plates I put a dollop of white, blue, and black paint.

Step One:
Students paint the background by painting a white circular shape in the middle of their paper.  As students work out from the middle of the page, they mix blue into the edge of their white paint creating a light blue.  As they work out toward the edge of the paper, they continue to add blue until they are using pure blue.  At that point they start to add black to their blue to darken it and continue to work out until they work their way off of the page.  Many of my students went back in with white, after cleaning their brush,  to smoothed out and widen the middle circle.  We stopped at this point, cleaned up, and let the paintings dry.

Step Two:
Once the painting dry (later that day or days later) hand out the paintings, Sharpie markers, and bold tip permanent markers.  I demonstrated for my students, under the document camera, how to draw the curvy branches and fill in the trunk.

When I did this for my students, I modeled directly on the painted background.  The background was a bit more rough so students had to work more carefully.
Classroom art for kids. Snowy Trees - Beautiful winter art projects for the elementary classroom brought to you by Literacy Loves Company.

Classroom art for kids. Snowy Trees - Beautiful winter art projects for the elementary classroom brought to you by Literacy Loves Company.
Some students positioned their trees in the center of the page and others off to the side.  Both are beautiful!

Step Three:
The final step is to put "snowflakes" on the page.  provide one dollop of white paint for each group of about 4 students.  I happen to have corndog sticks that we used to make the tiny dots (pointed end) and the large dots (blunt end).  You could also use small dowels, toothpicks, the handle end of paintbrushes, etc.  The goal is to make sure the dots are random around the page.
Classroom art for kids. Snowy Trees - Beautiful winter art projects for the elementary classroom brought to you by Literacy Loves Company.

Classroom art for kids. Snowy Trees - Beautiful winter art projects for the elementary classroom brought to you by Literacy Loves Company.
The results were magical!  Every tree turned out just as unique as the artist who painted it.
Classroom art for kids. Snowy Trees - Beautiful winter art projects for the elementary classroom brought to you by Literacy Loves Company.

Classroom art for kids. Snowy Trees - Beautiful winter art projects for the elementary classroom brought to you by Literacy Loves Company.
I hope that this post has inspired you to create some magical winter trees with your students.  If you do, please share your pictures on Facebook and/or Instagram and tag LiteracyLovesCompany.  I'd love to see your beautiful pieces of art.

Thank you for visiting!

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Sunday, February 3, 2019

How to W.I.N. in the Classroom: Managing Materials

Organizing materials for your W.I.N. Block math stations can be a challenge.  Get some  management ideas from Literacy Loves company.

One of the keys to success for incorporating a W.I.N. block into your classroom routine is organization.  While implementing W.I.N. in my own classroom I have found that there are three main organizational areas:  student materials, station materials, and teacher materials.

STUDENT MATERIALS
Each of my students has a red pocket folder that follows them from station to station.  Of course, you don't have to have RED folders, that is just the color I had on hand.  I would suggest, however, that all of your folders are the same color.  This makes it easier to locate them and rotate them to the different groups.  On the front of each folder, I have written W.I.N. block and the student's name.  Students keep their W.I.N. Weekly Report and other station materials inside.

I also have a file folder for each student.  I would suggest using a different color than the pocket folders.  I happen to have had red file folders also, and because I used red for both it has been a little more challenging to sort out the folders.  This folder stays with the "Targeted Practice" station.  At this station, students each have a worksheet or task that is differentiated for them.  When planning for my W.I.N. block, I place each student's sheet in that folder.  When they get to the Targeted Practice station during our 6 day rotation, their sheet is inside that folder and waiting for them.  If a student doesn't finish the worksheet, it stays in their file folder.  When it is finished, they turn it in to a "Turn In" manila envelope specifically for that worksheet.  I collect the manila envelope at the end of the 6 day rotation and check through the work to see who finished and to check accuracy on the work.
Organizing materials for your W.I.N. Block math stations can be a challenge.  Get some  management ideas from Literacy Loves company.

I include "Turn in" envelopes at any station that has written work that should be collected.  This isn't anything fancy, I usually just tape an index card with the name of the worksheet or task on the outside so that I can reuse the envelope the next round of stations.

In the pictures, you might notice the station signs.  I have found that they aren't really necessary since the materials bin acts as the station sign.

STATION MATERIALS
I have found that in order to successfully stay on top of my W.I.N. stations, it is important that each station has a bin, basket, or tub that is clearly labeled with the station name and includes ALL of the materials students would need to complete the tasks.  Because of a limited amount of time for our W.I.N. block, I want my students to be able to sit down at their station and have everything they need right there for them to get started.  It doesn't really matter what type of container you use, but if you are able to, it would be helpful if they are all the same style/color so that students easily know that they are for W.I.N. block.
Organizing materials for your W.I.N. Block math stations can be a challenge.  Get some  management ideas from Literacy Loves company.

In each station tub, I include the directions for the task, any worksheets that students may need, rulers, markers, etc.  For my game station, if the game has a sheet that needs to be written on, I put four copies of the game in sheet protectors and provide whiteboard markers and erasers.  This saves on copies.

TEACHER MATERIALS
One thing you may not know about me, or maybe you do if you have read some of my other blog posts, is that I can be a jump-in-with-two-feet kind of person.  I usually dive right in and figure out the logistics later.  The logistics of organizing my teacher materials was the area I put off the longest. When I first started, I kept everything in a pocket folder.  This worked okay for awhile, but it became difficult for me to find my answer keys, last round's student grouping information, etc.  While writing this block series, I've been working on getting more organized in this area.

Now I am keeping myself organized by using a binder.  Not surprising, I know.  In my binder, I have sections for my W.I.N. Block Planning Sheets (Free download available on linked blog post.), answer keys, and targeted skills pages.

Organizing materials for your W.I.N. Block math stations can be a challenge.  Get some  management ideas from Literacy Loves company.

Using the binder, I can keep track of future skills I want my students to work on, data for future groupings, and the answer keys for the worksheets and tasks I am having my groups work on.  I'm sure this is going to work out much better than my previous pocket folder did!
Organizing materials for your W.I.N. Block math stations can be a challenge.  Get some  management ideas from Literacy Loves company.

Organizing materials for your W.I.N. Block math stations can be a challenge.  Get some  management ideas from Literacy Loves company.

As a gift for visiting Literacy Loves Company and joining me on this W.I.N. blog post journey, I've created a binder cover, spines, and tabs and am sharing them with you.
Organizing materials for your W.I.N. Block math stations can be a challenge.  Get some  management ideas from Literacy Loves company.
Included in the download is the color version you see here and also a black and white version.  


I hope you will continue to visit over the next couple of weeks as I finish off the series with information on how I keep my students accountable for their work during W.I.N. time.  My final post on this subject will be some advice on how to bring it all together into a successful routine for both you and your students!


•   What is W.I.N.?  - free download of "What is W.I.N. Time?" and "Expectations" posters.
•   Organizing Student Groups - Free download of Group Organization tool
•   Station Ideas - free download of editable station signs and group headers
•   Managing Materials - free download of binder cover and spine
•   Keeping Kids Accountable - free download of student recording sheet
•   Launching a W.I.N. Block - Mystery download!

If you have any questions or suggestions for managing materials for math stations or a W.I.N. block, please comment below!  I would love to hear from you.


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Saturday, January 19, 2019

How to W.I.N. in the Classroom: Station Ideas



W.I.N. Block math station ideas for the elementary classroom from Literacy Loves Company.



My favorite part of organizing my W.I.N. rotations is figuring out what I will have students work on at each station.  When planning for station activities, I am always looking at three things:
1.  Does the activity meet students' needs in the area we are working on?
2.  Is the activity fun yet rigorous?
3.  Is the activity easy to organize, understand, and clean up so that students are able to work at it independently?  This is going to look very different depending on what grade you teach.  

In my class I run five to six math stations at a time, depending on how many student groups I have.    

Teacher Time
As mentioned in the second post in this series, I always start my planning with the Teacher Time station.  I've heard this station called many things, but it is basically the station in which you, the teacher, meet with a small group of students for direct instruction.  The focus should be whatever caused you, while looking at your data, to group these students together.  I am currently scoring a set of post assessments for my math students.  While I am looking over their papers, I am keeping a list of students who struggled in each of the areas covered on the test.  When I plan for my next round of stations, I will group my students based on the needs I noticed and focus my lesson on that skill, strategy, or concept.  

Tech Time (iReady)
During Tech Time, my students work on iReady.  This is software that provides students with individualized lessons and practice based on a beginning of the year diagnostic.  My school is lucky to have this resource, and I know that not all schools do.  There are several free online math resources that are available for students.  Some examples are MobyMax and Khan Academy  Two game based websites are Prodigy and Skoolbo.  I have used MobyMax, Khan Academy, and Prodigy in my own classroom.  My students LOVE prodigy and will even ask to stay in at recess to play it.  

Number Corner
Because my school uses the Bridges curriculum, it comes with another component called Number Corner.  It is probably similar to a calendar time you would see in a primary classroom.  I have never taught primary, so I'm hoping this is an accurate assumption.  During number corner, students are working on finding patterns on calendar markers, working with problem solving and computation, fact fluency, and measurement among other things.  

Game Time
Game time is a great opportunity to focus students on different skills and concepts.  Games can be geared toward what you are working on in class or you can easily differentiate for each group that comes to that station.  For example, my students just finished a unit on fractions.  After looking through their assessments and organizing groups, I can easily have game kits ready for groups who are working on adding fractions, another for students who need review with equivalent fractions, and still another for students who are struggled with common denominators. 
Targeted Skill Time
There is always a skill I would like my students to get more practice with.  During this station, I focus on one skill and then differentiate within that skill.  This is one of the few stations that I use worksheets in.  At the beginning of the school year I invested in a subscription to Math Worksheets 4 Kids.   I have found this website to be very helpful.  I am able to look up worksheets my concept and then find worksheets by level.  Another great website is commoncoresheets.com .  Other options for this station are task cards or task mats.  If you can find ones that are self-check, that is a bonus!
W.I.N. Block math station ideas for the elementary classroom from Literacy Loves Company.
Measurement Task Mats available @ Literacy Loves Company on TpT.  Click on pic for more information.

Geometry
Geometry seems to always be the last unit of the curriculum and the hardest to get to.  Because of this, I have a geometry station.  I use my math curriculum and the state standards to guide this station.  My goal is to give students an opportunity to work with these concepts before state testing in May.
W.I.N. Block math station ideas for the elementary classroom from Literacy Loves Company.


The above stations are the ones I currently have in my W.I.N. rotation.  Some other ideas for stations are:
Fact Fluency - Practice math facts - This station would be easy to differentiate as student work on the facts they have yet to master.  This station could be as easy as flash cards and timers as student work to be able to quickly recall their math facts.

Mathematical Picture Books - Sometimes reading a picture book based on a math concept can be a great way for students to connect.  There are a lot of wonderful picture books available depending on what you are focusing on in class.  For this station, you could have a picture book focusing on the concept you are teaching in class.  Inside the book, you could ask discussion questions on sticky-notes strategically placed throughout the book.  As students read, they stop to answer and discuss your question.  Depending on the book, you could add an extension task.

Math Art - Integrating art into your math stations can really motivate students to participate.  When working with area, symmetry, plane figures, angles, and more.  The activity featured below is from a blog post I wrote a few years ago.
W.I.N. Block math station ideas for the elementary classroom from Literacy Loves Company.

As you can see, there are MANY ways you can support students in stations during your W.I.N. block.  The thing to keep in mind is that whatever task you are asking your students to participate in, it is one that will move them forward and help them be successful.

Once you decide on what stations would best benefit your students, try to find a space on a classroom wall, blackboard, or whiteboard to host your W.I.N. Station rotation board.  This is the area you will post your station signs and student names.  Click below for a free download of the station headers and sign. There are two options:  Google Slideshow which is easily editable or PNGs which can be printed as is or placed in a PowerPoint slideshow and edited.



W.I.N. Block math station ideas for the elementary classroom from Literacy Loves Company.


W.I.N. Block math station ideas for the elementary classroom from Literacy Loves Company.

I have my W.I.N. board located on a blackboard.  My signs all have magnetic tape on the back which makes it easy to move.  At the end of each day, I move my station headers to the left, rather than move the student names.

As you can see, coming up with ideas for your W.I.N. stations isn't difficult!  There are a plethora of options available to you.  If you have a great idea for a math station that wasn't mentioned in this post, please share it in the comments below.

In my next post in this series, I will be sharing with you ideas for organizing and managing your teacher paperwork and your station materials.

•   What is W.I.N.?  - free download of "What is W.I.N. Time?" and "Expectations" posters.
•   Organizing Student Groups - Free download of Group Organization tool
•   Station Ideas - free download of editable station signs and group headers
•   Managing Materials - free download of binder cover and spine
•   Keeping Kids Accountable - free download of student recording sheet
•   Launching a W.I.N. Block - Mystery download!


FREEBIE

W.I.N. Block math station ideas for the elementary classroom from Literacy Loves Company.
Domino Fractions FREEBIE.  Click on image.  

  I'm always adding products, free and paid, so please follow Literacy Loves Company on TpT so that you get notification.  I price all of my newly added paid resources at 50% of for 48 hours, so it is a great way to save money. 

Thanks for visiting Literacy Loves Company!  


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Sunday, January 6, 2019

How to W.I.N. in the Classroom: Organizing Student Groups

Organizing groups for differentiation in the classroom can be daunting.  Literacy Loves Company shares how she manages W.I.N. math stations and creates small groups in her 5th grade math class.


In the first post of this series, I introduced you to the W.I.N.  block.  W.I.N. stands for "What I Need" and as the name implies, the thing that makes a W.I.N. block a different than most workshop or center time models is the focus on individual student needs.

Before we look at grouping students, let's talk about a couple of decisions that need to be made before you start organizing your groups.   

1.  When, in my schedule, can I fit a W.I.N. block?  
In my case, I have a 75 minute block for math.  I chose to use the first 30 minutes of that time.  There are some teachers in my school who hold a W.I.N. time the last 30 minutes of their math block.  

2.  How often will students participate in the W.I.N. block?
My class has W.I.N. time every day.   Students come into the classroom and go straight to their stations.    One of my teammates hold a W.I.N. block twice a week.  Really, it just depends on your schedule and what you hope to accomplish in that time.  

The first few rounds of W.I.N. in my classroom were 5 days long.  I organized my students into 5 groups based on assessments I'll discuss a little later.  I chose 5 groups because I had five stations, so each group would complete all 5 stations in five days.

After the first few full rounds, I realized that, if I am really trying to give students what they need for math, I can't always fit everyone into 5 groups.  For the last two rounds of W.I.N. my students have been in 6 different groups.  Because of this I planned 6 different stations.   

Speaking of organizing students into groups based on their needs, there are several different ways I gather data to inform my grouping decisions.  
  • At the beginning of the year, before you have any of your own data on a student, using the previous year's state reading and math assessments is a great place to start.  My students participate in SBAC at the end of each year, so that data is available to help me get a better understanding of where each students is academically.
  • Many teachers give beginning of the year assessments to their students.  The results of those tests can give you some information on your students' needs and help you make decisions about student groupings. 
  • One assessment tool my district recently purchased for schools is iReady from Curriculum Associates.  iReady is a comprehensive diagnostic test for both math and reading.  Students take the assessment at the beginning of the year, the middle of the year, and at the end of the year.  Based on their results, the software will group students.  The software also gives teachers access to lessons and materials to help support students.  This is the first assessment tool I use to organize my intervention and enrichment groups for the W.I.N. block.   I realize that not all school districts have the luxury of this diagnostic tool.  
  • Another assessment I use to organize my students is our math curriculum checkpoint quizzes or mid-unit quizzes.  As I am checking over student work, I keep a list of the concepts covered in the checkpoint and write down the names of students who need extra support in those areas.  I love grouping this way because it helps me support my students BEFORE the end of the chapter test. 
  • Exit tickets are another great way to quickly get a gauge for what your students need support with.  Exit tickets can be purposefully created to help inform you BEFORE your next round of W.I.N.
  • End of unit assessments are also helpful when putting together groups.  Even though the chapter is over, it doesn't mean that all students have mastered the skills and concepts presented in those lessons.  W.I.N. time is a great opportunity review concepts with small groups and give students more time and practice. 
These, of course, aren't the only tools you can use to gather data and form groups.  The important thing is to know your students and have an understanding of what they need to successfully meet their academic goals.  

Once you have your data, find students who have similar needs and put them into groups together.  I try to keep my groups to about 4 to 6 students.  I have had groups that only had two students because those two students needed something much different than other students.  
Organizing groups for differentiation in the classroom can be daunting.  Literacy Loves Company shares how she manages W.I.N. math stations and creates small groups in her 5th grade math class.

When looking at student data, I usually have two or three groups that are working on holes they have in the concepts we are working on.  I also usually have a couple groups that do not need intervention, but instead need to be challenged.  

When looking at student groups, I usually think of them based on the "Teacher Time" station.  This is the station that students work directly with the teacher.  I plan the lesson for each group based on why they were grouped together.  The last round of W.I.N. that I planned, I worked with one group of students on multiplication strategies, another on division strategies, one group on basic operations, and three groups were being challenged to learn and compare three new multiplication strategies (lattice method,  Egyptian method, and the Chinese method for multiplication)  Those three groups had already mastered multi-digit multiplication and introducing them to three new strategies was fun for them.  Also... the challenge of trying to figure out why they worked got them thinking about place value. 

Once your groups are planned and you know what the goal is for each group.  Plan your lessons.
  
Organizing groups for differentiation in the classroom can be daunting.  Literacy Loves Company shares how she manages W.I.N. math stations and creates small groups in her 5th grade math class.


I've used the planning page above for my last couple of W.I.N. rounds. I've revamped it for this blog post and to help me plan my next round.  The new planning pages give you space for your group lists, group goals, group lesson plans, and an opportunity to plan each of your other stations.
Organizing groups for differentiation in the classroom can be daunting.  Literacy Loves Company shares how she manages W.I.N. math stations and creates small groups in her 5th grade math class.


Click below for a free download of the W.I.N. planner.  There are three options:
1.  Fillable PDF
After you open in Google, make sure to "download" it.  


2. Printable PDF

3. PNG to put into a PowerPoint slide and make your own text boxes.  Use this option if you want to be able to change your font, colors, etc.


I hope that this post gives you some ideas of ways you can look at student data to plan small groups for your W.I.N. block.  Next week I will be sharing ideas for W.I.N. math station activities.  Here is a list of upcoming blog posts in this series:

•   Station Ideas - free download of editable station signs and group headers
•   Managing Materials - free download of binder cover and spine
•   Keeping Kids Accountable - free download of student recording sheet
•   Launching a W.I.N. Block - Mystery download! 

If you have any questions about how to form groups please let me know in the comments below.  Also, if you use different assessments or sources of data in your classroom, please share with others by commenting.  I look forward to hearing from you.  

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Thursday, January 3, 2019

How to W.I.N. in the Classroom: What is W.I.N.?



W.I.N. in the elementary classroom with differentiated stations.  Intervention and enrichment take on a new look with the W.I.N. block.Literacy Loves Company



Everybody likes to be a winner, right?   I've never met a person who preferred to lose.  This is especially true in the classroom.  Teachers want their students to be successful, to feel good about their progress and capabilities.  The struggle here is that no two students are alike.  Every child needs different support systems and strategies to help them along their path.

Differentiation can be complicated and as good teachers, we are always searching for ways to reach students where they are and help them progress to where they need to be.  This is where the idea of the W.I.N. block comes in.

I first heard of W.I.N. when one of my teammates came back from a professional development workshop shared the basic idea behind W.I.N.  W.I.N. stands for What I Need and is a set block of intervention and enrichment time that students are in stations or activities geared toward their needs.  I know this is nothing new.  I've used the workshop model in my math class and literacy stations in my language arts, so I am familiar with the model. I think the thing that intrigued me about this version of an old idea was the emphasis on really understanding my students' needs and the challenge of finding ideas, activities, and materials to support them.
 W.I.N. in the elementary classroom with differentiated stations.  Intervention and enrichment take on a new look with the W.I.N. block.
Click to download a copy of this poster.

You can incorporate a W.I.N. block for any subject.  Right now I have a 30 minute W.I.N. block placed at the beginning of my math period.  As we move into the new year, I am working on organizing a W.I.N. block for my fifth and sixth grade readers.
W.I.N. in the elementary classroom with differentiated stations.  Intervention and enrichment take on a new look with the W.I.N. block. Literacy Loves Company

W.I.N. block can look different for different teachers.  It really just depends on your students, your time constraints, your teaching style, and the expectations of your administration.  Several teachers in my building are incorporating some version of a W.I.N. block.  None of them look the same and all are helping to give students what they need to be successful.
W.I.N. in the elementary classroom with differentiated stations.  Intervention and enrichment take on a new look with the W.I.N. block.Literacy Loves Company

So, are you interested in W.I.N.ning in your classroom?

The key to a successful W.I.N. block is organization.  Organization of your student groups, organization of your stations, organization of your materials.  If this seems like too much organization for you...  I totally understand.  You are a busy teacher.  There is NEVER enough prep time!  Maybe organization isn't your strong suit.  Whatever the roadblock, I'm here to help!

Over the next few weeks, I'll be continuing this topic in a series of blog posts.  These blog posts will include downloads of free materials to support you on your W.I.N.ing journey!


•   Organizing Student Groups - free download of a group organizational tool
•   Station Ideas - free download of editable station signs and group headers
•   Managing Materials - free download of binder cover and spine
•   Keeping Kids Accountable - free download of student recording sheet
•   Launching a W.I.N. Block - Mystery download! 

Next week I'll share with you what to consider as you are planning your student groups and what opportunities for assessment I use.  I will also have available an organizational tool that helps me keep my groups and ideas organized.

Until then, be thinking of a time in your schedule you might be able to fit in 20 -30 minutes of individualized time for your students.  Also, If you have any questions about the W.I.N. block, please comment below.

Thanks for visiting and I hope you'll come back again next week!
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