First Month of Teaching Reflection

Our main meeting area with our Reading table. Books students want to share are placed on the table and shared with the class!

Ahhh September has come and gone and now we’re almost exactly a month into the school year! I feel like I always have a 100 things to do but I know we are making progress. The start of the school year has been great! I must say that I have been blessed with the most wonderful group of students. They are patient, kind and eager to learn, all good qualities for a group of students and a new teacher.

During the past month we have:

– Built a great community of learners. We meet every morning to share our news from our lives. We continue chatting throughout the day sharing our thoughts and learning.

– We have begun our blogging journey on our classroom kidblog account. The quality of posts will continue to improve as the students writing and comfort level improves. I cannot say enough how writing for an audience and getting feedback is working to motivate my students. I am also trying to practice what I preach and continue blogging. (They will be seeing this post tomorrow morning!)

– We have started Tweeting out our learning and questions to connect with other students across the globe. (@rvsgr4)

Our “Tweet Wall”. Students send out a Tweet on their sticky. We then type them out and send them out!

– Students have documented their learning by writing and taking pictures of their work. They express themselves in a number of ways throughout the day.

– Our Thinking Books have been a huge hit!

A doodle in a students Thinking Book while listening to “The One and Only Ivan”.

– We have Skyped with a class in Ontario to learn about their neck of the woods in Canada.

– We have started participating in the Global Read a loud project. We are currently reading “The One and Only Ivan”. A powerful story about friendship, art and animal rights.  We are Skyping on a weekly basis with a classroom in Edina, Minn, USA to discuss the book!

– We are constantly reading in our classroom and sharing what we are reading with our classmates. (Every child has volunteered to read a book out loud to the class).

– We went on our first field trip to Kids at Play in Altona! What a blast!

– We even had our first SNOW DAY!

– We have painted and created in a number of different mediums.

Artwork inspired by “The Dot” By Peter Reynolds

– We started #Youmatter Fridays where we acknowledge and thank important people in our lives. Tomorrow we are doing a lesson on the importance of treating others with kindness and care.

– We started our MATH station rotations. Yes, my students actually cheered when I told I was going to try out MATH stations. So far.. so good!

At the Hands on Challenge station students were challenged to build with base 10 blocks and add up all the units in their buildings.

Those are just a few of the things we have done this past month. I am sure I have forgotten a few things but I can say that it has been fantastic and I can’t wait to see where the next month of school takes us! Thinking of trying out parts of #WhatIWrite and  #NaNoWriMo.



Math Manipulatives on a Budget

As the summer days tick by  and the new school year is quickly approaching. Being a new teacher this has meant a lot of planning and thinking about what I want in my classroom. On  recent stop at the local dollar store I happened across these little wooden blocks.

As I stood there looking at the blocks an idea struck me, ‘Why not make them into math manipulatives?’. At $1 for 52 blocks I could  easily make a new set of multipurpose manipulatives for my classroom. Armed with a few fine tipped permanent markers this is what I came up with:

One activity idea is that students can grab a few numbered blocks from the bag roll them and then be challenged to create the largest or smallest number possible from the numbers they rolled. Another idea is to use the blocks to create number sentences depending on what we’re working on at that time. The possibilities are almost endless, so for $2 I think this is a great addition to my math corner!

I went back later in the week and came up with these coloured alphabet blocks. Perhaps a good tool for ‘Work on Words’ in Daily 5?

Math on a Budget: Cheap 10 Frames for Manipulatives

So this idea isn’t originally mine but I thought it would definitely be worth sharing with new teachers who may not be in the know and teachers on a budget!

Using manipulatives in math is all the rage in early years as a way to help kids connect concrete concepts with the abstract ideas introduced in math. I love teaching with manipulatives because let’s face it math is much more fun when you can play with something! One of the tools early years teachers use is the 10 frame. The idea behind ten frames is to help students gain a clear understanding of place value by becoming familiar with units, 5s and 10s in a very concrete manner. Each small rectangle represents a unit and each row have 5 units in them, and finally the two rows put together give you 10 units. They are also great for helping students with their basic math facts, make 10 especially!

An Example Ten Frame with 6 Units in it

I have seen some teachers use laminated rectangles of 10 frames and have students put counters in each place. The problem with laminated 10 frames is that when the students try to move the paper or as young children do bump them with hands and elbows, the counters slide off and students have to start again. *Frustration*

In comes a rather elegant  and  cheap solution: The 10 Frame Egg Carton.

Below you can see: one manipulative per space = 1 unit. So we have 4 units below.

Next comes some magic: Once a 10 frame is filled, the student closes the egg carton and keeps the semi-filled one open. Visually this tells them they have 10 and need to count on the remaining units. Closing the egg cartons as they fill up will also help some students resist the urge to keep adding to already full cartons.

10 and 4 units = 14

A few reasons why I love this idea:

  • The great thing about using egg cartons for 10 frames is that students can pick their favourite manipulative and use it in math. (What I would have given to use those little plastic teddy bears in these pics!). I can just imagine a little boy with a jar full of cars using them in the 10 frames for math.
  • The cartons are pretty sturdy so they can withstand the little bumps that happen with our young students.
  • They are cheap and easily replaceable!

If you would like to try it… you need to do just like the egg producers in Canada say: “Get Cracking!”.

Thanks to  Taryn Deroche (@Taderoche) for her help with editing todays post!

All images are C.C. Mary Bertram