Sunday, March 22, 2015

Understanding By Design Success and Unknowns Assessments

Anyone who knows me professionally knows that I'm very passionate about curriculum planning and Understanding by Design.  I was introduced to UbD about 3 years ago and each year I have learned more and more about the process.  

This year I took on a huge project of introducing the UbD process to 50+ teachers at my new school.  Most of the teachers had never heard of it before and were scared to make this change.  I understand that change is scary but I tried to reassure them that the process really does work.  

The UbD process allows teachers to teach content developmentally and with rigor to ensure that every child meets or exceeds the required content.  The most important thing about UbD is to "begin with the end in mind".  If you know what you want your students to learn...then lay it out!!  Show your students what you want them to know!  If you see that they already know a specific skill, then you don't need to spend as much time teaching that content.  You can spend more time focusing on the skills they are lacking and have plenty of time for remediation and enrichment. 

The next unit that we are working on is for Missing Numbers (Unknown Equations).  My students took the pretest this past week and there were several students that knew the simple equations and word problems.  The majority of the class struggled with "start unknown" equations and word problems.  Analyzing this data will show me what I need to teach in order for every student to master the concepts that I want them to know by the end of the unit.  Once students master those concepts, then I can enrich them with advanced content.  The pretest that I created in pictured below.  Click HERE or on the picture to download the pretest and post test.

https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Missing-Numbers-Pretest-and-Post-Test-Unknowns-1OA8-and-1OA2-1775566https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Missing-Numbers-Pretest-and-Post-Test-Unknowns-1OA8-and-1OA2-1775566
At the end of the unit, it's important to reassess your students using the same format or types of questions.  You want to see if your teaching really worked and that your students really mastered the content that you taught.  I like to keep the test format the same and just change to numbers or words.

If your school is contemplating the implementation of Understanding by Design, please accept the challenge!!  It really is beneficial for teaching and learning!!  

Monday, November 24, 2014

Seminar in the Classroom

As educators, we like to chat with each other about things that go well with teaching and things that we can work on to make our teaching better.  Our students can do the same thing during a seminar.  Some call it Socratic or Paideia Seminar but all in all, it's about the same thing.

When I first heard about doing a seminar, I was completely overwhelmed.  I didn't know what it was and I certainly didn't know how to do it.  Over the past few weeks I have been researching, as well as working with my team to develop our first seminar for our first graders.  I like to have careful guidance when I'm doing something new with my students so they feel comfortable learning and communicating with each other, even though I may not be comfortable with trying something new.  I came up with several resources that made this transition helpful for me (and my team) to conduct our first seminar.  

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Talking-with-Friends-SEMINAR-1578077

Here are a few of the resources that are included in "Talking with Friends: SEMINAR":
I have included an explanation of what seminar is (in kid friendly words), reasons why seminar is so great, seminar procedures, tips to conducting a great seminar, seminar guidelines, student goal choices, student reflection on goals, talk helpers (in case students get stumped and can't think of anything else to say), teacher question stems (to help guide the conversation in the right direction), and participation logs (to keep track of how the students talk with each other).

Your students will love having the opportunity to talk to each other as they develop speaking skills necessary in everyday life.  If you have tried seminar, please leave some feedback on things that work well and things that are a challenge for you.  I would love to get more teachers on board with this collaborative teaching method.  Give it a try and share your thoughts! :-)

Friday, August 1, 2014

Kids Can BLOG Too!!

I've been thinking about incorporating a blogging program
into my classroom and then I had an epiphany....

Kids can BLOG about the books they READ!!

We all know that responding to reading increases reading comprehension and we always have our students respond in a reading journal using paper and pencil.

BUT........

Why not have our students respond to their stories in the form of a blog post??

Blogging about the stories they read will allow collaboration between students and even parents. Students will be able to reflect on their stories and get excited about learning.  See below for resources on how to use reading responses as blog posts.

I will be using Kidblog (a free blogging site for students) this year and let me just tell you that the set up process is super easy.  It doesn't take long at all but if you start it now, then once you get your class list, you'll be able to get your students blogging sooner.

Click on this picture for set up instructions:
http://kidblog.org/home/

Technology makes anything fun!! We have to get our students to read and have fun at the same time. Blogging about reading will allow us to do that.  Set up an account with Kidblog and get your students started early so they can blog independently by the end of the school year.  

I know that starting anything new is always scary, especially when it involves technology, so.....
I have created a few products to help you with the process. 

Blogging for Little Learners will help you implement the blogging program.  You can give your own blog prompts, use the ones included in this product, or just let your students blog about anything they want.  Just be careful to set your blog settings where the teacher has to approve blog posts before they are public.  

Click on the link below to take a closer look at Blogging for Little Learners.  
You can also download the preview for some FREEBIES.
 http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Blogging-for-Little-Learners-with-Kidblog-Setup-Instructions-1362203
"Blogging for Little Learners" provides you with everything you need to start blogging:

Purposes of blogging - explanation about why blogging is beneficial
About blogging - information for parents about blogging
Teacher duties - everything you need to know to get the ball rolling
Parent permission form - you must have permission before starting
Internet safety guide - students need to know how to be safe online
Blogging guidelines - instructions about how to blog
Password cards - students need to know where to go to log in
How to make a blog post - labeled picture showing how to post
Guidelines for commenting - instructions for how to comment
Blogging Rubric - grading blog posts will keep students accountable
4 Choice boards - ideas for blogging about reading
Graphic organizer - "My First Blog Post"

If you want your students to be consistent with what they're blogging about, then you could have them blog about what they are reading.  Students read a book, respond to the reading using reading response sheets, and then use that sheet to drive their conversation for their blog post. 

Your students can use these Reading Response Sheets before heading to the computer.  They can be used individually (if you prefer not to do the blogging thing) or along with "Blogging for Little Learners" (if you decide to take the blogging plunge).  

The reading response download contains:
4 choice boards along with response sheets for each choice:
Back to school - easy "make a list" prompts
Fiction - 9 responses to any fiction text
Nonfiction - 9 responses to any nonfiction text
Opinion - opinion prompt template

 I have the BUNDLE available as well:


 I encourage you to step into the 21st century and give your students the opportunity to write their VERY FIRST blog post!!  I'm sure it will make your students feel important and parents will have something to brag about as well.  :-)

Monday, July 28, 2014

End of Summer Sale

As we are all aware, August is creeping up on us quickly. The race will begin soon (if it hasn't already) and over the next several weeks we will be preparing our classrooms for open house

In order to help you get your classroom ready, I am offering my last sale of the summer.

Enjoy 20% off at my TPT store and 30% off at my Teacher's Notebook store.
My TPT sale will end July 30 and my Teacher's Notebook store will end August 28.

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Store/Michelle-Mcelhinny

Get your data notebooks ready now so you can start the process right away.
My #1 Best Seller:
My Data Notebook {keeping students accountable} with EDITA

Some other back to school fan favorites are:

My #2 Best Seller: 
Reading Strategy Posters{Polka Dots}
Use these reading strategy posters to teach decoding skills at the beginning of the school year.  Your students will be able to relate to the animals and remember the strategies to figure out tricky words.

Guided Reading Book Bin Labels
 Use these lettered labels for your book bins or for your word wall.  The bright colors will make your room colorful and inviting.

Monthly Themed Reading Logs
Start your year off right with these monthly themed reading logs.  Your students can use these logs to track the books they read during workshop time or at home for homework.  They will love the themed pictures they can color in as they read or when they're finished.

Lunch Box Sign FREEBIE
Use this lunch box poster FREEBIE to label the area for your students to put their lunch boxes.  This colorful poster is sure to brighten your room.

Polka Dots {Circle Table/Group Signs}
These circle labels come in "table" and "group" titles.  It's another FREEBIE!  I like to use these signs on my group baskets.  It adds some color to the student desk area.

Enjoy getting your classroom ready!  I'm counting down the days until I can get back into my classroom to start decorating. 

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

NEW and IMPROVED Data Notebook

I'm very proud to announce a NEW feature added to my #1 best seller "My Data Notebook".  You will now be able to edit the pages in order to personalize them for your individual student needs.  This feature was inspired by a special education teacher who needed space to write her students' goals.  You will love all of the possibilities that come with personalizing this product.  
Download this data notebook for K-2 students, as well as students with specific goals.  

Check it out here:

http://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/My-Data-Notebook-keeping-students-accountable-with-EDITABLE-TEMPLATES-267830

Keeping your students accountable just got BETTER!!