Tuesday, July 30, 2013

We are Fin-tastic at Solving Math Facts!!

This is one of my students' favorite activities to help motivate them to master their addition and subtraction facts. I usually start this in September and continue on until the end of the year.  In second grade one of our common core standards is to be able to add and subtract fluently to 20.  First, I wrote each student's name on a fish and placed them in the last blank fish tank.

During our guided math groups and math stations we used the flashcards to practice our addition facts.  You can start with any number based on the needs of your students.  Below are examples of the + 2 flashcards.  The flashcards can be kept on a ring or in little baggies for each student to use to practice.   

Addition Flashcards

After they practiced their facts, I have them take a timed test.  Each student would have 3 minutes to complete the test.  If they missed 1 or less on their test, they got to move their fish to the next fish bowl.   
Addition Test and Award
My class loved moving their fish to the next bowl and then finally arriving at the 10's tank!  Once their fish made it to the 10's tank, they receive a "We are Fin-tastic at Solving Addition Facts to 20" award.
Once students make it to the 10's tank they have mastered their sums to 20! They are now ready to start mastering their subtraction facts. You may either have them start their fish back at the empty fish tank as before to show their subtraction fact progress or you may have a separate set of fish bowls for subtraction. 

Subtraction Flashcards

Subtraction Tests and Subtraction Facts Award
Click here to get this Fin-tastic pack!

Ocean Themed Classroom Posters from Dollar Tree!
By now you must know that I love my ocean themed classroom so any time I find something that is ocean themed I have to get it!  I found these cute posters at Dollar Tree for only $1.  They even had an ocean themed alphabet!

Sunday, July 21, 2013

Incorporating Multiple Intelligences into Reading!

  I wanted to share with you some activities that my students do as part of their independent practice during guided reading.  After I meet with a guided reading group, I have them independently work on a story retelling activity or practice using the reading comprehension skill we just learned so I know if they truly mastered the skill...hence the name independent practice.

This first activity is one of my favorites!  As part of my Master's Degree program, I wrote my thesis on incorporating the multiple intelligence learning theory into reading instruction.  I conducted my study for 6 weeks.  For the first 3 weeks, we read stories and learned reading comprehension strategies in guided reading groups.  Students completed a "traditional" book report worksheet (where students filled out information about their book such as characters, setting, plot, etc...) as their independent practice.  At the end of the first half of my study, I assessed my students using the DRA.  Only 29% of my students had "very good" comprehension, 64% had adequate comprehension, and 7% had "some" comprehension.  I also had my students complete an attitudinal survey and leave comments about how they felt about reading.  Only 2 students reported that they enjoyed reading and completing the independent practice activity.  Students said they didn't like reading and the activity because it was boring, they were afraid of getting a bad grade on the activity, and one student actually said that it stressed them out.  Who knew that a reading worksheet could cause these types of feelings in a second grader?   

During the next 3 weeks, I taught guided reading using the same routine as above except my students were able to choose a Multiple Intelligence reading activity for their independent practice.  Students were given a Multiple Intelligence survey to determine what type of "smart" they are before I conducted the second part of my study.  Students were able to choose a retelling activity based on the type their type of "smart" or they were able to choose an activity that interested them for their independent practice (see below).    At the end of the 3 weeks, 50% of my students had "very good" comprehension and 50% had "adequate" comprehension on the DRA assessment!  12 out of my 13 students reported that they enjoyed reading and completing the independent practice activities on their attitudinal survey.  Under the comment section, students stated that they liked being able to choose their retelling activities, they liked knowing what type of "smart" they were,  they felt proud of their work, and it was fun to present their retelling projects to the class.  With comments like these, how could I stop using the MI theory in my classroom?  Since my study, I continue to incorporate the MI retelling activities into my guided reading instruction.  We usually set aside Friday afternoons as our time to share our retelling projects with the class.
The results from my study concluded that when students respond to text according to their multiple intelligence learning style or are able to choose a retelling activity that interests them, it not only increases their comprehension of the story, but also increases their motivation to read as well!  If you are interested in learning more about the Multiple Intelligence Learning Theory, here are some additional resources you may want to check out: Multiple Intelligences in the Classroom by Thomas Armstrong, Multiple Intelligences: New Horizons in Theory and Practice by Howard Gardner, and Multiple Intelligences: The Complete MI Book by Spencer and Miguel Kagan.  

 Here are some examples story retelling activities my students created.  Click here to get this pack to use with your students.

Tri-orama Story Summary.

Story Box Display
These picture smart students created a "book box" or diorama of an important scene from the book and then wrote a summary of the story on an index card.
Here are some of my other favorite ideas I use as independent practice during my guided reading block.  This leveled book activity box (above) from Lakeshore Learning has lots of different reading activities based on their guided reading level.  My students also enjoy completing the activities from these two Scholastic resources "Instant Independent Reading Response Activities" by Laura Witmer (Grades2-4) and "Ready to Use Independent Reading Management Kit" by Scholastic (Grade 1, Grades 2-3, or Grades 4-6).