Outsmarting Common Core

After the arrival of my sweet baby girl, I took an extended maternity leave for 5 months. I came back to school a few weeks before the end of the year. People were buzzing about Common Core and these new modules and Engage New York.....meanwhile I was nodding my head with absolutely no idea what was going on. After the panic officially set it, I began the daunting journey of reinventing the way I teach math.

I worked all summer on creating projectable math lessons for my little learners. (Through trial and error, I have found that this is the best way for me to teach math.) At the beginning of the year, I was totally filled with doubts- Could I explain this right? If it doesn't make sense so me, how will they ever get it? Is it too hard for these little ones?

After 45 days of school, I can officially answer those questions. YES- I can explain this in a way that makes sense to me and to them! NO- it's not too hard, they are rocking the socks off common core! #yayyy! We are having a lot of success so I wanted to share what we are doing with you. I model most of my lessons after EngageNY, but sometimes the order is different or we add things that are lacking. 

Each of my lessons has 6 components. I have a promethean board in my room that I use for my math lessons. I wanted to give you a glimpse how how math looks in my room. Here is how I taught addition using a numberline....

It all starts with a Warm Up! This is usually a game or partner activity that builds math fluency. We teach math at the end of the day so it gets everybody alert and focused before the lesson starts. We really do warm up our brains! (My common core calendar companion kit comes with a set of math games that we use for warm-ups.) 

This is followed by the Brain Stretch when we do an application word problem together. We are working on solving our problems by drawing a math picture, making a number bond, or writing a number sentence. We practice different ways of thinking and explaining. 

Next, it's on to the Pep Talk! This is when we get excited about learning something new! I introduce the skill and vocabulary. We practice together at the board and prepare for how the work will look on paper. (In the past, it drove me crazy when we learned something one way, and then the practice page or test was formatted completely different!)

Now it's time to Huddle Up! Each pair of learning partners works together to practice or to solve problems. Learning to talk about math can be harder than actually doing it so it's a great thing to practice each day! We share some solutions aloud and record them on the board.

Now we are onto Practice Time. Sometimes we have an independent job to do, and sometimes we play a new game before it gets put into a math center. If we do an independent job, I can project it . I love this because we can work through the page together, check our work, and talk about the process.

As the kiddos finish they move onto their WORKOUT, which is what I call our centers. (Look for a blog post about them soon!) We wrap things up with our Cool Down. You can print this slide and use it as an assessment or just practice together. 
A full math lesson for us takes about 45 minutes, including our WORKOUT at centers. Having all of the components of the lesson ready before we start means that we don't waste any time. I am so impressed by my little learners this year, and I hope you feel the same way. If you would like to try this lesson with your kiddos for FREE, you can grab it here!
Addition Using a Number Line Projectable Lesson and Practice Page

Wordless Wednesday Science Nerd

Sorry friends...I have been neglecting you.  It's been ages since my last post, but I am thrilled to finally link back up with the fantastic Miss DeCarbo for Wordless Wednesday!

I LOVE teaching science! Inspiring kids to love science is what motivates me to make great science plans.
When I started lesson planning for science this month, I was looking for a new experiment for my kiddos. I turned to my dad who is a retired science and horticulture teacher for a little inspiration. He taught me some AMAZING facts about acorns, and I found some incredible resources online (...and I got some super lesson plans written too!)

My little guy and I had a great time doing this experiment together to find out if acorns sink or float.

Do you know the answer??!! 
Or do you know any other amazing fall facts?

To learn more about this lesson, just click here.

Seasonal Science

Last weekend, my dad took my little guy to collect some acorns.  They gathered quite an assortment of sizes and shapes. Rusty loved telling us that some even had "little hats." My dad is a retired horticulture and science teacher, so I knew he could help me plan out my newest science experiment for my firsties. 

I always love doing the traditional pumpkin sink and float experiment. It's perfect for teaching how to use your senses, and it makes the scientific process easy and fun. Plus kids are AMAZED when a giant pumpkin floats! It's like magic, but really it's just science! So I started asking my dad if he knew whether acorns sink or float. (Do you know the answer?!  I did not...) I was surprised to hear that some do and some don't, and it's all because of a little insect gal called the acorn weevil. 

Acorn weevils are actually really interesting, and I am so excited to teach my little learners at school about them! Science is going to be epic this month! I created some projectable lessons for my kiddos and student books to go with them. Some of my little learners do much better when they have a reference to look at while writing, and we can keep data as a class. We will start with the traditional pumpkin experiment, because it is more teacher controlled. Here's my plan for this one:

Once they have their little feet wet, I will let them have more control by doing their own test using acorns. I am assuming most of them will think all acorns float because all pumpkins float, but that's just my personal hypothesis. We will use the projectable lesson and the student books for this experiment too. The projectable lesson also includes a link to an amazing acorn weevil video. Here's my plan for this experiment:

The projectable lessons can also be printed and used for displays in your classroom or hallway. It is a great way to communicate what you are learning with others in your school!

If you would like to use these experiments with your kiddos too, check them out here! You will instantly have a whole class of little seasonal scientists!

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