Saturday, November 8, 2014

Everything is Awesome Arithmetic Activities

For the last several weeks I have wrestled with putting in place a system that will allow me to pull small groups in my classroom.  I have a need for pulling small groups because I have a few students who just need some up close and personal time on a few skills.  They're typically engaged in classroom discussions, but that time with them just isn't moving them forward like I need it to.  I feel like this is because my discussions move past their level of thinking way too fast and they're getting left behind.  So if I could just have some intense purposeful questioning sessions with these kiddos, on their level, I think I could move them in leaps and bounds.  Maybe.

Here's what's holding me back.  I'm addicted to watching my students work.  No matter what I come up with for independent work time, I can't keep myself from stopping to watch them work. Therefore, I can never get to my table to call a small group over to work with me.  Nevertheless, I decided to give it a go.

I put together eight "Awesome Arithmetic Activities" that my students can work on independently.

1.) Math Boggle (3-digit addition practice)
2.) Fact Practice (multiplication)
3.) Kakooma
4.) Close to Zero (3-digit subtraction practice)
5.) Problem solving
6.) Technology (I have four iPads)
7.) Math Mystery
8.) Ways to make a number (Number composition)

I created a wheel, and each day they rotate to a new activity.  They work for 15 to 20 minutes on these activities four times a week.  We've been doing this for four weeks now.  I've pulled a small group every day and my students have shown great gains!  Oh wait... that was a dream I was sharing there for a second.  We have been rotating through these stations for 4 weeks now. But I have only pulled one small group.  That's right.  ONE.

I just can't do it.  Each day, I play the song "Everything is Awesome" and my students rush off to get their activity sheets and materials and I... follow them.  Stopping by one student at a time, I often have a chance to visit 2 to 3 students during rotation time.  That's a small group right?  It seems to be working.  Or at least helping.  I am seeing growth one student at a time.  Which brings me to my next challenge.  Keeping track.

After four weeks and several one on one (sometimes one on two) conversations, I am feeling a bit disorganized.  I know I've seen some aha's but I've also worked with some students who still aren't getting it.  Somehow I need to keep track of progress and number of visits (for RTI purposes if nothing else.)  Also, it would be helpful for me to make sure I'm visiting with all students that need my extra support.  Perhaps some sort of organizational tool would help me be more efficient in who I'm visiting with and encourage me to pull small groups with similar needs.  So, after a "brief" discussion with a good friend of mine, I decided to utilize Google Drive and created a spreadsheet.

I love Google Drive because it's free and I can access it on my computer, my iPad, and my iPhone, and did I mention it's free?  The colors I chose are in the same order as the behavior clip chart in my classroom.  Kiddos will start on green when I notice they need me to work with them on a specific skill and then based on whether or not they seem to make progress they would go to either yellow or blue.  Black means they've got it and don't need me anymore and red means I've attempted to help them three times and they're still not getting it.  I need to refer those kiddos on to my PLC to see what they recommend.

I cannot wait to give it a go this week.  I've already filled in some colors based on evidence I've previously collected and I can already tell that it will help me organize groups of students with similar needs. This idea is still in its beginning stages.  I would love your input!  What do you do?