Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Fourth Grade Common Core...a Math Club!

Yes, you read the title right. Have you ever heard of a meath club for teachers, tutors, and specialists? I know I hadn't before a this past July. It's one of those things that a few colleagues start kicking around and it grows into an idea that take son a life of its own. That's exactly what happened this summer.

As a tutor, I haven't had a whole lot of  interaction/experience with the Common Core. I have had a few students whose schools recently adopted the core. So, I was able to help them and their families with the transition. But that's really about it. I homeschool my own children, so the Core hasn't affected our schooling (until this year with 2 of them in K12 middle school). What I have noticed, though, is that many tutors are ill-equipped to cover the material "the core way." The language is different, algorithms are unique, strategies have morphed. Many tutors I know are not able or willing to even try to teach the core material...and, I'm going out on a limb here, but I think that this is mostly because tutors aren't trained to implement the core. We get comfortable doing things the way we were taught, or the way we like to teach.

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My summer mission was to learn as much about the Core as I could. Along the way, I realized many of my personal teaching strategies were already "core-like" I just had to learn the language that accompanied them. OK, so this story is getting way too long, so I'll shorten. I started talking with a few other teachers, and one had a fabulous idea to start a club, specifically for Common Core resources. Brilliant! We would get a few tremendous teacher/authors together who specialize in subject/grade areas, and each would contribute some of their favorite resources to a group project. By the end of the year, we'd have a spectacular bundle of resources that would help any teacher, tutor, or even homeschooling parent, instruct their children in the content for an entire year! Of course, at a hefty discount ;)

So, that's exactly what we did. We released the first installment of the Common Core Memberships on September 1st. In just 1 week, we'll be releasing the second installment. And I must say, I'm getting excited to put these valuable resources all in one place. This quarter, we decided we'd add to this membership. Not only will members receive updates to their resources, and a new installment every quarter for a year, but they will also be invited to a private Facebook Group, hosted by the authors of the resources! This is probably the most exciting part of this whole club, at least for me it is. How often do the publishers of your math curriculum invite you to their curriculum development meetings? How many times have they asked you what you'd like to see in the next version?

That is the beauty in this, as teachers and tutors ourselves, our passion is in our work...Sure, we make a little money from selling our resources. But the true reward is when we know these resources make it into the hands of other teachers and tutors who work hard to help their students "get it."

I invite you now to take a look at a few of the teacher-authors who have contributed to the Fourth Grade Math Club.

Kim Miller is the creative mind behind "For the Love of Teaching" She has contributed many of the task cards and assessment packs that are included in both the first and second quarter installments. You can read more about her, her teaching style, and get a taste for her creative style over on her blog.

You might know Stacy Pearson from Teacher's Take-Out. You will find that Stacy adds a fun side to teaching decimals and division! Read more about her on her blog
Teacher's Take-Out on TpT

Lindy is a creative teacher from South Africa! I've had the pleasure of collaborating with her over the past year (almost, give or take a couple months). My kids LOVE her Powerpoint presentations.

Lindy Du Plessis on TpT

Krista Mahan of Teaching Momster is my co-conspirator on this project. She actually presented the idea of a club membership, and we just rolled with it. I've been a follower of Teaching Momster for longer than I've been a seller on teacherspayteachers. So it has been an honor to work alongside Krista putting this all together and brainstorming. I'm sure you'll all love her playful approach to teaching difficult concepts. You can also follow her on her blog.
Teaching Momster on TpT

Monica Parsons is behind the blog , NC Teacher Chick, and the fantastic teaching resources. My favorite resource from Monica in this membership is her toolkit, it covers EVERY standard any 4th grade teacher is going to cover for the entire year. 
Monica Parsons on TpT

Martha Hach from "The Owl Spot" has also made great contributions to these first 2 installments. I'm beginning to think of her as the task card queen. I've tried my hand at task cards, but she's got this down! I can imagine her students love the games she brings to class as well!
Martha Hach--the Owl Spot on TpT

That's it for now. Check back in the next couple of days to find out some more insider information on this new math club for teachers!

Would you like the opportunity to win a free membership? This is a super fast flashy giveaway. Enter by following the contributors in the rafflecopter below. Giveaway ends at midnight this Saturday!

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Wednesday, September 17, 2014

Tips From Teachers

This is was supposed to be the first part of an ongoing series, I'm calling "Tips from Teachers". I don't know about you, but sometimes I really wish my students' teachers would just tell me what they would like me to do. Not that I can't help our students learn and grow without them...but my students really want to do well in class, and without that insight, it's hard to accomplish.

Since I started selling my resources on I have had the opportunity to meet and form bonds with several teachers, from all over the world, teaching in just about every grade level and situation. Now I am sharing that opportunity with all of you!

Each month I will hoped to interview up to 5 teachers from various backgrounds. I have some basic questions (which you will see in just a minute ;) ), but I know you have questions too, so please feel free to pose your questions in the comments below. I will do my best to get them answered, if not this month, definitely within the next few months!

Without further ado, here is our first teacher this month with helpful tips for us.

Amy Mezni is currently a 5th grade teacher. She has been teaching in the middle grades for the past 20 years. I met Amy in a collaborative group of middle grade teachers about 5 months ago. Since then, we have had the opportunity to collaborate on a new blog (The Lesson Deli) and a few other projects. 

My first question is, what is the #1 area students in her class need the most assistance? Amy had a hard time choosing just 1, she replied "Number sense and reading skills."

I then asked Amy, If your students had a tutor, what is one tip or bit of advice you would give them? She answered, "Work on number sense. If you have number sense, you can figure out many of the higher skills on your own!" 

My last question was about resources, if every tutor in your area could have one resource, what would you like it to be? Amy's answer: "I'm really in love with INBs lately. I think  they can be used to help students of all abilities." I agree Amy, I love interactive notebooks as well! While Amy has a ton of InBs for Social Studies and Reading, she hasn't made any for number sense yet, so here are a couple from my store. If you know of some great resources, please share the links in the comments below for the rest of our readers!

Space Bonds a board of intergalactic travels and number bonds, helping your students develop number sense that will help them master basic addition/subtraction facts. 
Bonding with a Rock Band is a rocking board game, helping your students develop number sense that will help them master basic multiplication/division facts..
You can find Amy Mezni, On Facebook @ TeachingIdeas4u  and watch for her blog debut within the next month!

Next up, we have Heather and Ashley Watson, from Watson Works! Heather is a primary school librarian, after teaching 4th grade ELA and Science for 4 years, for a combined 7 years experience. I ask this team the same questions, what is the most important area tutors should be focusing on?  Their response? "Higher order thinking." 

And their number 1 piece advice for current tutors: "Always ask[your students] 'Why" and "How do you know that's the answer?'" If they can answer these questions correctly, then they really know the material. I Definitely agree ladies! One of my most used statement is "are you sure?" My kids almost ALWAYS rephrase their statement. Sometimes just out of habit, thus making the answer incorrect...BUT showing me they weren't really sure. What a helpful tip!!

What about a favorite resource, ladies? What would you recommend to every tutor in your area? "It's hard to pick one, but one of our favorites is our STAAR Wars Task Cards." I checked these out folks, they look fantastic (I haven't had the opportunity to use them yet, but I'm looking forward to that occasion!).

That's all of the Tips From Teachers we have ready for this month. Make sure to follow the blog on bloglovin, or become a fan on my facebook page to know when next month's edition is released!

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