It's Meghan, back this week with another (hopefully) awesome idea. If you don't remember, or are new to our blog, I teach 1st grade. I love math and technology.
One of the questions we often get is how we create math groups during the guided math portion of ZONES. Math groups for me are fluid, based on the standard we are working on and each student's proficiency. I use technology, specifically Seesaw, to streamline my data collection. This is something you can do with a little or a lot of tech in your classroom. It works on any device or computer.
So today . . . Seesaw and exit tickets! Whatever the exit ticket is that I am using to gauge understanding, I have my students take a picture or screen shot of it and turn it in to our exit ticket folder on Seesaw. I can then see how my students are doing (without sifting through a pile of papers) and easily give feedback that my students can see, and that parents have access to as well.
Here are a couple examples . . .
Exit Ticket in Pieces Basic
Pieces Basic is a free app on our iPads. The students had to build the number 45, screen shot it and turn it in on Seesaw. I saw how each student was doing and gave them immediate feedback, either affirming their work or correcting their mistakes. You can see in the comment below the picture, I told the student what needed to be changed. On the picture, I edited their work using the drawing tool to show the student the correct way to build the number. From this exit ticket, I was able to create a group of students that needed to be pulled for additional instruction.
Paper Exit Ticket
Here is an example of an exit ticket from our math curriculum (Engage NY). The student completed the exit ticket and took a picture in Seesaw. To give feedback on this exit ticket, the draw, label and text features we all used. Again, the student has immediate access to this, as do parents.
In the paid version of Seesaw, you have access to 'skills'. These are areas you are working on that you want to assess the students on. Think standards, but less formal. The goal of this feature is to give you a quick view of how students are doing with a concept. When a student turns an item in, you quickly mark their understanding on a 4 point scale. Then in the 'skills' view, you have a visual of how the students are doing. You can pull a red (does not understand), yellow, light green group, or green group (ready for extensions). So easy! No lists of student, no piling paper together. All of this is hidden from students and parents. It is only for you and your instructional purposes.
While Seesaw Plus/For Schools is paid, it is not that expensive. If it looks interesting to you, you should look into it.
In summation, use exit tickets/quick checks to build small groups. And then, use technology to streamline that process so you have more time to spend with your students during the guided math portion of ZONES.
You know here at ZONES Math we are all about differentiation. And if you've seen us live at a presentation or training, you know that we stress the importance of differentiation not only in your small groups, but also in your large group instruction. Differentiation in small groups is easy. But what about whole group?
When we teach the whole class, we have take into account not only different levels of mathematical understanding, but also different levels of language acquisition, special education considerations, learning styles, and personalities. While there are many ways to differentiate your whole group instruction, here are my top 3:
1. Differentiate Questioning
Yes, asking questions of our students during whole group instruction is important. But what about the student with limited English? Or the student with comprehension difficulties? Check out this ah-mazing flow chart from Maria at Everyone Deserves to Learn. Isn't it beautiful??
Interaction, with the teacher and with peers, is a great way to differentiate your instruction and allow all students to actively participate in the lesson. Some ideas:
3. Flip the Classroom
No, not with technology (*gasp*). Flip the "I do, You do, We do" process so that students are exploring and doing the work. Students work on solving a problem on their own first, then with a partner, and then the teacher models using ideas and samples from students' work. This can feel scary, I know! And some students will struggle -- that's ok! Use your teacher radar to know when to shift from individual struggle, to partner work, to teacher-led discussion. For some great insight into how to make this work and why it works, check out this article from Christopher Bronke.
Does this scenario ever happen in your classroom?
I work with small groups of students every day during ZONES rotations. The students come to me with white boards and their resource journals. I come prepared with example problems for them. When I work with students in small groups and using white boards they are nailing it. Few errors, proving mastery, no confusion. So I leave that class feeling completely successful. The next day, I start with an entrance ticket to catch any student that I may have missed during my small group time. I give them a short paper pencil quiz and the whole class completely bombs it. What?!?! So I continue with my whole group instruction, since the whole class got the problem incorrect and my data yesterday was obviously wrong, giving another example problem to the whole class that they complete at their desk, this time with whiteboards. This time they are all getting it right again. GRRRRR! I do not understand!
This situation puzzles me greatly. I do not understand why students feel more at ease with white boards instead of with a paper and pencil. I do not understand how they can master a concept using a dry erase board but not with a pencil. I am so perplexed. However this is not the first standard or concept or school year that I have seen this happen. I am so glad that I can accommodate this using ZONES.
I have noticed that students are able to have a greater mastery of a concept using whiteboards as an option. Therefore, I have always allowed this to be a choice for my students. During whole group time, I can work the room to star correct problems on the worksheet that were done on a white board. This gives me immediate feedback on who needs help and also saves me time grading after class. If you are fortunate enough to have a second pair of hands in your classroom during ZONES time, that second pair of hands can circulate the room starring correct problems during On Your Own or Notebook as well. This is also an option for the teacher to do during conferencing time.
This year I have also noticed that students have greater mastery while working in a small group setting rather than a whole group setting. ZONES has allowed me to accommodate for that as well. I will often give the final mastery checkpoint of a concept in a small group setting. This does not mean that I correct the students or help them. The work is still done completely independently. However, when students know their work is being monitored, for some reason mistakes are greatly reduced and precision is increased. I have also taken this to the next level and allowed student the choice to "sit by the teacher" while they are working on another zone. Their zone work is still done independently, but again, for some perplexing reason, proximity to the teacher does help some student perform with greater accuracy.
ZONES allows me several things that whole class instruction never would:
1. Confidence of mastery. If I have any discrepancy in student work I have small group informal data that I can use to feel confident of mastery. I have now watched a particular student work several problems right in front of me. I know what they have mastered. I know what they are struggling with. Even if they do have an "off" day and fail to master a particular quiz or checkpoint.
5. Ability to assess or work with students in small groups. The small group setting continues to amaze me. Students do need that one on one time, the thought that the teacher does care enough that he/she does individually understand. This allows me time to help students one on one, remediate, or reteach. I never had that individualized instruction teaching math before using ZONES.
So I am here to proclaim, "Let them use white boards!" If that is the tool they feel most comfortable with, then let them use it. If they are most comfortable having a teacher "watch" them do the work. Great! With ZONES I have the flexibility to allow students to have that choice. We are not assessing how the student learns best, we are assessing that the student has mastered the concept. If those tools help and they are fairly easy for me to allow and implement, then I say "No Problem!"
Has this ever been you?
Um, yes. Me too. There are so many times when I want to get inside a student's head to figure out exactly what he/she is thinking.
It's GOOD for students to explain their thinking. It helps solidify their ideas and their learning, as well as help them clear up misconceptions on their own.
In order to develop our students' verbal reasoning, I looked for a way to frame their thinking and become independent in their explanations.
I started looking in to Visible Thinking - and I love it!
Visible Thinking has routines that help students frame their ideas and discuss their thinking. These can be done verbally, in writing, or both!
In 5th grade, we started comparing decimals with a class discussion. Students had to compare 2.587 and 2.98. Of course, they picked 2.587 as the greatest, because 2.587 was longer. This started a great discussion about the value of each digit. At the end of the class period, we wanted to see how students' thinking had changed through the discussion. We used the routine "I used to think___ but now I think____". Students completed this on their whiteboard, and it was very interesting to see what they came up with.
In 4th grade, we used the "See, Think, Wonder" routine to explore rounding numbers to different places. I wrote on the board a series of numbers, such as:
527 --> 530
642 --> 640
987 --> 990
Students first discussed what they saw. This is simply surface-level observations. Then, they discussed what they thought about what they saw. This gets a little deeper into what is happening with these numbers, what the pattern is, or what the "math" behind the numbers is. Then they discussed what they wondered, which gave me a good gauge as to what they knew about rounding and what gaps they had. Students first thought about their response, then discussed with a partner, and then shared with the class. This kept all students engaged in the routine.
I love using the Visible Thinking routines because it's like opening up a student's brain and seeing what is going on inside. These routines also develop ELL's language in math, especially at the discourse level. It also helps students have a clearer understanding of their own thinking.
Check it out for yourself, and leave your experience in the comments!
Are you only reaching the average students when teaching math?
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Have you enjoyed the success of a workshop or balanced approach for literacy?
If you answered YES to any of those questions,
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