Self-assessments help students think about their own learning. It encourages responsibility, active participation, and critical reflection. In addition, it can strengthen a student’s judgment skill and provide the opportunity for a change in performance. When an adult enters the workforce, it is assumed that one understands what is expected of them. As a lifelong learner, a student must start by being able to identify the objective of the lesson and then judge if he/she met the expected goal. Since teachers are constantly striving for their students to be active learners, self-assessment is a critical component in the classroom, which is why the Danielson model (the current model used in various states to assess teacher effectiveness) includes student self-assessment in a lesson. A lot of teachers, however, struggle to find ways to get students to self-assess after or during a subject period, especially when a student has a language weakness. In my classroom, I have found that assessment cards guide my students through the self-assessment process successfully. When first teaching the self-assessment routine, I write the objective at the top of the card with the benchmarks that help guide the conversation. For example, when reading a story, my students need to ask and answer questions about the story. To do this, they must use question words and use details from the text to support their answer. An example of a card I would use at my reading center is below. Before starting my lesson, I present the yellow card with the objective as I state our goal (ie. reading a story and asking and answering questions). This card is multi-purposeful since it clearly states the objective, states what is needed to meet the objective, and serves as a visual model of what I expect from my students. I leave this cards at the place where my students are engaging in the specific activity. An example of a math card is below: Then, we do our lesson and activity. At the end of our lesson, the students at the teacher table do a special clap. The rest of the class stops what they are doing and claps back. Then, the students at the teacher table say “Please assess your own learning. Give yourself a 1, 2, 3, or 4.” All students read their individual yellow objective card. For each benchmark objective, they state if they did what was written or not. To promote higher-level thinking and independence, I leave a benchmark with a blank line for students to fill in their own benchmark objective. Since my goal is to have my students do this independently, the written card serve as a model when I am teaching the process. Students take turns sharing in their groups. After students read through the yellow objective card, they ask their group members “What did you do well?”. Students identify their area of strength throughout the lesson. Then students ask their group members “What do you need to work on?” Students state specific goals that they need to work on. If student responses are general, teachers provide specific feedback and tell the students to be more specific. Then, students at the teacher table clap again and say “please move to the next station”. All students at this point stop talking and move to the next station. This rotation and self-assessment piece can take place up to three to four times during one subject period, depending on the length of each center and the length of your subject period. Some examples of the cards I use are below: Throughout the year, I slowly fade the level of support given on the cards although for students with disabilities, the cards can be used as visual support/language script. In the article, “Leading and Learning: Metacognition as a Tool for Improving Student Success,” Youki Terada believes that self-assessment “can close a gap that some students experience between how prepared they feel for a test and how prepared they actually are.” While testing is not my ultimate goal, I believe it shapes a learner’s brain by accurately assessing and identifying his/her strengths and weaknesses. Then, this helps the learners make goals while learning.
When teaching division, it is essential that students have a strong background in multiplication. If students are not fluent with their multiplication facts, a multiplication chart can be given as a modification.
Below, you will find some of my favorite FREE resources I have found/made when introducing division to my students.
Anchor Charts for Basic Division:
TeacherPayTeacher FREE resources:
Video Reference: **brainpop requires a subscription
- Making Equal Groups: https://jr.brainpop.com/math/multiplicationanddivision/makingequalgroups/
- Dividing with Remainders: https://jr.brainpop.com/math/multiplicationanddivision/dividingwithremainders/
- Repeated Subtraction: https://jr.brainpop.com/math/multiplicationanddivision/repeatedsubtraction/
- Division: https://www.brainpop.com/math/numbersandoperations/division/
Acroynms to help students remember the steps:
DMSBR: Divide, Multiply, Subtract, Bring Down, Repeat
Does McDonald Sell Burgers Raw?
The Division Family: Dad, Mom, Sister, Brother, Rover
***I have my students write DMSBR on a post-it note or on top of each problem and they need to check off each step. This helps keep them organized and structured when working.
Visuals to help students remember the steps:
Small groups are essential for students to receive personalized instruction. In my classroom, I run small groups for reading, math, and flex time. At times, I also have Social Studies/Science, small groups.
For small groups to be effective, a schedule needs to be in place to make it clear to both students and teachers where each student should be and what students should be doing at each center. A sample of my schedules are below:
I like to set up centers where students receive teacher instruction, have the opportunity to practice specific skills independently, a place where they can review skills, and a time where they can go on online programs that reinforce learning.
In my picture, you will notice that my small group visual on the board does not have arrows. Last year, I was able to have my students attend each center in a simple circular rotation, but this year, because the needs of my students have changed, not all students attend each center. To compensate for that, my students start at the same station every day so they know where to go after each rotation. One group starts at the teacher table, then goes to the independent poster station, and then go to vocabulary, and then technology. My students caught on pretty quickly and can transition independently to each place since the routine is the same each day.
Below, I will describe each reading center in detail. In a later post, I will share more information about my math centers and social studies/science centers.
Teacher Table: At the teacher table, I provide intensive instruction (phonics work, comprehension skills, and specific reading strategies). At this table, we follow our reading program curriculum. We use the program Project Read, which allows for phonics and comprehension instruction.
EdMark is a sight word program for students who have not been successful with phonics-based programs. It is highly repetitive and provides end of unit assessments. EdMark includes an assessment book (great for data collection), a workbook, a picture match, stories, homework, and spelling. I love this reading program since I have seen it really help some of my students who have been nonreaders. EdMark has two levels (Level 1 and 2). Students need one-to-one instruction while using this program since it is highly individualized.
Independent Poster/Manipulative Center:
At this station, I have students practice the skills I just taught independently or to review skills already taught earlier in the year. At times, I need to help my students if they are struggling, but I like to give them time to try a skill on their own (after guided instruction at the teacher table). I use different colored post-it notes for each group that matches the color of their individualized reading boxes. This helps me know what each group has accomplished at this station. I have several anchor charts that focus on each skill (such as summarizing, comparing and contrasting, making inferences, cause and effect…etc). In this picture, I featured my story element poster since it is one that I always start the year with.
In this center, I provide leveled books and different follow up activities (such as writing a summary, asking and answering questions, and writing about their favorite part). In addition, I am very intentional about structuring and modeling how to “stop and think” while reading. Most students typically read without stopping and asking questions. By giving clear guidelines such as stopping after every paragraph or every 2-3 pages in a book, I find that my students are starting to build healthy reading habits that can be transferred during their independent reading time later in the day. As seen in the pictures below, I leave instructions and self-assessments so students can run this station on their own.
At times, I also utilizes manipulatives (such as matching games and centers in a bag) from LakeShore or ReallyGoodStuff.
At this station, students practice their spelling and vocabulary words. I have students write words in their notebooks, build words with magnets or blocks, write the word in a sentence, or write a story/song.
In a previous post, I outlined various ways to practice spelling words. I use these ideas for homework and in class.
In my school, we utilize the following reading programs: Achieve3000 Raz Kids, and Reading Eggs. Here, I took pictures of the program Achieve3000. I appreciate that each of these reading programs have accommodations such as a read-aloud option, vocabulary help, and extended time to complete each activity. In addition, I recommend the following online reading websites.
Student Run Centers:
A clear structure is very important when setting up centers. I typically do not change the routine so my students can independently do each center. At the end of each center, my students clap to get the other groups attention and self-assess their own learning. I provide objective cards at each station and then students ask each other what they did well and what they need to continue to work on. We clap again and the students at the teacher table say “please move to the next station”.
In a post coming to this blog soon, I will share more pictures of my objectives cards that my students use to self-assess after each center rotation. Eventually, I would love for my students to think of the objective and benchmarks on their own, but for now, this is a guided structure that I utilize to ensure content vocabulary, reflection, and accurate assessment of their time at each center.
Comment below to share your center/small group advice. What challenges do you experience when implementing centers? What systems/structures could you share with others? Ideas and reflection help us all grow so your thoughts are greatly appreciated!
With the start of the school year around the corner, I always love to research new teaching strategies and skills I can incorporate into my classroom for the following year. My main research focus this year is how to increase comprehension within the classroom environment.
Below, are some of the best resources I have found for teachers and parents when it comes to understanding the word “comprehension” and how we can best support our children.
- At a basic level, providing graphic organizers can help students organize their thoughts and questions. I prefer graphic organizers with lines since spacing can be an issue for a lot of students.
- Students should make connections with the text. Simple prompts such as “What does this remind you of?” “Has something like this ever happen to you before?” can help students connect the dots and remember more details after they are done reading a passage.
- Students need to make a habit of asking more questions as they read. This helps create a purpose for reading as well as an interest. I do something in my classroom called “Stop and Ask”. After one paragraph, students need to generate a question about what they just read. This helps a lot of students reread the passage and create discussion.
- Students also need to dissect what type of question is being asked of them. According to reading rockets, there are four different types of questions. Please see the image below.
- Lastly, students should feel your excitement about reading. Decoding and comprehending texts is hard, and teachers and parents need to be constant cheerleaders. We should model out loud how we want our children to approach literature by stopping, asking questions, visualizing, and making connections with the text.
Here are some additional resources for further research:
Four different types of questions: (courtesy of reading rockets)
What is Place Value:
To teach children the numerical value of a digit in a number, students need visuals, models, and manipulatives to help them understand why the placement of numbers matter.
Visual and Kinesthetic Learning Tips:
To introduce the concept, I start with tens and ones to help my students understand that numbers can be built with place value blocks. I teach them that ten ones (in yellow) equal one ten rod (in green). Students practice creating numbers with the ones, and then the tens and ones.
The board is also extremely helpful when helping students understand how many tens and ones are in a number. Students who are experiencing difficulty could build the number on the board and then easily transfer their results on the paper to help them understand the concept.
Another feature I love about this board is how it is color coded. This becomes useful when I write numbers since I can stay with the original color scheme when writing a number. Although yellow can be hard to read, orange can be used as a substitute if students are experiencing difficulty reading in that color. Once I write the numbers, I then ask students to tell me the value of each number. This introduction to place value begins at the main teacher table (in my classroom, we have three to four rotating centers throughout our math period).
Greater Than/Less Than: Comparing Numbers
At station two, students practice comparing the value of each digit by comparing numbers. Since some students confuse the greater/than less sign, additional visuals of a gator can help students remember the meaning of the sign (the gator eats the largest number). At this station, students do a variety of activities to practice. One of my favorite includes a ‘roll and make’ game that has students roll the number, make the number, expand, and then compare the number. A free sample of the game is here.
Read and Write
At station 3, students practice reading and writing numbers. Students are taught to not say “and” when reading numbers. They can practice this over and over again with new numbers written by other students at the table. A great resource I love are the write and wipe boards featured below. This is a highly recommended resource when teaching place value!
Our school and many schools around the nation are celebrating the week of respect. To raise awareness, our school has special dress up days such as asking students to wear a hat, mismatched clothes and to wear the color orange. Weeks like this promote community awareness and discussions about important topics. My classroom brainstormed specific ways respect looks like in different settings familiar to students.
Since respect is an abstract concept that can be hard to understand and explain, specific examples help students visualize how they can be respectful. My students were responsible for giving examples and drawing pictures of the different scenarios shown below. Students who are older can be responsible for writing examples on a sentence strip to help in the process of creating the anchor chart. Interactive anchor charts can help students feel more ownership and responsibility.
This chart will now hang in my classroom so we can refer back to it as needed throughout the year. Other activities regarding respect can be found online on sites such as Pinterest (where I got the idea for this poster) and Discovery Education (where I found videos). To aid in the presentation and discussion, I showcased different examples of respect through videos and class modeling.
Practice makes perfect, especially when it comes to spelling words. Instead of boring repetition drills or using the outdated method of writing something 100 times, there are many activities students can participate in to practice weekly spelling words.
To start, I downloaded a great resource from teacherpayteacher that guides students to trace, write, build, find and use their spelling word in a sentence. Then, I have students use magnetic foam alphabet blocks and dry erase markers to write and build their words three more times during a rotating center.
To reinforce the skills with an adult, my students can then practice writing their words in sand while saying the word and each letter of the word out loud.
For homework, students can choose from a variety of activities that reinforces the words at home. Here are some ideas below:
- Write the word 3x times using pencil, colored pencil, and crayon
- Write the words in rainbow colors
- Write the words in ABC order
- Write a sentence for each word
- Write or type a story using all your spelling words
- Stamp the words
- Build the words with legos, clay, dough, yarn or pipecleaners
- String the words together using letter beads
- Write the words in a verticle pyramid format. For example: l, lo, lov, love
- Practice building the words using magnetic letter blocks
- Type spelling words on the computer
- Spell words in a sand or salt container
- Trace words on the back of your hand
- Spell words in shaving cream
- Trace letters into the air (sky write)
- Use ABC blocks to spell words (Scrabble)
- Build words using ABC stickers
- Use q-tips and paint words
- Write words in glue and add glitter
- Use newspaper and magazine to clip letters to build words
We use a spelling notebook to keep track of their progress and their words. All words are individualized so a spelling book helps everyone stay organized. Please feel free to use some of these ideas in your classroom! 🙂 Enjoy!
I find the first week of school to be one of the most exciting parts of the year. Teachers are fresh, students are ready to learn, and the upcoming year is filled with endless possibilities. I wanted to highlight some of my favorite activities my classroom participated in during the first week of school.
This year, I decided to start each day with a morning meeting. I am following the responsive classroom approach, which outlines the morning meeting time with a greeting, sharing time, an activity, and a morning message. My kids and I have loved this time to connect! I am using Roxann Kriete’s Morning Meeting book to guide my practice.
My first homework assignment was for students to create a “Me Bag”. This gave them something to share during our morning meeting the second day of school. Students generally feel comfortable talking about things they like and activities they are good at. Students brought in gymnastic medals, dance shoes, toy cars, pictures, and special monuments bought while traveling.
Next, we talked about how we wanted our classroom to run for the year. Together, we created “the great classmate is” chart shown below. Students in higher grades can write their ideas and children in lower grades can draw pictures of the words written on the chart. We had students drawing people being responsible, helping others, and saying kind words to others. After we completed the chart, we acted out different scenarios in which students could practice being a great classmate. The next day, a student in our class had the opportunity to do one of the scenarios we acted out the day before. It was a great moment for all!
During our professional days before starting the official school year, our administration emphasized the importance of goal-setting. My classroom used BrainPop’s “setting goals” video to introduce what a goal was and how to set a goal. I had to break down each SMART step for my students, but felt it was a good video to help my students set their own goals for the year.
One of the goals for our classroom this year is to think before we speak. Our classroom talked about the importance of good communication and speech. I posted this acronym on a bulletin board close to my desk to help guide all of our talking for the year. This “think before you speak” practice is helpful when doing partner or group work, and creates a safe and friendly classroom environment for all.
Another importance aspect of a great classroom is putting up functional posters and schedules that guide student learning. The “I love reading” bulletin board in my classroom outlines what great readers do, highlights our small group schedule which will eventually showcase our different stations and has a poster that records how many books each student will, in time, read throughout the month. During our goal-setting activity, my students’ individual goals are to read between 8-12 books by September 30th. To help achieve this goal, we are using our “We love reading” chart to record the number of books each student reads in class and at home.
We have had a great first week and I am looking forward to learning with my students throughout this school year. I am thankful for all the ideas I was able to pull from the internet and hope this post can guide your second week of teaching! Thanks as always for reading. 🙂
Reviewing for math can be a drag for some students, but with the use of new technology and software, students can practice skills using the following websites.
Our school uses EnVision (a great math program!). Many resources are available online, but here are some additional sites students can use to reinforce skills previously taught in class.
1. Fractions (Topic 11) Review:
- Currently, game 13, 14, 20, 21, 22, 23 will be a great start when reviewing fractions at: http://www.internet4classrooms.com/skill_builders/fractions_math_fourth_4th_grade.htm.
- To compare fractions, the site: http://www.aaamath.com/fra43b-comparefractud.html is useful.
2. Topic 12 (adding and subtracting fractions): games 2-8 will be a great review:
4. To review division, please visit:
5. To review multiplication, an engaging site is:
Reviewing for assessments that cover a wide range of material can be hard to do in an engaging fashion. After finishing our unit 3 material in Social Studies, I planned an eight center review game that reviewed the US regions, NJ regions, climate, weather, landforms, and natural resources.
Group work can be difficult for some students. Giving students specific jobs can be one way to avoid typical behavior problems found when implementing small groups. For this Social Studies review, I decided to use a spy theme to encourage student engagement in all areas of center work.
My small group jobs focused on transition time, noise control, and jobs within the group setting.
Please reference and use my Social Studies: Spy Theme Review PowerPoint to access the description of the following positions: Secret Service Messenger, Group Spy, Mr./Mrs. Hat, Noise Detectives, and The Watch.
An outline of the activity is found below:
- Station One. Explain how a wooden table is made. Use the words: natural resources, raw materials, and processed in your response. If time, illustrate the steps you described above.
- Station Two. Identify six renewable and nonrenewable resources using the graphic organizer provided. If time, why are people considered resources?
- Station Three. Design a post card using the yellow paper to describe the difference between the Inner and Outer Atlantic Coastal Plain. Write the message first, and then illustrate if you have time. (Example provided in folder)
- Station Four. Create a song about the different types of landforms. Include atleast 4-5 different types. Also try to include the locations of the landforms (where they are found in the US).
- Station Five. Compare and contrast weather and climate using a Venn Diagram. (Students were also given five questions to answer–multiple choice)
- Station Six. Draw a picture of the water cycle. Label the four steps. If time, create a story about the water cycle, using the character of a water drop.
- Station Seven. Label the 5 regions of the United States on the map provided. Create a key that color codes each section.
- Station Eight. Use the map provided to label the four regions of New Jersey. Put a star next to the region we live in.