Monday, March 17, 2014

Differentiating with Area and Perimeter

Being on Spring Break sure does have its upsides doesn't it?!  One being the fact I am able to sit down and finally blog...AKA relax on my own terms.  I have a Lifetime movie playing in the background called The Grim Sleeper.  Did you get to watch it?  What can I say?  I'm obsessed with watching their newest 2 hour TV movies.  Reading my book here and there when I want, going to the bathroom whenever I want, and snacking on whatever I want is definitely the bee's knees.  It makes me look forward to summer break that much more!

As we all know (it's what nightmares are made of)'s that time of the season.  Testing is just around the corner and the pressure is on!  With trying to fit everything on our district benchmark testing and the state test in to such a tiny time frame, it is that much more important I push that rigor and multiple opportunities for practice with my students.  So, bring on differentiation!

By first having my students complete a multi-level exit ticket (which ended up becoming more like a post test) I was able to figure out which levels of area and perimeter each student met in or what they needed more practice in.  As a gifted-cluster teacher, I try to do as many tiered differentiation lessons as possible.  In this case, it means I have 9 gifted learners while the rest of my students are mainstreamed. It can get pretty hard when I don't have as much time as I want to plan them out, but each year I end up with more and more.

Below you can see part of a screen shot of the flipchart I had up on our ActivBoard during the day's lesson. Every time we tackle a tiered lesson, I go over the Owl's assignment first so those students can get straight to work on their extension.  But I need my other students to sit and take it in because if they complete their activity and show mastery, they are able to move on.  That's why I love tiered lessons!!

Extension/Tier 3 Group

**Always works solo/independently**

My group of about 6-7 Owls worked in the library on their own and had quite a time with their activity. They were doing so well I only had to check on them a couple different times to make sure they were measuring the area and perimeter correctly, since this was something we didn't do with irregular polygons as a whole class (we only had to use grid paper).

Extra Practice/Tier 2 Group

**Always works with 1-2 other students**

My Eagles were able to gather in the back of our classroom on the strip of tile we have in order to practice identifying the perimeter and area using square units.  I found this idea for regular polygons on Pinterest, but needed to use it for the irregular aspect.  Many of my students were having trouble with larger figures where they had to count and solve for the formulas when there were upwards of 20 or so square units and multiple "irregular" corners.  By making it a bit more hands on for them and on a smaller (although larger...LOLOLOL) scale, that group of kids grasped on to the application of the formulas we had already discovered and practiced a lot easier.

Please ignore our dirty floor...the kids tend to bring in everything off our wet grassy field when they come in in the morning.  Sigh.

Reteach/Tier 1 Group

**Always works with the teacher and/or small group**

For this group of kids, it was a bit tricky.  Each set of students needed additional reteaching and practice with a different aspect of perimeter and area (i.e. area of triangles and parallelograms versus perimeter of squares and rectangles or even irregular polygons)

I decided to have them make flashcards for each formula, since many of the students in this group kept getting them mixed up between the different figures themselves or area versus perimeter.  Then, we went from there with some extra practice on identifying perimeter and area using those formulas.

My students crave tiered lessons because they truly appreciate being able to have the chance to not only move on if they are ready, instead of sitting through another reteach lesson, but they appreciate being able to jump to the next level when they are done working with me during the reteach.  Everything is very fluid and depending on the tiered lesson, kids are not always in the same group to start with.  I use exit tickets every time to determine which group students will be in.  Sometimes, I even find I have to reteach as a whole class.  All students are a lot more invested in the outcome of their learning and they enjoy some of the hands on and project-based opportunities to show their learning.  Sure, the planning can take a bit more time than regular lessons...but in the end, it is soooooooo worth it!

This summer, I plan on trying to put as many of my tiered lessons and choice/extension menus in my TPT store.  But if you would like to check one of them out now, I have had my Plot Elements Choice Menu pack up HERE for a couple months (all based on Bloom's Taxonomy).  It is starting to sell like hotcakes and that makes me so excited to know other students are able to partake in choices and extensions to show their learning!  Yay!

Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Setting the Mood and Tone...or at Least Identifying It

Prepare yourself for one seriously picture-heavy post!  I had way too much fun with this lesson and so did my students.  Not only did they enjoy it, but they did phenomenally well on their post test.  I would say that is a big, huge, GIGANTIC thumbs up to it all.  Oh and also?  Read all the way through because I'm finally sharing a bit of fun info from AAGT (local Arizona Gifted Education conference) that I attended a couple weeks back.

And I would like to thank Miss Nannini at YoungTeacherLove for posting her lesson on this exact skill because I was able to be inspired and applied pieces of her well-taught lesson and added elements to it that I knew would be successful for my group of kids.  Since I'm especially lacking in my creative side for anchor chart creating, I used hers to help me out.  We used a different book to practice mood and tone though so maybe others will get a kick out of it and like to use the mentor text I chose.  Enjoy!

I've mentioned before on the blog about how our district is still sticking with state standards for now. So, while Miss Nannini quoted the CCSS version, our Arizona version is more focused on intended effect (AKA mood and tone).  This is why I love Common Core...the language of our standards will be the same!  Now if only we could go ahead and jump in.  In the meantime, I'm trying to be patient.  No matter what, it was a whole lot easier to get my students to grasp onto intended effect by teaching them mood and tone.

Okay so...we always want to reel in our students' with a BIG hook whenever possible right?  Well, in this case, my team and I used music!  Thanks to one of my teammates and what I learned at the AAGT conference, I used YouTube to bring in lyrics and music to my classroom to help students get a feel for mood and tone.

After we put together the left side of the anchor chart you see above and chatted all about the difference between feelings and attitudes we jumped right in to the juicy stuff...the music!  Before I explain how I used three songs for the hook, let me give you a little heads up, especially if you decide to try this out in your own classroom...

While at the AAGT conference, I attended a session called, "Pop Culture in the Classroom," presented by DJ Graham.  Due to a huge need for differentiation in a Gifted classroom (a bit different than other populations) and the importance of pulling in the upper 2 levels of Bloom's Taxonomy, he decided to tie it all together with how pop culture helps to make a connection between the students and teacher as well as making the material directly coincide with what is most relevant to our students today.

You MUST know, we as educators are allowed to use copyrighted video clips and music in our classroom under a fair use guideline, "Movies:  10% or 3 minutes (whichever is less)," and "Music: 10% or 30 seconds (whichever is least)" (from U.S. Copyright Office, 2009); (Harper, 2007).  Also, if you want to use music in your classroom for teaching purposes, you should definitely search You Tube first.  It is chock full of lyric videos...meaning only the lyrics play across the screen.  There is no music video to worry about or content kids shouldn't see.  Sure, you can print up the lyrics and have kids just read along as they listen to songs, but this is so much bigger for them!  Just do a search for any song and add "lyrics" to your search and you'll get exactly what you need.  As always, make sure you view the full video for content.

How did I bring this into my classroom for a lesson on mood and tone?  Like I said, one of my awesome teammates had the idea to play Jar of Hearts by Christina Perri, Happy by Pharrell Williams, and Phantom of the Opera (from Broadway or the movie version).  Each one covers a super specific and obvious mood and tone.  I went straight to YouTube to find the lyric videos for these as soon as she mentioned she had played the songs for her kids...I wanted to step it up a notch!

My kids and I discussed how the lyrics truly set the mood (kind of like pictures in a picture book) and the actual background music sets the tone.

Jar of Hearts by Christina Perri

"...from the ice inside your soul," from Jar of Hearts

For your downloading pleasure (source):

Happy by Pharrell Williams

And here (below) is my favorite moment!  I danced around the room as this one was playing here and there.  But this student of mine couldn't help sitting in his seat any longer . He jumped up and started dancing right as I was taking this picture.  So, I of course danced over to him and we did a little bit of the "Carlton" and sung the song at each other.  Basically?  My kids immediately identified and felt the mood and tone so overwhelmingly, there was no question about it!

"...clap along if you feel happiness is the truth," from Happy

For your downloading pleasure (source):

Phantom of the Opera (movie version)

" power over you grows stronger yet," from Phantom of the Opera

For your downloading pleasure (source):

As I played the 30 second clips, students jotted down certain words or phrases they caught under a T-chart with mood and tone written at the top.  At the end of each clip, they did some quick Rally Robin style discussing, and we came back together as a class to share what we saw and heard.  It went swimmingly and they absolutely loooooooved it!

Once my kids felt confident identifying mood and tone within music and lyrics, we read The Dark by Lemony Snicket, together.  Through modeling, I made sure to inform them authors tend to repeat the same adjectives or phrases in order to make the audience feel and understand the mood and tone.

I was ecstatic to find my kids not only identified those key words, but they also figured out some really good ways to describe the mood and tone according to what they felt and were thinking exactly.  I recorded them on our anchor chart. They realized that not only was the dark meant to be creepy but they also felt surprised and relief at the ending.  Yessssss!!!

Pulling from Miss Nannini's lesson, she used the Aesop Fable, "The Ant and the Grasshopper" to assess her students and compare the mood and tone they read to what they saw in the Disney Silly Symphony version.  But, I decided to use this as their independent practice.  We watched a short clip near the end of the Disney video (downloaded from YouTube), meanwhile they jotted down any key words or phrases they noticed on a T-chart in their notebooks.

They used Close Reading strategies as they read "The Ant and the Grasshopper" text in order to locate those special key words and phrases that show mood and tone.  

I decided to have them write a descriptive paragraph with text-based evidence for that day's exit ticket to let me know the mood and tone (intended effect) of the fable.  

Have you taught mood and tone to your students yet?  What sort of ideas or strategies have worked well for them?

Saturday, March 1, 2014

Currently March

Sure, I'm supposed to be working hard on my National Boards Entry 3 right now, since I'm at a Coaching Saturday event.  But I really wanted to get this up first!  Sooooooo...this is a bit of a Boards themed Currently.


I am at a Coaching Saturday event in order to work on my National Boards entry 3.  There are a ton of people here getting coaching and work done, so there's a ton of talking around me and amazing conversations about collaborating, reflecting, and imagining.  For me, I'm just supposed to be sitting here planning my next several Science lessons because I need to make sure I am using Math to move the Science learning forward.  


It rained this morning.  For about 3 minutes.  Seriously Arizona?  I despise you right now.


I'm here working till 3 and the celebration starts at 5:30.  Soooooooo...this is all about concentrating on my HUGE task at hand.  You know?  After I'm done with this blog post of course.  LOLOLOL


Did I mention this rainy weather didn't last long?  I suppose I should at least be happy that the cloud is still full of dark clouds.  So there's that.


I had really hoped to have videotaped my entry lesson by now.  But it is testing season and so this hasn't happened.  So, planning these lessons today will definitely help!  Next step, figuring out who is going to tape me.  My hubby did it last year but his new job is during the day...soooooooo I am in quite the conundrum.  


These are the items I really NEED whenever I am at these coaching events!  Mountain Dew is especially essential after lunch when I hit a wall.  

Have any of my readers achieved National Board certification or are in the process?  I am a retake candidate and am working on 1 entry and 1 assessment exercise this year.