Peek at My Week

Monday will be my first day teaching Intervention this year.  I'm excited to be joining Deedee Wills for Peek at My Week for my first time.

I teach 7 grade levels.  I've had to learn to plan in a completely different way as an intervention teacher.  When I was a homeroom teacher, I planned day to day.  I have to be more flexible now so I plan out some options for the week and fit them to how the kids are doing.

You can download a clickable PDF of my week or find links below.

I will fluently read sight words.

I will add and subtract within 100.

I will fluently add and subtract within 18.

I will multiply by 2 digit numbers.

I will read and write numbers with decimals.

Do you have any fun activities for my week that I should know about?

My Ocean Theme Classroom

The kids have been back in school for three days, but Monday will be the first day I have students in my classroom.  Since kids are pulled from specials to come to me for 'Surf Lessons' (Intervention), we wanted them to all experience one day with each specialist to get their basic routines and rules.  I've had fun helping my fellow specialists this past week, but I'm excited for my kiddos to see my classroom.  I think you'll like it too. :)

Ocean Themed Classroom: The white board is surrounded by an ocean scene.
My white board is surrounded by water.

Ocean Themed Classroom
My library and math manipulatives are easy for the kids to get to.
I was lucky this year, my principal made sure they replaced my mismatched desks with tables.  Now my kids can work and play collaboratively.  I also requested a carpet.  It was a you get what you get situation.  I probably wouldn't have picked this one but it is nice to have a place for the kids to sit.  That tiny carpet under the pool is all I could afford to by myself.  I like to throw words, numbers, or letters in the pond.  It adds a fun twist to games.

Classroom Set Up: Two kidney tables with the teacher in the middle
I added the globes this year just for a bit of fun.
Classroom Set Up: Two kidney tables with the teacher in the middle
I love having two kidney tables.  I can work with ten kids at once and just spin to help who needs it.
Classroom Set Up
Just a little color to make my small group area fun.
Ocean Themed Classroom
I love Daisy the Dolphin!

I saw someone selling this dolphin online.  It was a mess (several different colors).  I asked if they'd be willing to donate it to my classroom and someone volunteered to buy and donate it.  My husband did a great job fixing it up and securing it to my wall.  I'll share more about that soon.

Ocean Theme: Pirate Ship
We worked so hard to build this out of cardboard last year!  Still love it.

Classroom Treasure Chest
Of course the kids love the treasure boxes.
Classroom Treasure Chest
I've had this wooden jewelry box for a while, now it doubles as a fun treasure chest.
What's an ocean themed classroom without a few pirates?
Ocean Theme Classroom / Pirate Theme

I have an area by my door where there are lots of random bits of permanent hardware.  I finally figured out a way to make that section still fun while still following fire safety rules.

Ocean Theme Classroom: Use streamers to create water and kelp

Ocean Theme Classroom: Use streamers to create water and kelp

How about a few close up of some of my favorite parts?

Ocean Theme: Tissue Paper turtle

Ocean Theme Classroom: sea shells

Ocean Theme Classroom: Jellyfish

Ocean Theme Classroom: Jellyfish

Polka Dots and Name on a Bucket for Pens

I'm pretty sure I spend more time making my classroom an inviting place than I do on my own home. I spend more time in that room than I do any other.  Well, I spend more time in my bedroom, but my eyes are closed. :)  I'm very lucky to have an amazingly helpful husband who helps me each summer!

Every moment put in getting ready is worth it when the kids walk in and smile. 

Be sure to check out my Facebook page to see a video of my classroom.

Memorize is NOT a Bad Word

Memorize is NOT a Bad Word  Teaching strategies and memorizing facts are not mutually exclusive.

"Students shouldn't be encouraged to memorize facts.  They should be using strategies."

Everytime I go to a training, someone is saying this.  As an intervention teacher who has worked with 6th graders who are adding 5 +3 with their fingers still, it is frustrating.

The explanaition is that as we teach students strategies for facts, they will eventually know all the facts.

I get it.  We need to teach strategies.  I do teach many strategies.  I also encourage kids to memorize.  The two are not mutually exclusive.

I understand that there have been teachers in the past that have kids memorize facts by just repeating the problems aloud over and over.  The fact that some kids were asked to memorize without being taught strategies doesn't mean that all memorization is to be discouraged.

When I'm working with a 4th grader who is struggling with long division and they have to draw a numberline to figure out what 8-5 is, that long division problem is going to take FOREVER.  That kid hates math and I don't blame them.

If we don't give kids clear goals and success criteria, they won't meet those goals.  If we don't tell kids that they should try to remember the answers, they won't try. 

I think the clear answer here is teach strategies for basic facts.  Do this for a while.  Tell the students eventually, you won't need this strategy everytime.  Ultimately, I want you to remember these answers.  Be explict.  Be clear.  Don't have kids memorize their facts just for the sake of memorization.  Do have kids memorize their facts while learning the strategies.

Memorize is not a bad word.

As an intervention teacher, I see the emotional effects of kids who weren't encouraged to memorize.  I see the exhaustion as they work through a grade level problem with strategies from several grade levels back.  If the primary teachers at my school believe that kids don't need to memorize things, our upper grades are going to have large groups of frustrated kids in need of intensive intervention.

Kids that can fluently and easliy answer basic math facts have the background knowlege they need to tackle grade level standards.  

What if we taught kindergarten and 1st grade kids to sound out words but never told them to remember those words.  I can tell you from experience that a 4th grader that is still sounding out basic words shuts down when asked to do grade level work.  Understanding basic sounds and remembering basic words are the building block of all ELA skills.  Knowing your basic facts is the building block of all Math skills.

Strategies and memorization aren't mutually exclusive. 

Teach the strategies.  They need to learn how to think. Also, be honest.  Tell them your life will be easier if you remember the answers to these.  Give them clear success criteria for strategies.  Give them clear success criteria for what they need to be able to do quickly.  Memorizing your facts is called FACT FLUENCY in the Common Core.  It is there.  It is important.

The Common Core has standards which explicitly state Fact Fluency is essential.  Experience watching children go from grade to grade year after year tells me Fact Fluency is important.

Next time someone tries to tell you memorization is bad.  Remember it isn't EITHER strategies or memorize.  It can be BOTH.  It should be both.

I have some FREE Fact Fluency Posters for you.  I recently updated them and added additional pages.

Addition and Subtraction Fact Fluency Resources

Creating and Maintaining Progress Reports for Intervention Groups

Sometimes people complain when there isn't a system for something, I just create one.  When I became an intervention teacher, there wasn't much of a system in place.  There was just the general understanding that students that went to intervention should have something in their CUM.  When I looked at CUMS, there was usually a form letter saying the kid had attended intervention.  If I'm going to spend my year helping kids, I want to make sure it makes a difference.  

Today is Part Five in the Intervention Series.  You can read them in order if you like.

In Part Four, I told you about giving basic pretests and posttests for most groups.  That information I gather becomes part of the progress reports I make for each student.  

This picture is an example of my progress reports.  You can see that not every intervention lesson ended up with a test.  I leave that up to the teachers when they submit a referral.  You can also see that this student was absent for some pretests and a posttest. 

I can't attend all conferences because I see hundreds of students in a trimester.  However, this was a student I saw a lot.  I would attend this students conference and tell the parents how proud I am of the students hard work. It is great to come in and show successes the student has had to balance some of the grades they may have gotten on their report card.  I'd also talk with the homeroom teacher and family about practicing multiplying decimals at home with a simple game.  Homeroom teachers have so much happening.  It is hard to fill in gaps while teaching everything.  As an interventionist, I can help make sure student have the basic foundational skills they need to be successful this year and in coming years.

Progress Reports can also be helpful for homeroom teachers.  Teachers are constantly tracking students.  An Intervention Progress Report can be a useful data point when homeroom teachers are working with a team to determine what a student needs.
Looking at this progress report, the teacher and I could discuss the fact that the student meets goals in ELA but not in math.  The student is making progress but the progress is slow given two weeks of small group targeted instruction.  This documentation can be helpful in the SST process.

When I'm busy or tired and wondering if I'm crazy for creating a system to document my students' progress that wasn't required of me, I remind myself that this data can help.  Whether I'm communicating success for students that often have other types of progress reports or communicating specific concerns, the data is valuable.


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