Wednesday, July 25, 2012

The Daily 5, the final chapter

Putting It All Together and Troubleshooting

I again find myself at the end of an online book study.

My take away points (a.k.a. what I want to remember) from the final chapter...
1. Do all 5 dailys in unison for 12 to 20 minutes before handing the choice of order over to the students. I did not wait to teach all dailys last year before giving the choice. How did I miss that the first time I read the book? Great relief to read that now. It may be into October before the students are released to have choice over the order of their dailys, and that will be fine.
2. Choice = expectations + skills + trust + responsibility
3. When ready to introduce "choice" to the students, do it in a focus lesson.
4. Getting attention: Above, Pause, Whisper. Try to avoid using my voice for gaining attention, use it for instruction.
5. Gaining trust and meeting basic human needs are prerequisites for D5.
6. Just get started. I can't make adjustments unless I am moving forward.

Launch order: Read to Self, Work on Writing, Read to Someone, Word Work, Listen to reading. I am really glad that listen to reading is the last, because I hope that I have my Donors Choose iPods by then, and have them loaded with books.

This book study was a great way for me to grow my knowledge this summer, by reading and writing about what I read, and by reading what others have read. Thanks to all of you who have joined in this book study, and thanks to Mel D. at Seusstastic Classroom Inspirations for organizing the whole deal.

Kimberly at Funky First Grade Fun and Corinna at Surfin' Through Second are hosting this chapter. Go check them out. They have great ideas and insights.
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Saturday, July 21, 2012

A Blog Hop

I've been enjoying reading about other new bloggers. I'm sort of new. Less than 6 months old and 40 followers. Janis at Grade Three is the Place for Me! has a linky for new bloggers. 

Janis posted some questions to help us get to know each other better. These are her questions and my answers...

1.  What state you are in: I am in Kansas

2.  Your current teaching position: I will teach first grade this year

3.  Your teaching experience: last year I taught a combination 2nd/3rd grade class, and earlier than that I taught 9 years in Special Education. I feel like I've come home now, to the regular ed class that I have been dreaming about since I was a very young girl

4.  When you started blogging: I started blogging in April

5.  Share a blogging tip / blogging resource: Here is my tip: if you don't like to fill out the word verification on other blogs, take it off of yours. It's easy. Go to settings, posts and comments, and at the show word verification drop down menu, make sure it says "no." (Looks Janis has the very same tip!)

Hop on over to discover some "new" or new to you blogs. So much exciting information is out there and just in time to inspire us all for the coming year.

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Friday, July 20, 2012

Guided Math, The Last Chapter

Gotta say, I'm glad I am done with the "heavy" reading. My brain is stuffed with good ideas and intentions. This chapter is called "Putting it into Practice" and so that is what I will strive to do. Starting now.

How will I implement GM?
1. Start with morning warm-ups (remember the great chart on p. 86?--that will be my guide while I get my feet wet).
2. Add in math workshop, teach like I do D5. Considerable uneasiness about what to do for the work stations. It has to be quick and easy for me to prepare, but math meaningful for the students. Next weeks plan is to look through all the files I have saved on my computer, make a list of what needs to be printed, so that I am ready when I get to school in 2 weeks.
3. Add in mini-lessons.
4. Add in small groups.

How will I keep learning?
1. {Love this one} Read blogs for ideas and inspiration.
2. Beg or borrow the Math Work Stations by Debbie Diller. (Or birthday present, does anyone else ask for professional books for their birthday? I might be weird. Or I need more presents.)

I woke up yesterday thinking it was the day for posting about this chapter. By mid-morning I figured out that I was a day ahead. Then I considered not writing about it. Who is going to notice? I'm not getting a grade, and I do not think my principal even reads this blog (and she would want me to be enjoying my summer vacation), so skip it. I've done the "hard" work, reading and posting about the "meat" of the book. But I am a finisher. I want to finish what I start. So, it's a good thing that I found this online book study.

This chapter is being hosted by Terri at The Creative Apple and the linky is at Primary Inspired. They both have great things to say! Stop over and have a look. Then have a great weekend!
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Thursday, July 19, 2012

A Sneak Peek, And a Little Story

I've been to my classroom a bit, but today I got a lot of time there. I am so tired. I need one of those Home Depot back braces.

Here's a large shot, from the door.

The retiring teacher had loads of goodies. Now I finally get to have a good look at them. I found two gardening manuals that I saw when I was at Ag in the Classroom in June. Score, now I don't have to ask my fabulous principal to buy it for me. :)

So, her stuff, and my stuff is all over the desks. But I feel like it is progress. What if I had waited to do this until my first contract day?

Looking right from the door...

And now to the next corner...

Swing over to the third corner...

Now toward what will be the front of the room, also where the Smartboard is... and my teacher area.


Still so much to do.

The days that I have gone in I have been the only one in the school. The school is in the country just off a major highway. I've been told not to be at the school alone after dark. Some teachers have tried to scare me with talk of the ghost. 

Saturday, I was working and from across the room heard this sort of bang noise. Of course, I jumped.

Tried to think of some reason that the noise would have occurred. None came to mind. Except the ghost.

It happened again on Monday, and yesterday, and today. I'm pretty sure it is this cabinet.

Wheww, glad I figured that out.

I was taking a snack break at my kidney table this afternoon, listening to my iPod, when all of a sudden there was a knock at my door. (I couldn't see the door, because of all the "stuff" piled high on said table.) I jumped. The ghost!

Before I could really freak out our wonderful custodian came in. Seems like she has heard of the ghost as well, and was not surprised when I told her about the noise, or her scaring me.

Glad that the next time I go to school other people will be there. Safety in numbers I always say.
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Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Daily 5, Chapter 6

Work on Writing and Word Work

These were 2 areas that didn't get much instruction from me last year. I sort of fizzled out following "the plan" from the sisters. But with Pinterest and lovely blogs that I follow I have more ideas than I know what to do with. Not to mention a fully stocked first grade classroom (unlike last year, I walked into a blank room).

What I want to remember or do...
1. After work on writing is introduced, keep notebook and a pencil in book box
2. Find a purpose for writing--make  sure students know what their purpose is
3. Decide on what words to use for word work (I don't think we have a set spelling list), could be our Phonics Dance, maybe sight words, perhaps ag or science/social studies words, or maybe a combo

Those are my thoughts. I am eager to get this ball rolling. By that I mean, get to school, get walls and bulletin boards ready, make lesson plans, and arrange the desks.

I am linking up with the wonderful Deb from Fabulously First who is hosting this chapter. Hop on over to read  her thoughts and see who else has linked up.

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Tuesday, July 17, 2012

An Update on My Heart

From what I've heard, my heart pieces are having a grand time. Of course they are.

I'm pretty sure I have a trip anxiety condition. I love to go on vacation. But not the travel part of it. I do not think floo powder, port keys, apparition, or broomsticks would make it any easier (although, all four of us may enjoy trying out those modes of transportation). Planes, trains, and cars just make me nervous. So, even though I wasn't on this trip, I had to be anxious for them (because I am sure they weren't anxious enough for themselves--were they even at all?).

As soon as I found out that everyone made it to their destination I was fine, and have been fine ever since.

My husband and I are on a mini vacation. I'm being intentional about doing things and eating foods that I would not if they were here. We've seen a movie (I've seen two), out to eat once, and another restaurant meal is coming up, stayed up late, eaten supper late, talked a lot, and spent time together without anyone else trying to have a conversation with us at the same time. It's been lovely.

But I do miss their smiles, hugs, and piano sessions (Grandma is getting to listen to the piano this week, lucky her, they really are good). I've gotten to speak to them twice on the phone (once to tell me what they forgot, and the other time to request specific presents for upcoming birthday that is TWO months away), and Grandma keeps me up to date with texts. So it's good. But I will be glad when we are all back together again.

This is almost two years old, but I love it. My husband took it just outside of town. That is the real sky, no photoshop to it. A real Kansas sunset. And two amazing Kansas kids.
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Monday, July 16, 2012

Another Monday Made It

Time to link up with Tara at 4th Grade Frolics for another edition of Monday Made It. I love this linky. I get many ideas from other bloggers and I am motivated to get some things done on my to do list.

I made several things. Here is number 1:

When I was at Walmart a few weeks ago I saw this wooden piece and knew I could make something great for school with some Mod Podge. I was right! It will sit on a shelf I have in my room.

Number 2:

One pringles can will be for rulers, and the other for Power Towers (either sight words or math facts--using Dixie Cups) ala Teacher Tipster. The small, rectangular coffee containers will be for magnetic letters.

Number 3:

My clipboard that I used last year. It was ugly brown with marker streaks on it. Now it is pretty and happy to go back to school.

Part of this linky is Home Made Its. Unfortunately I don't have that on my mind right now. Just school.

Time for me to get my super cool composition notebook out, one of the new pens my mom bought me and go to the linky party to make notes about what I want to make for next week!

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Sunday, July 15, 2012

Guided Math, Chapter 8

Assessment in Guided Math is being hosted by Brenda @ Primary Inspired

I'm really trying to wrap my head around formative versus summative assessments. The way I understand it is formative is a about learning what the student knows throughout the unit of study and then advancing them forward. Summative is the unit end test. I took lots of those when I was a primary and secondary student.

I hope to create a vision for learning with my students next year. To be able to give my students an idea of what "success" with this unit would look like. It seems like a lot of front work, but worth it in the end. Again I see how understanding the Daily 5 will help... Tell the students why what they learn is important, for now, and for their future.

As a student (and as a teacher) I always like to know what is expected of me, and I suppose these young students are not much different. This could definitely help the students who struggle, they will know the expectations and will (I hope) rise to meet it.

Sammons gives some tips for good feedback.
1. Be corrective.
2. Be timely.
3. Be specific to criterion.
4. Allow students to give some of their own feedback.

When I have a plan of what the students need to be able to do and understand, I will be a more focused and conscious teacher. Then we will know when we have gotten to that point, and celebrate it and be ready to move forward even again.

Sounds like a great plan. Think I better get working on my yearly plan.

Only one more chapter to go. And if you want to read previous chapters check here...

Chapter 1: Primary Inspired
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Saturday, July 14, 2012

My Heart

Pieces of my heart left on the train this morning. The house is eerily quiet. The feelings I have are much like the ones I had on the night before returning to work after maternity leave. Same tears. Same stomach knots. I know they will be fine. But I am going to miss them soooooo much.

The train is carrying my sons and my mom. They are headed to Camp Grandma. They will have a wonderful time.

I relaxed a bit when I knew that a family from our church was going to be on the same train, in the same car. Not sure why that helped, but it really did.

I have tons on my to-do list that I want to transfer to my ta-da list, but this may be too different for me to get anything done.


Now it is morning. The sun is shining. And I remembered Lamentations 3: 22-23: "Because of the Lord's great love we are not consumed, but his compassions never fail. They are new every morning; great is your faithfulness."I feel like that now.

The boys were ready for this. The years of being with them have helped get them ready for this. They were happy. They gave hugs and kisses. They had no tears. They only had smiles. And they looked grown up. My tears stayed away when I was with them. I wanted our send off to be happy, about them, not about me. But now I can tell you, those tears are free flowing.

Love you, have fun, see you again when Camp Grandma is finished.
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Friday, July 13, 2012

School Supplies

I finally made it! Target Dollar Spot, oh how you make my heart sing.

Very early this morning my mom arrived on the train. (I picked her up at the train station at 2:50 a.m.) We were lazy around the house for the morning, but I wanted lunch to be special. One of our favorites is Freddy's Frozen Custard. Love their fries and fry sauce. And apparently today is "National Fry Day." Not that they were free, but fun to eat Freddy's fries on Friday the "Fry Day."

Across the street was a Starbucks. Lucky for us. Yesterday we learned that between 12 and 3 p.m. today all Starbucks are giving away a tall Refresher. Mom and I both got a Very Berry Hibiscus (I really liked it) and both boys tried a Cool Lime. They didn't like it so much, so Mom and I got theirs as well. (Score for us!)

Now off to Target. Right by the front door was the very famous Dollar Spot. Aaaahhhhh.

It was crowded, but I started on the outside, so all was well. I weaved my way through all the tight aisles and found exactly what I was looking for.

In less than 10 minutes I had the above items in my cart, feeling pleased with myself, and a bit drained from the excitement.

Because my need to look at EVERYTHING in the Dollar Spot and try to figure out a good reason for buying it was met, I could focus on my kids and what they wanted to do. The toy aisle, aka Lego and Nerf. Being there, with nothing to do but watch my kids I started to go through my items again. Uh oh, my husband may not be pleased with my cart full.

Mom to the rescue. She wanted to pay for all of it, because she lives so far away and can't do this very often. I tried to not let her. I told her she really didn't need to do that as I was stuffing the cash into my purse.

Thanks Mom, you are the best!

Here's a close up of some group work activities/materials that I got. Alphabet cards, puzzle and Bingo game (first grade needs letter work, right?), some super cool dry erase strip cards, and lesson plan books. My plan is to use one for Reading/Writing, another for Math and the last for SS/Science/Ag.

I saw erasers and thought "I need those for math work stations," so I grabbed all 3 packs they had left. (Perhaps I will find more if I go to a different Target next week. How many does a girl really need?) Pocket charts. I think they are meant for hoarding. Get them in case I need them "Some Day."A Mosaic puzzle, just for fun. 

I love summer this year. I have a bit of an idea what to expect in August and throughout the whole year. I can make broad plans. I know what I need to do to be ready. And now I am so excited to get this show on the road. (I was excited last year also.)

Next week I will be working hard in my classroom to get it ready. I'm taking the plunge. I've asked to have the teacher desk removed.

Any advise about what is really important to have in a first grade classroom, furniture-wise?

Happy weekend everyone!

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Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Daily 5, Chapter 5

This chapter is full of how to launch Read to Someone and Listen to Reading. Be sure to look at the very scripted lessons for great ideas for your classroom.

Urgency is a key word for the sisters. To become a better reader there are certain activities that will help you. Having "lap time" as a child while a grown up reads them, visiting the library for new books to read, and pretending to read whatever your parent is reading.

Two favorite pictures of mine are of my older son. He was three. In one he is reading the newspaper, just like his dad, and the other he is reading a breastfeeding pamphlet. By reading I mean, holding the material appropriately, looking at the pages, being engaged with the material, and turning the pages occasionally. He could only know how to do this because he had been read to. A. LOT.

Fewer students are coming to school with those types of experiences. So we need to create the opportunities for them to read to others and listen to reading.

Read to Someone and Listen to Reading are perfect activities and with the guidance from the sisters, I don't have to do much "thinking." Just launch it like they describe and I'll be fine. Explicitly teaching expected behaviors is such a bonus, and tremendously helpful at the beginning of the year or whenever the launch happens.

These were favorites of my class last year. I cannot wait to launch them in the fall.

I am super excited that yesterday I found out that my project from DonorsChoose has been fully funded. Yeah! Digital Books for my Young Readers is going to happen. My classroom will get two iPods. I will load them with audio books (think cassette player and book) and use them for Listen to Reading. I also hope to get a subscription to for more listening options (maybe PTO).

Are there other ideas for listening to reading that I haven't mentioned? I would love to hear about them...

Our host for this chapter is Kelli from Castles and Crayons hop on over to read what she has to say.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Guided Math, Chapter 7

Conferring With Students During Guided Math

Our hosts for this chapter are:  Mrs. Patton at Mrs. Patton's Patch and Beth at Thinking of Teaching. Hop on over to read their comments and others from the book study.


This was difficult for me last year in Daily Five, and it will definitely be a stretch goal for me in the coming year.

Sammons says that conferring is the heart and soul of teaching (page 207), so I'd better take notes and give it a go (although it may be one of the later components of GM that I implement).

I love how the management of Guided Math fits in so nicely with D5. I totally get how to implement and teach students what my expectations are and model and practice.

Some tips I want to remember next year:
1. Criss-cross the room for conferences (helps to maintain proximity throughout the whole room)
2. Structure (I am great with filling in a template, so thanks for this template Sammons): research student understanding; decide what is needed; teach to student needs; link to the future.
3. Keep records of conferences. Doesn't matter how. Use the information to plan future conferences, etc.

The goal of a conference is to move the student from what she can almost do independently to what she can do independently.

Now for the hard part. The Review and Reflect questions. The what will I do, how am I doing, put it out there questions.

1. In what ways are you able to discover your students' mathematical thinking? Well, I didn't teach math last year, so am I off the hook? Nope, I felt like I totally handed math over to the other teacher and regret not being more in touch with my students' math abilities/thinking.
2. How frequently are you able to confer with your students? If you are not able to confer as often as you would like, what prevents it? I did not confer because I felt unsure how to do it. So many other parts of my day I will just jump in and give it a go and change it the next day, but conferring was not one of them. Like I said earlier, definitely need to jump in and give it a go.
3. What advantages are there to having structures for conferences in mind as you meet with students? I think it is huge (for me at least). I can sometimes come up with ideas on my own, mostly I talk with others/read others' blogs/read books and adapt it to fit me and my situation. Having a guide for what goes into a conference will most likely make it less scary for me as I give it a try (I'm hoping).

As hard as thinking about doing something new and different is, I am super pumped to get started with GM in August. In fact, I have been having trouble sleeping lately. I just want to read blogs about workstations, management, groups, etc., take notes in my awesome composition notebook, and make plans for next year.

If you have missed any other chapter, you can look here...

Chapter 1: Primary Inspired

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Monday, July 9, 2012

My 2nd Monday Made It

I love looking at Pinterest. I'm not there often, but when I am, I enjoy it. Over the weekend I found this pin.

(Judy from Kinder Tastic has this on her blog.)

I have used sticks in the past to call random students. But the ones I had called usually got misplaced, or fell to the floor, or got stuck in my armchair. And they were normal colored. So I love this idea.

Paint a craft stick with two colors. I chose red and black. All are in the jar with red sticking up. Pull out only sticks with red on the top. Replace in the jar with black on top now. When all the reds are gone, start with the blacks. Genius. 

After I painted mine I Mod Podged them. I really like Mod Podge. I think I will need several more jars of that stuff before the summer is over. I like it better than rubber cement. The sticks are shiny, that is one reason I like Mod Podge, and it dries quickly.

When school gets closer I will put student names on the sticks and Mod Podge again. Not sure if I will create labels on the computer or do my best first grade handwriting on them.

I'm linking up with Tara at 4th grade Frolics. Head on over and see what else has been made.

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Saturday, July 7, 2012


Discipline and punishment do not mean the same thing. Punishment means inflicting pain or loss as a result of some offense or fault. Discipline means training according to rules or norms.

In order to discipline my children or students, I must first discipline myself. I must maintain my own control. Keep my cool in the midst of stress. When I do that I am an example to the littles (and bigs) around me.

Chapter 1 of Conscious Discipline is Composure (The Power of Perception). Becky Bailey has some wonderful quotes in this entire book. I love reading and rereading it. Often it catches me, whoops, rewind, try that again, Alyce.

"Be the person I want others to become." (page 25) How am I doing on that today?

This is not always easy for me, but fortunately Bailey has set out four principles to help those of us who are not naturals with composure (or want to become better).

Principle #1: Composure is self control in action. It is a prerequisite skill adults need before disciplining children. Good. But what next? How do I do that? It is not my natural style. Keep going, help is on the way.

Principle #2:Healthy secure relationships require that we control our own upset. No one can make us angry without our permission. My thoughts control my emotions. I become upset when the world does not work out as I thought it should. I am never upset for the reason I think I am. "Self control is an act of love and a moment-by-moment choice." (page 34)

This is why it is called "conscious" discipline. I have to be aware every moment. Every moment I can choose to be in control of my emotions and actions, or I can just be half aware and hope for the best (which usually is not my best). After an hour of being conscious I really need a break...somewhere to be and not be aware. Being conscious drains me. But being conscious also energizes me. I think it is draining when things are not going my way and I have to work at my own composure. Perhaps if I get better at self control I will find consciousness more energizing than draining.

Principle #3: Start the day the brain smart way and implement stress reduction activities. I loved doing this last year. It made a difference for me and my students. There are 4 parts.
1. Activity to unite (sing a song together, say the Pledge of Allegiance together)
2. Activity to disengage stress (stretching, breathing, focus)
3. Activity to connect (greeting everyone around the circle, etc. greeting cards from Mrs. Bainbridge were great last year)
4. Activity to commit oneself to learning (pick one thing you will do today to be a learner...keep hands to myself, raise my hand for permission to speak, etc.)

I am going to make a canvas with this on it to hang in my classroom.

My Worth

Why is brain smart start so important? Because the children (and even me some days) come to school with baggage. Something happened at home or on the bus or waiting for me to gather the class in the gym. Something that needs to be dealt with before any academic learning has a hope of happening. How will I bridge the gap? I cannot call my fabulous social worker every day to come and take care of the situation. That does not teach the children how to manage their own composure. But every day I have a choice. Will I get straight to business, or look at each heart to make sure it is whole today? Last year I did not choose the heart every day. Next year I commit to choosing the heart.

Being brain smart will help the students answer some question. Am I safe? Does the class feed good? Do I belong? 

Principle #4: Your job is to keep the classroom safe so children can learn. The child's job is to help keep it safe. Last year I related nearly everything to safety. It was nice. The children took my words as well, and would come to me, "I don't feel safe..." and we could address it together. Magic moment. Consciousness works. 

Each week we had different  STAR (stop, take a deep breath and relax) helper. As the year progressed, this person was needed and used. Once a person came to me and asked if the star helper could help. Sure. They did their thing. I never knew what happened. (I felt a little left out, but was encouraged by the empowerment those children had.)

Another time, it just happened. Two students were together on the floor. One was crying, the other had her arms wrapped around her and visibly breathing with her. I desperately wanted to go help. But they did not need my help. I watched and smiled, and got some tears as well. For the pain and the love. Magic moment.

My next steps:
1. Everyday make a choice--do I want to own my own upset and maintain self-control or do I want to give my power away and blame others for taking it?
2. When I'm upset, own it. Tell myself it's ok. Sniff some hot chocolate ala The Teacher Tipster.
3. Create a list of stress reduction activities that we can do throughout the day.

Amazing. If this is as far as I get with Becky Bailey next year, it will be wonderful. But I know I won't stop. I will do this and add more as the year happens. I don't know next years students. But lasts year were awesome, amazing, magic. 

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Friday, July 6, 2012

The Zoo

On a day when my husband could use a day to himself at home I put together a picnic and made the boys go with me to the zoo.

We had a great time. I told them to be prepared to smile, because I needed some new pictures for my wall (and for presents). There was no arguing.

It was a lovely 95 degrees, and the zoo was all but empty, so it was super fun to roam around by ourselves. I kept wondering if maybe they were really closed.  Occasionally we saw people, but there were a LOT more animals than people at this zoo.

Yes, there are mountain lions (or cougars, or pumas) in Kansas, and I was very close to it. You can see my head shadow.

The boys do not even look annoyed at the delay (me taking another picture).

I have a couple of creative kids. He was playing leap frog with the frog.

And taming the wild toad/frog.

And letting the youngster have a go with my camera. He can only become a photographer if I let him take pictures.

Brothers getting along above and below.

This goat had a different smile. It almost looked human. Can you see it? Look below.

It was a great day at the zoo.
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Thursday, July 5, 2012

Guided Math, Chapter 6

Each chapter I think, wow, I can totally do that. But this chapter has me a bit nervous. Loads of planning and making and preparing. And I'm a wife, mother, and keeper of the house. Will there be enough time?

Time for me to get my grip and hold it. 

I think I will be ok once I get my system down. And since I did a version of the Daily Five last year. I need to make a workshop framework and then input the meaningful activities.

This chapter provided a marvelous spreadsheet of possibilities on pages 188-189, and I can definitely start there. Plus I could remember that in Chapter 1 Sammons suggests starting with several of the seven components and then add. Perfect I can do that. No reason to be is only July!

By using Math Workshop, students will have more opportunities for communication and learning (that is my goal). Each student can start at what they understand and move forward with guidance from me and other grown ups. Then I will truly be on my way to having  differentiated math instruction for my students. Yippee!

Thanks to our hosts for todays chapter in Guided Math. Amanda @ Reaching for the Top

and Mechele @ Barrow's Hodgepodge
Make sure to stop over and read what insights others are getting from this amazing book.

For previous chapters:

Chapter 1: Primary Inspired
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