Monday, October 22, 2012

It's a Halloween Linky Party!

Join my first ever linky party! Share your favorite academic activities leading to and on Halloween. This is a great place to showcase any mini-units you have created and share spectacular lessons you have done. You can also add a link to your blog if you showcase any pictures of the awesome Halloween costumes you and your colleagues come up with! (Use this code to add the linky party to your blog!)

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Ghoulish Games

Happy Halloween (almost)!  I am so excited to announce my biggest, best item yet on Teacher's Pay Teachers!

First, a little background:
As schools are beginning to shift their focus towards the Common Core Learning Standards, following a published math program is increasingly difficult.  Over the summer I attended a five day conference that focused on unpacking the CCLS.  A question that kept arising was "which math curriculum is most aligned with common core?  Which program should our schools invest in?"  The definitive answer from all presenters was NONE.  Despite what these major companies are saying, a program has not yet been created that starts with the common core standards.  Many programs have taken what they already have and tried to mold it to fit the new standards, but a true CCLS program will use backwards design and create a program that specifically identifies these standards as their end results. 

Does your school use backwards design?  Backwards design is an un-traditional method of curriculum planning.  It starts by identifying the results desired (the standards) with examples of evidence that will support that these results have occurred (assessments).  Finally, activities are designed to help students achieve these results.  Research has shown how important it is to start with goals and then create plans, assessments, and lesson plans, and it's pretty logical.  Many teachers refer to it as a "road map."  The destination is chosen first and then the map is used to plan the trip to this destination.  Traditional planning has no formal destination identified before the journey begins.  The math programs we are familiar with (Everyday Math, Math in Focus, Singapore Math, Explorations, etc.) were created long ago, and are now trying to fit their old guides into the new standards.  In other words, they had the road map drawn out before they knew the destination.  Guys, this is a HUGE money-maker in the works.  Whichever publishing company is the first to sell a program that starts with the standards is going to be very successful. 

So back to Teachers Pay Teachers.
My school uses Everyday Mathematics, which has some great lessons to use with the CCLS, but there are a lot of gaps.  You may have noticed the free pacing calendar I posted on Teachers Pay Teachers which plugs Everyday Mathematics lessons into the Common Core's suggested scope and sequence for first grade math.   I took all of the EDM lessons that address the standards and rearranged them by domain.  It's a very rough draft that I change daily, but it's a huge help for any teachers in my shoes, who are told they need to continue with this program while conforming to the new standards.  Unfortunately, taking out lessons that did not meet any CCLS criteria left several gaps in the calendar.  For that reason, I had mapped out over a week in October with no appropriate EDM lessons to teach.  In spirit of the upcoming holiday, I decided to create a mini-unit for my students which gives them practice with the beginning of year concepts in Operations and Algebraic Thinking.  I took each standard, thought about what it wants students to DO, and then created activities and assignments that provided students with a variety of opportunities to practice and demonstrate their understanding of the domain.

Here's a sneak peak:
Ghoulish Addition & Subtraction Games

This pack includes several small group and partner games.  I also added twelve differentiated word problems for addition and subtraction.  I have tried them with my own firsties, and they're a big hit!  The word problems are currently posted on my bulletin board, and when the superintendent came through today, she gave rave reviews.  I have also created interactive files teachers can use to introduce the games on the Smartboard.  Unfortunately, as per the Scrappin' Doodles policy, I could not include them in my pack.  However, I'd be happy to email them to anyone who purchases my unit and includes their email address.

Time for some trashy TV with my man, Andy Cohen!  Have a great night!