Friday, August 1, 2014

Five Things You Need to Know about the New Kindergarten Math TEKS

Howdy, friends! It’s August…and you know that means. School is around the corner. It is so close, it is starring you in the face. To look or not to look—that is the question. While I’ve had a great desire to see the siblings I am having this year on the class roster, I have been busy reflecting on the new mathematics TEKS, especially after having taught them last year. Here’s the lowdown:

There are 17 new mathematics TEKS that kindergarten teachers will need to know for the upcoming school year and 5 major concepts that are no longer taught in kindergarten. This is a quick guide to understanding the kindergarten mathematics TEKS.

1. Ordinal numbers, equal shares, calendar concepts, time, and repeating patterns are no longer a part of the standards in kindergarten. There are actually 14 standards that were deleted. Share these resources you currently have in your possession with your first grade colleagues. It is a great way to share with new teachers and reduces the fire risk in your classroom! Yeehaw! Take a look for yourself at Project Share.

2. Students have to count forward to at least 20 and backward from 20 to 0 (K. 2A). Counting forward to 20 can be taught pretty easily and depending on how well-prepared your students enter school, many have already mastered this skill. The issue lies in counting backwards. Try to say the alphabet backwards as an adult. No, really. Try it. It is difficult and takes a lot of thought. This is how our students feel when saying their numbers backwards. Have one 0-20 number line strip printed and laminated for each child. Keep them in an accessible spot and use them to count. Pretend you are on a mission and you need to count backwards until lift-off!  If you do this often (each time you have a minute before you leave the classroom), most of the students will master this skill with no other practice time.

3. There is a large emphasis on number sense. Kindergartners should be able to subitize. Subi-what? Instantly recognizing a quantity of a small group of objects allows students to compute numbers faster (K.2D). Dice and dominos are great as they have an organized arrangement of pips that students will, at first, count, and then move towards subitization. Roll and cover games help build bridge the numeral to the arrangement of pips to achieve subitization. This is amazing to watch as it happens naturally in the environment you create!

4. Show me the money! Kindergarten students are required to know the names of the four U.S. coins: penny, nickel, dime, and quarter (K.4). Penny and quarter are the easiest to teach five-year-olds, but there is great confusion between the two silver coins (nickel and dime). Then, try to explain how a dime is smaller than a nickel yet is worth more than it. Good luck! This was probably the most difficult thing my students learned in mathematics. I am thinking about spending more time discusses the oddities of these two coins this year by using a Venn diagram or comparative input chart. My students also love short videos which help reinforce new concepts.

5. Kindergarteners will begin learning how to manage their personal finances (K.9A-D). Many teachers hear this and the statement is followed by simultaneous groans and grasps. I thought that at first too, but found out that teaching this unit was great fun. I tied all of the standards around things that the kids knew.

We talked about chores about home and what they spend their money on (K.9AB). Students need to know the difference between income and money they receive as gifts. They were able to understand this easily became income you have to work for and gift money is money you get “just because.” I used the following tree map to help the students organize the two:

There is a standard about listing skills you need for a job (K.9C). I did a thematic unit on firemen and policemen, two careers that young children know a lot about and are especially interested in. The bonus for us was that the unit fell during our Career Week, and the students were able to see and talk to these real-life people! It was amazing the intelligent questions the kindergarteners came up with!
The final standard in this set, is the one that I teach first: wants and needs. Here are the learning progressions for the unit on financial literacy. First, we create a list of what kids need and what they want (K.9D). Next, we discuss that there are two ways to obtain these things: income and gift money (K.9B). Then, we go to the thought that income can be earned in a multitude of ways (K.9A) and there are skills you need to get these jobs (K.9C).

Now that 20% of your work is now complete, take a walk, enjoy your family, and rest in the thought of knowing that Texas kindergarten teachers will live and survive for yet another year, together. Happy Teaching!

About Laura

Laura Williams is a kindergarten teacher who has taught for ten years. She is the author of Kindergarten Down River at She lives in El Paso, Texas, and has recently began doing staff development in her school district in the areas of K-2 mathematics and science.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Texas Teacher Blogs Link Up!

Hey Texas you have a blog?  Link up here and discover some new blogs for the new year.  Be sure to link back to this post from a blog post so your followers can find new blogs, too!

Wednesday, July 2, 2014

5th Grade Data Analysis TEKS

Hi, it's Ari from The Science Penguin and I have a few great math ideas to share!

In May, we had STAAR re-test crunch.  During this time, I had students who already passed the math STAAR, so we worked on introducing students to some of the new TEKS so they have some exposure before 6th grade.  Data analysis was a lot of fun!

5.9 Data analysis. The student applies mathematical process standards to solve problems by collecting, organizing, displaying, and interpreting data. The student is expected to:
(A) represent categorical data with bar graphs or frequency tables and numerical data, including data sets of measurements in fractions or decimals, with dot plots or stem-and-leaf plots;
(B) represent discrete paired data on a scatterplot; and
(C) solve one- and two-step problems using data from a frequency table, dot plot, bar graph, stem-and-leaf plot, or scatterplot.
For Stem and Leaf Plots, I got a great idea from Julie at My Journey to 5th Grade.  Students wrote down a number between 10 and 49 on a post-it.  Then, I had them place the post-it on the board where it goes in order.  
Then, I used an idea from Runde's Room.  We recorded our data, then made a foldable.  The students started to see the relationship between the stem and the leaf.  We determined the maximum, minimum, range, mode, and median for our data.  Finally, students got some practice with sets of data on task cards around the room.  

For Scatterplots, I used this great idea from Math Equals Love.  Students placed dot stickers on a first quadrant graph, then determined if their data has a positive, negative, or no correlation.

The final thing that I loved was our graphing investigation.  We used pull-back cars to measure the distance pulled back (cm), distance traveled (cm), and time traveled (to the nearest second).  Groups used the data to make three graphs or plots that they learned about during the week.  It was a fun activity to end with!

Be sure to check out the 5th Grade Math Board on Pinterest.  

Also, check out the 5th Grade Resources Page on Texas Teacher Round-up!

Monday, August 5, 2013

QR Codes: Easy!

Hi everyone, I am Alyssa from Teaching in the Fast Lane. I am always looking for ways to keep our classroom fresh, and one way that has proved to be super easy, and very effective is by using QR Codes.

If you don't already know, QR Codes are scannable icons that can be found everywhere from your groceries to billboards along the highway. They can link to text, pictures, websites, or just about anything you want to easily get to.

Let's start with how you scan QR codes.

Most electronic devices that have a camera and data capability are able to scan QR codes.  In our classroom students use Ipads, my cell phone, their cell phones, and some of the newer models of Ipod Touches. Basically, anything that can be used, we use.

There are MANY apps available for scanning QR codes on these devices. They all vary just a little bit, so you have to choose the one that works best for you and your students. If you do a search in your app store for QR reader several will appear. The one that I use is simply called, "QR Reader."

To use the app you simply open the app and will see a screen like the one below.
You next choose the "Scan" option at the top of the choice menu.

Then, you hold your device over the QR code. The app will help you to center the code so that it can scan. It usually takes just a second to scan. If it is taking too much time to focus or scan then cancel your action and try again. This is usually a quick fix. 

This question asks, "Which is NOT a region of Texas?"

The answer will immediately appear in a box that is similar to the notes app on most devices. In this case the answer, "Coastal Mountains," is a text answer. As I said before you can have these codes lead to just about anything. 

Can you imagine the possibilities for classroom use? 

A few ways that I use QR codes in the classroom are:
  • to make task cards or assignments self checking
  • a way to send students to appropriate websites without students having to type long URLs
  • storing information from student projects for others to access

I know that there are many more ways that they can be used, and I would love to hear them from you! If you have any unique ways of using QR codes in your classroom, please share in the comments below. 

Happy Scanning,

Friday, August 2, 2013

Interactive Writing

Hi!  My name is Amanda and I am so excited to be sharing with you all today!! I usually can be found at Mrs. Richardson's Class.

I have taught first grade for 3 years, 1 of which was two-way dual language, and Kindergarten for 2 years.  I am really excited to go back to my Kindergarten roots this year!

Today I wanted to share a little about interactive writing!

Interactive writing is one of the many elements of a balanced literacy model. The act of interactive writing is a bridge, so to speak, between reading and writing. The students not only get to write alongside an expert writer, the teacher, but they also get to read and re-read as they are composing text.    

Many times interactive writing can get confused as shared writing.  I know I am guilty of that! Shared writing is when the students tell the teacher what to write and she does so using correct writing conventions.  This writing is a good example to be displayed in the classroom for students to reference.  Interactive writing is when the students actually use the pen and write the text with the teacher assistance.  This type of writing will not be perfect, but is a powerful learning experience for students. 

So let's get started! 

-We use chart paper and mark off a line towards the top half.  This is their practice area. You can also use a dry erase board for this. Chart paper found HERE from Staples.

-With the colored markers, I allow them to choose a color and I write in black.  This helps distinguish their writing from mine easily. Markers found HERE from Staples.

-We call the Post-it Tape "Oops! Tape".  We use this when we make an oops in our writing. Post-it Tape found HERE from Staples.

-The alphabet chart is one of our resources that we use when stretching out words. We use its pictures to help use determine what letter makes that sound. Alphabet Chart found HERE from Creative Teaching Press.

-We use the pointer to help us track our text as we re-read what we have written. Pointer found HERE from Teacher's Tools.

Now we are ready to go!

When doing interactive writing, we usually write about experiences that we have shared in together. Sometimes it may be after a crazy experience with a frog on the playground and other times it will be a simple task of writing Daily News together. Whatever it is, I make sure that the students are eager about it and they are engaged!

Keeping a class of 5 year old engaged when they aren't the ones writing can be hard!! Goodness! Here are a few suggestions.
There are SO many benefits to doing interactive writing with your kiddos! 
-They learn alongside you!
-They feel proud of their work and feel like an author!
-They have confidence because they are successful with your scaffolding!
-Everyone observes the writing process!
-They can apply these skills during their independent writing time in writer's workshop!

Do you do interactive writing in your classroom?  What does it look like? I'd love hear any tips and tricks you have! 

Be sure to check out my blog for more about what reading and writing looks like in our classroom!

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Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Content Vocabulary Strategy: Word Drawings

Hi Texas Teachers!  It's Ari from The Science Penguin.
I want to share a strategy for content vocabulary.  Someone asked me this summer if there was any better way to help students with vocabulary other than writing a definition and drawing a picture.  This occurred to me the other day while I was listening to a presentation.  I've seen word drawings for math, but not for science, so I decided to try it out.
It takes creativity and a true understanding of the word in order to create a word drawing.  Students use a variety of skills in creating a word drawing.  I made some examples in the image below.
Word drawings are something new I am trying this school year.  I will definitely model the technique and have students work whole class and in small groups before making it individual.  I think GT kiddos will enjoy this.  It seems like a great idea for interactive notebooks, science stations, and pairs work.

My students keep a vocab folder of the MOST important terms for 5th grade science and word drawings are a great option to incorporate.

Sunday, June 9, 2013

5 Tips for New Teachers

Hi!  It's Ari from The Science Penguin.
If you are a new teacher, welcome!  This is post was written just for you!
I have been teaching for five years, which is long enough to pick up some tips and tricks, but not so long that I forgot what it was like my first year teaching.  Also, I changed schools and grade levels last year, so I got a little reminder of all the things to remember when you are preparing for those kids to show up the first day.
I like to seem pretty "with it" the first day because then the kids know we don't waste time and I know EXACTLY what is going on.
Here are some organization tips for the first day of school.  A little planning goes a long way!

1. Not all students will bring all supplies.  Find out what the norm is at your school and be prepared with extras.  You don't want to be labeling things the first day when half of your class has nothing.  The Back 2 School sales are a great time to stock up and if you're lucky, you may have some money from the school to get basic supplies.

2. Go through the supply list your school/ district/ grade level uses and figure out what exactly your plan is for each item.  If you plan to collect glue bottles, then make sure you have a basket to hold all of it nearby.

3. Have something on the children's desk to do when they arrive.  An easy About Me page, word search, or coloring page (make sure to have crayons available) are a good way to get started.  You can make a packet that you can have the kiddos work on while you take care of housekeeping needs.

4. Make First Day Bags.  I use gallon bags and include EVERYTHING they will need for organizing and labeling that day.
In the bag: sharpened pencil with cap eraser, notebook and folder labels, bookmark, nametag, folders that I'm providing, classroom procedures page, welcome letter for parents, word search/coloring packet, and supply checklist
{I wrote about my Welcome Baggies on my blog last year.}

5. I make about 5 extra First Day Bags for students who come in later in the year.  It is VERY helpful.  While we are labeling and setting up folders and notebooks, I make extras for the bags.  Most of the time, I haven't had students bring supplies when starting school mid-year, so this way it's ready and they can get started with the class.  :)

If you have any advice for new teachers, PLEASE comment below.
If you new teachers have any questions, PLEASE ask!  :)