Late Starts, Open Minds, and Changemaking

This past week I was given the amazing privilege to attend the AU Exchange in Miami, Florida with three other passionate teachers.  As we have worked under the guidance of Ashoka Youth Ventures, our team of six teachers have been given a new fire and vision.  We are working on incorporating the idea of Changemaking in our classrooms. As my journey with Changemaking is just five months in, this opportunity was monumental in helping us to make connections, get insight into the global community of Changemaking, and take in the knowledge of Ashoka fellows and experts.  

So today, I want to share day one of our three day journey to the AU Exchange and some of the amazing learning that I was able to take away!  

Day One: 

After getting stuck in Charlotte, NC for the night because of bad weather, we finally made it to Miami on Thursday afternoon!  We rushed to head to our first Exchange event, which was a site tour at Vizkaya, where the CLEO Institute was presenting about sea level rise in Miami. Caroline Lewis, the founder and executive director of the non-profit CLEO, is a fiery, brilliant, electrifying speaker.  With great passion she showed the devastating effects of climate change in the heart of Miami, and connected the immediate problems happening there to a global lens.  Some take aways from this session were:

-To get leaders in our communities to be involved and engaged we must "promote, provoke, and celebrate them."

- Caroline led a conversation about sea level rise in Miami and the increasing tendency of "King Tides," where the water level rises by a foot without rain or storms.  She spoke about the flooding, the damage, and the impact on her community.  But she brought forth questions of equity, where poverty-stricken areas are not being taken care of nearly as quickly or as efficiently as more wealthy areas in times of this flooding.  She spoke to the fecal bacteria found in the water that children and families wade in to get to places. She spoke to the impact that greenhouse gases is having on our oceans, our farms, our food.  She spoke of the reaction all of these effects will have on low-income families, farmers, and communities.  How people will need to migrate in order to survive.  Caroline let all of this information hit home.

-"We can not ask if people believe in climate change.  We have to ask if people understand what it is."

-The power of the CLEO Institute is it's ability to empower and educate all communities through systemic involvement: 

 "Anyone who gets it, gets a microphone."

What This Inspired Within Me:

* My own knowledge about climate change and its monumental effects, and the need to advocate for change within the government.
*Educating my students on smaller scale about sea level rise, and creating opportunities for them to explore and learn about it's implications.
* As Caroline Lewis stated in her spotlight session: "Never underestimate your ability to influence others."

What a powerful way to begin our conference! I can't wait to share what we learned on day two!

Family Math Resources: Prepping for the New Year

I am so excited to share my new plans for keeping my students- and families- informed about our math curriculum!

I hear from so many parents that they aren't used to the way Common Core strategies are used to teach math, and how they don't want to teach their child the wrong method at home.  

My solution?

Family Math Resource Folders!  

I decided to laminate manila folders with a quick note explaining what the folder will contain.  I then cut open the envelope again and then used velcro squares to make sealing easy!

Each unit, I will switch out the resources so that students will have math resources at home throughout the duration of that focus.  

I wanted to explain to families how they will use this resource:

* Mini Anchor charts to explain new concepts
*Graphic Organizers that tie to content
* Family Math Games to go along with the unit

Next, I looked back over my first unit for math- place value!  I compiled a list of concepts we will cover in Unit One, and what supplies I thought families might need at their fingertips.  I organized these details into two sheets and placed them in page protectors.  Here they are below: 

Finally, I started to gather my resources.  Our first math unit covers both place value and multiplication, so I split both concepts into separate mini anchor charts.  These anchor charts review vocabulary, step-by-step problem-solving guidance, graphic organizers, and word problem strategies. They're the perfect, portable size to fit into these envelopes!  Since we don't have a text book, I decided to create these charts so my students and their families have a resource to refer to.

Check them out at my TpT store!

Place Value Mini Anchor Charts

Multiplication Mini Anchor Charts

I also have other charts available for later units!

After compiling these anchor charts, I created a page with instructions for Unit One's family math games, and printed out the graphic organizers (a place value chart), and the games that went along with our unit, and I was ready to go!

Star Wars Place Value Chart- Free!
Star Wars Rounding Game- Free! 

If you are interested in receiving copies of the parent letters, descriptions, and math game resources, feel free to email me so that I can send you an editable file!

I am ecstatic to involve my students and their families in what we are learning in class!  

Setting Up a Community-Based Classroom

Happy Happy Summer!

It's only been two weeks into summer vacation but I'm off to PD's and lesson planning!  I've been reflecting on what went will my first year in a multiage pilot classroom and one of my favorite things was how my partner and I worked to build community.

But how did I start?  With my classroom layout!
I used tables as my classroom seats and purchased shoe racks and dollar store baskets to make my students' cubbies.  This not only kept our classroom [fairly] clutter-free, but it also helped my students learn to transition between subject areas quickly.  They were quickly in a routine of getting up, heading to their basket, and picking up/dropping off supplies.  This got their minds ready for the next subject area and helped to add some movement into our day.  I would never go back!
One of my favorite changes in our curriculum this year was a jump into Guided Math.  This was the sure-fire way to differentiate, engage, and reflect on how each student was doing in acquiring the knowledge and skills needed in fourth and fifth grade math.  In the first weeks of school, we spent a lot of time learning how Guided Math is structured and what each station looks and feels like.  It was well worth the pay off and my students grew significantly throughout the year.  Best of all: they LOVED math block! I can't wait to use this blog to explain how my Multiagers and I are continuing to engage in meaningful, community-based learning!