Friday, November 12, 2010

12 tips for flexible grouping article

This article highlights excellent ideas for teaching. Cue cards are something new I am trying and so far it has been beneficial. Flexible grouping takes a lot of work but gives the students higher-quality learning in the end. I truly believe this is the change that public education needs right now.

Here are a dozen things to consider when setting up and implementing independent and small-group activities in order to foster that result:
  1. Provide instruction and activities that match students of varying skill levels.
  2. Assess student progress frequently by monitoring student work and error patterns to identify what needs to be re-taught.
  3. Avoid using worksheets as the primary focus of small-group work. Worksheets should be kept to a minimum, if not eliminated altogether.
  4. Establish clear routines for students to follow. Model and practice those routines. Rehearse the expectations and review expectations frequently.
  5. Notice positive group behavior. Research indicates that teachers should give students more positive comments than negative comments.
  6. Calmly, quietly, and quickly approach and redirect students who are off task. Use a nonverbal cue, a cue card (see cue card example)
  7. Use proximity control. The co-teaching environment makes this much more doable.
  8. Use assessment data to create lesson plans and determine the groups.
  9. Keep groups small, preferably three to four students to a group. Sometimes it might even be appropriate to have pairs.
  10. Change groups as students grow or test out of a curriculum section.
  11. Describe, show an example, or model the expectations for assignments and activities as well as examples of what the outcome should, and should not, look like.
  12. Correct misbehavior and teach appropriate behavior and expectations (we cannot assume that students know what to do)

Thursday, October 21, 2010

RTI Elementary Leadership training DAY 1 10/14/10 CONTINUED

What can I do about the students who forget information?
3-minute timed review
- 1 min to think by themselves - 1 min  to share with one partner - 1 min to share with another partner

recycle the lesson (culmulative review)

Common errors of reviewing saying “do you remember?” “any questions?” and using NO culmulative review

Use Mnemonics!!!
USE GUIDED NOTES  (a teacher-prepared outline i.e. Fill in the blank)

OPPOSITIONAL CHILDREN - quick rewards such as TIME WITH TEACHER lunch etc
***Staff development “what do I do about the...”

What can I do about the students who fail to see the relevance of my instruction?
Teach students WHY the objective is important
-FOCUS on personal relevance “if you use this skill with... you will be able to....”
-EXPLAIN how a negative consequence could be avoided “if you do, you will avoid losing...”
-DISCUSS the effect on others “other students may not want to work with you if you dont know it, parents will be happy, etc”

Use rationale questions - incorporate questions (with point values) on quizzes or tests that are related to the personal relevance of the objectives.

WHY common errors - “because I said so” “because it’s on the test”  “because you will need it when you grow up” “because it is important. Trust me” “ failure to make personally relevant connections to student’s life

RTI Elementary Leadership training DAY 1 10/14/10 CONTINUED

Use probes every 6-8 weeks - CBM (curriculum-based measurement) it is rate-based
Daily Classroom Behavior Report Card - Paws rules chart to gain points/rewards
Shelley would like us to implement writing probe suggested at RTI training
Within the Teacher Guided Instruction is this acronym GROWIQ
G=gain attention R=Review O=Objective W=Why I=Input Q=Questioning
Telling the students the objectives will help to prime their brain to pay attention
Ticket out the door will help to assess knowledge by letting them know ahead of time what it is
What Will I Do Log EXAMPLE:
ex. punctuation4/15ex. Write sentences using correct punctuations

What do I do with students who do not respond to instructions?
-First determine if it is a skill deficit or it is a performance problem
-If it is skill deficit then teach them to look at a person, acknowledge, do the task immediately, check back if necessary, look say ok, do it right away!
TEACH INTELLIGENT BEHAVIORS (look smart, act smart) (kind of like reading mastery’s STAR)
S=sit N=nod A=act interested  P=participate P=prepare E=evaluate
PROMPTING - say something like “this is an instruction” or “get ready for an instruction” (like RM)
Use an auditory or visual SIGNAL to alert students of instruction
You/Me game (like RM Teacher/Student game)
- Make sure to give individuals with behavior problems EARNING POWERS
BEHAVIOR BINGO - similar to the cir the letters with POPCORN
Green card is a cheat sheet for this conference
** USE OPEN BODY positions (no cross-armed, hands-on-hips, and finger pointing)
6 steps to increase OTR (on-task response)
1. everybody get ready to say/tell
2. keep it a secret or signal by touching forward
3. whisper share oyour idea with your partner
4. when I pull your name, say your idea or your partner’s idea
5. have class repeat individual’s response
6. repeat the process until 100% participation
Choral responding - model it - use signal after you say “everybody get ready to tell me”
Participation board
Participation Buddies (clock buddies like Aubra uses)
COMMON ERRORS of participation
-Too few questions -dont say who can tell me... - dont tell the name of the student being called on until question is asked - No thinking time
What can I do about the students who disrupt my instruction?
Teach how to get teacher’s attention appropriately.
-look at the teacher - signal somehow - wait for acknowledgement - ask questions in a normal voice
Take digital pictures to show the expected behavior and what is NOT an expected behavior.

RTI Elementary Leadership training DAY 1 10/14/10

RTI Elementary Leadership training DAY 1 10/14/10
Montana RTI Teams Bozeman, Great Falls, Billings
Presentor/Trainer Susan L. Mulkey
presentation will be on the OPI website
RTI Essential Components
1.Strong Leadership
2. Ongoing Assessment
3. Evidence-based Curriculum and Instruction
4. Collaborative Teaming
5. Data-based Decision making
6. Fidelity of Implementation
7. Ongoing Training and Professional Develeopment
8. Community and Family Involvement
*The ones in red are the ones we are focussing on 

Personal learning log ideas are highlighted in yellow
Have you ever wondered what I can do about students who do not participate during my instruction, forget info, don’t understand or generalize, don’t work cooperatively, don’t compete assignments, don’t perform well with traditional test
Did you know that TEACHER VARIABLES account for more variance in students achievement than any other factor, particulary in high poverty schools
Teaching is and Art and Science
Do you agree? the more we know about the science of teaching… the better we can artistically apply knowledge
TEACHING is not telling and LEARNING is not being told
Good teaching differs with the ROBUSTNESS of the variables

TEACHING is not telling and LEARNING is not being told
Good teaching differs with the ROBUSTNESS of the variables
Memory logs – index cards, personal learning log
Index card format

Write the BIG IDEA or name of strategy or intervention


Detail the strategy
Notes to jog your memory

Look, Lean, Whisper Partner strategy
TEACHING should be PASSIONATE - students know when you care or dont
Student Engagement by repeating (culmulative review)
TGIF = what each lesson should look like (as far as time spent)
T=Teacher Guided Instruction G=Guided Practice I=Independent Practice F=Final Measurement     20%_______________                    _____75%___________________           10%___________
Start with the END in mind 

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Math Camp at its best!

B&B is in its final year. I am sad! I found out today, however, that our 5th graders get to go to the Montana Learning Center for Math, Science and Indian Ed! I am very excited to bring them to such a beautiful place!

Saturday, August 14, 2010

Back to school here we come!

As a science teacher I appreciate this:

Tuesday, August 3, 2010



This book is for anyone who wants to move into the digital age of awesomeness! Teachers need to check this FREE digital book out too!

Friday, April 30, 2010

Choosing a new reading curriculum

Our school is choosing a new reading curriculum. I am confused at the data and science behind the different series. Research-based RTI material seems to be everywhere. I found this interesting article:
Any advice would be appreciated.
Looking at these two:

Thursday, April 29, 2010

Notes from Brain-Based Learning session at NCTM 2010

Link to learning – sensory cortex – new learning takes place – emotional hook

You need to get their ATTENTION

What factors influence attention
Need, novelty, cognitive dissonance, expectations, intensity of stimuli, emotional

There is no comprehension w/o picturing

Bilateral Accessory naviculars??? Navicular  is a bone in the foot – w/o a  visual representation makes comprehension very difficult

Connections help establish meaning

What must we do if we want to make info meaningful to students – find experiences they have had and “hook” new info to it OR  make concrete meaning

ACTIVITY concepts obtained from
Burns,  M. (2000). About teaching mathematics: A K-8 resource (2nd ed. ). Math Solutions Publications, Sausalito, CA.

Students learned regardless of age, based on activities – taking that conrete and working to whatever level they are at

ACTIVITY - Blue paper – tear it in half – we have 2 pieces  - tear it again in half – now how many do we have? – 4 (division of fractions in this activity – smaller but more)

MATH journaling to write down their thoughts     

Students are trained to think that if they are asked a question about their math problem such as “are you sure” that they are wrong – work on that

What are the Classroom Implications of the Cocktail Party Effect – we only pay attention to one thing at a time

K – can process 2 things at a time
Adults = can process 7 things at a time efficiently

Bombardment is not the answer
Chunking is the answer “the difference between novices and experts in a field appears to be that experts tend… because of a great deal of experience in a field... to organize information into much larger chunks, whiles novices work with isolated bits of information.  – Benjamin Bloom

Rehearsal is the PRACTICE – More PRACTICE more memory

PROCEUDRAL memory The “how” does not involve conscious thought
Processes that have been practiced or repeated to the extent that they have become automatic. Examples?

Driving a car, writing, decoding, typing, throwing a pass in football, walking, etc. Very difficult to access these habits and skills in any way  except doing them.

Declarative Memory The What involve conscious thought  - Semantic (our general knowledge), Episodic

Info meaningful with emotional hook you pay attention – sensory memory

Repeated activation synapses strengthened messages sent effectively – working memory

Stimulation of cell neurotransmitters produced – long-term memory

The more we use these networks, the stronger they become

No matter how well planned, how interesting, stimulation colorful or relevant the lesson, if the teaher does all the interacting with the material, the teacher’s… not the students’… brain will grow new connections.

There is no comprehension w/o picturing
Students make meaning by connecting to existing schema.
The person DOING is the person leaning.

Thursday, April 22, 2010

Being SMART in your Math Lessons by Adam Meador

Adam Meador
Principal Bingham Elementary School
Springfield, MO public schools

Objective: To learn more about the use of SMART technology in the mathematics classroom

First a video was shown "A Vision of K-12 Students Today"

Helpful websites
email Adam for more websites

We then watched a video on the old way of teaching math called "Ma and Pa Kettle Math"

He then talked about Notebook software in the math class

**set orientation up to 20 in the control panel

10.6 is the newest software - new math tools protractor, ruler, compass
the Math Download has a free 30-day trial (otherwise it is $129, but can use it on multiple computers)

Using the Pin Tool can help show different student math problems

Use the capture tool to get pictures, tables, etc. off of web pages to paste into the Notebook software - be careful of copyright

Use properties to set background

Floating tools can be used in other areas
Customize the tool bar by right-clicking on it - you can add what you want

Other handy tools:
Infinite cloner
My Content

I will be emailing Adam to get more information and posting it on here later.

A Vision of K-12 Students Today

Sunday, April 18, 2010

Rocket Car Racers - Newton's Laws of Motion

My students had a chance to test out their knowledge of Newton's 3rd law by making Rocket Car Racers. We went through 6 packs of balloons, but it was well worth the price. The students got to design their own car and modify it 3 times before the "official" race. We took notes in our science journal, as well as, created tables to record our data. It was an ardorous project for my students, but well worth the time!

Saturday, April 17, 2010

Read the 7 Habits of Highly Effective Internet-Using Educators

This is a great repost for any educators to read. I like Habit Two best: Begin with the End in Mind!

Thursday, March 25, 2010

Skype in the classroom for writing!

This past quarter my students have been able to connect with a class from Arizona via Skype. We wrote each other friendly letters and read them to each other. It has been a powerful learning experience because my students have agricultural backgrounds, use English as their first language, and have lived in a rural setting all of their lives. The students in Arizona are mostly ELL students who have lived in an urban setting all of their lives. They have been able to ask many questions and share trends and culture from both of our areas. I hope to continue connecting to more classrooms in the future. If you are interested please contact me at

Saturday, March 13, 2010

MEMTA announces the next 200 teachers selected!

  (this is a picture of myself and Phil Mickelson this past July 2009, I was 7 1/2 months pregnant)

My cousin Nancy Meyer from MN was selected for the 2010 Mickelson ExxonMobil Academy! I am very excited to share my experiences with her!

200 Teachers Selected to Attend the National Mickelson ExxonMobil Teachers Academy (out of 1,270)

MEMTA 2010 selected teachers 

Wednesday, March 10, 2010

Web 2.0 in Education

Check out this web site for interesting resources about web 2.0 in education - collaboration is key and networking makes all the difference!

Sunday, March 7, 2010

MEMTA PLN connections

The Mickelson Exxon-Mobil Teacher's Academy in 2009 gave me plenty of resources for data collection (Math) and Newton's 3 laws of Motion (Science), but it also gave a new perspective on my PLN (Personal Learning Network). I was lucky enough to again see a wonderful MEMTA participant in Seattle at the NCCE (Northwest Council for Computer Educators) conference. It was great to compare how we were using what we learned from our amazing professional development this past summer in our classrooms. What a great connection to have and hopefully Betsy and I will continue to stay in touch.

Waiting IMPATIENTLY to find out who made it to this years academy!

Smartboard Resources, Lessons, and MORE...

Need I say more...
Just go to the following linke:

Library of Congress-Primary Resources

I am glad I went to one of the many Library of Congress sessions. The presenters had a lot of wonderful ideas and teaching tips for using the LOC espescially for primary sources--example: historic photos. go to to get started.
CIM Technology Solutions will be giving away $250,000 worth of technology over the next year. Register on their website each month to enter the drawing for that month's giveaways.

Saturday, March 6, 2010

My Avatar

so you ask how is this relevant in the classroom?
well if you save it into a png format and uncheck the background, you can use any background with it!
You could have your children explore many places and tell stories, write poems, use these images for online editing, email pals, the list goes on and on...

Friday, March 5, 2010

Discovery Education's Tech Tune-Up Sweepstakes!

Enter to Win Tech Tune-Up

Wordle rocks!

Check out this presentation on Wordle!

Tammy Worchester's Web 2.0 Tools - join free - apply for grant - In the Classroom
imagination cubed (for mac only)

Discovering More about Discovery Educ...

Discovering More about Discovery Education!

Hall Davidson talked about students learning to edit movies first with DE streaming and then they learn to create their own content
- check out California Student Media Festival
Digital sales have now surpassed physical sales - Wall Street Journal Feb. 2010
Discovery Communications has 1.5 Billion subscribers
    Most popular is Discovery Channel, next is TLC, then Animal Planet, and fourth is DISCOVERY EDUCATION
Interesting thought for the day - When choosing curriculum, why don't the end-users have any say? HMMMMM..... EXCELLENT POINT
Do we need textbooks, you cant write in them, edit them, share them, or make new copies....
**Don't forget that LIFE  will be March 21st on the Discovery Channel and will be in streaming to view on March 22nd! Talk about efficient!|life+discovery|LIFE+-+Discovery|GGL+LIFE+-+Branded+Show+-+General+-+VPB

Lindsay ran through how to search for content, reminded us about the MY BUILDER tools and the best part (drum roll please) the TEACHER CENTER
Lindsay was born and raised in Montana... just so you know!
She told us about downloading in FLASH to help out with Bandwidth issues (PAY ATTENTION TOWNSEND FOLKS) use Flash to download your streaming!!!
Lindsay also reminded us that we teachers have access to a FULL ENCYCLOPEDIA!!

Digital Kits
why use actual boxes - use digital kits
Jennifer reminded us that FILE MANAGEMENT is pertinent - Naming folders and subfolders should always be a priority
Jennifer showed us examples of projects made with Kidspiration and DE streaming  (if you do one of these you have to use Quicktime in Kidspiration and Inspiration for movies)
One of these Inspiration templates was named 3 Truths and a Lie - It requires the students to think CRITICALLY about media!!!
She offered to share these kits with everyone - maybe on media share ??? hint hint, Jennifer

Amy introduced us to interacting with videos by using a sheet with checks and stars to show what the students learned about and still need to learn about.
She shared how they will develop their understanding of the key concepts by sharing and self-checking what they know.
She suggested using Images from the Flickr - they have a Creative Commons search
She showed us how to then show an image and then match it to one of the same key words - then discuss which word matched to that image to understand the meaning of the word.
I think it is a great way to for students to connect to the learning to make meaning.

Westin Woods provides a lot of videos on Discovery Education - can share elements of a good/bad video, product placement, stopping videos before they are finished - then predict or create an ending
Debbie reminded that we should all share as educators - check her web site out for amazing resources!
She also showed us a neat project making President trading cards
She also reminded that everyone should apply to be DEN STARS and attend the DEN National Institute!
She ended with some of her favorite web 2.0 sites such as glogster and

twitter: abakken
Shared information about DE assignment builder - Go to MY BUILDER - ASSIGNMENT BUILDER - follow the steps - remember you can add your own content to the lesson
You can also add web link to add outside content to it.
If you have trouble using streaming videos, download them to your server or to your desktop and have the students watch them in the downloaded format
You can differentiate instruction easily by using the Assignment builder
After you create a lesson you can either assign it to your class (which need to be created beforehand) or get a link with a passcode and paste it to your web site for the students to access.
She also encouraged everyone to check out the student center. You can log in and see what it is like to be a student in the student center
by using Jennifer Gingerich's fake student accounts. Login Jellyfish1  Password Jellyfish1
She also shared how powerful google docs at conferences can be!

Martha started off by talking about how all that was shared tonight at this workshop connects.
She then shared a great web 2.0 site called - it is a great way to present information with photos, video and sound or music.
She created a short JFK animoto video for us to see using images and JFK's inaugural speech. Amazing content created in less than 5 minutes.
Animoto helps kids use content from DE in a different way to learn and share information they have learned.

she shares one more tool - GLOGSTER - make sure that you go to
regular may have content that you definitely don't want your students to see

Please feel free to add or edit content.
Thanks for viewing!

DEN workshop on Wed. night NCCE2010

PLN what is it and why you need it!

Learning why it is so important to network with others across the country! Check out their information at

Helena teachers share info from a conference!

Helena Teachers created a blog to share what they learned from NCCE 2010.
What a great idea!

Starting New Blog

I have decided to start a new blog because I am realizing the importance of networking and sharing what I have learned. This type of learning and sharing is truly the future... now!