Math Workshop

Themes & Holidays

My Classroom

Ending the year with a BANG!

PHEW! These past two weeks have been crAzy... the good kind of crazy of course! We have been working on ending the year with a bang. :) I'm sure were all aware of the end of the year jitters our kiddos get as the days get longer, the pools begin to open and the homework comes to an end. Well, in attempt to keep interest and engagement high, we have kept our learning and thinking going strong with STEM challenges, memory book reflections and fun and engaging ways to review all that we learned in math. 

First up... STEM! I had seen people throw the idea of STEM around and always thought it sounded great. Science, technology, engineering and math... can't get much better than that, right? Well... IT CAN! This week BLEW me off my chair and out the window *as I say to my kiddos when shock me with their greatness. :) I was so lucky to have found this amazing STEM Engineering Starter Kit freebie from Ivy Taul on TPT. It has everything from sample lesson plans, family letters, anchor charts and goes into a deeper explanation of STEM. It REALLY got me thinking about how I can meaningfully and effectively integrate STEM into our curriculum for next year. 

 This past week we did 3 challenges, all of which built on itself in terms of difficulty and the purpose/design of the challenge. The first day we spent discussing "What is STEM?" and "Why STEM?" I loved hearing their new found interest and thinking on the career opportunities that associate with STEM. For each challenge, we broke up into teams but choosing a numbered role card out of a bin. This allowed each kiddo accountability in the group. The first challenge was a Marshmallow Tower challenge, in which they had to build a structure that could stand on its own. Each group presented their structure and when we were done, we discussed the similarities and differences between the structures in the class and the structures known in real life. One group even modeled their structure of the Eiffel Tower.... AWESOME! This challenge focused more on the engineering design process.
 The second challenge incorporated more math. The students had to "purchase" materials to build a boat that can withstand the most weight. After each group presented, we focused on the challenges we faced during the design process and how/what we did to work through the challenges. 

The last challenge was the most abstract. Students had to build the tallest tower possible. Students were given tape measures to measure the height of their towers. During this challenge, students were able to take a gallery walk around the room to see if there was anything they wanted to fix or change about their tower. This was by far my favorite part of the week!!! We are also encouraging our students to revise our thinking to make it better. OH WHAT FUN!

We all know that the end of the year naturally brings all types assessments. My goal was to incorporate as many fun and engaging lessons to review for the assessments and keep their stamina high.  I'm sure you know by now that I L O V E love MATH and books. WELL my absolute favorite is when I have the opportunity to have both in one. :) Math literacy is a passion of mine. There are so many great books that incorporate math. We took some time to really "dive" into these books and held great discussions about their conceptual understanding of math.  Next week we will explore digital math books on Greg Tang's math website. It is a MUST to check out all the free goodies! There are interactive games and books. He is my idol! 


We have also been pulling out some of our favorite math centers and games. If you're looking for a great math bundle that includes no prep printables, games and centers... me and my kiddos both LOVE Latoya Reed's Common Core Math Bundle.  It is very organized and easy to use!!

Some other favorites are the Number Line Races and 10 More, 10 Less Spin for free from TPT.  I print them on colored card stock, laminate them and keep them in a bin that is accessible to the students. I hold them responsible to getting the necessary materials and returning/cleaning them up when they are done. They are a great early finisher center as well! I plan to create some that can be differentiated for higher learners as well. 
One of my many favorite things about first grade is all the growth that we get to see since the start of the year. This year I had a little enter first grade not even being able to read a Buiscut book and now they are leaving first grade independently reading and comprehending Junie B. :) It is important to remember that we see the growth but our littles ones may not. I thought it would be cool to integrate my student's reflections on the year so they could realize on their own just how much they learned this year. We used our shared writing block to create anchor charts around the room to record things we learned, our favorite memories and something we did for the first time. This lead to such great discussions and even helped me notice which lessons did they remember/enjoy the most. It was a great take-away for everyone!

Then we transfered our thinking to our memory books. This was a great way to meaningfully integrate memory books into the classroom. The memory books are from A Year of Many Firsts on TPT.  It is such a fabulous product!!


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