A little post about math journals

Happy Sunday! It snowed again last night... is spring ever going to get here?!
Today I am going to make a little post about math journals. I LOVE math journals. We do them *almost* every day (since I only have 60 minutes of math per day, if I have an extra big lesson, sometimes we do mental math instead of journals, rather than in addition to journals). Math journals are also GREAT to use in second-language classrooms, such as French immersion. My 5 favorite things about math journals are:

1. They review concepts and vocabulary that we have been working on all. year. long! There is nothing worse than when you learn a concept in September/October, evaluate it for report cards, and then never speak of it again for the rest of the year. Drives me CRAZY when that happens, especially with math. You know that they will need to dust off those skills for next year! Second-language students also need as much exposure to important vocabulary as they can get, and sometimes math words aren't used that frequently in other subjects. While completing math journal problems, students will be practicing listening to and following oral directions, en français.

2. They give kids who may not have been ready to really grasp a concept earlier in the year the chance to keep trying and eventually get it. I have kiddos who just could not get patterning with more than two elements in October. Now, they are patterning champs! If we had not been practicing patterning all throughout the year, they probably wouldn't have the foundation they will need to be successful next year. That repeated vocabulary helps here, too!

3. They force my "math whizzes" who like to do everything in their heads to draw a picture. In fact, it kind of tricks them into it and they don't even complain haha. I am proud of my students who have very strong mental math skills, but someday they will arrive at a question that is too complicated or has too many steps to do in their head. I want them to know what to do and have a whole bunch of strategies at the ready for when this day comes.

4. You can easily use them to teach vocabulary and link them to themes you are teaching in the classroom. This year, for example, Saint Patrick's Day happened over March Break. The week before March Break was Semaine de la francophonie. We did not have very much time for any fun Saint Patrick's Day activities. But, I still taught them words like "farfadet", "pièce d'or", "trèfle", etc. through math journals. This week, their questions are about Easter. We do questions about all sorts of relevant, seasonal things. By having different prompts for each month, you can ensure 5-10 extra minutes of vocabulary that is key for that time of year - during your math block! So important for my FSL learners! I get my kids to share their work with a partner after we are finished, so it gets them talking and comparing even more.

5. They take less than 10 minutes a day. Seriously! Maybe 12 if you add the share.

Basically, what I do during journal time is:

1. Read the problem out loud a couple of times once my kiddos find the next blank page in their journal. They start solving the problem with a picture right away.

2. I walk around cutting out the journal prompts and putting one on each child’s desk (yes, walking and cutting… in the fall I was on the ball and cut them out ahead of time, but I promise this works just as well!)

3. Once my students finish their drawing and solve the problem, they glue the prompt into their journal and raise their hand. I come check it and give them a stamp/happy face if it’s right, or guide them onto the right path if not (or if they have inverted numbers!!! 8+1 does NOT = P!).

4. Partner share. This only takes a couple of minutes, but I think it is important to get our students talking as much as possible… especially if French is their second language! They compare drawings and talk about what is similar and different. Sometimes, they only talk about the colours they used and who is an “artist”… but sometimes, a child notices that another child used a more efficient way to solve the problem. I think that’s when they really start to believe me that math strategies WORK, and it’s a good idea to have a bunch up your sleeve (they also get really good at picking out when their partners write their numbers the wrong way… heheh). We use math partners during math every single day (the same partners for about a week or so), so they are very quick about finding a quiet place with their partner, "rock, paper, scissoring" to see who shares first, and comparing their work. They LOVE to share, and learn very quickly that if they aren't efficient, they lose their chance!
Another note – I print out the whole month’s worth at a time and keep them together with a paperclip. I only have 15 students, so one copy of each page works for me. I definitely recommend the cutting and walking strategy – works great! Our prep time is so precious!! 

Here is a picture of the journals that we use. I find them expensive though (1.25$ per journal), and we go through 2 per year. Now that I have discovered Amazon, I will be looking for a larger, more cost-effective version for next year. This is our second set of the year - the first set had cute little labels on them. I am a little less concerned with cute once we hit mid-year ;) #realtalk

Here are a couple of pictures of some Saint Patrick's Day-themed entries:

I love comparing entries and looking at how different students drew their answers to the same question!

 I love how you can see different strategies at work. Check out this subtraction question - one student drew eight windows in a row, and another drew two groups of four windows. The first student also used a counting strategy we have been practicing - "compte et coche" to count the remaining students!

 Here is another. If a student finishes quickly, I integrate some literacy and ask them to add a setting to their math story (with color). The first student in this picture left to work with another teacher they day we did the question about the pieces of gold. He had glued in his question but didn't have time to draw his answer. He then drew the following day's answer on the wrong page. Oops! We fixed it after, but I promise you that these two students were answering the same question ;). Looking at these, you can see some students draw and count, and some recognize that it is an addition problem and write an equation. Sometimes, they ask me if they should write an equation - I tell them if they know it, add it in!

1 enfant cherche un farfadet. 5 autres enfants viennent l'aider. Combien d'enfants cherche le farfadet?
Here is a patterning question about Easter eggs. In kindergarten, students only need to be able to create patterns with 2-3 elements. However, I can use math journal time to check on who can extend and do more!

If you are interested in Math Journals for your classroom, I have sets for kindergarten and sets for grade one in my store. I also have a FREE set for each grade that you can try out to see if math journals are a good fit for you! The free sets include one page from each month of the year, with a sampling of what types of questions you can expect for each grade. They are in the "Mathématiques" section of my FREE French Resource Library.

(Don't have access to the library yet? No problem! Just click the button below to subscribe, and I will email you the password!)

If you click HERE, you can see all of the sets that are in my store. I have one set for each month (Sept-June) for both kindergarten and grade one! You can purchase each month individually, or if you know that you love math journals and want to use them all year long, I also offer a money-saving bundle. By purchasing the bundle, you get each set, but also get to save 5$! It's like getting two sets free ;) You can check out the bundles by clicking the images below.

Enjoy your week!!!

A Peek at My Week - Hospital Fun!

It's hospital week in my classroom! Here is a picture of my wee aspiring doctors and nurses:

I am linking up with Deedee Wills from Mrs Wills' Kindergarten to show you what we are up to this week!

 I tried my best to hyperlink the photos to where you can find them on TpT, but I am not sure it worked. I will set you up with the links for individual activities further on in my post!

I am using a hospital theme this week to cover a whole bunch of outcomes - mainly reading, writing, and a whole slew of health. The health outcomes will be covered mainly through guided play - a group discussion and then "playing" doctor and having students advise their patients of ways they can stay healthy. I am doing my best for the rest of the year to teach my remaining outcomes through themes and play-based learning. I have a LOT of things to cover (in some ways, double what I should have to cover since I have a combined class!) and it seems to be the most efficient, engaging, and effective way. I did a little test drive with our family unit in Social Studies and I must say my grade ones learned a lot. I went even farther with our hospital unit and took advantage of March Break to actually turn our classroom into a hospital! It only took a couple of hours and cost me less than 15$. To build student excitement, over March Break I sent them each a postcard to say that we had been on vacation too long, and a whole bunch of words and sentences were sick! I asked them to bring any doctor supplies they had at home to school and to be prepared to make all our words feel better.
Here is a snippet of what my room currently looks like:
I borrowed a bunch of library books about our bodies and how to keep them healthy. Ignore the top shelf - the rest of the books I ordered came in at lunchtime today, after I took the picture! Our morning messages this week explain to my students things they can expect to learn at "medical school" during the day. Today's topics included things like how doctors work as part of a team and what an operation is.
In my classroom, I have 4 tables, and zero desks. For this week, I pushed two tables together on either side of my room and covered them with white dollar store plastic table cloths (1$ each). These are our different "hospital rooms". Today they were part of the emergency department! When my students arrived this morning, there was material on the tables for every student to make a doctor kit out of a folded brown paper bag. I found the idea on Pinterest, HERE, and it was super simple! I only had to purchase the band-aids (at the dollar store for 2$ a box) - everything else I either already had or was donated.The handles are actually vinyl photo sleeves - I have about 500 of them and no idea what to do with them all! The original plan was to use fun foam for the handles, but I like how the photo sleeves turned out. I had bought a bunch of colored masking tape at Target's going-out-of-business sale and used that to tape the handles to either side of the bags.

I put all our chairs in the middle of the room, as you can see above, and put a clipboard, a pencil, a doctor name tag, and a "stethoscope" on each. This is where we have "medical school".
The stethoscopes were the most time-consuming process of my prep. Super easy, but I find gluing with glue guns takes a long time. However, it was well worth it! I bought headbands at the dollar store (6/1$!!!), along with Styrofoam balls. I sliced the Styrofoam balls in two with a knife on a cutting board. I tied one end of a black ribbon to the headband, and glued the other end to the Styrofoam. Then I wrapped it in tinfoil and glued that down, too. Easy peasy! But my students were SO PUMPED about them. I also had a real stethoscope on hand so they could all give that a try.

 Here are some of our writing activities, a true/false hospital facts game, mini books, and new vocabulary words for the week. The game and the vocabulary cards should be printed in color, but of course I ran out of color ink over the weekend...oops! The mini book is for my grade ones (who are at grade level - I don't have any far above-level grade ones, as we planned when we selected the students to go in the combined class). In the future, I would like to make an emergent-reader for my primaries about hospitals as well, but it just didn't happen over March Break this year! All of the material in the above picture comes from my unit Tout au sujet des hôpitaux. You can grab it in my store by clicking on the image below! Any updates I make after this test run will be yours, as well.

 This unit also includes 5 non-fiction articles, which we will be doing close reads with all week to practice making connections, asking questions, making inferences, and retelling important points!

A grade one outcome for us is to make "consignes" - ours will be posters of advice on how to stay healthy! We will integrate visual elements and be thinking about our audience when we make them.

For our word work activities this week, I will be pooling a couple different resources that are not hospital themed at all and telling my students that they are! For example, this morning we used a Freebie in my store that is actually Easter themed. Here it is if you want to grab it:

I cut out letters to a variety of high-frequency words (we did 3 or 4 letter words), popped the letters for each word into a plastic Easter egg, and pretended the eggs were ambulances, coming to the Emergency Department each with a patient that had to be put back together! 80 plastic eggs from Walmart cost me 6$, but I think I would have probably only needed one 40 pack instead of two. We had a few left over, but we saved them for centre time. It came up in our morning discussion that doctors can use special glue and/or stitches to put their patients back together if they have a deep cut, so we used our glue to put our words back together. I had made up a cute recording sheet with doctor clip art to use instead of the Easter one in the Freebie pack, but of course forgot to put it on my USB drive. Does anyone else use TpT like their own personal flash drive and forget to load things that aren't on TpT onto their actual flash drive?! So, I improvised. We just glued our words on strips of paper! It worked really well, but of course I forgot to take a picture. My students did this activity in partners, and had to work together and assign each partner to a job - because doctors work together to be more efficient and avoid mistakes! Here is a picture of the ambulance I drew on the eggs (each team only got one ambulance egg... after that, they had to use their imagination haha).

The other pictures are the game we will be playing tomorrow... some of our animal words are missing their beginning sounds! The colored version above I laminated and stuck velcro on. This will become part of our work work centres. Tomorrow, we will be using the black and white version in the pack along with the recording sheet to glue our poor words back together in our operating rooms. Wednesday, we will do the same game with ending sounds. We need a lot of practice with hearing ending sounds!! Both of these games are in my TpT store, and you can click the pictures below if you want to check them out!


 On Friday, we will be using some of Lucy Su's scrambled sentences packs from her store, For French Immersion. I was so excited when she uploaded them - one less thing that I had to make for this week! Thank you, Teachers pay Teachers :). I will be using a combination from her Easter pack, Farm animals pack, and Spring pack. I love them because I can pick and choose sentences from each that are appropriate for my students' abilities and partner them up accordingly. Hello, differentiation! Again, the color versions will be laminated and velcro-ed (along with a laminated sentence strip for them to stick them to in the right order) for a literacy centre, and the black and white versions we will doctor up in our operating rooms. I can't wait to see them using clues like capital letters and punctuation to help them figure their sentences out!

Enjoy your week!! :)

I Spy... Easter fun!

Well, I have got to say that this March Break has not been overly exciting. Two snowstorms and 90ish cm of snow had the city pretty much shut down for the past couple of days! Lots of time to get work done, but hard to get visiting and other fun things in. Tomorrow I am going to try and squeeze in a couple of visits with friends and a yoga class (my body is starting to get antsy from sitting still!!) and then decide if I should head home tomorrow ahead of the incoming Saturday storm and risk being snowed in without internet, or stay in the city and risk not getting in to my classroom before Sunday. I have a LOT to do in there! Decisions, decisions.

I posted on the old blog a bit about our Saint Patrick's Day I Spy activity (C'est moi l'espion - la Saint-Patrick). I wanted to post here again, because I have made an Easter version over the break for sight words. Also because I figured out how to block their sweet little faces so I can show more photos. Here are a couple of pictures of my little leprechauns working hard:
 My students really enjoyed this activity, and it was very low-prep - all I had to do with print a copy for each student and find them each a magnifying glass. They used the magnifying glass to search for the hidden words in the picture. I find it hard for my students to get good practice decoding words, because in the French language there are a LOT of silent letters and sons composés that can throw them off. It is frustrating for a child who has just been told and told that certain letters make certain sounds to then be told "oh, well in this word, that letter is silent!". So, for my Saint Patrick's Day pack, I chose words for them to find that ONLY use letters who make their sounds (parc, va, kiwi, etc.). The first time we did this activity, I gave everyone a magnifying glass and a sheet and they worked individually. I asked them to say the word out loud as they were working, but to be honest... you could hear a pin drop. They were so into it! Which was good, but... not exactly what I was looking for. The whole point of the activity was to get them READING the words, not copying them!
So focused!
So, when we did the activity again a couple of days later, I kicked it up a notch. The 10 sheets included in the pack use words of different lengths. Some pages have 2 letter words, some 3, and so on to 5 letter words. I have a combined class, so it can be tricky to find stimulating activities for everyone. The first page that we did together used only 3 letter words. The second time we did this, I printed out different sheets for different students depending on their ability to blend sounds, and put them in partners with someone else working on the same sheet. I gave each group only one magnifying glass. Then, I asked them to take turns. One partner (determined by "rock, paper scissors") took the magnifying glass and found a word. That partner then had to READ the word they found out loud, saying every sound. The other partner had to WRITE the word as best they could, based on what they heard. Then they could self-check while the first partner also wrote the word they found. Then they switched jobs. It was awesome! It took them much longer to finish the sheet (which I like to think was because they were using their little brains for more than just copying), and I heard many little voices reading the words on their sheet. Their brains were thinking and blending and figuring out what the words were. One little munchkin even came to me after and asked if some of the words were nonsense words, because his partner had missed a letter so the word just didn't make sense! Bless him!
This activity was such a success the second time around that I decided to make an Easter version too, this time using sight words. I have some very strong grade ones (and one primary!), who are ready to practice more challenging sight words than the rest of my group, and a couple sweeties who are still mixing up the basics. The "C'est moi l'espion - Pâques" pack should help give everyone some much-needed practice, while having fun. If you're interested in checking it out, click on the picture below to see it in my store.

 Saint Patrick's Day is over, but if you are interested in a Freebie to see what the activity looks like, there is one available in my FREE French Resource Library. It is in the "Seasonal/Holiday" section.

(Don't have access to the library yet? No problem! Just click the button below, and I will email you the password!)

Happy shoveling! :)

Présentement en mars... (repost from my original blog)

Sunday, 1 March 2015
Je ne peux pas croire que c'est déjà mars! 2 semaines avant le congé de mars... 2 semaines avant que mes bulletins doivent être terminés... eek!

J'écoute... Gilmore Girls. J'étais si contente quand j'ai vu que Gilmore Girls est maintenant sur Netflix! Je suis rendu à saison 3. C'est parfait parce que j'ai déjà vu la plupart des émissions, alors je peux travailler en même temps que j'écoute. :)

Je veux... un autre jour pour la fin de semaine! Je ne me sens pas du tout prête pour que ça soit lundi demain. La fin semaine passe trop vite!

J'aime... tout mon nouveau Clipart du Spring VIP Graphics Club par Krista Wallden à Creative Clips. J'ai fait son Winter VIP et je l'ai adoré! J'étais très excitée ce matin pour ouvrir semaine 1. Elle envoie à chaque semaine plusieurs images clip art exclusives et des éléments avec des conseils pour les utiliser et je les trouve très utile!

Je pense... à mes bulletins. Je dois les avoir terminé dans deux semaines... eek! Je n'ai pas même fini à tout ENSEIGNER, oublie de l'avoir évalué. On a eu 6,5 journées de neige depuis la fin de janvier ET la semaine du Carnaval d'hiver.

J'ai besoin... du congé de mars! J'ai besoin d'une semaine de relâche et j'ai besoin de planifier le reste de l'année. 2 semaines!! :)

Merci à Stéphanie pour cette rallye-lien!


Hi! I am SO EXCITED to share my new blog with you! After one incredibly frustrating day of attempting to design my own blog, a perfectly-time Facebook post from A Little Peace of Africa Designs led to me taking over this one. Don't you love it when things just all work out?! I couldn't be happier with this blog design, and definitely recommend checking out Laine's work if you are interested in getting your own blog, or blog spruce-up.
The only downside was that I had already used the blog URL that I wanted. According to Blogger, even once you delete a blog, you can't reuse its URL for 90 days, in case you decide you want to un-delete it. So, my first two blog posts are lost somewhere in cyber space, but I will either repost them soon, or just get started on some new ones. I have lots of things I want to share! So many ideas, so little time... :)


Hi! I am SO EXCITED to share my new blog with you! After one incredibly frustrating day of attempting to design my own blog, a perfectly-time Facebook post from A Little Peace of Africa Designs led to me taking over this one. Don't you love it when things just all work out?! I couldn't be happier with this blog design, and definitely recommend checking out Laine's work if you are interested in getting your own blog, or blog spruce-up.
The only downside was that I had already used the blog URL that I wanted. According to Blogger, even once you delete a blog, you can't reuse its URL for 90 days, in case you decide you want to un-delete it. So, my first two blog posts are lost somewhere in cyber space, but I will either repost them soon, or just get started on some new ones. I have lots of things I want to share! So many ideas, so little time... :)