5th Year Reflections: Math

Math Instruction

  • I love my guided math groups. It allows for immediate differentiation. Students can still hear thinking from each other as a whole class during whole class introductory lessons and daily at closure time.
  • I need to make it a point of more accountability with students that they are doing what they are supposed to be doing during centers.
  • One of the centers is math fact fluency using XtraMath.

    • Every month, the class records in their data folders their progress from XtraMath creating graphs.Those that mastered skills at a certain point could go onto math skills on IXL.
    •  Concern: What happens by the end of the year is that students that are already high in math master most or all of the operations. Those that are lower in math don’t even master addition.
      • I might take for a monthly grade on progress for these skills to help motivate students more with mastery. I know other teachers give paper quizzes but I might as well use the convenience of technology and use the XtraMath reports for grades.

5th Year Reflections and Goals (LA)

40 Book ChallengeHolly Mueller's 40 Book Challenge

I dipped a few toes with this and now I feel comfortable embracing it for the next school year. I would like to incorporate writing reflections on progress from Holly Mueller’s blog.

Although I think it is unnatural to write reading responses after reading (which I mandate but struggle with as you can read from my other posts), I think it would be neat and encouraging as a child to know exactly how many books were read for a school year.

Monthly Book Reports

Just like I have students working on on-going independent writing assignments, I am going to try to have my class do monthly book reports. As we progress throughout the year, I’d like to incorporate technology and different websites to instill engagement with the book reports. – I did not do this but would like to this school year?

Guided Reading Groups

I struggle with incorporating small group and individual reading conferences as described by Daily Five. I’m taking SPOT starting this summer, so I’m hoping a lot of my questions and concerns will be answered!


I have finally found a decent groove with spelling! It’s a combination of the Scholastic Spelling Instruction by Beth Newingham and Words Their Way that is differentiated, but I think allows an appropriate amount of time for other instruction.

Love These

Not necessities, but I love incorporating the following (the students do, too):

  • Responsive Classroom’s strategy of “quiet time” or “downtime”. I called it “Wind-down Time.”
    • I liked this a lot. It makes sense to have some time to calm down and allow your brain to be ready to transition to the next activity.

5th Year Reflection: Classroom Community

Morning Meetings
  • I still am having trouble incorporating morning meetings. One, is finding time with packed pacing guides, and another is the the class not buying into it the way I would like. It might have been the time of day I was trying to do this (the class being listless and hungry being right after specials and before lunch). It might have been I was too willing to abandon this routine when it didn’t immediately play out the way I expected.
  • I pride myself in having a respectful community. This needs to be more of a priority in the schedule for the next school year. Classroom community is happening every minute, but why not also make explicit, purposeful time for it?


Curriculum Pacing

  • 1st year of teaching: Went along with the team with pacing. When it got near SOL time, we were behind schedule which created stress.
  • 2nd year of teaching: I zoomed through the pacing and did not stay on pace with my team. I loved not having added stress of being behind near SOL time. This strategy’s con, though, was having to remediate more.
  • 3rd year of teaching: I tried to not zoom through pacing all of the time and take more time when needed for difficult content skills.
  • 4th year of teaching: I was more generous with the early weeks of school on instilling routines and acceptable behavior in the classroom. This initially cut into instruction time, but in the long run saved time.
  • 5th year of teaching
    • For the first weeks of school, I not only want to take my time establishing routine (instead of jumping right into instruction) but also spend time on “guidance” type lessons. Otherwise, these social issues always come up on their own, unwelcomed, throughout the school year. I do give lessons on “making good choices” but want to spend even more time on this. Examples include:
      • Staying away from gossiping (What information should be passed along, what you should listen to, what you should believe)
      • Responsibility with personal responses versus trying to change what other people believe and say
      • Speaking up for yourself firmly but respectfully
      • How you play around and joke around with friends at home may or may not be appropriate at school.

Reading is Important

Information provided by Maria Arguelles from a class reminds me how crucial wide reading is for students:

  • Reading 14 minutes a day means reading over 1,000,000 words a year.
  • “Research has shown that children who read even 10 minutes a day outside of school experience substantially higher rates of vocabulary growth between second and fifth grade than children who do little or no reading.” (Anderson & Nagy, 1992 – p. 46)
  • “Of 100 familiar words met in reading, a reader may learn 3-15 using context.” (Beck, McKoewn, & Kucan, 2002)

4th Year Goals: Parents

Parent Volunteers

According to Michael Linsin in Dream Class, he encourages active parent volunteers. I may try to attempt to have parent volunteers do more than one role (if available and willing). Linsin has his parent volunteers listen to students read with questions available for parents to ask and be guides in literature circles.

  • My first year I tried out parents listening to students read for the fluency aspect but stopped because I wasn’t sure if it made a worthwhile effect. I realize now anything to help students be accountable for actually reading and thinking about their reading (if parents ask questions) is worth it.
  • I will still look for parent volunteers for doing Friday Folders and having students practice their math fact fluency.

Parent Student Conferences -> Student-Led Conferences

Attending a session by Connie Balkom from Buckland Mills Elementary School, I was inspired to do Student-Led Conferences. Multiple grouped conferences going on at once for 45 minutes, the students lead the whole conference where the focus is not on grades but on a celebration of all that the student has learned so far. The details shared sound exciting and very different from what I’ve done or thought to do so far.