Friday, January 25, 2013

What a week!

I'm off school again today for weather reasons. It was suppose to ice today. I'm not sure if it really did or not because I haven't left the couch this morning and I don't plan on it. But from what I've seen on facebook the roads are pretty icy. I haven't blogged since Tuesday because I haven't really had time and I wasn't sure what to blog about. It seems that it is way easier to share our ideas and what's going on in our classrooms when things are going well. And this week things just weren't going well. But I am going to tell you about it anyway and hopefully some of the great teachers out there that read my blog will have some advice or suggestions.
This week would in theory be our third week back from winter break but last week we only went to school two days and one of those days we were let out early. Then we were out this week on Monday for MLK day. My kids have been wild. They haven't been bad it is just like they have forgotten everything they have learned about being in school. They were great the week back from winter break. This week was another story. They were getting up in the middle of the class and leaving the room without asking; they were interrupting my teaching to ask to go to the bathroom. I can handle those things. But it seems they have forgotten everything they have learned in math especially. We were finishing up our unit on number patterns and it was like they just weren't getting it. We'd be counting by 2s, 5s, or 10s and they could do it with no problem but then when it came to apply that knowledge it was like they had no idea how to count by those numbers anymore. I was getting frustrated which definitely didn't help anything. We got through it and I still have a couple of kids that don't seem to get it but it was time to move on. Yesterday we started our unit on place value. We've talked about place value already and do some work with it each day in our morning meeting. The problem wasn't that they weren't getting the lesson it was they didn't seem to know how to work together. I gave each group of students 50 unifix cubes. Then I gave them a number. They had to get the number of cubes out and make groups of 10 out of it. This is where it all falls apart. They couldn't seem to work together to do this. So I made one student in charge of getting the cubes out and the rest of them were suppose to help count. Then they were suppose to take turns making the groups of 10. It was fine when there were enough cubes for each student to make a group of 10 but then when the number was smaller like 21. They started pulling more cubes out of the bag so they could all make groups of 10. It was so frustrating. But as I'm typing this, I'm thinking maybe I should have them work in pairs instead of their table groups which either had 3 or 4 students. Then I have the problem of the 2 students who have no idea what I'm talking about. They don't understand anything we are doing in math right now. So here are my questions that I'm hoping you can advise me on:

  • How do you get your kids to cooperate in groups and work together without doing it for the other person?
  • Do you group your students in groups of 4 or so or do you do pairs?
  • What should I do with these two students who don't seem to know what is going on? 
  • Should I let my assistant teach separate math lessons for them? Should these lessons be during the whole group lesson or another time?
Then I have the problem of all week, we didn't have time to get our math stations in which meant I couldn't work with any students one on one. I'm doing a miserable job of keeping up with my groups. I just don't seem to have the time to get it all in. I'm not sure what I can let go of. I truly believe their read to self and read to someone time is very important and this is the only time I have to read with students and do groups. Then I also have whole group reading lessons, spelling/phonics lessons, math lessons, writing time, and math whole group. That is what I can consistently get done. Language, science/social studies and math work stations get thrown to the side a lot. I'm just not sure how to fit it all in. I try to integrate my science and social students but that isn't always successful.
Ok so I've moaned and groaned enough. I'm just struggling with getting it all in and it is frustrating. I hope that I'm not the only one who has these frustrations and I'm also hoping there are some teacher friends that can help me with some of this. Hope you have a great Friday. I would love to hear your thoughts.


  1. I'm no expert - so take it with a grain of salt! Teaching and student behaviors have lots of hills and valleys. I think taking two steps forward and a one or two back is all part of the process. There are times, though, that it seems like they've decided to take five steps now we're left to muddle forward to regain lost ground.

    For me, when this happens, I find that if I stop trying to plow through curriculum - almost set it aside for a few days, and concentrate more on building classroom community, revisit our rules, role play, and REALLY focus in on nipping certain undesireable behaviors...that they bounce back and I can go back to business as usual.

    While it seems like a week lost just can't happen...honestly, if you try to keep going - half of 'em aren't getting it anyway.

    I don't know if that was helpful at all...

    I tend to have my kids work in partnerships rather than groups...that seems more manageable to me!

    Hugs - it's a rough patch!

    Crisscross Applesauce in First Grade

  2. I completely agree with what Holly said. Sometimes you just have to take a break and work on those classroom rules and procedures before you can move on. I do lots of partner work and I praise students that are on task. If that doesn't work, have a whole group meeting and model how you would like them to work together. It's that mid year slump where they feel comfortable with you. I am working on some behavioral issues right now.
    Hope your day is a better one and happy Aloha Friday:)


  3. So I don't have all of the required things you do simply because I teach Pre-K but we have some behavior issues since coming back as well! I feel like I'm back to the beginning of the year with several of my students. It doesn't help when I am adding new ones to the group because others moved...I think reminding them of the rules and remaining consistant is your best bet!
    AS for group work...I think I would start with pairs. If you have the two strugglers paired then your assistant could hang with them and assist them with the lesson. After the students are good at pair work then I would make a little larger groups with assigned roles ie. supplies, recorder, motivator. :)

  4. Well- this week my kids were wacky too. I blame it on all of our benchmark testing that has to be done one-on-one. They have to stay quiet during all of our testing. That being said, mid-semester last semester we had to re-make anchor charts for Daily 5 as a reminder for what behavior I expect. Maybe you should do that with your students? I also use a Guided Math approach so my students work in pairs. Every few weeks I switch up their partners. They usually work really well together. Once in a blue moon I have to ask a pair of partners to go back to their desks. They get so sad about missing their math game. I have a post I wrote on Guided Math here:

    Last year (when we were allowed to have a classroom management plan) I used Class Dojo during stations. I had a very chatty and rowdy bunch. They liked Class Dojo a lot!

    Rowdy in First Grade