July 2018 - Down River Resources | Your Elementary Math Guide
Planning for the new school year can be hectic, if not overwhelming! Everyone is worried about finding the latest and greatest school supplies and teacher resources. If you are currently facing this dilemma, I'd love to keep you afloat. I recommend pencils and a calendar as being the top two teacher tools you need this back to school season. Everything you think will happen, usually changes. The pencil will help you keep track of these many changes. If you have a calendar, you can map out where you want to take your students in the coming year! Yet again, the pencil will surely help you in this endeavor. Everything you plan, usually changes. Notice a pattern here! If you are ready to plan out the best school year ever and learn the secrets of creating a dynamic pacing guide, this blog post is for you!

## Creating a Curriculum Plan for the New School Year

Before you begin this process you will need a few items:

• writing tools (pencils, pens, highlighters, etc.)
• blank calendar (monthly calendars work best)
• district and/or campus calendars
• standards and scope and sequence documents (if you possess any)

 Prepare for creating a curriculum plan by gathering  materials first.

2. Grab a copy of your district and campus calendars and some writing tools. {I usually have access to the district calendar when starting this process, but not the campus calendar... that's okay!}

3. Use a calendar (you can print a simple monthly calendar for the school months off of the Internet or use a calendar from a Dollar store) to mark all of the holidays and special days in the school year that your students will NOT receive instruction. These dates will impact your teaching time, so it essential to account for how much time you will actually have this school year!

• You can use a highlighter to mark out non-instructional days or cross them off.
• I usually put a diagonal line through days that are half-days, commonly called "early release days." This gives me a visual cue that my instructional day will be reduced. {In my experiences, the focus for half-days are solely reserved for reading and math instruction. Some administrators just ask teachers to completely compress the day, so that every subject is still taught, but for a reduced amount of time.}
• Make sure you pencil in all of the end of the reporting or grading periods and semesters. This will help you stay on track with your pacing as you plan out your school year.

 Account for all of your instructional time per month.

4. Once you mark up the calendar, you may want to count the number of instructional days for each subject area and/or grading period. {This will help you know how many days to divide a certain number of standards by as we work to map out the school year!}

5. Take the standards and/or scope and sequence documents for each individual subject. Working through this process takes time and attention. Start with one subject area.

Since I focus on math, I will provide an example for math.

Using the state standards for math, I know that in kindergarten I need to work through the numbers 0 through 20. In order to promote mastery, I need to break up those numbers in groups. I will not teach all of the numbers in September, but focus solely on numbers 0 to 5. Now, looking at the calendar, I know that I have 18.5 days in this month to teach my students how to represent numbers 0 to 5, generate sets with numbers 0 to 5, and compose and decompose numbers 0 to 5.

As a novice, you will rely on basic division to give you the pacing for this month. You will probably not know what topics will give your students the most difficulty, but you can plan in time to help remediate students.

For example, 18.5 days divided by three topics is about five. I can spend five days for each of the topics. Then, I will have four days for review, assessment, and remediation.

As an experienced teacher, you might plan out this month of math like this:

If I have three focus topics (based on the standards) that need to be covered and 18.5 days to cover them (based on the instructional days on the calendar), I could spend five days on each topic and have four days of built-in time for assessment and re-teaching. These days can be called "flex days" on your calendar. The flex days can be used if a topic needs more than five days devoted to it, or if you need to re-teach a portion of the students in the classroom. As an experienced teacher in this grade level, I know that composing and decomposing numbers will be most difficult, so I anticipating using at least one of the "flex days" for intervention on this topic.

 Color code your curriculum calendar based on subject areas.

6. In order to create the most effective plan take into consideration the following things:

• collaborative work with colleagues in the same grade level (horizontal planning)
• collaborative work with colleagues across grade levels (vertical planning)
• school curriculum: What resources do you have access to? Is there anything you are required to use to teach a particular subject?
• school learning philosophies: Is your campus implementing a particular approach to teaching?
• students' needs
• past experiences

Many of these topics will be taken into consideration as you build your daily and weekly lesson plans, but I would be amiss without mentioning these!

7. Repeat the process for the entire school year, for each individual subject.

Personally, I like to work through one subject at a time. It helps me to stay in the same mindset while planning out the subject area. I tend to work in chunks of time devoted to each subject area and find that, for me, it is beneficial and the most efficient use of my time.

Some teachers prefer to work through each subject within a grading period. Then, they move to the next grading period. Whatever strategy helps you, commit to it and use it!

Regardless of your method, I recommend completing this task for the entire school year, before the school year begins. You can alter your plan during the school year, but it is harder to make time for this practice and it is not as effective building your big picture plan as you go.

### Implications for Creating a Plan for the New School Year

This procedure allows to you examine and organize your school year.

It allows you, as the educator, to determine how the content, skills, and assessments will unfold over the course of the year.

I am in a grade level that takes a state assessment, prior to the end of the school year. How do I plan for this?

You want to plan out all of your tested standards so that you cover them before the testing window. I like to plan to have everything taught at least two weeks in advance of the testing window. If I can teach everything before this time, this allows me two solid weeks of review. This review time is critical for students to recall older information and set the tone for testing!

What if I do not have any direction on curriculum pacing?

Use the standards as your guide. If you have 36 standards to cover in a particular subject, cover one standard per week. If you have 36 standards to cover and need to cover them before a testing window, count up your instructional days BEFORE the assessment, and teach all of the standards prior to your testing window!

What if I already have a pacing guide?

If you already have a pacing guide, you are one step ahead in this process! I still recommend working on your calendar and breaking up the units or topics into the specific days accounting for all of the instructional time that you will have based on the calendar you created in step three above.

What if I own a Down River Resources' TEKS pacing guide?

I did a lot of the pacing for you! I have already broke all of the standards into groups based on months of the year. If you are in a grade level that takes the state assessment, I took this into consideration while mapping out the standards by month. Using the prepared pacing guide effectively still requires you to break down the recommended standards by month into instructional days based on the calendar you created in step three above.

Because student groups and instructional calendars vary from district to district, it is impossible for me to have a universal guide for this!
I hope this post inspires you to create a plan for your best year ever and if you'd like to use my TEKS pacing guides to help you along this process, you can find them in my TpT shop.

What resources are available to you to create your plan for the new school year?

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Are you ready to rock the new school year? Then, join me as we plan for the best school year ever! Whether you are a new teacher or a seasoned teacher, you may be feeling the weight of the world as the new school year approaches. Perhaps you have a new superintendent, administrator, curricula, or expectations! (This seems to happen a little too often to ease my mind!)  If you want to have the best school year ever, you'll need the key to unlock it. The key to successful school year is... a plan! Whether it be curriculum planning or curriculum pacing, I want to help keep you afloat this school year! If you are ready to take over your dining room table or kitchen floor, you'll be at it in no time!

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## Beginning the School Year with the End in Mind

Ben Franklin, the American President and time management guru said, "Failing to plan, is planning to fail."

The man behind the "7 Habits of Highly Successful People," Stephan Covey states: "To begin with the end in mind means you start with a clear understanding of your destination."

Where are you going? What's your destination?

As I mentor new teachers, I ask this question: "By the end of the year, where do you want your students to be?"

YOUR TURN: Think for a moment and complete this sentence, "By the end of the year, I want my students to..."

If you don't have your sentence yet, don't fret! There's still time. Write the sentence starter on a notepad and come back to it after you've considered it for some time.

Teachers wear many hats. Often times, we are relied on as teachers, counselors, social workers, janitors, parents, and a plethora of other titles that reach beyond our job descriptions. Teachers, don't often seem themselves wearing one of the most important hats though.

Take a second and look in the mirror. You are a designer!

Teachers are designers of their classroom as they design the curriculum, lessons, and activities that fill the days, weeks, and months of the school year. If you are constantly aware of your end goal, you will design all of the happenings in your room to meet your specific purpose.

If your end goal is that your students are able to master the grade level standards, become a student of the standards.

• Look up words that are foreign to you.
• Watch videos on the internet about how something works!

If your end goal is that your students pass the state assessment, become a student of the assessment.

• Ask yourself, "What is the content? (What standard is being addressed?) What is the context? (How is this standard being tested? Is the information being presented using a diagram or graph?)
• Study the way the questions are worded. (TEACHER TIP: Ask questions in a similar format throughout the school year so that students are familiar with the language!)
• Look for patterns across the questions.
• Look for patterns across the years of released tests.

Becoming a student of the standards or assessments takes time. You may not have all of the time right now. Make a note of this practice and get to it as soon as you can! You will not regret it, friend!

Texas athlete, J.J. Watt, reminds us that, "If you don't have that vision for the end goal, you have no clue where you're going, and you're going to work very hard to go nowhere."

Now, that you have a vision for your new school, you should be ready to roll up your sleeves and get messy and learn about planning your best school year ever! Stay tuned for the next edition!

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Are you required to post daily learning targets, learning objectives, or "I Can" statements in your classroom? If so, I'm here to keep you afloat! There's a few key pieces of research-based practice that you should know before embarking on this new journey! Depending on your district or your campus administrators, your requirement for this task may look differently. Educational gurus, including John Hattie, Robert Marzano, and Doug Lemov, all agree that it is essential for you and your students to be clear about what you want them to learn in each lesson. You'll soon master how to set a purpose for your classroom using "I Can" statements this school year!

## Using "I Can" Statements or Daily Learning Targets in Your Classroom

### Are you framing your daily lessons?

At the simplest level, a lesson frame represents the beginning and end of a lesson. There are two distinct parts that form a lesson frame.

The first part of a lesson frame is the daily learning objective. It is a quick summary statement of what the students can expect to learn within the lesson.

The second part is the closing question, product, or task. The closing question, product, or task clearly states how the students will demonstrate their personal learning of the daily objective. The students are required to prove to the teacher and themselves that learning took place by answering, producing, or completing a task.

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### Daily Learning Target

The first part of a lesson frame is the daily learning objective. It is a quick summary statement of what the students can expect to learn within the lesson.

The daily learning objective addresses only a single day of instruction.

What specifically we will do TODAY?

It should be written in concrete, student-friendly language, in the form of a “We will…” statement.

We will identify the attributes of a circle.

The math standard might include the attributes of a variety of two-dimensional shapes, but we hone in on a very clear and specific element for each lesson.

Many schools have adopted the usage of "I can" to personalize the instruction.

TEACHER TIP: While stating the daily learning target at the beginning of the lesson, I use a visual cue so students make a connection to what I am referencing. I make a fist and simply punch out in front of me. {BAM! This is the target!} I do not make the sound effect, but they know it's like I am hitting the target!

As I reference the target throughout the lesson, I might use that gesture again, and have the students tell me the target.

This visual cue helps us stay on track throughout the lesson. This stay clear!

### Teaching Practice

Doug Lemov, author of Teach Like a Champion 2.0: 62 Techniques that Put Students on the Path to College, suggests to display the daily lesson objective where everyone can see it in your classroom.

Posting the objective helps you, your students, and your administrators identify the purpose for teaching that day.

Students will watch better in the classroom if they know what they are looking for during the lesson.

Lemov points out that you can take this practice one step further by adding the objective part of the classroom conversation. Students can discuss, review, copy, or read the objective of the day.

Take it a step further! Tell your students WHY this matters and connect it to their prior learning.

### Closing Question, Product, or Task

The second part is the closing question, product, or task. The closing question, product, or task clearly states how the students will demonstrate their personal learning of the daily objective.

The demonstration of student
understanding serves as a conclusion of the lesson. It also provides proof to the teacher and student that the objective of the lesson was met. This is helpful information for the teacher to have so that no one’s academic struggles go unnoticed. This is a key to early intervention for students who are struggling.

The closing question, product, or task should address the specific objective and learning that occurred during the lesson. It should be written in concrete, student-friendly language, in the form of a “I will…” statement.

I will write down two attributes of a circle and share with my team.

### Research Says...

John Hattie has found that teacher clarity is one of the most potent influences on student achievement.

Robert Marzano, author of Classroom Instruction that Works, even includes lesson goals in his list of the top five factors that affect how well students do at school.

Get acquainted with your team and learn the specifics about your campus. If there is no requirement, I still highly recommend this technique in your classroom.

Knowing what I know now, I wouldn't teach without stating and posting a lesson objective!

It is research-based, and let's just face it, it makes sense. When you are going somewhere, it helps to know your destination!

In the words of a young, Texas athlete, J.J. Watts, "If you don't have that vision for the end goal, you have no clue where you're going, and you're going to work very hard to go nowhere."

If you are a Texas teacher and need a hassle-free system to help you stay on track as you set a daily or weekly purpose in your classroom, I have a simple solution! {available for TEKS grades K-5}

I hope this post inspires you to use daily learning targets or "I Can" statements in your classroom and if your interested in using my "I Can" system, you can find it in my shop.