NWEA MAPs Assessment

On Monday my students will take the MAPs math assessment.  We’re in our fourth year of using this assessment as a district.


I actually look forward to taking this assessment in winter and spring.  We take it in the fall too, but it’s somewhat of a painful experience, as our first graders aren’t very familiar with using Chromebooks (their mouse skills aren’t developed yet).  However, by winter and spring it’s a different story.  They’re more fluent and have better command of the keyboard and mouse pad!

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I created a SMARTboardf file that I use with my class prior to the MAPs assessments.

download-icon Download the SMARTboard file!

It has the expectations slide that is used year round, as well as an added slide that compares the MAPs assessment with the Sumdog math resource that we use on a daily basis.  We use this slide during the winter and spring test.  It was created to draw attention to the similarities and differences between the two.

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When you open the file, you’ll notice two pages that are the same.  One is a recorded screen cast of the Venn Diagram (just press play) and the second you can edit an move the words yourself.

Daily 5 PBIS Booster

Today was our first day back from break!  I knew that students would be excited to see one another.  They get very social after long weekends!

D5_SpotOur Daily 5 Room Maps are helpful during days like today!  The maps serve as a booster for us.  We are reminded of which activities we can choose and what the expectations are for Daily 5 time.  The maps also show us where each activity spot is located.

One most days, students are able to select where they want to sit during independent work times.  We don’t have assigned seating.  This works well; however, sometimes during the course of the school year, it benefits our working environment if we have assigned work station spots.

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Daily 5 Math Map of Room

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Daily 5 Reading Map of Room

I created SMARTboard maps of our room that highlight these special areas for Daily 5 Math and Daily 5 Reading, Writing, and Word Work.  We use the  maps for Guest Teacher days.  We  use the maps if we’re being too social and have not been able to demonstrate adherence to our Daily 5 expectations:

daily 5 stamina

Worksheet-less Math Homework

Math homework doesn’t have to be a worksheet!


Thanks to my colleague, Jessica Marchant, who introduced me to her version of math homework this year, my students and parents have come to enjoy math homework in a new, engaging, and non-family-time-intrusive way.  It’s based on the  AVMR Math training our elementary teachers received.  The training gave me a better understanding of how children learn math, the types of activities that can be used to progress students’ math skills, and assessments that pinpoint math constructs.

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In a nutshell, students work at their instructional level on simple game-based math activities.  Each day, students take home their math recording sheet.  It contains the written directions for activity options, as well as spots for parents to record math work completed and comments.  Version 1 was used the month of October and November.  I revamped it for December to include math apps and sites that compliment the math activities.

download-icon Download Math Homework Sheet

I spent a couple of weeks introducing each of the activities to students prior to sending this sheet home. In addition, my students helped me create videos for each activity.  Click the top left-hand corner to gain access to all math videos!

Parent response has been very positive!  During the first round, I created an FAQ document as well as an app/website explanation page for parents.  Paired with my at-school AVMR Math Baggies, student growth has been amazing!

Words Their Way

We’ve just started year two of Words Their Way (WTW) at our school.  Managing 4-5 groups within your classroom seems like a daunting task, but with a little planning, training, and organization, it’s possible!

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I have created a SMARTboard file that houses all of our activity slides.  At the start of WTW, we use the first few slides to remind ourselves:

  • which group students are in
  • what the WTW expectations are
  • what the WTW routines are
  • what the WTW schedule is

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download-icon Download the SMARTnotebook File

It’s important to note that the schedule is flexible.  While I may have four WTW groups, they may not all be doing the exact same activity each day; AND they may not move onto the next sort all at the same time.  I find that it’s important to be diagnostic with my teaching.  What this means is that students are observed and assessed.  They move when they’re ready.  This type of flexible teaching is important for student growth and development.  Would it be easier to keep every student on the same schedule and to have them do the same activity and move at the same time?  Of course!  It’d be easier on me, but not my students.  It’s not what’s best for them.

Below you can see the activity slides, with a short description.



Basic Sort (above): Students receive their new sort.  They color the back (as a measure to indicate who the sort belongs to).  They then cut and sort.  In subsequent days I model the sort to demonstrate how it’s done (display category cards, read categories, read words out loud, sort words).  We also develop vocabulary knowledge in subsequent days too!



Words in Sentences (above): Students sort their words first.  Then they select at least four words and write a sentence for each.  I challenge my higher level kids to find a way to write a short story with the words, so the sentences are connected and form a story!



Book Look (above):  Students sort their words.  They then read a familiar book and look for words that follow/have the same spelling pattern.  This is definitely a challenging task, and so it’s done after a lot of modeling.



Illustrated Words (above): After sorting their words, they select at least four words and illustrate them (and add the word as a label).  For students that have pictures (instead of words) for their sort, they do the same thing.  They draw their word, but are then challenged to spell each word.



Sound Hop (above): This is done with me.  Students either create a work mat, or I create one for them.  The frog (math frog manipulative) sits in the middle on his lily pad and waits for the word to be called out.  Students then listen for the “target sound” and jump to the correct quadrant.



Sound  Hop w/ Video (above):  Similar to the above mentioned game, but we add a video from YouTube to the routine.  The video demonstrates/teaches the target sound(s) on which we’re focusing.



Blind Sort (above):  After a quick sort, students participate in a blind sort.  I’ve seen a couple of variations of this activity.  We do blind sorts by partnering up, preferably with someone who has the same sort.  Students create categories in their notebooks.  They then call out words for their partner to spell and also spell words that their partner calls out to them.  Once a partner has written a word, their partner checks it and provides feedback.



Partner Memory (above):  Students must work with someone who has the same sort that they do.  The partners combine word cards, turn them word-face down, and then play memory.  Students read (out loud) each word they turn over and try to match words.  They keep the words they match.



Free Choice (above):  After demonstrating each of these options, students are able to self-select a way to practice writing their WTW words.


Do you you have any favorite Words Their Way routines, activities, or resources?

Share them below!

Working with Words Folders

I was recently asked where my “Working with Words folders (w/ pocket charts) were on my site.  This led me to discover that the page never was recreated.  Yikes!  I did find the photos on my computer and thankfully, Internet Archive Wayback Machine had an archive of my old site and I was able to find the original directions!


Materials Needed:

  • Pocket Charts ($1 from Target)
  • Notebooks
  • 3-Prong, 2-Pocket Folders
  • Sewing Machine
  • Thread
  • Scissors
  • 3-hole Paper Punch
  • Labels for Folders
  • Letter Cards
  • Letter Card Pouch Labels
  • Baseball Card Pouch Inserts

How did you create your Working with Words Folders?

I lined up the notebook on the pocket chart.  I cut off the bottom of the pocket chart (the part just below the last row).  I then cut up the side of the pocket chart and around the top, leaving the extra fabric above the top row of the student pocket chart so that I could fold it over when three hole punching it (added thickness).

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I then positioned the folder on top of the remaining pocket chart and cut up the sides and top (again leaving the extra fabric above the top row).  You can see the “extra pieces” in picture #3.  I threw away the sides and bottom part, but kept the top two rows part because I thought it looked useful (not sure WHAT for….though).  I then sewed the cut side (straight stitch and then a zig-zag stitch), and sewed the bottom (zig-zag).  Then, I three hole punched the top.  I had to make sure that I positioned the punch correctly (test one) and adjust if needed.

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Other Details:

  • I print the letter cards back to back, with lowercase on one side, and uppercase on the other side.  Laminating is optional.

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Downloads for Word Work Folders: download-icon

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