Everyone loves a good printable. But while printables and worksheets look cute, they’re not always the best for higher order thinking, collaboration, and creativity. I was asked during a Digital Cohort class to go around the school where the class was taking place and to take pictures of student work around the building. What we noticed were the “cute” things hanging on the wall were all the same (slightly differently colored) versions of the exact same thing.
Here are my top five TpT purchases that have helped me differentiate, personalize, and keep my sanity.
1. Error Analysis & Constructed Response (Math problems). During math rotations I usually do some variation of: Math with Me, Math by Myself, Math with a Partner, and Math with my iPad. During the collaborative station, I have the students work in pairs to answer a constructed response question or look at a problem that was solved incorrectly to find and analyze the mistake. I’m killing two birds with one stone; the students are working on collaboration and communication skills, but also looking deeply at math problems .
2. Marzano Learning Scale Templates. As mentioned in an earlier post, I have an entire binder that is color-coded by math standard. Each math standard has the learning scale listed on one side and a QR code on the back. The learning/proficiency scale lets the students know what is expected of them in kid friendly terms. The QR codes take them to a padlet page (see previous post) with videos, examples, and practice problems for each standard.
3. QR Code Task Cards. There are too many to post. When I am working with small groups in math, the students working independently, or with pairs are not allowed to interrupt my group to ask questions. Having them do problems with QR codes showing them the answers lets them self-assess and I don’t get interrupted every five minutes.
4. Writer’s Workshop Deli-Style Conferencing and Smartboard Attendance. In two words: life savers. Both of these interactive downloads save me time. The attendance smartboard has a different page for each month of the year (and a few extra). The students move their name each morning and I can quickly glance at the board to see who’s absent. (The kids especially loved January, where they “threw” their snowballs to show they were present.) The writer’s workshop powerpoint has students take a number. When I’m ready to conference with the next student, I click the spacebar on my laptop, and the next number pops up on the smartboard (plus a ‘ding’ chime) which alerts the class I’m ready to move on. Who doesn’t love streamlining and saving time?!
5. Pre and Post Tests (Math Standards). I am working on a document that will have all of my pre and post test in one place. In the mean time, creating questions for each math standard by myself is beyond time consuming. I’m not trying to create more work for myself, so using some pre-made questions, or tweaking them slightly is another way to save some time. Work smarter, not harder!
6. Data checklists (ELA & Math). I use these checklists to chart all the data I receive from pre and post math tests. I can write in level 4, 3, 2, 1 depending on the results and change them as they prove they’ve mastered a standard. Again, I didn’t want to recreate the wheel. These are close to what I would have created myself.