Archive | September, 2014

Group Gigs (aka Group Job Titles)

3 Sep

Group GigsI’m slightly obsessed with alliteration, and I really want my group work/centers to be successful this year. Keeping those two things in mind I created a system that I hope will be really beneficial for group work this year. Yesterday I described the trays I use as notebooking supply stations. On these trays I’ve taped four numbers, and each of the four numbers is a different color. The numbers are how I give new seats and randomly call on students. The colors are for group jobs.  I also have a poster in the front of my room with job titles and colored arrows that match the colors on the tray numbers. I rotate the arrows each morning. As you can see from the photo my job titles are Discussion Director (I feel like I stole this from lit circles), Class Communicator, Inquiry Investigator, and Materials Master. Since I had all these alliterative titles, I felt like Group Job Titles just wasn’t cutting it. So that’s why I’m calling them my Group Gigs.

Check out the pics of the colored numbers on the trays –

TraysDescriptions of Gigs

Discussion Director

This student is essentially the leader of the group. He or she will always go first, and lead the discussion. He or she will also make sure all group members have completed their task before moving on. I also am going to have the Discussion Director go first when playing games or centers.

Class Communicator

This student will report group findings to the entire class. So after they’ve had time to work in groups, when we bring it back to the whole class, the Class Communicator will share his or her groups’ answers or decisions. (This prevents the same person from always sharing).

Inquiry Investigator

This student’s job is all about questions. It’s almost like he or she is the group liaison with the teacher. If the group has a question, the Inquiry Investigator seeks me out to ask the question. Then he or she will report back to the group. Also if I’m checking in on groups while they are working, the Inquiry Investigator is responsible for telling me how the group is doing. This is different from the class communicator. The Inquiry Investigator communicates just with me, not with the whole class.

Materials Master

The student who is the Materials Master is in charge of making sure all the supplies get back into the tray. He or she is also responsible for letting me know if materials need to be replaced. The Materials Master is the only student who has a job every day. If we’re not doing group work for some reason the other three get the day off.

Notebook PageI designed these groups so that each student would have some accountability. I’m really looking forward to implementing them. To introduce the jobs to the students we created a page in their notebooks with Gig Descriptions. I had students copy me, and we wrote down what each Gig “Does” and “Does Not”. We discussed each job and several scenarios. We also spent some time talking about what “Inquiry” means.






Here’s what I had the students put in their notebook…

Notebook Job DescriptionsSample Implementation of Group Gigs

Say you give your students 5 problems to work on in groups. Everyone would start working on the problems 1 by 1. When the Discussion Director notices everyone has completed the first problem he says “I got 17 for problem one. Did anyone else get a different answer?” They all agree except for one person. That student explains why her answer is correct. Now the group cannot decide who is right. They send the Inquiry Investigator to me so I can check their work. They move onto the next problem. Meanwhile I’m checking with another group’s Inquiry Investigator to see what his group got for problem 1. After I’ve given the groups time to finish the five problems, and I’ve checked in with every Investigator, I bring the whole class back together. I start by asking group 1’s Class Communicator to share their findings for problem 1, ask the other Communicators if they got the same or different answer, and then continue to check answers. At the end of the class I remind the Materials Master to check the supply tray and report any issues to me.

How do you use group jobs in your classroom? Hopefully you can use some of my ideas here, but feel free to adjust for your needs.


New to Notebooking

3 Sep

Hello teaching world! It’s been a while. I assume like me, everyone else is already back in their classrooms. I’m looking forward to another year of teaching math. I’ve made it a personal (and fairly professional) goal of mine to blog more. I’m hoping for at least a blog entry every Tuesday. Hopefully you (my wonderful followers) will find this helpful.

Interactive Notebook PicToday’s entry is about notebooks. This year I’m going to try my own version of interactive notebooks with my kids. Last year my students really struggled with organization. I wanted to come up with a better system for them. After talking with my team (the english, social studies, and science teachers), we decided on a system that we hope will be beneficial to all of the students.

Each class is color coded, math being blue. Students were instructed to get a blue, spiral notebook and a blue 3-hole punched folder. Then I gave each student two 2-inch binder rings to clip the two together. We’re also going to attach their workbooks with the binder rings. Each class has a different colored folder/notebook combo. Red – Language arts, Green – science, Yellow – Spanish, and so on. This eliminates the gigantic trapper keepers and gives the kids places for each classes materials. Being an organizational freak I looooove this system. It’s also so much less for the kids to carry. We also had them put together a “homeroom” folder. This is two binder rings with their school planner, a folder for papers to go home to parents, and their pencil pouch. This homeroom folder goes with them to every class. The main picture of this post is one of the examples of what students will be using in my class.

 Notebook Setup

These are the items I started my notebook with. For more information about each element, read on!

  • Table of Contents
  • Class Expectations
  • Notebook Rules
  • Notebook Rubric
  • Notebook Contract

Table of Contents

I’m going to have students number the pages in their notebook and create a table of contents so they can find the things they need. I started setup by having the students open to the first page in the notebook and write “Table of Contents” at the top in the margin. Then we numbered the page in the upper right-hand corner. Then we listed the items that we were going to put in the notebook. I had them write a 2 in the upper left-hand corner on the back of page 1. We left this page blank so that we can write in more items later after page 1 is full.

Page 1

Class Expectations

I had typed up my classroom expectations and grading policies for the students. I wanted them to keep this in their notebook, so I decided to put it first. To create these documents I typed them in Word, and used wide margins in the page layout section. This way students with smaller notebooks can still fit the entire sheet in their notebook. Then I put up a dashed line border, so they would have a guide to cutting out their sheet.

Pages 2 and 3Notebook Rules

For the notebook rules I modified the rules found from this Teachers Pay Teachers site. I wanted the students to have a separate contract, so I cut off the bottom portion where they sign. I do love the idea of putting a reason behind the rules though.

Page 4Notebook Rubric

I found a fantastic free rubric here:

Thank you Frogs and Cupcakes whoever you are. I’m planning on grading the notebooks after every Chapter Test. But I told the students I could randomly grab and grade them at anytime to keep them on their toes. 🙂

Page 5

Notebook Contract

Last item we put in today was the notebook contract. We read through the items as a class, and the students agreed the contract was reasonable. For their first assignment I had students create a cover for the notebook that we’re going to tape on tomorrow with packing tape. I’m looking forward to seeing their math-y covers. Here’s a link to the contract I used for the notebook.  It’s free and editable so you can take out my name. This will also give you a sample rectangle to see the size I used.

Page 6 - ContractSome thoughts on getting printed papers into the notebooks…

I had students use their method of choice today – glue stick, tape or stapler. I found tape to be the best, but I feel like we’re going to go through a lot of tape. So I may change my mind on that one. I had to show students the best way to glue stick a rectangle (ie. don’t coat the entire back of the paper with glue). The stapler was okay, except I only have mini-staplers for the students to use so it didn’t always reach to the paper. Hopefully everything stays in.


While I’m on a roll here I’m going to tell you about the notebooking supply stations I created. Students were told to keep scissors and tape or glue stick in their pencil pouches. You and I both know that’s not always going to be the case. So I made little stations for each group of four. This wasn’t super cheap, but I know it will save me (and the students) headache in the long run. I glued a cup and basket down to the tray. My plan is to use the empty half of the tray for papers that students need to put in their notebooks. I put the necessities in each tray, and then typed up a list of what should be in the tray at all times. You can see this in the picture below. Each day a different student in the group of four will be responsible for making sure the supplies are all there. You can read more about that in my future blog post.

Notebooking Supply Station Pic

Shew! That was a long one. Feel free to comment with your suggestions and questions. I love hearing from everyone. I hope everyone’s off to a great start!