Sunday, January 11, 2015

Math Fact Fluency

In the primary grades, it is so important for students to gain math fluency.  It will help them the rest of their lives.  But some get it quick and others need LOTS of practice throughout the school year and beyond.

One thing that I think promotes fluency and my students just love is our daily math password.  Every day I write a problem on the board and as the students come into the classroom they whisper it in my ear.  Sometimes I help them with the problem by suggesting a strategy (count on).

Another whole group game that excites my students every time is what some call the Snowball Game.  I have my students sit around the carpet facing out with whiteboards on their laps.  When I say "GO!", they grab two snowballs, open and add.  This game has so many uses...and it's FUN!

One other thing that we do to gain fluency with math facts to 20 is practice on our desks with dry erase markers.  The kids are so quiet on the days that we do this which is an added bonus!

 I also  try to use objects and problems that the students might find in the real world.  I want them to see math is important and is useful.

I created a pack of no prep activities to print and use at any time that my students need more practice with fact fluency.  This pack is great for whole-group, independent practice, centers or even homework.  These activities are a fun way to help support all learners.

At the end of the day, I just want my students to go to the grocery store and be able to do mental math and not be the person counting on their fingers!

Saturday, January 10, 2015

Dollar Tree Ideas #1

We all know that teachers are cheap....we have to be!  Today I was at the Dollar Tree and I bought a couple things for my math centers.

First up is Calendar Addition.  I purchased a calendar from the Dollar Tree and wrote numbers on each day.  The idea is to add numbers in the calendar.  What's great about this center is that it is differentiated.  So it can be used for various levels within your classroom.

I created task cards and a recording sheet at different levels.  This FREEBIE is here for you --->  Calendar Addition

This calendar had an extra page.  Students could add the columns for an advanced challenge.

Next, is Parking Lot Addition.  My students love anything to do with cars!  I thought it would be fun for them to park the cars and add the numbers from the parking spaces.  Again, I differentiated for practice at various levels.  I think this one will be a hit!

I hope your students enjoy!

Wednesday, January 7, 2015

A Slightly Different Take

When planning for this math unit, I knew I wanted the students to use their work to goal set.  We've done this all year but I was looking for a little more impact.

The students' interactive math journals have become a bit disorganized (this is an understatement) for some and I didn't feel that they were able to see the progression of their abilities. That's when the unit interactive math journal came in.  What better way to see your progress than having it clumped together?

It's all the about the needs of the kids BUT this helps me too!  Since they aren't as bulky I can have them turn them in daily and I can give immediate feedback.  When progress reports or report cards roll around I have a great, progressive way to show parents their child's mathematical understandings.  And I can also help the students track their data and goal set...not just using one assignment but using all their work from the unit.

Here is the simple journal made mostly from all that notebook paper that you never use by the end of the year.  

On the inside cover my students have addition and subtraction poems and the rubric for the WHOLE unit.  These are in my TPT unit Three-Digit Addition and Subtraction With Regrouping

Here is a journal prompt with the students work and their (immediate feedback) score from the rubric.

Just for reference, we work on these mats A LOT before we delve into our journals each day.

And everyday we refer back to the unit's rubric to push our thinking and goal set.

My students commented today that I am like Danny Tanner from Full House because I like everything SO organized.  I think it was a compliment.  Either way I know that they see the journals as uber organized, which pleases me because they will need it all throughout their lives!

So if your journals are disasters like mine or you don't have enough notebooks for your students, I highly recommend my easy-peasy way!!

Dogs are barking...time to go.
Have a great night!

Saturday, January 3, 2015

It Must Be...

...time to go back to school.  The planning has begun and out of it it came this TPT Pack for Three-Digit Addition and Subtraction with Regrouping.

Check it out!

Included in the pack:
-Rubric for the unit
-An end of unit assessment
-Addition & Subtraction Work Mat
-Addition & Subtraction Posters
-10 Journal Prompts
-10 Interactive Notebook Activities
-4 Math Centers

Monday, December 29, 2014

Meaningful time

I fell in a trap this year.  I didn't make every minute meaningful for my students.  I followed the crowd even when I knew it wasn't working.  It was easier for me.

Although I was very aware of the choice I was making, I decided to over look it.  Then Debbie Miller's smart words made me rethink my easy choice.

I am reading the book No More Independent Reading Without Support by Debbie Miller and Barbara Moss.  In the book, Debbie (yes, we are on first name basis...jk) writes a section titled NOT THIS, Is There Enough Time? And Is Time Enough to Support Independent Reading?  Now I already have independent reading time in my classroom and I don't see giving it up...I've already made the time for it.  I'm reading the book to compare it to my practices and to support teachers that are having a hard time with Independent Reading.  BUT Debbie's words brought to light some other practices that I have included that aren't meaningful to the whole class.

What I'm talking about is Daily Oral Language.  Now I'm not saying it isn't meaningful to all kids but it wasn't/isn't working for my students.  It was the first thing we did when we came in the room.  The students got it out, worked on it ( by worked on I mean recopied the words with no corrections) and we went over it.  When I would circulate the room I noticed it wasn't transferring.  We talked about capitals, punctuation, proper nouns, etc.  but they still weren't using it in their writing.  I realized it was working for about three students.  That's only 15% of my class.  But I hung on and kept trying and still it only worked for 15% of my students.

Finally I acknowledged it.  It was hard to admit to myself that I wasted their time for too long.  

I changed the time to a Words-Their-Wayish time.  The ish comes in because I have made it work for my class and the time we have.   So I have a couple things that I have created that are working for my students.

The students have a notebook with the directions pasted to the front and an envelope (or you could use a baggie) adhered to the back.  The students cut the sort on Monday and store it in the envelope all week and glue on Friday.

There are 18 sorts for you in all!

Now to get back to my original problem...

 I decided that the work they were doing during Daily Oral Language was better suited to address during conferring while the students are actually expected to make it transfer.  We also admire each others work and this gave me an opportunity to select work in which the students were actually transferring it.  Read below to find out more about Admiration Frames.

To begin each writing block, I select a student’s work in which I have noted something interesting they were trying, and project it for all the students to see.  I give them time to talk about what they are noticing and admiring about the work with a partner.  Then students share out what they noticed the student author doing while I write it down and stick it on the paper.  This has transformed my students’ writing because once they see what their peers are trying out they feel safe to be creative with their own writing. 

This strategy is so helpful because it can be used for all areas of writing.  If you notice your students need to work on punctuation, you select a piece that is full of proper punctuation.  If you want to discuss why an author might use bold words, then you select a piece with that in it.  It helps create a seamless shift into your lesson for the day and it creates pride in your students.  When I felt that the students were ready to add dialogue in their stories I shared a student’s writing that already had dialogue.  I never pinpoint why I select the work but the students always seem to admire it.  After we admire the writing we hang it around the room.  Many times students leave their writing spot to go and look at one of these pieces for inspiration.  This strategy really created a classroom full of students that appreciate words and writing and it has become their favorite time of the day.

I know this is VERY late but I wanted to share the rest of our days with our elf, Twinkle.

That silly guy created a slip and slide and at the end he had snowflake rings for all the kids IN THE WATER!

Then he became a hermit crab to keep Mr. Crabs and Roxy company.

When he missed the workshop, he brought in his own.

Twinkle got fancy with a new bow-tie.

He gave the bow-tie to his camel turned reindeer and dressed up like Santa with a beard and sleigh!

Then Twinkle and camel/reindeer started hanging out on the window coverings....

...AND from the garland hanging from the ceiling.

Then, sadly, it was time to say good-bye.  So Twinkle and Noel, the elf next door, met in our common area for the big send off.  Of course treats were involved!

Here are the pictures from his whole stay...


We sure did enjoy our time with him.  I'm thinking of bringing in a lawn gnome to help Twinkle keep watch in his absence!!

Enjoy your break,