Before the walls are completely cleaned off for the end of school, I snapped a few pictures of the things I hung up around school to help students estimate and measure all the time. Maybe these will give you some ideas that you can incorporate in your school or classroom.
I placed a scale near the restrooms so that students could weigh themselves in kilograms. Students needed extra experience weighing themselves with kilograms since that unit isn’t common for us in the U.S. Most digital scales you can buy now have a switch on the back that will convert weight to pounds or kilograms. Just check the box before you buy one.
I also had multiple rulers and yardsticks hot glued to the wall so that students could estimate the length of walls as they stood in line waiting. Here is one of the walls that I had a yardstick glued to. Unfortunately I waited till the end of the year to snap a picture and the sign is a bit tattered , but you get the idea.
You know how you try things out at the end of the year preparing for the next year? Well, I tried out something and DID lose my dignity, but the kids loved it! I dressed up as a mathemagician …more specifically The Masked Mathemagician! I told the kids that Ms. K had sent the magician to tell the special news. I did this to announce our Math Wars awards. I had one big contest at the end of the year where I awarded students in the top three places for Reflex Math AND the top three classes in K-2 and 3-5. I bought a cape and mask at Wal-Mart in the toy section for $6.97 and borrowed a glittery black hat from a teacher down the hall. At the last minute, I thought to use a ruler for my magic wand. I just used a plain one, but I think I will glitz it up for next year. I’m also thinking of adding white gloves. Anyhow, I ran into our morning meeting (that we have every day) dressed up, and children’s gasps could be heard as I ran in. One of the teachers told me later that the students stopped eating when they saw me. (Our morning meeting is in the cafeteria.) After I announced the winners, I took off my little costume in the side room, so that the kids wouldn’t see me change. The kids told me all day that they saw me dressed up. I kept telling them that it wasn’t me dressed up, but my friend. Most kids knew it was me of course. One kindergartener said, “Really it looked just like you!”
I dressed up like this on a whim because of a presentation called “Math Math, Better Than a Bath” that I saw at the NCTM conference this year. The presenter described wearing a silly hat etc. to do math contests like creating silly math poems and math jokes. I think in the myriad of test prep and accountability we forget that kids live in a world of make believe, imagination, and fun. To really reach them, sometimes it is necessary to speak their language of imagination…and this coming from someone who likes to remain behind the scenes and not make a spectacle of themselves…me!
Below is pictured my $6.97 cape and mask, borrowed glitter hat, and magic ruler wand (which I will be improving in the future).
This year for the final Math Wars contest, I decided to use Reflex Math instead of a paper pencil timed test like I had been doing. A little plug for Reflex Math here…I LOVE it as do the kids (more about Reflex here). In case your school or district is thinking of purchasing this program, get it! It has definitely made a difference in our students’ math fact fluency. Since I wanted to give out awards for the Math Wars with NO budget, I made some. I had some large gold stars left over from another project, but I needed something to stabilize them on so I found four cones in a package for $3 at Wal-Mart. Since hot glue is the answer to just about everything that needs to be stuck somewhere at school, I hot glued the stars to the cones. Then I got some scrapbooking stickers at Hobby Lobby to label the stars. The stickers were 40% off the week I got them. Then I found some little medals for the kids on clearance for 75 cents for a package of about 8 (yay!) I bought extra packages because I can always use these for something. The medals are plastic but look almost as good as metal ones. Since the ribbon in the package was kind of short, I used some nicer ribbon that I happened to have on hand from another project. Pictured below are my trophies and medals.
I just ordered these Battista books to help implement the common core math standards for each grade level at school. To my delight, the books list a link to extra free resource tasks! There is a book for place value, multiplication and division, fractions, geometric measurement, and addition and subtraction, hence there are FREE resources for all of these.
Next click on the link that says “companion resources”. This will take you to all of the free tasks for that particular math book.
Here is a sample of one of the tasks:
Now there is less to wonder about. Admittedly living in disequilibrium and uncertainty all year about how students will be tested in the future, I now see a glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel. I perused the PARCC assessment items that are up to view. There are now more questions up than there used to be, so now I have a better understanding of how students will be asked common core questions. Now I know how rigorous I need to be in my question asking of students. I suggest you take a look to if you are one of the PARCC states.
I noticed that students are doing a lot of writing about their mathematical thinking, so it looks like math journals will come in really handy. Also, students answer questions in which there could be more than one right answer or more than one way to arrive at the answer. They also seem to love fraction number line questions!
Here is the site. http://www.parcconline.org/samples/mathematics/grade-3-mathematics Click on the grade level you want to look at.
Then click below to access the tasks. Also take the time to read about the 3 different types of tasks.
Then click on Elementary School Tasks.
I’ve just been searching to see if there are new PARCC assessment items out so that I could have a glimpse at the way we will be tested. I have checked periodically this year to see what the PARCC items will be like, but there was never much available to see. Well, while clicking on the tasks I was taken to another page which has lots of sample free common core tasks which are VERY similar to the PARCC assessment Here is the site: http://www.illustrativemathematics.org. Just click on the right sidebar where it says illustrations.
You will have to click along the bottom on the blue numbers to go to higher grades.
Here is my absolute favorite session from NCTM (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics). The presenter was a lady from Canada who brought The Learning Carpet for us to see. The learning carpet is a 10 by 10 grid of empty squares that you can use for many things, but it is especially useful for a large 100′s chart.
The number cards are 6 1/2 inches square and made out of card stock. Students in groups of five can see how fast they can place the number cards on the carpet. This can be easily differentiated by giving the easier numbers to the struggling learners and the larger numbers to the students who need a challenge.
Students can also be asked to pick up the numbers whose digits makes sums of 10 or any number. Students will start to see patterns such as how different sums follow diagonals. I felt dumb when she showed us this because I had never noticed that the sums make diagonals.
In the above picture you can see the gray squares on the mat. You could easily make this on a tarp with paint or tape to show the number boxes. The gray boxes are 6 1/2 inches and the black stripes on the grid lines are 1/2 an inch. If I made one of these carpets, I would make the squares actually bigger so that feet could more easily fit inside the boxes. I ordered the book with all the games that you can play so I could make my own if I wanted. Next year, there may be money in the budget to actually purchase some of the carpets.
The amazing thing about the fact that there are no numbers on the grid actually teaches more number sense. Students are made to think about number relationships to find spaces on the grid. If asked to find any number on the blank grid students have to understand the relationships between the numbers. For example, if trying to find 57 on the grid, students will know that all the sevens are in a column so that 57 will be in the column with sevens. A marker can be thrown on the grid and then students have to tell what number space that it landed on. They can walk on the carpet to help them figure it out.
The grid can be used for bar graphs or coordinate grids. The grid can also be used for area and perimeter like below.
There are so many fun activities you can do with this carpet, and I love the idea of the students actually being able to get up and stand on it to be involved. If you want to order the resources you can buy learning carpets and resources here. The kindergarten teacher who designed these is in Canada, and this is the only place you can buy them. They don’t sell through a larger distributor like Amazon etc. I have no stock in these, I just think that it is a great idea whether you order the ones she makes or make your own.
I was assigned the duty of doing one of our cafeteria bulletin boards this month, so with lots of thought I decided on the title “Right Answers Keep Falling on My Head”. This title came as a marriage of an April rain showers theme and a testing theme–the spring state testing is a huge deal at my school. I used a math font that creates testing bubbles so that I could put test bubbles inside the rain drops. I double spaced these and just cut the drops out free-handed. I used bulletin board paper to create the umbrella which I sketched out free-handed. Next I wanted to put the back of a little girls head on the bottom so the rain drops could actually be falling on a child’s head. We have a predominately African American student population, so I tried to mimic the cute, twisty ponytails that the girls wear. I took black yarn and wrapped it around a piece of circular cut cardboard for the girls head. To create the ponytails, I wrapped yarn around the top of a copy paper box. Then I tied it off so it would go around the circular cardboard. Next, I cut the ends of the huge yarn loop that I had wrapped around the box lid so that they would be loose to twist like braids. Finally, I braided/twisted the yarn to look like little twisty braids and finished them off with yellow bows. I hope this will spark an idea for you to use!
The idea of belonging to a club makes kids feel like they belong. With that said, one of our kindergarten teachers came up with the idea of belonging to the “100 Club”. What does it take to belong to the 100 Club? Well, you guessed it…you must be able to count to 100! I took this idea a step further and suggested that we hang all of the kids pictures on the wall that were in the 100 club. We will add to this as the remaining students are able to count to 100. The kids have taken an extra interest in counting to 100 especially if their pictures aren’t on the wall! This display of the students’ pictures has grabbed students’ attention of course as well as parents and staff members. We even have a kindergartener that told her teacher, “I counted to 100 in my pillow 3 times last night before I went to bed.”