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Do You Need a Great Parent Involvement Bulletin Board?

One of the last things my principal asked me to do before I left school for summer is to make a bulletin board to advertise our need for “Watchdog Dads”.  Well, that is exactly what I did, but with a creative flair!  We had some clocks lying around, so I decided to use the clock to make a watch on the wall with a little riddle.

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As you can see the clock makes up the watch.WatchdogBulletinBoard-1

 

Then, I used push pens to attach the clock.  The clock is just hanging on them.

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My principal wanted me to use the T-shirts on the board…so here you have one with the shadow of a head stuck inside.WatchdogBulletinBoard-3

I hope this gets lots of fatherly attention for back to school!  If you want to learn more about Watchdog Dads, you can go here!

Use This Strategy to Easily Multiply Large Numbers and Fractions

You know the guys who easily multiply in their head who leave you picking your jaw up off of the floor?  Well, these folks have special strategies.  I am going to teach you one of these so that you can teach your students!

FirstSlide1, let’s look at this example with fractions.  If you double ½ you get one.  Instead of going through all of the steps it takes to multiply fractions, why not simply double the fraction and multiply?  In the case of one half or any other fraction with an even denominator, this process is simple.  ½ becomes 1.  Then multiplying by 1 is super simple.

In the case of a denominator such as ¼,  in the second example, you can double the number twice and halve the other number until you find a factor that is easy to multiply.  ¼ doubled becomes ½ and ½ doubled becomes 1.  As long as the other factor is easy to halve, this works great!

This may be done with mixed numbers as well.  As long as one of the numbers is even, you can double the other.

Now let’s look at examples with whole numbers.  Again, double one factor and halve the other.  Hmmmm 6 x 24. I don’t know that in my head, but I do know that I can easily double 6 to 12 and halve 24 to 12.  Wow!  I do know 12 x 12! 144!

I will skip the next two examples (12 x15 and 25 x 16) because these are self-explanatory.

Let’s look at 6 x 32.  If we double 6 and halve 32, we get 12 x 16.  Still not an easy fact.  Ok, I will try to double and halve again, and I get 24 x 8.  Hmm, again I don’t know that one.  Let’s try another time.  We get 48 x 4.  Whew!  Still difficult.  One more time.   Ok, 96 x 2.  To solve this problem, I will use a combination of strategies.  First I know that 96 is 4 away from 100.  If I have two groups of 4 away from 100, then I know that I will be 8 away from 200 because 96 is almost 100.  If I take 8 away from 200, this gives me 192.  Teach children through number talks etc. to think flexibly about numbers and ways to solve problems.  By teaching children these strategies, you will become stronger at solving math problems in your head as well!

Summer Giveaway Time! Win a $25 Amazon Giftcard!

While you are relaxing this summer, enter for a chance to win this sizzling summer giveaway– a $25 Amazon gift card!  I have teamed up with a group of bloggers to offer this special giveaway to you!

Amazon Giveaway June 14

GIVEAWAY DETAILS:
 
Prize: $25 Amazon Gift Card
 
 
Giveaway Organized by: An Apple for the Teacher

Rules: Use the Rafflecopter below to enter.

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Giveaway ends 6/22/16 and is open worldwide.

Are you a Teacher Blogger or Teachers pay Teachers seller who wants to participate in giveaways like these to grow your store and social media?  Click here to find out how you can join our totally awesome groups of bloggers!

Is Ladder Division Causing Your Students to Struggle? Try This!

When students struggle with ladder division, many times it is because they learned a procedure and haven’t made sense of the procedure for themselves.  In this case students haven’t had enough experiences with division problems that are near friendly numbers so that they can reason about the numbers. Try giving students some problems that are near friendly numbers first if you notice that they aren’t using number sense to form partial quotients.  For example, if students continue to subtract only small groups of ten and aren’t able to estimate a larger number for partial quotients, then try giving students numbers that are easier with which to estimate, like in the picture below.  Slide1In the above picture, I started with some students in intervention who started solving the problem using groups of ten.  2499 divided by 25 is obviously close to 2500.  Why not start with 100 groups and reason about taking away one group so that the quotient isn’t too large.  When students look at how they could estimate to solve this problem, they have a lightbulb moment.  Give them other examples like this to get students in the habit of solving problems with reasoning and number sense as opposed to a procedure.

The After-School Book Club that Worked For Me

I am teaming up with my dear blogger friend Pat McFadyen, a talented 5th grade teacher,  from Growing Grade by Grade to host a post she has written about book clubs.  We met at a recent TPT conference and have kept in touch ever since. I hope you enjoy!

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“Book clubs can be a valuable part of a school’s literacy program.  They can:

•Improve student reading fluency
•Present new vocabulary to students
•Introduce new ideas and concepts
•Teach students to consider others’ perspectives
•Teach students to present their own ideas
•Teach students to analyze books
•Encourage turn-taking

However, book clubs can only do all of the things if they work. Not all book clubs work. Here’s what  happened to mine…

About fifteen years ago, I was asked to coach an after-school book club for our 4th and 5th grade students. At the time, I had a self-contained 5th grade class, meaning I taught all subjects, so I felt confident enough with my ELA skills that I thought I could do it. I’d always wanted to have a book club, so I was really excited as I scheduled and organized.

Unsurprisingly, there was no money for books. I had to get really creative digging through old stashes of books in classrooms and the library to have enough copies for everyone to read the same title of a book they hadn’t already read. At this point, I don’t even remember the book we started with, but it doesn’t matter. The results would have been the same.

Within a couple of weeks, the group was experiencing problems. Faster readers were already finished with the first book and anxiously ready to discuss it and move on to the next one. Slower readers were struggling. Less serious club members were using the time as a social club. Over-scheduled kids missed meetings. I was moving away from “friendly book club coach and mentor” to “teacher who has to fuss to get kids to do their work”.  No one was really happy.

We stumbled along like this for a while. I was ready to throw in the towel and tell my administrator that the club wasn’t working and I wanted to close it out. I was dejectedly web surfing one night (and keep in mind this was long before really good browsers – or even Facebook! – so results could be sketchy), when I found a teacher chat group. One wonderful teacher mentioned that she had had good results with a “genre book club”. Instead of choosing one book for everyone to read, she chose a genre of literature. She collected as many examples of the genre as possible and let students pick from that collection. There wasn’t a lot more information, but it stopped me in my tracks.

The advantages of a genre book club flooded my thoughts. I felt that choosing a genre and offering students a selection of different titles within the genre would immediately solve some of my most pressing problems.

For our next meeting, I greeted students with a pile of books – literally! I chose the genre “Humor” to begin with and almost cleaned out our school library of joke books, comic-type books, and obviously funny, funny books. I explained to the book club members what I was doing and why. I very honestly shared why I was disappointed in how the club was going. I made it clear I was not disappointed in the students, but in how a one-book focus and a lack of resources seemed to be limiting our progress and enjoyment of reading.

I explained that we would start with Humor as our first genre study, but would gladly take suggestions for our next one. We would keep the time limit for each genre study open in case we wanted to extend one genre or cut short another one.

During that meeting, I briefly discussed the characteristics of Humor as a literary genre. I made it into a poster for later reference. Then, we dove into the stack of books. Hands reached over each other, searching for an interesting title. In just a few minutes, every student had a book. And…they read.

They read! They quietly, absorbedly read our books. For almost the first time, I saw students enjoying reading in our book club. To keep the momentum going, I kept the books checked out of the library under my name and had the club members check them out from me. They could come by my classroom at any time to return/check out these books as much as possible. When we met the next week, we shared what we enjoyed, what we didn’t enjoy, and how the books fit into the Humor genre.

The school year was almost over by this time and we didn’t have many more book club meetings. We were able to include the Poetry and Short Story genres. Most importantly, we ended the book club on a high note with at least some enthusiasm intact.

Lesson learned: If I ever sponsor another book club at the elementary level, I will seriously consider making it a Genre Book Club. I can’t guarantee this would be the best format for middle school or high school, but as an option for developing readers, the Genre Book Club is a seriously viable option.

In a nutshell, these are the advantages of a Genre Book Club. While offering the same benefits of a traditional book club, it can also:

•Eliminate or reduce the need to spend money on multiple copies of the same title
•Allow use of books from your school library
•Give students more choice in what they read
•Offer students a wide range of reading levels within the same genre
•Offer opportunities for students to read at their own speed
•Provide a feeling of ownership and responsibility over their own learning
•Discover personal preferences in books
•Solidify understanding of the characteristics of each genre

If I coached a book club again, I would also offer a way for students to respond privately about their reading and to encourage accountability. Follow this link to check out my Genre Book Report product.

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How To Start A Genre Book Club

If you are tasked with organizing a book club of any description, here is a list of steps to have it up and running successfully.

1.Always get approval from administration. It’s more efficient to have a plan to present before you approach them.
2.Decide what age/grade range you will include in the club.
3.Decide how many students you can comfortably accommodate.
4.Look at the length of time you’ll have. One semester? Two? A single 9-week grading period? How often will you meet? Weekly? Bi-weekly? Create a schedule – either a list-type or an actual calendar. I recommend a calendar because you can see where holidays and special school activities fall. It is helpful to parents when you send home a calendar with your club members.
5.Pick the days that your book club will meet. It’s certainly better to choose the same day each week or each meeting, but sometimes that’s just not possible. Plug these days into your schedule.
6.Decide how you will invite students to join the book club. Will it be a blanket invitation to a grade level? Will it be a personal invitation to selected students? Will there be an RSVP deadline? If parents must provide transportation, make sure it is clearly stated in the invitation. Consider how much advertising you will do to get the word out.
7.Decide how each meeting will progress. Will you serve refreshments? If so, decide how will you access them, via dedicated funds or parents volunteers.Where will you meet? Will you sit on the floor or at tables? Who will run the meeting? It is nice when students can begin to take on leadership roles of this type, but I recommend that the coach/mentor/sponsor begin leading so students can see how it is properly done.
8.Decide on a potential list of genres that you’d like to explore. Use the attached Basic Literary Genres list FREEBIE to get some ideas. Present your genre list to your club members at the first meeting. Consider letting students decide which genre to study next.
9.When you have your genre list, create a poster or other visual that lists the main characteristics of each one. These will be a handy reference tool. Consider using the 22 posters in my Genre Book Club product.
10.Go ahead and choose the first genre. “Humor” worked for me, but there are many others that would work.
11.Collect the books that you will offer to club members for your first genre. If your school library allows, use as many of their titles as possible. Include a wide range of reading levels in your selection of books.
12.Attend your first meeting. Discuss the nature of a Genre Book Club, your schedule,  and members’ responsibility. Start reading as soon as possible.
13.Enjoy your book club! Remember that you are helping students to enjoy reading and increase their literacy skills. What’s not to love?

Best of luck to any and all who sponsor/coach/mentor our readers! If you ever get the chance to run a book club, consider a Genre Book Club. It just might be right for your students.”

I hope you enjoyed that fabulous post about her book clubs!  Make sure to stop by her TPT store
to pick up a copy of her Genre Book Club product!

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Teacher Appreciation Sale!

Don’t miss out!  May 3rd and 4th there will be a Teacher Appreciation Sale! Many items will be 28% off!  All items in my store will be 28% off!  This is the time to get all of those items on your wish list!

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Dollar Deals on TPT!!!

It’s like the Dollar Store except on TPT!  All you have to do is type #onedaydollardeal on April 24th in the search box on TPT to find teachers’ products that are selling for $1!  I have put five of my products on sale for this event–two of my newest ones are $1!  Happy Shopping!

 

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How Can You Make the Most of Addition Flashcards?

STOP IT!  JUST STOP IT!  If you want to bore kids out of their minds and keep them from wanting to learn their addition facts, give them a box of  flash cards and say, “Here, practice these.”

  1.  Kids are overwhelmed with the whole stack.
  2. Kids are bored and most likely off task shortly after you have given them the stack of cards.
  3. They have no way to help make connections with the patterns if the cards are disorganized.

For these reasons and probably a few more, using flashcards cause little impact upon learning.

SO….Do this!

Have students sort their cards by helping strategy.  For example, have students pull out all of the doubles facts and stack them.  Then have them pull out all of the doubles + 1 facts and stack them.  Haves students layer the cards so that the doubles sit on top of the doubles + 1 facts.  That way they look at one that is familiar and then progress to one that isn’t as familiar.  For example, place 5 + 5 on top of  5 + 6.  If 5+5=10, 5+6 must be one more–11.

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The easy doubles facts helps students know that the doubles +1 facts are just one more in their answer.  Not only this, but you are teaching properties of operations when students layer their flashcards.  Furthermore, layering the cards by helping strategy helps them make a matching game of sorts out of their flashcards.

You can also layer sums of ten on top of sums of ten + 1 for the same effect etc.  Always have students layer their math fact cards to help them learn patterns.  When they learn facts with patterns, they have something to “hang” or attach their learning to which produces a higher impact than handing them the whole box.

For a printable version of these flashcards complete with printable backs, you can go here.

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All sums to 19 are included.  These cards ARE separated by helping strategy complete with teacher notes so that you can print them in color and arrange them more easily by their helping strategy.

 

Do You Have this Testing Secret Weapon?

Last week we began our state testing for our 3rd-5th grade students.  We started with the 3rd grade group since we have to rotate children through our computer lab to do online testing.  Sadly, many of the students were coughing and we used almost two entire Kleenex boxes of tissue by the end of the week.  Because of this I decided to bring in my testing secret weapon!

(Star Wars music playing in the background.  Enter: Diffuser and Young Living Peppermint Oil!)

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This helped students breathe better, freshened up the testing area, and best of all, helped kids focus on their test!  The proctors also mentioned how well they could breathe while smelling the Young Living peppermint oil! Since I have been made the testing coordinator this year, I needed a little happiness to help calm my emotional stress.  Peppermint helps me feel happy :), so I brought the oil for myself just as much as for my students!

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There you have it folks!  My testing secret weapon!!!

If you want to learn more about the oils I did another post here about them.  If you want to buy some peppermint oil go here.

Don’t Cause This Misconception When Teaching Angles!

We all have started out teaching right angles like this…

“Okay, class this is a right angle.”

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But, have we left it at that and gone on to teach other terms such as acute and obtuse?

Then students are left to draw their own conclusions when faced with this.

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Obviously to a child, this is a left angle because it is facing the opposite direction and the opposite of right is left!

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Or if left to their own conclusions, this is a left, down angle.

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And, yes, all of the angles pictured above are in fact…right angles.

It is up to you to make sure students see angles in lots of different directions so that they do not form misconceptions about angles.

So how can students test to make sure that right angles are, in fact, right.  Well, they can just use a paper corner such as a sticky note or the corner of their paper.

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Each time they come across an angle they can put the paper corner in the angle to know if it fits exactly.  If it fits exactly, it is right!  If it covers one of the sides (rays) of the angle, it is acute and if one of the rays of the angle sticks out, it is obtuse…but that is another post for another day 🙂