Since I am my school’s math coach, all during the year I announce a problem of the week to the students at our morning assembly. Each problem of the week is a multiple choice released item test question. Students answer the question and explain how they know the answer, and then they place their answer through the slot in the answer boxes I have set up in the hallway. At the end of the week, I pull one answer from the box at our morning assembly and the winners get a prize. Since I have a question for primary kids and for intermediate kids, there are two boxes and I pull a winner from each box. The afternoon before I pull a winner, I check to make sure the students’ answers are correct, and I eliminate the wrong submissions and the submissions that are not explained.
In addition to having a problem of the day submission on a school wide basis, some teachers have created their own personal classroom problem of the day boxes to practice questions that are more often missed. They pull a name from the box daily and reward the winner.
When teaching time, students have difficulty understanding that the day has twenty four hours because there are only 12 numbers on a clock. To help students understand a.m and p.m build a linear clock. To make a large linear clock that involves all of your students, give students each two sentence strips. Have students fold each sentence strip in half three times. This will make eight sections. Overlap the two sections of the sentence strip so that you now have a very long strip with fourteen sections. Assign each student a different hour of the day. For example, one student will have 1 a.m, another 2 a.m. and so on. The folds on the strips will represent five minute intervals. Students should start writing on the second section, so that the blank sections can be attached to the next hour. A student will begin writing the five minute intervals on each fold like so, 1:00, 1:05, 1:10, 1:15, 1:20, 1:25, 1:30, 1:35, 1:40, 1:45, 1:50 1:55. Then there should be a blank section left afterwards so that the last section may be attached to the next hour. Between the five minute intervals, student may draw four little marks to represent the minutes or little tics on a clock between the numbers. Provided you have 24 students, you will now have a complete clock with a.m. and p.m. time. If you hang this linear clock up in your classroom, it will be extremely long and probably wrap around the entire room. When you take the ends of the liner clock and have them meet in a circular fashion, students have a dawning moment and you can hear “oh!” being whispered under breath throughout the room. What I like about building this linear clock is that students are able to see both a.m and p.m. Having the clock hanging up when discussing elapsed time makes finding elapsed time so much more concrete for students who need this support. In addition to teaching elapsed time, students can label different activities that happen throughout the day and post them over the linear clock.
Students often struggle with labeling the hands correctly on a clock with quarters of an hour. This is for several reasons:
1. Students hear quarter and immediately think 25 cents, so they label the minute hand on the 5 to represent 25 minutes. To redirect students from this misconception remind them that quarter means four parts. Quarts of a gallon means four quarts equal one gallon. A quarter of a dollar means 25 cents because 4 twenty-fives equal 100 cents or a dollar.
2. Students may understand that a quarter is fifteen minutes, but they hear literally, “Show me a quarter after 5.” Students will literally find the 5 on the clock and find fifteen minutes after the five. Then they will put the minute hand on the 8. To correct students explain that it is fifteen minutes after the minute hand hits the new hour or the twelve.
3. Students sometimes are confused with the language a quarter after, a quarter past, a quarter to, a quarter til, a quarter until, a quarter before. To help students with the language, create a chart that shows after and past mean the same things with an arrow showing counter clockwise. Likewise, chart a poster that shows that to, til, until, and before mean the same things with a hand pointing counter clockwise.
Yesterday I spent some time in a second grade classroom helping students who were adding double digit numbers. When working with one student, I realized he didn’t know he had ten fingers on his hand, and he didn’t know that four fingers on one hand and five fingers on another made one less than ten–nine. While at a CGI (Cognitively Guided Instruction) training today (I am in Year 2 of the training), some things dawned on me about this children. Children do not innately know that they have 10 fingers, nor do they necessarily discover this on their own. With that said, the CGI trainer today told us that she knew of a teacher that has students do finger flashes. She calls out numbers and the students hold up that many fingers. I had never thought to do something so simplistic. I know that in kindergarten we do such activities with dot cards, but I had never thought of finger flashes–WOW!
In this same second grade classroom, I moved on to another little girl who had difficulty counting on from the larger number. Even after I showed this student how to count on, I noticed that when looking at the problem she didn’t know where to get the other number to count on with her fingers. I showed her how to look at the problem to find the number. Again at the CGI training I realized for students to develop the number sense they need to count on, the teacher can push students toward counting on by posing a very large number in a word problem followed by a much smaller number. For example, with the problem 62 + 3, 62 would be easier to start from and just count up 3 more. Once a child is counting up just 3 more, the second number could be increased. As my mentor always used to tell me–You know better, then you do better. That is me.
Seeing the same problem, students continuing to mix up area and perimeter questions, reoccur with our 4th and 5th grade students on their unit tests, we decided to try something new to help them differentiate between the two. With the questions already cut out, we took all of the released area and perimeter questions from our previous state tests and had students do a sort with them. Pairs of students sorted the questions underneath an area or perimeter heading. To add a little challenge to the activity, we added some volume, capacity, weight, multiplication, and division questions without telling them that these questions weren’t area or perimeter. As teachers, we learned during the students’ sort that students were thinking of area as the space inside of anything so that they were confusing volume and capacity with area. This led to students gaining a deeper understanding of the meaning of area. The students also learned from one another as Bloom’s higher order thinking on the evaluation level was in place. Students had to discuss each question and agree or disagree with one another about the decision to place it underneath a heading. See below for a look at our activity.
During Obama’s State of the Union Address he spoke of lofty initiatives to:
- Keep kids in high school until they are 18
- offer rewards and incentives for teacher effectiveness instead of seniority
- improve teacher quality by improving teacher preparation programs
- partner businesses with community colleges
- end tuition tax credits
- make college more affordable by keeping tuition rates the same and ending federal funding if the universities increase their tuition
- replace ineffective teachers
- Give schools flexibility instead of teaching to the test, creatively teach students to learn…(and how will this happen since there will still be a test?)
See the full article at Huffington Post.
- K.CC.1. Count to 100 by ones and by tens.
- K.CC.2. Count forward beginning from a given number within the known sequence (instead of having to begin at 1).
- K.CC.3. Write numbers from 0 to 20. Represent a number of objects with a written numeral 0-20 (with 0 representing a count of no objects).
- 1.NBT.1. Count to 120, starting at any number less than 120. In this range, read and write numerals and represent a number of objects with a written numeral.
- 2.NBT.2. Count within 1000; skip-count by 5s, 10s, and 100s.
I developed a set of number charts with missing numbers and number chart puzzles to help students see patterns, become more proficient with number recognition, and become more proficient at counting. Pictured below is a picture I snapped of a kindergarten student putting together the 1-80 chart. Our school district decided to increase the numbers that students learn in kindergarten each quarter instead of working towards 100 the 1st quarter. This quarter our pacing guide says students should learn to count to 75, so students are completing a 1-80 puzzle. When using these puzzles with small children it is necessary to model this otherwise students will cut out each number. If you would like to sample the number charts and puzzles, there are a few pages for FREE on TPT–just download the preview.
I learned this tip from a fellow teacher. Pick the current heart throb or popular personality for your grade level. For example, if all of the kids have Bieber fever, then simply find an 8 x 10 or larger picture of Justin Beiber. Post Justin in an out of the way corner of your classroom. When students start pointing or blaming another student with their tattle, then simply say, “Go tell Justin.” More mature students will find this absurd while the usual tattlers will eventually feel absurd as well since their peers will think they look silly talking to a picture. For young children stuffed animals work as well.