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## Free Math Common Core Tasks

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.

These free tasks are at Heinemann, the publisher’s website.  To access the free resources, first click on the book icon of the topic you are interested in.

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:

## Could This Be the Reason Students Confuse Many Word Problems?

After years of seeing students mix up math operations in word problems, I have finally figured out how to help students understand what operation to use in word problems.  This little word is causing students much of the confusion–EACH.  Haven’t we all taken for granted that students understand what this word means.  The word ‘each’ is in nearly every multiplication and division problem, but many students don’t know what it means–every one in the group.  If we teach students to read a word problem and replace the word each with its meaning, every one in the group, students somehow have a light bulb experience.

In conjunction with teaching students to understand the word each, also asking them questions about the problem helps facilitate understanding.   For example when you ask, “Is this a joining or a separating situation,” students start to  make sense of word problems.  Students generally understand that words like altogether and in all mean that they are joining groups.  The word total may need to be taught as a word that means in all, but  total isn’t a difficult term for students to become comfortable with.

To help students further differentiate between multiplication and addition, ask questions like:  are we adding the same amount over and over or are we adding two different sized groups?  If the answer is adding the same amount over and over, then multiplication is repeated addition of equal sized groups.  If students are confusing division and subtraction, ask, “are we subtracting different amounts or are we subtracting the same sized amounts over and over.  If the answer is subtracting the same amounts over and over, then teach students that division is repeated subtraction of equal groups.

## Try This Reward If You Have No Funds…

Last week we held a final championship for students in second through fifth grades for the classes’ highest percentage of  correct answers during “Math Wars”.  “Math Wars” is our affectionate name for math fact races.  Surprisingly the underdogs (second graders) won the final championship while a fifth grade class had been winning all year.  So, of course as second graders are, they were so EXCITED that they had won– as was their teacher.  Since I didn’t have any funding for anything extra special, I,  we’ll say ‘renovated’ an old trophy, which I found gathering dust.  I cleaned it up a bit and made a new plaque for it as you can see below.  I also handed out a golden abacus to each grade level winner.  The golden abacuses were awarded and switched among classes all year after each “Math War”.   Pictured below are all of the awards.  I hope they give you some ideas.

Math Wars trophy for first place and golden abacuses for grade level winners.

For the math timed tests I used for math wars, click here.

For an example of how a teacher kept up with her own math races to prepare for math wars, click here.

## Are You Teaching Branching? Make Sure You Do This First…

Several years ago I worked at a charter school the first year it opened.  The school implemented Singapore math, so that was my first year to test the waters of Singapore math.  Our trainer instructed the 3rd grade teachers to go ahead and teach branching even though it was a skill the students should have learned in second grade.  To teach children the procedure of branching, it took about four weeks total, and then not all of the students perfected the ‘procedure’ of addition and subtraction branching.  The students had more success learning addition than subtraction branching.  With the mandates of testing, we weren’t able to solely use Singapore math, but I had to supplement with other materials.  Then as you are all familiar with, testing approached and likewise the pressure along with it.  Then we didn’t have ‘time’ to teach number sense SO deeply since other skills are tested.  Unsurprisingly, the teaching of Singapore Math somewhat fell apart midyear.  Please don’t take this wrong I LOVE Singapore math because it works, but the conditions of testing hindered us from teaching it wholly.

Fast forward to four years later.  After teaching small groups today, I have reflected on the year that I taught branching and its effectiveness. Yesterday I pulled small groups of average math students to teach them regrouping for the second day in a row, I had them build double digit numbers with base ten blocks blocks.  I repeated this process today with the same group of students.  After that I started notating their thinking with branching representation on a small white board.  Students intently watched and helped me notate the thinking they had done with the blocks in (abstract) numbers .  They began to understand grouping with tens and how to decompose numbers to build more tens or hundreds.  Then I told them that they couldn’t use paper or blocks, but could only look at the addends I was about to write on the board.  I asked them to whisper the answer in my ear so that others could still think.  I was amazed! Half of them could answer the question correctly doing mental math. The other half were only 1 away from the correct answer.  I was so proud.

I shared the above to really say the kids taught me something in just two days because of their adept ability to add mentally.  Teaching branching worked so much better four years later–all I had to do was provide an experience with branching directly after building with base ten blocks.   Why didn’t I start out with the concrete blocks first before I threw abstract numbers at them…duh me!  Branching made so much more sense to them after building a concrete foundation.    Reflection is priceless!

## Have We Damaged Our Children’s Ability to Reason by Teaching Procedures?

Below is a picture of the students counting out their blocks.  I had them place their addends onto small sheets of square paper to help keep them organized since they were getting their extra blocks confused with the ones they were counting.  I wanted to use small paper plates to help them organize their blocks, but I didn’t have any.  I happened to have some origami paper lying around, so I just used that instead.

Base Ten Block Addends Grouped on Origami Paper

## Math Cardsorts…Free Addition With No Regrouping Sort

I just finished a product that I posted on Teachers Pay Teachers.  If you buy it before tomorrow, you will still get a chance to get it at the sale price.  This product contains 8 sorts with addition and subtraction both with regrouping and without regrouping.  Some of the sorts contain matching word problems and number disc picture cards.  Others contain matching equations and number disc picture cards.  In each sort, there is an extra card so that much discussion among student pairs can revolve around the common errors that confuse students with regrouping.  These sorts were designed for use after adding and subtracting with  number discs.  Number discs are one of my favorite ways to teach addition and subtraction with regrouping.  They are right up there with base ten blocks.  I can’t decide which tool I like better.  Number discs are a bit more abstract for students than the base ten blocks.  Base ten blocks are the size of actual ones, tens, or hundreds which make them more concrete.  Number discs are all the same size–but much easier to draw.  For a FREE sort, you can click on the sort below to download the addition sort with no regrouping.   The link will take you to the TPT site.  Just download the preview for the free sort.   I hope you enjoy it.