Tuesday, December 30, 2014

Multiplication Intervention: "Count-By" Activities to Improve Number Sense and Fact Fluency

I have been on a journey this year to ensure that my 4th graders master their multiplication facts. When I used the term "master," I mean with fluency and automaticity--no tricks, no fingers, no count-by's down the side of their page--just automatic fact recall. {Although, I will admit, I still use some mental tricks for a few of my math facts ;)} Being a 5th grade teacher at heart who is teaching 4th grade, I know how critical multiplication facts are. I know that students who know their multiplication facts have an easier time learning how to multiply and divide larger numbers, how to recognize fractions that need to be simplified, noticing patterns in numbers, and using algebraic reasoning. Other concepts that are embedded in knowing our multiplication facts include prime, composite, common multiples, finding common denominators, and divisibility.

Multiplication fact fluency is SOOO important for continued math success. Students who know their multiplication facts are more confident when learning a new skill. Students who do not know their multiplication facts may feel that they don't understand new concepts (everyone who can multiply quickly is already ahead of them in solving the multiplication, division, or simplifying fractions problem), when in actuality, they are so hung up on figuring out a multiplication fact that what comes next in the process goes on the back burner and they have most likely forgotten what the teacher has just shown them to do next. I know what you are thinking {maybe}--give them a multiplication fact chart that they can refer to. Great idea, but is this a "forever" solution?

This year, I implemented Rocketship Math, a math facts program that I was trained on a few years ago and had implemented into my 5th grade classroom once. I'll share more about Rocketship in another post, but you can click on the program's website to learn more. For the purposes of this post, you just need to know that it's about a 10 minute fact fluency routine that my students do each day.

So, we have been using Rocketship since the second week of school and I have students who have already moved on to division...I also have students who seem to have flat-lined around levels I-L. Students get 6 tries to pass a level before something else needs to be implemented. Often, the something extra is that my students choose to study at home when they have tried 2-3 times without passing. However, some students do not choose to study at home and are just not moving.

One day, I watched a student write "4 x 9 = 37" and it hit me...this student doesn't even realize that all multiples of 4 are even. This student lacks number sense and has perhaps not had the "obvious to me" pointed out to her. I have students who count-by to get to their facts, but their count-by's aren't even efficient (like in the image above "6, 12, 18--19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24--24...what was I doing again?"). This student doesn't realize that they can count by 6's then add 3 and 3 or have other ways to efficiently count up to multiples they do not yet have memorized.

Somewhere in my research, I read that to master multiplication facts, students need lots of experiences with "county-bys." I follow Donna's blog Math Coach's Corner {like a stalker ;} and read this blog post that suggested a "Count around the Circle" activity. That sounds great for the younger grades. I read that wishing my students could go back in time and have that circle experience, but  I couldn't see myself getting my whole class to sit in a circle and productively play this game when only about 5 of my students really need it.

I realized that a handful of my students need a separate intervention that is a few steps back from the fact memorization I'm aiming for. These students need extra time working with "count-bys" and looking for patterns in their fact families. Out of this realization, grew my Number Sense Intervention Tasks, fun ways for students to look for number patterns and practice "count-by's" so that they become more efficient. I have finished all of the sets and made Multiplying by 2's and 7's FREEBIES.

In every set, you will find the following activities:
Which of these Does Not Belong? Students use number sense to figure out which number does not make sense for that multiple, maybe it is too close to a multiple students know, maybe it is odd and should be even, maybe it does not have the correct number in the ones place, etc.
Which of these Does Not Belong~Extension Pages
Find the Missing Multiple-forces students to "count-by" for a purpose and to become more efficient doing so by noticing whether or not the next multiple is in the chart. Use these cards a lot and hopefully it will break students from counting up to the next multiple one-number-at-a-time.
Multiple Search: another fun reason to "count-by" to find three strings of multiples from the 1st multiple all the way to 12th.
120's boards for analyzing patterns and having aha moments (like all multiples of 4 are even!)

I hope you take the time to check out these Number Sense Intervention Tasks:
Multiplying by 2's TRY IT FREE
Multiplying by 3's
Multiplying by 4's
Multiplying by 5's
Multiplying by 6's
Multiplying by 7's TRY IT FREE!
Multiplying by 8's
Multiplying by 9's
Multiplying by 10's
Multiplying by 11's
Multiplying by 12's
Number Sense Intervention Bundle

In my next post, I will go through a format for using these tasks {with repetition} in a small group intervention setting. Happy New Year to you!

Thursday, December 11, 2014

~Words their Way Word Derivational Relations Notebook~

If you have followed my blog, you know that I am a big fan of Words their Way. {You might take a minute to check out my detailed post including 10 tips for implementing word study and a detailed explanation of my routines--this is great info for Word Study/spelling programs even if you do not use Words their Way.}

Today, I'm focusing in on my Derivational Relations Spellers (the blue group). Students who fall into this group are your best spellers. I have always felt that the Derivational Relations Group needed a little something more for their word study activities. Students who fall into the Derivational Relations Spellers group can often spell the words provided in their sorts with much ease. Typically, these students also find it easy to quickly attain word meanings and spellings for new words. In the past, I have had them complete Frayer Model-type activities (pick 10 words, record synonyms, draw an illustration, make a personal connect, write a definition or a sentence, generate other words that contain the word part, etc). I have also had them create crossword puzzles for others in their group to complete. However, these default activities never felt organized or worthwhile enough, so this year, I decided I wanted to get ahead of the game and have extension activities that made sense for each Derivational Relations Unit.

I created Word Study Notebook Activity sheets to go with each sort to help my Derivational Relations Spellers analyze spellings, sound changes, and meanings of their word study words. The activities are designed for independent exploration and reinforcement of concepts that are embedded in the unit of study. However, these activities could also be used to guide a lesson in a small group meeting. {Side note, I also think that the Derivational Relations Spellers sorts would be perfect for 5th-6th grade as a whole-class vocabulary/word study program combined with differentiated spelling/word study. If I were teaching 5th grade this year, I would be using these activities whole-group to expose students to prefixes, suffixes, and Greek and Latin roots--the main focus of the blue book.}

Using the Activity Sheets

These word study notebook activity sheets are meant to be a companion to Words Their Way: Derivational Relations Spellers (Templeton, Johnston, Bear, and Invernizzi). You really need the word sort books to implement this differentiated word study program.

Based on the level of difficulty of the activity pages and how progressed your students are with being “independent thinkers,” you may choose to have them complete some of the sheets independently and save others for their small group meeting with the teacher. These sheets can also be completed in partners. (You might specify how you want the activities completed prior to students beginning the set for each sort.) Allowing students to work in partners at the beginning of a unit (say the first and second sorts in the unit) and then expecting students to complete later activities in the unit independently is another way you can provide extra support and scaffolding. This week, I had students pair up and share their work after they completed the activities.

The Routine for Derivational Relations Spellers

I set aside 20 minutes for word study with the goal of having our word study block consistently 3-4 times a week.

Day 1 and Day 2: My students begin their individualized Words-Their-Way word study routine with my “blind” Word Search activity. Because I want students searching for word patterns and increasing their ability to recognize correctly spelled words—a major key to spelling improvement—these word searches do not contain the word list. (Word searches for each Words Their Way Level can be found in my store.) This routine activity is meant to be an engaging, fun way for students to discover their word study words. As students find words in the word search, they are required to record the words they have found, sorting them categories based on sound and/or look of the word, just as they do in other Words their Way sorting activities.

*At end of day two/beginning of day 3, you may give students their word study word list from Words Their Way: Derivational Relations Spellers to provide students with feedback on the words they have not yet found. I don't have my derivational spellers cut the words apart. They really just need the word list.

Day 3 and 4: Students work on the Word Study Notebook extension activities to build deeper understanding of word spellings and/or meanings.

Day 5: Meet with teacher: This meeting provides an opportunity to go over activities that students had difficulty with and to reinforce specific the word study concepts based on the word list students are working on.

Day 6: Assessment: Call out words and take a “traditional” spelling test OR complete a “blind sort” spelling test (this means students cannot see the words but sort the words into categories as they record them.) I love blind sort assessments because as I watch students categorize words, I see them actively thinking about spelling—erasing, moving words around, and correcting spelling.

I cycle my students through a staggered word study routine. Keep in mind that if sort activities require additional time or if my word study time is limited, I can have students cycle through the same routine twice for one sort. (Based on difficulty level and students’ prior knowledge, some sorts may require an extra cycle while others may not.)

Word Study Routine Tip: Stagger It!

I have found it helpful to stagger word study groups so that each of the activities (like “meet with the teacher” and “Spelling City”) happen on a different day for each word study group. This has allowed me to better manage the needs of each group and focus most of my attention on one group on their “teacher” day . Staggering the activities also allows me to further differentiate and tweak student activities without stigmatizing certain groups (usually needed for the highest and lowest groups). For example, my lowest group completes Look, Say, Cover, Write, Check with their words and I embed their assessment into their teacher day, while my higher group has a whole set of additional activities to complete.

Staggering my word study routine also allows me to target a major word study issue—the fact that organizing our schedule based on Monday-Friday often fell apart. In the past, I have created my word study routines/schedule based on a 5 day week, but we rarely get an uninterrupted 5 day week for word study. In my classroom, this usually meant that the assessment day didn’t happen and students just moved on to a new list AND it also caused students and me frustration because it was hard to be dedicated to the routines I had trained them for.

To visually represent this change in thinking, I display our word study schedule and place a magnet above the day we are on that says “We Are On…” This way, if we have a short week or a scheduled interruption, we don’t have to completely cancel word study or skip activities for that word list. Although we might take a week and a half to cycle through the activities for one word list, we value word study more because we know ALL of the routines are going to happen for that word list. When we are almost at the end of a quarter or close to a long break, I can start staggering groups out of word study.

Side-note: At the beginning of the year, it is important to model and complete these routines whole-group so that students understand the routines and expectations for each activity.

If you are interested in taking the Derivational Relations Activities for a test drive, I have uploaded the activity sheets for Sorts 1 and 22 on teacherspayteachers. If you download, I would love some feedback!

I would also love to answer any questions you have about Word Study!


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