Tuesday, February 24, 2015

Multiplication, Factors, and Multiples for Number Sense Intervention Group

I finally had time to take pictures of my Number Sense Intervention tasks and wanted to share with you today. In an earlier post, I told you guys:
I have been on a journey this year to ensure that my 4th graders master their multiplication facts. When I use 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.
Back to the cards, I took all of the "Find the Missing Multiples" and "Which Multiple Does Not Belong" activity cards, printed them on a different color of cardstock for each number set, and put them each on a ring. I try to meet with my Multiplication Intervention group for 20 minutes 3 or more times a week. I meet with them during one of their stations or while other students are completing task cards. I prioritize this group because I know that their math success and confidence lies in gaining better number sense. {I'm even thinking about starting a math/multiplication club during lunch once a week to move some of our practice time out of math class time}.

I love having these cards on a ring because they are ready to grab at any time that we have an extra minute to go over multiples and factors, and multiplication facts. (Think--lining up for specials, lunch, whole-class bathroom break times, end of the day, etc.) Just show one of the cards to your kiddos and teach them to allow others "wait time" before they shout out the answers. You can even have them give you a thumbs up when they are ready with an answer.
Let's take a look at a week with one set of these number sense intervention tasks:

Day 1:
Pre-Assess the Group using 1 to 4 of the "Which of These Does not Belong" puzzles. (I'd use the student notebook pages rather than the task cards for now because it gives them a place to write how they know the number does not belong.) Allow students to share their ideas to provide space for you to gauge misunderstandings and depth of understandings. {Some students have really great insights although they may have trouble with fact memorization}.

Day 2:
Work together using Discovering Patterns to find patterns and rules for "multiples of..." the number you are working/intervening on. Continue getting students to verbalize the patterns they see. (For example, have you realized that some of your students may not realize that a multiple of 4 or 6 must ALWAYS be an even number? When I saw a student write 4 x 9 = 37, that's when I had my AH-ha! about number sense and multiplication facts.) I've included some of the ideas students should come up with in most of the downloads. This is the time to allow students to discover their own ideas, but also to hit home ones like when the multiples alternate even-odd-even-odd, or when all multiples are even.

Day 3-4: Go back to the "Which of these Does Not Belong" cards (for fun, game-like use in small group--I like to have students use a white board to jot down, rather than call out, their answer.) Use student notebook pages to have them explain how they know the number does not belong. Students can share in pairs or in the small group. Expect individual students to begin being able to explain deeper number sense as they pick up ideas from your teaching and other students' insights.

Day 5 and on...Practice with reciting multiples using the "Find the Missing Multiple" and the Number Searches (like word searches). Students can complete these for morning work or in a quiet center/station. Encourage students to recite their multiples even if they know the answer to the puzzles. Multiples recitation is one of the building blocks to multiplication fact memorization. And dang, if they can't memorize a fact for whatever reason, I surely want them to be able to accurately and rapidly recite multiples WITHOUT finger-counting.

Other Ideas for Using the activity cards: 
1) These intervention tasks are perfect for having a volunteer work with a child as an intervention. While I like to use these in a small group (to meet more students' needs), a volunteer could pull one child at a time and work more closely on the multiplication set that student needs. These resources and activities could even be used by an eager parent who wants to help their child master multiplication facts more quickly.

2) Based on where students are with mastering multiplication facts, create student groups. Once or twice a week, you can give students practice time in their small groups with the activity cards.

3) Using all of the multiplication intervention activity card sets (or combinations of sets) have students deal cards equally to one another (2-3 players) and play War or other type of game where students compare the answer they get when solving the puzzle and then whomever has the highest result (factor/multiple) gets to keep the cards.

4) Display problems on interactive whiteboard for "bell-ringers" or when you have extra time. Have students show their answers on a white board

I designed these intervention activities on the basis that many of my students who are not mastering their multiplication facts need to develop greater number sense and to increase their "count by" speed and ability. The more practice you can allow students, the better. They can complete the same activities again and again until they are comfortable with the multiples of a specific fact family. If you want to check these out on TPT, here's links to the BUNDLE pack and the individual sets. (Note that you can grab two right away for free!)

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
Multiplying by 8's
Multiplying by 9's
Multiplying by 10's
Multiplying by 11's
Multiplying by 12's

All of the Facts: Number Sense Intervention Bundle

And don't forget, the Teachers are Heroes sale is on {in about 10 minutes here!} and you can get many products up to 28% off. My store is on sale for ya and my cart is full!! It's a great time to re-stock since we are mid-year or pick up some bundles to save even more!
Happy night yall!

~Morning Meeting Individual Sets~

Now available! I have uploaded individual materials for my Morning Meeting Made Easy Set # 1 and Set # 2. Remember that TpT's Teachers are Heroes sale starts tomorrow and these will be discounted too!
Although you may purchase my morning meeting themes as individual resources, I highly recommend purchasing them in Sets. In order for these themes to gain momentum, multiple themes should be implemented in the classroom. I have found it extremely valuable to consistently implement multiple themes because I find the nuances between them allow for great connections between texts, conversations, and the generalizations {big ideas} we make in our discussions. In life, words and concepts are often used interchangeably, but each has it's own definition~kindness and compassion for example, perseverance and achievement, etc. I loved moving from Belonging (it's a freebie!) to Kindness and then to Compassion. These are also found in my set # 1 bundle together (and the belonging theme set still comes through as a freebie with the price).

Another {BIG} reason to plan a trajectory to implement multiple themes is to help develop students' understanding of themes that are found in literature. The Teacher Overviews for each theme include at least 5 suggested picturebooks (suggested songs and video resources are also  provided for most of the themes!). These units lend themselves to comparing and contrasting multiple texts on the same theme. For example, during our belonging unit, we found that characters often try to change themselves to fit in or belong, however this rarely worked out to give them the belonging they wanted. Other times, if the "outcasted" character saved the day, they got a huge sense of belonging. We talked about how that was a sweet way to end a picturebook, but real life doesn't always turn out that way. {Can you say POWERFUL messages for upper-elementary/middle school kiddos to be discussing and realizing?}

Morning Meeting Made Easy Set # 1
Morning Meeting Made Easy Set # 2
Morning Meeting BELONGING Freebie

Purchase Themes Individually:
Compassion Theme
Conflict Theme
Perseverance Theme
Kindness Theme
Compromise Theme
Happiness Theme
Achievement Theme
Individualism Theme
Integrity Theme

Common Core Connections:

Monday, February 23, 2015

Hey, Teacherheroes...

Yes, you. Teacher friends, TPT is launching a 2015 Teachers are Heroes sale on February 25th. Go ahead and load up your carts to save cash on classroom necessities and fun stuff! I'm already going through my wishlist and filling up my cart with goodies <3 I have to say, I love the support I get from other teachers as a blogger and a teacher seller, and it is just as good of a feeling to spend my money on classroom resources created by other teachers. {I love the thought of them hearing "cha-ching"! and getting that little happy feeling no matter how hard of a day they are having}.

I have made a ton of purchases this year, so I thought I would link up with Gena at Speech Room News for "What's in Your Cart" to share what should be in every 4th/5th grade teachers' carts--these are stores and products that have made my world so much easier this year as I transitioned to a new school and back down to 4th grade. (I really want to title this post Can't Live Without!!! resources!)

Concept Sorts:  A Set of 5 Fraction Sorts for Grades 4 and 5Anything from The Teacher Studio makes me happy these days, but I have especially found her Fraction Concepts Sorting Cards helpful. I have used these cards to launch our fractions unit--they are perfect for collaboration (I had students work in groups of 3); by listening to students' conversations and asking questions, I have really been able to see the depth of their understanding and heard misconceptions. As a bonus, students have been fully engaged! 
Fractured Fractions:  A Set of Puzzles to Teach DecomposinToday I picked up one of her latest products {Fractured Fractions: A Set of Puzzles to Teach Decomposing and Composing}, and am so excited to use it tomorrow! When I saw this activity (differentiated and all), I couldn't wait for a sale, I had to have it today!!
Of course, I can no longer run a math class without task cards. They make learning so engaging, and most of all, I find that students are more willing to ask for help when working with task cards versus a worksheet. Some of my go-to task card stores include Chili Math and Dennis McDonald (and my own of course ;) I find that Chili Math and Dennis McDonald's task cards ALWAYS provide a variety of levels of challenge. Chili Math is especially good at asking questions that require interesting applications of seemingly *simple* concepts, while Dennis McDonald always has extra goodies with his task cards like student handouts or smartboard displays, accompanying worksheets that can be used for fast finishers or as assessments, and the last product I bought also contained a spinner game!

Poetry: Mentor Poems for Teaching PoetryThis year, I wanted to implement Poetry Workshop again. I had a folder of poems (and tons of anthologies) that I planned to pull from. Planning for these lessons each and every week started to feel like I was spending way too much time trying to find poems using different literary devices. I decided to search TPT and boy am I glad I did! I found this set of Mentor Poems for Teaching Poetry compiled by Lorrie L. Birchall. This has helped me keep my poetry Friday's care free when it comes to planning. I just search  through the poems and print the section I want students to have for their poetry journals. 

In hopes of creating more accountability around our read aloud book and the discussions we have, I decided to implement written responses to open-ended questions. Through these questions, I am teaching students to tease out what kind of thinking the question really requires, how to decide on an appropriate graphic organizer for planning out their response and collecting evidence, and in turn improving their ability to respond to open-ended questions in written form. We are reading Maniac Magee by Jerry Spinelli, and this packet (HUGE) of questions and language arts focus activities for Maniac Magee has been a LIFE-SAVER for me! It's from Secondary Solutions. Secondary Solutions will be my go-to-store for future book studies! The sale is a great time to pick up one of their book sets; I fortunately had a parent gift card when I bought mine!

What's in my store that I can't live without?
My Morning Meeting Made Easy series have made my morning meeting so much easier! With everything planned out (linked resources, picturebook ideas, student journal pages, and the bulletin board display), morning meeting has never been easier for me! And, my students LOVe having these moments to connect and have conversations about the "real" stuff that matters in life!

Happy Shopping!

Friday, February 20, 2015

~~Morning Meeting Made Easy~Set 2 Ready!~~

Finally!!!! My second set of Morning Meeting Made Easy themes is complete! This makes me super happy because I have had the draft in the works for MONTHS and it's been one of those projects that has been hanging over my head a little.

If this is the first you are hearing about my Morning Meeting Made Easy sets, let me tell you more! Last year, I decided to try a theme-based morning meeting and loved it! I created a list of themes for personal development, came up with related vocabulary words, and found quotes to match the themes. I created posters for each theme so that I could display our community themes all year for us to refer back to. I also used key read alouds to initiate my discussions with students about the theme. From this idea grew "Morning Meeting Made Easy." Not only does the set include posters for each theme, but you get student journal pages and teacher overviews that suggest read alouds, possible activities, and videos or songs that connect to the theme. This product is seriously READY to USE instantly, except for grabbing the picturebooks!

My first set of Morning Meeting Made Easy includes the following themes:
You can check out my detailed post about teaching through the theme of belonging earlier this year. (It includes my daily plans! At that time, I had not yet completed my student journal pages, but you have them ready to go AND my belonging set is offered as a FREEBIE download on TPT and TN!) Best of all, you can also use this as a mini-literacy unit on theme. It is SO ready to go and the discussions are SO rich. {Belonging has to be my most favorite theme to teach through} :]

You may also purchase themes as individual downloads, but I highly recommend going for the whole set (they are cheaper as a set, of course, and I believe that using many of the related themes helps spiral back to previous conversations and helps build your students' understanding of theme even more--leading to growth in your classroom community.)
Compassion Theme 
Conflict Theme
Perseverance Theme
Kindness Theme
Compromise Theme
Happiness Theme
Achievement Theme
Individualism Theme
Integrity Theme

Here's a closer look at my Kindness student journal pages. (All included in the kindness download or the MMME Set # 1.)

Happy Friday! We have been out with three snow days in a row and have a two-hour delay for Friday. Gotta love being a "Tarheelstate Teacher!"

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Math~Math~Math for your Parent Blog!

I have been blogging away this year *2015* on my classroom blog for parents and today I wanted to share with you some of the information I have shared with them.

Math is one of the areas that I feel is so important to communicate with parents about because of the different methods that we introduce and because parents see it daily through homework. It's one of those tangible things they can try to understand about what their child is learning in school. And for that reason, I think it stirs up a lot of concerns, questions, opinions, and ultimately, a desire to help.{I have a secret strategy for math homework that is perhaps a little sneaky--I don't send homework on a concept until students have had ample time to play with it in math class. This means that homework is usually a week behind my instruction. Still, parent questions often arise from math homework}.

We know, it's called "New Math" and parents can sometimes push against that, but a lot of the way I teach math was also new to me (and I'm a stubborn beast when it comes to change sometimes). I loved math when I was in school and was good at it. All those old methods worked for me too, but I see merit in our "new methods" which are really conceptual models for understanding math procedures.

Anywhooo, although I think communicating about math is extremely important, this year, I haven't been doing a good job of taking the time and sharing information with parents on the classroom blog. In a perfect storm with the new year, it was time for our mid-year reviews of our individual growth plans. I decided to change one of my individual growth goals to increase my focus on parent communication related to math instruction {committing to posting once a week about math}. I have been doing a little research here and there and firing away blog posts about how I think about and organize my math instruction, how I differentiate, and how parents can help with homework. I am also working on explanations of how I taught multiplication and division--I'm a little behind, but I see this being so helpful next year when I already have some posts ready to go. The "Levels of Understanding" post is my favorite. Take a look below! 

Introducing: Math Spotlights!

One of my goals for the New Year is to share more information with you all about math instruction. I hope to share the methods students are learning, details about our math class routines, and examples of below-, on-, and above-grade level expectations. This post will serve as an overview of our math routines and my approach to math.

What does math look like in our classroom?

  • A typical week in 4th grade math includes 2-3 days ofstations with students completing activities at different levels of difficulty. Students may be working independentlyor in a guided group with me, Mrs. Morris (our teaching assistant), or Mrs. Kuhl (our AIG teacher). In stations, students solve computation problems where we focus on being more accurate and making sure we understand the steps to different methods. Students also have stations where they review concepts, work with word problems, and use dreambox. 
  • 1-2 days a week, I introduce new concepts while reviewing old concepts. For example, in the upcoming week, I will be introducing fractions concepts with some picture and number sorts (to gauge students current understanding of fractions). In addition, we will spend half of our math timereviewing and extending our understanding of how to divide larger numbers. 
  • On Fridays, students complete some form of assessment. This may be review questions from concepts we learned earlier in the year or directly related to what we are currently studying. Often, this information is used to create leveled groups in stations for the following week. The difference between regular math days and "assessment Fridays" is the level of support that I am willing to give students. On assessment Friday assignments, I offer as little support as possible and really try to encourage students to show what they know. When I offer support to help a student get the answer, I write directly on their paper and/or initial it so that I know they did not complete the problem independently. 
Hopefully, this post has shed light on my approach to math instruction and my strong belief that learning is a process. While your child needs to learn given math concepts, it's not my belief that they must (or even should) master the concept on the day I introduce it. Coming up in our next Math Spotlight, how you can help your child with math homework!

Math Spotlight: Helping with Homework

I have chosen to use spiraled math homework that covers many concepts instead of homework that only focuses on the concept that we are learning on a given day. This means that your child will see concepts that they have learned months ago, weeks ago, and possibly even concepts that are coming up. While I believe that this type of homework is really beneficial for me (and the child) as I hope to keep students' previous learning sharp, assess their ability to independently complete concepts we are currently focusing on, and see who can solve problem-types that I have not yet discussed, I know this may also be a source of confusion and frustration at times. How do you know what your child should have mastered already? (I'll address more about this in an upcoming post). And, most importantly, how do you help?

Can you help your child with math homework? Absolutely! It seems that resisting a parent's help with math homework is a typical "coming of age" behavior for 4th and 5th grade students. However, many of you feel that it is an important role for you to play in your child's education and I would agree.  Read more here...

Math Spotlight: Levels of Understanding

Typically, before introducing students to the traditional way of solving math problems, I use manipulatives (ones cubes, tens sticks, hundreds blocks, etc) or printed models (pictures) to help students think about and understand what the computation really means. Using hands-on activities and guiding students through different types of questions helps me assess the depth of their understanding. My goal is not to simply teach students to memorize steps and procedures, but to ensure that they understand why they are doing what they are doing in each step.

When we think about learning skills and concepts, we should imagine those skills and concepts on a continuum of learning with children at different levels of readiness. Given a specific concept, your child may be at different levels at different times. I found the following descriptors from Kathy Richardson (she's a math guru that develops materials for assessing students' true understanding and misconceptions):

Ready to Apply (A) – The student can already do a particular task and is ready to use this skill in other settings. (This student receives more challenging work).
Needs Practice (P) – The student can do a particular task with some level of effort but still needs more experiences to develop facility and consistency. (This student typically receives work at grade level that increases in difficulty as his/her readiness increases.)
Needs Instruction (I)  The student has some idea of what a task is about but needs support. (This student receives direct instruction that begins with the lowest level of their individual understanding and builds up to problems with increased difficulty to help meet grade-level expectations.)
Needs Prerequisite (N) – The student does not yet understand the concept and needs to work with mathematical ideas that precede the concept being assessed.

When I discovered these descriptors, I really wanted to jump up and down--I was excited because these categories of learning really capture how I think about individual students' understanding of a math concept and how I choose materials and create groups for focused instruction.

It is also important to consider the size of the number(s) when placing students at these levels for a given concept--the size of the number with which they are independently successful needs to be taken into consideration. I often find that concepts that students may seem to have "mastered" are merely in the process of truly being understood when they are presented with larger numbers. As we know, accuracy also becomes a larger issue as the size of numbers increase. To instruct students having difficulty (say learning the procedures for how to multiply 23 x 67), I begin by taking a step back and instructing them on how we would solve a simpler problem, like 23 x 7. Once the student has consistently demonstrated that they are able to complete problems at this level, we move on to adding a digit in the tens place for the second factor.

Next up...
I'm going to share examples of problems that are below, on, and above grade level based on NC state standards for math. When you see your child's math work, you can use these levels to have a better understanding of what they have accomplished. If they are successfully completing below and on grade level problems, but having difficulty with above grade level, this means that they are where they are supposed to be and that they are being challenged to push beyond the average 4th grade expectations. If they are having difficulty with "on grade level" problems, rest-assured that they are being served in a small group that meets them where they are and works to help them build up to solid grade-level abilities. 

I have a few things in the works for math that I am super-excited about, including an upcoming giveaway that you won't want to miss...we are on our 3rd snow day and I have been using this time to work away on a few things I have been wanting to create. Thanks for stopping by and stay tuned! 


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