Wednesday, January 29, 2020

Adding Rigor to Math Lessons

Raise your hand if you've ever had a bad math observation.

I'm waving my hand...can you see it?

Who hasn't had a glitchy lesson?  We ALL have, I'm sure and that's okay!  Hopefully, you've received great feedback coupled with a road map to help you solve the glitch. I sure did.

My previous Math Supervisor introduced me to Open-Ended Questions and it changed the way I approached and taught math.  Check out FREE Open-Ended Math Questions.

Seriously.  They are a real game-changer for my program.  Upped my rigor and gave me so much more insight as to my students' strength and weaknesses in math.

Well my friend is no exception either.  She's waving her hand, too. She teaches Second Grade and was told that her Do-Nows and Exit Tickets for her math lessons weren't rigorous enough.

But she didn't get suggestions on HOW to make them more rigorous.

So, I introduced her to Open-Ended Math Questions and promised her that they would add rigor immediately to her lessons.

Click on the video to learn more about Open-Ended questions and how you can use them tomorrow in your class.  If you're like me, you'll be wondering why you didn't make the switch to using them earlier.

Saturday, January 25, 2020

February Songs & Poems and FREEBIES!!!

Reading Poems and Songs is a great pathway to fluency for struggling readers.  Rereading the poems and having struggling readers' eyes on sight words again and again really helps them master the sight words at a faster rate and that, of course, leads to fluency.  No stopping to sound out words.  No robotic voice by the time they read the poems 3-5 times. 

I try to keep my poems fresh so I have monthly packets.  I just photocopied my February Songs and Poems for our Poetry Binders and when a student saw them on my desk, he did a little happy dance! 
• Themes in my February Songs and Poems packet include: Valentine’s Day, Presidents’ Day, Dental Health, Groundhog Day, 100th Day, Penguins, and Mardi Gras. 
• My main goal of my poetry packets? For the kids to enjoy and appreciate the fun language and word choices. Some poems “Tickle Our Ears” especially when using rhymes and alliteration. ⁣
• Many poems are read for enjoyment only. I don’t dissect and pick apart most of them. I may pick 1 out of 5 a week that I use for direct instruction such as identifying Proper Nouns, rhyming words, letter/sound combinations, etc.)  Really makes me sad when I hear teachers using every poem for instruction. (And books for that matter!) That's the quickest way to turn kids off to poetry and reading, don’t you think?  ⁣
Want to grab two free poems in this packet right now?  Hope you enjoy them!  Click on pic:

• On Wednesdays, I send home the poetry binders with a simple fluency sheet.  Feel free to grab it.  Click on the pic.

Since February is quickly approaching, are you looking for a Valentine's Day Math Game that you can use to practice math facts and print-ready for your math centers or workstations?  Look no further!

Feeling a bit overwhelmed with all you have to do in the next few weeks?  Let me help take a little something off your plate!  Be sure to check out THIS POST to see how you can save yourself precious time by sending HOME a FREE Editable letter to parents asking them to make a Valentine's Day Box at home and then bring it to school.  Trust me, the home made Valentine Boxes turn our adorable!

Monday, January 20, 2020

FREEBIE: Clear the Board Valentine Game

My students love to play math games during math workstations and center rotations. Do yours?
With Valentine's Day coming up, I decided to make this Valentine's Day Math Game (Clear the Board) for your class to use to practice their counting and addition facts. It's the perfect math game for your K-2 math centers or workstations on Valentine's Day or any time of the year!
Grab your FREE Valentine's Day Math Game by clicking on the picture:

It comes with two boards: 1-6 for Kindergarten and 2-12 for Grades 1/2. Both come in color and black and white.

If you haven't played, I promise it's as easy as 1-2-3!
How easy?? For the 2-12 Board:

Place all ten of your tokens on the board. (I got the hearts from Dollar Tree but you can use any tokens you want.) Take turns rolling 2 dice and add numbers together. Look to see if your token is in that column. If it is, remove it. Roll doubles? Take turn and ROLL AGAIN! If your token isn’t in that column, skip a turn. First one to remove all of his/her tokens is the King or Queen of Hearts!

(Although when my kids win any game in class, they stand up and shout, "Winner, winner, chicken dinner!")


Sunday, January 19, 2020

Class Valentine Boxes (Made at HOME!) FREEBIE!

Before you know it, Valentine's Day will be here!  My kids bring in such fun, creative Valentine Boxes to use on the big day.  YEP- you read that right!  They BRING THEM IN!  From HOME!

If you're swamped and making them at school seems overwhelming to you for any reason, download my FREE editable letter and send it home.  Then kick back, relax, and wait until the big day when they bring in their masterpieces!  It becomes a family affair!

It has saved me a TON of time, and quite honestly, a TON of money and some...just some...aggravation!  Hope you can use it!  (Check out how SIMPLE it is in my time lapse below!)

Saturday, January 18, 2020

Quick Math Tip (Show Number Two Ways)

We've been using base-ten blocks to make/show a number two different ways.  Pretty easy for most of my kids.  So easy that most just drew tens and ones two or more ways the first day without using any manipulatives.  But if any of your kids are struggling, try this trick.  Worked for me!

Friday, January 17, 2020

Celebrating and Honoring Martin and Ruby

My heart wants to burst when I introduce my kids to Martin Luther King, Jr. and Ruby Bridges.  It also breaks a bit.  We proudly make and wear these throughout the two weeks:

My Firsties are sweet babes and, as all littles should be, innocent and as they look around our multi-colored range of skin tones, they simply can not fathom not being able to play with another six year-old or go to same restaurants or schools as the friend sitting next to them.

I can see the disbelief.  The wondering if I am telling the truth because in their world, this hasn't touched them. At least they aren't aware if it has yet.

I like to introduce lots of literature the week prior to MLK Day and continue it throughout the rest of the month.  Besides books about Martin and Ruby, we read the titles above.

I share how when I was in a wheelchair for a long time after my car accident, I lost a few friends when I was just a little older than them.  When they hear that some kids didn't want to play with a girl in a wheelchair, they looked crushed.  And when I share how another child- Jeanette- was an upstander and spoke up for me when I couldn't speak for myself, they start to see the connections and vow to become upstanders.  Through role-playing, we get to see what being an upstander and a bystander looks like.

The kids love brainstorming words together for their poems!

We end the unit with making a promise to be open-minded and to honor Ruby and Martin by using our brains and words instead of our fists.  We commit to peace!

If you are looking for something to boost your study of Ruby and Martin, you can check out my product.

Thanks for letting me share my sweet little Firsties with you!  Have a super weekend!

Tuesday, January 14, 2020

Must-Have Math Apps I Love

Three years ago, my colleague, Liza, and I decided to implement our own version of the Daily 3 for our math block: Math With Teacher, Math With a Partner, and Math With Self. 

It would be 




But nope.  It wasn't.   (NOTE: Video link at bottom if you rather see the apps in action.)

It was noisy.  Chaotic.  "Math With Teacher" and "Math With Partner" were going okay but "Math With Self" just wasn't what we wanted/hoped it to be.  We THOUGHT it would be a quiet station with the kids engaged in practicing past skills.  We thought it would be the easiest station to implement.

But nope.  It wasn't.  Every time a group rotated to that station, it was an immediate fail and it affected ALL of the stations.

We knew we had to fix the problem and fast.  How could we keep kids engaged in meaningful math activities without them interrupting us throughout that particular rotation? We realized early on that iPads could/would be used (most of the time) in this station for two reasons: 1. Math games are a great way to reinforce skills taught and 2. we needed to have at least one QUIET workstation. But they weren't engaged.  They certainly weren't quiet.  What did we do wrong?

The apps we were using were the problem.  Who knew?!

At first, we used a lot of free apps but they didn't allow the kids to immerse themselves in math.  The kids were too busy clicking off the ads or wondering why there was only one game and everything else was locked. Or the game would suddenly stop to show a video!  And sometimes an inappropriate one. Ugh! The interruptions were constant.  (And those free apps CRASH.  A lot!)

So we made it our mission to find and test-drive the PERFECT apps: some paid, some free without ads (rare) and - this is KEY- we changed when and how we introduced the apps.

It made all the difference in their time on task and engagement.

Liza and I started to introduce them during our Morning Meetings a few times before we expected them to be used independently.  We modeled/played several days in a row so we were certain the kids could navigate the app without help.  This way, they were ready to play by the time we scheduled them into our workstations.

It was just two small tweaks that made the difference in the success of our program.

The first AWESOME and FREE APP  we discovered was Make 10 Plus.  (Ignore the rating shown.  Honestly, a great app!)

No ads.  No in-app purchases.  TOTALLY FREE!  Thanks to this app, my kids know their combinations of 10 early on in the year.  You can also make other combinations by changing the settings.  You can control the speed. too.  My kids love it and are constantly trying to beat their record.  I'm always hoping this parent inventor will make a new app because it's that good!

The next few apps I'll talk about are PAID apps BUT I got them for FREE.  How?  By downloading this app first on my phone and iPad.

Each day, new apps are featured and most of the time, they aren't applicable to me/school. However, once every month or two, they feature apps from EGGROLL GAMES. I love their apps.

Image result for animal math games Image result for animal math gamesAddition Flash Cards for Kids

This is what it looks like in the App:

They usually expire in 24 hours so scan the list daily and grab them when you can.  I grabbed ALL the flashcards for free and one of the Animal Math games.  (And I like their puzzle packs.  Often free.)

On the First Grade Animal Math App, Emma and a cast of animal characters are featured: Manny (counting games)  Phineas (Number Patterns), Charlie (Greater than, less than) Albert (Even and Odd) Hans (Place Value) Henrietta (Number Sentences) Lydia (Missing Signs),  Kicheko (Addition Set 1) Pria (Addition Set 2) Moe (Sub 1) Rupert (sub 2) and Louie (Flash Card Games)

NOTE: The First Grade and Second Grade Apps are SO SIMILAR, you don't need to get both.  
(No multiplication/division on the Second Grade one.)  I have seen ALL Animal Math grades offered for free on the app so be patient if you want to snag them that way.  Again, anything EGGROLL GAMES is well done!

Then I discovered Math Slide. You can download for free and play each game twice before you decide if you want to purchase or not.  I ended up purchasing each game for 99 cents after my kids gave it two thumbs up.  Can't beat 99 cents, can you?

Each game is designed for 1-4 players and kids can easily control that by simply pressing the JOIN button.   If playing solo, a timer appears and kids can try to beat their own score.  I have 3 "Slide" games and my kids have probably played 2-3,000 games in the last few years.  Worth $3 total?  You betcha!  (I use this one for "Math With Partner.")

Here is a screenshot of one of the games:

Although not really a full-blown math game, I think Rush Hour is a must for all classrooms.  
Remember the board game from your childhood? Now computerized and even more challenging.   

Fabo for practicing logic and problem-solving skills and spatial reasoning. There is a free version but I upgraded to one without ads and thousands of games for $2.99. (NOTE:  Although I paid for these Apps, the money came from our PTO.  They gifted us with a $50 Apple Gift Card one year and a  $25 the following year.)

Now for my ALL-TIME FAVORITE APP! (It's only a K-2 program.)  Seriously, I have to be totally honest:  We use it exclusively for workstations now with the exception of Make 10 Plus above.  It's not only a paid app but an expensive SUBSCRIPTION.  Very expensive but simply AMAZING:

                Image result for todo math   Image result for todo math

This is my second year using it in the classroom and my subscription expires in June.  I THINK it's about $300 a year.  Yep- told you it's a lot of money.  Already planning on how I can get some money to continue the subscription.  Why is it so good?  For starters, it aligns perfectly with the CCSS!  Every lesson I teach, there is a game to reinforce.

You can sign-up for a TWO month free trial and you should!  You won't regret it!

You can track kids' progress and have some controls for individual accounts. (Right/Left-handed, Dyslexic Font option, ability to have a child play up/down a grade level. etc.  I set one of my students to the Kindergarten level.)

The games are SO ENGAGING and not filled with fluff.  There is a Daily Mission and something else on the dashboard but I haven't explored them.

Several of my students buy the app to use at home.  (Inexpensive for home use!) That says something!

You can check out the video which highlights what I wrote about on this post but also shows some of the games in action.  (Coming tomorrow!)

I hope this helped you find some quality apps for your K-2 students.

Now go straight to TODO MATH and sign-up for their free trial.  Then come back here and let me know what you and your kids think of it.  Enjoy!