Saturday, September 27, 2014

How to Differentiate in the First Grade Classroom

I've been hearing a lot from first grade teachers lately. At the beginning of the year, when they are carefully teaching "firsties" the concept of addition and subtraction by using manipulatives and pictures, they have a handful of students that not only understand the concept, but can work with the numbers easily, with little effort. So how to challenge these students while giving others the time they need to practice? 

One activity that may fill in the gap for a couple of days are missing addend flashcards. I included addition sentences with missing start, change and end numbers. I used numbers that were a little less friendly and a little larger to make it a bit more challenging. I also laminated them so they could use an Expo marker and be able to use them many times. 

Laminated addition sentences. 
One unexpected benefit from using these cards, was the connection to place value. Any missing addend paired with a 10, like ___ + 10 = 15, became easy for students once they knew to look at the ones column of the sum.

Students also began to learn about the commutative property of addition - 8 + 3 = 11 and 3 + 8 = 11. 

There is also just something about being able to use markers that kids find irresistible!

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Great Way To Organize Math Manipulatives

What a nice surprise waited for me when I opened up my teaching partner's math cupboard! She had all her math manipulatives organized in tubs. This makes it easy to grab what you need in a hurry. She said it works well - when her first graders are done with the materials, they know to put them back into the tub and snap on the lid. 

Most of the smaller tubs are "Ziplock" brand tubs that are meant for several uses. This is her second year of using them and they still look brand new!

The Organized Math Cupboard
Math - It Works

Friday, August 22, 2014

Great Way to Look at the Mathematical Practices

Found a poster on the Internet that grouped the Mathematical Practices into mathematical behaviors. I made a poster to remind me, as I am lesson planning, to create activities that will weave these practices into the fabric of math.

Math - It Works

Saturday, August 16, 2014

The Problem with Teaching Math After Lunch (Freebie)

Teach math after lunch? That means you have students who are suddenly sluggish and groggy. They're ready for a nap while you have visions of engaged, bright-eyed students tackling the toughest problems. 

One thing I've found helpful is to start math before they even finish walking in the door. I have a stack of "answer cards" that I lay out on the desks ahead of time. As they walk in the door I hand them a problem card. They need to solve it and find the answer. (Their desk for the day) Every day they will sit in a different spot. 

This strategy has kept students from getting too comfortable, gets them using math right away, is a great review, and sets the tone of the class. Here is a sample freebie to get you started! 

                                                                          Desk Cards

                                                                      Math - It Works

Monday, August 4, 2014

Number Hops (Freebie Included)

Have you tried a Number Hop lately? Just something I've been working on. I've had a lot of requests for quick (10 minute) warm-ups for math. Since 2nd graders work so much with place value and they really need to become fluent with numbers, I created Number Hops for 2nd grade. 

Students begin with a target number and add or subtract their way to the final number. I encourage them to do this mentally by working with tens first, then with ones. It can be done as a whole group but students really like to work on them individually. Try it out with the freebie below. I have a months supply for 2nd graders in my TPT store. 3rd, 4th and 5th grade Number Hops coming soon!


Wednesday, July 30, 2014

First day of School Activity

First ten minutes of the first day of school can seem awkward! I want students to have something to do while we wait for everyone to put their gear away and get settled. This simple activity has worked well for me.
 Use a large piece of heavy paper. Draw apple shape (This is the best I can do:)
Create interesting puzzle pieces. Make a few more pieces than students for those that join your class later in the year. 
 Write students' names and snap a quick picture so when you need to reassemble it is easier!
 First day of school, I put everyone's puzzle piece on their desk and they color them in. They can put things they like, special designs, you name it.
Throughout the day I have students work on putting the puzzle together. I don't tell them what it is and it usually takes awhile. This time gives students a chance to work together and I assess who my leaders are, who might need help with social skills, etc... 

At the end I create a bulletin board right outside our classroom door by stapling the completed apple with the heading: Room 147 "Working Together - A Perfect Fit"


Other activities for your students during the year

Monday, July 28, 2014

6 Great Ways To Learn Multiplication Facts

Third grade has become.... THE YEAR OF MULTIPLICATION. It is all things multiplied. Yet, it has always been a struggle for students to become fluent with their facts. Flashcards are boring and not very effective. We don't have a lot of extra time during the day to work on fact fluency (in fact no extra time at all). Some parents will put in the time at home, some won't. 

So what do we do? 

Here are a few suggestions:

1. It always helps when students are familiar with their multiples first. That way, if they do need to resort to their fingers for skip counting, they can do it quickly and easily until they memorize. Sooner or later, after having to figure out what 3 x 4 is, they will memorize it. 

2. There are many on-line programs (even free programs) that focus on multiplication facts. Sometimes kids are motivated to practice when it is on-line in a game-like format. If you have classroom funds, "First in Math" is a fantastic investment. It runs about $8 a student and runs for a year. 

3. Make fact problems part of every warm-up, every day.

4. Use arrays to help students memorize the square numbers (3x3, 4x4,) In our classroom, we had Crazy Eight, a square with 64 hunting dogs!

5. A school-wide program of recognition, or even a grade-level focus with incentives may put a buzz in the air around learning facts.

6. If you do use flashcards, use Triangle Fact Cards. That way, students have 3 visual numbers to connect with, they are subliminally getting the message of how multiplication and division work together and you can change which missing number you are looking for, which prepares them for those more difficult 6 x __ = 24 type questions. Triangle Fact Cards
Triangle Number Cards



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