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Saturday, November 12, 2016

MORE Multiplication Resources and Ideas

It's that time of year for us-- we have begun diving head first into multiplication.  Since I teach 4th grade, that means reviewing the basics of multiplication that they learned last year AND teaching them multi-digit multiplication.  It's always a doozy of a unit!  I've posted about teaching multi-digit multiplication before, but I haven't posted much about the very beginning of the unit.  You can read my previous post HERE.  It includes a lot more activities and anchor charts to help you through your multiplication unit!

Here are a few more ideas that I haven't blogged about before...

Factors and Multiples Introduction

I always try to introduce my new units with some sort of inquiry-based work.  I needed something quick and easy to get my kids thinking about factors and multiples (without actually telling them that's what they were using).  I put my kids in partners and gave them each this page and asked them to answer each question, in any way they could.  I loved seeing all of their different answers!  It made it really easy to introduce the concept of factors and multiples after they had done it.

You can grab the page HERE.

Factors and Multiples Notebook Page

I LOVE introducing factors and multiples because I get to be incredibly dramatic!  The MULTIPLE MONSTER and the FACTOR NINJA are such an integral part of helping my students recall what each one means.

We all stand up and act like ninjas and shout, "Factor Ninja CHOPS UP PRODUCTS!" and then put on our scariest voices, bend down to the floor and gradually raise up and get bigger while shouting, "Multiple Monster MAKES NUMBERS BIGGER!"  They LOVE it.

We made this fun notebook page together and had a lot of fun chopping up factors and being monsters to make our multiples.  If you've never tried it, I highly recommend it.

Factors, Multiples, Prime, and Composite Jenga Game

Our last unit was on elapsed time, and it was the first time we played Jenga to review. (Read more about that HERE.) The kids loved it so much that I knew I had to find more ways to incorporate it. Reviewing factors and multiples seemed like the perfect time to create another one, and they had a BLAST!  You can get the already colored game blocks on Amazon HERE.

Grab the blocks HERE!
You can see the Factors and Multiples game HERE.

Multiplying by Multiples of 10 and 100 

Before I can move on and start teaching various strategies and algorithms for multi-digit multiplication, I HAVE to teach my kids how to multiply by multiples of 10 and 100.  This is so crucial for students to be able to do mentally! It also helps them immensely with partial products and the box and cluster method and helps them to estimate whether an answer is reasonable.

Here is the anchor chart I use to teach multiplying by Multiples of 10 and 100.  We do all of this together, and then take notes via the notebook page below.

The Adult M and Child M stands for Adult MEMBERS and Child MEMBERS.  I just ran out of room to write them this year!

This is a horrendous picture, and it's not perfect, but it's real!  These are the notes we took after completing the anchor chart together.  You can see where I crossed out "add the same number..." and replaced it with "ATTACH the same number."  This prevents students from saying that they added two zeros.  Adding two zeros wouldn't change the value of the number! :) 

Math Fact Whole Class Game

A few months ago, I saw a most fantastic idea from Teach Like You Mean It on Instagram.  It has quickly become another favorite way to practice our math facts!  It's super simple.  My students LOVE practicing their math facts with this fun relay race!  The kids are in two lines and have to compete relay-race style to get all of the facts correct. The numbers 1-12 are on each team's side of the board and then they have a number (in this case it was +7, but you can adapt it to multiplication very easily) to add to each number. SO easy to adapt to addition, subtraction, and multiplication!

What's The Operation?

Every year, I very quickly realize that my students need extensive practice in determining when to add, subtract, and multiply.  They catch on to the fact that when it's time to learn multiplication, all of the word problems we are working on involve multiplication.  Last year, I created these Determine the Operation Task Cards.  They are unique because each card has THREE problems about the same topic.  Each problem uses a different operation.  It is a great way to show students that various situations can require different operations, and it gives them a lot of practice in pulling out key word, details, and figuring out which operation is best.

Find the Task Cards HERE.

A Valuable Multiplication FREEBIE!
This week, I received an email from a very sweet reader who had created her own version of the above Jenga game for two-digit multiplication.  She so kindly agreed to let me share it with you all so that even more teachers could benefit from her wonderful work! I absolutely can't wait to use it!

You can download the game HERE and use it in your classrooms.  You'll need the colored Jenga blocks again.  Remember, you can get those HERE.  Thanks so much to Rebecca Beecher.  You can find Rebecca on Instagram at The Sunny Side of Teaching

Wednesday, November 2, 2016

Easiest Partner Math Fact Practice Ever

Yet another game that the wonderful Hope from Elementary Shenanigans adapted for her classroom was Headbandz!  If you've ever played the game, you know how ridiculously silly and playful it is, and kids LOVE ridiculous and silly! ;) I knew I had to think of a way to adapt it for my classroom.

As we have started working on multiplication, I knew my students needed a few minutes of practice multiple times a day to really solidify their math facts.  I was also looking for a game to play during math workshop to practice multiplying.  Factor Frenzy Headbands game was born!  When we play, several of my kids have called it "The BEST Math fact game ever!"

This is SO easy-- go to Wal Mart and grab a few inexpensive stretchy headbands. THESE are the handbands I purchased (affiliate link).  Make a stack of index cards with products (numbers) on them.

Then, put your students in groups of 3 (2 worked, too, but 3 was best).  The first child puts the headband on and puts some index cards on their headband.  They can't see it, but their two teammates can.  Their teammates then give them factors (multiplication facts) to equal the product.  The student with the headband on has to solve the problem to pull the card out.  I give each child one minute with the headband on and they get to save the cards they successfully solved.  It's definitely a teamwork game, and what I love most about it is that ALL of the kids are practicing their facts, not just the ones with the headband on!

Just like the real game, they can't say the number that is on their head, so ONE times the number is NOT an option!  I threw in some prime numbers to throw them off, and those didn't count when the students got them. ;)

Have fun!

Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Elapsed Time Amazing Race

Can you tell we have been hard at work mastering our elapsed time skills?  This is something that can get pretty boring pretty quickly because of how much practice you HAVE to do.  I started searching for more ideas to make it FUN and INTERESTING, and I came across this great blog post from Thinking of Teaching.  She had the kids play a version of Amazing Race, and I thought it was such a great idea!  I took it a little bit further and made it into a "real" Amazing Race, where they are solving problems to race throughout the different continents.

One of my main goals as we were working on this game, which came at the very end of our elapsed time unit, was to help them become more comfortable with multi-step elapsed time problems.  Every single continent had a multi-step problem they had to solve in order to move on.

I started by creating a passport for each of my students.  They were going to be solving problems on all seven continents (and visiting the US twice, once when they depart, and once when they arrive back home).  I found stamps and stickers that they could use when they completed the problem at that continent.  They *loved* this, and the buy-in was amazing! They worked so hard for their stamps and stickers.

At each stop, they had a multi-step problem to solve that had something to do with a country on that continent.  I made it into a colorful poster using a half sheet of anchor chart paper and hung them all up around the room.

Each stop had a small white bin (.99 from Party City and I can think of 1,000 other things I am going to do with them) with their stamps and half sheets of paper.  They did all of their work on the half sheets of paper and submitted their answers into the bin as well.  This way, the only thing they had to carry from continent to continent was their passport.

That's it!  SUPER simple, but the engagement during this activity was off the charts.  They loved it!

Click HERE to download my not-so-pretty file to create your own posters.

You can check out MORE posts and elapsed time resources below by clicking on each image.



Tuesday, October 4, 2016

Elapsed Time Game!

A few weeks ago, I had the great privilege of attending a two day training at The Ron Clark Academy.  They are all about high student engagement and adding a little bit of extra magic to a rigorous curriculum.  One of their teachers, the most fabulous Hope King (who also blogs at Elementary Shenanigans), did a workshop on adding games to your curriculum.  One of the games that stuck out to me was using Jenga blocks to up the engagement for ANY topic!  So, as soon as I got home, I ordered a class set of colored Jenga blocks (which are technically knock-offs) and set to work creating a Jenga game to go with our current unit on elapsed time.  And my Elapsed Time Jenga Game was born!

Here are the basics of the game:
  • Each child gets a recording sheet, a colored Jenga game set (I ordered mine HERE.  You can also paint regular Jenga sets), and a dice with all the different colored blocks.  
  • I put my students in groups of 3-4, but you could easily have groups of 5 or 6.
  • One student rolled the dice and pulled the corresponding color from their tower.  Then, they found the color on their recording sheet and answered one of the questions.  
  • Here's a key point: even though only one person pulls a block each turn, ALL of the students MUST answer EACH question.  
  • Then, they had to confer with each other and agree on an answer.  If they disagreed, they worked together to find any errors that had been made and solved the problem correctly.  
  • Finally, I had a QR code answer sheet for the kids to use to check their answers.  

The love for this game was immeasurable!  I had so many comments from kids saying that they didn't want math time to end!  The day was going by so quickly! They were having so much fun it didn't even feel like math!  THOSE are the comments that we as teachers live for.  Little did they realize, they had completed 36 elapsed time problems during their game!

I did add one more little element to the game since it was for time.  Each time the students solved a problem correctly, they got "seconds" for it.  The red questions were the most difficult, so they earned 60 seconds for each red that they pulled and solved for.  The purples were the most basic, so they earned 20 seconds each time they solved one of those. They lost the same amount of time for incorrect answers, and they lost 30 seconds when their towers fell. I added that part because I didn't want students to get too crazy with their towers and spend all of their time cleaning them up.

At the end of our game time, they added up all of the seconds they had earned (and lost).  Then, they had to convert it to minutes and seconds.  That number was the amount of time they had to compete in a STEM challenge.  We did a super basic STEM challenge-- built the tallest structure out of marshmallows and tooth picks.  Some groups had 20 minutes to build, and some had 12, depending on how many they got right and how many times their towers fell! :) This was just a "fun" component, but they just loved it, and it was great motivation to work with a sense of urgency and also not goof around and make their tower fall.

They absolutely loved the STEM challenge, too!

I have shared my elapsed time documents for FREE on my TpT site.  I hope you can enjoy them with your class! Check back for more Jenga games coming soon-- I will definitely be adapting this for multiple subject areas!

Download the documents HERE.

Purchase the colored block sets HERE (affiliate link).

Get even MORE Elapsed Time Ideas HERE!

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Coordinating Conjunctions and Compound Sentences

One of my big goals this year is to make writing as FUN and ENGAGING as I possibly can.  So many students equate writing with boring skill practice and monotonous prompts, and I want to change that!  We are very lucky to have a FABULOUS writing curriculum that we will dive into soon, but for now, I am focusing on some critical grammar skills.  One of them is types of sentences and using coordinating conjunctions.  Being able to use commas and conjunctions really increases a student's ability to write varied, interesting pieces of writing.

We started off by making an anchor chart together.  I made the "shell" of the anchor chart ahead of time so that we could talk through it as a class.  I strongly believe in making anchor charts WITH a class, but I have also found that making these "shells" eliminates any down time while creating them.  I just leave the most important content out.

After we filled it in together, we started practicing the skill using our Super Sentences Flip Books.  We have had so much fun with these to start the school year-- it's amazing how turning a regular worksheet into a flip book can make all the difference in how engaged your students are.

The next day, I wanted a memorable way to review what the students had learned yesterday.  I went on Flocabulary and found this A-MAZING video that teaches students about using coordinating conjunctions to make compound sentences.  
The hook line of the song is, "A simple sentence has a subject and a verb, and forms a complete thought using every word. A compound sentence is two of them combined. A comma, and a conjunction you will find!"  It was like GOLD for my students and soon enough, they were jumping up and down rapping with the video themselves.  We did this three weeks ago, and the song is STILL stuck in my head!
Click to Watch
Click on the image above to see the video for FREE until October 31st.  While you're there, explore the site.  They have a song for just about everything you could imagine, and tons of lesson plans to go with them, too!  Next week, we are starting latitude and longitude, and I can't wait to introduce my students to the concept with their song for that topic!

Would you like to win a year-long subscription to Flocabulary? (The answer is YES! Yes, you would!)  Here's your chance!  Click on the image below and enter your information.  THREE randomly selected entrants will win a full year subscription, and everyone who enters will receive an extended 45-day free trial.  You must enter by October 16.  Good luck!

After we watched the video at least seventeen times (that's only a SLIGHT exaggeration), students got to do a fun hands-on activity to practice building compound sentences using coordinating conjunctions.   

First, they got a large piece of chart paper with different categories.  Then, they had some macaroni noodles for the commas, and sentence strips to write their sentences.  They had to write two simple sentences about the topic that went together, with one sentence on each sentence strip.  Then, they combined them on the chart paper to make a compound sentence.  Here's a look at some of their charts to get a better idea of how they did it. 

They had to cut off the first (capital) letter of the second sentence so that they remembered to make it lowercase.  They used the macaroni to make a comma, and wrote in their FANBOYS.

Pay no mind to the dead flowers here.  This poor table's flowers died over the weekend, and they were determined to revive them!
I loved seeing their sentences, and this made the concept so concrete!

I knew that the rest of our coordinating conjunction practice would be embedded into our writing, but I wanted to do one quick assessment with the kids.  My students this year are absolutely OBSESSED with Kahoot, so I took my Coordinating Conjunctions Task Cards and created a Kahoot with them.  I simply took a screen shot of each card, typed in the answers, and I was done.  It look less than ten minutes to convert a few task cards into a Kahoot game!  I made the game public, so if you would like to play it with your students, click HERE to access the game for free!

If you would like the rest of the task cards in the set, click HERE!

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Host a Classroom Book Tasting!

File this under lessons that must be repeated multiple times throughout the year!

I hosted my very first classroom Book Tasting yesterday, and my students were ALL IN!  Book Tastings are a wonderful way to get kids engaged in reading and familiarizing them with a wide variety of genres.  As an extra bonus, they get to practice Read to Self and find good fit books.  At the end of the tasting, they all end up with a list of books that they can't wait to read.  No more, "I don't know what to read!" excuses when we head to the library!

This was BY FAR my favorite lesson that I've done so far this year!

To prepare for my book tasting, I met with our librarian and we selected 8-10 books at my students' reading levels per genre.  We are so lucky to have a HUGE library with a VAST assortment of books! Then, I headed to the Dollar Tree and bought all of their blue and green placemats!  I also grabbed a few snacks for the students to have a "taste" of while they took a "taste" of their books.

As I was planning my Book Tasting, the fabulous Joanne from Head Over Heels for Teaching created an amazing Book Tasting Resource! PERFECT TIMING! The Book Tasting Menus that the students recorded on as well as the genre labels came from the pack!  My extra placements (Dollar Tree only had 20!) also came from her packet!

Here is how I set up my book tasting: 

I set up six different tables.  Each table was for a specific genre.  I placed a placement, a menu, and a plate at each seat.  Then, I put one book on each plate and a few extra books in the middle of the table.  I put the genre sign in the middle. I put on an apron, and I played some cafe music.  I also put little bowls of snacks on the table, but the kids didn't get to taste those.  More on the snacks later!

When the students arrived, I explained that they were now dining at Chef Montero's, and I had prepared a very special dining experience for them.  They, the Distinguished Diners at Chef Montero's, would be getting a taste of all kinds of new books!  I REALLY played it up, acting like I was a chef/server, and they were guests at a nice restaurant.  They even had to use their manners and act like dinner guests! 

They were all seated at a table and grabbed their menus.  I gave them about a minute to look at the book on their plate.  If they truly weren't interested in it AT ALL, they could trade out their book for one of the books in the middle of the table.  Most kids did not trade. 

Then, they began writing in their menus the genre, title, and first impressions of the book.  

After that, they had about 3-4 minutes to "taste" their book.  During this time, they were reading several pages out of their book.  While they were doing this, I walked around and served tiny tastes of several of my very special creations.  I got a little silly during this part, coming up with gourmet names for all of the little treats I served them.  Their favorite treat was the Rainbow Beans (AKA Skittles).  They got a tiny taste of something during each course at a different table. We have a strict "Safe Snack" list, so I served Fruit Snacks (2), Oreos (1), Skittles (2), Pretzel Sticks (a few), and Teddy Grahams (2).  They thought it was hilarious that they were getting such small portions of their snacks, but I reminded them that this was only a tasting! :) They LOVED how into my character I got.

Once they had done their tasting of the book, they filled out the rest of their menu, explaining whether or not they wanted to keep reading and why.  They also rated each book on a scale of 1-10.

Then, they reset their tables nicely, took their menus with them, and took a seat at another genre table. I had six tables, and we made five rotations.  In total, it took us about an hour to do our book tasting.

We had a BLAST doing our book tasting!  They loved it so much that they begged to do another one tomorrow!  I promised them that we would do another one later on this year once they have had time to read some of the new books on their "Must Read" list.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Classroom Snapshots 2016-2017

Just one more post about classroom set up, and then I promise it will be back to my regular content-based blog posts!

Now that all of our seating options are in, here are a few pictures to show our different seating arrangements and to get a feel for the classroom I spend my days in! :)

Here is a picture from the front of my room.  The paper looks extraordinarily bright in this picture and our rug also hadn't arrived when I took this, but it does a good job of showing most of our flexible seating options!

I LOVE our stability balls from WittFitt.  They have little legs on them and they pop up instantly when kids got off of them.  No balls constantly rolling around!

This is a view standing in the front of the room looking at the door.  You can see here the one pod of regular desks that remains.  You can also see that we have to store our recess equipment, which is why there is a hula hoop in those cubbies! :) 

This is easily my favorite part of the room!  I LOVE our green Hokki Stools from WittFitt and so do our students.  They wobble and allow just enough movement!  

This is directly on the opposite side of the Hokki Stool table.  It is our teacher desk turned student seating area with an IKEA bookshelf to store binders.  You can also see some of our storage on the cabinets as well as on the counters.  We use the bins on the counters to store our iPads, lessons, lesson plan books, etc.  It really replaces our teacher desk.

Here is a close up view of how we use the teacher desk as student seating.  On top of the bookshelf, there is a turn-in basket and a paper basket.

Here's a view of the back of the room with our standing desks!  These are definitely a favorite among students!

Just beyond the standing desks is our sitting/kneeling height table.  We have a lot of pillows and cushions for students to sit on.  You can also see the way we store our student supplies (in the supply boxes).  I love my portable dry erase board, too! :)

There's one MAJOR thing missing from the classroom: a class library.  We have had one every year until now.  However, our school has a Designated Power Library, with an open door policy and a HUGE variety of books.  It's absolutely phenomenal and has more books than we could ever supply--just two doors down!  We are trying the year without a library and seeing how it goes! :)

I hope everyone is enjoying their first few weeks back to school.  It's such an exciting time!