Wednesday, June 29, 2011

Math Workstations Blog Party Chapter 6

Thank you to:  Oceans of First Grade Fun for hosting the blog party this week!

How do you support math vocabulary (math talk) at Place Value stations?
I model and encourage students to use place value vocabulary as they play games, and do place value activities.  I like the idea of using card prompts to help them.

What student activities help support your student’s understanding of place value?

I think that what is most important is the use of manipulatives to model place value.

What is your student’s favorite place value work station/activity?
Depending on the child, there are a lot of favorites in my classroom.  Many of the ones listed below can be bought at Lakeshore Learning .  Many of them could be re-created on your own if you rather not spend the money on buying them.  
  • I have...Who has

  • "Race to 100" (like Debbie mentions in the book on p. 142) and "Race to 0" (the opposite).  You can see a chart at this site.
  • "The Digit Game" which is from the "Everyday Math" program.  This can be differentiated by students choosing 2-? cards and then seeing the largest number that they can make with their cards.  It is similar to "War" in that the student that is able to make the larger number keeps all of the cards for that round.
  • I have fish cards with numbers that I bought several years ago.   I use these cards in several ways.
    • Students play "Top-It" with them as the largest fish is 99.
    • Students choose 3-5 cards (depending on their level) and then place them in order from either smallest to largest, or largest to smallest.
    • I also use them when we work on addition and subtraction. The choose 2 cards and either add them together or subtract the smallest from the largest number.
  • Place Value Puzzles 

Monday, June 20, 2011

Math Workstations Blog Party Chapter 5

Fact fluency is a school improvement goal for my school right now, so I am really trying to improve this area of my teaching.

How do you support math vocabulary (math talk) at Addition and Subtraction Work stations?
I encourage students to talk with one another while they work at this center, using addition and subtraction vocabulary.
How do you build addition and subtraction fluency?
I think what is most important is to be practicing these skills on a daily basis!  My students go to: the Xtramath everyday in order to practice their fact fluency.  The site is completely free, and pre-tests students when they start the program.  After it knows what they know, it adds a few problems at a time for mastery.  It takes about 10 minutes a day per child for each session (but they could go on for multiple sessions if they wanted at home).  I train the kids to "tag" someone who is a) not done (it places check marks next to kids who are so they know), and b) who is not working with an adult.  It takes about an hour to get through all 27 kids that I had this past year.  We use the "Everyday Math" program at our school, which includes some games on these skills.  Once they master addition, it goes onto subtraction and so on.  I have a variety of games, for kids to practice their math skills as well.

Some of my favorites:
Math Facts Champs - Addition/Subtraction Games
 Simple Addition Partner Game
Wrap-Around Math Games - Gr. 1-2 (Also known as "I have...Who has?)
Other favorites include:
  • "Domino Parking Lot": Students close their eyes and choose a domino and add them up, if that parking spot is empty, they can place the domino there.  If it already has a domino there, they miss that turn and it is their partner's turn.
  • "Domino Top-It": Partners each choose a domino, the one with the larger total keeps both dominoes (just like "War").
  • Flashcards

What type of story problems have you been working on?
To be honest, I really need to improve in this area.  I do like the idea of using sentence frames that she shows on page 107 in the book.  I also like the idea of a class story problem book that she mentions on page 108. 

What is your student’s favorite addition and subtraction work station/activity?
I think that this is a hard question to answer...depends on the student that you ask.  I think that all of the games that I listed above have a few "fans" that really enjoy playing the games.

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Summer Learning

I made this aiming it at parents

Summer vacation is here for many of you, while some others have a few more days to go until their vacation starts.  Please be sure though it is not a vacation from learning!   I hope that this article will assist you in helping your child continuing to learn over the summer, while having fun!  Since my 10 years of experience in education has mainly been in the primary grades (K-3), that will be my focus for this article.  Here are some ways that you can keep your child engaged at while at home this summer:

  • Please make sure that your child reads for at least 20-30 minutes daily (can be broken down into smaller amounts).  It is also important that you include time to: read to your child, read with your child, and have your child read to you.  They can also read to pets or stuffed animals too!  In addition, they can spend some time listening to reading (internet sites or audio books) which helps them to become better readers as well.  I will blog at another time with some great websites for this.
  • Check out your local library!  Although rereading books is very important for students developing fluency, being engaged in reading is very important as well.  Before you go, have your child make a list: topics that they want to learn about, favorite authors, and any books that have been on their wishlist.

  • Some children naturally love writing, and others...not so much.  You can help engage them however!  Sometimes buying a special journal will help make them want to spend time writing in it.
  • Stationary can be an excellent way for children to see a purpose, and to practice writing to family and friends who live anywhere. They can practice their writing skills electronically too by e-mailing.
  • Stickers and stamps can also be great incentives. Many teachers (including myself) use them in the classroom.  You can have your child choose a few to make a picture about, and then have them write about their picture.
  • Going grovery shopping?  Have your child help to make the grocery list, and then mark items off after you find them in the store.
Word Study
  • Most districts in this area have similar expectations when it comes to being able to spell words.  Most districts expect that students leaving kindergarten know the first 25-30 words on the "Fry List," first 100 by the end of 1st grade, first 200 by the end of 2nd grade, and the first 300 by the end of 3rd grade.  I will include more ways to practice at home on a later blog.
  • There are a lot of fun ways that children can practice these words at home!  Talking paintbrushes and "painting" water words onto the sidewalk is one way.  They can also take sidewalk chalk and write them out as well.
  • If your child likes technology, Spelling City is a great website where their are pre-programmed list, or you can customize a list with the words that your child needs to practice.
  • This site also offers a variety of ideas to practice those words at home over the summer. 
  • Xtramath is a fantastic website which pre-tests your child on their +,-,x, and / skills (it starts with addition and then goes from their as needed).  This site keeps track of which facts your child knows, and then in small amounts, teaches them new facts until they master them.  One session take about 10 minutes a day, but you can do it more often than that.  I know that it really helped my 1st graders this year to develop their fact fluency!
  • Review shapes and go on a shape hunt around your community with a camera.  You can then make the pictures into a "all about shapes" book  integrating literacy.
  • Practice can print off/copy multiple sheets and have your child set a goal for how high they will be able to count by the end of summer.  It is important that they can do it both orally, and in writing.
  • This is a great time to try out some science experiments while at home!  This site has some great ideas!
Social Studies
  • Explore your community!
  • Discuss the different goods and services that are provided around the community.
  • If you travel at all, compare and contrast your community with the community that you visit.  Some children enjoy making scrapbooks about their travels as well which integrates writing.
Additional Summer Learning Resources

Monday, June 13, 2011

School Summer To Do List

  1. Make a dent in my pile of books and professional magazines:)
  2. Refine my curriculum map for both 1st and 2nd grade (as I will be teaching a split next year)
  3. Revise my science and social studies units
  4. Work on improving how I do guided math (the blog party is helping me a lot with that!)
  5. Get ready for teaching summer school
And some people say that teachers only work 9 months out of the year;)

Math Workstations Blog Party Chapter 4

How do you support math vocabulary (math talk) at Beginning Number Concepts stations?
I have to admit that this is a weakness of mine.  This coming year, I definitely want to work on making the "I can" posters, and hopefully including some math "talking points" for each poster.  In addition, I also want to make anchor charts more often than I have in the past.  I also want to start to make math big books with the class.  My district uses the "Everyday Math" program (which spirals), so I think that I will focus on the "common core" skills and base them around that. 

How do your students read, write, order, represent, or compare numbers? What activities support that?

The "Everyday Math" program comes with several games that focus on this skill.  The one that we use the most is "Top-it" which is just like the card game "War."  I definitely want to look for more activities to help with this skill.  Another game that we use in 1st and 2nd grade is the "Digit Game."  For beginners, students each take 2 cards from the top of the pile, and make the largest number with those 2 digits.  Example: player one draws a 6 & a 3 and makes 63, while player two draws a 2 & a 7 and makes 72.  Player 2 wins because 72 is larger than 63.  You can differentiate this by having students select more than 2 cards to practice place value.

What is your student’s favorite number concepts work station/activity?
I would have to say that "Top-it" is a popular game in my classroom.  It can be differentiated in that you can do: regular top-it (comparing 2 cards), addition top-it, subtraction top-it, and multiplication top-it.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Warm and Fuzzy Way to End the School Year

Yesterday was the last day of school for my 1st grade class.  Although I will miss them, I am very excited about the start of summer vacation!  I will be teaching summer school for part of the summer, as well as tutoring a few students as well.

To end the school year, the class got into a circle (as best as we could in a packed up classroom due to moving and construction).  I had a basket of little fuzzy craft balls (you can get them at a craft store or Walmart).  I started off by saying something I liked (personality/character trait wise) about a student that is switching schools next year and gave her a "warm and fuzzy" ball.  She then chose a ball and told another child why she chose them.  We did this until everyone had a "warm and fuzzy" ball.  I think that this was an excellent way to end the school year!

Monday, June 6, 2011

Math Workstations Blog Party Chapter 3

These are my responses to the "blog party" for Debbie Diller's Book "Math Work Stations" located at:

What should your math work stations, look like, sound like and feel like?
I normally have 29-32 students in my class.  The past 2 years I have divided my class into 4 groups.  When I taught a 1st/2nd grade split last year, I had 4 groups (2 1st and 2 2nd).  This past year I taught 1st grade where I had a high, medium high, medium low, and low groups.  These were flexible, as I would regroup them at the end of each unit.  I would do calendar during morning meeting whole group, and any read alouds whole group.  I would also give directions whole group.  Depending on the game/activity, I might teach it whole group, or in small guided math groups. 

At the beginning of the year, I did allow some exploration time for students to explore the materials in the math center.  I find that it cuts down on the off-task behavior in the future.  I think that making anchor charts for math work stations are very important. I also have students model appropriate and inappropriate behavior for the class.

Math time looks like: me teaching a group of children, other children working around the room on various math related activities.  I  am working on teaching math with the "to, with, and by" method.  Students are helping one another, and conversing with one another about math.  It sounds like whispering (although I will be the first to admit that we would have issues with this on some days).  It feels like students are engaged in what they are doing (for the most part).

What does your management board look like?
As of right now, I do not have a management board because of the way that I have done it the past 2 years.  Students have a home math location where they start every day, and then circle around the room.  With 29-32 students, and a room that is not huge, I am trying to figure out how I could have pairs around the room.

How do you support math vocabulary (math talk cards) in your stations?
I have to say that this is an area that I really need to work on in my classroom.

Thursday, June 2, 2011

Math Workstations Blog Party Chapters 1-2

These are my responses to the "blog party" for Debbie Diller's Book Math Work Stations" located at: .

1. Materials used by the teacher first, then placed in the station: YES
2. Materials do not change weekly, but rather change to reflect the students learning objectives: I USUALLY CHANGE THEM BY SKILLS THAT WE ARE FOCUSING ON.  AS EVERYDAY MATH SPIRALS, I MAY HAVE SEVERAL SKILLS OUT AT A TIME
3. All students go to stations daily: YES, UNLESS WE HAVE A SHORTENED DAY FOR SOME REASON
4. Materials are differentiated: SOMETIME YES AND SOMETIMES NO.  I NEED TO WORK ON THIS...
5. The teacher observes work or meets with differentiated math groups: YES (DAILY)

1.  How do you (or will you) differentiate your math stations? 
I have to admit that this is an area that I need and want to work on improving.  Currently, my school district uses the "Everyday Math" program.  I bought the differentiation guides available for the grades that I teach (1st and 2nd).  I do get quite a few ideas from that as to how to differentiate the math program's games.  As for other games, I may vary the rules a bit depending on the level of the group.
2.  How and where do you keep your math stations?
I have a cabinet where I store my math materials.   I also have 2 sets of plastic drawers (6 drawers in total) where each group stores their math journals and folders.  I also use a drawer for my teaching materials, and another for some of the games that I am using.  Some of the materials are stored in the math center in bins (ex. dominoes, dice, rulers).  Depending on the activity, student know where these materials are located and use them and return them as needed.
3.  How do you keep your math materials organized?
I have a cabinet which is organized by math strands (ex. money, time, measurement, fractions).  Some of the larger games/activities are stored on the top shelf as they do not fit into the boxes.   
Some of the materials are stored in the math center in bins (ex. dominoes, dice, rulers).  Depending on the activity, student know where these materials are located and use them and return them as needed.