Mandy's Tips for Teachers

Tuesday, August 23, 2016

Teaching with the Hundreds Chart

Ya'll.  This is such an easy thing to use to build number sense. I taught fourth grade ELA for several years.  Then, I moved down to second grade and had to teach all subject areas.

I knew I needed a hundreds chart because they are in all the primary classrooms, but I didn't know what to do with it.

You count, right?

Um, yes, Mandy from 8 years ago, but you can use it for so much more.

So how can you use a hundreds chart as an  EASY and fast way to build number sense?  Check out these ideas!

Build the Hundreds Chart
Have you ever actually built the hundreds chart with students?  This is a fantastic math lesson for the VERY beginning of the year in either first or second grade.  It can be completed in several short spurts over the course of a few days, which makes it easy to squeeze in a meaningful math lesson during the back to school craziness.

I found TWO explicit FREE lesson plans one how to complete this lesson. One version of the lesson is for younger students and the other is for about second grade.

Another way to build the hundreds chart is to actually have students build the hundreds chart as puzzles!

As students become more familiar with the hundreds chart they can fill in the missing numbers on the chart.

Once students have mastered filling in a complete chart, challenge them to fill in missing pieces of the chart.  This is a perfect independent activity during centers!

Build Number Sense
The hundreds chart is a perfect introduction to patterns in numbers and developing number sense. Some struggling learners (even in second grade) may struggle with before and after. To practice this, you can simply have kids come to the board to touch the numbers that become before or after a given number.

You can also display the hundreds board and divide the class into two lines to create a "relay race" of sorts. The two students at the front of the line will "race" each other to answer the questions (correctly) first.  The student that answers first wins a point for his or her team.  You can ask questions like, "What number comes before 18?" and "What number comes after 78?"

The hundreds chart is perfect for practicing skip counting.  You can use it to model skip counting  from a given number by 2, 5, or 10.  Challenge kids by asking them to skip count by 5, from a number that does not end in 5 or 0, or skip count by 2 from an odd number! Don't forget to practice skip counting by 25, which will lend itself to counting quarters when it is time to practice counting change.

Adding/ Subtracting Ten and One
In second grade, students have to be able to mentally add and subtract 10 in a given number 100-900. The hundreds chart and its set up are ideal for introducing this.  It can be very difficult for students that struggle with place value, especially as you reach the higher 3 digit numbers.  The hundreds chart is a perfect way to being teaching visual patterns in numbers.

For example, when adding one, the ones places increases by one. When subtracting one, the ones places decreases by one.

For example, when adding ten, the tens places increases by one. When subtracting ten, the tens places decreases by one.

An easy way to show this skill is to project the hundreds chart on your Smart of Promethean Board and use counters to actually move by ten spaces or one space. You can also just use an old fashioned hundreds chart that is a pocket chart, like I have pictured here.

Eventually after you have modeled this several time and related it to the number sentence (23-10 = 13), you can show a small zoomed in grid that looks like a plus sign.  By learning patterns on the  hundreds chart, they can easy (and visually) add and subtract ten and one to any given number.

Once students are comfortable with adding and subtracting with the hundreds chart, they can play a variety of games in their interactive math notebooks.  Students can use counters instead of coloring on the game board to cover places on the hundreds chart, so they can play the games over and over!

Arrow Cards
Have you ever seen arrow cards?  They are so cool!

It is a great way to encourage mental math skills in a different, more abstract format.

Teach students to mentally add and subtract 10 and 1 by using arrow cards.  Give students a starting number.  Then students will use the arrows to move across the hundreds chart to find the ending number.  It can be hard to explain in writing.  Here is a video, so you can see it in action.

All the arrow cards in the video are included as a freebie here!  Make sure to snag it!

If you are looking for any of the activities pictured above, they can be found in my Exploring the Hundreds Chart pack. You can see that here.

Do you have any additional ideas for the hundreds chart?  There are a million ideas!

Click here for this great pack of FREE math centers, plus get tips and updates from me!

If you would like more ideas from me, be sure to follow me on Teachers Pay Teachers, Pinterest, and Facebook to catch all the freebies and ideas and more!

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Sunday, August 14, 2016

4 Tips to Keep the Math Mini Lesson Mini

Yesterday I touched on this in my blog post.  Today I am going to explore it a bit more.

Math is a subject where things build upon each other like a precarious stack of blocks.  You have to make sure the base is solid before adding to the tower or it will all fall apart.

This can make math lessons so hard to keep mini because so much depends on the understanding of another skill or concept. So how can you keep the math lesson mini?

Tip One: Create a Unit Overview
During my master's classes we were really hammered with the concept of "Keeping the end in mind," from Understanding by Design by Grant Wiggins. While I didn't use his templates, I did like to think about the standards that would be assessed, the assessment itself, and then worked backwards from there.  It just makes sense.

Creating a unit overview made it easier for me to make sure I taught the lessons in an order that made sense, in the practical amount of time/days, and hit all the required standards. It also help me look carefully at the standards to be able to break them in more "bite size pieces."

Here is an example of a unit map from my Discovering Place Value pack.

I listed all of the standards in the box on the left and starred the standards that are addressed on the assessment.  Then, on the "calendar" on the right side I outline what I would teach each day, making sure I addressed each standard.  I also built in days for a pretest and post test for the unit.  This pretest and post test is the assessment I used to build the unit around. 

If you like this unit overview and would like a blank copy to use, click here to get a FREE copy!

I also wanted to make sure to include some days JUST for remediation after administering the formative assessment How to Show a Number Four Ways.  Some kids may still struggle with this, so I want to make sure that I have time to really support and extend learning. On those days (as well as the pretest day) I have hyperlinked games that would be perfect for teaching the students.  All the linked games are FREE! 

This is a huge freebie I found online from Pedagonet. There are two games (page 9 and page 11) perfect for this place value unit.  

This is a freebie I created awhile back.  I have updated it. It can be played to the hundreds or thousands place. Click here to grab it!

Tip Two: Teach a Specific Targeted Skill or Concept
Introduce the grade level skill or concept in whole group.

Give your reasoning for introducing it, or how it can be applied in the real world.

Then, teach the skill which allows for modeling and think aloud, and just a little bit of student practice.

I personally do not look at one mini lesson as a chance for concept mastery. Instead, I look at it as a time for modeling and shared practice. I mean, it is only a  few minutes!

You can read more about the Do Do Model (Gradual Release model) in this post.

Tip Three: Use Your Time Wisely During the Mini Lesson
To keep the mini lesson, well, mini make sure to use your time as wisely as possible. 

Instead of allowing all students to have access to math manipulatives, model how to use and apply the learning from the math manipulates.  I wrote about why you SHOULDN'T use math manipulatives in whole group lessons here.

Also, as mentioned above, limit student practice. YES, of course your students should participate in the lesson and practice, BUT when the lesson is only 15-20 minutes long it may not be best for this to be the bulk of the lesson.

Tip Four: Use Student Note Taking Wisely
Requiring students to take notes, even as young as second grade can be very powerful.  

I LOVE that quote that the act of writing triggers the brain to pay attention.  To capitalize on this with younger students, make sure to provide structured notes. 

However, make sure that the act of writing notes does NOT over power the learning.  We all know that younger writers can sometimes take a long time- especially when processing what is on the board, finding the corresponding place on their paper, and then writing the notes.

I wanted to make sure that I provided any kind of support I could for my teacher friends so I created a series specifically for helping teachers effectively teach math mini lessons. This first in the series is the Discovering Place Value pack. I also have a pack on Exploring Addition strategies, and Exploring Subtraction strategies pack is *thisclose* to being finished!

In the pack are 13 power point lessons (all match the lesson in the unit overview pictured below).

The power points are all short and to the point- most are about 9-12 slides.

On some slides at the very top is a "Learn It" arrow, like the one pictured in the slide below.  This is a signal to both the student and teacher that this information is included in the notes page.

For every lesson, a half-page sheet is provided for student notes.  This is perfect for the left side of students' interactive notebooks. The notes are short and just cover the MOST important points in the lesson.  These are perfect for students to later reference.

The power point slide in each lesson is a short "check in." Students can try it alone or in pairs.  Then, you can go over the slide and students can make an corrections.

After the lesson, students can complete a SIMPLE flip flap book to apply the introduced skill. These are great a quick, formative quick in to help form guided math groups the next day.

AHHH! How will I ever fit it all in?
Most likely, you won't.  Not to be a pessimist, but I am trying to be a realist. I had an extremely difficult time fitting it all in when just teaching mini lessons in math.

One way that I have "combated" this is to not do math workshop and a mini lesson EVERY day.  You may want to reserve one or two days a week for whole group instruction.

I organized my math block differently every year. Some years I did whole group instruction on Monday and then mini lessons and small groups Tues through Friday.  Other years I did whole group Mondays and Fridays and small groups Tues- Thurs.  Other years, when I had multiple adults in the room do to push in inclusion we did small groups EVERY day and only did whole group as needed. I did find that when I taught third grade, it was hard to teach math mini lesson EVERY day and sometimes I did have to do whole group.

I also found that some years my approach worked great...and others not so much, so I had to make changes (like the ones listed above).  Being flexible is always key when meeting the needs of your students.

 Do you have any tips to keep the math mini lesson mini?

My NEXT blog post is going to be those tricky small group lessons.  How can your small groups meet the needs of ALL your needs and not just your struggling learners? I will address that next!

Click here for this great pack of FREE math centers, plus get tips and updates from me!

If you would like more ideas from me, be sure to follow me on Teachers Pay Teachers, Pinterest, and Facebook to catch all the freebies and ideas and more!

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Saturday, August 13, 2016

Why You Should NOT Use Math Manipulatives

I know you are looking at the title and thinking, "Whhaaa?!!! Has this chick gone off her rocker? Math manipulatives are one of the best practices when moving from conceptual to abstract understanding!"

Yes. I am serious.  No, I am not crazy.  Bear (Bare? Grrr...that homophone is hairy!) with me.  I PROMISE I have a logical reason.

Over the years I have written pretty extensively about guided math and meeting with small groups  during math time (you can see some posts here and here)....but what about the entire math block?  I have "talked" about it in bits and pieces, but not a big picture.

So today, and the next few posts as well, I am going to share some ideas on how to make it all work.

Find the Time

I think the MOST difficult piece of any math block is simply finding time. I have found that my best years I taught math were the years I had 60 -75 minutes of math time. I know that might not always be possible, but it certainly made planning MUCH easier.

Following the workshop model, begin with a whole group mini lesson, move into independent work time/ small groups, and then end with a share time. This can be a bit harder to apply in math, especially with requirements such as number talks or calendar time. Calendar time and number talks can be very short and pointed and can be a great way to wrap up the math workshop as the closing.

The mini lesson is usually at the beginning of the math period.  This is a whole group lesson, targeting a specific concept or skill.  Make sure to utilize this time wisely.  The mini lesson really shouldn't be any longer than 15 -20 minutes at the most.

During the Mini Lesson I Recommend:

During the Mini Lesson I DO NOT Recommend:

I know.  People are going to look at me like I have lost my best-practices-driven-mind.  Hear me out. In order to keep within the mini lesson time frame, some concession will need to be made. This is a time for students to be exposed to grade level concepts. of course, if the entire class need remediation on a concept, you can remediate.  However, keep in mind that, in most cases, the whole class will not need remediation or acceleration.  Those are typically best in small groups because they can be targeted for what EACH student needs.

The Do-Do Model
During the mini lesson model and think aloud as much as possible. Use the gradual release model wisely. Are you familiar with the gradual release model?  I like to call it the Do-Do Model.  Catchy, right?

At its most stripped down, small math groups and math workshop is one big example of the Gradual Release model.

Math Mini Lesson- I Do (Teacher Model)
Small Math Groups/ Independent Work Time-  We Do/ You Do

I DO encourage you to have students participate and practice with you (WE do), just makes sure to carefully watch the clock to allow for small groups time where the instruction and support can be more targeted (I Do and We Do).

No Math Read Alouds?!?!!?

I am a HUGE believer in reading and power of books and tying in literature into the content areas. BIG fan.  However, reading aloud a book can easily take 20 minutes, especially if you discuss it at all.  And if you apply it to the skill? That can easily add another 10+ minutes. This can eat into the precious small group time where you are guiding students to a deeper understanding.  Also, keep in mind the kid's attention span may not be able to read AND apply the text. Sitting for 35 minutes most likely will not work for many of your students.

Instead, consider reading the book one day and apply the book the next day.

Another idea is to read aloud math literature on special days. I also did NOT do math workshop on Fridays.  I choose not to follow the model on this day. Instead, I would do read alouds, fun projects, introduce math games, and even assess. I purposely used this time differently and it was a great change of pace for my students. It allowed me to work in some of those engaging, but longer tasks.

It also allowed to me to constantly to use formative assessments to make sure students were getting what they needed.  This means I did NOT have to sacrifice read alouds, as long as I planned my time carefully.

No Math Manipulatives?
This is honestly a personal preference, but I promise I have a strong (and good IMHO) reason for it.  As a general rule, I did NOT give my students math manipulatives to use during the mini lesson. I found they were too distracting and time consuming when trying to teach a short lesson. They also take a great deal of time to pass out and clean up when there are 22 kids.  There are ALWAYS buckets full of ones blocks EVERYWHERE on the carpet afterwards, but never  in the boxes when kids need them to model the number 19. #AmIright?

Instead, I used virtual manipulatives on the Activ board to model the skill or concept.  The picture above is from my Place Value Interactive Notebook and More pack which has ready made mini lessons and matching interactive notebook pages!

In the old days, before my beloved Activ board, I used my overhead and the transparent manipulatives or magnetic manipulative on the whiteboard. After I modeled and did my think aloud (I DO), I would ask students to help me by answer questions or coming to the board (We Do) for a short amount of time.

By organizing my lessons this way kids

  • were NOT playing with manipulatives
  • still participate in the lesson
  • able to be active listeners since the lesson was short

So when do I use math manipulatives?  In small guided groups.  ALL THE TIME.  I use them everyday and in every lesson with every kid.  I have written expensively about small math groups.  You can read about them here.

My next few posts will focus on HOW to complete an effective mini lesson and small groups lesson- with and without manipulatives!

What do you think?  Do you agree with me about the math manipulatives or do you still think I am crazy?

Click here for this great pack of FREE math centers, plus get tips and updates from me!

If you would like more ideas from me, be sure to follow me on Teachers Pay Teachers, Pinterest, and Facebook to catch all the freebies and ideas and more!

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Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Easy Routines to Keep Your Classroom Organized

A colleague of mine once came n my room after school and said, "HOW does is your room always look so organized and clean after school!?!?"

I had to laugh.

Because it really wasn't.  I just faked clean and organized really well!

I had a handful of daily rituals that really helped keep the mess under control, or at least just hidden! These daily rituals can be done WITH students, because many hands make little work.  They also take just a few short minutes!

We did these activities, in this order, every day before buses.  It took all of maybe 5-7 minutes.

Clean Out Supply Tubs Daily
If you students work in table groups, you may have a tub or bucket of supplies.  I don't know about you, but some of my students treated it like their personal trash can.

To keep it clean and tidy, table groups worked together every day to clean out the supply tubs.  Just put the dull pencils in the sharpen-me-please cup, clean out the trash, and put the same supplies together.

It was VERY face- especially because we made it a race.  Kids love races!

Stack Attack
We almost ALWAYS stacked our chairs every night.  It was easier for the custodian to vacuum and made the room look tidier.  I liked to make our custodians life as easy as possible.

We stacked our chairs in different ways each year.  Some years we stacked ALL the chairs in the carpet area.  Other years we made several small stack right next to our table groups.  I liked this best, because it was easier and safer for younger children to get their chairs in the morning since the stack was smaller.

Magic Trash
I have written about this trick before. At the end of the day, the kids played Magic Trash.   I learned this from an art teacher at a previous school.

I tell the kids I spot ONE piece of magic trash.  Whichever student picks up the magic trash (OR I added this one in a spur of the moment sort of genius- something out of place, like library books or pillows), gets a piece of candy.  The kids love it and my room is clean.

I tell them I can't announce the winner until the room is clean and I never reveal WHAT the magic trash.  Truthfully, this is usually because I am not paying attention to what the kids are picking up, I just want a clean room! LOL!  I try to randomly rotate through the winner so the same kids don't always win!

We did it daily so I was happy because my room was clean and my kids were happy because they had a chance to get a treat each day!

Clean My Junk
At the End of each day, my small group table looked like a bomb went off.  No matter what I did, it was always a hot mess at the end of the day. As much as I hated it, I tried to clean it off every night.

Coming in to a clean table every morning made my day run so much smoother the next.  It also gave me a space to work after school. For some reason, a clean table makes the room looks so much neater, too.

I tried to clean up my table while the groups were cleaning out their supply tubs, stacking chairs, and playing Magic Trash. I usually didn't finished because my table was always THAT BAD, but it gave me a good head start.

Let Them Help! 
Some kids are natural helpers.  It took me a long time to capitalize on that.  Some kids could care less.  So instead of assigning tasks, I just asked for volunteers.  Everybody was happy- and I was able to keep cleaning of my table.

While most the students were in line for the buses, or sitting and watching a movie waiting for second load buses, I had kids help.  I had kids wipe down table, file papers, changing the schedule for the next day, changing the date, resetting behavior charts, and sharpen pencils. They could get tons of those tedious tasks that I hated, but my future little teachers ADORED.

It was a win-win!

What routines do you do to keep your classroom organized? Any tricks I missed?

If you would like more ideas from me, be sure to follow me on Teachers Pay Teachers, Pinterest, and Facebook to catch all the freebies and ideas and more!!


Sunday, July 31, 2016

Differentiation Made Easy

The word differentiation has been a buzz word for a pretty long time.  It is thrown around like confetti. Unfortunately, it isn't nearly as fun or sparkly, and is often more work for the teacher.  Or, at least that seems to be the general perception.

So what IS differentiation?

How CAN we make it EASY in our classrooms?  Teaching is difficult enough.  How can I streamline any and every process possible?

Let's dive in.

Differentiation, simply put, is a way to reach all of your learners in your classroom.  It is adjusting your instruction and the delivery of the instruction to create the best learning experience for each child.

When differentiating it is important to learn and consider the different learning styles for each student.

You can differentiate in one of four ways:

1.) Content
2.) Process
3.) Product
4.) Learning Environment

Differentiating by content means differentiating what is actually being taught- the meat of the lesson. Students may all be working on the same standard, such as adding within 100.  However, some students may be ready for adding 2 digits with regrouping, while others are working on adding 2 digits without regrouping.

Differentiation by process is differentiating by how lesson is being taught- the actual "vehicle." Take into account learning styles for students when differentiating by process.  You can use interactive notebooks for visual and kinetic learners, and songs and chants for auditory learners.

Differentiating by product means the end result of the lesson- how students demonstrate mastery of the lesson. This can be students choosing a product for a project and menus can also be used. For example, students can choose to create a taped retelling, a write story, or a comic book to explain how Mary Musgrove helped James Oglethorpe.

Differentiating by learning environment is REALLY popular right now.  The entire flexible seating movement is a big experiment and exercise in differentiation by learning environment. This allows students to move around and choose the best place for them to learn.  It can also be as simple as allowing students to choose to work individually, in partners, or in small groups.

You may actually ALREADY be differentiating in your classroom right now. Whenever you are changing your instruction to meet the different needs of individuals and small groups in your classroom, you are differentiating. Here are some ways I differentiated in my own classroom.

Guided reading and small group reading instruction is basically one big opportunity to differentiate. As long as you are teaching to meet the individual needs of what THAT group needs to become better readers, you are differentiating.  

Don't forget the important of assessment to determine instructional levels for students to form groups. The power in small group instruction is teaching them exactly WHERE THEY ARE and then pushing them forward...not just teaching from the "closest level book from the basal and calling it a day."

Do you use book boxes?  Students are able to select texts based on difficulty and interest to read during workshop time.  This is differentiating!

Do you have leveled spelling lists in your classroom? I kept this system EASY.  I had three spelling groups.  Each group had a color folder  (you can see the green and red folders above!) with their specific list for the week inside. Students practiced their words during word work time during Daily 5. We used a variety of materials.  At the end of the week, we "tested' kids using Spelling City.

If you would like to differentiate spelling by individual,  Christina DeCarbo has a fantastic blog post about this! Click here to read it!

Allowing students to create open ended products can be an opportunity for differentiation.  In this task, I differentiated the task by the total amount represented in the picture.  My higher students could create pictures with blocks showing up to 999.  Other students could create within 500.  My most struggling students could do within 100. 

You can grab this activity from this pack:

I loved small math groups.  I felt they were a fantastic opportunity to get to know my students more as individuals and be able to pin point mathematical strengths and weaknesses.

I have several posts about guided math.  You can check them all out here!

My kids loved this task in October!  We created a "haunted house" to show fact families. The task was differentiated by the size of the numbers in the fact family. You can snag this FREEBIE here, even if it is a little "off season," you might want to save it away for later! LOL!

Are you looking for EASY ways to differentiate in your classroom? I have taught many different grouping of students.  Over the years I have taught gifted clusters, ESOL clusters, EIP clusters, and I co-taught in a special ed inclusion class for the last several years I taught. As a result I differentiated A WHOLE bunch.  

When I write and create products, I do so with my past experiences in the classroom.  So most of my products have pretty extensive amounts of differentiation.

I have monthly interactive math notebooks that are perfect for practice and spiral review.  The notebooks are written for 2nd grade and most tasks have several different levels.

For example, in the August pack I have writing the expanded form for 2 and 3 digit numbers.  I also have writing the expanded form when GIVEN the 2 or 3 digit number. 

If you are interested, you can save a great deal (and even get one month FREE) by purchasing the bundle.

I have written ELA centers to review reading, grammar, and phonics skills for second grade. To make creating the centers easier for teachers, I have made the months Sept- May have differentiation by the RECORDING SHEET.  All the task cards and activities are the same for students, it is simply the recording sheet and what students DO with the cards that differs.   This is a HUGE time saver for teachers while still meeting the individual needs of students.

You can save $10 by purchasing the bundle!!!

I have also written pages and pages and pages of differentiated math centers.  These are perfect for students to complete individual centers, in partners, or cent as small group activities for guided math groups.  If you are trying to figure out WHAT to do with groups- these are perfect!

The bundle (Volume 1) has centers for August, September, October, and November and is over 875 (!!!) pages long! You are saving $10 by purchasing the bundle.

One of my most recent endeavors has been to write leveled fluency passages for 2nd grade.  By using these pages all students can participate and also use the same passage (at different levels) to practice finding text evince.  Four poems are also include (but not differentiated) with word work practice.

If you are interested, you can save a great deal (and even get one month FREE) by purchasing the bundle.

How do you differentiate in your classroom?

If you would like more ideas from me, be sure to follow me on Teachers Pay Teachers, Pinterest, and Facebook to catch all the freebies and ideas and more!