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Addition and Subtraction Strategies FREEBIE!

In Georgia, we have a "new" set of standards for math.  However, they are still verrry similar to the previous Common Core.  These "Georgia Standards of Excellence" still have much of the same (if not identical) verbiage.

This includes using strategies outside the traditional algorithm to add and subtract. The "new" Georgia standard is:

"MGSE2.NBT.5 Fluently add and subtract within 100 using strategies based on place value, properties of operations, and/or the relationship between addition and subtraction."

By encouraging students to use other strategies to add and subtract, we can strengthening their mental math skills, understanding of the base ten system, as well as have a deeper understanding of WHY the, "More on top?  Need to stop!" poem WORKS.

I focused on several different strategies in my classroom.   I am NOT an expert, I am just a teacher, like you.  This is how I chose to introduce the strategies in my classroom.

I do believe in beginning with using the most concrete methods to the most abstract methods. If you want to learn more about concrete to abstract relationships in math, this webpage is a nice, simple overview.

We WERE somewhat mandated in that we had to teach multiple strategies, but I felt we were given leeway in WHICH strategies we could teach. This was my personal sequencing for teaching. I have also included photos of the addition and subtraction math centers that I created to practice each strategy. Just click on the pictures to see the centers.

I am a HUGE fan of base ten blocks.  I always began EVERY addition and subtraction unit with base ten blocks.  Most students were able to be successful.

Some years before I ever pulled out the base ten blocks, I used unifix cubes in rods of 10. This made it an easy, PHYSICAL way to pop apart the ten to regroup.

The base ten block strategy also transferred easily to a semi-concrete level where kids could draw the blocks to add.  Some of my most struggling learners mastered this skill in second, but never full got to the full abstract stage.  They had a way to solve the problem- it just took them awhile.

We went from base ten blocks to base ten blocks while recording the work on white boards to only using whiteboards to scaffold support.


My next strategy when teaching two-digit addition and subtraction was using the hundreds chart. I read one website that said this was concrete and another that said it was representational.  I am not sure which it is, but I have a hard time thinking a grid of numbers would be concrete because it is harder to manipulate, but I am no expert. I liked this method because my kids were VERY familiar with the hundreds chart.  We used it ALL THE TIME.  It is also a break down of place value- basically hopping around by tens and ones, with visual cues.


I actually did a video at the beginning of the school year, showing several different math strategies that could be taught with the hundreds chart, including arrow math. This is essentially addition and subtraction.

After my kid were pretty good with this method, we practiced with laminated hundreds chart and either counters or dry erase markers.  Then, we would move to paper/pencil practice.  I made this pack for that very reason.

It has a poster with directions as well as scaffolded practice sheets.

The next strategy I taught depended on whether we were studying addition or subtraction. If we were working on addition, I would introduced adding with expanded form.   You can also lead into the partial sum strategy if kids get the expanded form strategy- they pair very nicely and kids "get" it. This was a personal favorite of mine because it lends itself easily to mental math.  It also happens to be how I add in my head! LOL!


I DO NOT prefer this was for subtraction.  It is fine for problems without regrouping, but  for problems with regrouping?  There is a bunch of crossing out happening.  This would make sense though, if it lead to teaching the traditional algorithm.  We didn't even TEACH the traditional algorithm in second grade.

Open Number Lines can be really hard for some kids.  I often used closed number lines. In fact, I used these all the time.  The different between an open and closed number line is simply  that the closed number line is labeled for kids, while an open is blank so kids can determine a starting point and increments.


This can be a hard strategy to find materials.  I created this pack to scaffold from beginning to end!

I think that besides the struggles with instruction we may come across, is simply educating parents.  I know I was not taught these strategies when I was a kid....and I am old enough to have a kid in elementary school! Let's not get more specific than that LOL !

I made these two FREE handouts for parents.  Just click on the pictures to snag them!


They are each two pages that describe different strategies to solve problems.  They are two pages for each.  On the second page, you can add an editable note to parents, if you want.  However, the actual handout itself is not editable. The handout includes MORE strategies than those I cover above, just in case!

Which strategies do you prefer? 

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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Nonfiction Reading (FREEBIE!)

I love teaching about informational text.  I think that is can easily be neglected since literary text can be more fun to teach.  It is also easier, since most kids are already familiar was literary text structures.

There is also the tiny, little problem with appropriate text levels.  Informational text often can be WAAAAYYYY above your student's reading levels. I always had the hardest time finding informational text, with any kind of meat to it, that my kids could actually READ.

So now I just write it myself. :) It makes things so much easier.

My latest pack has FIVE informational articles.

The articles revolve around popular December and January themes.  The topics are: the arctic fox, polar bear, snowy owl, blizzards, and the North and South Pole. 

These are perfect for small group instruction.

Most the topics address either survival (human and animal) or adaptations (the animals in the articles). 

One great way to introduce ALL the topics is by using a Frayer model.  Have you ever used a Frayer model? It is actually a vocabulary strategy that was developed by Dorthey Frayer and some of her colleagues at the University of Wisconsin in the late 1960's.   It is a great way for kids to deepen their understanding of vocabulary words. 

 In this case, I am using it as a way to deepen kids understanding of the main theme, or overarching idea in these articles. This would be a FANTASTIC way to introduce the articles.  Then, as you read the articles students could add to the bottom showing examples of human and/or animal survival.

I know in 3rd grade, many science curriculum covers adaptations, so I added this as a Frayer model.  You could use these for students to find the animal adaptions that help animals survive the extreme weather. It could be used instead of (or in addition, if you want) to the Frayer model above. It would be used the same, as an introduction to the articles, and then students could add to the adaptions (behavioral and structural) on the bottom as they read the articles.

If you like these Frayer models they are FREEBIES!  You can snag them here!

Each of the articles includes a page of comprehension questions and a graphic organizer for students to practice finding the main idea.

Each article includes a simple extension project for students to complete.  This is perfect for independent  work after students have read the article in small group.

For the animal articles, students will create a "smoosh book." These are adorable, one page books that students can create.  They can apply their knowledge of text features and new learning from the article and additional, two page Fact File on each topic. 

Have your ever seen "smoosh books?" They are so much fun!

Students can create a tiny, library of books by storing all their research books in a small box, like a jello, pectin, or even the single serving breakfast cereal boxes.

Aren't they precious?  And only ONE copy per student!

For the blizzard and the North and South Pole article, students will be creating flip books. In the North and South Pole Article, students will read the article, then complete a Venn diagram comparing and contrasting the North and South pole.  Finally, students will use the Venn diagram to complete a flip book about the similarities between the two.

Click on the picture below to grab your copy!

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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How to Make Hot Chocolate FREEBIE!

I love How-To writing!  It is so much fun to teach AND to learn.  There is nothing like ACTUALLY letting students make a PB & J sammie, amiright?

My last year in second grade I was co-teaching.  We were about to start How-To writing and my co-teacher was like, "Let me pull out my sequencing puzzles so kids can choose a topic, put the puzzle together, and write about it."

I was like WOW.   HOW did I never think of the relationship between sequencing and how-to writing  in the ten plus years I taught!??!?! I wanted to smack my head on the table.

It was EASIEST way to introduce How-To Writing ever!

So now, I have a FREEBIE for you using this strategy, but check this little gem first!

The freebie includes a brainstorming page that revolves around a grammar skill.  This grammar skill is brainstorming adjectives using the five senses to improve their writing.

Then, students will color in the pictures (there are 4 steps) and glue the pictures in order to sequence their writing.

Finally, students can write about the steps for making hot chocolate in the mug shaped book!  Students can use adjectives brainstormed on their web to improve their writing.

I glued cotton balls on the top of my mug book so it looked like marshmallows! Want your FREE copy?  Simply click on the picture above?

Would you like more simple How To Writing projects?

This freebie is a a piece of my latest writing pack.  You can snag the entire pack for only $3.50 in my TpT store! The pack contains three writing projects: how to make hot chocolate (the freebie above), how to wrap a gift, and how to build a snowman.

I specifically choose these topics so you can use them into January!

The grammar skills included in this pack are adjectives (from the hot chocolate freebie above), using vivid verbs (wrapping a gift), and adverbs (building a snowman). These specifically support students in applying standards based grammar skills in their writing. Click on any of the pictures to grab it!

I am thrilled to share that this freebie is part of a 12 Days of Christmas collaboration I am doing.  A few bloggers  will share a different freebie over the next 12 days.  As the great culmination, we will give away Amazon and TpT gift card on Dec 14-16th so make sure to keep checking in on my Facebook and Instagram page (where the contest will be held)! 

Looking for some more freebies? So far we are only on day three, but here are the freebies that have been shared so far!

Keep checking my Facebook page each day for more freebies!

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!


"I have a struggling reader..now what?"

In a perfect world, all of our students would be reading on grade level and breezing through each text they read in class.

But, let's be honest. That is not how it works.

Each year, I always has a group of students that were below the beginning of the grade level expectation.  Sometimes far below.  And sometimes, it was much more than just a "small" group of students.

You know they are struggling, so what can you do?

First Things First

The first thing you MUST do as a teacher is a running record.  This is basically a "window" into the reader's mind.  It is a written recording of the students oral reading so that the teacher can later analyze it for errors. After reading, ask a series of comprehension questions to assess students understanding of the text.

There is an art and a bit of a science to running records.  First, you must find leveled text for the running records.  There are many running record kits available such as DRA, Rigby Kits, Reading A-Z, and others that are available.  Your district (hopefully) has adopted a kit. I have considered writing a kit myself, but wasn't sure if there was a demand.  Do you need a running record kit? Please comment and let me know and I can begin working on it.

If  I had any information on the students from year's past I would look to see what level the student ended on and usually being at that level.  If I had no information on the student, I would start with an on grade level text.

The directions for each kit will vary. Sometimes it also depends on the level of text.  Always follow the directions from your kit, for that level of text.

Generally, I found that most texts began with the teacher giving short blurb about the text.  Then, the students would read aloud all of the text (or sometimes just a portion). While the students reads, the teacher is recording their oral reading using a type of short hand.

Recording and Note Taking

I found this example of how to take a running record on you tube and thought it was a good one!

While reading, the teacher is "coding" her copy of the text with short hand. I found this great freebie from  The Reading Mama.

After administer the running record, it is time to analyse it. That means looking at the errors and self-corrections to get a glimpse into the reader's thinking.

Errors can be analyzed and generally categorized into three groups:

  • meaning
  • syntax
  • visual

This simply means looking at the error (or self correction) and figuring out how or why the students called the word said.  A quick and dirty way of thinking of MSV (meaning/ structure/ visual cues) is:
  • M= Did the reader think about what the story was talking about and using meaning to call a word that was incorrect, but made sense? Does it make sense?
  • S= Did the reader use the grammar and structure of the sentence to call the word?  A noun for a noun? Does it sound right? Does that sounds right?
  • V= Did the reader look at the word and use visual cues to call the word?  Did the word start with the same letters? Does that look right?
This will help give the teacher an idea on how to support the students with word attack skills.  If the student only uses visual cues to decode unknown word, you can prompt them with "Does that sound right?  Does it make sense?" These are kid friendly prompts that can easily help kids be aware of the other cueing systems.

Wait! There's More!

Oh, yes!  There is more! Of course there is! LOL

While relying on MSV is very helpful, it is not the ONLY analyzing you should be doing.  I would highly recommend that you look at each student as a reader as a whole. Consider what will help that reader be even stronger...
  • more decoding and word attack skills
  • comprehension skills
  • fluency strategies

My plan is to focus on each of these areas and suggest strategies to support students comprehension, decoding, or fluency.

Do you have any requests?  I would love to hear your thoughts!

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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Reading and Writing Strategies at Work: A Mentor Text Lesson for Owls by Gail Gibbons

I am so excited to be back with another blog link up with the Reading Crew!

This time, we are focusing on Fall Mentor Texts!

I chose a wonderful informational book PERFECT for fall: Owls by Gail Gibbons. Perfect for informational studies, and just a little bit spooky!

 Not only are we all sharing ideas for mentor texts, you can win all the books above! Read all the way through the post to see how to win!

I am a big believer in using activating strategies for students, especially when working with informational text. I think they help students with predicting information prior to reading. They also help students organize new learning  and "filing" it correctly and appropriately in the brain for easier retrieval later.  

Basically, by implementing extensive previewing strategies, kids can organizing their learning and apply it later.

We will be using two strategies before reading this text.

The first is a good old KWL chart.  I am sure you are familiar with this!  However, we are going to add to it a bit!  This is a KWL Plus chart. Have you ever heard of it before?

  Students will be doing the same components and procedures as a KWL chart.  However, after students brainstorm what they know about the topic (the K), they will be filling out the bottom section, "Categories of Information We Expect to Use" before moving on the the W (What I Want to Learn). 

To fill this organizer out, first brainstorm what students already know about a topic. Then, look at what students have listed in the K (What I Know) section.  Can the information be grouped or categorized?  Consider categories such as diet, habitat, life cycle, etc and list it in the bottom.  Finally, create a "code" for each category and then "code" where you expect the information will be found.

These codes are a really important part of the task.  They force the reader to think in groups/ topics of and predict what could possibly be in the text.  It helps them prepare for how this type of text will be organized and helps them anticipate that.  It also can help with text mapping and summarizing the text at the end. 

If the KWL Plus format is used often enough, students can transfer knowledge from one context to another.  For example, students will realize that many animal books will cover diet, habitat, and appearance. It is important to think carefully about the topics at the bottom.  These can later be used to help create informational paragraphs about owls.

After completing the categories, complete the Want to Know section, like usual.  If possible, code these to PREDICT where the information will be found in the book (section on diet? habitats?).

Since this is an informational book, you want  to make sure to zero in on text features.

Before reading the text, brainstorm the text features that could POSSIBLY be found in the text. Then, write each feature on a post it note and attach it to an anchor chart. Do this before ever opening the book.

This can either be done right before reading the book with an extensive picture walk or during the first reading.  

Show students each page of the text.  As students see a text feature, ask them to raise their hands to identify the text feature.  Then, pull the matching post it notes off the anchor chart, and use it as a label to identify the text feature.  If a text feature is found that was NOT on the anchor chart, simply write it on a new post it note and label away! 

Now students have already had their attention drawn to the text features so they can apply them when reading!

Click below to grab your freebies!

Are you looking for more activities for this book? I started writing and INTENDED for this blog post to be all about finding the main idea.  Then, I kept writing...and writing...and writing.  Before I knew it, I had created an entire one week mini unit!  Whoops! That was NOT my goal, but I ran with it.

It has 5-6 days of bulleted lessons and tons of other activities- including the ones above.

It has the activation ideas above, two vocabulary lessons (you can choose which one to use), main idea instruction and activities, a writing activity and craft. You can snag it right now for only $4 on TpT! Click here to grab it!

Want to check out MORE mentor text lessons?  Make sure to check out all the links below! If you want to win a copy of each book in the link up, scroll down under the link up to enter!  Good luck!!

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