Monday, September 30, 2013

Win The Quietest Pencil Sharpener (In PINK - or your choice of colors)!

Even though I live in a house full of boys, anything in pink is cool according to my kiddos.  As one of them says, "Pink is the new black!"  Tyler even custom ordered pink men's Reebok for back to school.

So, when my boys were looking over my shoulder as I checked my email from Troy, at Classroom Friendly Supplies announcing their new PINK quietest sharpener they were excited to say the least.  "Mom you can get it pink!"  They know that I love my sharpener that is in my classroom, and now they want one of the pink ones for at home.

You can also get a pink sharpener for your home or classroom here - and the best part? Part of the proceeds of every sale will be donated to cancer research and awareness.  This is very dear to my family's hearts because we lost both of my in-laws to cancer.
And even better, you have the chance to win one of these amazing sharpeners! You can pick pink or any of the other colors they offer (green, red, blue, or black).  Just enter using the Rafflecoptor below:
(To sweeten the deal - you will also win an item of your choice from my TpT store as well!)
a Rafflecopter giveaway

Sunday, September 29, 2013

Problem Solving - FREEBIE

At the beginning of the year we talked about why we wanted to be better mathematicians.  The final conclusion of our discussion was that we needed to be able to solve problems.  To help us become better problem solvers, we solve LOTS of problems!  We use our math journals four times a day, and weekly solve a problem as a whole group.  Here is a glimpse at some of our problem solving:

At the beginning of each unit, I print out several problems from my math journals (available here on TpT) that fit with that unit.  I then put them into folders and gave a folder to each student.


The students then work on solving them as part of their independent work.  Occasionally we will go over them whole group if they are having problems or if I see interesting approaches to problem solving that I want to share.

This week we worked on the following problem because we are working on rounding and estimating:

We read the problem out loud, and then worked together to solve it.
Yes, they are wearing pajamas - it was spirit week at our school for our high school Homecoming celebration.  Our town is small and has only one high school, so the whole community really gets behind it which is fun!  Most of the businesses in town are decorated in honor of it:
(And now back to our regularly scheduled programming about problem solving! LOL!)
Here are a few samples of answers from my kiddos:
In our state, 4th graders start answering constructed response questions on the state tests for math, so I want them to be prepared!
This problem was not from my Math Journals, but I prettied it up and made it available as a freebie in my TPT store.
Happy Problem Solving!

Monday, September 16, 2013

Math Facts Practice Karate Style

Do your students struggle with math facts? Ever since my days of teaching 7th grade I have wanted to help my students develop their fluency in math facts.  

This post contains affiliate links. I earn a small commission each time someone makes a purchase using one of my links, which helps to support the blog.  All opinions are my own and I only promote brands and products that I have used myself and truly love.

I would struggle teaching a student how to multiply 3/4 X 2/8 because they didn't know what 4X8 was.  So... when I started teaching elementary I vowed that my kiddos would not leave me without knowing their math facts.  But... how to do that?  A lot of people say, "They just have to memorize them." Well, true, but what if they don't WANT to memorize them?  What if there are too many facts to memorize and they just CAN'T do it? What then?

I started developing this math facts program with a karate twist!

The program works with key elements of brain research:

* Students can hold only 2-3 new pieces of information in their working memory at one time.  That is why each new practice session only includes 2 to 3 new facts and their opposites.

* Students learn best when they involve two or more senses in learning.  This program incorporates both oral and written practice.  Learners learn 90% of what they SAY and DO (Bloom, 1987).

* Students can remember things more easily when they connect new information with something they already know (Woolfolk, 1998).  All new practice sheets include previously learned facts along with the new facts.  This isn't simply learning their 1s, then their 2s, etc. because that doesn't work.

* In this program, some of the harder facts (such as 9X6 are taught in the middle rather than the end so the student really has more time to work on it).

* Another way to increase student memory is through verbal rehearsal.  When a student practices (at home or at school with a partner) and makes a mistake, they repeat the correct problem and answer three times to cement it in their brain.  They are presented the same problem three tries later to work through it again.

* Memory increases when dopamine is involved - basically if it is fun, kids will remember more!

So enough of the research and on to the fun!

Happy students wearing the "belts" they have won!

Yes, belts, as in karate belts.  The program involves a karate theme and the students pass levels to earn different belts.  They LOVE this!

We start by practicing our math facts orally.  Each student has their own key ring with "belts" that have the math facts on them - problems only on one side and problems and answers on the other.  One student says all of the problems and answers while the other student coaches, then they switch.  This takes about 2-3 minutes.

Here is a close-up of the cards.

Then we complete a 1 minute timed test.  The students have folders with their current level in a sheet protector.  They answer using a dry erase marker.  I only make copies at the beginning of the year!  Yay!

If they finish before the time is up, they raise their folder above their head, I collect them, grade them, and change the sheet out if they are all correct.

I have also included additional sets with less problems.

Their name is also changed on our level board.

I absolutely love the way that one of my teaching pals, Barbara, made her board.  You could make the belts on the sides using bulletin board paper cut in strips and folded. She even put her kiddos' pics on the karate kids to make pieces to move. LOVE!  I will definitely be doing this next year!

Since this picture I have also added my son, Luke and his buddy.  They have been working each day after school and are proud to be among the higher kids in my class.  The belts have become a hot commodity on the playground and many of the kids want them.

Here are some more pictures from other teachers who have used the program:

 and Beth Ann from Taming my Flock of Firsties used my addition version with her class. She took some photos of a few of the games in action.

Jennifer from Elementary School Garden has added an active component to the program in her classroom.


And she really knows how to celebrate those Black Belts!

I have been blown away by some of the feedback that I have received!

Have you implemented Kicking It Math in your classroom? I'd love to hear about it in the comments below or tag me on Twitter or Instagram.


You can buy these products at my Teachers Pay Teachers Store.

or you can save a little money and get the bundles:

(Includes Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication, Division, and Factors)

I have had requests to make additional versions including mixed addition and subtraction and mixed multiplication and division math facts.  If you would like to be notified when these are released (and save 50% of for the first 48 hours) please fill out this form.


Before you go, head on over to our giveaway page to enter our current giveaway!  Every week one lucky winner gets a $25 Teachers pay Teachers gift card!

 I would love to hear from you! ❤️

Have a question? Idea for a resource you might find helpful?

Be so kind and leave a comment below.

Friday, September 13, 2013

5 For Friday!

Well, Friday is almost over, but I couldn't let it end without linking up for 5 for Friday from Doodle Bugs Teaching!

Five random things from this week:

1. I spent a good chunk of this week finishing up the final touches on a new product, Kicking It Math! It is a program that I have been using with my students to master their math facts.

My kids have been BEGGING to work on their math facts so they can earn new belts.  Literally begging!  I have one student who stays after school each day to get an extra round of practice.  I practically have to kick him out the door each day! LOL!  Even my 7 year old has gotten in the act and is working on his own belts in multiplication.  He just started second grade, and is already ahead of most of my class because he practices so much!

He has also got his buddy (another teacher's child) to come in with him each afternoon to try as well.  So, now after school I have a mini math facts club! I will be posting later on this week about all of the ins and outs of the program and how I use it, but you can also find it on Teachers Pay Teachers here.
2. Another happy teacher moment is that Daily 5 is well on its way and we are developing more and more stamina each day.  Our record is 21 minutes, but I would be thrilled if we could go for 20 minutes a round. A few shots of Read to Self:
We are hard at work at using text for evidence to answer questions!
3. We also worked hard solving some math puzzlers for place value.
4. We are also loving our read aloud Wonder - And I am loving their persuasive writing to let me know why THEY should sit at the summer table with Auggie and Summer.  If you have not read this book yet - you HAVE to!
5. And on a non-school related matter look at this!
Let me just preface this with the fact that I am NOT a runner - it is probably one of my least favorite things to do.  But... I am working on taking better care of myself, so I got a treadmill for Christmas.  When I first started using it, I could make it a mile in about 23 minutes with a combination of running and walking - but mostly walking.  This morning I finished a  mile in 14:35 and that included my 2 minute warm up at a slow pace - yeah me!  I know to all of you REAL runners out there this is nothing, but... it's all about the growth right?
Last but not least, I have a winner for my TpT gift card giveaway!  If you would like to win next month, simply follow my TpT store for your chance!

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