Thursday, February 22, 2018

Favorite Concept Game - POP! (freebie included)

That is just so crazy to me.

Happy Thursday guys! Today, I wanted to share a game used regularly in my class. This is one of those games that rocks because you can use it for pretty much any concept, any subject.
I don't recommend using this game to introduce or teach the concept. This is the game I pull out after the anchor charts have been made, the practice has been done, and kids just need to PRACTICE.

It's tried and true POP! There are so many names for this game but I used POP when I taught kinder because...easy CVC. Then, when I moved up it was to hard for me to get used to another name so it stuck.
With POP, you create cards with whatever concept you want kids to practice. In kinder, I had sight word cards. In 3rd, I have fact & opinion cards, cause & effect, fractions, multiplication problems, seriously ANYTHING. You show one card to each kid and if they get it, they keep the card. If they don't, they return it. They collect cards until they pull a POP card at which point they get POPPED.

But what I've done is made my POP games digital. I turned them into slides and now we can easily play as a whole class.

I have all my kids stand up. I start with number 1 (class numbers) and display the slide for them. They answer, stay up if they're right, sit if they're wrong. If a POP slide comes up on their turn, they sit. Kids stay pretty engaged because the slides will loop around again.

Sometimes I will mix this up in a variety of ways. One way to do this is to do random "back from the dead" slides. Pick someone who was out but was paying great attention, sitting nicely, etc. and tell them they get a chance to POP back in. If they answer their slide correctly, they stand back up. (I try to do this with ANY kids that get POPPED without answering a question  - that way everyone answers).

Another thing I will do is play in teams. In this variation, the two teams sit in a circle. Pick a team and have them pick someone to start, they stand up first. They answer, with the help of their team. If they are POPPED, they sit at their seat. The next person in the circle from the other team stands up. You alternate questions with teams. The last team to have members WINS. This way is great if you have students you don't want embarrassed by the 1 on 1 nature. They can still participate but they get team help.

I hope you will try POP in your classroom sometime soon! My kids even love doing a round during inside recess.

And just because it's FEBRUARY and I know things are CRAZY - here is a freebie of the POP we did in my class TODAY. It is Fact and Opinion.

Look for other digital POP games in my TPT store SOON.

Happy teaching!

Monday, January 22, 2018

Digital Word Sorts - Nearpod

Happy Monday teachers!

Today's post is about something I'm really excited to share, mostly because it's about my favorite tech tool. If you haven't already heard about Nearpod, you are truly missing out.
Nearpod is a great tool for interactive lessons, formative assessments, and more. Basically, you can make a presentation that students can access on their own devices using a code. From there, you can add quizzes, activities, videos, etc. My favorite feature, though, is draw it. Wit the draw it tool, you can allow students to draw, write, or type on any slide. Basically, you can create digital task cards, worksheets (although yuck), or basically anything you want.

Just go play around with it. I promise you will love it.

One of my favorite ways to use Nearpod, though, is for our weekly word sorts. I love to have students thinking about words and word parts. I want them to be able to sort our words of the week but I hate the hassle of cutting and pasting...or frankly, even making 24 copies of anything.

So this year I began using Nearpod for our weekly sorts. Each Monday, students come in and enter the code. The first slide they see is the list of words. They look over them and write them down (if you use agendas, this is perfect for that). Then they go to the next slide which is just a blank sort form. Like this

I usually include 4 sections even though they know they don't have to use them all. Or, they can use more. Students use the pen tool or the text tool (what they usually prefer) to sort the words out. Once they turn that in, they go on to the "open response" part. This is where I give them a word part and they must come up with their own words that have that part.
In this sort, I asked students to type 3 plural words that use "ies", 3 plural words that use "es", and 3 other plural words.

Here is an actual student response from our word sort this week. The words use au, aw, and ough.

The best part is, all you have to do is go to "Reports" on your Nearpod home page to see everything students did and submitted. 
Easy, paperless way to get the job done.

If you use digital word sorts, let me know how it goes.

Again, Happy Teaching!

Friday, January 19, 2018

Vocabulary Activities (Upper Elementary)

I hope your week went well. I still cannot believe we are nearly though January!
This week I wanted to share with you some vocabulary activities I use in my room. We use the vocabulary associated with our reading curriculum, although sometimes I change it out. I don't think the words matter so much as long as students are increasing the quantity of words they understand. However, I find some curriculum vocabulary to be extremely content specific and not as relevant to my students. For this reason, I like to exchange some of those with words I have noticed my students coming across frequently in reading and not understanding. Something I want to do even better with next year is student led vocabulary. I love the idea of students adding words to a box or poster when they come across words they don't know. From there, the class can pull their vocabulary words. Those kind of words would be perfect for the activities I want to talk about today.

First off, a vocabulary activity I use all year.
Vocabulary Sentence Scramble
 It takes a bit of prep but isn't hard and is so amazing. I got this idea from The Brown Bag Teacher and tweaked it to fit our needs. All you do is get some (preferably colored) sentence strips, a marker, and your vocabulary words. You will need to have a sentence for each word (if you're using curriculum words, there are probably some sentences there or even pull sentences from your story). Write out the sentences on the strip, leaving a blank for the vocabulary word. Then, cut the sentence strip apart word by word. Students work to unscramble the sentence and fill in the blank with the correct vocabulary word. This is always an option for my students at word work and they choose it often. They love the challenge and the puzzle aspect. At first, I would help them by including how many letters the vocabulary word had (instead of a _____ blank, I would put _ _ _ _, etc.) and include the capitalization and punctuation. Throughout the year, I take the help away and students must include the capitalization and punctuation in their recording sheet.

Each week, I create the new sentences, cut them up, throw them in baggies an load them in our word work tubs. Easy peasy. And don't worry if you don't have colored sentence strips (or run out like I have). You can use a different colored marker for each sentence on white strips and students can separate them back in their baggies that way.

The next activity is another I've seen around the Internet, tweaked, and LOVE. 
Conversation Competition
This may be the easiest way to get your students using their vocabulary words in "conversation" I have seen yet. We did this activity today and all my students were abuzz using their words.
For this one, all you will need is a sheet of paper with the vocabulary words on it like this...
(our vocab words this week)
Put students into partners. Each partner will need one vocabulary sheet and pencils. Then, have partners stand around the room. (disclaimer: this activity will need some modeling. I picked one of my "higher" vocabulary students to help me walk through the activity before I threw students out there). When you say go, students must take turns using the vocabulary words in a real life sentence (must make sense, try to be relevant and/or creative - make it fun!). When they've used the word, have students initial next to the word on their sheet (disclaimer 2: the first time my students did this, I told them to just checkmark but they lost track of which partner had done that word so initials are better). BOTH partners must use all the words in "conversation" (i.e. each word should have 2 initials). When they've finished (and this will inevitably take longer than they think) they sit. Keep track of the order partners sit. 

Call the first team that sat up to share out their sentences. The class must come to a consensus whether they used the words correctly or not. If they did, they can be the winner. I usually throw out some superlative awards after that. For example, I may say "today, I'm giving a most creative award" and pick a student that came up with a creative sentence. I also do funnies (but appropriate), longest, shortest, etc. But the trick is, the word must be used correctly, tense and all. 
As students get older or more adept, you can make it more challenging by requiring that it be an actual conversation. I found, however, that my 3rd graders weren't quite there yet and it was enough for me that they were using the words. 
How many times have you asked your kids to write sentences using their vocabulary words? Do this instead.

So, there are my favorite vocabulary activities for the upper elementary classroom. Vocabulary is so important and I am always searching for more ways to make it relevant and engaging. Share some of our favorite activities with me!

Happy teaching!

Thursday, January 4, 2018

Word Work Boggle - LOW prep! (free printables)

Happy JANUARY! We are halfway there! (Can you believe it!?)
Are you as ready as I am to get back to the grind? By that, I mean not ready at all. I love my pajamas.

But alas, we are on our way back. And now that we have been doing Daily 5 for half a year, we are desperate for some new word work options. I have seen the idea of Boggle for ages and love it. But I am notoriously bad about changing out bulletin boards. Plus, I would have kids fly through a board and finish before it was time for me to change it out.

So, I sat down to make Boggle more realistic for our classroom. Enter Mini Boggle Boards. I print, laminate, and throw them into our blue word work tubs. This way students can
* choose the board they would like to work on (there are smaller, bigger, various levels)
* change when they've exhausted a board
* get a differentiated board (for groups I want working on certain things)

As I was making them, I realized how smart it would be to include word parts that I want my kids to internalize. These would be especially good if you are a kinder/1st grade teacher teaching phonics. This gets kids moving away from making simple "sat, hat, mat" words to words that include "tion", "ing", or long vowel patterns.

I hope you can find a way to use these boards in your own classroom! The best part is I am gonna give you the ones my kids use (and love) for FREE. All I ask is that you hop over to Instagram and show some love.
You can find me on Instagram at AubreeTeaches.

OH, you want the printable?


Wednesday, November 29, 2017

peek at our THANKSGIVING week

Hey peeps!

Short weeks before a break are just hard. They seem to drag on like 2 full weeks. Everyone is ready to be on break, the schedule is all sorts of jacked up, and there is some assembly going on every 5 minutes.


I knew 2 things for sure. We couldn't do math stations (without a full week) and we needed to do something fun....with candy.

This is not Thanksgiving related so it's a perfect activity to use any time of year. If you teach multiplication/division concepts and/or you like Skittles this one is for you.

I put my students into groups (I used their math station groups but you obviously group however you like.) The beauty of this activity (and any good activity) is that it can be so easily differentiated by the amount of Skittles you give each group. Not only more or less but also giving some groups a number that will be hard to share "equally" and have them grapple with remainder.

After my students were in groups, I told them their task. They were to make a dozen cupcakes (i.e. 12). In their bag they already had the cupcakes ready (awe, paper cupcakes!? yeah, but REAL SKITTLES!) Each cupcake had to have the SAME amount of Skittles. 

I passed out the bags. The bags included a dozen cupcakes and varying amounts of Skittles (36, 48, 72, or some odd numbers like 61 and 17). The bags also had recording sheets for each student. All they needed to bring was a pencil.

Groups got to pick a spot around the room. You may want to tell your students to spread out as they will need lots of room to "work on" their cupcakes. 
First, I had students count out their cupcakes (12) and their skittles so they could write in those amounts. Then, I told them to start "baking". 
I walked around to facilitate. Students could divide the skittles however they wanted as long as each cupcake had the same amount. They needed to write down how many "leftovers"/remainders they may have had. Then, they would write the division problem and corresponding multiplication problem. For some groups, it was easier to start with multiplication which was fine.

After they filled in one row, they weren't done. They were challenged to put a different equal amount into each cupcake. (for example, a group that had 36 skittles may have started by putting 3 in each cupcake resulting in no leftovers. They could then try 2 or 4 in each cupcake and they would have a remainder which makes the division & multiplication equations a little more challenging). 

The most interesting part of this activity was when one group decided to play around with zero. That led to some really good discussions about multiplying or dividing with zero. The concrete representation really made sense to them. I love facilitating during activities like this because we really dive deep and I can easily differentiate.

I hope you try this activity out in your own classroom and let me know how it goes! It worked perfectly for a short week before holiday...which is coming again soon!

Want the activity? Click on any picture above or right HERE

:) Happy HOLIDAYS!

Saturday, November 11, 2017

Subtraction Strategies For The WIN

Hey again!
You know how I'm big on strategies? No? Well, you should.
I'm big on them.
My kids know this. We talk a lot about how we can memorize math but if we someday forget it, what will we do? We need a strategy to fall back on. It's just SMART.

Last post, I covered how I cover multiplication strategies with my class. Well, today I'm gonna take us "back" I the curriculum and talk about the subtraction strategies I use with my class.
Something shocking to me when I moved into third grade was students lack of understanding with addition and subtraction. They seemed to vaguely remember some kind of rules they had been told but they either used them incorrectly or not at all. Every. single. student.
Even students that were "high" math kids and had great understanding would botch computation problems by trying to use some abstract RULE they had been told and simply couldn't recall or understand. When presented another way, these students could get the problem easily.
They had been ingrained with some arbitrary rule of how to do math. A rule that ditched place value, threw out number sense, and was made by one person one time.
And it took me 9 weeks to erase that.
9 week of frustration but my students finally starting valuing getting an answer that made sense over doing "big kid math" (please don't perpetuate this - looking at you 2nd grade teachers).

Here are 2 strategies I guided my students toward and how they ran away with them. Why two? Because I introduced them and using one of these ways,  every student in my class could subtract. Every student.

Open number lines are my love language. I remember learning about them in college and it was a whole new world to me. YES. This is how I do math in my head and I bet it's the way a lot of you do to. Chances are you've heard of an open number line but for those sleeping beauties, here is the gist.
You draw a number line. You know, that line with two arrows on either end (because numbers go on forever). Put the number you want to start with on one end and the number you want to end at on the other.
Now, before you introduce these you need to make sure that your students understand subtraction is the difference between 2 numbers (it's literally called finding the difference). In fact, that little minus symbol means in between. I relate this to book pages. If someone tells you to read pages 35-72 you don't just read 35 and 72, right?
NO. You read those and the pages in BETWEEN. To find the difference, we have to find the numbers between. Start at one number and count up to the second.
There are two ways to put this on your number line. Let's do 74 and 35 as an example.
You can put 35 on one and and 75 on the other and count up.
OR you can put 75 on one end and 35 on the other and count back. Counting up makes sense to me and is how I introduced it at first but changed my mind about that when I had a few students who thought it made more sense the other way. I think because they relate subtraction to getting smaller. Either way works so let students find what makes sense for them.
Once you have your line set up, you can start doing jumps. At first, I have students use 1 jumps. They soon discover this can take forever. So we start circling over ten of the little one jumps and doing 10 jumps. Make sure your students have a firm grasp on adding or subtracting 10 from any number (pull you your hundred charts!). Later, students can do any jumps that make sense to them (5s, 2s, 20s, 100s,).
In our example of 74 and 35, I would start at 35 and do 3 ten jumps to arrive at 65. From there, I could do 9 one jumps and reach my goal - 74. The 3 ten cups and 9 one jumps make 39 jumps. 39 numbers from 35 and 74.
A lot of students stick with ten and one jumps and that is FINE. Tens and ones make sense, they're familiar and students have worked with them before. I wouldn't stress making kids move toward other jumps until they're doing problems in the hundreds or thousands.
Here is an example I show my kids. They help me fill in the boxes under each jump. Then, we see how many jumps it took to find the difference.

The beauty of number lines is if practiced enough, they help kids improve their mental math skills. This is something you should model for your students. Every time we work on a subtraction problem, I show my kids how you can do tens and ones jumps in your head (recording on your hand or a sheet of paper) and arrive at your answer.


Let me paint you picture. You have a student in from of you trying to subtract 53 and 27. She remembers that she absolutely positively has to start with her ones (eye roll) so she looks at 3 and 7. She writes 4. What do you say to her?

Don't tell me.
I got it.

"You CANNOT subtract 3 from 7. If I have 3 dollars could I give you 7? Exactly, no"

Don't believe me? Ask a middle school algebra teacher who is MAD at you right now.
Teach your kids the concept of negative numbers. TRUST ME, it makes way more sense to them than the regrouping thing.
I am not just saying this. I have done it with low kids and high kids. And this is how.
First, we talk about the concept of negative numbers. Like, if you needed 7 dollars but I only had 3 I could give you the 3 NOW and owe you 4 later. Next time I get more money, I will take the 4 out of that and give it to you. This means I owe you 4. Negative 4 (-4)
Together, my students and I build a number line that includes negative numbers to -10 and positive numbers to 10. We play around and we practice. Soon, students realize that any subtraction problem FLIPPED is the negative same number. Like, 5-3 is 2 and 3-5 is negative 2. See how this helps us to get negative answers quickly? But students need to arrive at this conclusion.
Once they've played around, we apply the concept to larger subtraction problems.
Let's go back to our original example. 53 minus 27. First of all, I let students start with the tens. You know, we really might need to borrow or take away so it's good to know what we are working with. Even in standard algorithms this is good. Anyway, we start there. 50 -20 is 30, right? So we write down 30. Then we look at ones. 3-7, students look at the number line and see that this will be -4 (or realize that 7-3 is 4 so the opposite is negative 4 - let them work at their pace). We have our 30 so let's take the 4 from there. That will give us what we need. 30 - 4 is 26. The answer is 26.
I know, I KNOW. This was another mind blower when I thought of it. It makes sense for any subtraction problem as long as you keep the place value. WHY HASN'T SOMEONE SHOWN ME THIS?!
I love this strategy for a lot of reasons. It retains place value so kids aren't thinking about digits only, it introduces them to negative numbers (algebra teachers will praise you - don't tell kids you can't take a bigger from smaller!) and it plain makes sense to kids.
They totally get the idea of negative. Of owing something. It's a real life thing.
At first, I too was skeptical about this method. I used it often with my high kids but wasn't sure about my lows. One day, I decided to just go with it. And guess what? They got it. They write themselves a little negative number line right there and miss way less problems. I saw our computation scores go up big time when I introduced this to them.
If you have students struggling with subtraction, I urge you to try out one of these ways. If you use diligence, you might be surprised how much your students grow with understanding.

Here is a free sheet that you can use to help your kids practice using expanded form and negative numbers to subtract. :) Click to download. 

Happy Teaching! 

Wednesday, November 8, 2017

Multiplication Strategies For The WIN

Hello blogosphere!
Long time, no talk.
I'm not good with introductions so I am going to dive right into the content (which is what you came for anyway, right?)
In 3rd grade, we are knee deep in multiplication and LOVING it (not a joke not an exaggeration - we LOVE math in my class!)
One of the major complaints I hear from colleagues, other teachers, and even parents is that their kids just aren't GETTING their facts. And when I probe or dig deeper, they usually mean they aren't memorizing them.
Which, could be a problem.
But is most likely the symptom of a problem.
Other teachers that get this stand up and say things like
"My kids totally GET multiplication. They draw out their groups and count them up."
This is better. I totally believe that students should understand multiplication anything before they more toward memorization. I am all for circles and stars, the 4 ways to show multiplication (number lines, skip counting, etc. - we use all these in my class).
BUT (did you see that coming?) at some point students need to move toward strategies (hopefully mental) that help them arrive to facts without the need for drawings or number lines.
Rote memorization will get them to recall but it is not a strategy.
Do I need to say that louder for the people in the back?
When I was researching these strategies, something that often happens to me came up. I was learning strategies that were never taught to me as a kid. And I was getting better at multiplication - as an adult!
For example, a strategy for x9 would be to multiply the number by 10 and then take that number away. Here is a visual I use to show my kids.
We fill in the bottom part, 6 tens is 60. Then I tell them to "turn the tens into nines". They cross out one block from each ten. That leaves us with 60 - 6. Eventually students begin to notice the pattern (20-2, 30-3, 40-4, 50-5, 60-6, etc.)
I NEVER learned that. Well into my college and adult life I would try to count by 9's all the way up to the answer. Was if effective? Usually, yes. Was it annoying? YES. I struggled with my 9 facts and now I get this quickly. 
My kids do too.
Intrigued? Good. I'm going to walk through all the strategies I use with my kids and include visuals for how I introduce them. AND they are in the order I introduce them to kids. Good, yeah?
Oh, AND there are some freebies at the bottom so your class can get started with multiplication strategies tomorrow.

1. x0 and x1
I highly suggest you lump these together because the time it'll take your kids to catch onto x0 will be laughable (if not, there's a bigger problem). 
For these, I do use the good old circles and stars method (linked here if you have no idea what I'm talking about). We fill in an organizer (I do this for each multiplication fact we go through) until students get the pattern and can express it. Then, I add it to our anchor chart. 

2. x2
From there, we move onto x2 or as we call it in my class - DOUBLING! (My kids love to shout this out for whatever reason but it sticks!) This was the point I realized my students were desperately behind on their doubles facts (ahem, why they are important!) but through our x2 lessons, they got them down. I would suggest going over them a lot or learning the rap (at least show it). Maybe that'll be just enough to trigger kids memory and get them used to DOUBLING. Again, we fill in an organizer and I hope that students begin to notice all the numbers are EVEN (we add any valid notices to the anchor chart). Now, anytime there is a x2 problem, I just point to the 2 and the kids say "DOUBLE it" and they're all over it. 

3. x5
I go to the 5 facts next. This is a natural progression because kids know how to count by 5's. This is also a good time to pull out your old clock and make some good connections (in case you forgot, analog clocks count by 5's.)
I give each student a clock on a paper (well, we actually do it on Nearpod and iPads but you could use paper) and we go around the clock counting by 5's. I then show students how the clock actually gives them x5 answers. If the problem is 4 x 5 we can look at the 4 on the clock and see the 4 really stands for 20. 4x5=20. For this reason, my kids call the 5 facts the clock facts. They love to take their clock and do a quiz, quiz, trade asking other students x5 facts. 
We add to our chart that all of these end with 0 or 5.

4. x10 
Multiplying by 10 is about the same process - students know how to count by 10's (we hope) and groups of 10's. Again, we do enough until I hope students begin to notice that you keep the number and add a 0. I only want that connection to happen after I am sure they understand they are counting by 10's/groups of tens. 
All of these end with 0.

5. x9
I do the 9's strategy right after the tens because we use our tens to do it! Again, I use base ten rods like in the picture. We create tens, turn them into 9's and figure out the problem. Students arrive at the idea that it's just the number x10 minus the number (20-2, 30-3, etc.) so we add that to the chart. 
My students also noticed that all the 9's facts are similar in this way
(x2, x9) 18, 81
(x3, x8) 27, 72
(x4, x7) 36, 63
(x5, x6) 45, 54
They don't and won't quite understand why this is yet but it's a great thing to notice AND they begin to remember that all 9's facts have those digits. Some of them even do the "lower" fact and then just reverse it. Whatever works and makes sense, ya'll!

6. x3
After the 9's it gets a bit tricky. When it comes to 3, 4, 6, and 8 I suggest using VISUALS. Like, a lot of visuals.
The 3's strategy basically works like this.
You double it (remember that kids!?) and then add ONE more group.
when I first taught this, I began to realize my kids could internalize that but they had no idea why. OOPS. This is when I started using visuals and BANG! Lightbulbs everywhere.
7. x4
x4 works much the same way. Except this time, we just double and double again.
Which for whatever reason, is really fun to my kids. 
I teach my kids (in addition and multiplication) to connect numbers with those triangle type things and put the answer underneath. This is useful when they are adding a lot of numbers because they can't keep all of those in their head (until later). 

8. Squared numbers
I put this one in because it's just FUN. My kids have practiced and practiced and practiced arrays. They understand that multiplication facts can be expressed in rectangles (rows and columns). So, I challenge them to find all the multiplication facts that make SQUARES. We use inch tiles to do this. Kids think all the even numbers are going to produce squares and quickly debunk that theory. At the end, students generate the list - 1, 2, 4, 9, 16, 25, etc.
I tell my kiddos that these are called (you'll never remember it, it's SO hard) - Square numbers (my kids didn't fall for this...I use it too much..)
 I usually write these on the board (1x1, 2x2, 3x3, etc). I teach my kids that when someone wants you to square something, you need to multiply it by itself. The answer will always be a square number.
It's a good concept for kids to understand and buys me a day before getting into dreaded x6.

9. x6
Times 6 is just. plain. hard. There's little way around it. Hopefully, kids can use one of Theo there tricks to find the problem but that still leaves 6x7 and 6x8 (7x6 and 8x6). ARGH!
There are two ways people teach the x6 strategy.
Double, double, double
triple, triple (double, one more and double, one more)
If your students are master doublers or master triplers I would go with whichever one you think would work for them. Again, this one takes a LOT of modeling and visuals. SHOW students how 6 can be broken into the 2 groups of 3 or 3 groups of 2. 

10. x8
Double, double, double, double? YIKES.

11. x7
x6 and 1 more group
just use the other number's strategy (my go to! lol)

Hopefully by this time, your students have internalized some of these strategies and are moving toward doing the multiplication in their head. Believe me, when practicing these students start memorizing naturally. If not, they have a strategy. That is what it's there for. 
I want to preface (again) that students should have ample time to understand what multiplication is and practice it with groups, number lines, skip counting, and repeated addition. These strategies will come in handy after students have built a great understanding of the concept.

Happy teaching!

Oh, you thought I forgot your freebies?! Never ever.

I included a Keynote and Powerpoint (whichever floats your boat) of the strategy practices I use with my kids.
At the end of each strategy section there is a printable practice page.
If you just want the practice pages for your kiddos, I'll leave a link for those too.


Happy Teaching!