Multiplication: Repeated addtion

by C. Elkins, OK Math and Reading Lady

The next few posts will continue to focus on the basic multiplication concepts one at a time. This will allow the opportunity to dig deeper into the concepts we want students to understand. This one will focus on the concept that multiplication is repeated addition. These posts will be helpful to teachers introducing multiplication to students in 2nd and 3rd grade as well as those in 4th, 5th, 6th and beyond who have missed some of these basic concepts. Future posts will focus on the area (array), set (equal groups), counting, decomposing, and doubling/halving models as well as the associative and distributive properties.  Freebies below!!

Do your students know what the “times” sign means? They may hear it frequently, but not realize what it means. I like to interpret it as “groups of.”  So a problem like 3 x 4 can be said as “3 groups of 4.”

To show repeated addition, that same problem would be 4 + 4 + 4 = 12.

Repeated addition can be shown with numbers, and also with arrays and equal groups. These pictorial models are great for developing multiplication concepts (and will be topics of future posts). However, when students are presented with these models they often count the individual pieces one at a time rather than adding the same amount repeatedly. Observe your students to see how they are counting. . . and encourage counting in equal groups to promote a growth of the multiplication mindset.

Do your students apply the commutative property of multiplication? This means if the problem is 3 x 4, it can also be solved by thinking of 4 x 3 (which is 4 groups of 3 OR  3 + 3 + 3 + 3). I want students to know even though the answers are the same, the way the factors are grouped is different. When used in a story, 3 x 4 is a different scenario than 4 x 3.

Do your students practice repeated addition, by combining 2 or more numbers? See the following for an illustration of 15 x 6:

Do your students apply the concept of repeated addition to multiple digit multiplication problems as well? I have witnessed students numerous times who only try a problem one way and struggle. For example, on a timed test I witnessed a 5th grader attempt the problem 12 x 3. I observed him counting by 3’s.  He was trying to keep track of this by skip counting by 3’s twelve times (using his fingers). I could tell he had to start over frequently, thus spending a lot of time on this one problem. It became obvious he had no other strategy to try. He finally left it blank and went on. Just think if he had thought of 12 + 12 + 12. This should have been relatively easy for a 5th grader.  He also could have decomposed it to this: (3 x 2) + (3 x 10).

Do your students always go to the standard algorithm when they could perhaps mentally solve the problem by repeated addition? If the problem was 50 x 3, are they thinking 50 + 50 + 50? Or are they using paper-pencil and following the steps?

What about a problem such as 45 x 4?  Using repeated addition, is your student thinking of 40 + 40 + 40 + 40 combined with 5 + 5 + 5 + 5? This is then solved as 160 + 20 = 180.

Here are a few resources (FREE) that might help with this strategy:

Students who are able to use repeated addition skillfully are showing a healthy understanding of place value and multiplication. This strategy also enhances mental math capabilities. Conducting daily number talks are highly advised as a way to discuss multiple ways to solve a given problem such as those mentioned above. Check out “Number Talks” in my category list for more information on this. Also check out some recommended videos about conducting number talks (above black bar “Instructional Resources”).

Multiplication — Developing an understanding

by C. Elkins, OK Math and Reading lady

Are you looking for some ways to help your students learn the multiplication facts? Or ways to help them solve multiplication problems while they are in the process of learning the facts? One way is to skip count or repeatedly add the number over and over again. While this is one acceptable strategy, I see many students skip count using their fingers, often starting over numerous times. And if the child miscounts just one number in the sequence, then all of the remaining multiples/products are incorrect. Sometimes the student will write down the sequence in a horizontal row (better than using fingers in my opinion), but again – if they miss one number . . . all the rest of the numbers in their list are wrong.

What I want to show you today (in Part I of my series about multiplication strategies) are ways to relate the multiples/products in recognizable patterns which may facilitate recall and help with committing the facts to memory. Yes, students should also know the following about multiplication – and I will focus on all of these in future articles:

  1. Multiplication is repeated addition. For example: 3 x 4 means 3 groups of 4 or 4 + 4 + 4 = 12
  2. Multiplication is equal groups. 3 x 4 might be shown with 3 circles and 4 dots in each one. Be cautious about continued use of this one. Students are good at drawing this out, but then are they actually adding repeated groups or just counting one dot at a time. Observe students to see what they are doing. Transition to showing 3 circles with the number 4 in each one.
  3. Multiplication is commutative. If solving 7 x 2 (7 groups of 2), does the student count by 2’s seven times, or perhaps make it more efficient by changing it around to make it 2 x 7 (2 groups of 7 — and adding 7 + 7)?
  4. Multiplication can be shown with arrays. If students are drawing arrays to help solve, watch how they are computing the product. Are they counting one dot at a time? Or are they grouping some rows or columns together to make this method more efficient. I will focus on this one in Part 2.
  5. Multiplication facts have interesting relationships — stay tuned for future posts or check out my blog archives for more
    • An even number x an even number = an even number
    • An odd number x an even number = an even number
    • An odd number x an odd number = an odd number
    • 2’s, 4’s, and 8’s are related
    • 5’s and 10’s are related
    • 3’s, 6’s, and 9’s are related
  6. Multiplication can be shown by skip counting.  Aside from my comments above about errors students make with skip counting, there are some ways to arrange skip counted numbers in distinctive organized groupings so the patterns become more noticeable, perhaps leading more to memorization than just a horizontal list of numbers, or using fingers.
    • I have included 2 visuals to see some of my favorite ways to relate skip counting to unique patterns (for the 2’s, 3’s, 4’s, 6’s, 8’s, and 9’s). Visualizing and explaining the patterns is a good exercise for the brain.  Can your students come up with another way to visualize the patterns with these numbers?

 

Stay tuned for more blog entries about multiplication!

Building a Classroom Community – Learning Names and Other Teamwork Activities

by Cindy Elkins – OK Math and Reading Lady

Since many of you may just now be coming back together with your students in person due to hybrid or virtual teaching models, I thought I’d revise this post I wrote 3 years ago concerning establishment of a classroom community.  While you may feel extra pressure to get back into some serious catch-up learning lessons, time spent on creating a genuine classroom community is definitely worth it and should pay off.

Creating a sense of community within your classroom puts emphasis on establishing a climate of mutual respect, collaboration, kindness, a positive atmosphere, and a feeling that each one is a valued member of the class. This is also critical to help you prepare for small group collaborative practices for your reading and math instructional program. See the freebie of fun teamwork activities in the last paragraph!

There are many ways to accomplish this, of course. But I will share my favorites. Before Great Expectations came to SW Oklahoma, I became familiar with an organization called Responsive Classroom (click to link to their website). They are similar to GE, but primarily train teachers in the NE part of the U.S.  Like GE, they also focus on a strong link between academic success and social-emotional learning. You can subscribe to their newsletter and order wonderful books via their website. I started with one of their books called “The Morning Meeting Book” (click on title). It promotes ways to create a classroom community by having a daily “Morning Meeting.”

In my classroom, we formed a circle every morning and greeted each other by name in fun ways. See some ideas below in the bulleted section.  You might be surprised to know that students often don’t know their classmates names, even after several weeks of school! Knowing and using a child’s name is a sign of respect. Through this circle, we also shared successes and concerns for one another, began discussion topics about how we should behave and respect one another, welcomed new students, made group decisions, and set the tone for the day. Every student was acknowledged and felt valued every day. Students don’t want to disappoint a teacher or classmate they respect, and it almost eliminated the need for time consuming behavior plans.  For a great plan to get students in a circle in a timely manner see Activity #22 in the Teamwork Activities linked below (last paragraph)

Name Greetings:

  • One student starts. Student #1 offers a type of handshake to the person to their right -Student #2 (handshake, pinky shake, salute, wave, high five, fist bump), and says, “Good Morning, ________ (name).” Student #2 returns the greeting (also with eye contact), “Good morning, ________.” Then Student #2 greets Student #3, and it goes all the way around the circle.  I usually only introduce one type of hand gesture at a time. After we learn all of them, then I often give them a choice. I have to teach eye contact, sincerity, how to give a proper handshake, and what to do if you don’t know/remember their name.
  • After we have mastered the above, I introduce some other way to greet. One is to write each student’s name on an index card and place the stack face down in the middle of the circle. Turn over the top 2 names and they greet each other. Keep turning over 2 names at a time until the whole stack is completed.
  • Learn a greeting in another language (such as Hola or Buenos Dias, Guten Morgen, Bonjour, etc.).
  • Using a ball, student #1 rolls it to a student across the circle to greet them (student #2). Then student #2 rolls the ball across the circle to greet #3, and so on.
  • If we are crunched for time, we shake to the left, shake to the right, say “Good Morning, ____” and are all done!!

Teamwork Activities:

Through my years of GE training, I added teamwork activities to our classroom routines – especially at the beginning of the year. And then we continued them once a week because caring has to be practiced. We loved “People to People” and “Black Socks” and the “Woo Game.” I am attaching a pdf of  22 Movement, teamwork, energizer activities – I hope you will try some. Many of them require no advance preparation. I feel taking the time to create a caring atmosphere was worth every minute. When students have the opportunity to engage in fun activities together and learn their names and interests, they are more likely to show genuine respect toward one another.

Enjoy your time together!  Share your favorite teamwork activity!

Interactive math lessons and activities on NCTM

Review by C. Elkins, OK Math and Reading Lady

Resource – http://illuminations.nctm.org

This is a math resource I absolutely love! It is a product of the National Council for the Teachers of Mathematics (NCTM).

This site includes lesson plans and interactive activities. Search in several ways: by topic, by standard, or by grade level. Need some strategy games? Check out “Calculation Nation” (some of which can be played against other players), and “Brain Teasers.” I have just added this link to my Resources page (on my blog home page).  Pass this along to parents for them to use with their children at home!

Many of the lessons connect to exploration projects and literature. The interactive features are outstanding!! These are perfect for the smartboard, on laptops, or tablets. Doing Zoom lessons? Then these are also wonderful for sharing the screen to introduce or review concepts. Once you are on the home screen, click the Interactives box (right side) and then the desired grade level. There are dozens of great applets, but here are a few you might really like. I have linked them for easy reference, so just click on the  title and you’ll be there:

Dynamic Paper: Customize graph paper, number lines, spinners, nets, number grids, shapes (to include pattern blocks, color tiles, and attribute blocks), and tessellations. You can also choose inches or cm. These can be customized, saved and printed as jpeg or pdf. I created the spinner shown here from this application.

Five Frame and Ten Frame tools: Geat activities to build number sense using five or ten frames. These may take 1-2 minutes to load.

Cubes: Build a rectangular prism one cube, or row, or layer at a time and then compute the volume or surface area.

Coin Box: Drag and exchange coins. There is also a feature I like (the grid at the bottom right corner), which puts coins in blocks (by 1s for pennies, 5s for nickels, 10s for dimes, and 25s for quarters). This really helps see the value of the coins. Want more info about coin blocks? Once on the Coin Box page, click on the “Related Resources” tab.

Try these for fractions: Fraction Models (which includes decimal and percent equivalencies) and the Fraction Game.

Geometric Solids: Create a shape (either transparent or solid) and swivel it around to see all of the faces, vertices, and edges. It has a cube and pyramid as far as basic 3D shapes are concerned. I wish it had more that 3rd-5th students would encounter.

Here’s a nice multiplication game:  Product Game  Two players (or a player vs. the computer) choose factors from the bottom bar to create products shown on the game board grid to get 4 in a row (and try to block your opponent from getting 4 in a row).  Be sure to see the directions included.

Some of the interactives require an NCTM subscription.  The ones I have listed above should be okay to access without membership. I have subscribed for years and just paid $94 for this coming year. Well worth it if you plan on using their site extensively.  This subscription also entitles you to a print and and online journal, blog capabilities, and more.

Enjoy these and so many more!!! Let us know if there are others you recommend.  I’ll highlight more on my next post.

 

Sight Word Activities

by C. Elkins, OK Math and Reading Lady

This post contains some of my favorite sight word activities and resources to help your students practice those sight words and high frequency words.  If you haven’t read part 1 (Sight word instructional tips), be sure to do that as it contains information about research based teaching strategies. These all focus on ways for the child to actually read / say the word and use in a sentence, not merely matching, copying, or building the word. Here goes!!

  1. Sight word tic-tac-toe:
    • Played with partners or teacher vs. students
    • Materials needed:  tic-tac-toe template on a small whiteboard or on a laminated page
    • Two-color counters so each student can mark their spot
    • Select 9 sight words you would like to review.  Have students write them in randomly in the 9 tic-tac-toe spaces
    • Each player selects a word to read.  If read correctly, they can put their counter on the space.  You may also require students to use the word in a sentence.
    • 3 in a row wins the game. Then play again!
    • You may choose to give corrective feedback regarding missed words:  Example:  “No, this word is ________. You say it.”
  2. Sight word sentence cards:

    from thisreadingmama.com

    • Using the words in sentences (or phrases) helps students put the word into context.
    • Try these sight word cards from a blogger I follow (www.thisreadingmama.com).  If you subscribe to her blog, you will find these and dozens of other good reading resources for free. Check out: Sight Word Cards with Sentences (Link to free resources)
    • I mentioned this in the last post, but a great research-based method for using these with individual students is to select no more than 10 words. Show the word. If it is known, put it in a separate pile. If it is unknown or the child is hesitant or guesses, tell the child the word, read the sentence so they can hear it in context, have the child say the word, then put the card 2-3 spaces back in the pile so they will see it again in a short amount of time. Repeat with other cards.
  3. Sight word teaching routine:
    • Please take a look at this KG teacher’s routine for teaching and practicing sight words.  It is called “Sight Word 60” because through this routine, students get a chance to hear and use the word 60 times during the week. Sight Word 60 by Greg Smedly-WarrenLook for videos for each day, plus center and celebration activities. This routine can also be followed in 1st and 2nd grade classes or small groups.  Especially good for use with tutors, paraprofessionals, or volunteers!
  4. Sight word path game:
    • This simple path game scenario is well-researched. You are likely to find several versions available. Here is mine (also pictured below): Reading Race Track for Sight Words CE   In part 1 (last post), I linked one from another popular blogger (Playdough to Plato). Here is another editable one from Iowa Reading Research: Reading Race Track (editable).
    • Teacher fills in the words being practiced (5-7 words repeated 4x each placed randomly).
    • The track can be used by students for practice (they can roll a die, move to the space, pronounce the word, and perhaps use it in a sentence).
    • The track can be used by teachers and students for timed practice after they have been introduced. A recording sheet is included with my version as well as the Iowa version.

      Page 2 of Reading Race Track by C.E.

  5. Sight words in context:
    • Of course students benefit from practicing sight words in context.  In your guided reading group, allow students to use mini magnifying glasses (check the dollar stores) or those fancy finger nails that slip over a finger to locate sight words you call out. Example:  “Find the word said on this page.  Can you find it on another page?  Read the sentence it is in to your partner.”
    • My favorite way to practice sight words in context is through short, fun poetry. Here is a great resource (sorry, it’s not free) full of poems which target specific sight words. I’m sure there are others out there – let us know of ones you have found!  Sight Words Poems for Shared Reading by Crystal McGinnis (TPT for $4.00)
  6. SWAT!
      • Find some new flyswatters.  If you are working with a small group, you just need 2.
      • Lay out 4-8 sight words you are working on (table top or floor). You could also write them on the board. Teacher calls out a word.
      • The object is for the students to locate and hold their swatter on the word you call out.
      • The student who found it first will have their swatter under the second student’s swatter — proof of who found it first.
      • This is also great for other vocabulary practice or math facts!!

    Find the word “said”

  7. Memory / Concentration:
    • Make 2 copies of each sight word on index size cards. You might limit to 8 cards for KG students and 12 cards for 1st or 2nd.
    • Arrange the cards in a rectangular array.
    • First player selects 2 cards to turn over and read. If they are a match, they can keep them.
    • STRESS to students to just turn the cards over and leave them down — don’t pick them up. This is because the other students are trying to remember where these are located – and they need to be able to see them and their location. It’s a brain thing!!

Notice that in all of these methods, the students need to read and say the word (and perhaps use it in a sentence). Be sure your sight word activities reinforce these. Activities in which students just merely match, stamp, copy, write in different colors, recreate with letter tiles, etc. do very little to help them really know the word. Have FUN!!!

What other sight word activities have you tried that you’d like to share? Take care, friends!

Sight Words Instructional Tips

by C. Elkins, OK Math and Reading Lady

Sight words are those which students can identify automatically without the need to decode. They often do not follow phonics “rules.” Examples: who, all, you, of. They may include some high frequency words (HFW). High frequency words are those which occur most often in reading and writing. By learning 100 of the HFW, a beginning reader can access about 50% of text.  According to Fry, these 13 words account for 25% of words in print:  a, and, for, he, is, in, it, of, that, the, to, was, you.

When are students ready to learn sight words?  According to the experts from Words Their Way (Bear, Invernizzi, Templeton), student need to have a more fully developed concept of word.  Concept of Word is the ability to track a memorized text without getting off track, even on a 2-syllable word. In other words, does the child have a one-to-one correspondence with words? When tracking, does their finger stay under a 2-syllable word until it is finished, or are they moving from word-to-word based on the syllable sounds they hear? In the sentence shown, does a student move their finger to the next word after saying ap- or do they stay on the whole word apple before moving on? Students in the early Letter-Name Stage (ages 4-6) start to understand this concept. It becomes more fully developed mid to later stages of Letter Names (ages 5-8).

Students with a basic concept of word are able to acquire a few words from familiar stories and text they have “read” several times or memorized. Students with a full concept of word can finger point read accurately and can correct themselves if they get off track. They can find words in text. Therefore, many sight words are acquired after several rereadings of familiar text.

Instructional Strategies KG-2nd Grade

1. To help children gain concept of word:

  • Point to words as you read text to them (big books, poetry on charts, etc.).
  • Invite children to point to words.
  • Pair memorized short poems with matching word cards for students to reconstruct. Using a pocket chart is helpful.

2. Explicit Instruction: Dedicated time each day for sight word work

  • KG: 1-3 words per week; 1st grade: 3-5 words per week
  • Introduce with “fanfare and pageantry”.
  • Read, chant, sing, spell, write.
  • Use them in a sentence and ask children to do the same.
  • Use letter tiles, magnetic letters, word cards.
  • Use with a word wall (see more info later in this post).
  • Locate in text you are reading (poems, big books, stories in small group).

    a box of juice

  • Many sight words are hard to explain the meaning (the, was, of). Associate with a picture and phrase or sentence such as: a box of juice.
  • Reinforce with small group instruction.
  • Practice at learning stations:  CAUTION — activities should be done with previously learned  words to promote fluency. If the words are not known, then stamping them in playdough or writing them multiple times may not help you achieve your objective. Saying them correctly along with visual recognition is key. Go to this blogger’s link for many free resources for reinforcing sight words.  http://www.playdoughtoplato.com/pirate-sight-word-game/   She has a simple path board game which is editable. You can put in 1-5 sight words to practice – students must say the word to their partner to advance along the path. I often require students to use the word in a sentence as well. She is a great resource for KG-2nd grade!!
  • I (and experts) do not recommend using sight words on weekly spelling lists. Research suggests  spelling words should follow typical orthographic patterns, which many sight words do not have (ex: who, was, all, of). If you practice sight words in ways mentioned above, students will get better at spelling them or can refer to the word wall when needed for writing assignments.

3. Flash Card Practice (Research based method) with no more than 10 words: Continue reading

Rounding activities (whole numbers and decimals)

by C. Elkins, OK Math and Reading Lady

Last week I reposted my blog regarding use of number lines to assist students with number sense and rounding. Check it out for free activities and rounding charts. Today I am sharing some more rounding activities I developed and used with students to practice (with either whole numbers or decimals). These activities can be varied to suit your students’ needs.

These grid templates are to use the activities with 2-4 students (or teacher vs. student if working one-on-one online). I developed 3 different grid sizes (4 x 4, 5 x 5, and 6 x 6).  You will also need something to generate numbers for each set of players:

  • Grid for playing board:  Get here FREE  Grid 4 x 4   Grid 5 x 5   Grid 6 x 6
  • 2 dice (1-6)
  •  2 dice (1-9)
  • digit cards (0-9) — get your free set here:  0-9 digit cards
  • deck of playing cards (with tens and face cards removed)
  • spinner (with digits 0-9) — 1 is ok, 2 is better

The objective of the game is for a player to capture 4, 5, or 6 squares in a row (horizontally, vertically, diagonally).  You decide based on the size of the grid and the skill level of the players how many captured squares are needed.

The teacher can write in possible answers on the grid and laminate for continued use (samples below). Then students can use a game piece  (flat stones, two-color counters, etc.) or different color dry erase marker to mark their square.

  • Using a paper form, students can write in answer choices randomly on the grid (supplied by the teacher for accuracy). Then each player can use a different colored crayon to mark their square.

Here are some different variations of the game (whole number rounding to nearest 10, 100, 1000 and decimal rounding to the nearest tenth or hundredth).

Rounding to the nearest ten:  You can use the blank grid to write in your own numbers randomly.  Consider which number generated options you are using.  If you use 1-6 dice, the biggest number on the board has to be 70 and remember there’s only 2 ways to achieve 70 (by rolling a 6 and 5 or a 6 and 6).  If you use 1-9 dice or number cards, then you can place numbers from 10-100 on the board.  This gives a few more options and a chance to round higher numbers.

  • Roll 2 dice (or turn over 2 number cards, spin spinner twice)
  • Generate a 2 digit number.  If a 3 and 5 are rolled, the player can decide to make it 35 or 53.
  • Round that number to nearest 10.
  • Find that number on the grid.
  • If using a laminated board, place a colored “chip” on it. If using paper, each player colors their chosen # with a crayon.
  • Player #2 follows same steps.
  • Each player is trying to get 4, 5, or 6 in a row (depending on which grid size you choose).
  • It’s more fun if you try to block the other player and use strategies about your choice of a number to round (should I use 35 — rounded to 40?  Or 53 — rounded to 50?)

Rounding to the nearest hundred:

  • Follow same steps as above, except use 3 dice or 3 number cards.
  • Place numbers such as 0, 100, 200, 300 . . . randomly on the board. In the samples pictured I numbered to 1000 since I used 0-9 dice. I didn’t show a 0 on the boards pictured below, but should have since a number less than 50 could actually be generated. If using 1-6 numbered dice, the highest would be 700.
  • Example:  Roll a 2, 5, 6 — player can make these numbers 256, 265, 526, 562, 625, 652.  The number choice becomes part of the strategy of the game to see which spot is available on the board.

Rounding to the nearest thousand:

  • Follow same steps as above, except use 4 dice or 4 number cards.  If using 1-6 numbered dice, the highest would be 7000.

Rounding to the nearest tenth:

  • Follow steps similar to rounding to nearest tenth, except answer choices on the grid would look like this:  .1, .2, .3 . . .
  • If using number cards (as pictured below) or a spinner with digits up to 9, be sure to include a space on the grid for 1 (which is what you would round these numbers to:  .95, .96, .97, .98, or .99.
  • Again, be mindful of randomly placing numbers because it depends on which number generating options you are using.  If using 1-6 dice, I would only include a couple of spaces with .7 because there’s a limited number of ways to round to .7 with dice numbered 1-6.  The only way to round to .7 would be to roll a .65 or a .66.

Rounding to the nearest hundredth:

  • Follow steps similar to rounding to the nearest hundred by using 3 dice or turning over 3 number cards.  Be sure to include a space or two for an answer of 1.

Other tips for playing:

  1. Provide students with a blank white board to draw an open number line to check out their answer.
  2. Provide a sentence frame such as:  I made the number  ______ which is rounded to ________.
  3. Remind the players that it is their job to watch their opponent and challenge anything they think may not be correct (in a friendly, helping manner of course).
  4. Shorter time frame for playing?  Choose the 4 x 4 grid.  Longer time frame?  Choose the 6 x 6 grid or use the 6 x 6 grid with the winner being one to get 5 in a row.
  5. Consider creating a box of 4 completed squares in addition to 4 in a row.
  6. This can be played as teacher vs. students in a virtual setting.
  7. This can be played in a one-on-one online setting by using a document camera or posting a screen shot on the screen.

Let me know if you try these!  Pass along any extra tips you have.

Also, a reminder to contact me if you would like personalized professional development over any reading or math strategy.  I can do a Zoom session with you or a group of teachers.  Flexible payment options.  Also, check out my link on the side bar for Varsity Tutors regarding the opportunity for you to tutor students online or in person (and earn a bonus for using my name).

Take care, stay safe!!!  

 

Rounding and Number Lines

by C. Elkins, OK Math and Reading Lady 

I get requests from many teachers to help with instructional strategies regarding rounding, so I am happy to share my thoughts (and freebies) with you. Difficulty with rounding usually means students lack number sense. The essential goal of rounding is: Can you name a benchmark number (whole, tens, hundreds, thousands, tenths, hundredths, etc.) that a given number is closer to? I have found the more experience a student has with number lines, the better they will be with number sense, and the better they are with rounding to the nearest ___.  Then this rounding practice must be applied to real world problems to estimate sums, differences, products, or quotients.

When doing a google search for tips on rounding (ie Pinterest), you very often find an assortment of rhymes (such as “5 or more let it soar, 4 or less let it rest”) and graphics showing underlining of digits and arrows pointing to other digits. These steps are supposed to help children think about how to change (or round) a number to one with a zero. Many students can recite the rhyme, but then misunderstand the intent, often applying the steps to the wrong digit, showing they really don’t have number sense but are just trying to follow steps.

My answer (and that of other math specialists) is teaching students how to place any number on a number line, and then determining which benchmark number it is closest to. Continue reading to see examples and get some free activities. And watch next week for some new rounding activities for grades 2-6 (whole numbers and decimals).

Continue reading

Listening to your students read Part 2: Running Records and the Structural Cueing System

by C. Elkins, OK Math and Reading Lady

This is part 2 of a series on ways you can efficiently listen to your students as they read, identify cueing systems the child is using / neglecting, and offer helpful prompts that will guide them as they read.  This blog will focus on the Structural Cueing System. Even though this is considered an early reading strategy, there are many intermediate elementary students (and higher) with reading difficulties who would benefit from this type of analysis and prompting.

The second cueing system is the use of (S) Structure or Syntax of our English language. Much of a child’s knowledge about language structures comes as a result of speaking or listening to how language naturally sounds. A reader attempts to make it sound right. Below are 3 possible scenarios with analysis of a child’s possible response.

Using this text:  She runs with the puppy.

1. Suppose a student read it this way:

  √        ran      √       √         √.

She     runs   with   the   puppy.

This student is using structure because “She ran . . .” sounds right. He/She is also using M (meaning) because it makes sense. And the child is using visual (V) cues because ran / runs are visually similar.

2. Suppose a student read it this way:

√       runned       √      √         √.

She    runs       with  the   puppy.

This student is not using structure because “She runned . . .” does not sound structurally / grammatically correct. However, it still makes sense (M) and is still visually similar (V).

3. Suppose a student read it this way:

√      chased      –        √         √.

She   runs      with   the   puppy.

This student is using structure because “She chased the puppy” sounds right. He/She is also using (M) meaning because it makes sense. The child is not using (V) visual cues because chased and runs are not visually similar.

When a child is not using structure, their errors in reading are typically with verb tenses. Often with -ed ending words they will use the wrong pronunciation (such as look-ded), or they will generalize by adding -ed to words which don’t use it to make past tense (runned, swimmed, bited). Or a student may be an English Language Learner – be sensitive to their needs. They may not know what “sounds right.” In that case, you as the teacher should model what it should sound like.

Helpful teacher prompts to help a student monitor for (S) Structure / Grammar:sound-icon

  • Did that sound right?
  • Does that sound the way we talk?
  • Is there a better way to say it?
  • What word would sound right there?
  • Can you say it another way?
  • Try ______. Would that sound right? Listen as I read it. Now you try.
  • Listen to this (give 2 choices). Which sounds better?

Remember, it is often most helpful to wait until the child completes the whole sentence before prompting or trying to correct an error. This gives the child an opportunity to monitor themself and perhaps self-correct. If the teacher (or parent) jumps in right away after the error is made, it is the teacher doing the monitoring, not the student.

To assist you with documentation about the child’s cueing system, see part 1 about Running Records. In your notes for the child’s oral reading, write the word they said above the word from the text. Analyze to see if they are making meaning, structural, or visual errors. Does the child tend to use one cueing system over another? What prompts can you offer to help the child monitor their reading and self-correct?

Finally — be sure to let the student know when you notice their self-corrections and montoring.  For example:  “I noticed you changed the word ‘runned’ for ‘runs’ in the sentence. You made it sound right! Good for you!” This reinforces use (and hopefully continued repetition) of the strategy.

Happy Listening! Next time Visual Cues – Part 3

Clip art courtesy of MS Office.

Happy Holidays

by C. Elkins, OK Math and Reading Lady

This has been an incredibly difficult year in so many ways.  But during these difficult times, you teachers do what teachers have always done — you show unbelievable flexibility, you adapt to changing situations with a variety of resources, spend countless hours making sure you have the best lessons, and continue to show compassion and caring for your students — because that’s who you are!! I am proud of you, and I want to thank you for hanging in there with me this year. I hope I was able to provide some help as you navigated through uncharted waters.

We are all looking forward to 2021, and hope to get closer to “normal.”  I wish the best for you, your family, and your school. May you have a brief respite here at the end of December and time to enjoy it and relax a little bit.  Happy Holidays to you!  I will resume my blog articles in January.

Take care, be safe!!  Cindy Elkins, OK Math and Reading Lady

Listening to your students read Part 1: Running Records and the Meaning Cueing System

By C. Elkins, OK Math and Reading Lady – with adaptations from Marie Clay and Scholastic

Taking a running record is written documentation of a child’s oral reading. It consists of listening to a child orally read a passage while you document it as best you can on paper. As the listener, you note errors (such as omissions, insertions, substitutions),  pay attention to strategies they are using or neglecting, and are alert to what is easy and what is hard. Many publishers now provide a written page of the text for you to keep track of the child’s reading page by page, while experienced notetakers can do it at a moment’s notice on any blank paper.

I attended a Reading Recovery workshop about mid-way into my teaching career, and heard from two teachers who described how to take a running record and then analyze the results to determine which strategies students were using or neglecting. That one workshop forever changed how I listened to my students read, and how I talked to parents about their child’s reading successes or difficulties.  About 8 years after that I had formal training in Reading Recovery methods, and subsequently completed a Masters in Reading . . . all because of that workshop!  I learned all mistakes are not equal and provide a huge clue as to what cueing system a child is using. I learned that I can help steer a child toward a neglected strategy by carefully crafted teacher prompts. I learned that there are much more effective prompts than the standard, over-used:  “Sound it out.”

The benefits of running records

  • Identifies accuracy of reading (independent, instructional, or hard)
  • Provides a record of strategies used, errors, corrections, phrasing, fluency
  • Helps teachers identify cueing systems the child is using / neglecting (meaning, visual, structural)
  • Documents progress over time
  • Can help determine a level for guided reading purposes (Fountas and Pinnell, Reading A-Z, DRA, etc.)

Continue reading

Number Talks with Dot Cards: Subitizing, Number Sense, Facts (Part 2)

by C. Elkins, OK Math and Reading Lady

Hi!  This is Part 2 regarding ways to do number talks using dot cards. This post will feature random dot cards. See the last post for strategies with ten frame dot cards and some background information about why and how (click HERE).

My pictures below feature dot cards provided via an extra purchase from this great resource regarding Number Talks. I blacked out the number in the small print at the bottom of each card because I was using them online and didn’t want the magnification to show the number.  When showing them in person, the number is too small really for a student to notice or I can use my hand to cover it when showing the card.  Anyway . . . that’s for those of you wondering what the little black smudge was. Here’s an amazon link to the cards which you can get digitally for $19.95 (279 pages worth): Number Talk Dot Cards

My previous post (linked above) also listed 2 resources for ten frame and random dot cards.  Here is another one you might like and is great to use with partners as well.  I’ll describe an activity with them below.  Dot Cards for Number Sense ($2 from mathgeekmama.com)

You may like checking out mathgeekmama for other wonderful FREE resources.

Random Dot Cards

While I refer to these as “random” dot cards, it really doesn’t mean the dots are just scattered willy-nilly.  The dots on these cards are still organized, but just not on ten frames.  When using these cards, the goal is for students to “see” patterns with the dots to aid their subitizing and quick recall of number pairs.  You might start with dot dice first, then look for these on the dot cards:

  • groups of 2
  • groups of 3 (such as triangles)
  • groups of 4 (such as squares)
  • groups of 5 (like on a dice)
  • groups of 6 (like on a dice)
  • doubles
  • near doubles

I also often point out to students how I mentally “move” a dot to visualize one of the above scenarios. This will be shown in the pictures below with an arrow.

Procedures for whole group (either in person or on Zoom):

  1. Flash the card (longer for more dots).
  2. Students put thumb up (I prefer thumb in front of chest) when they have decided the amount.
  3. Randomly select students to tell you how many they saw. No judgement yet on who is correct and who isn’t.
  4. Then ask the VERY important question, “How did you see it?”  This should elicit various responses which will help reinforce different ways numbers can be decomposed.
  5. If desired with in-person sessions, you can have students pair-share their response first before calling on students to tell you. This way all students get a chance to share their way with a ready listener.  Click on this link for a way to silently signal  “Me too” in sign language. I find this very helpful especially for those students who want to respond — and helps avoid the “he took my answer” complaint.
  6. Record the different responses on a chart tablet.
  7. On the occasions where there are limited responses, here are some options:
    • Ask students if they see a way another student might have seen it. Be prepared — you might get some amazing (or long-winded) responses.
    • If students don’t see something I think it worth mentioning, I might say, “Here’s a way I saw a student think about this one last year.”
    • Or you could  just show the card another day to see if there are some new responses then.

What do you see with these?  . . . Plus some examples:

How do you see these? . . . Plus suggested outcomes:

Procedures for individual or partners (great for online tutoring or class center activity)

  1. Flash the card (longer if more complicated).
  2. Student tells you how many.  If not correct, show the card again.
  3. Ask, “How did you see them?”
  4. If the card is laminated, circle the parts the child describes.
  5. Tell how you (teacher) saw it.
  6. Ask, “How might another student see it?”  This gets them to see other possibilities.
  7. Record responses.

With the activity I mentioned earlier from mathgeekmama.com, this is a great with partners. I would recommend dot cards with no more than 8 dots for this activity:

  • Start with a stack of dot cards (face down).  Provide a blank laminated square to record dots on.
  • Partner 1 selects the top card and flashes it to partner 2 (perhaps 2-3 seconds).
  • Partner 2 uses a laminated blank square to try to draw the dots (with dry erase marker) to match what partner 1 showed them.
  • Both students reveal their dot cards to see if they match.
  • Switch roles and repeat.

As an individual activity, provide the laminated dot cards and a dry-erase marker.  Circle the dots.  Write a math problem to match it. Take pictures to record answers. (Recommendation: Do this after you have already modeled it during a Number Talk session.)

Take care. Share your experience with using dot cards for Number Talk sessions. I love success stories!

Interesed in personal professional development, or PD for your grade level team or school? Please contact me for special rates. I can meet via Zoom for just about any need you have (math or reading).  I’d love to help!

Number Talks with Dot Cards: Subitizing, Number Sense, Facts (Part 1)

by C. Elkins, OK Math & Reading Lady

Do you see 3 + 4 =7 or perhaps 5 + 2 = 7? Maybe you see 3 + 2 + 2 = 7.

I have been using dot cards for many years with K-2 students as part of my Number Talks routine. I’d like to share some ways to follow this routine using both ten frame dot cards and random dot cards.  These are also easy to use via distance learning situations.

If you haven’t tried this before, you are in for a treat!  It is so nice to listen how students process their thinking. I never cease to be amazed at how developed a child’s thoughts can be expressed . . . and how many children take this as a challenge to see how many ways a dot picture can be explained.  I often feel I learn so much about my students capabilities (or sometimes the deficits) during this type of Number Talk session.  Look for my recommended links below (FREE).

What are the benefits?:

  1. Students gain the ability to subitize (tell a quantity without physically counting).
  2. Students gain number sense by noticing more dots, less dots, patterns aid counting, the same quantity can be shown different ways, sequencing numbers, skip counting, and many more.
  3. Students gain the ability to see many different ways a number can be composed or decomposed which assists with addition and subtraction facts.
  4. Students gain practice with strategies such as counting on, add/subtract 1, doubles, near doubles, adding 9, adding 10, missing addends, and equal groups.
  5. Teachers are able to observe students’ processing skills in an informal math setting.

Materials needed:

  1. Ten frame dot cards:  This set is FREE from TPT and includes ten frame cards as well as random dot cards. Great find!!  https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/FreeDownload/Number-Talks-Early-Level-Starter-Pack-10-Frames-and-Dot-Cards-4448073
  2. Random dot cards (not on ten frames)

General procedures:

  1. Decide how you are going to show the cards:
    • Show to students who are seated near the teacher?
    • Show to students via a document camera projected to a screen?
    • Show to students online with a split screen?
    • Show to students via a ppt?
  2. Depending on the grade level, you may want to flash the card quickly to encourage subitizing or shorten/extend the time the card is shown.
    • To encourage subitzing to 5, I recommend flashing the card for a couple of seconds for dots from 1-5 for all age groups.
    • Depending on the number of dots and the complexity of the dots, you may choose to shorten or extend the time you display the card for amounts more than 5.  The goal is for the students to look for patterns, equal groups, doubles, dots making squares, rectangles, or triangles, determine a quantity, and then explain how they arrived at that amount.
  3. Students put a quiet thumbs up when they have decided the quantity.  They should not say the amount outloud at this point. This shows respect for others who are still processing.
  4. The teacher observes to see who is counting, who is participating, who uses fingers, who is quick /slow, etc.
  5. Teacher asks random students, “How many dots?”
  6. Teacher asks random students, “How did you see them?”
  7. Results can be stated verbally or written down by the teacher.

Here are some examples with sums less than 10:

Here are examples using 2 ten frames to illustrate quantities greater than 10:

Next post:  I will feature ways to use the random dot cards for your Number Talk sessions.

Do you need professional development for yourself, your team, your school?  Please contact me and we can work out a plan that fits your needs.  I can provide personal help via email or Zoom all the way up to custom made webinars or power point presentations.  Let me know!

Do you know students who need extra help at home via online tutoring?  See my link for Varsity Tutors and mention my name. 

Do you want to do some online tutoring yourself at a time that works with your schedule? See my link for Varsity Tutors and mention my name.  Feel free to ask me questions as well.  

 

 

 

Number Pairs / Number Bonds Activities (PreK-2): Part 2

by C. Elkins, OK Math and Reading Lady

This post will feature some more number pairs / number bonds activities as well as ideas for informal assessment (along with some FREEBIES).  See the previous post for Part 1.  Also, here is another cool virtual manipulatives site:  https://toytheater.com/category/teacher-tools/  You will find lots of materials for students to use to help with these activities:  counters, bears, two-color counters, whole-part-part templates, Rekenreks, etc.  Check it out!

For all of these activities, the student should be working with the number of manipulatives to match their focus number.  They should do several different activities using that same amount to get lots of different experiences making the same number pairs repeatedly.  After a generous amount of practice, assess the child and move to the next number when ready. An important feature of each activity is for the student to verbalize the combination being made. Using a sentence frame they can have with them or putting it on the board for all to see is a plus:  “____ and ____ makes _____.” Students will usually need reminders that you should hear them saying this.  It takes if from just playing to being cognizant this is a serious math activity.

  1. Heads or Tails:  Use coins and a whole-part-part template.  The student shakes and gently drops some coins (stick to one type of coin). Then sort according to how many landed on heads vs. tails by placing them on one of the templates.  Say the combination outloud:  “5 heads and 2 tails makes 7.”  Repeat.  Here’s a FREE Coin Toss recording sheet.
  2. Paper Cups:  The student finds different ways to place small paper cups up or down to match their focus number.  Example:  To make 7 I could have 5 up and 2 down, or 6 up and 1 down, or 4 up and 3 down, etc.
  3. Hiding or “Bear in the Cave”:
    • Use a small bowl, clean plastic butter tub, etc. and some objects (cubes, stones, beans, cheerios, M&Ms).
    • With a partner and the number of objects matching the student’s focus number, partner 1 closes their eyes while partner 2 hides some of the counters under the tub and the rest outside or on the tub.
    • Partner 1 opens his eyes and names how many outside the tub and then tries to determine the number hiding.
    • Partner 2 can then reveal if partner 1 was correct or not.
    • Calling it “Bear in the Cave” was the idea of a math specialist I follow and clicking on this link will take you to her site with the opportunity to get the directions and recording sheet (Math CoachsCorner:  mathcoachscorner.com Bears in the Cave freebie)
    • Be sure when students are playing that they say the number pairs outloud such as, “3 and 4 make 7.”
  4. Roll and Cover Game / Four in a Row:
    • Items needed:  A blank grid template (4×4 or larger), counters or crayons for each player (up to 3), and one of the following to create numbers needed to play (spinner, number cards, custom dice).
    • With the grid template, create the game board by randomly placing all of the numbers making up the number pairs for the focus number and fill up the grid. If working on number pairs of 6 as pictured, place these randomly:  0, 6, 5, 1, 2, 4, and 3
    • Using a spinner, custom dice, or number cards, select the first number (example 5).  Make this sentence frame:  “2 goes with ____ to make 6.”  Locate the missing number on the grid and put a counter there (or color if using a printed worksheet). How to create an easy spinner: Draw one with the number of spaces needed and duplicate for multiple students. To use, students place a pencil vertically on the center of the spinner to hold a paper clip at the center. Spin the clip.
    • The object is to try to get 4 of your counters (or colors if using a worksheet) in a row (vertically, horizontally, or diagonally).  Blocking your opponents may be necessary to keep them from getting 4 in a row.
    • A freebie attached for Number Pairs of 6 (same as picture):Capture A game of six CE
  5. Stories:  Students can create stories using pictures from clip art or other art work:

    6 children and 1 adult = 7 OR 4 girls and 3 boys = 7  Or 2 pink shirts + 5 other shirts = 7

Assessment:

  1. This page can be used to record a student’s mastery of the number pairs / bonds.  On all assessments, observe if student names hiding amount immediately (meaning fact is known) or uses fingers or other counting methods such as head-bobbing, etc. For mastery, you want the student to be able to name the missing amount quickly.Click here for free PDF copies: Number Bond Assessment by CE and Number Pairs assessment class recording sheet CE
  2. The Hiding Game above can also be used as an assessment as the teacher controls how many showing / hiding.  Ask the same questions each time:  “How many showing?”  and “How many hiding?”
  3. Folding dot cards:  Hold one flap down and open the other. Ask, “How many dots?”  Then ask, “How many hiding?”I got these free at one time from www.k-5mathteachingresources.com, but not sure they are available now. At any rate, they look easy to make.These are also good to practice with a partner.Here is a similar one I made for FREE with the PDF copy :Number Bond 3-10 assessment in part-whole format
  4. Whole-Part-Part Template:  Using a circular or square template, place a number or objects in one of the parts.  Ask student how many more are needed to create the focus number.  This can also be done with numbers only as shown in this picture.

Let us know if you have tried any of these, or if you have others that you’d like to share!  

As I’ve mentioned before, as a consultant I am available to help you as an individual, your grade level team, or your school via online PD, webinar, or just advice during a Zoom meeting.  Contact me and we can make a plan that works for you.  If you are interested in tutoring during your “spare time” check out my link for Varsity Tutors on the side bar.  Mention my name and we both get a bonus. Have a wonderful, SAFE week.  Mask up for everyone!

Number Pairs / Number Bonds Activities (PreK-2): Part 1

by C. Elkins, OK Math and Reading Lady

Learning the combinations for numbers (number pairs / numbers bonds) is critical for both operations — addition and subtraction. This is slightly different than fact families, but it’s related.  With number bonds, students learn all of the possible ways to combine 2 numbers for each sum.  Think of whole / part / part.  If five is the whole amount, how many different ways can it be split or decomposed?  For example these combinations illustrate ways to make 5:

  • 5 = 1 and 4  (also 4 and 1)
  • 5 = 2 and 3  (also 3 and 2)
  • 5 = 5 and 0  (also 0 and 5)

Knowing these combinations will aid a student’s understanding of the relationship of numbers as they also solve missing addend and subtraction problems.  For example:

  • For the problem 2 + ___ = 5.  Ask, “What goes with 2 to make 5?”
  • For the problem 5 – 4 = ____.  Ask, “What goes with 4 to make 5?”

I suggest students work on just one whole number at a time and work their way up with regard to number bond mastery (from 2 to 10). You may need to do a quick assessment to determine which number they need to start with (more of assessment both pre and post coming in Part 2). Once a student demonstrates mastery of one number, they can move on to the next. It is great when you notice them start to relate the known facts to the new ones. Here are a few activities to practice number pairs.  They are interactive and hands-on.

One more thing:  PreK and KG students could work on these strictly as an hands-on practice, naming amounts verbally.  Using the word “and” is perfectly developmentally appropriate:  “2 and 3 make 5”.  With late KG and up, they are ready to start using math symbols to illustrate the operation.

  1.  Shake and spill with 2-color counters: 

    Shake and Spill

    Use 2 color counters.  Quantity will be the number the child is working on.  Shake them in your hand or a small paper cup. Spill them out (gently please). How many are red? How many are yellow?  Record on a chart.  Gradually you want to observe the child count the red and then tell how many yellow there should be without counting them. This will also aid a student with subitizing skills (naming the quantity without physically counting the objects). To extend the activity, you can create a graph of the results, compare results with classmates, and determine which combinations were not spilled. Click on this link for the recording sheet shown:  Shake and Spill recording page

  2. Connecting cubes:  Use unifix or connecting cubes.  Quantity will be the number the child is working on. Two different colors should be available.  How many different ways can the child make a train of cubes using one or both colors?  If working with 5, they might show this:  1 green and 4 blue; 2 green and 3 blue; 4 green and 1 blue; 3 green and 2 blue; 5 green and 0 blue; or 0 green and 5 blue.  They could draw and color these on paper if you need a written response.
  3.  Ten frames: 

    Use a ten frame template and 2 different colored objects (cubes, counters, flat glass stones, candy, cereal, etc.) to show all of the cominations of the number the student is working on.  Using a virtual ten frame such as the one here Didax.com virtual ten frame or here Math Learning Center – Number Frames are also cool – especially if you are working from home or don’t want students to share manipulatives.

  4.  On and Off:  This is similar to shake and spill above.  Use any type of counters (I especially love the flat glass tones for this myself) and any picture.  For my collection, I chose some child-friendly images on clip art and enlarged each one separately  to fit on an 8.5 x 11 piece of paper (hamburger, football, flower, Spongebob, ice cream cone, unicorn, etc.).  Put the page inside a sheet protector or laminate for frequent use.  Using the number of counters the student is working with, shake them and spill above the picture.  Count how many landed on the image and how many landed off the image.  Like mentioned above, the goal is for the student to be able to count the # on and name the # off without physically counting them.  1st and above can record results on a chart or graph.  Often just changing to another picture, the student feels like it’s a brand new game!  You might also like to place the picture inside a foil tray or latch box to contain the objects that are dropped.  The latch box is a great place to store the pictures and counters of math center items.
  5.  Graphic organizers:  The ten frame is a great organizer as mentioned earlier, but there are two whole/part/part graphic organizers which are especially helpful with number pairs – see below.  Students can physically move objects around to see the different ways to decompose their number.

Check out Jack Hartman’s youtube series on number pairs from 1 to 10. Here’s one on number pairs of 5:   “I Can Say My Number Pairs: 5″ He uses two models (ten frames and hand signs) and repetition along with his usual catchy tunes.

Also, please check out the side bar (or bottom if using a cell phone) for links to Varsity Tutors in case you are interested in doing some online tutoring on the side or know students who would benefit from one-on-one help. Please use my name as your reference — Cindy Elkins.  Want some PD for yourself?  Contact me and I’ll work out a good plan to fit your needs!

Next post:  More activities for learning number bonds and assessment resources (both pre- and post-).  Take care!!

 

Teaching the Alphabet / Letter Sounds Online

by C. Elkins, OK Math and Reading Lady

How do you go about teaching your online students about the alphabet and letter sounds when you can’t be with them in person? That is the topic of today’s blog.  By no means do I have all the answers, so please chime in with your ideas too!

In an actual classroom, your students would have opportunities to manipulate and sort objects by letter or beginning sound, to write under your watchful eye and guidance, to find the letter used in actual text, and experience fun learning center-type activities to immerse themselves.  Maybe it’s not as hard as you think — below are some possible teaching strategies (and some FREEBIES) you can use with your students to help teach the letter sounds and alphabet. By all means, ensure this instruction is a regular and systematic part of your teaching routine.

Before I go on, one important piece of equipment in case you are working from home and not at school would be a document camera.  I know from my experience that physically holding something up to the camera for a student to see isn’t always a good idea.  For one thing, it covers your face. It wiggles when you hold it.  It can appear backwards (unless you uncheck “mirror my video” if using Zoom). While the type of document camera purchased for your classroom is likely too costly for home use, there are many small portable ones (see Amazon) in the $100-200 price range that connect to your device via a usb port. With their downloaded software you will be in business!  I use one from Ipevo which I love!

My document camera has been crucial to online teaching. It allows me to show strategies in real time, read text together, play games, show pictures, etc.

  1. Alphabet cards:  Cards that are colorful and a good size to show students under your document camera are essential.
    • Present when teaching the letter / sound for the first time. Show how to form the letter. Use cards easily for frequent review. These are like the type you might have posted on the walls in your traditional classroom.
    • Here is an editible FREE set from TPT. Editable alphabet cards with pictures  While the pictures shown are very good, I did notice on the vowels some of them are using a picture to represent the short sound (apple, elephant, umbrella) while some pictures represented the long sound for the vowel (ice cream, orange).  In some cases, this would prevent me from getting the set — but it’s FREE and you can edit it to change the picture.  Or better yet, for the vowels show 2 pictures (1 to represent each sound).
    • Here is another set from a TPT author who is very early-childhood friendly and has a ton of good free stuff (you may have to join her blog to get access to the free stuff).  I like her alphabet cards because they have a few pictures to accompany each letter.  https://thisreadingmama.com/mega-pack-free-phonics-cards/
  2. Alphabet – how your mouth should be formed:

    O says /o/ like this:

    This is a critical aspect of teaching letter sounds.  It matters how the lips, teeth, and tongue are coordinated to produce the sound.  For example, many young children have difficulty with /l/ and can often be corrected by physically showing them where to place the tongue (behind the front teeth).  You can show them how their lips, etc. should look with each letter.  It’s ok to exaggerate a little bit. And by all means, when working on the next item in my list (video), make yourself visible so they can see how to form the letter with their mouth and you can check via your screen if the child is forming their mouth correctly.

  3. Alphabet videos:  I am sure most all of you have used videos from youtube for your students.  Here is the one I recommend because of the repetition of the letter sound and pictures starting with that sound.  In each video (devoted to only one letter at a time) the student gets dozens of opportunities to say the sound and objects with background music that is motivating to get children to participate.  Here’s one for the letter Mm: “Have Fun Teaching” Letter M /m/ video on Youtube
  4. Alphabet pictures:  With a document camera, showing pictures (or real items) with the beginning sound you are teaching is easy.  Here’s a set (6 b/w pictures for each letter) that can be sent to students to put together as a mini book for each letter, or printed and cut apart for you to use for teaching.  A Dab of Glue Will Do (Blog) Free alphabet booklets  The word is printed with each picture making it easy for you to point to the first letter for emphasis.
  5. Alphabet writing:  If your online students have a whiteboard, you can use your document camera to model how to write the letter, let them practice, and then hold up their board to show you.
  6. Alphabet in text:  It is super important to include opportunities to see the letter you are working on in text.  I recommend using the child’s name, class member names, easy patterned text, or short poems.  Show the text under your document camera or pull up from a licensed site you have access to. Have students find the letter wherever it appears in the text. This shows students how letters are being used.
  7. Alphabet sorting and review:  Using pictures (like from #4 above), you can show a picture (cover the word though) and have students name the letter, hold up a letter tile, or write the letter on their whiteboard to show you. You can also display 2-3 letters (magnetic, tiles, or written in column form on a whiteboard) and help students sort pictures by telling you where to place them. This is also a good video to review all of the letter names, sounds, and pictures/words with that beginning sound:  Jack Hartman Alphabet song
  8. Alphabet practice:  There are a lot of resources you may already have that can be transformed to a digital format via boom cards or Seesaw, etc. Some teachers also print up packets at school for weekly distribution to parents (worksheets, cut-n-paste, sorting), and these could be included as supplmental to your online teaching.

Finally, please read this Alphabet research I summarized.  Alphabet Letter and Sounds Research (C. Elkins Edublog)  Very eye opening and beneficial in my opinion. You will come to understand why children get confused with learning the alphabet.  Example:  “F” is pronounced with a short vowel sound before the letter /ef/ while “J” is pronounced with a long vowel sound after the letter /jay/.  “Double you” = /w/.  “Aych” = /h/.  You will find a great 1 page teaching template for teaching letter sounds which focuses on aspects I mentioned above (Here is the letter, here’s how it sounds, here’s how to write it, here it is in text).  

Take care!  Hope you are all well and safe. Looking forward to your comments!

Excellent FREE Online Reading and Math Sites – My favorites!

By C. Elkins, OK Math and Reading Lady

Are you looking for a place to find great quality FREE online stories / books that fit your child’s or students’ reading levels? What about instructional math videos just right for explaining math concepts, and virtual math manipulatives (especially if students don’t have any at home)?  I have 4 I highly recommend and will highlight below.

  1. https://www.readworks.org/  Readworks.org is a very high quality non-profit site which can be used with individual children or the whole class.  You will find articles, ebooks, and a library. Search by grade level, lexile level, genre, skill, etc. Most articles have an audio function and can be presented digitally or printed. The text selections really help build background knowledge that a lot of students are missing. Be sure to check out their “Article a Day” program.  As a teacher or parent, you can create a class and make assignments.  Comprehension questions and free response questions are included. ALL of it is FREE.  They have webinars available to learn about all of the features. Well worth your time!
  2. https://www.wilbooks.com/wilbooks-free-resources  If you are looking for leveled books for PreK-3rd grade students, then Wilbooks may definitely meet your needs.  There is a good selection of fiction and non-fiction leveled by grade level or guided reading levels A-M.  Levels A and B have around 30 titles each. Not all of the levels have that many, as it varies. The back cover of each book tells the grade level, guided reading level and word count in case you want to do a running record. If you want access to their entire collection, the price is VERY reasonable. I haven’t purchased it myself YET, but it states $1.99 for a monthly individual account. I have been using these books and the students like them!
  3. https://learnzillion.com/p/  This is a really good site for math instructional videos and lessons.  Learn Zillion used to be totally free, but like others you now have to purchase a subscription to get everything they have to offer.  BUT, by creating a free account you still get access to about 1000 videos. You can search by grade level, standard, key word, etc. The instructional videos are done very well and are easy to follow (at least the one’s I have viewed).  And they are short and concise.  These would be great to use with a zoom lesson in your class or as a parent who is searching for the right way to explain a strategy.  The objectives are clearly stated, videos are often also available in a slide format so you can explain it yourself, and you have the option to make assignments as well.
  4. https://www.mathlearningcenter.org/resources/apps  I cannot speak highly enough about this FREE site. Math Learning Center apps cover just about any manipulative you need, but don’t have physical access to:  base ten, pattern blocks, coins, clocks, ten frames, geoboards / area grids, number lines, Rekenrek counters, etc.  These are interactive and can be used as a website or app. The directions are clear (look for the little “i” in the corner of each screen). These are FUN to use!  Here is a link for more information about this great resource that I posted last year:  Virtual Math Manipulatives

So there you have it, 4 great websites well worth your investigation!!  Do you have some to recommend? Just respond by clicking the little speech bubble.

P.S.  If you are interested in any of the following to meet your professional or personal needs, please go to the bottom of my “About Me” page for more details (black bar at top of this blog).

  • Professional devlopment – private, job-embedded, workshop, or webinar
  • Working as an online tutor
  • Referring a student for online tutoring

Number Talks – Online

by C. Elkins, OK Math and Reading Lady

You know I am a huge advocate of doing daily number talks. I have written several posts about this which I will link below.  But how can you conduct a number talk via Zoom or whatever platform you are using?  Here are some suggestions.

  1. Post a problem on your screen. Write it horizontally (so as not to immediately suggest it should be solved via the standard algorithm).
  2. Ask students to show a way they might solve the problem.  Using a marker (so the end product will show up when displayed), students work on their whiteboards or notebook paper tablet.
  3. Give a reasonable amount of time (depending on the grade level and the problem given).  Teacher can even play some soft background music to signal time to start working.
  4. Students signal with a thumbs up when they are done (on their screen or in the chat box).
  5. The teacher can interject he/ she would love for some of the students to share their thinking, so when they are done and waiting for the others, think mentally on how they might explain it.
  6. With a signal to end working time, students then hold up their whiteboards.
  7. The teacher can select some to share (or students can volunteer) showing the different strategies used.  The teacher can model the strategy on his/her screen as the student verbally describes it.
  8. Different strategies can be recorded on an anchor chart for future reference.

    Here are some links from my Number Talks posts.

Professional Development Opportunity

As you know, I have been working as an educational consultant the past five years — job-embedded professional development with elementary teachers regarding math and reading instructional strategies. With the COVID-19 nightmare, schools are closed in most locations. School administrators are hesitant to commit to job-embedded consultants right now because there are so many uncertainties.  However, if you as a teacher or parent are interested in private one-on-one online consultation visits with me, I am available to help you reach your instructional goals.  We will work out a plan that is easy on your budget and schedule. Contact me via the comment box with a brief request and I will email you privately.

What can we work on?

  • Reading strategies (phonemic awareness, phonics, cueing and prompts, comprehension, text structures, fluency . . .)
  • Math strategies (subitizing, number sense, addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, place value, rounding, fractions, geometry, . . .)
  • Interpreting data
  • Writing and spelling
  • Other topics you don’t see here?  Just ask.

Tutoring Opportunities

If you know students who are in need of online tutoring (anywhere in the US at any grade level PreK-College), you are invited to refer them to Varsity Tutors using my name (Cindy Elkins).  It is a very reputable company that matches tutors with students in any subject or grade level. https://www.varsitytutors.com?r=2Asn3c

If you are interested in becoming an online or in-person tutor yourself, you are also invited to contact Varsity Tutors. You would be an independent contractor who can set your own hours and accept only the students you feel comfortable working with. Payments are direct deposited twice a week. Give them my name please. Use this link: https://www.varsitytutors.com/tutoring-jobs?r=2Asn3c

Click on the badge icon with my photo on the right sidebar to check them out. Or the links above. On your phone app, the badge will be at the bottom.

**I do receive a bonus when my name is used as a referral. Thank you for your trust in me!

Stay safe everyone!  

 

Back to school stories

by C. Elkins, OK Math and Reading Lady

WELCOME BACK!!

Whether you are participating in an online or traditional classroom setting, building classroom community is still important. As part of building a classroom community, you likely will have many discussions about diversity, friendship, and showing respect in various ways.  Here are some great resources for literature that might emphasize the point you are trying to make.

Weareteachers.com 14 books with great follow-up ideas.

  • This site is one of the best because it doesn’t just give a summary of the story, but it provides very practical follow up ideas include a get-to-know-you bingo, anchor charts, self-portrait, writing, posters, brainstorming, drawing, etc.
  • For the above book, “Dear Teacher,” she suggests writing a postcard to a friend or family member telling them about the first week of school.
  • For the book, “Name Jar,” the article suggests brainstorming and creating a poster showing different ways to greet a new student.  

5 Back to School Books for 3rd Grade (Pinterest from notsowimpyteacher.com):

  • There might be some new titles here that kids haven’t heard in previous years.

Back to school books for upper elementary (teachingtoinspire.com).

  • This teacher provides some printables to accompany the books she recommends. These deal with more advanced issues such as kindness, diversity, perseverance, homework and writing.
  • One of the books she features is “The Important Book” by Margaret Wise Brown. It’s been around for awhile (for a good reason). A perfect book for getting kids to write details around one topic. Text in this book follows a pattern similar to this: “The important thing about a crayon, is that you can color with it. They come in many colors. They make your pictures come alive. They can be big or small. But the important thing about a crayon is that you can color with it.” This can actually be used any time of year – not just the beginning. Send me a message and I will send you more information about this book and its link to writing possibilities! Or, of course, I can help you do a lesson using these any time of the year.

In the next post, I will share some ways to do number talks via an online format.  Stay tuned!  Let me know how you are doing!

Also, feel free to share my blog with parents who might be working with their children at home. My articles focus on reading and math strategies (with modeling of the steps involved when necessary) from KG through upper elementary.

24 Summer Time Math Activities which can be done at home!

by C. Elkins, OK Math and Reading Lady

I realize many of you  (teachers and parents) may be searching for ways to link every day activities to math so that children can learn in a practical way while at home during this surrealistic period.  Happy Fourth of July and . . . .Here’s a list of things you might like to try:

 

 

 

 

Outdoors

  1. While bouncing a ball, skip count by any number. See how high you get before missing the ball. Good to keep your multiplication facts current.
  2. How high can you bounce a ball? Tape a yardstick or tape measure to a vertical surface (tree, side of house, basketball goal). While one person bounces, one or two others try to gauge the height. Try with different balls.  Figure an average of heights after 3-4 bounces.
  3. Play basketball, but instead of 2 points per basket, assign certain shots specific points and keep a mental tally.
  4. Get out the old Hot Wheels. Measure the distance after pushing them.  Determine ways to increase or decrease the distance. Compete with a sibling or friend to see who has the highest total after 3-4 pushes.  Depending on the age of your child, you may want to measure to the nearest foot, inch, half-inch or cm.
  5. Measure the stopping distance of your bicycle.
  6. Practice broad jumps in the lawn. Measure the distance you can jump. Older students can compute an average of their best 3-4 jumps. Make it a competition with siblings or friends.
  7. Some good uses for a water squirt gun:
    • Aim at a target with points for how close you come. The closer to the center is more points.
    • Measure the distance of your squirts. What is your average distance?
    • How many squirts needed to fill up a bucket?  This would be a good competition.
  8. Competitive sponge race (like at school game days): Place a bucket of water at the starting line. Each player dips their sponge in and runs to the opposite side of the yard and squeezes their sponge into their own cup or bowl. Keep going back and forth. The winner is the one who fills up their container first. Find out the volume of the cup and the volume of water a sponge can hold.
  9. Build a fort with scrap pieces of wood. Make a drawing to plan it. Measure the pieces to see what fits. Use glue or nails (with adult supervision).
  10. Take walks around the neighborhood. Estimate the perimeter distance of the walk.
  11. In the pool:
    • Utilize a pool-safe squirt gun (as in #6 above).
    • Estimate the height of splashes after jumping in.
    • Measure the volume of the pool (l x w x h).  The result will be in cubic feet.  Convert using several online conversion calculators such as this one: https://www.metric-conversions.org/volume/
    • Measure the perimeter of the pool.  If it is rectangular, does your child realize the opposite sides are equal.  This is a very important concept for students regarding geometry (opposite sides of rectangles are equal).
    • What if you want to cover the pool? What would the area of the cover be?
    • Measure how far you can swim.  Time the laps.  What is the average time?
  12. Watch the shadows during the day. Notice the direction and the length.  Many kids don’t realize the connection between clocks and the sun. Make your own sun dial. Here are a few different resources for getting that done, some easier than others:

 

Indoors

  1. Keep track of time needed (or allowed) for indoor activities:  30 minutes ipad, 1 hour tv, 30 minutes fixing lunch, 30 minutes for chores, etc.  This helps children get a good concept of time passage. Even many 4th and 5th graders have difficulty realizing how long a minute is.  This is also helpful as a practical application of determining elapsed time. Examples:
    • It’s 11:30 now.  I’ll fix lunch in 45 minutes. What time will that be?
    • I need you to be cleaned up and ready for bed at 8:30.  It’s 6:30 now.  How much time do you have?
    • You can use your ipad for games for 1 hour and 20 minutes.  It is 2:30 now. What time will you need to stop?
  2. Explore various recipes and practice using measuring tools.  What if the recipe calls for 3/4 cup flour and you want to double it?
  3. In the bathtub, use plastic measuring cups to notice how many 1/4 cups equal a whole cup. How many 1/3 cups in a cup? How many cups in a gallon (using a gallon bucket or clean, empty milk carton)?
  4. While reading, do some text analysis regarding frequency of letter usage.
    • Select a passage (short paragraph).  Count the number of letters.
    • Keep track of how often each letter appears in that passage. Are there letters of the alphabet never used?
    • Compare with other similar length passages.
    • After analyzing a few, can you make predictions about the frequency of letters in any given passage?
    • How does this relate to letters requested on shows such as “Wheel of Fortune” or letters used in Scrabble?
  5. Fluency in reading is a measure of several different aspects:  speed, accuracy, expression, phrasing, intonation.
    • To work on the speed aspect, have your child read a selected passage (this can vary depending on the age of the child). Keep track of the time down to number of seconds. This is a baseline.
    • Have the child repeat the passage to see if the time is less.  Don’t really focus on total speed because that it not helpful for a child to think good reading is super fast reading. Focus more on smoothness, accuracy and phrasing.
    • Another way is to have a child read a passage and stop at 1 minute. How many words per minute were read?  Can the child increase the # of words per minute (but still keep accuracy, smoothness, and expression at a normal pace)?
  6. Play Yahtzee!  Great for addition and multiplication.  Lots of other board games help with number concepts (Monopoly, etc.)
  7. Lots of card games using a standard deck of cards have math links. See my last post for ideas.
  8. Measure the temperature of the water in the bathtub (pool thermometers which float would be great for that). How fast does the temperature decrease. Maybe make a line graph to show the decline over time.
  9. Gather up all of the coins around the house.  Read or listen to “Pigs Will be Pigs” for motivation. Keep track of how much money the pigs find around the house. Count up what was found. Use the menu in the back of the book (or use another favorite menu) to plan a meal. Be sure to check out Amy Axelrod’s other Pig books which have a math theme Amy Axelrod Pig Stories – Amazon  Here is a link to “Pigs Will be Pigs”: Pigs Will Be Pigs – Youtube version
  10. Help kids plan a take-out meal that fits within the family’s budget.  Pull up Door Dash for a variety of menus or get them online from your favorite eateries. This gives great practical experience in use of the dollar to budget.
  11. Look at the local weekly newspaper food advertisements.  Given a certain amount of $, can your child pick items to help with your shopping list?  If they accompany you to the store, make use of the weighing stations in the produce section to check out the weights and cost per pound.
  12. Visit your favorite online educational programs for math games or creative activities.  See a previous post regarding “Math Learning Centers.” The pattern blocks and Geoboard apps allow for a lot of creativity while experiencing the concept of “trial and error” and perseverance. These can be viewed at the website or as an app.  Here’s a link to it to save you time. Virtual math tools (cindyelkins.edublogs.org)

Please share other activities you recommend!!  Just click on the speech bubble at the top of this post or complete the comments section below.  I miss you all!