Decimals: Part 1 – The Basics (revised)

by C. Elkins, OK Math and Reading Lady

Number sense regarding decimals usually starts with fourth grade and continues with more complex operations involving decimals in fifth grade and beyond. It is this extension of the place value system and then relating them to fractions and percentages that often perplex our students (and the teachers, too)!  Read ahead to get your freebies (Decimal practice notes, anchor charts, and Discovering Decimals Number of the Day / Game activity).  I have revised this previous post and included some more freebies below.

Students must understand  this base-ten value system extends in both directions — between any two values the 10-to-1 ratio remains the same. When using place value blocks in primary grades, students recognize the 100 square as 100, the tens strip as 10, and the units cube as 1.  Then with decimals, we ask them to reverse their thinking as the 100 square represents 1 whole, the tens strip represents a tenth, and the unit cube represents a hundredth.  This may take repeated practice to make the shift in thinking — but don’t leave it out. Remember the progression from concrete (hands-on) to pictorial to abstract is heavily grounded in research. Students will likely gain better understanding of decimals by beginning with concrete and pictorial representations.

I am sharing my decimal practice notes, which highlight some of the basic concepts to consider when teaching. Pronouncing the names for the decimals is not in these notes, but be sure to emphasize correct pronunciation — .34 is not “point three four.” It is “thirty-four hundredths.” Use the word and for the decimal point when combining with a whole number.  Example: 25.34 is pronounced “Twenty-five and thirty-four hundredths.” I know as adults we often use the term “point,” but we need to model correct academic language when teaching. You can get also the pdf version of these notes by clicking here: Decimal practice teaching notes.

Anchor charts are excellent ways to highlight strategies in pictorial form. Here are some examples of anchor charts to help students relate decimals to fractions, location on a number line, word form, and equivalencies. Get the free pdf version here: Discovering decimals anchor charts. It includes a blank form to create your own.

 

In this model, I chose the 1000 cube to model 356 thousandths. It’s a little tricky – be sure to see that the 300 part is shaded all the way (front and top – picture 3 slices of 100), the 50 part is shaded (front and half the top – picture half of a 100 slice), and the 6 part is just shaded in the front (picture 6 individual parts). The entire cube would represent 1 whole.

Here’s a matching activity / game in which students match decimal to fraction, word form, expanded form, money, and pictorial form. Included is a blank page so you can make your own or have students take notes. Click here for the FREE activity:  Decimal, Fraction, & Money Match

Another resource ($2.50 at TPT from Joanne Miller) to help students relate the decimal to the pictorial form:Decimal 100 grid Scoot

Finally, below is an activity to practice or reinforce decimal concepts. The page showing can be used as a “Number of the Day” practice. I also created a game using this model, and the whole packet is included in this free pdf. Click here: Discovering Decimals number of the day and game

For more teaching help (videos and interactive models) for decimals, check out the following 3 free resources. These are also listed in my resources section of the blog (top black bar):

  1. www.learnzillion.com
  2. www.teachingchannel.org
  3. http://illuminations.nctm.org

As always, you are welcome to share your decimal discovery ideas. Just click the comment box speech bubble at the top of the article or the comment box at the end of the article.

Teaching a Comprehension Lesson (ME, WE, TWO, YOU)

by C. Elkins, OK Math and Reading Lady

I have recently revised a great resource titled:  Eight Critical Attributes of Teaching a Comprehension Lesson. I do not know the original author, so I can’t give her/him credit.  I did made some modifications to the original and provided some examples of how to apply it (with fact/opinion and cause/effect skills). See the link below for the full 3 page document.

Click here for the document:  Eight Critical Attributes of Teaching a Comprehension Lesson It is a 3 page document which highlights a ME, WE, TWO, YOU scaffolded gradual release model. Page 1 is shown above. Pages 2 and 3 give actual ways to implement these regarding two important comprehension skills. The stories mentioned were taken from Journeys 2nd grade.  The Jellyfish story (fact/opinion) is from Lesson 10. The Super Storms story (cause/effect) is from Lesson 8.

When focusing on comprehension, I have a few other general tips to pass along – especially for grades 1-3:

  • State the skill being emphasized before reading the story.  Example for skill of character analysis with 2nd grade Journeys Lesson 9:  “Today we are going to read a story called How Chipmunk Got His Stripes. When we read it we are going to find out details about our 2 main characters, Bear and Brown Squirrel. Let’s look at the way the characters look, how they act, what they say, and what they are feeling to help us know more about them.”
  • Then the questions I ask should be directed toward that objective.  “On page ____, let’s read to find out how Bear is feeling. . . . On page _____ read to find out how Brown Squirrel acted toward Bear. . . . etc.”  I believe if we give students a purpose for reading before they read the page, they have a focus on what to look for.  The focus is on application of the comprehension skill and not necessarily the content of the lesson.
  • After each page or 2, check for understanding by asking students to tell who and what they just read.  Yes, you could ask all of the 5 W’s (who, what, when, where, why), but that’s a bit too much. You are trying to train your students to ask these key questions on their own automatically . . . so you have to help them do it at first.  It might be beneficial to have them turn and talk to a neighbor after every couple of pages to tell them who and what happened in just a couple of sentences (which helps to practice summarizing).  This advice comes from authors of “The Daily 5.”
  • Follow up after the first reading of the story (on Day 2 perhaps) with use of a graphic organizer to record what was discussed regarding your skill. With the above example, I used a graphic organizer as we recorded these 4 things about the 2 main characters:  Description, Feelings, Behavior, Personality.

Graphic organizers play an important role to help students “visualize” the text structure and train the brain to think of how details are organized. Click here for my previous Blog post on Graphic Organizers

Enjoy your Thanksgiving Holiday!  I’ll be back in a couple of weeks.

 

Literacy center resources (free)

by Cindy Elkins, OK Math and Reading Lady

What is the purpose of having literacy work stations in your classroom? If you answered, “To provide meaningful, engaging, rigorous, differentiated opportunities for students to learn” then you are on the right track!! Aside from the task of deciding on the literacy station procedures and routines you want for your classroom is the problem of actually providing and organizing those quality activities.

I know most of you regularly visit the TPT store and Pinterest for ideas.  There are a TON of great things out there. However, not everyone has a color printer or has the means to drain their bank account to pay for these items.

So, here is a FREE resource I think you will like. It does not require a color printer, and it addresses pretty much every literacy skill you need to teach and/or provide practice for (KG-5th grade). It is the Florida Center for Reading Research (www.fcrr.org). Click on this link: Student center activities which takes you directly to the K-5 reading center activities page.  The following are available — all for FREE!!

  • Sections clearly labeled Phonological Awareness, Phonics, Vocabulary, Fluency, and Comprehension — with multiple activities for each sub-skill
  • One page overview for each activity (objective, materials list, and directions with illustration showing the activity in use)
  • Flexibility options to use materials as a teaching tool and/or as a practice or review activity

These are some of the types of activities:

  • Tons of letter, picture, and word cards for sorting, matching, pocket charts, concentration, rhyming, word work, etc.
  • Game boards
  • Fluency practice items (from common syllables to phrases)
  • Recording sheets – to record results of activities when appropriate
  • Graphic organizers which can be used with any book – especially for grades 3 and up.

A teacher’s guide is also available with more detailed directions, background information, and literacy station organizational ideas.

I also bookmarked this site in my Resources section (top of the blog in the black band) should you need to refer to this site often. Enjoy!!! Let us know about your favorite FCRR activity or how you are using them in your classroom! Just click on the comment speech bubble.

Multiplication facts: What happens when students don’t or can’t memorize them?

by C. Elkins, OK Math and Reading Lady

If you teach 3rd and above, I am positive you have students who have not memorized their multiplication facts. So what do they do to try to get the answer? From my experience, most students seem to know that repeated addition, drawing equal groups or arrays, and skip counting are strategies to try. I do believe those are very helpful for students to conceptualize what multiplication is all about. But here is what is frustrating:

Let’s say the problem is 6 x 7:

  • Do they write 7 + 7 + 7 + 7 + 7 + 7 and then add each part at a time? Or a little better, do they add 7 + 7 three times?
  • Do they draw a picture such as 6 circles with 7 items inside each one? The main difficulty with this is most students using this method count each object one at a time, making this a counting practice, not multiplication practice.
  • Do they draw an array? If so, do they correctly line up the rows and columns? Do they count each item in the array one at a time? Or do they group some together (which is a little better because they are at least thinking of equal groups)?
  • Do they skip count by fingers or write the sequence on paper? And what happens then? They may start off okay with 7, 14, 21 and then repeatedly count 7 fingers to get to the next number (21 + 7 = 28, then 28 + 7 = 35,  then 35 + 7 = 42, etc.).

With all of these strategies, students can get the correct answer, but they are often not really even using multiplication. Their method is often counting the objects in each group one at a time.  And when skip counting, if just one number is missed in the sequence then the total is obviously off. In addition, students often spend so much time with each of these that they get frustrated and give up.

In previous posts, I mentioned different ways for students to skip count while focusing on the patterns numbers make (Click HERE) and ways to use arrays to break it down into smaller equal groups (Click HERE).  So those methods are a little more productive toward using multiplication than the above. Today, though, I will steer you toward a unique strategy which does the following:

  • Allows students to use readily known facts (especially the 5s and 2s)
  • Adds a pictorial component which builds on subitizing, number sense, and decomposing of numbers
  • Applies the distributive property so students are using multiplication and addition together

The strategy modeled here is based on facts students already know. This is likely to be different among your students. Some will say they are great with their 4s or 3s. But most students I work with are proficient with their 5s and 2s (and can skip count quickly and accurately if they haven’t memorized these). So a lot of the problems shown will focus on use of 5s and/or 2s.

Again, let’s look at 6 x 7.  The student doesn’t know their 6’s and doesn’t know their 7’s. So we will decompose 6 or 7 to include a group of 5’s, which is known (I’ll show both ways).

  1. Decompose 6:  Six is made up of a group of 5 and a group of 1.  This is a pictorial method to build on subitizing using a dot pattern to show 5 and 1 (similar to a domino piece).
  2. See how the connection to the familiar ten frame can illustrate 7 x 6 (7 groups of 6) in this manner.
  3. Condense this concept to this representation which shows 7 x 5 plus 7 x 1 (35 + 7 = 42)

To see 7 decomposed instead of 6: Seven is made up of a group of 5 and a group of 2.

  1. See what this looks like on a ten frame to illustrate 6 x 7 (6 groups of 7):
  2. Condense to the “domino piece.” This shows 6 x 5 plus 6 x 2 (30 + 12 = 42):

Click on this link Multiplication Strategy pictorial CE for a FREE copy of the pictures above and below which are used in this post (for easy reference later). Here are a few more examples. Some use 5s and 2s, while others will show other combinations using 3s or 4s. The use of dots instead of numbers inside the “domino” is suggested to keep it a little more pictorial and less abstract. Plus, it builds on knowledge of subitizing (which is recognizing quantity without physically counting). Numbers alone can certainly be used, but the quantity of numbers might frustrate some students.

 

Practice activity:

  • Use a set of dominoes and digit cards 1-9. Turn over 1 domino and 1 digit card. Write the problem and then the decomposed version. See photo for example. Click on this link Digit cards 0-9 for a FREE copy of the digit cards.I’d love to hear if you are able to try this with your students. Let me know if it helps. I have worked with a couple of classes so far with this and they have loved it.  It opened a lot of eyes!!

Have a great week!

C. Elkins, OK Math and Reading Lady

Sight Words Part 2: Activities and Resources

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, be sure to do that as it contains information about research based teaching strategies. 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)
  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.
    • 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 Word Poems for Shared Reading $4 TPT
  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 all of these methods, the students need to read and/or recognize the word (and perhaps use it in a sentence). Have FUN!!!

Sight Words Part 1: Teaching Strategies

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 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. 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

Ten Frames Part 4: Multiplication

by C. Elkins, OK Math and Reading Lady

Yes, you can even use ten frames to teach multiplication concepts! Here are my mini ten-frames with dot cards from 1 – 10:  Click HERE to get a free copy. These are helpful to use, especially if you don’t have enough tens/ones blocks . . .  or you prefer manipulatives that are slightly easier to manage. These provide a strong connection to place value, and the commutiative and distributive properties.

I recommend two sets of the cards 1-9 per student. Each set has multiple copies of the same number. They can be laminated, cut, and placed in a baggie for ease in handing out and storage.

Multiplication Examples:

  1. Single digits (basic facts): 
    • For the problem 3 x 6, the ten frame is really helpful for the student to see 3 x 6 is almost like 3 x 5 with one more group of 3 added on (by being familiar with the fact that the top row on a ten frame is 5).
    • Because of the commutative property, I know these two facts will have the same answer. But which of these below do you think might be “easier” to solve? Students don’t often know they have a choice in how they can use the numbers to their advantage!
  2. Double digit x 1 digit:
    • Use of these also provides a strong connection of place value and multiplication. Notice how students can see the breakdown on the 4 x 12 problem (4 groups of 12 = 4 x 10 plus 4 x 2). Great introduction to the distributive property of multiplication!
    • Here is where application of the commutative property also comes in handy. Which of the methods below would you rather use to solve: count by 4’s or count by 12’s? Again, show students how to use their strengths to decide which way to think about solving the problem.
    • Even though the number of total pieces might seem to be a little overwhelming, it definitely is worth the effort for a few lessons so students get a visual picture of the magnitude of the products.
  3. Here are other ways to model multiplication problems with manipulatives like base ten rods or base ten disks.

Continue reading

Ten Frames Part 3: More addition, subtraction, and place value

by C. Elkins, OK Math and Reading Lady

Welcome back to Part 3 of my Ten Frame series. This will continue with some more ideas on using ten frames for addition and place value. Be sure to grab my free set of mini ten frame dot cards and Place value mat with ten frames to use with these activities.

Add 9:

How often do you see students counting their fingers, drawing tally marks, or other figures to add 9? But what if they could visualize and conceptualize adding 9 is almost like adding ten, but one less? This is where the ten frame comes in handy.

  • To be most efficient with adding 9, help students to add 10 (or a multiple of 10) to any single digit.  Example: 10 + 7, 20 + 4, 50 + 8 . . .
  • Show a problem such as 9 + 7 as part of your daily Number Talk. Observe and listen to how students are solving.
  • Introduce this strategy by showing two ten frames – one with 7 and the other with 9. Check for quick recognition (subitizing) of these amounts on each ten frame.
  • Move one counter from the ten frame with 7 to the ten frame with 9. This will complete it to a full ten frame. Then add 10 + 6 mentally.
  • The purpose is for students to visualize that 9 is just one away from 10 and can be a more efficient strategy than using fingers or tally marks.
  • Practice with several more +9 problems.
  • For 3rd and up try mental math problems such as 25 + 9 or 63 + 9.  Then how about problems like 54 + 19 (add 20 and take away one)?
  • Can students now explain this strategy verbally?

Subtract 9:

  • Let’s say you had the problem 14 -9.  Show 2 ten frames, one with 10 and one with 4 to show 14.
  • To subtract 9, focus on the full ten frame and show that removing 9 means almost all of them. Just 1 is left. I have illustrated this by using 2 color counters and turning the 9 over to a different color.
  • Combine the 1 that is left with the 4 on the second ten frame to get the answer of 5.
  • Looking at the number 14, I am moving the 1 left over to the one’s place (4 + 1 = 5). Therefore 14 – 9 = 5

Use of the ten frame provides a concrete method (moving counters around) and then easily moves to a pictorial method (pictures of dot cards). These experiences allow students to better process the abstract (numbers only) problems they will encounter.

Place Value Concepts: Continue reading

Ten Frames Part 2: Addition and subtraction

by C. Elkins, OK Math and Reading Lady

Last week’s focus was on using ten frames to help with students’ number sense and conceptual development of number bonds for amounts 1-10. This post will feature ways to use ten frames to enhance students’ understanding of addition and subtraction. Look for freebies and a video!

There are many addition and subtraction strategies to help students memorize the basic facts such as these below. The ten frame is a very good tool for students of all grade levels to make these strategies more concrete and visual. I will focus on some of these today.

  • add or take away 1 (or 2)
  • doubles, near doubles
  • facts of 10
  • make a ten
  • add or sub. 10
  • add or sub. 9
  • add or sub. tens and ones

Doubles and near doubles (doubles +1, -1, +2, or -2): If the doubles are memorized, then problems near doubles can be solved strategically. 

  • Show a doubles fact on a single ten frame (for up to 5 + 5).  Use a double ten-frame template for 6 + 6 and beyond.
  • With the same doubles fact showing, show a near doubles problem.  This should help students see that the answer is just one or two more or less.
  • Repeat with other examples.
  • Help student identify what a doubles + 1 more (or less) problem looks like. They often have a misconception there should be a 1 in the problem. Make sure they can explain where the “1” does come from. Examples:  7 + 8, 10+11, 24+25, 15 +16, etc.
  • For subtraction, start with the doubles problem showing and turn over the 2-color counters or remove them.

Facts of 10: These are important to grasp for higher level addition / subtraction problems as well as rounding concepts. Continue reading

Ten Frames Part 1: Number Sense

by C. Elkins, OK Math and Reading Lady

The focus in this post will be an introduction to ten frames and ways they can help your students gain number sense. Then stay tuned because ten frames can also be a great tool for addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.

Subitizing: This is the ability to recognize an amount without physically counting. Looking at the picture of red counters: If the top row is full, does the student automatically know there are 5? Doing a Number Talk is a great way to practice subitizing using a ten frame:

  • Use your own or pre-made dot cards. Flash the card for 1-2 seconds. Observe students. Are any of them trying to point and count? Or do they seem to know right away? Here’s a great video I recommend: KG Number Talk with ten frames
  • Tell students to put their thumb in front of their chest (quietly) to signal they know how many there are.
  • Ask a few students to name the amount.
  • Then ask this very important question, “How did you know?”
  • For the top picture you might hope a child says, “I knew there were 5 because when the top row is full, there are 5.”
  • For the bottom picture, you might hope for these types of responses: “I saw 4 (making a square) and 1 more.” or “I saw 3 and 2 more.” or “I pictured the 2 at the bottom moving up to the top row and filling it up, which is 5.”

The idea is to keep building on this.

  • What if I showed 4 in the top row? Can the student rationalize that it was almost 5? Do they see 2 and 2?
  • What if I showed 5 in the top row and 1 in the bottom row? Can the student think “5 and 1 more is 6?”

Here are some resources you might like to help with subitizing using ten frames.

Number Bonds: Using ten frames to illustrate number bonds assists students with composing and decomposing numbers. Students then see that a number can be more than a counted amount or a digit on a jersey or phone number. Here is an example of number bonds for 6:

  • 6 is 5 and 1 (or 1 and 5).
  • 6 is 4 and 2 (or 2 and 4).
  • 6 is 6 and 0 (or 0 and 6).
  • 6 is 3 and 3.

Teaching strategies for number bonds using ten frames: Continue reading

Printing at home for less

by C. Elkins, OK Math and Reading Lady

I am unable to add a new blog post today, so I am slipping in a previous post that might be helpful and save you $$ on printing!

Do you want to make task cards and cool colorful activities for your students, but can’t afford the cost of the color ink to print these things? I feel I just have to pass this tip along to you because it has been a real money saver for me.

When I bought an HP home printer, I enrolled in their HP Instant Ink plan hoping it would save me money on ink costs. With an HP Instant Ink plan, I can choose a 50 page a month plan ($2.99), a 100 page a month plan ($4.99), or a 300 page a month plan ($9.99). The best thing is that I can print color or black, whatever I choose, and HP monitors my usage (via wireless) so I can check at any time. There’s no extra cost for printing in color!! When the system sees I’m getting low on ink, they mail new cartridges to me in plenty of time so I never run out. And they provide an envelope to return the used cartridges. Any unused pages are rolled over to the next month. If I go over the allotted pages, I am billed $1 per each set of 20-25 pages.

I can cancel or change plans any time I want to. For example, during the school year I use the 300 page plan each month, but during the summer months, I use the 50 or 100 page plan. In essence you are paying for the number of pages you print, and not the ink cartridges.

Because I think it’s such a great plan, I want to pass along the information. If you are interested, click on the link below. If you enroll (check to make sure your printer is eligible) using my link below please, you will get 1 month free (and so will I).

USE GOOGLE CHROME or FIREFOX for this link ——————— NOT INTERNET EXPLORER

Click this link for more info. If you sign up, we will each get 1 free month: try.hpinstantink.com/gLHdm  

I am not getting paid to make this statement (other than bill credit if you enroll)– just trying to help us all out with teaching expenses any way I can!

Be sure to check out my new links to my free downloads (in the black bar on the home page).

Cindy Elkins – OK Math and Reading Lady

Reading Routines Part 5: Phonics

by C. Elkins, OK Math and Reading Lady

Research supports the fact that explicit systematic phonics instruction is highly beneficial to students. In other words, phonics instruction should make up part of the daily reading routine . . . especially in primary classrooms. Here is Reading Rockets take on the Alphabetic Principle: “Alphabetic principle is the idea that letters and letter patterns represent the sounds of spoken language. It differs from oral language and phonemic awareness because it is introducing students to letters and incorporating what they have already learned (sounds). It is showing them that the sounds they have learned have letters and can all be put together.” Here’s some more info from RRockets on this subject: Alphabetic Principle

Phonics instruction starts with matching letters with sounds as well as naming the letter. Here is a summary I wrote regarding some  fantastic research on alphabet learning (to change from the former letter-of-the-week method): Alphabet Letter / Sounds Research

  • Some of the most significant parts of the research for me was the realization that saying the letter name results in a variety of added vowel sounds such as short e sounds /em/ = m; /ef/ = f; or sometimes a long a /kay/ = k; /jay/ = j; or sometimes long e /dee/ = d; /tee/ = t; or something all together different such as /aich/ = h; /double u/ = w.
  • Sometimes the letter name is close to the sound assigned to it, and sometimes it’s not.
  • The research provides some evidence that letter of the day instruction with 5 to 6 cycles of instruction was very beneficial. Each cycle had a different focus such as letters common in the students’ names, most frequently used letters, by the ways letters are formed, etc.

In my last post on phonemic awareness (see Reading Routines Part 4), I shared the progession from sound boxes to letter boxes and included a couple of good videos. These are very helpful with cvc words and other one syllable words. The goal in all of this is to move from letter-by-letter sounding out to continuous blending and chunking.

So what do explicit phonics instructional programs look like? Although not set in stone, there is usually a progression of skills that look similar to this:

  • Letter and sound matching
  • CVC with short vowel practice
  • CVCe with long vowel practice
  • Beginning consonant blends
  • Beginning consonant digraphs
  • Vowel pairs
  • R controlled vowels
  • Vowel diphthongs
  • Multi-syllablic words

Starting in 2nd grade, the emphasis is more on the vowel patterns (such as different ways to spell the long a sound) as well as consonant combinations, both beginning and ending (such as ck, ng, str). Grades 3 and above focus on these as well, but improve and apply to multi-syllablic words. Most textbooks have a daily phonics lessons to help you keep your instructional explicit and systematic.

These are at the core of all phonics instructional programs:

  • Connecting phonics instruction to weekly spelling patterns and learning centers helps students practice a specific set of words and apply the skill to other similar words.
  • Moving away from sounding out words letter-by-letter to try continuous blending and chunking (by looking for common parts or patterns)
  • Using knowledge of one syllable words to apply to multi-syllablic words
  • Relating known words to new words (often called an Analogy Strategy). Here is an example I used with a 5th grader recently who was trying to read the word “wren” in a portion of text. Obviously this bird species is not well known, and the context didn’t help her with the pronunciation.  I just simply wrote the word “write” on my little white board because I was positive she knew it – and she recognized it immediately. Then I said, “Use what you know about this word (write) to help with the word in your text.” She was able to make the analogy quickly! I didn’t have to go into a phonics lesson on how to pronounce words with wr, etc.

Your phonics instruction is strengthened via fix-it strategies which are embedded in your day-to-day teaching situations (guided reading, etc.). Here is a link to my fix-it-strategies post: Decoding fix-it-strategies Continue reading

Reading Routines Part 4: Phonemic Awareness

by C. Elkins, OK Math and Reading Lady

This is Part 4 of a series about daily reading routines I recommend. Previously we have looked at read alouds, independent reading, and phonological awareness. Today’s focus is Phonemic Awareness. Some videos and freebies via TPT are linked below.

See link #3 below for FREE task cards from TPT

Phonemic Awareness is under the umbrella of phonological awareness. This encompasses pre-reading skills associated with the sounds of language. Phonemic awareness is the part dealing with individual phonemes and how they can be identified, segmented, blended, and manipulated to create recognizable units or words . . . . the auditory portion. Students need a firm foundation with this aspect before they can adequately apply it to phonics and reading (which is where the visual aspects of the letters that make these sounds appears). So here are some basics about phonemic awareness:

  • Phonemes are the basic sound units. In the English language there are 44 of them (the consonants, the vowels, digraphs, etc.). Here is a good, short list from Orchestrating Success in Reading by Dawn Reithaug (2002).: 44 Phonemes However, if you want to go more in depth, then this link should satisfy your curiosity (or make you want to quit teaching spelling) from The Reading Well44 Phonemes in Detail
  • Onsets/rimes:  The onset is the part of the word before the vowel. The rime is the part of the word including and after the vowel. Examples: In the word shop, /sh/ is the onset and /op/ is the rime. In the word bed, /b/ is the onset and /ed/ is the rime.
  • Identifying: When presented with a word orally, can a student identify the beginning sound or ending sound? Example: What is the beginning sound in the word moon? /m/.  What is the last sound in the word jump? /p/. The brackets are used to represent the sound – the child is not asked to name the letter.
  • Segmenting: When presented with these words, can a student take the parts or individual sounds apart orally (segment)? Examples: bed = /b/ + /ed/ or /b/ + /e/ + /d/.  Students would NOT be asked at this point to identify the letters that make those sounds, just the sounds.
  • Blending: When presented with these sounds, can a student put them together orally (blend) to form a word?  Examples:  /k/ + /at/ = cat; or /sh/ + /o/ + /p/ = shop
  • Manipulating:  This involves adding, deleting, or substituting sounds. Example:  What is /ap/ with /m/ added to the beginning? (map). What is /land/ without the /l/ sound? (and).  Change the /b/ in bed to /r/. . . (red).

Daily teaching routine for Phonemic Awareness:

  1. If using a reading series, check to see if there is a daily practice with words (like the examples above). Just a few minutes with the whole class is a good introduction and chance for you to observe / listen to who is or is not grasping these tasks.
  2. Use simple pictures (such as fox): Ask students to do some of the following when you feel they are ready:
    • Name the picture and tell the onset and rime. /f/ + /ox/
    • Orally say all of the separate sounds /f/ + /o/ + /ks/.  Use the length of your arm for these cvc words: tap shoulder and say /f/; tap inside elbow and say /o/; tap the wrist and say /ks/.  Then run your hand along the whole arm to blend them back together.
    • Use an Elkonin sound box to show the distinct sounds. For fox, use a 3-part box. Push a chip into each box as each sound is being made (no letters yet, just chips, beans, cubes, pennies, etc.). Then blend all the sounds together. (I like to put an arrow at the bottom of the boxes and run my finger along it to remind students with a visual that the last step is to blend the sounds together.)
    • Change the /f/ to /b/. What word does that sound like? /b/ + /o/ + /ks/ = /box/
    • Change the /ks/ to /g/. What word does that sound like? /f/ + /o/ + /g/ = /fog/
    • Change the /o/ to /i/. What word does that sound like? /f/ + /i/ + /ks/ = /fix/
    • If you remove the /f/ sound, what is left? /oks/ or /ox/
    • Be sure to use short and long vowel words, digraphs, etc. because it’s all about hearing the separate parts – not about matching up the letters that make those sounds.
  3. Follow up these same routines during guided reading and work station time. Here are 2 links from TPT (FREE) with some great sound box practice opportunities:

Here is a great short videos I recommend regarding the Elkonin sound boxes: Sound boxes

When you are ready to progress from sound boxes to letter boxes, these two videos should be very helpful.

These routines will be very important once you feel they are ready to associate the letter(s) that make these sounds (via phonics, spelling, and writing). A phonics routine will be the next topic. So stay tuned!

Reading Routines Part 3: Phonological Awareness

by C. Elkins, OK Math and Reading Lady

Daily explicit routines regarding phonological awareness and phonics are important, especially for KG-2nd grade levels (and beyond for those who are in need of extra intervention). Whether you are utilizing the textbook’s recommended lesson plan or seeking out on your own, I’d like to advocate for a daily routine to teach and/or practice these skills. In this post, I will focus mostly on teaching early phonological awareness routines and how they are connected to later reading, spelling, and writing success.

Phonological Awareness encompasses pre-reading skills associated with the sounds of language. If you have assessed this at the PreK-2nd grade levels, you know part of the assessment involves identifying spoken words, rhymes, syllables, onsets/rimes, and identifying, segmenting, blending, and substituting phonemes. Phonemic awareness is under the umbrella of phonological awareness with more of a focus on the latter part (onsets/rimes, and identifying, segmenting, blending, and manipulating phonemes). All of this, regardless, is based on SOUNDS only. This awareness is AUDITORY and not print related.

My opinion regarding this daily routine, is for a whole class explicit 10-15 minute lesson. During the whole class daily routine, keep mental tabs or quick notes on who has difficulty so you can follow up during small group and learning station opportunities throughout the week. Try video taping your routine for those “extra eyes.” See a link to some FREE research-based activities at the end of this post.

Spoken Words: 

I have observed frequently that young students do not always know the difference between letters, words, and sentences. I usually discover this via writing lessons. Wonder why students don’t space between words? Or spread letters within a word far apart? I think it may go back to a misunderstanding about this very basic phonological awareness concept.

The assessment for this involves the teacher stating a sentence and the child pushes chips or pennies to indicate how many words were heard. Usually this isn’t too difficult until the teacher utters a 2-syllable word. Does the child understand this to be one or two words?

Believe it or not, this is a huge key concept later when the child is reading text. You may discover errors with 1-to-1 correspondence. When reading this sentence: “The apple is good.” does the child keep their finger on apple until the word is finished, or do they move their finger for each syllable? And then, as mentioned previously, it also becomes a hindrance when writing.

As you can see then, concept of spoken word is closely tied to the understanding of syllables. The number of syllables per word is determined by the number of vowel sounds heard. Friend = 1 syllable. Funny = 2 syllables. There are several ways to count them:

  • Clap or snap each syllable
  • Count with fingers
  • Feel the jaw move

Why is knowledge about hearing syllables important to later reading skills?

  • Breaking apart words by syllables is an important reading strategy. Can the child visually see the syllable and then pronounce each part as if it was a little word (example: yes-ter-day).
  • Breaking apart words by syllables is an important spelling and writing strategy.  Hearing the sounds of the word is just as important as the visual aspects of the word. Trying to spell the word important? Can I hear the parts /im/ + /por/ + /tant/? If I can hear them, I can come closer to spelling them.

Daily teaching routine for Spoken Word and Syllables:

  1. Present a sentence orally. Step 1:  Students repeat the sentence. Step 2: Have them do one of the following to indicate # of spoken words:  clap, stomp, use magnetic chips on a the board, unifix cubes, count with fingers, or select a # of students to match the # of words and they each stand to say one of the words in the sentence – they become the sentence.
  2. State a word and have students clap, snap, or count # of syllables.
  3. Hand out picture cards and have students group together by # of syllables.

Rhyme: Continue reading

Reading Routines Part 2: Independent Reading Time

by C. Elkins, OK Math and Reading Lady

This is part 2 of a series about reading routines I believe are important. The focus in this post will be on establishing a daily independent reading time. This independent reading time (or partner reading) will help extend some of the benefits of your read aloud routine.

According to Houghton Mifflin, “Research into effective literacy instruction has often noted that the best teachers of reading have an extensive collection of books in their classrooms (Allington & Gabriel, 2012; Morrow & Gambrell, 1998; Reutzel & Fawson, 2022). In large-scale national studies, researchers found that students in more effective teachers’ classrooms spent a larger percentage of reading instructional time actually reading; additionally, exemplary teachers were more likely to differentiate instruction using their book collections, so that all readers had books they could read accurately and fluently, with understanding and motivation (Allington & Gabriel, 2012).” This comes from an excellent, easy read from Houghton Mifflin Harcout: The Value of Independent Reading: Analysis of Research

What are the benefits? The child . . .

  • Gets a choice in what he/she reads.
  • Is able to practice concepts of print.
  • Is exposed to a wide range of books. This exposure is important in motivating children to read. I’m a strong believer that a child who doesn’t read just hasn’t found the right book / type of book yet.
  • Has the chance to make connections (with characters, places, situations).
  • Can explore all types of genres to include fairy tales, poetry, fantasy, and non-fiction.
  • Becomes more fluent when rereading a favorite book.
  • Increases vocabulary and comprehension.
  • Is able to apply knowledge about sight words and reading / decoding strategies at their own pace.
  • Becomes more confident, experienced, and committed.
  • Builds background knowledge.

Other ways to extend the benefits of independent reading time:

  • Check out the Daily 5 routines to get started. Here’s a summary:
    • Independent reading requires stamina. Start out with a brief time and observe when students start to get restless (5 minutes??) Then gradually add time, always taking cues from the students about how long is too long? Of course the optimum time is based more on age / grade level. But I would recommend you aim toward a goal of 15-20 minutes per day (more for older students).
    • What does independent reading look like? Which books can they choose? How to get them out and put them away. Where can I sit? What if I didn’t finish my book and want to keep it a little longer? If I don’t know the words yet, can I just look at the pictures?
    • How to choose a “just right book.”  Independent reading is most beneficial when a child chooses a book they can read, but we have to be careful not to make it too regimented and requiring only certain levels. A “just right” or “good fit” book is not too hard, not too easy, is on a topic you enjoy, and you can read most of the words.
    • Check out the Daily 5 / Daily Cafe links at the bottom of this blog.

      Anonymous source from Microsoft Clip Art

  • Periodically allow students to share something about a book they like (a book talk) to perhaps interest others. This could be while students are in a circle, or just a couple of students each day.
  • How about partner reading? This might be helpful with reluctant or new students to show them the procedures. Or a once-a-week treat.
  • For intermediate students (grades 3-5), be sure they have extra time to peruse / try out a book. The cover can entice them, but once they start reading, they need permission to trade for another if it doesn’t grab them. Also consider book clubs. This is when 2-3 students read the same book and have the opportunity to engage in discussion about their book.
  • Allow a classroom book to go home via a check out bag.
  • Make up special take home bags for special occasions (birthday, holiday, etc.).  I had two rotating bags that were sent home. My classroom name was “The Magical Mice.” One bag was painted with cute mice. Several books with a mouse theme (fiction and non-fiction) were included. A book log was included which included mouse poems and notebook paper for the child and/or parents to write a note. I even had a recipe to make mouse-shaped cookies in the bag. The student of the week got to take it home and keep it for the week. The other bag was for birthdays and included similar items with a birthday themed stories.

Thank you, Mrs. Seely!!

How to organize your classroom library to help your routine go smoothly:

  • Sort books into categories and label (using small easy-to-carry tubs). Find child-accessible shelves to keep them within reach. For PreK, KG, and 1st grade, consider labels with pictures also. Here’s a link to TPT for free and $ book labels: TPT Classroom Library Book Category Labels
  • If students’ desks are grouped together, rotate some tubs daily so students don’t have to leave their seats to get books. We all know this can get out of hand if students are constantly getting up.
  • Daily 5 suggests that each child have their own book collection box using a cardboard magazine holder (or you can cut an empty cereal box and cover with contact paper). Their box contains their school library book, leveled books, guided reading book, and free choice books they are reading. This might also be a great place to keep their writing journal (another reading routine I will blog about soon).
  • If not using the individual boxes (above), think about what you want to happen when independent reading time is over and a child wants the chance to finish their book. I had a small tub for each group. The student would put their personalized, laminated bookmark in the book to claim it for the next independent reading time. This valued their right to finish a book they had become engrossed in without someone else “stealing” it.

What are you as the teacher doing during this independent reading time?

  • You can enjoy your own book to model independent time.
  • This might be a good time to listen to individual children read to you (not a whole book, but just a few pages). It will build the teacher / child relationship and allow you to monitor and assist them with strategies.
  • Less desirable, but often necessary —  time for some independent assessments (for new students, at the end of the quarter, etc.

Some recommended links to launch your independent reading time:

Have a great week! Tell us about your independent reading routine!

 

Reading Routines Part 1: Read Aloud

by C. Elkins, OK Math and Reading Lady

Read aloud time is an important daily routine (for PreK – 5th).  It’s not just for primary students. According to an article in Reading Rockets (https://www.readingrockets.org/article/reading-aloud-build-comprehension), Reading aloud is the foundation for literacy development. It is the single most important activity for reading success (Bredekamp, Copple, & Neuman, 2000). It provides children with a demonstration of phrased, fluent reading (Fountas & Pinnell, 1996). It reveals the rewards of reading, and develops the listener’s interest in books and desire to be a reader (Mooney, 1990).

What are the benefits?

  • Teacher models good reading (not an internet book)
  • Reading is for enjoyment – so this is a story outside of the assigned reading curriculum for the week
  • There are great books available to spark the imagination and provide motivation to read
  • Students get practice making mental pictures (when listening to a chapter book)
  • Enhances listening comprehension
  • Vocabulary can be introduced in an informal way
  • Students learn about the author’s voice and point of view
  • Books can be compared (author, characters, genre)
  • Characters can be explored deeply if reading a series by the same author
  • Great comprehension skills to reflect on informally:  predict, cause-effect, sequence, compare-contrast, inference, theme
  • A calm atmosphere
  • Students feel more free to discuss aspects of the read-aloud (because there aren’t worksheets or tests involved)
  • Able to listen to books above independent reading level
  • Builds connections and classroom community (Example:  “This is a book about . . . .  What experience have you had with this?”)
  • Got a problem to solve (Friendship, etc.)? You can probably find a book about that topic
  • Younger students learn valuable concepts of print by participating in the shared reading of a big book

I know this precious read aloud time is often omitted due to tight schedules. If so, please examine your schedule to see if you can shave a little time in other places to include this important routine. Here’s a great article about ways to fit read-aloud time into your busy schedule: https://www.scholastic.com/teachers/blog-posts/juan-gonzales/17-18/3-ideas-on-how-to-create-more-read-aloud-time-the-classroom/

At the beginning of the year when you are establishing procedures, be sure to make an anchor chart for read aloud expectations.  Refer to the Daily 5 for great ideas. Things to consider:

  • Will children be on the floor or at their desks?
  • Will you allow doodling while you read? (There are differing opinions on this.)
  • How will you handle blurting (or not blurting) and discussion time?
  • Videotape yourself to analyze your reading — Do you enjoy listening to yourself?  If your voice sounds varied and interesting, your students most likely will be actively listening (rather than disrupting or falling asleep).
  • Choose books which encourage mental visualization. Check with your librarian if you need some advice.
  • With chapter books, choose those with interesting characters and riveting chapter endings (makes studens eager to listen the next day).

Final research note: The U.S. Department of Education Commission on Reading took into account over 10,000 studies and found that the most important activity for building the skills and background for eventual success in reading is reading aloud to children (see Anderson, Hiebert, Scott, & Wilkinson, 1985). Children who are read to are usually the very best readers in the classroom, and they acquire large vocabularies, write well, and do better in other subject areas, as well.

What are your favorite read-alouds? Please share! (indicate grade level range too)

Some of mine for 2nd-4th graders:  A Toad for Tuesday (by Russel Erickson), the Flat Stanley books, Snot Stew (by Bill Wallace)

Beginning of School Tips

by C. Elkins, OK Math and Reading Lady

I’m going to repost a few of my favorite beginning of the year articles along with some math and parent involvement tips (since last week focused more on literacy tips). I know this is coming to you on a Tuesday again this time (which is different than the normal Sunday release), due to some out of state travels (to see our grandson). I’ll get back on track here very soon.

  1. Here is a link to a post I made previously regarding a great back-to-school math/ literature activity:  Name Graphs with “Chrysanthemum” by Kevin Henkes

  2. Looking for some good stories to read to encourage classroom community (Grades K-5)? Try this post: Back to school stories and activities

I am in the middle of a great book study:  Accessible Mathematics: 10 Instructional Shifts That Raise Student Achievement by Steven Leinwand (Heinemann Publishers).  Click HERE  to get more details about the book. I’ll give you a rundown of what I’ve loved from this book so far:

  • The quality of instruction has more impact on student achievement than the curriculum or resources we use. This means the instruction is “enhancing, empowering, energizing, and engaging.”
  • “We can demonstrate, tell, and let our students practice, or we can engage and focus on understanding and application.”
  • Where do you fit? Where would you like to be? Which model provides students with the opportunity for productive struggle?
    • The more traditional:  Teacher instructs, teacher solves example problem with class, students practice on their own while teacher assists those who need help.  Or . . .
    • The focus on understanding: Teacher poses a problem (though-provoking). Students struggle. Students present ideas to class. Class discusses various solutions. Teacher summarizes class conclusions. Students practice similar problems.
  • Teacher questions like “Why?” and “How do you know?” invite students to explain their thinking and show different ways to solve a problem.
  • Daily cumulative review is important.  (I will touch more on this in later posts on ways you can incorporate this into your daily math routine where it is interesting, informative, and engaging. In the meantime, check out the categories section of my blog “Number Talks and Math Meetings“).

Miscellaneous parent involvement tips:

One of my goals the year I worked on National Board Certification was to improve parent involvement. In the last post I mentioned keeping a log of parent contacts and writing a weekly or monthly class newsletter or blog. Here are two other things I initiated that proved very successful, so I thought I’d share them with you.

  1. Invite parents to write to you about their child.  At the beginning of the year, I asked parents to write a note telling me about their child. I invited them to tell me the special things they wanted me as the teacher to know – to include their successes and proud moments. Perhaps even share the goals they have for their child, information about siblings, their feelings about homework, etc. This information was helpful to me to get to know the child better. Parents really appreciated the chance to tell about their child, and it set the stage for open communications with the parents. I hope you will try it.
  2. With the students’ help, we put together a memory book of the year’s events at school. I took lots of pictures (even of routine things like eating lunch, lining up, library time, where we put our coats, etc.). Every couple of months I printed the pictures and students chose 1 or 2 to write about. After editing the writing, the pictures and written captions were put together in a memory book (big scrapbook). We added borders, stickers, and other scrapbooking type visuals. We tried to finish the main parts of it by February so it was ready to share with the parents. It was available for viewing at conference times, and students could check it out to take home for parents to see.  It was especially valuable to those parents who were not able to visit school.  I put a few comment pages in the back for parents to leave notes. You wouldn’t believe how many had a much better understanding of the complex day-to-day school events and appreciated the chance to see what really goes on at school all day. After 2-3 years of making a book version,  I changed it to a digital format (power point) instead of a book version (because parents wanted copies). With a digital version, you have the capability of importing graphics, etc. to make it “fancy.” I still have my books and will always cherish them.

Enjoy!! Coming soon — I’ll share more from the book “Accessible Mathematics” as well as some cool things I’ve learned from a Building Math Minds summit I attended.

Be sure invite some of your new teachers to join this blog.

 

 

 

Welcome Back!

by C. Elkins, OK Math and Reading Lady

Welcome Back! Here are a few links to some of my previous posts regarding literacy and math you might be interested in to help you start your journey this year.  And in case you didn’t see it, I have an easy link to most of my own free resources. Click here to get it now, but it is also available in the black bar above. Have a great start to your year and Enjoy!!!  Please invite some of your new teachers to check out my blog!

  1. Getting to know you literature connection and math activity
  2. Building a classroom community (includes link to great team building practices)
  3. Writing part 1
  4. Guided Reading Part 1: Getting Started
  5. Guided Reading Part 2: Routines and Procedures
  6. Meaningful Student Engagement: Whole Class Reading
  7. Daily Math Meeting Part 1: Building Number Sense
  8. Daily Math Meeting Part 2: Subitizing
  9. Addition and Subtraction Part 1: Numerical Fluency
  10. Addition and Subtraction Part 3: Facts Strategies
  11. Multiplication Strategies Part 1
  12. Fractions Part 1: The basics

Some other tips to get prepared for your literacy lessons:

  • Organize your classroom books. Small tubs that can be brought to desk pods is helpful. Labels such as these help get the books returned to the right tub:  animals, friends, plants, weather, Clifford, by author, etc.  Think about a gradual release of your reading materials so students aren’t overwhelmed at the beginning of the year.  This way you can go over procedures for book selection, silent reading, how to treat books, etc. When I was in the classroom, I selected 5 tubs to put out onto desk pods each week (1 tub per pod). These were rotated daily.  The tubs were selected based on developmental level and theme. At the beginning of the year the tubs might be: friends, school, alphabet, problem solving, etc. Students could select from the tub at their pod during the day instead of everyone gathering at the bookshelf. Each student made a bookmark with their name on it (which I laminated).  They could put their book mark in it to signal to others in their group that they wanted to continue with that book later in the day. Each group had a “captain” for the week and they were in charge of making sure the books were in good order.
  • Plan for your word wall. I recommend building the word wall as the year goes along, with the children involved in placing words there (rather than coming in with a complete “busy” word wall).
  • Make a pledge to keep your guided reading table cleared and ready. Do you have these materials handy? Small whiteboards, markers, erasers, pencils, letter tiles or magnetic letters, sight word cards, pointers, small magnifying glasses, post-it notes, laminated graphic organizers, small teaching reference charts . . .
  • Literacy activities for students to do while you are assessing.  Get out those task cards for students to review skills from last year so you can do your required assessments. Try to include a running record if possible to help determine each child’s strategies. Procedures for the activities will be important to establish so that by your sixth week of school you will be ready to start guided reading.

General welcome back tips:

  1. Sharpened pencil(s): This is my most recommended tip. Give each student 1-2 already sharpened pencils to start their first day.  I learned this the hard way. First graders couldn’t sharpen their own pencils so I just about tore my arm/shoulder up sharpening pencils for them. Plus the electric one can’t take so many attempts. So it’s worth it!!
  2. Welcome bag: Check out this link for a cute poem and ideas for goody bags to welcome your students to your class: https://blog.reallygoodstuff.com/welcome-back-to-school-goodie-bags-by-hadar-maor/
  3. Think about how you are going to keep contact with parents.  I recommend some of the following:
    • Keep a separate log to keep track of phone, text, or email contacts (date, student name, parent name, reason, result)
    • Make it a goal to contact a specific number of parents each week with good news.
    • Try a weekly or monthly class newsletter. This is a great communication tool to let parents know what stds. you are working on, what they can do to help at home, activity ideas, sharing successes, advise them of things coming up, etc.
    • Start your own blog for your class. Then you can include the above newsletter type items, plus pictures, etc.
  4. Work to create a classroom community. I love the Responsive Classroom approach (Morning Meeting is one highly recommended routine). Everything you can do to build the sense of a classroom community will pay off in many ways!! Here is their website link to great articles and advice: https://www.responsiveclassroom.org/articles/

Multiplication Concepts Part 5: Multiple digit strategies

by C. Elkins, OK Math and Reading Lady

In this post, I will share some strategies for using concrete manipulatives and pictorial methods to solve multiple digit multiplication problems. By using these methods, students gain a better sense of place value as they work to decompose the problem into smaller units.  Decomposing also allows a student to better perform mental calculations. Some helpful manipulatives:  base ten materials (hundreds, tens, ones); place value disks; cups and pinto beans

What is the purpose of knowing multiple strategies? Some would argue that too many strategies are confusing for students. Some believe the only strategy needed is the standard algorithm. I believe teaching different strategies provides students with choices and improves analytical thinking. With only 1 strategy, if the “steps” are missed, the student has no other recourse. Student choice is a powerful motivator as well because they get a say-so in how they approach their own work.

I keep thinking about my past teaching when I only taught the standard algorithm (before I knew better). I recall saying: “Show all your work – because I said so.” This means I was not considering the students who were able to do some of the mental calculations in their head. I know I went through the steps in a robotic, don’t-question-me way:  “Multiply the ones, carry to the ten’s place, multiply again and add the digit you carried. When multiplying the 2nd digit, be sure to watch the placement in the second row and scoot it over to the left one place.” None of this conversation (if you could even call it that) mentioned the place value relationship, what the carried digit represented, or why the second row of the answer should be scooted over one place.

Here are some examples relating manipulative and pictorial methods with paper-pencil methods. I’ll use the problem 32 x 4. These methods help students use (30 + 2) x 4 to solve.

  1. Base ten: Show 3 tens rods and 2 ones four times.
  2. Place value disks: Show three 10’s disks and two 1’s disks four times.
  3. Cups and beans: Each cup contains 10 beans. Ones are shown by individual beans. Show 3 cups and 2 beans four times.
  4. Pictorial drawings and decomposing models:
  5. Partial products: This is a great way to help student realize that the 3 represents 30.
  6. Area (box) model: Another ways to visualize and utilize place value knowledge to solve.

When it is time to introduce the standard algorithm, you can relate it to the partial products or area model. I always recommend showing both side by side so students now understand what the carried digit represents, and why the second row is scooted over to the left, etc. Then try some problems like this for your daily mental math number talks (show problem horizontally). I practically guarantee that students who can visualize the manipulatives or the partial products method will get the answer more quickly than those who are performing the std. algorithm “in the air.”

I will take a break this summer and come back every now and then between now and August. Keep in touch! Enjoy your summer!!! Let me know if there are topics you’d like me to address on this blog.

Multiplication Concepts Part 4: Skip Counting

by C. Elkins, OK Math and Reading Lady

This is part 4 in a continuing series of posts about basic multiplication teaching concepts. Use them for beginning lessons or reteaching for struggling learners. Students could be struggling because they were not given enough exposure to concrete and pictorial models before going to the numbers only practices. The focus in this post will be skip counting to determine multiplication products. I will even focus on skip counting done in early grades (counting by 10’s, 5’s, and 2’s). Read on for 10 teaching strategies regarding skip counting.

I am going to give some of my opinions and misconceptions students have about skip counting.

  • Many students do not associate skip counting with multiplication, but just an exercise they started learning in KG and 1st (skip counting orally by 10’s, 5’s, and 2’s).  This is often because they started with numbers only and did not have the chance to see what this looks like using concrete objects or pictorial representations.
  • If you observe students skip counting, are they really just counting by 1’s over and over again? Or are they adding the number they are skip counting by repeatedly.  You know the scenario. You tell a student to skip count by 3’s and they know 3, 6, 9, but then hold up their 3 fingers and count 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, and so on.  Or are they truly counting like this: 3, 6, 9, 12, 15, 18, 21, 24, 27, 30?
  • The main issue I have with skip counting is that if a student makes an error regarding just one of the numbers in the sequence, then the rest of the sequence is incorrect. So this should not be their only strategy. Do you recall a previous story I mentioned about the 5th grader who tried to solve 12 x 3 by skip counting on a timed facts test? He was unsuccessful because he kept losing track and didn’t have another strategy to use.
  • Successful skip counting reinforces the concept that multiplication is repeated addition – do your students know this? I have witnessed many students who know the first 2-3 numbers in a skip counting sequence, but then don’t know how to get to the next numbers in the sequence.
  • Students don’t often relate the commutative property to skip counting. Let’s say the problem is 5 x 8. The student tries skip counting by 8’s (because this problem means 5 groups of 8) and may have difficulty.  Does the student try to skip count by 5’s eight times instead?

Ten teaching strategies for skip counting:

  1. For young students skip counting, use objects to show how to keep track:
    • Base 10 rods
    • Rekenrek (easily slide 5 or 10 beads at a time)
    • Hand prints (for counting 5’s or 10’s):  Which do you think would give students a better understanding: Holding up one hand at a time and counting by 5’s or lining up several children and having them hold up their hands as you continue counting? The second scenario enables students to see the total of fingers as opposed to just 5 at a time.
    • Use money: nickels and dimes
    • Associate counting by 2’s with concepts of even and odd
  2. Use manipulatives.  Do it often and with a variety of materials. The arrangements should emphasize the other strategies (equal groups, arrays, repeated addition).
  3. Draw and label pictures. The labels for this strategy would show the cumulative totals instead of just the number in each group.
  4. Arrange students in line or groups to practice skip counting. Example if practicing 4’s: Every 4th student turns sideways, every 4th student holds up their hands, every 4th student sits down. every 4th student holds a card with the number representing their value in the counting sequence, etc.
  5. Practice skip counting while bouncing or dribbling a ball. Great for PE class!
  6. Associate skip counting with sports:  2 and 3 pointers in basketball, 6 points for touchdowns in football, etc.
  7. Use a 0-100 chart to see patterns made when skip counting. I love the 0-100 pocket chart and translucent inserts that allow you to model this whole group. Individual 100 charts are readily available in which students can mark or color the spaces. Here are links to the chart and the translucent inserts: 1-100 pocket chart and Translucent pocket chart inserts

     

  8. Look for other patterns regarding skip counting. Refer to my previous post on this for more details: Skip counting patterns

     

  9. Relate skip counting to function charts and algebraic patterns using growing patterns.
  10. Practice skip counting using money: by 5’s, 10’s, 25’s, 50’s

What strategies do you like for multiplication? What misconceptions do you see with your students?

Next post will be part 5 of my multiplication posts – and the last one for this school year. I will focus on using these basic concepts with double-digit problems. Stay tuned!!