Early Finishers

tips for early finishers.pngWhat in the world do you do with early finishers? This is a big question for teachers! I think it is important to teach your students to check their work when finished. Teaching students to improve their work when they think they are finished is a valuable lesson. But, after that, there are always going to be a handful of students who will finish their work sooner than the rest of the class. So, back to the question … What do you do? Sitting and waiting for the rest of the class to finish or doing busy work can be very boring and is not giving these students a chance to continue learning. Here are some of my favorite ideas for early finishers!

Set up a system for students so they can find out what to do without disrupting the class or asking you while you are helping other students. I love this display that can be set up at the front of the room.  The signs can be switched out depending on what you want the students to do each day.

 

 

Make sure your students know your expectations so they are not off task or disruptive. This poster is a great example and it is free! You could also make an anchor chart.

Have a place to organize the materials and supplies the students need for the activities to minimize questions such as “where do I get paper for _____ …. ?”

Extension menus are great for independent work. I like this reading menu, but you could make a menu for any subject. For example, if you are working on place value you could have a menu with place value activities for students to choose from.

Bulletin boards such as Boggle or Noggle can be fun! You can change the numbers or letters out every week or two. You could even put some students in charge of updating the board and making the answer key!

Stem Bins are a great hands on activity. Lots of fun while building reasoning skills.

Partner games and centers are a way to let your students interact with others while practicing skills.

Computer games and websites can be great learning tools. Make sure you set procedures up for how to get online and which sites students will go. Here are some of my favorites!

For more great ideas check out my early finishers board on Pinterest!

Tips to Plan and Prep for Math Workshop or Guided Math

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While there may be times that you want to use a traditional whole group model for instruction, there are other times you need to work with small groups in order to differentiate for your individual student’s needs. Math workshop (or guided math) is a very successful way to work in small group instruction time and maximize student learning. To make the best use of your time, planning and preparation are key. I have rounded up some of my favorite tips and resources here:

1.) Plan how to use your time! I like to start my Math class with a quick warm up and skill review and then move onto a mini-lesson when needed. Some new concepts can be taught to the whole group quickly and then reinforced in centers / stations. Some need longer time. This is where you have to decide what is best for your classroom, but a few helpful blogs have great ideas for scheduling:

 

2.) Find or create a simple lesson plan template and/or small group template:

3.) Set up a binder to keep schedules, plans, templates, and notes.

4.) Pick and post your rotation system.

5.) Group students by ability or interest. Grouping should be flexible and change often based on student’s individual needs.  For example, sometimes you may need to group students who need re-teaching on a specific skill and other days you may need to group students based on interests when planning projects. Another idea is to sometimes work with students you know will need extra help and pre-teach them a skill you will be teaching the whole class later in the week. This can save you time re-teaching later and will help boost their confidence and success when the class learns the skill.

6.) Teach your students the expectations for groups.

7.) Set up an organizational system and teach your students how the system works.

9.) Reflect and Plan for Next Time:  When you get to the end of the schedule, take some time to reflect before setting up the next rotation.  What worked? What was confusing? etc… This is also a time to look at your student groups and decide if you need to change anyone to a new group.

For more ideas, check out my Pinterest Board “Guided Math”.

 

5 Free Resources for Place Value

Looking for FREE place value resources? Well, here you are! These 5 free place value resources are terrific!

1.  Math Coach’s Corner has a free download for ten-frames and a great explanation of how to use the ten frames for place value understanding!

2.  Check out this free download with printable pages for decomposing and composing whole numbers.

3.  How about a place value game with stacking cups! Seriously fun!

4.  Play Money is so helpful when teaching students about expanded notation!

5. These dice boxes from Undercover Classroom are so cool!  You can download the labels for free!

 

Clever Ideas for Organizing Math Stations

organizing math centers

These clever ideas for organizing math stations are going to help keep your classroom tidy all year long! Each tip is clickable and will lead you to more details about organizing the math stations.

  1. Use colorful storage drawers with wipe off labels to rotate your current centers throughout the year.

the teacher studio

2. Use empty frosting cans to store card games.

frosting cans

3. Store your manipulatives with or near your centers.

4. Use zippered pencil pouches for centers. (Free labels here.)

5. Gallon sized Ziploc bags are super helpful.

6. Label clear shoeboxes for simple storage.

7. Number your baskets or bins for each center.

8. Prepare Math tubs ahead of time.

9. Wide plastic drawers are great for organizing centers.

10. Use a pocket chart and colorful labels to keep track of groups.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Expanded Notation Made Easy(ish)

I am not sure when I learned how to write numbers in expanded notation, but I am certain it was not in 3rd grade. Students now are expected to learn how to write numbers in expanded notation as early as 3rd grade here in Texas and I am sure that applies to other states as well.  But why?  It is part of a push to help students understand the relationships between places and digits in our base ten number system.  It can seem difficult at times, but with hands on activities and a lot of practice, your students can master expanded notation.

One method I find to be very effective is using play money:

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Give your students a number. Guide them to use their play value money to model the number.

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Then ask them “Ask “How many hundred thousands?” Tell “Expanded notation shows the number in each place times the value of the place, so 3 hundred thousands is 3 x 100,000.”

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Continue questioning and guiding students to use play money to help them write the numbers.

free place value money

You can download my play money for FREE by clicking the picture above.

 

For more great place value ideas, check out my Place Value Board on Pinterest!

 

 

Using Money to Understand Place Value

I like place value blocks. They are a great concrete model for helping students to understand the relationship between ones, tens, hundreds and thousands. Students can count the blocks and set them side by side to see that ten ones is the same as one hundred or that one hundred tens is equal to one thousand. I also think it is important to use other examples for students to find meaning in the base ten system. In early grades we see students bundling straws and or popsicle sticks to learn grouping in tens and hundreds. A lot of teachers have students bring in objects to count on the hundredth day of school and sort them into groups of ten to see the relationship between ones, tens, and hundreds. These are terrific! But … what about older students? What about the relationships in the thousands, millions, billions?
For years I used blocks to teach and review base ten from ones through one thousands and then showed the students the patterns on the place value chart. One year I borrowed thousands cubes from other teachers to show my students a concrete example of ten thousand. (It was tall). This is a great concrete example for a lot of the students, and I still use the blocks (see my blocks post here). But not for all. So, what other models can we use with older students?

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Money! Yup! Students seem to like talking about and playing with money! So I started using that play money from my manipulatives kit to help students see that the relationship between place values isn’t always about size, sometimes it is about WORTH (value)! So I took the fives out and we would use the play money to practice trading 10 ones for a ten, 10 tens for a hundred. And then I showed how that pattern repeats on the place value chart. Works great! But … most sets of play money don’t have the bigger bills … so … I made my own play money!

free place value money

 

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Now I have bills from the ones to the millions! I had a student ask me last week when we were working on this if there was really such a thing as a ten thousand dollar bill. I told her I wasn’t sure, but maybe we could research money to see what kind of bills the US Mint makes! Maybe I will have time to do that tomorrow! 😊

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math help 2

There are many ways to teach problem solving to elementary students. Most students are successful with a well structured problem solving plan.  However, we all have at least a few students who just don’t “get it” with regular classroom lessons. Working one on one or in small groups and applying well planned interventions helps these students find success.  Last week I shared my first three top tips and today I am sharing the next three tips:

help with word problemsSome students understand the questions just fine, but have trouble seeing the big picture, the story or the scenario. These students need extra help laying out the details. Most students will benefit from instruction in drawing pictures or making diagrams, and struggling students will especially need to practice with this.  I like to teach my students how to make part-part-whole and whole-part-part models.   models for problem solving.png

We will discuss each clue and label it as a part or the whole and then work from there.  Strip diagrams and unit bars work well too.  I also like to encourage students to make actual pictures of the clues. I am no artist and the kids like to laugh at my drawings with me!  

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 help with mathThis is so important for students who have trouble visualizing the actions in the problem. An example could be using this problem below with Martina and her purse.  I will get play money out and we will actually act out the story with the play money. Another example could be to use colored counters with the apple story below.  Now there are some big numbers so you could use smaller numbers to practice acting it out and then transfer the actions to your paper with the larger numbers.

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 math helpSometimes students get caught up by the big numbers and can’t focus on the actions in the problem. For these students you can cross out the big numbers, substitute with smaller numbers and have them solve. Then apply the actions to the bigger numbers. If needed, use manipulatives to help build understanding.

 

Missed Part 1 from last week?  Find it here:

more math help 3