What to say and How to say it

I’ve been reading the article Learning to be Learning Disabled by Marie Clay.  She cites research that shows that our responses to students will affect their future behavior.

Immediate correction by the teacher leads to fewer attempts by the child.
The teacher telling the correct answer leads to more appeals for help by the child.

Wait time leads to more self correction by the student.
Questioning leads to more searching and checking by the student.

As teachers, we want to utilize more wait time and questioning.

I also want to share a short (less than 5 minutes) video on the kinds of praise and feedback we give students.


Fun and Games

You already know that I think games are a great way to teach math because they are a repeatable activity. Students are willing to play the same game repeatedly but they are not willing to do the same worksheet over and over.

I recently read an article (http://www.edutopia.org/blog/learner-outcomes-through-educational-games-kristen-dicerbo?utm_source=twitter&utm_medium=post&utm_campaign=blog-understanding-learner-outcomes-games-image) that explains that quality educational games need to balance engagement (they’re fun), assessment, and learning.

I was recently with a group of first grade students playing “Cross out,” the first game on the second page of the attached document   dice.  
  • The first student to arrive was given the job of writing the numerals 2 – 12 on strips of paper.  She was able to start working while we were waiting for the other students to arrive.
  • I rolled the two dice and the students took turns determining the total.
  • Everyone got to cross out the total on their piece of paper.  There wasn’t going to be a winner and they were OK with that.
  • By listening to how each student determined the total, I was able to assess – 
    • Which students needed to start from one and count all the dots
    • Which students were able to count on
    • Which students didn’t have to count when they got doubles – they know their doubles
Everyone was actively engaged and they were learning from listening to each other.

Consider playing “Cross Out” or any other game.  Look for engagement, opportunities to assess, and opportunities for students to learn from each other.

KenKen Puzzles

KenKen puzzles are a great way for students to work on addition/subtraction/multiplication/division skills in a fun, engaging way.  You can learn how to solve a KenKen puzzle here http://www.kenken.com/howto/solve

“KENtertainment” is a new feature included in the weekly KenKen puzzles.  These extra problems/brain teasers will give students an extra challenge.

You can get free KenKen puzzles each week by signing up here http://www.kenken.com/teachers/classroom

Things That Come in Groups

I’m sharing a picture from a teacher in our district. Consider how a chart like this can be used with different grade levels and abilities.  Many students will be able name some things that come in groups.  As skills advance, you can have students practice skip counting, thinking about the different items that come in groups.  Eventually, you can use the listed objects to talk about multiplication using models generated by the students.


Math Fluency – Modeling Mathematical Ideas

This is the last in a three part series about mathematical fluency.  The first learning experience for mathematical fluency was Number of the Day.  The second learning experience was solving word problems.
The third learning experience is modeling new mathematical ideas.  I want to emphasize that I’m not necessarily talking about the teacher modeling new mathematical ideas.  We don’t want to impose our thinking on students.  We allow students to model mathematical ideas by providing manipulatives and showing them how to use pictures to model their thinking.  Teachers might demonstrate the use of manipulatives and/or drawings to illustrate children’s thinking as the children are explaining their thinking.  Even if children are explaining incorrect thinking, modeling that thinking can help children see and understand their mistakes. Students who are not able to explain their thinking, may be able to use materials or drawings to show their thinking.
Modeling mathematical ideas also fits with one of the Guiding Principles of Bridges in Mathematics,Visual models help us remember and construct important mathematics.”  
Teaching students to use drawings to model their thinking will not only help build understanding but it will also give them a good strategy to use in testing situations

Math Fluency – Word Problems

Last week’s message was about mathematical fluency.  The first learning experience for mathematical fluency was Number of the Day.  
The second learning experience is solving word problems. Students should be encouraged to act out, use manipulatives, and/or drawings to model and solve word problems.
Here are some resources for word problems:
Bedtime Math posts a new story each day.  The story is followed by a series of questions for “Wee ones,” “Little kids,” “Big kids,” and “The sky’s the limit.”
Math Playground Word Problems – Click on the “Thinking Blocks” for Addition, Multiplication, Fractions, or Ratios to see problems with guidance for using the bar model to solve problems.  Thinking Blocks also has a free apps for iPads.  There are other links for word problems as well.



 Are you fluent in a second (or third) language?  What does it mean to be fluent speaking a language?  Is it just saying words quickly?  To be fluent in a language, you need to understand the structure of the language and meaning of the words.  You also need to be able to speak with expression and choose just the right word, depending on the context and your audience, to convey your meaning.  
     The same is true of math fluency.  It’s much more than being able to add, subtract, multiply, and divide quickly.  To be truly fluent in math, you need to understand how numbers are related to each other  and you need to be flexible in choosing a strategy, depending on the numbers you are working with.  
     A recent article in Teaching Children Mathematics suggests three types of learning experiences that will help students become fluent with numbers.  The first learning experience is Number of the Day  also known as Today’s Number.  This activity can be done as a class; using a poster, bulletin board or SmartBoard, or students can be giving individual sheets to complete. This is a great activity to include in your daily routine.  It is easy to differentiate by giving different numbers to different students or using the same number for the class and having each person do something different with the number.  Check out the following links for pictures of Number of the Day Charts.
 These might give you some ideas for Number of the Day activities you can do to meet the specific needs of your students.