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Problem Solving - Choose an Operation

Problem solving is HUGE right now in my district.  Our state math test was almost all word problems and our students are struggling with them.  I have read several books on how to teach math that I definitely recommend you pick up!  
Now I Get It: Strategies for Building Confident and Competent Mathematicians, K-6  Introduction to Problem Solving: Strategies for the Elementary Math Classroom
Click on either book to be taken to  Both books are by Susan O'Connell who I think is a math GENIUS!  These books totally changed the way I teach math.  The second book is an old edition.  She now has separated it into 2 different books - a k-2 book and a 3-5 book.  
Basically, the philosophy is that real-life math is presented to us through word problems so why not teach math that way?  Makes sense to me and apparently the people who are writing the state tests figured this out too.  
I am definitely not an expert at this yet but I have found and created some helpful worksheets for teaching kids how to choose an operation.  I have compiled them into a Wizard of Oz mini-unit.  (I'm considering making the same thing but with different themes - let me know if you would be interested in that). 

Click on the picture to be taken to my store
The goal of this resource is to help students understand the key concepts of each operation, give them strategies to choose an operation, help them explain their thinking, and assist them with writing their own word problems.  This mini-unit contains: 
1. A sample Word Problem for each of the 4 operations
2. A graphic organizer to help teach the key concepts of each of the 4 operations 
3. A mini-poster to help your students decide what operation to choose
4. Problem Solving pages that could be made into a notebook or glued into a notebook or to use as worksheets
5. Organizers to help your students go through the problem solving process (can be used with any strategy)
6. Organizers to help students write their own word problems

This item is in my TN store if you're interested...TGIF! 

Free Forms

I created a few forms that I wanted to update and I thought I'd share them with you.  The first one is a parent contact form.  
The second one is a problem solving sheet for students to reflect on their behavior.  

Click on the pictures to grab your copies.  

Strategy Sunday: Vo"back"ulary

The strategy I'm going to share with you this week is called vo"back"ulary. This activity helps your students learn vocabulary words. It's pretty simple...write vocabulary words for any unit on index cards. After explicitly teaching the meanings (maybe posting the words on a word wall too) you can play the game. Clip a word onto a students shirt in the back. The rest of the class can give the student hints about the word that is on his back. When the student guesses the word, the game is over or you can choose a new word and new student. Kids really love this game and they may pay more attention while you teach the vocabulary knowing they will have to guess the word based on clues. Sorry for the lack of pictures and posts. Grad school and annual reviews are killing me. As always, I hope you can use this strategy in your classroom. Have a great Monday!

New Job?

It was 70 degrees out today <3 spring!

Every year around this time, I start thinking about next year.  It becomes really easy for me to plan ahead right now because I do test prep until spring break, the tests are the day after we come back from break (for 2 weeks), and then I am out scoring the tests for another 2 weeks.  By the time I come back, it's the first week of May and everyone has basically finished teaching new concepts so I review what we did this year.  I already made review packets for about half of my groups.  This gives me a lot of time to reflect on this year and start planning for next year.  
I'm extra excited about next year right now because my district has some Special Ed openings in self-contained rooms and I applied for one of them (2nd and 3rd grade 12:1:1).  As far as I know, nobody else wants the position.  I'm really trying not to get my hopes up because I am a new-ish teacher still but it's really hard not to!  An added bonus to this position is that it will be in my current classroom so if I get it, I won't have to move!  

On a completely different note, Ms. D. from Superlative Six gave me not 1 but 2 blog awards!  A HUGE thank you to Ms. D - you made my week!  If you haven't already, you should go check out her blog.  She just posted an awesome idea for getting students to participate during literature circles.  

I'm passing these awards on to a few amazing bloggers: 
My Photo
Third Grade Rock Star
Mandy's Tips for Teachers 
Check them out if you haven't already!  

Classroom Organizer

How would you like to know where all of your library books are by looking at your phone?  There is a FREE app & website that allows you to scan every book in your classroom, organize them by genre, reading level, title, author etc..  You add your students and then they check out books using the app.  I set mine up where students have to review the book when they return it.  All the information is stored in a database and you can look at reports showing you trends.  I'm setting everything up today but overall this looks AMAZING! 
Screenshot of the Admin. Page

Click on the picture to check it out! 

Strategy Sunday: Creating Nonsense Words

I looked EVERYWHERE this week for the book Horton Hears a Who but I could not find it.  I was planning on doing this super cute glyph on Friday: 
I asked teachers at 2 different schools, libraries, Barnes & Noble...the list goes on but nobody had it.  I finally ordered it on Amazon but it didn't come until after school on Friday :(  Oh well, I plan on doing Dr. Seuss activities all month BUT I had to quickly come up with something to do on Friday that was Dr. Seuss related.  I had my students search through Dr. Seuss books and look for nonsense words. 

They used context clues to figure out what the nonsense word means.  Next, we listed the spelling patterns we know on the board (blends, vowel digraphs, word endings like tion etc..).  I had the students use the spelling patterns to create a nonsense word of their own.  They wrote as many as they could on a post it.
Then the students wrote a few sentences using their chosen nonsense word.  The group had to guess what each nonsense word meant using the context clues in the sentences.
I really liked this activity because it reinforces spelling patterns/phonics as well as using context clues to comprehend or infer word meanings, AND show, don't tell writing.  Next year, I will introduce this activity in September and we will use it throughout the year.

On a side note, I updated my Lesson Objective Stripes Posters (only the stripes one so far) to include spelling and language arts posters.  I also added a new Literature Circle packet (it's the same as the space one but with a Woodland Creature theme).

A Peek at my Week

I love looking at all the activities people are doing in their rooms each week so I thought why not share my week!  I'll try to take better pictures next week.  So here is what we did this week: 

My 2nd and 3rd grade math students made Fact Family Rockets: 
2nd graders made addition and subtraction fact families and the 3rd graders made multiplication and division fact families.  These aren't quite finished...I laminated the rockets and we are using them as "I'm Done" activities.  The kids LOVE using these. 

 My 4th grade math groups worked on problem solving.  I had a problem solving bulletin board but I wanted to change it up so I moved the problem solving sheets to the wall below the board.  Some of my walls are magnetic so I just put a magnet on each one.  
The groups work together through each step in the problem solving process on these sheets.  When they are done, I check their work.  

This week, my ELA students worked on using their reading strategies while reading in their Reader's Notebooks.  
 My 3rd graders also learned how to write a summary using the Somebody, wanted, but, so, then organizer

We also used the error detection strategy I posted on Sunday.  
I had the students come up and put a post-it with the correct word over the incorrect word.  They asked me if we could do these every week...isn't it great when they WANT to learn?! 

Reader's Notebooks, problem solving posters, and the summarizing organizer can be found at my Teachers Notebook Store.  The rocket template came from Made in the Shade in 2nd Grade.