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Using Task Cards with Board Games

A set of task cards and any blank board game makes an engaging yet rigorous way to help your students master math concepts.
My students love task cards - especially ones that get them moving.  That's exactly why I created my Math Circles - sets of task cards that get my students up and moving while learning and mastering the concepts.  So engaging for all students and absolutely perfect for your kinesthetic learners.  If you're anything like me, you have probably have tons of sets of task cards in your teacher stash already.  One day last year, while I was figuring out ways to use my task cards in more engaging ways, I had an awesome thought.  I wanted a GIANT game board so we could "play math" in a GIANT way.  So, I made it my plan to accomplish this during the summer.  I'm so glad I did - our giant game board has been an amazing addition to our math classes, and whenever my students literally BEG me to "play math", I know I've got a winner.

Make the Game Board
A set of task cards and any blank board game makes an engaging yet rigorous way to help your students master math concepts.
I ordered my game board through Vistaprint.  It is a 4 x 8 vinyl banner.  If you create an account with Vistaprint, they have some amazing sales and promo codes they will keep you informed about.  I waited until they had a good sale going to buy the banner.  I bought some board game clip art from Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah Designs and resized the game board a bit in photoshop (powerpoint would work, too) so it would fit.  I resized it to 24 x 48 inches and when I uploaded it in Vistaprint, the image worked perfectly - it's nice and crisp and fills the banner perfectly.

Now, go big or go home doesn't apply here.  You don't have to make a giant banner - anything would work.  You could draw a game board on bulletin board paper (it would make an awesome permanent bulletin board if you pinned the game pieces on it - a bulletin board you don't have to worry about changing ALL year long).  You could also use a large piece of cardboard - get your students involved in drawing the actual game board!  You could also do this on a smaller scale on regular paper so you could use it as a math station.  Anything goes!

A set of task cards and any blank board game makes an engaging yet rigorous way to help your students master math concepts.
Last year when I thought of this idea, I tried it out by projecting an image of a game board on my whiteboard (there are tons of free blank game boards available when you search on google images).  We just used whiteboard markers to track our progress around the board.  Quick and easy and best of all - no prep.

To go along with our GIANT game board, I decided we just had to have some GIANT dice, so I found some on Amazon (I have included my affiliate link below this post).  You can use almost anything for the game pieces - I have a fun little collection of "ugly dolls" (they are just too cute to be ugly) in my classroom that work perfectly.

A set of task cards and any blank board game makes an engaging yet rigorous way to help your students master math concepts.

Play the Game
A set of task cards and any blank board game makes an engaging yet rigorous way to help your students master math concepts.I used my Place Value Math Circle to break in our new game board (but could use any set of task cards - and this doesn't just have to be limited to math).  We rolled out our board game in a nice open area and I divided the class into two teams.  I had previously printed out the numbers for the game (the same set of numbers can be used with many of my math circles) and have made them into necklaces with string and a clip.  These hang on a hook in my classroom and we use them often.

I handed the first team the first card from the math circle.  They had to read the instructions and arrange themselves into the number on the card (numbers are written in different ways on different cards - in word form, expanded form, by place value column, and greater than and less than form).  When they were finished, the opposite team examined the card and determined whether the number the first team made was correct or incorrect.  If correct, the first team got to roll the dice and move the number of spots indicated.  If they were incorrect, they did not get to roll the dice or move.  Then, the second team got the next card in the math circle - and followed the same procedure.  Repeat.  If you are using 2 dice, the game goes quite quickly - if you want to make the game last longer, only roll one.

A set of task cards and any blank board game makes an engaging yet rigorous way to help your students master math concepts.
In the picture above, students were asked to build a number that was 1000 greater than 6,588,301. I also have sets that fit both the US and Canadian way of writing the numbers (either with commas as place value holders, or spaces). 

A set of task cards and any blank board game makes an engaging yet rigorous way to help your students master math concepts.And that's it.  SO much fun.  When we were finished, we came back to the classroom to reflect on our activity.  I posted a question from my Math Reflection Fans and asked them to answer the question on a sticky note which we then posted.  You could also just have them write their answers on a large piece of chart paper (whole group graffiti style) or on the whiteboard. 

My students are already asking when we're using the game board again ... and I have to admit, I can't wait!!!  I've got a Rounding Math Circle that will be perfect for the end of the week!












Introducing Growth Mindset in Math

Growth Mindset in Math - Starting Math Class Right!
This year, before we dive into our first math unit, we're setting up for a successful year by examining our growth mindset in math.

The very first day, I started with a math engagement survey, to see what my students' attitudes were about math and their learning (you can grab a free copy of this survey HERE).  It was pretty awesome to see that most of my students already have a pretty positive attitude about math - that's definitely a testament to the amazing teachers I work with at my school.

This summer I discovered Stanford University's YouCubed site by Joanne Boaler - full of amazing math lessons and activities that are designed to foster a math mindset in students.  I instantly knew I was going to start the year with this.

Growth Mindset in Math - Starting Math Class Right!
As I was reading more about the activities during my prep period on the second day of school, I came across this fun video made at a youcubed summer camp.  As I was watching it, I saw an image of this quote:  "In this class, mistakes are expected, inspected, and respected."  Perfection.  I pulled my big binder of bulletin board letters of my shelf and set to work.  By the time my students came in from recess, there was a new quote to look at on our wall.  When I posted the picture of this quote on my facebook page, a few people had mentioned they had seen this quote with the word "corrected" added (such a great addition ... but I have no more wall space to add the word - lol).  When my students and I discussed this quote to examine what it means, we all agreed that corrected is an integral part of inspected - when we inspect our mistakes, we are not only trying to determine where we went wrong, but also how we can use teacher and peer feedback to correct it.

Growth Mindset in Math - Starting Math Class Right!
One of our first tasks (suggested on youcubed) was to brainstorm what makes a successful math group, as so much of our learning and inquiry will be done in groups.  We did a think, pair, share activity and came up with this great anchor chart to remind us of the norms while we are working.  It hangs right below our "mistakes are" quote - and together they are exactly what we need to remember as we start our math year.

Growth Mindset in Math - Starting Math Class Right!



On Monday we our going to start our Interactive Math Journals, and our first entry is going to be my Growth Mindset in Math entry - the perfect start to our math journals.  You can read more about this entry in a blog post HERE.  From there, we will finish off our week with more great math inquiry lessons from youcubed.

Growth Mindset Math Journal Entry

With all of this, I am so excited to begin our year exploring math.  We're going to have a great year!









5 Activities for Teaching Place Value

5 Fun Hands-On Activities for Teaching Place Value that your students will LOVE!
I'm back with an all new "5 Activities for Teachingpost (click the link for more 5 Activity Ideas).  This one is all about Place Value.  Like many of you, I always like to start my math year with Place Value.  This post aims to take you past the traditional hands-on activities that students need like building and exchanging numbers using base 10 blocks, and hopefully gives you some new ideas to add to your collection.

1.  Interactive Math Journals - I always like to introduce new math concepts with an entry or two in our Interactive Math Journals.  I've got some fun ideas here on my blog that you can read some more about.  This one is from my original Interactive Math Journal.  Students identify the place value column of the highlighted digit.  You can see it HERE.
5 Fun Hands-On Activities for Teaching Place Value that your students will LOVE!

Another math journal idea is from my Interactive Math Journal 2.  This one has students identifying the place value columns from billions all the way up to the billions column.  You can read more about it HERE.
5 Fun Hands-On Activities for Teaching Place Value that your students will LOVE!

5 Fun Hands-On Activities for Teaching Place Value that your students will LOVE!
2.  Cup-Stacking Place Value Game - This one is SO much fun!  You need styrofoam cups (or any cups with a lip so you can write a digit on the lip).  Label each cup with a digit from 0-9 (I used a sharpie for this, and I wrote the digit on both sides of the lip).  Repeat for the number of cups you have.  The number of cups you need depend on the number of students playing, and how high you wish your numbers to go.  For a group of 3, playing to the hundred thousands, you will need 18 cups.  (I bought a pack of 20 at the dollar store).  To work with numbers in the billions, students would build a pyramid with 10 cups.


5 Fun Hands-On Activities for Teaching Place Value that your students will LOVE!

Spread the cups out and have your students seated around them.  
5 Fun Hands-On Activities for Teaching Place Value that your students will LOVE!

5 Fun Hands-On Activities for Teaching Place Value that your students will LOVE!As quickly as they can they need to stack 6 random cups in a pyramid, then collapse the pyramid so they have a stack of 6 cups.  The first person to read the 6 digit number the stack makes, wins.  To get all participating and keep the motivation going, you can give the first person 2 points, and everyone else in the group that reads their number correctly 1 point.  Or, you can simply make this a math station without any points at all.  :)  Take a peek at this video to see how we play it.

video

5 Fun Hands-On Activities for Teaching Place Value that your students will LOVE!3.  Math Stations - Dice, cards, dominos ... all of these manipulatives are great for building numbers to have students work with place value.  I have a fun package of math station sheets for place value that use dice - whole numbers and decimals are included (US and Canadian versions are both included in the resource).  With this Rolling Place Value resource, students will be working with standard, written, and expanded form of numbers.
To use less paper, I bought these great dry-erase pockets at Amazon.  LOVE them.  Just slide the sheet inside, and let the students work.  I'll include an affiliate link to Amazon at the bottom of this post.  If you want to take a peek at this Rolling Place Value Resource, click HERE.
5 Fun Hands-On Activities for Teaching Place Value that your students will LOVE!

4.  Place Value Scavenger Hunt - I've got a fun little freebie to share with you.  This Place Value Scavenger Hunt has students hunting for numbers - around the school, in a newspaper or magazine, online ... wherever you choose to have your students look.  I'm planning on having my students work in groups, giving each group an iPad.  When they find one of the numbers on their scavenger hunt, they can take a picture of it on the iPad.  At the end of the activity, they will go through their gallery, showing the 15 pictures.  To grab a free copy for your classroom, just click HERE.

5 Fun Hands-On Activities for Teaching Place Value that your students will LOVE!

5 Fun Hands-On Activities for Teaching Place Value that your students will LOVE!5.  Place Value Math Circle - This Place Value math circle is always a hit in my classroom because it gets us up and moving, and really exploring numbers.  It is especially beneficial for the kinesthetic learners in the classroom.  This math circle is similar to my drama circles in that everyone gets a card with a direction to follow.  Each student is given a digit from 0-9, there is a decimal for someone to wear as well.  Once everyone is wearing their digit, the first person reads the instruction on the card and builds the number using people in the class.  For example, in the picture below, the card said, "Use 5 people to build a number with a 2 in the ten thousands place, 4 in the thousands place, 9 in the hundreds place, 6 in the tens place, and 3 in the ones place.  Read the number aloud."  I have both a US version and a Canadian version available.
5 Fun Hands-On Activities for Teaching Place Value that your students will LOVE!

5 Fun Hands-On Activities for Teaching Place Value that your students will LOVE!

And that's about that.  What are some of your best tried-and-true place value activities in the classroom?  Leave a comment below explaining all about it.






Quick Tips for Back To School - One Little Word Themes

Are you looking for some quick tips for back to school?  I've got just about 2 weeks to go before we start, so this is definitely where my head is right now.  And I'm starting with getting my room set up.  And that all starts with a theme.



Apart from trying to have cohesive colors in my room, I wouldn't say I have a decorating "theme" for my classroom.  I do love having a nicely set up classroom, and I do love the cute classroom themes I see all over pinterest and facebook, but a full out theme is not something I thought I could pull off - decorating-wise or time-wise.  But ... does a classroom theme need to be a decorating style?  Does it need to be time consuming and costly?  In one little word, NO.

My quick tip is one that worked very well for my class last year.  Classroom themes can be easy.  Classroom themes can be one simple but powerful word.  I wanted our theme to be more than a decorating style.  I wanted it to mean something.  So instead, I took my "theme" from the one little word I thought was most important for us to have a successful year, and such an important life skill for the future - my classroom theme was (and will be again this year) "collaborate".

"One Little Word" classroom themes can be taken from anywhere.  They can be from a novel you are starting with (if reading Wonder at the beginning of the year, "Choose Kind" would be a fabulous classroom theme), they can be a character trait you want your students to display, or a verb meant to motivate like Think, Encourage, Lead, Persevere, etc., or a growth mindset word or phrase you want to keep reminding your students of.  It just has to be something you remind your students of daily, and keep reflecting on throughout the year.

For me, collaborate is what I wanted my students to start right from day one.  It was something I knew was necessary for all of us to have a successful year.  So, we got started right away.  I had each student trace their hand and arm, and decorate the inside with the names, and other words and pictures that were important to them.  Then, we posted our hands reaching up to our goal - and used my big bulletin board letters to spell out COLLABORATE.  This was placed over our main board, so it was in front of us every day, all year long.  A great reminder throughout the year as I knew I'd be having them working together and learning from each other every single day.


As soon as that was done, we talked about what the word means, and how we collaborate in the classroom - not just student to student, but student to teacher as well.  After a great brainstorm session, we tried it out with our first Stick-It-Together Collaborate Activity - one for back to school.  It was a great way to start to get to know one each other, start thinking about what our year was going to be like, start working on our goals, and most of all, start to COLLABORATE.

I can't wait to share pics from my classroom set-up this year - full of reminders to collaborate, space to collaborate in, and resources to collaborate with.  The two-week countdown is on!

Check out some more ideas below from some of my fabulous blogging friends, and get ready to grab some inspiration to make this the Best.Year.Ever!




5 Activities to Teach Mean, Mode, Median

5 Fun Hands-On Activities to Teach Mean, Mode and Median that your students will LOVE!
Today's 5 Activities to Teach ... is all about Mean, Mode and Median.  Get your students exploring these concepts in an interactive and hands-on way with some of these ideas.

1.  Interactive Math Journals - My favorite journal entry for mean, mode, median and range uses cue cards and a brass fastener.  We write definitions for each of the terms on the cards, then fasten them all together and stick them to the right side of the page.  On the left side of the page, we use a set of data and actually work through solving for mean, mode, median and range.  Getting this done early in the unit gives the students something to reference for the rest of the year when they encounter these concepts.  You can read a little more about this journal entry HERE, or find the full lesson in my Interactive Math Journal 2.

5 Fun Hands-On Activities to Teach Mean, Mode and Median that your students will LOVE!

5 Fun Hands-On Activities to Teach Mean, Mode and Median that your students will LOVE!2.  OREO Day!!! - Ummmm ... math and oreos ... life is good.  This is one of my favorite days in the classroom - hands down.  And it's not even the cookies - it's the stacking competition that I love (OK ... maybe it's the cookies, too).  Students get paired up (each pair needs a package of cookies - I sent a note home asking parents to send in cookies and received more than enough).  Each student then takes a turn stacking.  Rules are - using one hand only, and you cannot move a cookie once it has been placed on the stack.  That's it.  Keep stacking until your tower falls.  The partner not stacking counts the cookies in the stack.  I drew a big chart on the whiteboard to record the # of cookies.  Each person got 2 attempts, so we had a large set of data when complete.  Then, together we found the mean, mode, median and range with the data.  Notes on this activity are included in my Interactive Math Journal, but you can also read more about it in my blog posts HERE and HERE.
5 Fun Hands-On Activities to Teach Mean, Mode and Median that your students will LOVE!


3.  Hey Diddle Diddle - A few years ago I came across a great little rhyme for remembering how to solve mean, mode, median and range.  It is based on the rhyme, Hey Diddle Diddle, The Cat and the Fiddle.  Every time we do a mean, mode and median activity in class, we recite it.  I made a little printable with the rhyme, with a space for you to enter any set of data and room to solve for MMM.  You can grab a copy of it HERE.

4.  Use REAL Data - And use it often.  Don't just teach it and leave it.  Keep the learning going with real data throughout the year.  I like to do "Triple M" assignments (Mean, Mode, Median) whenever we get back testing data - whether it is a small quiz, or larger assignment where percents are given.  It's valuable practice for solving mean, mode and median, and gives students an idea of where their own mark is compared to the average mark in the class.  To do this quickly with grades 4-5, I use the Hey Diddle Diddle printable above, and write the scores in the data box in random order before I photocopy the page.  I also have a few larger assignments that I used with my students in grades 5-7, where students must plot the results on a line plot graph and reflect on the numbers in written prompts.  You can take a peek at those assignments (which also contains editable Word files) HERE.

5 Fun Hands-On Activities to Teach Mean, Mode and Median that your students will LOVE!5.  Stations, Stations, Stations - Again, since coming up with more math stations for next year is my main purpose for these posts, I've got some more station ideas for you.  Pull out the dice or cards and the whiteboards, and give your students a task like "Choose 5 cards and find the mean, mode and median.  Let a partner check your work.  Then switch."  Or "Roll 10 dice to make a set of data.  Find the mean, mode and median.  Then, re-roll two of the dice and see how that changes your data."  Have students complete a number of rounds at each station before moving on.  Add a little more fun to the stations by using a set of "fancy" dice, or giant cards.  I just got a set of huge 5 x 7 cards from Amazon that I can't wait to use (affiliate link at the bottom of the post).
5 Fun Hands-On Activities to Teach Mean, Mode and Median that your students will LOVE!

5 Fun Hands-On Activities to Teach Mean, Mode and Median that your students will LOVE!I also made a set of Mean, Mode and Median Task Cards to use at a station.  This resource includes a full page Minds-On Task which I use to introduce the station, a set of 12 task cards (ranging in difficulty from solving from a set of numbers, to taking the data from a graph, to finding the missing value in a set when given the mode or median), plus a journal prompt you can use for a written or oral response.  It can also be used as an exit slip.  While my students are rotating through their stations, I like to work with small groups at a task card station - and then collect the recording pages for a formative assessment. You can take a peek at this resource HERE or by clicking on the picture below.  

And lastly, if you have computers as a station, this LINK  from Technology Rocks has a few fun online games to practice MMM.  

That's about it for today.  Please leave a comment below if you have a favorite station idea to teach mean, mode and median.  And be sure to check out my other posts for 5 Activities to Teach ... 




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