iHeart Math Holiday Hop

19 December 2014

I hope you have the chance to relax a little this weekend, and let that relaxing extend into the New Year with the help our our iHeart Math Holiday Hop.  You can click on any of the blog buttons in the calendar above to open some fabulous gifts and stuff your lesson plans with some of their fantastic tips.

A Holiday Math Tip - Let Your Students Tell You What Engages and Motivates Them
My first stocking stuffer is perfect for just after the holiday break.  One of the best things about returning to school after the holiday break is the chance to start NEW.  It's a fresh start to the year for both the students and teacher.  The students return to school motivated and eager to learn.  One thing I started last year with my students is my Math Engagement Survey.  This half-way point of the year is a great time to check their engagement.  If you did the survey at the beginning of the year, you can check-in with them to see if their attitudes towards math have changed.  If this survey is new to you, it can be the perfect time to give it to your students.

We all know that our students have lots of opinions, and love sharing those opinions (whether it's the right time or not) ;), so why not give them the perfect opportunity with this Math Engagement Survey.  When they feel their opinions are being heard and considered, their buy-in is so much greater.  Their honest answers will help you know if you are reaching your students, how THEY feel they learn best, and what they would like to do more of during math lessons.  Click on the image below to download a copy.

A Math Tip - Turn Common Errors into Teachable Moments
My second stocking stuffer allows you the gift of time.  To save you time, I have created a little template (in powerpoint and pdf) that you can use at any time for Error Analysis.  You may wish to use it in conjunction with number talks, as a math station, an entrance or exit slip, or as a quick teachable moment (like I do).  I like to pull this up a few times a week when I see a common error being made in my students' work.  It's a great way to squeeze in a little reinforcement when you need it.  You can read a little more about it in my blog post HERE.  You can grab a copy for yourself by clicking on the picture below.

A Special Gift
Lastly, my gift to you this season is a Christmas and Winter Themed word problem package.  Now, it may be too late to use the Christmas-themed problems if you finished up on Friday, but the Winter-themed ones will last you through next month at least (or MANY more months where I live).  These problems are full sheet, full colour.  If you do not wish to print them, you could project them onto the whiteboard and let students complete.  I like to print a set and laminate them, then use them for small group problem-solving activities where students solve the problem on chart paper, then display and explain how they solved the problem to their classmates.  Each group becomes an expert at the problem they solved, which increases their confidence and motivation ... a gift to you and them.  :)  Just click on the image below to get a set for your classroom.

Live. Love. Math.I hope you enjoyed your gifts, and I truly hope you have the happiest of holidays.  Tomorrow's post is brought to you by Danielle from Live.Love.Math.  Be sure to pop over and see what she has in store for you.

Image Map

Error Analysis Template

08 December 2014
Last week I shared a time-saving tip about how to use pre-made templates for some of your regular lessons and activities in the classroom - (view the post here).  I received quite a few requests about sharing these templates, but I couldn't share the ones I showed because they were made on school time with school technology.

Error Analysis Template

So ... I've found a little time to recreate the templates so I could share with you.

Today I'm sharing my Error Analysis Template.  This is a blank template I use often in my classroom.  This resource includes both the powerpoint version (so you can add textboxes over top of where you wish to add your information), or the PDF – which is what I use.  I simply project the PDF onto the whiteboard and we use our whiteboard markers to write in the boxes.  You can also print and use the blank PDF and use a center or a guided math activity.  Click on the link above or the picture below to grab a copy for yourself.

Runde's Room:  Error Analysis Template

I use this activity as reinforcement/review when I see an error commonly happening in the classroom.  I can quickly pull up the template (which I have as a shortcut on my computer desktop) and write in the question and incorrect solution.  I ask students to look at the incorrect solution, find and circle the error on the board, and then model the correct solution on the right hand side.  You can have all students do this on individual whiteboards, or in their notebooks, or have one student volunteer to come to the whiteboard and model for all.  You could also have your students turn and talk to a partner to collaboratively determine where the error is and how to solve the problem correctly, before someone solves it on the board.

math education

I also use this template when completing “My Favorite No” activities.  I've posted the video before, but it's definitely worth posting again.

I also included a copy of the template with and without the traffic light comprehension.  We use the traffic light to discuss our level of comprehension of a certain concept – green means “got it”, yellow means “still practicing”, and red means “I need some help.”  For a quick template activity, I would just ask students orally to raise their hands to show their comprehension level as I pointed to each color.  My students were always comfortable sharing this information in class (encouraging growth mindset), but if you feel your students would be uncomfortable with this, you can use the template without the traffic light.


Save Yourself Some Merry Little Minutes

30 November 2014
I'm back with my favourite group of upper grade bloggers to share some of our time-saving secrets with you in hopes of helping you gain back some precious "merry little minutes" in the crazy busy upcoming month.  Let's face it, we can all use some extra minutes (or hours, or days) - especially in December.

These tips are not only good for the month of December, but all year long.

My time-saving tip is all about pre-made templates for lessons and routines that are often repeated in your classroom.  It saves time in so many ways - the template is already ready to go, no extra time in making up something.  After the initial time making the template, I just save it to my desktop so I can pull it up in a second without looking through my files for it.  The blank template is already saved so I just have to exit at the end of the lesson.  We're using the Smartboard (or whiteboard) together, so there are no handouts to pass out or collect.  Time saved during prep, before the lesson, and after the lesson.

math educationThis is a template I made for our daily number talks.  I had originally started doing our number talks in a notebook, with students copying down everything, but I soon realized we were all wasting valuable time writing everything down, and not as much time practising the actual skills - something that we needed to maximize in the short 10 minute daily number talk.  I made this template with the notebook software for the smartboard, but it could be just as quickly and easily made with powerpoint or even word.  All I needed to do was fill in a new question every day, and then we let the template take us through the rest of the lesson - each day using this same template.  You can't see in this picture, but at the bottom of this template I had an empty space where I would write extra questions (taken from the Number Talks book) where we could quickly practise the skills we learned in the lesson.

math educationThis is another quick and easy template I made for our Error Analysis minilessons.  We used this template 2 to 3 times a week, and it always stayed the same so I could pull it up quickly, analyze a common error I had seen in the lesson, and move on.  I made this one quickly in the notebook software, too.  I could pull up the screen in a minute (already saved to my desk top) and fill in the question and error - which often made for a timely teachable moment during independent or small group work.

I made this template on Dollar Words while we were reading Because of Mr. Terupt.  My students loved the idea of making dollar words, and I wanted to make it fun and easy.  I would pull up this template and they could add the words they figured out during the day (and they were constantly thinking of dollar words through the day while we were reading this book).  (It would make a great literacy station or indoor recess activity, too).

I also used these premade templates for some of our learning goals.  We were piloting the use of Surface tablets in my classroom last year, and had to document our technology learning goals each day.  I made a quick template with a tablet picture and title, and could quickly pull it up and change our learning goal each day.  I would project it while students were using the tablets each day.

Check out some more time-saving ideas and save yourself some merry little minutes this season.  Click on any of the blog buttons below to start your time-saving journey.  :)


Collaborative Reader Responses

30 October 2014
My students love working together on collaborative reader responses - they get to work with their classmates, it changes it up from their regular reader responses ... and best of all, they get to talk.  ;)

This activity works with read alouds, whole group novel studies, shared reading activities, literature circles, content area reading … basically any activity where the whole class or groups of students are reading the same text.  

Students first answer the reader response question individually (on their sticky note), all at the same time, and when all students in the group have completed their answers, they stick their notes on the sheet.  They then take turns reading their answers aloud to the group. 

After all answers have been sharedworking together, they will reflect on the strengths and areas of need in their own answers to take their individual responses and combine the best parts of them to form the best possible answer, making improvements as they write.  

You can see on this picture how the group examined each answer and circled the part they would use from each.  This collaborative discussion really helps the students dig into what makes a great reader response - and how the individual parts can work together to make an excellent answer.  

I have made a resource using this collaborative reader response strategy.  My Stick-It Together - A Collaborative Reader Response Activity contains organizers with 100 different reader response questions covering the reading comprehension strategies, story and literary elements, genre, and text structures.  Each organizer has information about the strategy behind the question, and a checklist of success criteria for the reader response.

I have also included a rubric for assessment (for teacher or peer assessment - my students really enjoy doing peer assessments with these group responses), and an exemplar for each level - level 1, 2, 3, 4.  These exemplars come in two forms - one assessed with the criteria, and one without the criteria so you can examine and level them as a class.

You can take a peek at my newest resource by clicking HERE or on any of the pictures.

I also have a version specifically geared to 1st - 3rd grade.  You can take a peek at it by clicking HERE or on the picture to the right.
Primary Grades


Upper Grade Classroom Ideas for October

22 October 2014
The month of October is always a lot of fun in my classroom, and I just wanted to share some of our very favourite activities across different subjects.

"If you can't beat them, join them" ... so last year I resisted to urge to battle the candy in the classroom rule the day after Halloween ... instead, we put those candy wrappers to good use.  :)  I asked students to empty their lunches (and pockets) of all their Halloween treats and we made a tally chart showing all the treats brought to school that day (a little shocking, but made for some great data).  Once we had completed our class tally chart, I let the students work in pairs to represent the data in three way - a chart, a graph of their choice, and show the mean and median.  So much fun, and it kept them focused through the sugar rush.

Math and Visual Art:
These spiderwebs integrate math and visual arts - and are so striking on display.  I would definitely recommend them for grades 5 and up.  Students practice their multiples while drawing the lines for the web.  You can read more about these spiderwebs on a blog post I wrote HERE.  (Be sure to follow the link to Teaching with TLC for full instructions).

I also have a set of Fall-themed math craftivities that also make a beautiful display in the classroom.  The place value candy corn takes your students through standard, written, and expanded form.  The pumpkin pie problems have your students examining and solving different word problems that cover a variety of concepts - all with a pumpkin pie theme.  Just a warning - you will be craving pumpkin pie after this one is completed.  ;)

One of my favorite October science activities went perfectly with our Human Body unit.  We made our own blood models - and it was a HUGE hit with the students.  It was a great hands-on activity that had the class interested and engaged during the whole time.  It can be done at any time of the year, but has just the perfect amount of "creepy" to make it perfect for October.  You can read more about the blood model and the activities we did to accompany it HERE.  

Visual Art:
This optical illusion art lesson is perfect for October because the final piece resembles a spider web.  The activity is low-prep and low-material, making it a great activity for those hectic days in October.  Students can even add a little spider at the end for a fun 3D effect.  You can preview the art lesson HERE.

I love how these little October Craftivities look in the classroom - and how they get the students thinking.  We used the Story Element pumpkins for our Read Aloud (The Worst Best Halloween Ever), the Comprehension Strategy ghosts with the students' independent reading, and the Synonym Gravestones with our writing minilessons.  You can take a peek at this bundle of October Literacy Craftivities HERE.

Fall into poetry with this Falling Leaves poetry resource.  This resource has your students learning about poetic devices and making their own example for each.  They then create 7 different Fall-themed poems (following the guided instructions and examples given).  These longer poems can be written on the leaves included in the resource to create both a beautiful poetry booklet as well as a Fall leaf poetry craftivity that will combine the beauty of Fall and the beauty of poetry to make an eye-catching display that you won't want to take down until long after all the leaves have fallen outside.

I also have some Halloween-themed Writing Prompts for some fun narrative writing just before Halloween.  Students love sharing their spooky stories with their peers, and the colorful stationery is perfect for display.  You can download these for free HERE.

And, last but not least, if you have little ones at home, or cover a younger grade class, or pair up your students with younger students, I have this little page I made for a primary co-worker at my school.  You can download it from google docs HERE.

Happy October!


Using Clothespins in Math

18 October 2014
I admit - it all started with the little container.  I was walking though the aisles of the Dollar Store, and I couldn't resist this cute little container.  But a container can't stay empty for long.  Down the next aisle I spotted these cute little clothespins, and I knew they'd be perfect for the next day's math lesson.

We were studying fractions - comparing and ordering fractions, and they just weren't getting it.  I knew I wanted to do a number line activity, and realized these clothespins would make the perfect number line activity.

I bought small label stickers and wrote a variety of fractions on them, then stuck them to the clothespins.  I hung a string in the room, and we got to work.  Students worked in small groups to order the fractions they had (by drawing a picture representation and discussion), then placed their clothespins on the clothesline number line.  As each new group had the chance to hang their clothespins, they could "challenge" any of the pins they saw in incorrect locations and if the group agreed, they could move the pins.  Equivalent fractions could hang off of one another.

 It was a great hands-on lesson, but it wasn't the only way we used the pins.  A clothesline has two sides, so we wrote decimals on the other side so we could use them to compare and order decimals.  A little later in the year, we pulled them back out to work with fractions and probability.

So, a $2.00 purchase from the Dollar Store (container and a pack of clothespins) magically turned what could have been a boring topic, into a great hands-on math lesson ... actually, multiple lessons.  Just another reason to love the Dollar Store.  ;)

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For more bright ideas from more than 100 different bloggers, please browse through the link-up below and choose a topic/grade level that interests you.  Thanks for visiting!


It's Thanksgiving ... and We're Showing Our Thanks!

10 October 2014
This weekend is Thanksgiving in Canada, and we want to show our THANKS to you for all of your support with a little sale.  I've teamed up with some fabulous Canadian bloggers and TPT sellers for a big sale this weekend.

This Sunday, October 12th, you can save 20% on all my resources.

And that's not all ... I will be offering one of my Thanksgiving-themed resources for free all day that Sunday ... can you find out which one it is?

All of the fabulous sellers in the graphic below are participating in the sale.  Click on any of the buttons to check out their stores.