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The beginning of the school year is rough. No matter how many hours and hours I spend in my classroom in the summer, August hits and I’m automatically behind and can’t get caught up. As soon as I think I maybe, just maybe, might possibly be caught up after a marathon of a work session on a Saturday, I discover a bunch of things I haven’t yet done and my To-Do list once again far surpasses my done.

The beginning of the year is full of assessments. Reading. Reading levels. Writing. Math. Additional reading assessments. Oh, and meetings. All the meetings.

This year I’ve been determined to go home a bit earlier than normally during Back to School season. I have some major obligations I need to fulfill outside of the classroom. Plus I’m determined to find a healthier balance of work, fun, and healthy habits this year. I need to be more organized to help make that happen. We all know that I’m a fan of lists and pretty paper. I wrote a list as I planned this post, even.

The people at Expressionery understand the need for organization. They have some awesome notepads and notebooks that are perfect for the classroom. I recently received some to try out and I fell in love. First, I received goodies in black and white. These are perfect for both my black and white classroom, and my black and white office at home. Swoon!

My favorite is the Weekly To-Do list pad. It is perfect for sketching out assessments and conferences with students.

This little To Do List is the perfect size to bring with me to meetings to keep on top of what I need to get done right away. I’m an often volunteerer and I tend to forget what I’ve committed myself to do. This notepad will certainly help.

I’ve also been bringing this super adorbs notebook with me to meetings to take notes in. The staff in my building is already used to me color coordinating.

Expressionery is offering a 30% off sale for readers. Just use the code SUMMERSALE at checkout.

You can also enter to win $250 from Expressionery so you can get organized in style this school year!

Expressionery: Grown Up School Supplies

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]]>The post Building Place Value and Number Sense Skills appeared first on Tales from Outside the Classroom.

]]>When I was an interventionist looking at our schoolwide data, I noticed something in our students’ math data. The students in third grade that scored lowest in math overall on our benchmark testing (NWEA’s MAP test), also were the lowest scoring in the place value and number sense sub-domain. We grouped those kids into an intervention group where I worked on a variety of skills trying to strengthen their understanding of numbers. At the end, they were much stronger with abstract number concepts and improved their overall scores. Here are some ideas for strategies, games, and other resources you can try with your kids who need a little help manipulating numbers, or for your whole class.

One of my favorite ways to work on number sense is by doing Number Rounds. This is a little game I thought of that’s played similarly to Sparkle. The whole class stands in a circle and I choose a starting number and a rule, e.g. Add 10 starting at 54. Every time we reach a new hundred, that student has to sit down. So, the student to the left of me would say 64, then the next student would say 74, then 84, 94, and then the student who said 104 would sit down. We’d continue playing until there is one person left standing. The students struggling with this concept get to hear it throughout the game. Even the students who seem to have a solid foundation struggle a bit trying to add a new “place” mentally. It can be played with any number of digits and anything can be added (10’s, 100’s, 100’s). I also thought of playing the game starting with a larger number and working backwards and the first person to go below zero is the winner. I might try that out this year. For other ideas for getting kids up and moving in the classroom click here to check out my post on adding movement.

This game is a fun twist on Heads up, 7 Up. First, I chose 7 students to go the front of the room and we played a round of traditional Heads Up, 7 Up. After that round, whoever was at the front was able to write a number on a dry erase board. The students in their seats had to answer various questions like:

-How do you say this number?

-What is the number in the thousands place?

-What is the value of the 6?

– What is this number rounded to the nearest hundreds place?

After a few questions, we put the dry erase boards down and played a new round of Heads Up, 7 Up. Students were really excited if they got to stay up front for both rounds and they knew they were off the hook for answering the “hard” questions. It was a fun twist on a traditional game all of the kids already know.

Build It is a super simple game where students try to beat their partner by building the larger number. Head on over to the Ellison blog to see how to play.

I use my Football Fever centers in the fall to review place value and help build number sense with my third graders. With these centers, my kids practice matching standard and expanded form, compare numbers, put numbers from least to greatest, and practice mentally adding and subtracting 10 and multiples of 10.

To see more about the centers and to check out the preview with samples, click the image below.

I love this partner activity Blair Turner shares. It’s such a simple and straightforward way to have students practice what they know about numbers and place value.

This is a perfect anchor chart for showing the ways to represent a number from Teaching with a Mountain View. This anchor is also easily adaptable to work on any size number you need. Mary also shares a TON of other great ideas in this post for working on place value.

Place Value Puzzles are a great way to practice matching standard form, word form, and expanded form. You could also use a 4 puzzle set to add in base 10 representation. Head on over to the Ellison Blog to see how I made these quickly using Ellison dies.

As the weeks go on, we have to continue to build students’ practice to include larger and larger numbers. I use my Rocking Out with Place Value unit to help me push students’ to working with large numbers and to differentiate for students who may not be ready to do so.

Students practice manipulating numbers to 1,000, 10,000, and 100,000. In the tens columns centers, students practice adding and subtracting 10, 100, or 1,000.

The Rocking Out with Number Puzzles center has students visualizing the number on a hundreds chart and identifying the numbers that would surround it.

The Rocking Out with Place Value unit features 3 different activities all tiered to 3 levels of numbers giving you 9 different centers options. To check it out on TpT, click the image above or here.

I love introducing rounding using the Rounding Roadway idea from Blair Turner.

When I did it last year this way, my students really understood it and what we were talking about instead of just a silly rule. Click the image above to head to her blog to read more about it.

These Expanded Form, Standard Form, & Word Form task cards are designed to be a Write (or Solve) the Room, however, they can be used in any way you choose. The cards alternate between each form on the cards. I also offer two different recording sheets for this one: one that is completely blank, and one that has the given card pre-filled out on the sheet. This set of task cards is FREE so head on over to my TpT store to download it!

I’m gathering online resources to help teach place value and to build number sense skills and I’ll be sharing that soon as well!

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]]>The post 5 Ways Success Criteria can Transform your Classroom appeared first on Tales from Outside the Classroom.

]]>I’m delighted to have Mercedes from Surfing to Success here today sharing a FANTASTIC post on Success Criteria. You want to read this one through!

We all set clear objectives but do students know what it means to successfully meet those objectives? That is where success criteria come in.

Traditionally, teachers are the keepers of success. We issue a grade that lets students know they were successful.

How many times have you turned in a paper and wondered what your grade would be? Chances are you weren’t given clear success criteria.

Success Criteria look very different with different objectives. If the objective is to write a descriptive paragraph, the success criteria could be a student friendly rubric and an example paragraph. If the objective is to fluently multiply within 100, the success criteria could range from answering a fact within 3 seconds, to multiplying without manipulatives, to getting 100% on a timed test.

I’m Mercedes Hutchens from Surfing to Success. I teach Kindergarten through Sixth Grade Intervention so my success criteria vary greatly throughout my day.

For upper grade math, my criteria are consistent. Students need to get 100% on a two problem quiz to demonstrate success. When planning I create two versions of the simple assessment. When students walk in on the first day, I share the objective. Often students believe they can already demonstrate success, so I give them a pretest. Sometimes there are kids who get 100% right away. I give those kids the option to stay and practice the rest of the week. The power in the success criteria comes for the students that didn’t get 100%. They now know exactly what they need to be able to do and they know they have to work to learn it. The increase in motivation is awesome.

For younger students, I often provide success criteria for the task at hand rather than long term criteria. One of my favorite activities with my Kinders this year was putting letter tiles in alphabetical order. The success criteria was that I would be able to point to each letter as I sang the alphabet. Being clear led to kids to check their success when they thought they were finished. Kids would point and sing and ask a friend to point and sing. The enthusiasm and joy in their faces as they’d confidently raise their hand and tell me, “I did it! I did it!” was priceless.

How can Success Criteria Transform your Classroom?

- Success Criteria Provide Focus to your Lesson Plans.

When you know exactly how you want your students to demonstrate their learning, you have clarity about which activities and lessons will get them there. Sometimes we have lessons or activities we’ve been doing for years that have become habit. Knowing where you are going helps you weed out things that aren’t really going to help you achieve your end goal.

- Providing Success Criteria Helps to Reduce Anxiety.

You know that feeling during Professional Development when you are told to start a group task and you realize you have no idea what they want you to do? We don’t want our kids to feel that way. As teachers, we know exactly what it means to be successful when we post an objective. Our students don’t always know though. Whether it is a sample problem, a rubric, or an example of an end product, knowing what success looks like relieves stress.

(If you are worried that students will just copy your example, make your example different enough that it won’t matter. If they are writing an essay to persuade the principal to give them a longer lunch, write yours to persuade a company to donate to your classroom. You can use the rubric to grade yours together and point out the key parts of a persuasive essay while having it be different enough that they can’t copy.)

- Success Criteria Foster Student Buy-In and Motivation.

How many times have you heard a student say, “I already know how to do this?” When you have clear success criteria, and a student who wants to tune out, you can give them an opportunity to prove it. If they are right, they can become a helper or leader or you can differentiate and provide a more challenging objective. If they are given the chance to prove it, and realize they don’t know it all, they suddenly are motivated to learn.

I’ve seen this be especially effective with strong willed students with a negative attitude. They don’t want to hear you tell them they need to learn something, but when they self assess and realize they need to learn something, they become more open to listening, working with others, and asking for help.

- Success Criteria Encourage Self Monitoring.

When students know what success looks like, they begin to look critically at their learning. They see clearly what they are able to do and what they need to work on. This self monitoring leads to focused collaboration. Students begin to have academic conversations and help one another. Students also begin to recognize when they need help and can identify clearly what they need rather than just saying, “I don’t get this.”

- Success Criteria Build Confidence.

I realized that providing success criteria was transforming my classroom when students began asking to take tests.

Students come to me for intervention for a week or two during their Specials time. They are a missing Art, PE, or Computer Lab. So, when students started asking to take the test early, I assumed they just wanted to get back to specials early.

What I found, though, was that most students that asked to take a test early, got 100%. They were self monitoring and knew exactly when they had a solid understanding of the concept. A strange thing happened though. They asked if they could stay. They proved they mastered the concept, but they wanted to stay and help the other students. Students that had expressed a disdain for math days earlier were now volunteering to spend extra time in math. Knowing exactly what they needed to be successful led to a self confidence that transformed their attitude.

How can I get started?

The simplest way to get started using success criteria is to ask yourself what success looks like while you are planning. Then, show your students. This slight shift in planning and teaching can have an incredible impact on your classroom culture and lead to success.

With a clear goal, and a little help, everyone can succeed.

from

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]]>The post Curriculum Mapping with Excel appeared first on Tales from Outside the Classroom.

]]>I’m so excited to be joining in with some friends to bring you some Back to School Survival Tips. At the bottom of this post is a linky so you can check out ideas from each of us.

I’ve done curriculum mapping in a variety of ways the last couple years. From completely mapping everything for multiple grade levels without any textbook, to only aligning my textbook because I was told I couldn’t vary from it (and needed to know what to supplement), to mapping it and using the textbook to teach often. Even if you’re someone who receives a district mandated map, this post should give you some new ideas for planning your instruction. And I think curriculum mapping is a huge stress saver as the year goes on!

Curriculum mapping is what it sounds like- mapping your curriculum. It’s about creating units and planning out your year. Each week you’ll know exactly what you’re teaching and you’ll ensure you’re reaching the rigor the standard expects.

The first step to curriculum mapping is to begin with the standards and group similar standards together into units. While standards are often clearly together based on their domain, there are standards that are often better suited grouped with another domain.

These are the two geometry Common Core standards for 3rd grade. The two of them don’t relate to each other so well. However, 3.GA.2 discusses both area and fractions. Where would you choose to group it? I think it fits best in our unit on fractions as I think applying fractions of a shape is a simple transfer for many students. Alternatively, a strong claim could be made for including it in a unit on area.

Your textbook (more on that in a moment) may also be a resource you can use to decide which standards to group together. Your textbook might choose to teach that in the area unit and so for ease, it makes sense if you teach as the textbook has laid out.

When I do content areas, I often look at both my science and social studies standards together because I’ve found I can coordinate a couple within a unit in the other content. Rather than teaching skills and standards in isolation, it makes more sense to me to put similar ideas together regardless if they’re social studies or science.

Once you’ve decided which standards you’re going to include in each unit, now you’re ready to map out when you’ll teach them. Some units may make sense broken down into two or more smaller portions and taught at two different times during the year. I’m not going to teach the distributive property of multiplication the first time I’m teaching multiplication. I do a second multiplication unit a little later in the year, after we’ve done area, and relate it all together. Your units also don’t only have to be that whole domain. For example, I teach area and perimeter as a separate unit than the rest of measurement as it’s an in-depth concept for students and is difficult for them. I also teach that other geometry standard listed above while I teach the rest of measurement since it doesn’t really have a very natural place to fit. The easiest way to do this is to use your textbook as a guide. For example, your textbook might include place value as the first unit. It would make sense if you taught it as your first unit if your textbook is already providing you resources to do so.

With that said, I urge you to look at your textbook closely. I urge you to look at your textbook and the standards together and ask yourself if your textbook is adequately teaching that standard. Is it rigorous enough? Does it leave portions of the standard out? Textbooks have not changed very much over the years, especially in math. However, standards have changed.

With the standards already grouped together this process is fairly simple and straightforward: you look at the table of contents and find the lessons that teach those skills. If you’re teaching a spiralized curriculum like Saxon or Everyday Math, the process is a little more difficult. You can use the tools the company gives you to identify where the skills are taught and practiced. However, in my experience, I was often directed to workbook pages where students practiced 4 problems of a skill at a very low level and so this practice was not something I’d include as I laid things out.

If you do not have a textbook, you have the opportunity to map things exactly as you’d like. Discuss with your team, especially if you’re new to the grade level, on how you all think the skills should best be laid out. Think about related subjects together. I teach certain reading skills based on when I’m teaching specific writing skills so I can relate the two. But I have less flexibility on when I’m teaching writing so I start there.

You have your units. You know how you can use your textbook to teach them. You have an idea of when you’ll teach each unit. Now it’s time to break everything down into specific skills and specific weeks.

Start with the standards of that unit (the end goal) and list actionable skills that will result in that standard being mastered.

Here is an example of the specific skills I want to work on for this standard. Now I’m able to judge how many days I’ll spend on this specific standards. This helps me nail down exactly how many weeks I’m going to teach that unit. While I’ve listed specific skills I’ll need to teach to reach that standard, I do map everything out day by day. That’s too rigid for me and too many things come up throughout the week. If I felt like I had to redo an entire year’s daily map because a couple special occasions came up, I’d have a panic attack. However, since I know the skills I need to teach, I just include shorthanded skills that I want to accomplish each week, knowing that I already know the steps I’ll take to get there.

As teachers, we know things do not go as planned. Someone has a nose bleed and it gets all over the room. Surprise! There’s an assembly you didn’t know about. Or, your kids are still totally baffled by regrouping in 3rd grade and you need to spend a few extra days with the base 10 blocks to try to help them understand this necessary concept. It happens. I build in a week at the end of every unit as a buffer. I call it a review week on my map. However, it’s not meant for a week-long review. It gives me a couple extra days in case things go awry in the unit. It allows me some time to work on difficult and rigorous story problems. I might decide not to use it and begin the next assessment early. I like including it so I can make sure we’re not getting too far off of our pacing and run out of time before our state testing.

With curriculum mapping and breaking things down into manageable chunks, it’s easy to forget the big picture. Students need to be able to apply skills in complex, rigorous tasks. Students aren’t just comparing and contrasting a picture. They aren’t only doing elapsed time from looking at two visual clocks. Students have to compare and contrast the theme of two texts. They need to figure out how much time has passed in a multi-step story problems with extra information included. They need to stay strong on skills throughout the year and they need to practice them with an increased difficulty throughout the year.

I spiral through my curriculum a couple different ways. We review each comprehension skill at least twice. We then spend a good chunk of time applying a variety of skills to a text based on that specific test. In math, we do a daily spiral review of a variety of skills and do a word problem daily. The word problems build in complexity, and go through a variety of skills, so students know what to expect on the state assessment and are prepared for real-world situations. Some days the problems are more simple so students grow confident in their abilities. Other days the problems are complex so students try a variety of strategies to help them solve it.

The story problem pictured above is intended for the first two weeks of school. It’s an easy problem but it walks through identifying unknowns in any position. This is not difficult for students but builds their confidence early on and helps ease them into complex questions that they’ll see start seeing pretty quickly in the school year. To see more about my Daily, Multi-Step Story Problems for 3rd Grade, click the image above or below.

How you store and access your map is of course up to you. I know a lot of people are frustrated or fearful of Excel but it’s my favorite tool to use for curriculum mapping. I like the way I can lay everything out on the screen. I like the ease of grouping things together. And, I despise Word, especially trying to work with tables in Word.

I created a video to show you how I use Excel to map my curriculum. Hopefully it shows you some of the ways you can use the program to help you plan out your year. I had a time limit and was cutting it really close at the end so a few things were rushed. If you have any questions please leave a comment. I’m happy to help!

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]]>The post Introducing the Distributive Property appeared first on Tales from Outside the Classroom.

]]>Two years ago was the first time I taught the distributive property to students. There was one (and I think only one) lesson in our textbook and it had students relate the distributive property to basketball. In theory, it’s a great idea, and I’m sure I could have livened up that lesson to make it even better. But it was flat and I’m sure the students didn’t really retain or master the skill. Last year, I wanted to introduce it on our own before getting to that basketball lesson. It went something like this…

“Okay, so the distributive property is when you take a multiplication problem and you break it down into two or more smaller problems that are easier to manage. Choose one number to keep the same. Then break down the second number into smaller numbers that equal that number and add them all together like so…”

4 x 5 = n

“Since 5’s are easy to work with I’ll keep the 5 the same. I know two 2’s are 4 so I’ll choose 2’s. I could do this problem like this…”

(5 x 2) + (5 x 2) = 10 + 10 = 20

“So, you see, the distributive property is super simple because it’s just breaking it down into pieces we know. Let’s practice”

Golden. It’s super simple. I even said so.

Except it wasn’t. My kids had no idea what the heck was going on, why I was speaking another language, and they certainly had no idea the point of any of this. So I was sent brainstorming to find out how to make a new lesson for the next day that might actually make sense for them. I knew I needed to back up and begin with something more concrete. So, I headed over to my first grade friend’s room and I asked her if I could borrow some Unifix cubes.

I thought after the lesson fail the day before, that I better introduce the topic in small groups where students could focus and join in on our lesson. So, the next day we split into groups and I started each lesson by taking out some red cubes and arranging them in two equal columns. I asked students to write the multiplication equation for what was shown. This was super easy for them; they’d been doing arrays since second grade. I asked them to keep that on their boards as I showed an identical arrangement in blue unifix cubes and asked them to write the multiplication equation for that one as well.

I put rows together and asked them to write the equation for that array on their boards. At this point they had written,

7 x 2 =14

7 x 2 = 14

7 x 4 = 28

I used parenthesis to show the students how they could write their top two equations using the distributive property. We talked about how each parenthesis represents one color and that I could add another set to the right in another color and that would add an additional equation with parenthesis.

I then took black cubes and laid them on top of the ones below (you can see the red and blue peeking out just a bit). We talked about how the black is what they’ll normally see (a rectangle, an array, the whole number) but they can break it down into smaller parts by separating it. We then began working on another problem.

{In my spontaneous grabs for cubes, we ended up working on the same equation- just the turn-around fact- though that was not my intention.}

I created a new array using the unifix cubes and we wrote the multiplication equation that was represented. Again, easy peasy and the kids felt confident. Then I pulled one column to the other side.

I then wrote the two multiplication equations that were shown and reminded students that the addition sign in the middle shows that when we put the two together we get the whole.

Then I had a student move another column over. This time, I asked students to write the two equations on their own before we went over them. They were understanding how the two parts make the whole. We continued to use cubes in different combinations for guided practice before they completed their exit sheet independently.

The next day, students practiced independently using my Distributive Property Mustache You the Equation Task Cards.

There are two sets in the pack. The first set lists the smaller equations and students rewrite the equation in traditional form. It includes equations with two sets of parenthesis only as a beginning practice for students.

The second set includes the traditional equation for students to break down using the distributive property. There are no specific directions for students so that you can let them write the equations as they choose, or tell them the amount of pieces it needs to be broken into.

You can choose to do the two sets on separate days, or you can intermix the sets (even/odd, 1st half/2nd half) for a mixed review. To check them out, click either of the pictures above or click here to head to my TpT store.

Do you have any great ideas for introducing the distributive property to students?

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