Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Singapore Math Strategies

My mind is swimming with thoughts of Common Core! I had a meeting about common core for math today and I am exhausted! Don't you think teacher meetings are more exhausting than actual teaching?

I've been trying to wrap my mind around some of the Singapore math strategies. I was fortunate to receive a training 2 weeks ago about numbers sense and Singapore math strategies. A lot of what was talked about was building number sense and ability to play with numbers by students. I have noticed that when I ask students what makes ten, they are able to tell me, but they are unable to decompose and compose numbers.
I started by having them use two ten frames. They were able to make the numbers using place value disks and see how many until they got to the next ten. They would exchange the ones for a ten so they could add simple two digit numbers, like 8+6.
They used the place value disks to do the worksheets that I had created to break apart numbers in order to add them. The hope is that they will learn mental math strategies and will be able to add in their head instead of using their fingers!

To answer this gap in their learning I have created a few worksheets. These have number bonds and decomposing numbers for addition. I am working on 3.NBT.2 right now, and these are the first step towards getting them to add and subtract to the thousands place.
 When students are able to add by breaking apart the number, my next step will be addition using expanded form. So if the problem is 22+17, they would add 20 and 10 and then 7 and 2. So they would get 30+9=39.

In addition to these pages, I also have these same pages but harder, as well as some addition pages with scaffolding for carrying.
Anyone else use Singapore methods for math instruction? What great resources have you found? I am in need of resources. I have found a couple books, Math Practice, Grade 3 (Singapore Math)Mental Math, Grade 3/Level 2: Strategies and Process Skills to Develop Mental Calculation (Singapore Math) and 70 Must-Know Word Problems, Grade 3 (Singapore Math) which were really helpful.

All of these sheets and more (13 worksheets!) are available on my TpT store.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Open House!

My Curriculum Night/ Open House was last week! Yippee! Ok, not really. I love teaching, I love kiddos, but get a whole bunch of adults in the room and I get super nervous. So, I skip the whole big speech thing, and have my students show their parents around the room and I stand to the side passing out papers and answering any questions. I also like to have a power point on repeat that answers any questions they may have without having to wait to ask me.

One of the things that brought a lot of parents to my class this year was an activity I did with my students to make their parents find their desk. My students loved it and they dragged their parents into Open House just for that reason.

On the front, the students write about themselves, basically clues to help their parents find their desk. On the inside they write about what they like about the grade they are in and their parents write a note back to them.  The notes inside were so touching! The kiddos were so excited! For those that didn't have their parent attend open house, I wrote a note so they wouldn't feel left out!

I also did a scavenger hunt for students to show his or her parents around the room. This way, they showed them all the highlights!

Overall, a very calm and enjoyable evening! The parents loved it, and I  got rave reviews!

You can buy the guess who page, scavenger hunt, welcome sign, volunteer forms and sign in sheet at my TpT store. All of them are worded in several ways so hopefully your "open house" term will be there! And of course they are all polka dot!

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Math Rotations

Today was my first day FINALLY breaking out into small groups! I feel like I've been tortured with too much whole group! I am still teaching routines and procedures for literacy centers this week, but next week I start full force!!

My math rotations went awesome today! I was super impressed with how my students behaved.

I don't use math centers because that is A LOT of planning! Kudos to those of you that pull that off! I started these rotations last year and they worked really well. I stole this idea from Beth Newingham (click the link for a much better explanation from Beth and it includes pictures!) and it has really improved my test scores.

I divide my class into 3 groups. I give them a pre-test of the material on the first day of the unit to assess what they all ready know. I then level them by how well they did on the pre-test. So the groups are constantly changing. My three groups usually end up being a high group that aced the material and needs pure enrichment, a middle group that knows about half of the material and just needs some nudging, and a low group that may need me to go back to the beginning for certain concepts.

Each group goes through 3 rotations: work with me, independent practice and game. The game relates to the topic being taught and may use the SMART board, games from Lakeshore, or stuff I found online.

Now that I have my three groups, I will teach my mini lesson about the days topic. I will explain it enough that the high group will be able to do it on their own. After my mini lesson, the low group comes to me for direct instruction. This is where I may back up a few steps. I also go through the problems from their practice book or worksheet I'm using that day. While the low group is with me, the high group is doing their worksheet independently and my middle group is playing a game.

After 20 minutes I switch groups. The high group moves to games, the low group goes to independent practice (so they don't forget!) and the middle group comes to me. The middle group generally needs just a little instruction of going over the first few problems and then they are off on their own. Once again I switch groups for the last rotation. Low group ends on the skill building game, the middle group goes to finish their practice page and the high group comes to me. When the high group comes to me they are generally finished with their practice page. We grade it to make sure they are getting the concepts, then I lead them in an enrichment activity or worksheet. This is where they get to practice problem solving, or go deeper into the topic.

Everything went pretty well this morning, just a couple reminders about voice levels. There was a bit of confusion about how to play the games, which my assistant principal got to see (why does that always happen?).  I will definitely model the games better tomorrow!

Ok, I'm off to make chicken soup. I am all ready sick! Anyone else battling the back to school cold? Do you use rotations for math? What works well for you? What is difficult? Tips or tricks are much appreciated!