Friday, May 31, 2019

Quick Ideas for Spiral Review Math Warm Ups

With busy classroom schedules, it can be extremely difficult to fit in continuous practice of all of the math standards. Have you ever taught a certain skill in September and then didn't review it or go over it again until April? So frustrating!
Oftentimes I feel like scripted math curriculum or district pacing guides do that to us. They require us to teach something at the beginning of the year and then we never review it again! Don't they know kids need repetition and exposure of these skills for mastery?

Let me show you what I came up with to help spiral math content for the year during quick math warm ups at the beginning of my math block.

I always love a good theme, so I started by theming the days for each month. I called Mondays "Money Monday" and Tuesdays "Telling Time Tuesday"... I know, cheesy, BUT it helped give me an idea of what skill/standard I needed to review with my students each day. I sat down and mapped out this Skills & Standards At a Glance page (free download at the end of this post) to help me make sure I was hitting every standard. 
So when it came time to start math, I would begin with a super quick spiral review. I'm talking 3-5 minutes. Many days I would simply write a problem or question on the board and we would spend 3-5 minutes quickly reviewing it, solving it, and talking about strategies to solve it. Other days we'd review an old anchor chart. Sometimes I'd pass out a sticky note and students would take a minute to solve a problem and they'd bring their sticky note to the carpet to share. Quick, targeted spiral review!

I ended up deciding that I could really use a printable page to work on these spiraling skills, so I made some for the year. You can have students do a little bit each day, or you can use it as a quick formative assessment at the end of the week. Right now I only have 2nd grade because that's what I needed for my classroom, but I'm working on some for my 1st grade teachers, too! 
They are simple and only one page for the week! The include the themed days, standards, word problems, and quick problem(s) for your students to solve each day!

You can get a free, one-week sample of the warm ups below, and I've also included my 2nd Grade Skills At a Glance page for those of you that just need cheat sheet for hitting all of the standards!

Thursday, May 23, 2019

Skill-Based Elementary Math Interventions & Strategies

Think about targeted, skill-based intervention in your elementary classroom. For me, I think: Too many students. A huge variety of skill levels. Where do I start? How do I find the time?! What intervention activities will I use? 

Sound familiar? You're not alone!
I had all of those questions/stressors thinking about math intervention. However, my one beacon of hope was my one classroom assistant/aide that came to help in my room while we were doing math rotations for 30 minutes. You better believe I wanted to make her time in my room as effective as possible.

I needed a routine that would allow her to get started right away, without me having to pull her aside to talk to her about who needed what (Plus, I was in the middle of teaching a small group when she arrived, so I definitely didn't want to stop teaching to give her instructions!)

So here's what I came up with... Skill-based math intervention folders. Each folder had a different skill: counting to 120, place value, addition, subtraction, etc. Inside each folder, I filled it with printable worksheets or activities that I wanted my students to practice with help. I slid all of the pages into sheet protectors and added them to the pronged folders so they could be reused with my assistant over and over.
On a shelf near the door in my classroom, I had a small bin with the different intervention folders, dry erase markers, math manipulatives/counters, and anything else she might need. To let her know which students I wanted her to work with that day, I simply put a post-it note on top of the folder she would need for that student. Sometimes I would add little notes telling her to use base 10 blocks when you pull __, or only spend 5 minutes working on this skill with __.  

In the front left pocket of the folder, I typed out a little page for progress notes. Before my assistant finished with a student, she'd quickly fill this out so I knew exactly what they worked on and how it went.
If you're struggling with how to fit in a little skill-based math intervention in your classroom, I highly suggest trying this out! These folders are SO easy to put together, and you can use resources & activities you're already using in your classroom to fill the folders! Plus, once they're put together, you can have any extra hands (think parent helpers, too!) work with your students!

If you don't have the time to find activities to fill your folders, I have a few already good to go for you. Click here to check them out!

Monday, May 13, 2019

Creating & Planning Math Centers Ahead of Time

In my classroom, I only have three math rotations, and the third rotation, math centers/games, is the only one I routinely have to plan & prep ahead of time. Today I want to share with you how I plan and choose the best math centers to make that third rotation meaningful and effective!

Within each small group, my students have a partner (chosen by me). That's the partner that students complete math centers with. The math centers students complete with their partner are meant to be review - I do not have students work on brand new skills during math centers. I usually try to pull a variety of skills each week: fact fluency practice, telling time, counting coins, graphing/measurement, addition & subtraction, etc. I use 5 centers a week, so students complete one center a day.
Fact fluency practice
I like to choose centers that match the standards we've already worked on, so I use these 2nd grade stations by standard (find the first grade version here) - This allows me to pull centers that match exactly what I want my students working on or reviewing without having to worry about them being seasonal (although I do use some seasonal/themed ones still too!)
Board game center to match 2nd grade array/multiplication standard
Sometimes I'll even print & prep two versions of the same center, that way students have the same games & activities but at the level they need. I use these differentiated centers to help with that!

I really like to plan and prep my centers a month ahead of time. I can look at the month ahead and know what I'm teaching, what I want my students reviewing, and more. Click the image below if you'd like your free Math Centers Monthly Planning Sheet!
Happy planning!

Thursday, April 25, 2019

Holding Students Accountable During Math & Literacy Centers

One of my favorite ways to keep up with grading & checking work is by going paperless. Let's be honest, there's been a few times that I've taken a stack of completed worksheets or recording sheets from centers and just tossed them in the recycling bin.
I know, I know. That's terrible. But if we're being honest, it's really hard to keep up with it all! That's why I decided I'd share with you a little bit about how I maintain center accountability without having to throw away work.

The big question: How can I reduce the amount of work I have to grade/check while still holding students accountable for centers?

The solution: Take pictures!

Here are examples of some of the times I have students take pictures rather than turn in work into the turn-in bin. Note: Students took these pictures so the quality isn't great, but I do love the messages they add for me to see!
My students love math puzzles and matching activities, and it's so easy to just let them snap pictures to show what they've completed.
 Any time we do practice work in our interactive notebooks, I have students take pictures to show me. This student worked on the interactive notebook puzzle above for an entire week before he finally mastered it.
During word work, I always have word sorts available, and this is a great way to show the sort. You can also have students take pictures of any pocket chart activities they complete!

Because I'm sure some of you are wondering... YES, my students do complete worksheets/recording sheets with their center work. I manage this a few different ways. If time allows, I laminate the recording sheets for students to use with a dry erase marker and take a picture. However, when I don't have time, I just make the copies like normal and still have them take a picture.

Now you just need to have students submit their work to you. I use the free app Seesaw so my students can upload their work. I know some teachers use ClassDojo, and I'm sure there's many more options out there!

Want to share/collaborate with other teachers about holding students accountable? Join our free Facebook group, just for elementary teachers - Simply Creative Teachers!