Wednesday, August 24, 2016

20 Basic Math Facts Assessments

     Basic math facts are an important tool for students to achieve success in problem-solving. Learning basic math facts are a routine part of a student’s progress in the elementary grades. Assessing student progress and collecting data are essential parts of the process.
     One of my newest products, 20 Basic Math Facts Assessments, can be used as a pre-assessment at the beginning of the year, a formative assessment during the process, or a summative assessment when students are ready.
     The twenty assessments in this pack include:
  • Addition facts with addends to 12, or
  • Subtraction facts with minuends to 12, or
  • Multiplication facts with factors to 12, or
  • Division facts with dividends to 144, or
  • Mixed facts of all four operations
    Teachers often choose to, or are required to, limit time on mixed fact assessments like this one. Having administered these assessments during my career, I know there are differing opinions about the proper amount of time. Ideally, students will be able to state an answer to a problem immediately, with no hesitation. Writing answers can require more time to let young hands do what their brains tell them. I suggest 4-5 seconds per problem, unless additional accommodations are required. For 40-problems, 3-4 minutes would fit. If you feel that more time is appropriate, adjust for your students’ needs. Keep in mind that the more time given, the more chance students have to calculate using other tools, such as counting on fingers or making marks on paper. Each teacher will have to decide if the goal is automatic recall or finding the answer with various strategies.
     Whatever the amount of time you choose, it’s helpful to establish a routine. My routine was to pass out the papers face down and have students write their names on the back. This kept them from spending assessment time writing their name and the date. When I said, “Turn your paper over.”, I paused for a few seconds to allow students to get oriented to the sheet. Then, I said, “Begin.” and started timing. Once I stopped the time, I reminded students to write their name on the front.
      Checking assessments can be burdensome. I always had students check their own paper with a special pen/pencil as I called out the answers. Students either did nothing to the correct problems or put a check mark, if they wanted to. Incorrect problems were simply circled.
     Consider creating data notebooks and have students record and monitor their own growth and progress.

Sunday, August 21, 2016

The PASS Pack: Math Spiral Review

     The new school year is fast approaching and my favorite product ever is ready to go! Introducing The PASS Pack - Practicing Applications and Skills Sets!
     The PASS Pack provides students the two things they need most in math: 1) consistent, spiral review on essential skills learned in previous grades and newly-acquired skills, and 2) opportunities to apply those skills in real-life situation word problems.
     No more will you have students ask you late in April, “What’s a factor?” They’ll be practicing with them all year. My students lost ground when I would teach a concept thoroughly in October, leave it for weeks or months, then present an activity in March. I was always aghast that they had forgotten or confused so many concepts. I knew that I needed a consistent, year-long tool that kept basic skills fresh in their minds, while at the same time giving them opportunities to practice and apply the new skills we were learning. Hence, the PASS Pack!
     The PASS Pack is so versatile! Designed as a weekly two-sided resource, you can use it all at once or break it up into sections. You can assign it as Morning Work to get kids thinking mathematically, as homework, as in-class practice, as part of your math center rotations, or in a small intervention group.          

     You’ll see some skills presented as number problems and others embedded in word problems. The word problems provide review of 4th grade standards and practice on 5th grade standards as they are introduced during the quarter.

     Each week of the PASS Pack starts with a joke - the Math Laugh! Also included each quarter is a special puzzle or challenge. Look for the Calculator Solve and Flip, Math Analogies, Code Buster, and more!
     You'll find two different data collection options and complete teacher directions.
     You can buy each quarter separately or buy the bundle and save money! Check them all out at my store Growing Grade By Grade!
     Have a great school year!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

A Prayer For Children

     I love to share this at the beginning of each school year. Enjoy the re-read and please share, if you like. 
     The beginning of a new school year is loaded with potential for teachers as well as students: hope that we will be our best person and our best teacher, goals for what we want to do and what we don't want to do, dreams of connecting with each and every student in a meaningful and memorable way.
     Realistically, we know that our hopes, dreams, and goals won't always be met, no matter how hard we try.  Experience tells us that students sometimes bring in more challenges than we can successfully solve despite the love, care, attention, and hard work that we bring to the table.
     While we love all of our students, the ones with those special, heart-wrenching needs can occupy a spot in our hearts for as long as do those who are super-successful.
     I was given this poem at church many years ago.  It touches me (let that read: reduces me to tears) every time I read it. It reminds me that our best efforts are soonest realized through faith and prayer.  Read it and pass it along if you'd like.  We're all in this together.


4 Things Teachers Should Do...Before The First Day of School

     Even before the back-to-school email from administration comes, teachers are often thinking, planning, buying, making, training, reading, meeting, cutting, pasting, collating, and creating for the new year. It's part of the job, part of the lifestyle. There are so many things to do, however, that even the most seasoned veteran can feel overwhelmed as they prepare for the new beginning.

     After a career of new school years, I have picked out four vital items that should head every teacher's to-do list. They are not the most important things you'll do all year, perhaps, but they can make or break a good beginning, set the tone for a successful school year, and calm the butterflies that may have taken flight in your stomach. I can say this for sure: I wish someone had told me these things when I started teaching.

Plan for the first day. Really? That's news? I can't tell you how many years I spent frantically trying to make my classroom Pinterest-worthy (before Pinterest was invented), attend all the meetings, label all the file folders, pull all the data...then realize at 5:00 p.m. the day before the kids arrived that I had not planned for the first day! Serious heart-in-throat time. Before you put up a bulletin board, make desk tags, or attend a meeting, start sketching out everything that you will wish you had done or said on that all-important first day.  Even when you're feeling the pressure, put on the blinders for a bit and focus on first-day plans.

Plan for the first week. Again, it may seem like something that teachers just naturally have done, but no, we don't always. Planning for the first week presumes that you've been given a schedule of bells, specials, lunch, and recess. Once you have that, it's vital that you look at your remaining minutes and divide them over all you have to cover.

Walk through your day as a student. Once you've planned your first day and week, physically move through all that you will ask your students to do, from walking into the classroom to lining up to restroom breaks to the last minute of the day. I guarantee this will highlight what works and what needs to be tweaked. You'll be glad you did!

Remember that less is more. I would never have believed it, but teachers can overdo it sometimes. One of my classes once told me that my classroom decor was overwhelming to them at the first of the year. As much as I appreciated the heads-up, I was totally taken aback. What?  Kids don't always care for over-the-top decorations? Truly, when I stepped back and looked at it through kid eyes, it really did look like my room had thrown up on itself. Take this as permission to go minimalist, leave some bulletin boards bare - perhaps waiting for student work, and actually leave some stuff at Target for others. You can always add as you go and a little waiting can open your eyes to particular class needs and wants that you couldn't have anticipated.

     Please share your best back-to-school ideas. Best wishes to everyone who is approaching a new school year!

Saturday, August 6, 2016

$75 TPT Gift Card Giveaway

Who would like to win a $75 TPT Gift Card? Everyone, right? Follow the directions below and enter to win! Just a little "Way to go!" as school draws nearer.
Prize: $75 Teachers Pay Teachers Gift Card

Giveaway organized by: An Apple for the Teacher
Rules: Use the Rafflecopter form to enter. 

a Rafflecopter giveaway  

Giveaway ends 8/13/16 and is open worldwide.
Are you a blogger who wants to participate in giveaways like these to grow your blog?  Click here to find out how you can join a totally awesome group of bloggers!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Horizontal and Vertical Help

     Help students remember the difference in horizontal and vertical directions with these easy, visual displays. They're a snap to make and are easy for students to copy into their interactive math notebooks for reference.

     Do you have a favorite visual poster?