Thursday, April 21, 2016

         Ten Things That Will Help You Wrap Up the Year
The kiddos have said good-bye and headed off for summer fun.  You're left wondering where the year went and reflecting on those things that you will definitely do next year and those things that you will NEVER do again!  Here are a few things that I have learned from wrapping up thirty-eight school years! (If you thought the school year went fast, you can't imagine how the summer will fly.)

1. The more things you can do before leaving for the summer, the better.  Get a head start on next year by preparing those things you use every year.  Maybe it's student math journals, or copies of math fact timings that you use every day all year long.  Replenish the copies in those files, and prepare students materials. 

2.  Create a "Back-to-School" binder or folder.  Include everything you need to start the year--lesson plans or outlines for activities, copies of your class procedures and rules to hand to parents,  masters for first day assignments, and masters for all those things you need to make for students such as name tags, desk labels, etc. Anything you need to start the year should be in this binder.  You might also want to include ideas that you come across that you'd like to try at some point. 

3.  Make a summer to-do list.  It is really helpful to create this list throughout the school year.  When you finish a unit or an activity and you think of something that could improve it, jot it on your summer list.  When you come to the end of the school year, you won't be trying to remember what it was about that rounding activity that needed to be fixed.  Then, prioritize your list, and check things off as you deal with them.

4.  If you are lucky enough to be able to leave up your displays and d├ęcor through the summer, hooray!  You might have a plan for giving something a facelift or a total make-over.  If so, try to do it before you leave for the summer.  If not, make note of the things you will need, such as a new border, and purchase or make those items before you get into the back-to-school rush.  If you must take everything down, snap some photos of those displays that you want to use again.  Then you won't have to remember just how you had everything arranged.

5.  Set aside a day or two to clean and organize that drawer, closet, or file that has gotten out of control.  I am lucky enough to be able to get into my classroom throughout the summer, except for a couple of weeks when floors are being waxed.  So, the week after school gets out, I like to come back when the building is quiet, and I can focus on those organizational things that have been put off all year.  All that stuff you haven't used in years--throw it away, give it away, or have a teacher garage sale.  It is a wonderful feeling to open a cupboard and have a bit of empty space.

6.  One of my organizational challenges is deep shelves and cupboards.  I forget what I put in the deep dark corners of those things.  It is really helpful to tape a list on the inside of the cupboard door that lists the contents.  Also, if you can, put all of  your math manips in the same drawer or cupboard, all of your science stuff together, and so on.

7.  Set aside part of a day during the last week of school for cleaning.  Have students shelve their text books and clean their own desks, chairs, and cubbies.  Clorox wipes are great for this. Mr. Clean Magic Erasers are also terrific.  Your custodial staff will probably be glad to give you spray cleaner and rags.  At some schools where I've worked, we actually had the kids take their desks and chairs outside where we turned the hose on them and used buckets of soapy water and scrub brushes.  If the hard covers of your text books are getting grubby, give the kiddos a Clorox wipe to clean them up.  Make sure you leave them sitting out to dry thoroughly before putting them away.

8.  Check with your administrator or custodial staff to learn how they want you to leave classroom furniture.  At my school, we move all the student desks and chairs into the hallways, (We have students help with this) so that the custodial staff can clean carpets, windows, etc. in the classrooms.  They then move the furniture back into the classrooms and deal with the tile in the halls.  If you must clear your teacher desktop and counters, box everything together and label the boxes.  For example, my Desktop box contains my staplers, scissors, tape dispenser, pen container, sticky notes, etc.

9.  If you are going to have new curriculum materials next year, such as a new math text, see if you can get the teacher materials to take home for the summer.  It helps so much to have a handle on how the program works before you're in the thick of actually trying to use it.

10. Finally, make sure you allow plenty of summer time for sharpening the saw.  Recharge your batteries with a few good novels, a vacation, or even just time to yourself out in the garden. 



Friday, October 16, 2015

Teaching Multiplication for Understanding

One thing I love about the new math standards is teaching for depth of understanding.  It makes so much sense to teach fewer things in depth, than a lot of things with very shallow coverage.  In third grade we spend a great deal of time on multiplication, and students now develop a real understanding of what multiplication is and how it works, rather than just memorizing facts.  Below are some of the strategies that I teach students to use when looking for the product of an unknown fact.

1.  Draw equal groups.  Students model equal groups by drawing a circle of each one, then putting the correct number of objects in each group.




2.  Skip count.  To find the product of 3 X 4, count three fours: 4, 8, 12.  Teach students that these numbers are multiples of 4.

3.  Draw equal jumps on a number line.

4.  Relate multiplication and addition.  3 X 4 = 4 + 4 + 4 + 4

5.  Make an array.

6.  Use the Commutative Property of Multiplication.  If you do not know the product of 3 X 4, perhaps you do know the product of 4 X 3.

7.  Use doubles.  To find the product of 4 X 4, think of the product of 2 X 4 and double it.  To find the product of  6 X 4, think of the product of 3 X 4 and double it, and so on.

8.  Use the Distributive Property of Multiplication to break apart larger factors into smaller factors.
5 X 8 can be thought of as (2 X 8) + (3 X 8).



9.   Make a bar model.

I have developed several items to help my students master both the concept of multiplication as well as multiplication facts.  The products shown below, as well as others, are available in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.