Saturday, February 28, 2015

MATH groups: [T] Teacher Time

Okay, so I've talked to you about [M] - Math facts and [A] - At your seat time. Now for the third station.. [T] Teacher time.

This is the station that can take a good amount of time to prep (who am I kidding, they ALL take time to prep!) but is also where the bulk of student learning is going to occur because here is where you can teach the strategies they need for solving multiplication facts. This is also where you can differentiate and modify your how you group your students according to what you are teaching.

Here's a quick look at my lesson plan book and some of what I taught during this time:

As you can see above, I have used this time to each the following concepts:

Vocabulary terms: product, factor, multiply, equal groups, multiples
Strategies: equal groups, arrays, breaking apart a factor, fact families, skip counting
Word problems
Multiplying 3 numbers
Order of operations

I use my dry erase easel, manipulatives, and interactive notebook activities from Blair Turner to teach most of the lessons in a hands-on approach. It keeps my students engaged and gives us just enough time together to work through a new concept but not too much time where they become bored and lose interest.

This week, I used Friday as our RTI and enrichment time. Yesterday, I worked with my higher students on using input and output tables. They were the first group I worked with. Then, I called other groups back and asked them if there was anything they were struggling with, not fully understanding, or just wanted extra practice with. I think asking them was important because I made them really think through their comprehension, and assess & reflect on their work so far. Their responses were fantastic! A few students said they felt good so I allowed them to take some extra time to study flashcards or play a game to practice skills. But, I had two groups that had students wanting to work on their x4 facts and some who wanted help understanding the 9s finger trick again. I was happy to spend that time helping them overcome their struggles. I may not have worked on those skills specifically during RTI time and it would not have been very meaningful or helpful to them.

Here's a look at that RTI time.. it was the first time I had ever tried writing on our kidney table with a dry erase marker.... their minds were BLOWN! It was so much fun to see their engagement through the rest of the lesson all because we wrote on the table!

Here we worked more on the 9s trick using our fingers. I drew it out on the table to make it more visual and concrete for them before we worked through it in a more abstract way.

One entire group felt good about their skills and comprehension within all the studied concepts thus far, and I agreed, so I started working on my summative assessment for the unit which I administer interview style. That is what you see below. If you click the picture you can find them in TpT store.

I'll be back tomorrow with the rest of my MATH station set up with the [H] station!

Friday, February 27, 2015

Multiplication Fact Mastery: part three

Next, we started to make our multiplication flashcards. This is what will be about 2 weeks' worth of assignments for our MATH stations (which I explained in my last post here). M stands for Math facts, so flashcards fits perfectly here!
I know that it would be easier to go to the dollar store or Target Dollar Spot and buy bunch of packs for the students to practice with, but where is the fun in that?? and also, how does that make them meaningful?? I want them to really belong to my students, so we make our own every year. Yes, they are time consuming. Yes, it can be frustrating for you as a teacher (I had to hole punch A LOT of index cards!) BUT, my students LOVE making their own flashcards. They feel ownership over those cards and much more responsibility for them because they know how much hard work they put into making them themselves.

To gather the resources for them, I actually ask parents to send in 2-3 packs of blank index cards as part of our school supply list at the beginning of the year. It means I have to store a whole bunch of packs for a few months until we make them, but in the long run it is worth it! They only thing I provide my students is a large binder ring on which their cards will be kept. I also prep them with a hole puncher the day before we make each set and after some modeling and guiding through the ones, twos, and fives, they are on their own to make them in the future!

This was how I guided them in making the first three sets as a whole group. I went over the guidelines for how they had to set up their cards: 
You can even see my example card for 1x1 taped to the board. It stayed there for a few days :) 

1. They had to use marker to write the fact vertically on one side of the card.
2. They had to use pencil to write the answer on the back of the card (so it won't show through)
3. They had to put their initials on EVERY card (in case they lost one/some)
4. One fact set had to be all one color marker, but then the next fact set could be a different color (to prevent rainbow writing!)
5. They had to write the facts just as they are on the board (the set we worked on was always on the bottom)

I would then select one student at a time to go to the board to write the first fact and tell us the answer, then another student would go up and write the next fact and tell us the answer, and so on until all facts through x12 in that set were listed on the board with the answer. 
I then gave everyone a small stack of blank cards and turned them loose to making their flashcards!

I also feel that when they make their own, all those numbers stick. They are writing every. single. fact. and it's product when they make these. That's important.

Eventually, as you see in my last post about Math fact time, they made their own flashcards for the rest of the fact sets. I would write the facts on a small dry erase easel that I placed on one of my students' desks. Our next hour of work is then a MESS! Students and papers are everywhere, and no one is sitting (or standing) at their own desks. I always keep my students' desks grouped in pods and their pods become our working area. One area is always designated for where they make their flashcards, and all of the supplies they need (the blank cards, the easel with the facts, and the colored key you see above) are put in that area. They take all of the supplies they need (markers, pencils, flashcard ring) and move to that area. It's controlled chaos.... and I LOVE IT!

Well, that's all I bother you with for now. I'll be back soon! There's A LOT more to share :)

MATH groups: [A] At your seat

So.. you saw how I started to introduce my MATH groups (hopefully it made sense!) as well as what students are expected to in during [M]ath fact time in my last post...

Now, here is what is involved during [A]... which is At your seat.

There are a lot of options you could do with this as well. This is intended to be the time that students compete independent practice of a particular skill. Again, my focus is multiplication, so I am using The Multiplication Station from Shelley Gray. It is am amazing self-paced program designed to help students not just memorize their multiplication facts, but help them master multiplication as a whole with meaningful practice of several skills.  I started to introduce it by introducing the pages for the Zeros and Ones as a whole group. We did one or two a day together until we had worked through them all.
One of the fantastic things about her station is that there are so many different activities to practice all of the facts. They include directions and several examples so that students can do everything on their own, but I still wanted to introduce this to my students since it was a brand new activity and the zeroes & ones facts are perfect because of the simplicity. We were able to focus on how to read the page and complete the activity rather than focus on solving the answers. I wanted them to feel confident in their abilities to figure out how to complete each page. Solving for the correct products would come with strategies I would be teaching. Does that make sense to you? It does to me... but what does that really mean? haha

Once we began full rotations, my students keep track and pace themselves through the entire program. It follows a particular order for teaching the facts, so that is the order I followed when they made their flashcards so there would be consistency in all areas. She includes ALL of the information you and your students need to understand how the program works... and it really does. It amazes me every day how well all of my students work through this completely on their own (mostly!) I usually still have students come to me to ask a question, but it's usually to make sure they are completing a page correctly or ask a quick question. But overall, they manage it so smoothly. They have become so responsible using this, and additionally, I think it helps them as problem solvers. Because I am teaching during this time (which is the next station I will post about) they have to figure out problems they encounter on their own. I think that is a fantastic life skill you have to learn!

Here's some photos of my students working hard during this time, as well as a look at what they use to track their progress.

This is how I have all of the files stored. I put multiples activity sheets into one folder to save on the number of folders I would need. I also copied many of them front & back so that it would save paper. 

I also laminated the answer keys front to back and put them in the same folders as the activities to make them easy to find, and to save on laminating sheets.

 Next to our Multiplication Station I have a magazine-style holder. This is where all of my students keep their personal trackers. They are in page protectors which have their student number on them. I wanted them to stay nice and neat, and prevent them from getting lost in the shuffle of their desks.

This is a progress tracker. She likes rainbows....and organization :)

This student finished activity 2C, so she is checking her work on the answer key. If she finishes both the front and back, and checks them with the key, she will then put it in the same bin where she keeps her tracker. I look through it daily just to check over their progress and monitor how they are doing. I like to do that for my own "formative assessment." Basically, keep an eye on their independent learning! After a quick look over them, I send them home.

This student is working on 2F and will then work on 2G. After she finishes all of 2G, she is ready for her 2s test, as long as she feels comfortable and ready and KNOWS THEM FLUENTLY! They tell me when they are ready and I write down the date they are ready with the fact set I need to test them on. I test several kids a day on several different fact sets. 

Here's how I keep that organized (it's a part of the freebie you found in the last post and if you click the picture here you can get it, too!)

If they pass, I just put a check mark next to their name. If they miss any facts, I write how many they missed and circle it. I retest them usually the next day. 

I keep track of their progress through the fact tests in the checklist section of my Erin Condren Teacher Planner like this:

The tests they take are very basic. I use the format that I got in 

I keep "answer keys" I made for each set on my clipboard (which is becoming a HOT mess between my tracking sheets for MATH stations and the Daily 5!) Here's a look at that:

I am so very happy with this purchase! It is quite a bit of prep to get The Multiplication Station set up and ready to use, between copying, finding a filing & storage system, and prepping the answer keys, but I promise you it is well worth it. It is by far one of the best investments I have made for curriculum supplementation!

What do you think of MATH group implementation so far??
I hope you find it do-able! There are SO many options you can do for each station when you really start exploring it. [A]t your seat time could include any printables that allow students to independently practice the skill on which you are currently working. You could use your school-provided curriculum worksheets or textbook problems at this time also. 

What are your ideas? I'd love to read your thoughts for inspiration for my future use of this!

Monday, February 23, 2015

MATH groups: setting up, [M] and a freebie!

MATH groups!

What are they? How do I start? How do they work? Are they time consuming? Are they worth it?

In this post, I hope to answer all of those questions and MORE for you about how start your own small group rotations in math, Daily 5 style!

To start, a bit of a disclaimer - I started these stations about halfway through the school year. I started them at this time because all of the activities I will be describing in the post relate to multiplication. They fell right in perfectly with setting up stations, but I already am thinking through how I will be able to implement the stations year round with all math concepts! The halfway point is also a great time to start for two reasons: 1. Students are very familiar with behaviors and expectations for the Daily 5 and this has a very similar set up. 2. They are also excited to try something new (and you probably are too!)

Another small disclaimer - I am more of an "on my feet" and "just wing it" style teacher. I like to jump in and start something, even if I haven't thought it through completely. Wow, that sounds horrible now to type it out and read it, but what I mean by it is that if I try and think it all the way out, I may never get to it. You can't plan for every little thing that could or could not happen. Sometimes, you just have to jump in and figure it out as you go. It's a bit of what I did here, but I still had most of what I wanted to do mapped out. I told you that to encourage you to GO FOR IT! If you've been thinking about starting MATH groups, or anything new in your classroom, if you've thought through it for the most part and have a good idea of what you're doing to get started, just go for it! You can do it, and you'll figure out the rest as you go! It's part of teacher DNA, I just know it!

Okay, enough of that... let's start talking about MATH groups!

I have been snapping photos for a few days, trying to document eevvvverything I could to show you how I set up my groups. Short of videos and walking around my room talking (which might actually be worse for you - I'd probably make you dizzy!) I wanted to show you all I could in how I run MATH group time so you could feel confident in setting yours up too! Since I took sooo many pictures I'll have to break up this post into a small series of posts, within my larger series of posts about multiplication, so you can see it all. Can we say Inception?

So, MATH groups. I capitalize them for a reason. Each letter in MATH stands for what happens in that station. I saw a posting on Facebook somewhere and that was how I got the names for each of them, I didn't come up with them myself.... oh, how I wish I was creative enough to have done so, though! Here's what they stand for: M - math facts, A - at your seat, T - teacher time, H - hands-on. I know there are many options out there for naming your math stations, but I liked that I could still call them math groups and they stood for MATH. My students didn't have to learn another new term for something we were doing - math makes sense to them and is one less thing for ME to get used to as well. :)

I have about an hour to an hour and fifteen minutes of time set in our schedule for math. So, I try to make sure that every student gets at least 12-15 minutes in each of the stations every day. That means 4 stations at 15 minutes each is an hour, plus a few minutes to transition between all 4 stations and a few minutes at the beginning for me to explain their assignments. So, I highly recommend an hour and fifteen minutes into your day if you can. If not, you can shorten the time in each group to 10-12 minutes, or have students rotate through 3 a day instead of all 4. At that point, it's completely up to you and your schedule.

So, I made some simple cards to and laminated them so I could post the "assignments" or expectations for each station each day, like I do for my Daily 5 stations, in dry erase marker. They look like this and you'll be able to download them free below, with some other items I will mention too :)

I also made a simple layout of how I wanted to my multiplication unit to generally go, with some of the topics I knew I needed to cover. I am also going the Ohio RESA for my license renewal and have to submit a task about assessment, so this helped me organize those thoughts too. It is a work in progress and has already changed, but it helped me keep my thoughts and lessons organized. Like I said above, I did think through it, but also just jumped right in, too!

If you read my post about introducing multiplication, you can see above that those are the lessons for days 1 and 2. Then, I slowly introduced the centers and what we would be doing in them, one day at a time. On day 4 I introduced the set up for At your seat time (the M.S.) and the rules for the x1 and x0 facts. One day 5 we talked about making flashcards and made the first set for our x1 cards together as a class so I could lay out my expectations, which you'll read about tomorrow. One day 6 we did the lesson together as Teacher time, more of the At your seat activity together, and the Math flashcards together too. They were beginning to see how each group would be run, like in Daily 5, but with less choice. On day 8 I had a parent volunteer come in, so we jumped into full rotations for the first time since I had an extra set of hands, and it was beautiful! Of course there were kinks to work out when I wouldn't have a parent helper (which is most of the time) but it was great to just jump in and let my students see how it would all work.. and it was worth it! Remember - sometimes you just need to GO FOR IT! Have faith in yourself AND in your students - you've got this!


I track my students' rotations with post-it notes and highlighters. I decide before we start who is in what group each day. I didn't want to set groups and leave them for every day, week, or even month. I wanted them to be completely flexible so if a student or group of students was struggling with one concept over another, I could put them together for a day or so. I could also separate my struggling students and match them with higher students for particular concepts. I could completely differentiate each day. But you can have permanent groups, if you'd like. It's completely up to you. I have seen a lot of posts about rotation boards so students know where they are going each rotation, but I always tell my students during that transition period, so they are always aware, and it helps me remember who is where and what they are doing and who they are with. It takes that extra few minutes, but I'm okay with that. This is where you do what works for you!

Each station is a different color, and I just highlight when students go to each station every day. It was a bit confusing to start since I am assigning choices, but it is also how I track their choices for Daily 5 groups, so this system was easy for me to continue using. You'll get the track sheet with 30 student name slots so you can track student choices too when you download the MATH labels from above!


Today's post will also focus on the M of MATH groups - math facts. [The next 3 will be the letters A, then T, then H. Make sense? Okay, good!]

Math facts. Obviously, I am focusing on multiplication here. So, to begin my students make their own multiplication flashcards. My next post in the multiplication series will be about that entire process, but for now I'll let you know that I used this time for making those flashcards, all the way through the x12 facts. Each day, they made a different set (Monday: x5s, Tuesday: x10s, and so on). When they finished making those is when I really needed to stock up on activities... which we started last week.

I wanted them to have a variety of options, not just say "study your flashcards." That's when goofiness and shenanigans begin! So, here's what I came up with..

I have a bin I bought from Thirty-One at a party a while ago. I was using it to basically store guided reading items I wasn't using this year, so I rearranged some things, purged a bit, and put all of our MATH group items in here. This encompasses both Math fact time and Hands-on time, which I will get to soon, but shows you the variety I have provided. I'll dig inside it below too, as I describe what I'm using for student options and assignments.

In the picture above you can see the Roll, Multiply, and Color activity. It is from Blair Turner's January Just Print Club. Tomorrow, my students will be playing that game to practice rolling facts and coloring the product. A much more fun activity than just flipping through flashcards for 15 minutes!

I also have a bunch of other activities they can choose when they finish that activity, which include the following. Some also double as game choices for Hands-on time:

These activity sheets come from Light Bulb's and Laughter's Multiplication Memorization Tool Kit. I put them in worksheet protectors and students can use dry erase markers on them. It saves paper and I don't have to keep checking to see if I need to make copies!

I also have some oooollllddd self-checking flashcards from Tupperware my mother-in-law gave me. They are a favorite every year, for some reason! I also have write-on dry erase cards from the Target Dollar Spot, and a self-checking poke game I have in my set of Math Pokes on TpT.

I made few dice games last year. They roll two dice, multiply, then cover the answer with a marker. Simple and easy. They can play alone or with a partner, or even a group of three.
 The dice are foam cubes I drew dots on with a Sharpie, so they are silent :)

These are some games from a teaching company. I forget who makes them. I'll check and come back to update it! But there are two that focus on multiplication facts, one is a partner game. I keep all the materials in baggies inside the folder. They grab a folder and go play!

This is another Blair Turner January Just Print Club printable they can play; spinning to solve facts and graph the product as even or odd.

I made this file folder game about 5 years ago. It came in handy! I think I got the templates from an old Carson Dellosa file folder game book. Yep, I colored those owls :) it's definitely old school style, but still effective!

These are math spinner games I made. I have several options for multiplication and addition, so a few folders of these are included. Spin the spinners, multiply the two numbers, and color the product!

The bin also has some Multiplication Wrap-Ups I got from Lakeshore which are a big hit too. LOTS of options for lots of different learners!

I have also used this time to have student practice facts in other ways, as you saw with the Roll and Cover game for tomorrow. Last week, right after Valentine's Day, they practiced matching broken hearts to practice facts, which you can find here:

I took one of Blair Turner's Test Prep Centers and turned it into an interactive activity instead of a center I had already made. Students made fact families with ice cream cones and scoops another day. I had them put it onto construction paper so I could assess their understanding, but I think it would work well in an INB too!

What ideas do you have for this section of MATH stations?
Are you feeling a bit more like you could jump in and try it? I hope so! 
Share your thoughts with me below.. I'd love to hear your brilliant ideas and how you've implemented MATH stations in your classroom! I'm itching to plan them out for year-round use!

Click the photo below to get the **FREEBIES** I mentioned above, plus another you'll hear more about in a future post!

Have a blessed evening, and thanks for staying through that of all - whew! time for bed... :)