My dad is seventy years old. School was much different when he was a kid. He walked to school in morning and home in the afternoon. He might even have told me that it was uphill both ways! He was not the most diligent student growing up and finds it ironic that he married a school teacher. Being a teacher seems to run in the family.
Anyways, my dad and I were having a chat one day about his schooling. He said that the most useful thing he learned in school was his times tables. He still uses them all the time. Take a minute to think about when you last used a multiplication fact.
I remember being a third-grader and my teacher would have us play the game around the world to practice our times tables. I also remember 2 minute tests. We had to write down each problem that we got wrong ten times on the back of the paper for the next day. I did not like doing this, but I knew all of my multiplication facts by the end of the year.
As a child, I did not fully understand the meaning multiplication. I knew that it was a math operation. It was not introduced as repeated addition 2+2+2 turns into 3 groups of 2 –>> 3×2=6. I hear a lot of parents complaining about “the new math.” However, my own children understand the processes of operations and why they work.
Can you explain the process of borrowing when subtracting? –Not the algorithm, but the reason why we borrow one from the next place value over. I was curious and asked my ten-year-old son. Without batting an eye, he said you take one from the hundreds and make it ten groups of ten. Then you move one group of ten to the next column over to add to that place value and then you can subtract.
I love the newer mathematics for elementary students and the deeper understanding of mathematical concepts they are learning. Fluency is still important after the basic understanding of the topic is learned. Just as students would need to practice words for a language class, they also need to practice their times tables for math class. Flash cards are a great tool for practicing fluency. Keep reading to find where you can download your free set!
I find that there are many high school students who do not know their multiplication tables. This is a crucial prerequisite skill for factoring polynomials as well as many other tasks. Some might argue that a student can just use a calculator to multiply. However, when the skill needed is to find the factors of a number, a calculator will only take a student so far. Without knowledge of times tables, trial and error may be an approach that a student might use. This is a fine approach, but very time consuming.
In an effort to help teachers, tutors, and parents assist students to learn their times tables, I have created a free resource of multiplication flash cards with a progress tracker. Please use this resource to help this generation of students become fluent with their times tables.
I hope you had a lovely Thanksgiving. Our family tradition is to make ravioli the night before with all of my extended family. I’ve made ravioli since I can remember. This year, my son rolled out his first batch of ravioli … and the tradition continues to the next generation. On Friday, I went shopping with my mom and two sisters, another tradition.
Now it is Sunday night and I am looking over my lesson plans for the week. We are currently studying transformations in geometry. When introducing the transformations, I made reference to driving a car:
Rotations: Turning the steering wheel left or right
Reflections: Seeing the image in the rear-view mirror
Translations: The car moving down the road
I also had the students raise their hands in the air and we rotated, reflected and translated our hands. My students told me that I had jazz hands for the translations. Using hand movements helps my kinesthetic learners as well as my English Language Learners.
Cyber Monday is tomorrow! My Teachers Pay Teachers shop, Mathberry Lane is on SALE!
Teacher Tip: Some students love to doodle. So, get that out of the way in the beginning. Ask students to draw their best doodle for you. Sometimes I will select an item for them to draw. One day I asked everyone to draw their best panda. It was a lot of fun for my students as well as for me to see their artistic abilities that have been hidden from me.
Here are some ideas for how to get going with whiteboards in your classroom:
Modeling – Ten frames, Number Bonds, Arrays
Show your thinking
Modeling a problem
Order of Operations
Make a problem for your neighbor to solve
Identifying Slopes and y-intercepts
Model the problem with a picture or words
Make your own problem – give to a neighbor to solve
Vocabulary and Notation Check
Identifying Angle Pair Relationships
Solving for unknown angles
Practicing Trigonometry Ratios
Segment and line relationships with circles
Sketching parent functions & identifying them from a graph
Writing Equations for a graph and identifying key features
Powers of numbers
It is easy to get into the habit of always calling on the same students who have raised their hands to volunteer an answer. One way to make sure that you are including all of your students is to use Popsicle® sticks when selecting students to contribute to class.
Your favorite sharpie or flare pen
The task of writing all of your students names on Popsicle® sticks may seem a bit daunting. (I know; I had 145 students one year!) You can always give each student a stick and instruct them to write their names “legibly” on them. Or, wait until your favorite show or sports team is on television and complete the task while kicking back a little. I usually group the Popsicle® sticks by class and wrap a rubber band around them.
When it is time to go over homework, I usually select a couple of problems that I want to go over with the class. I will have the students present their solutions on the board. I use the Popsicle® sticks to select a student. I never want to put a student completely on the spot, so I always let them choose a classmate to work with for this task. The two students would then be responsible for writing the solution to the homework problem on the board and explaining it to the class.
Homework is a learning process, so sometimes the solution is not correct. Wrong answers are wonderful to review! It is important that students know that it is okay to make a mistake when they are learning new material. Students create genuine error analysis problems when the solution is not correct. As a class, we can work together to find a viable solution. It is important to review classroom expectations and create class rules/norms so that everyone is respectful and understands that making mistakes are part of the learning process.
I hope to be watching the Red Sox this year as I make this year’s set of sticks! What will you be watching?
Geometry Curriculum Blending Paperless with Paper & Pencil Lab Activities
Is your school going 1:1?
Are you ready for some paperless lessons for your students?
Want to try out Digital Lessons, but don’t have time to create them?
Maybe you aren’t ready to give up paper and pencil activities altogether yet. If this sounds like you, then you may want to check out Unit 1 – Introduction to Geometry for my blended curriculum of paperless lessons combined with paper and pencil labs.
For a full preview of this resource click the link below:
One of my favorite ways to check homework is to have students work in teams, while I do a quick check-in with each student. Each student is assigned to a team of 3-4 students. I spot check a couple of problems and ask students if they had difficulty with anything. I write down the problems #’s on a post-it and tally how many students had a tough time with each problem mentioned. This gives me a good sense for what to go over with the class or re-teach. If I see a great solution, I will ask that student to share the solution on the board with the class.
Now, sometimes, not everyone comes to class prepared with their homework completed. If this is the case, then the expectation is that they need to be working on the assignment during team time. If a student misses a couple of assignments, then I usually reach out to parents to see if they can help encourage students to complete their work for class. If a student was absent, they use this time to catch up on notes.
This process does take a little more class time than collecting homework. However, I find this method extremely beneficial during the first few weeks of school. It helps me learn students’ names and is a good way to get to know them.
Homework teams is a nice way to start class, because it lets students catch up with each other socially while actively engaging in their own learning at the same time.
I believe that homework should be used as a learning opportunity for students and not graded for accuracy. Homework provides students a chance to process and reflect upon what they learned that day in class. It helps students retain information and practice transferring it to a new scenario.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
When I check homework, I look for:
How much is completed
Spot check 2-3 designated problems
Correctness (to guide future instruction)
I track homework completeness as shown in the chart below.
How do you track homework? Please share in the comments below.