March 31, 2012

Now's the Time for Math Stations!

Math stations are a great way to reinforce and review skills from throughout the year!
Have you  used math stations or math centers in your classroom this year? If not, this is the perfect time to start! As you prepare for end-of-the-year tests, you need time to work with small groups of students on specific skills. But what are you supposed to do with the other kids? If you set up math stations, the rest of the class can work with a partner or alone on a math review game or activity. This photo shows two of my former students playing a matching math review game. Math stations make the end of the year so much fun!

I've experimented with several methods for using math stations. and I discovered that setting them up wasn't nearly as difficult as I had imagined. Math centers can consist of nothing more than a deck of math cards and a set of directions. I generally used the Rotation Station model or Choice Stations with center menu options. You can learn more about both models on my Implementing Math Stations page on Teaching Resources. On that page, you'll also find some great free math games to use in centers.

Math Stations for Middle Grades (3 - 8)
After years of using math stations successfully, I decided to write an ebook to share my strategies. Math Stations for Middle Grades includes management strategies, prepared math games, and a variety of templates so that you can create your own problems to go along with the games. The item shown here is for a single classroom; I now have a school site license available as well. You can preview everything online before you purchase to see if the materials are right for your classroom.

More recently, I've created loads of freebies and games to use in math centers, and many of them are aligned with the Common Core. Just take a look in my Math File Cabinet to see what you can find!

March 26, 2012

Easter Egg Showdown Review

Easter egg activities aren't just for little ones! You might not take older kids on an Easter egg hunt, but you can bring colorful plastic eggs into the classroom and jazz up any review activity using this Easter Egg Showdown freebie!

Showdown is a cooperative learning activity in which students work first alone, and then with a team, to solve problems or answer questions on task cards. Easter Egg Showdown is a variation in which the task cards are tucked inside plastic Easter eggs. Students select an egg, open it, read the problem or task, and everyone on the team writes a response. In the final step, team members compare and discuss their answers. In this example, the task cards contain sentences, and students have to identify the subject and the predicate of each sentence.

Easter Egg Showdown Freebie
The Easter Egg Showdown packet includes teacher directions, student directions, the Subject and Predicate activity shown in the photo, Division Showdown task cards, and blank templates to create your own. You can download it from my TpT Store or from the Seasonal page on Teaching Resources. Feedback is always appreciated!
One reason I love this activity is that you can easily adapt almost any Showdown lesson to use with the Easter Eggs. To find more Showdown activities, visit my TpT store and type "showdown" into the search box. Showdown works well with basic math review problems, vocabulary words and definitions, states and capitals, or science and social studies questions. What an "eggsciting" way to review!

March 25, 2012

Note-Taking Foldable Freebie For Informational Text

How can you transform almost any assignment into an adventure? Use foldables! Foldables are so much fun to make, and when students create their own, they seem to take more pride in their work.

Note-taking Foldables
Foldables are terrific for note-taking assignments based on informational text. The examples shown on the right were created by my students during a science unit on the rain forest. I had four subtopics I wanted them to explore; therefore, I used a four-flap foldable so they could write one question on each flap. 

Below you'll find directions for making this rain forsest foldable. It works great for taking notes on any topic that has four clear subtopics - even textbook chapters!

I usually have students create foldables from plain paper, but if you've never created this one before, you may want to use the pattern below. It has dotted lines for folding and solid lines for cutting. You can download the Rain Forest Foldable pattern from the Science File Cabinet on Teaching Resources.

How to Make a Rain Forest Foldable:
  1. Give each student a large sheet of white construction paper - 12" x 18" was used in the examples above. Show your students how to fold it into eighths. (If using the pattern, have them fold on the dotted lines.)
  2. Ask students to open their papers and then fold the top and bottom halves in to meet at the center. (If using the pattern, the printed side goes down.)
  3. Next, show your students how to snip the fold in the middle of each flap to create a total of four flaps as shown in the photo above. (If using the pattern, cut on the two solid lines.)
  4. Ask students to write the title of the foldable and their name in the large space on the back, and then flip it over and write their four subtopics on the front, one per flap.
  5. If time allows, provide a few minutes for students to decorate their foldables. 
  6. Demonstrate how to lift up each flap and take notes in the area under the flap. (Tip: It's helpful to draw solid lines on the folds inside the foldable to separate the four sections.)
Not only are foldables a terrific way to actively engage students, they're also great because kids can store them and refer to them later when studying for a test or completing an assignment. How might you use this foldable? 

March 23, 2012

Island Conquer Area & Perimeter Games

Area and perimeter are two concepts that students frequently confuse, so fun math games to practice those skills are always welcome - especially when they are free! Island Conquer is a set of two games that provide opportunities for students to explore area or perimeter on a coordinate grid. Students play with a partner and take turns using the Coordinate Cards to plot rectangles on the Island Conquer game board. After each person plots a rectangle, he or she calculates the area or perimeter of the "captured" island. At the end of the game, they add up the total area or perimeter to find out who is the new Island King or Queen!

You can download this freebie from the Geometry folder in my online Math File Cabinet at Teaching Resources. I hope your students enjoy this game as much as mine did!

March 22, 2012

Hands On Geometry - Part II

Guest Blog Post by Stephanie Moorman of Teaching in Room 6

Last week I shared Hands-on Geometry, Part I, and I'm back with Part II! The Hands-on Geometry Freebie shown on the right includes templates that go with both lessons.

Area and Perimeter
I love going outside for these standards.  Heading out with our rulers and paper in hand, the kids measure various signs and playground objects.  I usually have the students find both the area and the perimeter of the objects (depending upon what time of year I have them do this activity). This is really fun, since the kids often have to work together to measure the objects (since the lines on the playground are often larger than the 12 inches a ruler provides)  They are getting practice in converting inches to feet, measuring large objects, AND finding the perimeter and/or area of those objects.  So much math, all on the playground!

Surface Area
I like to have the students discover this concept for themselves.  I give them a tissue box, paper, and scissors, with instructions to cover the box with no overlap.  Then they have to tell me how much paper they need.  This takes some time, but they actually all do figure out that they need to create a net, measure each side, find the area of each side, and add it all together.

Back to the food again!  Using the marshmallows (they are cheap and easy because of their shape), the students need to create cubes and rectangular prisms of set sizes.  If I have them create a 36 marshmallow cube, they can see that the entire thing gets filled it.  It is 36 cubic units.  We then count the marshmallows on the length, the width, and the height.  Multiply them together, and you get 36 cubic units!

The circumference of a circle is about 3 times the diameter.  To show the students this, I take them outside to one of the painted circles on the playground.  We all sit around it and I have the students walk the diameter of the circle.   When we all have a basic idea of what the diameter is, the kids then walk the actual circle.  To their amazement, it really does take them 3x as long to walk around the outside of the circle!

There really are so many different ways to help the students learn the different concepts found within the Geometry and Measurement strands.  With a little creativity, it is easy to make these vital standards come to life for the students!  How have you made these standards more hands-on?  Please comment below.  I would love to hear about it!

Stephanie Moorman is a 5th grade teacher who has been teaching elementary school for 14 years. She has her Masters in Education and is Nationally Board Certified. She is the creator of the Teaching in Room 6 blog where she enjoys sharing her strategies with others. 

March 12, 2012

Hands-on Geometry - Part I

Guest Blog post by Stephanie Moorman of Teaching in Room 6

Measurement and geometry standards span all grade levels. Because of this repeated exposure, you would think that the students would grasp the concepts easily.  However, that just isn’t so. Identifying various polygons and solid shapes, breaking them down into their basic lines and angles, discovering the perimeter and area of a shape is sometimes tricky for the students.  Especially when most of the time the work the students are doing is from a text book.

In an effort to help my students more clearly grasp the Measurement and Geometry standards, I have tried hard to break away from the book and use hands-on strategies to introduce and reinforce concepts.  Here are a few of the activities and lessons I have done in the past to teach my students measurement and geometry. Next week in Part II of this blog post, I'll share a few more.

Identifying various two-dimensional shapes can be rather boring when simply looking in a book.  One thing I have done to get my students more actively involved in their learning is to break out my trusty stack of magazines.

The students divide their paper into 5 columns, one for each of the basic polygons we are learning.  If you are learning more (ie: equilateral triangle, scalene, isosceles  or the various different types of quadrilaterals) just divide your paper into the appropriate amount of columns.  At the top of the page, I have the students draw the regular polygon and we list the attributes.  Then, they are off.  The students search the magazine for pictures of the polygons, cut them out, and glue them under the proper column heading.

Solid Figures
Once the students enter into the realm of three-dimensional solid figures, using the book definitely doesn’t cut it.  So there are several things I do to get the kids thinking, and learning, about solid figures.

I always introduce the figures with pictures.  We look at plain, generic solids, and I ask the students to tell me objects they have seen that would match those shapes.  Kids always mention things like ice cream cones for the cone shape, soda can for a cylinder, dice for a cube, a pyramid for a square pyramid, and a book for a rectangular prism.  I then have them go home that night and search for actual objects that would fit into the categories.  They write down all the objects they can, and bring one of their choice in.  The next day, we all categorize the found objects.You can download this chart by clicking on the image; the chart is page 2 of the freebie which includes a worksheet for next week's activity, too.

Food is always a hit with the students.  Actually creating solid figures out of marshmallows and toothpicks is a wonderful way to get the kids thinking.  We discuss the vertices, edges, and faces for each solid figure, and the students set about building them.

Nets of Solids
Using the marshmallow figures described above, I have the students deconstruct them and create the nets.  This is VERY difficult for them, mostly because once you take some of the toothpicks out of the marshmallows, there are edges missing!  The students need to figure out that they have to add the toothpicks and marshmallows to create the whole.  It is interesting to see who gets this concept.

Another thing I have done with nets is to give the students a piece of paper and let them create the nets.  Kids must figure out that the circles on a cylinder must be the same diameter as the length of the rectangle.  They need to use all of the same size squares for a cube.  Everything needs to be very precise or it just won’t work!

Angles and Lines
I am big on kinesthetic learning. Because of this, I have a lot of motions and gestures instilled in my teaching of concepts to help the kids better understand.  When it comes to angles, we get moving a lot!  Using their arms, I have the students show me each type of angle and line as best they can.  The kids really get into it!  When I say “parallel lines”, their arms always move up over their heads in two straight lines.  When I say “ray”, their arm extends out and they point off in one direction.  An “obtuse angle” has two arms, one extended out straight from their body and the other at a large angle.  The kids LOVE moving around, and it really helps them remember all of the different angles and lines.

So there you have it!  These are some simple ways to get your kids actively involved in learning the Measurement and Geometry standards.  There are SO many more ways to have a hands-on experience with these standards, and I'll be share a few more with you next week. I'll also be including a Hands-on Geometry freebie for you to customize!  If you have ideas to share, please leave a comment and let us all know!

Stephanie Moorman is a 5th grade teacher who has been teaching elementary school for 14 years. She has her Masters in Education and is Nationally Board Certified. She is the creator of the Teaching in Room 6 blog where she enjoys sharing her strategies with others.

March 5, 2012

Leprechaun Luck Probability Freebie

Looking for a fun way to teach probability? You're in luck! The Leprechaun Luck Game is a freebie that allows kids to explore probability in an exciting game of chance. In order to win, your students will need a bit of luck, but they'll also discover that there's more than luck involved in winning.

You’ll need a box of Lucky Charms cereal for the class and one Leprechaun Luck game board for each student. You'll also need two dice for each game. Download the free instructions and the game boards from my TpT Store. Pair students with a partner of similar abilities, and display the directions as you explain the rules.

How to Play Leprechaun Luck
  1. Each player places 12 Lucky Charms cereal pieces in any location on his or her game board. All of the pieces can be placed on one number, one on each number, or any other combination. 
  2. Players take turns rolling the two dice and adding to find the sum. 
  3. The student who rolled the dice removes all the pieces from that spot on his or her board. 
  4. Players keep taking turns rolling dice and removing cereal until one person has removed all the cereal from his or her own board. The winner is the player who is the first to remove all the Lucky Charms.

Discussing Strategies and Exploring Probability
Let your students play a few rounds, discuss their strategies with their partners, and then switch to play against someone else. It's only after they play for awhile that the fun really begins!

Students soon realize that some numbers are luckier than others! You can’t get a sum of 1, so placing cereal on that spot is a sure way to lose.  After a while, they’ll start to realize that the numbers in the middle are luckier than those at the top and bottom of the board. Challenge them to figure out why this is true.

Hint: If they list all the sums they can get from every combination of two rolls, they'll realize that some numbers have more possible combinations of addends. For example, there’s only one way to get a sum of 2, but you can get a sum of 7 by rolling 1 + 6, 2 + 5, and 3 + 4. Maybe that’s why 7 has always been considered to be a lucky number! Allow plenty of time for students to play the game and explore probability concepts.

Check out the March Activities Pack for Upper Elementary!
This freebie is a sample from my March Activities Pack. Both the color and the black and white versions are included in the product, along with many other engaging activities for March and Spring. You can preview the packet from the March Activities from Teaching Resources page.

Your students will love this game, and they'll learn about probability, too! Kim Arnold commented on this freebie, and she summed up her thoughts this way, "Dice AND Lucky Charms in the same game? The kids will think that's lucky enough!" I couldn't have said it better myself!

March 2, 2012

Classroom Book Publishing Webinar

Your students can become published authors, and it won't cost you a penny! Studentreasures Publishing has a free program where your class can create a hardcover book with up to 66 pages - 33 stories and 33 color illustrations. You can choose from several book formats that include portrait or landscape pages and lined or unlined paper for the story pages.

I loved using this program in my class, so I'm excited to be able to present a webinar next week about the project called Simple Steps to Classroom Book Publishing. The webinar will take place on March 6th at 8 p.m. EST, but if you miss it, you can watch the recording from the Studentreasures page I've set up on my website. I'm a visual person, so I created the Classbook Storyboard shown below to help teachers plan and organize their projects. I'll be explaining how to use the Storyboard during the webinar. You can download a copy now by clicking on the image.

One reason that I'm so excited about the webinar is that I'll be joined by three other teachers who are just as passionate as I am about the project as I am:

  • Juana Saborido, 6th grade
  • Candy Carl, 1st grade
  • Robin Kramer, 1st grade

The book shown above, An Imaginary World, was created by Juana Saborido's 6th grade class. Juana, Candy, Robin, and I will be available at the end of the session to answer your questions about the Classbook publishing project. The webinar is being hosted by Studentreasures, so a few members of their staff will available to answer questions, too.

You can register for the webinar by clicking on the image on the left to be taken to the Simple Steps to Classroom Book Publishing registration page. You can sign up even if you can't attend the live session and you'll be sent the recording link later.

I know this is a busy time of year, but I hope you'll take time to attend this webinar. Publishing student work for free is an opportunity you don't want to pass up, but the project can be a little tricky the first time you do it. Yes, you can watch the recording later, but you won't be able to have YOUR questions personally answered! Also, at the end of the webinar, 3 participants will be randomly selected to win a $50 gift card to Scholastic, and you do have to be present to win. Please use the social sharing buttons on this blog post to share it with anyone you know who might be interested. I hope you'll join us on Tuesday, March 6th!