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Saturday, February 27, 2016


I'm stopping by for a quick post to let you know that my TpT store will be on sale to celebrate the leap year.

Click the image to visit my store!

Sunday, February 21, 2016

Squiggle Books

I cannot believe I am writing a blog post about this. Unfortunately, the amount of testing for the students doesn't seem to be going away any time soon.. so it forces teachers to get creative keeping the students busy while testing kiddos 1:1. I don't want to show movies endlessly. I want the kiddos to do something that is engaging that can be completed QUIETLY so I can test as quickly as possible. 

Bring in... Squiggle Books!

Students turn the squiggle into a picture, and then write about their squiggle. My guidelines for working on this are as follows:

1. The squiggle should be colorful and it needs to fill the space. There shouldn't be any white space on the page.

2. Your story about the squiggle should also fill the page. Be creative, and tell a fun story.

3. You must check in with me before you can move on to the next page.

Easy enough! The students work quietly on their squiggles, and I can get my testing done. I model the appropriate way to check in with me while testing so that I can get keep them busy while I'm testing, and most of the time the students need to add more information to their story or the picture before they can move on. This works out so that they don't have only squiggles and no writing.

How do you keep the kiddos busy when you have individual testing?

Wednesday, February 3, 2016

February Pocket Chart Sentences

I can't believe it is already February. Time sure does fly by! 

My February Pocket Chart Sentences unit includes 6 different paragraphs of mixed up sentences with February themes. It is on sale until the end of the week! Click the image to check it out in my shop.

Monday, February 1, 2016

Place Value in Primary Grades

Today I'm linking up with  K's Classroom Kreations and Theresa's Teaching Tidbits  for Math Tip Monday. This post is all about place value in the primary grades!

Place value is a huge part of math in 2nd grade. I explicitly teach it through routines, although it does come up during adding and subtracting numbers. I know some teachers who teach lessons on place value, but for me it has always made more sense to teach it as a routine and build more upon it as the year goes on. The routine that I use is called Today's Number. 

The math curriculum we use has a routine called Today's Number, which gives a number and the students come up with various ways to make the given number. They can write equations, draw representations using whatever they want (cubes, tally marks, base 10, etc), use money, etc. I think this is a great routine to have students create multiple representations of a number, but it almost seems like the "rich get richer and the poor get poorer". The higher students come up with a million ways to make the number, and the struggling students sit there confused because they don't know where to start. 

In comes... the anchor chart! I have used several different forms of this anchor chart to give students a starting point and it makes a big difference. It gives the kids who need a place to start just that, and the kiddos who don't get a push just in case they need it. I've found it covers the models they were already using anyway, so it really just organizes their work so they I can read it.

I focus on more parts of this than others. It changes throughout the year, and it goes along with the models that we are using when we add or subtract numbers. At the beginning of the year, we add using tally marks because I cannot stand seeing students draw circles or unorganized groups of lines it makes me crazy so I pay particular attention to tally marks. As we get into larger numbers, tally marks are no longer practical so I try to wean them off of tally marks and start encouraging them to use base ten models. As we get closer to regrouping, I focus on breaking apart numbers and writing them in expanded form to get students more comfortable with the idea of "carrying". 

Check out these blogs for other ways to teach place value in primary grades: