Friday, September 12, 2014

Figure Me Out!

I got this idea from my peer teacher, Nina.  It's a great way for students to share about themselves. I think it would be perfect for a first day of school activity.  I would start by having the students first write the numbers.  Later, once we have learned about multiplication and division, I would have them create the equations.  Finally, they can put it all together in time for Open House.  

It can be easily adapted for the younger grades by using addition and/or subtraction.  It can be adapted for older grades with exponents, multi-step problems, and including fractions or decimals.  Thanks to my friend Nannette for inspiring me with her sample.

Monday, June 17, 2013

"My Sticker Sheet" (Homework Incentive)

Homework/home learning is always a challenge.  Every year I know that if I can win the battle with homework and independent reading, my students will make significant learning gains.  One way I like to motivate them is by giving them an incentive for A+ effort.  When students complete a homework assignment and get 100% right, they earn a sticker.  That sticker goes on their sticker sheet.  Once the sheet is filled with 15 stickers, they will earn a homework pass that is good for one homework assignment only.  This motivates children to do their work and review it before coming to school.  Children take much more pride in their homework ever since I started using this tool.

This is great motivation for struggling learners also.  It may take them a little longer to complete the sheet, but when they do I make a big deal and the whole class celebrates.  In fact, we celebrate every time someone earns a pass.  In addition, I have a special treat for those who complete 10 sheets.  They receive 5 passes.  I usually have only one or two students reach that level and they're usually the ones that can miss a few assignments anyway.

The only caveat is you must have plenty of stickers.  I usually use roughly 50-75 stickers per student per year.  You may opt to use a special stamp instead.

Remember to have students write their name (preferably in pen) before you give them the pass.  Also, I like to sign the sheet so I know that I have given that child a homework pass already.  I ask students to show me their previous completed sheets so I can check that they haven't removed any stickers from another sheet and placed it there.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

BEAMing into a new year! :)

This summer I came across an excellent blog through Pinterest.  It's called BUILDing the Math Workshop from "Adventures in Teaching."  I loved how this innovative teacher explained the 5 stations she uses during math.  I wanted to do something similar, but since I'm new to rotating math stations I modified it into something a little simpler for me.  I call it B.E.A.M.  The letters stand for "Be Excited About Math!"  They also stand for Buddy Games, Exercises for your Brain, Articles & A.R., and Multiplication & Manipulatives.

Buddy Games
This part is exactly like the "B" of B.U.I.L.D.  Students complete math games in pairs or small groups.  Games should be introduced one week at a time.  Students need ample time to practice them before placing them in this center.  I also keep a little reference card with directions available.  The card is on the board with magnets attached to the back.  You can see them in the picture below underneath the "B.E.A.M. Rotation" schedule.

Exercises for your Brain
This station has three levels of worksheets for the 3 homogeneous groups.  There is a reteach, on-level, and enrichment activity from the Go Math! HMH textbook series which is the textbook our district uses.  I also supplement with other worksheets from various resources.  This is the station where I will be working with students to ensure that they understand the activity and know what is expected of them.

Articles & A.R.
This section involves independent and/or buddy reading of math or other non-fiction trade books.  Students can read books and take Accelerated Reader tests or read Time for Kids or Scholastic news articles and answer follow-up questions.

Multiplication & Manipulatives
This section includes practice speed drills with multiplication flash cards.  They work with a partner and timer to try to increase their multiplication speed and accuracy.  They may also explore with manipulatives.  This may involve exploring independently at times while at other times they may have a specific guide with questions to solve.

Schedule of Rotation
After teaching the whole group for 15 minutes, I will begin the 3 math rotations.  Each rotation should last approximately 15 minutes.  One rotation is seat work and the other 2 are stations.  It is important to allow time for review after rotations are completed.

Here is a sample schedule:

First Rotation
Group 1 = seat work
Group 2 = A
Group 3 = M

Second Rotation
Group 1 = M

Group 2 = seat work 
Group 3 = A

Third Rotation
Group 1 = A
Group 2 = M
Group 3 = seat work 

Students will visit each station twice a week.  I set this schedule for 4 days because of chapter tests, 4-day weeks, and to allow for flexibility in scheduling.

I will probably begin by introducing the last 2 stations for the first week and then add one more station per week.  I'm thinking of Multiplication & A.R. first, followed by Exercises, and finally Buddy Games.

Team Captain
I allow all students to have a turn being the leader.  Leaders are changed daily.  Once the group is formed, the person whose first name comes first in alphabetical order is the first captain.  Students respect the captain because they know that when it is their turn, they want to be respected.  Only the captain can come to me with an issue.  If a student does not want a turn as captain or the captain is out, the next person in line will take over.

Group Formation
Groups are formed based on a pretest that students take at the start of each chapter.  They are only as long as the chapter has lessons.  Many students finish the year having been in all three groups.  Ninety percent of students have been in at least 2 groups.

Students love working together in teams.  It is highly motivating.  I have found that as long as I make my expectations clear, students do a wonderful job during math group time.  Now that my stations are organized using this BEAM model, I'm confident math achievement will soar to new heights.  I can't wait to implement this with my students!  I will keep you posted on the progress. ;-)

Have a great opening!

Click HERE for the rotation schedule.  Click HERE for the labels.  Click HERE for games.

Friday, August 10, 2012


Thanks for visiting me.  I'm so excited about starting my first blog!  After 15 years of teaching, monotony can often set in and it makes returning to work a little difficult.  I like to fight that  feeling by adding something new to my repertoire.  Thankfully, my sister turned me on to Pinterest.  I absolutely love it!  I've gotten so many wonderful ideas for everything from fashion to cooking.  Lately, I've been looking for ideas for my math learning centers.  I came across one particular pin called "BUILDing the math workshop".  It took each letter in the word build to represent a station.  B= Buddy Games, U=Using Manipulatives, I=Independent Reading/Working, L=Learning About Numbers, and D=Doing Math.  It was similar in thought to the Daily 5 CAFE for reading group activities.  I'm modifying the concept somewhat for my students.  I'm going to test drive it for a couple weeks and then I look forward to posting my results.

Here's to the start of a wonderful school year! ;)