Showing posts with label Teaching Math. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Teaching Math. Show all posts


Powerful Goal Setting in the Classroom with 5 Easy Steps

Student Goal Setting in the Classroom

Back to School is a popular time for setting goals and making resolutions. I always feel fresh and ready to take on the world at the start of the new school year!

Setting goals with elementary students can be particularly tricky though.  They need a lot of guidance, support and suggestions.  It is really important that teachers set students up for success by guiding students to set goals they can achieve but also helping students make a plan for what they will do to reach the goal.  

Setting a goal to work towards is one-way students can take ownership of their learning.

Here are 5 ways to help students set goals and work towards them.

#1- Keep goals simple, attainable and measurable.

When I set goals with my students, we start with everyone having the same type of goal. I usually start with reading level growth because it is huge in my state. (I want to be clear here! I felt very much like this was a necessary evil! I strongly disliked setting reading level goals!) I met with every child one on one and we talked about where they wanted to grow and how many levels they thought they could grow. Then we split it into blocks for the 9 year and set mini-goals for each nine weeks. For example, if a student thought they could grow 4 levels, we would set a goal for one level growth per 9 weeks.

#2- Create an action plan or specific steps students can take to work towards the goal.

After setting each student's goal, we worked together as a class to brainstorm a list of things students could do to help them meet their goal. In the above example, we would list the following steps- read for at least 30 minutes a day at home, complete my comprehension journal homework every week, pay attention and work hard in small groups, listen to my book buddy when they read to me, ask someone to read me a story, etc

#3- Look at, discuss or read the goal regularly- possibly daily.

Each students goal was written down in their data notebook. We looked at the anchor chart with the brainstormed list of steps students could take. Any time they were assessed (🙄) we would conference about where they were in terms of meeting their goal. Every week, I would ask students to pick ONE of the action steps to focus on. In the beginning, I did a lot of leading but after a few weeks, students were able to pick one step for themselves.

#4- Track progress towards the goal.

Students had a sheet in their data notebook where they tracked their progress. For reading levels, my students had a page that looked like a bookshelf. I wrote letters on each book to represent their reading levels. When students passed a level, they would color in the book on their shelf.

#5- Celebrate progress!

Since I really, strongly disliked that students even had to worry about reading levels, we celebrated ALL.THE.THINGS! My favorite ways to celebrate are with impromptu dance parties, reward tags given out during morning meeting and phone calls home to share the good news.

If you find that students are struggling with their confidence in meeting goals, try using positive affirmations to help.

Getting Started with Setting Goals

Are you looking for something to help you get started goal setting? Take a look at this Kindergarten Goal Setting resource in my store.

My favorite part of this resource is the reflection sheet. Since this sheet is designed to be done together, the teacher can write the goal and the student can draw a face to show how they feel about their progress.  Then the teacher and student can work together to set a new goal.  The new goal might be a continuation of the previous goal.  For example, if the goal was to learn 40/52 letters, the new goal could be to learn 45/52 letters.  The important thing is for the teacher to help set realistic goals.


The student goal setting page has several main goals listed, but includes a place to write your own goals. Included in the resource is a page of possible literacy goals and a page of possible math goals. These goals were taken from literacy and math standards.

There are two possible tracking sheets. One will allow the teacher to track a whole classes progress towards a certain goal. This can be helpful when tracking goals such as learning letters and sounds. Not everyone in the class will reach the goal at the same time, but everyone needs to reach it eventually!

The other tracking sheet can be used when conferencing with students. The teacher can record the goal, dates and any notes.

There are digital options available for the digitally-inclined! Student goal setting sheets are in Google Slides and a Google Form is available for the teacher to make a copy of and use to type all the data into. Editable PDFs are also available.

If this looks like something that could help you in your classroom, click here or on any of the pictures!

Since making a plan is a BIG part of goal setting, these resources might be useful for helping reach their goals.



You can also find other literacy and math activities in my TPT store!

Do you set goals with your students? I would love to hear how it goes for you! Drop me a note in the comments below and let me know!


Three Ways to Help Students Master Word Problems

I don't know about you, but teaching word problems absolutely drives me batty! 🦇 It doesn't matter how much modeling and explaining I do- my students just keep adding the 2 numbers in the word problem without giving them any thought.

I talked to my colleagues and they were having the same problem. I spent some time watching students and asking questions. 

After some time spent researching (Thank you pinterest!) I came up with a plan!

3 Ways to Help Students Master Word Problems

1- Acting out word problems.

The first thing I did was lower the numbers in the word problems so we COULD act them out. Even though I teach 2nd grade, we went back to using single digits to practice with.

I did this for 2 reasons. The first is that it meant we could actually act the word problems out. The second is that it allowed them to focus on the actual word problem and not trying to figure out the big numbers. (insert image of word problems within 20)

For example, I might use this word problem "Ms. White had 5 crayons.  She gave 2 of them to Abdul. How many crayons does she have left?"  When I can physically hold 5 crayons in my hand and give 2 of them to a student, it is much easier to see that subtracted from my total number of crayons.

2- Explain WHY they chose addition or subtraction

To start with, we practiced numberless word problems.  If you haven't heard of numberless word problems, I first read about them here.  

To build on the above exam, a numberless word problem would say "Ms. White had some crayons.  She gave some of them to Abdul." Then we follow up with "Do you need to add or subtract to solve this problem?"

The reason the numberless word problems work so well is that students don't get tripped up on the numbers.  Without numbers, they couldn't just add the first 2 things they see.  This forces students to actually think about the process and what kind of math they need to do.

3- Practice, Practice, Practice

This is HUGE.  Not just practice, but correct practice.  After all, practice doesn't make perfect, practice makes permanent.

As part of my students morning routine last year, they solved a word problem.  It doesn't sound like much, but it's roughly 170 extra word problems outside of the word problems they complete during math class.

At the beginning of the month, I create a Daily Word Problem book for each student.  Every morning, students solve the next problem in the book.  During Morning Meeting, we read the problem and 2-3 students share how they solved the problem.  I am able to correct misconceptions and model additional strategies.

I use these Daily Word Problem resources.  I start the year with the Numbers within 20 resources and switch to Numbers within 100 when students become proficient. 

If you need more word problems, you can check out this section of my TPT store!


Cookie Arrays

Arrays aren't always an exciting topic to teach, but cookie arrays will hook your kids for sure!

In this array lesson,  kids were engaged, the practice was differentiated and it was a great way to end a week of learning about arrays.

For this lesson, I used:
  • aluminum foil to use as baking trays
  • cookie clipart- )These aren't the ones I used but you can find black and white chocolate chip cookies here)
  • scissors
  • glue sticks
  • index card

Array Lesson Prep

  • tearing off aluminum foil sheets
  • cut out blocks of cookies in different array numbers (I used 4, 6, 8, 9, 12, 15, 20, 25 and 30)

How To Teach the Cookie Array Lesson

  • Review array vocabulary- row, column, equation, repeated addition
  • Each student got a cookie tray and sheet of cookies to cut out (This is how I differentiated!  Each student got a different amount of cookies to form into an array based on need.)
  • Students cut the cookies out and arranged them on a tray.
  • After students got their cookie arrangement approved, they glued the cookies and colored them.
  • After gluing the cookies, students wrote a repeated addition equation to show how many cookies they had.
Other Thoughts
  • I used Christmas cookies, but you could use regular cookies or cookies for any holiday!
  • How fun would it be to actually bake cookies?  That sounds like a great homeschool lesson!
I loved this lesson for a couple of reasons!

For one thing, the differentiation was so easy.  Students who were struggling received a small number of cookies (4, 6, 8, 9).  Students who had a fair grasp received a middle amount (12, 15, 20) and my students ready for a challenge received a large number of cookies (25 or 30).

I also loved this lesson because the kids LOVED this activity!  They were happy and engaged while they worked!  (Also, admin did a walk through and THEY loved this lesson!)

What is your favorite activity when teaching arrays? Drop me a note a let me know!


Scoot: Increase Fun and Engagement in the Classroom

Are your students sitting around with droopy eyes, barely holding their heads above their desks?  Are you tired of hearing yourself talk?  Are you looking for a way to work more movement into your lessons?

Scoot is the activity you are looking for!

Scoot is a great game to play in the classroom.  What is Scoot you ask?  Scoot is a game that can be played with any subject or standard.  The basic routine is simply to teach and you can use ANY content you want.  You set up the game by picking a subject or standard and making (or buying) task cards to use.

OMG, I was amazed at how much my kids loved it when we played earlier this year.  They were so engaged and so focused!  I'm guessing the movement part is really helping them focus.

I am going to use my Spring Short Vowel Word Sort to show you how to play Scoot.  I have played this game with multiple grade levels in various situations and each group has loved it!

Here is the set so SCOOT on over and get it!

To play Scoot, you place a card at each spot.  Each card has a problem to be solved, a word to write or a task to complete.  Students rotate around the places, recording their answers on the recording sheet. Students start at their seats and answer the question, solve the problem or follow the direction at their seats.  On your signal, students stand and move to the next seat.  They look at the card at that seat and answer the question, solve the problem or follow the direction.  I like to use the commands "Start (Followed by work time), Stop, Stand, SCOOT (students move to the right), Sit" and repeat. 

We all end up giggling with my one-word commands!

For my Kindergartners, we mostly play around their tables and sometimes they go to another table and rotate around that one! My Second Graders loved when I put the cards up on the wall around the classroom

For this Short Vowel Word Sort, I created real and nonsense CVC words and put them on eggs.  Students were given a sheet with 2 columns, one for real words and one for nonsense words.  Students rotated around their table.  They read each word on the egg, decided if it was a real word or a nonsense word, and wrote it in the correct column.

Each table has 5 or 6 seats.  Students rotated around 3 tables this day, so they all practiced reading 15-18 CVC words!  I had some kids who are still struggling readers, so my assistant and I stuck near them and helped them sound out the words.
When you first introduce the game, it is important to practice the movement from seat to seat.  First I showed one table how to move with my directions (sit... start... stop... stand... scoot) and then they practiced and modeled for the whole class.  Then the whole class practiced moving around their table.  It took a few rotations for all the kids to get it.  Typical mistakes from students were moving in the wrong direction and moving too many seats.  Students generally got it after a complete rotation around their table.

I also have a FREEBIE for you.  This Scoot: A How to Play Guide will help you get your kids moving in the right direction.  It includes directions and arrow cards to show your students which direction to move.

The game I used in these images is great for Kindergarten in the Spring.  These resources from my store will work just as well.


Old Tracks, New Tricks: Introducing Trixie, Tracky and Tinker

Old Tracks, New Tricks is an amusing new book by Jessica Peterson, published by Innovation Press.  The book stars Trixie, Tracky and Tinker as a set of tracks who get purchased and taken home to join a train set.  The three friends are in for a shock when they realize their new life is not what they thought it would be.  In their new home, the trains are in charge and order the tracks around.  Trixie, Tracky and Tinker are used to having fun and doing tricks.

Will they be happy in their new home?  You will have to read it and see!

(Please note, these links are affiliate links which means I may receive some pocket change to help support this blog and fund teaching expenses when you make a purchase. As always, the opinions are my own and I promise to only share what I truly love- cross my teacher's heart!  Also, I received an ARC in exchange for writing a review of this book and creating a free resource to go along.)

Buy Old Tracks, New Tricks here!

I truly enjoyed reading this book.  It is perfect for PK-2 and I'm excited to read it to my class.  The human character is quite a bit younger than 2nd graders, but I think they will enjoy the photograph images. 

Pre-K Teachers can use the book:
-as part of a train unit (especially the activities in the back)
-practice identifying characters
-encouraging creativity when building with tracks

Kindergarten Teachers can use the book:
-as part of a train unit
-recognizing and producing rhyming words
-counting items on each page

First and Second Grade Teachers can use the book:
-recognizing and producing rhyming words
-identify characters, setting, problem and solution
-sequence events in the story

This will be a great book to use when discussing the difference between fiction and nonfiction.  Having photographs is generally an indication of a nonfiction book, but this book uses photographs and is purely fiction.

It's also a great book for character lessons such as being kind, playing with others, taking responsible risks and being yourself.

My favorite part of the book is at the very end.  There are 2 special sections, the first is called How to Invent Your Own Track Tricks and is a great way to teach the engineering process.  The next section is called Track-tivities and has 20 activities you can do with a train set such as Painting Tracks, Train Bell Shaker and Track-tastrophe!  

You can also use these FREE word problems based on the antics of Trixie, Tracky and Tinker.  Click here to download them!


Place Value and the Great (FREE) Race to 1000 Game

Place value is one of the underlying math skills that can make or break a student.  Students NEED a solid understanding of place value to master skills such as addition, subtraction, mental math, and explaining how addition and subtraction work.

In Kindergarten, students start by working with ten frames and understanding that teen numbers are a set of ten and some more ones.

In First Grade, students begin exploring place value deeper by working with 2 digit numbers, naming the positions as ones place and tens place, completing mental math of 10 more and 10 less and using place value as a specific addition/subtraction strategy.

In Second Grade, students are building on Kindergarten and First Grade to begin working with 3 digit numbers by adding the hundreds place.  Students will be counting, forming numbers, comparing numbers and using place value to solve more complicated problems.

It is critical that students are able to work fluidly and flexibly with base ten.  One of the best ways for students to do this is to play games.

One of my student's favorite games is the Race to 1000 game.  

Fun Fact: You can also play this game by racing to build 100 using only tens and ones!

(Please note, some links are affiliate links which means I may receive some pocket change to help support this blog and fund teaching expenses when you make a purchase. As always, the opinions are my own and I promise to only share what I truly love- cross my teacher's heart!)

To begin play, we divide into 2 teams (you could do more).  Each team gets a work mat and base ten materials while I collect the big foam die I have!  (If you do not have any base ten materials, I have used these fun printable ones!)

The premise of the game is simple.  Each team has 6 rolls to build a number that reaches as close to 1000 without going over!  If they go over 1000, they lose!

When a team rolls, they look at the number and decide if they are adding ones, tens or hundreds to their number or work mat.  After making the decision, they add to their work mat and play goes to the next team.  Play continues until each team has made 6 rolls.  Teams count their base ten materials and compare numbers!

After students have played in a group for awhile, they love to play in partners.

You can differentiate this game by changing the number that students build.  Try going smaller or larger.

You can download the work mat here!  After printing the work mat, I recommend laminating or placing in a page protector to make them last.

If you need some more place value practice, check out these resources in my TPT store.

Here are some of my favorites!

Counting Days of School with Base Ten Blocks
Find the Number Place Value Game

Tens and Ones Apple ThemedPlace Value Winter and Christmas


Stop the Boredom! 3 secrets to engaging students in centers!

I 💓 centers!  They promote independence in my students.  Give me time to work with small groups or individuals.  AND-- they are FUN!  (Did I say fun?  Shhhh!  Don't tell anyone!)

Seriously, sometimes I feel like all the fun is being sucked out of learning, school and being a kid!  We HAVE to do this...they HAVE to master that...

Really?  What about wonder?  Engagement? Fun?

For years, I have searched for the perfect way to keep centers consistent so students can complete them on their own, but engaging so students don't get bored.

You know what does it?


Novelty is defined as being new, original or unusual, I find that it also means it's fun.  Kids having fun are engaged.  Engaged kids are learning kids!

Here are my top three secrets to using novelty in centers.

(Please note, some links are affiliate links which means I may receive some pocket change to help support this blog and fund teaching expenses when you make a purchase. As always, the opinions are my own and I promise to only share what I truly love- cross my teacher's heart!)

#1- Think cheap.  

Novelty wears off if you keep it around too long so do NOT sink much money into it.  One of my students favorite bits of novelty is tiny centers.  I print center activity resources 2 to a page so that they are about half the size.  Set some magnifying glasses out with the center and its a whole new ballgame.  Guess how much that cost?  Yep, NOTHING! (If you already have the magnifying glasses.  If you need magnifying glasses, it is a small investment!)

#2- Make it seasonal.  

This allows you to keep the same structure to an activity so students can continue to work independently, but make it different enough that students are engaged.  In January, put it on snowflakes and snowmen.  In February, break out the hearts!

#3- Change the writing utensils.  

For writing instruction and assignments, I prefer students to use pencil.  However, when they are making a list of short a words or writing in a collaborative journal, I relax that rule.  Every few weeks, I put different writing tools out for students to use.  A pack of metallic crayons cost me a few dollars, but brought tons of multi-paragraph writing!

I am always looking for new ways to add novelty so I would love to hear what you do!  Leave me a note and watch for a shout out!


2nd Grade Math Centers

As a Kindergarten teacher, Math center time was a valuable and constant part of my day.  Learning how to move through centers and work independently was one of the first things students learned.
When I moved to 2nd grade, I desperately wanted to bring center time with me.  It didn’t happen my first year.  I was overwhelmed and unprepared.  The curriculum was different and I was lost.  I really struggled to find the perfect fit for 2nd grade.

My 2nd year in 2nd grade was better.  I was familiar with the curriculum and developmental levels of students, but I still struggled with math centers.  There were some great weeks of math centers… but more weeks without.

I spent some time in deep reflection over centers and developed a plan.  Part of my problem was time.  So I decided to tackle Back to School season first.  This meant creating, printing, laminating, cutting and organizing 17 math centers.

The creation part was simple.  I enjoy making activities for my class. 
Here came the problem.  I had 160 pages to print for the first few weeks of school!  I started doing a little research and discovered the HP Instant Ink program.  My first step was buying a new printer.  Mine was old and wasn’t one of the printers on the list.  You can find all the details, including printers and plans, here.

This is my HP OfficeJet 4652 All in One.  My favorite feature is the hassle-free 2 sided printing!

After buying the printer, I went to the website to set up my account.  It was pretty easy and just required some basic information. 

HP Instant Ink made my math center dreams come true!  After printing a large chunk of centers over the span of a couple days, I got an email that I had ink on the way.  WHAT?  Yes, that’s right.  My printer ordered its own ink and told me it was on its way!

If you’re interested in checking out the HP Instant Ink program, you can use my referral link.  Click here or enter fvcRw in the referral box. 

My friend Kayla from K’s Classroom Kreations shared a tip with me that made a HUGE difference.  You can sign up initially for the 300 page package.  It costs $9.99 and sounds like a lot of printing BUT you can use the code FREEINK to get a free month.  If you use a referral link, you can get even more free months!

The HP Instant Ink program has a lot of features that make it a win in my book!
·         You can change your plan at any time.  Need more prints one month? Less?
·         Color prints are treated the same as black/white.  No paying extra!
·         If you go over your plan, it’s only $1.00 for 25 print outs- much cheaper than a print center.
·         Signing into your account lets you check your print count.
·         Did I mention the PRINTER orders the ink? Usually before you even know you need it!
·         Roll over prints!  You can roll over as many pages as there are in your plan.

One thing I want to point out is that I had to wait for my welcome kit with official HP Instant Ink to start the program.  I bought my printer at WalMart and then enrolled in the program.  If you buy a new printer through the website you may not have to wait.

If you would like to check out the math centers I created for August and September, you can find them by clicking on the pictures below.  You can also find other math activities I have created here.

Read Across America The Foot Book

Read Across America Day is coming!  This is one of my favorite days because Dr. Seuss has been so influential in the lives of students and educators alike!

Today I'm going to share 1 Math activity and 2 literacy activities that you can use in conjunction with The Foot Book by Dr. Seuss!

Feet Measurement!

Have students trace their foot on construction paper and cut it out.  Use the class collection to measure students and record how many "feet" tall they are on an anchor chart!

Writing- A great way to integrate writing with The Foot Book is to write about where you would travel.  Download this freebie by clicking here or on the picture!

Phonics- Since the oo digraph can make a long sound (as in book) and a short sound (as in foot).  Practice the sounds with a sort and sentences to be read for fluency.  Click here or on the picture to download it from my TpT store!

Check out my other Read Across America post here!

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