Saturday, August 11, 2018

Meet the Teacher Tips

It's that time of year!! Last Monday, I met all 23 of my precious students and their families at Meet the Teacher. Several of you have also already had Meet the Teacher and many of you are probably getting ready for it! 

Meet the Teacher is one of my favorite days. I love meeting my new students and their families. Our kids come to school with bags of supplies to find out who their teacher will be (they have NO idea who they have until they walk through the doors and look at their grade level list), who's in their class, what their classroom looks like, and where they will sit. It's a day packed full of excitement, anticipation, and maybe a few a lot of butterflies! Let me tell you, I still get so nervous even after 8 years. Honestly, I think it will always be this way, so I'm learning to just go with it..haha! Here are five simple things that I do every year to help my Meet the Teacher day run smoothly.

For the last couple of years, I've made sure to carve out quiet time before Meet the Teacher begins. As you know, pre-planning is nonstop do this, do that, meeting here, meeting there..., so this is my time to unplug my hot glue gun, hide the to-do list, and breathe. I try to turn my lights down, play my favorite songs, and pray over my classroom. This is the most powerful thing I do to help me calm down and clear my mind before the party begins. 

Even though I love my parents (and other family members), my main focus is connecting with my awesome students. First impressions are important! When they walk in the door, I want them to feel important and welcomed in my classroom. Many are super shy, so I tell them to go find their desk to get their special first grader treat! This usually breaks the ice and helps spark a conversation about what they did this summer. You can download the BTS survival treat bag tags here

Sometimes I wish there were 4-5 of me during Meet the Teacher to be able to greet everyone right away. The reality is that I'm usually in the middle of a conversation with someone when other families arrive. I leave a little note and checklist of things to help them feel right at home until I can go over to introduce myself. I got this awesome idea from the amazing Cara Carroll over at The First Grade Parade
It helps manage traffic so well! 

I also try not to overwhelm my parents with information to fill out in the classroom. They take everything home to complete in a file folder, other than a quick student info sheet (free download from Cara Carroll's blog) and transportation note.

In the packet parents take home, I include a letter to introduce myself and specific classroom information. Rowdy in Room 300 made an adorable editable intro letter you can use to make your own. Click here to check it out! LOVE it!!

Teachers have way too much to do at the beginning of the year to spend their precious time sorting school supplies. Like many of you, I learned this the hard way. Save yourself hours and ask your parents/students to help you! I like to put labeled plastic containers and baskets around my room for parents/students to sort their supplies. Having pictures on the labels makes it super easy for kids to help out! They love it! 

Click here to download the school supply bin labels.

I also ask parents to put specific school supplies in their child's pencil box/desk. Oh how I love not having to worry about doing this on the first day! With all the Meet the Teacher craziness, it is nice to have directions (with pictures) also on the SmartBoard to help parents. 

Student info sheet is from The First Grade Parade.

I think one of the most stressful times during the first day of school for me is dismissal time. If I can get all my babies home the right way, I can relax and call it a successful day! I like leaving a transportation note for parents to fill out and turn into me before leaving Meet the Teacher. This way, I can get my transportation list ready to go and clear up any issues/confusion first thing on the first day! 

I hope these tips help you get ready for your Meet the Teacher day! I'd love to hear your Meet the Teacher tips in the comment section:)

Monday, October 16, 2017

PAPERLESS Number Talks

A couple of years ago, I started using digital/paperless Number Talks during my guided math block. The results from this simple, powerful teaching practice blew me away. They instantly became the perfect math warm-up! My students were engaged in meaningful discussions focused on mental math and computational strategies. They were building their understanding of number sense and flexibility in number thinking. The benefits of this daily (5-10 minutes) Number Talk routine was also evident throughout the rest of our math time. 

To make Number Talks effective for my students, as well as for me, I started carefully crafting problems into digital slides each week. It didn't take long for me to realize that digital Number Talks are AMAZING! All I had to do each day was open up a slideshow and my Number Talk lesson was ready. Such a time saver! Since Number Talks are all about the process of mental math computation and sharing strategies, the digital/paperless format was perfection.
Image may contain: one or more people, people standing and indoor

1. Teacher presents each problem and gives wait time.

2. Students mentally figure out the answer (no paper or pencil) and give a thumbs up to show that they have at least one solution. *Students can put additional fingers up if they have more than one way to solve the problem. Example: Two fingers up means I have two ways to solve the problem.

3. Students share their thinking as the teacher records (students can also record). During this time, the teacher is asking questions like: "How did you get your answer?" and/or  "Why did you use that strategy?". Incorrect solutions and methods can and should be part of Number Talks.

I personally like to do Number Talks at the beginning of my math block, but it can be done at any time that works best for your schedule. 

Encourages math communication from all students
•Provides structured practice for mental math
•Promotes the value in using mental math to compute
•Promotes the importance of being flexible with numbers
•Uses a variety of strategies for computation
•Helps strengthen students' understanding of place value

You can start Number Talks at any time of the year, and I've made it really EASY for you! You can get 40 weeks of PAPERLESS NUMBER TALKS in just one click here!

3rd-5th Coming Soon (Summer 2018)

These Number Talk lessons were designed to engage your learners in meaningful math conversations focused on mental math and computational strategies throughout the year. As I mentioned before, they make the perfect math warm-up! All you have to do is upload the Number Talk digital slides (PowerPoint)- PAPERLESS and ZERO prep! Everything is already done for you! 

Each day of the week has a specific Number Talk mental math focus. 
The predictable and student friendly structure of the digital slides allows you to spend more time talking about math instead of giving directions/expectations over and over.

Make it Monday
 Students will mentally think of equations that make the number in the circle using the given numbers. 

True or False Tuesday
Students will mentally solve the equations to determine whether they are true of false. 

Work it Out Wednesday
Students will mentally solve the equations and share their thinking. 

Time to Subitize Thursday
Briefly (5-10 seconds) flash each slide. Students will share what number was shown, as well as, explain their thinking in determining the number.
Fact Fun Friday
Students will mentally solve the equations and share their thinking. 

Every week has 5 slides/problems for each day with the exception of Make it Monday. I've also included editable/blank slides in case you would like to create your own problems.

Saturday, September 23, 2017

Addition Fluency Fun (with free I SPY Addition game)!

Learning to add numbers is a huge (and hard) part of first grade! First graders need a lot of practice to master addition facts! I have found that the best way to incorporate addition fluency into my classroom is through playing games. My students love them! They're much more engaged in their learning when they have hands-on games that allow them to move around, work with a partner, talk about math/adding numbers, and most of all have fun! Dice, spinners, cubes, counters, and game boards are always staples in my room...probably used almost every day! I have several addition games and activities in my Let's Add pack that my kids play throughout the year. They can be used in small groups, with a partner, independently, and even for homework. Many of the games also have differentiated options to support all levels of learning.

Addition Bump is a class favorite! Each partner takes turns rolling the dice, adding the numbers, and covering the sum on their game board. If a number already has a counter on it, the other partner has a chance to "bump" it off. If a player gets the same number twice, then he /she can stack two counters on that number to freeze it. When a player freezes a spot with two counters, their cubes can not be bumped off. The first player to use all of their counters first, wins the game!

Four in a Row is another fun game! Players take turns rolling the 2-3 dice (depending on how many addends), adding the numbers, and covering the sum on their game board. If the number is not on their board, they lose their turn. The first player to cover four sums in a row wins. 

Players take turns spinning each of the two number spinners. They write an addition  number sentence with the numbers from the two spins. The player with the greatest sum gets the win for that round. The game continues until the recording sheet is completed. The player with the most wins at the end of the game, wins! Three different game boards are included to differentiate this game! 

This is a great game for students to work on math fact fluency independently, with a partner, or in a small group. To play, students need a die, counters, dry erase board or math journal (to work out problems), and “Roll, Add, & Race” game board. Players roll a die and solve the problem in the row that matches the number they rolled. Once the problem is solved, they cover it with a counter.  The game continues until players have a row that takes 1st, 2nd, and 3rd place! 
             A variety of different game boards are included to differentiate skill/ability levels.

Dice make everything nice to my first graders:) I also might have a slight addiction to buying different kinds of them on Amazon. I justify it because they just about make anything a game and are so great to use to differentiate activities! To play Roll & Add, students need 2-3 dice (depending on how many numbers you want them to add) and a recording sheet. Students roll the dice. Then, they write and solve a number sentence using the numbers on their recording sheet. To differentiate this activity, two different recording sheets are included in the pack. You can choose whether students will roll and add two or three numbers. Also, you can use this activity to practice adding two digit numbers by rolling two dice to make a two digit number! For example, if I roll a 2 and a 4, that would make 24.

For this activity, students can work in groups of 2-4. They each need a Spin and Match game board, counters (cubes, tiles, etc. to cover up spaces on their game board), and a paper clip to use as a spinner. The players take turns spinning and finding a match (an equation that equals the number the spinner landed on) on their board. If they spin a space that is already covered up, they miss their turn. The first player to cover all their spaces wins! There are four different game boards included to differentiate this game. 

Grab, Roll, and Solve is another math tub favorite! I love this activity because you can instantly differentiate it to meet the needs of your students by using higher or lower numbers for them to "grab". It's also an activity that can be used in a variety of situations-students can work independently, with a partner, or in small groups. To play, students grab a number card and roll the die. Then, they record the numbers on their recording sheet and solve the equation. Need to make less copies?
 Stick it in a page protector and let the kids use a dry erase marker to show their work! 

I've never met a kid that doesn't like playing Tic Tac Toe! To play Addition Tic Tac Toe, players take turns solving an addition fact to be able to put an “X” or “O” on the spot. First player to get 3 in a row, wins! I always have them laminated and ready to play as a math game. They also make a great homework activity! 
There are a variety of different game sheets included in my Let's Add pack- addition to 5, addition to 10, addition to 20, doubles facts, plus 10 facts,  and two digit addition without regrouping. Each sheet has 4 Tic Tac Toe games. 

Throughout the year, I'm constantly referring to these addition strategy posters! I love that they serve as a reminder to my kids that their are multiple strategies you can use
to solve an addition problem.

I’ve included a variety of no-prep printables to give your students extra practice with adding numbers. These are great to use for morning work, math tubs, sub plans, and/or homework! Here are just a few from the pack...

I'm a huge fan of anything that will get my kids up and moving around the room while learning at the same time! The I SPY & SCOOT addition games that I created do just that! After placing the cards on the wall or on desks. Students move around the room to solve the addition equations. 

Happy Adding! 

Saturday, September 16, 2017

Place Value Fun!

I don't think first graders can ever have too much place value practice. I pretty much start teaching it as soon as they walk through the door and we continue reviewing it all year long in as many different ways that I can think of and then some. 
Here are some of my favorite place value activities:
Spin and Match is an activity that can be played in groups of 2-4. The players take turns spinning and matching the number representation on their board. The first player to cover all their spaces wins! Three different game boards are included in the pack: base ten blocks, tens and ones, and expanded form.

Place Value BUMP is such a fun game! Partners take turns pulling place value card from a bag and covering the correct number with a counter on their game board. If number already has a counter on it, the other partner has a chance to "bump" it off. If a student gets the same number twice, then he /she can place two counters on it. If a number has 2 counters, it’s frozen and cannot be "bumped" off.  The first player out of counters wins the game!
I love it when my students can move around and learn at the same time, which is why I'm a huge Scoot fan! Place Value Scoot is an activity where your students move around the room and write down the number shown on each Scoot card. The Scoot cards are a mix of base ten, expanded form, and tens/one review. 
Brain break + math activity = Win-Win! 
Place Value Bags is a great math tub or small group activity! Students count the number of base ten blocks in each bag. Then they show how many tens and ones are in the number and write the expanded form on their recording sheet. 
There are also several different Place Value Flap Books to give your students extra practice! 
Four in a Row is class favorite! Players take turns picking a number card and covering the same amount on their board.  The first player to cover four sets of base ten blocks in a row wins! 
There are also a dozen different no-prep place value printables in my place value practice pack! They are great for homework, morning work, math tubs, and sub plans!
If you're looking for other math activities to add to your classroom, make sure to check out my math bundle