DesignsbyKassie - Widget

Number Talks During Distance Learning

Thursday, July 9, 2020

I’m not sure about you all, but the end of last school year made my head spin. Frantically, we were pushed into distance learning. This summer, I’ve spent some time analyzing what worked and what I can improve on.  It seems like distance learning might be around for a while, so it was important for me to think about what I want my classroom procedures to look like regardless of the model of instruction. 

Quickly into distance learning, I realized, I had so many resources that were already able to easily be converted into our new normal. We always started our math block with number talks. This was a crucial part of our math routines because students were able to develop a strong foundation in number sense. In the early stages of distance learning, I made a promise to try to keep my routine as normal as I possibly could. Each day, students would ask about this routine. If I was absent, students would beg for me to leave instructions for a substitute. I’ve never had kids be so excited about a routine before! This excites me because number talks aren’t just a wonderful resource for learning about numbers and how they break down, but also a wonderful classroom management resource. I mean how often do kids ASK for a procedure that breaks down numbers?
In a typical classroom setting, I just display the slides as we go through. We discuss each computation and how we got the answer. The students love this time to share.  So Anna, how does that translate into the digital era we are in? The answer is easy! We schedule a morning meeting everyday through Google Meets or the platform your school allows. I will go into present mode and go through the slides the exact same way. The students are able to use the chat feature in order to respond to their question. At the beginning of the meeting I show students how to use the chat feature. We discuss that this feature is for our number talk conversations.  I encourage students to utilize the chat feature to discuss our number talks. 

During this challenging time, I was relieved that my students are still engaged in meaningful conversations about math and computation strategies. This gave me confidence that my students were still developing a deep understanding number sense even during this challenging time. Though so many things are unknown during this time, as educators, we know the best we can do is find a routine and stick to it.

I'm excited to share with you that these digital number talk lessons are now available in my TpT store for all grades K-5! They include everything you need to implement high quality number talks from a distance learning platform or in the classroom throughout the entire year. Click here to learn more about them (make sure to go to the custom categories tab to find your grade level). Samples are also included for you to give them a try!

In addition to my digital number talk resources, I have created several other digital friendly math and ela activities to use with my students. These can also be used remotely or as an assignment in the classroom.

Take care, friends! Thank you for making a difference every day!

For more quotes like this from Teaching with Haley O' Conner, click here (free).

3 Tips to Build Math Fact Fluency

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Let’s face it: math fact fluency for our students is necessary, but the typical fact repetition isn’t always the most engaging form of practice. I am always searching for fun AND exciting ways to help build fact fluency in my classroom. Having proficiency in math facts helps lay the foundation for future mathematicians, but I know it needs to be switched up from time to time.

Here are a few fresh ideas that I have found for my classroom and I hope you can incorporate them into your classroom routine as well!

1. Focus on Mental Math Strategies

In order for students to become fluent with math facts, they must have a variety of go-to strategies in their toolbox to pull from when they become stumped. Instead of focusing on memorizing facts, teach strategies to help students understand the relationship between numbers. Strategies like using doubles and make a ten are powerful. Having strategy posters displayed around the room is helpful for students! I also like to challenge by students to show me what strategy they used to solving a problem, and then ask them to find another strategy they could have used. It helps to strengthen those number connections!

2. Make it Fun and Engaging

If you want student buy-in for math fact practice, you have to make it exciting for them. There are many easy ways to do this!


The minutes I say “game” in my classroom, I immediately have buy-in. My students love any opportunity to play a game, and they don’t even realize that they are learning or practicing their skills! I have several addition and subtraction games and activities in my Let's Add and Let’s Subtract 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.

Partner Work

I find that my students are way more engaged in the learning activity when they get an opportunity to work with a partner! They get an opportunity to talk about math/adding numbers, learn from one another and most of all, have fun! Partner work can be super simple too. You can use a deck of cards and have students add or subtract as they both flip a card over, or do a similar activity with dice! It doesn’t have to be complicated, because your students will love the opportunity to work with a friend!


If you’re not singing in your classroom, what are you doing with with your life?! Haha! All jokes aside, music is one of the best ways to build lasting connections with your students! Here are some of my go-to songs for building math fluency!

3. Weekly Practice

Number talks are a great way to build math fact fluency, but not just with the standard rote memorization. With number talks, students are encouraged to share how they solved a problem, they get to listen to strategies from other students and prove their thinking. After implementing number talks with my students, I saw gains in my students number sense and place value understanding, mental math abilities and math fact fluency. My students actually looked forward to this part of our day and didn’t want to miss out on our number talks. If you want to learn more about how I conduct number talks, including paperless number talks, in my classroom, you can head over to this post.

While fact fluency does not come easy for every student, having these quick and easy tips to refer back to and incorporate into your classroom will hopefully help to build that fluency with your students! 

Building Number Sense in the Classroom

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Number sense is such an important skill for our students to have. This can be something that we can forget to incorporate into our lessons, but it’s something that should not be overlooked. There are many ways you can easily incorporate this into your math routine plus, building number sense and teaching number relationships does not have to take up a ton of time.

I want to share some of my number sense routines and activities that I have used over the years that have been so effective in building number sense with my students.

Number Talks

What is a number talk?

A number talk is a short discussion between teacher and students about how to solve a given math problem.

How does it work?

At the beginning of your math block, you present each problem and give your students wait time. 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. For example, two fingers up means I have two ways to solve the problem). After sufficient wait time, students can share their thinking as the teacher records their responses. During this time, the teacher can ask questions like: "How did you get your answer?" and/or "Why did you use that strategy?" You will want to include those incorrect responses in your number talks as well.

Why is it effective in building number sense?

Students are given an opportunity to grapple and reason with numbers and problems independently. Number talks encourages your students to discuss how they came up with their answers. When students speak about their process and answers, they can uncover mistakes, self-correct and develop an understanding of different strategies for solving problems.

I love using digital/paperless number talks in my classroom. Number Talks are all about the process of mental math computation and sharing strategies, so the digital/paperless format was perfection. All I have to do is display on my board and the number talk is ready! I have these resources available for easy use in my TpT store and they are organized by grade level. Click on your grade level to get started with digital number talks today!


Math Journals

What is a math journal?

A math journal is a composition notebook where students are given math prompts to glue and solve in their journal.

How do math journals work?

At the beginning of math workshop, I pass out a math journal prompt to each student to glue into their math journals. After reading the prompt/problem together a couple of times as a whole class, the students work independently for about 5 minutes to solve the problem. Then, you can share as a class how you solved the problem. Encourage different strategies to be shared.

Why is it effective in building number sense?

Math journals allow students to stretch their thinking! Math journals give students opportunities to share and talk about how they solved a problem. It is during this time that students are able to justify their reasoning while also evaluating strategies from their classmates.

It's never too late to start incorporating math journals into your classroom today. These math journals are a great resource for your classroom, just print and you're on your way! 

Number Sense Games

Incorporating games into your math routine is a great way for students to work on building their number sense.

These place value games keep the content engaging for your students and can be easily incorporated into independent center time. It's a great way for students to explore number relationships through number sense games!

No matter what approach you take to building number sense with your students, the most important thing you can do is to help students see math as fun.

Check out some of my favorite manipulatives to use when teaching number sense:
Teacher Created Resources Foam Base Ten Set 

Base Ten Place Value Frame

 Mini Rekenreks

Unifix Cubes

Ten Frame Dice

Magnetic Ten Frame Set

120 Chart Mat

Dry Erase 100 Charts

Place Value Disks

Dry Erase Number Lines

Ring in the New Year with Kindness

Wednesday, January 1, 2020
I can't think of a better way to start out the new year in my classroom than reinforcing the importance of kindness! Our world sure does need more of it right now. Having conversations and brainstorming how we can show kindness encourages our kids to go out and practice it. I created a simple, just print activity where your students can do just that- 20 Ways to Show Kindness in 2020. Download it for free here.

Happy New Year!!

Digital Number Talks

Monday, February 25, 2019

Watch this short video to learn how using digital number talk lessons was a game changer in my classroom! 

Try a week out in your classroom here:

Halloween Brain Breaks

Tuesday, October 23, 2018
Halloween is right around the corner! One thing I do to help survive the sugar high craziness is give my kiddos a few minutes in between activities to get their wiggles out. Today, I just want to quickly share with you some of my favorite Halloween brain break videos.You can find them all on YouTube. Enjoy!

Happy Halloween!

Meet the Teacher Tips

Saturday, August 11, 2018

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:)