Wednesday, August 27, 2014

I LOVE Base Ten Blocks

If I could pick only ONE math manipulative to use for the whole school year I wouldn't even have to think about it.

Base. Ten. Blocks. Period.

A tool which teaches place value, magnitude of numbers, addition, subtraction, arrays, multiplication, division and on and on and on...

What follows is a list of 8 activities that help students to master the skills in the 2nd grade NBT standards using nothing other than base ten blocks. If you want the activity cards so that these could be used as independent work or math stations, they can be found here. 

Activity #1: Comparing Numbers
Which number is greater, 23 or 32? If a student does not have a firm understanding of place value, the two numbers might as well be equal! Comparing numbers with base ten blocks allows students to see the magnitude of each digit and the difference in value across the ones and tens places.

Activity #2: Expanded Form
Expanded form is another step in understanding the value of a digit in different place values. This is also a crucial foundational skill for mental math. A student adding 234 + 10 who understands expanded form and place value would know to simply increase the "3" in the tens place to a "4" representing one more ten being added. A student who doesn't understand place value and expanded form would likely have to write 234 + 10 vertically in order to solve.

Activity #3: How Many Tens?
Given 35 ones, how many tens can you make? How many ones would still be left over? This foundational skill lays a strong framework for the traditional addition algorithm. Students will know that 6 + 7 = 13 is represented by 1 group of ten with 3 left over or ungrouped. No more 'I carry "the" one and "put down" the 3'. Students will understand exactly what is going on so that there are no careless errors due to lack of procedural understanding!

Activity #4: How Many Hundreds?
Given 46 tens, how many hundreds do you have? How many tens are left over or left ungrouped? This is a skill that 2nd graders are expected to master according to the CCLS. Students can practice and begin to see patterns and rules that always apply when grouping tens into hundreds.

Activity #5: Ten More/ Ten Less
If you asked your students to solve "Ten more than 45" would they instantly know that 55 is the answer or would they have to stop to work the answer out with pencil and paper? Ten More/Ten Less is an activity designed to allow students to start to see the patterns occurring in the tens place when another ten is added or when a ten is taken away. As students become proficient in this activity, they would be expected to move from re-counting the tens and ones each time they add or subtract and rather developing rules around the changes in the digit in the tens place.

Activity #6: 100 More/100 Less
If your students have completed activity #5, you would hope that they could make generalizations which would allow 100 More/ 100 Less to be easily understood. You'd hope. This activity allows students to make those connections in an explicit way.

Activity #7: Addition to 100
I love teaching addition with base ten blocks let me explain why:

Student explaining 53 + 29 using the traditional algorithm: First you add the numbers over here and 9 + 3 = 12 so you "put the one up" and "put down the two" then you add the 1 and 5 and 2 and get 8.

I don't know about you but putting up and putting down aren't phrases in the glossary of my math book.

Student explaining 53 + 29 using base ten blocks: 
First you add the ones together. 3 ones plus 9 ones equals 12 ones. 12 ones is the same as 1 ten and 2 ones. I'll record the two in the ones column and put the group of ten in the tens column. Now I can add 5 tens, 2 tens and the new 10 that I got from the ones to get 8 tens. I'll put the 8 in the tens column. The answer is 8 tens and 2 ones or 82.

Activity #8: Addition to 1000: See Activity # 7 :)

And if you need to convince ANYONE that this level of understanding makes math easier rather than more complicated... just show them this video:
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Thursday, August 21, 2014

Classroom (RtI Space?) Reveal!

Stick with me, it's going to be a long one! If you follow me on Facebook you know that I am changing positions this year. Rather than working in a multi-age special ed. classroom I will be a math interventionist (RtI teacher, specialist, TOSA... there are so many titles that all mean the same thing!) this year.

I am VERY excited for this new role but new role means new space so I had some serious downsizing to do! Here is a "before" picture of my room just after I had moved all of my things into the space- ready to pack up for summer.

Ahh!! So much to do and so little space to do it in! The classroom I am in is split into 5 pieces for two ESOL teachers and 2 other math teachers. On top of that, we are in an area called "The Pods" which doesn't have any real walls between the classrooms. This means that two of my four "walls" are made up of cubbies, 1 wall is made up of a manipulative shelf and one wall is grey partitions. 

No worries though, by the time you get to the end of this post you will see that it is all going to come together! I am SUPER excited to be working in close proximity to so many other teachers. Just packing up at the end of the year was fun because there are so many adults around! 

My first project was to create a white board wall above the cubbies between my area and the classroom next door. I decided to cut a length of panel board from the hardware store because #1, it's cheap, #2, it would look nice and clean and #3, it doubles as a dry erase board!! 

 Step 1 happened the night before. Holes were drilled to accomodate the shelf brackets I would be using on the back of the panel board as a stand. Because this board was SO long, I couldn't fit it in my car with the brackets in place so, once I got to school, I screwed screws into the front of the board for the brackets.
 Before flipping the board, I used a roll of bright purple tape to create a border and to cover the screws. Because I was using 4 brackets on the back, I taped borders creating 3 separate sections to write in.

Next, I flipped the board and secured the brackets with small nuts. Once I stood the board up on top of the cubbies, a little bit of duct tape over the legs and I was finished! 

Ta Da! The completed white board is now a much more suitable divider between my space and the room next door! Next, I needed to cover up the grey partitions between my workspace and the math teacher next to me. If you look carefully, just above the easel, you can see a litttttttle corner peeking out. Suffice it to say, it is now covered in black lattice fabric which you will see later. 

If you give a mouse a black lattice wall, she's going to want some no-sew cubby curtains to go with it! 

... I'm sure that's how the saying goes! On to the next step... cubby curtains! So, so easy... I promise!
Step 1: Lay out fabric right side up. 

 Step 2: Lay a long piece of masking tape along the length of the fabric. 1/2 of the width of the tape should be ON the fabric. 1/2 of the width of the tape should be OFF of the fabric. 

Step 3: Turn fabric over, wrong side up.  

 Step 4: Fold over about 1 inch of fabric plus the width of the masking tape and press the tape down. Run a string through the hole you have created and hang! If you make the curtain a bit longer than the space you are hanging the curtains in, you will be able to scrunch a bit as you go. 

Here we go, cubby curtains are hung. And... if you look REAL closely over the easel, you can see the black lattice wall that matches :) 

After organizing, and organizing, and organizing, a few hours later, the space looked like this: 

Now, when I go into school, I can focus on the REAL content work of preparing for B2S. Only a week and a half left! 

I am excited to link this post up with:

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Monday, August 11, 2014

Place Value Freebie!

Thank you for sticking with me through my transition from Polka Dots & Teaching Tots to The Math Spot! I have a gift for you for sticking around :)

It's a place value game for your 4th & 5th grade students! I created this politically correct version of hangman to play with my students at the beginning of the school year because place value is one of the first topic we will study. Students NEED to know the names and relationships between the periods on the place value chart. This game will help to orient to students to the place value chart and get them to start using appropriate place value vocabulary.

These place value cards are cut apart and put into a deck face down. The student playing the teacher gets to hold onto these cards. They choose one card to begin the game. 

The student playing the guesser guesses a digit. The teacher tells them if the digit is in their number. If the digit IS in the number, they tell them which place value or place values the digit goes in. I would recommend laminating this sheet for repeated plays! 

If the digit the guesser guesses is NOT in the number, the guesser has to cross out a balloon. If all of the balloons are crossed out, the girl jumps into the pool! See, a little less violent :) Can your students guess the whole number before the girl jumps in the pool? 

I have included two versions so that students learning decimal numbers can play as well! 

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