22 July 2012

New Bloggers Blog Hop!

I am so glad that I came across this blog hop! What a great way to meet other bloggers and see other great blogs. I am new to blogging for teaching, so I am grateful for things like this.

A special thanks to Janis at Grade Three is the Place for Me! for starting this. For all the other newbies out there, link up and answer these questions:

1. What state are you in?
2. Your current teaching position.
3. Your teaching experience.
4. When you started blogging.
5. Share a blogging tip/blogging resource.

1. I live in beautiful Colorado.
2. I teach second grade.
3. I have been teaching for three years-all in second grade.
4. I started my teaching blog about a month ago, and it is definitely a work in progress as I figure out what I'm doing! I've had a personal blog (that I seriously neglect) for a few years.
5. When I first started blog "stalking", I noticed how great some of the blogs looked, and I had no idea how to make that happen. So, I happened to come across some great gals at The Honey Bunch Blog Designs who put together a great looking blog page for me. Never think your blog can't look just as amazing as all the other ones out there!

09 July 2012

Even and Odd Apple Trees

One of the first concepts I will be teaching in math this year is even and odd numbers. There is an emphasis on pairing and determining if a group is odd or even and that moves into deciding if a specific number is odd or even. (Scroll to the end to see a fun game!) I'm one of those people who really pushes conceptual knowledge of math concepts. Don't get me wrong, I have a few songs up my sleeve to help kids remember things. But-I also want them to really understand why something is the way it is-like why a number is either even or odd!

I like to start with a concrete representation, using manipulatives like unifex cubes, counters, or the units from our place value kits. I've also been known to use plastic bugs and people, pencils, counting bears...pretty much anything the kids can put their hands on. We pick a number, write it on our whiteboards, count out that many pieces, and then work to determine if that group as a whole is odd or even using a pairing strategy.
Usually working in pairs, the kids move the manipulatives into pairs. If every one has a pair, the number is even. (Later we write to explain how we know the number is even or odd.)
After a few practice times, we move into odd numbers. (I don't tell the kids that we're changing...I wait to see what they do!)
Then we pair them up, only this time there is an ODD MAN OUT! Poor guy doesn't have a partner, so this means the number is odd.
This is what we work on before moving to drawing pictures to represent a number and circling pairs. 
This year I'm really putting an emphasis on the ones place from the get go, so as the numbers get larger the kids won't waste time drawing 47 dots and pairing them. They will only have to draw the digit in the ones place, and eventually just know that a number is even or odd. What a great way to practice place value, too!

After the kids complete a DOL (demonstration of learning), some move into an independent "funtivity" in which they practice what we've just learned, while others will be small grouped with me for reteaching. This is a file folder game that I call "Odd or Even Apples." It's so easy! The kids draw apple cards with numbers on them and use one of two strategies to determine if it is odd or even. Here is a picture of what the front of the file folder looks like:

And this is what it would look like put together:
And a close up of the back of my cards. What's great is that I make my cards self-checking, so they know if they are right or wrong. I would hate for them to be practicing incorrectly! I use a yellow highlighter on the reverse side to put an "e" for even or an "o" for odd. They typically work in pairs, so it's hard to cheat when you have an accountability buddy! You'll also notice small numbers on the backside with the answer. That number corresponds to a bag number to avoid lost pieces and mix-ups. 
You can click HERE to find the files for the game. It includes the front cover, inside trees and instructions, along with three additional files for the even apples, odd apples, and blank apples, in case you want to make some of your own. 

04 July 2012

I don't know...

Those are three words that drive me crazy in the classroom (and at home, too)! I completely understand that a student genuinely could be confused or needs additional support from me. However, I also recognize that even my best students have those "space cadet" moments in which they are more interested in what's happening out the window than in anything I am saying.

So, rather than having that awkward moment of silence, I have decided to give the kids some alternative answers to the "I don't know" that they tend to fall back on when they are confused or just not paying attention! I have seen something like this in another classroom, and I thought it was fabulous...so I thought I would try it for my kiddos!

I am making a display for the wall for the first few months of school, but I am also making smaller cards on a ring to put in each pod bucket for the kids to reference when they need to.

This is what they look like:

You can get a copy to use in your classroom here ! To make the smaller cards, I set my printer settings to print multiple pages per sheet of paper. I thought that 4 pages per sheet was the perfect size. I also recommend laminating them for protection!