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Wednesday, May 4, 2016

Multiplication Sundaes!

Memorizing multiplication and division facts is such an important part of 3rd grade Math!  With everything else I do with my students in Math, I aim for higher level thinking, digging deeper, etc. But when it comes to multiplication and division facts, we just need to MEMORIZE!  We use lots of different strategies to help memorize facts, but the best (and most fun) motivation to memorize? Multiplication Sundaes!!!

multiplication sundaes

Each fact (2s, 5s, 10s, etc.) is a part of the sundae.  Students have to pass the quiz to earn that part of the sundae.  We set a date for the Multiplication Sundae party, usually towards the end of the year.  Whatever they've earned on their paper sundae, they get to have in their real sundae!  At first they don't believe that we won't just give everything to everyone, but once they realize I'm not bluffing, they're so excited to start passing those quizzes! 

multiplication fact quizzes

We practice learning the facts in an order that is easiest to trickiest, not numerical order.  For each fact, there are two different quizzes.  After the first test, different students are taking quizzes on different numbers, so I call out each number, and students come to get their quiz. The Quiz A and B options are great when students don't pass their quiz the first time. 

I give them one minute and then all pencils are put away.  To save time and increase ownership, I have students take out markers to correct their tests.  I'll read off the answers for one quiz at a time, and it really does pretty quickly.  By the time I get to the last few answers, it's awesome to see the excitement as students can tell they're about to pass!  We've talked about being sensitive about cheering since not every classmate has passed their test, but it's inevitable for a "Yesss!" to slip out here and there! :)

multiplication sundae tracking page

There are some different ways to display sundaes.  In the past, I've hung everyone's sundae on the wall, which makes for a fun display, and an extra bit of motivation.  However, the way my classroom is set up now, I don't have any wall space that kids can reach.  (My room used to be a middle school science room...I've got counters for days!) I'm thinking of some other options - taped to cabinet doors, maybe? - but for now they keep their sundae in the math section of their Data Binders.  I do like that their parents can see the sundaes weekly and know what facts to help with at home.

multiplication sundae parent letters

I have letters to send home to parents when we start the sundaes explaining the process.  When it's time for the party, I have families sign up to bring in everything we need. Since we do our parties in the spring, it's GREAT to be able to go out to the park next to our school where ice cream drips aren't a big deal. :)  In my Multiplication Sundae packet, there are editable letters to help you organize each step of the process.  

There are tons of options available in this packet.  You can choose if you want your students to memorize fact up to 10 or 12.  There are also division quizzes for every fact, so if you want, you can have your kids pass BOTH multiplication and division before they get the next part of their sundae. 

Monday, March 21, 2016

Whole Class Journals

Last summer, I was looking for some easy additions for the Work on Writing area in my classroom. While searching around on Pinterest, I kept seeing the idea of Whole Class Journals.  I decided these would be a perfect, EASY addition to my classroom.

using whole class journals during wriitng

Each day during our literacy block, the students who have a Work on Writing rotation have the option of writing in a Class Journal.  They can look through the basket and pick out a journal topic that interests them.  

Whole class journal notebooks
The basket sits on top of the bookcase for easy access!

Then they head back to their seats to write.  Most students like to read what their classmates have written before they get started with their own writing.

The Class Journal covers have reminders about expectations for the writing inside, however I've found that students really put forth their best effort knowing that their audience is their peers!

whole class journal notebooks class journal

Having a bunch of journal covers to choose from is great, because I can rotate them out to keep things from getting stale, or to incorporate seasonal topics.  I stocked up on composition notebooks before school started to take advantage of those great back-to-school sale prices.  I like to use composition notebooks because they're sturdier than spiral notebooks and do a good job holding up with the amount of use that they get.  

Whole Class Journals have been a perfect addition to Work on Writing.  And I honestly think they've helped build a community of writers as kids read each other's writing much more frequently and even have conversations about it.  ("Hey Megan! I play soccer too!")  I'd highly recommend them for any classroom, whether you use them for Work on Writing, a Writing center, early finishers, etc.

If you're interested in the Class Journal covers in the post, you can grab them HERE!

Sunday, January 3, 2016

The Power of Student-Selected Behavior Goals

behavior goals for classroom management

Deciding to have each of the kids in my class choose their own behavior goal has been a game changer for me.  Game. Changer.  

We have a token system, where kids can earn classroom "currency."  It works well, but something was missing. My class can earn "brownie points" as a group and earn rewards as a whole class.  They love it.  But, again, something was missing.  There were still a handful of students who made me want to bang my head against the wall! (We've all been there, right?)

I knew that for us to have a great classroom community, I needed this student to stop blurting out, that one to keep track of his belongings, this one to ask for help, and that one to share his ideas with his classmates more, etc.   So I made a list of all the behaviors that I wanted to see more of.  I was thinking off the kids in my class as I wrote my list - both the ones with great behavior and the ones are more disruptive.

I made goal sheets for each behavior on my list, phrased as an "I can..." statement.  There are 10 boxes on each, and when students fill up the boxes for showing the positive behavior, they'd get a reward coupon.  The next morning, I printed them off, cut them up, grabbed some stickers, and crossed my fingers that this plan would work. 

students pick behavior goals

At our Morning Meeting, we talked about Growth Mindset and Goal Setting, topics we've covered a lot this year.  I explained that I wanted them to think about a behavior they could get better at, and then I read all the goal choices to them.  The next part is when I had to take a leap of faith - letting them pick their own goals to work on. 

And you know what, I wasn't disappointed.  All but one student picked the exact goal I would have picked for them.  I feel proud that we'd gotten to a point where they are able to be reflective about their strengths and weaknesses.  With that one student, I asked, "Are you sure you don't want to pick 'I can finish my work.'?"  His response was, "You let everyone else pick their goal, why can't I pick mine?" Touche.  

It's been working really well.  It's amazing how much it helps for each student to have ONE behavior to really focus on. And they are bought in since they were able to choose what they need to work on. One girl asked me to add "I can ignore distractions" because she told me she found herself paying too much attention to what was going on around the room.  I loved that she was being so reflective and quickly added it to our goals.

student behavior goal sheets
You can click on the picture above to purchase my set of goal trackers.

Tips for using the Goals:
  • I use stickers - the ones from the Dollar Tree or Target Dollar Spot fit perfectly - but my teammate uses a stamp, and that works great for her.  Just make sure it's something the kids don't have access to! :)
  •  Keep the extra goal sheets in a place where it's easy for kids to access them to pick new ones.  
  • Pick a designated time for students to trade in their completed sheets for a reward.
I hope these are able to be as helpful to you and your students as they are to me and mine!