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Saturday, December 3, 2016

PARCC Test: Preparing Students for Standardized Test Format ALL YEAR LONG

Here is a new resource for teachers:The PARCC Released Test Items for Grades 3-8 for years 2015 and 2016, that just became available:

For the second year in a row, the PARCC consortium has released authentic test items from the 2015-16 assessments for grades 3 through 8. The test items, which are actual questions from last year's assessments and can be found on the Partnership Resource Center (PRC), are designed to provide students, teachers, and parents with unparalleled transparency about the tests, and to serve as a resource to prepare for the upcoming spring assessments.  

The released assessment items, in PDF format, represent approximately one full test per grade level, for both English Language Arts/literacy and mathematics. Also posted on the PRC are scoring rubrics associated with the test questions, along with learning standards guidelines that demonstrate specifically which competencies are being measured by each question. For the open-ended writing portions of the PARCC assessments, there are anonymous student responses for each of the five PARCC scoring levels to provide the most accurate representations of what kinds of answers will earn various scores.

Winter Break is a great time to take a look at these grade-level assessments, while you have a bit of time. My plans are to match assessment questions with units of study in the "4th Grade Math Expressions" math program.  While teaching students a particular lesson, it is a great time to discuss one question that matching your current unit of study, BUT in a standardized test format:
" Here is how the PARCC test might ask you a question about what to do with the remainder in a division problem, that we have just been studying today.  Notice that the question:
 A truck delivers 32 cases of soup to a store. Each case holds 8 cans of soup. The store manager plans to place 9 cans on each shelf. What is the fewest number of shelves the manager will need for all of the cans of soup delivered by the truck? 
a. 4
B. 5
C. 28
D. 29
is a two part question that uses both multiplication and division to come up with an answer. But MOST IMPORTANTLY you have to understand what to do with the remainder from the answer of the division problem."
"What words from the problem tell me if I will consider the remainder and include it in my answer OR just look at the number of groups in the answer and don't worry about the remainder?"
Answer: The words, "for all of the cans" tells me that I must use another shelf for the cans of soups that don't make another group of 9.
(Then, that is the end of the lesson. Don't worry about solving the problem.) 
The next day, at the end of my math lesson, I might use the same problem again and pose the question:
I wonder why the question gave these four choices of answers: 4,5,28,29?
Then I would divide my class into 4 groups and ask each group to come up with what a student might be thinking to choose a specific answer. Group 1-4, Group 2- 5, Group 3- 28, Group 4- 29. A quick whole group discussion would reveal what each group found:
A. Add 32 + 8 =40, then divide by 9 = 4 shelves if you don't worry about the remainder.
B. Add 32 + 8 =40, then divide by 9 = 5 shelves if you consider the remainder needs another shelf.
C. Multiply 32 X 8 = 256, then divide by 9 = 28 r4, = 28 shelves if you don't worry about the remainder.
D. Multiply 32 X 8 = 256, then divide by 9 = 28 r4, = 29 shelves if you consider the remainder needs another shelf. (This is the correct answer.)
(As a former writer of standardized math questions for  tests, that is exactly the answer choices that I would come up for this problem.)  


Thursday, December 1, 2016

Sight Word Ho-made Puzzle To Add a Bit of Fun

I've been working with a First Grader on her sight words. 
To add a bit of fun, 
we put together a sight word puzzle together.

First, I wrote all the words on a blank white,  
cardboard puzzle board.  

Then, I lightly colored 5 different colors over the words in irregular blobs with a crayon. These background colors help when you reassemble the puzzle together. I didn't want my student to spend too much time just trying to put the puzzle together again.  

What I wanted was to have fun, and talk about the words as we reassembled the puzzle. 
"  I think we are making the word, GOES.  Here is the GO... how does it end?  Yeah... let's look for the ES to finish the word."

I did provide a list of the words, in ABC order, to look at while we were putting the puzzle together.

I would be a great way for a parent volunteer to work with your students... and have a bit of fun too.

Sunday, November 20, 2016

Teaching for Understanding: Vocabulary for Long Division

Why should you take time to teach math vocabulary, 
when you are having a hard time just
 completing the provided math lesson each day?

I've been tutoring a 4th Grader, and the directions on her assigned page were:
Divide with Remainders
"The remainder must be less than the divisor. 
If it is not, increase the quotient."
Multiply to check division. Add the remainder.

She was absolutely at a total loss about what they were asking her to do.  What is a remainder, divisor, dividend, or quotient? I think she understood it as much as you would if I asked you to complete a problem in which you divided polynomials like this:

One of things we can do is to stop saying, "What is the number we are dividing," and change that to "What is the dividend in this problem?"  As teachers are we always using the correct vocabulary while teaching a concept?  I know we don't say dividend because we are afraid that our students won't know what we are asking. 

How about taping a temporary place-card on each students desk while teaching this unit like this:
Next to each vocabulary word, have the student write their own student-friendly definition to each word.
 Here are some examples of what they might write:
Dividend- Number to be divided into equal groups
Divisor- Number of equal groups
Quotient- Number in each group. The answer to a division problem
Remainder- Number remaining or left over
Here's another idea.  While lining up for lunch, ask your group if we were dividing the group into groups of three, what number would we be dividing ? Yes, ___ would be our dividend.
What number would we write down as our divisor?
Then have the line, move slightly, to group into 3's (while still staying in line).
What is our quotient? (Count each group out loud..1,2,3...)
Did we have any remainders? (Count out loud...)

In the following days, divide the line into 2's, 4's, 12's...
Ask those same questions using the correct math vocabulary.  
Why will this help?  Well, it's almost like they are a "living division problem," and it's a very concrete example of the vocabulary. 
Give it a try, an let me know how it worked for you in the comment section of this blog.

P.S. If you are teaching a split 3/4 Grade Class, they ALL need this exposure to the vocabulary of division. 

Sunday, November 13, 2016

Split Class Math Vocabulary Word Wall

How can you create a word wall for math vocabulary when each grade is working on different math content?

How can you find all the wall space in your classroom?

My suggestion is to think a bit outside the box and have your students create personal file folder word walls. This folder could cover math concepts for one or more units.
 Each grade level would be working on their own personal file folder, so wall space 
would not be an issue. 

This word wall file folder would not be thrown away, but stored in a students math folder for future use on student homework assignments or center activities.

These folders could be used as you review math concepts for an upcoming standardized test too.

What do you think about this idea? Share you thinking in the comments area of this blog.


Sunday, October 30, 2016

Positional Words Idea: Split Class 1st/2nd

Are you teaching a 
1/2 Split Class? 

Here is an example of how one resource can be used with both levels of students.

 1. Teacher reads, "Ornament Positional Fun!" book to whole class. 

2. 1st Graders: Play
Print individual copies of the ornaments, Christmas tree, and present on heavier card-stock paper. Punch a hole in each corner of the top of the paper and run a yarn loop through the holes. Tie yarn so picture can hang around the students' neck.  
 Assign the role of each of the different colored ornaments to your students. Have them act out their part and then hang the ornament on the large Christmas tree page provided in the packet. The last pages of this packet contain enlarged photos of each ornament, the present, and a tree for the play.  Students hang the ornament card around their neck to help the audience visualize the characters. 

     Reread the book to your students. Students can use choral reading and read aloud the phrase, ““Oh me, oh my, how great would it be, to hang upon this Christmas tree.”

3. 2nd Graders: 
         Use the book within a literacy center or writing center. On a chart, list other positional locations that could be shown on the tree. A page from the book would also be posted so students can see how the dialogue is punctuated. Possible other positional locations examples: top, middle, bottom, adjacent, and  beneath. 

Students design a new ornament to hang on the tree. Then they write a page of text, to add to the book. Their writing contains dialogue between the ornaments and the new positional location of the ornament.

This worksheet is my gift to you.  Click HERE to obtain your copy.


Here is the Teacher Pay Teacher link for the positional book:


Saturday, October 22, 2016

Holiday Positional Concept Book

This cute holiday book, created by a Speech Pathologist, encourages student participation while learning positional concepts to cover this Common Core Standard: CCSS.MATH.CONTENT.K.G.A.1

Describe objects in the environment using names of shapes, and describe the relative positions of these objects using terms such as above, below, beside, in front of, behind, and next to.

Suggested Uses in the Classroom:
  •   Read the book to students in a large group setting and ask individual students to come to the front and place the ornament in the correct position on the tree while reading individual pages. 
  •   Print a book for each student in a small group. The teacher reads the book aloud to the small group while each student individually places the ornament in the correct position.
  •  Reread the book to your students. Students can use choral reading and read aloud the phrase, ““Oh me, oh my, how great would it be, to hang upon this Christmas tree.”
  •  Assign the role of each of the different colored ornaments to your students. Have them act out their part and then hang the ornament on the large Christmas tree page provided in the packet. They”ll love it! Each ornament ( 8 1/2 x 11) is available to be printed individually for the play.
  •  For older students that can read more independently, use the book within a literacy center.  An extended writing project involves writing text about more positional locations on the tree filled with ornaments that the students draw and add to the tree.
 She even thought about how to organize the ornament pieces so they won't get lost!

Take a closer look at this product on Teacher Pay Teacher at this link:

Each page of the story builds upon the previous page, and encourages students to vocalize the repetitive phrase within the story.


Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Manipulative Showing the Distributive Property Use in Multiplication

I used the online applet from the National Library of Virtual Manipulatives to illustrate the Distributive Property use in a multiplication algorithm.

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