Sunday, September 15, 2013

Welcome To Fall!! Cool 3rd grade place value activities

I feel like things are FINALLY falling into place....just in time for FALL!!!

So a few weeks ago, I got an email from my friend/previous co worker Gennifer, and she wanted me to come and do a math training for her staff (she's a principal in a neighboring county in VA, but we used to teach together!) on Math Expressions. Since I'm SO active in our county's math and have taught successfully with Math Expressions, she wanted me to give her staff a quick overview and how to use the program successfully. I met some really cool teachers, and without going into too much detail, I really want to do training for a living now! I love all the technology trainings I do for my school, and this was SO much fun!

On the way to her school, I stopped for a PSL from Starbucks. If your blood type is Starbucks, as mine is - you know that stands for PUMPKIN SPICE LATTE!!! PSL is everything fall should be in a tall cup of caffeine! I love love love everything about fall - especially the pumpkin flavored everything. In fact, right now as I blog, I am baking pumpkin chocolate chip cookies!

One of my favorite units to teach this time of year is place value. I'm not sure if it's because it is SO easy to differentiate between my Tier I, II and III students, and my gifted students! My favorite activity, is an AIMS activity called "Clue Me In." Click here to purchase this activity from AIMS.

In this activity, students are given "mystery numbers" to find. Level A starts with 3 digit numbers, and level G and H are 6 digit numbers. The clues use math vocabulary like sum, difference, greater than, less than, and place value all the way to the hundred thousands. The clues were too difficult for my Tier II and III students to complete by themselves, so I set up teams of 4 to complete this activity, just as the directions state you should. I paired my higher level thinkers (1-2 per group) with my lower level students (2-3 per group). I put the lower level students in charge of finding the place values, circling and crossing out numbers. My higher level students were in charge of decoding the clues. It worked BEAUTIFULLY!

I put the recording sheet in a sheet protector, and let students write on it with a dry erase marker. At the end of each clue, or if students needed to start over, the paper easily erased. 

Clues are mixed up. For example, the first clue might say "The digit in the hundreds place and the tens place are the same." The students haven't figured out either digit. We talked about how you would remember to go back and solve this, and students decided they should circle the clues they had to go back to. 

This was HARD for 3rd graders! Look at the "brain stretching" as we call it in our class. This was a group of 5 - with EVERY student engaged, for a total of 45 minutes. Coolest. Activity. Ever. 

I am starting rounding and comparing now, and I am teaching my students the rounding mountains found in math expressions, with a little twist to help. 

You can find that poster on my TpT store. I will post some cool lessons on rounding next week! It's time to bake some more of those delicious pumpkin chocolate chip cookies. (If you want the recipe go HERE

Tuesday, September 3, 2013

Cool Math Activities Plus: Surviving another week, a move, and losing my mind!

Okay - so I swear I did not fall off the face of the earth! We have been in school for THREE full weeks (we are on week 4!!!) and everything is starting to fall into a nice routine. (Until the full moon last week!!!) My wonderful hubby and I celebrated 8 years of marriage last week. We celebrated by PAINTING! Over the past two weeks, we have been getting our new house ready, and this weekend we moved! (I haven't gone back to the old house to clean, but I am EXHAUSTED, and I don't want to think about that until the weekend!) We spent our anniversary painting, but I am SO happy with the results.
 The living room is BLUE. I am in LOVE. This painting is the Paris Skyline -- our local Humane Society has a store called Purrfect Treasures, and they sell high end furniture donated from Uttermost. All proceeds benefit the Humane Society (we all know how CRAZY about my dogs I am!!). I got this GREAT portrait at a steal! I mean like.....less than $100 - and it sells for well over $300!!! The only thing about painting the living room this FABULOUS color, is that it took 3 coats!!!! ahhhhh!!!!!! Every single night painting! Did I mention I have a LATEX allergy -so I had to wear this awful respirator mask to block the latex particles!!! Anywho - thats what I did every night after work last week (and finishing up our beautiful privacy fence for our dogs), and on Saturday we moved  in! I am so tired still! We moved from 8 am Saturday morning until 1:30 am Sunday morning. Just my hubby and I !!!! My sister and mom offered to help, but with our dogs running around, it really was just easier for the two of us. My mom is the best - she's going to wash my comforter that won't fit in my washer. She offered to do so much for us, and she was working all weekend. LOVE HER!!! 

Anywho - I did two REALLY awesome math activities with my kiddos this past week when we got into our place value unit. The kids told me they were some of their favorite activities of everything I've done so far. (They asked if one could be done on the whiteboards for a center!!) 

The first math activity was identifying numbers on a number line! First, I gave students a blank number line, and had each small mark stand for 100. Students labeled their number lines up to 15,000. (I used this time to have students glue strips of paper together, and use a ruler to mark off every 1/4 of an inch. I try to have my students use a ruler as much as possible before beginning measurement - it really makes a difference!). Then, students were given post-it notes, and dice. (PS-- I keep my pairs of di in tupperware containers - they can roll them without throwing them all over the room.) Students started with 4 di, and worked in groups. After the students rolled their di, they could arrange the numbers in any order. They then had to find the number on their number line, write it on a post it note, and stick it on their line. After each member of the group had a turn, they increased to five di. There was a lot of "math talk" about how and where to put your sticky note number. It was very powerful!! Check out my kiddos having a blast! 

See the containers on the end desk -- those each have a pair of di^^

  They had so much fun!!! Check out all those post-it notes!! 

So, my next activity was to practice place value forms. Students had to spin a 4 digit number using spinners. (You can just use a regular spinner for each place value, or if you have Place Value Spinners you could use those.) First, we divided a piece of construction paper into four even sections. (Most people would probably use plain manilla or white paper, but I LOVE color - so we used construction paper!) In the first section, students had to write the number in expanded form. My students spun their number in order from thousands to ones, so they just wrote each number as they spun. Then, students had to place the number into a place value chart. In the third section, students had to draw the number using place value drawings. (The long rectangle is a thousand). Finally, in the fourth box, students had to write the number in word from. The kids loved using the place value spinners so much, they asked if this could be turned into a center. When my kiddos love something so much, that they want it in centers that makes me SO happy!! 
One more small victory -- we are an SFA school (Success For All Foundation), and we have been working on clarrifying in my reading group. We call the words we get stuck on "sticky situations" and we put a post it note on the word, and use clarrifying strategies to figure out how to say words, and what they mean. Imagine the amazing feeling when in SCIENCE class, during a quiz, one of my reading students asked me to put up the picture of the Clarrifying Strategies card on the ActivBoard so he could use the strategies on words he didn't know. Yay yay yayyyyyyyyy!!!!!!!!! THAT is what it is all about!! Transfer of skills -- using those strategies throughout ALL reading - not just in reading class. I was so happy!!! 

I promise not to go too long before my next blog -- I have great things to share in the upcoming weeks! 

Have a great night ya'll!