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Marvelous Musical Math

I'm excited to welcome Sandra Riddle of The Brighter Rewriter as a guest blogger. Sandra is sharing some methods she uses to teach math facts. Enjoy! - Rose

Teachers, have you ever heard a song early in the morning and then had it stuck in your head ALL DAY? What about a commercial jingle? Can you sing all the lyrics to songs that were popular when you were a teenager? Most people answer “yes” to all of those questions. It is easy to see that music has a powerful and long-lasting effect on the human brain.

Math and music naturally go together. They are both built on patterns. Math chants and songs make learning math seem easy and effortless. The tunes will satisfy your auditory learners, while including graphics or videos will help your visual learners. You can make your kinesthetic learners ecstatic by adding in movement or dance.

I like to use old children’s song tunes and new pop tunes for math songs. Even if you don’t do the whole song, one verse or a chorus will engage students and help with learning. Don’t worry if you are not a good singer (I’m terrible). The kids won’t care. You can sing without using any music at all, but if you’re really ambitious you can find instrumental versions of almost any song in the history of the universe for free on YouTube.  

Here is an example of a math song that uses an old children’s tune. It is about place value and can be sung to “My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean.”

Ones, tens, hundreds, thousands, ten thousands
Hundred thousands, and then millions
Ten millions, hundred millions, then billions
Place value’s about location

This class favorite helps students remember steps in subtracting. It uses the chorus from “Shake It Off” by Taylor Swift. It’s great fun to dance to this one!

If the number’s more on top, top, top, top, top
Then I don’t need to stop, stop, stop, stop, stop
This is the easy op, op, op, op, op
I take away, I take away
If more is on the floor, floor, floor, floor, floor
Then I will go next door, door, door, door, door
And I will get 10 more, more, more, more, more
I take away, I take away

What about multiplication facts? Every 3rd grade teacher knows he or she will have at least a handful of students who cannot seem to memorize their times tables. Every 4th and 5th grade teacher gives that special “math talk” at least once each school year. You know the one. It’s where you explain that performing math operations such as multi-digit multiplication and long division would be SO much easier if basic math facts could be recalled with automaticity.

I offer a free resource that outlines a very successful method for achieving multiplication success in 3rd grade. It involves starting with what most 3rd graders already know (counting by 2, 5, and 10), then showing them how skip counting and repeated addition is actually multiplication in disguise. Next teach them the commutative property for multiplication, followed by teaching the times table rules for 0 and 1. Once this is done, there are only 21 facts left to learn! Memorizing 21 multiplication facts is a goal that even math-phobic students believe they can reach.

Here is my multiplication freebie:

I’ve had great success with students learning “the 21 hard facts” using chants and rhymes. One student favorite is the Zombie Rhymes Rap. I’ve created a short rhyme for each of the 21 hardest multiplication facts with a cartoon-like zombie-themed illustration. Kids LOVE to watch and sing along with the video and don’t even realize they are memorizing their times tables. The Zombie Rhymes Rap is available in different resources to suit your needs from my TpT store, the Brighter Rewriter.

Here are two examples of the Zombie Rhymes.

Zombie Rhymes Video:

Zombie Rhymes Video and Poster Set:

Zombie Rhymes Bundle with video, posters, coloring pages, bingo & more:

Students BEG to see the video. It’s a great transition tool or brain break. Students also love to dance to the rap beat and make up motions to “illustrate” each rhyme. If you have never used math songs or multiplication rhymes before, I hope I’ve convinced you to give them a try. I think you will find that a bit of music in math class is quite marvelous!

About Me

I’m Sandra Riddle, aka The Brighter Rewriter on TpT. I have 32 years of teaching experience. I’m officially retired now, but in my teacher life I taught regular and TAG 3rd grade for 22 years, ESL PK-5th for 6 years, and reading and math interventions 3rd-5th for 4 years. Each year, one of my most successful learning strategies involved using math songs to help students experience success.


Boom Learning Cards Are Now on Teachers Pay Teachers!

The day I've been waiting for has finally arrived! I'm so pleased to announce that Teachers Pay Teachers and Boom Learning have agreed that the coolest digital task cards EVER may now be sold on Teachers Pay Teachers. These inexpensive - yes - Super Cheap at this time! - digital task cards can be played on any device: white boards, iPads, phones, Kindles, other tablets, iPods, laptops, desktops - you name it!

You'll need a subscription to Boom Learning, but no worries! For a limited time, Boom is providing a one year subscription for free. After that, you can either continue your subscription to continue receiving premium features, or you can continue to play all your decks of cards forever for free with Fast Play:  Your Choice!

Here are a few sample pages.  This first provides practice with twenty common idioms.

 The next deck provides much-needed practice with revising and editing.

The next provides practice recognizing the structure of informational text.

Currently, Rosie's has twelve decks in our TpT store, but many more will be added  in the very near future. It's so easy to rotate them out throughout the year. I've used them at learning stations, on the white board in whole group, even in small group or individually in remedial lessons. Try playing a competitive game in teams on the interactive white board for test review. Kids love it!

Just to let you know, I'm super psyched to learn that I'll receive a free year's subscription to Boom! Learning just for writing this blog post.  How cool is that?  To see playable previews, click here, choose any deck, and click on the preview. Enjoy!

How to Rock Cinco De Mayo

The end of the year can be a tricky time to keep kids engaged. The best way to keep them motivated and learning is to choose activities that are meaningful and related to your curriculum, yet are easy for teachers to plan and set up. Over the next few days, I'll present some ideas that are easy for you, the teacher, but fun and engaging for the kids.

Complete a Cinco de Mayo Project

After state testing is the perfect time for kids to learn about Cinco de Mayo. It's a great civics lesson in culture, courage and patriotism.

Here's a quick resource that will get you going. It's a colorful PowerPoint presentation that tells the history behind Cinco de May, why it's celebrated in the United States, and why courage and patriotism are so important.

The lesson format is simple:

1.  Show the PowerPoint. Shown below is a three-slide excerpt from the presentation. Maps increase students' geographical literacy. Colorful artwork engages students' interest. Rationale statements help students understand civic lessons and build real-life patriotism.

While the PowerPoint is showing, kids fill in the blanks on the Student Notes page that is provided. When the PowerPoint is finished, students keep their Notes page as a handy reference guide.

2. Students prepare the Brochure, using their Notes page as a reference to complete their project. Students decorate their brochure and fold it in thirds.

3. Brochures can be displayed on a bulletin board. Displaying student projects on a bulletin board is a great motivational tool. Later, students take their brochures home.

4. If possible, play Latino music during class and serve a simple Mexican treat such as tortilla chips and salsa. Explain that tortillas were made by Mexican peasants a long as 500 years ago, and salsa is made from tomatoes, peppers, onions, and cilantro, all of which are a staple in the typical Mexican diet.

Even when planning time is short, your students will enjoy a memorable cultural activity in the classroom. To download this resource, click here. Happy Cinco de Mayo!

How to Energize Your Students with Easy Test Prep

I recently learned about a free (I love free!) site that is perfect for test prep or review any time of the year. You can find it at Kahoot.it. In three easy steps, you can have the most engaging test prep ever.

     1.  Create a free account at Kahoot.it.
     2.  Create a quiz.
     3.  Kids take the quiz on their laptops, iPads, Ipods, Iphones - any personal device.

Kahoot is great for questions that can be answered with an objective response, such as homophones, spelling, punctuation, equivalent fractions, or any underlying skill that is the foundation for kids being able to think critically.

When you create your account, be sure to write down your username and password so you can easily access your account later, during class.

There are 4 types of kahoots, but the quiz works best for test prep.

After you create the kahoot, you will write the quiz questions and answer choices. You may also drag an image to upload, but this is optional.

You may save your quiz either publicly or privately. Write down the kahoot number so you can easily find the quiz later.

In class, log in to kahoot. Here, you'll be glad you wrote down your username and password! Navigate to your kahoot number and project it for the whole class.

In class, on their devices, students go to kahoot.it and type in the kahoot number that you have projected.

Here's the quiz that will be projected during class, and . . . 

here is what the students' devices will look like. This kahoot used only two answer choices for each question, but you can have as many as four answer choices. If the correct answer is a red triangle, the kids press the red triangle to register their answer choice.

On the students' devices, correct answers show with a huge green screen, . . .

and incorrect answers show with a red screen so teachers can immediately identify students who need an explanation or reteach.

The kids are competing for the highest score, which shows on the teacher's projection screen.

Students in first, second and third places are awarded a digital medal on their own device.

Results are automatically saved for the teacher for your evaluation needs. They can be downloaded in an excel format.

I was completely impressed with this super cool way to review material. It's free, takes very little prep time, and the kids were completely energized due to the digital application and the competition. It's one of the easiest, most effective test prep applications I've seen. Many thanks to Mrs. Gamboa, in whose classroom I was a guest when she introduced Kahoot. I'd love to know if you give it a try!

Rock the STAAR Test Prep Giveaway!

I'm so pleased to offer this great giveaway with several great TpT friends I've partnered with: An $80 gift certificate for one lucky winner, plus these great STAAR test prep materials! Enter to win one of these fabulous prizes! There are only two days, so enter today!

    a Rafflecopter giveaway But don't stop there! Have a reading test to prep for, also? Enter both contests!

a Rafflecopter giveaway Best of luck to all! Winners will be announced in two days!

Number One Way to Streamline Grading in the Writing Classroom

As a writing teacher, have you been lugging home stacks of essays and narratives to grade during the weekend? Do you find that you are usually the last teacher to leave the campus at night because of grading demands? When report card deadlines approach, do you feel a sense of panic because you don’t have substantive grades recorded that show your students’ true writing progress?

Panic no more, my teacher friends! Here’s an easy way to record your students’ progress in writing.

Writing workshop follows a sequence.
·   The teacher gives a mini-lesson.
·   The students write while the teacher moves around the room checking on students’ progress and having mini-conferences.
·  The students share, either in whole group or with partners.

The key to effective grading is during the middle part of the sequence. 

Before class begins, print a blank roster of your class.  (I keep several printed ahead in a file folder in my desk.) While students are writing and you are quietly checking in with students to encourage and support, carry the roster on a clipboard as you move around the room. Jot down the grade and any notes you need to remember about particular students. By the end of the writing workshop, you have a daily writing grade that is meaningful, and you didn’t have to spend an hour after school to accomplish it!
A grade in writing class does not always have to be over an entire composition. For example, if the mini lesson was about introductions, simply grade the introduction. If it was over transitions, then grade only the student’s use of transitions that day.

In my writing class, numerical grades are always the same. This is the system I use.

                100 – Superior. I rarely score 100 for daily writing, but sometimes you have that creative, risk-taking student who goes above and beyond and writes something magnificent.
                95 – Excellent. The student applied the new knowledge to his writing.
                85 – A very good job. The student applied the new knowledge to his writing, but was careless about conventions or other previously learned skills.
                75 – An adequate job. The student attempted to perform the new skill, but was a bit awkward in its application.
                70 – Poor. The student did not apply the knowledge well, but is listening well and attempting to write. This student writes on a lower level than most of your other students and needs a lot of individual support.
                60 – Failing. This student did not try. (I rarely assign this grade.)

So, my teacher friends, make your grading life easier. Simply record the grades for the evaluations you are probably already making during class.

Effective Learning Stations in 7 Easy Steps

Kids need to practice the skills you have taught them in whole group and small group. Learning stations are the perfect way for them to practice while you are delivering that important small group instruction. In the upper elementary grades, learning stations should be easy to implement, easy to manage and, most of all, effective. Following are seven easy steps to implement learning stations in only two weeks.

1.  One-A-Day

Introduce one learning station each day. Choose activities that your students are familiar with from the previous year. After the whole group introduction, give students an opportunity to practice the activity. Allow them to work with partners or table groups. Repeat for five days, with five different activities.

2.  High-Five!

You've done it! By the end of the first week, you will have five stations that students can rotate through.

3.  Introduce Expectations

When the second week begins, you can introduce your classroom expectations for rotating through stations. Prior to class, group students into small groups. From 3 to 5 students work well in a group.

4.  Just Practice Movement

Decide on a signal for students to know when it's time to rotate. Practice several times moving quietly from their desks to their groups, and rotating to the next group at your signal.

5.  Now Practice Working

The following day, students are ready to actually work in their stations. You may want to practice the rotation exercise before you begin, to reinforce expectations.

6.  Don't Rush It!

Monitor students during their first week of working in stations, rather than meeting with small groups. The time invested will be well worth it, so students to learn to stay focused and work with their partners.

7.  Add Small Group Instruction

After two weeks, your students will be working independently in learning stations, and you can begin the important task of small group instruction. Introduce One additional learning station each week, until you have a balance of reading, writing and word work learning stations.

       Tired of working until 6:00 every Friday to update your learning stations? Try my Learning Stations for the Whole Year designed especially for teachers wanting to maximize the effectiveness of their learning stations. They are easy to implement because you Just Add Books!

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