Thursday, October 1, 2020

Virtual Math Class: Main Lesson



Thanks for the excellent feedback on part 1 of this series which was all about virtual math class warm up!  I love reading all your messages on Instagram and Facebook about how you are using these ideas! Even when you are teaching remotely, it is important to include a warm up to reinforce important concepts, build community and work on positive mathematical mindset.  

Today we are going to talk more about main lesson.  During "distance learning" or when you have to teach virtually in a fully remote or hybrid model, main lesson serves the same purpose it does when you teach in person.  Main lesson is the time for kids to dig into new to them content and practice new ideas.  It is a time for teachers to help connect the dots on students' strategies and help them build their new understanding on top of their old understanding by helping them connect what they know to what they are learning.  

Here are some things to keep in mind when you are teaching new content in a virtual math class.

Keep it Short!

You are going to have less instructional time this year, there is no way around it.  That means you can't do everything in your math program!  You have to know what topics give you the most bang for your buck.  

-Our math program (Bridges) put out a pretty complete set of program recommendations about what to skip if time is an issue and what is most important.  I have heard of several other math programs that have done something similar.  It is a good place to start to check out your math program.

-Your district or school might also have made some recommendations about what topics are most important from a curriculum standpoint.  If this has happened it is a great place to start.  If it hasn't happened, it is a great thing to do with a group of colleagues because when doing work like this two heads are always better than one!

-If you need more guidance getting started with this check out the content focus documents from Achieve the Core or the high leverage concepts from All Learner's Network

Choose Problems Wisely

You have narrowed down your curriculum to the big ideas for your grade level.  Now it is time to teach new concepts.... ready to lecture over Zoom?  No!  There is a better way.

-Start with a problem in context.  Providing a problem in the context of a story gives kids an opportunity to use what they already know to solve a new problem.  Start with a problem and see what THEY can do.  Provide or suggest a virtual manipulative if you think it might support their understanding.
-Have kids share their solutions and strategies.
-Your job is to connect kids' strategies to each other and to help them figure out which strategy is most efficient.  
-By letting kids share strategies you support their fluency and flexibility and help them understand how what they are learning today connects to what they  have learned before.

Guided Practice

You have posed a problem or 2, allowed kids to solve, discuss and connect.  Now it is time to assign some practice.  

- Continue to be selective!  Kids do not need 20 practice problems!
- Try a gradual release.  Give one more problem, have kids show you or submit their answer to you and then leave the call once you have seen it/reviewed it.  Provide support to those who need it who are still on the call.
- Need to do one more with support?  If kids are still on the call stick around for one more problem if they need it.

Have a plan for Small Groups

One small group just happened!  By providing kids with a gradual release from Zoom, you already have had one opportunity to work with a small group.  Now it is time to think about what other opportunities fit into your digital life for meeting with small groups.  Office hours?  Scheduled calls with small groups?  

Use Tech Wisely
Doing a main lesson virtual math lesson like this and covering new content online means you have to have a commanding understanding of different technology.  Many teachers have been learning new technology at lightning speed and many of you now possess the skills to do all these things in your virtual classes.  If you don't know how to do some of these things, I find the easiest way to learn is often to Google it.  I usually can find articles and videos and learn a new tech trick in just a few minutes by just searching for what I want to learn how to do.  

After They Leave the Live Lesson...
Stay tuned later this week for part 3 of this series when we talk about what to do with kids after the live lesson!  THIS is the part I am getting the most questions about and I have some great strategies to share with you around math menu and choice boards for distance learning.  I have also been sharing about the Digital Math Bundle this week and wanted to let you know there is only a few days left! 


Today I thought I would share what other teachers have to say about the resources in this bundle. 


I hope sharing these thoughts from teachers who have purchased and used these resources gives you confidence to purchase it for yourself. I promise it will save you time, money and headaches during this busy season of life!

“My students were able to navigate this activity easily and focus on the challenge of place value to 10,000 and attempt rounding beyond the hundreds place. Easy to use for myself and the students as well as motivating! Thanks so much!” about Digital Place Value to 10,000

“This was a great resource for getting my kids solid on area models. I loved that different parts of the problem were missing in each problem to get the kids thinking.” about Area Model Multiplication Puzzlers


“This was such a life saver during distant learning! The kids loved it and I could use on zoom and in google classroom. Amazing resource!” ~ Denise B. (5th Grade Teacher) about Math Operations Bundle


"This is so useful for my grades 3-5 advanced Math Club. The same challenge can fit for different grades levels. It's a great addition to my critical thinking and problem-solving toolkit!" about Open Ended Math Challenges


"Task cards are such an easy prep for independent work and throw word problems in there....sign me up please! Love them as my brain gets tired of coming up with new scenarios for the kids all the time!" -Tanya about Multiplication & Division Task Card Set


“I used this in a Zoom meeting. I broke the kids into breakout rooms and they competed against each other. It was fun to pop into each room and see how they were doing and help as needed. The kids enjoyed this and said they would like to do it again.” about Escape the Bakery Digital Escape Room


Ready to dive in? Grab the complete Digital Math Bundle collection HERE!





Tuesday, September 29, 2020

Five Fabulous and Free Warm Up Activities for Virtual Math Lessons K-6

I have written in the past about how we structure math class and today I want to share with you the first in a series of posts about how we structure virtual math classes.  Over the past 6 months, we have played around with the structure of our virtual lessons and have landed on a digital version of what we do in class.  First thing is first and that is the warm-up!




Why a Warm Up

I like doing a warm up in a virtual math lesson for some of the same reasons I like doing them in person.  It is a great way to get everyone excited about learning math, it gives us a chance to review important concepts, and it is a perfect opportunity to talk about mathematical mindset.  It can be a chance to do a whole group number talk, engage kids in a low floor high ceiling task or introduce a game that will be part of our math menu or choice board later.  It is also a great way to honor virtual learners who arrive for class on time by having something ready for them to get started on. 

How Long?

Virtual math classes seem to vary in time more than traditional ones.  In general they tend to be shorter so I try to keep the warm up portion to 10 minutes or less.

Best Warm Up Activities? 

Here are the activities I have been able to do live over Zoom or Google Hangouts that my kids have loved the most.  

Esti-Mysteries

This has been the overall favorite of my students during distance learning.  You download the powerpoint presentation and hit present.  The slides include a visual model and clues to help them narrow down their estimation.  They practice important skills related to estimation as well as other grade level appropriate vocabulary as the clues help them narrow down their estimation.  They also fit nicely into a 10 minute or less time span and get kids excited to show up on time. 

Which One Doesn't Belong

The premise is simple but the results are amazing.  Four images put together and you think about which one doesn't belong.  The best part of this type of activity is that there is really not a wrong answer and there are many right answers.  It is also good practice at looking at things from different perspectives.  By the time we are done with one of these my students have usually found reasons why each number, shape or picture in the set does not belong. 

3 Act Math 

My students had actually already done most of these when we switched to distance learning.  They continued to be super popular to do from home, but you need to be pretty good at using the share screen feature to make it successful which by now many teachers are.  These start by seeing a picture or video clip and asking kids what they notice followed by an estimation and thinking about what other information would be useful.  Additional information is provided in act 2 which leads to a narrowed down estimate or an exact calculation.  Act 3 reveals the answer by showing the rest of the video clip or picture.  

Number Talks

Starting a virtual math lesson with a whole group number talk is a great way to build flexibility and fluency with calculation.  It is a great time to review important concepts and help kids work on how to listen and share.  The pair-share part of number talks kind of gets lost online so I keep our number talks even shorter than usual, typically no more than 3 problems.  That seems to be enough for kids to try out other classmates' strategies without taking more than 10 minutes.  If you have a problem string that is longer than that, it will usually work over 2 days better than trying to get it all in at once.

Mindset Videos

Official research and my own classroom research has shown me how important math mindset is and when you are in a virtual world I would argue that it is even more important than ever.  These videos are short, sweet a bit corney and pretty engaging for kids.  A quick video and a group chat about it followed by the teacher pointing out when she sees kids demonstrating the desirable mindset qualities found in the video during the main lesson that day is a great way to reinforce the importance of a positive mindset and help kids believe they can learn anything. 

Stay tuned for 3 more posts in this series about structuring virtual math classes for distance learning! Next up is main lesson followed by math menu or math choice boards then one final post that summarizes the structure of an online math class! 

If you are looking for great digital activities to support your warm ups, main lesson and fill your choice boards, some of my favorite teacher bloggers and I have gotten together to offer a limited time deal on a huge bundle of digital products.  

If you teach math in grades 3-5, you don’t want to miss this! In this collection, you’ll have all the tools you need to : 


  • Engage your students with open ended challenges & number sense activities

  • Review & practice key skills with digital task cards

  • Give your kids a conceptual understanding of math topics such as place value, multiplication & division, fraction & decimal concepts & more

  • Make math fun & exciting with digital escape rooms

  • Challenge your advanced learners

  • And SO much more!


All while teaching your students remotely!


If you were to purchase each of these math resources separately, it would cost you $274. 


But for 7 days only, you can snag the entire collection for just $24! That’s 91% savings!









Sunday, September 27, 2020

The ABC's of Hybrid Teaching

We are three weeks into a hybrid teaching model and oh my goodness I am exhausted.   You might have noticed I have been MIA from the blog since I went back to work but today I was just processing all the things and this blog post is the result of that.  I still have a lot to share about differentiating instruction, math menus, meeting kids where they are and teaching online but right now I am in survival mode!  Without further ado, here are the ABC's of hybrid teaching! 

  • Acne: wearing a mask all day led me to having the skin of a middle schooler. I now have a skin care routine like a proper middle aged lady.(thanks Grove for delivering Burt's bees to my door!)
  • Breath mints: mask wearing leads to being hyper aware of your own breath smells. Everyone now keeps mints in their desks/backpacks
  • Confusing: Our kids come in 2 cohorts and keeping track of what I have done or said with each group is still a challenge I am working on conquering.
  • Dry: Extra hand washing and sanitizing leads to sandpaper hands for kids and teachers! Rooms without a sink are especially prone.
  • Extraordinary: in a short amount of time my colleagues have relearned everything they thought they knew about teaching and a providing quality instruction in new and interesting ways. 
  • Frustrating: just when we think we have it figured out, the guidance changes, the structure changes or our own children's school changes plans leading us to scramble for childcare.
  • Gawky: like an awkward middle school student my new roles and responsibilities feel a bit unnatural.
  • Hot: wearing a mask/face shield/goggles all day then the weather feels like summer is no joke.
  • Illogical: there are some regulations and requirements that make no sense. Neighboring school districts have different plans that lead to childcare nightmares for teacher parents.
  • Jaded: the rapid pace that things change and time wasted planning things that never come to fruition has added 10 years of jadedness in 6 short weeks. I'm afraid of becoming the "I used to walk uphill to school both ways" person!
  • Kaput: how I feel by 2 pm every single day.
  • Lonely: it's great to be back seeing some faces but I miss seeing all the faces and all the hugs and community building activities we used to be able to partake in. Kids who are not in the same cohort never get to hang out together and I get limited contact with other teachers.
  • Masks: we have to wear a mask in the building at all times unless we are alone in a room. We are never alone in a room. 
  • Nauseating: we are cleaning more frequently with stronger smelling chemicals while breathing in our exhaled air it's a combination that leaves me feeling nauseous at least a few hours each day. 
  • Obliging; teachers, kids and families have worked together to create the best of the situation we are in. 
  • Passwords: I spend an embarrassing amount of time resetting passwords and emailing parents and students with their passwords. Passwords might be my least favorite word in the English language right now.
  • Quiet: less kids, more spread out and no one really in the hallways along with a ban on singing indoors has led to an almost unnatural quiet in the building. 
  • Rewarding: when all is said and done setting those smiling faces eyes folks my heart with joy.
  • Stumps: we have taken teaching outside on stump circles that our amazing PTA volunteers delivered to school.
  • Tenacious: teachers and kids have really demonstrated this quality during this challenging time.
  • Unique: we are living history right now and we have to remember that this isn't forever.
  • Valiant: I have always said teachers can do anything and the obstacles my colleagues have conquered this year demonstrate this very well.
  • Wild
  • X-hausting: I'm kind of glad my car ride is a little longer this year. I am so mentally and physically exhausted at the end of each day I rely on the drive home for partial recovery.
  • Year-long: We might not be in hybrid forever, we might be fully remote, in person or in a different version of hybrid but we know for sure that this school year is going to be anything but normal!
  • Zoom: We spend Wednesday mornings on Zoom with kids while no students are in the building. We spend Wednesday afternoons on Zoom with other people in our building. Our students who are not at school send us Google Hangout messages or try to do video calls while we are in school with their classmates. It's a wild world and Zoom is part of our lives for now.
For all my fellow teachers who are living this nightmare reality right now, I'm with you.  I see you, I know how hard you are working, I know we will make it to the other side.  I know someday we can tell new teachers our stories and I know we will come out in the end better than ever. 

I have learned so much over the past 6 months and I can't wait to share it all with you but in the meantime I am excited to give you a sneak peak of the one project that had my time and attention before I went back to school.  I have partnered with 22 other math educators to bring you the Digital Math Resource Bundle



I contributed some of my most popular digital task cards and have been trying out some of the over 50 activities in the bundle with my students and can't wait to be able to share them with you.  Starting September 29, you can grab a bundle of virtual teaching materials for grades 3-5 OR grades 6-8.  Each bundle has over 50 activities like video lessons, interactive Google Slides, self-checking activities, Boom cards and more.  This will be offered at over 90% off and will help a lot of teachers save time and money!  Grab it now!  Need more ideas for teaching math online while meeting the needs of every student? Head over to our Differentiating Math Facebook group for the most up to date information! 

Friday, July 24, 2020

Ten Games to Play with 10 Frame Playing Cards FREE Printable Booklet for Families




If you have ever read my blog before, you probably already know how much I love 10 frames!  One of my favorite tools are 10 frame playing cards.  I have created 10 frame playing card sets with penguins, pumpkins, santas, hearts, school buses and plants. When kids are ready, I level them up and use double 10 frames as well.  

Why do I have so many different 10 frame playing cards?  The reason is that there are so many different ways to use them and they are a great tool to help kids develop numeracy and additive reasoning.  The other reason is that changing the pictures on the cards can make a game feel brand new and seasonally fun yet doesn't require a bunch of re-teaching on how to play the game.  The third reason is that most of these games can easily be leveled up and down making it so kids can play multiple times over multiple years and still get good practice from the games.



My own kids and my students love 10 frame cards because they love card games.  I have long been a fan of using these at school and at home with my own kids but this spring when folks had to do more school work at home, I wanted families to be able to play these games together.  My students had already played most of these games at school and I knew I could easily make more 10 frame playing card decks to send home with each family and I had teacher directions written for these games, I did not have an easy and parent friendly set of directions.  To solve this problem, I created this little printable book that includes 10 different games kids and families can play with 10 frame cards.  When you print double sided, it only takes 3 pieces of paper to make each booklet.  All games include a picture and parent friendly directions.  

This booklet features the cards from my penguin 10 frame set but would work with any set of 10 frame playing cards.  

If you would like to grab this to use with your own children or to send home with families this year, I am offering the booklet as a freebie in my TPT store.  If you need 10 frame playing cards to go with it you can choose from the penguin ones featured in the book, pumpkinssantasheartsschool buses or plants.

Thursday, July 23, 2020

Math TV Shows for Kids

In my area, we have about 4 weeks before teachers are back at school and about 5 weeks before kids go back.  Things are very much still up in the air about what we will be doing for in person/online instruction.  It looks likely that we will be doing a hybrid model of in person and online learning.  I am certain kids will have more time at home than usual and teachers will have more on their plate than ever. 


I know that this often means more screen time for kids especially kids whose parents are at work or working from home.  I know parents are doing their best, but sometimes they need an hour to do a work call uninterrupted or have 5 minutes peace! Today I want to share with you our favorite math TV shows for when you just need the kids engaged in learning independently.  These are also great shows to recommend to parents of your students for when they have just had enough! 

Number Blocks

This show recently popped up on my kids' recommended list on Netflix.  Since then, I have seen parents and teachers posting about it on Facebook several times!  In the name of blog research, my kids and I spent an hour on a rainy afternoon checking out a few episodes.  It is definitely a show that is to young for my kids but they were still engaged enough to watch several episodes.  It is a great option for kids 2-5.  It does a particularly good job introducing the idea of decomposing numbers.  They have quite a few episodes available on Netflix and they also have a very active Youtube channel.  

Here is one of the videos from their Youtube channel that shows kids how to build the number blocks with playdoh.  



Peg + Cat

This was a favorite of my kids' when they were in preschool and kindergarten.  It used to be on Netflix but doesn't seem to be currently.  Luckily there are full episodes available on Youtube and on PBS kids.  This one is great for pre-k up through grade 1!  


Cyberchase

This one is the best choice for bigger kids!  There are lots of episodes, it was a show on years ago that then was canceled and then started up again!  It tackles all kinds of math topics and is super engaging for kids.  Great for grades 1-4! This is another one from PBS kids that is also available on Youtube

This one definitely saved my sanity during quarantine this spring!  My 3 kids could all watch it together and all get something out of it. 
 

Monster Math Squad

This one is another one that is new to my family.  It is available on Netflix and Youtube and is another show aimed at preschool and early elementary.  Despite being to old for the target audience, my kids agreed to watch an episode for the purposes of this article.  My older 2 pronounced it as terrible and only stuck around for one 12 minute episode.  My youngest who just finished Kindergarten said it was okay but wanted to watch more so I think she enjoyed it but likes to be just like her big brothers.  If  you have kids at several ages I would start with Number Blocks instead of Monster Math Squad. 



Leap Frog Number Land

This one was around when my kids were smaller but they were such big fans of Peg + Cat they never really got into this one.  It works on early number concepts like counting and writing numbers to 10.  Another option for the preschool to Kindergarten crowd.  Available on Netflix with some clips available on Youtube.  


Team Umizoomi

This one rounds out the crowd of math shows aimed at the preschool crowd!  It is from Nick Jr and is available on Amazon prime video.  It is a good option for those who already have Prime Video and preschool aged kids!


Odd Squad

Another great show for the bigger kids!  This one has a detective spin and explores elementary math concepts.  Also available on PBS kids and Youtube! We discovered it recently and it has been my kids' got to show in recent weeks! An excellent option for elementary age kids!



What would you add to the list?  Feel free to leave your favorite in the comments below or head over to our Facebook page and leave your thoughts there!

Want to work on differentiating instruction this year?  Join our FREE Facebook group here for discussions about all things differentiated! 

Wednesday, July 22, 2020

Here is Your Free Multiplication Game

We have a winner!  I asked last week here on the blog and over on my Facebook page which game from my new book, Complete Multiplication Workbook you wanted to see and the winner was this one!  

This is called Gone Fishing and is a great way to practice the 4 and 5 multiplication facts! 





Tuesday, July 21, 2020

10 Ways we Can STILL do Math Centers or Math Menu With COVID Restrictions: In Person Learning

One of the best things we have ever done to move our instruction forward over the past few years is implement math menu.  A math menu helps us meet all our students where they are.  It gives a chance to provide practice for kids in their zone of proximal development.  It is an excellent tool for differentiating instruction and practice and gives kids voice and choice in their learning.



Some folks do math stations or guided math as well.  These ideas should also work in those situations

In recent weeks, I have been thinking about how we can still provide this level of differentiation with restrictions due to COVID.  Here are my ideas so far!  I am sure I will be refining and revising these as I start working with kids and trying them out.  If you have any to add please feel free to leave them in the comments below or head over to our Differentiating Math Facebook Group where we will be having these conversations a lot! 

- Offer kids partner games where each partner has their own supplies.  For example if kids were playing a game with cards to compare fractions, they would each have their own deck of cards and would play 6 feet apart from each other or on opposite sides of a partition and they would just pile their own cards into a win or lose pile.  

- Kids could have everything they need for menu/centers right at their desk.  Teachers could offer a menu packet that was a mix of games, review, activities with choices built in.j

- Offer more individual games, especially those that are self checking like this write and wipe factor game or these number puzzles that only fit together when they are correct. 

- Kids could have more online games offered during menu time.  We curate ours using a school wide math blog but building this into your Google classroom, seesaw, etc would also work and would make a transition to at home learning easier.  

- Choose games that require less pieces

- Have kids play the game with an imaginary friend.  They get twice the practice this way but don't have the benefit of actually working with another person!

- Choose dice games that are easy to level up and level down.  Most schools have plenty of dice in them!  Here are a few of our favorites

-Make each kid in your class their own deck of cards that can be used for lots of different games.  We do this often with 10 frame cards, 20 frame cards, numbers to 120 place value decks and numbers to 1000 place value decks.  It is some work to print and cut all the decks but they can be used SO MANY different ways! 

-Make each kid a math box!  I have many more posts to come in the next month about math boxes but they have been something we have been using for the last 5 or so years, have given us a ton of leverage with differentiation and made the transition from in school to at home learning a lot smoother.  I am working on a FREE ebook right now about getting started with math boxes so if you want to hear more about these, be sure to check back or head over and join our Differentiating Math Facebook group

-If your students have used math centers or math menu in the past, ASK THEM for suggestions on how you can continue to offer them voice and choice with the current restrictions in your school.  My students always have the best ideas and even though I can't ask them yet, I totally plan on including their suggestions.  The ultimate voice and choice! 

-Some TPT sellers like my friend Linda at Primary Inspiration have created independent mat games.  they look a lot like other print and play math games but are specifically engineered for one child to play alone.
 


What ideas could you add to this list?  We would love to hear from you in the comments below or over on the Facebook group! 



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