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Category Archives: Math

A Useful Math Interactive Notebook Page

Place Value Chart
We put packing tape overtop of the chart so it can be used again and again. Here we answered #11 on the worksheet with the notebook’s help.

Keeping Students Engaged With An Interactive Notebook

Keeping Students Engaged With An Interactive Notebook

At a workshop I attended the speaker asked what we did for “hypo-active ” students (as opposed to hyperactive students). This refers to students that seem tired, uninterested, and bored. It takes more effort to keep them engaged.

One solution I am trying this year is Interactive Notebooks. Instead of most of the teaching being on the whiteboard, where my back is turned and students easily tune out, teaching is placed in some form in the notebook. I have been putting the teaching part on the left side and leaving the right side for practice in our math interactive notebooks. This has been great for numerous reasons:
* kids keep their hands busy adding colour, folding, filling in blanks, etc. (I usually cut stuff out ahead of time so that we don’t use up our time cutting)
* practice can be individualized. One student may practice three questions and another may do seven questions. The difficulty of the questions can vary.
* you can come back to the concept at any time and review
* student notebooks look neat, easy to refer to later (for my students a neat notebook with complete notes is something they feel really good about).
It is a real challenge for me to come up with ways to present information in the notebook but I feel it is affective. Here are some pics of our math interactive notebooks:

20131127-212301.jpg    Packing tape over our number charts so that we can circle patterns, etc

20131127-212311.jpg  Foldables with definitions and examples inside.

20131127-212320.jpg  Charts.  This one is a factor chart.  Students investigated to find prime numbers.

20131127-212328.jpg  This lesson on area went on to include perfect squares and exponents.

20131127-212335.jpg  A student that loves colour and uses colour as a memory tool.


Defining  a power, base, and exponent.

There are lots of great ideas on Pinterest.  You can get many free templates for foldables here. In my classroom we also use an interactive notebook for literature.

I Don’t Like Bribery But….

20131113-080606.jpg             20131113-080622.jpg
I don’t like bribery…. external motivation sounds much better.
When internal motivation, the ideal, is not there and probably will not show up anytime soon, then I feel I need to move onto external motivation. Thus, my little store. (I don’t start this is in September, it would be too expensive.)
My math students were challenged yesterday to do daily homework 4 days a week (not Friday). Notes about how this will work is outlined in my letter below. So far everyone has 100% completion!


Did You Know That You Have Executive Skills?

I’m just finishing a book about executive functioning. Most people don’t go around using these terms but we all use and need the skill sets that they describe.
Executive functioning is the set of skills that allow a person to plan a task, figure out the steps involved, activate the best strategies for the task, stick to the task, inhibit impulsive behaviour, and change strategies if needed. It is our planning skills and our ability to control ourselves and figure out ways to get something done.
Executive functioning plays a huge role in the life of a student. Much of a child’s executive functioning skills have been inherited. Also important, are the child’s developmental level and environment.

How do you teach your child or student to develop these skills?  A great start is by modeling how you organize yourself and speaking aloud the ways in which you plan a task.  For example, I might explain aloud that we have to be at a birthday party by 4 p.m. so I work backwards and figure on a half hour driving time, so that is 3:30 p.m., a half hour “getting ready” time so that is 3 p.m.  I need to start getting ready at 3 p.m.  Explaining the steps you take to execute a task will promote executive functioning.  The next time there is a similar task, help your child go through the same steps. 

So often we get upset at our children or students for poor planning but this is NOT a strategy for improving these skills.  Try the modeling and thinking aloud strategy.  Walk your child through it several times before expecting independence.



Re: Time

There is a time for everything under the sun. King Solomon said that. Summer is time to recharge and rejuvenate. Although I know they need a break, I long for my students to review. I fear the backslide after they have worked so hard to get to where they are.
Three suggestions for summer review:

1. Do it regularly so that it becomes “no big deal”, just part of the daily routine.

2. Review should be at a level that it can be done independently. You, the parent, are the enforcer, making sure it happens, but kids should be able to do it without you. In my house a math page and a French activity must be done before screen time. Since my kids want screen time, they make sure to get their work done.

3. Give your kids the option of just going to bed OR going to bed and reading for twenty minutes. Kids will say, “Can I just go to bed later?” You say, “No, you can go to bed now with reading or without, but you go to bed now”. My reluctant reader always chose reading in this scenario! Soon he was into a book and was seen picking it up during the day too!

I am looking forward to renewing my focus and reflecting on my year. I hope my students take time to remember their achievements and solidify their learning.

Teach Off The Wall


I love the idea of teaching off the wall. This bulletin board serves several purposes:

1. It illustrates to students that math is many different things (I point that out when a student says, “I am no good at math!” I can show them that there are areas that they find difficult and areas they are good at.)

2. It provides review (I make flaps to hide and then show answers. The chart on the right uses paper clips to hold cards in place so they can be added with different lessons.)

3. It is an anchor chart.

4. It reminds ME of things we’ve done so I can point out connections and do regular review.

I maybe use this bulletin board too much. I keep adding things. Every time I find something cool I want to add it. Fibinocci is pictured on the left – my students can’t believe someone would spend all his time thinking about math!

Differentiation and Small Groups

Recently, on one of the blogs I follow, I read:

If you have not structured your classroom to be able to work with small groups, you’re not meeting all your kiddos at their level. Whole group instruction addresses the needs of only about 1/3 of your students.

a quote from the blog called “Math Coach’s Corner

The author was talking about math instruction and I would add reading. I agree with the quote, although I did not always practice this. I have observed whole group instruction where some of the kids figured they already knew the info so they tuned out, some of the kids really needed to listen but things went too quickly and they didn’t understand so they got distracted.
I’m not saying whole group instruction can’t work, the challenge is to find ways to keep your audience engaged, and then when it comes to practice and reinforcement time, find ways to meet the needs of students at different levels (and we’re back to working with small groups).

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