Sunday, March 22, 2015

Higher Order Thinking Math in 1st Grade

So my students can add and subtract within 20. They can identify the tens and ones of a 2 digit number. They can count to 120.

Good, great, GRAND....

But why are they not excelling on our standardized tests?!?

This was a question I would ask myself over and over the last few years. My students could perform the skills they needed, but when it came to APPLYING those learned skills, my students were lacking. Now, there's all sorts of reasons my students might not do well on those computerized, standardized tests... but I noticed very quickly that the questions being asked of my students were not simply "7 + 7 = ?" They were being asked real life story problems. They were being asked multi-step, higher level thinking questions that required endurance. They were HARD, but I was sure my kids could do it. I knew I had to teach them how to endure when a task at first seems too difficult. I had to ask my students to actually apply what they had learned to get a solution and provide reasoning for their thinking.

I also had to incorporate “math talks” in my classroom as often as I could. These talks got my students discussing their solutions to problems, defending their answers, and providing different ways to solve any given problem. They got my students THINKING!

Over the years I created and collected tasks that are both challenging and fun for my first graders. Each task also has a challenge question that can be used when a student solves the problem and is looking to challenge themselves a little further.

Here are some in use in my classroom:

Counter sums: Students try to use the counters to make a sum of 12 in many different ways. For this particular student, I had them draw dots on counters to manipulate and make more equations!


What's the equation: The sum is 20, what is the equation?
These two students worked together to come up with many different ways to make 20, including 3 and 4 addend equations.


 Test time! To see if these two had progressed with subtraction within 20, their task was to create a math test (with an answer key) to give to a friend! They loved getting to be the teacher and I could tell right away that they knew how to subtract within 20 easily!


 Dress Teddy! This was a fun and tricky number sense problem for my students. They had to look at the clothes and try to figure out how many different outfits they could make for the teddy bear. At first, this group was all sorts of confused. Until one of my kids said, "let's start with the pants... there's only one pair of pants." From there they could mix and match and record the different outfits. It is SO hard to bite my tongue and not guide them, but if you can hold back long enough it is amazing to see them persevere to get the answers. They feed off one another and it is pretty cool to watch!

I created 8 different tasks (which each have an additional *challenge* task) for each of the following domains:
Number sense
Addition
Subtraction
Place Value
Geometry & Measurement
Time & Money

Each task comes in 3 different forms as well. There is a printable version that you can see above with the question on it. There is a guided printable version which is the same, but has guiding questions to help your students complete the problem, and a task card version to print, laminate and pass out to groups.

I use all three versions of the tasks in my room. We use the task cards in groups with large posters for students to show their work. When we split up into groups like this, I choose tasks that are appropriate for each group based on their needs. I also make sure to put aside time for the groups to explain their work and their answers.

In small groups, I will often use the printable versions (guided or not based on their ability levels) so I can observe their thinking and guide them as necessary through the problem solving process.
However I choose to use the tasks, I make sure that talking is a HUGE part of the task. I often ask questions that start with these stems:
-Why did you ______________________?
-What if you __________________________________?
-Is there another way you could’ve ___________________________?
-How do you know _______________________________?

I love to see the discussions that occur when my students walk me through their process. They show their peers new ways of thinking that help them in later tasks. They also impress me over and over again!

If you think these would be great for you students, head on over and check them out:

You can download the preview for more examples of the tasks :)

Saturday, March 14, 2015

St. Patrick's Day Activities!

St. Paddy's Day is around the corner and we are getting started with the fun here in 102!

We have a few stories we will be reading and re-reading this week! After we read, That's What Leprechauns Do, we retold the story using a sheet from Katie King's Busy Teacher unit

We also made these adorable leprechauns using First Grade and Blue Skies directed drawing. If you don't already own this freebie, you need to RUN over to her blog and get it. They are to die for!




 We also got to work on our first story problem booklet since I've been back! This one is from my Leprechaun Math unit.
And I let them work together and look at them go! I LOVED listening to them work together and reason with eachother as they got their answers. It was pretty awesome.



 Each month in my seasonal math units I have a different book of story problems with all types of problems to solve. Addition, subtraction, place value, elapsed time, etc. I am really working on persistence with my first graders and getting them to use all they have learned so far to solve the problems. I find when they work together, they are able to bounce ideas off one another (aka argue a little bit) until they get to the answer!

Tuesday we will eat and graph some Lucky Charms and have more St. Paddy's fun!

Sunday, March 8, 2015

Writing Reviews, Accountable Talk, Subtraction and More!

Well, this momma is full swing back into teaching mode! My first graders and I are getting used to one another again and trying to continue our learning without skipping a beat. It is an interesting transition to come back after maternity leave. My classroom was in someone else's hands for longer than I had them, so in many ways this is her classroom that I am sort of "stealing" back. I am so grateful my sub kept my students safe, made a fun learning environment for them, and helped my students build their knowledge so I can come in and pick up where she left off! Now, it's my turn to grab the reigns and get my kids to where they need to be by the end of the year!

I wanted to share a little of what we have been up to in our cozy classroom.

In math, we have been finishing up subtraction and number bonds before we head into some geometry:
I will admit, I did miss making anchor charts!

A little number bond review thanks to Kelley Dolling's freebie: HERE


After we reviewed number bonds, we worked on missing addends in a number bond and completed my solve the room activity from Leprechaun Math.

In reader's workshop we spent the week reading Dr. Seuss books and practicing our fluency through partner reading and reader's theater! We have also been focusing A LOT on our accountable talk:
my little first graders need lots of help learning to be respectful listeners and we have been having great discussions through these sentence stems. Plus, it's pretty adorable to hear my littles speaking like such kind, mature adults.

In phonics, we are focusing on vowel teams! 

"igh" was on the agenda this week and it is a tricky one! We used my phonics poetms and real or nonsense sheets to help us decode and become more fluent with igh words. We are slowly building up our poetry journals that my students love to read during reader's workshop!

Writing has been all about reviews! We are learning to express out opinions through writing reviews and I have to say, I am impressed. These are the four parts of a review from my Writing Reviews Unit:
 We focus on one part each day, add it to our shared writing, and then I challenge my kids to add it to their individual reviews.

 Teacher modeling/shared writing

"Are you looking for something to eat? Well, not anymore! You could try Fridays!"
A catchy lead?! I think he nailed it! I love writer's workshop!

Well, that's just a little peek into my room as of late. I will go more into depth with some lessons and units we are working on soon :)

Happy weekend!

Monday, March 2, 2015

Dr. Seuss Subtraction Freebie!

Have you heard?! It's Dr. Seuss' birthday and we celebrated all day!


I snagged all these Dr. Seuss books at Target and we will be reading them alllllll week! My littles were begging to get their hands on some Dr. Seuss books. Today we just explored and read them independently. Tomorrow we will read them with a partner to practice our fluency and reading with expression :)

In math, we have been studying subtraction within 20, so I thought I would make a quick little fish game to go with One Fish, Two Fish, Red Fish, Blue Fish:
Students just pick two fish cards from the pile and put the larger number of fish in the bowl. They then subtract the smaller number and complete the number sentence. Erase, re-pick, repeat! It was an easy center to help my students use some manipulatives and practice subtracting. I just wish I had some cute fish manipulatives! Maybe next year.

You can click the picture to snag that center if it works for your kids!

Happy Read Across America week :)

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