Friday, 31 May 2013

Friday Game Day... practicing fluency

This week, I had a couple of training days, one of the sessions I went to was about Peter Sullivan's six principles for teaching mathematics... it was an awesome session!
One of the principles that the presenter (Matt... I'm not sure of his last name, sorry!) talked about was fluency.... and a great way to develop fluency with number is through short daily tasks that require mental computation or manipulating number.
He shared one of Peter's games with us... it was so easy, needed no prep and can be easily differentiated, just the sort of game I love :)
So, I thought I'd share it with you too...
Students work in pairs, they'll need a piece of paper to share and a pencil each  (we have individual whiteboards for the kids, which I'm planning to use instead).
The first person writes down either a 0 or a 1 - the second person can either add on 1 or 2, then the first person has another turn. This continues until one player can write 10 - they are the winner! Super simple, super easy, and you can play 5 or more games in a few minutes. This is really handy for developing fluency because kids need to do the +1/+2 quickly in their head, but also, they'll soon realise that they need to plan ahead and predict moves, which involves even more mental computation and strategy. 
(Spoiler alert..... there's a number quite early on in the sequence that you should try to get because it can guarantee that you'll win..... it's interesting to see which kids pick up on this!)
To make the game more difficult, students can play first to 20 or 50, or they could add 3 and 4 or 5 and 10 - any numbers really... there are so many possibilities! It can also be played to practice fractions (first to 5 1/2... adding 1/4 or 1/2) or decimals or even units of measurement (first to 1 metre... adding 5 or 10 cm). I'm really looking forward to trying this with some of the classes I work with... I think the kids will love it!
I'd love to hear about how you develop fluency in your classroom too :)

Monday, 27 May 2013

Favourite maths teaching resources

Have you got a favourite go-to book for teaching maths? I've got a couple that I love, and I thought I'd share them with you..
The first is a book written by Prof Peter Sullivan and Pat Lilburn - Open-ended Maths Activities.
This is an awesome book for getting ideas for 'good' questions to use as a part of your maths lessons. It has a huge range of open-ended questions for junior, middle and upper primary and covers Number, Measurement, Geometry and Chance and Data.
I use the questions as a base for lots of my Maths lessons - the questions are so easy to use to differentiate for the different ability levels in my class. I would definitely call this book a  must-have!
I've mentioned before that my school is involved in PD with Ann Baker... I also really LOVE the Natural Maths series by Johnny and Ann Baker! The new Australian Curriculum has a big focus on thinking mathematically and Numeracy, these resources are prefect to support that.
I love using the Natural Maths strategies books... you can just pick them up and use them straight away. 
The books includes units of work focussing on different Maths concepts, and are so easy to use. They are big on problem solving (Problematised Situations) which makes them perfect for developing Numeracy. If you get a chance, you should definitely check these resources out!
What are your favourites? I'm always looking for new resources to explore :)

Thursday, 23 May 2013

A little freebie.... 'A note from the teacher'

Wow, this has been a busy week! I've been up to my eyeballs in data (not exactly my favourite way to spend the day!) getting all our baseline data ready as a part of my Numeracy Coach role. To top it off I have been working on the World's Slowest Computer Ever (it's official) which hasn't helped. But, on the bright side, I have ordered a laptop which I'm excitedly checking the post for each day!
Because I've been pouring through tests this week, I don't really have that much to blog about (well, that you'd want to read anyway!) so I thought I'd share some 'Notes to the Teacher' that I made for a couple of my work friends a little while ago.
There's nine notes in total... here's a piccie of a few...

Thanks to Graphics from the Pond, Scrappin Doodles and Ashley Hughes for the cute graphics :)

Click here for a copy, I hope you enjoy them :)

Friday, 17 May 2013

Friday Game Day... with playdough!

I have a love/hate relationship with play dough.... I love using it in my classroom, but I hate making it! Maybe I've just got really weak arms, but I find it SUCH a work out to mix and cook the dough! Finally I've found a recipe that I really like, and it seems a bit easier on the arm or maybe I'm getting stronger? (I can hope right?!) Anyway, the recipe is here.. I love it because it lasts really well - we always run out of dough before it goes bad.

So, for today's game, I'm going to share a variation of the traditional Roll and Draw games, instead using play dough. The great thing about this game is it is so easy to differentiate, you can use it to practice number recognition, two digit addition, doubles, bonds to 10, times tables... the list is endless! It is also really easy to set up, you just need to get the play dough out, grab some dice and you're ready to go!

The game works best (I think) in pairs or groups of three. Each player will need some play dough and the group will need a die to share as well as a game card (or you can write the directions on the board if you'd prefer). 

Click here for a copy of the game cards that I've used. :)

I've used graphics from Ashley Hughes and Scrappin Doodles
This game card only needs a 1-6 die... it's designed to practice number recognition (1-6)

Player one then rolls the two dice and adds the number together. They then find that number on the Playing Card and make that body part for the bug. The next player has a turn and the game continues until someone has made a complete bug... they are the winner!

You can easily change the creature you are making to fit in with your current theme too... a snowman, a face, a farm animal, an alien, a fish... anything will work.

A fun and easy game, which is great to practice a range of skills, and best of all.... kids love it!

I've linked up with Kindergarten Works to share Kindergarten teaching ideas... head on over to find some fantastic teaching ideas especially for the little ones :)


Wednesday, 15 May 2013

A nifty behaviour management tool!

Yesterday at staff meeting, a couple of my collegues shared an interesting behaviour management tool. It looks really handy, so I thought I'd share it with you too :) (Actually, I was on the website's Facebook page today and it has over 10 000 likes, so you might already know about it, and I'm just a bit behind the eight ball!)

The site is called Class Dojo - it's an online behaviour management tool... a really interesting, fun and practical one! 

Basically it's a 'points' system, that allows you to allocate points for behaviour (you can choose to have positive or both positive and negative), which can then be displayed by having the website up on the Interactive Whiteboard or class computer.

I've taken a screen shot of the demo on the site... Hugh's not really in my class!
 You can set the criteria that kids can earn points for, or just use the ones they already have. Apparently you can also download an App for smart phones and ipods/ipads which is fantastic for when you're not in the classroom. The program also lets you collect data on student behaviour and displays it is a range of graphs... great if you want to collect data on how your kids are going!

I haven't tried this program in the classroom - this week I've started a new role at my school. I'm going to be our school's Numeracy Coach for the rest of the year so I won't be in the classroom with my little Receptions. I'll definitely keep it up my sleeve for next year though! 

If you use it in your class already, I'd love to hear how you find it :)

Friday, 10 May 2013

Friday Game Day.... Tower Addition

I hope you've had a great week... I can't believe it's Friday again!

I might have chosen (ok... did choose!) this game because it uses unifix cubes... I bought this cute clip art from Mel at Graphics from the Pond in the sales this week and was looking for an excuse to use them! ;)

This week's game is one that's really handy to reinforce counting and addition skills... It's great to use at the beginning of a lesson as a bit of a warm up.

To play, you just need a die, a heap of colour blocks/counters or unifix cubes and something for kids to write on - I usually give them their little whiteboards to work on. When I've played it with older kids, I've sometimes given them calculators as well so that they can double check their answers.

To start with, everyone takes five unifix cubes (or three, ten etc... Depending on how easy or difficult you want the game to be) and makes their tower. As a class, we then roll the die (1-6 maybe to start with, but you could use a 1-3 or 1-10-depending on how difficult you want the game to be) to allocate each cube a value.
Then each person works out how much their tower is 'worth' by adding the value of all of their cubes... the person with the highest value tower is the winner! I find kids really get into this game... you can also play it where the person with the lowest tower is the winner. Just a hint... make sure all the kids have their towers built before you assign values to the colours... otherwise you'll get some 'strategic' players who purposely choose the high value colours! ;)

Wednesday, 8 May 2013

Rainy Day Writing

We have had a pretty dry Summer and Autumn so far in S.A... not much rain at all! We were due for a bit of rain earlier in the week (though it didn't turn into much) so I thought I'd read a couple of books to my class about waiting for the rain to come. The books we read were....

 'Big rain coming' by Katrina Germein

and 'Here comes the rain' by Clare Good (I couldn't find a nice piccie of the book - my copy is plastered with library stickers)

We talked about the different signs that the characters in the books looked for to predict that it is going to rain, and we talked about how we know when it is going to rain. I popped on the BOM website, and pulled up the rain radar for our area... luckily there was rain due that morning!

Just as we were looking at the radar image, the rain started falling outside! Talk about lucky timing!! We went outside and looked at the colour and shape of the rainclouds and talked about the 'signs' of rain that we noticed. 

When we came back in, we talked about what we liked to do in the rain, and wrote about it.

(The graphics I've used are c KPM Doodles and Ashley Hughes)

Some kids had a go at writing by themselves, some cut and pasted the beginning of the sentence, and I scribed the rest for them. they also drew a piccie... sorry I don't have any photos, but you can download a copy of these Rainy Day Writing sheets here :)

A fun lesson, and a lucky one thanks to those lovely rain clouds... hopefully we get some more soon!

Friday, 3 May 2013

A Domino game for Friday Game Day!

Friday Game day again! (Actually it's Saturday but better late than never right?!)

A little while ago, I saw an absolute BARGAIN on dominoes... I think they were something like a dollar a pack, so (naturally) I just HAD to get a class set! They are a great addition to Maths Tool kits - there's so many ways they can be used. Today I want to share a really quick little game that's great for practicing number order (and it's really easy to adapt to use for addition/subtraction skills too).

You play this game in pairs, each player taking half a pack of dominoes. The dominoes are placed face down, and at the same time, each player turns over one of their pieces. The person that turns over the piece with the most dots then takes both domino pieces. If both players pieces have the same number of dots, each keep their own and the game continues. 

Players keep on turning over dominoes until one person has all of the pieces... they are the winner! Sometimes I put a timer on and the winner is the person who has the most dominoes when the buzzer rings (especially handy for when you just want a quick 5 minute filler game).

It's a pretty easy game to differentiate too... you could have the person with the least number of dots collecting the dominoes, or ask kids to add the dominoes together and call out the total, or even have kids find the difference between the two halves of the domino.

If you give it a go with your class, I hope they enjoy it :)

Thursday, 2 May 2013

First day back!

Having termly intakes of Receptions has its benefits (especially the small class size in term 1!) but it does make for a pretty full on first week of term - every term!

We had a big group of newies this term, so this first week is really going to be taken up with getting them settled and finding our grove again. We read that lovely little book 'The Kissing Hand' on Monday - it's such a lovely way to talk about first days and how the kids are feeling. I actually ordered a copy online for my daughter at the beginning of the year (for when she started Kindy) and was going to use it with my class then but Australia Post was a bit too slow for that!

My class really enjoyed the story... we did a couple of activities related to the book to start off the term,

After reading the story, and having a chat about how we felt staring school, the kids drew a picture of how they felt and we wrote a sentence to go with it. The newies got this copy....

While those who have been at school for a term had a blank template, where they either wrote a sentence themselves, or cut and pasted the words to make a sentence.

Here's a finished one....

Here's a copy of this activity, I've included all three variations :)

Sorry for the short post today... my mind is a bit frazzled from such a busy week! I'll be back for Friday Game Day soon :)