Sunday, February 5, 2017

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Monday, December 26, 2016

Grab & Go Flash Cards

What are Grab & Go Flash Cards?

Grab & Go Flash cards are quickly accessible, pocket-sized flash cards that cover a variety of math concepts and can be solved mentally. They are different than task cards in two ways:

1) Grab & Go Flsh Cards often pose different questions in regards to the same information presented.

2) Grab & Go Flash Cards have the answers on the back for quick assessment by teachers or peers.

The History of Grab & Go Flash Cards?

As a math teacher it was always difficult for me to help students retain previously taught math skills. I was frustrated (to say the least) with the pressures of standardized state testing and all the many other responsibilities that come with teaching. 

One day it dawned on me that instead of trying to fit a review into my already busy schedule, why not integrate it into my everyday activities? I wanted something I could easily access and that would have multiple uses for warm-ups, ticket out the door, games, restroom breaks etc. That is how these unique flashcards came to life!

I designed them to have a problem on the front and various questions on the back along with the answers (for quick check). Having the answers on the back also allowed for peer review during math centers or with early finishers. I made two sets of each concept. One to keep on a key ring as a single skill and another on a mixed review key ring (in which I would combine ALL skills). 

For my struggling students, I email the parents a set of flashcards for the specific skill that they are having difficulty with so they can practice at home. Click HERE to see how these sets are greatly discounted as a Growing Bundle! Click HERE for a guide to use and more creative ideas for this resource!

5 Best Ways to Spiral

Spiraling math concepts throughout the year is, without a doubt, one of the main strategies which led to my success as a teacher and now as a private tutor. This approach keeps skills fresh and at the forefront of my students’ minds. I vividly remember learning a new topic as an elementary student and then being expected to remember it long after without any practice or review. I felt very discouraged and dumb. I vowed to do the best I could to never allow my students to experience those feelings.

Studies have shown that, when implemented effectively, spiraling leads to enhanced long-term mastery and application of math skills. You may be thinking, “You have me sold on the importance, but how do I implement this into my already busy schedule!?!” Trust me, it’s easier than you think! I have found 5 effective ways to integrate spiraling into my school day. The key is to make every moment a teachable moment.

     1. Morning Work / Warm – Ups: At the start of each class I placed 3-5 problems on the projector for my students to practice. I carefully and intentionally chose questions that I noticed many of them were still struggling with.

     2. Ticket out the Door: This is a common closure activity that most teachers are familiar with. However, most of them use this as a reflection exercise which covers the material they just presented. I, instead, use it to spiral a previously taught concept. Again this allows me to review old material without trying to squeeze in some extra review time into my already hectic day.

     3. Flash Cards: I’m not talking about your traditional flash cards with multiplication & division facts on them. No siree! These unique flash cards offer a variety of questions over a span of topics which can be solved easily using basic mental math skills. They are called, ‘Grab& Go’ flash cards and what I love most is that they are super versatile! Read below to see the many ways in which I incorporated them into my everyday schedule.

Bathroom breaks – I realized one day how much time is wasted during restroom breaks. Students enter the bathroom a few at a time to prevent behavior issues while the rest of the kiddos sit in the hallway and stare at the tile on the floor. My ‘Grab & Go’ flash cards came in handy during these breaks. I had the students review each other in pairs until it was their turn to use the restroom or after they returned. Worked like a charm!

Recess – I wasn’t too keen on giving up my time to chat with my teammates to help my strugglers get some extra review in, but I knew my students’ success was more important than my social life. I quickly snatched my ‘Grab & Go’ flash cards and had them in my pocket to quiz my struggling students with a few quick cards before they ran off to the playground. They usually tried their best to answer correctly, because their incentive was to go play with their friends.

Small Groups – Because my ‘Grab & Go’ flashcards are divided by topic it was very easy for me to look at my data sheet and decide which topic to pull out and use for our review time. There were problems readily available for me to use rather than spending extra time printing off applicable questions.

Peer Review – During math centers or with early finishers, ‘Grab & Go” flash cards are very useful with pairs of students who could take turns asking the questions. Since the questions and answers are printed on the back of each flash card, I felt comfortable that answers were given or checked accurately. The kids love it!

Field Trips, Bus Duty and Car Rider Line – Similar to restroom breaks, time is often wasted during dismissal. ‘Grab & Go” flash cards are so convenient to take with you and use during bus rides to a field trip or while waiting in line for their bus or parents to pick them up.

[Grab& Go flash cards can also be used under a projector for morning work or as a ticket out the door. No need to find and print resources anymore!]

     4. Games? Um, yes please! My students L-O-V-E it when we get to play while           learning. The 4 most popular games that my students beg to play all the time are:

Math Who?: Similar to Guess Who? except students use math vocabulary terms in the form of a yes/no question to guess a mystery number instead of a mystery person. So. Much. FUN.

Math Phrase: Similar to Catch Phrase except students attempt to get their team to say a set of math terms (in under a minute) by describing the words. You’ll be surprised at how competitive they will get to try and get the most points!

Mental Math Mondays Trashketball – Students usually dread Mondays because they’re coming back from a fun weekend. To spice things up and give them something to look forward to, we play Mental Math Monday Trashketball (hence no pencil/paper required). I use the ‘Grab & Go’ flash cards with this game. I break them up into 2-4 teams. Students take turns answering a question on the flashcard for a chance to earn a point. If answered correctly, the students have an opportunity to earn additional points by throwing a ball into the trashcan. My student’s requested a 1 point AND 2 point line to make it more of a challenge.

Math Kickball – My kiddos got a “kick” out of this game! (Ha, see what I did there?) On a pretty day, usually before a big holiday break when my students are getting antsy, I would take my students out to the gym or the field near our playground and we would play Math Kickball. They divided into two teams and each student guarding a base would have a set of ‘Grab & Go’ flashcards with different skills. Once a student from the other team landed on the base they had to answer correctly to stay there and be ‘safe’. They really enjoyed this game a lot.

     5. Homework: This is another simple way to spiral math concepts on a regular basis. I send home about 5-10 problems that students can practice independently. Important to note: Homework is only effective if you grade their work, because this allows you to observe which areas need to be revisited. (These are the problems that you will choose for morning work/warm-ups.) I have heard from so many students, “I don’t need to try my best on my homework, because my teacher just looks to see if we did it.” Pointless, if you ask me!

I hope you will find these spiraling methods useful and be able to pick a few (if not all) that you can easily begin using with your class. We would love to hear how you spiral concepts in your classroom! Please leave us a comment below.

Collect all the Grab & Go sets by clicking HERE to catch a special discounted price on this Growing Bundle!

Tuesday, August 9, 2016

Like Guess Who? Try Math Who!

Guess Who? was one of my favorite childhood games. This math version is called, "Math Who?" Instead of guessing a mystery person, the objective is to guess a mystery number. My students BEG to play this! I have often used it at a math center or I've even pulled it out during indoor recess. I laminated a few copies and placed them in a gallon zip lock along with my favorite Crayola Dry Erase thin tip markers. There are 3 game boards available: Beginner game boards recommended for special needs, 1st and 2nd grade. Intermediate game boards recommended for 3rd and 4th grade. Advanced game boards are recommended for end of year 4th and 5th grade. Check out the different game boards and variations to play by clicking HERE.

Halloween Math Activities

My students love Halloween because of the costumes and candy. I love Halloween because it gives me a chance to be creative in the classroom! Below are some of my favorite math centers and whole group activities to get my kids in the spooky spirit of learning. 

Halloween Math Scrolls

These Halloween themed task cards are super cute and creative! Especially when rolled up into scrolls and secured with inexpensive spider rings (oriental trading). What I love most is that each task card includes a 3 part question to each word problem. My students enjoy this math review. Check it out HERE!

 Picture Puzzles

My students have a ton of fun with these picture puzzles! They love to discover what the Halloween themed picture will be by solving the mental math problems on each puzzle piece. I laminate the pieces and use this as a math center during the last week of October. However, there is another version included that is designed for whole group instruction. I wrapped a mason jar (dollar store) with tissue paper and used googly eye stickers to make a mummy. It was a cute way to store the puzzle pieces at my math center.

3D Shapes with Pumpkin Candy

This yummy hands-on activity allows students the opportunity to make 3D shapes come to life using pumpkin candy and toothpicks. What's best is that I was able to use their creations as decorations for the classroom/hallway. I made the mistake of keeping them around too long and we had a few pesky visitors (ants!). A handout is provided that allows students to reflect on the shape they chose to make. Side note: I got brave and used wooden skewers for the rectangular prisms. After emphasizing over and over again that there will be NO horseplay!


Place Value Candy Corn

This activity was a great review for my students to practice place value. Best of all it's FREE. Take a closer look and get access to this freebie by clicking HERE

For other awesome Halloween math centers and printables click on the links below:

Halloween Math Mazes
Halloween Math Circuit
Halloween Funnies
Halloween Math Crossword & Word Search

Save over 20% on all of these items PLUS an exclusive pop art coloring page with the Halloween Mega Pack