Powered by Blogger.
Any primary teacher that has attempted to teach their beloved students how to solve word problems, has surely encountered the Word Problem Woes.

You know the look, that deer in the headlights, have no idea what is going on, "I'm lost Mrs. Ebersole" look. Teaching students how to solve word problems in 1st grade is not an easy task. In fact, the students' ability to solve word problems relies heavily on the students ability to comprehend the words or the situation in the word problem.

Take for example this word problem:

This is an example of one of the word problems I give to my students to start our day as a warm-up. 

I incorporate word problems throughout the entire year as a warm-up. We also work on word problems throughout the year in small group instruction. 

At the beginning of the school year, I introduce my expectations for our warm-ups and solving word problems. I explain to them that everyday I will read the word problem to them (the important thing is for them to be able to solve the word problems, not read them). I also explain to them that they can use any method I teach them to solve the word problems. As the weeks pass, I introduce different ways and tools to solve the word problems. We use number lines, hundreds charts, manipulatives (counters), draw pictures, as well as I continuously model how to solve the more difficult word problems I see them struggling to successfully solve.

So given the word problem above, many of my students would right away want to add 8 + 2.  As I walk around the room, as they are solving, even if I see the majority of them solving it incorrectly, I still give them about 5-7 minutes to work through the problem. I re-read the problem quite a few times for the students who need that repeated direction or extra processing time.

After giving the students a few minutes to solve, I then ask 2 questions. The first thing I ask is, what is this problem asking us to solve? Many students don't even hear what I said, they just want to spew out the answer. I will then repeat myself, and say PLEASE LISTEN--WHAT IS THIS PROBLEM ASKING US TO SOLVE? Sometimes I even have to re-read the problem because they are unsure what the problem is asking them to solve.  Then someone will finally say, "it wants us to find how many hearts Jada can cut out." And I may clap or I may do a cheer, but either way, I make a big deal that they understood what the problem is asking of us.

The 2nd question I ask them, with EVERY word problem, is what do we know? Meaning when we read this problem, what do we know about what is happening. Of course in the word problem above, the answer I am looking for is "We know that each piece of paper can be made into 8 hearts, AND we also know that Jada has 2 pieces of paper". 

So after we review those 2 questions What is this problem asking us to solve, and what do we know---I then will give them some more think time (if needed).  This gives the students the chance to go back and check their work, or go back and start over and change their work and answer. 

I will then ask students, what answer did you get? I'll have a few students share, after each one stating their answer, I'll ask their peers, do you agree or disagree? Thumbs up or down? After giving me their answer, I'll have them tell me how they solved. Some students prefer to draw a picture, some prefer number lines, others prefer hands on manipulatives.

With the word problems that I see quite a few students struggle on, I will model how to solve. Like in the word problem shown above, I would draw the 2 pieces of paper that Jada had, and I will draw 8 hearts on each piece of paper. And with some word problems, I may model various ways to solve it. 

I encourage my students to really think about the word problem and what it's asking us to solve. We focus on the things we know that are happening in the word problem, and we go from there. I have found this way to be very successful for the students in my classroom. Many of them struggle with comprehension, so breaking it down into smaller chunks is key to their success.

If you are interested in checking out my word problem sets, I have them currently available in my Teachers Pay Teachers Store, or you can click the images below!
https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/February-Word-Problem-Warm-Ups-Printables-1OA1-2940341 https://www.teacherspayteachers.com/Product/Word-Problems-Addition-and-Subtraction-NO-PREP-Printables-1722883

I know, you're probably thinking, really??! Can we get to our holiday break first before we start thinking about going back?!?! Hopefully you have enjoyed/ are enjoying your holiday break!

That first day back is always rough! Kiddos are out of their routines, probably tired from staying up late, you'll have that one or two that cry because they miss their mommy after getting to spend so many days with her. GOOD LUCK! So just to think ahead, so you're not spending all of your Sunday night before you go back searching for ideas and activities for your classroom, I've put together some ideas that may be useful to you and your classroom.

Now these are some ideas I've come up with for the primary classroom (K-2), but if you have some ideas, feel free to leave them in the comments below! 

Write All About It!
If you teach students that are able to put their thoughts into writing, give them some paper, and a prompt, such as What was your favorite part about your break? Or write a story telling me all about your break. 
This allows your students to get out their excitement from their break, wanting to tell YOU and all their classmates every tiny detail! After giving them some time to write, you can then bring them all to the rug (or wherever you meet as a class), and depending on your time, allow some to share. 

Build It!!
What students don't love play-doh? Well actually, I did have one the other year, so if you do have students that don't like it, offer them an alternative (such as paint, draw, color). But give students play-doh to build a scene or a particular part of their break that they liked the most.
When students are finished, you can have them do a gallery walk (walk around the classroom and look at each others work) and then bring them back to the rug to ask any clarifying questions to each other about their artwork.

Review Rules and Procedures
Even though you've spent probably around 80 school days prior to your holiday break in a routine, and you think your kiddos got the rules/procedures down pat--being off for a number of days can really lend to them forgetting what exactly it is they are supposed to do! 
Make sure you build in enough time to review or go over your classroom rules/expectations/procedures. 
You can find the rules/expectations posters--- HERE
Start an highly engaging unit!
Whether it's opinion writing or an author study on Jan Brett, upon returning from holiday break, no better way to engage your students is to start a highly engaging unit!

My students love opinion writing, you can find this What would you choose? book HERE, it's a great way to introduce opinion writing.

Flipbook to reflect on their time off!
Students love flipbooks, this can be used for returning from any break! Click on the picture above to be taken to the flipbook!
If you have any suggestions for returning after holiday break, please feel free to leave them in the comments below!!

Wishing you all the best in the upcoming New Year!!

Hey Friends!! It's that time. Time to start thinking about report cards, if you haven't already! I am in my 4th year teaching, and I have only ever 'graded' on a standards-based report card. However, I will say that I grew up, with the system of A's, B's, C's, D's, and FAILS!  

Shifting ones mindset to a standards based system took quite some time. I'll be honest, my first year teaching, I didn't quite get it! 

Let me start by showing you! This is what a report card looks like in our school system:

So this is the first page of the report card. Students are given one of 5 different marks for each standard during each marking period.

NE--which means that the student is not evaluated on that standard at this time.
1- making limited or not progress toward the standard 
2- progressing toward the standard
3- meeting the standard
4-exceeding the standard

As you will also notice, some standards are lumped together. As great of an idea as this sounds, let me just cut that thought outta your mind! For example--when we teach students opinion writing during marking period 1, and they are rocking it, they are really be meeting the standard and then earn a '3'. But when they are learning narrative writing in marking period 4, and they are just struggling with this, and say they receive a '2' or heaven forbid a '1', PARENTS FREAK OUT. And the e-mails start to FLY.

"Why was my kid meeting the standard in writing the first 3 marking periods, but then the last marking period they are only progressing or making limited progress?!?! Are they going to fail?!?!?"


Then I have to explain about the standards being lumped together, and they just haven't fully met the standard for narrative writing. HOWEVER, this could have all been avoided if the standards were still separated out. I believe the committee that decided to condense the standards together thought they were doing us (teachers) a favor, thinking we wouldn't have as much work. Oh quite the contrary!!

This is what page 2 and 3 of the report card look like. Social Studies, learner behaviors, reading levels, math fact levels, places for the Encore, a.k.a. Specials teachers, to put grades. I don't have as much of an issue with this page :D as I do page one, with the lumping of standards :)

So, with a standards based report card, what should determine a student getting a 4, 3, 2, or 1?!? Like I stated earlier, my first year, I really equated a 4 to like a 90%, a 3 to a B or an 80%, a 2 to a 70% and a 1 a 60% or lower. I mean, really, looking back, that was ridiculous that I thought this way.

With a 3 being meeting the standard, there really is NO way a student can earn a 3 in the first marking period (first 45 days of school), unless you don't plan on coming back to that standard again in the school year. Cause I mean really, as a teacher, how can you teach an entire standard in those 40 few days of school? The students haven't had the opportunity yet to learn everything encompassed within a standard (such as the foundational or language standards).

With standards that are ongoing that I feel students are making progress, I do give them a 2. They haven't yet consistently shown that they are meeting the standard, thus me giving them 2s.

As far as 4s go, I really struggle with students earning a 4. Earning a 4 is translating that they are exceeding the standard, such as working CONSISTENTLY on a grade level above their current grade level.

Now, my students mostly earn 2s or 1s. When a student is given a 1 on their report card, translating to the parent that their student is showing no progress or limited progress, I also send home a progress report. Within the progress report, it shows what standards we are working on. So for example, even though they received 1s across the board in 2nd grade math standards, they are working toward the standard on the 1st grade math standards. This gives the parents a more detailed look at what we are working on in class, and what their students are making progress in.

I've found that tracking progress has been made a lot easier with my checklists. Many of my students are working below grade level, so I have found it helpful to track their progress in data binders, read all about it HERE.

I have created EDITABLE checklists for Math Common Core Checklists for Kindergarten, 1st grade, and 2nd grade. You can check out each one by clicking on the images below:


Please let me know what questions you have about standards based report cards, or if you have any suggestions for other teachers!

Happy end of September!! If you aren't already pulling your hair out enjoying the fabulous of beginning of the year , I'm sure you will be, sometime soon. I have been back in school for about 6 weeks now, and am tired as all get out!!
This is part 2 of a blog series to bring YOU some different games, resources and ideas to do with your primary (grades K-2) students. You can find Part 1 by clicking on the image below or the link HERE!


Just a little background information on me--I am a STEM (which is math & science) teacher. I teach 1st and 2nd grade students. Students are flexibly grouped by their ability, which the opportunity to move up or down as the school year progresses if that is what the student needs. I teach 2 different groups of students; 1 group higher functioning 1st & 2nd graders (13 students- nine 2nd graders and 4  first graders) most of these students are on a first grade math level, which a sprinkle of a few students working on some 2nd grade skills/standards. My 2nd group of students (10 students- 2 of which are 2nd graders, and 8 are first graders) are the lower of the two groups. These students are functioning on a kindergarten/pre-kindergarten math level. Both groups of students fall in the bottom 10% of students in grades 1 and 2. We call these classes "tier 3"--so I am a "primary tier 3 stem" teacher :)  

So since my last blogpost, I have introduced "Fact Friday".  On "Fact Friday", students come to my table and are given their fact test. They all start on level 1, which is +0, +1, +2 facts. They have to correctly solve 18 out of 20 problems in 60 seconds a.k.a. 1 minute. If this seems like a lot to you, you aren't the only one! Students, parents, and teachers alike find it difficult to ask 1st graders to solve 18 problems accurately in 1 minute. But with some positive reinforcement, and not much emphasis on the passing a test, I have already seen success with my students!

I started out by sending home level 1 math fact bags. Our students have a take home folder, and in my little note to parents, I ask them to keep these math facts in their folder, and to practice them as much as possible.

Each student has their own data binder on my shelf. These are 1 inch binders I got on sale at Staples. Boys have orange spine labels, and girls have purple. As you flip open the binder. I have a half sheet for their MAP data. MAP is a test we take 3 times a year to monitor the students reading and math progress. You can grab the MAP progress sheet:

 Behind my MAP progress sheets, I keep their weekly math tests. I also track their progress in an EXCEL spreadsheet. I have 3 separate tabs at the bottom of the excel spreadsheet; one for my morning group, one for the afternoon, and one with all the students listed with levels passed. 

Beyond the math facts tests and MAP progress sheet, I have a sheet for each standard in the math common core. If the student is a 2nd grader working on 1st grade standards, I have the 1st grade math standard, as well as the 2nd grade math standard. Each standard sheet has the standard broken down into sections of that standard, with 10 trials, for the me (or the teacher) to write down the students progress, and then collect the artifacts (or evidence) to support that student either understanding the standard, or not.


During instruction throughout the day, my students start with a warm-up (number talk, or word problem), then we go into rotations. Rotations allow me to work within small group to instruct my students on their level. One of the rotations I have introduced that the students work on is Write their Math Facts. I know this doesn't sound like some of my other engaging rotations like Grocery Store, or Exercising with Dice, but sometimes I believe students need to practice a skill in isolation.

Our fact level program looks like this:

Level 1: +0, +1, +2
Level 2: -0, -1, -2
Level 3: Addition Ten Facts (ex. 10+5)
Level 4: Subtraction Ten Facts (ex. 15-5)
Level 5: Addition Doubles (ex. 2+2)
Level 6: Subtraction Doubles (ex. 4-2)
Level 7: Addition making 10 Facts (ex. 3 +7)
Level 8: Subtraction making 10 facts (ex. 10-8)

By end of the 1st grade students are expected to have passed the first 8 levels. By the end of 2nd grade, students are expected to have passed the first 15 levels, which are all the addition and subtraction facts. Starting in 3rd grade, students are expected to start passing the multiplication facts. 

Now, let me regress at moment. That lower level of students that I teach (that are working on a pre-k/kindergarten math level), they struggle at these fact tests. For example, this is what one of the Level 1 tests look like: 

So some of the students (5 out of 10) in my afternoon class, answer the math fact by copying the equation--For example if the question was 0 + 2= they would write 0 + 2=. They don't get the concept of a number is an amount. So with them, I do test them every Friday to monitor their progress, but we have also been working on numbers and counting and making meaning of numbers. 

We have taken the time to look at numbers 0-9 and what they look like in numeral form, word form, tens frame, tally marks, on a number line, and in a picture. My students have also worked with number puzzles from 1-9 matching the numeral with the dots. We have also worked on rolling a die, and talking about +1 to that number. We haven't got yet to +2 to a number, but that is in the works for this week! 

If you are interested in the above supplemental printables, making meaning from dots to digits, click on the image below!


You can also find the Common Core math Standard Checklists by clicking the links below! And did I mention these are EDITABLE?!?!?


 Please leave your comments for helping students improve their fact fluency!! Wishing you all a fantastic October!!

Happy back to school season friends!! If you aren't already back in school, I'm sure you are going back sometime soon. I have been back in school for about 2 weeks now, and am tired as all get out!!
This is part 1 of a blog series to bring YOU some different games, resources and ideas to do with your primary (grades K-2) students. 

Just a little background information on me--I am a STEM (which is math & science) teacher. I teach 1st and 2nd grade students. Students are flexibly grouped by their ability, which the opportunity to move up or down as the school year progresses if that is what the student needs. I teach 2 different groups of students; 1 group higher functioning 1st & 2nd graders (13 students- nine 2nd graders and 4  first graders) most of these students are on a first grade math level, which a sprinkle of a few students working on some 2nd grade standards. My 2nd group of students (10 students- 2 of which are 2nd graders, and 8 are first graders) are the lower of the two groups. These students are functioning on a kindergarten/pre-kindergarten math level. Both groups of students fall in the bottom 10% of students in grades 1 and 2. We call these classes "tier 3"--so I am a "primary tier 3 stem" teacher :) 

So in case you have a few students that need something 'different' or maybe a whole class set, here are a few ideas of what I have been working on with them!
Counting Stations

One of the 1st standards I have begun to cover is 1.NBT.1 (common core). This standard states the student will be able to read, write, count, and represent any number from 1-120, starting at any given number. 

So one of the first things we did to get acclimated to our classroom, and classroom materials, was to count different objects (with a partner). This was a random group of objects I put together, but the picture below can be used for counting stations with your students as the recording sheet.

I actually had a sub do this on a day I had to be absent (the 5th day of school). Then the following day, it led to a great conversation about putting objects into groups and counting that way (groups of 10s and counting by 10s). One could even change the quantities of the objects, laminate the recording sheet, and the the students work on the counting stations for an extended period of time (a week or so).
Exercising with Dice

So one of the independent rotations (stations) I added almost immediately was exercising with dice. I used Whimsy Clips MEGA cute exercise clipart, and created some task cards on fun astrobrights paper. I added these fun, bright, foamy dice and BAM the kids love it! I took a day (about 15 minutes) and as a class we went over each exercise. The students knew most of them from doing them in gym class. 
Grocery shopping

I racked my brain to come up with a meaningful way for my kiddos to count. Many of them don't understand the value of being able to count. So why not add money?!?! I'm starting off with pennies and dollars, since both their value is 1, and hope to add nickels, dimes, quarters, as well as other dollar bills when the students are ready. I have 'differentiated' versions of grocery shopping for my 2 different classes of kiddos. The yellow cards (shown on the left) are for my students functioning on a 1st grade level. These task cards contain various items from the grocery store. The red task cards (shown on the right) are for my students functioning on a kindergarten level. These task cards contain fruits and vegetables. Within the rotation time, one students acts as the clerk, and the other as the buyer. The buyer says, "I would like to buy some bread" the clerk would then say, "you owe 1 dollar and 4 pennies". So the buyer would count out that much money, and any good clerk double checks the buyers coins and bills! The students love this role playing grocery shopping!
Racing to fill the chart

 My kiddos desperately need to practice writing all their numbers from 1-120. Within my group of students functioning on a 1st grade level, I have them practice racing their partner to fill out the entire 120s chart. They each have a reference 120s chart, in case they need it. In my group of students functioning on a kindergarten level, I have them work with their partner to fill out either the 20s chart or 50s chart (depending on their ability). They also have a reference 120s chart to help them in case they become stuck. 

120s Number Puzzles

 I love these number puzzles! And I know I'm not the one who came up with this idea, but I'm not sure where I originally saw it! But, my students just struggled to put the numbers together, so I thought, why not add that reference 120s chart underneath to help them in case they get stuck! My students love these puzzles! 

Fill 'er up!

This is a very simple game that you can have your students play. My students work in pairs, so I have 2 cups for them to work on filling up. They take turns rolling the dice, and then adding that many manipulatives (buttons in this picture) into their cup. The first person to fill up their cup is the winner. Of course, I switch out the manipulatives every couple days to keep it fresh for them.

Memory: Crossing the decade

This week I have played this memory game in small group with a few of my students. On the left side (to the students left, teachers right side) are the numbers ending in 9 (19, 49, up to 119), and on the right right are multiples of 10 (from 10-120). So as the students pull a card from left side, they read the number (ex. "This is 49") then they also say what they need to match it, (ex. "I need 50). So they pull from the left first, and then the right. If they get a match, they get to pick again, if they don't get a match, it's the next persons turn.

Before/After Number Bingo

This super simple game is one that my students have begged for this week! They have their game boards and chips, and I turn over a number card and ask, "what number is this" one of them answers, "seven", and then I ask, "What comes next? Cover it up!" The first student to get four in a row horizontally, vertically, or diagonally wins (a sticker---woohoo ;) ) 

Roll and count on
During small group, with about 4 students, I will tell them I am going to roll 2 dice to make a 2 digit number.  I then tell them that they will tell me what comes next. So if I roll a 4 and a 9, I will say "ok 49, what comes next, and we will count on around the table (50, 51, 52, 53)". I will do this for multiple days, just for a couple minutes during our small group instruction. I am assessing to see if they can start from any number and count on. 

Hopefully you've gotten some ideas to help your students number sense!

If you liked the ideas you read about in this post, you can find all them (plus some extras!) by clicking the image below!

If you are in need of some more formative assessments for your students for counting and the standard 1.NBT.1, feel free to check out these printables that are great for quick check ins, homework, or independent work by clicking the image below!


Make sure to follow me on Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter to be notified of what is happening in my classroom to get some fun math ideas for your kiddos!
Back to Top