So the first two units of the school year of 2nd grade for me are spent reviewing place value and comparing numbers. You can read more about how I teach that under this blog post about Place Value Understanding (it also has a freebie!) 

The third unit, and how we end the first marking period, is spent learning all about word problems. I absolutely love teaching word problems, their types, and then the strategies to solve the problems! So this past week was our first week with word problems!


On Tuesday, the first day of our unit, we talked about sorting and how to sort. We came to the common term that sorting we would sort by putting things together that were similar, or had something in common. I told the students to sort the 9 slips of paper (with word problems) into two groups. I monitored the students by stopping and helping as I was walking around the room. You can strategically group students so you have a higher reader with a lower reader, in case they are not able to read the word problems. After about 10 minutes I had the students stop and leave their word problem strips at their desk and come to the rug. We discussed how they decided to sort. Some groups sorted by saying, "well this group has word problems with 4, 5, 6 or 7 in it, and the other group has 8, 9, 1 or 2 in it". Some groups sorted by word problems that mentioned food and word problems that didn't mention food. Then there was 1 group that sorted by knowing how many items were in the problem to start versus the problem started with the word 'some'. You can find the word problem sort here- FREEBIE WORD PROBLEM SORT.

I took their thinking and ran with it!! I introduced the first 3 types of word problem types. Add to (Join) Result unknown (3 + 2 =?), Change unknown (3 + ? = 5), and Start unknown (? + 2 = 5). I gave examples for each one. This was VERY direct instruction. I'm all for student-led, collaborative instruction, but some things have to be taught directly.

I then had the students go back to their word problem strips and re-sort, but this time into 3 groups. I think every group but one, sorted the word problems into the 3 problem types--result unknown, change unknown, and start unknown. I was so excited!


The next day, we discussed the 6 steps to problem solving. We reviewed the first 3 types of word problems (add-to result unknown, change unknown, start unknown). We discussed, in detail, drawing a model. We talked about a part-part-whole chart (because that is something they use in 1st grade), and that let to introducing a bar model to them. I showed the students how for each type of word problem, a bar model would look. I then showed them the 6 step template to solve our problems.


The 6 steps to solve a problem is very simple, and if we follow it for every problem, problem solving will no longer be a problem! The first step is to read the problem. When I model this, I read it out loud, but then I also tell the students to read it to themselves. Step 2 takes some practice, rewriting the question as a statement can be a little tricky! Model, model, model though! In step 3, students write down who and what the word problem is about. In step 4, the students draw a model. We started with a bar model. I explain that in an add-to result unknown, the biggest part of the part model has a question mark. But with a change unknown, or start unknown in an add-to word problem, one of the parts is unknown. Part 5 is to actually do the work to solve, whether it's drawing a picture of tens and ones, or solving with partial sums--whatever works for the student to successfully solve the problem. Check 6 is then checking their work by a different strategy. They can also use addition (if they originally subtracted) or use subtraction if they originally added to check their work!




The structure of the word problem is very straight forward, and if a student can read a problem, and identify the type, they will know what they need to do to solve it. For example, with the word problem, "Aladdin flew on his carpet for 12 miles. He picked up Jasmine and they flew for 14 miles. How many miles did Aladdin fly on his magjc carpet for?" To set up the equation for this word problem, we know that start, how many miles Aladdin flew alone, 12. We know he picked up Jasmin and flew 14 more miles, but what the problem is asking us to figure out is how many in all? So we would set this up as knowing both parts 12 + 14 = ? with the unknown being the result. 


My students work very hard on word problems. I think they enjoy the same set up each time. They think about what they don't know, and what they need to solve to figure it out. They use the language result unknown, change unknown, and start unknown, and can give you examples of all these types of word problems. I give them plenty of opportunities to practice, and they feel confident in solving, and explaining their thinking to peers and adults alike!

Next week we will be moving onto the different strategies of how to solve these word problems and adding and subtracting multi-digit numbers!! (Another one of my favorites to teach!)

Want to try this for your class? You can scoop up those extra opportunities for your students to practice here with Problem Solvers

If you have any questions or problems, feel free to email me mwhitt613@gmail.com
Hello and welcome!


First and foremost, let me say, I am only a classroom teacher. I have taught 1st and 2nd grades in my little corner of the Earth. But the following classroom management hacks have worked for me! 


So this first tool has been fantastic with transitions within the classroom! And I can not take the credit for thinking this one up! I saw multiple teachers post about it on Instagram, and then my fellow teammate purchased a doorbell, so I thought I'd have to try it too! And y'all, for $10.99, this is so worth it!! This wireless doorbell comes with 36 different chimes and adjustable volume! I've kept the same ring for a few weeks, and just changed it to a new tune last week! There's even holiday rings!! The kids and I both love it! And it has made transitions, such as clean up and come to the rug, seamless!



Ok, so visual timers were introduced to my naive self from one of my good friends and special education teachers. The time tracker mini I use for 1 student (or a small group) of students. You set the time, it starts off as a green light. Then you set the time to let them know hey you've only got this amount of time left, at this point it will turn yellow. Then when time is up it turns red. I don't use the sound on this, so I'm not sure if it comes with a sound or not. I specifically use this to keep students on track, as I may be working with another set of students. 
The Time Timer is the more expensive of the two, but it worked well for me for all of last year. I used it when I would pull small groups, and other students would get done their exit tickets and go to rotations (centers). When they heard the timer go off, they would know to clean up rotations (centers).  I unfortunately stopped using it due to one of my lovelies knocking it off the counter and it breaking. (So place it where it won't fall off counters or be close to kids that could potentially knock it off a counter).



Sticker charts have worked in my classroom for the past 3 years! Every student had a sticker chart, and each sticker chart has 50 spaces on it. When the students fill up their sticker charts, they can cash them in for different prizes--Lunch with the teachers & bring a friend, prize out of the prize box, shoeless day, or bus helper. 
How the sticker charts work.
Each day, the students are responsible for coming in, making a lunch choice, copying in their planner (homework or any other pertinent information), then checking in with me. When they have completed these items, they receive a sticker. So every day, each students earns at least 1 sticker. Then throughout the day, I may grab my sheet of stickers as we walk down the hallway and hand out to those who are being quiet. Sometimes I give students stickers on their classwork (not always). Sometimes I give students stickers for answering questions (to promote class participation). The point is, they never know when I'm going to be giving stickers, so they are encouraged to always try their best! I know, this is feeding into that extrinsic motivation, however, throughout the course of the year, through using these sticker charts, many students become intrinsically motivated (not all of course). These stickers on Amazon are the perfect size, and you can purchase 2500 stickers for $6 or $7.

I think every teacher has that one classroom management tool that they pull out when all else fails. My students know if they hear this chime, it's silent time....or else Mrs. Ebersole will take a sticker. When they hear the doorbell, they know they are to clean up and return to the classroom rug, yet they can still quietly talk. However the chime, like I said, the chime means quiet time!


My students love to play BINGO! And if it ties to the curriculum, then why not!?! I use bingo as a math warm-up on Fridays (not every Friday generally). They understand it, and they are practicing concepts they've learned throughout the week. Interested in playing BINGO with your students, check out this blogpost I wrote about BINGO in my classroom.  And it's another reason to buy those adorable, seasonal dollar spot erasers from Target!!

If you have any classroom management life hacks, please comment below!!

**I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn small fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.**



So much of the beginning of second grade is spent reviewing and reteaching place value. It can be overwhelming, but I'm here to say it doesn't have to be!


I started this lesson by giving the students the number 57. I asked the students how many tens and ones made up the number 57. They were quick to answer 5 tens and 7 ones. So I grabbed my base ten blocks and showed 5 tens and 7 ones. I then asked them to turn and talk about how else we could show 57. I had students share out, one of them raised their hand and said, "I know that 1 ten equals 10 ones, so we could trade a ten for ones!" I then had them go back to their desks and use their own base ten blocks to show their thinking. 


I walked around as they were building, asking each of them to explain their thinking about what and why they were doing what they were doing. I was able to formally assess who could understand that trade of a ten for 10 ones. I then had them share out as I wrote down their thinking.

I had them come back to the rug to talk about a bigger number. I gave them 253. They told me the easiest way to make it would be 2 flats (hundreds), 5 rods (tens) and 3 cubes (ones). I then followed the same process and asked them how could we show 253 in a different way. A student raised their hand and said, "I know that 10 tens makes 100, so we can take a hundred and trade it for 10 tens." I then had them go back to their desks and use their own base ten blocks again to show their thinking.


I again, walked around as they were building, getting an idea who was able to make the trade for tens for a hundred. I now had my list of students that I wanted to pull back to work with during our 'rotation' aka center time. We came back together, and I had students share out different ways they created 253. One student would tell me how they made, while I chose another student to assess and evaluate the first students work and thinking---did their work really prove to be 253. (On a side note--I've noticed when you have the students prove their thinking, they are much more apt to do it, opposed to when you ask them to explain!)

Finally, I gave students this exit ticket, which can be found HERE--it is a freebie on my teachers pay teachers site. Hopefully you will find it helpful, as it contains exit slips, math tasks, partner games and truly rigorous activities!

Some other ideas for teaching or working with place value that have also worked for me in the past are using mentor texts, such as A Place for Zero by Charlesbridge, Place Value by Holiday House, or for first grade or lower level students-  What's the Place Value by Rourke Educational Media.  During indoor recess time, a great way to reinforce math concepts is allowing them to play math board games, such as Place Value Safari

Many students struggle between the gap of conceptual understanding and procedural fluency, and the best way to bridge that gap is allowing hands-on activities that the students can use manipulatives, until they have a good solid foundation of understanding! If you have any suggestions, comments, or questions, please feel free to reach out to me!

Have a blessed day!


**I am a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for us to earn small fees by linking to Amazon.com and affiliated sites.**
Back to Top