Friday, August 31, 2012

Choose and Use and Make 100 Centers

Choose and Use Score Sheet

Today the kiddos played two center games while I pulled small groups to work on assessing place value. The first was a Fundamentals game titled Choose and Use. In this game, the students have a set of number cards. Mine are little squares, and I have about 3 of each number 1-9. You could use a deck of cards, I'm sure. Anyway, the kids partner up, and lay out all the cards upside down in between them. The first player turns over three cards. They may use the numbers in any way they wish, and they must use two operations of their choice (operations go in the circles, and the numbers go in the squares.) The goal is to get as close to the target as possible. However far away from the target they are is their score. They want the lowest score possible. For example, it's my turn and I flip over a 2, 5, and 7, I could write in 2 x 7 - 5 = 9. My score for #1 would be 4. The cool thing about this game is that the kids will help each other see how to get the best score possible by rearranging the numbers and changing operations. If I used the same numbers as before, my partner might help me see I could instead do 2 x 5 -7 = 3, so my score would only be 2 now.

The bottom is for extension. In this section four cards are picked and three operations are used. The partners determine their own target number.

Make 100 Center Score Sheet
The second game we played was another Fundamentals game called Make 100. In this partner game, the kids roll a die. They decide whether to put it in the tens column or the ones column. They're trying to get to 100 first before their partner. They CANNOT go over in this game. For example, if my partner and I roll a 4, I could make it 40 and my partner could make it 4. The next roll is a 6. If I make it a 60, I just won the game by reaching a total of 100.

Another example - We roll a 6 and both make it a 60. Then we roll another 6. We can't make it a 60 because we'll go over 100, so we'll both make it a 6 and now we have a total of 66. Then we roll a 3. I make it a 3 and my partner makes it a 30. I now have a score of 69, and my partner has a score of 96. The next roll is a 5. My partner cannot do anything, as he will go over 100, so he loses his turn. I however can make it a 5 and now have a score of 74. And so on and so on...

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Journal Example

When we begin our journals, I really try to emphasize the importance of neatness. Clean lines, neat handwriting, clear messages, etc. all make it much easier to find helpful information. We added our first journal entry together as we discussed what guidelines we should follow when writing in our journals. The student picked any two-digit number, and then completed three activities using it. We walked through neatly dividing our page into three sections, giving each section a title, then completing the activity. What do I know about the number? How can I get to the number? and Word problem where my number is the answer. I kept in fairly simple, since the main goal was to discuss journal guidelines.

Introducing Centers with Wipe Out

Wipe Out game card

Center response card
A pretty logical explanation for a 4th grader! Great thinking!
Yesterday I introduced how centers will work in my room. We always start small with only one center so we can discuss expectations and practice appropriate behavior. I introduced a new game called Wipe Out. In this partner game, the kids cover up all the numbers with a marker. They take turn rolling two number cubes and using any operation to remover a marker. For example, if the child rolled a two and a three, he could add the two numbers and uncover the five, he could multiply to uncover the six, or he could subtract and uncover the three. The strategy comes in when they realize their first operation choice may give them an answer that's already been uncovered. They must then see if another operation will work. The winner is the first to clear the board. I always love to hear the discussion that comes with this game. They kids are always good about helping each other out!

When the students finished playing the game, they were responsible for filling out the center response card. I try to always have some sort of accountability in my game centers. Because I'm pulling a small group in the back, and can't always see everything that goes on in the game centers. This just helps me see who really played the game, and who wasn't as involved as was expected.

Setting Up Math/Science Journals

An example of our math journal a few days in...
Our place value chart is glued on the inside cover of the math journal
Well, on Tuesday we set up our Math and Science journals. We do TONS of work in our journals throughout the year, so it's important they be organized! Table of Contents is a must! I check the journals about every 3 weeks or so to make sure the dates/entries/page numbers are current. I find journals so helpful when the kids get stuck! They can always go back and help themselves by checking their notes. Journal entries are done together, and the rules (neat, complete, etc) are established the first day journaling begins! There is a table of contents in both the math and science journals. I've found that three pages front and back is plenty.

An example of clock buddies before partners are assigned. They just write the names of partners on the lines.
 Also in both journals are four clocks to be used for clock buddies. I got this idea from a workshop presented by Nanci Smith. The idea is that you assign each student three clock buddies based on needs, and the students can pick the other three clock buddies themselves. There are four because the clock buddies are changed every quarter after you reevaluate your data and the students' needs change. I assign the students their 2, 4, and 6 o'clock If I wanted the students with someone specific, I would partner them up by saying, "Please partner-up with your 2 O'Clock buddy." This is a great way to partner up with purpose, without labeling your kiddos the Bluebirds, Redbirds, and Buzzards. Ha ha!

Saturday, August 25, 2012

Happy New (school) Year!!!

I'm new to the blogging world. In fact, I'm so new, I probably won't even tell anyone I'm doing this until I have lots of fun activities to post. So for now, I guess it's just for me! I wanted a place to post all my math/science activities, posters, journal entries, etc. The reason is simply for communication. I've always e-mailed my students' parents each Friday to let them know what has happened throughout the week, but now I'd like to take it a step farther and actually show them all our hard work! Lots of what we do is in our journals, so unfortunately the parents don't always see all our great entries until conferences. Now, assuming I can keep it together, they'll get to see all the fabulous thinking going on in a much more timely manner!

I'm very excited about the new year beginning on Monday!! This is my sixth year of teaching (fifth year teaching 4th grade) and my team and I work very hard to make sure each new year is our best! My school district has made summer professional development a huge priority, and I feel very fortunate that over the last six years I have have been able to see/hear some of the most amazing minds in our field speak on what's best for kids. I honestly feel if my district is going to be generous enough to bring in these incredible speakers, I should be humble enough to listen and learn. The day I stop learning is the day I need to pack it up and move on! I can't wait to start using all the knowledge I gained this summer!

So, having said all that, let's see if I can keep this blog going once the craziness of school starts...Wish me luck!