Wednesday, May 24, 2017

Did You Check Your Work for S.P.U.N.C?

Did you check your work for S.P.U.N.C? Here's a trick to help children remember to proofread their work.

Getting children to remember to check written work before passing it in is always a challenge. 

I always tell them to check it for S.P.U.N.C. before passing it in. 

What's S.P.U.N.C? 

 It stands for Spelling, Punctuation, Use of words, Neatness, and Capitalization. 

 That "Use of words" is all encompassing. It includes making sure sentences are grammatically correct, but also making sure they make sense and hold the reader's attention. If the assignment includes answering questions, the children need to make sure their answer makes sense with the question.

I suggest the kids do a "finger read" as they double check for each part of S.P.U.N.C, that really helps them figure out if they left out a word or wrote something that usually makes sense. 

 Sometimes I'll remind the kids to make their work S.P.U.N.C.Y. What does the Y stand for? Your very best work!

Did you check your work for S.P.U.N.C? Here's a trick to help children remember to proofread their work.

Saturday, May 20, 2017

A Happy Math Website for Lower Elementary Students

A Happy Math Website for Lower Elementary Students: This is an awesome website you need to explore!
Are you familiar with Happy Numbers

I was lucky enough to stumble upon Happy Numbers several months ago and decided to try the free month they offer.

It was mighty easy to set up my class and give them passwords.
Since I teach second grade, I set them all up for the second grade curriculum. (They have curriculum for grades K-2.)

Once set up, I spent my math period pulling small groups of children to show them how to log in and use the program on our tablets.

We are lucky to have 7 of these tablets (with the bright green covers) in our classroom, which means 1/3 of the class can work on them at a time! (Image is link to Amazon.)


Happy Numbers works very well on the tablets, but it also works on our Chromebooks as well as laptops and desktops.

It's very easy for the children to log in, and they took to the program right away, and quickly became quite independent with it!

Each module moves along quickly, and has fun activities for the children. Here are some examples:
Here are a couple of screen shots of Module 1 for Grade 2: Sums and differences to 20. The children are asked to slide the sets of ten, then the individual ones. They love doing it, and it really helps them see how place value helps addition and subtraction!

Here's a fun way to add 4 addends! And a great way for children to see the benefits of looking for sets of ten.
Now they're getting real familiar with the number line, as well as counting forward and back.

One of the things I like about this website is the feedback it gives to the children. When the children give an incorrect answer, it gently lets them know. I purposely typed 72 instead of 73 into the table above. The number turned red. Once I clicked "OK," I was able to type the correct response. 
Then this cute little guy congratulated me!
I love the way Happy Numbers helps the children see the parts step by step before it requires the children to show mastery of the skill.

The above screenshots first show how each 3 digit number is broken up into place value (which appear one by one in the animation), then the children are later asked to compare the numbers without breaking the numbers down for the children. It builds at a good rate for little learners.

These screenshots show a couple more activities the children do at Happy Numbers.


Here are a couple more screen shots from the teacher screen. (Names are blocked, of course!)

Oh yes, and teachers can print certificates. 😊
My favorite things about Happy Numbers:

1. The activities are varied and fun for the children, advancing the complexity of math skills slowly so the children don't even realize they're building their math skills!

2. The children can work independently. They can easily log in, and with a click they proceed to fun math building skills. It makes for a great independent work station while the teacher works with individuals or small groups.

3. The teacher can easily see if the children are spending time on the program, and if they are having success.

4. It gives children immediate feedback on their accuracy.

5. Did I mention it was fun for the kiddos?

My Least Favorite Thing About Happy Numbers:

1. It only goes up through second grade skills. Most of my second graders fit perfectly into the skills presented by Happy Numbers, but I have a few students that are very advanced, and could use some exposure to upper level skills. 

Maybe if we try, we can convince Happy Numbers to extend their programming through the upper elementary grades?

Sunday, May 14, 2017

What Color is the Ribbon?

What Color is the Ribbon? A simple strategy to help students solve math word problems.

One of the hardest things for little mathematicians is figuring out how to solve word problems in math. 

I have a little strategy that helps in many cases: get them to visualize the situation. 

The other day, my students were doing a word problem that included measuring a ribbon, and comparing it to another ribbon. 

They looked a little confused, so I suggested they pictured the story problem in their minds. Then I started asking questions...


Then I kept going.


Then I worked on getting them to visualize the story.


And a little more directed questioning...


This pretty much wrapped it up! (pardon the "ribbon" pun!) They were able to use the picture in their minds to solve the number problem.

This strategy helps in many cases! 

In fact, after a while, they start to ask themselves these questions and can solve the problems by themselves!

Of course, independence is our goal, but we have to lead them there, don't we?


Monday, May 1, 2017

5 Tricks to Help Them Remember Sight Words

5 Tricks to Help Them Remember Sight Words: based on brain research, here are 5 different strategies to help little readers remember sight words.

I've been fascinated by the brain for years now. I have been reading quite a bit about how the brain works and the best ways to help children learn. 

There are basically two types of words for the children to learn. One kind is based on letter sound relationships and letter patterns. In other words, they can be "sounded out." The other kind of word can't be "sounded out" and must be learned by the way it looks: by sight! These suggestions are to help with sight words. 

Here are some brain strategies that are easy to implement into the classroom to help the kiddos remember those important sight words.

Practice makes permanent! When the children practice a little bit each day, it will help them remember. It's also a good idea to introduce small amounts at a time. If they need to know the first 100 Sight Words, only give them 10 at a time, then slowly adding on as they master those. Going through their pile of sight words for 5 minutes every day is more valuable than once a week for 30 minutes. Remember when you were in college and cramming for an exam? It didn't work so well, did it. (But somehow we got through it!)


 Exercise brings oxygen to the brain, and helps the brain become more receptive to learning. We all know that sitting still for too long makes for cranky, wiggly children (and adults!) Experts say bodies to move every 20 minutes. Bodies of children need to move more frequently than that! A quick walk, a little yoga, or a nice stretch are perfect Brain Breaks for little learners.

 Emotions play a big role in memory. If you make it fun, they're more likely to remember. Games make learning fun! A little healthy competition gets the pulse moving and the emotions rolling. It really makes a difference!

Brains are visual! Brains remember colors and other visuals, like cute little pictures. Use color when making word lists or word cards. You can use a variety of colors, but make sure they can be easily read. Make sure the words are appealing for the children.


Experts recommend sight words be practiced in phrases rather than in isolation. Words in isolation don't have much meaning to the children, and brains need meaning. Three or four words in phrases have a lot more meaning and are more likely remembered by growing brains.

I do have some sight word phrases that follow these suggestions. You can find them HERE.

There are built in Brain Breaks.

There are color coded word cards, if desired, with "cute pictures."

There are plenty of color coded phrase cards, again with "cute pictures." The different colors on the borders correspond to the Fry Sight Word level.


There's also a game that can be used to practice the words or phrases! The pictures correspond to the pictures on the individual cards. Each level of words is compatible with the game board, so it's easy to differentiate.


The game board and cards are easily stored in ziplocks!




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