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Showing posts with label brain friendly. Show all posts
Showing posts with label brain friendly. Show all posts

### 5 Minutes a Day to Math Fact Fluency

After many years in the primary classroom, I've finally developed a sure proof system for math fact fluency.

Math fact fluency is all about memorization.

Before this can happen, the children need to have a basic understanding of what it means. A child can't memorize 5+2=7 Unless they understand they are joining a set of 5 items to a set of 2 items and will end up with 7 items. Once they have that understanding, they can start the memorization process. Once the facts are fluent, the related math concepts will flow far more easily!

Yes, rote memorization is NOT the most fun part of learning.

Yes, it takes work, and some students really struggle, but we know they're all different and can help them be successful at their own levels.

## Here are some suggestions for math fact fluency!

There are 200 Addition and Subtraction facts to be memorized. There are also 200 Multiplication and Division facts to be memorized. Children can be easily overwhelmed if given that many facts all at once!

Give them a pattern of facts to learn at a time. Research tells us children learn best by fact families.

Each child should have a group of facts they are working on, but also a group of facts they know, and don't want to forget! Make sure they spend time reviewing the old facts as well as learning the new bunch!

Be right up front with the students. Talk about what memorization is, and how they need to do the work to memorize the facts. Share the differences between automaticity and "counting on fingers," or "figuring it out in your head." (I don't believe counting on fingers or mental math to be bad, as they are part of the process! However, we hope to get the kiddos to full automaticity eventually!)

Talk to them about what has helped you when you had to memorize something, and encourage them to share their own memorization experiences. We're all different, but sharing ideas will help everyone! (Isn't that our goal? Teaching children to help each other so we are all successful?)

Or as I call it in my classroom, "out soft." That means, loud enough to hear yourself, but not loud enough to disturb your classmates. Verbalizing the whole equation, not just the answer, makes an enormous difference in the learning process!

Practice with friends Children are social. Practicing with a classmate makes practice more fun. Some tend to be a little competitive: let that work for them, as long as everyone is happy about it. Plus, children learn little tricks from each other. (Yes, I've learned a lot of little tricks from listening to my students!)

Timed tests can be motivating for many, but there are others that "choke" with that stress. You know your students better than anyone. I give timed tests once a week, but if I see any signs of stress, I'll pull that child aside and work with them. I make it fun, but when one-on-one, I can clearly see if a child is counting on fingers, pausing to figure it out in their head, or truly has the facts memorized. No matter what, I make sure it is a positive experience with lots of praise for the things the child is doing correctly!

When I feel a child is ready to move to the next level, before school starts, I'll put the next level of practice cards on their desk, to be cut out and sorted. You'd better believe there are shreiks of delight when they are found! I'm sure you know plenty of other ways to celebrate their successes as well!

I spend time at the beginning of the school year setting routines. There are several ways the facts can be practiced: everyone practice on their own, practicing as part of math rotations, small group games, practicing on computers or devices, practicing with a teacher or adult helper, and so on! I usually teach the routines using "easy facts" before we get to the tougher ones. Once the routines are set, they're good to go!

Once a student has proved mastery of all the levels, of addition and subtraction, I might have that child review all the levels again. Another option is to move onto multiplication and division. Although mastery of these facts isn't necessary for first or second graders, those students who master addition and subtraction quickly are usually quite ready for the upper levels. (Just make sure they understand what it all means!)

Another option: have them work with others. Perhaps it's because my dad was a football coach, but I've always felt it's our job to look out for the whole "team," and that concept is well instilled in my students. We have not succeeded until we have all succeeded!

These are my foolproof systems for both levels. I swear by these materials! I've used them for years and found them to be successful (and loved) by both students and teachers.

Fact Fluency System for Addition and Subtraction: The Bundle

## Multiplication and Division Facts:

Fact Fluency System for Multiplication and Division: The Bundle

## or get them both in this bundle:

Math Fact Fluency Practice Activities and Assessments: Level One +1 Fact Families

Math Fact Fluency Practice Activities and Assessments: Level One X1 Fact Families

## Here are a few strategies, based on research, that will help kiddos remember spelling words.

1.  Spell it aloud! The act of saying the letters along with hearing the letters helps the pathways form in the brain.

2. Get them moving! Studies show a connection between movement and memory. Students can bounce a basketball while spelling, jump while spelling, or even do interpretive dance while spelling the words.

3. Integrate Music! Ever notice how you can remember song lyrics from years ago that you never even tried to memorize? Music is closely connected to memory! Make up a little tune to the spelling of the words, or have the children make it up!

4. Integrate the Arts! Have the children write the spelling words, then make up a design around them. Or, you could have them paint their words! Don't forget the performing arts: they could dance their words or act out their words!

5. Color code! Brains really connect to colors! Have the children write the words using one color for vowels, and one color for consonants.

6. Hands-on! Use blocks, toothpicks, pipe cleaners or other manipulatives to create the words.

7. Get social! Get the kiddos to have conversations about their words. They can talk about the letters that follow the rules, and the letters that DON'T follow the rules. (Add color coding to this one, and that doubles the chance they'll remember the spelling!)

## Want more ideas?

This is a set of task cards with 48 color and 48 black and white task cards that can be used with any spelling list!

These cards contain activities based on brain research that include integrating the arts, multi-modality, and multiple intelligences. This set of sight word practice task cards is perfect for a word work center, homework, or extra practice in any setting.

In case you want to see how these Spelling Task Cards work, here's a sampler: Spelling Fun Task Cards Sampler

How do you help children remember Spelling words?

### Ten Tips for Helping Learning Stick

I've been interested in how the workings of the brain for many years now. I've read tons of books, articles, and videos. I'm hardly an expert, but a lot of the information I read about really makes a lot of sense!

## Here are ten ideas that are research based, and help me out in the classroom!

1. Move!  Studies show that combining movement with learning helps learning stick!  There are plenty of ways to include movement. I like to include a gesture when I teach a concept, and have the children mirror the gesture.  Trust me, they come back years later repeating the gesture!
Here are some of my darlings acting out one of the Author's Purpose reasons:  Entertainment!

2. Feedback!  Children need to know if  they're on the right track! I use a "Traffic Light" symbol when I correct papers.I'll highlight the child's name in green if they're doing what's expected at grade level. I'll highlight in yellow if there's something they need to be careful about. (Usually there's a written note.) I'll highlight in red (or pink, it's a little more "gentle,") if they need to stop and revisit the idea. (Usually there's a personal conversation, too.) Plus, there's one more color: if the work is "above and beyond grade level expectations," I'll highlight in purple. Of course, purple is for royalty, and I've been known to bow to children who pass in this sort of work!

3. Talking!  Yes, students need to talk and have social experiences! Since I work with little ones with short attention spans, I include loads of "Turn and Talk" time!  I often pose a question for discussion with a partner. The question might be a review, or a query, or maybe a prediction. It's tough not to be engaged when they're involved in conversation with their peers! Plus, when I listen in, I can tell if they're learning what they are suppose to be learning, or not! That gives me feedback on my teaching, too!

4. Humor! Did you realize that laughing is actually healthy? It brings oxygen to the brain and minimizes stress, which is bad for learning. It's time to pull out the joke books and get those kids laughing!

5. Stories!  Kids remember your stories! They love to hear about your family, your pets, and they especially love to hear about when you were little! HERE is a link to a story I often tell my students about my first day of school ever. I tell it to the kids as a model to show them how to write about their lives.

6. Emotions! I'm sure if you think of times where you felt strong emotion, you'll have strong memories as well. The above link tells about a strong emotion for me. Don't most people remember their weddings, the day their children were born, and, unfortunately, the death of a loved one. That's proof that our memories are tied to our emotions. Luckily, with kids, a little friendly competition or exciting situation will do the trick! I'll bet you remember that class play in third grade, and the Spelling Bee in 5th grade! Just be careful... bad emotions bring strong memories as well!

7. Music! How many of you remember all the words to the Brady Bunch Theme Song? I'll bet you never even had to work at it! I've written simple songs with simple lyrics to help the children remember important facts, such as The Seven Continents.  (See THIS post for lyrics.) I also use music to set the mood as they enter the classroom, and I use classical music in the background to help the children focus.

8. Brain Breaks! Studies show that children can attend only their age plus or minus 5 minutes, with 20 minutes total for adults. After that time, they need time to process the information so it can work its way into the long term memory.  I'm sure you can find plenty of ideas for brain breaks.

9. The Five Senses!  Studies show visual trumps all the other senses. If you pair knowledge with some sort of visual, it has a better chance of sticking. It's also been said the way to a child's heart is through their stomach! Teaching about a country?  Serve some food from that country! Teaching estimation? Estimate lollypops! Here's something I did to help the children remember to put spaces between their words.

10. Integrate the Arts!  I've already mentioned music, but integrating other arts has been known to ignite a passion for learning.  Dramatics, dance, clay, painting, drawing, and photography are great ways to help learning stick!  I'll bet you can even think of more varieties of the arts, and how to connect them to learning!

## I hope you have enjoyed these Ten Tips for Helping Learning Stick!

### Twelve Strategies to Get From Working Memory to Long Term Memory

I had a delightful group of teachers at my after school workshop today on Using Brain Research in the Classroom. We shared lots of ideas and there was lots of enthusiasm on the topic of the brain.

I had several key points I wanted to make, which I think came through successfully. You can see these main points on this post: Seven Brain Based Learning Principles.

Although I got through most of these points, (we really didn't get to the last two, after all, it's only an hour workshop!) But the one that's stuck in my mind is the third one:

## The working memory can hold 2 to 4 chunks of information at a time, usually in about 4 - 8 minutes. After that, the brain needs time to process, reflect and review in order for those chunks to move to the long term memory.

In a world where we're given large amounts of information to dish out to the kids in a short day, it's tough to give out just 2 to 4 chunks of information at a time, then allow the time to process that information so it can go into the long term memory. Here are some suggestions for this enormous task of taking information from the working memory to the long term memory:

1. Get them moving! I like to make movement and physical action part of the learning experience by using gestures and having the children mirror what I do.

2. Give time to review. I find the use of whiteboards work well for review. They are easy to use, very forgiving, and the kids love them.  They are easy for a teacher to check for quick assessments.

3. Use hands-on activities. Math manipulatives and science demonstrations work well to get the students interested and involved.

4. Minimize directions. Break larger lessons into smaller parts, making connections between parts.

5. Use a timer. After about 4 - 8 minutes, stop for a brain break, then return for a few more minutes, then another brain break.

6. Pause after a few pieces of information and give the students time to reflect and/ or ask questions.

7. Allow the students to draw pictures of what they're learning.  I'm a firm believer that drawing internalizes information. (I use it a lot for vocabulary.)

8. Use graphic organizers to arrange ideas so they can be revisited and understood.

9. Use "think pair, share" type activities where the students talk about what they just learned.

10. Use music. Putting important information to a simple tune that the children already know really helps them remember the information.  Some simple tunes that everyone knows:  Twinkle Twinkle, Take Me Out to the Ball Game, or This Old Man.

11. Have a gimmick. Do something clever or unique to get their attention. Tell a joke or hook them in with something clever.

12. Get their emotions involved. Emotions are very  much tied to memory. (I'll bet you remember those very emotional events in your life:  like your wedding or giving birth!) For some, getting up in front of the class will get the right amount of emotions going. For others, a game will do the trick.