Saturday, March 24, 2012

Clicker Test Review

Hand students remote controls and reviewing for the state assessment becomes FUN. 

The instant, anonymous feedback is a great way to boost achievement in the final weeks of M.A.P. review.

After each multiple-choice question, students chose their answer on the remote control. Then, with a click of a button, a graph was displayed showing how many students chose each answer. Students whooped and hollered every time 100% of the class chose the right answer.  I heard many students say, "That's ok, I missed one earlier," when all but one or two students got the right answer. They were cheerleaders for each other. When most of the class missed an answer, I told them that I needed to reteach that skill -- not to worry about it.  

It's amazing how long technology can keep students engaged. 

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Brain Break + M.A.P. Graph Review

Title, Label, Label DANCE

It sounds silly, but we had fun. Students placed one hand over their heads and whispered, "Title." Then, they moved their left hand where the left label would be on a graph and whispered, "Label." They moved their right hand under the graph where a label would be and whispered, "Label."

It looked a little like disco when we walked down the hall lip syncing and dancing to "Title, label, label. Title, label, label."

I hope students remember to title, label, label their graphs from now on.

What Am I? M.A.P. Math Review with EXTRA Cards

What Am I?

1.  Tape vocabulary words on students' backs without them seeing the words.
2.  Students walk around the room asking yes/no questions until they figure out the vocabulary words written on their backs. (I tell students they can only ask the same person TWO questions. Then, they must find a new partner.)
3.  Once a student guesses correctly, she gets a new word taped to her back, and the game continues. :-)

Do I have to do with graphs?
Am I the number that shows up the most often on a line plot?
Am I the difference between the largest number and the smallest number on a line plot?
Am I range?
I've played this game for years, but today is the first day I used extra cards. This way, ALL students were on task the entire time. Notice they're hanging out by the math vocabulary board. :-)

Monday, March 12, 2012

Parts of Speech Made Simple

Important note:
Students USE parts of speech in writer's workshop to spice up their writing. They also use them when writing their 16 or 20 word summary sentences in reading because adjectives and adverbs help stretch out a sentence when used properly. :-)

Link to download lesson:

Parts of speech can be easily taught with this teacher's guide and ready-to-go lessons. 

Parts of Speech are taught in layers with a question/answer flow in this order:
  • Subject Nouns/Verbs
  • Subject Nouns/Verbs/Adverbs
  • Subject Nouns/Verbs/Adverbs/Adjectives
  • Subject Nouns/Verbs/Adverbs/Adjectives/Prepositional Phrases
  • Subject Nouns/Verbs/Adverbs/Adjectives/Prepositional Phrases/Article Adjectives

Each layer is a separate PowerPoint with 16 sentence examples. I typically teach two sentences a day for eight days. Once I feel students have mastered a layer, I add in the next.

Adverb Cheer:

(Make punching motions)
~HOW did you punch him?
~WHEN did you punch him?
~WHERE did you punch him?
(Jerk your thumb over your shoulder like your asking the child to get out of the room.)
~Go to the office!
(Make two fists and pretend to pound the air.)

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Ten-Frame Interactive PowerPoint

Ten-frame cards are essential in teaching computation. If students can quickly figure out how many items are needed to make 10, addition and subtraction are so much easier! This interactive PowerPoint is engaging and self-checking.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Communication Matters - M.A.P. Test

Communication Matters

I sent this e-mail to parents today. Feel free to use or modify to fit the needs of your class. :-)
My e-mails to parents are typically brief. I know this is wordy, but M.A.P. is such a high-stakes test, I wanted to fully communiate my thoughts. :)

When we return from spring break, we will be in full M.A.P. review. My philosophy on the M.A.P. test is that it’s my responsibility to prepare students for the test. I’ve been doing that since the first day of school. With that being said, I’ve taught the written curriculum – I haven’t taught ‘to the test,’ but in teaching the written curriculum, students should be ready for the test. There shouldn’t be any objectives on the test your child hasn’t learned in school.

I asked students this week how many times they’ve heard me mention the M.A.P. test. Their reply was, “A few times. Hardly ever.” I told them I’ll be talking about it a lot in the next few weeks, but I don’t want them worrying about it. I’ve taught everything in the curriculum for math and reading – the two areas we’re testing. I also told them that while I haven’t talked it about it that much, I’ve prepared them for it since day one. Their responsibility is to simply do their best.

As you know, this is a high-stakes test for the district. I’ve told students it’s one measure of their performance – that I already know they’re proficient or advanced, and I’m expecting their scores to confirm what I already know. I think they need to know the test is important and that it helps me assess how well I’ve been teaching as well as how well they’ve been learning.
I could use your help ‘behind the scenes.’ Please ensure that your child is getting enough sleep and is eating healthy foods. The brain needs sleep to recharge – research says around 10 hours for children.

• Too much sleep isn’t good for the brain and too little sleep isn’t good either.

• If you’re not getting at least SEVEN hours, as adults, your brain isn’t working to its optimal potential either.

Research also indicates that one of the best things we can do for students is to offer them hope – let them know we believe in them and that we think they’re smart. I know you do this already, but if you can simply tell your child how smart he/she is, it’ll help more than you know. I also tell students they can score Advanced if they miss a few problems on the test – that M.A.P. doesn’t expect perfection.
I’m taking the time to send this lengthy e-mail to ask you to partner with me in de-stressing students while keeping high expectations. I want my students to have an, “I can do it attitude.” I appreciate your help.

Thanks for being great parents! I can’t believe the year is almost over.

Have a wonderful spring break!

Sunday, March 4, 2012

M.A.P. Math Review - 4th Grade Vocabulary

These vocabulary words can be found on DESE's website ( see Internet address at the bottom of each page ). 

I plan to have students create 4 x 6 cards with examples and brain pictures, play Fan 'n  Pick, Inside/Outside Circle, and *What Am I? to review.

*What Am I? -- Tape definition to students' backs. They ask other students in the class yes/no questions until they figure out which words are written on their backs. 

Friday, March 2, 2012

Kids and Testing

I finally broke down today and had a talk with my students about "the test." It's three teaching weeks away, and we're getting ready to start some heavy review. 

The first thing I asked was, "How many times have you heard me mention "the test" this year?" Students talked in groups and came up with, "Not many. Hardly at all. A few times." 

I think that's the way it should be. Now, I've been diligently planning for "the test" since the first day of school. Even though it's been on the forefront of my mind, I don't want students stressing over it. 

I don't believe in teaching to the test. I believe if you teach and assess the written curriculum, adjust instruction to meet students need, and keep students motivated to learn, "the test" will take care of itself. 

With that being said, if you don't practice the way you play, students won't be ready. So, each week, students take short, cold assessments in reading, writing, and math. These assessments have had "the test" in mind since August, but students simply view them as their weekly assessments -- much like students view spelling tests.

There are so many resources out there to assist in preparing:  Acuity, Buckle Down, released items, etc. When students see "the test," they usually say it's easier than they anticipated. That poses another problem though because sometimes they're too confident and make careless errors. :-/

I reassured my students that they've learned all they need to know for "the test."  Then, I ran through everything I've done to prepare them since the first day of school. We left the discussion on a positive note, and I didn't notice stressed-out students. After all, this is their time to shine.

I don't mind standardized testing because it's just another measure of learning. I do mind how stressed it makes teachers and students. I also mind that so much is at stake if scores don't come in as expected.

One thing I know after 19 years of teaching is that when I run into students years down the road, they remember how they felt about being in my class. They never mention what score they got on "the test."

Teaching is the best profession in the world. I can't imagine doing anything else. I know that I'll be glad when "the test" is over, and life can return to normal - whatever that is. :)

Number Bond PowerPoint Lesson

Number Bond PowerPoint Lesson

Easily teach multiplication and division at the same time by having students find the missing numbers on the number bonds.

Example: 8, 32, and a ?.

The 9 and the ? are parts and the 36 is the whole.

8 times ? = 32
? times 8 = 32
32 divided by 8 = ?
32 divided by ? = 8

THREE numbers (8, 4, and 32)
That's all you need to teach the multiplication and division number sentences above.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Ten Frame Concentration Game with Cupcakes

If you can't see the lines between the ten-frame cards, you may need to stretch the game to make it bigger.
:-/ Let me know if you run into trouble downloading.

Tangled Word Wall Words

                                                                       Source: via Cheryl on Pinterest

These word wall words are included in this SMARTBoard lesson:  about, again, always, another, beautiful, because, before, can't, could, doesn't, enough, favorite, first, have, know, laughed, people, right, said, that's, trouble, usually, went, where.

Five words are included on each page. After the fifth word, click the arrow to move to the next page.

Link for free download:

Number Bonds Teach Multiplication and Division

Number Bonds = Higher Level Thinking
Lesson Link:

Easily teach multiplication and division at the same time by having students find the missing numbers on the number bonds.

Example: 9, 36, and a ?.
The 9 and the ? are parts and the 36 is the whole.
  • 9 times ? = 36
  • ? times 9 = 36
  • 36 divided by 9 = ?
  • 36 divided by ? = 9
THREE numbers  (9, 4, and 36) --- that's all you need to teach the multiplication and division number sentences above.

See how your thinking changes when you have to figure out the number on top. :-)