Outsmarting Common Core

After the arrival of my sweet baby girl, I took an extended maternity leave for 5 months. I came back to school a few weeks before the end of the year. People were buzzing about Common Core and these new modules and Engage New York.....meanwhile I was nodding my head with absolutely no idea what was going on. After the panic officially set it, I began the daunting journey of reinventing the way I teach math.

I worked all summer on creating projectable math lessons for my little learners. (Through trial and error, I have found that this is the best way for me to teach math.) At the beginning of the year, I was totally filled with doubts- Could I explain this right? If it doesn't make sense so me, how will they ever get it? Is it too hard for these little ones?

After 45 days of school, I can officially answer those questions. YES- I can explain this in a way that makes sense to me and to them! NO- it's not too hard, they are rocking the socks off common core! #yayyy! We are having a lot of success so I wanted to share what we are doing with you. I model most of my lessons after EngageNY, but sometimes the order is different or we add things that are lacking. 


Each of my lessons has 6 components. I have a promethean board in my room that I use for my math lessons. I wanted to give you a glimpse how how math looks in my room. Here is how I taught addition using a numberline....

It all starts with a Warm Up! This is usually a game or partner activity that builds math fluency. We teach math at the end of the day so it gets everybody alert and focused before the lesson starts. We really do warm up our brains! (My common core calendar companion kit comes with a set of math games that we use for warm-ups.) 

This is followed by the Brain Stretch when we do an application word problem together. We are working on solving our problems by drawing a math picture, making a number bond, or writing a number sentence. We practice different ways of thinking and explaining. 

Next, it's on to the Pep Talk! This is when we get excited about learning something new! I introduce the skill and vocabulary. We practice together at the board and prepare for how the work will look on paper. (In the past, it drove me crazy when we learned something one way, and then the practice page or test was formatted completely different!)



Now it's time to Huddle Up! Each pair of learning partners works together to practice or to solve problems. Learning to talk about math can be harder than actually doing it so it's a great thing to practice each day! We share some solutions aloud and record them on the board.



Now we are onto Practice Time. Sometimes we have an independent job to do, and sometimes we play a new game before it gets put into a math center. If we do an independent job, I can project it . I love this because we can work through the page together, check our work, and talk about the process.


As the kiddos finish they move onto their WORKOUT, which is what I call our centers. (Look for a blog post about them soon!) We wrap things up with our Cool Down. You can print this slide and use it as an assessment or just practice together. 
A full math lesson for us takes about 45 minutes, including our WORKOUT at centers. Having all of the components of the lesson ready before we start means that we don't waste any time. I am so impressed by my little learners this year, and I hope you feel the same way. If you would like to try this lesson with your kiddos for FREE, you can grab it here!
Addition Using a Number Line Projectable Lesson and Practice Page
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make a DATE with your calendar


Let me introduce you to one of my favorite parts of my day....calendar! I call it calendar, because we do, in fact, begin by looking at the calendar but it is soooo much more. This is the time of the day when I squeeze in all those super duper important math skills that we need to constantly practice, but can't fit into our math block every day. The best part is that it naturally occurs first thing in the morning so kids are uber focused, I just finished my coffee, and no one has to go to the bathroom yet!



I know it's a bit old school, but I love having a "real" calendar wall in my room. I just can't get into using my Promethean board for this part of the day. There is something kids love about moving the pieces, and I really like that they can view the words and numbers throughout the whole day! I hang all of my calendar components on a chalkboard with magnets. Then I can remove the components and bring them to small group lessons, or the kids can use them at a calendar center. I attach Velcro to the pieces that change (days, numbers, etc) but you can use sticky tack or tape. 




We start each day by updating the calendar. I have used a few different calendars in the past. This is my current set from Creative Teaching Press. You can click here to view their website. We do all of those basic calendar elements you know: month, day, yesterday, tomorrow, etc. This is a great time to help build the confidence of some little learners who may be shy or who need extra support! 

Last year we started writing the date two different ways to meet some learning standards so we do the digital date and the complete date. You can get these signs for FREE at my store starting tomorrow!

Kids love talking about the weather, and it's a great way to tie in some tricky math skills. We describe how it feels and looks outside with words. Then we graph the weather for the week using a pictograph. I use the graph to review application problems! Some of my favorite graph questions sound something like this, "If you only like sunny and cloudy days, how many days did you like the weather this week?" or "If there were 3 more sunny days this week, how many would there be in all?" or "How many FEWER snowy days than cloudy days this week?" 


Of course, we also learn about the number of the day. We circle it on a hundreds chart. (I still love how every first grader thinks school will be over on day 100!) Then we build it with unifix cubes and talk about hundreds, tens, and ones. I used to use straws and then bundle a group of ten, but most of my little learners could transfer that idea to math when talked about place value. We also keep track of the number using tally marks, and we represent the number using coins. We say our money poems each day too!

A few activities are specifically designed to meet those common core standards. We make a number family each day. We repeat the families throughout the year, but it is good fluency practice! We also practice saying our doubles facts or we do our addition to 10 chant


Lastly, we do a counting card and/or game. The counting cards are 29 fun ways to practice counting forward or backward by 1, 5 or 10. The games are quick whole group activities you can use to practice too! I just put all of the cards on a binder ring and hang them on the board.


Phew!! That sounds like a lot, and it is (but it doesn't feel that way when you do it!) My little learners love calendar, because it's fun, and it moves quickly. They don't realize that we are addressing a laundry list of standards when we move across the calendar wall, but I notice it when I teach math!  The important things we do at calendar make my little learners smile and make their brains grow too...and now, we can take a bathroom break!
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