Sunday, December 6, 2015

Different Strategies for Different Learning Styles

V-A-K. Visual. Auditory. Kinesthetic learning styles. In any classroom, students gravitate to one of these three learning styles over the others. When presenting information, it is helpful to present information and engage learners using all three styles. In the image below, see how vocabulary and standard instruction can be differentiated by learning style.

For visual learners create learning experiences driven by pictures, images, and other visual aids. How might these ideas be used as a springboard for presenting other content in a visual manner?

To read more about Eye on the Target to support problem solving click here.

For auditory learners offer many varied opportunities where listening is the modality to hook students into the content. Storytelling can be used to launch a new topic or to synthesize a lesson. Picture books are a great segue into a lesson as is oral storytelling.

If you teach customary measurement conversions click here to grab the story and the story pieces for The Land of Gallon.

For kinesthetic learners have students engage in hands-on experiences and activities that offer students the chance to get up and move around. To grab a copy of some kinesthetic activities to support vocabulary instruction click here.

How do you integrate these three learning styles into your classroom?

Monday, November 23, 2015

Learning Environment and Productive Struggle in the Differentiated Math Classroom

When differentiation is part of classroom instruction it is helpful to create a learning environment that has clear expectations.

Productive struggle is one expectation that should be required of ALL students. The type of scaffolding provided can be differentiated based on student readiness levels, yet it is important not to lose the integrity of the math problem/task. Productive struggle is one of the eight lesson components outlined by the Principles to Actions (NCTM 2014). It encourages students to become mathematical thinkers.When encouraging productive struggle, it is important to focus on the strategies students use and the footprints of thinking they show when trying to solve a problem. Students need to accept that the process of grappling with a problem is just as important as the answer.

What might this look like in the classroom? One lens to look at is opening up problems. In other words, offer problems that have multiple entry points for students of different readiness levels and that have more than one solution.

Here's the Answer...What's the Question is a strategy that allows students to generate many varied responses to one answer. Displaying student responses can help broaden students' understanding and allow students to see the different lenses that can be used to "see" mathematics. Click on the image below to grab a copy of these cards and see an example of possible responses.

Here is another idea. Pose a problem with various details. Notice there is no question. Click on the image below to grab a copy.
Graphics Credit: Creative Clips, Glitter Meets Glue

There are two options how to proceed with this type of problem. Have students create a question based on the information provided. Students will have to be selective in what information they want to use when creating their problems. Depending on readiness levels, criteria can be given to provide more structure in determining the type of problem students need to generate. Students then should solve their problems to ensure that the problem they created is doable. Students then can exchange problems with each other.

A different twist on this activity would be to create questions and have groups of students sift through the information presented to find the information necessary to solve their particular problem. Students can list the necessary information and then solve showing their footprints of thinking on chart paper or by using an online whiteboard or screencasting tool. Students can share out and notice the similarities and differences between the data needed to solve each problem. The discussion can lead to how determining what is important is based on the purpose of a given task. Click on the image below to grab a copy.
Graphics Credit: Creative Clips

Here are some posters to inspire productive struggle. You can click on the image below to grab a copy.

How do you create experiences of productive struggle for students in your classroom?

Saturday, November 21, 2015

Math Framework for Differentiation

Differentiation in the math classroom requires some intentional planning to address the various readiness levels of students in the classroom. Here is a template to help create a canvas for differentiation for an upcoming unit or topic. By creating a framework, it allows students to enter learning at their level while ultimately having the goal to move students to a higher level of challenge. Click on the image below to download a copy.

Here is an example of a completed math framework. This example has many varied activities to address the different readiness levels of students. The goal is to pick and choose resources and ideas that keep the level of challenge appropriate. Recycling these skills throughout the school year by revisiting the framework can benefit students. After a unit, it is important to go back and reflect what worked and what did not work. With each school year, the framework may need to be tweaked based on the readiness levels of students. Click on the image to grab a copy.

To begin, start with the standards. It is important to integrate content standards and Standards for Mathematical Practice. By flipping the standards to "I Can..." statements, it makes them more accessible to students.

Keeping a pulse on student readiness helps drive differentiation throughout a unit or topic. It is important to identify that zone of proximal development for students where there is the right amount of challenge where learning takes place ~ not too easy, not too hard. To address student readiness levels consider varying the challenge for students and having students choose the "right fit" when completing problems.

Varying the challenge for students can be accomplished through "What's Your Path?" This structure is designed prior to a unit of instruction. To design a "What's Your Path?" for a unit consider your curricular resources and other supplemental materials that will provide the right amount of challenge for students. It is helpful to use preassessment data when crafting the paths. Based on student readiness, students can enter either Path A or Path B. Path A being the on level skill/standard; Path B allowing for the extension of a particular skill. The goal to keep in mind is that entering the paths is fluid for students based on readiness at any given time during a unit. Click on the image below to grab a copy.

Choosing the Right Fit is another way to address the various readiness levels of students in the classroom. When students are asked to problem solve simply remove the numbers and wa-la, you have created a differentiated task. The integrity of the math problem does not change. Only the numbers do. Differentiated sets of numbers can be added for students to then "choose the right fit." In this way, students have some control over the level of difficulty. Or, all numbers can be removed.  Students drive for understanding by choosing "right fit" numbers that they feel are an appropriate challenge for them. Sometimes when students select their own numbers, they may find that their chosen numbers will not necessarily work with the problem. What a great learning experience for them to discover!

Locating resources to address readiness levels of students can be challenging at times. Here is a list of some sites that might be helpful in planning differentiated learning opportunities for students.

Sunday, November 8, 2015

Get to Know Your Students as Mathematicians

Getting to know your students as mathematicians can help with differentiation in the math class. As teachers, we gather data about our students through observations, class performance, and assessments. We also can learn about students by asking them to reflect upon themselves as mathematicians.

Below you can find three surveys students can fill out to reflect who they are as learners. Students simply shade in the heights of the bars in terms of how much each column relates to them. Add the element of color and display to spotlight learners as mathematicians. This metacognitive reflection on behalf of students can go a long way. When completing these surveys, students are creating a voice and leaving an imprint for themselves as learners. Use these charts in planning different learning opportunities for your students. Have your students tap into areas of strength and venture into areas that may not always be in the comfort zone.

These surveys can be shared with parents as well to help them see their child's perception of himself/herself as a learner.

Having students fill these surveys out at the beginning of the year, middle of the year, and end of the year can help students reflect on changes they may have seen occur throughout the year. Students can be challenged to create goals to become more comfortable in areas that may not be their strengths.

My Math-o-Meter can be used by students to rank their comfort level with each of the concept.

The Math Survey can be used to tap into your aspiring mathematicians' learning styles.

The To Show What I Know... survey can be used for students to view themselves through a different lens and not just as mathematicians.

What are some ways you get to know your students as mathematicians?

Saturday, October 24, 2015

Trick or Treat Blog Hop

Hello, friends! Welcome to the Trick or Treat Blog Hop hosted by The Classroom Game Nook. You will find some great "tricks" and "treats" along the hop. The hop starts on October 24 and ends on October 31!

Tricks of the Trade #1: Have you ever walked into your classroom after spending time hanging posters and anchor charts on the wall to find them spewed across the floor the very next day?!?! I have tried Blue Sticky Tack, duct tape, hot glue. I.have.tried.EVERYTHING! Then Mavalus Tape came into my life. It is SIMPLY amazing! I purchased my roll of tape from a teacher supply store. It has made hanging items on my brick walls a breeze!

Tricks of the Trade #2: Using screenshots is an effective way for students to have accountability while using technology. Check out this web based whiteboard: This is a creative way to use technology to have students show footprints of thinking. Use this tool to have students show conceptual understanding in math or make quick sketches to represent thinking. There are other whiteboard tools that students can use online in a similar manner. Have students use interactive math games online to review math skills and then screenshot scores/performance. In this way, an accountability piece is embedded in to help provide feedback regarding performance. High scores area  signal that students have grasped the concept. Low scores are a signal for possible remediation of skills.

Check out Hot Chocolate Delight Roll-a-Cube. Roll-a-cubes are a quick way to hook students while recycling some key literacy and language skills.

Create some Roll-a-Cubes and let your students' creative juices start to flow! Review the skills necessary to complete the tasks on an anchor mat. This is a great little tool for students to keep in their folders throughout the year to review important terms.

Hot Chocolate Delight Roll-a-Cube will get the creative juices of your students flowing!

Here is another treat. Enter the Rafflecopter below to win a product of your choice from Pam's Place on TpT!

a Rafflecopter giveaway Thanks for stopping by Pam's Place! Now hop along by clicking the button below.

Thursday, July 16, 2015

A Few Ideas to Add to Your Writer's Toolbox

Do your students see themselves as writers? Do they think like writers? What do your students think a classroom of writers should look like? Set the stage for writing by creating an anchor chart with your students. Revisit throughout the year!
Click image to download a copy.

Some students are natural born writers, and others are not. Some students LOVE to write, and others do not. In the end, all students should come to understand they ARE indeed writers!

Here are a few ideas that might work for your writer's toolbox:

Observe and Write:

The more information and ideas students have to write about, the more they will write. Activate student observation skills. Webcams are a great way for students to observe animals and places beyond the walls of their classrooms. Students can observe animals such as pandas, penguins, and apes or the Statue of Liberty and then write an informational piece or an opinion piece using the information they observed.

Check out these webcams:
San Diego Zoo-Animal Cams
Statue of Liberty-EarthCam

Check out the site, Students can see 360 degree aerial panoramic views of over 200 locations on the planet. Let students "travel" to a location and then write about it. Students can convince others to visit a certain location or inform others about an interesting location.

Why are lemons sour? Why are school buses yellow? Wonderopolis is a site where students can find interesting questions and then watch a video and/or read some text to discover the answer. Students then can write an informative piece responding to the question.

Create Lists:

Lists can be a great motivator for reluctant writers. They are short and sweet, yet can be quite helpful to grow young writers. Creating lists can help writers maintain a focus. Given a topic for their lists, students should make sure that all ideas relate to the topic. Writing lists also can help create fluency in student writing. When students are asked to write lists, they can grow their own vocabulary and strengthen word associations. Lists are NOT the end. They are just the beginning. Students can use ideas generated from the lists for future writing tasks.

For example:
Make a list of items needed to make a scarecrow. (future how-to writing piece)
Make a list of fun fall activities. (future narrative piece)
Make a list of ideas you associate with the month of October.
Make a list of things you see mostly in the fall. (future informative piece)

Getting students excited about writing is important. We want our students to play with language and see that writing is connected and relevant to their lives.


One thing for students to keep in mind is that writing is never REALLY done. Revising is one step in the writing process where students can work to take their writing to the next level. Here is a quick idea to help students add to their writing. You can construct a chart similar to the one below. For each number, you can can create different elaboration tasks. When students are "finished" with their writing piece or experience moments of writer's block, students can roll a number cube. Students then can match the roll with the elaboration task from the chart. This particular Roll-a-Cube chart is designed for narrative writing. How might the elaboration tasks change for informational writing? One idea is to have students add a statistic to their writing as evidence. Differentiate based on students' readiness levels.


Variety is the spice of life. By using a variety of ideas to hook and engage writers, we can help to grow young writers. Write on. . .

Monday, June 22, 2015

Customary Measurement Conversions for Capacity

Measurement standards. Quarts. Pints. Cups. Students are being asked to solve problems using measurement and conversion of measurements. For some students, remembering the conversions for measurement can be a challenge.

Here is a strategy to help students remember conversions for capacity using customary units of measure. Teach students conversions through storytelling.

In the Land of Gallon, there were four giant Queens.
Each Queen had a Prince and a Princess.
Each Prince and Princess had two children.
The two children were twins, and they were eight years old.

Once students are familiar with the story be sure they see the connection between the story pieces and the units of customary measurement for capacity. If necessary, label the story pieces with their corresponding units of measure. Queen = quart, Prince/Princess = pint, Children = cups, 8 Years Old = 8 fluid ounces. Based on student readiness, you can reduce the number of customary units included in the story. 

Be sure to explicitly show students how this story can help them to remember the following conversions:
4 quarts = 1 gallon
2 pints = 1 quart
2 cups = 1 pint
8 fluid ounces = 1 cup
8 pints = 1 gallon
16 cups = 1 gallon
128 fluid ounces = 1 gallon

Check out the story of "The Land of Gallon" by clicking the image below to download the story and the story pieces that can be used while telling the story.

You may have seen versions of this story on Pinterest. Have students change it up if they want to make it their own. Instead of the children being twins who were 8 years old, maybe they each had 8 toys or 8 frogs. Allow students to own the story.

Storytelling is one way to engage the brain during math class. "After a period of intense learning, storytelling enables the brain to relax and facilitates the retention of newly acquired material (Jensen 2000)."

Monday, June 8, 2015

Summer Pool Party Blog Hop

Hello! Hope your summer has started and may I say..."Let the fun times have begin?!" I am excited to be part of the Blog Hop at The Education Highway happening from June 8 - June 14.

Summer is all about tasty treats! If you like lemonade and vanilla ice cream, you have to try Frosted Lemonade. Find two different recipes for this tasty treat: fresh squeezed lemonade or regular lemonade.

How about cutting watermelon into cubes and freezing them to make watermelon ice? Plop some watermelon ice cubes into water or lemonade and add some summer sweetness. The best part is eating the watermelon once the beverage is gone.

And how about red, white, and blue chocolate covered strawberries? Instead of regular chocolate, substitute with white chocolate. Dip strawberries into melted white chocolate and then dip the end into some blue sprinkles. Let cool. . . and yum!! Who doesn't like a little red, white, and blue?!

Do not forget to enter the giveaway for your chance to win some great prizes!

a Rafflecopter giveaway For other giveaway packs, stop by The Education Highway.

Thanks for stopping by Pam's Place. Now hop on over to the other bloggers participating in some "pool party" fun. See links below.

Monday, May 25, 2015

Splish-Splash! It's a Summertime Blog Bash!

Thank you for stopping by Pam's Place and joining in on the fun for the Splish-Splash Summertime Blog Bash! Be sure to follow the hop and grab some freebies for your classroom. Enjoy the hop from May 25-May 29.

Check out this freebie: Campfire Craze. This freebie is for a limited time and will not be available for free once the hop is over. Snag it before it's gone!

This would be a great addition to any camping unit or a great stand alone activity. Roll-a-Cube is a way to engage students in reviewing language skills and literary devices with short writing tasks. The skills included on the Roll-a-Cube: simile, metaphor, vivid verbs, imagery. exaggeration, and dialogue using quotes. 

This activity can be used in a writing center, during group work, or as a quick review during transitions. A quick brainstorming activity can be used to activate and stretch student thinking using the Word Storm page found in the Campfire Craze booklet.

Based on student readiness, it might be helpful to review the target words students will find on the cube using the organizer included in the download.

Students roll the cube to see the task they will need to complete. Students can record their ideas in the Campfire Craze booklet included in the download.

Snatch up Campfire Craze while it is a free through 5-29-15.

Enter the giveaway to win a $5 Shopping Spree from Pam's Place on TpT.

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Ahh...the Dog Days of Summer. Have you ever thought where this phrase came from? Well, the Dog Days of Summer, some of the hottest days of the year, refers to the weeks between July 3rd and August 11th. These days were named after the Dog Star, otherwise known as Sirius which rises and sets with the sun during this time. The ancients believed that Sirius added heat to the sun, thus making it a hot and muggy time of the year. So there you have the "Dog Days of Summer." Enjoy every moment this summer!

A few of my favorite things...

When I think of summer, I think of  the crisp, fresh taste of watermelon on a hot summer day. Watermelon-is it a fruit or is it a vegetable? Watermelon is sweet tasting like a fruit, but grows in a vegetable garden. It sure tastes like a fruit to me, yet there is a debate as to whether a watermelon is a fruit or vegetable. Who would have thought...

Red. White. and Blue. Fourth of July. Rocket Pops. Ah, Rocket Pops. The flavors of cherry, lemon, and blue raspberry are definitely a sign of summertime fun.

And you can't forget the long summer nights to kick back, relax, and just enjoy the great outdoors.

Hope your summer is filled with fun times and happy memories. Now...