Madly Learning about All Things Teaching: Reading, Writing, Arithmetic and Technology

What's up with Me

Well it has been an amazing last few months in my life and as a result I have again neglected my blog.  I hope you understand why....

This is the newest addition to my family....another little girl.  Boy is my husband in trouble.

She is a great baby and we are all very excited to welcome her home.  My eldest daughter is very excited to be a big sister however is finding it hard to share Mommy.  I am very lucky to get to stay home on maternity leave for awhile and my goal is to go though all of my junior files and start to post them online here.

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Monday Math Mania

Today is the start of Monday Math Mania.  After an idea to keep me blogging given to me by new friend Tammy Aiello at I have decided to start a new feature

This week in math my class was focusing on learning various mental math strategies that will help us to learn how to solve addition questions in our head without the need for the a calculator or a pencil and paper.  I feel that it is important to teach these strategies prior to teaching the student the standard algorithm.  By doing this students can learn flexible thinking in relation to numbers and learn how to make math easier for their brain to to handle large numbers in their heads.   I feel that the standard algorithm is very important for students to learn as it is a quick strategy for pen and paper math problems later.  However teaching students to be flexible thinkers when it comes to numbers is essential to them having a comfort with numbers.  

Throughout this unit I keep repeating to my students to train their brain to work smarter not harder.  That is a key idea when using mental math strategies.  I tell students that some numbers are friendly and some are not. Friendly numbers end in 0 and 5.  These are nice numbers that are easy to add in their head.  I tell them that zeros are really friendly they are your best friend and fives are a close friend.   I am honest with them that sometimes when I look at an addition question I get overwhelmed because I cannot see the answer.  However, by using friendly numbers and flexible thinking I can turn unfriendly numbers into friendly ones.  I find that this is a helpful strategy for students to learn.  

Prior Learning Needed

Before I begin teaching this unit it is important that students have an understanding of the following math principals.  
1) Understanding place value system of the numbers they are required to add
2) Understanding that there is more than one way to represent a number
3) How to write numbers in expanded form 
4) Automatically know most of their addition facts to 20 (teaching grades 3-5 most of my students have these strategies when they arrive in my classroom.  If they don't then I always teach the more primary strategies of adding single digits such as doubling, doubling plus one, count up, tens frames etc.)
5) Counting up and counting back by 10s starting at any number 


Place Value: 

The first strategy that I teach is building on my first math unit of the year, place value.  I begin the addition strategies unit by having students draw out the place value pictures for each of the numbers in the questions. Then I have them count up the totals in each column.  Using this strategy students can see the action of carrying groups of ten over the the left.  This is the same process that happens in the standard algorithm used later.  Additionally students can visually see the number split up in to its place value columns.  My students and I developed a code for drawing out the place value system with a set of symbols for each column.

Open Number Line

This is a strategy that allows students to draw out their math.  This is especially helpful with students that are visual students.  It allows them to break apart numbers and focus on simple easy jumps.  It also is a great strategy for differentiation. It allows students with gaps in their math learning to make jumps that make sense to them.  If they can count by 10s but not 20s.  Count by 2s instead of 3's they can.  The focus of this strategy is to have them counting by number larger than ones.  I start with jumps of tens, fives, twos, and the left overs.  My video here explains how this strategy works.  I used Educreations app to create this video.

Front End Strategy

This strategy allows students to break apart numbers and add the tens and the ones separately Students should know how to write numbers into expanded form and understand that the number 43 is the same as writing 40 and 3.  

Compensation Strategy

For the final strategy I teach the front end strategy.  Students look at the question and borrow from one number and add it to the other number to change the question to an easier question with friendly numbers.  Students learn with this strategy that there are many ways to write the same question.  59+43= is the same as 60+42= .  This flexible thinking about questions is an important strategy to use in math.  I always tell my students that they should make their brain work smarter not harder.  

How to Practice

I teach math every morning and students start their day with a Daily Math Sheet.  This is a daily page that can be used every day.  I start the day with a new number of the day which students use to answer the questions on the morning math page. Follow the link to download it free from my TPT store.  

 I have included it here as a freebie for a limited time.  
First 250 downloads are free!!!
I will also included a link to my smart notebook file that I use to teach these strategies along with a few others. Just trying to work a few kinks out. 


Hope you enjoyed by first Monday Math Mania!!!

Blogger Meet Up

So excited to meet up with a few fellow Ontario bloggers today. Can't wait to share ideas and connect. 
Today at Symposium on Dundas in Mississauga. 

I'm throwing a sale!!!

All of my products on my teachers pay teacher store are discounted. Take 20% the regular price of each item. Get ready to get back to school with labels, curriculum support, graphic organizers, and my latest Shooting for the STARS literacy goal board. 

First, Second, Third, Fourth, Fifth, Sixth, Seventh, Eighth, Staff -

Ontario Blogger MeetUp

Blogger Meetup Time Ontario

Well now that many of us have found and connected with each other a few of us have been talking about having a meet up.  We are going to aim to meet on September 28 in the GTA area.  If you would like to help with this please sign up on the wiki and help out you will see some of the things we still need to organize.

Ready to sign up early because you are like me and excited about meeting up with some amazing bloggers!!!

Join us on our Facebook event group.

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Planning for the Year Ahead

Many of us teachers are enjoying our summer holidays and taking it easy.  However this is a great opportunity to plan and organize for the coming year.  With lots of curriculum to cover and our busy lives keeping on track is often hard to do.  I like to have my long range plans pre planned before the school year starts.  My long range plans are a working document however it is very important to keep me on track.  This is also very important if you are like me and teach split grades.  With double the curriculum it is important to plan out how the two grades interrelate so that you can combine teaching as much as possible.

Last year I taught a 3/4 split and used my long range plans to keep me on track and focused throughout the year.  I was able stay mostly on track throughout the year, with December and June being tough months to get through curriculum.  Here is a copy of my long range plans for you to look at.  Language is not included in this as we planned our language in 6 week cycles as a team.

This year I am busy working on my long range plans for the coming year.  I am now teaching a 4/5 split so some of the information will stay the same but most will not.  About three quarters of my students are the same so I will need to use new materials especially in Language, PE, and some Math.  

As with everything I change up the layout of my long range plans.  This time I have included my language instruction into my planning.   I will also combine my arts into my language instruction.

Recently I have noticed many teachers on my facebook groups looking for how to structure a Daily 5 Literacy block of time and what a day looks like.  Here is a sample of my daily plans from last year.  This is similar to what I use this year except that I use a digital planbook through

Additionally I needed a way to keep the students focused, on task, and accountable during Daily 5 so The had to fill this out weekly to track what they were going to do.

For those teachers teaching junior check out my Shooting for the STARS goal board. 
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