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Ideas for Teaching Rounding

Every year, without fail, rounding has been one of the harder concepts to teach and one of the harder ones for kids to understand. Before starting our unit this year, I did a little research on Pinterest and came across this aha moment and wonderful idea from Mr. Elementary Math – vertical number lines! While yes a horizontal line will work, it’s confusing when we tell kids to round up and down because on a horizontal line you’re really moving left or right.  This is where vertical number lines come in.  You really are rounding up or down and visually it’s much easier for kids to see. Check out Mr. Elementary Math’s ideas for interactive number lines here
Here’s how I started my rounding introduction….
So, we started by creating a list of multiples.To make it easier to figure out the two numbers that it was between, we created a list of multiples of ten and multiples of 100. While yes most kids are quite capable of counting by 10, it’s amazing how when you are talking about rounding some of those common skills go out the window.
Then, we created the anchor chart below and went through a few examples together…  Here you can see the vertical number line in action. The lower number goes on the bottom of the vertical number line and the higher number goes on the top. Then the kids place the number and see which it is closer to.  Then, they literally round down or up depending on where the number is. This made rounding so much easier for so many of my students!
To review – we played this rounding game called Roll It. This game is from Game for Gains and can be found….here….
Want a FREE rounding game to use in your math centers tomorrow? Learn how to play this differentiated Roll It! Rounding Game. You'll even get our free game boards to use!
Hope these tips are helpful for you!  Vertical number lines have changed how I teach rounding and I’m so glad I found it!

Ideas for Teaching Properties of Addition + a FREEBIE

We recently finished up our unit on Properties of Addition. This is always a tough unit for kids.  While they are able to add – being able to identify the properties and figure out missing numbers has always been challenging.
Below is the anchor chart we created together the first day after exploring each property using a balance scale…see below.
I saw the balanced scale idea online.  Using unifix cubes/snap cubes you can show each property and the balance scale is perfect because it shows how things are equal no matter what order they are done in.  The picture below shows the Associative Property.  We had (4+2) + 3 on one side and then (3+2) + 4 on the other. We discussed how both equals 9 and the scale is balanced because it’s the same sum. This then led to the chart discussion about how it doesn’t matter which way you group the numbers you’re adding – the sum will still be the same.
After learning the three properties, I had students practice whole group. I projected my Properties of Addition Practice (a freebie in my TPT store) on the board and students responded to the questions on their individual white boards. 
Below’s slide is asking them to identify which property is shown in the equation…
This slide is asking them to find the missing number that goes in the blank.  We talk a lot about how you want to look and see which numbers are there and which one is missing. Since you see 2 on the other side and not 5 – 5 must be the missing number to make this equation equal.
If Properties of Addition is something you teach – check out my freebie! Great way for kids to practice this skill whole group.

Ideas for Teaching Subtraction

We recently finished up our unit on subtraction and I wanted to share with you a few activities and things that we worked on. I teach second grade and our goal is for students to be able to subtract 2 and 3-digit numbers with and without regrouping. We also use CGI (Cognitively Guided Instruction) at our school so there is more than one strategy that can lead you to the correct answer.
Below is the anchor chart that we created as a class. We worked on a different strategy each day.  Day 1 was place value. I started off with a story problem and then had a student share who had used that strategy. Then, we added it to the chart and practiced whole group and small group. This continued until each strategy was added. After practicing and trying each strategy, students were able to pick the strategy that works best for them.
I use a lot of small group instruction now during math and we have math rotations 3-4 times a week. Here one of my groups is working on a 3-digit subtraction problem. As you can see, everyone is solving it in a way that works for them!
Also during rotations we have game time.  I introduced Subtraction Memory first. Subtraction Memory is a game that focuses on 2-digit subtraction. There are two versions. One version doesn’t have regrouping and the second version has problems with and without regrouping for differentiation.  It can be found in my TPT store…here


As the week continued I changed the game up.  Later in the week students worked on Subtraction True/False Sort. This activity is also differentiated to help all learners. Version 1 has 10 problems to sort and the problems are a little simpler. Version 2 has 20 problems to sort and they have more difficulty. This is a great activity for students to practice the different strategies and work together to see if the problem is true or false.  This can also be found in my TPT store…here

Check back later this week for another round of math ideas – this time for Properties of Addition and it will include a FREEBIE!

Story Problem Tip #4

Today I’m sharing with you my last story problem tip for the month! If you missed my past tips, check them out below…
Today’s tip is all about students creating their own story problems. Another way to get buy in and engagement is to let students write their own story problems.  Students love it because it can be about what they like and can be about themselves or their friends. This also offers a chance for differentiation. Some students can write multiplication problems, while some might still be working on addition.  Students can also be working with numbers that fit their comfort level.
The other neat thing you can do is let other kids solve their story problems. In the past, after having kids write their own story problems – I type them up and then have the class work on them.  They loved it!  While it can be “fun” solving the teacher’s problems, it’s even better solving their friends.
If you are interested in this tip, check out my Create Your Own Multiplication Story Problems product on TPT here

Story Problem Tip #3

It’s Tuesday, so I’m back with another tip for using Story Problems in the classroom.
For past tips…
So, today I’m sharing tip #3 with you.  My third tip is to let students share their strategies with each other.
Every Friday in my class we do two story problems. Both story problems are similar – meaning same type, same operation, but different numbers.  I read the first story problem to students and then send them back to their seat to solve it.
While they’re solving, I circle the room and check out what strategies they are using. I then selectively pick a few students to share their strategies with the class.  By selectively, I mean I pick strategies we’re focusing on or efficient strategies that I’m hoping more kids will use. I also pick a variety. I do not typically have the same strategy shared – I choose all different ones.
Then, I have each child that I picked come up one at a time to share their strategy with the class.  The audience is supposed to pay attention and see if they can pick up  new strategies that they could use next time. This is also great for kids who didn’t get the right answer or didn’t know how to solve it. They can now see how their classmates did it and get ideas from them.
I normally use my iPad stand as a doc camera and project their work on the board. The child presenting stands up and explains how they solved it. Some students can explain on their own, while some need some probing questions to get all of the info out.  The pictures below are from a day when technology was not in my favor. I had the students who were picked write on the board how they solved it. While they were writing they explained what they were doing.
This tip is great for many reasons. It lets students teach each other. Students get tired of hearing us all day so it’s nice when they can hear the same thing from someone else. It provides opportunities for math communication, which is a huge part of math nowadays.  It also builds math confidence.
Check back next week for my final story problem tip!


Story Problem Tip #2


As I mentioned in my post about Story Problem Tip #1, story problems are a huge part of math. It’s so important that we provide students opportunities to use math with real world situations.  Last week I talked about how students tend to dread word problems. The see words in math and tend to freak out – it’s just supposed to be numbers! That’s why I started this little mini blog series.  You can find tip #1…here

So, for tip #2 to make story problems a little more fun, let the students choose their numbers. A huge part of differentiation is choice.  My example below is from when I taught first grade, but you could change the numbers and story problem skill to fit any grade level.

I often give 3 choices.  One for my struggling students, one for my on-level students, and higher numbers to challenge my kids who are ready.  I let kids pick the numbers. However, I do go around and monitor their choices. If students pick one that is too easy, after they solve it, I suggest they try the larger numbers.  If students pick one too hard for their ability, I suggest they try a different one first and then they can try to go back to that one.

Kids love choice and by giving them choice with story problems we are differentiating for their needs, which will make story problems seem less dreaded and impossible.


Story Problem Tip #1


Every Tuesday during the month of September I’ll be sharing tips for using story problems in your classroom. While these story problems are often dreaded for most children, they are such an important part of math and a practical real-world application.  So, it’s important that they practice them and that they hopefully become less dreaded in the process.  Here’s tip #1 for how I make them less dreaded…

Use student’s names in your story problems. Kids love being included. Especially if you can include a hobby or something you know they are interested in.  We do weekly (every Friday) story problems in my class.  I use my student’s names in the story problems. They always get excited to see who the story problem is about! It’s also fun to put in interests and real-life things for them.  The more excited they are to start, the more excited they’ll be to solve it!

Check back next Tuesday for my second story problem tip!

Division – Tip for Conceptual Understanding

I’m popping on today to share a quick division tip focused on students’ conceptual understanding of division…
We use CGI (Cognitively Guided Instruction) at my school and I am a huge fan! I know this is not the first blog post that you’ve heard me say that. I’ve actually used CGI at multiple schools and have probably been using it for 8 years.  CGI focuses on students really having a solid grasp on the conceptual understanding of a topic. Gone are the days of just memorize a bunch of formulas, but you have no idea how or why you are doing that. That is why I love CGI. The focus is on kids understanding, not just getting the right answer. Now, don’t get me wrong, I do know most math problems typically only have one right answer, but CGI focuses on the understanding and that there can be more than one way (strategy) to get to that correct answer.
I recently used CGI with my summer school students.  Division is a skill that can be hard for kids to understand so we broke it down and made it visual for them.  For the problem below, 18 divided by 6, I had them pull out 18 counters. We discussed that the first number is the whole number of what they are starting with.  You can see this student organized them using the 10 frame (my favorite!).
Then we talked about dividing meaning that we needed to separate them into equal groups of 6. So, they physically moved the 18 counters and separated them into groups of 6.
Last, we counted the number of groups they were divided into and they came up with 3 groups. We also talked about how it was related to multiplication and how they are fact families. The visual made it easier because they were able to see that from their work with the division problem, that the multiplication problem was right there.  On the board, they had three equal groups of 6 which equaled 18.  This visual helped tremendously and helped them make the connection between multiplication and division! 

Day 1 of the TPT Back to School Sale

Yay! The Back to School Sale is finally here! My entire store – Jordan Johnson – will be on sale for 25% off with the code BTS2017.  Check out one of my newer products below! Great for the beginning of the school year.
I know many of us start out with Place Value lessons in the beginning of the school year! My newest bundle (Place Value Bundle) will help provide quick practice in multiple place value skills.  It includes mainly 3 and 4 digit numbers (one Show Me the Number focuses on 2 and 3-digit numbers).  It covers creating place value models, writing numbers in expanded form, writing numbers in standard form, and reading numbers.  The last activity shown – Place Value Review – Around the Room covers those skills plus comparing numbers and adding using expanded form. 
Check it out in my store! It is part of the sale and will be 25% off with the code BTS2017.

Friday Favorites – Math Activities


Every Friday this summer I am sharing some of my favorite things with you! The month of July is focused on technology and academic areas.

Check out past Friday Favorites…
PD Books
Read Alouds
Kids’ Favorite Series
Book Studies

I love teaching math so it was hard to pick just a few of my favorite math activities to share with you, but I was able to do it! The activities I’m sharing below are mostly geared towards second grade, but could apply to high first graders or low third graders. You’ll also notice there are a few activities with food. I find that anytime you can add food to a lesson – the lesson becomes more engaging!  I also try to incorporate as many hands-on lessons and math games as I can to help keep students engaged.

Check out a few of my favorite math activities…

Counting to 1,000 Book – One of the second grade standards is that students are able to count and write their numbers to 1,000.  So for an activity (we started whole group and then students would work on it when they finished work early) I had students write their numbers from 1-1,000. They would do one paper at a time and then I would check it. This allowed for quick feedback and made sure students didn’t get too carried away with incorrect numbers.  When they were finished, it was put together in a book that they could take home.  They loved the fact that they got to decorate the front cover.

Making 2D Shapes – As I mentioned, I like to incorporate food into lessons when I can. I saw this online and can’t remember the exact source, but it worked perfectly. We had been studying 2D shapes and their attributes. As a way to practice, students created shapes using pretzels and marshmallows. This lesson was a hit and the kids loved trying to create the harder shapes with more sides.

Arrays with Skittles – Another great food lesson. I like to break out the Skittles when we start working on arrays.  Students like below can make the array that fits the equation. For example, 3 x 7 – they make 3 rows with 7 Skittles in each row and then count to find the product.   They also enjoy the Skittles when we are finished!

Race to Zero – This is a fun, competitive game that focuses on subtraction and strategy.  Students can play in teams, partners, individually, etc. The goal is to be the first person to zero. Each team gets 3 dice and starts at the number 999. They decide how many dice to roll and then once they’ve rolled, they decide what order to put the numbers in. Then, they subtract. This continues until one team reaches zero. The interesting thing about this game is that it focuses on being strategic and using the right number of dice at the right time and really thinking about the best order to put the numbers in to maximize your turn.  I love having the kids play this for an activity during Morning Meeting.
Lucky Charms Graphing – Back to the food again! I again do not know where I got the worksheets I used, but there are many different Lucky Charms graphing packets out there.  The kids have fun picking out the marshmallows and graphing the totals that they have.  It also gives you a chance to ask some data analysis questions which focuses on number sense, addition, and subtraction.

Create Your Own Graphing Project – This is a fun project that my students always enjoy working on. Once we’ve learned about the different types of graphs, students work with a group on a project where they create their own graph. The group comes up with their survey question, surveys students, creates the graph, analyzes the data, and presents their findings to the class. It’s a great project to use to wrap up the graphing unit. You can find this in my TPT store… Create Your Own Graph Project.

Thanks for stopping by! Next week I’ll share some of my favorite reading lessons and activities!