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# Teach Think Elementary

## Responding to Wrong Answers in a positive classroom environment

How can we respond to wrong answers in a way that encourages our children to keep thinking and trying, instead of making them feel disheartened or embarrassed? Here are some suggestions for how to respond to wrong or partially correct answers. I’m writing from an...

## Area and Perimeter Relationships & Problem Solving, part 5

Area and Perimeter are difficult math concepts that kids usualy learn in upper elementary. As teachers, it can feel overwhelming to tackle all of that content. I’m breaking down the perimeter and area standards into manageable chunks in this blog post series. Part...

## Teaching Perimeter, part 4

In elementary school, one of the biggest math concepts students will tackle is Area and Perimeter. For us teachers, it can feel like an overwhelming amount of important content. In this blog series, I'm breaking all of the area and perimeter standards down into more...

## Teaching Measuring Area & Multiplication, part 2

Area and Perimeter are difficult math concepts that kids usualy learn in upper elementary. As teachers, it can feel overwhelming to tackle all of that content. I'm breaking down the perimeter and area standards into manageable chunks in this blog post series. Part...

## Teaching Area Concepts, part 1

Area and Perimeter are classic math concepts that kids learn in elementary school. As teachers, all of that content can be really overwhelming to teach. In this series, I’m breaking down the area and perimeter standards into manageable chunks. This is part 1, Teaching...

## How to Teach Subtraction Across Zeros

In upper elementary, it's pretty common for teachers to struggle with teaching fractions and decimals. They are tough concepts and kids need lots of time and quality instruction and interaction with the content to build those concepts deeply. Ask any third, fourth, or...

## Why Fact Triangles Work

When I first started teaching, way back in the year 2000, the world was a very different place. One of the first math teaching tools I found in my special ed classroom back then was a giant stack of punch out fact triangles. There were addition/ subtraction and...

## Holiday Activities to Review Geometry

Every teacher knows that even the best kids go a little loopy around holidays. And the bigger the holiday (or the more sugar involved!) the more crazy things can get. It can be super tempting to just throw on a movie or slap together some craftivities. And honestly,...

Nothing strikes fear into the heart of third grade teachers like being the first to introduce these adorable, innocent children to the world of fractions. Teaching third grade fractions can be intimidating, especially if you're a grade-change and come from lower...

## Teaching Fourth Grade Fractions & Decimals: Everything you Need to Know

In fourth grade math, the giant list of standards kids have to master can feel overwhelming, especially for new teachers (grade changers, we see you, too!). There's problem solving, factors & multiples, place value & rounding, division computation, angles,...

## Student Assessments: How to Choose

Assessing our students is more important than ever, especially post-pandemic. We need to know what they understand and what they missed, in order to know where to begin teaching. Even under normal circumstances, good teaching almost always starts with assessing what...

## Managing Chaotic School Days

Every teacher has those days. Halloween, the day before Thanksgiving, Valentine's Day, Parent-Teacher Conferences, the last week of school. Of course, we want these hectic school days to be semi-productive, but we also don't want to pile even more stress onto our...

## Why I Teach Geometry at the BEGINNING of the year

Most of us naturally tend to think to teach Geometry math units at the end of the school year. Most commercial math curricula leave it for last. Even the Common Core Math Standards put Geometry at the end of the list. It makes sense to our teacher brains- leave the...

## Team Points for Classroom Management: How to do it & Why it Works!

In my classroom management, I like to implement systems on three levels of accountability: hold students accountable individually, as teams/ small groups, and as a whole class.  This is how I use team points for small group accountability:  How I use team points in my...

## Teaching Teamwork in the Elementary Classroom

Teamwork is one of the most important skills we can teach our students.  It’s one of those things that they will need to rely on in almost every aspect of adult life, and yet sometimes it gets pushed aside in our busy teaching schedules.  Here are...

It can be really hard to fit everything in to our ELA instruction.  Often, it’s language and grammar that gets left out, but these are important skills that our students need in order to become truly literate.   One way to fit these sills in...

## Including Speech & Language Standards in Daily Instruction

With everything upper elementary teachers need to think about and cover, it can be really easy to let some things slide.  The speech and language standards tend to be one of those things.  These skills are important because they lead to more...

## End of the Year Awards that are Non-Academic

* leader * problem solver * fixer * engineer * peace keeper * teacher * great teammate * good sport * songbird * comedian * finder * helper * sharer * artist * referee * caring * dependable * responsible * unique * positive * hard working...

## FUN Summer Learning: 10 ideas

Did you know that kids can lose 2-3 months of learning over the summer?  No one wants to start the new school year already behind!! Here are 10 FUN things that kids can do over the summer to keep their brains sharp: 1. Play with water. Use plastic tubes, things...

## End of the School Year Ideas

The end of the school year can be a fun, but stressful time.  We want to make sure our students are learning up until the last day, but we also want to review, tie up loose ends and have time to reflect.  Here are 10 ideas for ways to have fun and keep...

## Managing Math Games: 6 Structures for Elementary Teachers

I love using math games in my elementary school classroom. But they can be difficult to organize, especially if you're trying to differentiate and manage student behavior at the same time. Here are some structures for managing math games in a way that helps everyone...

## 28 Reasons to Use Math Games

Math Games…promote strategic thinking teach cooperation allow for student choice provide an opportunity for self-monitoring are VERY motivating encourage mathematical communication help kids practice social skills/ turn taking can be...

## Math Games Checklist

I love using math games in my classroom.  I have many reasons why I (and my students) love playing math games.  But how do I decide which games to spend our precious class time playing?  What makes for quality math games?  Below is a list of the criteria I use when...

## Pictograph & Bar Graph Surveys

I love teaching graphing and data.  Kids are naturally curious, as every teacher & parent knows, and they get very excited about collecting their own information about the world around them.  It's really fun for them to have the opportunity to choose their own...

## Teaching Line Plots – Why are Line Plots SO Hard?!

I don’t know about your class, but my students have always had a harder time understanding line plots than they did with pictographs and bar graphs.  Line plots just didn’t seem to make sense to my kids, so I started thinking about why that is and how to teach line...

## Engaging Computation Practice- Really!

Reciprocal Learning is a cooperative learning technique that works really well for material that students need to review and/ or practice.  In reciprocal learning, students work in pairs to coach each other through problems.  Ideally, the ‘just...

## Teaching Equivalent Fractions with Folding

Teaching equivalent fractions can be a confusing concept for students.  It’s counter-intuitive to change both the numerator AND the denominator, especially if students have been working on composing/ decomposing fractions or adding and subtracting fractions.  Why...

## Geometric Attribute Sorts

What is a Geometry Sort? A geometry sort is when students are classifying shapes into categories based on the geometric attributes of those shapes. Why Use Geometry Sorts to Teach Geometric Attributes? -Geometry sorts help students focus on the identifying geometric...

## Foundational Reading in Upper Elementary

Foundational reading skills are the basics of phonic, decoding, and fluency.  It’s the actual reading the words part of reading (as opposed to the comprehension part).  In primary grades, students are largely ‘learning to read,’ meaning they learn...

## Writing ABC Books with Upper Elementary Students

I love using ABC books with my upper elementary students.   I like the organization of them and the familiar patterns.  Some of the letters are easier to find ideas, and some push the students to think more deeply and creatively.  But the thing I LOVE about using...

## Common Core Math Capture Games

What is Capture?Capture is an old, very basic card game for two players.  Sometimes it's also called "war."  It's a comparing game that can be used to practice just about any value- based concept in math.  If you can compare two things and find which is...

## Student Portfolios

With testing season also comes the question: When we test in the mornings, what do we do in the afternoons??  We don't want to further stress our kids out or place high demands on them.  But we also want to maintain order, and we definitely don't have time...

## No More Computation Errors

Tired of your students making the same computation errors over and over?!! Here are 5 ways to help them understand, find, and correct their own errors: 1.  Look for patterns.   Sometimes, kids are making the same kind of mistake over and over because of a...

## How to Use a Math Menu

What is a Math Menu? It’s a list of choices that students can choose from when they finish their work.   (A “menu” of math games and activities.) What goes on a Math Menu? I like to have a good balance of new games/ activities and oldies but...

## Increasing Student Participation

Here are 10 ways to encourage student participation in your class: 1. Start small.  When you ask a question, have students first discuss it with their partner.  Then, have the partners pair up (groups of 4) and share.  When students get comfortable...

## Measuring with a Ruler: Try Coloring!

Why kids struggle with measuring with a ruler (and how coloring inches can help): Measuring with a ruler uses the area model for fractions. 1. Measuring in inches requires a different way of thinking about fractions. The most common way for kids to think about...

## Empowering Students with Assessments

Assessments can be a stressful event for students.  They can feel like punishment for not learning ‘enough’ or being ‘smart enough.’  Students can develop low self-esteem and feel unmotivated if they think that they “should’ be able to do...

## Comparing & Ordering Fractions: Fraction Sort

Sorting fractions is a great way to help students apply and solidify their understandings of fractions, especially comparing, ordering, and finding equivalent fractions.  It's a fairly straightforward, simple activity that allows for a lot of really good, higher...

## Place Value in Upper Elementary

Teaching place value in upper elementary is just as important as it is in the lower grades. By the time students get to 4th and 5th grades, they should already have strong conceptual understanding of the following place value concepts: -counting by ones, fives, tens,...

## Adding & Subtracting Fractions with Unlike Denominators: Why Students Struggle

If your students are struggling with adding and subtracting fractions with unlike denominators, the problem could actually be with: understanding of how to compose and decompose fractions.   Can they add and subtract fractions with LIKE denominators, first? Do they...

## Classifying Quadrilaterals: Why it Matters

Classifying quadrilaterals is one of those skills that adults love to make fun of with those, ‘I didn’t learn anything useful, but I learned the difference between a rhombus and a trapezoid.’ jokes that teachers hate.  The thing is, when students learn to...

For some reason, measurement and geometry always seemed to be the weakest strands for the elementary students in the schools I’ve taught in.  Maybe it’s because they aren’t traditional arithmetic, or maybe it’s because they tend to be left for the end of the school...

## Stop Teaching Rounding ‘Tricks’

My very first year teaching, I taught a self-contained special education class of 16 students in a New York City public school.  Did you know you can do that with absolutely no experience or qualifications?  Yeah…. I had absolutely no idea what I...

## Teach Multiplication Facts with Array Cards

What are array cards?Array flash cards are just like regular flash cards that have the regular "times table" on one side and the product or "answer" on the back.  The difference is that array cards also have an array showing the factors as rows and columns.  So, an...

## How to Differentiate Math Games

One of the reasons I love using math games in my classroom is that there are so many ways to differentiate math games to meet the needs of the students.  Often, kids can be playing the same game, and with some minor variations, they can be playing it at different...

## Fractions on a Number Line

Kids tend to do really well understanding the concept of a number line and using it to count whole numbers.  And they also are usually able to understand basic fraction concepts.  But when it comes to putting the two concepts together- fractions on a number...

## Teaching Fractions of an Area & Geometry Together

I love when math strands overlap and students can see the connections between them.  Fractions and Geometry overlap quite a bit.  There are three ways to think about fractions: 1. The Set Model: This model works with fractions of groups, like ¼ of 24, so ¼...