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# Teach Think Elementary

## 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...