I've had many parents question the time I would spend practicing math facts with my class. It may seem a little "old school" to spend time working on memorizing math facts; but, math fact fluency, or the ability to recall the answer to math facts quickly and with out mental calculation, is an important foundational skill for academic success.
1. Math fact fluency paves the way for developing higher order math skills
When students are able to use memorized math facts to automatically complete simple computations, it allows them to focus on the process of solving multi-step problems. When solving multi-step problems, taking breaks to complete simple computations can create confusion and cause students to loose their place.
2. Fact fluency creates builds confidence in math skills
Math can be a intimidating subject for many students. When students are able to develop math fact fluency, it gives them confidence in their ability to master math skills. Once students realize that, with hard work, they have the ability to master math skills, it will give them confidence to preserve in mastering more difficult skills.
Do you devote instructional time to math fact fluency?
My family and I have been working on increasing our emergency preparedness by building our savings, creating 72 hour kits, and storing extra food and batteries. This preparation has given us peace of mind and made some long power outages more comfortable.
As my family worked on preparing for emergencies at home, I began thinking about how teachers could prepare for emergencies in their classrooms. When I was in fourth grade my class was on a field trip when there was a 6.8. magnitude earthquake. I cannot imagine how stressful this must have been for my teacher! She remained calm and it helped calm down her students as well.
To help us all be a little better prepared, I put together a list of simple steps that every teacher can take to be a little more prepared in case of an emergency.
Preparing for Personal "Emergencies":
I'm classifying personal emergencies as two types of situations: 1. A family emergency that causes you to have to leave school immediately 2. A smaller problem that can make your teaching day horrible (i.e. forgetting your lunch). Here are some simple action steps you can take to prepare for these kind of emergencies:
Preparing for An Evacuation Emergency:
When preparing for an emergency that would cause your class to have to evacuate (i.e. a fire, gas leak etc.) the following items may be helpful. Place these items in a single container by the door to make them easy to quickly grab.
Preparing to Shelter in Place:
A variety of emergencies can cause your class to need to shelter in place: a lock down or even a power outage. The following items will help you in caring for your class during these situations:
What does your school do to prepare for emergencies? Share your ideas in the comments below.
ELLs, or English language learners, have an extra challenge in our classrooms. Not only do they need to learn the curriculum, but they also have to simultaneously learn English. There are several helpful strategies that we can employ to assist ELLs on their journey.
1. Use Visuals
Visuals can help explain vocabulary words and give context to a lesson. Use relevant visuals along with oral explanations to boost comprehension for ELLs, students who struggle with vocabulary, and visual learners.
2. Use Small Groups to Practice Conversation
Before asking a ELL to answer in front of the class, give them a chance to discuss the question with a partner or small group. This allows them to practice their answer and speaking skills in a low risk situation.
3. Pre-teach Vocabulary
Academic lessons can contain vocabulary words that ELLs do not hear in normal social situations. Pre-teaching these vocabulary words can make understanding a lesson much easier for ELLs. Focus on key vocabulary words that you believe the specific students in your class may not have encountered before. Explain the words using visuals and easy to understand definitions. Be sure to also provide examples of the word being used in context. You can teach the vocabulary words with your ELLs one on one, in a small group, or simply begin a whole class lesson by explaining the unfamiliar vocabulary (which will benefit all students, not just ELLs).
4. State a Purpose For Reading/ Listening
Whenever your class will be reading a text, watching a video or listening to a speaker, be sure to state a purpose for listening. For example if you could say: "While we are reading I want you to listen for why Mike got in trouble at school." or "While you watch this video I want you to find 3 facts about the water cycle." Stating a focus before reading, watching or listening provides ELLs with context and helps them filter out unimportant details that could impede their comprehension.
5. Provide Structured Notes
Providing graphic organizers, fill in the blank notes, and sentence stems can help ELLs understand what they are hearing during a lesson. You can create a simple graphic organizer by folding a piece of paper and labeling each section with a topic that will be important during the lesson.
All of these strategies are not only beneficial to ELLs, they can help increase comprehension and retention of all students in your classroom.
What strategies do you use to help ELLs in your class? Let me know in the comments below.
Hi! I'm Jordan. I have taught both first and second grade. I'm also a mom to a sweet little boy. I know that teachers are some of the busiest people on the planet! I want to share my ideas with you to make your life easier.