Sunday, July 24, 2016

Moving Toward a 1:1 Technology Classroom

I am super excited to start this school year off with a bang in the technology department!  Now that we are 1:1 in fourth grade (Chromebooks), I have a lot of thinking about how to start doing things differently!
1:1 Chromebooks

Logistics

Chromebook Storage

I use crates with "pot lids holders" to keep my "Chromies" safe.  I keep 6 in each crate, and have my crates in four zones in my classroom.  This is SUPER helpful when all students need to grab their Chromebook at the same time because there is no pushing or shoving or waiting!

Our district labels each device with our classroom name and then a device number...for example "Smith 14".  This makes it easy when we have problems to communicate with the tech people because they know which machine is which (each is barcoded as well).

As I mentioned earlier, I hang a tag off each crate that identifies the students assigned to that crate with their name and device numbers.  If a computer isn't being used carefully or isn't being charged, I can easily see who I need to talk with! printed on a tag with their Chromebook number listed so we can easily keep track of things.
technology storage
Each crate group is responsible daily for keeping their devices charged and their cords organized and so on.  I started the year last year with all of the Chromebooks in one area, but I really loved spreading them out for congestion purposes.  I do have a centralized area where I keep mice (I have 5 for students to use as desired) and headphones (I have 12).  Expectations for each are listed by the storage as a reminder.
organizationchromebook organization

chromebookscomputer organization

technology storage

Care


I require them to be on a surface, not the floor.  I know that not all teachers do this--but our Chromebooks are almost the color of our carpet and...well...I know how HORRIBLE a student would feel if they were responsible for an accident so I make them keep them on a surface.  I have a lot of "places" to work in my room...their desks, extra tables, lots of low "side tables"...so they still have a ton of flexibility of where they work.

I also train my students from the very beginning of the year to use two hands to carry their Chromebooks--and to not carry by the screen.  I also talk to them about having clean hands and not using the machines by food or liquids.

The first day I also show my students how to charge their Chromebooks carefully without jamming the cord in and by pulling the charging cord out gently.  We also talk about "crate management" and the crate group works together to arrange their crate and cords.  It saves ME a bunch of times and makes them much more accountable for it!  If they create a system that doesn't work, they have to revisit it and improve it.

We were pretty lucky last year--only one Chromie needed to go to the hospital and it was an easy fix.  I love the ownership my students had--way different than the year before when they shared.  Love it!

Expectations

Even though students are usually amazing with the privilege of having 1:1 devices, the more comfortable they get, the more they "forget" or get a little too relaxed with the way they manage their technology.  It's important to be crystal clear with what expectations are--and I even have the students and parents sign an agreement showing that they understand them.  I post the expectations as well right on the side of the crate so there is no doubt about them!  I also send a copy home to be signed by students and parents so that we are all on the same page.
technology

Technology in Action

For me, one of the most important things to consider when moving to a 1:1 or 1:2 classroom environment is really starting to think differently about what you do academically.  I have a long way to go in this area, but I have found a few things that might help get you going!

First of all, using Google Forms is AMAZING!  I have a few other posts sharing some ideas if you are interested in learning more.  Forms take literally MINUTES to create and by sharing them in Google Classroom, you can instantly have students give you information...whether it be a survey, an assessment, or to make a choice.  Click HERE and HERE for a few posts!

To celebrate this exciting "future" in education, I am celebrating by showing some of my Google resources!  Here are a few of them...or you can go to my STORE and click the sidebar on the left in the custom category for Google resources.  See what you think!  NOTE:  All of these resources will be on sale TOMORROW ONLY to celebrate "Innovative Classroom Technology Day"!  Throw them on your wishlist and come back tomorrow to grab them!
problem solving

reader's notebook

teaching dialogue

math task cards

Want a copy of an outline of lesson ideas and a student technology agreement?  Grab this freebie and see if it helps you out!

Thanks for stopping by!  I'd love to hear any of your success stories as well--let's all learn together how to better use these amazing tools!

Want to see MORE great posts about technology?  Check out this great linky! So much great stuff!



Friday, July 22, 2016

Building Multiplication Fact Fluency

Fact fluency and strategies
OK...it is no secret that I am a HUGE Jo Boaler  fan.  Huge.  Her work with mathematical mindsets and brain research should e required reading for anyone who works with children.

That being said, I know that one thing that ALL teachers (and parents) think--especially as we head back to school--is "but they DON'T KNOW THEIR FACTS!"

Right?

And, of course, I am a teacher too--and I know that by the end of this year I am supposed to have all my students successfully adding, subtracting, multiplying, dividing, and more--and if they don't know their facts...it sure is more challenging, right?  I get students in my class every year who not only didn't master their multiplication facts--but don't  know their addition and subtraction facts either!  That's a different post--because that becomes a HUGE intervention issue...something students should have mastered years earlier.  But with multiplication?  We know this is a HUGE part of fourth and fifth grade, so we need to make sure students understand the concept.

So I dug back into Boaler's book to really study what she had to say.  Here are some of her key points that I really think are worth some deep reflection.

What does Jo Boaler say?

Mathematical Mindsets
1.  Drawing attention to math fact "speed" is not only counterproductive to learning math facts but also tends to be the trigger for some children--the beginning of the "I hate math." and "I'm not good at math." epidemic.  It draws their attention away from what math really IS...and math fact recall is really and truly just a small part of the world of math.

2.  Boaler stresses a more conceptual approach to teaching facts.  Students need to understand patterns in numbers and understand number relationships that build true understanding of these facts.  She explains that research supports a conceptual, strategy based approach to fact instruction.  Want to read more?  CLICK HERE for a brief article on Youcubed that explains more.

3.  Boaler DOES recommend practice, of course.  What she highlights is the importance of building brain connections by practicing math concepts in different ways--not repeated practice in the same format repeatedly.  Page after page of practice problems or flipping flashcard after flashcard does not build strong brain connections the same way as providing a variety of learning experiences.

4. Providing students with deeper activities to build fact fluency not only is more effective--but also builds more excitement about math instruction.  Teaching strategies gives students power--they don't have to try to recall every fact--they understand how to derive facts based on different strategies that they are taught--and strategies can be used in novel situations.

Here is a perfect example...a few years ago a student and I were working on a problem (I don't remember what it was anymore...), but the problem was relatively simple--it just required the student to be able to split 30 in half.  I will never forget the look on his face when I prompted him a little bit...and he said, "That number doesn't split in half."  I dug around a little more and realized that he--as a fourth grader--did not understand the concepts of doubling and halving.  He "knew" his two facts--but he could not generalize to this essential math concept.  Think about how many areas of math this impacts...the ability to understand that a 45 degree angle is half of a right angle.  The understanding that 1/8 is half of 1/4.  To be able to quickly "get" that 500,000 is half of a million.

He KNEW his "2" facts--but didn't understand the concept of doubling.  #eyesopened

Now don't get me wrong.  I NEED my students to learn their facts.  It's just a matter of HOW they learn them.  I am a huge believer in teaching these strategies--and if they don't know them, this is a huge part of the intervention work I do at the beginning of the year.  I have struggled to find good resources for this, so I worked all last year to try to get some things together so I could "low prep"


Here are a few "hints" of some ways to give students some strategy based fact instruction. 

1.  Teach a strategy at a time--don't simply go "in order" from 0-10.  Once students understand that 2 facts, 4 facts, and 8 facts are related (by "doubling"), it makes sense to work on these facts together.  Similarly, students can learn 5 facts by understanding 10 facts that are split in half.  When we teach students that 9 facts are "one less group" than the 10 fact, that builds understanding.  Using tricks like the "9's trick" on fingers might be fun--but doesn't help build math understanding.  Don't get me wrong--they can be fun!  And once students understand the math, it makes the tricks even more fun to study.

2. Make sure students understand simple multiplication properties...when students just learn that "0 facts are always 0" without understanding WHY (What happens with you have no groups?  What happens if you have a lot of groups--with nothing in them?), we are teaching in a way that doesn't support an "algebra thinking" mindset that they will need in the upper grades.

3.  USE ARRAYS!  A visual display of "groups" is one of the most powerful ways to help students start to notice patterns.  Use grid paper.  Use square tiles.  Use ANYTHING to start to build this understanding of "groups" and for students to be able to interact with something.

Fact fluency
 Check out how these strips of dots can be used to build the concept of doubling...these "9 strips" can be doubled (2 facts) and "double doubled" (4 facts).
multiplication strategies
 Even having a larger array where you can slide a piece of paper (hard to see on bottom right corner) to show growing arrays.  Here is a picture of  6 x 5 array...but the paper can be slid to show "one more 5" or "one less 5" to build conceptual understanding.
multiplication arrays

4.  Working with different representations of numbers is great to deepen understanding as well...25 is the same as

*  half of 50
*  5 + 5 + 5 + 5 + 5
*  5 x 5
*  25

You get the drift.  This is really asking students to see numbers in different ways rather than simply memorizing facts in isolation.  This idea of "number sense" is directly related to fact fluency so try to find ways for students to "play" with numbers in different ways!
multiplication intervention

5.  Games and practice!

Once students understand the different strategies, playing games and doing other "practice" activities can build speed and fluency--without stress!  It's important to remember that fluency comes AFTER understanding, so don't rush it!  I will often provide students with games like this AFTER they have worked with me in intervention groups.  It's a great way for them to continue their learning.
multiplication facts


fact fluency

math intervention


I hope I've given you some food for thought.  We all want our students to learn their math facts--it's just a matter of making sure we use "best practice" methods to accomplish it!  To help me, I've put a bunch of activities together so I have a great intervention toolkit to use when working with small groups.  I have it all organized by strategy--and I can choose whether to introduce activities to the entire class (great at the beginning of the year when the wheels aren't quite turnin' yet) or to use in small intervention groups and math workshop.  I keep each activity in zip top bags and each strategy in a plastic tub so it's easy to grab and go.
math game storage
 If you want to save time and have everything all put together for you, just click the image below!

Want to see more great math posts?  Click HERE to learn about incorporating "algebra thinking" into your math class or click HERE to read about how important it is to create a great "culture" in your math workshop--with tons of tips to use right away!

Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Problem solving in the "real world"

Open ended work problem task
One thing that I think is super important for students to understand is that math is REAL.  Math isn't "fill in the blanks" in your workbook...or a practice sheet...or even a math game.  Math is everywhere--and in everything.  Getting students to recognize this is key--and helping them see that math can help them make sense of their world and solve REAL problems should be a key part of what we do.

Jo Boaler states that creating mathematical "excitement" should look the same for all students--no matter what their experience level.  Math class should combine the following:
Jo Boaler

Pretty daunting, right?  

When we try to find problem solving situations that make students curious, we need to think about their world...that's why I try to write problems about sports...and amusement parks...and animals.  We need students to make connections between the math concepts and the real world situations they find them in--and to make connections between different math concepts.

I LOVE the point Boaler makes about challenge.  We know that our brains learn more when they have to practice information in more than one way--and we build our brains by making mistakes.  Isn't that AMAZING?  We need to teach our students this...that we actually LEARN by making mistakes.  If this is true, Boaler stresses that we HAVE to put students in situations where they grow their brains--and they must face challenging tasks to do that!  (Insert shameless product plug here:  That is TOTALLY what my perseverance problems, Thinker Tasks, and Open Ended Challenges are all about--putting students in a position where they need to struggle a little bit!)

I love the creativity part of this equation.  We want students to approach problems in new and unique ways--this helps them build their own connections and number sense.  We certainly need to do our part to model our thinking, but I believe we need to be cautious about sending the message that there is a "right" way or a "best" way.  

Finally...collaboration.  If you tuned in to my FB live last night, I shared the statistic that researchers say that as much as 60% of our classroom math time should be spent having students engaged in meaningful math talk.  60%!  That leaves 40% of the time for EVERYTHING else...grading, minilessons, practice pages.  If this is true, we truly must be seeking out meaningful, engaging tasks that get students talking about math.

So...I've left you with enough to think about.  And I've left the link to a freebie for you to try with your students.  See if you think it helps you with all of Jo Boaler's recommendations!  I've also left a lnk to a great article about math discourse and an affiliate link to Jo's book on Amazon if you want a copy for yourself.  It's a pretty powerful $10.57. 


Challenging problem solving
Click here to grab the freebie!
Interested in checking out Jo's amazing book?  Here is my affiliate link.

Monday, July 18, 2016

Creating a Climate for a Successful Math Workshop

Math workshop tips
If you have been following me, you know that I have been doing some Facebook Live videos about some ways to "dip your toe" in to the idea of starting math workshop in your classroom.  It does NOT need to be a daunting task and there are plenty of ways to start small!

If you haven't seen the first two videos (I'm just figuring out all the lighting and technical details so don't judge!), you can watch them now!  The first one, "What IS Math Workshop" can give you a little background and the second one, "Getting Started with Math Workshop" can give you a few simple ways to start to restructure your math instruction without creating tons of crazy systems!
math workshop video
Click the image to go to the replay if you missed it!
Great news!  Tonight is my third video where I will be focusing on "Creating a Culture for a Successful Math Workshop".  I'd love for you to stop by and check it out if you have time.  I am going to try to focus on the following ideas:

How do we teach students a growth mindset?


If you have followed the work of Carol Dweck and Jo Boaler, you know how important teaching about a growth mindset is.  Having "grit" and being willing to persevere are a key part of a quality math workshop.  Explicitly teaching it is critical.  I seriously keep this bulletin board and some other visual reminders up ALL year and refer to them often!
This is part of the best selling "Growth Mindset" resource in my store.  Just click the image to take you there.

What does brain research tell us about learning math?


Jo Boaler's book "Mathematical Mindsets" is fantastic for so many reasons, but particularly for how she explains in teacher terms how the brain actually learns math.  I can't recommend it highly enough.  I'll give a few examples tonight, but I really recommend buying the book.  I have a link at the bottom of the post if you want to check it out.  I also highly recommend that you visit her website, "Youcubed", and sign up for anything you can!  She has great FREE materials for you to help better teach using what we know about the brain.


What is the "helping curriculum"?

If you are at all familiar with the work of Douglas Fisher and Nancy Frey, you will know they have done a ton of research and are doing amazing things at their school in California.  One thing they do as a part of their "First 20 Days of School" is to explicitly teach what they call the "helping curriculum".  It's fascinating--and by spending time explicitly teaching it, you can ensure that your math workshop will have a much stronger foundation.  What is it?  In a nutshell, Fisher and Frey believe we need to teach students how to...

Ask for help

Offer help

Accept help

Politely refuse help

When you think about the students you had last year, can you think of some students who might have struggled with any of these?  Each one is fascinating; we have students who ask for help too soon...students who never offer help...students who get "snippy" with their peers when they offer to help, and more.  We can help smooth the edges off this and create a real collaborative math environment.


How do we create an atmosphere that celebrates risk taking, successes, and mistakes?


Growth Mindset bulletin board

Helping students feel safe and comfortable is a critical part of readying your room for math workshop.  We want students to be able to work at their own level, to recognize that mistakes do, indeed, grow your brain (The Youcubed website listed above actually has videos to show your students about this!), and that risk taking should be celebrated.  I love using Number Talks for this as well as modeling my own thinking.  How we respond when students get a wrong answer or have a misconception can really set the tone for the room, so we need to be deliberate about how we handle these situations.

What math tasks really engage students?


This topic is far too big to tackle in one blog post or Facebook Live session, so I'll leave it at this.  Students need to be active.  Students need to be engaged.  Students need "just right" challenges.  Students love to work together if they are taught how to do so, so our job as teachers is to find these challenging, engaging, collaborative tasks to immerse our students in.  Research suggests that our students should be engaged in academic discourse 60% of their day...and filling out workbook pages just isn't going to cut it!  That's why I love writing word problems, creating open ended challenges, and doing concept sorts and other active learning activities because students stay engaged and learn more. I'd love to have you check out my store to see more examples of these if you haven't already--and if you HAVE used any of them, I'd sure love to hear about your experiences, either in the comments or tonight during the live video.

Hope to see you tonight!

Here is a link to Jo Boaler's amazing book.  It's only about $10 and totally worth it.  I do have an affiliate link below if you want to check it out.


Sunday, July 10, 2016

Cooperative Group Formation Made Easy!


Today's post is a "reissue" of a post from two years ago--and the idea is a simple one...and one I have done for years.  In my class, we do a HUGE amount of work in teams...teams of 2, teams of 3, teams of 4--and even bigger teams!  Setting the climate for group work is critical from day 1--and I like to have a number of different ways to form those groups without wasting time on transitions.

Saturday, July 2, 2016

3 Best Books about Teaching Reading!

Today is my day to post over on Upper Elementary Snapshots, and I hope you'll stop by to check out my post about 3 "must read" books...just click the image below to take you there!

I'd love to hear what you think...and watch tomorrow for my Monday Made It post--with a brand new multiplication resource that has taken me the better part of a year to finish!  WHEW!


Thursday, June 30, 2016

Facebook Live!

Hello! If you are a subscriber to my newsletter, some of the content of this blog post will be familiar (and if you AREN'T a subscriber, this would be a great time to subscribe--all announcements of upcoming Facebook Live sessions will done through that newsletter channel.).  The craziness of the end of the school year is past me--so  now?  It's time to WORK!  I have been asked over and over by readers to offer more in the way of staff development.  They love reading my blog posts and using my resources--but they want something more interactive.  I am thrilled to say--IT'S HERE!

If you haven’t heard of Facebook Live yet, you NEED to check it out. SERIOUSLY. It’s the best FB addition I have seen in a looooong time!  Some of you might have seen some of my Periscopes--but I really believe this platform is WAY better for all of us!  Just tune in, watch, listen, comment, and learn!

I have loved blogging and sharing ideas with educators since 2012...and I have CRAVED a forum where we could be more collaborative.  Facebook Live is the key!  I plan to share important and relevant professional development that can immediately help you in your classroom.  In addition to 25 years in education, I have a masters degree in curriculum development and pride myself on being a leader in our field--and I want you to take some risks and try new things in your classrooms too!
Are you interested in any of the following?
  • Math workshop tricks and organization
  • Assessment strategies
  • Using technology to improve instruction
  • Increasing problem solving skills
  • Classroom organization and culture
  • Great read aloud ideas for intermediate grades
  • Making sense of homework options
  • Improving student engagement and learning
  • AND MORE!
Here is YOUR chance to add on to the list!   I won’t be able to discuss any new ideas tomorrow, but I will put it on my list for the future.  I am excited to dig into some of these topics and have great discussions with other intermediate teachers who love to learn and think deeply about best practices in education.  Just leave your suggestions in the comments, and I'll add them to my list!

Please join me tomorrow, Friday, July 1, at 9 pm EST/8 pm CST, at my FB page (Just CLICK HERE) for my first FB Live video! This will be a quick one to get the discussion started and make sure we are all able to access the live feed. Please invite your teacher friends to join us. The more collaboration, the better! The best part is that this is free staff development and networking--and summer is the perfect time to get your brain rolling with new ideas.

One of the great things about watching a FB Live video is you can post and “chat” with other viewers while the video is playing. It’s a great way to connect with new teachers and share our best ideas.! Remember, you can click here to go to my FB post to share with your teacher friends to let them know when to join us. To encourage people to speak up, there may even be some live giveaways during the broadcast.   I hope to see you tomorrow!

P.S. If you can’t join me live, you can still access my video by clicking on the “VIDEO” tab on my FB page.  See you tomorrow night!

Monday, June 27, 2016

Monday Made It!

It's time for "Monday Made It" with Tara over at 4th Grade Frolics so I thought I'd share a little bit about what I did this past week.  Make sure to click the image above to take you to a bunch of other great ideas!  Last week I showed you some pics of my son's graduation gift...what I didn't show you was the front step of our house (a door we RARELY use...that's my excuse) where I neglected to notice that the the flowers I planted were a little...ummmm..."unwelcoming"?  Totally a "made it" fail.  How embarrassing.

I am trying to reduce clutter at my house this summer and my bathroom drawers were a hot mess.  I found a few craft containers meant for beads, snapped the lids off, and put one or two pair of earrings in each spot.  I have three of the trays in a drawer and I now can easily see what I have and where the pairs are!  It didn't take long, but it made a big difference!
 What's a Monday Made It without food?  I have to say...my son LOVES banana pecan muffins--but I just don't seem to be able to coordinate having both overripe bananas and buttermilk in the house at the same time. When the stars align, we get jumbo muffins.  The stars aligned--much to Max's delight.
 I have a big goal this summer--and that's to convert some of my favorite resources into Google compatible resources now that my classroom is 1:1 with Chromebooks.  This week I took my "Writing Task Cards: Creativity Task Cards" resource that I LOVED using last year and made some changes to make them work with Google.  I love being able to cut and paste and "send" a few cards at a time to my students!  This year I am going to project cards on the Smartboard to use to teach and model--and then when it's time to practice, I'll send my students a few cards to try.  Like with the original cards, I plan to have the students start working in pairs, doing lots of sharing, and then, finally, try some individually.

Anyhoo...I am still learning how to get more efficient at making these digital resources, but I know I need to get creative so I can really maximize those Chromebooks next year!  I was pretty productive this week and got both the dialogue resource done AND my "unworksheet" precision practice resource for multiplication.  I even blogged about it HERE if you are interested!  Hope everyone has a great week and thanks, as always, to Tara for the great link up!


Stay tuned for some up and coming math posts to get your wheels turning!

Thursday, June 23, 2016

When Problem Solving, Precision, and Computation Meet: 5 Ideas to Ponder

Combining Problem Solving and Computation
I think it would be hard to find someone who would argue with the following statement:

All students need to learn how 
to compute efficiently and precisely.

I mean--I sure can't argue with it!  I think the discussion comes in when we talk about how we expect our students to get there. Take these practice pages for example.  I use them.  In fact, they are part of two different resources in my TpT store!  But what purpose do they have?  WHEN do I use them?
There is a time and a place for computation
Want to see these resources?  Click HERE and HERE.
Here's what I believe to be true.

Teach with Intention


Computation fluency comes as as result of carefully planned lessons that help immerse students in hands on, meaning-based learning.  That means students don't learn how to "cross out the top number and take away the bottom" unless they have spent a great deal of time learning how our base 10 system works...how we can "trade" amounts from place to place, and so on.  I have heard the term "bare number" problems in reference to problems that are presented in numeric form with no "meaning" behind them, and I think we need to be mindful of how early we introduce these bare number tasks.  If you are familiar with CGI math (Here is a post about it if you have not!), you will know that CGI is based on the assumption that students can solve increasingly complex problems when presented in the form of a real world situation.  A child who may not understand the bare number task of 15 + 7 very well may be able to solve a problem (sometimes with physical manipulatives) that is worded in the form of a real problem such as, "Becky has 15 jelly beans.  If her mom gives her 7 more, how many does she have now?"  The simple act of MODELING with counters can help build this understanding.  This is especially true as the numbers get bigger and the math more complex--we need to build solid math understanding before asking students to do practice sheet after practice sheet.

Use Practice Sheets Appropriately


There is a time and a place for practice sheets--and it happens AFTER students know how to do the math!  Practice sheets are great for working on fluency, precision,and organization--but if a child is struggling with the math, handing them a page of six to ten double digit multiplication problems is probably not the best decision.  I also use sheets like this AFTER students know the math to use as an assessment tool.  I also use sheets like that AFTER students know the math as homework to practice that fluency and comprehension.  Because I believe students need to know the math, this may be a time when I don't send the same homework home with all students.  There is nothing more frustrating to a student and his/her family than to get homework home that they don't understand.

Use Best Practice Math Strategies and Instruction


Math is not fill in the blank.  Providing students with the opportunities to explore numbers, play with numbers, and develop their understanding is key.  Doing it alone takes opportunities for learning away.  Consider doing computation work collaboratively.  Students can discuss, coach, share ideas, check for accuracy, and deepen their understanding.  Math doesn't have to be a solitary activity!  One of my favorite things to do is provide the opportunity to have students work together on activities that aren't fill in the blank--AND provides computation practice!  After all, PRECISION is key; I sure don't want my students to understand HOW to add, subtract, multiply, and divide--but not be able to do it precisely time and time again.  

Use Problems with Multiple Solutions


Another great way to combine problem solving and computation is to provide students with problem opportunities that have multiple solutions.  This task card is one example--there are multiple sets of numbers that will work.  Another way to provide this experience would be to provide students with a solution--for example 320--and then ask them to come up with as many different multiplication problems as they can that work.  This is a GREAT way for students to start to look for patterns in math...they may start with 32 x 10--and then start to experiment until they find other solutions.

Differentiation is Critical


Consider differentiation.  Many activities can be done by ALL students at THEIR level.  For example, one thing my students love is to roll dice to create problems where they practice their computation.  I'll often give students 5 minutes of "warm up" time where they grab dice and a partner or trio and "roll problems".  If I want them to do multiplication, some might roll enough dice to do 1 x 2 digit.  Others 1 x 3--or 2 x 2--or 2 x 4.  Similarly, some might use dice labeled 1-6 while others use dice with larger numbers.  Helping students know exactly what their "just right" practice level is takes some coaching but is worth it. (And having a nice big dice bucket is fun too!)  The cards pictured below are another example...there are three levels of cards.  All students in the class could be having the same practice experience--but at their own "just right" level.

Check out these cards and see if you can see how they provide HUGE amounts of computation practice along with much higher level thinking and the opportunity for great math talk with partners or small groups!
Using Math Problems with many solutions
Multiple Solutions for Enrichment Problem Solving
Think of the number sense and problem solving a task like this takes compared to "Solve 45 x 62."  Both work on multiplication.  Both expect precision and fluency.  But this is asking the brain to do FAR more math!  (I hate to break it to you...it's also FUN!)  I absolutely love sitting back and watching students work on tasks like this--to hear their thinking, to see their strategies, to notice their misconceptions or areas where I could help them be more efficient.  I challenge you to find ways to give your students these opportunities--times when you can practice computation in a "non-fill-in-the-blank" way!  Sit back and watch and learn and see where to go next.
Hands On Problem Solving Activities
Earlier in the year I use the same type of cards for addition and subtraction practice...and my students LOVE them.  There are a ton of different ways to use both sets of cards..from intervention, to practice, to whole class challenges--and all meaningful ways to build computational fluency and precision.  Here they are if you want to check them out!  I'd love to know what you think about today's post...and any other ideas you have for raising the level of rigor with regards to computation!