Do you teach the long division algorithm? It can be difficult for students because there are so many steps. Here are my favorite tips!

Take Notes
Using guided notes is one of my favorite strategies. I like to use partially filled in note templates that we fill out together. This helps to keep students actively engaged in the lesson. The best part is that when the notes are completed, they will have a model for reference. I have used paper-based notes and digital notes with my students. They both work great!

Use Lined Paper
Lined paper is my favorite math teacher tool! Simply turn the paper sideways and it creates columns. Place one digit per column to help students organize division problems. 

Make an Estimate
The first step in a division problem should always be to make an estimate. Ask students to find a ballpark estimate by using friendly numbers (numbers that end in zeroes). This helps students determine if their quotient makes sense. When finished solving the problem students compare the place value of the quotient to the estimate to see if the answer makes sense. Here is an example:

Check Answers
Division problems can be checked easily by using multiplication. My students check by using the traditional multiplication algorithm. If the check doesn't work, they know that a mistake was made in the division problem or in the multiplication check. 

The best way for students to master the algorithm is to practice. I like to offer a variety of different ways for students to practice. I use paper and pencil practice, digital interactive lessons, and task cards. One of my favorite ways to practice is with Boom Cards. They are digital interactive task cards that are self-checking, so my students receive instant feedback when working on problems. Have you tried them? Sign up below to grab a free deck to try out with your students tomorrow. 

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    What are your favorite division tips? Share them in the comments. 

    Google Forms are one of my FAVORITE teacher tools. There are lots of reasons to embrace using them, but the biggest one, in my opinion, is that they can save you time. Anything that saves time in the classroom is something worth trying. When you share a Google Form it collects responses automatically. The responses can be viewed easily. You can also download them to a Google Sheet. 

    Don't worry if you aren't sure where to start. I've got you covered. Here are some of my favorite ways to use Google Forms in the classroom. 

    I used to send home paper copies on the first day of school. It would take days or even weeks to get all of the information back. Now I can share a link with parents in an email or during Open House. It is faster for parents and me!

    I enjoy having parents volunteer in my classroom. A Google Form is a great way to organize this information. Parents can select areas they would be comfortable volunteering and days that they are available. 

    This is part of a Google Form that I use to ask for classroom volunteers.
    If you are interested in trying this out but don't have time to create them don't worry! You can grab mine for FREE here. 

    Using a Google Form for a quiz or test is a game-changer! Google Forms will automatically grade short answer and multiple-choice questions. This saves time when grading. I look at the data from the Google Form and then know which questions I need to focus on when looking at the assessment.
    This is one question from a decimal quiz. 

    Once an assessment is created in Google Forms it can be used over and over. Questions can be added or deleted easily. It is also very easy to modify an existing assessment for differentiation. Make a copy of the quiz, change the title, change the questions to be easier or more challenging, and done!

    I love using digital exit tickets because I can quickly scan the data and group students that need help with a concept.

    Exit tickets questions using Google Forms can be created directly in Google Classroom, too! 

    I do this a lot in my class. We vote on the next read-aloud book or theme for a class celebration. We even voted for our March Madness Book Tournament using Google Forms. I like using Google Forms for votes in the classroom because each student votes for the choice wanted instead of voting for what a friend wants. 

    There are so many ways to use Google Forms in the classroom! How do you use them in the classroom? Leave a comment below and let me know. 

    Building a classroom community is one of the most important things for teachers to think about at the start of a school year. Successful classroom communities begin by forming positive relationships with students. For that to happen, you have to really get to know your students and let them get to know you. This takes time and effort. Here are some of my favorite ideas to get you started. 

    I start by modeling the activity. I present three things I want my students to know about me. I tell them some things about myself that they wouldn't already know.  They are usually surprised and interested in what I chose to tell them. Next, each student writes three things that they want me to know about them. 

    I love this activity because it is open-ended and it allows students to choose what they want to share without having to talk in front of a group. Some students will write about their hobbies, pets, and friends. Others will share strengths and weaknesses.  

    I use the writing to help find common interests and connections between the students. I am also able to find ways to connect with students that I wouldn't have known before. 

    On the first day of school, I ask each student to create an emoji that would represent his/her personality. Students brainstorm on a plain piece of paper and then create a big emoji out of construction paper. 
    Bulletin Board decorated with student created emojis.

    Once the emojis are created, students write about it. They explain each feature and how it represents their personality. This activity gives me a glimpse of how my students view themselves. And, it makes an amazing bulletin board for Open House Night. 

    I start this activity by having students brainstorm a list of fun things they did during the summer break. I remind students that simple memories are just as important as vacations.

     Each student lists nine fun things they did during the summer break. Then the students will create a "Summergram" grid with nine pictures to represent the activities and plan a "Summergram" post. This activity can also be turned into a cute bulletin board. 
    Wooden table with summergram craftivity completed.

    I love this activity because it generates a lot of conversation. The students talk about what they did and how they are going to draw it. I circulate around the room asking questions and sharing observations. Grab this Summergram activity here

    Building relationships with students takes time, but it is well worth the effort. These positive relationships will help your classroom community to grow. 

    Have you heard about the Kindness Rocks Project? The trend started several years ago with the simple mission of "one message at just the right moment can change someone's entire day, outlook, life." This mission spoke to me and I wanted to bring it to life in my classroom. 
    Rock painted with the word kind surrounded by other rocks.
    The project started as a simple paint and hide rocks in our community but then grew into a Kindness Rocks Garden at my school. There are many ways to incorporate Kindness Rocks at school. I am excited to share the things I have done with my students. I like to start this project at the start of the school year, but it can be done at any point in the year. Before I get into the specifics, let's talk about decorating the rocks. 
    Creating Rocks

    I asked my students to find a smooth rock, wash it if necessary, and bring it to school. I collected some from home, too. Recently I discovered that you could buy rocks at craft stores. Who knew?! You will also need newspapers, paint or paint markers, and outdoor Modge Podge.

    I created Kindness Rocks centers during my ELA block. Students were asked to come up with a positive word or quote that they wanted to share. Next, they created a simple plan for the rock design.  Then each student wrote about why the specific word or quote was chosen. 

    Rock plans were passed in when finished. Then I had small groups of students come to the painting station. We used Sharpie oil-based paint markers to paint the rocks. (I listed these on my classroom wishlist during Open House and many parents donated sets.) If more than one color is going to be used it is a good idea to let the base coat dry first. 

    Once the rocks are painted they will need to be covered with a waterproof sealer. I used Mod Podge for Outdoor Use. It can be easily applied with foam brushes. I recommend putting two coats of sealer. This should be done in a well-ventilated area. When the rocks are completely dry you can decide how to share them. 
    Rock painted with the word smile surrounded by other painted rocks.
    Sharing the Kindness Rocks

    Community Rocks
    Take a walking field trip, with parental and school permission, and "hide" the rocks for people to find. My class did this the first year I had heard about the project. 

    Options: Add a school-specific hashtag to the bottom of each rock. Publicize the project in the local newspaper, school website, etc. Ask community members to post to social media if a rock is found using the hashtag in the post. Follow the hashtag on your classroom Instagram account. 

    School Rocks
    1. Decorate rocks for students to keep in their desk or cubby. The rocks can be taken out and enjoyed whenever they are needed. 

    2. Rocks can be decorated by students for school staff and then shared on Teacher Appreciation Day. They can also be shared on a normal day as a random act of kindness. 

    3. Paint a rock in honor of a classmate. Have students pick a name and design a rock for that person. This is a fun way to build community in the classroom. 

    4. Place decorated rocks around the school for everyone to enjoy. 
    One decorated rock in front of the school
    Kindness Rock Garden
    This is my personal favorite! The mission of the Kindness Rocks Project really spoke to me. The idea of one message - at just the right moment - changing someone's day - kept rattling around in my brain. Then it hit me. I wanted to create a space where students could go to find that one message when it was needed. The Kindness Rocks Garden idea was born. 

    The first garden was created by our school's playground. Each 5th-grade student painted two rocks. All the rocks were placed in the garden for students to enjoy. It was beautiful! Until the following September when we returned to an empty rock garden. I was thrilled people had enjoyed them over the summer, but sad that the students wouldn't be able to see them anymore. 
    Empty rock garden
    My students wanted to create a new garden in a more secure space. It was placed in our school's courtyard. My students dug out the area and filled it with gravel. Then we talked to all of the teachers in the school and had every student make a rock. 
    Partially filled in Kindness Rock Garden.
    It is a place that we all can enjoy. Our students love reading the messages. More rocks will be added each year, too. 
    Shadows of students looking at the Kindness Rock Garden

    Have you participated in the Kindness Rock Project? I would love to hear about it!
    Read-aloud time is my favorite part of the day. We come together as a class to listen and discuss books. The conversation is important because it helps us grow. 
    Teacher reading aloud to students
    There are many ways to choose read-aloud books. I look for books that will spark conversations. I also like to use the first book in a series because it will inevitably hook students and they will want to read more!

    Here are some of my favorite read-aloud titles:

    This book is perfect for starting the school year. It opens discussions about being new and fitting in with classmates. The story is told through multiple characters and their unique perspectives. 
    One of my favorite activities is to compare and contrast the book and movie. It is interesting to see which version my students like better. I would choose the book version every time. 

    This is the first book in a series. It is told through the eyes of seven different characters. This book is great to use when discussing point of view and perspective. Last year my students brought up the idea of stereotypes. We used this book to discuss that big idea, too. 
    My students loved finding dollar words while reading this book. They found them everywhere!

    This book is part of the Rick Riordan Presents series. Rick Riordan presents is a part of the Disney Hyperion publishing company and the goal, according to the website, is " publish great middle-grade authors from underrepresented cultures and backgrounds, to let them tell their own stories inspired by the mythology and folklore of their own heritage."
    I am working to add more books from other cultures to my classroom library. Fantasy is my favorite genre so I was excited to read this last year. My class loved it! Rick Riordan highlights many other authors, too. You can find out more on his website. 

    This is one of my favorites! The main character does not like to read. He loves playing games. As you can guess from the title he has to escape from the library. 
    My class loved the book. We made rebus puzzles and board games when we finished. There are other books in this series, too. 

    This book is wonderful. The story takes place on 9/11, but the book is about friendship and hope. The book is told from two different characters point of view. The chapters alternate between the main character and the man in the white shirt. 
    My students had a lot of questions about 9/11. I paired this book with I Survived 9/11 to help. This book is great for discussing theme. 

    This book is not available until October 2019. But, it has my curiosity piqued. It is about a girl that writes about the perfect best friend. She calls her Zoe. Her writing notebook disappears and a girl named Zoe moves to town. 
    I can't wait to read this book. I hope that it is as good as it sounds. I have a lot of possible ideas to go along with it. 

    What books do you read aloud to your class? Let me know in the comments below. 

    Note: This post contains affiliate links. This means that I may receive a small commission (at no cost to you) if you subscribe or purchase something through the links provided. Please know that I will only post links to products or services that I love and use regularly. 

    My friend Luke teaches history at the secondary level. He just shared a great blog post about "insta-worthy" teaching activities that are great for any level! The title refers to museums catering their exhibits to Instagram. Because people love documenting their experiences on social media, museums have started making visually engaging exhibits that are designed to be photographed and shared. Luke explains that he was inspired to create similar activities for the classroom to increase student engagement.  
    Luke shares 6 activities in this post that are sure to engage your students! The activity that I am the most excited to try is a CSI activity. This type of lesson would be great for analyzing primary and secondary sources. I think my students would love learning about the causes of the American Revolution in this interactive way. 

    Another idea that I want to try is Magic Portraits. They are described in his post as video portraits that can be used to make presentations come alive. This activity requires the use of an app to make a historical person come "alive". This would be great for my unit on Explorers!

    Some of the other "insta-worthy" activities are pop-up notes, 3D lessons, tableaus, and green screen activities. I love that all of these cool activities could be done at any level!

    If you teach social studies or history at the middle or high school level you should definitely check out his page that has awesome resources! 

    Which activity are you excited to try? Let me know in the comments below. 

    Have you ever considered starting a buddy program? I did and I loved it! Older students act as mentors to younger students and both groups gain from the experience. Younger students get the opportunity to learn and grow with an older peer model while older students develop important skills like patience and understanding. Watching the learning that happens when buddies work together is amazing. Don't forget to download your free resource at the end of this post!

    STEM Buddies
    A colleague and I had been discussing a STEM challenge that my students had done. She commented that it would be fun to do something similar with her kindergarten students, but that she would need some extra hands to make it work. This is where the idea for STEM buddies originated. 
    STEM challenge
    How it Works
    Choose a grade level to buddy up with and plan to meet once or twice per month. Carefully and deliberately partner up the students. The goal is to have the students work with the same partner all year to help foster a bond. 

    The beauty of using STEM activities when the buddies get together is that the activities can be done in groups of four. The partners stay together, but the pairs work with different students each time.

    Each activity starts with a picture book, video, or another type of mini-lesson. Next, we quickly review the steps of the engineering design process: Ask, Imagine, Plan, Create, and Improve. 
    The students are reminded that they will plan a prototype, test it, make improvements, and test it again. Then the challenge is introduced, the STEM sheets are passed out, and the groups get to work. 

    The STEM sheets can be copied for every student or one per partnership. If you decide to have one copy per partnership you may want to photocopy the pages when finished so that each student can have a set. At the end of the challenge, each student fills out a reflection sheet. I like to have each student fill one out.

    First Meeting
    I start STEM buddies at the end of September. I set aside two days for the first meeting. The first time the students get together is set up as a meet and greet. We introduce the pairs and complete some getting to know you activities. We meet again the next day to start the Bucket Filler STEM challenge. Fill out the form below to grab the Bucket Filler challenge and a bonus challenge for your class. 

    We start by reading a book about bucket fillers. Then the students are challenged to create a freestanding bucket holder that can hold the most compliments. At the end of the activity, students are asked to share something that their partner did well. The discussion is lively and the positive spin promotes the theme of the book. 

    Download your free STEM challenge lesson today!

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      My fifth graders LOVE working with their buddies. I love watching the connections between the students grow stronger throughout the school year. 

      The month of February lends itself easily to holiday-themed activities and projects. Groundhog Day, the 100th Day of School, and Valentine's Day are all perfect for school. I don't celebrate Groundhog Day, but I do like to incorporate some holiday fun for my fifth graders because let's face it if they are having fun while learning they will be much more invested. So, I am going to share some of my favorite activities and a FREEBIE!

      Hundredth Day of School
      I started celebrating the 100th Day with my students two years ago. I didn't do anything prior to that because I hadn't been able to find any activities that were geared for upper elementary students. So, I set out to create some. Math is my favorite subject, so I started off by creating some review activities. 
      Area, perimeter, equation writing, and a few other math activities kept them engaged during our math block. I couldn't ask for more than that! 

      Then I decided it would be fun to add in some ELA activities. Would You Rather style writing prompts and envisioning 100 years in the future were two of the favorites in my class last year. 
      They also loved working through a variety of task cards. Now, the 100th Day is one of the days that I really look forward to during the year. If you are interested you can check out these activities here. 

      Valentine's Day Fun
      There are so many fun activities available for Valentine's Day that it can be hard to choose. My students love creating writing assignments and STEM challenges, so I combined the two and came up with some fun ideas:
      • Cards are an important part of Valentine's Day. This STEM challenge asks students to develop cards and packaging for a card company. so why not have your students make some. Check it out here.
      Boom Cards
      I love using digital resources in my classroom for math stations. Boom Cards,self-checking digital task cards, are my favorite! My students love them, too. I will be using some Valentine's Day themed decks this year. This adorable love bug Boom deck practices adding, subtracting, and multiplying fractions. How would you like to try this deck for FREE? Click here. 

      A membership is required, but it is free to join. There are other membership levels, too. You can check out some other fun Boom decks here. 

      If you looking for more ideas for Valentine's Day check out this blog postDon't forget to get your free boom deck! Click here

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