Color by number math activities and distance learning? You bet!
Digital color by numbers? Nope, not for me:) I like the paper and pencil! A Little Distance Learning History As we know, distance learning and digital learning are not synonymous. Distance learning has existed for a looonng time. Early on, it was called 'correspondence education' or 'correspondence learning.' Students received assignments in the mail, completed them, and mailed their work back to their educational institution. A few examples of early distance learning include:
Check out this infographic for more detail about distance learning history. Distance Learning Doesn't Have to Mean Digital Learning Why consider this history? With schools moving to distance learning in light of the COVID19 pandemic, I think it's important to remember that even though we have the technology to provide digital learning experiences, distance learning doesn't have to mean just digital learning. Paper and pencil activities have their place in distance learning; in some cases, such activities can provide greater benefits than digital activities.
Color by Number Activities Help Children (and Adults)
Why are color by number activities an important part of the current distance learning needs? Because of the many benefits coloring provides! During this difficult time, the benefits of coloring are so helpful to our students and our own children (and to us). Here are just a few:
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What type of math activity do you most like to have your middle school math students work on?
For me, it's almost always been problem solving. This could include word problems that apply specific math concepts, word problems that incorporate a variety of math concepts, logic puzzles, or word problems that focus on problem solving strategies (create a table, make an organized list, find a pattern, work backwards, draw a picture, etc). I love using problems that have more than one correct solution, so students can share the thinking that leads to different answers. Cooperative Groups When we work on problem solving activities, I often have students work together, so they can model for each other and share/listen to each others' thinking and reasoning. I wrote the "Party Planning" problem to give students practice with decimal operations and with solving problems with multiple solutions. To solve the problem, students worked with one or two partners to come up with combinations of foods that Reggie could buy for a party. To find their solutions, students needed to add decimals; multiply if they were going to include several of one item; and possibly subtract, if their total was over $50. Student Conversation and Feedback I loved listening to the kids' conversations as they worked on this problem. I heard comments like, "No one eats pretzels," or, "I'd choose candy and chips over pretzels," and so on. The students had a few important questions for me, as they were pretty serious about this planning. They asked: "Is this a "regular" party or like a sleepover party, because the kind of food would depend on how long the party is." "How big is the container of ice cream?" "How big is the bag of candy?"
Bingo  an oldie but goodie!
This post is from my old blog (and adjusted some:), sharing how I used algebraic equations bingo in my 6th grade math class. Even in middle school, math students have a great time with bingo! We've used the algebraic equations bingo to practice and review for an upcoming test and to revisit the concept of solving equations before we tackled solving equations with fractions and decimals. The Algebraic Equations Bingo set has 11 different bingo cards (printable sheets). Students solve the onestep equations found on their cards before we play, so they know what numbers they're listening for instead of scrambling to figure out answers once we start calling numbers. When I use this activity, I don't laminate the cards, because I like the fact that students can solve and write their answers right on the cards. This makes the numbers a bit easier for students to find when I call them. However, if you have good dry erase markers so students can solve on the cards and then completely erase the ink, laminating would be great for reusing every year  it would definitely cut down on the copying!
Back to School Activities
Always looking for new ideas for the beginning of the year? Me too!
I've got a few for you and your students, for when you head back to school!
The Name Game
I used this game for many years.....many times I'd plan not to, but then I couldn't stand not knowing kids' names right away, so we'd play:) Students and I get into a big circle, and I ask students to come up with an adjective that describes them and begins with the same sound as the beginning of their first name, like 'Energetic Ellie." The first student to my left shares his/her name; the 2nd student repeats the 1st student's name and then shares his own. The third student repeats the first two names/adjectives, and adds her own. The activity continues in this way around the circle until we get to me, and I get to repeat all the names. This game helps me to get to know all the students' names during the first class session. It also helps me learn about the students  it tells me who seems to have a good memory and who has more difficulty. I can see who appears to be confident and who is more hesitant; who's willing to accept help (I always prompt if they want/need) and who isn't. And of course, their adjectives usually tell me something about them:)
Getting to Know You Truth or Dare
Truth or Dare  kids are intrigued when they hear the name! “Math Truth or Dare – Getting to Know You” is a set of 30 questions you can use to get to know your students and to help your students get to know each other. There are 15 “Truth” question cards and 15 “Dare” question cards. Most of them do not have a “correct” answer, so if more than 15 students choose to answer a “truth” question or a “dare” question, then the questions can be used again. The Truth questions ask about the students, while the Dare questions ask students to complete math computations (some of the computations are based on facts about the student, so these can also be used again, as students’ answers may be different.) You can grab this freebie on TPT or as part of the free download if you opt in for my email updates. How do you help your math students retain concepts? How do they remember the meanings of certain terms? How do you help them prepare for those standardized tests? Spiral review helps with all of these. I've been using spiral review for a long time, but never wrote about it before  so here we go:)
How does spiral review on a daily basis help students?
I've been using daily math with spiral review since 2013. I created my own daily math at that time, because I couldn't find a resource that really helped my students. With this spiral review, I found these benefits:
Ideas for How to Use Daily Math
1) Cut each page into the separate days for students to work on as their bell ringer or warm up. 2) Have students keep the daily math pages in a binder so they always have them available (my favorite). 3) Display the pages for students to see as they enter the class. They can complete the problems in their notebooks. 4) Use the pages as homework. 5) Have a weekly/monthly/quarterly quiz, allowing students to use their daily math pages as a resource  I love doing this because it helps students to make sure they don't lose their pages! Finding the Lowest Common Denominator with the Ladder Method What's the most challenging math topic to teach/most difficult for your students to ‘get'? This was my question in a recent Instagram survey. I got a variety of responses, but the one that came up most often was fractions – remembering the ‘rules;’ students finding common denominators when they were multiplying; students (older students) not being able to find a common denominator; and so on. So, today, I’m going to share how to use the ladder method to find the lowest (least) common denominator, and hopefully, if your students have struggled with this, it will help them (and you!). Before I explain how it works, I want to share that I've used the ladder method for several years, after many years of teaching GCF and LCM the ‘traditional’ way  the way I’d been taught! And during those years, I’d often get frustrated by the fact that students would miss the GCF because they missed factors, or they couldn’t find the LCD because the numbers got too big so they just multiplied the denominators…..or they listed out the multiples, but made a mistake in one list, and so they never found an LCM/LCD. I'm sure you know what I mean! The ladder method took these issues away, and it also added something I didn’t initially expect – it appeared to improve number sense for many students who struggled with their multiplication facts or with the idea of finding factors and multiples. It helped them understand HOW numbers were related to each other by making the breakdown of the #s more visual (using prime factorization does this as well, but the ladder method provides a little more organization to the process, and I think that’s helpful).
Use Task Cards in a New Way, to Provide
SelfDifferentiation and Promote Discussion
If you're like me (and so many other teachers), you know that task cards can be used in sooo many ways. From centers to Footloose (or Scoot) to exit tickets to entrance tickets to miniquizzes  the list is long!
However, if you're like me in other ways, you're always looking for something new and different. This year, my "new and different" was to start using task cards to play Truth or Dare in math and language arts classes! To use them this way, some of the task/question cards need to be written as True or False questions, which can make the questions just a little trickier and lead to more indepth thinking. I allow students to discuss the answers after the "official" answer is given, and depending on the question, students end up having great discussions! The Dare questions are a little harder, require more calculation or perhaps more verbal explanation than the Truth cards, and so they are worth more points. (Truth cards are worth one point while Dare cards are worth 2 or 3  I've even thrown in a 4pointer here and there.) What makes this game fun? Well, it's a little different  with the "dare" part in there. Students also don't always know how many points they're going to get to try, so that offers a little excitement. I like the fact that students can choose the type of question they want, so it allows for some selfdetermined differentiation...the choice gives the more hesitant students the chance to feel a little more confident. After creating several paper and pencil Truth or Dare games, my wonderful friend Leah (Secondary Resources for Social Studies & English) suggested that I make a Google classroom version, and I'm so glad I did! It's so easy to use and there's little to no copying needed! (A little copying if I want students to write their work/answers on paper; no copying if I want to share the Truth or Dare game in Edit mode and have students type their answers.) Check out the 2minute video below  it shows how the game works in Edit mode (there are one or two "slow to refresh" spots in the video, so please don't think it's not working:)
Check out this video to learn more about the way the game is played with paper/pencil  in any subject!
You can check out the Truth or Dare games in my TPT store. I hope you can use this game ideait can be used in any subject! P.S. Truth or Dare games (as well as other activities) are also available to play here on my site, as webbased activities. You can check them out here.
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