Saturday, November 12, 2022

Teaching Multiplication to 3rd Graders

If you're here reading this post - it's probably because you are a 3rd-grade teacher. #bestgradeever

Although I love the grade level, I must admit that 3rd-grade teachers are bridging the academic gap from the lower grades to the upper grades. You have SO MUCH new content to teach your kiddos through the course of the year and it can be A LOT.

Over the years, I've really taken a look at my own teaching to learn how to make math, make sense for my students. I found that "following the book" aka our school curriculum didn't work for me and my students. I found myself getting confused at times and most of all, my students weren't getting it how they were supposed to. 

I took a deep dive into the standards and am here to share some tips and tricks that I've learned along the way to help my kiddos learn these math standards. If you're interested, you can sign up for my email list geared specifically to helping 3rd-grade teachers. 

So today- let's chat about Introducing Multiplication

The way in which you go about introducing multiplication and getting your students thinking about it is critical for their later understanding and application of the concept. 

Make it Concrete

When you first introduce multiplication, you want to be sure to emphasize that multiplication is all about equal groups.
Before even jumping into the concept, talk to your students about things that most always come in groups. A fun way to do this is to allow them to brainstorm these items on chart paper and organize them by the number in each group. For example, eggs usually come in a dozen, juice or soda usually come in 6 packs, etc.
Once they understand that objects come in a group, you’ll want to ask them how they would figure out the total number of juices if someone had bought 4 juice packs from the store. 
For this, I like to give my students unifix cubes and allow them to actually represent the scenario. This is powerful because students can SEE the representation in a concrete way. 

To find out the total number of juice, students will most likely figure this out by using repeated addition or skip counting.
This is where you will make the connection that multiplication is all about equal groups of items. You cannot multiply if you do not have equal groups (groups with the same amount of objects in each group). 

The reason it’s important to emphasize this is for when it comes to word problems. If you teach your students to draw out the information they know in word problems- they can easily identify when it’s multiplication and you won’t need to rely on keywords.

 Share the PURPOSE

Being a good mathematician is all about being efficient. Ask your students how they might solve a problem if you bought 85 packs of juice. Would it be smart to use repeated addition? Obviously not- which is why we have multiplication! 

Practicing Multiplication

When your students see expressions such as 4 x 3, you want to train them to read it and think of it as 4 groups of 3. 
Training your students to read expressions in this way gives meaning behind the abstract representations. They can easily visualize how to represent this expression. 
When working on this standard, I like to throw out expressions and have my students represent it in a variety of ways: equal groups, repeated addition, an equation, array, and bar model drawing. 

This gets students to really visualize and understand the meaning behind each expression. 

You can find this organizer here 
As I'm introducing 3.OA.1, I train my kiddos to see/visualize and represent multiplication in all these ways. Having them think of the expressions as 'groups of', helps them to understand the meaning of each expression. 

I found that focusing on building understanding of what multiplication truly is, having students practice representing multiplication, and teaching them strategies to learn their multiplication facts all lead to students being able to solve word problems with ease. 

If you're interested, all of the worksheets I use to teach multiplication can be found here. 
As you begin to wind down teaching 3.OA.1, don't forget to grab these Quick Checks to use as formative assessments. They can be used as quick exit passes to assess student learning and guide instruction for the following day!
There are half-sheet quick checks along with self-grading Google Forms! 
Until next time,

Monday, September 26, 2022

5 Ways to Get Your Students Reading to Boost Achievement!

Are your students reading 15 minutes a day? If not they should be! Research shows that 

reading for 15 minutes a day makes all the difference between a successful student and a struggling student. But why 15 minutes?


Importance of Reading

A study comparing the engaged reading time and reading scores of more than 2.2 million students found that students who were reading 15 minutes a day or more got a higher reading score than the national average. Growth in a student's reading skills only happens when that student reads for at least 15 minutes a day. 

In this same study it was found that students who read less than 5 minutes a day saw the lowest level of growth in their reading scores. Their scores were also well below the national reading average. Students who read between 5 and 14 minutes per day did a little better, but their scores were also below the national average. “15 minutes seems to be the ‘magic number’ at which students start seeing substantial positive gains in reading achievement.” Renaissance


Reading Linked to Student Success in School 

According to a study of the Programme of International Student Assessment (PISA) scores of over 174,000 students around the world, there is a connection between a student’s reading practice and performance. Talentnook

So what is the difference between a student who reads for less than 15 minutes a day and a student who reads for more than 30 minutes a day? It can’t be that big of a difference, right? Wrong. There is actually a huge difference. The difference is 12 million.

By the time a student graduates high school, a student reading for 30 minutes or more a day will encounter 13.7 million words. And the number of words their classmates who aren’t reading 15 minutes a day will encounter? 1.5 million words. It is so important that our students are reading 15 minutes per day because it will greatly impact their success and achievement in school. 


1. Encourage Reading in Your Classroom, in any way or form.  

It is so important that we encourage our students to read. Some of the ways we can do this is to invite them to reread, or read it again and again. Rereading builds speed and accuracy and helps students gain confidence in their reading skills.

For our youngest readers, teaching them that reading the pictures is also a form of reading. This will help them to feel capable of reading and begin a love for reading at an early age.

2. Teach Students to Find Just Right Books

Teaching students to find books that are a good fit is also extremely important. If students are reading books that are too difficult for them and/or not of interest, that is surely a way to discourage them from wanting to read more. By teaching them how to properly shop for books, we can help to build that love of reading.

When teaching students to book shop, have them open up a book and read through a few paragraphs. Can they read and understand most of the words? Is it too easy? Does what they are reading interest them? Is the type of book interesting to them?

If so- this is a good fit. If not, they can return it and find a new one. I also like to let students know that it's totally okay to start a book and decide that you don't like it.

 3. Organize Your Class Library to Make Book Shopping Easy

 Let's be honest- finding books in a library are rather difficult if you are just browsing and don't have a specific author or title in mind. I believe it's important to organize your own classroom library so that it's easy for students to find books they love reading. We don't wan't students to get discouraged from reading because it's too difficult to find a book!

Book bins are a great way to keep books organized and the best thing about it is that students can pull a bin out and easily look through to find a book they like. Students often check out books by looking at their covers. They are much more likely to pull out a book if they can see the cover versus just the spine.

The other great thing I love about the bins is that you can choose different ways to organize your books to make book shopping easier for students. In my own classroom library, I had my books sorted out by popular chapter series, favorite authors, and genre. This way, students could stick to the books they love, discover new books by their favorite author or even explore new books in their favorite genres. You can grab my library book bin labels here.



4. Host a Book Drive 

Another great way to make books accessible to students is to host a book drive at your school!

If you have never heard of a book drive, it is where students bring in gently used books and swap them out for a new one. The great thing about a book drive is that it provides new books to students and also makes reading more accessible to those who may not have books at home. It also helps to encourage reading at home. I held one at my school a few years ago and it was a total hit!


To ensure book swap inventory stayed up, I required children to swap for the same type of book they brought in (chapter book for chapter book and picture book for picture book). To keep track, when kids came to give their books, they would get a colored ticket (indicating picture or chapter book). They could then choose however many books for the number of tickets they had. 

If you have any questions for me about hosting your own book swap, feel free to DM me over on Instagram @teachinginparadise

5. Make Time for Read Alouds, Daily

I know that as teachers, you are always strapped for time. However, research shows how important it is for students to be reading daily. By Incorporating read alouds into your school day you are modeling fluent reading for students, introducing them to new books and authors, and most importantly, helping them to find the joy in reading!

I love to use Read Alouds to introduce new concepts that we are learning about. It's a great way to throw in a fun picture book. 

In addition, during the month of December, we read 1 Christmas/Winter story a day. The kids are so excited and look forward to these daily holiday read alouds. You'd be surprised how many students are not read to at home on a daily basis. 

So, no matter how old your students are, they all love to be read to! I've seen 6th graders in our school library so excited to sit on the ground for our librarian to read to them!

If you're a 3rd grade teacher, get my list of favorite Gr.3 Read Alouds here.

As educators, we want to do all we can to ensure that our students are successful in school and later on in life. One of the best ways we can do this is to make books accessible and ensure that they are reading the magic number of 15 minutes a day.


Until next time.