Supplements are the key to a “healthy” math program. I know that many of you primary teachers know this, but I am here to reinforce that decision you made to stray from the almighty manual. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying to leave the teacher’s guide in the cupboard, but I am here to urge you to not feel tied to each and every word/activity. I know that the administration is pushing for consistency. And, I get that. However, in my eyes, supplemental games, lessons, and activities are the essential engaging element needed to make math meaningful for our students.
Let’s face it, many of the programs out there leave much to be desired in the kid-friendly department . . . or even worse . . . some are just not developmentally appropriate (in my humble opinion). With this said, I am here to toss a few ideas your way to BOOST the program you love, like, or are forced to use.
I am a strong believer in vivid visuals that really work to make those tough standards stick. One way to easily tackle this idea is to introduce acting when targeting a new concept. The sky is the limit with this one and the kids L-O-V-E being actively involved in the presentation of new material. Pick your “hams” during your first few “takes.” Pretty soon most of your kiddos will find their “brave” vibe and jump in to help act too!
In addition, props are always strong visuals in the math department. If you can present a standard/concept in a way that is novel and amusing, many kids are able to push this newly learned information into the long-term memory banks. Props can be as easy as objects you have hangin’ around your classroom or silly items that you construct. My suggestion is to put your kid hat on while you lesson plan.
These are just a few ideas in the visual department (CLICK HERE to read about the Tens Fact Cheer). The Dollar Store, Target Dollar Spot, and Oriental Trading are your friends for oodles of props. Just pursuing the available items often gives you ideas that you can make on your own.
RE-THINK THE CANNED LESSON
Both of the schools I worked at ended up adopting the same math curriculum a few years back. It was free and provided a quick fix to incorporate the Common Core. I’ll be honest here as I ain’t all that good at sugar coating my feelings. Over the years, this curriculum left me longing for more. Engage NY/Eureka Math just wasn’t/isn’t my cup of tea as a stand alone program. Therefore, I began to supplement like crazy. It took oodles of extra work on weekends, long evenings after school, and a few rushed early mornings, but I started creating related materials that taught concepts in a similar fashion. I simply wanted resources that helped to scaffold the standards a bit more . . . while adding some kid-friendly flavor. (If you use Engage/Eureka, you know that the lack of color and pixellated graphics are not the most captivating for our primary kiddos.)
I came up with everything from less overwhelming practice sets and simpler lesson introductions, to module assessments and quick checks. When I had time and noticed a way I could make a change for the better, I jumped on it. Since I did all of this work, I figured why not offer it up for FREE and save my fellow Engage users some valuable time? #payingitforward
Now, these are somewhat random. As I said above, if I had time, I worked to spice up lessons. Most of these were at the beginning of the year (Module One) as I felt it needed the most additional support. Firsties are SO little when they come in that door. They just need more hand holding and fun up front. You also will find quite a few quick checks that you can give to assess learning throughout a module. I wanted a gage to know how I was doing outside of the mid-module assessment. Finally, I made bigger module tests as well as trimester assessments. I found that the tests provided often left out concepts I wanted assessed and/or presented the material in a way that was confusing. I should tell you that not everything is covered. I had surgery last year and had to pick my battles. Therefore, there are gaps. But, I promise that there is meaningful support hiding in this free file. CLICK HERE to take a look-see. If you would like one of my templates in an editable form, just email me (firstname.lastname@example.org). If you think you could use it to create similar supplements that fill my “holes” and look similar, I am down to share! I’m all about the matchy-matchy 🙂
GET YOUR GAME ON
Games. Games. And more games. If our kids are “playing” they forget that they are actually learning. Engagement goes up and behavior issues go down. It’s a definite win for all involved. I know you already know this fun factoid and you most likely are already rollin’ with this in your room. I have made collections of math games that align to the first grade Engage modules and many other standards. Each monthly set contains 13 seasonal games and a FREE related song from Ron Brown’s Intelli-Tunes. Check out my various collections HERE. The math section in my TPT shop also contains many engaging standards-based packets and freebies!
One final note and I’ll leave you be today. When feeling the urge to supplement, please remember . . . YOU are a professional. YOU know your class and what they need better than anyone. Again, I am not saying to forgo the entire math program. That will get you tossed out on your ear. However, I am advocating that we make math more fun for our students, thus getting them excited about it again. My goal today was to offer a little support in this area. Heaven knows supplementing takes hours. With this said, maybe some of my labor over the past couple of years can save you from having to lose any more of your cherished time. ((I’m climbing down off of my soapbox now . . . jeeze . . . the older I get, the longer I stand on the dang thing!))
Alright, I am out. Big hugs and thanks for visiting. I’ll be back again soon with something good 🙂