More Great Games!

Posted on September 29, 2014. Filed under: Common Core, Math Centers | Tags: , , , , |

Here is a site with great game links!


Happy Mathing,

Dr. Nicki

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Subtraction Strategies

Posted on September 22, 2014. Filed under: Mathematical Proficiency | Tags: , , , , , |

Great ideas for teaching subtraction strategies in 2nd and 3rd grade.  The actual structure is good for all grades.  Notice how she frames the problems on the board, this is a great way to jumpstart mathematical conversations about strategies.



Happy Mathing,

Dr. Nicki

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Upper Elementary Toolkits

Posted on September 14, 2014. Filed under: Common Core, Manipulatives | Tags: , , , |

Here are some items that belong in an upper elementary toolkit.  Remember that a toolkit has 2 parts. The first part is the materials and the second part is the templates. Introduce the items as you use them.  In the beginning of the year you will use many of these items in your daily routines.  For example, you can use the pattern blocks during the Fraction of the Day routine.


Unifix Cubes

Fraction Squares, Circles, Bars

Pattern Blocks  (for teaching fractions and geometry)

Bears (for fraction set models) (also for multiplication problems)

Base Ten Blocks

Elapsed Time Ruler –

google UEN  Utah Education Network elapsed time ruler

1 inch tiles

Decimal Squares

Decimal Wheels


Unifix Cubes Paper – multiplication: groups of problems

copy links –

Fraction Squares, Circles, Bars –

copy links

Fraction number line

copy link

Pattern Block Paper (for fractions and geometry)

copy link –

Base Ten Blocks Paper

Base ten grid and Ten Thousand Grid Paper

copy link

1-inch tile Paper

copy link –

Decimal Squares

Decimal Wheels

copy link   (page 65)

Geoboard paper (use for geometry and fractions)

copy link



Happy Mathing,

Dr. Nicki

***In many cases you have to copy the link and paste it into the url because it is a pdf and it won’t hyperlink.

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Here is another great site for math fact fluency!

Posted on December 5, 2013. Filed under: Assessment, Common Core, Common Math Errors, Differentiated Instruction, Math Centers, Math Workstations | Tags: , , , , , , , |

It is free!  It is printable!  It is also informative!  Check it out!

Paper and Pencil Assessments…

Online Assessments….

Remember that automaticity is only one element of fact fluency! Don’t forget about flexibility and efficiency.

Happy Mathing!

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Here is a great site for online math fluency practice!

Posted on December 4, 2013. Filed under: Common Core, Math Centers, Math Workstations | Tags: , , , , , , |

It is free!  It is informative!  It allows students to track their fluency levels!

Check it out!

Happy Mathing,

Dr. Nicki


PS: Remember that automaticity is only one of the 3 components of fact fluency!  Don’t forget flexibility and efficiency!

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Flourishing in Math

Posted on August 30, 2013. Filed under: Classroom environment | Tags: , , |

A community is a place where social bonds are established and individuals can flourish (Bredekamp and Rosegrant 1992, 81).

I love this!  What does it look like when everyone in our classroom is flourishing?  How do we strive for that as educators?

P.S. As quite as it’s kept….everyone can flourish….it depends on the perseverance of the teacher!

P.S.S. (of a person, animal, or other living organism) grow or develop in a healthy or vigorous way, esp. as the result of a particularly favorable environment.

Wow!—-what a difference a classroom environment can make…a favorable environment helps students to flourish…to thrive…to soar…

Happy Mathing,

Dr. Nicki


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Building a Community of Thinking Mathematicians

Posted on August 28, 2013. Filed under: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , |

A community is a place where individuals share common values, goals, and activities (Bredekamp and Rosegrant 1992, 81).

Building a collaborative community of thinking mathematicians is one of the most important things that you do the first few weeks of school.  It is then that children learn messages about who counts, who doesn’t (even though everybody should), how to talk, treat each other, how to persevere or quit, how to learn or not learn.

How are you setting up your mathematical community?  What are the common values?  How are these established?  What are the common goals?  How are these established?  What math rituals and routines do you do that reinforce these?

Here are some thoughts about teaching values, goals and routines  in math class:

Values: Perseverance counts…we stick with stuff until we get it… we get it at different times… we don’t rush each other… we respect the need to think…we value talk….we learn together….

Goals:  We set them …we state them….we track them……we strive to think about things in many ways… (we also value it)…

Routines: We do things like number talks and number of the day and fraction of the day and decimal of the day and calendar math because it reflects our values (we hang out with numbers…we get on friendly terms with them throughout the day, week and year…we value numeracy) and it helps us to meet our goals.

Happy Mathing and Have a Great School Year,

Dr. Nicki


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4 Must Have Math Workstations: # 3 The Digital Workstation

Posted on July 30, 2013. Filed under: Common Core, Digital Learners, Math Centers, Math Workstations, virtual manipulatives | Tags: , , , , |

July 30, 2013

The students that we teach are known as “Digital Natives” by Prensky (2001). We on the other hand, are referred to as the “Immigrants.” They were born in the 21st century.  We were born in the 20th century.  We teach the way we learned.  So, many of us are still using 20th century ways to teach in the 21st century.  I am not suggesting that we throw out all of those ways.  But, WE MUST add to them.  We must expand our own repertoires of teaching.  We must learn some new ways.  We must step into the 21st century.

I had the honor of working with Heidi Hayes Jacobs for years at Columbia during the summers. She would always tell teachers to upgrade just 1 thing in their classrooms-  Just 1.  I think that works.  That way, we don’t become overwhelmed and and simultaneously we don’t underwhelm our students with our teaching.  Learn just 1 new thing that reflects that we live, learn and teach in the 21st century.

Here are 5 great sites to get you started!

#1: Have the students watch or make a glog: (check out the glogopedia to get ideas)

#2: Have the students watch or make an animoto as a hook into a lesson.

#3: Play games on Math PlaygroundCyberchase, BBC, Johnnie’s Homepage,Harvey’s HomepageMath Play

#4: Use virtual manipulatives (NLVMGlencoeMath Playground)

#5: Show education video clips to teach a concept (teacher tubeschool tubelearn zillionMath Playground) 

Happy Mathing,

Dr. Nicki

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Must Have Workstations: The Vocabulary Math Workstation

Posted on July 17, 2013. Filed under: Common Math Errors, Math Centers, Math is a Language, Math Workstations | Tags: , , , |

Math is a language!  If we want our students to speak it, we have to teach them the words.  So, have a vocabulary math workstation.  In the vocabulary math workstation you are trying to get students to own the vocabulary through games and activities  and math journal activities. Remember in the CCSSM students are evaluated on whether they are using everyday words or math words.  So, instead of number and answer…they should be saying factor, divisor, addend and quotient, sum, difference, product.  Be sure you speak math to your students, require them to speak math with you and each other and give them ample opportunities to practice the words.

Granite Math Vocabulary words are great because you can cut them up and play matching games with the words, the examples and the definitions.

Math Spelling City – There are several activities to do with the CCSS math aligned word lists! – Make crossword puzzles and word finds.  Crossword puzzles are great and academically rigorous because you are giving students the definition and asking them to tell you the word.  Also, give them word finds, not just to find the word but to find, define, use it in a sentence, and give an example.

Set up tic tac toe games where the students have to choose a word and illustrate and define it.  ( -test saavy)

Have students do interactive math journal activities with the words.

Happy Mathing,

Dr. Nicki


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Math Workstations: Component 4 (Academically Rigorous)

Posted on June 6, 2013. Filed under: Assessment, Common Core, Guided math, Math Workstations, RTI, Test prep | Tags: , , , , , , |

Math workstations should be academically rigorous.  One way, (a very important way I might add) is to use the DOK Framework.  If you are teaching the CCSSM, both assessment agencies (PARCC and Smarter Balance) are framing activities around this framework.  As the NYC website notes:

Webb’s Depth of Knowledge (DOK) provides a vocabulary and a frame of reference when thinking about our students and how they engage with the content. DOK offers a common language to understand “rigor,” or cognitive demand, in assessments, as well as curricular units, lessons, and tasks. Webb developed four DOK levels that grow in cognitive complexity and provide educators a lens on creating more cognitively engaging and challenging tasks.

Here are a few DOK resources: (Download the free samples)

I plan to do a whole series of posts on DOK soon.  In the meantime, just know that DOK is the framework used for rigor in the CCSS.  It is very important to consider this framework as you  look at units of study, individual lessons, workstations, guided math lessons and performance tasks.

Happy mathing,

Dr. Nicki

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