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3rd-5th


                      TIPS FOR TEACHING ELEMENTARY MATH
Math is one of those subjects that needs to be practiced every day. If you don't like math, the best way to get better is to do it, and when you get better at it you will like it a lot more. I promise!! 

Hello parents! If you're teaching elementary math, you're in for a treat, but don't get caught in the thought that simple math is easy to teach. Hopefully, my videos will help you teach and help your child understand the more challenging concepts more easily. There are a number of activities that you will need to facilitate at home. Elementary math is still pretty concrete and hands-on activities are still important. You will need to have math manipulatives like metric/U.S. rulers, meter/yard stick, counters, etc. that were used in K-2 lessons.

It's in 3rd grade that students learn their multiplication and division facts and they need to be able to do basic math (adding, subtracting, multiplication, division) quickly in their heads. This takes practice and flash cards. You can buy them, get them online and print them, or have them make their own. They also need to organize their work, and be responsible for doing all of their homework. Since they're just learning these things it will be important for you to help them without doing everything for them. Sometimes when we don't like a subject or find it difficult, we want to practice it less frequently, however, math is one of those subjects that is learned best when practiced every day. When students become comfortable and practice enough to be proficient, they will build confidence and enjoy it far more. Whether learning at home or in school, these are my basic math rules.

POWER-UPS

Power-Ups get your brain in the math zone. They can also be used as quick quizzes and will give you an idea of what you child is remembering. The power-up workbook will help students put all their answers in one place. Each set of power-ups contans facts practice, a jump start, mental math, and a problem to solve. The problems may seem very easy to you, but sometimes it can be a challenge to explain what seems easy or comes naturally to an adult. Please do not skip this! 

Problem Solving is great practice for your child to think outside of the box and start applying math concepts in different ways. We problem-solve all day long. 

        Problem: I can't find my shoes. Problem Solving: Where have I looked? Where did I see them last?  

If your child gets stuck, remind him/her of the problem solving process. 

  1. UNDERSTAND - What is the problem asking you to do?
  2. THINK - What do I know about math that will help me figure it out?
  3. PLAN - What steps will I follow to get the answer? 
  4. SOLVE - Follow your plan. 
  5. CHECK - Does your result make sense? Did you make any mistakes?

NOTEBOOKS

I am a huge fan of math notebooks even in the lower grades. It's never too early to start being organized and notebooks help. They should contain math only.  Students should start learning how to take notes early and math is a good place to do that. Elementary notes should contain definitions of math terms highlighted in the video and all the example problems on one page and the homework problems on the following page. There's nothing like not being able to find your math work because it's on scraps of paper all over the house or disorganized in a folder (or organized and managed by a parent). I suggest a spiral (or similar) notebook for notes and homework; notes should be dated and followed by that day's homework. By the 5th grade students should be good at staying organized and this should help in many other classes as well. Trust me when I tell you that when your child gets to college s/he will be able to stay organized if you're diligent at teaching them this skill. Be sure to check the notebooks occasionally to make sure they're staying on top of things. All notes and homework should be well labeled.  Remember that 3rd graders are just starting to learn this process, so don't be too hard on them, but by 5th grade you should be taking points off for neatness. 

HOMEWORK

Homework is essential in committing concepts to memory and being able to apply concepts to different situations. You may think the number of problems is too much, especially when your child starts tell you it's too much. It's not too much. If s/he is taking to long to do it then you need to see if there's a problem understanding the concepts. If necessary, contact me and we can figure out what's going on together.

 It should be neat, well labeled, legible, and complete. Please do not put off grading so that you're grading a weeks worth of work at a time. Your child needs the feedback and you need to know in what areas s/he may be having difficulty. Please don't get in the habit of letting your child correct his/her own work unless you check it to make sure they're being honest. You'd be amazed at how they rationalize their wrong answers to be right. Also, do not let them get into the habit of needing to have each problem checked immediately after they've finished it. 

Even elementary students should go back and see where they've gone wrong, especially if they're getting the same types of problems incorrect regularly. Show them how to do this. It will help them become more responsible for their learning. 

TESTS

Saxon tests after every five lessons in the lower grades. You may think this is too many tests, but it's really a good thing. The more tests students take, the easier the less test-taking anxiety they will have. Even if you don't think they need it and you think you have a good handle on what they understand, please test your child. I also strongly suggest you give your child a time limit of an hour to take a test. They will not have unlimited time in the future and need to get used to that. Sometimes young students daydream or have trouble staying on task. Encourage them in the 3rd grade, but don't let them take all afternoon to get a test done. It only prolongs the agony. Also, please, please do not help them on tests. If they don't know it, they don't know it. Help them understand the question, but not how to find the answer. Saxon gives two forms of each test, A and B. If students receive a grade of 75% or lower they may re-take that test one time, after making appropriate corrections and before the next scheduled test. The primary goal is that students learn the material, but giving them multiple oportunities to pass a test is not the way to do that. 

GRADING

You may not like grading, but you need a way to determine your child's success objectively. Grading can be tricky. Saxon suggests an 80/20 rule. Tests are worth 80% and homework is worth 20% of a student's final grade. Implemented as written with possible test retakes, I found that both fair and achievable. 

CALCULATOR USE

Before Algebra 1, students should have little or no access to calculators. Elementary students do NOT need to use calculators. They do not need to learn the skill of using a calculator. It's not so complicated they can learn it at any time in a matter of a few minutes. They do not need to use them to check their answers. Have them check their addition by subtracting and their subtraction by adding. Have them check their multiplication by dividing and their division by multiplying. It is extremely important for students to build up their basic math skills so that they become automatic.