Goal! Helping Students Set and Reach Goals

As an intervention teacher, I've seen the power of setting a clear goal.  I've seen students beg to take a test because they want to prove to me that they know something.

What more can you ask for?

When our leadership team was preparing to move our school in the direction of teacher led conferences, I share a goal sheet that I sometimes use in intervention.  

Goals for a Lesson

I created this sheet one day after I felt like my multiplication group was not focused.  Each student has a multiple to focus on and a test to pass.  I let them choose from a variety of ways to practice.  This works well when I have 4th-6th grade intervention students but a new 3rd grade group wasn't quite getting that choice doesn't mean free time.  

This form helped.  They filled in something as simple as I will memorize my 6s.  Then, they chose two ways that they were going to practice and they had to stick to those two choices.  I saw a difference in effort, concentration and motivation right away.

Goals at Conferences

Our leadership team decided to do something similar for conferences.  This was a tool they used during student led conferences to help them share what they need to work on.

For my Kinder and primary teams, I made a simple version with dotted lines.

Our upper grade students were able to handle a bit more.

Positivity is key.  We wanted to make sure that the students listed their strengths before setting a goal for improvement.  

Helping Students Exceed Expectations

Our school has been using a helpful book called Visible Learning by John Hattie as part of our Data Teams Process.

I'm part of an intervention team that meets a few times a year.  Our team of 4 teachers set two goals.  We wanted to track and make sure at least 70% of the students in intervention and SPED were making progress towards their goals.  We also wanted to support homeroom teachers to promote great teaching and Tier 1 interventions in the classroom.

One of the great things about the book Visible Learning is that you can see which teaching strategies have proven effective.  After looking at a ton of students, they created an "effect size" score.  One strategy that is most effective is self reported grades.  My intervention team put together this little flyer encouraging ways to encourage students to have high expectations for themselves.  I included this with the goals sheets because I want you to remember to have students set challenging goals for themselves.

Spring Time is a Good Time for Goals

You don't have to wait for conference time to have your students set goals.  Spring time is a time when students lose a bit  a lot of focus.  These goal sheets can help remind your students why they are at school and what they need to learn before summer. 

These can be used to set academic or behavioral goals.

I'd love to hear about how you use them in your classroom.

Superhero Product Linky

My friend, Diane, from Fifth in the Middle is hosting a fun linky to celebrate the upcoming TPT sale.

One of my most recent products is my Super Subtracters pack which helps students learn the 35 subtraction facts between 10 and 20 and become fluent at subtracting.  This product helped my kiddos go from feeling overwhelmed by subtraction to feeling like a superhero.

You can see it in action in my classroom here.

You can click the picture or click here to find it in my store.

Remember to use the code HEROES to get an extra discount during the sale.

Be sure to check back at Fifth in the Middle by clicking below for more fun heroic products.

I'm off to go give some feedback and stock up on points for the sale.  
Don't forget leaving feedback can be lucrative. :)

Thanks for the Love Celebration

I'm so thankful for every one of you.  What's the best way to thank a teacher?  Freebies of course!

One summer day in 2012, I decided it was time to venture into the Teachers Pay Teachers world.  I pulled up something I'd made for my classroom and made it cuter.  I like to call it fanc-i-fied even though the teacher in knows it isn't a real word.  That same day I started this blog.  I'm kind of a jump in the deep in kind of person.

When I started, I thought it would be awesome if a couple people could use something I had made. Honestly, my mind is blown when I think of how many students have had the opportunity to have a little fun while learning because I took that leap that day.  I've reached my first milestone on Teachers Pay Teachers and I want to thank you.

Thank you for trusting me and my products by using them in your classroom.  Thank you for the positivity in your feedback.  Thanks for talking with me through this blog and social media.  I appreciate every one of you.

I have two items that will be free until the end of this long weekend.

Multiplication Cover Up 

I love playing this game with my students that are working to memorize their facts.  I've played it with 3rd through 6th graders during my intervention group.  The goal is to get 5 in a row.  I seeing the students start to think strategically and do things like block their partner from getting 5.  I also have had a few kids that love Bump so much that they try to get 5 in a row while also bumping each other. If you are looking for ideas on how to encourage multiplication fluency, check out this post.

Super Subtracters

For my primary people I have my Super Subtracters currently free.  I keep getting kids in intervention that struggle to subtract within 20.  I realized that there were only 36 facts between 10 and 20 that the kids didn't know so I created this fun packet as a way to help them learn those facts a little at a time.  I just blogged about this fun packet here.  

If you have anything in your cart from my TPT store, now is the time.  Everything in my store is 20% off until the end of this long weekend.

Thanks for the Love!

Subtract within 20

The step from subtracting within 10 to subtracting within 20 can be a big step for kids that relied on their fingers.  As I was working with a group of third graders that were still struggling with basic subtraction, I realized that they really only needed help with between 11 and 20.  

I broke that down into 8 levels.  Each level had a few flash cards to practice with and get to know.  Focusing on around 20 facts made our practice time much more focused and beneficial.

I started with subtracting 9.  We worked with 10 frames and I led the students to discovering that the answer to all the minus 9 facts was one less than the number in the ones place.  Of course, if I told them that, it wouldn't have been meaningful.  Discovering on their own though was like a beautiful aha moment.  Suddenly, they knew how to quickly answer 8 more facts than they did a few minutes earlier.

I created a Super hero themed packet to got through the facts they needed to learn.  Each step had a quick timed test.  Once they had those facts down, they'd learn a few more for the next level.  

They loved the games I created to go with their flashcards.  They were super excited to move on to another level and be allowed to cut out a few more flashcards.  

I put all the flashcards into a packet with a motivational cover page.  They got to design their own super heroes and color in each level as they passed.  I told them we were speeding through the facts and I wanted them to imagine they were a super hero.  Their pictures were adorable.  Here are a few:

The kids loved the fun aspect.  

I loved that they were remembering the facts and performing better in math.

10 Ways to Encourage Multiplication Fact Fluency

Memorizing basic multiplication facts has gotten a bad rep.  "Drill and kill." Teachers feel so much pressure to believe that teaching Common Core Standards means only teaching word problems and higher order thinking.  

We have to be careful to make sure our students have the basic knowledge they need to tackle those tough math challenges.  

Fact fluency is an essential building block.  Students trying to multiply decimals, find equivalent fractions, or solve algebraic equations will need to know their basic multiplication facts.

Memorizing multiplication facts is a 3rd grade Common Core standard.

Multiply and divide within 100.

Fluently multiply and divide within 100, using strategies such as the relationship between multiplication and division (e.g., knowing that 8 × 5 = 40, one knows 40 ÷ 5 = 8) or properties of operations. By the end of Grade 3, know from memory all products of two one-digit numbers.

If you teach grades beyond 3rd you may have felt frustration when students didn't have the facts memorized.  You already have your hands full teaching your own grade level standards, but your students will be more successful if you encourage them to memorize their facts.

As an intervention teacher, I've worked with 3rd through 6th graders to encourage multiplication fact fluency.  Today, I'd like to share some steps I've taken that have motivated my students.  Hopefully you'll find a tidbit that can inspire you and your students.

First, students need to know what it means to have something memorized.

Some teachers set a specific amount of time.  "Answer within 3 snaps."

I usually ask basic addition facts or basic multiplication facts.   What is 2 + 2?  What is 3 x 0?  They answer immediately.  Then I'll ask more challenging facts.  What is 6 x 7?  What is 7 x 8?

I tell them that I want them to be able to answer all questions as quickly as they answered 2 + 2.

Next, students need a small set of facts to focus on.

"You need to memorize your facts."  "Spend 5 minutes a day practicing multiplication." These goals aren't specific enough.

I use timed tests to set a starting point.  I have them take their zeros, ones, and twos and they feel like it is an eternity before they can turn them in.  I tell them I want them to know all their facts so well that they can finish any timed test early.  Students work their way through the 3s, 4s, and beyond until they can't do it in the set time.  This is now their goal.

I was at a training recently where the presenter said that people surveyed about why they hated math in school said it was due to timed tests.  All I could think was, "Those teachers were doing it wrong."

If you think timed tests are motivation enough for kids to memorize their facts, kids are going to see them as a source of stress.  If you use timed test as a tool to teach kids how to set an obtainable goal and reach it, they start begging to take tests.  Seriously, I've had it happen.

I keep a clipboard where I record their timed test results.  My most recent group of 3rd graders had 20 students.  With that many test results to communicate, I created a little PowerPoint where I displayed their names next to their next goal.  The quiet, "Yes!"was often heard when posted as they learned they passed a test.  I used the See Me section to choose groups that would work with me and get extra tutoring or to give a test to kids early if they landed on an easy goal like 5s.

You can download this simple PowerPoint for FREE here.

I use timed tests from my Super Surfer Multiplication Packet.

As teachers, we know why things are important.  It is easy to forget to take a moment and let the kids know why what they are learning is important.

Give them real life examples of when knowing how to multiply will help them.  Use examples involving things they love.  If they love football, use touch downs and field goals to show how knowing threes and sevens can come in handy.  If they have a favorite snack, show them how to figure out what a few bags would cost.

I find the most motivating example is telling them that you want to help them spend less time on homework.  I show them a fourth grade multiplication problem.  I write two on the board.  We time how long it takes us to multiply each number with their fingers.  Then we time how long it takes me to do the problem since I have the answer memorized.

This three minute conversation sets a tone and makes a difference.

Separate your multiplication supplies into categories.  Set up a location where students can find the supplies they need.

Last year, I used a milk crate with files. I had a file for each multiple that contained games, flash cards, and more.

This year, I set up cubbies that contain tests, flashcard printouts, and multiplication charts.

I also set up a drawer for each multiple.  Inside the drawers, I put games into ziplock bags with all the needed pieces to cut down on transition times.  I also have drawers where I keep number cards and flashcards.

I make the students responsible for getting their own supplies, tests, and games.  They also are responsible for keeping it clean and organized.

I'm lucky enough as an intervention teacher to focus on one skill at a time.  Homeroom teachers don't have that luxury.

Can you set aside 5 minutes once or twice a week for a timed test?

When I was a homeroom teacher, my fact fluency practice was an early finisher activity.  If a student finished math early, they had to choose an activity that matched their goal.  If the whole class finished something early, we had time for math games.

Teaching the students how to choose an activity that matches their goal makes 'math game time' meaningful and effective.

While this blog post is very long, now that I have this system in place, it is very little work for me.  I just grade tests that are finished and record who passed.  They get their tests. They choose their games.  They find a partner.  The routine makes my life easier.

Study your facts.  What does that mean?

Students need to be explicitly taught how to study.

Here is a simple procedure:
1. Students know their goal.  Let's say it is 7s.
2. Students write the multiples of seven out on a white board using strategies like repeated addition.
3.  Students try to remember the first three answer.  They repeated the numbers over and over.  Then they erase and see if they can write them without counting.
4. Students play a game like Speed trying to answer those three facts faster than their partner.  When ready, they add another multiple.

Let students find a study plan that works for them.
Two students combine white board practice with my multiples cards to quiz themselves.

Practicing facts can be boring if they have to practice the same way every time.  Try to teach and gather options that make it feel like they aren't doing the same thing over and over.


White board practice, bump games, puzzles, computer games, board games, dice games, card games

We've all heard that the best way to learn something is to teach it.  More than once, I've watched a child say what I swear is the exact same thing I've said to a student 50 times only to hear the student respond, "Oh.  I get it now."  They speak each others language and they listen to each other.

If you create a routine that involves working with partners that have the same goal, you create an environment for invaluable peer teaching.

Someone may walk into your room and see kids playing math games and think nothing exciting is happening.  You'll see a child teach another the nines finger trick while they play a game together and swell with pride.

I had a 6th grader last year that finally found a strategy that worked for him to learn his multiplication facts.  I took every opportunity I could to have him play teacher to others in that intervention group.  He began to see himself as successful and smart as his classmates valued his help.  Encouraging him to collaborate and teach his classmates helped to change his self image and made him more willing to take risks when I had him in other groups later that year.

My first year of teaching, I learned that I set the tone of the class.  My first full time position was in first.  I could get mad when the floor was a mess and grumpily demand that they clean it up or I could tell them we were going to have a contest to see who could find the most garbage.

Drill and kill.  I hate when I hear that.  It brings me back to 3rd grade at my Catholic elementary where 40 of us sat there in our neat little rows chanting "3 times 1 is 3.  3 times 2 is 6....."

Here are a few products I've used to make multiplication fun.

My Super Surfer Multiplication has games, timed tests, and a motivational system.  You can read more about it in this blog post.

I love playing Multiplication Cover Up with kids.  
I encourage them to think about strategy as they place their pieces.

I purchased a set of Bump Games from Games 4 Learning that the students LOVE to play.

I teach my students several multiplication card games.  I also encourage them to play these at home.  I created my Simple Math Games: Multiplication and Division to share with families.

These multiplication puzzles sat in a drawer unused for years.  Now that I've organized my games and put them in the multiples drawers, they are one of the most popular games for tactile learners.

Students love writing multiples and sorting multiples using my Multiples Posters and Activities.  
You can read a blog post about using multiples to memorize facts here.

A student found number books and got a multiplication chart and  practiced her goal by making the answers.

I love creating new ways to learn.  So do my students.  
I let them create their own games when they are inspired as long as they can tell me 
how it will help them reach their goal.  

Time using technology can be invaluable when monitored and observed.  Students will try and ask, "Can I play..."  I just remind them that they need to work on their specific goal.

One of my favorite sites is Multiplication.com.  I have to teach the students how to use it to reach their goals and not just to play a game because it is fun.  I created a class website using Weebly.

I've link directly to the part of the site that has them pick a fact to practice.

I've also taught them how to use the playlist drop down on the embedded YouTube videos.  They are only allowed to watch the video that matches their goal.  Some students really are musical and are motivated to pass the test partially so they can watch the next video.

There are so many ways to celebrate.  Setting obtainable goals means they will reach multiple goals. 

 Congratulate them.  Tell them you are proud of them.  Give them a pat on the back.  Teach them to congratulate each other.  Clap for them.  Say things like, "I knew you could do it."  

I use my Super Surfer Multiplication reward system and give students a surf board to hang up when they meet one of their goals. 

"Do I get to keep these?!?" Something as simple as a paper Surf Board on a metal ring brings such joy to even my 6th graders.  

That feeling of being successful is addicting.  Kids pass a couple of tests, next thing I know, kids are literally begging me to take tests.  

"Well, I was wasn't planning on it, but..."  

"Can I take one too?!"

"Go ahead and get a test."

"Woo hoo!"

Those are the moments that make me love teaching.

Dividing Decimals and Free Your Time with Fifth Grade Freebies Blog Hop

When I was a fifth grade math teacher, dividing decimals was a challenge for my students.  I taught the lesson that went with our curriculum and they were lost.  So, I made a PowerPoint to help them practice the two main strategies for dividing decimals.

Line up the Decimal

The first strategy for dividing decimals works when the decimal is in the dividend.

The Decimal Dance

The next strategy for dividing decimals is for when there is a decimal in the divisor.

When I introduce the decimal dance, I find two volunteers that I know love to put on a show.  I have them stand side by side and do a simple dance where they step to the right at the same time.  It makes me smile and it helps them to remember the strategy.

Now that I'm an intervention teacher, I don't have a curriculum with problems or work sheets.  So, I added a dozens of slides to the PowerPoint.  Some of the slides are a contest to beat the computer.  It was funny seeing how excited my 6th graders were to be able to divide decimals quickly when they came into intervention saying this skill was too hard.

If you already purchased my Divide Decimals PowerPoint, be sure to download the lastest update!

Free Dividing Decimal Worksheets

I created some worksheets to go with the PowerPoint that I am sharing with you for free in honor of our Fifth Grade Freebie Blog Hop.

The freebie contains one page of Line Up the Decimal practice, one page of Decimal Dance Practice, two mixed practice pages, and an assessment.  Click here to download the FREEBIE.

If you are here because of the blog hop, let me take a moment to thank you for stopping by!  I started the blog Fifth Grade Freebies because I love places that help make finding great freebies easy.  I hope you are enjoying it as much as I am!

Next Stop on the Blog Hop is at First Grade a la Carte with Kathy.  (It will be a 5th grade freebie. :)


Hop on over for more exciting freebies!

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