Test Sophistication Time

Teaching Points Preview

March is said to “come in like a lion” and I couldn’t agree more. As the month begins, we teachers are all about to enter the season that leads us up to the biggest event of the school year -standardized testing. As we scramble to review what we can and encourage students along the way, nothing will prepare us better than being well organized and planned.

For me, this meant mapping my daily teaching points out on a monthly calendar (grab one here!), then plugging in all the resources I had into these lessons. I also set aside 9 days for 3 full “mock” exams, knowing that this would greatly benefit my students and work out all the kinks!

Most importantly, I created my Writing Unit Plans for my Writer’s Workshop Unit: Getting Writers Ready for the Common Core and Standardized Tests – TCRWP. These lessons were written for 4th grade, however the unit is identical for grades 3, grade 4, and grade 5. Which means the teaching points are valid for all, you’ll only need to switch the resources used (I reference NY Ready in my lessons). 
Happy testing!


Multiplication – Rolling Numbers

The importance of math fluency is well documented in research. In a previous post, Why You Should Be Using XtraMath in Your Classroom, I outlined the following – Math fluency is essential for success with fractions, decimals, multi-digit algorithms and any higher level math. It is based on the assumption that students who regularly practice will quickly and easily recall answers when needed, freeing up mental resources for more complex problem solving.

Multiplication is often taught to students conceptually first, followed by rote memorization techniques to assist students in gaining fluency in their time tables facts. Many teachers rely on flashcards, writing the facts 3x each, or other such techniques to practice the facts until students are able to commit these facts to memory. Unfortunately, not all students are successful with this type of learning, and they often struggle to commit the facts to memory at the same rates of their peers.

Since we know that not having the fluency of these facts is detrimental to their performance, or next step is to create a scaffolding technique to help these students until they have achieved fluency on their own. While teaching for the DOE in the Bronx, a fellow colleague who was also a Teach for America Fellow, introduced me to the KIPP school’s rolling number chants. Teaching an inclusive 5th grade Special Education class at the time, we had several students who still struggled with their multiplication facts, and needed help fast. This is the first time I experienced how effective and empowering this strategy can be for struggling students.

The chants are fun, catchy, and easy to remember. As students call out each number, they also “roll” out the next finger, keeping track of what fact they are calling out the product for.

FREEBIE: Rolling Number Chant Lyrics – Free on my TpT Store!

My ultimate goal will be trying this out next…