Getting in a Workout with Combining Like Terms

My Smarties have been working hard lately in Math.  We have A LOT... A LOT of work to do.
One of the big ticket items for us is the Distributive Property.  Using this, we have to learn how to combine like terms and be very proficient with simplifing expressions using the Greatest Common Factor.
There are several items that I begin with in the fall.  One of which is Prime Numbers and Greatest Common Factor.  The easiest thing that I've found is using the Prime Ladder Method.  I want my students to be familiar with the Hundreds Board, so I complete a lesson where we discover the prime numbers through 100 by color coding the board.  Once we are comfortable with the prime numbers, we learn GCF with the ladder.  These lessons along with a foldable can be found {HERE} if you are interested.
Once my Smarties are familiar with GCF, we turn to Distributive Property and combining like terms.
This can be so difficult for them to grasp and go back and forth.  I wanted extra practice for my students in a center like activity, so I created 'Smore Practice with Combining Like Terms.

They loved this!  On top of it making them crave 'Smores,  [Sidebar: this made me laugh because smores is a summer thing for me in the North East but not in Mobile... it's winter time when a campfire is needed hello!  teacher needs to adapt to her surroundings!]
The activity forced my students to take the terms step by step.
We find the original term, then combine the variable terms.  We find the chocolate piece with this answer.  Next, students combine the constant values.  Finally as added practice I provided a value for the variable and my students solved the expression.
I included a student recording sheet with the activity.  I had my students place them in sheet protectors, then they could use the back of the sheet to work through the combinations.  It gave them more space to work and it allowed them the ability to place each piece next to the work to show me the steps and EXPLAIN them.  Hello!  Formative assessment! BOOYA!

Also, my entire TpT store is on sale through Halloween, so you can grab this item for a steal if you're interested!


Teachers Helping Teachers: Adoption Bundle

Being a teacher is an amazing profession.  We face cultural, social and economic challenges every day.  We counsel, doctor, mentor and teach our students while wading through pounds of paperwork, answering emails, copying, cutting, laminating, grading and assessing them.  I know I could not do all of what I do without a supportive family.  This family is not just made up of my husband and children, but it is the support system that I have gained through blogging and TpT.  I was so thrilled to hear that one of my extendend family of BBBs, Nick, from Sweet Rhyme and Pure Reason is in the process of adopting a child.  YAY!  Another member to add to my extended family!  I am so excited to be part of this AMAZING bundle that we have put together to help Nick and his family with the cost.
Check out what this product has to offer:
You get over 300+ pages of activities, 19 PRODUCTS!!  Including ELA, MATH, and SCIENCE for only $25.00.  Most of these products you can not individually purchase, but they make a great bundle!
The diversity and ability to differentiate within these is fabulous.  Even though I teach 6th grade, I am still using a ton of these products in centers as review.  I especially like the math task cards.  I can put some of them in a math center rotation a week or two before beginning my decimals unit, and it really helps to refresh my students thinking about the basics.
I included a set of 30 task cards to practice Number Sense using a Hundreds Chart.  These are 4-5 step riddles that help students practice basic operations phrases and computation skills.  There are three different levels so you are able to differentiate.  Plus.. don't even get me started on the ELA goodies!  Seriously!  You know your kids have different interests, let alone reading levels.  These products make my job SO... MUCH.. EASIER! 
How can you beat getting to spend a little more weekend time with your family because we have made easy planning for you ON TOP OF supporting a fellow teacher.  Go {HERE} to check out this amazing product.
Have a great weekend!


Narrative Leads, Transitions, and the Echo Conclusion


Recently we have been focusing on Narrative Writing.  I always try to do a short unit on Narrative Writing after we finish basic paragraph writing and learning to cite evidence.  I like our narrative unit to fall during October.  My students LOVE to tell spooky, scary stories this month, and it is a perfect time to get them writing longer pieces.  We have been building up our stamina through Communication Journals, and we are just about ready to scream and shout.
This past week we worked on Narrative Leads.  I like to use The Storyteller from Saki as a basis for this so I can tie in a reading element.  The Storyteller has a plot twist, and my Smarties are all about the plot twist.  I got these initial lessons from Erin at Lovin Lit and her Interactive Writer's Notebook.  After we get the basics of leads down, I have them write 5 leads for a Halloween story.  THEY GO CRAZY.. trying to make the scariest, or silliest, or creepiest hook imaginable.
We posted these up on our side wall so others could get a few good ideas as well.

Next, I talk about Conclusions.  Basically, I teach them about the Echo conclusion, because it is an easy way to for them to grasp the concept.  I use The Outsiders by S.E. Hinton for this lesson.  You can go {HERE} and read more specifically about this.  After using our notebooks and getting the foundation,  I pass out Halloween story starters that were written by Bruce Coville.  He is an amazing author, writing such favorites as My Teacher Is An Alien and The Dragon Slayers.  He has also recenlty written a new Amber Brown book.   This series was originally created by Paula Danzinger, another amazing children's author, who passed away too early!  She and Coville were friends, and he recently collaborated with another author to write an Amber Brown book.
But.. back to Halloween narratives..
For several years he created a story starter for Halloween that was published in the local Syracuse newspaper.  Students could write the conclusion to the stories, and the best were published in the paper around Halloween as winners of the contest.  These stories are SO GOOD!  My Smarties ate them up.  Even though he does not write the story starters anymore, I saved several from past years, and I allowed my students to choose one that they loved and practice writing the conclusion..
THEY GO CRAZY for this.. I don't think my classroom is ever this quiet.. EVER...
Until they finish of course!  Then they want to read.. read... read.. everyone's.  They want to share, and critque, and just discuss WRITING.  I'm in teacher Heaven when this happens!

This year, I borrowed a little trick from one of my BBBs Joanne at Head Over Heels for Teacher, and I found finger lights.  I let the kids use them to sit in groups to share their stories.  Even "Big Kids" need a little "light" fun!
I'd love to know what you do to teach or review narratives.  We really have to move on to the meat and potatoes writing of arguments, explanatory, and research of sixth grade, but I love letting them have these moments as well!

Sunday Scoop 10/4

Happy Fall 'Yall!  We have finally had some cool weather down here in the South.  I've been missing the cool evenings of fall, and last night was beautiful!
Today I'm linking up with the Teaching Trio for Sunday Scoop!

This is going to be a busy week at home and at school.  Softball meetings, band rehearsals, orchestra practice, school bowling, PD, and football PHEW~
I'm going to need a couple of extra cups of coffee in the mornings to get me through the week!
I'm hoping to get a ton of work done early today so I can relax this afternoon, read abook and watch some football!  Have a great day everyone!
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