On

Day #1, I assessed my students' skills with multi-digit whole numbers with some

fun task cards. Now it's time to measure their fluency with multiplication facts and start instruction.

Thank goodness for educational apps!

Fact Navigator from Multiplication.com makes timed tests easy. Simply click on Pre-Test Multiplication and up pops a 36-problem online test. When finished, the student hits FINISHED, and the test is automatically scored with the time displayed at the top. You can have kids print their tests, or, like I do, record their scores using a clipboard.

With Fact Navigator, assessing students' multiplication facts takes only a few minutes. Now it's time to move on to a little instruction . . . built into a beginning-of-year ice breaker.

What's more special to a kid than his birthday? First, I tell the class that we're going to make a human graph. We'll line up along a wall outside the building (so that a passing airplane could see our graph). The only rule is NO TALKING. What? No talking? How will we get this done? After a few minutes of confusion, someone figures out that they can hold up fingers to express the month of their birth. They move around, and pretty soon, a human graph emerges.

We move quickly back into the classroom, and each student places a cupcake on a class pictograph, like this:

For Birthday Graphing kit, click

here.

We discuss different types of graphs, focusing on pictographs and bar graphs (that compare) and line graphs (that show change over time). We talk about titles, labels, scales, and keys/legends. I introduce the x- and y-axes, which will be important later in the year.

Finally, each student is asked to create a horizontal bar graph using the data from our vertical picture graph. As they finish, I hang these on the wall as well. The class is getting that lived-in look, and kids feel the ownership with their birthdays and bar graphs displayed proudly.

With two days down, my students have moved around the room to complete a set of task cards, played on the computer, created a human graph together, assembled a pictograph on the wall, and produced a bar graph. To them, math class has been fun and engaging. I'm feeling the math love as well, but in a different way. I now have baseline data for writing numbers in standard form, words and expanded form, rounding, comparing, adding, subtracting, multiplying, and dividing, as well as multiplication facts fluency. Whew! Additionally, I've reviewed graphs and taught one new concept: the x- and y-axes (as well as z, which I threw in for fun).

Enjoy!

Brenda