PARCC Problems of the Week

As many of you know, I won’t be returning as your Math Coach after spring break as I will be starting my maternity leave. I know that PARCC is the last thing on your mind the day before break, but hopefully you will find and be able to use this when we get back to prepare for the EOY test.

I won’t be updating my PARCC POW site, but if you haven’t seen or used it, you can start at any time and use any of the problems you’d like. They are all modeled after EOY problems, so it would definitely be a useful and relevant way to practice before the second round of testing. That site can be found here:

If you have been using the POW site every week, first of all, thanks! I’m glad you were able to use it and I hope it helped to prepare your students for the first round of testing. Since the site won’t be updated, I am attaching a PowerPoint file containing extra PARCC review questions for grades 3-5. It also has some tips in the beginning of the presentation that may be useful for your students. Again, use this as you see fit, but it might be a good way to replace the POW in your class from the time we get back from spring break until the testing begins.

additional parcc practice 3-5

Hope this helps! Have a wonderful, relaxing spring break and good luck with testing and the remainder of the school year!



Changing Programs in XtraMath

At a meeting this morning, we were discussing some of the challenges students and teachers are facing while using XtraMath.

One of those challenges is using the program for multiplication/division facts rather than addition and subtraction only…students were taking a long time to master the addition and subtraction facts and therefore never had a chance to practice multiplication and division! Follow the red arrows below to see how you can change your students’ programs.

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Another challenge was the time limit being too advanced for some students. XtraMath has actually added an option where you can change the time limit to 6 seconds (vs 3) so students have more time and can still be considered “masters” of the fact even if they take a few more seconds to get there! Hope this helps!!

More Fluency Resources

I know I’ve written about fluency several times, but its importance is something that we should not take lightly as math teachers. There is no question– students absolutely need to master the basic fluency standards for their grade level (and the preceding grade levels) in order to attain mastery of the other, more complex standards in mathematics. If they are too busy trying to figure out their basic facts, their brain literally cannot focus on the more complicated task at hand.

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These are the Common Core standards that relate directly to fluency per grade level. It’s important to understand both your own grade level’s fluency standards as well as those of the preceding and following years.

I am holding fluency meetings at one of my schools today, but didn’t want to limit the resources to those schools alone. I’ve found so many excellent sites with activities, games, and ideas that will help promote fluency in your classroom. I know this is an area where many, many students struggle so it’s extremely important for us as teachers to impress the importance of fluency, and equip our classes with the appropriate tools to become successful.

mathfactfluency: This is the PDF version of a PowerPoint used in another district, explaining the importance and value of fluency in both addition and multiplication. Includes some great visuals and ideas about derived facts.

ComputationalFluencygr3: This is an excellent resource for grade 3 teachers. There are several pages available to print with assessments, rubrics, and activities, along with explanations and guides for teachers.

FluencyActivitiesGrade4: Created by the same publisher, this activity guide is based on the 4th grade standards.

fluency mult division: Another file that contains several strategies to help students derive their facts on the road to attaining automaticity.

My Fluency Strategies: Blank sheet- you can use this to evaluate students to see if they are using strategies for fluency, they can fill this out for one operation/fact and share with peers, or your students could fill it in as you teach specific strategies.

Fluency Games/Activities for Primary Grades

We all know how important fluency is when students are trying to understand more complex strategies in Math. If they don’t have mastery of their basic facts, their brain simply doesn’t have enough room to calculate both the basic fact and apply it to the more complicated strategy.

Bottom line? Students NEED to know their facts. I know that’s easier said than done, and it’s one more reason that teaching Math in a workshop or rotating format is beneficial to your students. If students practice their fluency daily, the strategies they learn to add, subtract, divide and multiply quickly will help them to achieve automaticity- which is what we want all of our students to have!

I came across these games that would work very well for a 1st/2nd grade classroom but could be adapted for older grades as well. Some can be laminated and reused, others would have to be copied. They might be helpful if you’re trying to create a fluency station not based on technology or just as extra practice.


Scratch Em Off

Addition squares

Race to 100

Plus 10 Squares

This interview might be good to conduct at the beginning of the year (sorry I’m just seeing it now!). You could even use it at your Teacher Station when you are introducing Workshop in the beginning of the year. The interview would give you an evaluation of your students’ current fluency levels and help you to determine if they are using successful strategies to find the facts they don’t know (and on their way to automaticity). Then you could retest at the end of the year to see their growth. You can file it away for next year! 🙂

Math Fact Automaticity Interview

CEU: Launching the Math Workshop

I am teaching a CEU on Monday regarding Math Workshop and how it can work in every classroom. For those attending, thank you so much for signing up! I hope you find it useful and useable in your daily teaching life. Feel free to utilize this site as a resource in the future and share with anyone you’d like.

During the CEU, teachers will be given time to access various sites referenced on the PowerPoint I am presenting. To download the PowerPoint, click the title: Spring CEU Math Workshop

If you can’t make the CEU or didn’t sign up, feel free to download this document anyway. Watching some of the videos on slides 9 and 17 might help you to see what workshop looks like in different classrooms!

St. Patrick’s Day Activity- Upper Grades/Enrichment


This is a project that my students in grade 4 Project GOAL worked on for all of Math class on Saint Patrick’s day. It is definitely a challenge! You can make it more teacher-guided if you’d like everyone to participate, or if you want to attempt in grade 3. It’s also something you could do with the ECG students, or as extra credit. It definitely tests those problem solving skills, and can be turned into a creative/persuasive writing assignment as well- have your students write up a speech or make a poster to convince Shannon’s dad to let her have the Lucky Charms.

The only materials you’ll need are Lucky Charms. I used one “serving” per partnership (I used a measuring cup and gave each group a cupful). You might want to have students work on this problem in groups of 3, and then you’ll use less Lucky Charms. You could also use store brand “Lucky Charms.”

Good luck- feel free to send me any feedback if you end up using this activity!

Download here: st pattys problem

Additional PARCC Practice 3-5 (EOY)

So I’m sure the last thing you want to think about right now is more PARCC practice (especially since testing isn’t even finished yet!), but we do have the EOY test coming up and I did create another resource for you to use if you’d like.

These are extension problems to last you from after spring break until the next round of testing. These are Problems of the Week that can be projected onto your white board and solved independently or with partners or small groups. I think it would be valuable for your students to spend some time discussing their problem solving strategies (and even charting them) to help them approach problems on their own.

Hope your students are doing well with the PARCC (and you aren’t too stressed out yourselves)…as always, please feel free to reach out if you have any questions or concerns!

Download the PowerPoint file here: additional parcc practice 3-5