Comparing Numbers Using >, <, or =

Are your students comparing two numbers to determine which is greater? Are they struggling to remember which way the symbol should face? Here's a little trick that worked like a charm with my 2nd and 3rd graders!

My students could verbalize which number was greater when making comparisons. However, when it came time to using the symbols for greater than and less than, they would confuse the two. They had been taught about the greater gators in K and 1st grade, but couldn't always remember which way the gator was supposed to face.

I went to a math training and learned this trick. I have used it every year since!
If they are equal, students would place an equal sign and start the process over with the next set of numbers. Since 48 and 37 are not equal, students move on to Step Two.

Since my students could already identify the greater number, they really caught on to giving the larger number more dots than the smaller number.

Then we repeated this process again. By the second or third time, students were wondering why they hadn't been taught this "magic" before! After more examples, I knew they were ready to practice with games.

Games are a great way to differentiate in the classroom. Some of my students began by practicing with 2-digit numbers.

While others went right to 3-digit numbers and worked with a partner. 

Almost all of my games are kept in sheet protectors (or laminated) so they can be played over and over again without using a ton of paper. During game time I would circulate, observe, and help make sure students were on the right track. 

The next day our math warm-up would be a quick check of the skill. 
I would use these quick checks to determine which students still needed additional practice.

I hope this math trick will work for your students, too!

Happy Teaching! 

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Spring Writing Ideas (with Freebies)

March is a great month for writing because students get to celebrate Dr. Seuss, St. Patrick's Day, and the first day of spring! Today I want to share some of my favorite writing ideas for spring.

To start the month, we celebrate the birthday of Dr. Seuss. Students are allowed to choose books from any section of our classroom library during reading, but I find that the Dr. Seuss books are always the most popular this time of year.

Since we work on responding to reading all year long, I like to let my students choose any book they want and do a fun book review. Sometimes we hang these around the classroom and sometimes we make a class book so students can look for book recommendations from their peers.

Then it's time to start prepping for St. Patrick's Day! I know my students are going to be excited, so I might as well channel that energy into writing. Before starting our procedural writing, I like to read How-To Catch a Leprechaun by Adam Wallace and Lucky O'Leprechaun by Jana Dillon. We use the ideas from these stories to draw our own leprechaun traps and explain the steps for making them.
You can find these how-to freebies here.

I also like to have my students write a story about a lucky day. I pair two texts together for this: Lucky Tucker by Leslie McGuirk and Alexander and the Terrible, Horrible, No Good, Very Bad Day by Judith Viorst. After reading, we brainstorm as a class items that bring luck as well as lucky & unlucky events.

Then we spend time choosing our events and writing our stories. When the stories are finished, it's fun to put them inside a pot of gold craft to create a booklet. You can find these booklets here.

March also brings the beginning of spring, which is my favorite time of year for working on poetry. The changes outdoors provide a lot of inspiration. One of the easiest poems to start with is a rainbow poem. After that we work on a variety of other poetry forms, too.

Spring is also a great time to stop and review different writing genres, too. I keep writing prompts on a ring so students can easily access them and take them back to their seats during writing.
You can find these spring writing prompts here.

For more writing ideas, you can search the writing archives here or check out my Pinterest board:

Happy Teaching!

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