Back to index of justice, government, and education pages by Donald Sauter.

An "Academic Coach" in every Elementary School

- Proposal
- Discussion
- More Discussion
- Academic Coach Quick Summary
- Appendix 1 - examples of feedback provided to teachers
- Appendix 2 - Customized worksheets addressing specific student weaknesses

In my resume, I offer my services as an
**"Elementary School Academic Coach"**, whose duty is "to raise the
overall performance of an elementary school by
working with all students, two at a time, in a particular
grade such as third. Coaching sessions will ensure that students are
"getting" the classroom material and also hammer away at basic academic
material required by the standardized tests, typically born of No Child Left
Behind, that the students must face. The academic coach will
demonstrate the marked difference a single individual with a topnotch
academic background, real-life work experience, a natural gift for
connecting with students, and unencumbered by the administrative
component of teaching can have on grades, standardized test scores,
readiness for middle school, and general enthusiasm for learning."

That's it in a nutshell. If it doesn't ignite by itself, read on for further discussion.

For a start, understand what the academic coach does *not* need
to be: a conventionally trained teacher. This is not a disparagement of
the teaching industry, and is in no way intended to set "smart outsiders"
in competition with teachers.

The academic coach will be a team member. The individualized attention given by the academic coach will work hand-in-hand with the classroom instruction to produce something even greater than the sum of its parts.

The academic coach will have a clear view of where the gaps are for each student, and what material the students in general are weak on. He will communicate these weaknesses to the teachers so that they may hit the material harder, insofar as allowed by having to keep forging ahead in the curriculum.

No fantastic claim is made that the academic coach will ensure that every student latches securely onto everything that is taught - schools cover far too much material for any hope of that - but, calling on his life and work experience, he will zero in on the highest priority material.

Another reason the academic coach would not necessarily be drawn from the ranks of trained teachers is that his duties are quite unrelated to those of a teacher. The academic coach does not run a classroom or apply discipline. He does not assign grades. His charter is only to "pull up" the student he is working with, no matter whether that student is years below or years above so-called "grade level".

Because he will not be working in a class setting, the style of
instruction can and will be completely different. It can be loud
and boisterous (to the extent that it doesn't disturb classes.)
It can be *fun*. In fact, it had better be!
Curmudgeons need not apply. What hope is there for fostering
an enthusiasm for learning if the student finds the
sessions dull and dreary? The opportunity for having a break from
the classroom routine is exciting for the students and a boost to
class morale.

The academic coach will familiarize himself as much as possible with the expectations of the standardized test faced by students in his school, and will keep it squarely in view as he works with students.

A measure of his job performance, then, will be how the students perform on the standardized test. The problem, of course, is that it can never be known how the students would have performed without his labors. All things considered - comparison of test scores with previous years; comparison with students in grades without the academic coach; comparison with other schools; feedback from the teachers; feedback from the students themselves - a definite picture of the value of the academic coach will emerge.

The academic coach works with *all* the students in one
grade level, two at a time, for approximately half-hour sessions
throughout the school day. Under ideal
conditions, there could be ten sessions per day, or 20 students per day
receiving individualized help. For an average-sized school, every student
in the targeted grade would get individualized help once or twice a week.

I propose "two at a time" because *two is the magic number*,
superior in every way to the sainted "one-on-one" gold standard of
education. A three-way session eliminates the pressure felt by a
lone tutee. Attending a session with a friend makes things even
more relaxed. Three heads are simply better than two. There are more
ways to "connect". There are many more little tricks the coach can use
keep things rolling, and fun. The coach really can give 100 percent of
himself to each of two students simultaneously - *not* the mathematical
impossibility it sounds like! Why not three? As soon as you go beyond
two, it becomes a small class with the associated control problems.

The coaching sessions use what is going on in the classroom as a jumping off point; thus, the teacher does not have to worry about a student missing something that has to be made up.

The coaching sessions are for *all* the students, not just
the weaker ones. The claim is that pulling up the top end of
a class creates a more vibrant learning environment that pulls up
the whole class. Schools have been criticized for shortchanging
the strongest students while devoting the bulk of the resources to
middle and weaker students.

A better plan than devoting himself solely to one grade,
would be to split the school year in half, working a
half-year with one grade, such as third, and the other half with another
grade, such as fifth. Then, every student would receive personalized
attention at *two* different phases in his elementary school career,
giving the academic coach an even greater opportunity to have a
positive effect.

A good academic coach recognizes that a right answer is a
*starting point*, not the finish line. It is *not* a
signal to drop that lesson and jump ahead. He will take a careful
look into how the student gets his answers and make sure his
thought process is well-tuned and general-purpose.

An academic coach makes a point of doing everything he asks his students to do. (I believe that this is a grave omission in conventional classroom teaching. I believe a parent should be able to ask to see how the teacher completed any class or homework assignment.) This serves as a check that what he is asking for is reasonable, and it gives the students examples of good answers instead of just being told what's wrong with theirs. It brings the coach and the students together on the "same playing field", which is enjoyable for them and a great confidence builder.

Going beyond simply providing feedback to the teachers, the academic coach will have no trouble whipping up worksheets for the whole class that drill the students in problem areas. These exercises can be custom-designed in a way that no textbook could possibly have envisioned. Often, the exercises will undo confusion which the textbook itself caused. The academic coach can administer such worksheets himself, so that nothing is added to the teacher's burden.

The academic coach does not require plush quarters; three desks lined up against the wall in the hallway outside of the classroom makes for an "office" with a very relaxed atmosphere.

The academic coach himself has an ongoing love of learning. His breadth of knowledge will astonish impressionable young students!

- Qualifications:
- Was a topnotch student
- Has life experience (i.e., not young!)
- Had work experience outside of education
- Natural gift for working with students
- Ongoing love of learning

- Job duties:
- Individualized, one-on-two instruction for all students
- Makes it fun!
- Mindful of classroom work
- Mindful of standardized test
- Mindful of skills required in life and work
- Provides feedback to teachers
- Generates customized exercises for whole class

In 2001 I worked with 3rd-graders in Prince George's County, Maryland, with an eye towards an upcoming MSPAP test. (See my page on that insane test. Better yet, don't.) I regularly found myself saying the same thing to many of the students. I reported back to the teachers in the hopes that time could be found to revisit some fundmental material which many or all of the students were weak on.

**PERIMETER and AREA**: Even the best students are careless in answering
perimeter and area problems, often giving the area when perimeter is
asked for and vice versa. By now, every 3rd-grader has been subjected
to my rant:

"Perimeter and area aretwo different things. Donotget them confused. Perimeter is the total distance (or length) around a figure. Area is the flat space covered by the figure. Perimeter and area are calculated differently. Perimeter and area have different units. Donotanswer area when they ask for perimeter. Donotanswer perimeter when they ask for area."

They need to hear this about 28 more times. Get down on your knees if necessary. Perimeter and area are sure to be on the MSPAP.

Emphasize that the perimeter of a figure is given in ordinary units of
length (inches, feet, miles, km, cm, etc.) and the area is given in that
same unit, *but with a "square" in front of it* (sq. inches, sq. feet,
sq. miles, etc.)

**PERIMETER**: Perimeter problems show up in three different guises:

1. All the sides of a figure are labeled with lengths. This is easiest for the students. They know to add up all the lengths.

2. In the case of regular figures, such as squares and rectangles, all of the sides will not have a length shown - a square will show the length of one side, and a rectangle will show the lengths of two adjacent sides. This is a stumbling block for many students. In the case of the rectangle they will stop after adding together the 2 given lengths; in the case of the square they usually square the one given length (which is the area.)

3. The figure is presented on a grid with no lengths given. One common
problem is the tendency for the students to count *blocks* touching the
edge of the figure, which will give a wrong answer. Emphasize that
the units of length (one *side* of the little squares) need to be counted,
not the blocks themselves. Another problem is the tendency for students
to try to count the little units all the way around in one fell swoop.
Even if they are counting the right thing, there is a big chance of
making a counting mistake along the way. I suggest a standard approach:
counting up the length of each side and writing it next to the side,
and then adding up all the lengths. Still, this is difficult for the
students when there are small or skinny features on the figure. In the
figure below, few students would count up all 8 sides; probably showing
just one length for the little indentation.

________________________________ | | | ___| | |___ | | |________________________________|

The MSPAP people are also fond of asking the students to create a figure which has a specified perimeter. This is insanely inappropriate for 3rd-graders, and I would argue has little practical application. It would probably be a waste of time pursuing this in the classroom.

**AREA**: The students are good at counting up the unit squares inside
a figure which is shown on a grid. This is all their text book expects
them to do, but the MSPAP people have thrown A = L x W at them (in
the Puppy Love task.) The kids are great at saying "area equals
length times width", but are very poor at applying it (as they should
be in 3rd grade.) I would cross my fingers and hope the MSPAP people
don't hit them with A = L x W.

**NORTH, EAST, SOUTH and WEST**: I have seen this on two MSPAP tasks.
The students are pretty good at moving their fingers across the page in
the various compass directions, but are very poor at formulating a
statement such as, "The church is north of the park." There is a very
definite reason for this difficulty: the first place named in the statement
is not the *origin* - it's the destination. So the student will put
his finger on the church, move it southward toward the park and say
(incorrectly), "The church is south of the park." Emphasize that, in
statements like this, the starting point is the *last* thing named in the
sentence; the starting point is the thing that *follows* the "of" or "from".
(The students are more comfortable with the word "from", as in, "The
church is north *from* the park.")

The students are slightly better at saying, "To get from the park to the church, you have to go north." However, after slogging through this unwieldy formulation, the student generally gives a random guess at the direction at the very end.

I think it would be helpful to tie together the concept of compass direction with the geometric concept of a "ray". The kids have a good understanding of lines, line segments, and rays. A ray is like an "arrow" - a line with a starting point and shooting off forever in some direction. It would be great to get across the idea that figuring out compass directions is like moving a ray around on the map so that its starting point is at the "of" or "from" location, and the arrow points to the destination location.

There is also a problem with determining compass directions if one or both of the locations is extended. For example, a student may say, "The Sahara desert is north of the Atlantic Ocean" simply because he sees the name "Atlantic Ocean" printed way down in the southern part of the ocean. Even without such a misleading label, it was confusing for the students if one of the locations was extended. For example, students would have trouble giving the direction from a house to a river. Emphasize that when we talk about the direction from this to that, we are talking about the shortest, most direct route.

**BAR GRAPHS**: The presenter of the MSPAP preparation meeting (Apr 3) said
that the 3rd grade generally does a bar graph. I had been wondering about
that since none of the 3rd grade public-release MSPAP tasks that I have
seen ask for bar graphs, and it's not taught in the math text book.

The 5th grade public-release MSPAP task "Here's The Scoop" asks for a bar graph. (Actually, it asks for a line graph, which is totally inappropriate for the sort of data being plotted.) In spite of it being a 5th grade task, I had some of the 3rd graders work from it to make bar graphs. I didn't get to every student, so it seems well worthwhile to put the students through a bar graph exercise.

While none of the students made perfect bar graphs, it seems that they
have a pretty good idea of them. One of their biggest stumbling blocks
is surely the fault of their math text book. There are dozens of graphs
in the math book, and they *all* are presented in nice, neat *boxes*.
This is very misleading. This is not what graphs are about. Graphs have a pair
of axes, not four sides. Many of the students start their graph by drawing a
box of arbitrary size. It then becomes nearly impossible to mark off the
increments on the x- and y-axes so that they fit sensibly within the box.
Emphasize that a graph starts with the two axes. Mark off the increments in
even steps from zero. If you go past the end of an axis, just extend it.

________________ | | | | | | Start with this: | NOT this: | | | | | | | | |_______________ |______________|

**DICTIONARIES**: I also heard the presenter say that the students may
look up words that they don't know in a dictionary (since they can't ask
the tester.) I had put some students through dictionary word searches,
and found all of them to be very poor at it, although, to be fair, I don't
know how good a 3rd-grader is expected to be. Some turn pages one at a time -
and not necessarily in the right direction. Some spend loads of time
looking up and down the wrong page for a given word. Worse yet, some take
forever to find the word even when they *are* on the right page. Obviously,
this is a very important skill to have, whether or not it can be improved
enough before the MSPAP to help lift even a single student over the
"satisfactory" bar. (By the way, I hope this lack of skill in flipping pages
to zero in on a target is not a side effect of all our modern-day poking and
punching at computers.)

**WRITTEN ANSWERS**: Generally speaking, the 3rd-grade students are very weak in
forming complete, self-contained, single-sentence answers to questions of
all types. This is a very important, basic skill. It would seem to me that
there's not much hope for satisfactory paragraphs and letters and essays on
the MSPAP if they can't nail this.

Arranging the exact, same words from the question into a statement format is more than just a convenience or matter of style; it helps to ensure a good, sensible answer. For example, it would prevent a student from answering how much money was collected when the question was, "How many items were sold?"

In fact, the students are familiar with the concept, and I have learned
from them that it is called "restating". Still, they are very poor at it.
Emphasize how *easy* this is: just put the key words of the question
together in a statement and "fill in" the answer. Emphasize that the answer
should be self-contained; it should make complete sense to someone who didn't
hear the question. Pronouns should be avoided. Explain that "My answer is
15 apples" doesn't cut it, even though it is a sentence.

I think they should be drilled in this, and that such tests would be much more valuable than spelling tests, say. I kept it fun for the kids by encouraging imaginative, fanciful answers - anything goes, as long as the question is clearly and fully answered. Here are some samples:

Q: What does the farmer do in the morning? A: In the morning the farmer milks the cows. A: In the morning the farmer flies to the moon to sell his cheese. Q: How many apples are in the bag? A: There are 8 apples in the bag. A: There aren't any apples in the bag, just 12 baby dinosaurs. Q: Where was Billy hiding? A: Billy was hiding under his bed. A: Billy was hiding in a red and blue egg carton.

**POWER WORDS**: I don't know about the 3rd-graders but, speaking for myself,
I think the list of "power writing transition words" is overwhelming.
For the students, I would pare it back drastically, and beg them to work
these words in wherever they can:

Also First Next Second Secondly Then Specifically For example For instance In conclusion Finally

**UNITS**: Beg the students to remember to show units when giving answers
to math problems. (Reminder: perimeter is in units of length; area is
in *square* units.)

**CONTINENTS**: Knowledge of the continents has been necessary on at least two
public-release MSPAP tasks. I've drilled a lot of the students in the
continents, but there is evidence it hasn't stuck. I tell them that
continents are the biggest "chunks" of land on our planet. I point out that
Europe and Asia are considered to be separate continents, even though they're
attached. I try to get across the distinction between countries - ours, for
example - and continents, and point out where some of the most famous
countries are.

**NORTH, EAST, SOUTH, WEST, revisited**:
I've had some good results by scribbling a quick compass
rose on a piece of scrap paper, tearing it out, and moving it around the
the map. It might be worth getting the students to do this when answering
NESW questions. Slide the compass rose to the *starting* location (the
one that follows the "of" or "from"), and then just look at which arrow
is pointing toward the destination.

**CLIMATE**: When working with the students on the "Deserts" task, none of
them knew what "climate" means.

**PROFIT and LOSS**: When I was working with the students on the "Lemonade Stand"
task, none of them had a firm grasp of "profit" and "loss".

**CHARTS**: In the "Lemonade Stand" task, most students were at a loss when
asked to "fill in the chart below". Charts are a very common way of
presenting information, and it seems likely that they'll pop up on the
MSPAP. I think they need more work in pulling information out of simple,
basic charts.

**SYMMETRY**: Ms. Lawrence has said that symmetry is always on the MSPAP.
I haven't seen it worked into any of the public-release MSPAP tasks, but
my work with the students in symmetry indicates they have a very good
handle on it. This surprises me, actually, because of 1) the scariness of
the word itself, 2) the inherent trickiness, and 3) the abysmal presentation
in the math text book. The math text confuses 3-dimensional objects with
their 2-dimensional representations. The text authors themselves never seem
sure whether or not something is symmetrical.

For what it's worth, if the students are to get any more work in symmetry, I have found that they get a kick out of completing patterns that make surprise words out of symmetrical letters. The letters with a horizontal line of symmetry are:

B C D H K X E I O

The letters with a vertical line of symmetry are:

H M T V W X Y A O U I

From the first group you can make words like BOOK, BOX, HEX, DECK, HIKED and CODE with the top or bottom half of each letter missing. From the second list you can make words like

M M W W T T A O I O U A M U T W M X A T H M I H Y Y

with the right or left half of each letter missing.

I also found a good demonstration of symmetry that the kids got a kick out of. Fold a piece of paper. Use the fold as a line of symmetry and draw half of a figure with very dark, heavy pencil lines. Close up the paper over the half-figure and rub firmly over it. Open it up and you get the complete, symmetric figure.

**READING SCALES**: I know there was a scale reading question on the benchmark
test, and there is a thermometer scale (a cruelly misleading one) in the
"Hot And Cold" MSPAP task. This is an important skill, and I'm not so sure
students ever get lessons devoted specifically to it. There are about 25
graphs in their math text book, and the various scales use increments of
1, 2, 5, 10, 20 and 200. Thus, one often needs to read between the printed
numbers on the scale. I've seen many instances of students counting each
tick mark as 1 when it really represented a step of 2, for instance. I've
attached a page with a variety of printed scales. I've used this with some
of the 3rd-graders, and my experience indicates they could *all* use a
lot of practice. I tried to get them to see that there is a familiar
tick mark pattern for each of the three cases, where the smallest ticks
divide the bigger (labeled) steps into 2 parts, 5 parts, or 10 parts - and
those three cases are about all you're ever likely to meet.

**MEASURING WITH A RULER**: The big, bad exception to the above, of course,
is a ruler scale, which isn't decimal, but continually divides by 2. I've
only worked with a few students on making real measurements with a ruler,
but indications are that they could use practice. Not only are they
not careful about placing the starting point of the ruler, but they are weak
at reading the half- and quarter-inches, etc. I think this activity might
fit in well with their current work in fractions.

**MONEY**: Money shows up in lots of the MSPAP tasks, so it's worth being
comfortable with it. They seem pretty good at adding and subtracting
money, but it might be worthwhile to revisit this, especially relating
the subtraction problems to the notion of profit and loss.

I also think a useful exercise for them is to make up specified amounts of
money less than $100 using just the most familiar bills and coins: $20, $10,
$5, $1, quarters, nickels, dimes and pennies - and using the *least* number
of pieces of money. That's a very practical problem, and since it's the
hardest way to do it, any other way should be easy in comparison. I also
like this problem for it's purely arithmetical aspects. There's a whole
symphony of counting by 25s, 20s, 10s, 5s and 1s going on in your
head, and when you see the next count will "go over", you have to downshift
to the next smaller piece of money. I suggest having the students put their
answers in a format something like the following (where q = quarter,
d = dime, n = nickel and p = penny):

$74.67 ------- 3 x $20 $10 4 x $ 1 2 q 1 d 1 n 2 p

I wouldn't accept "wise guy" answers like, 74 ones and 67 pennies.

With a lot of the students, I went a step further and had them figure out in their heads what the change from a hundred dollar bill would be if that was all they had to pay with.

**REVISIT THE TEXT!**: I don't think we've gotten it through to all the students
yet how simple it is to dig answers out of a reading passage. Many of them
still ponder the question with their eyes turned heavenward, and while
this often gives rise to a most wonderful answer, it's not likely
to be what the tester wanted. (Here's a gem from just today. Q. When
is it incorrect to fly the flag? A. It will be incorrect to fly the flag
if you do not have enough string.) C'mon kids! When you're answering test
questions, just turn your brains *off!* (Whoops, I didn't mean it like that.)

**ROUNDING**: The 3rd-graders are pretty good at rounding 2-digit numbers
to the nearest ten. They can round off 23 and 66, for example. Still,
none of them have grasped rounding completely
and can apply it to the general case of rounding a number of any size
to any specified position. Most of them will break down when you add
another place or two and ask for rounding to the nearest 100 or 1000, say.
They are almost sure to choke on 0s and 9s (for example,
rounding 7070 to the nearest 100; or rounding 596 to the nearest 10.)
Most of them cannot round 74 to the nearest 100; or round 381 to the
nearest 1 (*not* a trick question.)

I don't think the "recipe" for rounding is too hard for any 3rd-grader.

1. Think about what place you're rounding off to: to the nearest one,
the nearest ten, the nearest hundred, the nearest thousand, etc.

2. If you're rounding off to the nearest ten (hundred, thousand, etc.)
focus on the tens (hundreds, thousands, etc.) place.

3. The number in that place will either stay right where it is, or will
go up one if the digit just to the right of it is 5 or greater.

3a. If the number 9 has to go up one, just put a 0 in that place and
carry a 1 to the next higher place, as in regular addition.

4. Put zeros in all the places lower than the place you're rounding off
to.

5. Look at your answer and confirm that it is, in fact, the nearest
multiple of ten (hundred, thousand, etc.) to the original number.

In reality, of course, rounding is much easier than all these words make it sound. The weakness in rounding indicates a fundamentally weak "number sense" in the students and I suspect more time should be spent in first and second grade drilling the students in counting by ones, tens and hundreds. Students need to know numbers before they can go on to any more advanced math work.

Custom-made worksheets addressing observed weaknesses in 3rd-grade students

**Sample 1** - compass directions.

This exercise comes with a basic map of the U.S. showing very clearly all the states and their names.

COMPASS DIRECTIONS: North, East, South, West REMEMBER: the place after the "of" or "from" is thestarting pointof the direction! Imagine the compass rose shifted to the starting point. Section 1. Simple! These states are right above or below or beside each other. Fill in the blanks with the correct compass direction. Use the whole word, or just the abbreviation: N (north) E (east) S (south) W (west) 1. To getfromUtah to Colorado, you have to go _____________. 2. Colorado is _____________fromUtah. 3. To getfromCalifornia to Oregon, you have to go _____________. 4. Oregon is _____________ofCalifornia. 5. To getfromAlabama to Mississippi, you have to go _____________. 6. Mississippi is _____________ofAlabama. 7. To getfromKentucky to Tennessee, you have to go _____________. 8. Tennessee is _____________ofKentucky. 9. Pennsylvania is _____________fromNew York. 10. North Dakota is _____________ofSouth Dakota. 11. South Dakota is _____________ofNorth Dakota. 12. Georgia is _____________fromFlorida. Section 2. Still simple! These states are straight above or below or across from each other, but might not be touching. 13. Nevada is _____________ofColorado. 14. Ohio is _____________fromGeorgia. 15. Iowa is _____________ofLouisiana. 16. New Mexico is _____________ofMontana. 17. New Mexico is _____________ofWyoming. 18. Maryland is _____________ofCalifornia. 19. Idaho is _____________fromMinnesota. 20. New York is _____________ofMaryland. 21. Virginia is _____________ofMaryland. 22. Maryland is _____________ofPennsylvania. 23. Canada is _____________ofMexico. (These are countries!) Section 3. A little trickier! These states are not straight up or down or across from each other. Use the compass points that arein betweenN, E, S and W: NE (northeast) SE (southeast) SW (southwest) NW (northwest) 24. Utah is _________________ofNew Mexico. 25. Ohio is _________________ofArkansas. 26. Nebraska is _________________ofMontana. 27. South Carolina is _________________fromIllinois. 28. Idaho is _________________fromTexas. 29. Kansas is _________________ofWisconsin. Section 4. Fill in the blank with the name of a state. For each one, there are several good answers to choose from. 30. Kansas is southof_______________________. 31. Missouri is eastof_______________________. 32. Washington state is westof_______________________. 33. Indiana is northof_______________________. 34. New Mexico is southeastfrom_______________________. 35. Maine is northeastof_______________________. 36. Nebraska is northwestfrom_______________________. 37. Arizona is southwestof_______________________.

**Sample 2** - rounding.

Weakness in rounding shows a fundamentally weak understanding of numbers.

ROUNDING is the easiest thing on earth. You're already great at rounding to the nearest 10. Rounding to any other place is the exact same idea! HOW TO ROUND: Look at the place you're rounding to. That digit will either stay the same, or "round" up by 1 if the digit next to it (to the right) is 5 or bigger. Then put zeros in all the lower places. If you have to round a 9upto the next number, just put a 0 in that place and carry a 1 to the next higher place, as you do in ordinary addition. Zero is treated just like any other number - it either stays at 0, or rounds up to 1. If there isnodigit in a place, pretend a 0 is there. For example, to round 62 to the nearest 100, think of 62 as 062. (The answer is 100, right?) Fill inallthe blanks. (Do the "10" column first, if you want.) Round to the nearest: 10 100 1000 23 --> ____________ ____________ ____________ 59 --> ____________ ____________ ____________ 701 --> ____________ ____________ ____________ 2 --> ____________ ____________ ____________ 98 --> ____________ ____________ ____________ 1234 --> ____________ ____________ ____________ 102 --> ____________ ____________ ____________ 999 --> ____________ ____________ ____________ 2468 --> ____________ ____________ ____________ 909 --> ____________ ____________ ____________ 8000 --> ____________ ____________ ____________ 555 --> ____________ ____________ ____________ 7033 --> ____________ ____________ ____________ 359 --> ____________ ____________ ____________ 894 --> ____________ ____________ ____________ 2950 --> ____________ ____________ ____________ 500 --> ____________ ____________ ____________ 6414 --> ____________ ____________ ____________ 45 --> ____________ ____________ ____________ 5050 --> ____________ ____________ ____________ 8 --> ____________ ____________ ____________ 3579 --> ____________ ____________ ____________

**Sample 3** - halves.

An exercise to drill the kids in dividing even numbers in half. (I used real division signs in the worksheet, rather than the ascii approximations you see here.)

Halves are easy! You can divide something into any number of parts, of course, but a very common thing in real life is to divide something in half. This means the same thing as dividing by 2, or multiplying by 1/2. All of these number sentences say the exact same thing: Half of 6 is 3. . 3 6 1 6 - 2 = 3 ____ --- = 3 6 / 2 = 3 --- x 6 = 3 . 2| 6 2 2 Or, you can think of it the other way: two halves equal a whole. In this example, 3 is the half, so: 3 + 3 = 6 or 2 x 3 = 6 Any even number can be divided in half without a remainder. Try to do these in your head: Half of 2 is _____. Half of 20 is _____. Half of 200 is _____. Half of 12 is _____. Half of 14 is _____. Half of 16 is _____. Half of 6 is _____. Half of 60 is _____. Half of 600 is _____. Half of 8 is _____. Half of 18 is _____. Half of 28 is _____. Half of 6000 is _____. Half of 8000 is _____. Half of 2000 is _____. Half of 10 is _____. Half of 100 is _____. Half of 1000 is _____. Half of 4 is _____. Half of 44 is _____. Half of 444 is _____. Half of 2 is _____. Half of 24 is _____. Half of 248 is _____. Half of 20 is _____. Half of 22 is _____. Half of 24 is _____. Half of 26 is _____. Half of 28 is _____. Half of 30 is _____. Half of 32 is _____. Half of 34 is _____. Half of 36 is _____. Half of 38 is _____. Half of 40 is _____. Half of 50 is _____. Half of 10 is _____. Half of 100 is _____. Half of 102 is _____. Half of 104 is _____. Half of 106 is _____. Half of 108 is _____. Half of 120 is _____. Half of 130 is _____. Half of 140 is _____. Half of 160 is _____. Half of 180 is _____. Half of 200 is _____. Half of 222 is _____. Half of 444 is _____. Half of 666 is _____.

**Sample 4** - comfort with zero.

Third-graders can do this one, for the most part, but speed and accuracy are the important things. Since accuracy is more important than speed, it was gratifying to see signs of erasures on almost every worksheet, even the perfect ones, showing that the student was mentally double-checking his answers.

THE WORLD'S EASIEST MATH TEST 2 0 6 0 1 0 2 0 4 0 + 0 x 4 + 0 + 5 x 0 x 6 + 0 x 7 + 0 + 8 ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- 0 5 0 9 0 7 0 8 0 1 x 3 + 0 + 9 x 0 x 3 + 0 x 2 + 0 x 6 x 0 ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- 9 0 7 0 2 0 5 0 6 0 x 0 + 9 + 0 x 3 x 0 + 1 x 0 + 3 x 0 + 8 ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- 0 8 0 7 0 1 0 2 0 4 + 4 x 0 x 5 x 0 + 6 x 0 + 2 x 0 + 5 x 0 ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- 6 0 4 0 9 0 7 0 8 0 + 0 x 4 x 0 + 9 x 0 + 3 + 0 x 1 + 0 + 3 ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- 0 8 0 5 0 6 0 7 0 1 + 2 x 0 + 5 + 0 x 7 + 0 + 1 + 0 x 6 + 0 ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ---- ----

**Sample 5** - powers of ten.

This one was actually whipped up for 5th-graders who were doing conversions between mm, cm, dm, m, etc. (This group of students also needed familiarization with those units of measure, and basic work in making measurements. I made a worksheet to address that, as well.) In any case, everything here should be doable by the end of 3rd grade. I'm not happy with the crowded, scary-looking layout.

Multiplying and Dividing by "Powers of Ten" Numbers like 10, 100, 1000, etc. are called "Powers of 10". To MULTIPLY counting numbers by a power of ten, just ADD ZEROS. 3 x 10 = _______ 9 x 10 = _______ 10 x 6 = _______ 10 x 13 = _______ 2 x 100 = _______ 7 x 1000 = _______ 100 x 19 = _______ 10 x 130 = _______ 10000 x 43 = _______ 26834 x 10000000 = ______________ To DIVIDE numbers that end in zero by a Power of 10, just ELIMINATE ZEROS. 30/10 = _______ 600/10 = _______ 340/10 = _______ 77000/100 = _______ 77000/1000 = _______ 3000000/1000 = _______ 3000000/10 = _______ 12300/10 = _______ 404000/1000 = _______ 500/100 = _______ 10/10 = _____ To MULTIPLY a number that has a decimal point by a Power of 10, just move the decimal point to the RIGHT. 5.1 x 10 = _______ 66.31 x 10 = _______ 4.301 x 10 = _______ 66.31 x 100 = _______ 3.1416 x 100 = _______ 77.7777 x 1000 = _______ 1.2345678 x 10000 = ____________ 1.2345678 x 10000000 = ____________ 1.2345678 x 10 = ____________ 10.2345678 x 1000 = ____________ To DIVIDE a number that has a decimal point by a Power of 10, just move the decimal point to the LEFT. 2.5/10 = _______ 22.5/10 = _______ 30.45/100 = _______ 61.5/10 = _______ 5432.1/1000 = _______ 666777.88/10000 = __________ 9.33/10 = _______ 30.08/10 = _______ 30.08/100 = _______ 300.08/100 = _______ REMEMBER: If a counting number (1, 2, 3, 4, 5...) doesn't show a decimal point, it's really there after the one's place. For example, 5 = 5. 20 = 20. 36 = 36. 100 = 100. 701 = 701. 46/10 = _______ 504/100 = _______ 76760/1000 = _______ 499/1000 = _______ 876/100 = _______ 876/10 = _______ 876/1000 = _______ 22/100 = _______ IF YOU RUN OUT OF DIGITS when moving the decimal point, just SUPPLY ZEROS. 3.1 x 100 = _______ 6.2 x 1000 = _______ 14.3 x 100 = _______ 4.234 x 100000 = _________ 718.1 x 1000 = ________ 55.43 x 1000 = ________ 3/100 = _______ 9/1000 = _______ 99/1000 = _______ 16/100 = ________ 6.6/100 = _______ 1.23/100 = ________ 88.2/10000 = ________ 1.9/1000 = _______ 67.4 x 100 = _______ 67.4/1000 = _______

**Sample 6** - lines, line segments and rays.

This one was also for 5th-graders. The Addison Wesley math textbook expected the students to become familiar with the geometric figures without ever actually drawing them. A big problem with the text was that the figures were always presented so small that the students had a hard time grasping the distinction between the figures and the symbols used to name the figures.

In the actual worksheet I use the proper symbol for "angle", as opposed to the angle bracket "<" used below. Also, the line and ray symbols have the proper neat, unbroken appearance.

Lines, Rays, and Angles and Their Names Tell whether each of these geometric figures is a line, ray, or angle. Then use a ruler to actually draw them below. (I ran out of letters so I named three points #, $, and *.) --> MV _______________ --> JS _______________ < BWN _______________ --> #F _______________ <--> ZE _______________ --> YD _______________ < QH* _______________ --> LU _______________ <--> KT _______________ --> $G _______________ --> IR _______________ --> XC _______________ . . . . . . . . A B C D E F G H . . * I . . $ J . . # K . . Z L . . Y M . . X N . . . . . . . . W V U T S R Q P

**Sample 7** - basic additions.

Nothing ground-breaking with this one, or at least I hope
there isn't. (Should *I* have to make something like this up???) Many of
my 3rd-graders were still weak in the single-digit additions - presumably
because they weren't drilled in it regularly in 1st and 2nd grade.

One thing I emphasize is, no matter which order the numbers (addends) are given in, think of the big number (addend) first. (Two exceptions may be 5+7 and 5+8 where the brain quickly sees 5+5+2 and 5+5+3, respectively.)

All The Additions 2+6=_______ 5+5=_______ 6+1=_______ 8+8=_______ 3+8=_______ 0+7=_______ 8+3=_______ 4+4=_______ 8+0=_______ 3+2=_______ 4+9=_______ 5+1=_______ 7+0=_______ 9+5=_______ 1+1=_______ 0+9=_______ 6+8=_______ 1+5=_______ 7+7=_______ 2+3=_______ 7+3=_______ 4+7=_______ 9+0=_______ 3+6=_______ 1+8=_______ 0+5=_______ 4+1=_______ 8+6=_______ 6+6=_______ 2+2=_______ 1+0=_______ 8+1=_______ 2+9=_______ 5+7=_______ 5+2=_______ 9+7=_______ 0+0=_______ 4+3=_______ 6+4=_______ 7+6=_______ 9+2=_______ 3+5=_______ 2+2=_______ 8+4=_______ 9+9=_______ 3+1=_______ 5+3=_______ 4+0=_______ 1+7=_______ 0+1=_______ 7+5=_______ 6+2=_______ 5+6=_______ 6+0=_______ 2+7=_______ 7+9=_______ 6+7=_______ 5+0=_______ 0+2=_______ 3+3=_______ 0+6=_______ 2+4=_______ 7+1=_______ 1+3=_______ 4+6=_______ 9+3=_______ 0+4=_______ 4+2=_______ 2+1=_______ 9+6=_______ 4+5=_______ 3+0=_______ 8+2=_______ 6+3=_______ 7+4=_______ 2+0=_______ 1+4=_______ 8+5=_______ 1+6=_______ 8+7=_______ 9+8=_______ 0+3=_______ 3+7=_______ 5+4=_______ 6+9=_______ 3+9=_______ 7+2=_______ 5+9=_______ 0+8=_______ 7+8=_______ 8+9=_______ 3+4=_______ 2+8=_______ 1+9=_______ 4+8=_______ 1+2=_______ 9+1=_______ 6+5=_______ 9+4=_______ 5+8=_______

**Sample 8** - multiplication from easiest to hardest.

This handout will not be too useful by itself to a 3rd-grader,
but I gave it out so they could follow along with my pep talk
on how easy multiplication really is. The point is, if you grant me that
multiplying by 0, 1, 2, 3, 5 and 9 is easy, and that the squares
are easy, then there are only *six* other single-digit multiplications
that need to be nailed. Just six! (Admittedly most students need
extra work with the "big 3's" - 21, 24, and 27.)

Multiplication is not so bad! 0 times anything is 0. 1 times anything is the number itself. Multiplying by 2 just gives the even numbers: 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20. Here are the multiples of 3: 3 6 9 12 15 18 21 24 27 30. The "5 times" are a cinch. 5 times an even number ends in 0: 10 20 30 40 50 5 times an odd number ends in 5: 5 15 25 35 45 You can figure out the "9 times" easily. Always start by thinking, 9 times anything has to be less than 10 times the same thing. For example, here's 9 x 7 . Step 1. The answer has to be in the 60s, (because it must be less than 10 x 7) Step 2. The two digits have to add up to 9. In this case 6 + 3 = 9. So the answer is 63. Get familiar with the "squares" (when a number is multiplied by itself.) Number: 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 Square: 1 4 9 16 25 36 49 64 81 And here are theonlyother products you need to know! 24 = 4 x 6 (Twice as big as 2 x 6, if you get stuck.) 28 = 4 x 7 (Twice as big as 2 x 7, if you get stuck.) 32 = 4 x 8 42 = 6 x 7 48 = 6 x 8 (It rhymes! Six times eight is forty-eight.) 56 = 7 x 8 (Notice the nice pattern: 5 6 7 8)

**Sample 9** - familiarity with the multiplication table answers.

This pep talk makes the same point, but from the opposite
direction - there are really very few *answers* to the single-digit
multiplications. Get familiar with them, and then it's easy to match
the right answer to the problem at hand. More fundamentally, it's
important to think of the two multipliers and the product as a
multiplication "fact family." Then you've got division automatically
licked.

Multiplication is not so bad! The multiplication table looks big and scary, but there are not so many different answers to memorize. There are NO answers in the 90s. There is only ONE answer in the 80s. 81 = 9 x 9 There is only ONE answer in the 70s. 72 = 9 x 8 There are only TWO answers in the 60s. 63 = 9 x 7 64 = 8 x 8 (a "square") There are only TWO answers in the 50s. 54 = 9 x 6 56 = 7 x 8 There are only FOUR answers in the 40s. 42 = 6 x 7 45 = 9 x 5 (easy!) 48 = 6 x 8 49 = 7 x 7 (a "square") There are only THREE answers in the 30s. 32 = 4 x 8 35 = 5 x 7 (easy!) 36 = 6 x 6 (a "square") 36 = 9 x 4 There are FIVE answers in the 20s, but all easy. 21 = 3 x 7 24 = 3 x 8 24 = 4 x 6 25 = 5 x 5 (an easy "square"!) 27 = 9 x 3 28 = 4 x 7 The answers in the teens are all EASY, since they are mostly just multiples of 2 or 3. 12 = 2 x 6 12 = 3 x 4 14 = 2 x 7 15 = 5 x 3 16 = 2 x 8 16 = 4 x 4 (a "square") 18 = 2 x 9 18 = 3 x 6

**Sample 10** - multiplication table answers shown in the 100 chart.

The tables on this sheet make the same point as above - the
times table is big, but there are really very few *answers*.
The times table is no-frills, but perfectly useful to a student who
still needs it. Note that in the discussions above, I've
been harping on single-digit multiplications (0 through 9), but these
tables go from 1 to 10. No problem.

The TIMES TABLE 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 2 4 6 8 10 12 14 16 18 20 3 6 9 12 15 18 21 24 27 30 4 8 12 16 20 24 28 32 36 40 5 10 15 20 25 30 35 40 45 50 6 12 18 24 30 36 42 48 54 60 7 14 21 28 35 42 49 56 63 70 8 16 24 32 40 48 56 64 72 80 9 18 27 36 45 54 63 72 81 90 10 20 30 40 50 60 70 80 90 100 All the ANSWERS in the TIMES TABLE arranged in counting order 1 2 345678910.12. 14 1516.18.2021 . .2425 . 27 28 .30. 32 . . 3536. . .40. 42 . . 45 . . 48 49 50 . . . 54 . 56 . . . 60 . . 63 64 . . . . . 70 . 72 . . . . . . . 80 81 . . . . . . . . 90 . . . . . . . . . 100 Answers in italics can be gottentwoways. For example, 2 x 9 = 18 3 x 6 = 18

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