How to Ace Standardized Tests: What Must Be in the Ones Place?

This post is part of a series of standardized test prep posts.

Here is a really simple trick that lets you quickly eliminate wrong answers on multiple choice multiplication tests!

Check just the ones digits in the problem.  Multiply quickly in your head, and you will know what the ones digit must be in the correct answer.  Cross off answers that don’t have the correct ones digit.

For example, if you are multiplying 57 X 48, you know that 7 X 8 = 56 (multiplying the ones digits of both numbers).  The ones digit is 6.  So the correct answer to the problem MUST have 6 as the ones digit.

Save a lot of time by trying your new skill before you solve a multiplication problem on a standardized test!

Example: 486 X 592 = ____
a. 7,776
b. 287,712
c. 289,525
d. 64,293

Strategy: What must be in the ones place?

#1: The answer MUST be an EVEN number, because both numbers are EVEN (I teach my students they can look at just the number in the ones place to determine if a number is even or odd). Cross off answers c and d because they are odd numbers.

#2: The answer MUST END in 2, because 6 X 2 = 12, which puts 2 in the ones place. Cross off answer a because 6 is in the ones place.

Result: Only answer b can be correct.

There! You have the correct answer without taking the time to solve a complex long multiplication problem! You also can use the method “What Must Be in the Ones Place?” to quickly eliminate wrong answers to multiple choice problems using other operations: addition, subtraction and division.

Posted in Academics,Math by Corey Green @ Apr 29, 2011


Reading Fluency: Pulling Low Readers Along

It’s really magic when a low reader masters reading aloud.  In the first days of school, after all the assessments are done, I work with low readers by reading aloud to the student, and then I have the student read the same material back to me.  We repeat the pulling along process after every school break.  Yes, young readers can lose fluency that fast!

Some tips to pull reading fluency along at any time of the year:

1.  Use fun material!  If a child is struggling, dull and dry won’t inspire.  I like to use picture books, nursery rhymes, poems or lyrics because the low reader can use the rhythm of the words to pull herself to a higher level.

2.  Have the student underline the sentences with her finger as she reads.  This is a physical way to pull the student’s eyes ahead, especially if she falters on a word or phrase.

3.   Read aloud with the student, pulling her along.  Then go back and work on problem words or phrases.  Does the student understand what she just read?  If not, discuss the context and content of the material.

4.  Do it again.  Advance to materials with a higher reading level only when the student feels confident about her mastery of the lower level material.

One of the ways we celebrate reading achievement in my classroom is by listening to our low readers when they triumphantly can read aloud to the class.  As my low readers advance, I urge them to take home books from my class library and read them aloud to younger siblings.

Lucky me…I get their younger sibs in my class a few years later!

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Posted in Academics,Classroom Management,Fun With Literacy by Corey Green @ Apr 26, 2011


EARTH DAY, April 22, 2011: A Billion Acts of Green

I am posting a few days before the event, so my teacher-readers have an opportunity to create lesson plans.

The organizing theme of Earth Day, April 22, 2011 is “A Billion Acts of Green,” which solicits personal, organizational and corporate pledges to live and act sustainably.

This campaign calls for people of all nationalities to commit to an act that helps reduce carbon emissions and promotes sustainability. The act can be a simple gesture, such as washing laundry in cold water, or immense, like picking up a million pounds of trash. The goal is to register one billion actions in advance of the Earth Summit in Rio in 2012.

 Earth Day 1970 was the brainchild of Gaylord Nelson, then a U.S. Senator from Wisconsin.  After observing political inertia following a massive oil spill off the coast of Santa Barbara, Senator Nelson proposed a national teach-in on the environment to be observed by every university campus in the U.S.  The result: 20,000,000 people demonstrating for a healthy, sustainable environment in massive coast-to-coast rallies.  The first Earth Day led to the creation of the United States Environmental Protection Agency and the passage of the Clean Air, Clean Water, and Endangered Species Acts.

Earth Day has been called the largest secular holiday in the world: it is observed in 175 countries and celebrated by more than a half billion people every year.

Why celebrate on April 22nd? April 22 corresponds to spring in the Northern Hemisphere and autumn in the Southern Hemisphere.  Actually, Senator Nelson selected the day because spring breaks were over and final exams had not begun, so more students were likely to be in class for the teach-ins.

The Earth Day Educators’ Network  has more than 300 standard-based lessons, school greening tips and grants for teachers.  An Earth Day 2011 Organizer’s Guide is available.

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Posted in Academics,Holidays by Corey Green @ Apr 21, 2011


How to Ace Standardized Tests: Analysis of Given/Find Method

This post is part of a series of tips and strategies for taking standardized tests.

Analysis of a standardized test word problem using the Given/Find method:

José is happy to have 3 pledges for his school’s Read-a-thon.  Person A gives José a $20 bill. Person B pledges $3 for each book José reads.  Person C pledges $1 for each chapter José reads.   José read 5 books with a total of 27 chapters. Who will pay José the most money?

a. Person A
b. Person B
c. Person C
d. $25.00

Analysis: for simplicity, underline the facts in the problem if you are allowed to write on the test

3 pledges
Person A – $20
Person B – $3 per book
Person C – $1 per chapter
5 books
27 chapters

Find: Who pays the most?

Best Multiplication Workbook EVER!Solution: Notice that answer d) cannot be correct because the question asks WHO will pay the most.  Cross it off!

Person A: $20
Person B: $3 x 5 = $15
Person C: $1 x 27 = $27

Person C pays the most, so the correct answer is c.

Example taken from my new workbook: Best Multiplication Workbook EVER!

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Posted in Academics,Math by Corey Green @ Apr 18, 2011


How to Ace Standardized Tests: Use the Given/Find Method

This continues my series of posts on standardized test prep.

The Given/Find Method

First, write down all the numbers in the problem.  This is the given information.

Next, write down what you are trying to find—and what unit will be used to measure it. Tip: to help you remember, underline what you are trying to find.

Finally, figure out which operations you need (add, subtract, multiply, divide) to determine the correct answer.

Often, the multiple choice answers include one answer that clearly is incorrect.  Cross it off!  Some choices are way too big or way too small. You can estimate and cross off these incorrect answers. Other answers often come from steps you take to answer the question.  These answers are there to fool you.

Be sure to finish the problem and find the answer to the question that was asked.

There! That wasn’t so hard.  I’ll deconstruct a typical multiple choice question in a future post.

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Posted in Academics,Math by Corey Green @ Apr 14, 2011


National Library Week April 11-17, 2011

bookThis year’s theme for National Library Week is “Create your own story @ your library.” 

What activities are you planning for your class? You might like to use my Story Writing Tips for Kids that have been online for a long time.  The webpage is one of the most frequently visited of all my sites.  I also have a Story Planning Worksheet to download, print and use in your classroom.

Here are some famous librarians.  I hope this information sparks fascinating interactions with students in classroom discussions:

* Ben Franklin and his philosophy group Junto organized the “Articles of Agreement,” which set up the nation’s first library.  The librarywas first meant to benefit only the members so that they could share books on the issues they discussed during meetings.  It went on to become the Library of Congress.

* J. Edgar Hoover went to night school at George Washington University and supported himself by working at the Library of Congress. There, he was a messenger, cataloguer and clerk.

* Lewis Carroll: The author of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass became a sub-librarian at Christ Church in Oxford, England.  Lewis Carroll’s real name was Charles Lutwidge Dodgson, and he first told the story of Alice’s Adventures in Wonderland to the three daughters of the Dean of Christ Church, in 1862.

* Jacob Grimm, one of the famous Brothers Grimm, worked as a librarian in Kasel, Germany after graduating with a law degree.

* Madeleine L’Engle, author of A Wrinkle in Time served as the librarian and writer-in-residence at Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City.

* Beverly Cleary attended the School of Librarianship at the University of Washington, Seattle, and became a children’s librarian.

* Former First Lady Laura Bush holds a Master’s degree in Library Science.  While First Lady, Mrs. Bush supported librarian recruitment initiatives and toured many libraries around the world.

The Library of Congress website has wonderful sections for Kids and Families and for Teachers.

My post about National Library Week 2010 might have some ideas for you, too.

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Posted in Fun With Literacy by Corey Green @ Apr 11, 2011


How to Ace standardized tests: Cross off the Wrong Answers

Here’s a simple way to keep track of your estimates, guesses and solutions: Cross off the wrong answers!

 Review the answers before you solve the problem. Often, you can eliminate obviously wrong answers.

* Cross off answers you can identify as wrong even before you start solving the problem.

* Cross off answers that you can identify as wrong or incomplete as you work.

* Cross off answers that correctly compute part of the solution when multiple operations are needed to solve the problem.

* If the word problem requires a person, place or thing in the answer, cross off answers that only have numbers.  This is especially important when the number you cross off is the correct answer to the word problem.

* When you check your answer, be sure you answered the question that was asked! Remember even with math tests, the right answer might not be a number: it might be a person, place or thing!

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Posted in Academics,Math by Corey Green @ Apr 4, 2011