Elementary Math Newsletter

February 1st - February 12th

Ramblings of Jennifer & Stephanie...

Team Leaders and Spotlight Teachers, please make sure to forward this newsletter onto your team members and any SPED support teachers that you feel could benefit from this information.

Hi Everyone! Enjoy these activities we found to bring a little Valentine math fun into your students day!

Highlighting Process Skills

In this newsletter we are going to continue discussing the importance of justification in math. However, we are specifically going to talk about what it means to use precise mathematical language. The TEKS focus will be:

TEKS 1G: Display, explain, and justify mathematical ideas and arguments using precise mathematical language in written or oral communication.

Using precise mathematical language means that students:

  • Talk to other students using correct math vocabulary
  • give detailed explanations for solutions
  • Use clear definitions
  • State the meaning of symbols they use
  • Give carefully formed explanations to their peers
  • Use correct symbols and terminology and are able to give examples and non-examples
  • Use correct labels in word problems
  • Use appropriate vocabulary words in explanations that help clarify their thinking
  • Focus on clarity and accuracy of the problem solving process

In order for students to do the bulleted list above, they must be taught the math vocabulary and be given opportunities to practice justification in the classroom.

Understand that developing strong math vocabulary skills takes time. Students need to be taught the word in context. Rote memorization of a word and definition does not help students know when to use the word. Students also need to hear the use of precise math language from you during your instruction and throughout the day. Finally, students need to be given the opportunity to use the precise math language they have learned through writing journal entries, participating in group discussions, completing exit tickets, or playing games using the class word wall.

Some great questions to use to help students start thinking about and using precise mathematical language in the classroom are:

  • What does the word ____ mean?
  • Explain what you did to solve the problem.
  • What math words apply in this situation?
  • What labels could you use?
  • How do you know your answer is right?
  • What math words might we use to describe this process?
  • Did you use the most efficient way to solve the problem?
  • What mathematical language …, definitions…, and properties can you use to explain…?

In our next newsletter, we will highlight some specific activities that you can do in your classroom to provide your students opportunities to justify / explain their thinking and to use precise math vocabulary. Until then, start thinking about ways that you can encourage more math conversation and use of math vocabulary in the classroom.

Revisiting...Math Time is Sacred!

Being a teacher is hectic and trying to schedule lessons around assemblies, assessments, fire drills and whatever else comes your way is always a struggle. One thing to keep in mind as you schedule your day and plan lessons for the week is that Whole Group and Small Group math time is sacred and should be done daily.

I think a paragraph from the Principals and Standards of Teaching Mathematics says it best:

Students learn mathematics through the experiences that teachers provide. Thus, students' understanding of mathematics, their ability to use it to solve problems, and their confidence in, and disposition toward, mathematics are all shaped by the teaching they encounter in school. The improvement of mathematics education for all students requires effective mathematics teaching in all classrooms.

In order for students to learn math, they have to do/experience/practice/see math daily. Give math a special place in your classroom. Show students it is important. No matter what else comes up in your day, make it sacred!

Don't Forget!

  • February 1st - K-4 Math Intervention Buzz Session
  • February 2nd - Station Creation
  • February 9th - Spotlight Math


TEKS: K.3A, K.8A, K.8B & K.8C

For the first half of the week of February 1st-5th, students are going to continue working toward mastery of the concept of graphing (TEKS K.8A, K.8B & K.8C). Take a look at the unpacked TEKS above and reminders below to help you plan the lessons for the first half of this week.


  • These TEKS should not be taught in isolation. If I am collecting data, I will organize it, then I will create a graph with the data, and finally I will draw conclusions about the data I collected. It's all embedded together.
  • Make sure all graphs created are purposeful. Are we figuring out something? Are we telling people something? Are we answering a question? Remember that a graph is a type of representation to organize and communicate math information. Give the math purpose.
  • Think beyond graphing for just color or size. Try to make the graphs your students create be about real world problems or questions and not just about stuff or objects.
  • Let students gather data by conducting a survey.
  • Make both vertical and horizontal graphs.
  • Drawing conclusions from data in graphs means that students can look at a graph and make inferences based on the information. Think, "Based on the information in the graph, I think or I wonder..."

For the rest of the week of February 1st-5th and the week of February 8th-12th, students will be focusing on the action of separating to represent subtraction (TEKS K.3A). Take a look at the unpacked TEKS above and reminders below to help you plan the lessons for these weeks.


  • Focus is on the ACTION of seperating where the result is unknown.
  • Make sure to give students lots of hands-on practice with manipulatives to model the action of separating.
  • Students need to understand that when they separate two numbers/sets/groups that they are performing the subtraction operation.
  • This is the foundation to subtraction problem solving.

1st Grade

TEKS: 1.3C, 1.3D, 1.3E, 1.5E, 1.5F & 1.5G

This year, 1st grade students have practiced addition and subtraction of numbers that have sums and differences within 10. Over the next two weeks, students are going to focus on addition and subtraction of sums and differences within 20. The TEKS focus will be on TEKS 1.3C, 1.3D, 1.3E, 1.5E, 1.5F and 1.5G. Include both addition and subtraction fact reasoning strategies including composing 10 and related facts. Take a look at the unpacked TEKS above and the reminders below to help you plan lessons for the next two weeks.


  • Fact Strategies to include: Addition (Making 10, Counting On, Commutative Property, Doubles, Doubles + 1, and Doubles + 2) Subtraction (Ten facts, Double facts, Count Up, Related Facts (fact families)
  • Make sure to always introduce addition and subtraction problems to students in context or with verbal word problems. Students need to hear what real world situations require addition and subtraction (joining, comparing, take away, or part-part-whole situations).
  • TEKS 1.3E expects students to justify and explain how they solved addition and subtraction problems. This is also a process TEKS.

2nd Grade

TEKS: 2.9A, 2.9B, 2.9C & 2.9D

In Kindergarten and 1st Grade, students experience measuring length using nonstandard units. Over the next 3 1/2 weeks, 2nd Grade students will review measuring length with nonstandard units but will also learn to find the length of an item or distance between two points using customary and metric standard units. For the week of February 1st-5th, 2nd grade students will review measuring with nonstandard length and will start learning about how to measure length (distance) using standard customary units. For the week of February 8th-12th, students will use both standard customary and metric units to measure length. Take a look at the unpacked TEKS above, the CPA calendar, and reminders below to help plan your lessons for the next two weeks.


  • 2nd Grade is the only grade level which teaches how to measure using a ruler, yard stick, measuring tape, and/or meter stick.
  • TEKS 2.9A and 2.9B should be taught 1st.
  • According to the TEKS, nonstandard measurement should be found using objects that represent standard units of length. (Example: edge of a color tile = 1 inch, edge of centimeter cube = 1 centimeter)
  • Students need to be able to describe that "the longer the unit, the fewer needed and the shorter the unit, the more needed to measure a length."
  • TEKS 2.9C will be taught along with the ruler. Students need to understand that as they measure the length of an object, they are finding the distance between two points on a number line.
  • Can begin teaching about the ruler by using a simplified ruler (No half-inch or quarter-inch markings)
  • To help with 2.9C understanding, don't always start measurements at zero on the ruler forcing students to find the distance between the two points.
  • Always have students estimate before they measure.
  • Students will find a length to the nearest whole unit.
  • When describing length, students need both a measurement and a unit. (Example: 6 inches)

3rd Grade

TEKS: 3.6A & 3.6B

For the next two weeks, 3rd graders are going to classify and sort 2D and 3D shapes and use attributes to recognize and draw quadrilaterals (TEKS 3.6A & 3.6B). For the week of February 1st-5th, students will classify and sort 2D shapes only. Students will also learn the different attributes and names of types of quadrilaterals and draw both example and non-examples of these quadrilaterals. For the week of February 8th-12th, students will classify and sort 2D and 3D shapes including quadrilaterals. Take a look at the unpacked TEKS above, the CPA calendar, and reminders below to help plan your lessons for the next two weeks.


  • 2D and 3D figures may be classified by either attribute or name.
  • Students in 2nd Grade learned the attributes and names of 2D shapes up to a 12-sided shape.
  • Although not specified in the TEKS, pyramids should be taught as well.
  • Make sure to show different orientations/examples of shapes and figures.
  • PISD students demonstrated 85% mastery of TEKS 3.6A last year on the STAAR assessment.

4th Grade

TEKS: 4.5C, 4.5D & 4.8C

The focus for the week of February 1st - February 5th is elapsed time (TEKS 4.8C). Take a look at the unpacked TEKS above, the CPA calendar, and reminders below to help plan your lessons for the next week.


  • Students learned how to add and subtract intervals of time last year. (Example: Scott had homework after school. It took Scott 25 minutes to complete his math homework and then he studied for his spelling test for 15 minutes. How long did it take Scott to finish his homework?)
  • Students should be able to calculate elapsed time without tools.

The focus for the beginning of the week of February 8th-12th is area and perimeter (TEKS 4.5C & 4.5D). The focus for the end of the week of February 8th-12th is solving measurement word problems (TEKS 4.8C). Take a look at the unpacked TEKS above, the CPA calendar, and reminders below to help plan your lessons for this week.


  • Students in 3rd grade learned about perimeter and area but did not use the formulas.
  • 3rd Grade students related area to arrays.
  • TEKS 4.5C should be taught with TEKS 4.5D.
  • TEKS 4.5C requires students to use models (pictorial or concrete) to determine the formula for perimeter and area. The key is understanding why the formulas work.
  • TEKS 4.8C includes solving problems involving liquid capacity, mass, length, time, and money.
  • TEKS 4.8C does NOT include solving problems involving weight.
  • Include elapsed time and calendar problems.
  • If money problems require students to multiply or divide money, the money values will be limited to whole numbers only.
  • Make sure students represent problems each time they solve either using strip diagrams or equations.
  • The QDPAC "thinking process" and "graphic organizer" should be modeled on every computational word problem.
  • Do NOT teach key words. Students should be focusing on which actions are happening in the story. Take a look at the Action Posters on Forethought under 4.1B.
  • As students complete independent word problem practice for the rest of the year, expect students to use the QDPAC "thinking process" and show the "graphic organizer" on each word problem. Make it an expectation!
  • PISD students demonstrated 64% mastery on TEKS 4.5D and 48% mastery on TEKS 4.8C last year on the STAAR assessment.