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We Sing Silly (Math) Songs

I am the literacy teacher for my departmental team.  I co-teach the literacy block for the inclusion class as well as teach literacy, social studies, and science for my homeroom class.  However, now that the state ELA test is over, I find myself putting on a different (yet welcome) hat: that of math teacher! 

This is our first year departmentalizing, and while initially excited about the prospect of really focusing on literacy, I have found that I really miss being able to teach a concept in one class period, and then being able to play a game or participate in a contest to reinforce the concept the next (I also kind of like the elegant simplicity of number language instead of word language, but that will be another post).  I think what I miss the most, though, is the ‘lightbulb’ that I saw in even my most struggling readers when they ‘got’ a concept in math, which seems to happen more quickly and more frequently than in literacy. 

I expected to feel annoyed and put-upon when asked to take on math responsibilities for test prep purposes, but I’m actually glad to get back to it.  I’ve found, however, that I’ve been permanently tainted by the literacy bug, and my math teaching has become way more interdisciplinary (and cheesy, but that’s not a ‘becoming’ thing…).  Let me share some of the mellifluous ways in which literacy has totally corrupted my math teaching:

Ode to Comparing Fractions with Unlike Denominators

First you take the two denominators,
Their product can be a new denominator.
Cross-multiply up across the sign
For converted numerators to easily find.
And now, I’m sure you are aware
How easy these fractions are to compare!


A Rounding Song (to the tune of The Wheels on the Bus)

It’s easy and fun to round, round, round
Round, round, round
Round, round, round
It’s easy and fun to round, round, round
Just learn the rules.

The first thing you do is find your place
Find your place
Find your place
The first thing you do is find your place
When you want to round.

Circle the digit and look to the right
Look to the right
Look to the right
Circle the digit and look to the right
When you want to round.

The digit on the right tells you what to do
What to do
What to do
The digit on the right tells you what to do
When you want to round.

Five or more, let it soar,
Four or less, let it rest,
Soar or rest,
Soar or rest
Five or more, let it soar, four or less, let it rest
When you want to round.

The digit to the right sends the zeros on back
Zeros on back
Zeros on back
The digit to the right sends the zeros on back
When you want to round!

Odd or Even? (to the tune of Frere Jacques)

Odd or even,
Odd or even,
How to tell?
How to tell?

Divisible by two,
Divisible by two,
And it’s even as well.
Even as well.

Odd or even,
Odd or even,
How to tell?
How to tell?

1, 3, 5, 7, 9,
1, 3, 5, 7, 9,
Odds are swell.
Odds are swell.

Decimals: A Cautionary Limerick

With decimals, when you subtract or add
Not to line up place values is bad.
    Line up decimal points
    Like your vertebral joints
Or your math teacher will surely be mad.

Division Process Acrostic (courtesy Rebecca F., one of my early teaching mentors)

Does = Divide the first digit of the dividend by the divisor
McDonald’s = Multiply the quotient you get by the divisor
Sell = Subtract the product
Burgers with = Bring down the next-greatest place, put the number next to the difference
Relish? = Remainder

…As I mentioned to my poor, tortured students, ‘Yes, I’m cheesy like a pizza,’ but these hokey strategies really do help students recall critical math processes in a fun and interactive way.  Have a fun strategy for injecting some literacy love into math?  Share it here!  Have a request for a skill-based song?  Try my class out… I’ll put their creative math skills to the test during my next literacy period.

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