An I-Pod Inspired Writing Lesson from WritingFix & NumberFix

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Teacher's Guide:

Itsy-Bitsy Math Songs

creating math songs to help students remember the steps needed to solve math problems

This lesson was created by Northern Nevada teacher Lisa Baehr while attending the NNWP's
I-Pod's Across the Curriculum Workshop.

This writing prompt inspired by

the Itsy-Bitsy Spider and other familiar songs and nursery rhymes.

Click here to do a Google search for the lyrics

A note for teacher users: These lessons are posted so that you may borrow ideas from them, but our intention in providing this resource is not to give teachers a word-for-word script to follow. Please, use this lesson's big ideas but adapt everything else. And adapt it recklessly; that's how you become an authentic writing teacher.

Teacher Instructions & Lesson Resources :

Pre-step…before sharing the published model: This is a lesson that can be used as a follow-up to learning ANY mathematic procedure. Lisa deisgned this lesson specifically for simplifying exponents, but she invites you to try it with other topics.

To start the lesson, make sure that your students have a clear understanding of the mathematical procedure you are covering. Work through several problems of varying levels prior to starting so that students are thinking about all of the possible things that can happen when applying the procedure to actual problems.

Step one…sharing the published model:  If you have access to the following books, use the to begin this lesson. Share several songs from the book Take Me out of the Bathtub by Alan Katz. Have students talk about how the author has placed original ideas in the structure that has been borrowed from familiar songs. Let them know they will be thinking about ideas (procedures) and borrowing organization (song structures) as they prepare to write something original for this assignment.

If your students enjoy Alan Katz's book, they'll probably also enjoy Jon Scieszka's Science Verse. If you have time to share examples from a second book, this is the book to select additional songs from.

Step two…introducing models of writing:  To give them an idea of the writing assignment at hand, in small groups, have your students read and respond to any or all of the student models that come with this lesson.  The groups should certainly talk about the idea development and organization, since these are the focus of the lesson.

WritingFix Safely Publishes Students from Around the World! In 2008, we first began accepting students samples from teachers anywhere who use this lesson. Hundreds of new published students now go up at our site annually!

We're currently looking for student samples for other grade levels for this lesson!  Help us obtain some from your students, and we'll send you a free resource for your classroom!  Visit this lesson's student samples page for details.

Step three…thinking and pre-writing:  Begin by asking students if they remember the itsy bitsy spider song. Says Lisa, "We started this lesson by singing to the Karaoke version that I purchased from iTunes and placed on my I-Pod. Search for Karaoke children’s songs and you can find several choices."

Then ask students to list the steps or rules required to solve the mathematical procedure you are currently studying.

Says Lisa, "For exponents, we came up with 1) multiply the coefficients, 2) add the exponents, etc. I pushed my students for 5 main steps although we did not use them all in the actual song we wrote." If you're doing this lesson with exponents (like Lisa did), you can use this worksheet she designed for that very topic.

Share Original Graphic Organizers (for Pre-Writing)
from Your Teaching Toolbox.

We share graphic organizers with our peers, we find them in books, and we think we should also be able to find tried-and-true ones online at WritingFix. This year, if you create an original graphic organizer (or adapt one of ours) when you teach this page's lesson, and post it, we might just end up publishing it directly here at WritingFix, and we will post it here, giving you full credit.

  • Original graphic organizers for specific lessons, like this one, can be submitted as an attachment at this link. Look for the "Reply to this Box" beneath the post. To be able to post, you will need to be a member of our free Writing Lesson of the Month Network.


The next step is to write the lines to the song as a whole class. To begin, write a problem on the board and work it out step by step, thinking about the steps students would take. Then hum the first line of the itsy bitsy song and try to find words that will convey the first step. Continue this process until you have written all lines of the song. Then sing the song with the students to see if it flows or if there needs to be revisions. Use the following rubric to help make changes to your class song.

Once a class song has been created, use it throughout the unit. You might start and end class by singing it together.

When a new mathematical concept is introduced, have students in small groups create original problem-solving songs to the tunes of different familiar songs and/or nursery rhymes. The interactive buttons on the student instructions page might help them explore different songs and math procedures.

Later--as new concepts are introduced and studied, students might individually create step-by-step songs. Have students share their songs with each other, encouraging one another to revise before finalizing their songs. The tools below will encourage revision.

Step four (revising with specific trait language):   To promote response and revision to students' independently written song drafts, attach WritingFix's Revision and Response Post-it® Note-sized templates to your students' drafts.  Make sure the students rank their use of the trait-specific skills on the Post-it® Note-sized templates, which means they'll only have one "1" and one "5."   Have them commit to ideas for revision based on their Post-It rankings.  For more ideas on WritingFix's Revision & Response Post-it® Note-sized templates, click here.

Share Original Revision Techniques or
Adaptations from Your Toolbox.

Inspired by Barry Lane's Reviser's Toolbox, the WritingFix website encourages its teacher users to adapt our lessons, especially the tools of revision we have posted here. If you create an original revision tool (or adapt one of ours) when you teach this page's lesson, and post it, we might just end up publishing it directly here at WritingFix, and we will post it here, giving you full credit.

  • Original revision ideas from teacher users of WritingFix can be submitted through copy/paste or as an attachment at this link. Look for the "Reply to this Box" beneath the post. To be able to post, you will need to be a member of our free Writing Lesson of the Month Network.

Step five (editing for conventions):  After students apply their revision ideas to their drafts and re-write neatly, require them to find an editor.   If you've established a "Community of Editors" among your students, have each student exchange his/her paper with multiple peers.  With yellow high-lighters in hand, each peer reads for and highlights suspected errors for just one item from the Editing Post-it.  The "Community of Editors" idea is just one of dozens and dozens of inspiring ideas that is talked about in detail in the Northern Nevada Writing Project's Going Deep with 6 Trait Language Workbook for Teachers.


Step six (publishing out loud and on-line): The goal of most lessons posted at WritingFix is that students end up with a piece of writing they like, and that their writing was taken through all steps of the writing process. After revising, invite your students to come back to this piece once more during an upcoming writer's workshop block.  The writing started with this lesson might become even more polished for final placement in the portfolio, or the big ideas being written about here might transform into a completely different piece of writing. Most likely, your students will enjoy creating an illustration for this writing as they ready to place final drafts in their portfolios.

Interested in publishing student work on-line? You might earn a free classroom resource from the NNWP! We invite teachers to teach this lesson completely, then share up to three of their students' best revised and edited samples at our ning's Publish Student Writers group.

To submit student samples for this page's lesson, click here. You won't be able to post unless you are a verified member of this site's Writing Lesson of the Month ning.

Check out our other lesson that uses
Take Me Out of the Bathtub
by clicking here.

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