Wednesday, April 30, 2014

The One With Tables

Next year I will have tables in my classroom instead of desks and I couldn't be more excited about it.  

Which do you prefer?  Tables or desks?  

Thursday, April 24, 2014

The One With the Decimals Game

My 5th graders have been studying decimals this week.

Today's plan was to play a little review game followed by a quiz.

My first class came in and we did just that.

We played the game that came with our curriculum.

I have to admit, I had looked at the game beforehand but I had not actually played it until today.  Because we had an odd number of students, I sat down to play with one of them.  

This game was not fun.  And more importantly I didn't feel like my students were really gaining anything from the experience.  So I did what any modern day teacher would do...

I searched Pinterest before my next class came in.

Aww.  Pinterest to the rescue.

I found this little game instantly.

Thank you Nicole Shelby for having this gem in your TPT store.

My students love anything where they can roll dice so I knew this would be a hit.

And it was!!

After the students started playing one of them came up with a brilliant idea.  He and his partner happened to receive three different colored dice so they assigned each color to a place value.

For example the white dice always gave them the ones place.  The red - the tenths and the green - the hundredths.

I LOVED this idea and even more so because it was a special-ed student who came up with the idea!

I immediately went around and made sure everyone had three different colors and were using this method.

Students highlighted the winner of each round as they went.  

I loved that not only did my lower students get some extra practice right before a quiz but because of the luck factor they were able to beat their opponent - even when they thought their opponent was more advanced.  

Great game!  Will definitely be keeping this one around for station work.

Monday, April 21, 2014

The One With the Mini Offices

Today as my students were taking their test I realized I've never shared my mini offices with you.

I can't remember where I found this idea, but it is one that I absolutely love and use often.

It is simply two file folders glued together.  


My students use them for privacy when they are taking a quiz or a test.   They really like them.  Some students completely disappear into their mini office.

My mini offices are currently blank on the inside.  However, I have seen where some teachers put references sheets on the inside for students to refer to.  

I put mine together before school started and never got around to laminating them - something I wish I would have done.  They will definitely get laminated before next year.  Thankfully they are still in pretty good condition.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

The One Without Any Words

Today I'm joining Miss Decarbo at Sugar and Spice for Wordless Wednesday!

What fun!

How do you track which students are here and which ones are out of the room?

Tuesday, April 15, 2014

The One With Hands On Equations

When my math coach and I sat down to plan my algebra unit I had no idea how well my students would do and how far we would be able to go with it.

There have been several teachable moments throughout this unit where we've been able to go above and beyond the ideas that I had planned to covered.  This unit has been interrupted by so many things including Benchmark test.  My mind reels with the thoughts of what we could have done had we not had all the interruptions.  It has been a real confidence booster for so many of students who struggled through our last unit on fractions.  

My math coach gave me a huge box of materials to be used for Hands-On Equations when we started planning this unit.  I have to admit that the box was so overwhelming that when she first gave it to me I wanted to ignore it.  I didn't want to take the time to deal with it.

I am so glad I decided to deal with that box. 

 In a matter of thirty minutes or less my students were solving some pretty big equations yesterday.  They immediately understand what a variable is and its role in equations.  They understood that an equal sign doesn't mean solve this problem and find the answer.  They were able to see the equal sign as the middle point on a scale where each side of it had to be balanced or equal.  

I was so incredibly proud of them, but even more important they were proud of themselves.  They had been so scared of this unit just because it was called Algebra.  But by the end of our time together yesterday they were all saying how easy algebra is.

I was thrilled because algebra has always been my strong point in math, but I never really understood the why.  I never saw the equal sign as the middle point of a scale.  I was just able to regurgitate what my teacher was doing.  Because of that teaching algebra has always been one of my low points.  I didn't have the knowledge to explain it the way I need to.  That changed yesterday.

So what is Hands-On Math?

We started class with some discussion about what an equal sign meant.  I let them share their ideas and then I brought out my scale - though I use that term loosely because it is not an actually scale.  It just looks like one.

We started with a blue pawn representing X on one side of the scale and a cube representing 5 on the other side.  Students were immediately able to see that in order for the scale to be balanced then x had to equal 5.

From there I followed the book that comes with this kit.

This little book made my job incredibly easy.  According to this book, you can use this kit to teach students as low as 3rd grade how to solve algebraic equation.  I might have rolled my eyes when I first read that, but after just one day I totally believe it.

You can see from the picture above how we slowly stepped it up.

Students were given their own scale and pieces so that they could manipulate the equations.

Students were writing the equation and solving for X with ease.

They were primarily using guess and check yesterday.  I did show them how to solve without the scale or using guess and check at the end of class.  Again they were scared when I told them what I wanted to show them, but as soon as I did it I heard lots of "Oh!  That's easy!"

They will begin practicing it on their own soon.

I can't wait.  

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The One with the Big Test

This past week my students completed the Benchmark test for what we believe might have been the last time.  We are told next year students will take the PARCC.

If you have ever administered a week long test, I don't have to tell you how exhausting it is.

For students and administrators.

It makes for a long week.

I am proud of how hard my students worked all week long.

I tested sixth graders this year so it was the first time I only had to administer the test for four days instead of the five.

Not going to lie.  That was nice.

This week of testing always gives me lots of time to reflect on my teaching and to begin thinking about the upcoming year.

This year my mind spent a lot of time thinking about interactive notebooks.  I've used them before in Science and in History, but never in Math.

Next year is the year.  I'm going to do it.

I have found a wonderful resource in Jennifer at 4mulafun.  I have spent many hours over the past week reading her blog, checking things out in her TPT store, and watching her videos on YouTube.

I also experienced two firsts during this testing week.  On Thursday, our last day of testing, one of my sweet girls got sick and threw up during testing.  At the time we had two minutes left of that session and then one test left to take so I guess her timing was good.  I felt so bad for her.  I know getting sick in front of people like that can be an embarassing experience.  Of course the other students were flipping out.  It definitely added a little excitement to our week of testing.

My other first?  Saturday School!  We missed 14 days of school this year due to bad weather.  Yesterday we made up one of those days with Saturday school.  Needless to say Saturday School is not my favorite.  Yesterday was 1 of 3 Saturdays that we will be going.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014

The One in April

I'm a day late to the party.  Oops.  I hope you will forgive me.

It's not too late.  Go join in on the fun.  Just jump on over to Farley's blog.