Sunday, December 18, 2016

Week of December 19

Our schedule has been very interrupted this past week and will be again during this coming week. Due to the water heater break, snow day, delayed opening, and half day schedules, our math classes have not met consistently. The fifth graders have begun their Unit 2 Posttest but need another day to complete them.  Hopefully this will happen Monday morning.  During our two final classes this week students will be looking at ways to find Least Common Multiples (LCM's) and Lowest Common Denominators (LCD's).  This language may sound familiar to you as these are the methods that most of us learned when we were working with fractions with unlike denominators.

Upon returning to school after the break,  we will finish up a final fraction review and then begin our Unit 3 study of place value and decimals.  This unit naturally follows our unit on fractions helping students further understand the relationship of parts to whole and the relationship of fractions to decimals.

I hope everyone has a wonderful holiday break filled with joy, family and friends!

Sunday, December 4, 2016

Week of December 5

The fifth graders have been working very hard learning about fractions and how to think about them.  Last week they enjoyed using ratio tables to solve many equations and think about how numbers related to one another.

This week we will make the connection to how ratio tables can be fractions. Students will continue to apply their fraction knowledge to various problems, become more comfortable with finding common denominators, and at the end of the week they will take their post test for unit 2.

It is exciting to see how students are grasping these concepts and having "aha" moments!

This week (December 5-11) there is a national awareness of computer coding called "Hour of Code." I have a few websites noted in my resource section that students may link to in order to problem solve and code programs. These skills that they learn through coding will most likely be everyday skills our students will need in their future work lives doing jobs that haven't even been thought of yet. It's very exciting trying to "break the codes" and move to the next levels.  Through computer coding I have watched students take challenges, be willing to fail yet keep trying, and move from a fixed mindset to flexible thinking, not to mention great collaboration among all the learners. During this week, many apps are also offered for free to raise awareness and enthusiasm for coding.  If you go to the app store and type in hour of code, or coding, several apps appear.  Lots of math skills are also included in many of these programs!

Sunday, November 27, 2016

Week of November 21

While messing with adding the images to this week's blog, I actually came across last week's blog that I thought I lost.  So here it is (a little out of order, but thought I'd add it anyway.)

This upcoming week I will only meet with the 5th grade on Tuesday. Students have been working on adding and subtracting fractions with unlike denominators by using clocks and money as models to see the fractional parts.  They looked back over their pretests and assessed how they did.  They were surprised by how much they now know compared to what they knew when they took the pretest.

This past week they worked on finding fractional parts of whole numbers like 1/3 of 30, 1/4 of 30, 1/6 of 30 and 1/12 of 30, as they built maps of a river trail (30 km long) with sites along the trail.  As they determined 1/6 of the trail, they then determined 2/6, 3/6, etc. and are now applying this experience to knowing how to find specific parts of a whole.

Soon they will be using the standard procedure (the way we all were taught) to find common denominators. However, they are all becoming more proficient in thinking about fractions and what a half, third, or sixth of something looks like. Also it is a tricky concept to think about 1/3 being less than 1/2 when three has always had a higher value than two in all other math encounters besides fractions. Our fraction unit will continue up until our winter holiday.

Below are some pics of the students working with partners to create their River Trail Maps.

Week of November 28

Hello All,

Last week I spent an hour writing this blog, went to add pictures, and lost the entire blog.  I was so discouraged and didn't have it in me to sit and recreate it, hence no blog for last week.  It 's a new week and hopefully I will have better success.

The fifth graders are becoming quite efficient in their abilities to add and subtract fractions with unlike denominators by using money and clock models to think about halves, quarters, fifths, tenths & twentieths (money) and halves, quarters, thirds, sixths, & twelfths (clocks). Some have discovered they can find tenths and fifths on clocks as well, but the numbers are more user friendly using the money model than the clock model.

This next week we will be looking at ratio tables and discovering how ratios ARE fractions.  They will be solving problems finding the best buy options through the use of ratio tables.

Students also have been working on finding fractional parts of whole numbers.  They worked on River Trail Maps that had various stopping sites along the trail so they had to find 1/2, 1/3, 2/3, 1/5, 2/5, 3/5, etc. along this 30 km. trail.

This coming week students will have homework on Tuesday and Thursday.  Ask your child to show you how they think about fractions.  I know this is not the way we learned to find like denominators and follow a procedure, but please know that your children are learning about how to "think" about fractions and ways certain fractions relate to one another.  They will also learn how to find common denominators the way we did, it's just not the first approach as meaningful understanding has to come first.

Sunday, November 6, 2016

Week of November 7

My apologies for not posting a blog last week.  Life got too complicated with an ailing parent and 7 hours in an emergency room.  My priority will always be to prepare for class and the lessons I need to teach.  So, please know that blogs may on occasion take the "back seat."  I will try my best to keep this current on a weekly basis though.

The fifth graders have now begun a unit on fractions.  This will be a three day week for them since they have their last Starbase on Thursday and school is out on Friday in recognition of Veteran's Day.

Students have begun using the value of a dollar in relation to 1/2, 1/4, 1/5, 1/10, 1/20, and 1/100 and converting the fractions into equivalent parts of 100, i.e. 1/2 is equal to 50/100.  So as students think about adding fractions with unlike denominators they might think about 1/2 + 1/5 as 50 cents plus 20 cents equals 70 cents or 70/100 or 7/10.

Once again, this is not how we learned about adding fractions with unlike denominators.  Your child is learning how to think about the fractions in relation to other fractions and it will allow them to do mental calculations quickly and efficiently with great success.  Rest assured, however, that later in the unit we will learn the standard conversion of fractions in making like denominators by using LCM's (or least common multiples - sound familiar?).

This week we will delve deeper in using clocks to think about the fractions; 1/2, 1/3, 1/4, 1/6, and 1/12.  I began to introduce this last week and students expressed their dislike of analog clocks and their uncertainty of how to tell time with these clocks.  So this was a teachable moment for me to go over how to tell time and there were some "aha moments" expressed.

If there is interest, I am willing to start an evening parent class (once a month or twice a month). Please contact me if you are interested in learning how your child is learning math.

Sunday, October 23, 2016

Week of October 24

The fifth graders have shown incredible growth during this first, very challenging unit in Bridges Math.  They each need to complete some portion of their unit 1 test before we move onto our next unit. I have corrected what they have done so far, and I am very pleased with everyone's understanding of number relationships and progress they have made.  As a math teacher it is very exciting to see the leaps of understanding students make using this program.

Our next unit will focus on adding and subtracting fractions with unlike denominators.  This program is rigorous, but will support understanding of fractions in ways most of us were never taught.  I will try to add info to this blog with images of how the students are thinking about fractions in order to help those at home understand what we are doing here in the classroom.  I think you'll be impressed with the ways your child will be able to think about fractions, decimals and percentiles!

Currently we are only meeting 4 days a week due to the Starbase program.  (I know for sure students are applying their math skills and knowledge at Starbase though!)

Sunday, October 16, 2016

Week of October 17

The fifth graders will be finishing up their first unit in Math this week and taking their unit test on Thursday.  Next Monday (Oct. 24) they will have the opportunity to assess their growth and compare their pretest to posttest knowledge and proficiency.  Bridges 2nd edition has a great format that allows students to clearly see their increased skill level and view areas they still need to work on. It really puts the student in the driver's seat owning their education. There are so many online opportunities for increasing skill level in any given area.  Our students all have IXL accounts and Khan Academy is a great resource for reteaching/relearning just about anything!

We are still at our beginning stages of division and will continue to delve deeper throughout the year.
Below are some pics that show how students are using the area model to solve division problems. The manipulatives we are using are called base ten pieces.

Liz Steventon is accompanying our 5th graders to Starbase each week.  She graciously and diligently is taking pictures (which is hard to do when we're all so busy during the Starbase day I might add) and I will share some on this blog.




Tuesday, October 11, 2016

Week of Oct. 11

Week of October 11:
This will be a three day week for Math instruction due to Monday's in-service and the fifth graders attending Starbase on Friday.  We have begun the final part of Unit 1 and are working on using area models to represent division.  I will add pictures to show this work tomorrow as students continue to delve deeper in this skill.

Parents, please bear with us as we learn how to divide.  It doesn't look like the "system" we were taught, but it actually is very similar, yet adds a dimension of understanding that we were not privy to in our instruction as fifth graders.  Students will eventually learn the standard algorithm (like we know) but not for a while.  Students have my phone numbers and are welcome to call me if they need help.  (They know by 8 p.m. is best.)

I have also attached PDF copies of homework on the website just in case you get the old "I left my homework at school" excuse. If you don't have a printer, your child can just put their work and answers on a piece of paper and label the page number and problem numbers on it.

As always, please contact me if you have any questions or concerns.

Sunday, October 2, 2016

Week of October 3:

5th Graders will continue to work on new multiplication strategies this coming week.  They are in a new learning curve that does not feel completely comfortable yet, but will save them so much calculation time as they familiarize themselves with these strategies.  Below is a sample of four of the strategies they will be using.  Perhaps you and your child can try these out using various numbers.

The new strategies are:
Using Partial Products through a ratio table:

Over Strategy:

Doubling & Halving:

  25 x 36
  50 x 18
100  x  9 = 900

Five is Half of Ten:

Over time, students will become more fluent with these strategies and more proficient mathematicians as they calculate larger numbers.

Sunday, September 25, 2016

Week of September 26, 2016

Week of September 26, 2016

Last week was an exciting week in 5th Grade Math as students were making nice number connections. They are beginning to see how different strategies like doubling and halving can be an easy way to solve more difficult equations. Ask your child to show you how it works.

This past week students worked on volume and surface area of rectangular prisms and were given a quick checkpoint assessment to show their understanding and areas of need for instruction. As a teacher, I am so pleased with students' attentiveness in class and the way students are absorbing the concepts being taught. That said, completing homework for some seems to be challenging. I understand it is soccer season, but I also expect students to complete their work.  Homework in math is given about 2 times per week, so it's not a heavy deluge of work. Students have been given both my home and cell phone numbers if they are struggling with any aspect of their homework.  I encourage calls (preferably before 8 p.m.).

We have also begun work with factors and multiples.  5th Grade math introduces many skills that will be used throughout the middle school years.  Any and all practice of multiplication tables will greatly increase students' abilities to work efficiently and effectively in seeing number relationships. Knowing one's multiplication tables will improve overall math fluency.  YouTube has great tutorials to assist in this learning using music and movement to aid in the memorization of facts.

I look forward to another great week of learning in Fifth Grade Math!

Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Week of Sept. 19, 2016

In our first math unit we are working on finding volume and surface area.  Students are also becoming more aware of number expressions and equations noticing the relationship various numbers have with one another.

The fifth graders are needing to manage their time between after school activities while still completing their math homework assignments. Their homework is 25% of their grade, so incomplete assignments or missing assignments will bring down their averages quickly.

Below are some pictures of finding surface area of boxes that all have a volume of 24 cubic units. They were surprised to discover that even though the volumes were the same, the surface areas were very different.