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.