Sunday, November 25, 2012

What's in your TpT cart?

I've been spending the morning browsing TpT and filling up my cart for the Cyber Monday + Tuesday sale. Here are a few things I'm really excited about purchasing! Since there are SO MANY great resources on TpT I'd love your suggestions!

Identifying Fractions Bingo by MissMathDork looks like a fun way for my students to practice and review fractions!

This Grammar Fail Literacy Center by Anna Colley looks like a lot of fun. Grammar can be one of those "boring" topics, but with her creative center I'm sure the kids will love being the grammar police!

 I have been eying Jennifer Runde's Interactive Math Journals since she published it. This year I started making all of our notebooks into interactive ones, and it only makes sense that I take the advice of a seasoned math journalist. I know this will be exponentially beneficial to my intervention students.

MrHughes Mini Dodecahedron Christmas Ornament looks like a fabulous cross curricular activity (although he forgot to include that it is math-geometry too!) that is perfect for the holidays. Way to maximize instructional time right before break!

 What's in your cart/wishlist? What have been some of your best purchases?

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Calendar Math and Cyber Monday+Tuesday Sale

Over the summer I saw a few posts about upper grade teachers using calendar math. This was not the sit on the floor, use a pointer, and bundle up sticks kind of daily calendar that is typical in primary classrooms. I really liked the idea of not having to create numbers for the students to use, and I loved that using the numbers in the calendar would lead to students being able to see patterns in math.

This year not only marked my return to 5th grade, but it was also returning to teaching math after several years of being departmentalized in 6th grade. To top it off I would be teaching the intervention math group. I was excited and apprehensive, but my calendar math fits in perfectly!

In my intervention class I am blessed to have an hour of support from the resource teacher and a para educator. These wonderful ladies come in Tuesday-Thursday and we do an 18 minute rotation between our three groups. Because we were able to keep the class small our groups have only 6 students in each. The resource teacher works with her group on the Lindamood-Bell program "On Cloud Nine." It is a wonderful program to help students gain the number sense they struggle with through visualization.  In my group I work with the students on whatever concept we are covering. Sometimes I am introducing a new topic, providing extra practice, or we are playing a related math game. The para is the lucky Calendar Math guru! She sits with her group and sometimes they work through it together, or she lets them work on it on their own and supports them and checks their work as they go.

So what do I have in my calendar math? Well, it is a double-sided worksheet that has concepts that they should have learned in previous grades, such as:
* word form
* expanded form
* double digit multiplication
* long division
* convert fractions, decimals, and percents
* determine if numbers are prime or composite
* use a number line
* greater than, less than, or equal to
* mean, median, mode, and range
* perimeter
* area
* prime factorization 
* order of operations 
* base ten multiplication 
* estimation 
* operations with money

Students use the following numbers to complete the problems:

* month number
* day of the month
* year
* day in school
* days left in school

At first the students were not coming close to finishing even one side of the worksheet during the 18 minutes in that center. I was ok with this, I knew that as they practiced, they would get better at it. And I was right! By the end of first quarter I had many students excited that they were finally able to finish the page! To freshen things up I made a second page for second quarter. Some of the concepts  remained the same, and others that they knew well I switched out for new concepts. Now they are working their way back to being able to complete the entire thing in 18 minutes.

For the first part of the year the students each had a folder filled with blank Calendar Math pages and they would work on one each of the three math intervention days. I've come to realize that this is taking up a lot of paper (and our principal wants to cut down), so I think I am going to laminate them so they can be reused each day. It seems to be effective so far and the para often tells me how the students are becoming better and more confident each day. 

Interested in trying out my Calendar Math for Upper Grades with your upper grade students? You are in luck! Teachers Pay Teachers is throwing a HUGE Cyber Monday + Tuesday sale. I'm discounting every item by 20% and if you use the code CMT12 you'll get an additional 10% off. That's a huge 28% discount! Monday the 26th and Tuesday the 27th will be a great day to buy from the many talented teachers who have created outstanding resources! Think of it as a little holiday treat for yourself and your kiddos!

If you have already purchased this item, THANK YOU! If you provided feedback on this item, another THANK YOU! You are now able to download the updated version of this item. Enjoy!

I hope everyone is having a lovely time with their family and friends this weekend. My husband and I had a nice early meal at my mother-in-law's and I'll be spending the rest of the weekend getting caught up on writing my novel! Only 9 more writing days left of NaNoWriMo 2012. 

Monday, November 19, 2012

Quick Check-in

The past week has been busy busy busy! My students have been working on their novels at home and so have I. I've currently written 28,268 words towards my 50,000 word goal. I'm a bit behind, but I'm sure the long weekend will give me some much needed time to catch up. NaNoWriMo is such a great exercise for all writers. I can tell when my students talking and share their novels that they are already growing immensely (and some their skill far exceeds my own). I'm excited as we head through the last week and a half of novel writing.

Between work, writing, birthday parties, and get-togethers I have hardly had a minute to myself. Then on Friday I woke up at 3 am barfing. I tried to go into work, but I knew it was a bad idea and our lovelt office staff quickly found a couple of subs to share my class for the day. On Saturday I had the pleasure of photographing the family of a teacher I work with. They were so perfect and the portraits were lovely! Yesterday my mom was in town and we celebrated my nephew's upcoming third birthday. My husband brought home the new Wii U system and is enticing me with the fun little games, but after about half an hour of fun tonight I had to return to my writing. There is so much school stuff I want to share, but time is just something I won't ever be able to catch up to. But, as you can tell, I've been busy busy busy! I hope I get to share some of it, soon.

A few of you may have purchased my Calendar Math for Upper Grades from TpT. (Eeek! I just realized I had started a post on this and never finished it!) This is something I use almost everyday with my intervention math class. It's great because the numbers in the days do all the work for you, and it helps students see patterns in the skills they are practicing. Right now it is a small file. I offered it immediately on TpT because it is so valuable to me, and it's actually my best seller. I have already made more pages and will be adding detailed directions for those that already purchased it. I plan on getting this all updated over the long weekend. I'll even get that post up about it too! If you are curious now, go check it out! As soon as I update it those that have purchased previously will get notified of the new download. Just a heads up...the price will go up a bit, so if your interested, grab yours now!

Friday, November 9, 2012

Students as teachers

Today as we were starting math and my math students were coming in one sat on my chair and asked if he could be me today. He was joking, but when I said, "sure" I was serious. I've done this with students before and they usually have a blast getting to be the teacher, and it is often more meaningful for them and the class. This gentleman is so charismatic and not only did he do a phenomenal job, but he was a riot!

He was a fantastic teacher. He had appropriate wait time, he took his time calling on students, had words of encouragement, checked for understanding, took care of behavior problems. It was fun to watch him take over with little assistance from me, for about 20 minutes. I think he captured their attention far better than when I am in front of them!

Particularly wonderful things he said...

"Class, do you agree or disagree?" (Looking around at the students for a thumbs up or down, waiting until he had a response from everyone)

"Who can help _____ out?"

"I think I'm going to call on _____, you have been raising your hand patiently."

A student said to him, "I don't understand" and his response was, "tell me what you don't understand," and then they worked through the question.

"Class, let's all clap for _____, he/she did a great job on that problem." (Class claps)

I also got to be a student. I raised my hand, was called on, and purposely wrote the wrong answer on the whiteboard. The kids (and student teacher) loved that I was wrong and enjoyed correcting my mistakes.

Thursday, November 8, 2012

JA BizTown

I have been using a classroom economy system for about six years now. I had heard about JA BizTown and thought it was a fabulous idea, but it was pricey. If you have never heard of it, it is from the Junior Achievement organization. They have a well developed set of lesson plans that encompass economy, jobs, banking, etc. The culminating activity is for students to visit BizTown, a simulated town that is run by them for the day. A few years ago the 5th graders at our school went and my 6th grade colleague (who also used an economy system) were super jealous. Now that I have joined the 5th grade team we decided that this year we would go.

Last night my team and I left school immediately and headed across the Valley to the BizTown location for a tour and training. JA BizTown here in Arizona has two town simulation areas and I am SO EXCITED to go!

Each town is sectioned off into businesses and students all have a bank account and job for the day. As a business they have to decide on a business plan for the day, they take out a loan from the bank (which they have to pay off by the end of the day) and they even write advertising for their business. Students get two paychecks and breaks to eat and shop. There is a newspaper which puts out a paper that day that the students can purchase. There is a news station that creates advertisements and broadcasts on the town's TVs. Students send and receive mail. There are goodies for them to buy and each business only accepts one form of payment (cash, check, or debit). There is even a town mayor that has to give a speech during the town meeting.

Our classes are going in January and I CAN'T WAIT! We have about six weeks of lessons to complete before we go and I am ready to dive in!

Check out some of the photos I snapped.
BizTown 2 Farmer's Market

BizTown 2 Bank

BizTown 1 City Hall

BizTown 1 Travel Agency with plane

BizTown 1 Cox News Studio

BizTown 1 Law Office

Wednesday, November 7, 2012

NaNoWriMo Day 7

Today is November 7th, that means it is the 7th day of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo)! My students spent two and a half weeks of october preparing their goals and novel ideas and getting their creative juices going. For the past five school days they have started off their novels with vigor and zest! We have already accumulated thousands of words written. Some of us are ahead of schedule, some of us (myself included) a little bit behind, and some of us have given (and needed) dares to inspire. Our writing time has been sacred and the students don't want to stop when it is time for math. This morning I had duty on the playground before school and it was such a gorgeous morning. There was a hot air balloon heading for our playground and it landed briefly in the field across from us. The sky was super blue without a single cloud. I had no choice but to move us outside to write and enjoy the lovely day. Some of the students were extra inspired (some were a little itchy from the grass), but it was a great experience. 

Monday, November 5, 2012

It Rocks to be Drug Free!

The teachers at our school always have the most creative Red Ribbon posters. For a couple of years I did "Ms W's Class Leaves Drugs Alone" and had them write something they do instead of drugs on a leaf and then watercolor over it. Then we pasted the leaves on a big tree. Other teachers started doing this, so I went in search for other ideas. Last year we did "We fill our cup with . . . instead of drugs". The students cut out cups that looked like those popular clear tumblers and they wrote in all the things they like to do. It was cute and colorful. This year inspiration struck! I had seen something that had the word "rocks" in it and knew we had to do "It ROCKS to be Drug Free!" I brought in my Guitar Hero/Rock band guitar, mic, and drumsticks and took a photo of each student rocking out. 

Sorry I had to cover the kids faces, many of them had such awesome expressions. And, I don't want to brag or anything, but our class won out of 5th grade. We even got our poster hung in the best spot in the cafeteria, right over the door! 

Saturday, November 3, 2012

NaNoWriMo Kick Off

This Thursday was the first day of November, which meant the first day of National Novel Writing Month (NaNoWriMo). This is my third year participating as a writer and as an educator and it is my favorite part of the year. The kids were bursting to start writing and Day 1 was a frenzy. I passed out popcorn as my little authors busily filled the pages with the start to their novels. The room was nearly silent except for the frantic beat of the pencils flying across paper.  Unfortunately I took photos on my camera instead of my phone, and forgot the camera at school. A photo of one of my cats sitting on my novel will have to suffice.

I still have so many things that I have been wanting to share but just haven't had the time. This month will be even more tight as I need any extra time to reach 50,000 words in my novel by the end of the month. Eek!

Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Observed on Halloween!

Our district de-emphasizes the observance of Halloween. Mainly they don't want parties that infringe on instructional time and topics that might be violent/gruesome. Halloween is one of the best holidays (if not THE best) but I pretty much downplay it in class. I do leave them a little non-sugary treat, usually of the school variety. This year I found out that Plants vs. Zombies and the ADA were giving away the game for free. I knew my kids would love this and they did! Plants vs. Zombies is one of my favorite video games, I've played it over and over! The coupons are still good until the 10th if you'd like to get a free copy of the game or hand them out to your students. 

My principal stopped by to drop something off just as we were starting math. It was me, the para, and both resource teachers and we were starting our intervention group rotations. The principal saw the perfect opportunity to get three observations completed in one go and was there for about an hour. This was NOTHING like my terrible observation at the beginning of the year. Although it was Halloween it was PERFECT timing. My math rotation always runs smoothly and he was so impressed. We get immediate feedback through iObservation and he left excellent notes. The ladies in the office said that the principal was even raving about it later. Boom!

Oh, and NaNoWriMo begins tomorrow! Let the crazy month of writing commence!

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Special Delivery

Like many teachers, this year has been filled with extra challenges. For many, myself included, this has led to extra frustration, stress, and anxiety.  Lucky me, I have a wonderful mom, who knew I was stressed, and sent a lovely bunch of roses to school just for me. They were even specially delivered to my classroom by the principal. What a way to brighten my week and remind me that we are all struggling and not to let things get me down.

I'm virtually sharing my bouquet with all teachers! I don't even have to mention the endless challenges we face each day, but you are respected for all that you do!

Monday, October 22, 2012

A Note from Your Teacher

Do you send positive notes home to your students' families? I try to send a little postcard twice a year to my students' parents. It is a great way to recognize their good qualities and it makes them and their parents so proud. I have a drawer full of postcards and a little check sheet next to my desk to help me keep track of who I have sent notes home to. In the past I have even pre-addressed the cards with Avery labels so that they were ready to go. Plus, it's just great to get mail these days!

These are the freshly written postcards that are ready to be posted tomorrow!

I love that our new principal also asks that each teacher send a couple of names to him each quarter to call home. My two students that received calls were ecstatic, and one of the moms even posted her pride on Facebook.

What creative ways do you recognize your students?

Saturday, October 20, 2012

Caution - Novelists Ahead!

The kids were back in school for 3 days today after 2 weeks and 2 days of their fall break! I was dying to introduce NaNoWriMo to them and it was the first thing we did the morning they returned. If you aren't familiar with NaNoWriMo, and missed my earlier post on it, then you MUST go back and read it.

This November my kids, as well as all of the 5th and 6th graders will be writing novels! As I introduced the program to my class you can see some of the students getting a bit worried and others really excited. By the time I have gone over the basics, have shown off my two complete NaNo novels, and conveyed to them my excitement, most of them were catching the NaNo bug.

Before the students returned to school I sat down with our new principal to give him a heads up on the program. When I finished, he sat back in his chair and said, "well, I have to say something about this..." At that moment I was thinking that he was going to shut the whole thing down, and then he said, "I'm joining you guys, I want to write a novel too." You cannot imagine my elation! I warned him that what he was getting into was intense, and that every 5th and 6th grader would know and be bugging him throughout the month. He assured me that he wanted in. 

Not only is our principal in, but several of the 5th/6th grade teachers are going to write too (but modifying their word-count, not the full 50,000). I've been trying to get the librarian to do it to for the past few years, but this year I think she is finally serious! When I went to tell the resource teacher her and a para decided that they too wanted to travel this perilous, yet rewarding, trek. 

Now, I realize that is isn't November yet, but it is critical for NaNo novelists to do some planning and preparing before November 1 comes knocking. Each 5th and 6th grader has a NaNoWriMo workbook that is taking them through the development of their characters and plot. And finally there is a great lesson on showing versus telling and how this helps improve writing and increase word count. The Young Writer's Program has great, and FREE, workbooks to download on their site. These resources would be great for many writing activities, not just NaNoWriMo. I've chosen only about a third of the workbook to use as we don't have time to get through everything before NaNoWriMo begins. 

On Thursday I helped students come up with their word-count goals for the month. Because NaNoWriMo is meant to help students send off their inner editor for the month we are not worried about quality (editing happens after November) but rather quantity. So they are simply graded on words written divided by their word-count goal. My students are always ambitious. Having done NaNoWriMo with students for two years already I kind of know if goals are too little, just right, or too much. I love that differentiation is already built into this as well! For 5th graders, 3,000 words is average. ELL, SPED, and struggling writers fall between 1,000 and 2,500 words and those students who love writing will be closer to 4,000 and above. I remind students that if they have sports, clubs, church activities, etc., that they may want to decrease their goal because they might not be able to write on those days. If students are really stuck on goals that I think are too much for them I tell them that they can have that for their personal goal, but we adjust their school goal. I LOVE their ambition, but I want to help them feel successful and not stressed out. It also helps to teach them about making appropriate goals for themselves. 

By Friday most of the class already knew what they wanted their novels to be about. I love their ideas and I love that the students spend their recess telling me about what they story is going to be about. They are so creative, and I love that most don't have that voice in their heads that we adults do, you know the one, the one that tells us our ideas aren't good. So, we jumped into our workbooks and began the creation of our characters. 

I have also been planning my novel. This will be my third NaNoWriMo, I was a "winner" last year and the year before. It is one of the most rewarding experiences I have ever done. I don't plan on ever trying to publish my novels, but just knowing that I could write a novel in one month, and having just one copy for me, was enough to make me feel great. I HIGHLY recommend NaNoWriMo for adults and I think that the rewards for students are the greatest. In my years of teaching this one month makes even the most struggling and reluctant writers more creative and confident. So, get over to the NaNoWriMo and Young Writer's Program sites and get signed up. November is less than 10 days away!

Friday, October 19, 2012

Internet Safety and Cyberbullying

As we all know, internet predators and cyberbullying has been becoming more common as more people access the internet and as it becomes more advanced. It's scary, and my students have told me frightening stories over the past few years of things that have happened to them personally. Our school invites local law enforcement to come talk to our intermediate kiddos, but now our district also requires teachers to teach a lesson on internet safety and cyberbullying at all grade levels and they provided us with a lesson from NetSmartz. There was a video to watch and then a game to play afterwards. The video was slightly "babyish" for 5th graders, but they didn't seem to ming. Our class went through the lesson today and I/they would have loved to have discussed internet safety and cyberbullying more, but it was time to clean up for the week.

We used the NetSmartz lesson and it was simple yet meaningful. This site is full of great, FREE, resources and videos for kids of all ages as well as for parents (although it isn't too user friendly). You can use the pull down search to locate resources on other topics.

Included in the lesson was a safety pledge that included four rules to follow. The video goes over these and the game includes situations in which students decide which rule(s) apply. Then they take the pledge home and sign it with their parents.

I highly recommend checking it out and teaching your students about internet safety!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Interactive Notebooks - Social Studies

You know when you get in the habit of doing something, like going to the gym on a regular basis, and then something throws you off and it's difficult to get back into the habit. You might have good intentions and tell yourself that you will get to the gym and then it doesn't materialize, well, I was getting like that with blogging. For two weeks we were on fall break. I had a list of things to work on for school and had many blog posts that I wanted to write. But I couldn't get in the right mood to write them. Here I am forcing myself to post in hopes that it becomes more regular again.

Monday and Tuesday were workdays, which are great because you can ease back into waking up early and having a routine. The students headed back on Wednesday and we have been busy ever since. I have tons of things from first quarter that I didn't get to share. We'll see how much gets posted.

One of the new things I have been testing out this year is interactive-style notebooks. Last year I started getting into lapbooking and then found that interactive notebooks had a lot of the same elements. I even discovered that many of the foldables/mini books/etc. aren't that novel either. We set up all of our notebooks with a table of contents and most of the pages include graphic organizers, foldables, mini books, and more meaningful (and colorful) activities).

Today I wanted to highlight just a few from our social studies notebooks.

At the end of each quarter I ask my students to write me a letter telling me how their quarter went. I had several students comment on the notebooks and that they enjoyed the activities that we completed in them. I love that it forces students to read deeper (and not just skim and scan - like they might for a worksheet) and that they get to be creative. It's definitely more meaningful and, to throw out a buzz word, has built in differentiation!

And now, I am also getting back in the habit of going to the gym regularly and my yoga class starts in 25 minutes!

Tuesday, October 2, 2012

Fall Break!

I absolutely LOVE being on a modified year-round schedule. Having two week breaks at the end of each quarter is a much needed time to rest, relax, reflect, and recharge for teachers and students. This past quarter has been the most stressful of my career and this break is is necessary! I haven't been feeling too well and I know that the stress is a big part of the problem. Going to see the doctor next week, but I've started juicing again and I'm going to give some B-12 supplements a try. So far I've spent some time with family and did some of this...

...and starting reading this...

Tomorrow I have a district training for Common Core ELA. Of course I'm a little bummed that I'm taking this over break (it was over break or during school nights) but I'm also excited to get more guidance on the transition to the new standards. 

Also, I have quite a few things that I want to blog about from first quarter, so hopefully the next week or two I can share some of the great things that my 5th graders have been up to!

Tuesday, September 25, 2012

If you're making mistakes...

I saw this great poster on Pinterest and it actually came from ModCloth. I just HAD to have it because not only is the quote perfect, but it is from Neil Gaiman who I adore (and we will be studying next month). ModCloth wasn't offering a print, so I made my own to hang up. I'd really love to buy a high quality print if they ever make it available.  

We only have 3 more days of school before we are on our two week fall break! Of course I'm excited, but mostly because I am in need of some good R&R. I'm also excited because that means November is right around the corner, and November means NaNoWriMo! Have you heard of NaNoWriMo? It's only the coolest thing going on in November. 
NaNoWriMo is short for National Novel Writing Month and participants are challenged to write a 50,000 word novel in just 30 days. They also have a Young Writer's Program and two years ago my class and I embarked on this journey. I wrote a 50,000+ word novel and they wrote novels aiming for their own word-count goals. My class and I did it again last year. I can't imagine not doing NaNoWriMo in the classroom. It's full of amazing benefits for the kids. They become more confident and writers. They learn to make achievable goals and write steps to get there. They become more detailed writers. They learn to be persistent. They become more fluent writers. And I could go on and on! Interested? Head over to the Young Writer's Program site. You can order your free classroom kit now!
Before we start NaNoWriMo we spend two weeks preparing. I use the YWP workbooks which are amazing, and free, resources. And here is where the amazing Mr. Neil Gaiman comes in (sidenote: I adore his wife too, and had the pleasure of attending her concert last weekend). If you are unfamiliar with this fabulous writer I suggest you check him out. He writes for adults, young adults, and children. His most well-known books for the upper grades are Coraline (which was made into a movie) and The Graveyard Book which won the Newberry Medal in 2009. When we review plot I read Neil Gaiman's The Wolves in the Walls. It is a lovely, but slightly disturbing, picture book that is just right for the upper grades. It holds their attention and each element of plot is crafted perfectly. The day before we start NaNoWriMo I show the kids the episode of PBS's Arthur that features Neil (called "Falafelosophy") and it's all about becoming a writer. How fitting for the program! 
I'll start blogging more about NaNoWriMo in the coming weeks.  I'd love to hear from other teachers that use NaNoWriMo in their classrooms and from those that may be trying it out this year! 

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Art Masterpiece - Pointillism

Art Masterpiece is the program that our school district uses for art instruction in the elementary schools. There are pre-planned lessons, one a month, that parent volunteers come in a teach. In each lesson the students learn about an artist, a style of art, and a specific piece of art by that artist. Last Friday was our first Art Masterpiece lesson of the year, and I just so happened to be out that day. I was a bit bummed because I love watching my students create, but I came back to some lovely artwork!

They learned about Pointillism and studied Georges Seurat and his Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grande Jatte. The did their own Pointillism paintings using a cotton swab and they all came out so beautiful.

When I picked them up they were very wrinkled papers, so I had a parent volunteer mount them on some dark colored card stock. The Art Materpiece coordinators also provided us with a nice little description of the lesson which we also mounted under their work. My class came in the classroom this morning and oohed and aahed over their stunning pieces of art!

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Book Order Bonus Points!

We did it! My class earned 7,000 Scholastic Bonus Points this month! I stumbled upon Laura Candler's guide to earning bonus points and thought it would be a lot of work, and it really wasn't. I generally hand out the book order once a month, and I don't push students to order from it, but it is always an option for them to order. In a typical year I usually earn about 1,000-2,000 bonus points which I promptly spend on more books for the classroom. I never thought I would ever put in a book order over $100, but today my class ordered $350.67!

Yesterday was the due date for the book orders and it came to about $254. The students were a bit bummed and really wanted to try to make the goal and several said they had lost their order forms. So, new forms were found and I had some genius students suggest that everyone bring in a few dollars to donate so I could choose some classroom books. I also told them that if they ordered over $325, I would order enough to get us to $350. I only had to put in about $2! My kids rocked it!

I don't know what I am going to order with the bonus points. I want to get the kids in on the decision making, but I know I need to get more informational text in my classroom library. Any suggestions on what to buy? 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Smarties Fractions

My math class is an intervention group. The majority of the students have an IEP, and if they don't they are at least one grade level below 5th grade and need a lot of extra assistance. Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday are great because I have a para and the resource teacher in there and we do a small group rotation. On Monday I typically teach whole group and introduce the concept for the week and on Fridays I take them to the computer lab to practice math facts, we review the concepts of the week, and then we complete an assessment.

This week we started fractions. I was a bit worried because I know that students often struggle with fractions and I haven't taught math in forever. We started off by discussing what fractions are and they did a great job of coming up with a definition together....Fractions are parts of a whole. Many remembered the names of the numerator and denominator and some even knew the connection between fractions and division. One of the girls walked in wearing a great shirt that was perfect for fractions. It had an image of a bubble gum machine with different colored gumballs. We used that briefly to remember what fractions were. Then I had them briefly discuss what they liked about fractions and many said that they were fun and enjoyed working with fractions. One said they like fractions because it was easily related to food! What a great segue to our Smarties lesson!

I had seen several Smarties activities on Pinterest/blogs/TpT but most were geared to the younger grades and didn't accomplish everything that I needed to. So I whipped up a little worksheet that we completed together, each student had their own unique pack of Smarties. First the students colored in what their pack looked like and then we wrote the fraction for each color. Next they ordered the fractions from greatest to least and I touched on reduced fractions and equivalencies. Then the students compared the fractions.

As we were working I thought of more that I could have added to the handout, but just had them flip it over and write it on the back. They first wrote their fractions in word form and then they wrote a simple word problem and wrote the solution. I thought it would be great to have them eat certain fractions and so had them put their Smarties into fifths (since there are 15 in a roll they had groups of 3). We talked some more about equivalent fractions and then they ate three-fifths of their Smarties followed by six-fifteens and they were all gone. The lesson went pretty well and the students enjoyed it. The part that they struggled with the most was coloring their roll in the correct order!

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Comparing Integers

As I've mentioned before, I haven't taught math in several years, and this year I am teaching an intervention math class. I have 21 students in my math class and three days a week I have the resource teacher and aide come in for a full hour. It has been working quite well so far. This week we are working on integers. After getting some ideas from other bloggers I put together a really simple game. Each pair of students gets 40 integer cards, most of which are negative numbers. Each partner takes 20 cards and then they flip one over. Just like in the card game 'War', the card with the highest value wins.

I made some simple recording sheets for students to write their card value, their opponents card value, and then add the appropriate <, >, or =.

We played for about ten minutes yesterday and today and the kids are really enjoying it, I can tell they are also mastering comparing integers! You can easily whip up your own version of the game, or buy the one I created for a mere $2.00.