Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Fractions Operations Review with Pattern Block Pictures

While we're on spring break, I want to share some recent photos from math class. My students did the (free!) Fractions Operations Project from Mary at Teaching with a Mountain View. Thank you, Mary, for sharing such a nice activity for fraction review!

When my students did the activity, they calculated the total number of pattern blocks used, using both multiplication and addition with fractions. They first had to figure out how many of each block were used and then multiply by the fractional part comprised of that block; so, for example, the total number of green triangles had to be multiplied by 1/6. Then they had to add the numbers for all the blocks together, giving them a total for their pictures. Next, they had to "prove it" by showing the blocks used in their picture, organized so that the total could be easily checked.

Learning intensified when they found that their totals (calculated on paper vs. showing/counting the blocks) didn't match! (This happened to quite a few students.) Usually, they recounted the blocks and came up with the same total. So then they had to go back to the math--multiplying or adding with fractions--and figure out where they went wrong. Lightbulbs were going off so fast the room was ablaze! :)

Recounting to check fraction operations!
I love, love the way this combines art with fraction operations and provides opportunity for students to prove their work!

Find more Fraction Ideas here!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Spring Break Art & Poetry Projects

Spring Break has hit here in full force, so we've been enjoying some art and poetry projects.

At right is a new project, Poetry & 3-D Art for Every Season in which kids write diamante poems--reviewing nouns, verbs, and adjectives--and create 3-D art displays to brighten any season or holiday. I've used this with students through 6th grade, but did it with my first grade son this morning since he was home on a "Spring Break sick day." This art project is special because it was passed down from my mom, a lifelong teacher (now retired), who first began teaching it to her students in the early days of her career. I've never seen it anywhere but her classroom and mine! ;) This entire lesson would be a great addition to April Poetry Month. Available at Teachers Pay Teachers or Teachers Notebook.

Our next art endeavor (pictured below), I located at Art for Kids through the amazing world of Pinterest. It teaches kids to blend oil pastels on 3 mini pictures. My boys had a blast kicking off Spring Break with this project. Thank you, Rob, at Art for Kids for sharing your lesson!

I hope you're enjoying (or will soon enjoy!) Spring Break.

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Fractured Fairy Tales...Photos & Video!

Want to hook students on writing and performing? Fractured fairy tales are just the ticket. Here are some of my students, sharing photos & videos from our unit:

Fairy Tale Notebooks

A Few Fairy Tale Notebook Contents:

Little Billy

The Three Little Cats and the Big Bad Dog

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Dooby, Dooby, Moo: No Average Math Book

This ain't no average averaging.

We LOVE the book Dooby, Dooby, Moo by Doreen Cronin and Betsy Lewin and regularly giggle over the eccentric group of farm animals who take their talents to the county fair to compete. Throughout the story, illustrations show the animals receiving scores for their performances. For example, when the cows sing "Twinkle, Twinkle, Little Star"* they receive the following ratings:

8 (from a human judge)
8.2 (from a dog)
2 (from a man)
1.2 (from a grumpy-looking cat)

What an opportunity to do a little averaging! During the sheeps' rendition of "Home on the Range," it notes that "Three of the [four] judges were clearly impressed." Scores of  9, 9.1, and 8.9 are followed by the cat's score, 2.3, providing an opportunity to talk about outliers!

This is no average math lesson! For more children's lit/math books, see THE LIST.

*"Dooby, dooby, dooby moo. Dooby moo, moo, moo, moo, moo." My kids think it's hilarious when I sing this!

If you're interested in purchasing the book through Amazon, all commissions go toward foster care in China through Grace and Hope at no additional cost to you.

Sunday, March 16, 2014

Fraction Addition Made Easy: Clocks!

My students picked up fraction addition with lightening speed this year. Since some students had very little previous experience with any fraction work, this is a huge statement.

Bridges Second Edition is what got us started with clock fractions...but once we got started, we couldn't stop. The clock model was working so well that we had to have MORE! So here's what we did:

Modeling Fractions on Paper Plate Clocks

I made a class set of paper plate fraction clocks for some interactive fraction practice. At first, I'd just call out a fraction--"five-twelfths, show me!"--and students quickly spun the paper plates to show that fraction on their clocks and then turned their clocks to face me. This fabulous activity helped them improve the ability to both  identify fractions and recognize equivalencies. It also gave me a sense of how comfortable each student was with fractions. In no time at all, the entire group could quickly model any fraction with a denominator of 2, 3, 4, 6, 12. We also made Clock Fraction Flipbooks  and compared clocks and money as fraction models.

Modeling Fraction Addition
Once students felt comfortable with modeling fractions it was natural to extend our learning to fraction addition. I called out a fraction expression or wrote it on the board:
"One-half plus one-fourth. Show me."
Students moved the plates to the first fraction, then slid the plates to add the second fraction. This was phenomenal. So quick, so easy, and so comprehensible to everyone. It looked a little like this:

"One-half plus one-fourth. Show me." 

They'd slide the clock to one-half.

Then they'd add one-fourth to the one-half they already had and show me their totals.

This could not have been easier. We used the same technique to practice subtraction with fractions. I am so psyched about this model!

Need Additional Support?
Just add a rubber band. Let's look at an example using subtraction:

Students use the top paper plate alongside a rubber band to show the minuend (the number they start with in a subtraction problem). The subtrahend (the number being subtracted) is shown in the space between the rubber band and the top plate. The difference is shown by what remains visible on the top plate. The rubber band can also be helpful in addition models.

Clock Fraction Task Cards
Task Cards or Scoot!
To provide students with more opportunities to practice, I created a set of 32 Clock Fraction Addition Task Cards (example pictured at right) with several different types of recording sheets to use in Math Stations or Homeschool Workboxes. They could also be used in a game of Scoot. In this game, cards are placed throughout the room and students have to move from card to card and record their answers on a record sheet.

One Example on the Work Mat

Second Example Using the Work Mat

To give students a bit more support, I made Work Mats (pictured at left) that can be slipped into page protectors and used with dry erase markers.

So what are you doing to teach fractions to your students? I'd love to know which models work best for you!

Available here

Clock Fraction Addition: Task Cards or Scoot:
Teachers Pay Teachers
Teachers Notebook 

You might also enjoy these math products:

Task Cards or Scoot: Egg Carton Fractions Addition
Skittles Fractions, Estimation, and Graphing
Flap Books "Present" Multiples and Factors
Task Cards or Scoot: Multiply and Divide Decimals and Whole Numbers by Powers of 10
Flap Books "Present" Powers of 10 (Multiply and Divide Whole Numbers and Decimals by 10)

Sunday, March 9, 2014

Math in Children's Literature - Don't Miss this Gigantic List!

Looking for some resources to help kids learn about math? Recently updated, the gigantic Math in Children's Literature page will help you find books to perfectly complement any math concept. If I'm missing any titles, please let me know; this list has been pinned more than 182,000 times!

And if you want even more resources, check out the love2learn2day Pinterest page, also categorized by concept. I'm amazed and humbled by the 3,200+ followers there. Thank you for joining me on this journey to making learning something we love to do every day!

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