Thursday, January 31, 2013

Plotting Fractions

As we near the end of our fractions unit, I am finishing up with our last Common Core Standard - Fraction Line Plots.  I've only found a few resources to help with teaching this to my kids and I really wanted to get them engaged in an activity instead of just giving them another practice worksheet.  Lo and behold, an idea came to me!  I thought of Fraction Line Plot Activities to create.

I started quickly making task cards of different sized nails (which I got from my co-worker who drew them for his Chemical and Physical Change Clipart.  - So the nail's rusty - chemical change).

Anyway, I made enough task cards so that all of my students would have one on a line plot and they would be of varying lengths of a unit.  Here's what one of the sets looks like:
Each student had to determine the length of their nail as a fraction of an inch by looking at the line plot below it.  From there, I had a large line plot posted on the promethean and each student came up to plot their fraction.   This really test their ability to find equivalent fractions, multiply fractions, and add fractions together with unlike denominators.
As each student came up, the others had a worksheet at their desk to plot each other student's fraction until we had the entire class set:

Here was the finished product: 

The final step was to answer questions about the data presented.  I decided to make 2 additional versions of this with other objects so that I can do more practice in the future.   This activity worked fantastically and I've found other ways to vary it.  I have also split my class into small groups of 8 or so students to make the problems a little easier (since there were fewer fractions to plot).  They worked together as a group to share their fractions and each make their own plot on their paper using this information.  Then, they solved the problems as a group.  

For more information on how to introduce and teach fraction line plots, check out my other resource:  Fraction Line Plot Packet.

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Making Me Proud with Physical and Chemical Changes

What have your students done this week to make you proud?  Mine worked very hard on one of our new Science units:  physical and chemical change.  This topic was introduced this week with a hands-on lab activity that kept my kids engaged.

In this photo, students are identifying ways that a banana can undergo a physical AND chemical change.  To do this, they first cut up the bananas and then allowed them to sit for a while, eventually turning brown.

The photo to the right is a mixture of salt and water.  Students were asked to brainstorm how this mixture could undergo a physical change.

The photo on the left shows students weighing a cookie after it has been broken into pieces.  They also weighed the cookie before it was broken in order to identify what type of change is occurring to the cookie.  

The best part of this activity for me was watching how engaged and verbal my students were with each other.  They came up with amazing ideas on their own and it was fun to see them get excited to tell their ideas to their classmates.

Monday, January 14, 2013

Student Goal-setting

One thing I've been trying to focus on this year is giving my students the opportunity to set personal goals.  I think that for anyone, if you don't have a goal, how do you motivate yourself to work hard?

My 5th Grade team uses a set of common assessments that I created this year.  We have 7 Unit Math Tests that we use to assess our students.  We give a pre-test and a post-test so that we can analyze student growth.  While it's important for us to be able to see student progress, I think it's also essential for my students to see their own progress.  I decided to create this Math Test Student Goals Journal.

Each unit test has its own goal sheet where students will analyze, compare, and graph their pre and post test scores.  I hope that by allowing my students to visually see their progress, their goals will continue to increase as we continue through the units.

Sunday, January 13, 2013

How Do You Mend a Brokenhearted Fraction?

As we continue to move full speed through our fractions unit, I've been trying to come up with some cute activities that relate to Valentine's Day. I'm not sure why, but the first thing that came to my mind was a broken heart. (Pretty sad, huh?) I thought I would use this idea to my advantage and came up with the idea of Brokenhearted Fraction Task Cards.

There are 3 activities included:

Matching a fraction to its equivalent in simplest form

 Matching an improper fraction to its mixed number partner:

Matching a fraction to its decimal partner:

Each activity also comes with a student recording sheet and an answer key for easy checking.

Hopefully by the conclusion of this activity, students will have mended many broken hearts :)

Thursday, January 3, 2013

Can Vacation Last Forever???

I'm extremely lucky that I have a much longer winter break than others.  Growing up in NJ we would get off of school around Dec 23 and go back Jan 2.  In Atlanta, we left for break on Dec 19 and are going back on Jan 7.  This has given me lots of time to go home to NJ, visit with my family, and get some much needed relaxation.

All good things come to an end, and it's time to get back into gear with school.  When we left, I was in the middle of teaching fractions.  I'll need to do some reviewing of adding and subtracting (because I'm sure the kids have forgotten) and then begin on multiplying and dividing.  

I've worked hard on a new lesson packet to help me with teaching multiplication of fractions.  This is usually pretty easy for my students, but one of the new components of Common Core is to represent mathematical expressions with visual models.  It's a Multiplying Fractions Packet.  Here is what I came up with:

The packet contains:
  • 3 mini-lessons for teaching multiplication of fractions by fractions and fractions by whole numbers.
  • student practice pages for each mini-lesson
  • word problems
  • final quiz on all the lessons
I'm looking forward to trying this out with my students so I can see how well they grasp the concept.