Wednesday, February 19, 2014

4th Grade Math Test Bundle with Data Tracking

Are you looking for a great way to assess your 4th grade math students and have the ability to use data to drive instruction and show student growth with each of your units?

I created this incredibly helpful resources that 7 unit math tests for 4th grade to help teachers assess their students on the Georgia Standards of Excellence and the Common Core State Standards.  The math tests that I made for my 5th grade team a few years ago have been very helpful in assessing my students and their academic growth through each of our math units, so I wanted to spread this on to another grade level.
In Georgia, we are given an outline of 7 units that are strategically grouped in a scope and sequence to cover each of the CCSS.  All the standards are grouped into units so that the skills build on each other throughout the year.  For each unit, we give our students a pre-test to see what skills they have already mastered and which ones have not yet been mastered up to this point.  From there, we are able to group students throughout the unit and plan differentiation within our classes.  At the end of the unit, we re-adminster the same test we gave before the unit to see how much our students have grown throughout the unit.  This has also been a beneficial indicator of what we need to focus on re-teaching to small groups.
As you know, education has become more data-driven in recent years, so my team uses Excel data sheets to record and chart student growth from the beginning of each unit to the end.  Each of my tests contain a set of Excel spreadsheets for every class size from 22-30 kids along with a tutorial of how to use the Excel files to input student data.
Here's an overview of what the tutorial pages look like.
Each Common Core standard is in the column above (in yellow) and you copy your class list in the first column.  You take each student's pre-test and mark an "x" in the column for that question number of the test if they had the answer to that question wrong.  Once you input all of the items, each row will generate the student's score.  At the end of the unit, you will input their post-test results into the post-test worksheet within the file.  The data from both the pre-test and post-test will appear in the "Summary" worksheet within the file, where you can then compare the pre and post-test data.  You will also find class averages for both.  This is a great way to show student growth for yourself as well as for administration.  **A full explanation with visuals, as well as tutorial video, is included in each file**

Using these unit tests and Excel data sheets has really helped me to assess and monitor my students' mastery of the Common Core State Standards and I hope that it can be helpful for your and your class as well.

**Each math test unit includes the corresponding Excel data sheets, and the units can also be purchased as a bundle HERE.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Visual Fraction Models for Multiplication

One of the newest (and often most difficult) elements of Common Core is using visual models to show mathematical thinking.  In 5th grade, this is an element in both decimals and fractions that can often be difficult for students because it's completely different from what they're comfortable with.  They've always been used to "finding the answer" and now they are asked to "show how you can find it" or "show what that looks like".

I have a great product to help teach this:  Multiplying Fractions Packet - With Visual Models
As I moved into multiplying fractions last week with my students, I started out with multiplying fractions by whole numbers with visual models.

My students receive an information page with the steps for creating a model for multiplying fractions by whole numbers.  Next, they are given the outline of the visual models and have practice problems to try on their own.  They fill in the models to match the problem and find their answer.  (See example below)
Next, I challenge my students to create the models on their own.  They are given additional problems and the space to draw their models.  The difficult part of this is organizing their models neatly, so using a ruler is definitely a good idea for them.
The next mini-lesson I introduce is multiplying fractions by fractions.  This was slightly more difficult for my students because the models are more confusing.  They need to create the fraction model for one fraction, and then split that fraction up in the opposite direction to shade in the other fraction across.  (As you can tell, this is very difficult to explain!!)

I tell them that when you multiply fractions, you are taking a fraction OF another fraction and ultimately the fraction will become smaller.  Here is what it looks like:
The first fraction is shaded in columns, and the second fraction is shaded in rows.  I like my kids to use two primary colors (one for each fraction) so that they can easily see the area where they overlap.  The green becomes the numerator and the entire model is their denominator.

Once they are given the models for practice, they are then given a page in which they have to create their own models.  A few of my students asked if they could have some graph paper to help them create neater models and I was able to find a website that had printable graph paper that worked out perfectly.  
Once I teach the visual models, I then teach my students the "quick and easy" way of simply multiplying across, and then work on word problems.  

All of the mini-lessons shown above, along with word problem practice and a comprehensive quiz on all of these skills can be found HERE in my Multiplying Fractions Packet.

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Winter Games Math Activities

Woohoo!!!  I have been waiting four years for the Winter Olympics to be back!  I don't know what it is, but there's something about the Olympics that just excites me and has me looking forward to nights on the couch watching my fellow Americans going for the gold.  The stories of these athletes' quests to qualify to head to the Olympics is always so inspiring and reminds me of how important it is to set high goals for yourself.

As we get closer to the opening ceremonies at the end of this week, I'm looking forward to incorporating some Olympic-themed activities into my classroom.  I think these will definitely get my students excited.

My Winter Games Packet contains several different activities that address varying math skills:

  • finding averages
  • adding and subtracting decimals
  • measurement conversion
  • multiplying decimals by whole numbers
  • multiplying decimals by decimals
  • measuring circles (radius, diameter, area, circumference)
  • measuring and identifying angles
I used each of the skills above within different Olympic sporting events to make a real world math connection.  There are instructional pages, practice pages, task cards and recording sheets within the packet and each activity is extremely diverse.  

I can't wait to see how my students enjoy them and I am hoping to add even more activities to the pack.  

I hope you enjoy watching the games and cheering your country on.  

Tuesday, February 4, 2014

Impromptu Student-Created Task Cards

The other day I had an experience that I don't often have...I was teaching my students how to subtracting mixed numbers with renaming.  (Example:  5 - 2 1/3 or 6 3/8 -  4 1/8).  In these situations you have to borrow one from the whole number, and either create a fraction, or rename the fraction given in the top number in order to be able to subtract.  I have a great flipchart that I found on Promethean Planet to teach this and we did several examples.  I then had my students complete a few practice problems and noticed that they really were grasping this concept quickly.  It went so fast that I was not prepared to have so much time at the end of class to fill.

I wished that I had a set of task cards or something to allow them to continue to get more practice and allow me to have something I could use to assess them, but I didn't!  Then it dawned on me...the fastest way to find enough task cards for an entire class to work on is to have them create them themselves!

I passed out an index card to each student.  They had to create a mixed number subtraction problem in which the top number was either a whole number, or a mixed number in which the fraction was smaller than the fraction on the bottom.  They each wrote their class number in the top right corner, created their problem, and solved their problem on the back in order to create an answer key for their task card.
Each student left their task card on their desk, and I had my kids rotate around the room solving all of the task cards.  This gave me the opportunity to circulate and work one-on-one with students who were struggling.
The best part about this idea is that it can work for virtually any skill!  If you're ever faced with extra time at the end of a lesson, just have your class make their own task cards.  They get really excited to create the problems and love solving problems their friends made.