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Welcome to my math blog! The purpose of this blog is to help you stay informed about our learning and experiences that have taken place during our math class. I have also included links your child (and you) may want to use in order to supplement math learning in 5th grade.

Monday, September 30, 2013

A Whole New World

We added and subtracted whole numbers and decimal numbers today.  The focus of the lesson was:

line up the decimal points 
make equivalent decimal numbers 
adding or subtracting.

We practiced this on a worksheet titled "A Whole New World."  Most students completed this in class.  Those that did not, will need to finish it for homework.

With 5 students absent today, I decided to videotape myself teaching the lesson.  If you would like to view this, please visit my youtube channel by following the link to the left entitled "Lesson Videos" or follow this link:  A Whole New World .

Homework:  xtramath.org and "A Whole New World"

Friday, September 27, 2013

Finishing Decimals

We finished up with decimals today.  This does not mean that we will not continue to work with decimals!  We are just moving on to another unit of study!

The classes worked independently on a page called "It's a Living!"  This activity required them to work with:
  • standard and word form of decimals
  • compare and order decimals
  • find decimal numbers between two decimals
  • name places
  • round decimals
There is a fun element to it, they were to shade in their answers on a puzzle.  If all of the answers were correct, then the shaded answer would fill in the statement:

In the early 1700's, Anne Bonny 
and Mary Read were _____.

Ask your child to fill in the blank!  :-)

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

A Reptilian Recluse

Comparing and ordering decimals.... ugh.  My students always balk at this topic.  They think it is hard.  They think it is impossible.  They think I am a horrible person for making them do it!  However, I think I may have broken through the mind block today!

We worked on a paper entitled "A Reptilian Recluse" ( see below)

When I introduced it by reading the clues for Row A, there were groans.  However, I explained that we can break the curse of comparing and ordering decimals if we use a graphic organizer.... a T-Chart!  So, we made a T-Chart on the notebook paper and we wrote each of the decimal numbers onto the chart by LINING UP THE DECIMAL points!  

Now, we fold over the paper and look at the whole number. 
This was no help, they were all the number 35.  So we move the edge of our paper over so that we can see the tenths.  This time we were able to place the decimal numbers in order from least to greatest JUST by using the tenths place.  Once we had done this, the rest was easy!

The clues for Row A were:
  • Circle the number that is least
    • Since we had already put them in order from least to greatest, we were home free!  The answer was 35.172
  • Draw a line above the number that is less than 35.4 and greater than 35.2
    • We folded our paper to hide all the digits except the whole number and the tenths place.  We looked for the digit that was smaller than 4, but greater than 2.... we needed a 3!  The answer was 35.309
  • Underline the number that is between 35.5 and 35.75
    • This time we began by adding a "0" to 35.5 making it 35.50 (an equivalent decimal).  Now it was easy to compare our numbers.  We folded our paper over to show only the whole numbers and the digits through the hundredths place.  We needed something greater than 50 but less than 75.  The answer was 35.691
  • Write an X beside the number that is greatest.
    • Since we had already put the numbers in order from least to greatest we were able to find it easily!  The answer was 35.899
After completing the example together, the tables worked together to solve B, C, and D.  I rotated from table to table to answer questions and help as needed.

There is a homework assignment tonight:  edmodo.com
  • First, the students need to complete an xtramath exercise.
  • Second, they need to answer the kidblog post.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Computer Lab

Math class was spent in the computer lab.  We began by doing our xtramath exercise so that there would not be any homework tonight.  Then we went to Study Island.  Since this was our first chance on this site, we had to take the Study Island Pretest before moving onto the topics.  After the pretest, I asked the classes to work on the topics we have been studying:
  • Read and Write Decimal Numbers
  • Compare and Order Decimal Numbers
  • Read and Write Whole Numbers
  • Compare and Order Whole Numbers
Homework:  None in math

Tuesday, September 24, 2013


Mrs. Tober had asked to come during my math classes for a brief lesson.  However, in the middle of 1st period, she was called away due to a family emergency..... So.... my entire day shifted and I had to improvise.

We did our usual warm up.  Then I introduced the classes to "The Eddie Files."  

Each video is 30 minutes long and focuses on how math is used in the real world.  The video today was called "Math:  You've Got to Start Somewhere" and showed the viewer how math plays a part in jobs (electrician, sunglasses designer, sportscaster, etc.).

We ended class by using the iPods to do our xtramath exercise.... this is not always easy!  Technology can be rewarding and fun, but it can also cause you to want to pull your hair out.  So, most everyone was able to get their xtramath completed in class.  The few that did not will need to do it for homework.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Clothespin Experiment and Data

Last Thursday, Mrs. Whitehead had the classes work with the Scientific Method to answer the question "How many times can I open and close a clothespin in 30 seconds?".

Today, in math class, we worked with the data gathered in that experiment.  We wanted to show the interdisciplinary relationship between math and science (how they go together).  So, we found the range, mean, median, and mode of the three experiments performed by each class.

To begin, we opened to page 3 of our journal to review our math poem about Range, and then the different types of averages:   Mean, Median, and Mode.

Then we wrote each student's test data for Observation 1 onto our paper.  Before we began working with the data, I discussed a new vocabulary word... outlier.  I explained that an outlier is a piece of data that is either much too large or too small in comparison with the rest of the data.  The outlier is usually discarded so that the results of the data are not skewed.   

Using the remaining numbers, we found the range (difference between the largest and smallest), mode (any data that repeats), mean (average), and median (the middle number).  We did this with all three observations in each class.  Then we found the mean of the three observations to determine the average number of times 5th graders can open and close a clothespin in 30 seconds.
  • Johnson's class - 72 times on average
  • Dittrich's class -  74 times on average
  • Whitehead's class - 77 times on average

I always enjoy working with data, especially when the data works like it did this time!   I think the kids enjoyed it too!  It is also important for them to know "why" we do things in math.  After today, they should understand that we find the range, mean, median, and mode of data collected to have a better understanding of the meaning of the data.

HOMEWORK:  edmodo.com

Friday, September 20, 2013

Tools of the Trade

I did things a little differently today because I will be leaving at noon to visit my niece who was born last night!

Since I will be leaving, I decided to change my plans!  Instead of working with decimals today (since they are still pretty new),  I picked up the warm-up page for the week,  I picked up last night's homework and then I assigned a addition/subtraction review called "Tools of the Trade."  There were 12 problems and the classes had the entire hour to complete it.  The catch is that the subtraction problems were subtracting across zeroes which can be challenging!

With the entire hour to work, everyone was able to finish the assignment.  It's Friday!  There is no homework!  Enjoy your weekend!

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Rounding Decimals

Today was review for the classes.  They worked very hard rounding last year and most of them had no trouble at all remembering the steps.  To help, we added a page to our journal:

However, we did have a minor twist to our rounding.... we were rounding decimals.  There is no difference really, just a difference in the last line of the poem, "Everything after is a zero, not more."  

When working with decimal numbers, you DO NOT have to have the zeroes after the decimal point.  You can just drop them...  For example:

rounded to the nearest thousandth is 
(notice we dropped the last two digits)

It just takes getting a little used to.  It is perfectly fine to keep the zeroes, it is just not efficient or a common practice in mathematics.

The assignment was "End Zone Mischief".

  • Finish "End Zone Mischief"
  • xtramath

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Computer Lab

Class was spent in the computer lab today.  We began by completing an xtramath exercise (so no homework!).  Next, we went to khanacademy.org.  

This website is funded by Bill Gates Foundation and was the brainchild of Sal Khan.  He is a mathematician with multiple degrees in mathematics.  His niece needed help with her math, but lived far enough away that he needed a different way of tutoring.  So, he began making youtube videos (in his closet) and posting them for her to watch.  Others found the videos and, as they say, the rest is history.

The site has change a little this year, in that they ask the child to take a pretest.  The information from the pretest is used to determine the topics that the child needs to work on.  They are continually being challenged to move forward, and are rewarded with badges and points to use on the site.  If a child reaches a point where help is needed, they are able to watch the videos that Sal Khan has posted to teach the concepts (they can also ask me for help, too!).

You child will be working on this site every Wednesday.  However, the site is available to them any time and any where.  If you would like them to work on khanacademy.org at home, please feel free to do so!  I have the link on this blog as well.

Tuesday, September 17, 2013

Balancing Act

We continued working with decimals by writing decimals in standard, word, expanded, and fractional form.

After reviewing each type of form using p. 5 of our journal (above).  We practiced changing some numbers to each form using "Balancing Act" (see below).  This activity challenged the students to fill in the missing forms.  However, since some of the places were filled in, the kids were able to look at a model to help guide them.  Most students were able to complete the assignment at school.

Homework:  Balancing Act (finish) and xtramath.org

Monday, September 16, 2013

Baseball and Birthdays

We began working with decimal place value today as well as coordinate graphing.  First, we worked with our journal to add some place names to p. 5.

I asked my students to add this information because the assignment "Baseball and Birthdays" would try to confuse them by using hundred AND hundredths.  The whole point of the lesson is to realize the difference and name the digit in the correct place.  The first page is asking the kids to create coordinates in order to complete a picture.

Once we practiced creating the coordinates using an x-coordinate and a y-coordinate, we practiced placing the dot on the coordinate plane using the coordinates we created.

The coordinate picture should help the kids answer the question:  

What do baseball teams and birthday cakes have in common?

Homework:  xtramath and complete Baseball and Birthdays

Friday, September 13, 2013


Fairly simple day in class.

First, we completed this week's warm up page.  I take a daily grade for the week from this page.  We spend 20 minutes a day in class on warm-ups, so I feel it is important to ask the kids to be accountable for the information on them.

Second, we made a list of three people we would like in our cabin at The Outdoor School.  I will post these on the end of the hall.  I add a child's name as soon as both forms and money have been turned in.

Finally, we took a quick pretest of Addition, Subtraction, Multiplication and Division.  I asked my classes to solve two of each type of problem.  I have some very specific things I am looking for, so the pretest did not need to be lengthy.

I did let my classes know that as soon as they have tested out of Multiplication on xtramath, they will no longer have that as part of their homework.  I already have three students who have done just that!

As students finished they took AR tests and checked out books to have over the weekend.

Have a great weekend!

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Decimals (Day 2)

Comparing and ordering decimals was the focus of today's lesson.  We took additional notes today as we learned the process.  I began by having students restate what they learned about decimals yesterday.  They did a very good job!  They reminded me that when moving to the right in our place value system we are dividing by 10.  They explained that we can think of the tenths place as a dime, the hundredths place as a penny, and the thousandths place as an amount smaller than a penny.

I explained that knowing this information would help when it came to comparing and ordering decimals.  I asked that they write the most important rule of working with decimals:

ALWAYS line up decimal points!

Next, we discussed using t-charts to help us line up our decimal points.  On the left side of the t-chart is where we place whole numbers.  The right side is where we place the decimal numbers.  The decimal itself is on the line that separates these two parts of our number.

Once we have placed our numbers on the t-chart we can use place value to compare.  I covered the decimal portion of the t-chart and we focused on the whole numbers.  Today I made it a little easier, all the whole numbers were the same!  Once we realized that the whole numbers were no help in determining which number was larger (since they were all 7s), we moved to the next place... the 10ths place.  Now we were able to look at the three digits in this place.  This is where thinking of 10ths as dimes was helpful.  They realized that a 5 in this place was less than an 8.  Once we determined the smallest digit in the tenths place we moved to hundredths.  Again, thinking of the digits as pennies proved helpful.  Finally, we moved to the thousandths place and compared any remaining digits.

We also discussed that we can "add" a zero to the end of a decimal number to give it an equivalent number of digits to the other numbers being compared.  I emphasized that we can add or take away zeroes at the END of decimal numbers, but NEVER add or remove zeros elsewhere in the number!

We reviewed our place value knowledge by working with a dry erase marker on our desk (always a favorite)!  I asked the kids to write the number one hundred billion on their desks.  This caused a little consternation until we realized that we can determine the number of zeroes needed by being aware of the meaning of the commas.  


Once we had this large number (all the way to thousandths), we worked with changing the digits in the places.  Again, there was consternation because I did this out of any identifiable order:

·         change the 0 in the tens place to 1
·         change the 0 in the ten thousands place to 7
·         change the 0 in the ten millions place to 3
·         change the 0 in the tenths place to 5
·         Change the 0 in the ones place to 9
·         Change the 0 in the hundred thousands place to 5
·         Change the 0 in the billions place to 8
·         Change the 0 in the thousandths place to 4
·         Change the 0 in the millions place to 2
·         Change the 0 in the ten billions place to 7
·         Change the 0 in the hundreds place to 6

When finished, I asked the students to tell me if their table group all had the same number.  None did.  I asked them to discuss what we might have done to this number to help us.  After a few minutes of discussion, every group had similar answers:  we need to label the periods and places of our number!  After rewriting one hundred billion (and going to the thousandths place), they labeled the number's periods and places and we tried again.  This time with much more success!

I asked what we learned from this.  Most students agreed that it is important to take the little extra time and effort to use the models and labels we practice in class to help us solve problems!  Lesson learned!

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Decimals (Day 1)

We began our lesson on decimals by taking some notes.  I reminded my classes about whole number place value.  We reiterated that we have a units, thousands, millions (etc.) period.  That within each period is a 1, 10, 100 place.  We discussed that when moving to the left in place value we are multiplying each place by 10 and when we move to the right, we divide by 10.

When we move into working with decimals, we are working with parts of a whole (just like fractions).  Since we are moving to the right of the whole number, we are dividing by 10.  

So, if we are in the "1" place, we divide by 10, which is the same as dividing a dollar by 10, this gives us dimes.  A dime is 1/10 of a dollar or .1 of a dollar.  This is our tenths place.

Using this same example, we discussed that dividing a dime by 10 would give us a penny.  A penny is 1/100 of a dollar or .01 of a dollar.  This is our hundredths place.

It becomes more difficult to divide a penny by ten, so we just wrote <penny over the thousandths place.  I just wanted them to have a concrete idea to connect to decimals and using money was something they are comfortable with.

I did make a point of emphasizing that it can be confusing to work with thousandths since the word "thousand" is a part of it.  Many students think this means thousandths are a large amount.  We reemphasized that once we see a decimal it goes:  small (tenths), smaller (hundredths), smallest (thousandths).

Finally we created a decimal number using cards.  We showed the number as a Mixed Number, in word form, in expanded form, and rounded it.

We will practice working with decimal numbers tomorrow.

Tuesday, September 10, 2013


Math class today was centered around giving the MSTAR. The purpose of the screener is to determine student's algebra readiness as they work through middle school.  This screener is through TEA (Texas Education Agency).  They begin the screener in 5th grade to help us identify students who need additional instruction to support their algebra readiness.  The official wording from the website is:

Middle School Students in Texas Algebra Ready (MSTAR) Universal Screener 
The MSTAR Universal Screener is a formative assessment system administered to students in grades 5-8 to support instructional decisions. The content of the MSTAR Universal Screener is based on algebra-readiness skills as identified in the Texas Response to Curriculum Focal Points. Results can help teachers identify students who are in need of additional instructional support in their development of knowledge and skills that relate directly to algebra readiness. Teachers will be able to monitor students' risk status by administering comparable forms of the MSTAR Universal Screener in fall, winter, and early spring.

As you can see, we will give this screener in the fall, winter, and early spring.

Homework:  xtramath.org

Please make plans to attend our Parent Meeting tonight at 6:00 in the Elementary Cafeteria.  

Monday, September 9, 2013

How Many Dollars in a Ton?

So, this summer, while watching more television than was good for me, I noticed the Esurance commercial about saving a ton of dollars (see video:  Esurance Commerical).  A mathematical question occurred to me... just how many dollars ARE in a ton?  This is the question we investigated in math today.

We began by watching the video and I posed the day's question.  Then I asked the all important question:  How much does a dollar weigh?.  To answer this.... we googled it.  We discovered that all forms of paper currency weigh 1 gram.  

One Gram

 So then, I asked the kids just how many grams are in a ton?  After looking at our 5th Grade Mathematics Chart (aka "BOB"), we found that grams are a metric measurement and tons are a customary measurement.  They don't seem to go together...  What to do?  Google it!  We learned that 1 pound = 453.592 grams!  I was most excited... here, in the "real" world, we had found an example of decimals to the thousandths!  The kids were not as impressed... 

 I also took a minute to discuss the number 453.592.  I wanted them to realize that although the number 453.592 looks like a large number, when you place the word gram with it, you are talking about 1 pound, which is not a heavy weight.  It is very important for students to look at labels and think about their meaning, instead of looking at the number only and making an assumption.  I explained that the 453 is the number of dollars in a pound and the .592 is the weight towards the next dollar.  We could round our information to say that 1 pound = $454.

One Pound

Next, we used "BOB" to determine how many pounds are in a ton (2000).  We used calculators to multiply 453.592 and 2000.  Thereby discovering that there are $907,184 dollars in a ton!  
One Ton
Using this information, we reviewed what we did in class last week.  Each student chose a digit, named its period, its place, and its value.  They wrote the answer to our question (How many dollars in a ton?) in both word and expanded form. Then, I asked them to round the number to the nearest hundred.  

To finish off our day, I had them work with four whole number place value problems.  These were turned in for a grade.

The homework tonight is: