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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.

Friday, August 29, 2014

Addition and Subtraction Review

After giving students an entrance ticket all week and monitoring their addition and subtraction skills, I decided it was time for review.  We completed a problem-solving page that required the students to add or subtract across large numbers.  

I insisted that students solve two problems at a time then let me check their work.  This is done so that I can catch issues quickly and give immediate feedback.  If a student had an incorrect answer, we were able to pinpoint the issue.  

  • Sometimes they read the problem incorrectly which led to using an incorrect number.
  • Sometimes digits were written out of order when the problem was written on the grid paper.
  • Sometimes there was a single digit that was incorrect.  
By seeing the mistake instantly, usually the mistake was not repeated!

I also asked the students to solve an addition problem using estimation.  One they completed the problem, I asked them to explain how they solved the problem.  I reminded them that good mathematicians "plan how to organize a solution," (Build a Better Math Response) so they needed to explain every step in words.  This is still a work in progress, but these were MUCH better than our first time out!  

We have a three day weekend to help us 
recover from a full first week of school!

Thursday, August 28, 2014

Estimation: Rounding

I am fairly certain that this was how my 
students felt at the beginning of class!  

Rounding is not an easy concept to learn.  It is confusing to know what to do with all of the digits.  So, to begin, I gave them a copy of the Rounding Rules Rhyme to add to their journal.

We used these rules (and a few added notes) to help us understand the concept of rounding.  I found that when they were rounding a larger, multi-digit number, some had difficulty with 
  • underlining the digit in the correct place
  • understanding what to do with digits BEFORE the underlined digit
  • remembering that the underlined digit was what was rounded not the "digit next door"
  • changing the remaining digits to zeros.
It was a process!  However, the more we practiced the better we got!  I gave every student a card with an addition or subtraction number sentence.  The card asked the student to round to a certain place (nearest ten, nearest hundred, nearest thousand, nearest ten thousand) then compute.  Once the students had determined the answer to their card, they found the other students with the same problem and compared answers.  If someone within their problem group had a different answer, the students worked together to find the problem.  The kids liked being helped by their friends!

I think we will have to do something like this again tomorrow to help cement the new knowledge.  Rounding is not an easy concept to learn, but once you understand the process it is much less intimidating!

Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Pretest and Differentiation

My focus today was to have the students take a pretest on Extending Whole Number Operations.  The purpose of a pretest is to get an idea of where my students are in a curriculum topic.  I use the information to guide my teaching.  For example, if I do not have any students who "test-out" on a topic, then I know that I need to teach the entire curriculum unit.  If I have a topic within the curriculum that everyone does well on, I can skip that part.   However, I usually have a few students who do very well on the pretest.  These students do not need to be retaught and are usually bored out of their minds by sitting in the classroom relearning something they already know.... this is when I differentiate.

Differentiation is a fancy word for doing something different.  Students who pretest out of Extending Whole Number Operations WILL work with whole number operations, however the activity they do will be different from what we do in class.  This DOES NOT mean more work for those students.  They will work on their differentiation (usually in Mrs. Anglin's room so that they have an adult monitor) while I am teaching.  They will have the same homework assignment as the other students and will be given the same amount of time to work on it!

I pretest at the beginning of each unit, so this will become very familiar to my students!  It is also possible that students who pretest out this time won't next time and vice versa.  I find that my students like this, because they may be strong in something, but not in everything!

If you have any questions regarding this policy, please do not hesitate to contact me!

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

Estimations Problem Solving

Today we began with an exit ticket that would show me if students knew how to properly align whole numbers before adding.  

Then I read the story, A Million Fish ... More or Less by Patricia C. McKissack.  I used this as an introduction to making sure an estimation or answer is reasonable.  We added "reasonable' to our word web and then we talked about why we estimate.  I gave examples of when estimation is used in the math class and this is when we use "is it reasonable" to help us determine if an answer is correct.  I also gave some examples of when estimation is used in the "real world."  We discussed estimating whether we have enough gas to get where we are going, if we have enough time, if we have enough money, etc.  We finished by students restating the definition of estimation in their own words and then deciding how to illustrate estimation.

We jumped back into estimating by doing Day 2 of the Estimation 180.  This time, we used our knowledge that Mr. Stadel is 6"4' (1.93 m) tall to analyze Mrs. Stadel's height and make an estimation.  The kids did a great job!  We also connected this back to whether our estimations were reasonable (what is too HIGH, what is too LOW).  They love this activity!

Next, I moved them into thinking about the six stations that we did yesterday as "problem solving".  Each table was asked to explain how they solved the problem and what their estimation was.  Then every table gave their estimation and we compared answers.  Finally, I gave them the actual answer.... they really wanted to know!

To end the class, I revisited the story from yesterday.  I reminded the classes that "the boy" won a trip to Hawaii by guessing the number of jelly beans in the jar.  I shared with them that one of the banks in our town is doing a competition much like this.  I showed them them the advertisement from the paper.... this IS real world.  However, since my kids are not "18 or over" we needed to do a competition in class.... so, I brought out a jar of jelly beans and asked them to make an estimation and EXPLAIN how they came to that number.  They are NOT allowed to use "I guessed."  The winning answer in each class with get a jar of jelly beans to take home (AFTER school)!

I am really interested in their explanation more than the estimate, because I want to see the THINKING involved in their estimate.  We will use their explanations to start "Building Better Math Responses" tomorrow in class.

Monday, August 25, 2014


Well, we jumped right into math on our first day of school!  I began class, by asking the kids to complete an "entrance ticket".  This is a single math question that will allow me to quickly assess their understanding of a specific math concept.  Today our entrance ticket asked the student to subtract across zeros. 

I then introduced today's concept (estimation) by reading them a story called Counting on Frank by Rod Clement.  We discussed that the boy in the book estimated everything around him....it pays off when he wins a trip to Hawaii! 

I explained that WE WILL be estimating to determine solutions to problems.  Before we could begin, we needed to define what estimation was.  So began our first venture into a math journal.  We created a Table of Contents and then created our first Estimation Word Web.  We will be adding to the web each day as we work with a new concept.  Today we focused on the definition of estimation (an educated guess of an actual value) and when to estimate.  In our 5th grade made world, we estimate when we see words like:  about, approximately, around, close, etc.

This led into our estimation stations.  I found these stations in the book Math Homework that Counts: Grades 4-6 by Annette Raphel.  The stations the students investigated were:

  1. Estimate how many cubes will balance the dice.
  2. Estimate how many blocks will cover the bottom of the box.
  3. Estimate the length of the licorice.
  4. Estimate how many white cards are in the stack.
  5. Estimate the number of tiles it would take to fill this shape.
  6. Estimate how tall Mr. Stadel is.  (This comes from the site Estimation180).
I reminded the classes that the purpose is to ESTIMATE, not to find the actual answer to a given problem.  The kids rotated through each station determining their answers (we will share tomorrow).  This is Mrs. Dittrich's homeroom working through the stations:

To finish the class, we focused on the Estimation 180 problem.  I not only wanted the classes to see how to appropriately answer this problem, they will need the answer from today to estimate the problem tomorrow.  The kids were THRILLED to see how close their estimates were!  They really did an outstanding job today!

Welcome back!!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Friday, August 1, 2014

School's Coming!

Monday, August 18  
Meet the Teacher 
AWE from 5:30 - 6:30

Monday, August 25
First Day of School!
See you at 7:45