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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.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Methods of Payment (continued)

We continued where we left off yesterday... methods of payments.  We had covered cash, check, debit, and transfers, so we moved into automatic payments.

We discussed that signing up for automatic payments allows you to have a payment deducted from your bank account on a specified date.  However, you have to remember when this occurs and be sure to record the deduction from your account.  We also talked about the fact that you have to make sure to discontinue the service, otherwise they will continue to take the money until they are contacted.  It is also possible for you to be charged a fee for using this service.

Our last topic today was CREDIT.

I will admit that I wasn't very complimentary of credit.  While I did point out it is good to have in case of emergencies and to build a good credit profile.... I also made sure students understood that you are BORROWING money that you do not have.  Unlike the other methods of payment which limit the amount you can spend because there is only so much in your account, credit allows you to spend money that you do not have.  I also pointed out that you are charged a fee (interest) for borrowing that money.  I tried to make it perfectly clear that getting out of debt caused by using a credit card can take years and quite a bit more money than you may have thought.

That's it.... the methods of payment.

Homework tonight is 17.4 - Paying Bills from the math book.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Methods of Payment

How do you pay your bills?  How do you pay for dinner? a movie? new shoes? ice cream?

There are a number of ways to pay for items you purchase or to pay the bills you have monthly (as adults).  For my students to understand all of the advantages and disadvantages of the different payment methods, I used a lesson from SmarterTexas.org called "How Will I Pay?"  In this activity, students are introduced to six methods of payment (we only made it through the first 4 today):

  1. cash
  2. check
  3. debit card
  4. money transfer (online banking/PayPal)
  5. automatic payments
  6. credit cards

In discussing each method we discovered:

I began with CASH because this is the form of payment most 5th graders use.

I asked the kids to pretend that cash was their only possible form of payment at this time.  We talked about three statements and decided if these were a disadvantage or advantage to us:

  • I can carry cash in my pocket or wallet.
  • I can only spend what I have on me.
  • Cash is easy to lose or have stolen.
After much discussion, we decided the first two had some advantages AND disadvantages.  However, we all agreed that having your money stolen, or losing it, was ALWAYS a disadvantage.

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Next, we moved on to CHECKS:

Again, I asked the kids to limit their thinking to cash and checks.  I explained that they would need to open a checking account once they had a job and received a paycheck.  We discussed purchasing checks and that they are basically a permission slip to our bank to give money to the person named on the check.  We also discussed that checks hold enough personal information to allow a thief to use the information to steal your identity, and stolen checks can be used to purchase items from stores or online as ID is not usually required when a check is written.

We also discussed what can happen if you "bounce" a check (first explaining that they do not actually bounce)!  They were appalled when they found out that every check that you "bounce" can cost you an additional $25 -$30!  (How can you pay that when you didn't have any money to begin with?!?!) Which led to very good discussion about keeping track of when and how you spend money.

This time, we had six statements to evaluate and place:

  • If you write a check for more than the amount in the checking account, you will pay a fee.
  • If your checks are lost or stolen someone might try to write checks on the account.
  • Some stores do not accept checks.
  • If a payment has to be mailed, sending a check is safer than sending cash.
  • A check may be used to prove that a payment was made.
  • Most people who write checks keep track of their spending since the check register is in the check book.

Next, we moved to DEBIT CARDS.

When discussing debit cards, I explained that this card is attached directly to your checking account.  Every time you use the card, money comes out of the account.  You must keep track of the money spent so that you do not have "insufficient funds".... you can't have the items you want to purchase, you don't have enough money.

We talked about how a debit protects you with a PIN at an ATM, but that a PIN is not needed at a store (if you choose "credit") or online, so it isn't as safe as you might think!  Also, using an ATM that is not part of your bank network can cost you an additional fee.

My daughter had her wallet stolen last weekend, so I had all kinds of good examples to share with the classes!  I explained how she immediately contacted the bank to shut down the debit card so that money could not be siphoned from her accounts.

The statements to evaluate were:

  • PIN is a secret number code that only the owner of the account and the bank knows.
  • If you don't keep track of your spending, you run the risk of spending more than what is in the account and you may have to pay a fee.
  • Debit cards are easy to carry and use.
  • If your debit card is stolen or lost, report it to the bank immediately.  They will cancel the card and issue a new card.
  • Some financial institutions charge fees for using the debit card.

Our final topic today was MONEY TRANSFER (like online banking or PayPal).
I explained that money transfers, like debit cards, take money directly from your account and transfer the money into another account. 

This is a convenient way to pay monthly bills, or to pay for items online as you don't have to put in a debit or credit number and run the risk of having your cards compromised.    The statements that we evaluated were:

  • By paying bills with a transfer you do not need checks or postage.
  • Some financial institutions charge fees for money transfers.
  • By using a money transfer when shopping online, you do not need to give a debit or credit card number.
  • Fast way to send money, convenient.
  • You need to have enough money in your bank account.
  • Easy to forget to record how much was spent and you run the risk of spending more than is in the account.

We will finish our discussion on methods of payment tomorrow.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Gross Pay VS Net Income

We moved to our next topic.... income.  We discussed getting a job, working some hours, and earning a wage.  

We learned how to find our GROSS pay by multiplying our hours by our wage.  Then we realized the awful truth.... that what we earned...  is NOT what we will receive!  

We remembered that we have to take out payroll taxes (income tax, Social Security, and Medicare taxes).  Once those are taken out, what is left, is what we receive.... our NET income!

After going through some examples, I asked the kids to do a quick writing assignment:

Summarize the lesson by explaining the role taxes play in gross pay and net income.

I did assign homework.... We pulled 17.3 from the math book.  The questions are all based on gross and net income.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Personal Financial Literacy: Taxes

The state of Texas has created a new strand in our TEKS.  This strand is called Personal Financial Literacy.  It includes TEKS for students from K- 12th.  We began the 5th grade portion of Financial Literacy by discussing taxes.  It fits in very nicely with our current study of the American Revolution.  We have learned about the colonists anger at "taxation without representation," and having taxes placed on sugar, stamps, and tea.  

We began by taking notes on sales tax.  I began with this tax, because it is applicable to my students.  Every student either makes money or has gotten money as a gift and every student has used their money to purchase something.  We discussed the fact that the sticker price is not the price you pay at the cash register and this led to our discussion. 
We discussed the fact that Texas has a sales tax rate of 8.25% and I gave some examples of how this affects the cost of an item.  We learned that if you are saving to purchase an item, you need to save more than the purchase price in order to cover the sales tax.  I also explained that stores do not keep this money, that it is given to the government and is used to fix roads and bridges, fund public education, and aid local governments.

Next, we moved into payroll tax.  I explained that once they were 16, and could hold a job, they would see that the number of hours worked multiplied by their wage did not always equal the paycheck given to them....  We learned that there are three tax deductions taken from checks:  income tax (Texas does not have a state income tax), Social Security tax, and Medicare tax.  We discussed how these taxes are taken from EVERY paycheck.  I explained the roll of Social Security and Medicare and the hope that these services will still be available as they age.  The kids were stumped to see that a paycheck could be cut almost in half by taxes and other deductions:

Now it was time go a little more indepth about income tax.  I pointed out that income tax is taken from paychecks monthly, but that if the government determines that enough income tax was taken out of your paychecks, you may have to pay an additional amount on April 15.  We also discussed some deductions that are available to help keep the owed income tax down or result in a refund.  I also showed an example of a 1040EZ to explain that this form is how taxes or refunds were calculated.

Finally, we learned about property tax.  I explained that this was yearly, however it could be broken down into monthly payments as part of a mortgage (I did not go into escrow), or it could be paid in a lump sum if the property was paid in full.  We discussed that this tax is beneficial to our local government, and to us, in that property taxes help fund schools, emergency services, and our local government.

Tomorrow we will be looking into income:  
Gross Income VS Net Income....

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Catch Up (Thursday and Friday)

This does not happen very often, but on occasion, things interrupt the normal schedule and throw us off.  

Today we needed to hear our Student Council Officer speeches, so we were out of the classroom for a while.  The speeches were well presented and fun to hear!   The classes will be voting for the officers today using their Chromebooks and a form created on Survey Monkey.  

Another "hitch in the get-a-long" is the fact that it is my week to cover Social Studies (I'm actually doing next week as well).  The lost time this morning meant that the Liberty Kids video on the First Continental Congress was not shown to to three classes, so I need to use additional time from my math block.  This will happen tomorrow morning as well, as we hold our Friday AWE Campfire Meeting before the pep rally. Since I want my students to see the video about the "Midnight Ride of Paul Revere" AND do not want the Social Studies assignment to become homework on a Friday, I will give ample time in class to complete the assignment!

Oh, and tomorrow is Character Dress Up Day......

So... I will have a limited amount of math time today and tomorrow.  The time I do have, we will 
  • complete an Entrance Ticket (assessing prior knowledge),
  •  do our Estimation 180 for the day (the kids revolt if we skip this), and 
  • get onto a Personal Financial Literacy site (handsonbanking.org) on the Chromebooks in order for the students to begin learning about money (spending, saving, balancing a budget, taxes, etc.).  Feel free to let your child explore this free program at home!

We will begin our Personal Financial Literacy lessons on Monday.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Chromebooks are here!

First, I would like to say "Thank You!" to the Hamilton ISD School Board, the Hamilton EDC (Economic Development Committee) and the Friends of Hamilton for providing financial support to purchase Chromebooks for EVERY STUDENT in 3rd - 5th grade (about 180 Chromebooks)!

I decided to take some time today to get students' Gmail accounts organized.  Inside their school Gmail, we added folders that we labeled:  math, reading, science, social studies, and spelling.  We will use these folders to hold emails that contain links to sites.  This will help knockout lost class time when students misspell a link!  :-)  We also "hid" buttons in their email that will not be frequently used and cleaned out the email that they had in their boxes that dated back to last school year.... or further!

Tomorrow we will begin our Personal Financial Literacy unit.

Monday, October 20, 2014


It was time to review PEMDAS for our test tomorrow.  I wanted to do something a little different, so I decided to play BINGO with the kids.  

I was lucky enough to find an activity on teacherspayteachers.com that combined Order of Operations with a Halloween theme.  The activity is called Halloween Order of Operations with Brackets, Parentheses, and Exponents Task Cards.  I did have to modify the activity, as we do not work with Exponents in 5th grade.  Once I had some expressions to solve, I needed to find a way to generate bingo cards so that not everyone won at the same time.

Now, it was time to play.  Each student had a card, some BINGO markers, and a dry erase marker.  I displayed an expression on the screen and everyone worked the problem, using the dry erase marker, on their desk.  Once most students had completed the problem, I would ask a student to give the answer and explain how they solved the problem.  Once we determined if the answer was correct, we placed the marker on the number.

This was a fun way to review!  The kids did a great job!  I think they are ready for the test tomorrow!

Friday, October 17, 2014

Field Trip!

We went to Stephenville to see Tarleton's production of "The Legend of Sleepy Hollow"!

Thursday, October 16, 2014

Order of Operations: PEMDAS Leaf

Today we put our knowledge of the Order of Operations to the test!

Before we began the assignment, I needed to go over some new symbols that are used in math equations and add them to our journal:  

  • the floating dot, (multiplication)
  • a number touching a parentheses or letter, (multiplication)
  • and the (all confusing) fraction?!?! (division)

Next, the students solved the problems on the "leaf".  I had them write each equation on notebook paper and write PEMDAS. Using this acronym helped students remember the order they were to work the multiple operations (most of the time). 

My classes had no problem doing the parentheses operation first, however, then they wanted to jump to the beginning of the equation to complete the problem instead of looking for multiplication/division and then addition/subtraction.  It opened their eyes as to what the Order of Operations really meant.  

To see the notes we added and how to solve the first few problems, please watch:


HOMEWORK:  Finish the "leaf"