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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.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Autumn Trees

It is the day before our Thanksgiving Break.  My students have been working hard for me and I wanted us to just take a moment and reflect on what we like about Autumn.

So, on Tuesday, I had the kids work on a paper called "Autumn Five Senses".  I had them write three things that Autumn TASTES like, SMELLS like, LOOKS like, FEELS like, and SOUNDS like.  These didn't need to be sentences, just ideas.

Today, we took those ideas and created our Standing Tree of Thanks (I found them at Oriental Trading).  On each leaf we wrote one of our ideas (for example:  Autumn takes like dad's hot chocolate) and then used glue dots to affix the leaves to the tree.

The kids were very proud of their creations and I hope they are proudly displayed at their Thanksgiving dinners!

Tuesday, November 25, 2014

No math today

It doesn't happen very often, but as we have finished our unit on decimals and we needed to close up Social Studies before the break, we focused on Social Studies today.

First, we presented our Bill of Rights PowToon presentations.  These turned out to be just precious.  When I introduced the activity last week, I had no idea how to do a PowToon.  The classes were shocked when I told them to just go for it... and they did!  They had a great time and learned how to add pictures, music, etc.  Now, these were not perfect, but since this was our first time to use the program, I am very open!

You can view your child's powtoon presentation at kidblog.org, just use the following link:

To end the class, we took our Week 9 Social Studies test.  We did use an actual paper copy of the test and then put the answers on a Google Form.  The form allows me to send the grade directly to the student's GMail account.  This also allows the student to see their grade and which questions were answered incorrectly.  Using this email and their test paper, they can correct their test if their score is below 70%.

Monday, November 24, 2014

Unit 4: Decimal Test

We are moving away from decimals, so it was time to assess.  The classes had 17 problems to solve and were given 80 minutes to complete the test.  I had the students transfer their answers to a Google Form and submit their responses to me.  Once all tests are returned (I have absent students) I will be sending them an email that will tell them their score and which problems they missed.  If a student is not happy with their score (below 70%), they can use their email and test to correct the ones missed and return for a higher grade.

Friday, November 21, 2014

Test Glitch

Well, we were supposed to take our Decimals test today, but we ran into a problem.  Since the district was short subs, there was no one available in Content Mastery to read aloud tests to students who have this as a 504 accommodation.  So, we went to our handy-dandy "text to speech" app that had worked beautifully previously.... notice the word HAD.  Nowhere, and I mean nowhere, did the app tell me that after 30 days we would need to PAY for those services.  Needless to say, I am not interested in paying $100 (per student) for an app we will only use a few times a six weeks.  So... no math test today.  We will take the math test on  Monday.

Instead, we spent our time working on our Bill of Rights PowToon presentation that is due Tuesday.  This means that we WILL NOT be using any additional class time to complete presentations before Tuesday.  Students may work on this at home, come between 7:00 - 7:45 on Monday and Tuesday, and stay in at recess Monday to finish up.  

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Order of Operations (PEMDAS) with Addition and Subtraction of Decimals

Today was another "show what you know" kind of day!  We have a decimal test tomorrow, so we are in review mode.  Today we revisited PEMDAS and simplified numeric expressions using addition and subtraction of decimals.

In order to practice PEMDAS with addition and subtraction of decimals, I had to create some numeric expressions specifically for the topic.  To review with my classes we simplified one together.  To view the instructions to today's activity, please watch:  PEMDAS with Addition and Subtraction of Decimals.

The sixth, and final, problem I asked the students to solve, had a writing component.  I asked them to tell me the first step to solving the expression, explain their reasoning, and then simplify the expression.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Real World Addition and Subtraction of Decimals

Today was about "showing what you know!"  We combined our focus of addition and subtraction of decimals with word problems that had to do with visiting a barber shop, finding a total cost, paying a bill, and determining change.  We used a page from The Mailbox Teacher's Helper Feb/Mar 2008 entitled "Checking Out."

Once they had completed the problems, I asked them to create their own word problem using the price list given.  I also asked that they solve their problem and show their work.

If you would like to view the instructions given, please watch:  Checking Out.  

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

Minuend and Subtrahend?!?!

The focus today was adding and subtracting decimal numbers using an input/output table.  This was a little more involved than it might sound.  To begin, we took a few notes in our journal to help us remember important ideas and new vocabulary.  To create a page for your journal, please watch:  Add and Subtract Decimals.  

Basically, we reviewed that you must ALWAYS LINE UP DECIMAL POINTS when adding or subtracting.  We discussed what to do when adding or subtracting whole numbers with decimal numbers.... just turn the whole number into a decimal number (see illustration above).  Then we discussed some new vocabulary:  minuend and subtrahend .... 

The minuend is the number that is being subtracted FROM.  The subtrahend is the number that is being SUBTRACTED.  The kids had no trouble at all with difference, they have known and used that vocabulary word for years!

Once we finished with these notes we began the assignment, "Under the Weather," from The Mailbox resource Teacher's Helper Aug/Sept 2009.  On this assignment, students were working with input/output tables.... a number goes in and a new number comes out using a rule.  The rule was given to the students at the top of each table, but the confusion came when working backwards!  For example, if the "in" number was given, the student followed the given rule to determine the "out" number.  HOWEVER, if the "out" number was given, the student had to work backwards (do the opposite of the rule given).  Once students understood the pattern, there was no longer any confusion!  To view the instructions for the assignment, please watch:  Under the Weather.

Finally, I asked the students to explain their understanding of adding and subtracting decimals by answering the following prompt:

I can conclude from today's activity that if I do not 
line up the decimal points when adding or 
subtracting decimal numbers then _____________ because _____________.

Monday, November 17, 2014

Progress Measure Bars AND Decimal Review

We began class today by looking at STAAR Progress Measure Bars.  A Progress Measure Bar is a goal setting bar that shows each student the score they must earn in order to achieve Progress Measure on the STAAR (a evidence of educational growth).  Not only is a student expected to pass the STAAR test by correctly answering 35/50 questions (70%) in a 4 hour time period; each student is expected to have made a year's worth of progress from 4th grade.  Essentially, a student must achieve 28 more points (on their scale score) to show one year's growth, and 111 more points to "exceed expectations" on their growth.  

To create the Progress Measure Bar for each student:
  • I looked at each student's scale score from 4th grade.  I used the Raw Score Conversion table for 4th grade from TEA to determine the number of correct answers achieved on their last STAAR (May of 2014).
  • I added 28 points to this scale score to determine the scale score needed this year to achieve one year's growth.  I used the Raw Score Conversion table from TEA for 5th grade to determine the number of correct answers they needed this year to show one year's growth.  I divided this number by 50 (number of questions on the test) to determine the percentage of the test they need to pass in order to show one year of growth.
  • Next, I added 111 to the 4th grade scale score to determine the scale score needed this year to achieve "exceeds expectation" growth.  Again, I used the Raw Score Conversion table to determine the number of correct answers needed to "exceed expectations" in growth.  I divided this number by 50 to determine the percentage of the test they need to pass in order "exceed expectation."
  • These two scores are the "goals" for each assessment given for the remainder of the year in order to show academic growth.  However, AS ALWAYS, a score of 70% is our MAIN GOAL as this is the passing standard for 5th grade STAAR!
We plotted our first assessment on our bar today using the Financial Literacy test taken recently.  The purpose is to show students how they performed as compared to where they need to be (good and bad), in an attempt to make ownership of their own learning more important.

I would be very glad to meet with any parent who has questions about the Progress Bar and the expectations for growth on this year's STAAR.


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, it was time to review!

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 reminded my classes to think of the decimal numbers as MONEY!  When they do this, any number after the hundredths place, just means "a little more".  This has seemed to help them immensely!  

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
However, I do need my students to understand the place value(s) of the decimal numbers, so we did another Decimal of the Day:

Once students had finished with the assignment, they had time to work on khanacademy.org.  

While students were working on the assignment, I 

Friday, November 14, 2014

Comparing and Ordering Decimals

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 have learned about decimals.  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 dimes, the hundredths place as pennies, and the thousandths place as an amount smaller than a penny.

I explain 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 comparing and ordering decimals:

ALWAYS line up the 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 the whole number.  The right side of the t-chart is where we place the decimal portion.  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!

Once we finished with our notes, we headed to khanacademy.org to work with our new learning.  It was during this time, that I had an epiphany.... decimals are EASY to work with IF YOU THINK OF THEM AS MONEY!  Every time I had a student who struggled, I went to them and told them to think of the activity as money (even if there were numbers in the thousandths place or larger).  Once I showed this to my classes, things went much more smoothly! 

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Decimals on a Number Line

Today we discussed how you would place a decimal number on a number line to help you compare two decimal numbers.  I gave the students the number 3.386 and we broke it down to it's smallest pieces.
We began by acting like we were only working with the number 3.  We created a number line and plotted the whole number "3" on it.  This was not a problem, students have been plotting numbers on number lines for years.... but we weren't finished.  We needed to move into plotting decimal numbers on number lines, so to help make the visual, we used colored pencils.  Anytime we were working with a whole number we used red.

Next we acted like we were only working with the number 3.3.  We discussed the fact that we were working with 10ths, and since our number was .3 larger than 3, we needed to create a number line where our beginning number was 3 and our ending number was 4, since 10th fall between two whole numbers.

This pattern continued.... we worked with 3.38.  Our new number line began with 3.3 and ended with 3.4 since hundredths would fall between two tenths numbers.

Finally, we worked with the original number 3.386.  At this point the classes were able to tell me that this number would need to be placed between two hundredths numbers on a number line.

The most difficult concept to get across is that you are "zooming" in, or magnifying, a portion of the number line as you work with decimals.  

  • For example, to "see" 10ths, you have to magnify the whole number section that would contain the 10ths.  For our number (3.386), we needed to "zoom in" between the whole number 3 and the whole number 4 to place the number 3.3 on a number line.
  • To "see" 100ths you have to magnify the 10ths section.  We would "zoom in" between 3.3 and 3.4 in order to plot 3.38 on a number line.
  • To "see" 1000ths you have to magnify the 100ths section.  We would "zoom in" between 3.38 and 3.39 in order to plot 3.386 on a number line.  

 The completed page is shown above, but if you would like to see the process, please watch the video at:  Decimals on a Number Line.

Once we had completed our number lines, we went to khanacademy.org, searched "Decimals on a Number Line," watched the video, and worked the skill problems.  With the remaining time, students continued working on math concepts on khanacademy.org.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Decimal Number Forms

Our focus today was working with the different ways that decimal numbers can be written.  This becomes challenging as students are really not comfortable with decimal place value to thousandths.

To help with this new learning, I asked the classes to write the first three decimal places at the top of the paper to have a visual reminder.  Our first practice of the day began in word form:

I gave students the number "twelve and three hundred eight thousandths."  We took the word form and turned it into standard form (12.308), then expanded form first with fractional values (10 x 1 + 2 x 1 + 3 x 1/10 + 8 x 1/1000) then with decimal values (10 + 2 + .3 + .008), and then fractional form (12 203/1000).  Next we found the value of one of the digits, multiplied and divided our decimal number by 10 and 100, and finally rounded to the nearest tenth, hundredth, and thousandth.  

We practiced through the process using two additional decimal numbers.  To see our first example, please follow the link:  Decimal Number Forms.  To view the second set, please follow the link:  Decimal Number Forms 2.

This is an example of what the classroom work looked like:

We placed this page in our math journal to use with the homework assignment.  I assigned four additional decimal numbers for practice.  We had about 30 minutes of class time to complete the problems, so there should be very little homework!  :-)

Monday, November 10, 2014

Decimal Place Value

We began our newest unit on extending decimal understanding by reviewing place value.  I reminded my classes of 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.

The focus of the lesson, however, was working with "10 times as much" and "1/10 of".  We spent time with the textbook, using pages 11- 14, to work with patterns of multiplying and dividing by 10 with decimal numbers.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Adjusting a Budget

We are wrapping up our Personal Financial Literacy unit this week.  Today, we are focusing on keeping a budget and adjusting our thinking in order to make a budget work.  We have been working with balancing a financial record, so this ties in nicely.  We are looking at examples of income vs expenses.  

If the expenses we have (or want) are greater than the income.... there is a problem because there is not enough money for the expenses!  So, once we determine there is more expense than income, we need to adjust our budget by either lowering our expenses or increasing our income.  

After discussing how to create and adjust a budget, the classes had the remaining time to work on the assignment:  17.6 and 17.7 from the textbook.


Tomorrow I will have a substitute.  The classes will be working through the online simulation handsonbanking.org.  I wanted them to work through this program as a review.  We will be having our PFL test on Friday.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Balancing a Financial Record Computer Simulation

We continued working with our new knowledge of balancing a financial record today.  We got out the Chromebooks, went to my blog (tdittrich.blogspot.com), found the box labeled "Kidblog" and followed the classroom link.

I asked the classes to complete the following sentence starter as a new post on their kidblog account:

Based on the information I have learned, 
I conclude that keeping accurate financial records is important because ...

This was our first attempt to blog this year, but my goal is to have students share their thinking using this format pretty regularly.  If you would like to view your child's post (these will be available tomorrow) please visit their kidblog account.  The accounts are by homeroom (just follow the link):

Next, I had the classes go to their Gmail, find the email I had sent them, open the link:  themint.org/teens/balance-your-checking-account.html , and balance an account using a simulation.  The simulation asks students to document 10 transactions (deposits and withdrawals).  If they calculated correctly, their balance should equal the balance given at the end of the simulation.  This was a challenge!!!

Finally, I asked the students to complete a math page from the textbook.  The assignment is 17.5 "Keeping Records" on page 645.  Yes, they may use a calculator.