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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, August 31, 2015

Inspirational Math: Day 5

Today, was our final day with Inspriational Math from youcubed.org.  It has been a blast!

Today's lesson was "Growing Patterns".  As usual, I wanted to warm up their brain so we did a few brainteasers.  First, I asked to them to discover how we could get to the answer 17.  To make it a little more challenging, I asked them to write a three-step equation.  Next, we did our estimation180 for the day.  The kids really seem to enjoy these activities!

Next we watched the mindset video that refocused on the idea that mistakes grow your brain.  I liked their examples, they used Thomas Edison and Michael Jordan.  Both men were examples that in order to succeed you have to fail (sometimes miserably).  After the video, I asked the table groups to complete the following analogy:

Mistakes are to learning as __________
is to _____________.

Ask your child how their table group filled in the blanks!  I was very pleased with their deep thinking!

The actual lesson focused on the following visual from the youcubed.org lesson for Day 5:

We looked at the visual for a full minute, then I asked the table groups to share what they "saw".  Finally, we shared out our discoveries.  To help people see the growth pattern, we actually used colored tiles to create each Case.  I explained that we would not always be able to use manipulatives to solve a problem, so we needed to see if we could determine the equation that would help us solve for say, the 100th, case.

To begin, we created a t-chart.  We had the case number on the left, and the number of squares on the right.  We then created the 4th and 5th case in order to add them to our table.  Now that we had some information to use, we began to look for patterns.

It was difficult thinking, but as my kids now know, if it is difficult, your brain is growing!  We were able to find the equation together.  To show their understanding, I asked each student to use the information we had discovered to tell me how many tiles we would have to use to show the 499th Case.  They were all successful!

Friday, August 28, 2015

Inspirational Math: Day 4

Our lesson today was to work with Pascal's Triangle.  Our mindset was to open our minds to thinking about patterns.  

To warm up our brains, we began by working with math analogies, then we completed our estimation180 activity.  Next, I discussed our misconception for the day:  math is only about numbers and operations.

To refute this idea, the students watched the video from youcubed.org for Day 4 in which they should Fibonacci's number pattern and then visually demonstrate the spiral created by this pattern.  The kids LOVED it!

Once we completed the video, I gave the kids a 3 minute pause:

On your index card, complete one (or more) of the following sentences:

  1. I was surprised about…
  2. I became more aware of…
  3. I want to know more about...

Now it was time to work with a new pattern... Pascal's triangle. We began by filling in the missing numbers using the idea that the numbers are triangular. The two numbers above the blank, added together, created the missing number. From there we explored some other patterns:

  • Describe the pattern found by finding the sum of each row in Pascal's triangle.
  • Color in all of the odd numbers and describe the pattern.
  • What pattern do you see when shading in all of the triangular numbers?
Screenshot 2015-08-26 at 7.31.50 PM.png

After spending time exploring Pascal's Triangle, we revisited three key concepts:

  • Patterns are everywhere.
  • Patterns are important in math.
  • Patterns help us connect numbers and visuals.
To end the day, I asked the students to complete a 3-2-1:

  • 3 things you learned about patterns
  • 2 things that surprised you
  • 1 unique pattern you found in Pascal’s Triangle
It was a great first week! Have a great weekend and don't forget our Parent Meeting on Monday!

Thursday, August 27, 2015

Inspirational Math: Day 3

Today's Inspirational Math activity was called "Paper Folding."  Before jumping into the activity, we needed to warm up our brains.  To do this, we started with a Guess My Number activity. Students were given four clues with which to guess the number.  Next, we worked on estimation skills by completing an estimation180.com activity.

Now that our brains were nice and awake, it was time to tackle the misconception for the day:  the idea that if you are able to solve math problems quickly, you must be smart in math.  The video today disproved this very quickly.  After viewing the video, I asked the students if they were surprised by what they heard and if this changed what they believed about famous mathematicians.

Now it was time to tackle the problem.  I explained that they would be folding paper into various shapes, but that they would have to convince me, using reasoning, to justify their thinking. To model, I held up a cube and asked the students to name the figure.  They were able to name it as a cube, but I threw them for a loop when I told them to prove it.  Typically they would say that it had six faces and I would counter that a rectangular prism did as well.  By the time we completed our discussion, they realized that in order to justify their reasoning they would need to be able to use critical attributes of the shapes we created.

Before beginning, I warned the classes that the activities would be difficult, but that when a task is difficult, your brain is growing.  We discussed the importance of having grit and perseverance.

Finally,  I gave the students a sheet of copy paper and challenged them to fold the paper in such a way that they would have a perfect square to work with.  Once we had discovered how to fold the paper into a square, I required the class to convince me that the shape I was holding was truly a square.

We worked through a few of the other paper folding activities but were stymied by the third set of instructions.  Keep in mind, I am working with 5th graders.  However, I used this opportunity to remind students that it was important not to get frustrated, but to remember that we were growing our brain!

To finish out the lesson, I had them complete the following two sentences:

  1. Math should never be associated with speed because
  2. Students should always pause for reflection and take time to make sense of the math they are learning because
However, I instructed the classes to CONVINCE me that these statements were true.  They had to use the reasoning and justification strategies that we had used in the activity.

To finish out the day, I had the classes post their Math About Me pages to their Kidblog page.  To view your child's work, please visit the appropriate link below:

Wednesday, August 26, 2015


I hate that I had to miss the third day of school, but we had to meet with the plastic surgeon to discuss the reconstructive surgery my daughter needs after having a malignant melanoma removed from her scalp a few weeks ago.  All is well, there is no additional cancer!

Ms. Colson, my student teacher, got the opportunity to teach Inspirational Math Day 2 to the classes.  I know she did an outstanding job!

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Inspirational Math: Day 1

We are beginning our year a little differently.  This year, I am following a week's worth of lessons that have been designed by the team at youcubed.org in an effort to inspire students in mathematics.  I loved the introduction to these lessons:

Today's lesson was focused on the student's mindset about math.  To begin, I showed the students a document that gave two misconceptions my 5th grade students typically have about math:

  • Math is not important.
  • Math is too hard.
We talked about the word misconception and why these two statements could be considered misconceptions.

From there, we watched the video that accompanied the Inspirational Math:  Day 1 lesson.  This was a four minute video that emphasized the fact that EVERYONE can do well in math.  After watching the video, I felt it was important to talk to my classes about Comfort Zone vs Courage Zone.  

I found this image at https://engagetheirminds.wordpress.com/2014/08/28/courage-zone/ I was thrilled to come across this graphic as my focus this year is to create a mindset in my students that encourages and fosters perseverance.  This connected to the video by pointing out how mistakes typically take us out of our comfort zone.  As soon as we make a mistake, we are suddenly insecure, but we have to learn that mistakes are, in fact, how our brain grows.  I had seen the following quote on youcubed.org, and it is a mantra that I want my students to embrace:

I then moved the kids into doing a survey through getkahoot.com .  In this survey, I asked students to think about the three following statements and tell me if they agreed or disagreed:

  • Having a growth mind-set for mathematics is important.
  • We can all learn math to any level we choose.
  • Self belief is really important.
From there, I felt it was time to move my students from their comfort zone into the courage zone.  To do this, I introduced them to a creative thinking activity called Which One Doesn't Belong.  I lucked into finding this website and was thrilled with the thinking that was involved!  The problem we did today was:

Basically, students worked in table groups to determine which number did not belong.  The beauty is that there are any number of answers that students are able to discover.  I loved hearing their thoughts!

Next, we visited estimation180.com.  We completed the Day 1 estimation.  Again, the students worked in table groups to determine a reasonable estimation in answer to the prompt.  This activity also required students to get out of their comfort zone, discuss their thinking with peers, and ultimately come to an agreement through compromise.

Our next activity was called "Four 4s".  Students worked together to find all of the ways they could use four 4s and the operations of addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division to create equations that would ultimately have answers ranging from 1-20.  The kids really enjoyed this activity!  They were all working feverishly to find as many answers as they could.  By this time, they had the right mindset and were feeling much more comfortable being challenged!

To finish up our day, I asked the students to reflect on the three statements from our Kahoot:

  • Having a growth mind-set for mathematics is important.
  • We can all learn math to any level we choose.
  • Self belief is really important.
I asked them to choose the one statement that they felt had made the most impact on them and to explain why.  They completed this reflective writing using Google Classroom and turning in the Google Doc.

Monday, August 24, 2015

Welcome to 5th Grade Math!

We jumped right into technology today in our math class.  My goal today was to set up our Chromebooks to make it easy to use when students get to math class.  So we needed to do a lot of bookmarking:

  1. Gmail - students will receive information and grades through their email.
  2. Drive - this is where all created student work will be housed.
  3. Classroom - this is where students will be directed to receive assignments and to turn in work.
  4. Kidblog - the blogging site where students will display their work
  5. Spelling City - fun, easy way to review each week's spelling words
  6. EStudies Weekly - a site that compliments the student's weekly Social Studies newspaper
  7. Khan Academy - students are able to watch "how-to" videos of topics they need to review and/or learn as well as to practice these skills
  8. Kahoot - a terrific way to review and/or preview content through a fun game format
We began using our new bookmarks by beginning our first assignment through Google Classroom called:  Math About You

Students created a Google Doc and began creating sentences about themselves that included numbers.  The example I gave about myself:

We will work with this assignment for the rest of the week.  I am hoping to have this posted to our student blogs on Kidblog by the end of the week!

Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Thanks for coming!

Thank you for attending Meet the Teacher this evening!

See you Monday for

August 24, 2015