Monday, April 21, 2014

Math Station Monday 3.MD.8 Perimeter

I love teaching perimeter! It is one of my tip, top favorite things to teach because the possibilities are endless, and it's so easy to make hands-on and engaging for students. It's one of those concepts that I have to force myself to limit the amount of time I spend teaching, because I could drag out that unit waaaay too long!

In our first station activity, students had to use exactly eight color tiles to find how many shapes they could make with a different perimeter.  I loved watching them creating their figures and seeing them observe how the configuration of the figured effected the perimeter. We also discussed area in this activity, because all of the figures had the same area but different perimeters.

In this activity, students created a design using pattern blocks. Using a green triangle as one unit, students had to find the total perimeter of the figure.  I had students draw a pictures of the design in their booklets and show how they found the perimeter. Seriously, it was so much fun!

In a third station activity, students used color tiles to compare the perimeter of two different books. They found the perimeter of the book they thought would have the largest perimeter and recorded the perimeter, and then they found the perimeter of the second book and recorded that perimeter. Then, they subtracted to find the difference of perimeters of the two books.

One of my favorite activities required students to use pentominoes, which are awesome math manipulatives! First, they had to find the perimeter for each pentomino. Then, they had to arrange two pentominoes together to create a shape with the smallest perimeter possible. They drew a picture of that shape and recored the perimeter. The last part of this activity had students use two pentominoes to create a shape with the largest perimeter possible. My students loved this activity, and I felt like it really impacted their conceptual understanding of perimeter.

I try to incorporate perimeter as much as possible to allow my students to make natural connections with the concepts and to prevent confusion between the two topics.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

End of the Year Countdown & a Freebie

Please tell me that I'm not the only who kind of feels like they're drowning right now. I feel like there is a million things I need to, and there is just no way I can get it all done.  It's that time of year, and I keep telling myself to hang in there a few more weeks.

Naturally, since I do have tons of things I need to be doing, I spent some time procrastinating and worked on something that I wanted to make. I always love counting down the last few days of the school year, and the lower the number gets, the more excited I am about summer vacation! I wanted to make something that would incorporate that countdown into our daily routine. Since I already do a Number of the Day, I thought that it would be so much fun to use the activity as part of my morning work. I love my morning work, but I feel like my students can finish it in half the time that it used to take them, so I do have a little extra wiggle room. I'm going to add these papers to my students' morning work folders, and each day they will  answer one of the questions.  The questions were designed to be used as a final countdown starting at 20 days left of school and work their way down to 1.
All of the questions require creative thinking, and I'm going to really push my students to slow down and put some thought into their responses. I don't want them to just rush through it to be finished. I want to see them really thinking about their answers.
There are two questions on a piece of paper, but they could easily be cut in half and used as task cards. I'm sure they would make an incredibly fun station or center activity! They could also be placed on a document camera to help save paper and copies!

You can click on the picture below for a link to the pack in my TpT store. I really can't wait to use it, and I really can't wait until there are just 20 days left of school!

I promise I didn't forget the freebie! I felt like my students needed a little more practice on decomposing area, so I made this activity that seemed to help. In the activity, students had to color three different sized rectangles. They cut the rectangles out and glued them together on construction paper. Then, they had to show a number sentence to show how they could find the total area of the three rectangles.  You can grab the freebie by clicking on either picture.

Hang in there!

Monday, April 7, 2014

Math Station Monday 3.NBT.3

Multiplying by multiples of ten has always been so easy for me to teach. It's one of those skills that has an incredibly easy trick (adding a zero at the end of the number), so almost everyone "gets it" right away.  However, I realize that even though my students may get the right answer, they're not necessarily understanding the concept behind the right answer. Sometimes I think I have the tendency to skip over conceptual instruction on these easier skills, so this year I made myself slow down a bit and try to incorporate the concepts behind the skills. I had to get really creative when I taught multiplying by multiples of ten, but I'm certainly glad I did it!

One strategy that I used was to have my students use dimes for manipulatives. Since dimes have a value of ten, they were perfect for this concept! In the picture to the left, the student was multiplying 5x40, so they had five groups of four dimes. This was a great visual model for my class.

I also made a quick and easy little game where my students used spinners to practice multiplying by multiples of ten. There was one spinner for digits 1-9 and another spinner for digits 10-90.  They spun each spinner and multiplied the two numbers together.

Of course, I couldn't teach this concept without using base-ten blocks.  Using ten rods helped to solidify the concept with my students, and I feel like it also helped reinforce the concept of place value and helped students make natural connections with place value and multiplication.

I had my students write about each of the hands-on activities, because I think that's such a great way to solidify students' understanding of any math concept.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Math Station Monday 3.NBT.2

When I started creating hands on activities for my students, I really wasn't sure how I would turn my addition and subtraction standard in hands on activities.  I knew how to incorporate hands on activities for smaller numbers, but I wasn't confident that it would work with three digit numbers.  Fortunately, I was wrong!
In one activity, I had my students use base-ten blocks to model 3-digit addition that required regrouping, and in another activity they modeled subtraction with regrouping with base-ten blocks.  I also made my students explain in writing how they regrouped, and I just loved hearing all of the great math talked as my students worked on this activity!

We also played a little math game, where my students rolled three dice and recorded the largest and the smallest number they could make with the dice.  {For any activity like this, I like using dice with digits 0-9 rather than the regular 0-6 digit dice. It gives students a much broader range of numbers, which I like.} After students recorded the two numbers, they had to find the sum and difference of the numbers.

In our last activity, students used snap cubes to model the identity, commutative, and associative properties of addition.  For some reason, this is always a hard concept for my students, so it was nice to be able to give them some hands on practice.  I also like how the snap cubes attach to each other and that I can use multiple colors to help get the concept across to my students.  I had students draw a model of the snap cubes and show their models in a number sentence. I really appreciated the fact that I did this activity when I got to multiplication, because the properties of multiplication were so much easier for me to teach!

Thursday, March 27, 2014

My Spring Door and a Line Plot

It's official.  I have Spring Fever. Probably worse that my students, and they have it pretty bad! I blame it on all of our snow days, because once I got out of my rhythm, it's been so hard to get back into the swing of things. I'm trying to hang in there for one more day, until my Spring Break officially begins.  Hopefully, that will give me a little extra boost for the rest of the school year!

I am absolutely in love with my new spring door! I know it isn't necessary, because we don't have to decorate doors, and there isn't anything academic on it.  But, every time I walk in my door, I smile. That's why I love it.  It's the little things!  I have to admit that I did have some tons of help with my awesome student teacher!  It is beyond nice to have an extra set of hands in the classroom.
I also have a quick little freebie to share with you!  I've had it ready for weeks, but I just hadn't thought to write about it yet!  Sorry!  This activity is for 3.MD.4, where students measure to the nearest 1/4 inch and create line plots using those measurements.  I don't think that the content of that standard is too difficult, but sometimes my students have trouble staying organized with it.  I made this little activity to help scaffold them toward more independence, and it went wonderfully! It's pretty basic, but it definitely got the job done.  Just click on the picture to grab a copy!

Monday, March 24, 2014

Math Station Monday Place Value

Today's math station activities are from the very beginning of the school year with place value.  Before I share what we did, I want to make sure that I cleared up any confusion about these activities.  They are not what we do for our math work stations.  Instead, these are lessons where my students move from place to place for hands on practice with the math concept we are currently studying.  I hope that's not confusing, and maybe I should have been a little more creative with the name.  {Naming things is always so hard for me....any ideas?}

I always like to start the year off with place value, because it's the foundation for number sense.  My students usually come to me with a pretty good foundation, but I still like to focus on it for a bit to ensure their understanding for more challenging concepts.

In one activity, I have my students use base-ten blocks to find three different ways to build a thousand. They used a combination of ones, tens, and hundreds to do this, and it helped my students to see how ones,  tens, and hundreds relate to each other.  They first used the base-ten blocks to create the number, and then they recorded how they made the number on a recording sheet.

In a different place value activity, students used base-ten blocks to build a place value tower.  The tower had to be free standing, and students had to use exactly 50 base-ten blocks for the tower. After they built it, they used their understanding of place value to determine the total value of their tower.  They had to count all of the ones and find the value of the ones. Then, they had to record how many ones they used and the value of the ones on their recording sheet and did the same for the tens, hundreds, and thousands.  This was such a huge hit with my students! They had so much fun with this activity, and I feel that they were actually learning!

Another activity for that unit was for students to create a number line that showed how to round to the nearest hundred.  I believe that students need to understand the concept of rounding through practice on number lines and hundreds charts.  I think that the visual gives students a much better understanding of WHY a number rounds to a particular place.

We also played a game using two dice that had the digits one through nine on them.  (I like those dice a lot better than the regular dice.)  In this game, students rolled two dice and created the largest number possible with the digits they rolled, and then they rounded the number to the nearest ten.  To add a little conceptual math, students also had to find the number on a hundreds chart to help them determine where to round the number.

My students loved learned about place value and didn't want our math time to end!

Saturday, March 22, 2014

Error Analysis

I don't know about spring, but test prep season is here!  Despite all of my good intensions to stay relaxed about testing, I can feel my shoulders tensing and the pressure building.  I KNOW that my students understand the content, but they are still so easily tricked. It's frustrating to watch them struggle with multiple choice tests, because I want them to shine on their state test (which is multiple choice). I've seen improvements this year, but I still felt like there was more that I could do.

A couple of weeks ago, I had a brainstorm that turned into a strategy that I'm LOVING!  I'm using an error analysis graphic organizer to help prepare my students for their big test.
This can be used in many different ways, but I'm using it as a follow-up activity to our Friday morning work.  My students complete a page from my Super Testers product on Friday morning, and while they're at their specials class, I grade the assessments.  I organize students into groups based on what problems they missed.
I assign each group a particular problem, and they complete the graphic organizer using their assigned problem.  They record the problem number at the top of the page and restate the question and write the correct answer.  Then, they have to describe the error in the three incorrect answer choices and explain WHY the answer is wrong.

Before having my students complete any of these independently, I made sure to model how to complete it several times.  It took a little practice before my students got the hang of it.  It was a lot of work for my students to be able to explain WHY an answer was incorrect, but after some practice it started clicking for them.
I'd like to try this in a few different ways.  I've thought about including it with my Test Prep Task Cards as a math work station activity.  I will probably have my students select one of the task cards to take through the entire error analysis process with and then use the rest of their station time to work on the remaining task cards.  I may also use some of the task cards as part of our morning work.  I'll place one task card on the Elmo, and students will complete the graphic organizer for the task card.

Below is a link to my Test Prep Task Cards.  It includes two task cards for every Common Core math standard.  These are great for error analysis, since they're written in a multiple choice format.  You can also grab a copy of the error analysis form by clicking on its picture above!