Thursday, April 24, 2014

Math Review

So what did we do today to review for our math test tomorrow?  I put out a few of our "old favorites" and the students rotated through the different stations.

Investigations, Array Cards
 Students use the array cards to play games that help develop an understanding of multiplication.  In multiplication pairs, the students select a card.  If the dimensions are shown, they give the total.  If the total is shown, they give the dimensions.  Click here to see an explanation of the different activities for array cards.

Tower of Power
 There are lots of different varieties of "Tower of Power", a game where students group cards that belong in the same category.  Here the students were playing Geometry TOP.  They needed to collect cards with the name, definition, and a picture of the geometric figure.  Once the set is complete, they keep the set of cards.  The student with the most cards wins.  Click here for "TOP Tenths".


Make Three
This is one of the many partner games I've used this year.  I can't remember where it's from, but I will add that info. when I find it.  They are practicing adding fractions with unlike denominators.  The student puts their counter on a star containing a fraction then move along the line to add another fraction.  The student who comes closest to 3 without going over wins.


I also want to share a great math site I recently found.  It has math videos for every standard.  The site says "middle grades to Algebra 2, but if you click on "common core" you will find videos for all levels (first grade to high-school). If you have time, you should really check it out.  What is it?  Glad you asked.  It's called Virtual Nerd.  By the way, there's an app for that! (One of my students found it) I wish I had found this site earlier in the year. Oh well, there's always next year!

In my last post I shared my feelings towards the test.  Here is a photo one of my students posted to the class on Edmodo. She said she spent a long time making it. :-)
No Stress Here!

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Confessions of a Fifth Grade Teacher

Here goes . . . No matter how hard I try not to, about 1 month before I always seem to start stressing over the end-of-the-year test.  In Georgia it's called the CRCT (Criterion Referenced Competency Test), and for 5th grate students it determines whether or not they will be promoted to the sixth grade.

Yes, I know the final decision to promote or retain must be a committee decision, but let's face it a lot of students, parents, and I suspect teachers find this test to be a little stressful.  After all if the student passes the test, there is no need for a committee to meet or make that life changing decision. (Studies have found that "6th grade students rated being retained as the most stressful life event higher than the loss of a parent or going blind.") I can't imagine it's much different for a fifth grader, but that's a topic for another post.

Most of the year, I refuse to allow my teaching to be dictated by a test that lasts 5 days; I use the standards and what I know about how students learn to guide my instruction.  But it always seems that about a month before the test, I start to pull out multiple choice reading and math practice tests.   We spend time practicing how to "rule out 2",  "slash the trash" and all the other test taking tips.  I start to stress about "showing your work" when most of the year we valued students being able to solve math problems mentally.  We watch  motivational videos on taking the test.  Here's another one a teacher shared that is a parody of "Let it Go" from Frozen. and another called "Rock This Test. Cute, but I can't help but think that the time I spend on testing skills and review could be better spent doing science labs or investigating something . . . anything!

I have read posts from other teachers who say they do not do practice type tests with their students and their students do well on the test.  I have no doubt that the students that  are going to do well will do well regardless.  I just think about the ones that are teetering on the edge and could fall on either side of the testing fence.

Do you spend time reviewing for the test or do you trust that what you've done all year long is enough?  Testing begins in 3 days!  I guess I need to "let it go"! :-).  Ok. . . I just asked my students how many of them were stressed about the test, and only a few hands went up.  Maybe it's just me! 

Thursday, April 3, 2014

Measuring Angles & Classifying Polygons

I love to use music to help cement concepts the students have to learn.  To start off our geometry unit, I used 2 songs from Dr. Pasley's  Math Party CD, "Polygons" and "Angles and Triangles".  The lyrics actually define the different types of polygons and triangles. My kids love it!  Click here to read article about Dr. Paisley-Henry.



Once we understood what a polygon was, we took a look at the characteristics of triangles.  I am such a visual learner myself, so I had to have the students actually tear off each corner of a triangle to "see" that the angles all add up to 180 degrees-a straight line.  I learned this while I was working on my Math Endorsement certification.  We also used protractors to measure the different angles so we could classify our triangles.
Flipping in Fifth


Next, we looked at quadrilaterals.  The students worked with partners to complete a Geoboard Activity.  They used geoboards to make different polygons based on the characteristics given. They had to evaluate their partner's work before they moved on to the next figure.

Flipping in Fifth
 I started to pull out my plastic geoboards for this activity and that's when the kids reminded me that we had a geoboard app.  You can also use the online version. 


Flipping in Fifth

  I also found a great Quizlet that reinforces important geometrical terms they need to know. That will be a great review before we play Ge-O!