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Explore, Identify, Create and Compare Fractions!

“What did you do to my son?” a mother of one of my grade four students recently commented.

At a loss for reference to any incidents at school,  I responded, “What do you mean?”

“Well, he came home from school so excited about fractions!   All he wanted to talk about were the discoveries he made about fractions!”

That brought a smile to my face. Is there anything more gratifying than having your student make those connections and experience those aha moments?

So what led to such excitement? It all started last week when I made some new tools ( a fraction number line set ) and let my students take some time to explore and compare. Then I challenged them to find all the fractions that were equivalent to 1/2, 1/3, 1/4 and so on.  Well, in no time they were making all kinds of discoveries and asking to find equivalents for other fractions

“Can I do 1/5? How about 1/10?”

“Did you know that 2/5 is like 40/100?”fractionstripdesktopper_Page_2

These were just some of the comments I was getting as I moved around the room with guiding questions. As I observed, I wondered why I had never started our study of fractions in this manner before?  In the past I started by showing instead of exploration, but this approach ignited a curiosity in my kids that pushed them on to deeper learning.

This experience is not unique to learning about fractions.  I find it to be true whenever I am introducing new math concepts. Exploring first and working toward solving problems  is a great motivator and results in deeper understanding. Isn’t that what we want for our students?

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Click to grab this at half price.

Yes! I believe it is. That’s why you can get this Fraction Pack on sale at 50% off this week for only $2.00. That’s less than a coffee and it helps kids learn fractions with ease! Just click on the product photo to grab it before the price goes up!

 

Do I Have to Teach Vocabulary in Math?

As a member of the numeracy committee for my school division, I get the chance to listen and learn from many gifted math teachers in our division.  I love the collaborative nature of the meetings, designed to move us in the direction of better instruction for our students.  This week one of the important topics of discussion stemmed around our desire for continuity in the teaching of math vocabulary.

So what’s the deal?  Would teaching common terms to our students really make a big difference? Should we be taking our math time to address vocabulary? Yes!  The research is clear.  Math vocabulary instruction is effective and vital to support deeper math understanding.

Research has informed us that semantics, word identification, and vocabulary (e.g., repeated readings, rhymes), as shown in Figure 1, are essential cognitive features in word problem solutions (Capraro, Capraro, & Cifarelli, 2007) just as they are in reading comprehension and understanding (Pressley, 2002; Smagorinsky, Cook, & Reed, 2005).
Figure 1. (Capraro, Robert M., Mary Margaret Capraro, and William H. Rupley. 2010)vocab fig1
Another great resource is the article by Pamela Dunsten and Andrew Tyminski.  I’ll try to summarize some of the important points here, but take a moment to read the full article for a more comprehensive explanation. What’s the Big Deal about Vocabulary?
  • Math vocabulary terms should be taught in the context of learning math concepts.
  • Using a variety of different models/graphic organizers for students to express their understanding, is effective.  (ie. The Freyer model, tables, Four Square model, Feature Analysis tables, etc.)
  • Providing examples of what a term is, and what it is not, leads to deeper understanding.
  • Associating new vocabulary terms with words or concepts that a student already knows helps them to retain the new word with a meaningful context.
  • Having students express their understanding of terms with pictures, numbers and/or words, leads to deeper conceptualization.
 In the meeting, we all agreed that it would be beneficial to come up with a common list of vocabulary assigned according to curriculum standards at each grade level.  This would be an important first step in the process. My many thanks to Rebecca Nelson-Fitzpatrick for sharing the list developed at her school.  Though the list is not comprehensive, it is a great start taken from the AB program of studies.  It definitely is a great first step and one that should be shared in the interest of meeting student needs. The next step is to provide direct instruction and practice.
Can we achieve the dream of weaving good vocabulary instructional practices into our math instruction?  We absolutely must. With that end in mind, this week’s newsletter freebie is a complete word wall of the common words from AB’s Program of Studies for Kindergarten to Grade 6. Not only that, but I’ve put together some printable graphic organizer black-line masters to help you “achieve the dream” in your classroom!
 To get access to this FAB FREEBIE, and others,  just subscribe to my newsletter on the sidebar or in the pop-up.  I can’t wait to connect and share with you.
Best,
Sharon

Sources:

Capraro, Robert M., Mary Margaret Capraro, and William H. Rupley. 2010. “Semantics and Syntax: A Theoretical Model for How Students May Build Mathematical Misunderstandings.” Journal of Mathematics Education 3 (2): 5866. doi:http://dx.doi.org/10.1080/02702710600642467

Fisher, Douglas, and Nancy Frey. 2008. Word Wise and Content Rich, Grades 712: Five Essential Steps to Teaching Academic Vocabulary. Portsmouth, NH:Heinemann.

Dunsten, Pamela J. and Tyminski, Andrew M., “What’s the Big Deal about Vocabulary?” Mathematics Teaching in the Middle School. Vol.19, No. 1, August 2013, The National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, Inc. .www.nctm.org.

Flipped out over Flippety! Simple Flashcard Review Tool

I just learned about this awesome review/flash card tool called FLIPPETY that I am flipped out for and excited to share with you!  Let me explain.

FLIPPETY  is a tool that let’s you convert a simple Excel doc. into “flippable”—I’m not sure that’s a word, but I’m using it anyway— online flashcards, in a flash!  The tool is a fast easy way to create a review for test, new vocabulary, or any content that you want to go over with students. Here’s how:

  1. Go to Flippety.net.
  2. Read the simple instructions, which are basically:
    1. Make a copy of the template, change the questions and name them.
    2. Go to file ->publish to web ->publish. Then copy the link.
    3. Click on “get the link here” tab. Paste the link into the light blue cell (you’ll see the tab at the bottom of your flippety doc), to get the link to your flashcards.
    4. Click on the link to view your cards.  Be sure to bookmark or post the link, so you can access them easily in the future.
    5. Wallah! You are done.  You can share the link with parents, collaborative teachers, or your students so they can access the review from any device.  Cool, huh?

I made this review for my class in about 5 minutes.  It was easy and fun.

The Rocky Mountain Region Review

You can even color code the flash cards according to question type, or just add color for interest. Check it out!

One final bonus? Flippety also generates a printable list of the questions/answers, a word cloud, and a printable quiz! And… if you prefer to make it into a Jeopardy type game board, instead of just flashcards, you can! Great just got better! Here’s the link with instructions: Flippety Quizshow Link

This tool is now on my list of “Most useful” for the classroom. I hope you find it useful in your classroom, too!

Sharing is caring! If you found this post useful, please share, like or tweet about it! And before you go, be sure join our weekly newsletter so you’ll never miss another post. Newsletter subscribers also have exclusive access to fabulous freebies.  Each week I give away new resources for your classroom, absolutely free! Sign up to get access to these freebies each week!

Best,

Sharon

Technology to Save Teachers Time: Part 3

evernoteiconWelcome to the third, in a series of posts, in which I’ll share ways for teachers to work smarter, not harder, using technology tools that will actually “save” time. Today we’re going to take a look at EVERNOTE.

One of our primary challenges as teachers is to provide feedback to our students in a timely, consistent manner. We know that keeping up with marking assignments and then giving the students the feedback they need to grow as learners, is paramount to their success. In fact, in John Haddie’s (http://visible-learning.org/hattie-ranking-influences-effect-sizes-learning-achievement/) research on how classroom practices are related to student achievement, he ranks formative evaluation and student feedback as very effective means to increase student learning. The problem, however, is that the mountains of marking quickly add up. How do we keep up, keep our sanity, and get some sleep, too? Have no fear, Evernote can help.

Continue Reading >>

Using TuvaLABS for Data Analysis and 21st Century Critcal Thinking

dataset1Looking for a new source of  DATA sets for your middle grade students to practice their data analysis skills?  Welcome TuvaLABS!  TuvaLabs provides a collection of datasets to explore  and analyse data related to a variety of  current  subject and topics that are  relevant to  21st Century issues.   The topics are nicely arranged under the headings of  Community,  Development, Culture, Politics, Sports, Energy, Environment and Sports.  dataset4PNG

The datasets are provided with useful csv and excel downloads and students can easily view the data in a variety of formats including: bar chart , pie chart, scatter plot, line chart, box plot chart, dot chart, and histogram. Other useful features allow teachers to create their own activities, create different classes, add their own datasets, provide questions, and evaluate student work and provide feedback on individual student datablogs.

dataset3This site is definitely one worth checking out as we move forward as educators, trying to help our students create the critical thinking skills that will be much needed as they navigate through the many issues of the 21st century.

Check out this link: https://www.tuvalabs.com and under our Teacher Tools on the right side-bar

 

dataset2

 

The Math Connection

One click on the Math Coin above will take you to the place that you will soon find a whole host of math lesson plans, creative ideas for teach math concepts, math materials made by teachers, for teachers, and valuable math resources on the web.  And…of course, many connections to math concepts that can be found in literature.