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Monday, May 9, 2016

What Are You Reading?

I am linking up of the May edition of "What Are You Reading?" at Focused on Fifth. I have a really great recommendation this month. I just barely finished reading A Night Divided by Jennifer Nielsen.

Clicking the cover will take you to Amazon.
Set in the 1960's when the Berlin Wall went up, twelve-year old Gerta finds her family trapped on both sides of the wall.  This very engaging story had my students begging for more. I just finished this as a whole class read aloud and they LOVED it. They couldn't believe this really happened and the fact that I was in college when the wall came down was nothing short of shocking to them. This is a fabulous story that is going to be on my reading list year after year.  To give you an idea of how much they loved it, one of my students is taking a survey of which book everyone liked best - Wonder or A Night Divided - and it's a tie.

For more book suggestions, or to link up with us, go to Focused on Fifth.
Happy Reading!

Monday, April 11, 2016

Busy Bee's Giveaway

Back in the fall, a group of teacher bloggers from the Beehive State of Utah joined up to begin a new collaborative blog. We are excited about the new look on our blog and decided to do a giveaway to show it off.

You can head on over to Busy Bees Activities to enter for a chance to win a $25 TpT gift card. You can also enter right here for a chance to win $10 worth of products from my TpT store. Happy Spring!

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, March 7, 2016

What Are You Reading?

I am linking up with Focused on Fifth for the March edition of What Are You Reading? You can link up a post about a book you love by clicking on the graphic above. Or you can leave one of your favorite books in the comments below because I really could use some good book recommendations for fifth grade. Chapter books, picture books, you name it and I would love to hear your favorites.

I've been trying to pull out more picture books to read with my fifth graders. I feel like the day is so jam packed and I just don't take the time to read to them as much as I want. So twice this year I have pulled out all the picture books from a favorite author and put them on display. The first author I pulled out was Patricia Polacco and right now it's Chris Van Allsburg. I have noticed lots of kids grabbing the picture books during silent reading and they are asking for me to read aloud more. So this has definitely given me the push I needed. Some of our favorites have been:

Clicking on the covers will take you to Amazon.

I love how gathering all the books from an author has given me the push I needed to read aloud more. I can't decide who else would be a good author to do. If you have an author that you think would be perfect for my next group of books, leave me a comment.

You can see more book recommendations at Focused on Fifth.

Happy Reading!

Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Help Me Build My Garden Boxes: Real Life Geometry

Today I am linking up with Miss Math Dork for her March Math IS Real Life linky. I am in the middle of a geometry math class for teachers (it's one of my last classes for my math endorsement) and we had an assignment to work with area and perimeter with our students. I looked through the chapters we were supposed to base our task on and there was one that compared a 5 x 7 and a 6 x 6 garden plot. Students were given the task to determine which would provide for more square feet of garden. As I'm thinking about how to make this task appropriately challenging for fifth grade, my husband texts me that he has ordered the wood for my new garden boxes. The lights go on and I have my new task.

The Task:
I am planning to build garden boxes in my backyard. I need to order the wood to build them and we can't decide who has the best plan. Thom wants to build 14 boxes that are 3 feet wide by 14 feet long. I want to build 10 boxes that are 4 feet wide by 16 feet long. Which plan will provide the most garden space?

Now for the next part of the task. Which plan will have the smallest perimeter? The wood is $0.95 per linear foot and there's no way Thom will go with my plan if it's a lot more expensive. Each box needs to be 3 boards high. What is the total perimeter of the boxes in each plan and how much will each plan cost?

Lots of great math came out of this task:
  • Difference between square feet and linear feet
  • Finding area
  • Finding perimeter
  • Multiplying to determine cost

I also had a lot of great comments:
  • "Wait, this is for real? You're making us do your bidding?"
  • "Why are we doing your math?"
And my favorite, the note at the bottom of her page...

I don't like weeding, but this math IS real life! In fact, we built the first of our boxes on Saturday.

For more real life math ideas, visit Miss Math Dork.

Sunday, February 28, 2016

Math Menus and Why I'm Sold on Them

I've seen a few math menu ideas out there without really giving them a lot of thought. Many of them were being used in math workshops for younger grades. But last weekend I was trying to come up with a way for my students to get more practice with multiplying fractions and I started looking for some ideas. I found a math menu for dividing fractions on the website Math for Love and I fell for the idea of a math menu for review. My students needed more practice and I needed something new. I thought a math menu would be perfect for fulfilling both those needs.

A math menu is basically a list of tasks for students to choose from. They can be games, task cards, sorts, tasks....anything you want them to be. I created mine menu with real-world math problems relating to multiplication of fractions. I wanted my students to be able to demonstrate their problem solving skills and their knowledge of multiplying fractions.

The tasks are divided into appetizers, entrées, and desserts.  The four appetizers are all meant to give your students a quick warm up that everyone can be successful with. They include working with equivalent fractions, simplifying fractions and addition of fractions.  The entrées are the main tasks. There are ten different entrées that progress in difficulty. They include real-life problems about sharing sandwiches, leftover bottles of glue, making orange juice, filling boxes of chocolates, adjusting recipes, calculating sale prices, and more. The dessert pages all focus on mathematical thinking. They allow students to consider justifications about multiplying fractions and analyze errors.

I decided to only allow my students two days to complete this menu, so I assigned everyone a minimum of 2 appetizers, 3 entrées, and 2 desserts of their choice. I think they could have easily worked on this for another day or two. They loved having the autonomy to make curriculum decisions for themselves. The variety of difficulty on the main tasks provided something for everyone. I witnessed students read over a task and decide it was too easy or too hard and switch to something that was a better level for them and my students really showed mathematical perseverance with these tasks. 

While they worked on the tasks, I had time to work with individual students who needed extra support. It gave me time to discuss student work and mathematical thinking with students individually. Which was a great informal assessment to help me know if they were ready to move on. But my most pleasant surprise came from a student who worked for an hour on one of the main tasks.  And I mean worked hard for a solid hour. When the time came to end math for the day, he said to me, "I can't believe I worked the whole time on this problem." This is the student who often gives up when something looks or feels like work - whether it's easy or hard. It kind of felt like payday minus actual money in the bank.

At the end of the second day, I had my students put their tasks in order with the menu and staple them together to turn in and that same student came and told me, "We need to do more of these. They were fun." Really? A math menu for review just engaged my hard to engage student? Oh yes, I'll be making more math menus. 

If you are interested in my Math Menu: Multiplying Fractions,  it's available at TpT. You can also check out other products for fifth grade at Focused on Fifth's Products for Payday linky.

Monday, February 8, 2016

What Are You Reading? Linky

Today I am posting about what my students are reading. I wanted to get my kids reading more about American history to go along with our social studies content and many of my students love comic books, so I ordered the Nathan Hale's Hazardous Tales graphic novels for my classroom library. My students are absolutely eating these books up. There is a waiting list for each book, kids are begging to be next and our librarian is trying to order them in so we can have multiple copies.

This is a World War 1 tale.

Yep, it's about the Donner Party.

And there's an abolitionist tale.

A Civil War tale.

And a Revolutionary War tale too.

And coming out at the end of March is...

A Texas tale of the Alamo. Note to self: Preorder soon!

To see what others are reading, head on over to Focused on Fifth. You can also link up yourself. Happy Reading!

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Show and Tell Tuesday Linky

Today I am linking up with Forever in 5th Grade for Show and Tell Tuesday. This sounds like a fun linky and I'm excited to link up for the first one ever.

I've been taking an algebra class for the elementary classroom and I was trying to get my kids to think algebraically about a task. I wanted them to come up with equations that would help them come up with an answer for any number, not just create a huge input/output table. Here's the task:

The jar starts out with $3.00 in it. Each time my family watches a movie, we put $1.50 in the jar to help us save up for a new projector.  It was a great task and everyone worked hard on it. Here is a sample of one fifth grade student's work. She didn't get to $1000, but there is a lot of math here. 

I have always wanted to have a student made math word wall. It's not as far along as I wish, but it's started. Now I just need to keep going with each new math concept and the vocabulary we are using.
I love integrating a little math into writing with this percentage poem. The idea came from our literacy coach and I gave it a try in December. I think it would be a lot of fun to write these again. Maybe for Black History Month or we just finished reading biographies, so everyone could write one about the historical figure they have been studying.
This last one is just for fun. We found this fabulous 1965 Volkswagen and we towed it home for my almost 16 year old. She had no idea it was coming. My parents had her out front helping them with the holiday lights when we pulled up. She didn't even look up until we honked. The look on her face was priceless. She dropped the lights and ran off the porch (running out of her shoes) with the biggest smile I've ever seen.

If you head over to Forever in 5th Grade, you can see what others have for show and tell too.