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Sunday, September 28, 2014

Independent Practice with Problem Solving Task Cards

Do you get the Sunday TpT newsletter each week? Well this week they have a blog post all about task cards. Yep, task cards for every season, topic, grade name it. It doesn't matter what you teach, there are task cards available for you. So I thought I would chime in on my favorite way to use task cards.

My classroom is filled with problem solving. One of my math centers is problem solving and another is a math exchange where we problem solve. While I love both of these centers, neither allows for a lot of problems to be solved. My problem solving center requires students to solve difficult, multi-step problems, but they only have time for one in a day. I love that it requires mathematical stamina to keep at one task for 30 minutes, but they don't get to solve lots of problems. At math exchange, we all solve a problem or two,  but most of our time is spent in math talk. We discuss various problem solving strategies and share our own methods. We even give new methods a try, but once again, it's at most a problem or two.

So to really give my students a lot of problem solving time, I started making problem solving task cards.  I wanted to be sure my students were solving lots of different types of problems, so I used all 14 types of problems from Cognitively Guided Math. (If you haven't read Children's Mathematics: Cognitively Guided Instruction I highly recommend it.) I put these cards in my partner work math center along with a page to record their answers. This has been a great way to get a lot of problem solving practice in. And I'm using the same word problems that I use in math exchange so it's easier for my emerging readers to focus on the math rather than the reading in this task. You can grab my Leprechauns, Shamrocks and Gold Task Cards for free. I know, I know the season is wrong. But it's the free set I made last March. Grab them now, take a look at them and see if problem solving task cards are right for you. They come with numbers up to 20 and numbers up to 100.

This card is from the set with numbers up to 20.
Student record sheet included in both sets.


Looking for other themes? I have 13 more sets in a variety of themes.  They are available individually and in bundles for added savings.


Happy problem solving!

Saturday, September 20, 2014

An Apple for the Teacher Blog Hop

I'm still waiting for the apples on my trees to ripen. Sliced apples with my favorite apple dip...mmmmm! But while I'm waiting I decided to join in this apple themed blog hop. Next week will be all about apples, so I thought it would be fun to give away my favorite apple products.

I am a huge, huge fan of teaching math through problem solving. We spend a lot of time problem solving. I will be using my apple C.G.I. math problems for problems of the day and for small group math exchanges for the next two weeks.  I love that there are no numbers in them so you can differentiate the problems to meet the needs of your students.

For some independent practice I like to use sorts, task cards and games. I have turned my apple C.G.I. problems into task cards with numbers up to 20 and numbers up to 100.

I also have a sort for helping students think about the meaning of the equal sign.

If you are looking for a simple art project, try tissue paper and starch apples. Dilute liquid starch (look in the laundry aisle of your grocery store) with water - about 50/50. Copy an apple pattern onto white construction paper. Paint the liquid starch onto the back of your paper. Make sure to do the back so that when it dries you can cut out from the side that has the copy of the apple. Layer on overlapping pieces of tissue paper that are cut into 2-3 inch squares. Paint another coat of liquid starch over it and let it dry.

And here's a yummy favorite apple dip. 

Here's a chance for you to win all of my apple themed math products. Just enter the raffle and the winner will be announced on Wednesday.
Thanks for stopping by. Hop on over to the next stop for some more apple themed fun.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Geometry is Real Life Math

Today I am linking up with Miss Math Dork for Math IS Real Life.
 This linky is being hosted by The Teacher Studio, Miss Math Dork, Teaching to Inspire in 5th and 4mula Fun.

It drives me crazy when I think about my math education. In tenth grade, geometry made absolutely no sense to me. I struggled in that class and yet I had always been good at math. Today I realize there were no real life connections to math in this class. Hello...this is geometry. Geometry is real life. Maybe my teacher thought we would make our own connections - I didn't.  It took years for me to realize that geometry is all around me and I use it all of the time.

I probably use geometry the most when I quilt. I'm not much of a pattern follower, plus I rarely trust the author of the directions so quilting has a lot of geometry and measurement involved. Just this summer I bought the fabric requirements listed on a pattern. Here's the quilt:
 The directions had me buy 1 1/2 yards of material for all the light colored pinwheels in the center of each block and all the sashing rectangles. You can see that I used two different fabrics for these pieces because 1 1/2 yards was not enough fabric and when I went back to the store, they were out of the original fabric and I had already sewn all 48 squares. I wanted it to be the same fabric but now I was out of luck. I think my substitute fabrics goes just fine and no one but me will notice. Well, and now all of you! But back to the math. How much fabric is needed for the light pinwheel centers and the sashing?  There are 48 squares in the quilt and each is 10 inches finished. The entire quilt is 87 x 112.  The sashing is 3 inches finished and when I cut out the pinwheels I first cut squares and then cut each square in half across the diagonal to get two triangles. This is a great real life math problem that I wish I had calculated myself rather than trusting the author of the pattern.
How about an easier problem from this quilt for younger mathematicians - How many squares, triangles, and rectangles are in each block? It's hard to see, but the larger square is made up of sixteen smaller squares which are each made from two triangles. This is composing two-dimensional shapes to create a composite shape in real life (1.G.A.2 in the CCSS).  Plus, this square looks like it's sewn on the diagonal. But it's not. The color choices and the way they are turned create this diagonal look even though everything is sewn in horizontal or vertical straight lines. Students can experiment in creating different looks with paper triangles.

Here's another example:

 It can be hard to find the pattern when looking at the entire quilt. But here is a close up of six squares:
This is real life geometry and real life problem solving. Why didn't my teacher help me see this connection? I had no idea that I would someday sleep every night under a blanket that required my ability to "do" geometry.