Wednesday, August 27, 2014

Fake Mustache by Tom Angleberger

My students and I love the Origami Yoda series by Tom Angleberger.  Fake Mustache: Or, How Jodie O'Rodeo and Her Wonder Horse (and Some Nerdy Kid) Saved the U.S. Presidential Election from a Mad Genius Criminal Mastermind is a wild ride with unique characters and an out of control plot.

Lenny Flem, Jr. is the only one who suspects the one with the fake mustache of being up to some evil plot. He meets Jodie O'Rodeo and the two of them work to foil the impending world domination.
For an explanation of my rating scale, click here.
Find me at Goodreads.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Developing Number Sense Round Up

Over the last several weeks I have posted several lessons I use to teach number sense.  Here is a list with the links in case you missed one or two.
Using a Meter Stick as a Number Line was a guest post at HoJo's Teaching Adventures. I focused this post on decimals and fractions on a number line.
 Next, I wrote about creating a Magnified Inch and using this as a model for fractions between 0 and 1. 

I followed that up with how I extend the lesson to include mixed numbers.  My students have placing mixed numbers on a number line and creating their own helped.

 I wrote two posts about having students create their own set of fraction bars.  The first week I showed halves, thirds, and fourths.  The next week I wrote about creating sixths, eighths, and twelfths.
Last week I asked the question, "Can Calculators Boost Number Sense?". I would love some discussion about this issue.

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Quote of the Week -- August 24, 2014

“If people like what you do it's because you're good at what you do. If they love what you do it's because you know Why you do it.”

Simon Sinek

Have a great week,

Friday, August 22, 2014

Customary Measurement Chart

When teaching measurement, I find that students need two things: lots of practice measuring real objects and a chart summarizing what they need to know.
Like the Metric Measurement Chart, students can use this chart and a calculator to make conversions:

  1. Find the column that matches the unit you are starting with. 
  2. Move down until you find the space where it shows one. 
  3. Move along the row until you find the equal amount for the unit you are converting to. 
  4. This is the amount by which you multiply.

Freebie Fridays

Classroom Freebies Manic Monday

Wednesday, August 20, 2014

The Adventures of Beanboy by Lisa Harkrader

The Adventures of Beanboy by Lisa Harkrader is realistic fiction for comic book enthusiasts.  Tucker MacBean, raised by a single mom, decides to enter a comic book writing contest for a scholarship to help his family.  In between each chapter of this story line is a page from Tucker's creation.

I plan to introduce this series to some of my fourth graders this year. 
For a related writing prompt, click here.

For an explanation of my rating scale, click here.
Find me at Goodreads.

Monday, August 18, 2014

Can Calculators Boost Number Sense?

                Once when my stepdaughter was in fifth grade her teacher assigned her a page of fractions to be converted to decimals using long division.  This touched off one of the most memorable kitchen table homework battles.  She insisted that her teacher said she couldn’t use a calculator.  I shamelessly bribed her with one M&M for each problem completed.  The assignment was finished and turned in.  I vowed I would never give a similar assignment.  My stepdaughter hated math, still hates math, and is choosing a college/career path where she will no longer take math classes. (Probably not because of this one assignment, but it didn’t help.)
                When I teach conversion from fractions to decimals, I want my students to see the pattern.  I show them how to enter the fraction as a division problem.  They fill out a similar sheet to the one my stepdaughter was given using a calculator.  We discuss what they see for a particular fraction.  For example: 1/5 = 0.2, 2/5 = 0.4, 3/5 = 0.6 and so on.  By having a clear lesson focus, seeing the patterns, I can determine when my students should use calculators and when they should not.
                In every fourth grade classroom, I have a group who struggles to become fluent in multiplication and division facts.  This gets compounded when I want them to multiply and divide large numbers.  For some, I teach the process and let them use multiplication tables for the facts they haven’t memorized.  Others have such a lack of number sense, that they don’t see the following pattern: 8 X 4 = 32, 80 X 4 = 320, 80 X 40 = 3200.
                I showed one student this process with a calculator.  What didn’t make sense for her when she saw someone else’s completed table, made more sense when she used the calculator and wrote down the answers.  I want to emphasize the guided aspect of this process:  she was making the calculations and writing the answers.  She could begin to predict how large the products would be based on the number of zeroes in the factors, because she was doing the work with a calculator as a tool.  I wanted her to notice those patterns by looking at accurate answers.
                This year my whole class struggled with measurement.  I developed several lessons and stations for practicing length, volume, and weight.  One of the activities involved reading food labels and computing the volume and weight of the contents.  Because my focus was on learning the relative amounts of these measurements, I let them use calculators for the computations.  I knew they were not strong enough to multiply decimals and fractions without a tool.
                When teaching students process and strategies for computing numbers, I don’t let them use calculators.  I am clear with my students, their parents, and myself, when I am testing them on computation and when I want them to go beyond and study patterns and develop more complex problem-solving strategies.  After all isn’t that when we use calculators as adults?

What do you think? How do you use calculators in your classroom?

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Quote of the Week -- August 17, 2014

“Start by doing what’s necessary, then what’s possible, and suddenly you are doing the impossible.” –St. Francis of Assisi

Have a great week,
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