## Friday, February 27, 2015

### Gomoku with Improper Fractions

Like Gomoku: Simplifying Fractions, students play this game by rolling two dice and dividing the answers.  This game board has whole numbers and improper fractions, because the larger number is divided by the smaller number.

Students place a marker on an open place with the answer.  The winner is the one who places five markers in a row.

Gomoku Games: Five in a Row is available for free at Teachers Pay Teachers and Teacher's Notebook.

## Wednesday, February 25, 2015

### The Notorious Benedict Arnold by Steve Sheinkin

Last week I reviewed Steve Steinkin's King George: What was his problem?  This week I want to share a book by the same author about the same time period, but more appropriate for older students -- middle school and above.

The Notorious Benedict Arnold explains how a patriot became a traitor.  I remember being bored in history classes growing up and I probably would have done better if someone like Steinkin had been my instructor.  I love finding out about people and what motivates them.  Benedict Arnold was really a hero in the War of Independence.  This book explains how his misstep makes sense in the context of the situation.

## Monday, February 23, 2015

### Quilt Square Codes -- Math Spies Episode 7

Have you visited Math Spies lately?  Math Spies is my math problem-solving website.  I post a problem a week each Wednesday.

Episodes 7 has seven problems with an extra example problem to show students how to solve the others.  I call it Quilt Square Code Problems, because, students determine the fraction of each color of a square like the one above.  They use those fractions to solve a code word.

I made a set of task cards with these codes and 24 more available here at Teacher's Notebook and available here at Teachers Pay Teachers.

## Sunday, February 22, 2015

### Quote of the Week -- February 22, 2015

“Most people are about as happy as they make up their minds to be.”-- Abraham Lincoln

Have a good week,

## Friday, February 20, 2015

### Odd One Out Money

I use Odd One Out with small groups of students to practice their mathematical vocabulary and as formative assessment.  I staple a half sheet of the document above onto a piece of notebook paper and have each group discuss and defend which item on the list should be left out.  There are multiple right answers.  The point is having students justify their answers.  This week's freebie has two activities printed on one sheet.

Here are three previous Odd One Out freebies with a geometry focus:

Odd One Out with Vegetables (number)

Odd One Out with Polygons

Odd One Out with Triangles and Quadrilaterals

All of these are available in my 22 page paid product at TPT and TN.

## Wednesday, February 18, 2015

### King George: What was his problem? by Steve Sheinkin

This summer I discovered Steve Sheinkin and read half a dozen of his books.  Two are focused on the American Revolution.  I plan to share King George this week and The Notorious Benedict Arnold next week.

King George: What was his problem? explains the events that led up to the conflict without talking down to the audience or assuming that the reader already knows about U. S. History.  I found it entertaining as well as educational.  I would definitely read it aloud to my class if I taught fifth grade.  (We teach U. S. History in fifth grade in our state.)

## Monday, February 16, 2015

### Pattern Pages -- Monday Made-it

When I first created these freebies, I colored the squares on the different sized graph paper with solid colors in a pattern.  I have used these pages to teach patterning in math and art in the primary grades.

Lately, I've been experimenting with different patterns on a grid.  I created these two projects using the largest sized graph paper in my free Heart Pattern Pages and Shamrock Pattern Pages.  I think these patterns and variations are appropriate for upper elementary.

I also have an Apple version of this set.  Click here for the Apple Patterning Pages from my Google Drive.

## Sunday, February 15, 2015

### Quote of the Week -- February 15, 2015

The worth of a book is to be measured by what you can carry away from it. ~James Bryce

Have a good week,

## Friday, February 13, 2015

### Gomoku -- Simplifying Fractions

Frequent readers of this blog know I love creating math games for my students to practice their facts.  I created Gomoku Games, a freebie in my Teachers Pay Teachers store where students can follow a few basic directions to play different versions of the game.  The change in difficulty comes in the operation performed on the numbers rolled.  For example, I have introduced addition, subtraction, and multiplication versions of this game.

When I got to division, I wanted my students to work with fractions.  For this version, have the students roll two dice.  The smaller number becomes the numerator, the larger number becomes the denominator.  (There is another game board where this pattern is reversed.)

If your students haven't learned how to simplify yet, I would recommend a "cheat sheet": a list of possible fractions with their simplified forms.  As you can see from the list below, their aren't that many of them that need simplifying.

1 = 2/2 = 3/3 = 4/4 = 5/5 = 6/6
1/2 = 2/4 = 3/6
1/3 = 2/6
2/3 = 4/6

Once a player has figured out the answer, he/she places a marker on a square with that answer.  The objective is to get five markers placed in a row.

Gomoku Games: Five in a Row is available for free at Teachers Pay Teachers and Teacher's Notebook.

## Wednesday, February 11, 2015

### The Year of Billy Miller by Kevin Henkes

Although the main character is a second grader, I think my fourth graders would still enjoy Billy Miller and make connections with him.  Billy's year begins with a bump on the head and ends with a poetry reading.  Billy learns about friendships and families and grows in his responsibilities.

## Monday, February 9, 2015

### MobyMax Tablet Review

MobyMax contacted me about a month ago and asked if I would try out their Moby Tablet with my students and write a review.  I already use MobyMax in my classroom and was happy to try it out.

In case you haven't heard about MobyMax, it is an online K-8 curriculum.  The students take a placement test as their first session. My students rotate through most days of the week for extra practice at their independent level.  Several of my students really enjoy sending me messages through the system.

The first thing I noticed about the Moby Tablet was the aluminum back.  I have routines in my room for my students to take care of my computers, but it is nice to see such a sturdy design.

I also like the Sync & Lock features that come with the tablet.  I have had students try to use school technology for non-educational entertainment.  I position the laptop screens so I can see what my students are doing.  I found it more difficult to monitor on a device with a smaller screen.  By using Sync & Lock, I can make sure technology is used for assignments.

What questions do you have about using MobyMax with your students?  I'm happy to share what I know.

## Sunday, February 8, 2015

### Quote of the Week -- February 8, 2015

“Stress is nothing more than a socially acceptable form of mental illness.” -- Richard Carlson

Have a good week,

## Friday, February 6, 2015

Good stories leave the reader guessing what is going to happen next.  Students can use this organizer to record their changes in thinking about the character and plot as they read.  The sentence starters may be used as a writing prompt in reading notebooks.  This could also be blown up to make an anchor chart.

## Wednesday, February 4, 2015

### Every Soul a Star by Wendy Mass

I love books by Wendy Mass.  Every Soul a Star takes place at a private campground run by Ally's family and devoted to astronomy.  Just before a solar eclipse the campground is busy with visitors and Ally discovers her parents have made life changing plans.

Meanwhile, Bree and Jack are visiting the campground and the three lives intertwine.

Teaching suggestions:

Stardate --an excellent resource for astronomy run by the University of Texas

Point of View Graphic Organizer -- different chapters and events are told from different points of view.  Use this free graphic organizer.

## Monday, February 2, 2015

### What I Might Teach in February -- Pinterest Board

Just a short post because I'm working on report cards this week.

I wanted to share my Pinterest Board where I'm collecting ideas for February.  I teach fourth grade, so I try to find ideas that fit the 3-5 grade band.  A few of the ideas I will have to adjust for my age group.

(Are you like me and don't ever teach a lesson the way it is planned?  I can never follow a recipe when I cook either.)

Happy February!

Follow Mary Bauer's board School Ideas: February on Pinterest.

## Sunday, February 1, 2015

### Quote of the Week -- February 1, 2015

"I'm just here so I won't get fined." Marshawn Lynch.

Bear with me a bit.  You'll see the connection to teaching and probably other over-regulated industries in a minute.

This week in Seattle, people are obsessed with everything Seahawks.  In case you aren't a Seahawks fan, Marshawn Lynch is a running back who hates talking to the media.  In the past the NFL has fined him for not being available to talk to the press after games.  This week he showed up, but repeated the same phrase 29 times. (You can see the video here.)

I watched the video just before Wednesday's staff meeting.  I was inspired.  Here is someone who found a way to have fun with a part of the job he hates.  I can relate. (Yes, I whispered across the table to a couple people at the meeting, "I'm just here so I won't get fined."  Our staff meetings have been stifling lately.)

The NFL has become so regulated that players get into trouble for wearing the wrong headphones, hats, and shoes.  They have ignored deeper issues with players and the game and completely focused on what is important to corporate sponsors.

Not unlike education today.  I struggle with losing the joy of teaching and learning with all the bureaucracy.  Big shots pay attention to corporate sponsors when making educational policy decisions.  It's not about the students anymore.

I'm still invested emotionally in most of my job, but as for the rest, "You know why I'm here."

Go Hawks!