Saturday, 28 February 2015

Reading in Math - Book 2

Here is another great book I read in my Math class.

* Please note that some of the links in this post are affiliate links*

Where the Sidewalk Ends by Shel Silverstein, more specifically the poem, “Smart”.

Ok, so it’s not technically a story but it will still make a great addition to your math lesson.  I love to use this particular poem during out unit on ratios and rates. I usually choose to read this poem to the students after we have worked with ratios for a few days and before I introduce rates

Quick summary -The “smartest” son starts out with 1 dollar, but after making a few trades he ends up with 5 cents. His reasoning – 5 is more than 1. 

            For this activity I read the whole poem aloud to the students. They usually think it is pretty funny, and it doesn't take long for them to figure out the “problem” in the poem. Immediately after reading the poem, I provide each student with their own copy, so that they can read it again on their own and have them reflect on the poem in a quick-write. A “quick-write” is a timed period that students are asked to write their immediate thoughts and feelings about something. The goal is for their pencil to not leave the paper until time is up. I usually provide 2-3 minutes for this particular activity.  Afterwards, we have a discussion about the poem and why the smartest son is not so smart. My favorite answer that a student came up with was, “Maybe he was smart, just not math smart”.

            I tell all the students since they are all much smarter than the smartest son; they need to determine what he should have traded for if he really was the smartest son. I then have the students determine the ratios, rates and unit rates for all of the combinations found in the poem.

            This is such a cute poem, I know yours students will love it!

            Interested in incorporating more reading in your math class?  Check out my “Math Stories” Collection.

Saturday, 21 February 2015

Fly on the Math Teacher's Wall - Fractions

Join me and my fellow math bloggers as we squash mathematical misconceptions, while offering you some insightful tips and tricks!

Whenever I tell my students that we will be learning about fractions, it is usually met with a collective groan. Fractions just have a bad rap! Students hear fractions and they think things are going to get tough. 
Those pesky fractions aren't nice to work with like whole numbers...they're part of a whole. What's that about? It has that number on top and a number on the bottom...UGH! Sound familiar? 

While we're being honest, how many of you teachers feel the same way when it comes to teaching fractions? Fractions can definitely be one of those love it or hate it relationships.

So today I would like to share with you a few tips I have for helping my students develop a deeper understanding of fractions and come to the realization that they aren't so bad after all.

I find a very common misconception among teachers is the thinking that fractions should be taught in isolation, i.e. "Now we're going to do a unit on fractions", when this should not be the case. 

Fractions are rational numbers. What else is a rational number? How about decimals and percentages?

What is a fraction? Part of a whole.
What is a decimal? Part of a whole.
What is a percentage? Part of a whole.

They are all different ways of representing the same thing! For this reason, when talking about fractions with your students, decimals and percentages should also be a part of the conversation. When students recognize these connections, a deeper understanding of  numbers will ensue. Once this knowledge is internalized, it will be easier to focus on more specific skills, such as simplifying fractions, multiplying and dividing fractions, etc. 

When I start talking about fractions with my students, I always begin by assessing where they are in terms of connecting the 3 different types of numbers.

We start with a whole class discussion that goes something like this:

"What is a fraction?"
"What is a decimal?"
"How are they the same? How are they different?"
"What is a percentage?"
"How is a percentage similar to a decimal or fraction?"

I would then get them to represent a few different numbers in a variety of ways.

"How many ways can you represent 3/4? Use pictures, numbers and words."
"How many ways can you represent 0.3?"

...and so on...

How does this help? Students begin to use their knowledge of number relationships to make connections and deepen their understanding. A student will come to recognize that 50% is 1/2 because 50 is half of 100. If they know that they will likely realize that 25% is equal to 1/4. These connections will only help them when they begin to work with more difficult fractions in more complex ways.

After our discussion, we begin to talk about converting between the 3 types of numbers. 

I love this anchor chart from Teaching with a Mountain View

I have students follow along with me, as they complete a foldable in their Math scrapbooks.

As a culminating activity, I have students search for real life examples of fractions, decimals, and percentages in magazines, newspaper, etc.

Real life connections = Engagement

Once they find their examples they must explain what the number is representing, as well as convert it to the two other forms.

I have the students complete this in their scrapbooks as well, but it would also make great posters for a bulletin board.
If there is time, have a discussion about why it is sometimes more beneficial to use a decimal instead of a fraction (or other combination) in certain situations. Keep the math dialogue flowing...

I hope you found some useful tips and tricks, Thanks so much for stopping by.

Make sure to head on over to see what Donna has to say about fraction misconceptions over at Math Coach's Corner.

Wednesday, 18 February 2015

Reading in Math - Book 1

As promised, I wanted to share with you a few activities I do in my classroom that involve reading in Math class.

Today's book is Sir Cumference and the Knights of the Round Table by Cindy Neuschwander.

* Please note that some of the links in this post are affiliate links*

I LOVE all the Sir Cumference books! If you have yet to check them out, make sure you do! They cover a range of math concepts - mainly geometry, but also a few others.

I think the theme of this particular book is best used as a review of perimeter, and an introduction to circles, but I'm sure it could easily be integrated in more ways.

Quick summary - The king is upset because the rectangular table he uses to discuss matters of great importance with his knights is not very accommodating. He requests that Sir Cumference build a new table that will meet all his needs.

For this activity I only read up to page 7 on the first day. At this point I ask the students to identify the problem Sir Cumference is dealing with, and tell them that they need to help him find a solution. 

I provide each student with 3 pieces of brown construction paper that I have cut into rectangles (5 cm x 20 cm OR 1 x 4) to represent the 5 x 20 wood table from the book. 

They need to cut and paste the paper any way they can think of, to make a new shape that will be better suited to the knights’ discussions.  They are only allowed to use the amount of paper they have for each table (i.e.  no taking from one table to add to another), but they do not necessarily need to use it all. I tell the students that we know how the story will likely end, given the title, so they are not allowed to make a circular table. Their table must have edges that they can measure, to determine the perimeter. If possible, students could also determine the area of their tables.

I have the students complete this activity in their Math Scrapbooks.

Here are just a few tables my students came up with...


Once the students have finished creating their new tables I read the rest of the book (usually the next day/class). After each new shape is revealed I stop to ask how many students created the same one in the activity the previous day. At the end I also invite students to share ones that were not mentioned in the book and the class votes on the most creative table.

Like this activity? You can grab it here.

Interested in reading in Math class, but not sure how to get started? Check out my list of must have books for Grades 1-5, and Grades 6 and up.

Monday, 9 February 2015

Must-Have Books for the Math Classroom (Grades 6 and up)

As promised in yesterday's post, here is my list of must-have books for the upper grades.

In honour of "I love to READ" month, I have complied a list of math related books that would be a great addition to your math lessons. Today's list features books that would be appropriate for grades 6 and up

A few were already mentioned in the previous list, but they can be used at multiple grades to teach different concepts.

Must-Have Books for the Math Classroom 

(Grades 6 and Up)

* Each cover page has been linked to Amazon, in case you find a book you can't live without. *
* Please note that some of the links in this post are affiliate links*

If you know of an awesome book that wasn't on the list, please share in the comments!

Happy Reading!

Sunday, 8 February 2015

Must-Have books for the Math Classroom (Grades 1-5)

Do you make reading a part of your math program?

If not, I have a great list of books to help get you started.

In honour of "I love to READ" month, I have complied a list of math related books that would be a great addition to your math lessons. Today's list features books that would be appropriate for grades 1-5. 

**I cannot take full credit for this list, as my followers helped me compile it. Back in the summer, I hosted a giveaway for a book called "Norma Normal and the Missing Math Teacher". You can read about the book here and the author here. In order to enter you had to tell me what your favorite "math book" was to read in class. The list of books that resulted from the giveaway was amazing, and I have been promising myself that I would compile it into a nice and tidy list to share with you all. So thanks to all of you that shared your favorite books!

Must-Have Books for the Math Classroom 

(Grades 1-5)

* Each cover page has been linked to Amazon, in case you find a book you can't live without. *
* Please note that some of the links in this post are affiliate links*

I hope I have convinced you to start reading in Math class!

If you know of an awesome book that wasn't on the list, please share in the comments!

Stay tuned...tomorrow I will have your must-have list of Math books for grades 6 and up.