Monday, January 12, 2015

Fraction Firsts

Today was my first day to teach fourth graders fractions. Whew...I teach three sections of math, and I definitely changed up my lesson all three times. By the third class, I was pretty impressed with how the activities and the levels of understanding played out :)

Before giving my students any experiences or exploration times with fractions, I displayed this question. Students had one minute of think time and then I instructed them to discuss their thoughts in groups. Again, and again, my students continue to surprise me when I ask them hold discussions.  My kiddos were sharing intense ideas, were drawing models, and were changing their thinking based on the evidence their group members were presenting. At the end of the discussion, we shared thoughts as a whole and came to a consensus that 72 cents is just a part or portion of a dollar just as a fraction is part of a whole. Students continued to explain that a dollar would represent the whole, and 72 cents was just part of a dollar. This led to the creation and discussion of writing 72/100, 0.72, and even 72%. No, we aren't quite ready to tackle decimals or percents, but I'm all about connections and exposure.

We quickly reviewed important vocabulary (numerator, denominator, equal parts, partition), and then broke out the manipulatives to explore equivalent fractions.  I put a bucket of colored, 1-inch tiles at each group and gave students the task to create a model showing 1/4 blue tiles. I gave no other specifications other than 1/4 of the model had to be blue. Many students chose to create a model with 4 squares, one of which was blue. I did have a handful of students who constructed larger models such as 2/8 and even 4/16. I asked students to stop and take a walk around the room to observe their classmates' models. Seeing their classmates' models sparked major connections with these kiddos, and they were quick to go back and construct additional models that were equivalent to 1/4.

I gave the students a couple more examples, and they created basic fractions along with their equivalencies using the the square tiles. Placing the fractions next to one another was they key to helping students develop the equation of multiplying the numerator and the denominator by they same number to arrive at an equivalent value.

 The Ipad camera was super helpful with this exploration because I was able to go around and use the Ipad as a document camera. My students modeled after their classmates, and were able to write expressions for the equivalent fractions.

Don't tell my principal we were writing on the new desks with dry erase markers... I mean, sometimes there just isn't room for dry erase boards!

I made this quick student recording sheet for my kiddos to use today. Click the image to get your free activity sheet.

I'm excited to see the progress my kiddos make with fractions! I will continue to share as we move along.

Also, if you are looking to review skills from the fall semester, my New Year Math Review packs are perfect. My students LOVED the measurement spinners! Click the picture to check it out!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

One Little Word to Start A Big Year

As 2015 began, I contemplated on what my one little word would be for the new year. Last year I chose the word, breathe, which was more than appropriate for the overwhelming year that included tons of grad school work, a grade change, a classroom change, and me trying to be a wife, friend, teacher, daughter, sister, etc. Reflecting on last year, the goals that were reached, the struggles that were overcome, along with the struggles that still remain, I have chosen a word that it unbelievably fitting....

I am choosing to focus on the activities that make me smile, the songs that make me want to sing at the top of my lungs, the dreams that scare me to death but make me a more passionate person. I choose to focus on spending time with the people I love, to further develop meaningful, lifelong relationships, to focus on my blessings rather than my upsets. 

Professionally, I choose to focus on the individual needs of my students rather than the standardized tests and to organize my time so I can create meaningful resources that enhance mathematical instruction.

Yes, in 2015, I choose to focus. 

A special thanks to Amanda at Artful Happiness for designing my One Little Word logo. Speaking of the talented Amanda, she also designs and personalizes these precious desk calendars. Y'all have to check out her Etsy store. This little calendar is the perfect size and adds a touch of elegance to my not so elegant desk. I don't know about y'all, but I hate having a calendar laying flat on my desk because I just pile "stuff" on top of it which defeats the entire purpose of having a calendar. I just love how I can see my little daily, monthly timeline during those rare moments where I can sit down! 

You can find Artful Happiness here, or by clicking any of the images above. I'm telling you, these calendars are just so sweet :) 

Oh, and if you are looking for a way to review math concepts with your third and fourth graders, check out my New Year Review resources below.

 Have a fabulous, focused first week back.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

Currently 2015

Happy 2015

A new year means new goals, new game plans, and new adventures. I feel like I have so many ideas and aspirations for the upcoming year, and I  have a tiny feeling that 2015 is going to be one I'll remember.

  To begin the year, I am linking up with Farley from Oh' Boy Fourth Grade for her 2015 Currently linky.

Listening: I am not an Oregon or Florida State fan, but the fact that football is almost over is discouraging :( I guess I'm trying to soak up all the passing and scoring I can before basketball and baseball take over.

Loving: I was able to spend lots of time with my family this holiday, which I know it a luxury I take for granted. Thankfully, I was able to see all of my family for Christmas, go on  relaxing getaway with my immediate family, and spend a day with my grandfather and cousins visiting the National World War II museum. 

Thinking: Yeah... I just e-mailed my principal and asked him to open the school for me tomorrow. I guess I better start making a list of everything I need to get accomplished in my classroom!

Wanting: More of those days where I just so happen to stay in my pajamas all day while watching episodes of True Detective and Parenthood.....mmmmm...I could definitely use another week of laziness.

Needing: So, I brought home tons of fraction resources to go through over the holidays for my upcoming unit, and I may have cracked open one book. I just couldn't get motivated :( Now it's crunch time!

Yes: I have to manage my time better and blog more. I am saying yes to blogging 3 times a week!
Maybe: I'm thinking of splurging and getting a new blog design. Who do you all recommend? Any tips?
I wish: I...LOVE...MATH CONFERENCES!  I am going to be begging my principal to send me to the National NCTM conference in Boston because I just feel so motivated and inspired after collaborating with educators around the nation.

That's it for me on this chilly first day of January. Here's to the start of a fantasitic year!