Math in a Minute: Blog Treasures

Volume 3 Issue 17

There are millions of blogs out there, and hidden treasures all throughout the internet!  Here are some blogs and the treasures that they hide!

Snow Clothes


Putting on snow clothes is a time-consuming process, but my students have been getting faster. Today we made a video to show how fast we are. How fast are YOU? We’d love for you to show us. You can post your video on this Padlet so that everyone can see how fast you are, too!

Using Minecraft for Area and Perimeter

"The garden must have a perimeter of 30 feet... what could the area of the rectangular garden be?"  Students read the introduction and I first asked them, “If we were to build these in Minecraft, was feet an appropriate unit of measure?” Some thought that feet seemed too small for a garden and instead wanted to use yards, that was, until one student schooled us all on Minecraft. Come to find out, Minecraft uses the metric system with each block representing one cubic meter. We then changed the unit to meters and were on our way.

Visit the blog to see the reflections of the students and what came next!

Fraction Concepts Day 2! Conceptions, Misconceptions, and Mathematical Language

I let them work for a few minutes and then on their way out to recess made them commit to either a "yes" or a "no" response . . . and it will be our kickoff "debate" tomorrow!

Math Think Alouds

If you haven’t already heard of The Math Learning Center’s free apps, you must go check them out ASAP. They are awesome tools for any math classroom. The six free apps are available for iOS devices and as web apps.

We use these manipulatives during think alouds and discussions all the time in math. Students use them to show their thinking. We love taking screen shots of what we do, then using a screencasting tool like Explain Everything to share what we were thinking as the problem was solved.

Here’s an example from this week that 3 students put together. We were working on using “Friends of Ten” to solve problems.

Exploring Capacity

Kids have a lot of misconceptions about capacity, and they can really only be cleared up through hands-on exploration. So please, please give your kids lots of time to explore by filling up cups with water, sand, rice, beans, cubes...whatever you have! If you are lucky enough to still have a sand or water table, it is the perfect excuse to use it. Don't let anyone tell you it's not "rigorous"!

You from Jersey? What exit?

Robert Kaplinsky has posted an assortment of great activities, including one dealing with highway signs. Jeff and I tweaked it a bit to make the focus on placing fractions on a number line, and tried it out with our fourth grade classes. We started with this sign:     

We had a general discussion about what the sign means, and then gave the kids some poster paper and fraction tiles and asked them to make a picture of the road. We discussed the fact that in order to draw a picture of what this road might look like, we would need to scale a mile down to a manageable size. Using the tiles seemed like a good idea, especially since the kids were already comfortable using them. You can see the "road" turned into a number line running along the bottom, using the blue tile to represent one mile. We debated whether or not to ask the kids to label all the 1/4 increments or just the ones at the exits, and eventually settled on labeling them all.

We have left this activity ongoing as a center/exploration and imagine extending it in some different ways, including:

  • Using other units to represent one mile, such as cuisenaire rods or fraction towers.
  • Adding additional exits to existing road signs, with exits coming at increments of quarters or halves.
  • Allowing kids to create their own roads and signs. I can imagine these roads extending down the hallway, with lots of papers taped together, stretching on for "miles and miles" with little toy cars driving up and down.

Math is Real Life

I had kids pair share and then share as a whole group their ideas around how electricity bills work and how you know what you have to pay each month. There were a few kids with surprising amounts of knowledge about this but many kids had no idea.
I signed into my online account for my house. We played with the graph generator looking at electricity usage over the last month

Looking at my usage for a month led kids to questions what was happening on the days were usage was very high and what was happening on days where usage was lower. This led to looking back through a calendar to figure out what days of the week each date fell on. They were quickly able to see that more power was being used in my house on weekends.