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"BOO" to Fractions? Recognizing Equivalent Fractions


Here is a Halloween riddle: Which building does Dracula like to visit in New York City? Give up? It's the Vampire State Building!! (Ha! Ha!) Here is another riddle. What do ghosts eat for breakfast?  Scream of Wheat and Ghost Toasties!








Okay, so what do these riddles have to do with teaching math? I have been attempting to come up with ways for my students to recognize fractional parts in lowest terms. As you know from this blog, I have used Pattern Sticks, the Divisibility Rules, and finding Digital Root. These are all strategies my students like and use, but to be a good mathematician requires practice - something most of my students dread doing. I can find many "drill and kill" activities, but they tend to do just that, drill those who don't need it and kill those who already know how to do it. So to drill and "thrill", I created fractional word puzzles for specific times of the year.

The one for October is Halloween Fraction Riddles. It contains eight riddles that the students must discover by correctly identifying fractional parts of words. For instance, my first clue might be:

$3.00
$3.00
The first 2/3's of WILLOW. The word WILLOW contains six letters. It takes two letters to make 1/3; therefore, the first 2/3's would be the word WILL. This causes the students to group the letters (in this case 4/6), and then to reduce the fraction to lowest terms. The letters are a visual aid for those students who are still having difficulty, and I observe many actually drawing lines between the letters to create groups of two. 

At first, I thought my students would breeze through the activities, but to my surprise, they proved to be challenging as well as somewhat tricky - just perfect for a Trick or Treat holiday. Maybe this is an activity you would like to try with your intermediate or middle school students. Just click on this link: Halloween Fraction Riddles.


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Conducting Effective Parent/Teacher Conferences

If you are like most teachers, you are preparing for your first round of parent/teacher conferences. Now that I teach on the college level, this is one activity I currently don't have to do, but when I did, I really did enjoy them. Why? Because I was prepared with more than just the student's grades. Here are some of the ways I got ready.

First, in preparing for parent/teacher conferences, what can you do on a daily basis? Is the conference based on simply talking about grades or are there additional items that need discussing? How can an observation be specific without offending the parent or guardian? How is it possible to remember everything?

I kept a clipboard in my classroom on which were taped five 6” x 8” file cards so they overlapped - something like you see in the two pictures above. Each week, I tired to evaluate five students, writing at least two observations for each child on the cards. At the end of the week, the file cards were removed and placed into the children's folders. The next week, four different students were chosen to be evaluated. In this way, I did not feel overwhelmed, and had time to really concentrate on a small group of children. By the end of 4-5 weeks, each child in the class had been observed at least twice. By the end of the year, every child had been observed at least eight different times.

Below are sample observations which might appear on the cards.

Student
Date
             Observation
IEP
ESL

Mary Kay
  8/20


  8/28
Likes to work alone; shy and withdrawn;  wears a great deal of make-up.

She has a good self concept and is friendly. Her preferred learning style is  visual based on the modality survey.


X


    Donald
  9/19


  9/21
Leader, at times domineering, likes to  play games where money is involved.

His preferred learning style is auditory  (from the modality survey). He can be a  “bully,” especially in competitive games. He tends to use aggressive language with  those who are not considered athletic.




By the time the first parent/teacher conferences rolled around, I had at least two observations for each child. This allowed me to share specific things (besides grades) with the parents/guardians. As the year progressed, more observations were added; so, that a parent/guardian as well as myself could readily see progress in not only grades, but in a student's behavior and social skills. The cards were also an easy reference for filling out the paperwork for a 504 plan or an IEP (Individual Education Plan). As a result of utilizing the cards, I learned pertinent and important facts related to the whole child which in turn created an effective and relevant parent/teacher conference.
$1.95

To keep the conference on the right track, I also created a checklist to use during parent/teacher conferences.  It featured nine characteristics listed in a brief, succinct checklist form. During conferences, this guide allowed me to have specific items to talk about besides grades. Some of the characteristics included were study skills and organization, response to assignments, class attitude, inquiry skills, etc. Since other teachers at my school were always asking to use it, I rewrote it and placed it in my TPT store. It is available for only $1.95, and I guarantee it will keep your conferences flowing and your parents focused! When you have time, check it out!

October - Is It "Fall" or "Autumn"? Doing Science Investigations with Leaves

October is just around the corner.  October means football (Ohio State, of course), cooler weather and gorgeous leaves. (It is also when my husband and I were married.) In October, we see the leaves turning colors, and the deciduous trees shedding their leaves.

Another name for fall is autumn, a rather odd name to me.  Through research, I discovered that the word autumn is from the Old French autumpne, automne, which came from the Latin autumnus. Autumn has been in general use since the 1960's and means the season that follows summer and comes before winter.
Fall is the most common usage among those in the United States; however, the word autumn is often interchanged with fall in many countries including the U.S.A. It marks the transition from summer into winter, in September if you live in the Northern Hemisphere or in March if you live in the Southern Hemisphere.  It also denotes when the days are noticeably shorter and the temperatures finally start to cool off. In North America, autumn is considered to officially start with the September equinox. This year it was on September 22nd.
With all of that said, the leaves in our neighbor's yard have already begun to fall into ours which aggravates my husband because he is the one who gets to rake them. Maybe focusing on some activities using leaves will divert his attention away from the thought of raking leaves to science investigations.  
Remember ironing leaves between wax paper?  We did that in school when I was a little girl (eons and eons ago).  Here is how to do it.
  1. Find different sizes and colors of leaves.
  2. Tear off two sheets about the same size of waxed paper.
  3. Set the iron on "dry".  No water or steam here!
  4. The heat level of the iron should be medium.
  5. Place leaves on one piece of the waxed paper.
  6. Lay the other piece on top.
  7. Iron away!
You can also use this activity to identify leaves.  According to my husband who knows trees, leaves and birds from his college studies, we "waxed" a maple leaf, sweet gum leaf, elm leaf, cottonwood leaf (the state tree of Kansas - they are everywhere), and two he doesn't recognize because they come from some unknown ornamental shrubs.

$5.25
Maybe you would like to use leaves as a science investigation in your classroom.  I have one in my Teacher Pay Teachers store that is a six lesson science performance demonstration for the primary grades. The inquiry guides the primary student through the scientific method and includes 1) exploration time, 2) writing a good investigative question, 3) making a prediction, 4) designing a plan, 5) gathering the data, and 6) writing a conclusion based on the data. Be-leaf me, your students will have fun!

(A preview of the investigation is available. Just click on the resource cover on your right.) 

A Go Figure Debut for an Australian Who is New!

Cece is from New South Wales and has been teaching between grades 1-5 for almost six years. For two years, she was a substitute/relief teacher. Her favorite thing about teaching is being able to have a positive impact on students and seeing their excitement when learning new things about the world around them. 

Her classroom is a safe space and well-organized. She believes there is a place for everything, and everything has a place. (Personally, so do I.) She believes in nurturing curiosity and providing students with the opportunity to actively seek answers to questions. This is achieved by providing a mixture of activities to support different learning styles.

In her spare time, Cece likes to paint. She also enjoys expressing her creativity by designing resources for Teachers Pay Teachers! In addition, she takes yoga classes every weekend to keep in shape and also as a way to unwind and relax (something every teacher needs).

Currently, her store, Teach Super, contains 56 products, 49 paid and seven free. Her resources are designed to promote student participation, provide educationally rich learning experiences, and encourage students to learn. All her resources are tried and tested in her classroom to make sure they are useful and helpful to other teachers.

FREE!

One of her free resources is called Synonym Path Activities. This is a perfect literature center activity that involves students connecting similes to make a path down the page. Students may color the path or draw a line. This activity can be used as a whole-class activity or as a literature center. You can also have students make and write sentences words from the included grid.

$15.00

Cece's featured paid item is The Ultimate Relief Casual Substitute Teaching Resource Book (250+ activities!) This 53 page book contains a huge collection of activities and resources ideal for all the casual/ relief/ supply/ substitute teachers out there. It is so important to have fun, no-prep ideas/activities up your sleeve when a substitute is taking over the day. The book contains a 250+ collection of go-to activities for all KLA's (Key Learning Areas of a curriculum or the subjects) and year levels. They require very little to no resources or preparation. This “all you need” resource will ensure you feel more confident coming in each day, ready for anything.

Take some time to check out her store and resources. You will find it well worth your time.