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A Go Figure Debut for a Fifth Grade Math Teacher Who Is New

Jordyn of Grade 5 Greatness
Our Go Figure Debut today is for a teacher who has been teaching fifth grade math for 12 years. (Can you guess why her Teachers Pay Teachers Store is called Grade 5 Greatness?) As a teacher who strives for excellence, Jordyn incorporates technology, projects, group activities, and plenty of classroom discussion into her lessons. Students often tell her that “You make math fun.” From the “Box of Mystery” where her students solve math problems all over the school until they have the code to unlock the box to doing “Treasure Hunts” where students solve math problems to find a treasure, her classroom is definitely a high-energy, exciting classroom.

The greatest compliment she has received arrived out of the blue from an aide who came to her classroom one period each day. She was trying a “new idea” where the students could choose a group to join and each group was doing a different project. One group had a mathematical drawing of fractions to create, another had a story to read and finish about solving fraction problems, and others were working specific problems and using the computers. I’ll never forget how, with big eyes, she exclaimed, “You are the most fearless woman I’ve ever met! I don’t know anyone who would try all of this with ten year olds!”

Fearless - I love that; I really love that. Because when God calls you to something, He doesn’t call you to merely serve or to slightly work toward the goal that lies before you. He equips you to be brave, to be fearless. Ultimately, that is a reward of teaching. That is what Jordyn likes best about teaching, to see your bravery and fearlessness culminate in a child understanding something that seemed impossible.

Many ministries of her church keep Jordyn busy throughout the week! She writes articles for her church’s magazine, writes the VBS curriculum for grades kindergarten through fifth grade, co-teaches a women’s Sunday School class, and serves with the mission ministry. She loves global missions and has served in India, Guatemala and Honduras. She is also an avid reader and a Downton Abbey fan! She enjoys spending time in her kitchen trying out new low carb recipes.

Free Resource
Jordyn has 100 products in her store that are geared toward math for grades 4-6. Eight of them are free. Her featured free item is a geometry one. Polygons are a favorite topic of her fifth graders, and the activities included in this free resource are why! From classifying triangles and quadrilaterals with "I Have, Who Has" to drawing examples of pentagons and hexagons, students will be engaged and excited about these math activities!

Only $5.00
Additionally, Jordyn’s students love their math race through the United States! Groups start at Washington, D.C. and solve math problems all the way to California! If they miss problems, they are given a "flat tire" problem to solve. They are practicing math skills while reviewing geographical knowledge of the states! This takes a little less than two class periods for her fifth graders (her classes are 50 minutes each).
  • States A are problems suitable for Grades 5-6.
  • States B are problems suitable for Grades 4-5.
Choose the set of state problems appropriate for your students!

Jordyn's Blog
Jordyn also has a blog (also called Grade 5 Greatness) where she posts very interesting articles. I especially like the one published on March 28th entitled Pencils DO NOT Have to be the Bane of Your Existence! She has a pencil loan system that works great for her fifth graders. You might be interested in reading this article if you have students who always need a pencil. (Isn't that all of us?)

From A Different Angle

Here is a riddle for you.  What did the little acorn say when he grew up?  Give up?  It's Gee-I'm-A-Tree or Ge-om-e-try. This is what my students are beginning to study.  I absolutely love teaching this part of math, and it is interesting how the students respond. Those that are visual, love it, but usually, those who do better with the abstract aren't so fond of it.

I have a beautiful, talented daughter who loves languages.  She is fluent in Spanish and loves to write, write, and write.  To my chagrin, she always struggled in math, especially in high school, until she got to Geometry.  Her math grade changed from a disappointing (let's just say she passed Algebra) to an A.  She thought Geometry was wonderful!!

I enjoy teaching Geometry because there are so many concrete ways to show the students what you mean. For instance, when introducing angles, (before using protractors) I use my fingers, coffee filters (when ironed, they make a perfect circle), interlocking plastic plates, the clock, etc. to demonstrate what the various angles look like. Here is an example of what I mean.

To introduce right angle, I have the students fold a coffee filter (which is ironed flat) into fourths, and we use that angle to locate right angles all around the room.  We discuss the importance of a right angle in architecture, and what would happen if a right angle didn’t exist. 
We then use an analog clock to discover what time represents a right angle. Right away, they respond with 3:00 or 9:00. Some will say 3:30, but when I display 3:30 on a Judy clock (comes in handy even on the college level), they see that the hour hand is not directly on the three which means it is not a 90 degree angle.
I also demonstrate a right angle by using my fingers.  What is great about fingers is that they are always with you.  I call the finger position you see on the right, Right on, Right angle.

$3.25
So are you ready for another geometry riddle?  (I have many!)  What is Orville and Wilbur's favorite angle? That’s right; it is a right (Wright) angle.

If you like geometry riddles, check out Geometry Parodies by clicking here. Also, if you are interested in many different concrete ways to teach angles, take a look at my product entitled: Angles: Geometry Hands-On Activities.


Never Too Old to Play a Game

I currently teach remedial math students on the college level. These are the students who fail to pass the math placement test to enroll in College Algebra - that dreaded class that everyone must pass to graduate. The math curriculum at our community college starts with Basic Math, moves to Fractions, Decimals and Percents, and then to Basic Algebra Concepts. Most of my students are intelligent and want to learn, but they are deeply afraid of math. I refer to them as mathphobics.

We all have this type of student in our classrooms, whether it is middle school, high school, or college. When working with this type of student, it is important to bear in mind how all students learn. I always refer back to the Conceptual Development Model which states that a student must first learn at the concrete stage (use manipulatives) prior to moving to the pictorial stage, and in advance of the abstract level (the book). This means that lessons must include the use of different manipulatives. I use games a great deal because it is an easy way to introduce and use manipulatives without making the student feel like “a little kid.” I can also control the level of mathematical difficulty by varying the rules; thus, customizing the game to meet the instructional objectives my students are learning. However, as with any classroom activity, teachers should monitor and assess the effectiveness of the games.

When using games, other issues to think about are:

1) Excessive competition. The game is to be enjoyable, not a “fight to the death”.

2) Mastery of the mathematical concepts necessary for successful play. Mastery should be at an above average level unless teacher assistance is readily available when needed. A game should not be played if a concept has just been introduced.

3) Difficulty of the rules. If necessary, the rules should be modified or altered in order that the students will do well.

4) Physical requirements (students with special needs). These should be taken into account so that every player has an opportunity to win.

In addition to strengthening content knowledge, math games encourage students to develop such skills as staying on task, cooperating with others, and organization. Games also allow students to review mathematical concepts without the risk of being called “stupid”. Furthermore, students benefit from observing others solve and explain math problems using different strategies.

Games can also….
  1. Pique student interest and participation in math practice and review.
  2. Provide immediate feedback for the teacher. (i.e. Who is still having difficulty with a concept? Who needs verbal assurance? Why is a student continually getting the wrong answer?)
  3. Encourage and engage even the most reluctant student.
  4. Enhance opportunities to respond correctly.
  5. Reinforce or support a positive attitude or viewpoint of mathematics.
  6. Let students test new problem solving strategies without the fear of failing.
  7. Stimulate logical reasoning.
  8. Require critical thinking skills.
  9. Allow the student to use trial and error strategies.
Mathematical games give the learner numerous opportunities to reinforce current knowledge and to try out strategies or techniques without the worry of getting the “wrong” answer. Games provide students of any age with a non-threatening environment for seeing incorrect solutions, not as mistakes, but as steps towards finding the correct mathematical solution.

Only $3.00
One math game my students truly enjoy playing is Bug Mania.  It provides motivation for the learner to practice addition, subtraction, and multiplication using positive and negative numbers. The games are simple to individualize since not every pair of students must use the same cubes or have the same objective. Since the goal for each game is determined by the instructor, the time required to play varies. It is always one that my students are anxious to play again and again!

A Go Figure Debut for a Fellow Kansan Who Is New!

Jenny's TPT Store
Jenny has been teaching 7th grade math for 20 years. Not only is she a math teacher like me, but she lives just up the road here in the great state of Kansas. She claims to have the best job in the world although many of us might debate that fact. Like many of us, she grew up always wanting to be a teacher.

Jenny describes her math classroom as active and focused. She likes to keep her students actively involved in class with lots of classroom discussions and cooperative learning. She feels like the most important thing she can do is help students not to learn just rote procedures, but to really make sense of and understand math. What Jenny loves most about teaching are the kids. She just loves 7th graders because one minute they can be so grown up, but the next minute they are just kids again.

On a personal level, Jenny loves to read and do puzzles. With her family, she enjoys watching movies and Netflix and playing board games.

Jenny’s Teachers Pay Teachers store is called Wilcox’s Way. She currently has 110 products in her store, nine of which are free. Her resources focus on middle school math since that is what she teaches.

Free Resource
Her featured FREE resource is called Integer Addition and Subtraction Card Games. It contains 60 cards that can be used to play the ten games described in the packet. The cards all contain simple integer addition and subtraction problems that the students will solve as part of the games. There are 15 sets of cards with four different answers. The answers on the cards are -7, -6, -5, -4, -3, -2, -1, 0, 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6 and 7. There are two addition problems and two subtraction problems to get each answer. These games are designed for students that have learned to add and subtract integers, but continue to need practice.

Only $3.50
Her highlighted paid item is entitled Proportional Relationships and Unit Rates Partner Activity. This series of individual and partner activities focuses on finding and identifying the constant of proportionality (unit rate) from verbal descriptions. Students then work with a partner to graph these unit rates. Students also work with proportional relationships presented in tables, graphs and equations. 

This resource contains a series of three activities. Each activity has two parts.  For part 1, students work individually. Then, working together, they complete Part 2 of the activity where they will graph information about the situations from part 1 on the same graph.

Jenny also has a blog which is also called Wilcox's Way. (When you have a catchy name, you might as well stick with it.) Her March 22nd posting is entitled "I Am So Excited to Review for State Testing....said no teacher ever."  She really is excited this year because she is planning to do it Escape Room style which I think will be awesome! I highly recommend you read all of the details about this engaging and fun way to review at her blog.