Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Solve Math Problems in Multiple Ways

When students practice solving the same problem in multiple ways, they not only strengthen their problem solving skills, they also build mathematical reasoning skills. 

This week I have a free sheet that can be used to help students with solving the same math problem in multiple ways.  Click below to access it.

Click Here to Access It

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Three Ways to Divide Fractions

Most students learn about fractions using the area model.  Understanding only this representation of fractions can pose a problem when students advance into the upper elementary grade levels as well as into middle school.  

The area model is usually represented with a circle that is divided into equal sections. Rectangles are also used for this model. When different word problems are posed, students often have difficulty with visualizing the meaning of fractions when only one representation is used.  This limited view of fractions becomes even more apparent as students move into ratios and rate.  Below is an example of a dividing fractions question. By reading it, it can be seen how challenging it would be to use the area model to visualize this problem.

Sample Problem

If 1/3 is 6 groups, how many are in one group?

Using multiple formats to represent fractions is an effective way to deepen understanding about fractions and help students understand what it means to divide fractions.  It also helps students gain context to better decipher word problems.  The Common Core Number and Operation-Fractions Standards as well as many state assessments urge students to be able to work with fractions in multiple contexts.

The chart shows three ways for students to represent and solve for 3/4 ÷ 2/3.  The following questions can be asked when teaching students about fractions:

Can you think of another way to solve this problem?

Can you draw a diagram that represents what you just did in the math algorithm?

How are each of your representations similar? How are they different?

Common Core Aligned Fraction Task Cards That Teach And Review Concepts
(Printable Storage Boxes Are Included)

Close Reading Question of the Week (Informational Text)

Greetings!  I am back with the new close reading passage of the week plus annotated answer key.  This week focuses on informational text.  

Click on the image and print.  This is for individual classroom and school use only. This week's free close reading passage comes from Differentiated Text Structure Task Cards.

Free Close Reading Passage of the Week

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Strategies For Answering Common Core Multi-Part Written Response Questions

One of the greatest shifts that students will face when answering test questions is level of complexity.  A greater number of questions will require students to evaluate and break down what they read.  Rather than identifying a trait that a character possesses from a list of answer choices, students are expected to supply text details to support the character trait that they infer about a character.

In addition to more complex questions, students will also face multi-step reading questions.  These are questions that require a student to address multiple parts of a question. Let us look at an example.

Question:  How does the use of figurative language drive the plot of the story?

Look at the example below.

Although there is one question mark, students must do multiple things in order to fully answer this question.

If a student only gives an example of a metaphor, or if a student only explains the details that helped reveal rising actions, or etc., then the student would have only partially answered the question.

To prevent this, practice breaking down a question with the class.  I worked with my students on underlining different parts of the question to ensure that their responses were fully explained.

There are not any hard rules in terms of the different parts that should be underlined in the question.  The big idea I wanted to convey to students is not to rush through questions. Instead, they should read each question with a pencil in their hands.  Each word and phrase should be broken down to ensure a complete response.

At the upper elementary and middle school grade levels, many of the released Common Core Reading examples are at this same level of complexity. Understanding these written response question answering principles will benefit the students on their daily assignments and on their future Common Core assessments.

Friday, December 5, 2014

Free Close Reading Passage of the Week

Greetings everyone!  This month I am adding a special feature to my blog.  Each week I will post a free close reading passage of the week.  This week's passage comes from Common Core Close Reading Stories.  These are high-interest, original literature passages that are used to review close reading skills. Feel free to print the free sample passage below and annotated key.  For classroom or school use only please.

The close reading stories and free close reading passages of the week are the property of Literacy and Math Ideas. Permission is granted for classroom or school use and cannot be sold.

Also Available

Click a Grade Level Link For Daily Common Core Reading Practice (Quick Common Core Passages in 5 Minutes a Day)

Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Improve Student Writing With Mentor Text Journals

If you are looking for a way to help students take their writing to the next level, consider using mentor text journals.

What is a mentor text journal? It is a journal that students keep to record examples of creative word and language use. My students really enjoy keeping this type of journal. How does it work?

Each student gets a blank journal.  A notebook can also be used.  The top of the journal is labeled.  Headings include things such as:  vivid verbs, metaphors and similes, characterization, etc.  As a student reads books and magazines, they record words or sentence structures that they like.  When students create their own narrative stories or informative essays, they insert some of the words from their journals in their own writing. Students eventually move on from emulating the techniques of professional writers to thinking of their own ways to write creatively.

Mentor text journals are a great tool to use when interpreting text.  During this lesson, we reviewed figurative language.  After learning what similes, metaphors, hyperboles, etc. are, we evaluated how authors use language to convey ideas.

This also works well for learning about characterization.  As students read, they can record how authors let a reader know about characters.  This could include indirect characterization techniques such as through a character's actions, dialogue, etc.

With mentor text journals, students have a reference book at their fingertips that they can use to improve their own writing.  It is an effective tool and a great way to get students to pay close attention to what they read.

Click Here For Differentiated Writing Lessons

Monday, December 1, 2014

Grade 4 Interactive Notebook Number and Operations in Base Ten

Several people have asked me if I intend to create more interactive journals for fourth grade.  I just completed the Number and Operations in Base Ten bundle.  This document contains 62 pages of fun activities to teach the Common Core math standards that fulfill the Operations and Base Ten Standards.

Useful math vocabulary words, visual diagrams, interactive notebook inserts, and fun activities are included to reinforce this standard.  

An illustrated teacher's guide is also included. This interactive notebook is designed to help students thoroughly understand each standard plus make learning fun.