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Using Clothespins in Math

I admit - it all started with the little container.  I was walking though the aisles of the Dollar Store, and I couldn't resist this cute little container.  But a container can't stay empty for long.  Down the next aisle I spotted these cute little clothespins, and I knew they'd be perfect for the next day's math lesson.

We were studying fractions - comparing and ordering fractions, and they just weren't getting it.  I knew I wanted to do a number line activity, and realized these clothespins would make the perfect number line activity.

I bought small label stickers and wrote a variety of fractions on them, then stuck them to the clothespins.  I hung a string in the room, and we got to work.  Students worked in small groups to order the fractions they had (by drawing a picture representation and discussion), then placed their clothespins on the clothesline number line.  As each new group had the chance to hang their clothespins, they could "challenge" any of the pins they saw in incorrect locations and if the group agreed, they could move the pins.  Equivalent fractions could hang off of one another.

 It was a great hands-on lesson, but it wasn't the only way we used the pins.  A clothesline has two sides, so we wrote decimals on the other side so we could use them to compare and order decimals.  A little later in the year, we pulled them back out to work with fractions and probability.

So, a $2.00 purchase from the Dollar Store (container and a pack of clothespins) magically turned what could have been a boring topic, into a great hands-on math lesson ... actually, multiple lessons.  Just another reason to love the Dollar Store.  ;)

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For more bright ideas from more than 100 different bloggers, please browse through the link-up below and choose a topic/grade level that interests you.  Thanks for visiting!

It's Thanksgiving ... and We're Showing Our Thanks!

This weekend is Thanksgiving in Canada, and we want to show our THANKS to you for all of your support with a little sale.  I've teamed up with some fabulous Canadian bloggers and TPT sellers for a big sale this weekend.

This Sunday, October 12th, you can save 20% on all my resources.

And that's not all ... I will be offering one of my Thanksgiving-themed resources for free all day that Sunday ... can you find out which one it is?

All of the fabulous sellers in the graphic below are participating in the sale.  Click on any of the buttons to check out their stores.

Currently in October

Ahhhh .... October.  It's a day into the month, but I wasn't in a hurry to get my Currently posted this month ... I like to take my time in October.

I LOVE everything about October ... the cooler air, the gorgeous leaves, Thanksgiving (yes, Canadian Thanksgiving), fall boots and sweaters, Halloween ... it's all so very good.  I'm thankful that my girls love getting outside with me during this month and put up with my endless requests for car rides and walks so I can take in all the beauty that's around me.

And listening to all this rain fall makes me think about how grateful I am that we finally got the roof on the addition we're building (and the heat hooked back up) ... now, if only I could get them to finish the windows and doors I could stop the leaks.  The reno will be great when it's done (we've outgrown our little house), but I desperately want this process to speed up ... where I live there's bound to be snow in the next few weeks.

I'm also thinking about the new art resources I've been working on in my TPT store.  If you read my blog regularly, I'm sure you have seen our finished products, but after a few requests, I've been working on adding full instructions and a detailed PowerPoint lesson for students to follow.  I'm having so much fun with these!  I've only finished up three so far, but you can take a peek at them by clicking HERE.

And now the fun part ... the treat (because what's October without a little Halloween treat).  I have a great Halloween themed writing freebie on TPT perfect for October.  I you haven't already scooped these up, grab your copy by clicking HERE.

Be sure to hop on over to Oh' Boy 4th Grade to see all the goodness (and treats) linked up for October's Currently.  I KNOW there is some greatness over there to see.  :)

Other Autumn-Themed Resources:

Pair / Share - A Daily Language Activity

Let's face it - we already try to squeeze so much into our daily classes that the prospect of adding one more thing can cause one to break out in a panic attack.  But, when I made the time to incorporate a daily Pair/Share activity into my language block, it quickly became one of the most important activities of the day.  And it's a hit with the students, too.

My daily pair/share only takes 10 minutes each day ... but the skills that are practiced during that time are incredibly valuable.

My students read independently for 15 to 20 minutes daily.  Before they begin, I post a general question or two (related to the comprehension strategies) for them to think about while they are reading.

When our independent reading time is over, the students know it is time to "partner up" for a pair share.  Most of the time my students are really good at including everyone and making sure everyone quickly gets a partner, but if I notice some are having difficulty with this part, I will intervene and assign partners.  My students will often gravitate towards the same partners for various reasons - promixity, friendship, interest in their partner's book, so if they wish, I let them keep the same partners for at least a week before I ask them to switch it up.  They can meet with their partners anywhere they feel comfortable in the classroom.

Once they have their partner they have three jobs (the PAIR part):
  1. Summarize what they read during their independent reading time.
  2. Read a page aloud to their partner.
  3. Answer the posted comprehension question.
Both partners have to complete all three jobs.  At the end of the time, usually about 7 minutes, I assemble our full group again and ask for 3 or 4 volunteers to share (the SHARE part).  When they share they:
  1. Summarize what their PARTNER read to them that day.
  2. Explain how their PARTNER answered the comprehension question.
I use the share as a quick formative assessment - putting down a level from 1-4 for Oral Communication (speaking and listening skills).  This way I get a mark for 3 or 4 students each day.  If I notice a student hasn't volunteered to share in a while, and I'm needing some marks from them, I give them a quick heads-up before they partner up to let them know I may be asking them to share today.  That way they have time to prepare for it.

And that's that.  In just 10 minutes students are introduced to new books, and are practising their social skills, oral fluency skills, summarizing skills, comprehension strategies, listening skills, and oral speaking skills ... and I get a get a quick insight into how well they understand summarizing and the comprehension strategies we are studying, and get a quick and easy assessment without having to take home any marking.  :)  That's what I call a WIN!

An added bonus:  you can use this activity across all subjects.  I frequently do pair/shares after independent writing activities, problem-solving in math (where they explain how they solved the problem to their partners) and after science or social studies readings.

If you enjoyed this bright idea, please consider joining me on Facebook or Pinterest for more great ideas!

For more bright ideas from more than 100 different bloggers, please browse through the link-up below and choose a topic/grade level that interests you.  Thanks for visiting!

Interactive Math Journal F.A.Q.s

I think it's no secret that I LOVE interactive math journals.  :)  Over the past three years I've blogged about my Interactive Math Journal, I've received quite a few of the same questions.  So, I decided to compile them all, and write a blog post about them.

F.A.Q.s about My Math Journals

Q.How long does it take you to complete an entry?
A.My math blocks are 60 - 70 minutes.  It usually takes a little less than one full block to complete an entry – including the lesson, discussion, and sharing that happens during completion.  I usually have a worksheet or math center (with the skill we covered) on hand for early finishers.  For those working a little slower, I can work with them after the majority of the class have finished.

Q.How often do you do math journals?
A.It usually works out to about once a week, but it really depends on when a new concept is introduced.  We do the math journal entry as an introduction to a concept – delving deeper into the concept with subsequent lessons after.  That way, students can refer to their journals as a reference tool.

Q.Do students keep their other work in their journals?
A.No.  These journals are kept separate from their other class work (with the exception of any other entries I want to add, or when we complete my Concept Posters).  We have a small 1” binder for math with two sections – one for unit work/lessons, and one for skills.  We keep our journals in a pocket within our math binder.

Q.How much modelling do you do with the journals?
A.For the first few entries, I take students through the entire process – modelling everything on the right and left pages.  As students become more comfortable with the process, I start to release some of the responsibility back onto them, starting with the learning goal, and moving on from there.  It takes a little less than 2 months (or 7-8 entries) before they complete the left side of the page completely independently.  I always model the entire right page because I’m teaching the lesson to them at the same time.

Q.What do you do about absent students?
A.I always make the journal alongside students in class during the lesson.  That way, I have a full, complete entry to provide students with if they are absent.  I can then either give the journal to the student to complete at home, or work with them during recess/lunch to get them caught up.

Q.My students struggle with the Reflection part.  What do you recommend?
A.This is difficult for the students at first.  I find that letting students share what they have done for reflections really helps other students generate ideas.  You could even let them brainstorm together.  I have also developed a set of question fans – Math Reflection Fans – that you can use to ask them direct reflection questions.

Q.What kind of glue do you recommend?

A.I highly recommend white glue – I haven’t noticed a particular difference between brands.  We have found that glue sticks will lose their “stick” after time, and the tools will fall out of the resource.  Teach students “just a dot … not a lot” when gluing foldable tools in.

Q.What do you do about students who don’t like to write in math?
A.I’ve always had a very high buy-in with these journals – the students are engaged throughout the process and do complete the required sections.  Of course, some students will always write more than others.  I don’t let that worry me as long as they do complete all sections.  If they haven’t included enough information I show them examples of what I’m looking for, and make note of it on their assessments.  If a student is required to write less because of accommodations or modifications, that is perfectly fine.  They can include point form, record their observations, or meet me for an oral conference.

Q.When do you assess the journals?
A.I do assess informally through observation all the time.  I do a formal assessment (rubric checklist is included) at the end of major units (about every month or so).  When I am ready to assess, I will collect about 5 journals each night over the course of a week so that I’m not overwhelmed with the number. 

Q.Where do you get the questions for examples and proof?
A.I use their textbooks or grade level workbooks for questions for their examples and proof.  That way, even if the concept is a bit of a review for them, the problems they are working with are at grade level for the students.

Q.How can I add more problem-solving to the journals?
A.If your students need more practice with problem-solving, I would add problem-solving questions to the proof each time.  More advanced students/grades are definitely ready for this type of application of knowledge.  If the particular concept is very new, or students are struggling with it, I would keep the proof skill based so they can master the knowledge first.

Q.Why are all the templates blank?
A.I have intentionally left the templates blank so you can modify for your grade level, or differentiate for your students.  The concepts and ideas are covered in many grades, often only varying in the kinds of numbers used.  This way you can adapt for the different levels and abilities within your classroom.


Interactive Math Journal 2
Because of my split grade, I end up keeping about half of my students every year.  For this reason, I came up with many new ideas for my math journal.  I've also had quite a few requests for different lesson / journal ideas for different concepts.  So, this summer I worked on a "second edition" to my Interactive Math Journal - an add-on pack.  This new resource contains 27 new journal ideas - some are different ways to look at concepts included in the first journal, and some are brand new journal activities.  The resource is provided in PDF format, but I have also included an editable PowerPoint file with all the templates included in the resource so you can adapt them to fit the needs in your classroom.  Click HERE to see my newest resource.  Be sure to check out the preview - I've included two free journal activities for you to try out in your classroom.

I would love for you to comment below and let me know what kinds of math journaling activities your students enjoy to do.

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