Another amazing week. The week started out with some pretty incredible Skype activities (which you can read about in my previous post).
In addition to Skyping with a class from Sweden and Olympic Gold Medalist Steve Mesler, our class was also fortunate enough to Skype with a college student from Venezuela.
Now, I’ve had several comments of “how does any of this have to do with math?? Aren’t you supposed to be teaching??”, and my answer to that is “How could I NOT let my students take part”? My students are gaining connections and experiences from interacting with people from all over the world. Their learning that people from every country have many differences from us, but also many similiarities. I’m trying to give my students experiences that not only will make them a better and more well rounded citizen but also make them ENJOY coming to school and to my class. If my students love coming to my class, then the “teaching math” part comes even easier. I intentionally make time for things like this in my class because I’ve seen the benefit. Teachers should be about so much more then teaching “what’s going to be on the test”. I have found time to teach everything I’m supposed to, AND have my kids do activiities like Skype, so I really see no issue here….
So now that I’m off my soap-box, haha. The rest of the week we completed two different big activities. One of the biggest things I learned from my benchmark data at Christmas was that my students were having more difficultiy with reading and understanding than the actual math. So I tried to design a project where they had to read and complete all the steps perfectly with the directions to get the right solution. Here is the paper I passed out to them…
I had the students draw a group members body on chart paper, and then pick from the supplies given on the best way to measure ACCURATELY the perimeter of that person’s body and then find the conversion and convert the measurement. It was a blast and the kids really enjoyed it! It also provided me with many opportunities to discuss with groups the importance of following the directions and reading carefully, because many of them were missing little things to do that were in the instructions.
After that project I had the kids split into partners and I gave them a grid of 36 numbers. Way more than they would ever have to work with, but I wanted to challenge them. I had them find the median, mode, and range of that list (it was interesting to see some cut the numbers out, while others re-wrote them).
After that, I asked them to use the same numbers to find the probability of choosing an even number. Then I had them find the probability of finding a prime number. They also had to make sure their fraction that they were making was simplified as well to get credit.
The thinking process was great and the kids were really working hard and with urgency….but it helped that I told them whoever got it right first got points for their “house”!
Since I have officially covered everything in 5th grade Texas Standards now, I’m just working on finding different activities for the students to take the knowledge they’ve learned and use it deeper than ever before. I am trying to push my student’s thinking. I want them to be able to dissect and work through any situation using math, rather than make sure they can answer some test questions.
I truly believe that by developing this deeper and investigative understanding of math, the test questions will come so much easier to them!