How I Make Fractions and Valentines Fun !

the most dreaded fifth grade math skill…fractions!!!

After 23 years in teaching and 15 years of teaching fifth graders, both departmental and self-contained, the most dreaded standard faced by teachers and fifth graders alike is the dreaded FRACTIONS unit!

Fractions seem to be the “boogie man” of math and so I was looking for a way to combine the practicing of fraction skills  and the upcoming Valentine’s Day with a fun activity.  While we do have a small party and exchanging of Valentine’s cards, there is still an expectation of staying the course with lessons!

awkward age…Fifth Grade

Fifth graders are looking forward to middle school at this time of year…more freedom, less teacher monitoring.  At the same time, they still enjoy Valentine’s parties and the exchanging of cards.  I wanted to make an activity that my kids didn’t see as “baby-ish” and would also challenge their math skills…always an area that needs practice!

the best of both Fractions and Valentine’s day!

The result was “Fraction Operations Valentines Mystery!”  My students love to break codes and solve puzzles, so  combining that with fractions, which we are studying and reviewing, seemed a natural.

Cupid has had his bow stolen by one of his holiday symbol friends and in order to identify the thief, students have to solve 4 different coded messages by solving fractions problems using all four operations.  

I have also included a “How To Use” for teachers!  Let me help you with your lesson planning!

Last, but certainly not least, each fraction worksheet has an answer sheet to help teachers help their students solve the mystery!

You can find this newest of my store products in my store by simply clicking on any of the pictures in my blog!

What do you think?  How do you make fractions fun for your students?  Let me know…I’d love to hear from you!

Thanks,

Sue

New Years Is A Time For Change

Promises, Promises!

I’ve never been one of those folks who sit down on Dec. 31 and make all kinds of “promises” about changes I planned to make in the coming New Year.  So why the title?  Wellll…I can explain

As some of you may know, I have a store, Susan Mescall, where I sell lesson ready products.    While I personally may not be making any changes, I have started looking at my store products and noticing that one of my earlier products needed a makeover…in other words…A CHANGE!

Who’s That?

I’m a fifth grade teacher and my students and I often share what books are being read out of school or during independent reading.  Somehow the subject of adventure books were being discussed and I mentioned Kidnapped.  One of my students wanted to know who the author was and when I replied with Robert Louis Stevenson,  no one in my class had any idea of who he was!  Kidnapped was my first experience with a “classic” adventure book when I was a kid and it bothered me that my students had no idea who he was.

What to do? What to do?

It really concerned me that my students had heard of the book, but had no idea about the author.  I decided to introduce my students to people who had impacted the world around them, but because to time, had been “forgotten”.

I began to search for people and their words of wisdom.  I have included such well-known people as Oprah Winfrey, and Mohammed Ali.  I have also included lesser known people as Jaime Escalante and Marva Collins.

Cha-Cha-Changes!

(apologies to David Bowie!)

Imagine my dismay, when I took another look at my early product and discovered errors in grammar and the fact I no longer liked the look of my product.  So I have spent time changing, and hopefully you’ll agree, improving my product.

I changed the name to “Journal Responses for Students”.  I have taken out the clip art and made the pages and font larger.  I have also enlarged the author’s picture and updated information.

  So I guess you can say that Change is in the air today!!!

                    Let me know of any other folks you think today’s students should know about!

Journal Prompts for Students

 

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Do You Need to Engage and Excite Students? Use these words!

The words are, “Shall we play a game?“, which  is a throw back to an old 1980’s movie…”War Games”.  Sometimes trying to get our students excited about class work can be like a battle.  I have a very competitive group of students this year. They really love to outdo each other but I also want them to pull together as a team.

I tapped into that competitive streak to get them excited about doing classwork earlier this week.  I have a game I call “Captain and the Crew”.  It takes nothing more than a worksheet, white boards, markers, and erasers.  This game really appeals to them as it pits the class against me!!

As the teacher, I am the “Captain” of my class and my students are my “Crew“.  I handed out the worksheet and then wrote the words “Captain” and “Crew” on my whiteboard at the front of the room. The students work a problem independently.  When the lid is on the marker of all the students, we are ready to share our answers.

Students hold up their individual white boards to show the answer.  If everyone is correct, the students earn 2 tally marks.  If even one student is wrong, I earn 5 tally marks.  That’s not fair, you say? The students were more excited about beating me and me not being “fair” then really had them fired up!

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How did I use the worksheet?  I had the students use the worksheet problems as the questions for our game.  See the results of our first game below…

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I already have my students begging for a rematch!  Who knew a worksheet could be so fun?

Let me know what you think and if you use it in your classroom!Signature

 

 

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The Free Dictionary Game Students Will Beg For!

Here’s the dictionary dilemma, teachers!  We want our students to increase their knowledge of vocabulary in all subjects, but too often our go-to assignment has students  looking up the words in a dictionary and copy the meaning into a notebook.  For myself, even I used to shudder at the idea of looking up  unknown words in the dictionary!

Engage students are learning students and the best is when they don’t even realize they are learning!!!  I was racking my brain for a new way to introduce the vocabulary in a novel I wanted the class to read.  It came to me like a flash!!!!  I find that most students get very competitive in a game situation and that is what led to, TA DAH!!!  DICTIONARY DASH!!  Even better, the game is free AND easy to implement!!!

Here’s how it works in my room.  I have my students get themselves into groups of three.  Each group gets a dictionary.  Because my students are so competitive,  I have the students put their hands on the closed dictionary BEFORE I write the word to be looked up on the board.  On the board I have drawn a chart.  Word/Part of Speech/Definition.   After the word is written  on the whiteboard, they can’t start their search until I say “Go!”

The first group to find the word yells “We got it!’ and they send one of the students to the board.   The chosen student writes the part of speech and the definition on the whiteboard.  I will check the student’s choice of definition to make sure it is the one needed for the day’s reading.

The other students are reading the meaning of the word as it is written on the board.  After that, the groups put their hands on the closed dictionary and the game continues until all vocabulary words needed for that day have been defined.

That being said, let me add a few pointers about the game:

  1.  DO NOT use this game every day in all subjects!  Anything done a lot gets boring and that’s what you’re trying to avoid!!!
  2. DO NOT use this game to look up EVERY vocabulary word in the lesson.  Why?  See #1!
  3. DO use it in subjects other than just Reading.  Students need to see the need for increased vocabulary in all subjects.

I have the students put the vocabulary words and meanings into their subject journal and glossary. We then jump into the lesson.

That’s it…that’s all it took to get my kids excited about using the dictionary!!  What’s the worst?  You lose a bit of time…What’s the best? A new game that takes little to no prep and excites students!   

If you try the game, let me know how it worked.  If you have some fun ideas for vocabulary, share those too!!!!  Thanks!

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