Thursday, July 18, 2013

My Favorite Math Lessons 2012-2013 part 1

Okay, so for the 2012-2013 school year, I taught math for 3 hours of my day. I had 3 classes (my homeroom, Ms. Bowles - check out her blog HERE and Ms. Hutsenpiller). This blog is dedicated to my ALL time favorite lessons that worked well. The really cool thing about departmentalizing is that I taught the first class from 10:00-11:00. If things didn't go perfectly, or the kiddos found something I didn't - I got to improve each time I taught. The students love this too, because I was always sharing what they came up with or discovered with the other two classes. Talk about peer validation! They loved hearing what other students did or said. I always incorporate concrete models and hands on practice into my lessons every chance I get. They are not only my favorite, but the kids favorite as well.

1.) Geoboards -- What did I NOT use geoboards for this year? I made up this workbook called "Geoboard Fun" based on every concept I could think of to use Geoboards for. I taught basically my whole 3rd grade geometry unit using geoboards! Why you might ask? They're GREAT! A perfect hands on tool that allows every child to create. I will give you some advice- make a "Geoboard Contract" for each child. Something to the effect of....."If I play with the rubber band, I lose Geoboard privileges." I actually had the students input, and they came up with some great rules. We wrote them on the board as a class, and everyone held up their right hand and repeated a "geoboard pledge" if you will. It went a little something like this: "I do solemnly swear, not to fling my rubber bands on purpose, and if I do, I lose my geoboard for the rest of the day." Out of 54 third graders, I took away 1 geoboard the whole year. The news spread like wildfire that day, and everyone knew I meant business. 
So, some concepts I used the geoboards for: flips, turns, slides, rotations, plane figures, symmetry, rays, angles, lines, line segments, perimeter, area, etc. etc. etc! Basically any geometry concept can be used on the geoboard. If your school doesn't have any, some square tiles/boards, and nails hammered into rows work perfectly!  However, my all time FAVORITE lesson, was using the geoboards for fractions! What a cool way for students to make the fraction themselves, count the area to make sure each section was equal, and explore equivalent fractions. I gave each student copies of a paper geoboard, and they had to draw their creations. Here is the background to the activity. Students were asked to create as many halves, fourths and eights on the geoboard as they could

Halves, Fourths, and Eighths
The secret to this activity is to realize that the geoboard has 16 squares. Therefore, a half has 8 squares, a fourth has 4 squares, and an eighth has 2 squares. Allow students to work in groups of 2 or 3. As each new fractional partition is made, it should be recorded on the geodot paper. Provide chart paper for a class display. As fractional partitions are made, they can be cut out and added to the class display.

You can check out the rest of the photos here:Geoboard Fractions

2. Measuring the Track:

Our school is blessed to have a FABULOUS gravel track that has a soccer field in the center, a baseball field, and a playground. So, when the measurement unit rolled around in the spring, we went EXPLORING! We had been measuring things all year (Standard and Metric), and we had been on the track all year. Put the two together, and you have instant success! First, I asked students to estimate the length of the track and the width of the track in both Meters and Yards. Then, we went outside and measured, to the nearest yard and to the nearest meter, in groups of 4. (This was actually an event that ALL students did together one afternoon - it seemed like recess to them!) Then, I had the students convert the standard measurements to feet and inches, and the metric measurements to centimeters and millimeters.

3. Camp Fair Shares - Introducing Division
This is an AIMS Division activity that I just LOVE. Students have cute bears they have to divide into the correct number of boats to get across the lake. We did this particular activity on Valentine's Day - so we actually used conversation candy hearts. I had students "build" the lake on their desk, and they really got into "transporting" the bears. It really opened up a discussion of fair shares, remainders, and other division math talk.


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