Thursday, February 28, 2013

Fractions With Cubes

Happy Thursday!

Man, what a week it has been! It's Thursday and today was my first day at work this week! I did however have the pleasure of visiting the doctor every day Monday through Wednesday. Oh the joys! I feel MUCH better now and was so thankful to finally feel well enough to work again! 

Moving on...  Fractions!

In my last post I blogged about making equivalent fractions and some free games from TpT. Last week my class began looking at benchmark fractions. We began with a water lab activity that you can download here. As you can see in the picture above, students used clear cups, water, food coloring and measuring cups for this activity. Using the worksheet you see, students were tasked with finding whether the 4 given fractions were closer to 0, 1/2 cup or 1 whole cup of water. The 1/2 of water and whole cup of water had food coloring added to them so we wouldn't get them mixed up (and because who doesn't like to play with food coloring?!). We had some really great discussions when students couldn't find 5/8 on their measuring cups. "Mrs. Lopez, we don't have five-eighths! We can't do that one!" Eventually someone figured out they could use one-eighth five times. Great learning experiences!

Next we transferred this information into making number lines. We put 0, 1/2 and 1 whole on the top of the line, and then 0, whatever half was and 1 whole on the bottom. For example, 0, 3/6 and 6/6--then filled in the remaining numbers in between.  It's crazy how much time students put into number lines trying to get exact spacing. It took some of my kids a little longer to grasp the concept than others, but for the most part, they can successfully tell you whether a given fraction is closer to 0, 1/2 or 1 whole.

The next day, a colleague of mine suggested using cubes to deeper their understand of benchmark fractions. Here's what we did. 

Using the cubes above, we made various fractions, figuring out how far away they were from each benchmark fraction. The students copied this simple chart into their notebooks, and filled in the answers as they were discovered. Two different colors were used--one for the numerator and another for the denominator. In order to figure out how far the fraction was from zero, students removed the numerator. In order to figure out how far it was from 1/2, they broke the denominator in half, and compared the half to the numerator, and calculated the difference. To figure out how far it was from 1 whole, students counted how many more cubes would be needed to have the same amount for the numerator as the denominator. This definitely  was a winner! Finally, we discussed how to tell which benchmark fraction was closest to the fraction given. We figured out the smallest distance was the closest, and that if there happened to be two of the smallest distances, the larger distance would be closest. For example, if you look at the chart, 3/4 is closer to one whole. 

I hope you can find this useful. Enjoy! :)

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Monday, February 18, 2013

Last Week + Weekend Randomness

First of all, I'm super-duper jealous of everyone who had today off! Although we didn't have kids at school, we did have science professional development followed by grade level planning. I suppose I shouldn't complain, because it could have been a regular day! 

So, last week! Thursdays have quickly become my favorite day of the week because my class visits the science lab. Yes, praise the LORD, we have an awesome science lab teacher who prepares the lessons while I get to watch, marvel at her amazingly creative ideas, and even participate! Anyway, we recently finished up our phases of the moon study by creating the phases using oreos. What a fun lesson! This last Thursday in lab we began an introduction to fossils, casts and molds by becoming "geologists." Students were given toothpicks and chocolate chip cookies and had to extract the fossils (chocolate chips) with their tool (the toothpick), while not using their hands. Then, students were given the softer chocolate chip cookies and were instructed to do the same, which they concluded was much easier. Here are the fossils I was able to get out... and then we ate them!

Next, we discussed casts and molds, and got to make our own fossils. Our lab teacher took 20 oz soda bottles and cut out the middle section to form a circular ring. Students took clay, rolled it around in their hands, and placed it in the plastic bottle. 

Students got to choose which artifact they wanted to make an imprint of. They could choose from seashells, plants or plastic dollar store animals. They pressed the shell or animal into the clay, then pulled it out, leaving an impression.

We mixed up plaster and poured it inside the mold, and left them overnight to harden. 

The next afternoon the students cut off the plastic rings, pulled the clay apart from the plaster, and had their very own fossils. They were amazed! What a cool project! Today at our PD we learned how to teach another 5E lesson about fossils in the sea, using bread and gummy worms. I'll be trying that soon!

This weekend was spent mostly relaxing... which was lovely! I had one of those, "I'm definitely a mom" moments while in Wal-Mart. My sweet Lilly (who is almost 18 months) has this addiction to Yo Gabba Gabba. Seriously.. every conversation we have is about "Mama, Gabba gibberish gibberish gibberish." Anyway, while in Wal-Mart (without Lilly) I saw this Gabba blanket and got so very excited. And that's when it hit me.. I'm getting old and I'm definitely a mom... sigh.. What can I say? I love my little girl!

Have a good week, friends! 

Tuesday, February 5, 2013

Fraction Action

Happy Tuesday!

After browsing through various blogs and Facebook, I can see many of us are beginning our fraction units. I have been on the hunt for fraction freebies and wanted to share some of the GREAT items I found.

While writing lesson plans last Wednesday, my goal was to find as many fraction games as possible, because it's that time of the year if we're not moving, even I'm bored. You know how that goes. Anywho... I searched on TpT and found TONS of interactive games. I began my lesson yesterday doing strictly review of what a fraction is, what "the top" and "the bottom" numbers are called (and I got some FUNNY answers!), and the relationship between the two. After taking a few notes, using whiteboards and the SmartBoard, we moved on to playing Fraction Dominoes (that you can download here). They were for sure a hit with my class. While walking around and monitoring my kids, I noticed a few misconceptions that I quickly got to clarify--the biggest being writing the number of unshaded or uneaten as the denominator, as opposed to the total. I think when reviewing tomorrow, I'll have each of my students take 2 sticky notes and write the numerator on one and the denominator on the other, then write the word TOTAL next to the denominator. Perhaps that will help!

Tomorrow the plan is to move into teaching/reviewing equivalent fractions. Again, I found some super awesome FREE games on TpT. My students will be playing GO Fish for Equivalent Fractions... with princesses for the ladies, and Star Wars characters for the gentlemen. It was only fitting to print the princess cards on pink card stock, and the gentlemen will have to live with white, because that's all I had at the time. They'll survive. :) I know Go Fish can be played in groups, but since I plan on using them for years to come, I went ahead and printed 4 sets of each. I don't know about in your class, but in mine, cards get mixed up, swept up, or left behind like IT'S THEIR JOB! Seriously?! Just put all the cards back in the bag! So yeah--to help with this situation, before laminating, I color-coded the cards with stickers, as shown in the picture. Then I placed each set of cards in a baggy, which will now live in these labeled manila folders. Click on the picture to go download these free games!

On a side note--yes lord, it took FOREVER to cut out, laminate, and cut out (yet again) all of the needed cards. I'm sure I could have asked a parent to help, but I needed it done right THEN if that makes sense.. I had the idea in my head for the colored stickers, and I just had to roll with it! If you have a student deserving of a reward, though, you could tell them they have earned the privilege of sitting at your desk, cutting out lamination for a game they'll get to play soon! It's a win-win situation!

Good luck, fraction friends. Enjoy Wednesday--you're halfway done! :)

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