Place Value Basics

Last year, I began using Jon Corippo‘s 8 p*ARTS . I saw great success with the repetition. As a result, I thought I’d like to do something along similar lines with Math. Now, I will admit, what I came up with isn’t nearly as fun. However, the repetition is there. This is for 5th grade and can easily be modified for other grades. Here’s what I came up with.

Place Value Basics

The plan:

  • Today’s Number – Have the student of the day decide on the day’s number anywhere from billion to thousandths place. However, the number must be at least to the tenths place.
  • 10 times greater – Take the original number and make it ten times greater.
  • 100 times greater – Take the original number and make it one hundred times greater.
  • 1,000 times greater – Yup, take the original number and make it one thousand times greater.
  • Add 10 times greater and 100 times greater – add the numbers.
  • Write a number that is GREATER – Have students change ONLY a digit that is AFTER the decimal.
  • 1/10 times less – Take the original number and make it ten times less.
  • 1/100 times less – Take the original number and make it one hundred times less.
  • Subtract 1/10 and 1/100 – subtract the numbers.
  • Write a number that is LESS – Have students change ONLY a digit that is AFTER the decimal.
  • Prime factors of the first 2 digits of the whole number – Only take the numbers in the ones and tens place and find the prime factors.

An example is given on the second slide. This should be done daily, with an assessment each week. The first week or two should be done as a group until the class understands what is expected. Once they ‘get the hang of it’ all that is needed is the number and the students can do this independently.

Mathbowl 2016

WMathbowl 1hile our school didn’t win, we had a lot of fun! I have never seen my students so focused and determined. One student asked if I could assign MORE challenges! Yes, MORE! How awesome is that?

In the midst of it all, we were challenged to participate in a Fai-To! This is where our school and another go head to head. Considering that our Internet went down twice in the past week, I was pleased to learn that we WON the last Fai-To!

There aren’t many classrooms at my school using Mangahigh, so to have 136 points is pretty big for us.

mathbowl 2

To top it all off, I had an IEP for a student on Friday. The parents commented how much the student, who struggles academically, enjoys Mangahigh. The student often asks to try, “Just one more time,” in order to achieve a higher score, beat another student, or gain another medal.

Just another reason to love this program! And to all the winners, congratulations!

Make It Ourselves!

We have been working on division with and without decimals. To help my students gain experience with the computation, I found a game (Four in a Row) in Georgia Math. They enjoy the game, but you always have those few who get board because it’s too easy. And yes, I had some of those. However, these 3 boys didn’t complain. Instead, they asked if they could make their own.


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Credit: J-Jey, Julian, and Adan

The boys chose the numbers and did the division to fill in the boxes with the quotient. This week, the rest of the class was able to enjoy the fruits of their labor. It was a hit.

Now, this same group has decided to recreate another game. It was a multiplication board game, also found in Georgia Math. They are pretty excited.

Why was this so important? First of all, we talk about differentiation but aren’t alway great at it. This allowed my more proficient students to be challenged yet work on the same goals as the rest of the class. Secondly, and more importantly, my students took control over their learning and thought of a way to challenge themselves. What a powerful lesson for all.


They Asked The Questions

Recently I wrote about jazzing up Math class. I was going to have them use real world situations to make the learning more relevant. After writing Ugh, Math, John Stevens suggested having the students come up with the questions. The idea being that they will come up with better questions than I could.

candy We looked at different candies. Here were some of their questions:

  • How many of each candy are there?
  • How much protein in each candy?
  • How much calcium in all the candies?
  • How much does the bag weigh?

There were some pretty great questions that would require a lot of math. We started working out how much the entire bag weighs. We are basing it on the weight of the candy.

John was right, the questions were better and I had instant buy-in to boot! I will definitely be doing more of this.

Ugh, Math

Now don’t get me wrong, I love Math. To me, it’s like a puzzle and I like puzzles. However, that is not the case for many. Most of the time, it’s dry, boring, and disconnected from everyday life – at least that’s how the publishers present it. Which is yet another reason I hate publishers – come on, put some effort into your lessons. Less snazzy pictures – which there really aren’t that many – and more snazzy lessons!

This week I introduced long division to my 5th graders – you all groaned on that one didn’t you? Yeah, not the most interesting Math concept. It’s mostly procedural and very dry. And the publishers… a list of division problems to work out. BORING! Then there are the word problems:

A candy factory produces 9,876 pounds of chocolate in 24 hours. How many pounds to they produce in 1 hour?

Even the person who loves Math, like me, is thinking, “Who cares?” I mean really unless I’m the production manager, I couldn’t care less.

Fortunately, I have been inspired by the likes of La Cucina Matematica (John Stevens and Matt Vaudry) and Andrew Stadel (Estimation 180). They make Math relevant and fun. This is what I want for my students. And coming up with examples of how division can be relevant to my students isn’t THAT hard.

So what am I doing tomorrow in Math? Working with a bag of Halloween Candy. Amazingly, I still have some hanging around the house. Now, I can’t actually bring in a whole bag – which would totally be better (maybe I’ll swing by the store and see what’s on sale); they could manipulate the pieces. But… I sort of ate an embarrassing amount of the bag. Banana Laffy Taffy is a weakness of mine. So I did the next best thing, took a picture of the Nutritional Label – which I didn’t really read based on my consumption of said contents.


That means I can eat 4 pieces of my beloved Banana Laffy Taffy, and that is 1 serving (nice to know). So in a bag of 200 pieces how many are Laffy Taffy? Of that, how many servings of Laffy Taffy are there? It is also important to note that there are 2 flavors of Laffy Taffy. So you can further break it down and figure out roughly how many servings of Banana Laffy Taffy I ate. We could go on to find out how many servings of the candy are in the bag, or how many calories are in 1 Laffy Taffy. We could take the total number of pieces and split them up among all of us.

Is this the most innovative lesson ever? Not even close. Is it better than the dreaded publishers’ nonsense? Absolutely. Lessons like this could go on with items such as Hot Cheetos, chips, Taquis, and anything else the kids are into. I also get to sneak in lessons about serving size and portions.

Math Reasoning & App Smashing

While at Fall CUE a few weeks ago, I learned about Which One Doesn’t Belong from Nancy MInicozzi. The beauty of Which One Doesn’t Belong is that depending on your perspective any of the 4 choices is correct. This has been wildly popular with my students. They feel successful because of the low risk.

Given the above choices and Padlet, my students are required to defend their answer. Recently, one of my students began experimenting with the options on Padlet. She realized that she could embed a voice recording. The next day, she decided she didn’t like the sound of her voice, so typed her response in Voki, recorded the chosen voice, then embedded it on the Padlet. Now the rest of the class wants to learn how to do it. However, she is a bit devious. She refuses to help them because she wants them to figure it out on their own. I also suspect that she likes the fact that she is the only person who knows how to do it. I love when they try to outdo each other. I can’t wait to see what they come up with next!

Success In Math

Did you ever have one of those days, in teaching, where you thought, “YES! This is what it’s all about”? Yeah, I had one of those moments today.

We have been talking about place value and really digging in deep in math. Today we organically began talking about exponents. I say organically because while I’ve touched on the subject before, the students really hadn’t grasped the concept. Yet today, they began making connections. And THAT was super cool! We really only focused on exponents as they relate to the base ten number system. For example 10 x 10 = 100 = 10

This led to one student wondering if exponents “only work” with 10 or does it work with other numbers. We briefly discussed this. Then another student started making connections about the number of zeros and the exponent.

THIS is exactly what Common Core Math is about – looking deeper into the systems and the ‘why’ and discovering the connections and shortcuts. Knowledge IS power!

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