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## Teaching 3 Dimensional Solids?

Check the trash first!  Whenever teaching  dimensional solids, I look around the school building for large boxes that may be thrown out.  Especially in the teacher workroom, there are always bulletin board paper boxes, toner boxes etc. that are being thrown away.  This is where I have found some of the best trash for treasure pieces for my 3D solids collection.  When I have found one, I wrapped it in colored bulletin board paper with the name on each one to help students have a constant visual of prism pieces.  At the time I teach solids, I also have the students bring in items they find at home that may be prisms, cubes, spheres, or other solids.  They relish sharing their found items with the class.  When they share them with the class, they must ask the students how many faces, edges, and vertices there are.  Students get extra credit for bringing in solids.  The best solid that I ever had a student bring in was an almost perfect triangular pyramid made out of rock! Below are pictured my recycled trash 3D solids.

## Do You Need an Idea for Family Math Night?

As promised, here are a few snapshots of our Family Math Event/100th Day of School Celebration!

Students built number bonds with Legos, and got to take a few Legos home!

Students built 10 groups of 10 to make 100 with different small food items.  This was one of kids’ favorites since food was involved!

As you can see in the picture above, this is one of the staff members that dressed up like she was 100 years old.  She said she got her whole outfit at Good Will for \$4 with the exception of her wig from Party City.

Students played Race to 100 on the 100′s chart with dice.  They rolled and added the number that they rolled each time on their 100′s chart.

Double dice subtraction is a game idea taken from the Georgia Department of Education resources.

How creative!  This teacher made a multiplication/division edition of chutes and ladders complete with spinner.  Kids loved this activity.

Kids flocked to this booth where they made chocolate chip cookie dough.  Students mixed up the dough in a gallon baggie to prevent mess.  The math was in the measuring cups fractions.  They had to figure out how many small measuring cups to use in lieu of the larger cup sizes.  For example, if the recipe calls for a cup and a half of flour, how many times will you have to fill a 1/4 measuring cup?

We can’t forget the Estimation Station!  The closest guesser got to go home with the jar including candy!  We gave away five jars.

One of my personal favorites…maybe because it was my idea , is the 100 scavenger hunt.  Students had to find index cards hidden around the cafeteria.  Each card had an equation, but only some of the equations equaled 100.  If the equation made 100, students could then bring it to the scavenger hunt booth for a prize.

Students used different fruits and vegetables to equal up to a pound in this next picture after first estimating.

At the probability booth students used fractions to predict the chances of landing on a variety of spinners.  Students got to take home their own spinners.

We also had a technology table where students got to play math games on our schools mini laptops.

Moe’s Southwest grill kindly donated tortilla chips for us to have nachos!  And, the church next door to our school kindly donated lemonade!  We also got plastic sacks donated to us from a nearby restaurant so that students had a bag in which to place all of their take home math activities.

The kids went home with smiles!

## 7 Ways to Improve Standardized Testing and Practice

1.  Teach students to “Brain Dump”.  As soon as students are allowed to begin their test, tell them to write everything down that they worked hard to remember, but are afraid that they might forget during the course of the test.  Our state tests give students a math reference sheet, card stock rulers and pattern blocks.  Students could write other formulas down on their reference sheet, write the name of the pattern blocks on the pattern blocks, and write the fractional measurements on their rulers.  If your state doesn’t provide students with these materials, then they may provide them scratch paper, or they may be allowed to write in the test booklet itself.  Students could “brain dump” in these areas.

2.  Have a Mathlete’s Challenge.   To give students a break from the mundane multiple choice test prep and practice, allow them to work in pairs to discuss which answers are correct.  Give the top three student pairs a prize for answering the most questions correctly.  The competition helps keep the students focused on the task.  Students get the benefit of discussing with their partners which answer is correct.  Allow students to move to a quiet corner of the room to work in their pairs.  Remind them that because this is a competition, they need to work quietly so that no one steals their answers.

3.  Weeks before the test make  vocabulary or spelling lists based on most often used language in test questions.  Your list might include words such as represent, approximately, elaborate, explain, outline, trace,  support etc.

4.  Time students like they will be timed when taking their real state tests.  Allow students to see the timer as the minutes pass by to help them pace themselves.

5.  Practice bubbles.  Make sure students are bubbling in the whole bubble.  Practice bubbling in bubbles darkly.

6.  Practice using the calculator.  If students are allowed to use calculators, make sure they know that they are smarter than the calculator and that the calculator is only a tool.  For example, many students may have difficulty inputting money in the calculator.  Instead of typing 0.50 for 50 cents, students type 50 and then add 1.50 for a dollar and fifty cents.  Then they get the wrong answer.  Students also build a misconception around the calculator showing 0.5 and thinking that the calculator is showing them that they have 5 cents and not 50 cents.

Another common misconception students have is when they are dividing numbers.  Students tend to misread the number behind the decimal as the remainder.  On a recent test, I noticed that many students saw 29 and divided it by 5 only to read 5.8 on their calculator screen.  Many of the students wrote that the answer was 5 with 8 leftover (as a remainder) in the word problem.

7.  Eat a peppermint candy.  Peppermint oil is excellent for mental fatigue and depression, refreshing the spirit and stimulating mental agility and improving concentration. It helps for apathy, shock, headache, migraine, nervous stress according to this website.  We always give students a few peppermints during testing to give them an extra boost.

## Nothing But Nets

I just wanted to share one of my favorite products with you all.  I purchased these solids pictured below for our school two years ago and all of the teachers love using these to teach students the plane shapes that make up a solid.  They are great for helping students identify nets of solids also. Today I taught a class in which the teacher was absent, and I used these solids that unfold into nets.  After looking at these, students took paper nets and listed the shapes they saw in the nets and then labeled the solids with sticky notes.  Next they composed their 3 dimensional solids into other shapes such as robots and rocket ships.  See the following pictures below to take a peek at some of the students’ creations.

Folding Geometric Shapes. Available from most math educational catalogs.

Robots

Rocket Ship

## Did You Know Peppermint Candies Grow?

This is too cute not to try!!!  I learned that peppermints grow from a very talented kindergarten teacher.  Every Christmas season, she has her students plant peppermints in a cup of dirt.  Students put glitter in the dirt for fertilizer and then just wait.  In a few days, a small candy cane has emerged “growing in the cup”.  In another few days, a candy cane of larger stature has “grown”.  Children are oh so excited that their peppermint grew to such a large stature!  Of course behind the scenes, their teacher is placing a small candy cane in the cup when the children have gone for the day, and then replacing the small candy cane with a larger candy cane.  This all for the amazement and wonder in children’s eyes that comes from the magic of Christmas.

## Wow, Cute Way to Chart Parts of Speech

I came across these posters in a fourth teacher’s room at my school.  She decided to display parts of speech on a shape poster to help students think about what types of words they use when they write.  She made a poster for nouns, verbs, adjectives, and adverbs.  She had displayed a house for nouns, a blob shape for adjectives, and the kite below for verbs.  For some reason my other pictures didn’t turn out, but the kite picture managed to turn out, which is my favorite.  Also, pictured below is another chart which she made entitled “RIP” for ‘dead words’ or words that are overused.

## How Can Your Students Easily Generate Writing Topics?

I just spent a day in a writing workshop.  Our presenter discussed Ralf Fletcher’s new book Marshfield Dreams:  When I Was a Kid about his childhood memories.  He described how Fletcher wrote different short stories about his childhood in this book, which would be great for mentoring students in their own writing.  Since the pieces are short in Fletcher’s book, they would mirror the length of a short story that a child may write.  What I especially liked about this workshop is when the presenter had us to draw a map of our childhood homes and neighborhoods with all the places that were important to us.  First, the presenter showed us a map copy of Ralf Fletcher’s childhood neighborhood home which is in Marshfield Dreams so that we could see an example (great idea to model for kids as well).  Then the presenter had us to put an F for fear next to a place that we thought was scary.  We put an S next to a place that was secret.  We put an L next to a place where we learned something or did something for the first time and so on.  Then the presenter had us write a short piece using one of the places on our childhood map.  I thought this was a great way to lead us into writing especially because kids like to draw pictures.

## Where Can You Find Many Hands-on Math Ideas…

I happened across this teacher’s blog below and it has some amazing out of the box ideas to make math learning fun.  To name a few of his ideas…He has students to bring in a photo to display a mathematical equation using food for extra credit.  Students build a clock using other ways to make numbers such as 3 could be represented on the clock as the square root of nine or 12 could be represented as 6×2. There are many other great ideas to see.  Students also create birthday cards using their age as a variable x and then writing equations inside the card with the variables.  This blog is ideal for sparking the creativity of 5th grade, middle, and high school math teachers.

http://handsonmath.blogspot.com/search?q=regrouping.