Category Archives: Math

Math and Language Boards


There has been a huge push for Math and Language Boards as a way for repeated practice on key standards. Students do benefit from exposure to these skills before they are taught as well as for review. However, many teachers are not provided the materials for these boards. This can be an added stress for teachers that already find themselves short on time.

This summer I found a wonderful resource! Stephanie at Teaching in Room 6 has created a spectacular spiral math review program called Calendar Math.I have been using it with my class and have found it to be an effective time saver. I purchased her 5th Grade Starter Kit which has already made questions and editable sheets.


Now, I would love to find a similar program for Language Arts. Do you know of one? What do you use for spiral review?


The Homework Dilemma


H-O-M-E-W-O-R-K.  Tired or assigning, collecting, and correcting the standard workbook sheets? It works fine for the students that put effort into it and/or have the family support to go over it. However, I was noticing an increasing trend of just quickly scribbled answers in order to avoid recess detention. I decided that I needed to make a change.

So, this summer I took a closer look at how I have always assigned homework and revamped it. My objective for assigning homework is for my students to apply what we learned at school that day. I also want them to use their reading, thinking, and writing skills. So this year I am using a homework notebook instead of worksheets.

Once a week I sit down to lesson plan, and I write reflective  homework questions as I write my lesson objectives. Then I print a daily sheet of questions per team.  Every day my students cut and paste their homework questions into their spiral bound notebook. At home they have to read the questions, solve the problems, and explain their thinking. The next morning they discuss their answers with their teammates while I check that their homework was completed. Then we go over the answers whole class and they correct their work if needed. It has been a learning curve for all of us. However, the payoff makes it worth it.

What I like about my new homework procedure:

* Students are more engaged (cutting and gluing) when putting homework materials together.

* Students need to pay attention to the lesson in order to answer their homework questions.

* Students are reading, thinking, and writing.

* There is peer coaching/teaching involved when discussing homework answers.

* Students enjoy discussing their answers with their team and the class.

* Students must still participate in team and class homework discussions even if they are unprepared.

* The number of students coming to school with completed homework assignments has increased.


How do you assign your homework? What are your thoughts on homework?

Class Test Data Analysis


Call me silly, but I enjoy statistics.  I use it often in my classroom. I find that it is a powerful teaching tool, and it helps me get a better idea of what my class understands.

After every test, I analyze data to determine if I need to reteach, teach certain academic vocabulary, and/or teach test taking skills. I also use it to identify which students need extra support or intervention.

First, I make a list of the problems by number and I tally the number of incorrect answers. Problems that a lot of students missed get a closer look. Was it a fair question? Did they miss it because they didn’t read the directions? Did they miss it because they didn’t understand vocabulary? Did they make silly mistakes or are they not able to apply the skill being tested?

Here’s an example of our first Math test on place value. There were four standards being assessed: reading and writing whole numbers to the billions, reading and writing decimals to the thousandths, ordering and comparing whole numbers, and ordering and comparing decimals.


Next, I make a note of students that need extra support on each standard, and I create a line plot for each standard. This gives the class and I a nice visual of how they did. When I share the data with my class, we determine the range, median, mode, and mean together. Then we discuss what the data means when applied to our learning.

My students also write reflections on their test performance and graph their results. They keep their reflections and graphs in a data binder.

Terrific Third Day


Despite functioning on four hours of sleep, thanks to my three year old, we had a terrific third day.

Our big focus for the day was marshmallows. We started our day be using our senses to observe a marshmallow. Then we used our imagination to pretend that we woke up a marshmallow. Finally, we started prewriting and drafting narratives. I can’t wait to read them!

We also had a Marshmallow Tower Challenge. Teams had to design a tower, purchase materials using a budget, build the tower, compare towers, and reflect on the experience. They had a blast.

Here is the winning tower:


I wonder if I’m going to dream about marshmallows tonight, or if I will wake up a marshmallow.

First Day Fun


Welcome back! What a great day! It was wonderful to see so many excited and friendly faces.

We started our day together by sharing about our vacation in our table groups.

Throughout the day students took turns introducing themselves to the class and asking a question about classroom procedures using Really Good Stuff’s Classroom Orientation Cards. This was fun and engaging.

During our Language Arts block we started writing an “I Am A Fifth Grader” poem. We will also be making an adjective art project to go along with the poem. I hope to post pictures once our completed projects are up on the wall.

During our Math block I introduced Calendar Math. It’s a wonderful way of practicing key standards on a regular basis.

In addition to teaching procedures, we spent some time as a class planting our classroom plants which now adorn our classroom library.

I’m looking forward to another great day tomorrow.