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May 072021
 

Welcome to our second engineering challenge post to help you keep your students engaged the last few weeks of school.  (You can find the first challenge here.)

As we shared in the last post, it is essential to note that these posts aren’t intended to provide an entire NGSS-aligned lesson plan.  My goal is to focus on sharing a high-quality picture book, an engineering challenge, and question recommendations that you can use as a springboard to create a lesson that meets your specific classroom needs.

Our second challenge is:  The Rube Goldberg Challenge paired with Just Like Rube Goldberg by Sarah Aronson and Rube Goldberg’s Simple, Normal, Humdrum School Day by Jennifer George.

Like my first challenge, I’m going to break my own rules and recommend that you read one of the picture books when introducing the challenge.  Just Like Rube Goldberg is the story of the real-life Rube Goldberg whom the machines are named after. It is a fantastic story for discussing perseverance, determination, and hard work.  Time after time, Mr. Goldberg is turned down time yet continues to hone his craft and work toward his goal of becoming a newspaper cartoonist.  Several of Rube’s actual machine drawings are included in the text (in addition to a few the illustrator drew) and can be used to introduce the concept of a Rube Goldberg Machine; however, for younger students, the actual drawings may be a bit hard to follow.

I recommend following up by reading just the first three pages of Rube Goldberg’s Simple, Normal, Humdrum School Day. This book is packed with easy-to-follow Rube Goldberg machines.  But be careful!  When I was doing this challenge with my kids, I only gave them one example from this book (though they were begging to see them all!) because I didn’t want to heavily influence their creations. You can read them the rest of the book after they have created their machines – or leave the text out for them to explore independently.  Students could even compare and contrast a contraption the author and illustrator designed to one they created if the students choose the same task as one depicted in the book.

Questions to Ask While Reading: 

You could read students the first page of Just Like Rube Goldberg, and ask your students to predict how someone could become a successful award-winning artist and a famous inventor without ever inventing anything at all.  Then, you could show your students one of the illustrator’s machines such as “How do you turn off a light?” and ask students:  What do you notice?  What do you wonder? 

As I mentioned before, this book is excellent for discussing character traits.  It is also a friendly text for inferring.  Here are a few questions you could ask as you read:

  • What can you infer about the job of being a cartoonist from the reaction Rube’s father has when Rube told his family he wanted that career?
  • What can you infer from the fact that Rube kept drawing and never gave up on his dream?
  • What can you infer from the fact that Rube became a celebrity and that readers couldn’t wait to see what he had to say?
  • What can you infer from the fact that we still talk about and create Rube Goldberg machines over 100 years after he began drawing his creations?

This text is also the perfect opportunity to discuss with your students how Rube’s engineering degree, art training, and constant practicing of his craft helped prepare him for his eventual success.

The Challenge:  Challenge your students to design a Rube Goldberg machine to accomplish an everyday task in a complicated way.  Depending on your lesson objectives, you could have your students collectively choose a task and create their own machines to accomplish that task.  Then you can share and compare the machines.  Or, you could have each student (or group of students) choose a different task to accomplish.  You can either have students draw a diagram or actually try and create their inventions depending on your classroom constraints on time and materials.  Here is a comprehensive blog post that gives examples of common tasks your machine could accomplish and provides an extensive list of potential materials should you choose to build your machines: https://brainpowerboy.com/rube-goldberg-ideas-machine-tasks-and-materials/

This post also has a nice list of simple materials for younger students: https://tinkerlab.com/engineering-kids-rube-goldberg-machine/ 

You’ll want to carefully consider your time and materials constraints before beginning the project.  Your students should be aware of those as they design their machines.  You may also want to add constraints for: 

  • a minimum and/or a maximum number of objects to be included in the design.
  • the amount of space their machine can occupy.
  • the period of time their machine has to complete the task from start to finish.

You’ll want to consider your students’ abilities when designing this lesson so you provide the scaffolding they may need.  Here are some things to consider:

  • Do you need to support your students to figure out what objects to include in their machines?  For example, you could give them categories of objects to brainstorm – animals, things that move air, food, objects that make a sound, heavy objects, etc.
  • Do your students need to review cause and effect before designing their machines, or do you need to have some other cause and effect support available (like an anchor chart) during the design process?
  • Do you want to discuss simple machines with older students and brainstorm lists of materials that could be used for each type?
  • Do you want to provide technology for students who prefer to use graphics rather than draw their machines?

The structure of the lesson is up to you and your students.  The idea is to get your students experimenting with forces through the lens of cause and effect.   With older students, you can even bring in the concepts of gravity and friction. 

Next Generation Science Standards Connections:

These engineering performance expectations obviously fit well with this challenge:

  • K-2-ETS1-2     Develop a simple sketch, drawing, or physical model to illustrate how the shape of an object helps it function as needed to solve a given problem.
  • 3-5-ETS1-1      Define a simple design problem reflecting a need or a want that includes specified criteria for success and constraints on materials, time, or cost.
  • 3-5-ETS1-2      Generate and compare multiple possible solutions to a problem based on how well each is likely to meet the criteria and constraints of the problem.
  • 3-5-ETS1-3      Plan and carry out fair tests in which variables are controlled and failure points are considered to identify aspects of a model or prototype that can be improved.         

This challenge also makes connections with these grade-level PEs:

  • 2-PS1-3           Make observations to construct an evidence-based account of how an object made of a small set of pieces can be disassembled and made into a new object.
  • 3-PS2-1           Plan and conduct an investigation to provide evidence of the effects of balanced and unbalanced forces on the motion of an object.
  • 5-PS2-1           Support an argument that the gravitational force exerted by Earth on objects is directed down.

If you are a StarrMatica Texts:  Science Your Way subscriber, you can check out the engineering and forces and motion informational texts below.  Remember, each 1st – 5th grade text has multiple reading levels so all of your students can read the same content independently.  I recommend having students use these text resources after they have designed and built their own devices.  Used this way, the texts help students learn vocabulary and background information they can use to explain what they have learned on their own.

  • 5th Grade:  Gravity’s Forceful Nature
  • 3rd Grade:  May The Force Be With You
  • 2nd Grade:  From This to That
  • 2nd Grade: From Trash to Treasure
  • 3rd-5th Grade Engineering: Watering Your Garden on Vacation
  • 3rd-5th Grade Engineering: Two Ways to Solve a Problem
  • 3rd-5th Grade Engineering:  Testing Prototypes
  • K-2nd  Engineering: Sporty Shapes
  • K-2nd  Engineering: The Importance of Shapes

Not a subscriber?  Click here for a free trial to access the texts above.

Cause and effect is the main crosscutting concept that fits well with this challenge.  The machines students are creating are entirely dependent on cause and effect chains of events.

And students are using nearly all of the science and engineering practices.  They are asking questions and defining problems as they determine a task to complete and the materials they should use.   They are developing and using models as they draw their designs.  Students are planning and carrying out investigations if they are building and testing their machines.  They are constructing explanations and designing solutions, whether building their machines or drawing their designs.  When they share their machines with peers, they are obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information.  There are many possibilities for incorporating analyzing and interpreting data in upper elementary and using mathematics and computational thinking.  For example, you could have your students time how long it takes their machine to complete the task (and/or provide a time constraint for them to address).  You could also ask them to create a machine that uses the smallest amount of space as a constraint to incorporate measurement and estimation skills.

Bottom line:  Have fun seeing what unique contraptions your students can imagine!

May 072021
 

If your students are anything like my fourth graders, by the time we get to May, we’re all getting a little antsy.  The weather in the United States is getting warmer, we’ve been working hard all year, and we’re all ready to climb out the classroom window at any moment to run around the playground like pollinating bees. (Which you can do for a fun exercise break with your class!) That’s why all this month, I’m going to be sharing engineering design challenges. Engineering challenges are a great way to keep your students engaged and excited about learning during these sometimes tough last few weeks of school.

As a teacher, they provide a vehicle for you to meet all three dimensions of the NGSS. They are an authentic way for students to use science and engineering practices while examining the disciplinary core ideas through the lenses of cross-cutting concepts. (More about this later. I’ll include which performance expectations, practices, and concepts you’ll meet with each post!)

If you are teaching using the 5Es, these challenges fit well doing the Elaborate phase.  Elaborate is an excellent opportunity to introduce an engineering challenge because engineering requires applying science knowledge to solve a problem.  That’s exactly what the Elaborate phase is all about – encouraging students to transfer the knowledge they just acquired and apply it in new ways.

Since helping teachers use literature effectively during science instruction our specialty, I’ll be recommending a picture book connection with each challenge as well as sharing how and when that picture book should be used during instruction.

Important Note:  These posts aren’t intended to provide an entire NGSS-aligned lesson plan.  My goal is to focus on sharing a high-quality picture book, engineering challenge, and question recommendations that you can use as a springboard to create a lesson that meets your specific classroom needs.

Without further ado, our first challenge is:  The Hot Wheels Challenge paired with Roller Coaster by Marla Frazee

Typically, literature should be introduced after students have had the opportunity to design and test their solutions because many picture books “give away” the information the students should be learning themselves. It isn’t much fun to design a bridge if you have already been taught the seven main types of bridges and what makes them structurally sound. You’re going to end up with a lot of bridges that look alike and mimic what they saw in the picture book.

However, I’m going to break my own rules with this first challenge and recommend that you read the picture book first.  In Roller Coaster, Marla Frazee recreates the experience of riding a roller coaster through her text and illustrations.  It builds background knowledge for kids who haven’t experienced a roller coaster ride before. (Which may be most of your students if they can’t yet meet the height requirements!) The book should cause your students to begin thinking about forces and wondering, “How does a roller coaster work?”

Questions to Ask While Reading:  When the train is being pulled up the hill, ask your students:  What do you notice?  What do you wonder?  And then again, on the page where the train goes all the way around the loop, ask the same questions.

Ask your students to compare the page where the train is being pulled up the hill with the page where the train zips or the train zooms. How and why are these pages different in their text and illustrations? How did Marla Frazee try to make you feel like you were on a roller coaster? How are the actions shown on these pages different?

The Challenge:  Group your students and give them each a few sections of Hot Wheels Track and a car.

That’s it.  (Resist the temptation to give them blocks or books to prop up one end to create a ramp!) Tell them that they can find or ask for other materials in the classroom if they need them later for their designs. (Note:  You can buy 40 ft. of track at Amazon for $20)

Below are example design requirements you could give students. Challenge them to design a solution using the materials you gave them and any other materials they can find. (Again, resist the temptation to tell them to raise and lower the track or to provide them with something to stop the car at the end. Let them figure out their designs!)

  1. Design a track that will make the car travel the shortest distance possible after rolling off the track.
  2. Design a track to make the car travel the farthest distance possible after rolling off the track.
  3. Design a track that will slow the car down, so it rolls to a stop at a specific location.
  4. Design a track that will cause the car to stop at the end of the track and not roll across the floor.
  5. Design a track that will allow the car to roll over a hill.
  6. Design a track that will change the car’s direction at the end of the track so it will roll into a cup.
  7. Design a track that requires a pull to get the car started (like the roller coaster).
  8. Design a track that requires a soft push to get the car started and one that requires a hard push.

You can have your students draw their track ideas before building them and/or after creating them.  Have groups share and discuss their different designs.  What did you try first?  How did you modify your design so it would work better?  Which designs met the criteria?  Which designs didn’t meet the criteria?  Why?  Which solutions were the best?  Why?

The structure of the lesson is up to you and your students. The idea is to get your students experimenting with forces so they can develop the concept that a force causes a change in the speed or direction of an object.  With younger students, you can describe the strength of pushes and pulls.  With older students, you can bring in the concepts of gravity and friction.

If you are a StarrMatica Texts:  Science Your Way subscriber, you can check out the forces and motion informational texts below.  Remember, each 1st – 5th grade text has multiple reading levels so all of your students can read the same content independently.  I recommend having students read these texts after they have conducted their track experiments.  This way the students are using them as a resource to learn vocabulary and background information to help them explain what they have discovered on their own.

  • 5th Grade:  Gravity’s Forceful Nature
  • 3rd Grade:  May The Force Be With You
  • Kindergarten:  Push This Way!  Pull That Way!
  • Kindergarten:  Push Hard!  Push Soft!
  • Kindergarten:  Push and Pull

Not a subscriber?  Click here for a free trial to access the texts above.

Next Generation Science Standards Connections:

Several performance expectations fit well with this challenge:

  • K-PS1-1 Plan and conduct an investigation to compare the effects of different strengths or different directions of pushes and pulls on the motion of an object.
  • K-PS2-2 Analyze data to determine if a design solution works as intended to change the speed or direction of an object with a push or a pull.
  • 3-PS2-1 Plan and conduct an investigation to provide evidence of the effects of balanced and unbalanced forces on the motion of an object.
  • 5-PS2-1 Support an argument that the gravitational force exerted by Earth on objects is directed down.

Cause and effect is the main cross-cutting concept that fits well with this challenge.  Have students think about:  What happened when you did XYZ to your track?  What caused your car to do XYZ?

And students are using nearly all of the science and engineering practices.  They are asking questions and defining problems as they test and redesign their tracks.  They are developing and using models as they draw their designs.  Students are planning and carrying out investigations and constructing explanations and designing solutions during their track building and testing.  When they share their tracks with peers, they are obtaining, evaluating, and communicating information.  In upper elementary, there are many possibilities for incorporating analyzing and interpreting data and using mathematics and computational thinking. For example, you could have your students measure the height of their ramps and how far their cars travel off the end. 

Bottom line:  Enjoy these last few weeks with your students.  Ask questions, let them take the lead, and have fun!!                 

Digital Content for Talented and Gifted Students (TAG)

 Posted by on April 18, 2017  Content Integration Ideas, Content Recommendations  Comments Off on Digital Content for Talented and Gifted Students (TAG)
Apr 182017
 

It can be difficult to find supplementary resources to meet the needs of the students in your classroom who need a challenge.  StarrMatica’s library is packed with content that can help encourage those students to grow in their thinking.  Here are a few examples: ecolonization

Engage your students in the scientific process

Ecolonization Use your knowledge of organisms to construct a bio-dome with a self-sustaining food chain.

Plant Growth Experiment View the results of an experiment to test whether water, light, and temperature affect whether seeds grow. Then answer questions about what you have discovered.

crown or colonyAsk your students to make critical decisions in the shoes of a historical figure

For Crown or Colony Become a 14 year old living in Boston when the Revolutionary War begins. What will you do?

Strike it Rich! Become a miner and see if you can strike it rich!

Who Do You Want To Be? Become an Immigrant and make your voyage to America.

 

city creator

Challenge your students to use STEM thinking

Tinker Ball Engineer a machine to complete a specific task.

Science Detectives: Training Room Escape Use scientific processes to find your way out of a dark room.

City Creator Design your own city with the city creator interactive zimmer twins

Allow your students to demonstrate their knowledge in different ways

Printing Press Create a newspaper, brochure, flyer, poster, or sign.

Zimmer Twins Create a movie using animations of the Zimmer Twins. Add transitions and your own text. Then press play to watch your creation. You must create an account to save your movie.

How do you use digital content to challenge your TAG students?

Differentiate with Digital Backpacks

 Posted by on March 14, 2017  Content Integration Ideas, Content Recommendations, Math Resources  Comments Off on Differentiate with Digital Backpacks
Mar 142017
 

backpackOne of the benefits of having access to an entire library of content is being able to easily differentiate your instruction.  For example, if you are working on place value concepts, you could create three collections of content. (Note:  To view some of the examples, you must be a StarrMatica Member.)

In Level 1, you could include content that uses base-ten blocks for your students who need visual support.  Here are a few of our favorites with directions you could include in the collection:

Base Ten Blocks         Watch this animation first.

Base Ten Blocks III     Build 10 different numbers using the blocks.  Record those numbers and the blocks you used in your notebook.

Place Value Chart       Build 10 numbers with the cards and write them in expanded form in your notebook.

In Level 2, you could include content that moves on to place value with numbers for your students who understand the concept, yet need some extra practice.  Here are a few of our favorites with directions you could include in the collection:

Value of a Number      Watch this animation first.

Mystery Numbers II     Can you build really big numbers?  Find out!

Build a Word                Try this challenge last.  Write the words you have spelled in your notebook.

In Level 3, you could include content for students who understand the concept of place value and need a challenge.  Here are a few of our favorites with directions you could include in the collection:

Place Value Machine            Use this manipulative to help you answer this question in your notebook: How does multiplying and dividing affect a digit’s place value?

Hacker’s Number Machine   Can you create a number larger than the computer’s?

Place Value Game               Create the largest number possible from the digits you are given. Choose wisely! Once you place a number, you cannot move it!

Once the collections are created, you can place them in the digital backpacks of three different groups to differentiate your instruction for every student in your classroom!

Leading Students to Draw Conclusions

 Posted by on January 10, 2017  Content Integration Ideas, Content Recommendations  Comments Off on Leading Students to Draw Conclusions
Jan 102017
 

How many times have you taught a concept only to have to re-teach it the next day because your students don’t remember what you taught the day before?  We know that engaged students learn more than passive students, so we need to be masters at constructing learning experiences in ways that lead students to discover a concept by drawing their own conclusions rather than directly teaching them the concept.  Here a few easy ways a directly taught concept can be modified with digital content from StarrMatica to encourage students to draw their own conclusions.

balls

Directly Taught Concept:  The more times an experiment is conducted, the closer the results will be to the theoretical probabilities.

Student Discovery of that Concept:  Students conduct a probability experiment 10 times and 100 times and then compare the results to draw a conclusion.

 

shapes

Directly Taught Concept:  All parallelograms are quadrilaterals, but not all quadrilaterals are parallelograms.

Student Discovery of that Concept:  Students sort 2-D shapes into categories and then compare shapes in those categories to draw a conclusion.

 

gardenDirectly Taught Concept:  We need to use a standard measuring tool for accuracy when communicating measurements to others.

Student Discovery of that Concept:  Students use footsteps of different sizes to measure around a garden.  Students use fish of different lengths to measure the length of a blue whale. In both activities, students use the information that non-standard measuring tools result in different measurements to draw a conclusion about the need for a standard measuring tool.

How do you lead students to draw conclusions in your classroom?

 

Using Digital Content to Supplement Your Math Textbook

 Posted by on June 27, 2016  Content Integration Ideas, Content Recommendations, Math Resources  Comments Off on Using Digital Content to Supplement Your Math Textbook
Jun 272016
 

Most current math textbooks come with digital content; however, that digital content is limited and doesn’t always meet every instructional need.  StarrMatica’s library puts the additional supplementary content you need right at your fingertips, and our math textbook search makes it easy to find supplementary digital content aligned to each lesson in your math textbook.  Here are a few ways teachers integrate digital content into their instruction:

bears in a boatUse manipulatives as whole class teaching tools or for individual student inquiry

There are hundreds of math manipulatives in StarrMatica’s library that can be used to help students visualize concepts.  Some teachers use them for whole class demonstrations with interactive whiteboards and some have students access them on laptops and tablets.

Want something other than fraction bars?  Try using Kids and Cookies to introduce fractions in the context of a problem.  How can 3 children share 4 cookies and still be friends when they are finished?

http://www.teacherlink.org/KidsAndCookies/

Want to try a new place value manipulative?  Try using this place value machine to let your students discover what happens to a number’s place value when you multiply or divide by 10.

http://www.bbc.co.uk/schools/teachers/ks2_activities/maths/activities/thenumbersystem.swf

Are your students losing interest in your ten frame?  Try using bears in a boat to catch their attention!

http://www.glencoe.com/sites/common_assets/mathematics/ebook_assets/vmf/VMF-Interface.html

boomerangUse content to remediate for students needing extra assistance

If you need to keep up with a pacing guide, yet several students are struggling to understand a concept, it can be difficult challenge.  You can share content from StarrMatica’s library to help specific students with a previous lesson while moving on to the next lesson with the entire class.  Students can access the content you have shared in their individual digital backpacks during independent work time on computers or at home with their parents.

For example, if a student is struggling with identifying angles, you might share an animated tutorial with them as a review: http://studyjams.scholastic.com/studyjams/jams/math/geometry/classify-angles.htm

Next, they can practice what they have learned with this interactive game:  http://www.childu.com/sample_act/34math_backatyou.html

shape classificationUse content to challenge students who are getting bored

It is always difficult to meet the needs of every student in your classroom.  Students are at different levels of understanding for every concept you teach, so while you are trying to help students with a lower level of understanding, those who “get it” can easily become bored.  You can share content from StarrMatica’s library to challenge those students, while still engaging them in learning the same concept as the rest of the class.

For example, if you have students who know their 2D shapes, have them play a game that challenges them to identify the mystery shape by eliminating shapes that do not have the given attributes:

http://www.learnalberta.ca/content/mejhm/index.html?l=0&ID1=AB.MATH.JR.SHAP&ID2=AB.MATH.JR.SHAP.SHAP&lesson=html/object_interactives/shape_classification/use_it.html


pizza parlor fractionsUse content to engage parents at home

Sometimes the way you teach a concept to students may not be the way their parents were taught the same concept.  Or, their parents may not have had experience with a specific concept for a long time and may need to refresh their memories. It can be helpful to share content with parents that will allow them to understand a concept and to give them resources for helping their children to practice that concept.

For example, parents could watch this animated tutorial about adding and subtracting fractions with unlike denominators:  http://www.learnalberta.ca/content/mec/flash/redirector.swf?url=data/3/b/a3b2.swf

Then they could play pizza parlor fractions to practice what they have reviewed together:

http://kevinmuma.com/software/pizza/Instructions.swf

cowsUse content as center activities or extra practice for your entire class

Often, students may need more practice than what is provided with your textbook.  Or, they may need practice in a different format than what your core curriculum provides because of the learning styles and interests of your particular group of students.  Content can be shared with your whole class via their individual digital backpacks that can be accessed on computers and tablets for additional practice.

Try having your students practice finding factors in this game versus the computer or a friend:

http://illuminations.nctm.org/Activity.aspx?id=4134

Try having your students group cows to practice counting by 5’s and 10’s or to practice adding and subtracting with a partner:

http://illuminations.nctm.org/Activity.aspx?id=3526

How did these ideas work for you?  How do you use our library of content to supplement your math textbook?  Please share below!

Digital Content for Common Core Standard K.OA.A.3

 Posted by on February 26, 2014  Common Core, Content Integration Ideas  Comments Off on Digital Content for Common Core Standard K.OA.A.3
Feb 262014
 

One of the most common questions we are asked is how our library of digital content supports the Common Core.  The easy answer is that our entire library has been aligned to the Common Core standards, so teachers can find resources related to each standard.  The more complex answer is that there are many pieces of content that can be used in flexible ways to support each individual standard, and it is up to teachers to choose the content that best supports their lesson and their students.

Here are five pieces of digital content a teacher might choose from our library to support and enhance the teaching of: CCSS.Math.Content.K.OA.A.3 Decompose numbers less than or equal to 10 into pairs in more than one way, e.g., by using objects or drawings, and record each decomposition by a drawing or equation (e.g., 5 = 2 + 3 and 5 = 4 + 1).

rekenrek

Brilliant Beastring Rekenrek

You could use this virtual manipulative with students either on laptops/tablets/Chromebooks or using real manipulatives.  Activities can be developed that help students to visualize a number decomposed in different ways and to try to create all of the different ways a number can be decomposed.  ( A lesson plan with four activities to use with this resource is available for StarrMatica members.)

 

balanceCalculation Balance

You could also use this virtual manipulative with students either on laptops/tablets/Chrombooks.  This manipulative moves  your students from using objects to represent decomposition to using numbers.  Students could be challenged to find several ways to balance the scale for a given number.

 

starrmatica actMake A Number

You could use this animation to review how a number can be created in many different ways.  It includes a manipulative that allows students to separate blocks into two groups and record their decompositions.  (You must be a StarrMatica member and be logged in to access this resource.)

 

butterflyButterfly Ten Frame

You could use this simple activity with students to practice and record number combinations that equal ten.

 

wigBig Wig Sub Shop

You could use this resource to check for student understanding.  The game challenges students to find all of the number sentences that name the given number.

Digital Content for Common Core Standard 5.NBT.7

 Posted by on February 20, 2014  Common Core, Content Integration Ideas  Comments Off on Digital Content for Common Core Standard 5.NBT.7
Feb 202014
 

One of the most common questions we are asked is how our library of digital content supports the Common Core.  The easy answer is that our entire library has been aligned to the Common Core standards, so teachers can find resources related to each standard.  The more complex answer is that there are many pieces of content that can be used in flexible ways to support each individual standard, and it is up to teachers to choose the content that best supports their lesson and their students.

Here are five pieces of digital content a teacher might choose from our library to support and enhance the teaching of Common Core Math Standard 5.NBT.B.7:  Add, subtract, multiply, and divide decimals to hundredths, using concrete models or drawings and strategies based on place value, properties of operations, and/or the relationship between addition and subtraction; relate the strategy to a written method and explain the reasoning used.

base ten blocksSubtracting Decimals with Base Ten Blocks

You could use this virtual manipulative with students either on laptops/tablets/Chromebooks or using real manipulatives and spend time using the base ten blocks to develop the concept of regrouping to add and subtract decimals.

 

number line

Subtracting Decimals on a Number Line 

You could give your students decimals to add and subtract via mental math and use the number line to demonstrate counting up and counting back strategies as the students share them.

 

rope tug

 

Rope Tug 

You could use this activity as a center activity because it requires the students to use their number sense and strategies to determine what decimals will yield the greatest difference.

 

 

decimals castleAdding and Subtracting

You could use this animation to review the traditional algorithm after the students had come up with it on their own, but I wouldn’t have them just sit and watch the animation. I would use it on my SMART Board and pause at points and question the students. Why do you have to line up the decimal points? Why is it important to have numbers in the correct place values? What is the relationship between a number and the number to its right and left? I would have the kids evaluate if the steps given are a good method or if they would add steps or remove steps.  (You must be a StarrMatica member and be logged in to access this resource.)

decimals testDecimals Basics Test

At some point, I would use the open response test as formative assessment to see which students are able to add and subtract decimals and which need more assistance.   (You must be a StarrMatica member and be logged in to access this resource.)

Animoto Book Trailers

 Posted by on January 21, 2014  Content Integration Ideas, Content Recommendations  Comments Off on Animoto Book Trailers
Jan 212014
 

jumanjiAnimoto is an online tool that allows you to upload photos, enter text, and choose a style for the program to transform into a professional looking video.  The free version allows you to create a 30 second video, but that is still a long enough time frame for many classroom projects.  One of my favorite ideas is to use Animoto to create a book trailer.   Just like a movie trailer, a book trailer is designed to get someone interested in reading the book.  You could create a trailer to interest your students in a book or to entice them to predict what a book may be about.  Here is a trailer I created for Chris Van Allsburg’s Jumanji: http://animoto.com/play/ffokpW03Ih8iMqNIxxL7nA

Students can create their own trailers.  It takes a lot of prior planning for students to convey their intended message in only 30 seconds.  Trailers can be focused on fostering interest in a book, conveying the main idea of a book, or even sharing the story elements of a book (characters, setting, problem, solution).

Copyright free images for your trailers can be found by using Google’s Advanced Image Search.  http://www.google.com/advanced_image_search  Make sure SafeSearch is set to Filter explicit results, and depending on your school’s filter, you may want to supervise a student’s search.  Under usage rights choose free to use or share to include only copyright free images in your search.

Please share your Animoto book trailers with us below!

Basic Facts Practice

 Posted by on January 9, 2014  Content Integration Ideas  Comments Off on Basic Facts Practice
Jan 092014
 

basic factsWith the acquisition of basic facts being a strong predictor of later math success, StarrMatica includes with every plus membership an individualized basic facts program.  This is a great value for our members when you consider the cost of software that just focuses on basic facts can be as expensive as $7,500 per building.

In StarrMatica, students can practice their individualized facts for addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division.

  • Students first take a benchmark test which records the facts they know and the facts they don’t know in classroom management.
  • Students can then practice their individualized facts in StarrMatica’s facts practice sections.
  • Practice progress is recorded in classroom management.
  • Teachers can view class fact progress or individual student progress.
  • Students and their parents can also view which facts they are working on.

For more specific information on our basic facts program, check out our basic facts overview video:  http://www.vidmeup.com/vid/4f871f8461589