“Mathematics knows no races or geographic boundaries; for mathematics, the cultural world is one country.” – David Hilbert
Wondering how to survive the last few days before you leave to have turkey? Not sure how to review place value or addition problems AGAIN?!?! Well, I had the same conundrum two weeks ago while I was writing my lesson plans….
Seven school days was all that stood between my students and Thanksgiving break when I walked into school last week. I knew they would be rather excited due to the upcoming holiday, but there was still a lot of work to be done before I could allow my students to completely shut down for the break. As a class we had finished all of the units of math that needed to be completed before our break started, so I would looking at a week with out any structured and “required” math lessons.
What to do? Three years ago I would have broken out the review worksheets and hung out by a copy machine for thirty minutes. A week of review is never a bad thing, but looking at the students I have in my class this year I knew I had to make our review a little more exciting.
Students always rise the expectations set before them. My students go above said expectations. I couldn’t hand these kids a stack of worksheets after all of the activities we have done this year and say, “Go get ’em!” They are used to completing projects and engaging in student centered learning, not regurgitation.
Therefore, I declared our past week as a math review game and creation week. Below are some of the activities my students were involved in during the week.
Place Value Creation Race
“How many people are in our class today, not counting me?” “23!” some shouted. “No, she said with out her, so it’s 22,” others replied. To begin this activity you must separate your class into equal groups. This got us talking about composite and prime numbers. You could also talk about fractions and equal groups. After we had split up into equal groups, each student was assigned a random number. Next, I called out a number like 12,503,844,765. The students had to make the number using their assigned digit. If Katy was assigned 5, she stayed a 5 for this round. The first team to make the number won!
At first we completed this in 4 groups and I made a group of all girls on purpose. Every other group was so frustrated because the girls were able to work together well and make their number quickly, which lead to a discussion on working together and communicating as a group.
Place Value Riddles
After playing many rounds of our place value race, I told the kids it was now time to create place value riddles. I showed them one example and allowed them to create their riddles on their iPads or writing journals. There were only given ten minutes to create as many riddles as possible. Then, my students broke off into pairs of two or three to allow others to try and solve their riddles.
While walking around the room I noticed all of my students were engaged and working. Why? because they were in control of something they had invested their time and thoughts into. I was really impressed with the student riddles, and some I had to go into my whiteboard app to solve!
Addition Word Problems
The last “lesson” of the week was taught on addition and subtraction word problems. Often students are fluent in subtraction and addition by the time they get to 4th grade, but you throw those problems into a paragraph with a bunch of words and they look like my dog after he chew up my pillow. Afraid.
My students were allowed to write about any topic they wanted to in their word problems. Zombies, Shoes, Ice Cream. Zombies wearing shoes eating ice cream… Anything. My students have different interests. Three I have highlighted in the sentence before. After sharing my word problem about buying shoes, I told them they could write about anything they wanted as long as their partner would have to add or subtract to solve a problem.
I was very proud at how many students wrote detailed and even two step math problems. Students worked together to solve each others problems, and after I had them all return to their seats they begged to share their work with the class. They were truly invested in this lesson, and they wanted to solve problems and see what their classmates chose to write about.
Engagement. Collaboration. A group of students begging to continue with a math lesson? Success. This time at least.
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