Problem Solving & PicCollage

Saturday, April 25, 2015 No comments
Yesterday we focused on problem solving. I love to use exemplars to involve the students in rich, deep meaningful problem solving.  Today I picked two different questions for my different groups.  Sometimes students tell the answers to problems at lunch, so I try to mix it up after lunch so that the experience is still worthwhile.

Here is the first problem that we tackled:

I gave the students money manipulatives to help the students physically work out the different ways they can make 25 cents. Students worked in groups of three. 

After students came up with the correct number of ways to make 25 cents, the students were to make a PicCollage to display their problem solving process. 
Here are a couple of examples:

This activity took a full 90 minutes.  The students were engaged and determined to skillfully work out how many ways they can make 25 cents.  

The other class solved this problem.  

I was surprised that most of the students solved this problem very quickly.  What they had a problem with is the "why?" Students often have a tough time justifying their answers.  
After students could write in order to justify their answer, they also made a PicCollage to display their solution.  

PicCollage is an awesome FREE app that can be an amazing resource in your classroom.  Students can easily share their PicCollage using google drive. To get the app visit your app store and look for PicCollage or visit their website

Here is where I find my Math Exemplars:

Have a wonderful weekend!
Peace, Love, Math- Jennifer

Using Ipads to Discover Shape Attributes in the School Environment

Wednesday, April 22, 2015 No comments
Who doesn't love a good shape hunt?  I am sure many of you have hunted for shapes around your campus.  This year we hunted for shapes but used the ipads as a source of collecting shapes.  After the hunt we used the app, Skitch to annotate the shapes we found.

Before class I put several shapes into an empty box.  Students were put into pairs, and each pair drew a shape out of the box.  The shape that they pulled was what they were to look for when walking around the building.  Once they found their shape, they used the camera on the ipad to document their find.  They could find and take pictures of their shape, more than once.  When everyone had found their given shape, we went back to the classroom.

In the classroom students used the ipad to access the app called Skitch.  This app allows students to access the camera roll on the ipad and upload the photo of their shape.  From here the app allows students to use arrows, text, and free draw onto their picture.  Students were to annotate, lines, angles, and the name of their shape.  Here are a few examples:

Once all students were done with their work, they shared their shape on google drive with me and then presented their shape and it's attributes to the class. 

Skitch is a very easy tool to use.  You can annotate a PDF file, or even a web page.  Once the student is done with their work, they can share their finished project using google drive, email or even message.  We will definitely be using Skitch again in the future!

You can download Skitch for free using this link:

Let me know what you used Skitch to do in your classroom!

Peace, Love, Math- Jenn

Integrating Literature into Math Lessons- Using Storybird

Sunday, April 19, 2015 No comments
I love TWITTER! I saw this post on twitter yesterday.

Although it contains activities that are suited for lower grades than I currently teach, it is inspiring to see how poetry and literature can be integrated into a math activity.

I try to integrate literature often into my lessons.  I read books to reinforce mathematical concepts.

I have used Multiplying Menace to reinforce multiplication.  This book even hits on multiplying by fractions.

I love Minnie's Diner, it allows us to focus on doubles and how quickly numbers increase as you double the numbers. Next we explored how quickly numbers increase as we triple them.

There are many more books that I love to use, but when I started to teach rounding to the nearest tenth and hundredth, I could not find a book that would be useful on this topic.

I recently ran across a wonderful web-based program, called Storybird.  This is a free site that allows educators to form classrooms and invite students to their classroom. Storybird is very user friendly and comes equipped with literally thousands of free and ready to use illustrations.  Students can pick the illustrations that inspire them to write an amazing story!

Once your students are in your classroom, they can write their own picture books and poetry! I challenged my students to write their own book that would explain how to round numbers to the nearest tenth and hundredth.

Here are a few samples of my students work:

As a wonderful bonus, Storybird allows parents to order printed, hard back, copies of their child's original work. Storybird is a Chrome App or you can access it through the internet,

Storybird has an App that you can download on Ipads, called Lark.  This allows students to create their own poetry using a single image for inspiration. Here is the app for Ipads,

Try Storybird in your math classroom!

Peace, Love, Math- Jennifer

Scatterplot Graphs Are FUN!!

Friday, April 10, 2015 No comments
A few weeks ago I tried to come up with a fun way to discover the uses of a scatterplot graph.  I knew that I wanted to do an activity that was engaging and also taught the concept of central tendency, or trend.
I decided on CUP STACKING!

I bought 60 small cups at the store for each group.  You can use small dixie cups or small styrofoam cups.

I knew I was going to divide my class into groups of threes.  I created three jobs, one for each person.

Jobs:   1. Builder- This person is the only person who builds the cups.
           2. Counter- This person counts the cups, and can also hand the cups to the builder.
           3.  Recorder- This person records on the graphs at the table, as well as the large graph on the white board.

I gave each group 60 cups and three graphs, (one graph per person to glue into their journals after we finish) and 1 colored marker (each group had a different color marker).

I made a large graph on the board and asked that students copy the format onto their own graphs.

Up the y axis- counted by 3's from 0-60, this would be the number of cups and on the x axis- counted by 10's 0-90, this would be the amount of time in seconds.

I made every group stack their cups neatly on the table.  I then said, GO and timed 10 seconds. Students stacked the cups and when 10 seconds was over, they counted the amount of cups they successfully stacked.  I repeated this and increased the time by 10 seconds each round, up to 90 seconds.

The kids had a blast! They also saw the trend or central tendency that occurred in our scatterplot graph.  In one class we had time to go backwards, we started with 90 seconds and reduced the time by 10 seconds each round.  They discovered that the new graph was opposite of the first graph and had a decreasing trend.  UPDATE 12-18-2016, I have created a wonderful lesson plan and activity sheets to accompany this awesome lesson, find it HERE at my TpT store! 
I would love to hear from you if you decide to do this activity or one similar in your class!

Peace, Love, Math- Jennifer

Balancing a Budget Station

Wednesday, April 8, 2015 1 comment
I had a wonderful night, last night, at the Teacher of the Year celebration dinner.  I got to go with my awesome principal, plus as a bonus, I got to take my husband and have a dinner without the kids!  I saw wonderful friends and colleagues I have not seen in a while.  I feel truly blessed to be a part of such a wonderful district!

During Math Stations today, we used a resource I created to reinforce balancing a simple budget.  This is another new TEK to 5th grade.  Students must be able to balance a simple budget.  I created a station that would allow students to have a job, have expenses and then the students would determine how many hours they would must work in order to balance their budget. 

Some assembly is required :) The teacher will need to cut up all the cards and put them into separate containers.  One container for "jobs" and one for "expenses".  Then make copies of the recording sheet.  

Once the materials are in place.  The students, working in pairs, draw 1 "job" card from the stack.  They record the job and the hourly pay on the recording sheet.  
Then they draw 3 "expenses" cards.  The record the "expenses" and total the expenses.  

From there, the students figure out how much they will need to work in order to pay for the 3 expenses that they drew.  

My students did very well with this today.  Balance Your Budget Cards and Activity Sheet

I hope your students enjoy this activity as much as my students did!

Peace, Love, Math- Jennifer 

Gross Income and Net Income

Monday, April 6, 2015 No comments
Today we worked in stations again.  It is important that I highlight an important new TEK for 5th grade.

 Students should know and understand the difference between gross income and net income.

Side note- just about every time I say "gross income" in class all the kids smile and giggle a little.  They also ask why is it called gross income, for which I reply I don't know, I will need to look that up.  

As a class we have discussed the different types of taxes that are taken out of each paycheck.  We also discussed that medical insurance is usually taken out of your paycheck as well.  Today we needed to review this concept.

I downloaded a pay stub, copied and then laminated it.  This way students can write on the pay stub with a dry erase marker and then erase and start over with new amounts.  I made "gross income" cards with various amounts as well as "deduction" cards with various types of deductions.  Students were asked to pull one "gross income" card and three "deduction" cards.  If any of the "deduction" cards were repeats, such as drawing two federal income tax cards, they would need to discard one and draw again.  Students worked in pairs on this station and talked about their outcomes.  At the end of class, students were commenting on how much of your pay is actually taken away by taxes.  One student said, "Mrs. Stice, your net pay is always so much lower then the amount you really made!"

Peace, Love, Math- Jennifer

Starting Review Stations for Math STAAR

Saturday, April 4, 2015 No comments
       Last week we took the Reading STAAR test.  Now the time has come to review for Math STAAR.  I decided that I would start to review by using review stations.  I have divided up the most important TEKS into 4 stations per day.  Each student will rotate every 20 min through the 4 stations.  One of the stations, is ME :) I make sure I have the readiness standard TEK so that I make sure they have mastered that concept.  Before I start to tell you about the stations let me give you a little bit of background on my students, class size and time per class. 
        I have 69 fifth graders.  I have three students that are in a pull out situation based on their needs.  I teach 66 students each day.  We are a fully inclusion school, which means that every student is in the general ed classroom, unless their needs are met best in a pull out.  I currently teach GT learners, Autistic learners, Dyslexic learners, Students with learning disabilities and a few 504 students for various reasons.  My school is 56% economic disadvantaged.  I am truly blessed to teach math 90 minutes a day.  The reason my students are successful is that I use activity based lessons.  These lessons allow every student to access the content regardless of disability or hardship.  
         I have chosen 4 topics to cover every day.  I assigned each group with an even number of students so that within the group they may partner up.  I moved furniture around in my room to allow students the ability to move around freely with their partners.  I posted signs on each station so that the students would know where to rotate next.  Students worked in their stations for 20 minutes before switching.  
         On April 1st, we started! I discussed with the students how the stations would work everyday.  I asked the students to come in, put their items up, get paper, pencil, and their planner, then meet me on the carpet.  From here I tell about the day's stations.  How the station works, is it independent or with partners, what items they will need etc.  

         Station 1- Comparing Decimals- Students will play decimal war. Students worked in partners. (these are cards I found on the internet) Decimal War

Station 2- Expanded Notation- (this is something I created) Expanded Notation Partner Game Students worked on this independently.

Station 3- 2d Shape Attributes- This group was with me and we used different word problems they may encounter. We discussed venn diagrams and charts seen in the questions I pulled from various resources.

Station 4- Division- Divide and Conquer game out of the Kamiko Book Buy the game Look at it and make your own version Students worked on this in partners.

On April 2nd, 

Rounding Decimals- Play Rounding Roll- Use the two documents- Game Sheet Place Value Mat *the word document may be different than what is uploaded in google docs, you may need to modify. Students worked in partners.

Order of Operations- Students will work with me on Order of Operation problem solving.

Multiplication- Students will use the multiplication task cards with QR codes. ( I just got some free ones on Teachers Pay Teachers) Students worked with partners.

Coordinate Grids- Students will use IPADS and play the two coordinate grid games that are on the IPADS. These games are awesome! Butterfly Brunches & Coordinate Pics I like the Coordinate Pics App the best because it allows the students to practice y= x + a and gives them the x to put into the equation. Students worked independently at this station.

We were off from school on April 3rd. I am excited about next week and look forward to sharing with you all the stations we used! Thanks for reading!
Peace, Love, Math- Jennifer

Hi! All About Me!

            My name is Jennifer Stice.  I am about to start my 16th year of teaching.  Currently I work in Arlington ISD at Pearcy Elementary.  I am the 5th grade team leader and a devoted math teacher.  I graduated in 2003 from Texas Wesleyan University.  In 2014, I graduated with a Masters Degree in Math Education from Texas Wesleyan University.  Next year, Pearcy will be changing into a school of choice! Pearcy will become Pearcy STEM Academy! I am currently in the process of becoming nationally STEM certified.  I am super excited about the new changes and the possibilities!
             I love for students to come into my classroom at the beginning of the year and say to me “I can’t do math”. Or “I hate math!”  I take these statements as a personal challenge.  I look at these children with their defeated attitudes, and it inspires me to prove them wrong.  I know that by the end of the year, one child, who can’t do math, will do math; and that little girl who hates math, will begin to love math. 
            I have had students who suffer from extreme poverty, abusive parents, or absent parents.  I have had students who should be on medication for ADHD and were not because of money problems.  Some other students of mine have been gang members, drug users, and emotionally disturbed.  The one significant thing that all these students have in common is that they all learned and succeeded in my classroom.
            I know that I cannot control what happens in a child’s life after he or she leaves my classroom, but I can control what happens in my classroom.  It is not just my job but also my pleasure to provide a safe and encouraging environment for all students.  I want my students to feel accepted and to take an active part in his or her education.  I start each new school year building a family relationship in my classroom.  As a class we emphasize that every one of them has a light within themselves and that they have the right and responsibility to shine their light.  As a class we recognize our strengths and we help eliminate our weaknesses. 
            I think that an outstanding teacher has the ability to find a child’s light and cultivate it so that it reaches its full potential.  I teach my students through hands-on and minds-on engaging lessons.  One thing that I am so thankful that Wesleyan taught me was how to create these lessons.  Wesleyan taught me that I don’t have to teach with a textbook.  I could use the textbook as a resource, but I could use my knowledge of the skills to design these hands-on lessons.  I make it a point to meet with every one of my struggling students everyday.  I know each student’s weaknesses and strengths.  I believe that great teaching is about 30% lessons and 70% attitude.  If you have the attitude and passion for education, you can educate any child. 
             In 2009, I was super excited to win Teacher of the Year at my former school, Webb Elementary.  Afterwards, I went on to win Teacher of the Year for the entire Arlington Independent School District.  In 2010, I was nominated for the AWARE award funded by the Arlington Education Foundation.  Not only was I nominated, I won the AWARE award for the best 5th and 6th grade teacher in the entire district.  In 2016, I won Teacher of the Year for my current school, Pearcy Elementary. 
           In 2014, I wrote a grant that supplied my entire 5th grade with chromebooks. This year I wrote another grant that supplied our team with an iPad cart and 30 iPads.  My goal is to become completely paperless.  Because I also believe in journaling, I have not transitioned the journal to a digital forum.  
           My goal for this blog is to provide lessons and activities that will engage learners while teaching them in a fun and innovative way.  I hope to provide links and pictures when available.  I look forward to hearing your comments and suggestions! Please follow me on twitter and pinterest for more technology and math related posts! 
Peace, Love, Math- Jennifer