Saturday, January 23, 2016

Cup Stacking - Mean, Median, Mode, & Range

Hi ya'll! Sorry I have been a little M.I.A. lately, the craziness of the beginning of the second semester has hit me full on. For those who teach 5th grade in elementary school probably can relate to the craziness that is getting the kids ready for their big transition to middle school. The class scheduling, the testing, the music tryouts, the school visits, oh ya, and my kids who are scared out of their minds for middle school. That just might be the definition of craziness. Insert my therapist hat, one of the many we wear as teachers. 

Anyway, back to the purpose of this post! Mean, median, mode, and range can be tricky concepts for 5th graders to grasp. We have been working on it this past week. I couldn't give them any more of the practice problems with reading graphs, we needed to do something that required my kids to be doing something. Insert, cup stacking. 

The purpose of this activity was for students to generate their own data to then find the mean, median, mode, and range. It started with breaking my kids up into 6 groups. Each group was given 50 cups (Target brand cups were 5% off with the Cartwheel app, just an FYI). They were given 5 minutes to practice and decide how they were going to build their tower. The conversations they had were very in depth and some groups had some well thought out strategies. 

Then the fun began, they had 1 minute to build a tower with as many cups as possible. I gave them no restrictions and amazingly they all went for the triangular tower. Some more successful than others. 

When the minute was over, they each counted how many cups they used and I recorded that data on the board. The students were responsible for finding the mean, median, mode, and range of our class data. Shockingly, they went silent and got to work analyzing the data. This made my teacher heart smile.

When they were done we did round 2, the only difference to round 2 from round 1 was the time limit changed. Round 2 only gave the groups 30 seconds to build their towers. Feel the pressure! We repeated the process with me recording the number of cups used and the students finding the 3Ms and  R. By the end of the second round, some ended up like this...

The teamwork the students used during the was amazing. They were talking out their strategies and genuinely listening to what each other had to say! The math was important and the point of this lesson, but it was amazing to watch them work together!

I made up a simple recording sheet for 2 rounds of cup stacking. You can get this freebie HERE!

This was a HUGE success in my class! I hope it works for you! Below is another resource I have for practicing mean, median, mode, and range over in my TPT store. Check it out here!

Happy data analyzing! :)

Saturday, January 9, 2016


Sergeant Schaar here! This past week we have been learning all about the coordinate grids. For those who teach 5th grade you'll understand, but if you don't, fifth grade is full of fractions and decimals. Every part and aspect of fractions and decimals, we probably do it. So when it is time to move away from fractions and decimals for a little while, it is like a breath of fresh air! 

I have been planning this activity for a while. I wanted my kids to actually experience the coordinate grids, and what better way than through Battleship?! 

Set up and materials were so easy, are you ready for this? All I used was flat black sheets and painters tape. Yep, that's it! I got it all at Walmart. I used strips of red and blue fabric to let the kids wear to represent what team they were on, but it isn't necessary for this activity.

 All I did was move all the desks out of the way and simply hung the sheets with paper clips in the middle of my classroom to create the 2 sides of the game.

To create the playing board, all I did was tape the x and y axis first and added for lines in both directions from there. TIP: I used painters tape because it comes off of carpet easier than masking tape does. This makes for a quick and easy clean up!

At the beginning of the activity I had the students choose a color strip from a bag to decide what team they will be on, in my case I used red team and blue team. I needed one student to be the commander, the person who would give me  the answer and be in charge of keeping track of hits and misses. This was chosen by a simple black star on the strips of paper. Then we read a letter I created about the rules of the game. 

Students had to build the following boats with the bodies being the boats,
2 - 2 person boats
1 - 3 person boats
1 - 4 person boats

This was all the same as the board game Battleship except one thing, which was the students didn't stand in spaces, they stood on the perpendicular lines to practice their graphing skills. Each student was standing at an ordered pair and was responsible for knowing if their part of the boat was sunk. When they were still in the game, they were standing, when they had been sunk, they sat down.

Now I took this past just firing at each other. They had to solve problems that I projected on the Promethean Board, and if a team got it right they were able to fire at their opponents. If they missed, the other team got a chance to steal the firing opportunity. 

Here are the charts they used to keep track of hits and misses. This also helped them when they were firing at their opponents. 

My kids really enjoyed this activity, and I don't think they even realized they were practicing the skill we were learning about all week! I wish I could post more pictures of my kids, but most of my pictures have all of their faces and they can't be posted. This picture below is one of my favorites because they were so intense about strategizing where they were fire next.

If you have any questions about how I made this come alive in my classroom, please email me or comment below! I'd love to help you out!

Below is an activity students can play together as a math center or station! A mini version of Battleship!

Saturday, January 2, 2016

#2getherwearebetter GOALS & PLANS for 2016

Hi friends! This post is all about my goals and plans for 2016! Today, I am joining up with some amazing bloggers for this month's #2getherwearebetter linky party! 

I don't know about you, but I have done a lot of reflecting these past couple of days on the past year, and I think it is mostly because of the amazing year I have had. This year was a big one for me in the teaching/blogging/TPT world. I recently reflected on all of that greatness of 2015 here.

Today I am here to share my goals for 2016. I have one phrase I want to focus on this year, and it is, 

I want to make sure I am present in everything I am doing in this upcoming year. If I am at school, I want to be completely present there with my sweet kids, doing my best to ignore things going on at school and outside of school. I know this will be tough because we all have our own backpacks, if you will, of stuff we bring to and from school every day, but I am in my happy place when I am teaching my kids and I want to cherish that. I also want to cherish the relationships I have and put down the phone or computer when I am with those people and be present. It is easier said than done, but my Instagram feed will be there later, and I am going to strive to live in the moments in 2016.

In the blogging world, I my goal requires something I constantly working on and that is,

I feel like I catch myself doing a lot of second guessing or worrying what others will think, so this year I want to be more confident in every aspect of my life. This will not be an easy task for me. I want to be more confident in my blog and my journey. A teacher-blogger who I look up to, always says "be you," and Ashley I am taking those words and living them this year without fear of what others will think. 

 There is one specific goal I have set for myself this year for my blog. One social media platform scares the you know what out of me when it comes to promoting my blog, and it makes me want to run and crawl into a hole, and it is Facebook. There is a fear in me that has hindered me from making my blog's page public on Facebook. So, this year I want to have the confidence to get it out there with no fear so I can continue to connect with other teachers and allow that amazing collaboration to happen! 

I feel like everyone says this, but I feel like 2016 is going to be a GREAT year for me. 

What are your goals and plans for 2016? I challenge you to reflect and write your goals down. Happy goal setting ya'll!