Sunday, March 27, 2016

March Madness in the Classroom

March Madness could be one of my favorite times of the year! I am a HUGE fan of college basketball, especially my Butler Bulldogs! Because of my love for this wonderful month, I worked very hard this year to incorporate it into my classroom at school. I have a a solid group of students who have gotten into it this year because of the excitement I have built up around it!

I have compiled a list of how I incorporate NCAA March Madness into my classroom. Most of these ideas can work in other grade levels other than 5th!

The classic March Madness fun, filling out a bracket! The Monday after Selection Sunday, we took 15 minutes before loading busses learning how to fill out a bracket. The students had until Thursday morning to turn in their finished brackets. They took them home and finished them, no time during school except during breakfast. 

With the completed brackets, we made a little friendly competition with it. After each night of games I would check (and still checking) their brackets to see how many wins they predicted correctly. I also kept track of the wins on a poster sized bracket! My kids loved coming into the room and going to check who won the day/night before.

I kept track of the number of correct games on my back blackboard of my classroom. After every day of games I would write another column so they could see how many games they got right. The winner, who gets the most games correct, gets a special prize, that I am not disclosing yet, and that is KILLING my kids. (Insert teacher laugh here!) They want to know so bad. These pictures are from the first round, the scores are much closer toward the end, we'll see who wins!

I'm not sure I mentioned this before, but I LOVE watching college basketball. As a proud alumni, Butler basketball is my favorite and they made it into the tournament this year and played at 12:40 on Thursday, right smack in the middle of our day! I am so lucky with who I have as my administration because they allowed me to watch the game! Don't worry, my kids had a wonderful activity to do as they watched the game thanks to Kristine Nannini over at Young Teacher Love and her March Madness Math Pack!

We cheered the Dawgs to victory! I love showing my students how they can use their math skills they are learning in fifth grade in the real world!

The final way I incorporate March Madness into my class is through math centers. I have created 4 different stations that are all basketball themed just to bring the excitement into math! They were a huge success with my kids and they loved when they had the chance to do these centers! Something as easy as a math station can bring the March Madness into your classroom!

 Here are all of the products listed above!

I know we are coming to the end of the tournament and March Madness will be over soon, but take from this whatever you can, and prepare for next year! :) That's the beauty of March Madness, it comes around every year. :)

PERSONAL: This is a picture of Butler Blue 2 from when I was lucky enough to go to the National Championship in 2011 when Butler went. I love reliving these amazing memories I was able to make!

Problem Solving Police

Problem solving is a daunting task. Making it fun and engaging can be a challenge. I was itching to do another room transformation, so cue Kim Bearden and the amazing Elizabeth Hall over at Kickin' in Kindergarten because they inspired me for this activity. I wanted to turn my room into a crime scene/police station. Ta-da, problem solving police!

The content and meat of this activity was not to go and solve multi-step word problems, I wanted them to have to think deeper and access higher level thinking skills. My students had to analyze work of someone (me) who had already solved the ten multi-step word problems. They had to decide what mistakes were made and correct them. Hello higher level thinking! :)

Set-up was easy! I hung the case numbers up from the ceiling with yarn so the kids could easily find the different cases. The solved problems were sitting in bins from the always wonderful Target dollar spot! Other than those things, the only other thing I needed to order was caution tape. I taped the caution tape up around my room so students had to duck and weave around it, tom make it a little more real.

Now to the fun of the activity. Each student was a police officer who had 10 cases to solve. Every problem was a 2 part question, and they had the option of working independently or with others in the class. This was the best part of the activity was hearing the students talk about the problems. Hearing their reasoning made my teacher heart happy!

At the beginning, each officer was given a file folder with all of the materials they needed. Included was their name tags and 10 citation forms which they filled out for very case. The citation form is where they had to identify what was done incorrectly.

This activity challenged my students and made them think rather than just solving problems. I also had them correct the problems so they were practicing their problem solving skills.

I hope to have this activity up in my TPT store sometime this coming week! Hello spring break! Below are some more pictures of this fun activity!

Happy Spring ya'll!

Saturday, March 12, 2016

Problem Solving with Balloons

Problem solving. What comes to your mind when I say that? Well, I have to say it's not my favorite things to teach in math, and I LOVE MATH. When I was planning for this past week, I was trying to find any ideas that took problem solving off of the paper and made it a little more exciting! Thank goodness for Ron Clark.

In his book The End of Molasses Classes his mentions an idea about having students collaborate on math problems using a balloon instead of a piece of paper. I read this, and knew right away that I was going to give this a try in my classroom! 

This past week in math we were scheduled to work on problem solving with decimals and whole numbers. We spent part of the week talking about the different strategies to use when problem solving, and about the operation specific strategies (ex: multiplication with standard algorithm, area model, or Lattice method).

We had some fun on Thursday with balloons and Sharpies! (It's amazing how much kids love Sharpies!)
 It was pretty simple. I posted a problem on my board, and students collaborated and wrote as many strategies and ways to solve the problem as they could on their balloon. Then we discussed the different ways on the board so everyone could see, then they could pop the balloon together!

 The math and the process was great to see, but my teacher heart was full when I heard the conversations they were having, especially when the groups were not their usual math groups. The mixed groups made the discussion so much more unique and allowed for students to see a problem in a new way.

Something as simple as a balloon is an easy way to engage your students, and change things up!