Wednesday, March 23, 2016

Math Motivation {#SOL16 Day 23}

I am a very practical 4th grade math teacher.

Because I'm more of a literacy girl and can truly relate to my students who struggle with math (because I've been there too),  I really strive to make sure my students know how they will use the math skills I'me teaching them out in the real world.

I'm very honest with them.   I tell them when they will use certain math skills in real life.

It's because I'm honest with my students that they trust me when I say, "Listen up, we are about to learn something really important."

I have found myself saying this a lot during our fractions unit.  On paper, fractions are difficult for my 4th graders to conceptualize.  They might not mean much, but bring in food to practice fractions and you've got a winning lesson!

Last week, I brought in a loaf of Irish Soda Bread.  My students and I considered how we could cut the loaf into 20 equal pieces so we could all have a piece.  They talked amongst themselves and determined that if I cut the loaf into 10 slices one direction then cut it down the middle in the other direction, the result would be 20 pieces.  Brilliant!

Yesterday, I brought in eight pound cake muffins left over from Sunday's family dessert.  Again, they talked in small groups to see if they could solve this real life math problem.  How could they split the eight muffins into 20 pieces?
This challenge was a bit more difficult.  Twenty wasn't easily divisible by eight.  But, after talking it through, they determined that if we cut each muffin into fifths, that would mean we would have 40 total pieces so everyone could have two pieces, or 2/5 of the whole.
 Today, a parent came in to make no-bake granola balls with the class.  We talked about what we could do if we only had a 1/2 cup measuring cup, but needed to measure one cup -- use two scoops.  What if we only had a 1/3 cup measuring cup?  Use three scoops.  Need to double the recipe?  Multiply everything by 2.

Needless to say, my students have become quite proficient at fractions.  Food motivates!

5 comments:

  1. I think I would have learned math better if my teachers had brought food in to help me learn. You. Are. Awesome!!!

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  2. YUM!!!! I know that food motivates me... especially with math. Way to go you math teacher, you!

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  3. Yep, even though you're more of literacy girl you get the math thing too, connect the learning to real life. Not only have you connected fractions to real life you have bribed your students with food. Yep, you're an awesome teacher!

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  4. You would have been the perfect math teacher for me - equate it with food and I might have figured it out! What fun lessons!!

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  5. I've used food in the past Jennifer. These lessons are brilliant ideas, & I suspect will "stick", along with sticky fingers, too!

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