Scaffolded Math and Science

(formerly ZeroSum Ruler)

Free Slope Task Cards! Help celebrate my 1000th sale! April 16, 2014

Filed under: algebra,math,math game — Shana Donohue @ 6:26 pm
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A day came months in the making: my 1000th sale on Teachers pay Teachers!  To celebrate, I added my most popular task cards to the “Today’s Flash Freebie!” box over there —> Please download!  I’d love for you to come back and add a comment on how you used them in your classroom!

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freebie

 

Are most 4 year olds already doing subtraction? April 8, 2014

Filed under: education,math education — Shana Donohue @ 9:27 pm
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My daughter isn’t 4 yet.  Are most 4 year olds already doing subtraction?  Do they already have homework?

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Capture

 

TONIGHT’S FREEBIE! Interactive Notebook: Solving Algebraic Equations (8 minibooks) April 7, 2014

Filed under: algebra — Shana Donohue @ 7:23 pm
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A QUICK FREEBIE TONIGHT ONLY! This download contains 8 foldables to make an equation solving interactive notebook unit. Each foldable explains the steps to solve each type of equation. You can download from TpT by clicking on the picture or download it from the sidebar right here on my blog! :)

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Common Core needs a Common Curriculum – April 2, 2014

CaptureMy husband and I welcomed our first baby on January 19 of this year.  Who will she be?  My husband is an avid reader.  I, on the other hand, fall asleep after 3 pages.  He likes to jokingly chant, “Down with Math, up with Books!”  I’ve already had a conversation with myself about not having hurt feelings if she dislikes Math but, of course, I secretly hope it is easier for her than it was for me.  That the whole world is open to her at this very minute is completely cliche, but this doesn’t make it any less true.  We have no idea what kind of student our daughter will be, but if she is anything like her parents, she will be a bit Type A and fairly high-strung.  We want her to at least get to high school before having her first panic attack, so her Dad and I – two public school teachers – already plan to opt her out of state-mandated testing. OK, she’ll need to pass that last one that tickets a diploma, but before that?  Not a chance.  Ar we bad people for never having taken them?

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That all being said, our kid is definitely going to public school.  As messy as all this Common Core and testing business has become, there is no better place to get an education than in the concrete confines of the public school system.  Why?  Despite what it seems, with all of the regulations and evaluation systems to keep us slacker teachers from showing movies all day, we all want to be there.  When textbooks are too expensive, we make our own curriculum.  When the copy machine is out of toner again we go to Staples.  When we’re out of dry erase markers we buy more.  We apply for grants and get them.  We buy technology for our classrooms.  We supplement when our kids need more help.  And as if this all wasn’t enough, our girl is going to public school because of the diversity of people found there.  Where else do all walks of Life brush shoulders all day?  Nowhere.  Our girl is going to public school.

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I recently wrote about that angry dad who wrote on his son’s Math assessment, blaming the Common Core for how ridiculous the question was.  Today I read another article about the dad, Jeff Severt, and his son, who has been diagnosed with autism and reading difficulties. The article included quotes from people who helped develop the standards.  None took responsibility for the crappy question.  In fact, they said it was exactly opposite what the standards are all about.

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Come again?

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This dude says it’s not Common Core’s fault for how publishers interpret the standards.  Then whose fault is it?  This is like me telling you to be at my house by 7PM, not giving you my address, and withholding your package accidentally sent to me.  Like, how do I get there to get my package?  Publishers have been given free reign to slap a “COMMON CORE” on anything they please and because schools are so desperate to meet the new standards, publishers are making a fortune creatively confusing the crap out of kids.  Dude didn’t even own up to the 15 blank lines asking Severt’s son to write a paragraph about the problem.  He says that writing in Math isn’t a Common Core standard.  Then who is interpreting his standards this way and why are they not being stopped?

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I love creating curriculum.  There’s nothing more stifling as a teacher than to be told that we have to do exactly what the next teacher is doing.  But the Common Core standards leave a lot to the imagination of some pretty unimaginative people and that’s a recipe for a frustrating disaster.  Hopefully in the near future some curriculum guidelines will come into being.

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Yeah, probably not.

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About that “test” email earlier… Flash freebies! March 26, 2014

freebiesBefore I start, know that I’m 37.  When my family first got a computer it ran DOS and we used Prodigy to get on the internet.  When friends called the phone – like, the kind that went into the wall with a cord – the internet would let the call through despite changing the settings 1,000 times to favor the internet.  Oh internet how bittersweet our relationship has always been.

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Yesterday I made a Facebook page that loosely links to my TpT page so that I can give away flash freebies to followers.  Because I had no idea what I was doing, as I’m finding is more and more often the case these days (see age disclaimer above), I watched a video tutorial on utilizing Facebook apps to give away freebies and assumed that would be all I’d need.  It wasn’t.  Sometime today I created a WordPress post as a “test” and published it to see what would happen, completely forgetting that you all would get an email.  It was a jumble of what savvy people refer to as “html” and looked a hot mess.  You must have been like, ‘WTF is this?”  I would have been.  I may have even unfollowed myself.  Thank you for not doing that.  It was me who wrote that weird post; my account was not hacked.  Though it may have been less embarrassing if it had been.

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I’ll remember next time!  In the meantime, keep an eye out for my freebies.  I’m excited about them…

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Angry Dad writes on his son’s Math assessment. Do you agree? March 22, 2014

Filed under: algebra,Common Core,math teaching — Shana Donohue @ 1:44 pm
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Angry Mother Writes A Letter To The Examiner. It's Hard Not To Agree With Her427 – 316.  No borrowing is necessary to find that the answer is 111: 7 – 6, 2 – 1, 4 – 3, you’re done.  Like I wrote in my post the other day it’s important and maybe even a bit interesting to know why things work in Math.  But algorithms are also important.  Without algorithms we wouldn’t have things like the Alphabet Song (assuming they still sing it in kindergarten – now I’m wondering if they do) or Roy G. Biv.  These “tricks” are confidence builders for when tests come across our desks.  And we all know that plenty of tests come across our desks.

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“Find the Error” problems are notoriously hard already, nevermind one with 15 blank lines (yes, I counted) and directions to explain what went wrong.  I teach high school Math so it doesn’t much matter that I have no idea what went wrong. Was it that he counted each of those closer-together numberline dots as 1?  If he was supposed to count them as 2 each, I have a question for the writer of the problem.  When in Real Life do we ever count backwards in odd numbers?  Is this really a Common Core skill?

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My husband is an elementary school teacher, so I asked him to explain this friendly letter formatted problem.  As a side, isn’t it a bit of a face punch that it’s a friendly letter?  He mentioned “skip counting” right before we started bashing the whole idea of doing this to kids.  When you’re a teacher married to a teacher these things happen [often].

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OK, so skip counting.  As this problem is clearly preparing Jack for when he needs to someday subtract 316 from 427 without a pencil, I started thinking about how I’d do the problem without a pencil.  I would start from 316 and count up: 416, 417, 418, …427 (on my fingers for the 417 through 427 part).  But this isn’t what Jack did either.  WDJDW?

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I almost gave up figuring out what Jack did wrong until I remembered that the most obvious answer is usually the correct one.  My final conclusion is that Jack is a bright boy born into an unfortunate time for Math education, has been withheld the subtraction algorithm, is great with numberlines and skip counting but simply misread the problem to be “427 – 306″.  He’s also nice to other kids and never a bully so does a lot of things right in Life.  I’d like to have him in my class someday.

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Maybe you can help me.  Here’s the article.

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“That’s not Common Core!” March 17, 2014

CaptureA couple days ago I got an email that someone commented on one of my blog posts.  Since this rarely happens, I got excited, logged into my blog and quickly read through the comment.  Well, my intention was to quickly read the comment since I’m kind of busy, but because it was so long-winded this didn’t happen. I read the beginning, which was negative, I skimmed the middle of the giant block of text, and I read the end.  There were no paragraph indentations, just a giant wall of hastily-typed words taking aim directly at me.  The end of the comment suggested I get to know Common Core before proclaiming that a certain method is, in fact, “Common Core”.  What was the guy’s beef? Crisscross applesauce!

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I know what you’re thinking: How could anyone be mad at such a catchy little phrase?  This is exactly what I was thinking. But then I reminded myself that Math is the most intimidating subject filled with people who intend to keep it that way.  The commenter explained how he scoured the standards, even the high school ones, and didn’t find “crisscross” anywhere.

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No shit?  Did you find applesauce anywhere?  Mmmmm, applesauce…

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Anyway, this whole thing got me thinking about Neil DeGrasse Tyson and his quote “The good thing about Science is that it’s true whether you believe it or not”.  The good thing about Math is that the numbers come out the same no matter how you teach it.  That’s what I love about it.  Common Core states that in a/b + c/d, the sum is (ad + bc)/(ad).  To a 5th grader this might as well be Ancient Egyptian.  But because I don’t really believe in gimmicks and tricks to teach Math, I did explain how the Crisscross method to add and subtract fractions works here.

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And here’s the 5th grade standard on fraction addition:

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fraction add standard

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So I ask you a very important question.  Would you rather read through a ginormous block of intimidating text to learn how to add fractions or just look at this cute [FREE] poster?  I’d choose the poster.  My students would choose the poster.  I’m willing to bet that if you’re trying to learn fraction addition, you’d choose the poster too.

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crisscross

 

 
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