Fraction, Decimal, Percent Puzzles

     My kids needed a fun way to practice converting fractions to decimals to percents and to recognize the major ones we use day-to-day.  I came up with this Fraction, Decimal, Percent Puzzles format and invited a "product test group" (my students) to give it a try. Results were mostly positive!
     There are several ways to student can solve all of the puzzles or small groups can play.  Directions and photos are included in the product and below.  I made sure that each student had pencil and paper or whiteboards and markers to justify their math reasoning.  That is, if a player wants to add a piece to a puzzle, he/she has to show the math to prove it fits.

     If you've read this far, I'll do this for you: Leave a comment and your email address any time between now and February 28, 2015 and I'll send you a FREE copy!
     I'd love to hear what you're doing in your classroom with fractions, decimals, and percents!
Growing Grade By Grade
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Science: Watching A Beating Heart

     As we worked through our unit on Human Body Systems, I found a super-easy and super-affordable activity - always a winner for me! - to help us understand the work of the circulatory system.
     I purchased a bag of marshmallows (yes, we're going to eat them) and a box of toothpicks.  That's it! We washed hands and put down a clean tissue/napkin/paper towel on each desk.  I passed out the marshmallows and toothpicks.  I firmly cautioned students about using the toothpicks carefully and appropriately. 
     Students pushed the toothpick about halfway into the marshmallow and placed this "apparatus" on the inside of their wrist.  This took some serious calming down and getting quiet to keep the apparatus in place!  The point is to see the toothpick "jiggle" or "bump" with each heart beat. 
     Results were mixed.  Some students had to hunt around for a good spot on their wrist.  Once we got going, I timed 15 seconds while students counted their heart beats.  We multiplied by four to approximate our heart rate per minute.
     As you can see from the pictures, I used large marshmallows.  We wondered whether smaller marshmallows might yield different results - would it be easier to see the jiggles?  My students would really like to try it out!

 Have you tried this or a similar activity?  I'd love to hear your comments!
Growing Grade By Grade
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Mentoring a Student Teacher: A Series (#1)

   One of my favorite parts of teaching is mentoring newer teachers.  Yes, I love teaching my students, delving into subject content, developing materials, collaborating with general, most of what happens in the school day.  (OK, I'm not crazy about the paper work.)  But, taking a new teacher under my wing and helping him/her start the journey toward teacher-hood strikes a spark of excitement and anticipation in me. I see it as an chance to positively influence future students that I will not actually teach myself.  It's a tremendous responsibility and a fantastically cool opportunity!
     I'm blessed to have a student teacher this semester, which is like mentoring on steroids.  I plan to do a series of posts documenting what we do to fulfill her training.  I hope it will assist others in mentoring, training student teachers, and maybe strike a spark or two in others.
     My Student Teacher (I'll refer to her as ST from now on) is super-excited to be at this point in her education!  She literally exudes excitement!  She has served in other capacities in education in the past few years, but she's worked tirelessly to get to this point - you know it's a dream-come-true for her!
     Here's what we're doing the first week:
A Tour of the School: This is important for any teacher new to a school.  Even though my ST actually worked at our school as a TA in the past, things goodness, do they change!  On the first day, we did a walk-through:
  • meeting and greeting employees, 
  • discussing particular routines and procedures on a school-wide basis, and 
  • pointing out where specific classes were located, especially those in mobile units outside the main buildings.  Keep in mind that we teach the whole child - it's important to be familiar with every place that a child might be during the day.  
Providing Curricula and Pacing Guides: There's no telling where ST will be placed when she receives her license and begins her job search, so it may or may not be worthwhile for a cooperating teacher to make additional copies of the current curricula and pacing guides, but it is vital that she have access to what I have now.  ST knows exactly where they are and I encourage her to refer to them constantly as we plan together.
Begin Learning Classroom Routines and Procedures: Even with a ST joining us, learning must continue in the classroom.  ST and I were at the door on the first morning greeting students.  I introduced each student as they entered the room and she began learning their names quickly - she's really good at that!
     I'm so excited having ST with us!  Do you have a Student Teacher with you this year, or have you recently?  I'd love to hear about your experience, too!
Growing Grade By Grade
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[name=Pat McFadyen] [img=] [description=My purpose is to support YOU and your students with practical solutions and curriculum materials that teach, play, practice, and assess.] (facebook=

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