Leap Day Leap Frog Fun STEM Challenge!

Monday is Leap Day! Leap Day only happens once every 4 years, so I'm celebrating in my 5th grade classroom with a Leap Day Leap Frog Catapult Stem Challenge!


On Monday, I'll explain the objective and rules of the challenge, give them the materials and let them design and have fun!  Throughout the challenge, my students are answering questions, recording ideas, observations, making revisions, collecting data.  After the challenge, my students reflect on the designs.  What designs worked the best?  What didn't work?  Students are using important science and engineering process skills all while having fun and working cooperatively.

Students work in teams of 3 or 4 with assigned team roles.  The teams plan a catapult design, build, try the design and revise before the challenge!  Each team gets two attempts to leap the frog from the catapult.  The team that leaps the frog the farthest is the winner!

My Leap Day Leap Frog Catapult STEM Challenge file is available in my Teachers Pay Teachers store here.  The Challenge file contains teacher directions and notes plus student pages for planning, testing, revising, the challenge, and a reflection on the design challenge. A rubric is also included!

Happy Leap Day!


Multiply Fractions Using Area Models with a Freebie for YOU!

Confession.  Math was my worst subject in school.  Calculus?  I honestly don't know how I survived college level calc with Dr. K.  I think he just took pity on me.  

Looking back now, I had some not so great math teachers.  I don't want to be that teacher - I mean, who aims for "not so great"?   I want to be the teacher that I wish I had when I was young.  Now, I LOVE math and LOVE teaching math.  I want my students to LOVE math too.  That's a lot of love.   To become the math teacher I wish I had, I seek and create ways to make math meaningful, hands-on and fun!  

When it came time to start multiplying fractions with my 5th graders, I remembered how difficult it was to use area models with my 5th graders last year.  It was so difficult because our district-provided math text has students creating fraction models in tiny boxes and then shading them in.  Ironically, the lesson is titled "Hands-On Multiply Fractions".  Drawing models is not hands-on enough for me!
I had an idea to use clear fraction models that they could overlap to see the area models multiply. I immediately thought of overhead transparency film and that YES I could print models on this!  I created fraction models, printed them, cut them out and viola! Perfect.  

I allowed my students a chance to play with the models first.

Next,  I modeled how to multiply fractions using the area model using this terrific online interactive, http://www.geogebra.org/m/40578.  I also modeled how to use the fraction transparency models using my document camera.

I let my students "play" with the models on their individual white boards.  They created and solved their own problems.  They LOVED this activity.

Lay out the transparency models - one vertical, one horizontal

Slide the models to overlap and find the product
I created  area model problem pages for students to use the models to create and solve the problem and then draw the models and the product.

Here's a preview of the full product Multiply Fractions with Area Models available in my TeachersPayTeachers store!  It also includes a set of expressions and product models for students to sort - great in workstations for extra practice.

AND  I've created a freebie of the fraction models just for you!  

Thank YOU for stopping by!


Do What You Love, Love What You Do

This time of the year, I find myself getting in a bit of a slump.  Student behavior seems to start to slip, lesson plans and grading need to be done, meetings suck up my precious time, and lots of other little things get in the way of joy.  The problem is not all of the little things or my students behavior, the problem is actually ME.  It's so easy to get caught up in all of the problems and  the overwhelming pile of work (and the cold and sometimes dreary weather doesn't help either!).  BUT those things are always there.  Nothing.Has.Changed.  Except my attitude.  Last week, I was in a super-slump of negativity but then I started thinking about the things I LIKE about my job.  Then I realized that I LOVE my job.  I really can't imagine doing anything else.  The joy of connecting with students, helping and watching them learn and grow, instilling a joy of learning, and actually making a difference in a young person's life - it really doesn't get any better than that.  It's my passion.  I love teaching.  Do what you love and love what you do.  Words to live by.  I changed my attitude by focusing on the positive and finding those small moments of joy every day - a hug from a student, that one tough cookie who finally smiles and picks up a pencil, a student's pride in doing well on a test, playing kickball at recess, spending the last 3 minutes of small group instruction just chatting about whatever they want to share with me and each other, a class dance to Uptown Funk at the end of the day..... When I put all of the small moments of joy together- it overwhelms all of the negatives.  There is joy, just open your eyes!  I love teaching.


What Are You Reading Linky

Don't you just love reading aloud to your students?  It's one of my favorite moments of the day. Sharing a great book together is so beneficial.  We discuss, we learn, we argue, we disagree, we laugh, we cry, we BOND.  What a meaningful way to build a classroom community!
Right now we're reading Because of Mr. Terupt.  This is my first time reading this book and I'm hooked.  The first chapter, "Peter", is hilarious!  It's borderline inappropriate but perfect for 5th graders.  Peter is used to pulling one over on teachers but Mr. Terupt is onto him (in a good way).  So many of my students could relate to Peter (or know of a Peter!).  Mr. Terupt is a "rookie" teacher who is already capturing his students' hearts.  This is going to be a great read!


Head over to Focused on Fifth to see what other 5th grade classes are reading!

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