November 2012


Math News

November 2012


Greetings!  My name is Mrs. Currier.  I am the Math Specialist at Elizabeth Hall.  I co-teach math in the fourth and fifth grade classrooms.    On most days, I work right in your child’s classroom.  On some days, I bring small groups to my room.  




In the fourth grade rooms, we began the year with a focus on multiplication.  We figured out how to arrange numbers in rows and columns.  We worked with “Good Junk” to model our work.  


A fun book we read was One Hundred Hungry Ants, by Elinor Pinczes.  Ask your child to tell you how many different ways the ants came to the picnic! 


Try it: Choose one of these numbers and find out all of the ways your ants can come to the picnic.  They must come in equal rows!


30   36   48   50   60  100  


In Unit 2, fourth graders worked with data.  We collected data and made tables.  Then we interpreted the data.  Here we are measuring first graders.  Below that photo is a graph displaying the data. 


Now we’re back to multiplication, this time working with larger numbers.  Here are students solving the problem 12 x 14.  We are learning to think of combinations that will help us solve bigger problems.


When we solved 12 x 14, we knew that 12 x 10 = 120.  Then we figured out 12 x 2 and put the groups back together!



ST Math


Have you heard about Jiji?  

In Fourth grade, students are working on iPads on a program called STMath.  It stands for Spatial Temporal Math.  The focus of the program is to get students to form an idea in their minds, to keep it there and manipulate it over time as they solve problems.  To do this, they play games.  In every game, they must figure out how to get Jiji, the little penguin, across the screen.  In order to get her safely across, they must figure out how to solve problems.   There are no directions!  It is so exciting to watch children struggle, and then after working…to SUCCEED!


If I could choose one motto for math, it would be to 




When something is hard, and when we stick with it until we get it, we are truly becoming independent learners.  There is just nothing like that “Aha!” moment when a student realizes something all by him/herself.


Your child can work on ST Math at home or on a computer at the library.  Information about how to access the program is in a separate letter.




We also began the year with a focus on Multiplication and Division.  We created towers of multiples and used them to figure out problems. 


Many students struggle with understanding the context of the problem.  Visualizing real life examples helps students know what to do.  We imagined dogs sharing dog bones!  It was silly but it worked for many.


Our next unit was on Volume and nets.  We figured out how many small cubes could fit in boxes.  We figured out what the boxes looked like when they were unfolded.  This was challenging work!   You can support your child at home.

Try it: Choose any box you have on hand.  Measure the dimensions and figure out how many one-inch cubes could fit inside.  (You may want to round your dimensions to whole numbers.)  Then draw what the box will look like when you cut it open.  THEN CUT IT OPEN!  


Now the fifth graders are working with LARGE NUMBERS!  We have a 10,000 chart in our room and we use it as we practice adding and subtracting.


You can support your child at home:


Practice reading and writing large numbers:


16,345 Is said “Sixteen thousand three hundred five.”


Look for examples of large numbers in the news, on TV or in the world around you.


Right now we are working on developing understanding.  Sometimes it may seem that our methods are inefficient.  They may not look like the ones we learned in school.  Please be patient.  We will learn quick and efficient ways in time.  Instead of showing your child a quick way to do something, you can help by asking your child to explain his/her thinking.  


Math Team  


Each week, a group of fifth graders meets with me, Ms. Finley and Mr. Maeck to tackle some really challenging problems.  The classroom teachers and I selected students we thought would be up for the challenge.  We explained that the most important thing to bring to the group was a good attitude and a willingness to work.  Some students’ behavior has caused them to be removed from the group for now, as there are MANY others who want to be included!  In the Spring, we’ll choose teams to represent Elizabeth Hall at the district Math Masters competition.



Problem of the Week

ALL of the fourth and fifth graders can try the problem of the week.  Each Friday, I post a new challenge on the poster in the hall.  Students may work on it and put their answers in the envelope.  


I post photos of students who took the challenge in the hall.  5 students took the first challenge.  11 students took the second challenge.  15 students took the challenge last week!  


Encourage your child to try the problem.  In order to be on the wall, the answer does not need to be correct, but your child must show work.


Home connections:

Talk about math at the store, in the car and at the table.  Use everyday objects.  Cheerios make great arrays for multiplication.  Cereal boxes can be cut open to learn about surface area.


Ms. Sarah Currier