As you well know, we are looking very hard at Math instruction this year at Opstad.  One of the things that I have observed in our students is a lack of automaticity with math facts. Historically, 5th grade has tested on multiplication facts only.  While we were working with long division, I noticed that subtraction was often a problem, and now that we are in fractions, there are simple mistakes being made in addition as well.  

This week we began a new math fact "program" that I am calling "Math Minute".  We first took a handwriting assessment to see how many numbers students could copy in a minute. This assessed only their handwriting speed without the computation part. Based on the results, each student was given a goal for the number of problems they should be able to compute in a minute. Goals in our class ranged from 28 to 40.  

There are 6 levels of addition to pass before moving on to subtraction, and then multiplication and division. Since coming back to school from the storm we have done three Math Minutes.  The good news is that everyone is making progress by getting more problems done/correct each time. The bad news is that we don't know our math facts like we should. :)  I feel confident that this is one piece of our math puzzle, and I'm excited to see how this translates in to every day math.

How can you help?  Keep talking with your kids, ask to see their Math Minutes, offer to practice with them, and perhaps pull out the flashcards again!   Fifth graders may resist practicing addition and subtraction, but it will help them immensely in the long run.  
My how technology is moving us forward!!  The school policy on electronics has been that they are allowed on the bus, but not in the classroom.  For now, we are changing that policy to allow digital readers in the classroom.  The understanding is that they are being brought to school with parent permission, and are being used for reading only -- all content should be school appropriate. 

Several students have asked about using iPads and iPods for research, dictionary usage etc., and we are working on a issuage policy for that. For now, those items that ar not used for reading need to stay in packbacks. If you have a child in another class, please check with them before sending in a digital reader with your student.

I'll keep you posted about changing policies!
It's that time!  Your kiddos are old enough that they should be preparing for tests.  They just finished up a geometry test that they have known about since before break.  They've known about it for weeks, and I had IXL skills designated for practice, and we did two review sessions this week, but... I was surprised by how many students did not have some of the common terms down.  This is probably a shift in thinking for them.  When tests come up, they will need to be studying!  They will need help with this, so it's important that you know about things as they are coming up! Tests and projects and other important things are on the assignment calendars that your kids bring home, and I try to post those things on our homework page as well. 
I'm hoping that before break your kids came home telling you all about our wonderful iPad adventure! Opstad received three grants from the Technology Initiative, and we have 10 iPads to share among every two grade levels. We used the app "Educreation" to create mini videos the kids made. In pairs they worked to define and give examples of certain geometric terms.  The pictures are in our photo section if you want to see.  It was one of my favorite teaching experiences - ever. :)  The engagement and interest was unreal!  

Today during writing the kids were working on their PowerPoint ABC books. I had directed that only one person per team could use the computers in the hall, so they were working out who needed the computers the most etc. About 15 minutes into our work session, I felt like I had been hit on the head -- duh!  I had iPads in the cupboard! So we pulled those out and the teams used them for research. One of the things I love the most about these mobile devices is that it is easier to share.   I watched as kids did research, found something interesting, and walked it over to someone else to share.  I think we have a tendency to fear that technology can be isolating or anti-social. What I've seen is that kids are very eager to share what they are doing with one another.  

Hope everyone had a great Holiday. Happy New Year!