Distributive Property

I saw this idea on Sarah’s Math = Love blog.  She actually got the idea from Adventures in Teaching.  So the idea is to teach the distributive property using combo meals.  I created this activity for the kids to do.


I feel like this was the first time I taught the distributive property where the kids were all talking about how easy it was and how it made so much sense- such a great feeling for a teacher!  I am going to do the same thing for combining like terms tomorrow, so I hope the success continues!

The distributive property



Student Relationships

This is just on my mind, so I thought I would write a little something 🙂

Last week, our principal and assistant principal were both out of the building, and I had the opportunity to be in charge for the day and sub for them.  I told my kids what was happening the day before since I was going to have my own sub and they would be seeing me around.

I just loved how many kids stopped by the office I was hanging out in for the day to ask how it was going or to tell me I did great on the announcements.  I also had a ton of kids make sure that I would be back in the classroom the next day.  I know we all have those moments where the kids are driving us crazy and things are frustrating, but I think this is why we all work with kids- those relationships that we build that are about so much more than the subject we teach.

That’s all…

Solving Equations

This week we worked on solving equations using the AIMS Equality in the Balance activity. 


Using a scale isn’t a brand new idea for solving equations, but this activity is pretty cool.  The idea is that there are packets of pennies and individual pennies on either side of the scale.  You have to solve the equation to figure out what is in the packet.

I found that this activity was awesome for the kids because:

1. They could visualize figuring out how much was in a packet of pennies vs solving for some random letter.

2. They could physically cross off pennies from either side of the scale to make them balance- this helped them understand the reason we have to do the same operation to both sides of the equation.

3. To divide up pennies between packets, students could circle the pennies to create the groups.

I also told the kids that instead of writing the word “packets” every time, we were just going to abbreviate the word as “p”.  Again, this helped them put meaning to the variable rather than it being a random letter.


In the past, my data standards always consisted of teaching the students how to make graphs.  While there were a few graphs they weren’t familiar with, many of them seemed very repetitive.  These kids have been making line and bar graphs since first grade.  The new common core standards change things drastically.  It is all about sampling and variability now. 

On Tuesday I started with an AIMS activity from the Statistics and Probability book.  The activity had the students comparing synonyms for blue, yellow, and red to see the different lengths of the words.  I added a component where the students would have to find the interquartile range and mean absolute deviation, two things that they weren’t familiar with at all until now.


Then today, we did another activity, Counting Characters, from the same book.  For this one, the students had to find a random sample by throwing squares of paper at a sheet of newspaper, then they counted the characters in each of these squares.  Students used that data to estimate how many characters would be on the entire page.  From there, I had the students find the mean absolute deviation of their data and we compared these numbers to the rest of the groups to see which group had data with the highest variability.


I think both of these activities went pretty well.  I was quite shocked at a few of the things that happened during the random sampling for the counting characters activity.  First of all, I had the students cut out squares to throw on the newspaper.  I had a few groups that didn’t cut on the lines for the squares.  They simply cut between the lines on the paper.  Really???  I really just didn’t think this would be something I would have to say specifically.  I also had students toss the squares at the newspaper, lean down and straighten the square so it was nice and neat on the paper, then throw the next one.  Not a random sample then, guys!  And then, again, the cutting out of the squares from the newspaper was appalling.  How do you get jagged edges?  How do you have pieces that are drastically different sizes?  All I kept thinking of was the common core standard for mathematical practice “Attend to Precision”.  While I don’t think that cutting newspaper squares was exactly what they were thinking of when they wrote this standard, it certainly fits the bill.  How can we expect our kids to do higher level precision when cutting carefully isn’t even on their radar?