Having trouble teaching math

Discussion in 'Fifth Grade' started by Peachyness, Aug 21, 2007.

  1. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2006
    Messages:
    6,181
    Likes Received:
    1

    Aug 21, 2007

    So far, I have no problems teaching reading, writing, or science. I LOVE these subjects. History was never my favorite in school so I'm doing my best in that area. So far so good. But math- sheesh!!!! I'm having a really hard time with that one. I really don't know why. When I student taught 5th, I had no problems teaching them math. This textbook is kind of weird. It doesn't really explain things very well, so I have to reexplain it and I just feel I"m doing SO bad. Right now, we're doing more review work that they should know from 4th. But still, for those low kids who are confused, I feel so bad. I'm constantly having to go back and say, whoops, I meant.......

    Right now, I'm having a hard time with finding missing numbers in division. I don't know why, I just can't seem to explain it to them. I, myself, had a very hard time with algebra. I like geometry much better. Uch!! What to do!!!!
     
  2.  
  3. Ms.Jasztal

    Ms.Jasztal Maven

    Joined:
    Jul 21, 2005
    Messages:
    5,363
    Likes Received:
    0

    Aug 21, 2007

    I think I've been boring as a math teacher the last two days. :( I've just done reading and math, though.... but I LOVE to teach every subject but math unless I am on an academic tangent and can go on about something. However, I must use language with my math class that helps them to really understand what I am discussing, and I just want to go off on the tangent, but I can't.

    Okay, that sounded kind of lame.

    But I know to brighten things up in math, I've always used some sort of game(s) on Fridays that pertain to multiplication... and then Jeopardy on PowerPoint. They really love that. Right now they think I am the end of the world (maybe), but soon they'll see I try to make math great for them. :)....

    Hmmmm, though. I do know where you are coming from.
     
  4. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2006
    Messages:
    6,181
    Likes Received:
    1

    Aug 21, 2007

    I would love to do the Jeopardy on Powerpoint but nothing is hooked up in my classroom. I hooked up my personal computer and found I didn't even have internet access yet. I have that projector thingie on the ceiling, but that's not ready yet. I guess I can play Jeopardy the ole' fashion way with paper.....

    I try my best to explain the math to them. I try to explain how I think about it, but as soon as they work on their own, I have about 5 kids who don't know how to answer a question. BUT, what's interesting is that a lot of questions they don't know how to do, are SO SIMPLE. It's right their in their book. The question will tell them HOW to solve it! But they still don't know what to do until I stand there and read it to them. They I ask, so what do you think you need to do. Then, they respond, "uh.... multiply." I say, yes. That's what the word product means. To multiply. My goodness. And I thought kinder kids were needy. These fifth graders have NO idea on how to use their brains to figure problems out. They don't know how to critically think. I'm so worried about our future.

    I'm coming from kinder and I got them when they were babies. I worked so hard to make them think on their own, to be independent, and so on. THen, I move up to fifth and see how it's not like that.

    Whoops, now I'm rambling. Sorry. I feel so sad that I'm not in primary right now.
     
  5. uclalum

    uclalum Groupie

    Joined:
    Aug 21, 2005
    Messages:
    1,257
    Likes Received:
    0

    Aug 22, 2007

    Oh! I pray that they grow on you. I love the fifth grade. But then again, I haven't started this school year yet. My class this year might be completely different from last year and that might change everything. I am so scared and nervous about my kids this year. I hope I get a good group.
    What do you mean by finding missing numbers in division. Maybe I can help because I love math. (My weakness is physical scinece and social studies)
     
  6. Missy

    Missy Aficionado

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2004
    Messages:
    3,669
    Likes Received:
    232

    Aug 22, 2007

    It sounds like some of your students need some vocab review. Math has its own "language" and they have to know it.

    My kids love Concentration with vocab (I do this in Math and SS). Use a pocket chart and write each word on two index cards - I use large ones. Turn the cards face down. The kids are in teams, and they pick a card (say "sum") and then they have to give the definition of the word before they can look for a match. To make this less threatening I let them "phone a friend" on their team for help with the definition, if they need it. They love this game and it really has helped me.

    I also make mini posters of problem solving strategies - guess and check, make a table, draw a picture, etc.

    Does your teacher manual have a "Common Error Alert"? This helped me my first year or two when I didn't see why they didn't understand something.
     
  7. Missy

    Missy Aficionado

    Joined:
    Aug 5, 2004
    Messages:
    3,669
    Likes Received:
    232

    Aug 22, 2007

    Forgot this - Mindware and other companies have some great logic problem books that really stress critical thinking and not just computation.
     
  8. Aliceacc

    Aliceacc Multitudinous

    Joined:
    Apr 12, 2006
    Messages:
    27,534
    Likes Received:
    6

    Aug 22, 2007

    Here's how I teach math, boiled down to simple procedure:

    1. I try to find an amazing tie-in to real life. Not always possible, especially in the upper grades, but I give it a shot.

    2. The title goes on the board.

    3. I present the first example, slowly. I try hard to keep to the left half of the board. (Again, with the upper grades, not always possible.)

    4. I write "Method" on the right half of the board. I ask the kids to look at the problem and explain to me just what we did. ("OK, so how do we know this is a quadratic? What did we do first? How did we get from here to here? Then what?") I number their responses and write them on the right side of the board. This takes a while!!

    5. We now have a template for the rest of the problems we'll do. I put up the second problem and we follow our instructions to solve it. I put up a few more and we run through them.

    --- I'm not sure just what you mean about division either. Can you give us an example so we can help you?
     
  9. MissFroggy

    MissFroggy Aficionado

    Joined:
    Aug 26, 2006
    Messages:
    3,729
    Likes Received:
    0

    Aug 22, 2007

    I student taught in 5th grade, and all of a sudden was teaching long division. My mentor teacher actually gave me half the class during ST and took the rest of the kids to the cafeteria to work, as I think there were like, 30 kids in the math class! (We switched for math.)

    Anyway, I'm there at the overhead and completely blank on how to explain long division. The book is really confusing.

    The kids are looking at me and no one gets it. I ended up just grouping the kids into groups of three or four and dumping piles of counting tiles in front of them. I say, make sure you each have as close to an equal group as possible. (They each had around 200 tiles.) They all did it in a different way, either the "I take one, you take one" method, or counting it out and doing the math... in any case, once they were done, they got the answer, and I said, so how do you write that as a number sentence?

    They all got it, and from there we could do the long division. I think that was one of my better moments in student teaching, and still use that way to introduce long division.

    Moral of the story- think outside of the box. If you don't get it, either will they. Find a way for YOU to understand it, then do it with the kids. They are not too old to use manipulatives! Apply it to their experiences and make it tangible.
     
  10. MissFrizzle

    MissFrizzle Virtuoso

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2006
    Messages:
    6,439
    Likes Received:
    0

    Aug 22, 2007

    littleschool,

    Isn't it funny how you ended up teaching them by basically letting them figure it out on their own? That's a real " a ha " moment.

    I always struggled with math, up until 9th grade. I had an amazing, wonderful teacher who really explained things in such a way that " I got it"

    Anyway, I've often wondered myself, how to improve upon teaching math. I mean, most textbooks will give you an example and a page of problems similar to the example which is good, but somehow, I feel like I fail the students :( Shouldn't we be teaching them the "Why" as well as the "HOW"? Yes, I can teach procedures, but is that really what teaching math is about? I'd like to get ideas on how you've made math relevant:)

    Did I hijack?:whistle:
     
  11. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

    Joined:
    May 13, 2005
    Messages:
    29,669
    Likes Received:
    1,105

    Aug 22, 2007

    Here's a fine book, not on the how of math but on the why:

    Go Figure: A Totally Cool Book about Numbers by Johnny Ball (Dorling Kindersley, 2005, ISBN 0-7566-1374-4)

    Chances are the Web site of the National Council of Teachers of Mathematics (National Council of Teachers of Mathematics, http://illuminations.nctm.org/swr/index.asp,
    http://illuminations.nctm.org/tools/index.aspx), which is so not just for math majors, has something helpful.

    Princeton Review's Know It All! math series (the one I know is for grades 6-8 Math, by Diane Perullo (Princeton Review, 2004, ISBN 0-375-76376-7)) is good - it's got practice questions enlivened by trivia ranging from the weird to the slightly disgusting.

    Let me also suggest Kenn Amdahl and Jim Loats's Algebra Unplugged (ISBN 0-9627815-7-6, $15), in which a math idiot gets together over beers with a math professor to find out what algebra is really about. There's an explanation of fractions as pizzas divided by tenors that's priceless.
     
  12. MissFrizzle

    MissFrizzle Virtuoso

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2006
    Messages:
    6,439
    Likes Received:
    0

    Aug 22, 2007

    Thanks TG! How did I know you'd be around to help:) I am going to look at these suggestions.
     
  13. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

    Joined:
    May 13, 2005
    Messages:
    29,669
    Likes Received:
    1,105

    Aug 22, 2007

    Hope they help. Another good exercise is to get kids thinking about other puzzles for which the answer/procedure they've just come up with could work.
     
  14. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2002
    Messages:
    18,935
    Likes Received:
    676

    Aug 22, 2007

    I think you will find that there is often a sub-group of students who are not successful learning math by the book. But, in a mixed group, with some average and above average kids, and this being your first year in 5th, you are probably going to go by the book.

    However, if I were you, I would never have the kids learn the methods from the textbook. Use the teacher's guide for yourself, and plan how you will present each lesson. You know this stuff, don't be intimidated. Communicating ideas in math is different than communicating ideas in other subjects, though. I realize that. Don't expect yourself to feel totally comfortable with that in your first year.

    In my opinion, the 5th graders I've taught have not come into 5th knowing how to work with fractions at all. They may have somewhat of a concept of what fractions mean, but no experience beyond that. There should be a better way of preparing them for what is expected in 5th (I expect mastery of all operations with fractions).

    Repeat, repeat, repeat the vocabulary as you are explaining methods. Restate what students say with the correct vocabulary. I don't bother with memorizing math vocab as I don't think it works.

    It is strange how some students feel perfectly okay saying, "Oh, I'm not good in math" when they'd be absolutely embarrassed to say the same of reading. Unfortunately, too many people cluck, cluck and sympathize with them.

    Here is a handy website:
    http://www.wrightgroup.com/index.php/home/freeactivities/mathematics/35
     
  15. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

    Joined:
    May 13, 2005
    Messages:
    29,669
    Likes Received:
    1,105

    Aug 22, 2007

    Nifty stuff, 'daisy - the free fraction game has got me thinking about some other activities.
     
  16. 5thgraderocks

    5thgraderocks Companion

    Joined:
    Aug 12, 2005
    Messages:
    241
    Likes Received:
    0

    Aug 22, 2007

    What math series are you using? My fifth graders really struggle with Everyday Mathematics.
     
  17. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2006
    Messages:
    6,181
    Likes Received:
    1

    Aug 22, 2007

    Excellent! I will check out those books TG.

    We use Saxon Math.

    Daisy, I looked at todays lesson and taught them what I know. Today's lesson ended up being pretty fun. They got a kick out of doing today's lesson.

    The division was like, if you have 24 divided by m = 3, what is m. So, I know from experience how to solve it, but I had a hard time explaining WHY. This example isn't a good one as they had some REAL confusing problems in the book. It turns out that I'm not the only teacher who doesn't like the program. I really enjoyed the kindergaren math program by the same publishers.
     
  18. Upsadaisy

    Upsadaisy Moderator

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2002
    Messages:
    18,935
    Likes Received:
    676

    Aug 22, 2007

    But the kids learned about fact families in 3rd grade. It should be easy for them to understand that they would do the reverse operation to find the unknown.
     
  19. 4myclass

    4myclass Cohort

    Joined:
    Aug 2, 2005
    Messages:
    511
    Likes Received:
    0

    Aug 23, 2007

    Peachyness, I can completely understand. We did our first lesson in our math book yesterday. I couldn't believe it was on Place Value in the Billions. I couldn't believe that the book just jumped right in there. No lead up. These kids just came off of a long summer break and they expect them to just begin without any type of review to get their minds back in the math groove.
    I was up there at the board trying my best to explain this concept and I turn around and all I see is these wide eyed stares and mouths open. I would have laughed if I hadn't been so flustered by the math myself.
    I sure hope this math stuff starts coming back soon. I used to excel at math. Of course, I wasn't trying to teach it. I was always one of those kids that answered the problems in my head and I had trouble explaining how I did it. Guess what, I still do.
    Good luck, Peachy
     
  20. MissFrizzle

    MissFrizzle Virtuoso

    Joined:
    Mar 10, 2006
    Messages:
    6,439
    Likes Received:
    0

    Aug 23, 2007

    The school I will be in this year uses Everyday Math also. I'm getting a little concerned now. :(
     
  21. missmam

    missmam New Member

    Joined:
    Aug 25, 2007
    Messages:
    1
    Likes Received:
    0

    Aug 25, 2007

    Everyday Math

    The district that I used to work for used Everyday Math, and the problem for me was it was all over the place. I have moved onto another district, and we do not use textbooks. We use other resources to teach from. TAKS Math Prep Book is one source, but it was created by our Regional District this book have lesson plans for all objectives that use real world connections. I know that Texas is different from other states, but if your students have to take standardized test then something should be available. We also use Aim Activities these are hands on activities.It helps students understand what they are learning and why. They also relate to the real world. We use fun mental math activities for review, and with Everyday Math the mental math is pencil and paper. Try Kim Sutton or Marcy Cook they have online websites. Try looking into other resources that your school curriculum library might have. Many of theses books were created, but stuck in a room where they have been forgotten.If not then try online lessons that are interesting and follow the guidelines of what need to be taught in your state. Use the textbook TE as guideline, and practice, review, assessments. The way everyday Math teaches can be confusing for most kids. Good Luck!
     
  22. shouldbeasleep

    shouldbeasleep Enthusiast

    Joined:
    Jul 28, 2007
    Messages:
    2,233
    Likes Received:
    0

    Aug 28, 2007

    Today, after 3 weeks of school, we finally opened the math book and went through the lesson. I hate using it, especially the new one we adopted this year (Harcourt). This is what I do, and it works for me.
    I "wake them up" with an interesting story problem that involves visualizing and drawing it out. They use dry erase boards to work on their own for a few minutes, then check/work with a partner, then we discuss it to death with kids chiming in about how they solved it. I never act like I wouldn't make a mistake. Sometimes I pretend to be the one who doesn't "get it" and make them explain how to solve it to me, and I keep making silly mistakes either in logic or in computation so that they are constantly reminding themselves how it's supposed to be done by telling me what to do.
     
  23. Dill

    Dill Rookie

    Joined:
    Jul 11, 2006
    Messages:
    18
    Likes Received:
    0

    Aug 28, 2007

    I think of the problem you described - 24 / M = 3 - as a missing factor problem. Salute is a great game for that. Here's a quick description of how to play:
    You need 3 people: one dealer and 2 players. Deal one card to each person. The players put the card up to their forehead without looking at it so that the opponent can see what they are holding. The dealer than says, "You're product is 24." The kid holding the 8 can only see his opponent's 3 and has to surmise that he's holding an 8 because 24/3 = 8.
    Does that make sense? You'd probably have to make the connection to the problems they see on the book pretty explicit, but I've found that once I say "Think of it as a Salute game" the kids make that connection.

    When it comes to long division I find that a lot of students who struggle with the traditional way are very successful with cluster division. If you want me post on that, let me know. I'm already a little long on this post, so I'll stop for now. :)
     
  24. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2006
    Messages:
    6,181
    Likes Received:
    1

    Aug 28, 2007


    Ooooh, I like that idea! Thanks for sharing it.
     
  25. Amers

    Amers Cohort

    Joined:
    May 4, 2007
    Messages:
    695
    Likes Received:
    0

    Aug 28, 2007

    Peachy, I'm using Saxon with my 5th graders too, and I'm getting the same responses you are. We're not on the division lessons yet though. We just finished lesson 8 today (subtraction algorithm and fact families). I really thought I would like this math series because of the simple way it's laid out, but I'm starting to realize it's not all that great.

    I adore my kids, but they can't even figure out how to number their math papers!! They don't understand how to show their work. I write an assignment on the board, and they continulously ask me which problems I want them to do....if I write do p. 23: 1-5, 10, they ask me if they should do #6. :eek:

    Sorry, I kind of hijacked your thread....Basically, I feel your pain. I'm just hoping they're still getting settled back into the school routine. :unsure:
     
  26. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2006
    Messages:
    6,181
    Likes Received:
    1

    Aug 28, 2007


    For how to number their paper, every teacher uses the math paper that comes with the program. It has Set number, name, and date at the top. Then it has 30 numbered boxes for them to do their work in. It comes with the program in one of the TE books.

    For the problems, I always assign 1-30. A lot of review questions, and some pertain to today's lesson, so I just assign the whole thing. Sometimes, I have them do odds or evens only. Many still do all just for the extra credit.
     
  27. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

    Joined:
    May 13, 2005
    Messages:
    29,669
    Likes Received:
    1,105

    Aug 28, 2007

    So, Dill: what's cluster division?
     
  28. Amers

    Amers Cohort

    Joined:
    May 4, 2007
    Messages:
    695
    Likes Received:
    0

    Aug 28, 2007

    Our TE are kind of scattered everywhere throughout our grade level. I don't have all the papers. I don't really like the paper they provide though. Right now, we are being told to do 2 lessons per day, so I've been assigning 10-15 questions from each lesson. As the lessons get more complicated, we can switch to 1 lesson per day.
     
  29. Peachyness

    Peachyness Virtuoso

    Joined:
    Jul 14, 2006
    Messages:
    6,181
    Likes Received:
    1

    Aug 28, 2007

    2 lessons a day!!! Oh my goodness! Why are they making you do two? Tha's seems like some bad advice there. We finished lesson 8 yesturday. Had to skip math today because library was scheduled during our math time. oooh, that reminds me that I need to figure out a new time for math.
     
  30. Amers

    Amers Cohort

    Joined:
    May 4, 2007
    Messages:
    695
    Likes Received:
    0

    Aug 29, 2007

    Supposedly the first 10 lessons or so are considered too easy, so we do 2 a day. I'm thinking you and I might have different editions of saxon, because we haven't done anything with division yet. I'm doing lessons and 10 today, but I think I might just try 9. We have a fire drill during math today, so I'll use that as my excuse for only covering 1 lesson.
     
  31. danic

    danic Rookie

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2006
    Messages:
    43
    Likes Received:
    0

    Aug 30, 2007

    Have any of you referred to Van de Walle? It's such a great supplementary/resource book... look up ANY concept and there are all kinds of hands-on, concept-building activities. I hated math as a students but after my first year teaching (last year) I LOVE IT!! I strongly recommend checking out his book as a supplement to any curriculum.

    Also has great ways to explain concepts... I teach 4th and I had to re-up on a lot of material last year in order to confidently explain it.
     
  32. TeacherGroupie

    TeacherGroupie Moderator

    Joined:
    May 13, 2005
    Messages:
    29,669
    Likes Received:
    1,105

    Aug 31, 2007

    Van de Walle's been mentioned on other threads. Is someone going to take pity on a poor TeacherGroupie and tell me the title of this wonder work, already?
     
  33. Amers

    Amers Cohort

    Joined:
    May 4, 2007
    Messages:
    695
    Likes Received:
    0

    Aug 31, 2007

    Danic, what's the name of the Van de Walle book you're using? I would love an extra math resource!
     
  34. danic

    danic Rookie

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2006
    Messages:
    43
    Likes Received:
    0

    Aug 31, 2007

    Ummmmmm I think it's "Elementary & Middle School Mathematics: Teaching Developmentally." Yes, it is. It's awesome, I had an awful curriculum last year and I pretty much just used this book as my teacher's guide.

    Here's a link to the companion website, but it makes more sense if you have the book too: http://wps.ablongman.com/ab_vandewalle_math_6
     
  35. danic

    danic Rookie

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2006
    Messages:
    43
    Likes Received:
    0

    Aug 31, 2007

    Note to others: that website seems made from a professional development POV, not a "give me ideas to teach" POV. The book has hands-on lessons to help with specific math concepts
     
  36. Amers

    Amers Cohort

    Joined:
    May 4, 2007
    Messages:
    695
    Likes Received:
    0

    Aug 31, 2007

    Thanks!!
     
  37. knitter63

    knitter63 Groupie

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2007
    Messages:
    1,396
    Likes Received:
    3

    Sep 3, 2007

    Hurrary!!! I thought I was the only one who felt my students struggle with Everyday Math!! This year I have really slowed it down. I hope that works. I know that the scores on our achievement tests in Math last spring fell 20%. The district wasn't happy, but what did they expect???? It was our first year teaching this math program. My kids are so frustrated-they have actually resorted to having me teach them the "old fashioned" way-you know, how I learned it!!!:)
    I have begun to take a mid week break and after the lesson, I do math centers with a partner. The games are all a reinforcement of what we are learning, and I have basically searched the internet for game ideas. Last week, I introduced them and the kids loved the break. They really got into playing the games. Also, we will add some of the Everyday Math games as well.
    All I know is, the district said we MUST bring up our scores in math. I wish they would just let me teach.......
     
  38. knitter63

    knitter63 Groupie

    Joined:
    Jun 26, 2007
    Messages:
    1,396
    Likes Received:
    3

    Sep 3, 2007

    Marcy Cook is awesome!! I just ordered some of her math tiles books to supplement the Everyday math!! Not sure if I am allowed to supplement, but oh well, the kids need it!!
     

Share This Page

Members Online Now

  1. Backroads,
  2. vickilyn
Total: 439 (members: 4, guests: 420, robots: 15)
test