# Teaching 4th grade Math-little scary?

Discussion in 'Fourth Grade' started by stac4742, Aug 3, 2007.

1. ### stac4742Rookie

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Hi!
I'll be new to 4th grade this upcoming school year, and I'm really excited about it, coming from teaching 2nd. The one thing that scares me is teaching Math :unsure: . Do any of you recommend a great Math book or know the specific math concepts for 4th grade like fractions, multiplication, division, anything else?:help:
Thanks!

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Aug 3, 2007

That is a very big question. Can you narrow down your areas of concern in those topics?

4. ### Lilu0819Companion

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Aug 3, 2007

Do you have a specific math program at your school?

5. ### stac4742Rookie

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Aug 3, 2007

Sure. I guess my first question would be, still maybe a little broad, but what are we expecting kids coming into 4th grade to know how to do. I know at this point they should have their multiplication facts pretty down, adding 3 to 4-digit numbers, using mental math skills, problem solving.
I know it's a lot. I just want to know where they should be, and where I need to take them, I really need to begin looking at out standards and objectives.
Thanks.

6. ### stac4742Rookie

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At my school we use Math Investigations which is a non-favorable program by many teachers b/c it teaches math in a very abstract way instead of just getting right at the skill. The program focuses a lot on games, and most times our kids just need that straight forward drilling skills.

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For fourth, you hit the nail on the head. Multiplication facts are very important. Some kids have trouble subtracting with zeros, too. Without the multiplication facts, it becomes impossible to give them the solid fractions base that they need by the time they leave 4th.

Long division with multiple digits in the divisor seems to give some kids in 4th difficulty (why do so many kids hate division?), but again, could be because of poor multiplication facts. Also, applying rounding is something they sometimes resist, and it hinders them.

Teaching 4th math scary? LOL I don't think so.

8. ### stac4742Rookie

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Thanks. I'm just not a Math person at all, and I want to be and feel confident when I teach.

9. ### Ms.JasztalMaven

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Fourth grade math is not too intimidating. It is not my strongest suit, but I am very good at it on a personal level. Multiplication is very important, yes! Then there are five main areas of math, as in all grades- Number sense (multiplication, division, fractions, decimals), measurement (customary and metric, area and perimeter, benchmark #'s), geometry (sided figures, three-dimensional figures), algebraic expressions (I call those problems "Case of the Mystery Number", which pumps my extra assistance math class up pretty fast, and Data Analysis and Probability (which includes mean, median, and mode). I know I didn't mention a lot, though, but multiplication can help them so much to do better with the measurement and algebraic expressions as well eventually. Math brain teasers can also challenge the kids and get them more interested at times as well.

10. ### TXTeacher4Companion

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It isn't as bad as you would think going into it. At my school, we do a beginning of the year assessment to see where they are. That gives us a feel for the students that might need more help or enrichment in certain areas. Do you have to do your own lessons, or do you plan as a team?

11. ### TeacherGroupieModerator

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Aug 4, 2007

Try Math on Call or Usborne's Illustrated Dictionary of Math.

12. ### Ms.JasztalMaven

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Aug 4, 2007

There's another website that has "illustrated" stuff- http://amathsdictionaryforkids.com .

This is my ultimate favorite math website ever, and the same woman made a website called Rainforest Math, too.

Another FUN website is from PBS Cyberchase if you'd like to see games.

13. ### Steph-ernieGroupie

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Aug 4, 2007

Our biggest hurdle each year is division. It takes some of them a long time to get that down. Usually it is those students who still don't have a firm grasp of their multiplication facts. So many students just don't memorize them, no matter what I do. I drill them and help them learn them, but as soon as we move on to something else, they go right back to using their fingers to multiply. Then, as we move on to division and fractions, I remind them of how important those multiplication facts are, and that they never really go away.

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I made the mistake of not starting from day one with drilling math facts. I waited until we were on our addition/subtraction unit (about 4 weeks into the school year), and some of my kids really could have used 4 more weeks of practice. They were all amazed by how much they needed to apply those facts later on. I honestly think it can't hurt to have them practice ALL math facts (addition, subtraction, multiplication, and division). They will need them all throughout the year. At our school, we do timed tests. They used to do them in a really unfair way (missing or failing to do more than 3 resulted in an F). Thankfully, our principal ended that last year and they are scored regularly. They get the test as practice for a few days, then we take the "real" test. I also had to reteach the concept of multiplication and division to my students this year, many had only been taught the facts, and did not understand WHY 2X2=4.

Our system is in the process of implementing Investigations right now...last year it was K-2, and this year 3rd grade will be using it. It was supposed to be 3-5, but budget cuts forced them to wait for 4-5. I am just concerned about HOW on Earth we are supposed to give our system-wide unit tests which rely heavily on traditional teaching methods once we start.

15. ### WindyCityGal606Enthusiast

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Aug 4, 2007

Could be the kids are getting ready for Connected Math which is a very abstract way of learning math. Lots of investigations and discussions. Almost like doing an experiment to get to your answers. then a lot of summarizing and wrapping up. One problem may take an entire class period. Very difficult to teach if you've only taught the traditional way of drills and computation practice. I taught 8th math for one year in Texas and it was the hardest year of my life. My mind has never done well with math word problems. I need numbers!! The math books looked like reading books!! There was also so much set up for each class!! This made everything so rushed...in my opinion! The scores in Math were excellent but MAN!!!! It was hard for me!!! I was barely one page ahead of the kids every day. I think I studied more than they did!! Just thinking about it now...ugh!!!
It was an intimidating year but the kids were used to doing math this way. I was the only one who was scared in the room. So....I understand how you feel about being scared of this math. It IS different for those of us who didn't learn to think this way.:huh:
Just curious...why did you take a Math position? Did you know what it entailed?
I was completely tricked....I should have asked to see the curriculum and texts first before accepting.

16. ### MrsCMultitudinous

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Aug 4, 2007

I plan on doing a daily warm-up every morning to review basic computation skills: the students will do 1 addition question, 1 subtraction, 1 multiplication, 1 computation involving money and 1 pattern to extend and identify. Because my students are all at different levels, I can easily customize to meet their needs.

17. ### stac4742Rookie

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Aug 4, 2007

Thanks for your advice. I am going to be self-contained so I will be teaching all subjects, and Math is the only area that I feel a little shaky. Trust me I would never take a math position only teaching math!!!

18. ### MrsCMultitudinous

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Aug 5, 2007

Try not to let your attitude about math spill over into the classroom. It amazes me how many people have negative attitudes or a fear of math (although upper-high school math does scare me a bit!). At the elementary level, use lots of hands-on activities and provide the students with opportunities to share the variety of strategies they use. Relax, have fun and they will too--and you'll all learn something along to way. (Math is now my favourite subject to teach)

19. ### WindyCityGal606Enthusiast

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This Math Investigations and Connected Math is a completely different approach to teaching/learning math and it can be very scary to those of us who only know the traditional method of teaching/learning math. It really is ok to be scared and worried. This will force you to study harder so you can teach it correctly.
Unless you have been using this method for a while, it is hard to do. The kids are fine with it if it's all they know.
Having a negative attitude about any subject should never be reflected in the classroom(of COURSE!!) however, it is completely fine to share your anxieties here. I've taught it so I understand how scary it is. It is not regular math by any means.

20. ### stac4742Rookie

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Hello!!
You all are very right, we have t be careful about our personal feelings/attitudes when in the classroom. But I would never say, "I don't like Math, or I was never good at math when I was in school." No way!! I want to make all learning fun and meaningful and I would hate to be the person in a child's life to be discourage them in a subject area. I just wanted to voice this with you all on the professional level.

21. ### MrsCMultitudinous

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Aug 5, 2007

As I re-read my comment it doesn't have the tone I intended. I certainly never meant to imply that you would let your feelings show. I have, however, worked with teachers who were very vocal about their dislike of math--some who told their students in so many words that they didn't like it, didn't want to teach it, and found it next to impossible. Unfortunately, one of those teachers was on my mind earlier--sorry if I caused any offense.

A personal story--my first permanent position involved teaching grade 7 and 8 math (way out of my comfort zone at the time!!!) among other things. I almost turned down the job because of the math, but decided I wanted to teach too much to be picky. Those classes ended up being my favourite to teach!

22. ### stac4742Rookie

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Aug 5, 2007

Hi MrsC,

Thank you very much I know what you were saying. No offense at all. Thanks!!

23. ### Ms.JasztalMaven

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The worst thing for me to cover has been division, too... (in response to Steph-ernie)

Oh, and adding/subtracting fractions with different denominators!! Yet the rest have come across as pretty decent.

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I'm teaching 4th grade math for the first time this year also. I use the TERC Investigations. I am very familiar with the 3rd grade, but 4th is another story! I love Investigations, and it makes math so much clearer to me. When I was a kid I really struggled with straight forward math. I have also taught using Every Day Math and Saxon... Investigations is my favorite by far. I HATED Saxon.

I am interested in seeing how the program evolves from 3rd to 4th grade. I will have to do guided math this year, and still do the 3rd for the younger kids in my class.

I am nervous about fractions most of all! The 3rd grade fraction book is pretty simplistic. I think it develops more in 4th. I am also going to supplement with a lot of cuisinaire rod activities.

"Do any of you recommend a great Math book or know the specific math concepts for 4th grade like fractions, multiplication, division, anything else?"

I recommend the cuisinare rod books to supplement for all math strands. They are wonderful. I have a grade 3-5 book that covers every math strand using cuisinare rods. If you don't have any or can't purchase, you can make them out of paper. You can buy a book specific to each math strand, or buy a general use book. There are books of picture puzzles, logic and reasoning, and then books to cover each math strand.

They cover fractions, decimals, percents, area, geometry, multiplication, division, subtraction, division, algebra, critical thinking, graphing... just about anything you can think of. I believe they are the most versatile math manipulative available.

I looked and looked and finally found a link:

http://www.learningresources.com/ca...cher+resources.do?page=2&sortby=best&asc=true

THere are more books available than this, but the ages 8-11 book is the one I have used the most.

25. ### TeacherGroupieModerator

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Aug 7, 2007

Oh, Ms.Jasztal, thanks for the Maths Dictionary link!

Here are some goodies back:

Geometry Center (Science U), http://www.scienceu.com/geometry/ lets you play with concepts of geometry such as tiling and symmetry.

Go Figure: A Totally Cool Book about Numbers by Johnny Ball (Dorling Kindersley, 2005, ISBN 0-7566-1374-4), does math from counting to chaos theory (which suggests that complex events arise from lots of small and relatively simple patterns).

Math Wizardry for Kids by Margaret Kenda and Phyllis S. Williams (Barron’s, 1995, ISBN 0-8120-1809-5) shows how to use math to understand patterns in art and architecture, science, music, and even poetry.