menu   Home Answers Math Games Free Resources Contact Me  

A Go Figure Debut for A Texas Teacher Who Is New


Lauren's Store
Lauren is a Texas girl who has been a teacher for 12 years! She has taught a variety of 5th and 6th grade math and science classes, and this is her fourth year as an instructional math coach. She works at an intermediate (5th/6th grade) campus that serves a diverse group of students that includes many English language learners and at-risk students.

Lauren loves working with students in small group instruction for math. This was her favorite part of her day when she was in the classroom and one of the ways she still interacts with students in her job as an instructional coach. She also enjoys designing curriculum with her teachers and creating new lesson ideas to teach difficult topics. Her favorite topics to teach are fractions and proportionality. In science, she likes teaching about plate tectonics.

Lauren has three sons from 18 months of age to 11 years old. Together, they like to watch movies and play outside. Between her boys and her work, she stays really busy, but she still finds time to read science fiction books and create educational resources (Surprising, right?).

Her Teachers Pay Teachers store, Leaf and STEM Learning, focuses on resources for 4th - 7th grade. Teachers can use them for guided math instruction, including centers and stations materials, problem solving, utilizing manipulatives plus concept development. Her materials are aligned with Common Core and the Texas TEKS. Since she has used these materials in her own classroom or in classrooms throughout her school and school district, you can be confident in using them in your classroom, too!
Free Resource

Currently, her store contains just over 100 resources, with eight of those resources being free. One of those freebies is entitled Place Value & Powers of 10. Using an engaging low prep interactive notebook set, this resource introduces and practices using powers of ten for place value notation. All the included parts, an interactive mini book, practice activities and formative assessment, are designed to fit perfectly in your students' composition books or math journals.

I am really partial to her paid resource called Ratios & Proportions. These differentiated task cards have 132 total questions that go with 44 real world and model scenarios. Students write ratios in word form, colon form, fraction form and decimal form and solve proportional relationships and percent problems.

Only $3.00
Three levels of questions can be selected randomly by rolling dice or by the teacher with the differentiated dice cards to make the perfect practice for your students. The task cards can also be used as prompts for small group instruction or tutorials. Also included are a teacher guide to help you set up, student instructions, a student recording sheet, and a full answer key.

Her Blog
Lauren has a blog entitled Leaf and STEM Learning, just like her store. She not only shares interesting posts about teaching, but in addition she gives instructional tips and specific ideas for math teachers. Maybe you have heard the common adage that teachers must learn how to “beg, borrow, and steal” to find the best resources and practices for their classroom. Because this saying resonates true for most of us, you ought to take a moment to read her “Steal It” articles! I believe they will really “hit home” as they did with me!

Happy Earth Day

Happy Earth Day Everyone! 
Earth Day is observed each year on April 22nd. The purpose of the day is to encourage awareness of and appreciation for the earth's environment. It is usually celebrated with outdoor shows, where individuals or groups perform acts of service to the earth. Typical ways of observing Earth Day include planting trees, picking up roadside trash, and conducting various programs for recycling and conservation.


Symbols used by people to describe Earth Day include: an image or drawing of planet earth, a tree, a flower or leaves depicting growth or the recycling symbol. Colors used for Earth Day include natural colors such as green, brown, or blue. The universal recycling symbol as seen on your left is internationally recognized and used to designate recyclable materials. It is composed of three mutually chasing arrows that form a Mobius strip which, in math, is an unending single-sided looped surface. (And you wondered how I would get math in this article!?!) This symbol is found on products like plastics, paper, metals and other materials that can be recycled. It is also seen, in a variety of styles, on recycling containers, at recycling centers, or anywhere there is an emphasis on the smart use of materials and products.

Free 8 Page Resource

Inspired by Earth Day, Trash to Treasure is an eight page FREE handout. Discover how to take old, discarded materials and make them into new, useful, inexpensive products or tools for your classroom. To download the free version, just click under the cover page on your right.




Recycled Butterflies

Two of my grandchildren are in kindergarten and of course, everything is new and exciting to them.  They came home one day with egg carton caterpillars.  I know most of us have made one of these in our lifetime, but to these two, they were the best craft ever!

They told me that their teachers were raising butterflies in their classroom, and soon they would hatch.  Anticipation and excitement reigned until the day they came out of school telling everyone that one of the butterflies had hatched.  However, much to their chagrin, the teacher was going to let it go.  They just couldn't understand why or how their teacher could do that!


But, here is the good part!  They got to make a cocoon out of a toilet paper cylinder.  They covered it by gluing on white cotton balls.  Then the made a butterfly out of tissue paper and a small plastic bag tie.  They put the butterfly inside the cocoon and then pretended to have the butterfly hatch!  This was done over and over and over until the cocoon was no more.  Luckily, I was able to get pictures before both were literally destroyed!

Now, what does all of this have to do with math?  I contemplated all the ways to use recycled products to make items for the classroom.  Thus Trash to Treasure was created. It is 34 pages of art ideas, fun and engaging mini-lessons as well as cute and easy-to-construct crafts all made from recycled or common, everyday items.
Only $7.00

Find out more than 14 ways to use milk lids for math. Did you know that you can practice math facts using clear plastic containers? Learn how to take two plastic plates and turn them into angle makers. How about using two plastic beverage lids to make card holders for kindergartners or for those whose hands are disabled? Discover ten ways to use carpet squares as well as nine ways to use old calendars. How about playing hop scotch on old carpet squares? Were you aware that butter tubs can become an indoor recess game to practice addition or multiplication facts? These are just a few of the fun and exciting activities that use recycled items found in this 34 page resource entitled Trash to Treasure.

Because these numerous activities vary in difficulty and complexity, they are appropriate for any PreK - 3rd classroom, and the visual and/or kinesthetic learners will love them.

Yes or No? Stay or Go? Solving for "x".


My basic algebra classes have just begun solving equations containing one unknown. As I tell them, we are inquisitive detectives looking for the unknown.

My students' greatest difficulty is deciding what stays and what goes in an equation. In other words, which term should be cleared by using the inverse operation and which term should stay where it is?

Hands-On Equation
 Balance Beam
www.borenson.com
I always start this chapter using Hands-On Equations®. I have used them for years because it provides a visual for those concrete learners. I also refer to the written equation as a teeter-totter or a see-saw which must always stay balanced. In other words, the equal sign is the pivotal point and both sides of that = sign must be the same.  (Notice that Hands-On Equations® uses a balance beam.) We also discuss the importance of the"Whatsoever thou doest to one side of the equation, we must doest to the other". (Out of necessity, I admit that I was with Moses when he received the Ten Commandments, but it "fell upon me" to convey The First Commandment of Solving Equations to future mathematicians.)

One Unknown
After much practice with the Hands-On Equations®, we move to actual written equations such as: x + 9 = 12. Here's the rub; a few of my students know the answer and do not want to show any of their work. Maybe some of you have this type of student as well. Since, after 30+ years, I am still unable to grade what is in their minds, I insist that all steps are written down. I explain that it's like riding a tricycle to ride a bicycle to ride a unicycle.

First, I instruct the students to look at the equation and determine which terms are out of place. (Side note: Because my students are easily confused, at the present, we keep all of the unknowns on the left side and all of the numbers on the right side of the equal sign.) Let's go back to our sample of x + 9 = 12. Because the x is already on the left side of the equation, the students write a "Y" over it for the word, "Yes". The 9 is on the wrong side of the equal sign, so the students write a "N" over it for "No".  Finally, they write a "Y" over the 12 since it is the correct place. They now have exactly what they want, a Y and N on the right side and a Y on the left side. They now must clear anything that has a "N" over it.  The students recognize they if they use the inverse operation of addition, they can clear the 9. They therefore subtract 9 from each side of the equation resulting in an answer of 3.

Many algebra teachers will have the students write the step x + 0 = 9.  You may wish to include this step in the process, but since my college students readily see that +9 and -9 make zero, they put an X over the two opposites to show that they cancel each other out or when added together, they equal zero.

What if the equation is: 3 = y - 4? This always freaks my students out; yet, if they do the yes/no process, they will discover that they have two "no's" and one "yes", not a yes, no = yes.  This means they can rewrite the equation as y - 4 = 3 to get a yes, no = yes. The problem can now easily be solved like the one above.

Unknown on both sides
of the equation
The next step is what to do when an unknown appears on both sides of the equal sign.  Usually, my students are sure they are incapable of solving such a difficult problem, but let's use the yes/no method and see what it looks like. 

Notice in the sample on the left that we have a yes, no = no, yes. We start by clearing the "N" on the left hand side of the equation by using the inverse of -9. We then go to the right side and clear the y by using the inverse operation of addition. (Yes, I am aware both can be cleared at the same time, but again simple and methodical is what is best for my mathphobics.) We then divide each side by 4 resulting in the answer of 3. When the problem is completed, my students are amazed and proud that they could solve such a long equation. (You might notice in the illustration, a dotted line is drawn vertically where the equal sign is. This helps my visual students to separate the two sides of the equation.)

If any of you try this approach with your students or have a different method, I would love to hear from you. Just leave a comment and a short statement of how this process worked for you or what process you use that is even better. That way, we can learn from each other.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------
Hands-On Equations® is algebra for the visual and kinesthetic learner. This system, developed by Dr. Henry Borenson, enables students (even those in 4th or 5th grade) to easily learn essential algebraic concepts and skills. Dr. Borenson received a U.S. patent for his teaching invention.