Happy birthday, IXL!

Happy birthday, IXL!
IXL is celebrating ten years of offering students math practice (how many of those years have you been using it for?).  They will be doing some celebrating starting tomorrow, October 18.  Look at your IXL page for more information.

Grade Six: Posters

The sixth graders’ “How Much is a Million?” posters have been marked and mini-rubrics have been sent home.  Parents are asked to review them with their son or daughter and then sign it and return to me.  Although, you can’t read the details too well, take a look at the posters that are now hanging on the classroom walls.

In the last class period, we used the writing from the posters to analyze what is needed to clearly communicate math ideas.


I often use games and activities in my math classes.  I believe that they are an effective way to help students develop and deepen understanding (and they are fun).  Sometimes, parents think that games are not “serious” math or that they are just for elementary students.  I disagree, as do most experts in the field.  Games should be part of a middle school math program.
Below is an excerpt from an article that I recently read.  I hope you find it interesting.
Games require a variety of problem-solving skills, such as making and testing hypotheses, creating strategies (thinking and planning ahead), and organizing information.   Plus, as children play, they further their development of hand-eye coordination, concentration levels, visual discrimination, memory, and their ability to communicate and use mathematical language.

Games can provide an atmosphere where children are encouraged to: share their ideas with others - think, discuss, and explainbe alert, interested, curious, and challenged…

Grade Six: How much is a million?

The sixth graders are currently investigating the question, “How much is a million?”.  The inspiration was David M. Schwartz’s book of the same name.  Students were to bring in a package of something they or their family might use.  They then had to figure out how long it would take to use or eat a million of whatever they brought to class if they bought a package a day.

The investigation has given some reinforcement of the scale of millions.  It has also been an opportunity to think about units of time and how they are related.  Sixth graders have been using computation and rounding skills to do so.  An important element of the project has been the continued development of communication skills, as students explain what they have done to find their statistics and why.  They will share their results on posters that will be displayed in the classroom.

Grade Six: What we are doing

The sixth graders are in the middle of their unit on Number Systems.  The unit examines just what numbers are and what structures make it possible to record and compute with symbols.  We are using a variety of activities and are looking at other systems to help us understand ours better.
The chief goals of the unit are that: ·Students will be able to name numbers through the millions both orally and in writing. ·Students will be able to identify if a number is prime or a composite. Students will be able to create the prime factorization for composite numbers. ·Students will be able to round numbers correctly and will begin to understand to what value numbers should be rounded. ·Students will understand what factors and multiples are. They will be able to find Greatest Common Factors (GCF) and Least Common Multiples LCM). ·Students will recognize how divisibility rules can be used. ·Students will be able to read and write Roman numbers through the thousands. ·Students will be introduced to us…

Multiplication time

I asked all of my sixth and seventh graders to fill in an information sheet to help me know a little more about them and their math experience.  A fairly large number mentioned that their multiplication facts were not as good as they would like them to be.  Not having a strong grasp of the facts will make our upcoming work challenging for both sixth graders and seventh graders.  Since it is expected that middle schoolers know their basic facts, we will not be spending a lot of time reviewing them.  However, I have found some websites that offer some ways to learn or practice math facts.  Take a look!  Remember, speed, as well as accuracy are important. This website shows a table through the 12s. It also has some strategies for learning and figuring out the facts.
The BBC has many very good educational activities.  Its multiplication practice activities can be found at…

Grade Seven: What we are doing

The seventh grade’s first unit is an investigation of rational numbers.  
We have begun with a review of integers—what they are and how to compute with them.  Students reviewed what they remembered and looked at a variety of sources to relearn what had been forgotten.  They consolidated their understanding into a handbook about integer use for future students. 
Our look at rational numbers will focus on what they are and  how they relate to each other.   We will use a variety of math tools and games to also build an understanding of why the patterns associated with integers work the way they do. Here are photos of some of the seventh graders in the process of publishing their handbooks.