Friday, September 18, 2015

Favorites for Friday: Improper Fractions and Mixed Numbers Video

Do you teach fractions at your grade level?  Do you need a quick fraction vocabulary review before you start working with fractions?  This video was a great help! It's relatively entertaining, but also provides great explanations for improper fractions and mixed numbers.  My students enjoy the subtle humor interspersed with thorough descriptions.  (Just beware -- many of my students started drawing mustaches for the fraction bar if it was a proper fraction.  Fun, but may begin to get confusing when others start seeing weird symbols on students' math papers.)

Do you have any other great videos for fractions?  I'd love to add them to my collection.  Feel free to post in the comments to share with others.  Or email me at  I'm always looking for new resources for my students!

Hope you enjoyed this week's Favorites for Friday! Thanks for visiting!  And HAPPY FRIDAY!

Friday, September 11, 2015

Favorites For Friday: Fair is not always Equal

We hear it from kids all the time... "That's not FAIR!!"  At school, some kids will get different resources, experiences, or materials because they need something extra to help them be successful. At the beginning of the school year, I try to help students understand how I will work to be fair to everyone, but that doesn't always mean everything is equal. 

This week's Favorites For Friday post is a collection of ideas for teaching the "Fair is not Equal" lesson.  I teach many of these over the first month of school as students get used to differentiation, groupings, special education or ESL services, interventions, leveled library books, etc.  I hope that some of these might be helpful in your classroom, too.  I'd love to hear about other ideas you have!  Feel free to post in the comments any other suggestions or links to other ideas related to "Fair is not Equal."

Bandages or Sandwiches
 I start with a role play.  I choose two students in class who are willing to ham it up a bit.  We pretend two students have just arrived at school and are rushing because they are almost late to class.  The first student pretends that he trips and falls as he is rushing to get inside. In our make believe story, he has skinned his knee and is bleeding. The 2nd student is rushing because he woke up late and is very upset that he did not get to school in time for the breakfast program.  He's hungry and didn't have time to grab any food at home, either.  Both students come to class with a problem = one is hurt and one is hungry.  We talk about if I was going to be equal, I would have to give them each the same thing.  Does each student need a bandage?  Will that solve the 2nd student's problem?  Would it help the 2nd student at all or just be an unnecessary waste of resources?  What about the 1st student?  I'm sure that student would love an extra sandwich, but that's not really what he needs.  Just because he likes it doesn't mean he needs it.  If resources (and/or money) are limited, he may be taking away a resource from someone who really needs it. 

Equal          or           Fair?


 I display the left picture first.  I ask students if this is equal (yes - everyone got exactly the same thing). Then I ask if it is fair (no -- the shortest person can't see at all). I tell the students that there aren't any more crates, then ask if they can think of a way to use the resources in a way that would allow all 3 people to see over the fence. Then I show them the second picture. I ask them to think about whether the tallest person should use the crate he didn't need if there is someone who did need it.  We share some other examples of ways kids might need a resource that others don't need -- glasses, allergy-free snack alternative, leveled reading books, etc.

Do you have other ideas for this topic?  I'd love to hear about them!!

Thanks for visiting!  Happy Friday!