Monthly Archives: June 2011

What Successful Math Students Do

General Math Tips

Before the end of the school year I had a discussion with a mum who asked what her child could do in order to continue to be successful in math (e.g. “successful” in a very general, “life skills” sense). “Sam” had always struggled with math and had finally reached a place where she felt successful. Yay!

Mum and I had a great chat, and together (together in the true sense of the word as she had many excellent ideas as well) we came up with the following list of suggestions.

& so … If you had been a fly on my classroom wall you would have seen two women, working together, creating & building on the ideas of one another for the child.

(The Bonus: In the end I feel that I benefited as much as they did.)


Marvelous Math: A Mindlful Approach

“Be organized. Clear the Clutter”
– Organize your locker and desk at school. Organize your homework space at home. Keep binders, pencil boxes, all math materials well organized. Organize your time!
– Be organized in your thinking. When approaching a task have a plan; a method! If you don’t have  plans or methods find the, ask for them, adopt them, use them.
– Clear the clutter on the page. Approach activities and assignments clearly – methodically.

– Do assigned homework every night to the best of your ability. Pay careful attention to what seems to “flow” naturally and when you seem to get stuck. Have post it notes on hand to mark any pages on which you have questions or concerns.
– Find a homework buddy(s). Have a couple of friends “on call” if you find that you are beginning to feel at all frustrated or unsure.

“Establish an Understanding”
Math is about making sense of our world. When given a question, activity or formula work through it until you understand it – e.g. know where  formula came from & where it will take you. Don’t just memorize! Understand! Internalize! Own it!
– It’s also very important to understand the language of math. e.g. What does it mean to  multiply? What are fractions? Why are graphs useful? When problem solving how do you know whether you need to add, subtract, multiply or divide?)

“Math Dictionaries”

– Use your math dictionary when necessary – keep it on hand. If your teacher is not making personal dictionaries in class then consider purchasing one. There are great books available for all ages and grade levels. There are also some wonderful online math dictionaries.

“Review & Repeat”
Never underestimate the importance of review and repetition when acquiring a new skill/concept.

“Play, play, play – Take risks – Have fun!”
Exude confidence. Believe in yourself! Dive right in! Be an active participant. Use manipulatives, doodle, draw, colour code, create!
Approach math in diligent and yet playful manner. It can be tons of fun to work with numbers and formulas.

“The Classroom Connection”
Listen, participate, share, question, celebrate.

“A Team Effort”
Teachers and parents are part of a student’s team!
Your teachers and parents want you to be successful! Ask for help if and when  you need it.

General Tips:
– Develop and use problem solving strategies consistently.
– Always show you work.
– Master your basic multiplication/number facts. If you haven’t mastered them yet them have a chart handy.
– Play free online math games. There are a ton out there. Some good sites can be found here:
– Read picture books that have a math theme/component.

Finally: Have a good look around you! Math is everywhere!

Writing Tools for Grade 5

Writing in the Grade 5 Classroom: 

I was asked by a new teacher to share just a few of my “well used” writing resources
for Grade 5 ….
If you were a fly on my classroom wall you would see me “logging onto” these sites quite often!

Hope you find them useful as well.

PS I would LOVE to read about some of your favourite sites as well of course!

Writer’s Workshop Resources
*“Writing Fun” (excellent for use with a Smart Board):
*5th Grade – The Writing Process (Many excellent resources):
*Excellent: Six Traits of Writing:
*Six Traits of Writing: Lots to look at here:
*Great Educational Games:
* Editing & Revision Ideas:

2 On Line Resources
*Yahoo Kids: Online Dictionary:
 *Visual Thesaurus:

Math & Science Resources – Vidoes, Games, Challenges

Grade 5 Resources – Math & Science

I was asked by a new teacher to share just a few of my “well used” Math & Science resources

for Grade 5 ….

If you were a fly on my classroom wall you would see me “logging onto” these sites quite often!

Hope you find them useful as well.


PS I would LOVE to read about some of your favourite sites as well of course!

 (I) MATH: Teaching Sites / Challenges / Videos! (Great for Smart Board Teaching)  (Real World Math Challenges) (Hands-on Math) (Open Your Eyes to the World of Money) (Problem Solving Printable Cards/Decks)

Examples of Free On-line Math Games for Kids!

Practice Your Times Tables:
Hidden Picture Multiplication
Multiplication Concentration
Multiplication Concentration
(II) Grade 5 Science –
Sites With a Focus on Our Ontario Curriculum Strands (& Then Some)

Amazing one stop shopping for resources:

These 2 sites are also good for hands on learning & Smart Board use in Grade 5:

Support Your Child’s Learning Over the Summer Months

Summer Learning Opportunities for Kids

This week I was approached by a mum who asked what she could do to support her child’s learning over the summer months. She wanted to build upon all of the incredible gains made by her daughter this year. Needless to say I was really excited to hear this. All I could think was that this mum clearly knows her child. She wants to support (not push) her learning. She wants to work as a team to help “Jaymie” develop her skills in safe, supportive environments.
… & so, if you had been a fly on my classroom wall you would have seen us discussing a number of summer learning activities and opportunities.
Here’s what we came up with! Hope you find some of what’s below helpful!

(A) Reading & Writing
  • Mail – Make plans to write and receive letters all summer long (… model this for your child as well!)
  • Read, Read, Read – continue to read and discuss books, comics, magazines, menus, etc. over the summer months (… model this for your child as well!)
  • Travels: When on vacation keep a diary/scrapbook of sorts
(B) Organization / Spatial Skills:
  • Create a summer scrapbook
  • Read, draw & create maps (e.g. of vacation spots, parks, gardens, rooms in the house, etc.)
  • Graphing: graph the weather (e.g. sunny, cloudy, etc.), daily temperature,  etc.
  • Grocery shopping – Read flyers & find specials. Estimate the cost of a trip to the grocery store. Calculate the savings if coupons are used.
(C) Following Directions:
  • Build a model
  • Bake cookies, cakes, squares, etc. (measurement & following directions)
  • Cook dinner … follow recipes closely
  • Grocery shopping : allow you child to take the lead when looking for the right aisles to go down and items
(D) Critical Thinking Skills:
  • Discuss books, newspaper & magazine articles, the news, movies, etc.
  • Evaluate nutritional values listed on food packaging
  • Teach your child to play chess, checkers, battleship, dominos, boggle, etc.

(E) Math

  • Add, subtract or multiply numbers on car license plates when on the road
  • Calculating mileage & ETA when heading out in the car
  • Garage Sale – organizing the event, as well as selling/making change
  • Lemonade stand – making change
  • Restaurant – estimate the bill & calculate tip
  • Walk : identify shapes and solids in the environment
  • Note: Sites for free math games to play on the computer:
(F) Science:
  • Go on an outdoor scavenger hunt
  • Engage in gardening activities
  • Note: Find fun, easy science experiments to do at home over the summer: