Friday, February 10, 2012

Weekly Class Summary: Feb. 6-10

SOLs Covered: 6.9 Determining Units of Measure
Upcoming Assessments: Determining Units of Measure Quiz (Mon. 2/13); WWU Quiz 8 (Fri. 2/17); Ratios/Rates/Proportions Quiz (Fri. 2/24)

Students started the week by completing their fractions quiz from last week. Many students struggled with the quiz, in part due to their struggles with some of the rudimentary skills needed to complete any fraction work. At the beginning of the school year, I made my students accounts on several math sites (SumDog, DimensionU, and TenMarks to name a few) that will allow them to practice and build on these skills. I also have a YouTube channel (MathLambert) where I have some of my own videos as well as playlists of other users' videos, categorized by topic, that review the vital skills needed to be successful in math, in addition to videos that cover new and future math topics. Please encourage your kids to visit and use these sites as often as possible; they will begin to see how ALL of the work becomes easier when those foundational skills are solid.

Once the quiz was wrapped up, we started a new unit on measurement. Unlike elementary school where students converted measurements within the US customary system and then converted within the metric system, middle school math SOLs require that students do "ballpark comparisons" between the two systems. To jump start the work, students dug through their memory for what they could remember from last year. We then discussed what units "go with" what other units (EX. miles, yards, et al. "go with" meters, centimeters, et al. since they are all units that measure length/distance). This was followed by matching the units that are closest together in size between the two systems (EX. liters and quarts have about the same capacity).

Finally, the "ballpark comparison" numbers were brought into the mix when we made conversion flash cards (1 kilogram is a little more than 2 pounds; or 1 kg ≈ 2+ lbs). For these ballpark comparisons, we are using the benchmarks provided by the state's SOL framework (instead of saying that 1 kilometer is about 0.6 miles, the state says that "1 kilometer is slightly farther than half a mile"). Since the US customary system is kind of "yucky" when it comes to its conversion numbers and since there are very few "perfect" conversions between the two systems, we discussed how we are only finding an approximate conversion and not an exact amount. We then used the cards to find these approximations when given a measure from one system, which was a bit difficult at first since students had to determine how the numbers are changing between the two (i.e. what operation and number is needed to make the conversion). For example, when converting from inches to centimeters (1 in. ≈ 2.5 cm), students figured out that the number is "getting bigger", which told us we needed to multiply by 2.5.

Since students were still having trouble at the end of the week, we pushed the quiz to Monday. They will be allowed to use their conversion cards on the quiz, but since this will not be allowed on WWU quizzes, benchmark tests, or the SOL, students need to work on memorizing these numbers. I told students about several online flash card websites they can use to memorize and test themselves on for this and other topics. Some of the sites will "quiz" them and track their progress for them and others will allow them to "share" their flash cards with friends. The flash card sites I have come across thus far in my web travels are bookmarked on the Math Portaportal (under General Math Sites for Everyone, then Web 2.0 for Students).

Flashcard Machine: "Create, Study, and Share Online Flashcards"

After everyone finishes the quiz next week, we will begin the next unit on ratios, rates, and proportions. There are several activities I would love for us to complete next week, but they require extra supplies. If anyone is able to help us by sending in a few of the necessary items (see "Activity Supply Donations Needed"), my students and I would greatly appreciate the help.

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