5th Grade Math Blog

5th Grade Math Blog Postings
Wednesday, February 5, 2014 9:01 AM

Blizzard Bag Day 1

I gave out my phone number to all students yesterday.  If there are math questions, you may call.  Another option is to email me.  I will be checking regularly.  Students who live close are welcome to stop by and I will help that way.  Some students wanted to complete extra fraction work in addition to the Blizzard Bag.  If they want me to check their answers, email them or call and read them off.  I will help any way I can.  I can also help students during recess when we get back to school if they can't complete the work at home.


Posted By Elizabeth Pitzer at 9:01 AM
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Friday, January 31, 2014 2:21 PM


Congratulations to Charlie Rippee for winning the county spelling bee!!  We are proud of you!

Posted By Elizabeth Pitzer at 2:21 PM
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Friday, January 31, 2014 2:17 PM

Blizzard Bags

Blizzard Bags are going home today.  Students are to complete them in place of the next 3 snow days we have.  Hopefully, we won't need them, but it is still early in the season.  They may complete it early and if we end up with no other snow days I will count this as extra credit.  If they don't turn it in when they return from a snow day, they will have up to two weeks to complete it.  Students will be asked to stay in recess to complete the work.  If it is not completed, they will get a zero and be counted absent.


Posted By Elizabeth Pitzer at 2:17 PM
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Tuesday, January 21, 2014 6:46 AM


Well, I am back to school after my surgery.  Thanks for all the support while I was out.  Thanks also for the Christmas gifts.  A special thanks to my fifth grade team-Mrs. Painting and Mrs. Dickman for making me meals while I was out.  Hopefully, second semester will be very productive as we start preparing for the OAA in the spring.  Happy 2014!

Posted By Elizabeth Pitzer at 6:46 AM
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Wednesday, December 4, 2013 9:40 AM

Studying Fractions can be sweet!

We started our fraction unit this week with Hershey candy bars.  Students were able to model and find equal fractions.  They also enjoyed the fact they could eat their work!  This activity can be repeated at home for extra credit! 

Posted By Elizabeth Pitzer at 9:40 AM
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Wednesday, December 4, 2013 9:39 AM

MAC grant

A huge thanks to McDonald's for provide money to my classroom for supplies and activities.  Just lovin' it!

Posted By Elizabeth Pitzer at 9:39 AM
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Wednesday, December 4, 2013 9:35 AM

Great Group of Kids

After the spelling bee I cried when I got back to the room.  Charlie, a 5th grader, won even though he was against 5th-8th graders.  I was behind my class walking back to the room.  I walked in to see the class making a tunnel for Charlie to run through to congratulate him.  They were so proud of him and I was proud of all of them.  What a great group of students!  I love these kids!

Posted By Elizabeth Pitzer at 9:35 AM
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Thursday, November 7, 2013 9:50 AM

Why have students work in groups?

Research shows that students who work well together in groups are better prepared for the workforce.  As a matter of fact, that is one of the things businesses ask of schools.  In math, I have discovered that students who can listen, think critically and communicate their ideas clearly are more successful when it comes time for testing.  Short answer and extended response questions require students to have a deeper understanding of the material and they gain that from discussions with their peers.  I often tell my students that the difference between being proficient and being advanced or accelerated is being able to justify or prove their answer so that someone else can understand it.  Group discussion is so important.  Students who take on a leadership role in the group improve their own understanding and test scores.  This also helps the struggling students because they get positive role models of the thinking process which increases their test scores as well.  This is a great advantage because there is one of me and 28 or so of them.  I cannot be with each group all of the time.  I travel between groups and can spend a few minutes with each group, more time with a single group if needed.

Posted By Elizabeth Pitzer at 9:50 AM
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Tuesday, October 29, 2013 7:21 PM

Improvement mindset

It is important for students to have the mindset that they are a key player in their learning.  I have a couple of signs in my room that state:

  • Don’t make excuses, make improvements.
  • For success, attitude is just as important as ability.

I really believe this.  When students feel in control of their learning they can grow and improve.  I have high expectations for my students, and I work with them to monitor their own behavior and learning.  I encourage them to ask questions.  I provide many opportunities for group work and leadership in the classroom.


I noticed years ago, so many students (and their parents) told me, “I am just no good at math.”  I just don’t believe that.  I believe that ALL students can learn.  Some may learn faster than others, but they can ALL show growth.  I have talked to each student individually or in very small groups to convey my goal for them and the high expectations I have for them during the year.

Posted By Elizabeth Pitzer at 7:21 PM
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Wednesday, October 9, 2013 9:48 AM

We play with food!

Students had the chance to “cut the cheese in class” today.  We used a slice of cheese to model decimals.  First, we cut into strips of ten to model tenths.  Next, we took a tenth and divided it into ten parts to create hundredths.  It was a real challenge to take the tenth and cut it into 10 parts for thousandths.  We also used color sheets to shade in amounts to model specific decimals.  Some opted to eat the cheese at the end of the activity.  They seemed to enjoy it. This activity can also be done at home for extra credit.  Make sure students tell you how they would name each decimal and the value of the pieces.

Posted By Elizabeth Pitzer at 9:48 AM
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Tuesday, October 1, 2013 4:13 PM

Someone thanked me today.

Students love recess time.  I don’t like to take their recess time away, but sometimes it is necessary.  Occasionally, students sign the book too many times so time is taken away as a punishment.  Most of the time, I ask students to stay in so I can give them extra help.  I make sure to let them know that it isn’t because I don’t like them and want to take away the time they have with their friends.  It is because I love them so much I want them to learn something important so they can redo an assignment and get a better grade.  For the most part, students have accepted this.  Recently, the lunch bell rang and the time to work with a small group during recess ended.  As the students left my room, a couple of them thanked me for the extra help I was giving them.  I have to admit that I cried a bit (as I am now recalling the incident).  It meant a lot to me to have that thank you.  To know that my extra effort with students is appreciated helps me get through trying times in my job.

Posted By Elizabeth Pitzer at 4:13 PM
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Sunday, September 29, 2013 2:44 PM

Cake or Salad

This might be a good time to reinforce the fact that teachers do not expect everyone to “get it” the first time a concept is introduced and that students learn at different rates.  An analogy to cooking can be utilized.  Some students may need to “bake a cake”.  Teachers provide the “ingredients” (skills, tools or methods necessary).  The students mix it up in their brains and it has to “bake” for a while until it is “done” (internalized or learned).  Others are “making a salad”.  They can take the “ingredients,” briefly “toss” them, and they are ready to eat.  Some days are “cake” days and some days are “salad” days.  There are some days that the cake falls or the salad isn’t crispy enough and you have to try again.  But in the end, both the cake and the salad can be delicious!

Posted By Elizabeth Pitzer at 2:44 PM
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Tuesday, September 17, 2013 3:35 PM

Do Overs

Have you ever wanted to have a chance to turn the wheels of time back and have a second chance on something?  I have made plenty of mistakes in my life.  I continue to make mistakes every day.  What is most important is that we learn from our mistakes.  Well, in school, learning is our goal.  In my class I do give my students a chance to redo an assignment and even a test or quiz.  When students do not do well on something graded, I pull them during recess, intervention, or class time to reteach the skill in a smaller group.  I try to make sure they understand all the mistakes they made.  They then get a comparable assignment to redo.  If they still are not successful, I will work with them one on one or in smaller groups and look for other resources to use with them.  This will help improve their grade and their skills.

Posted By Elizabeth Pitzer at 3:35 PM
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Thursday, September 12, 2013 7:53 PM

First Clicker Activity

Your child may have come home telling you they participated in a clicker activity.  What in the world is that?????  What they are referring to is an electronic student response system.  I wrote a grant a few years back to purchase this system.  Each student gets a small credit card sized unit to use to answer questions I present in a power point presentation.  The students select an answer by pushing a button on the unit which sends a signal to a receiver on my computer.  Once everyone answers, I stop the polling and a graph of all answers is displayed on the board.  We then discuss the answer and can immediately address any misconception the students may have.  This is a great learning tool and the students seem to love it.  I use this system a couple of times a month.  This was an expensive system to purchase, and I want the students to be very careful with the handling of the individual units.

Posted By Elizabeth Pitzer at 7:53 PM
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Saturday, September 7, 2013 11:55 AM

Life-long Learning

The most important part of education isn’t preparing students for tests or issuing them a diploma. It is instilling in them the importance of life-long learning and learning for personal improvement. This concept is often lost in the emphasis on testing in today’s educational system. The reality of the current situation is a bureaucracy contributing to the demand of teacher accountability which has led to testing mandates. Nonetheless, life-long learning is no less important. Let’s face it. With the rate of technological advancement these days, schools are training some students for jobs that currently do not exist! With that said, education does not end on graduation day.  To keep up with the ever changing demands of the work place, employees must continue to update skills. Students must be aware that understanding and being an active participant in the learning process will aid them in their future careers. Helping students value learning and foster self-motivation will assist them to be successful long after they have left the classroom.


Obviously your teachers, role models, and/or parents instilled in you the importance of continuing education. If not, it is doubtful that you would be interested in your child’s education or this blog. You also know that many times students are not willing participants in the learning process. Getting them to take ownership of their learning is the first step in the right direction.  Students recognizing they play a role in the learning process help to develop their own metacognition.  When students realize they can achieve a learning goal, they are motivated to continue to improve and grow.  This will not only improve students’ skills but also the student-teacher relationship. 

Posted By Elizabeth Pitzer at 11:55 AM
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Monday, September 2, 2013 7:57 PM


Homework in math is assigned on the first day of the week and due on the last day of the week.  My deal is that everyone gets an A on the homework as long as they complete it on time and try.  The goal is to learn from mistakes.  If your child needs help, it is ok to help them as long as you are not doing it for them.  If they understand how to do the problem and can complete a similar problem on their own, I am fine with your help.  If they are really struggling, put a note beside the problem so I am aware of it.  I will then be able to address it in class or in a small group.  There will only be one homework grade per 9 weeks.  10 points will be deducted each time an assignment is late or missing.

I will also be asking students to work on facts each night.  This is on the honor system.  The best way to do this is for students to practice with flashcards.  Create two stacks.  One stack for what they know quickly, and another stack for what they struggle with.  The rule of thumb is 4 seconds or less for fluency.  Select 3-5 they are having trouble with and work with those facts for the next few days.  Draw pictures of the answers.  Work on strategies to help them remember.  For example, if 6 x 8 is a difficult one to remember and they know their 5’s very well, start with 5 x 8 which is 40 and add one more set of 8 for an answer of 48.  When they have those facts down, mix them with the known facts and practice all once.  Next select another 3-5 to work on and begin the process again.  10-15 minutes a night should be fine.   There are many sites online for practice and you can even get free apps on your ipods.

Occasionally, we will complete a project or will have some practice homework.  There will also be a test at the end of a unit.  I am trying to make these monthly, but am in the process of reworking my units to align with the new Common Core Standards.  I may make adjustments here and there.  Right now I am shooting for the first test at the end of September.

Posted By Elizabeth Pitzer at 7:57 PM
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Thursday, August 29, 2013 2:28 PM

Great Start

It is amazing how great these kids are.  We had an wonderful problem solving activity today!  They worked well in groups, encouraged others, and explained well.  They are awesome!

Posted By Elizabeth Pitzer at 2:28 PM
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Saturday, August 24, 2013 3:19 PM

Preparing for a new year

Busy preparing for the start of school!  The classroom is ready.  I am excited about the bright young math minds entering my class this year.

Posted By Elizabeth Pitzer at 3:19 PM
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