Tuesday

How to Check Your Math Work: Suggestions for Students

When students finish their math tests and want to hand them in, I always ask, "Did you check your
work?" Often the answer is "yes," but if it's not, I won't take the paper until the student does check over their work.

How do they do this checking?
Do you know what I'm going to say?
Here's what they do - they look at the questions, basically make sure that all the questions were answered, and again try to hand the test in.

Unless they are clearly taught otherwise, many students seem to understand "checking your work" to mean "checking to see if everything is done."
What does checking mean to you?
What does it mean to me?
How do I think students should check work?

I teach them to use the following strategies. They aren't always thrilled by the extra time and effort this real checking takes, but they do find that it helps.

1) Redo every problem, on a separate piece of paper, without looking at the work that was already done (when they look at the work they already did, it influences them and they sometimes make the same mistake again). Then compare the original work and answer with the redo.

2) Use the opposite operation to check, if possible. If the problem was an addition problem, subtract one of the addends from the sum. If it was a division problem, use multiplication to check. You know what I mean:-)

3) Ask whether the answer is logical. If the problem was 2.56 x 7.91, an answer of 2.02496 (instead of 20.2496), is not logical.

4) Substitute the solution into the equation, if possible. If the solution is correct, the equation will be true.

5) If the test includes word problems, reread each problem carefully to be sure all of the information was understood correctly. Look for numbers that are written as words rather than digits.
Be sure the answer actually answers the question the problem is asking.

I made a How to Check Your Work reminder sheet for students to keep in their notebooks. You can download it if you'd like - there's a colored version and a black and white version, in case you want to print on colored paper. I hope you can use it!
Click to download this free resource.



Thursday

Help Students Learn to Manage Their Time

In my early years of teaching, I didn't always know what to say when students told me they didn't have time to do their homework (other than something like, "You must have had some time between 4:00 and 9:00!). There were all kinds of reasons - they had sports practice or a lesson, or they had to go to their brother's or sister's game/practice/event of some kind; or their parents took them shopping or out to eat. At that time I had one child (who was 2 when I started teaching), so I didn't have the experience from a parent's point of view of making sure I was getting my kids to their activities, getting done all the house-related things, and also making sure they were getting their homework done. This made it a little difficult for me to relate to the students' situations, but I tried to help them think about how much time they did have to do their work.

Being involved in activities definitely reduces time for schoolwork, but it doesn't mean that schoolwork can't get done. Students can learn to manage their time, but they need to be shown how. There are many of us who, as adults, may not manage our time very well. And if a parent is not great at managing time, how will he or she teach their children to manage theirs? Even when adults are good at managing time, they don't always think to teach their children how to do what they do.

Because their parents might not talk about time management, I've spent many years teaching students (5th and 6th graders) how to find their available work time. I make these planner-type pages and have students fill in a sample week, so they can see where their available time is. When they fill in the practices, games, lessons, sibling practices, etc, they can then see what time is left in the day. If homework is assigned Monday and brother has practice, the student can see that they have a chunk of time from 3:30-6:00 (when they probably also eat dinner) and then 8-9:00. If homework completion can fit in those time slots, great! They can plan to use that time wisely. If it's not enough time, then they need to use another strategy to get things done. One of the fun parts of using the calendar/planner is the color-coding! When I used this for my own planning, I color-coded according to person (my son was green, oldest daughter orange, youngest purple, and I was blue:-).

If their chunks of time aren't big enough, students need to find other ways to complete their work. One of the strategies I share with students is to take backpacks and homework supplies in the car with them. When one of my three children had practice (they're all beyond this point now), the others brought any work they had to do. Sometimes homework was completed sitting on a blanket in the grass or sitting in the bleachers. Sometimes it was completed in the car while we waited. Do distractions occur when homework is done this way? Yes, they sometimes do. But, to me, using that time to work was better than losing an hour or two (or more, depending on travel time!) and then having to do everything after we got home (especially if we still had to have dinner!)

I also suggest that students try to study while they're driving to an event. They can read over notes and quiz themselves. If there are several people in the car, one person can quiz another. The student can quiz their parent as well, or explain information to mom or dad....this is a great way for a student to be sure his knowledge is solid.

I always suggest that students put upcoming tests on their calendars and then work backwards to schedule their study time....so they could label the driving time as study time. Projects should go on the calendar too, so students can again work backwards to fit in the necessary time to complete them.

The great thing about a week at a glance like this is that students don't have to depend on someone buying them a planner or printing out pages for them. They can write out their own schedule on their own paper and design it any way they'd like. Then they can post in it their room, on the frig, or keep it in a school binder.

As I mentioned, in the early days, I didn't quite know how to respond to students who didn't have time to do their work. But now, this is something I teach every year, to help avoid those "I didn't have time because...." statements :-)









Sunday

Fall Freebie!

Hard to believe that we're approaching the end of October!!
I made this cross number puzzle to use with fast finishers over the next couple of weeks:-)
 Hope you can use it!
Click to download!   


Here are a few other fall resources from my store:
Click to see on TPT
Click to see on TPT


Click to see on TPT
Have a great week!


Friday

Problem of the Week, #14

This one's a quick Halloween-themed logic puzzle. I hope you can use it!

Click to download.

Or download here.


To access all of the past Problem of the Weeks, click here!







Monday

Problem of the Week, #13

Time for Problem of the Week, #13!

 Part A of this week's problem asks students to write an algebraic equation for a situation (students will need to use 2 variables). In Parts B and C, they need to substitute the given information into their equation to solve. 

An extension for students who finish early - ask them to "create" a bracelet that will cost a specific dollar amount.

Click here to download.

Or click here!

To access all of the past Problem of the Weeks, click here!








Sunday

#MathDates for 9/26 - 9/30

In case you haven't found these on Instagram or Facebook, here are the dates as mathematical expressions for the coming week:-)





Tuesday

Problem of the Week, #12 Mixed Operations

Last school year, I started posting a problem of the week, but got a bit off track with the craziness of life! I got to Week 11 last year, so this year I'm picking up with Week 12 and will do my best to keep them coming :-)

This week's problem includes a percent calculation, multiplication and division (some decimals involved) and interpreting the quotient. Of course, there are many ways to solve problems, and your students may find a different way to solve than the way I did!

Click here to download.


Or here!




To access all of the past Problem of the Weeks, click here!

Have a great week!









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