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Building Powerful Math Understanding, Gr. 3-5: Manipulatives and the Common Core

Location: This new three-to-five day Summer Math Institute is available to come to your district.

Audience: Grades 3-5 teachers, administrators, and paras; general and special education

Institute Leader: Tom Schersten has a gift for helping educators become comfortable and confident teaching the Common Core for Math. He succeeds with teachers who love math as well as those who might even hate it. He does this with the rigor of a mathematician, the gentleness of a kindergarten teacher, and the high expectations of the CCSS. Tom says, “We can combine high standards with ‘humane’ math instruction. We have to remember, not everyone learns math the same way. We’ve created a nation of math phobics by failing to respond to that simple truth. My aim is to help teachers right that wrong, for the sake of all our children.” Tom taught in K-8 classrooms for 20 years, including 10 years in grades 3-5, in remedial, regular, and accelerated settings.

A word about base ten blocks, pattern blocks, and the Common Core: The CCSS expects students to demonstrate their understanding through math modeling. Base ten blocks and pattern blocks are perfect tools for this. Their generous use invites many more young learners into math than traditional teaching methods ever could. Learn how to use them to differentiate math instruction in a lively and deeply effective way.

CONTENT: Tom will guide participants in the use of base ten blocks and pattern blocks to address place value and operations with whole numbers, fractions, and decimals—the major work of grades 3-5.

This is how participants will spend their time during this exciting three-to-five day training:

  1. Demystifying the CCSS for your grade and making it your own.Teachers will catapult their understanding of CCSS expectations to new levels. This will be done through comprehension exercises designed both for teachers who feel they grasp math as well as those who don’t. Participants will have the distinct pleasure of experiencing what it feels like to have math taught to them the way they learn best.
  2. Understanding Common Core Math Content so well that you can teach math understanding, not just procedures.

    The Standards expect students to be able to explain the reasoning behind procedures that most teachers learned only by rote, such as inverting and multiplying when dividing by a fraction. In short, teachers must teach things they’ve never learned. This Institute is designed to rectify that with exciting differentiated teaching for the participants themselves.Participants will put their hands on base ten blocks and pattern blocks in order to UNDERSTAND the math in the Critical Areas of the Common Core that are selected for this training. (See Tailoring This Institute for Your Teachers, below.) Emphasis will be on place value and operations with whole numbers, fractions, and decimals.Then participants will learn how to use these same manipulatives to dynamically teach their students to understand the math for themselves.
  3. Learning how to use Common Core Math Practices to better teach math to all your students.

    Use of manipulatives such as base ten blocks and pattern blocks is a powerful form of math modeling for Grades 3-5 learners. Modeling is a math practice expected in the Common Core.Participants will learn how to use math modeling, questioning strategies, and differentiated instruction to effectively teach every one of their students.
  4. Experiencing sample lessons you can replicate back in your classroom in the fall.

    Tom will demonstrate exciting math lessons that captivate young minds. These lessons will be ideal for replication back in the classroom. Again, emphasis will be on the content that is essential to the participants in the institute.Teachers will feel ready for math instruction in the fall in a whole new way!

TAILORING THIS INSTITUTE TO YOUR TEACHERS: Institutes of 3 – 5 days are designed specifically for the requesting school or district in terms of the grade levels involved, the number of days encumbered, and the specific standards focused on during the week, many of which will be related to the Critical Areas of the Common Core at each grade level.

Here are Tom’s condensations of the Critical Areas identified for grades 3-5:

Grade 3

  1. developing understanding of multiplication and division and strategies for multiplication and division within 100
  2. developing understanding of fractions, especially unit fractions (fractions with numerator 1)
  3. developing understanding of the structure of rectangular arrays and area
  4. describing and analyzing two-dimensional shapes

Grade 4

  1. developing understanding and fluency with multi-digit multiplication, and developing understanding of dividing to find quotients involving multi-digit dividends
  2. developing an understanding of fraction equivalence, addition and subtraction of fractions with like denominators, and multiplication of fractions by whole numbers
  3. understanding that geometric figures can be analyzed and classified based on their properties, such as having parallel sides, perpendicular sides, particular angle measures, and symmetry

Grade 5

  1. developing fluency with addition and subtraction of fractions, and developing understanding of the multiplication of fractions and of division of fractions in limited cases (unit fractions divided by whole numbers and whole numbers divided by unit fractions)
  2. extending division to 2-digit divisors, integrating decimal fractions into the place value system and developing understanding of operations with decimals to hundredths, and developing fluency with whole number and decimal operations
  3. developing understanding of volume