June 30, 2012

Math + Literacy = Connections

I'd like to welcome Lorraine Vasquez from the Fabulous Fourth Grade Froggies blog! She's my guest blogger in the Top Teachers' Blog Hop and Swap today. I'm blogging for Mor Edri-Zrihen at A Teacher's Treasure. After you read Lorraine's blog post, hop over to Mor's blog and read mine! ~ Laura

Math + Literacy = Connections

We all know how important it is for a student to see the connection between what they learn in school and their everyday life.  Sometimes students have a hard time seeing these connections.  I personally think it should be easy for our students to see math in our everyday lives but I'm apparently wrong.  I asked my students to write down all the ways their family uses math at home. Most students wrote when cooking you use measurement but that was about it.  Can you believe it?  I was blown away by this response.  I was expecting a whole lot more since I have a pretty bright class. 

To help my kids make more "math connections" I read the book Math Curse by Jon Scieszka.  My students loved the book and even better, I heard a lot of, "Oh yeah", "Duh, that is math too", "I didn't think about that as math", etc.  {Click on the picture below to read more about the book}
We had a great discussion after reading the book and talked about ways we use math in school (besides during math time) and at home.   Students love to read the book on their own or with a friend as well. 
One place in the classroom where we see math connecting to real life situations is in word problems!  My students (like most students) love to see their names in word problems.  As one of my students said, "I feel famous when my name is in our math assignment".  I even include my name in word problems too....... It kinda does feel like you're famous.  LOL!   Even if the word problems are from a book or our district curriculum it only takes a few minutes to retype the names or situations to meet my students lives.

Word problems can be fun but they also can be very difficult especially for those students who have reading comprehension problems.  In my classroom we act as if we are detectives when trying to solve word problems.  We use this four step scaffold I made to help us solve all word problems. 
Here are the steps we use, but once you download the scaffold {by clicking here or the pic above} for yourself, you will also see the "substeps" that are even more specific and will guide your students to successful problem solving.
                                            Step 1: Understand the Problem
                                            Step 2: Come up with a Plan
                                            Step 3: Carry out your Plan
                                            Step 4: Look back/Check

If you use this scaffold, or what we like to call our problem solving map, frequently enough the steps become second hand to the students.  Hopefully you will see a positive change with your students in problem solving once you give this a try.

A great big frogilicious THANK YOU to Laura Candler for participating in the Top Teachers' Blog Swap and Hop. I feel honored and privileged to be chosen to share my thoughts right here on her blog.  My name is Lorraine Vasquez and I teach 4th grade in South Texas.  I love being an educator and sharing my love of learning with my students.  I invite you to hop over to my blog, Fabulous 4th Grade Froggies, and learn a little bit more about me and the 'hoppenings' in my classroom.


  1. I haven't heard of this book, but it sounds great! I completely agree, students need to see what we do in school applies to what we do in real life!
    Conversations in Literacy

  2. I love the sound of this book. It's a new one for me. I loved this blog hop and have gotten some fabulous ideas to begin the school year. Thanks so much!

    I'm also your newest follower. :-)

    2nd Grade Pad

  3. I saw on the problem solving worksheet that there is a strategy wheel that will go with it. Can you post that as well? Thank you for your great ideas.

    1. It's on the worksheet with the cute detectives and it is in the section "come up with a plan" and it asked "what strategies did you else" then said "use the strategy wheel on the back. "

    2. Ooooooh I know what you are referring to. LOL! I copied something our district gave us with strategies on the back on this sheet that I created. Sorry I don't have that in my files. I only have a hard copy and don't have permission to share. It is just a circle divided in wedges (like pizza)and has strategies like work backwards, use simpler numbers, etc.
      Sorry I can't be more help!


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.