Resources and Tools for Elementary Math Specialists and Teachers
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Strategic Choice in Practice Standard 5

The resources in this collection include problems, lessons, and activities that prompt students to consider the strengths and weaknesses of available tools when solving a problem and to make strategic choices about the tools that they will utilize (CCSS Practice Standard 5).

The tools that students may utilize in mathematics are wide in variety, but all contribute to their mathematical knowledge and understanding when used appropriately. Some of the tools students might use include calculators, paper and pencil, rulers and other measuring tools, connecting cubes, base ten blocks, spreadsheets and other dynamic software, online applets, and mobile apps.

Additional resources for educators can be found in a companion Professional Development collection for CCSS Practice Standard 5.
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Created:04-25-2014 by bethb
Last Post04-25-2014by bethb
ResourceTitle/DescriptionGrade Level

In this set of addition and subtraction word problems students are encouraged to find their own way to solve the problems. This enables students to discover the strengths and weaknesses of different solution methods and to see how multiple methods all arrive at the same answer. Included with the problem set are tips for getting started, the solutions, a teacher resource page, and a printable student page.

This collection of division word problems prompts learners to use a variety of methods of division. Allowing learners to choose their own method to solve the word problems enables them to see the strengths and weaknesses of various methods and to see why certain methods might be better for specific problems. Included with these problems is the solution, teacher resource page, tips on getting started, and a printable student page.

In this math lesson, learners read the book "How Big Is a Foot?" by Rolf Myller to explore the need for a standard unit of measure. Students then create non-standard units (using their own footprints) and use the footprints to make "beds." This lesson guide includes a student activity sheet, questions for learners, assessment options, extensions, and reflection questions.

This series of six short animated videos from "Sid, the Science Kid" shows young learners how to use non-standard units to measure the length of large objects. Non-standards units such as hand width or body length are compared with the formal units found on measuring tools.
3, 4, 5, 6+

In this data analysis lesson students explore various representations, including bar graphs, steam-and-leaf plots, and box-and-whisker plots, to analyze the frequency of letters in the names of the 50 states. Students are encouraged to use a systematic approach to collect their data and are shown various tools to help them gather and display it. The lesson includes a student worksheet (PDF), links to a Decrypting Text website, Bar Grapher tool, and Box Plotter tool, and suggested questions, extension, and assessment ideas.

In this activity, based on the picture book "Counting on Frank" by Rod Clement, students explore and compare the volume of different containers using standard and non-standard units of measure. Through this activity students develop an understanding of why standard units may be preferable to non-standard units. The activity includes a suggested lesson sequence with guide questions throughout.

This game for two or more players tests students' knowledge of the uses of various measuring tools. An interactive spinner picturing 8 tools that measure the attributes of length, weight, volume, angle and time determines the players' movement on a game board. Students must explain their reasoning about their choices of tool applications. A printable page is available.

These 4 activities, part of the Mathematics Developmental Continuum of the State of Victoria, Australia, are intended to introduce young learners to the practical and effective uses of calculators. Supporting documents, materials, and progress indicators are included.

These activites are designed to be done in part or whole each day throughout baseball season in your classroom. Each activity includes students keeping track of the wins and losses of your local baseball team. As a class they will be looking for patterns, ways to read data easier: ten frames or tallies, and addition or subtraction sentences that can be made of the data. The resource includes 3 worksheets for data collection, assessment options, and discussion questions.
3, 4, 5, 6+

GeoGebra is Java based software which can be downloaded or run through a browser to dynamically model geometry and algebra concepts. The robust interface allows the user to construct either algebraic or geometric mathematical objects on a Cartesian coordinate plane and manipulate those objects through both of their algebraic and geometric forms. Users can design GeoGebra sketches for other users to address specific concepts. Inputs include: points, lines, perpendicular or parallel lines, circles, polygons, conic sections, angles, and transformations of existing objects.
3, 4, 5, 6+

Students use this interactive tool to explore the connections between data sets and their representations in charts and graphs. Enter data in a table (1 to 6 columns, unlimited rows), and preview or print bar graphs, line graphs, pie charts, and pictographs. Students can select which set(s) of data to display in each graph, and compare the effects of different representations of the same data. Instructions and exploration questions are provided using the expandable "+" signs above the tool.
1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6+

Thinking Blocks is an interactive Flash tool for modeling and solving math problems visually. Students represent quantities and relationships by placing blocks and braces on a work space and using the tools to resize and label them accordingly. Users can change the color of blocks, move them, copy them, divide them into equal parts, and separate them. A pencil tool and keyboard are also available. The site includes video tutorials demonstrating how to use the tool and how to model a wide variety of problem types. It also contains a bank of hundreds of word problems.