Why I Love IXL Math…and an IPAD Mini Giveaway!

iPad Ideas and Giveaway from The Lesson Deli

Hey fellow techie teachers!  I’m linking up with my friends at The Lesson Deli to showcase some ideas for using iPads in the classroom.  Hop through the posts to learn about some useful classroom iPad apps, then don’t forget to visit the Rafflecopter for a chance to win an iPad Mini.

Why I Love IXL Math for iPads and Why You Will Too from The Pensive Sloth

IXL? What’s that? Read on to find out!

8 Reasons to Use IXL In Your Classroom

First, what is IXL?  IXL is a super organized website for students to practice math skills, from the very simple ‘naked’ problems that just deal with the arithmetic to the multi-step word problems that have students apply what they have learned.  IXL is like a bunch of really well developed digital worksheets.  Here’s why I love it, my students love it, and why you will love it too!

1.  INSTANT FEEDBACK FOR STUDENTS–Research tells us time and again that feedback is most helpful when it is immediate (especially for our digital natives).  Students work on a skill, and if they get it right they know!  There is no waiting for you to check their work.  If they miss it, they find out immediately and IXL explains why so that the student can learn from his/her mistake without practicing the wrong way multiple times.

2.  INSTANT FEEDBACK FOR TEACHERS–Let’s say my class needed to practice equivalent fractions.  I could assign a lesson to my students and monitor their progress from my teacher computer.  The beauty of IXL is that it instantly updates you on how many questions a student has answered correctly.  If I notice that little Johnny has answered 20 questions and missed 15, it is time to intervene!  Or, that little Sarah has answered only 6 questions and the rest of the class is almost finished, I might need to help her find a more efficient strategy.

3.  IXL IS FORGIVING–We all make mistakes when learning something new.  IXL recognizes this and rewards students for learning, not just a percent of questions they get right.  For example, students who miss several questions early on still have the ability to recover to earn a high Smart Score because they are learning.  They will have to answer more practice questions to ensure they’ve got it, but they can still score high and be rewarded for their efforts.  Students who already understand a skill won’t have to answer bazillions of questions.  IXL picks up on this, and their score will be equally as high for showing mastery!  There’s no reason to make a student who knows something practice it again and again forever.  IXL catches on quickly so students can show mastery early and move on to something more challenging.

4.  DIFFERENTIATION–Is a great buzzword, but IXL can make it happen easily in YOUR classroom.  If you have students who are below level, you can assign them practice on skills to meet their needs.  If you have students who are advanced, move them ahead.  IXL covers K-12 standards, so the sky is the limit!

5.  ORGANIZATION–I have never seen a math program as teacher-friendly as IXL.  You can search by skill, monitor progress by skill, go up and down a grade level based on your state’s standards, whatever works for you and your students.  I typically would write a lesson on the board I wanted my students to complete based on what we were studying and I even took grades on their work.

6.  SMALL GROUP/MATH STATIONS–Add an IXL math station to your rotation so that you can meet with small groups and still know that your students are engaged in purposeful work as mathematicians.

7.  FLEXIBILITY–IXL worked on my classroom desktops, laptops, and iPads.  Plus, students could work from home if parents requested extra practice!  Once you set up student accounts and passwords, they can use IXL on any device with an internet connection.

8.  BOOST THOSE TEST SCORES–Overall, IXL makes it easy to fill gaps in learning, help students track their progress and see how their efforts produce achievement, and help you target skills students need to be successful on state assessments (whether you follow your state’s standards or Common Core), IXL can help your students succeed on state tests with confidence.

Now, you may be wondering if IXL is free???  The answer to that is NO and YES.  As a teacher, you can sign up for 30 day free trials.  Yep.  I had to sign up for a few free trials.  In fact, my whole grade level used it, loved it, and had so much success, that our school purchased it for the campus this year.  If after giving it a try you decide you MUST have it, talk to your principal, PTA, hold a quick fundraiser, or consider writing a grant through Donor’s Choose.   It is worth every penny!  Oh, and you should know that I am NOT being paid to talk about IXL.  When a friend of mine mentioned it to me last year, I gave it a try and now every time I meet a math teacher, I share my experience with it.

You can learn about MORE iPad apps from the teachers at  The Lesson Deli

iPad Linky for iPad giveaway from The Lesson Deli

Click this image to go to the Linky screen for more great ideas on using iPads and apps in your classroom. Brought to you by the teachers at The Lesson Deli.

 Want to win an iPad Mini?  Of course you do!  Please note that this giveaway is only open to teachers (classroom and homeschool) who are living in the United States or Canada. The winning entry will be verified and proof of eligibility may be required. Please see the complete terms and conditions at the bottom of the giveaway for more information.

Rafflecopter Button for iPad Giveaway from The Lesson Delia Rafflecopter giveaway

Good luck!

–The Pensive Sloth


Talk Like a Pirate Day Math Freebie with Tape/Strip Diagrams

I’m linking up with Krista of Teaching Momster for Math Madness Wednesday in honor of Talk Like a Pirate Day…

Math Madness Wednesdays Link from The Teaching Momster

“If I hear one more pirate joke I’m going to make you ALL walk the plank!”  That’s right teachers, international Talk Like a Pirate Day is just around the corner.  Friday, September 19th to be exact.  I actually really like silly holidays, so here is a math freebie to celebrate!  Students answer the decimal addition problems to solve the riddle.  But, these aren’t any old decimal addition problems, matey.  These problems are set up using tape/strip diagrams to build those algebraic thinking skills!

Talk Like a Pirate Day Math Freebie from The Pensive Sloth

Students answer decimal addition questions (in tape/strip diagrams)  to solve the pirate riddle.  Designed for grades 4 to 6.

Click HERE to download this Talk Like a Pirate Day free math activity from The Pensive Sloth!

In my last post about tape/strip diagrams, I shared some ideas for using them in upper elementary math.  Here’s another idea.  Provide students with a tape diagram with a missing part.  Then, ask them to write what they would type into a calculator to find X.  It isn’t as simple as you might think!  Depending on the location of the unknown, X, students must form an equation that will get them to the right answer.  Give it a try…

Tape Diagram But What Do I Put In the Calculator Chart from The Pensive Sloth

Put a spin on your math lesson–Don’t ask your students to just SOLVE the problems, ask them to tell you what they would type into a calculator to get the correct answer! This is a challenge when students are working with unknowns in different locations. Try it. It makes them think!

Fair winds my fellow pirates!

–The Pensive Sloth

Shameless plug–If you need some tape/strip diagram worksheets or task cards, I’ve got some for adding and subtracting decimals to the tenths and hundredths place.

Teach Math With Me: Personal Financial Literacy and Taxes

School starts in about a month.  Resistance is futile!  I have a terrible time saying goodbye to napping and reading by the pool, but I always look forward to the start of the year.  Shopping for school supplies and meeting your kiddos at back to school night–Love it!  It is just around the corner…and so are those new personal financial literacy standards.  Now, if you are like me, the first thing that came to mind is, “How will I fit THAT in?”  Followed by, “And will that be on the STAAR test?”  One of the new standards has 5th graders defining 4 kinds of taxes (income, payroll, sales, and property) and that sounds like a great way to integrate some social studies!  So, here are a few ideas and a freebie!

5th Grade Personal Financial Literacy from The Pensive Sloth--social studies, math, and reading

Anchor chart to help students learn what the Constitution says about taxes in the US and about 4 kinds of taxes (income, payroll, sales, property).  This addresses the NEW math TEKS 5.10A for personal financial literacy…and a little bit of social studies!

5th Grade Personal Financial Literacy from The Pensive Sloth--social studies, math, and reading

Math/Literacy/Social Studies station where students sort scenarios based on the tax being described–includes 16 scenarios to be sorted into 4 tax categories.

5th Grade Personal Financial Literacy from The Pensive Sloth--social studies, math, and reading

Vocabulary snip-it with terms for teaching personal financial literacy

5th Grade Personal Financial Literacy from The Pensive Sloth reading, math, social studies

Let your students be accountants and do taxes for two fictional characters based on their financial profiles! See below for a link to this page.


Enjoy those last few weeks of summer!  Oh, and here’s a link to the free “Be an Accountant” activity!

–The Pensive Sloth

***Activities in this post can be found in my TPT store.***

Meet My New Best Friend–Hands On Equations

This post inspired by The Teaching Momster.  To read more about algebraic thinking in the intermediate grades, check out this week’s Math Madness Wednesday by clicking the red badge below.

Math Madness Wednesday algebra prealgebra algebraic thinking for 5th and 6th grade

If you haven’t heard of Hands On Equations by now,  listen up.  Hands On Equations will rock your world!  Seriously! I believe this system or program or curriculum supplement came out in the mid 1980s.  In a nutshell, students learn to solve algebra expressions using game pieces like pawns and number dice.  It’s amazing, and a quick Google search will gather all you could ever want to know about it.

Hands On Equations for 5th and 6th grade algebra

Hello, I’m Hands On Equations and I’m here to make learning algebra fun and easy!

But wait, there’s more.  Because I am new to teaching math this year, I watch a lot of YouTube.  I search something I’m about to teach and watch an expert teacher before I even try it out in my classroom.  I can’t tell you how helpful this has been.  Upon searching for Hands On Equations lessons, I happened to find a teacher who…get this…has recorded all of the lessons!  Oh my!  She is an angel sent from above.  I am writing her a thank you letter as we speak.  The lessons are about 10 minutes long and I have used the first 4.  Why play the clip instead of teaching the lesson myself?  One, students love YouTube.  Two, I get to observe a master teacher.  Three, I can walk around and intervene, and the lesson keeps going.  I carry my mouse with me around the room and pause every so often to have my students work an example independently before she solves it on the video.  After each lesson (video clip), students work on 10 problems.  All of this takes about 35 minutes a day and is supplementing our regular curriculum.

If you are looking to build algebraic thinking skills with your intermediate students, here’s a link to some puzzles.

@ThePensiveSloth prealgebra puzzles for 5th and 6th grade

Use puzzle task cards to engage your students in pre-algebra activities. Great for building logical reasoning and algebraic thinking. WARNING: Will make your students think!

Thanks for stopping in!

–The Pensive Sloth

Fraction Boot Camp–Preparing for the STAAR Test

With our state test approaching we are reviewing concepts from earlier in the year to make sure we’ve got it!  Fraction Boot Camp was one way our class prepared this year.  Here’s how Fraction Boot Camp worked in my classroom:

STEP 1–Write fraction standards on chart paper, set class goals, and plan a class celebration.  Our class decided on 85% for each assessment as our goal and that we would celebrate with a picnic outside on a nice weather day when we met our goal.

STEP 2–Review each skill with a mini-lesson, have students complete a few ‘number problems’ to make sure they understand, then give partner time to work some word problems while meeting with a small group who needs a little extra help.  Number problems are simply working with the numbers.  I need to know that my students understand equivalent fractions with mixed numbers and improper fractions prior to giving them lots of word problems to solve!  Check out CC Sheets.  It is one of my favorites for number only problems.  Because I teach the TEKS and not CC, I search by skill rather than standard and grade level.

STEP 3– Assess and report class averages on the chart.  The kids love to see their progress posted in the classroom.

Valentine's Day fractions matching game for equivalent fractions, including mixed numbers and improper fractions

Valentine’s Day fractions matching game for equivalent fractions, including mixed numbers and improper fractions

This year’s Fraction Boot Camp was a big success!  Our class averages were in the 90s each time and we got to celebrate with a picnic outside.   We also played some fraction games and you can find those here!  There is a winter set, Valentine’s Day set, and St. Patrick’s Day shamrock set.

St. Patrick's Day/Shamrock Theme Game--Students sort fractions by finding equivalent fractions and matching them to the simplified (or reduced) fraction.

St. Patrick’s Day/Shamrock Theme Game–Students sort fractions by finding equivalent fractions and matching them to the simplified (or reduced) fraction.

Fun heart themed fractions games to help students practice matching equivalent fractions, including improper fractions and mixed numbers.

Fun heart themed fractions games to help students practice matching equivalent fractions, including improper fractions and mixed numbers.

un winter-themed game for students to practice equivalent fractions, including improper fractions and mixed numbers!

Fun winter-themed game for students to practice equivalent fractions, including improper fractions and mixed numbers!

Math anchor chart for landmarks--mean, median, mode, range

Anchor Chart Thursday–Mean, Median, Mode, Range

I found this really nifty song on Pinterest, though I don’t remember where so that I can give credit!  But, I thought I would share it.  It has helped my kiddos a lot with remembering what the ‘landmarks’ represent.

Hey diddle diddle

The median is the middle

You add and divide for the mean

The mode is the one that appears the most

And the range is the difference between

Math anchor chart for landmarks--mean, median, mode, range

Math anchor chart for landmarks–mean, median, mode, range

Also, I discovered the greatest site for math practice worksheets.  If you are looking for basic problems, like those not all dressed up in word problems, so that you can know your kiddos have mastered a skill, you’ve got to try THIS SITE.  I’m a Texas teacher and do not use Common Core, so if you are in Texas, don’t search by standard or grade level.  Just look at the skill because it is taught in different grades.  I used the Mean, Median, Mode, Range set with my 5th graders even though it is listed as a 6th grade set.  The great part about this site is that all of the sheets are organized the same way, they come with answer keys, and there are 10 versions for each skill!   This is perfect for small groups because if the student didn’t understand whole group, you can re-teach in small group and have something for them to practice.  Love it!  It must have been created or organized by a teacher because it is super classroom friendly.  Happy teaching!