New Math TEKS

Using Tape/Strip Diagrams in Upper Elementary Math

Ok, so I recently learned about tape/strip diagrams.  These simple little diagrams go by so many names!  You may have heard them called bar models and part-part-whole boxes (in younger grades).  In a nutshell, the diagrams help students look at part-whole relationships when problem solving.  What I really like about them is that they provide a visual for students and help build algebraic thinking skills.

Strip Tape Diagram Anchor Chart from The Pensive Sloth

Use strip/tape diagrams to boost algebraic thinking skills with your upper elementary math students.

3 Things To Do With Strip/Tape Diagrams in Upper Elementary Math

1–Model using them to solve word problems.  Model a lot!  Students need to see how they can be applied in a variety of problems, to identify when the whole is missing and when a part is missing, so they can internalize this strategy.  You can start simple with problems that have 2 parts and build from there.

2–Use them with the skills for your grade level.  In first and second grade, students may be using them with one and two digit numbers.  But, in the upper grades they can be applied to adding and subtracting with decimals and multiple digit numbers.

3–The beauty of these diagrams is that they don’t give the kids an equation to solve.  The student has to come up with the equation!  Kids have to manipulate the numbers in their mind to build the equation, especially when one part is missing.  Make kids write the equation they used to isolate the missing variable, X.  This really gets them thinking!

The diagrams are nothing new.  They’ve been around for years, but they seem to be resurfacing because they have been referenced recently in the standards.  In Texas (where I teach) they can be found in the new math TEKS in 3rd and 4th grade.  Texas calls them strip diagrams.  They are also referenced in Common Core.  To be honest, when using them with my 5th graders I use the word TAPE DIAGRAM on purpose, not STRIP DIAGRAM.  If you teach 5th grade, you understand why!

–The Pensive Sloth

PS– If you are interested in some task cards for tape/strip diagrams, I put together a set for my students to practice adding and subtracting decimals.  There are 3 sets of task cards in this pack for a total of 72 task cards.  Plus, they have QR codes so students can self check!  A non-QR code version is also included.

strip tape diagram task cards from The Pensive Sloth

Looking for practice activities for your students using strip/tape diagrams? Check out this set from my TPT store.

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.***