May 13

A Virtual Math Quiz – May 19

I’ve gone back and forth in my mind about this one. In my Twitterverse, different educators are saying different things about assessment during this time of remote learning. As Dr. Mitzmacher mentioned in his last Weekly Parent Update email, we are in the process of discussing what report cards will look like for us at OJCS. After reading the different opinions online, and beginning to have conversations with my colleagues, here is where (I think) I have landed.

We began learning from home 9 weeks ago. We have been in “class” together for 7 weeks (we were on Passover break for 2 weeks) We have been learning A LOT during those 7 weeks. Have we gone a bit slower than we would have if we were in school? Yes. Have I been doing my best to check in with everyone to get a sense of what each child understands and where they may still need support? Yes. Would I be giving a cumulative assessment if we were still in school and had done all the work we’ve done? Yes. So why not at least try to do something for students to show what they know?

I can’t pretend we’re in school and that everything is the same, so there will have to be certain adjustments made to this assessment. I’m researching and brainstorming with my colleagues on how this can look so that the assessment is personalized and fair, and delivered in a way that meets the needs of all students in our class. We’ll try it out, and like everything else, we’ll learn from how it goes.

Our quiz will be on two-digit by two-digit multiplication, long division (3 digit divided by 1 digit) and checking your quotient with multiplication. Here are some videos reviewing the various strategies. Students can use whichever strategy they are most comfortable with. 

There are some things you can do to make the reviewing and studying portion of this experience a little more engaging and fun (even if the students won’t agree) that will also take you away from the screen:

  1. Make an obstacle course with different ‘pit stops’. At each stop, students need to solve a multiplication or division problem before they’re allowed to move on to the next obstacle.
  2. Take chalk outside and solve equations on the sidewalk. Leave a few for your neighbours and then check their work to see if they’re correct!
  3. Challenge yourself to make real-world word problems that use multiplication and division. Write them down, record them, or call up a friend and see if they can solve them.
  4. Knowing our multiplication facts will undoubtedly help with this assessment. Take a skipping rope and practice your facts (try not to just skip count *pun intended* but say the whole fact equation out loud. For example: “three times five is fifteen”) If skipping isn’t your thing, take a basketball and dribble, or a tennis racket and bounce against the wall.

If you have any other suggestions, please leave them in the comments! The best ideas come from collaboration. After all, we learn better together.

And if you would still like some paper and pencil examples to practice, there are many to choose from here. 


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March 22

Multiplication Practice at Home

I little while back I wrote this post about whether or not we should be memorizing our facts. The verdict is still out, however my own opinion is that I don’t believe memorization is the best strategy. But, I do think that it is extremely important to practice! I gave a few suggestions for practicing your facts at home in that post, however, while we are learning from home over the next few weeks, and especially while we are in our Multiplication and Division unit in math, practicing at home will be very important. Here are a few different ways to practice.

Here’s a site with 30 fun ideas that play on your musical, artistic, or kinesthetic learning style.

This site has a few different activities for each fact to help practice (and memorize if you believe in that)

Mrs. Cleveland has also created a list on her math blog, to many different useful math practice sites, not only just for multiplication.

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March 9

Math review questions

A new sheet has been placed in the students’ folder for tomorrow, practicing making change which we did in class today.

If you would like extra review questions, here are some questions from the textbook.

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March 6

Reminders for Next Week

Don’t forget that Book Club folders are due on Tuesday. 

Our Math test will be on Wednesday on addition and subtraction of whole numbers and decimals. More practice sheets will be coming home today – due on Monday

Students must complete their Innovation Day reflection post on their blog – due next Friday. Here is a checklist of everything that needs to be included. Check here for even more detailed instructions. 

The most exciting reminder for next week is that it is Ruach(Spirit) Week! Each day, students are invited to come to school in different costumes!

Monday: Crazy Hat/Hair Day (they should still wear their uniform, but wear a crazy hat or do their hair in a crazy way)

Tuesday: PURIM! Come dressed in your favourite costume

Wednesday: Class Theme Day (our class has chosen “Through the Decades” as our theme. Students should come dressed in any clothing from the 60s, 70s, 80s, 90s or 2000s)

Thursday: Favourite Book/TV/Movie character

Friday: Wear a pair-Bring a pair Pyjama Day (in addition to wearing our pyjamas to school, we are asking students to bring in NEW childrens’ pyjamas that will be donated to charity.

March 3

Homework – March 3 to March 9

  1. Innovation Day is on Thursday 🙂 You’re all welcome to join in our class from 8:45 – 9:25
  2. Book Club notebooks – all worksheets (only your job sheets and the extra class activities for each week) are due next Tuesday.
  3. Math Test on Wednesday March 11 on Addition and Subtraction of whole numbers and decimals. Students will be getting one review sheet (with a few questions) each night this week (starting tomorrow) to ensure they are ready for Wednesday.


January 24

Math Test – January 29

We will be having a Math test on Wednesday, January 29 on Metric Conversion (converting between km, m, cm, mm)  and Elapsed Time.

Students can practice and study through the attached worksheets;

through Prodigy;

on Knowledgehook (class code: ray6563);

or with the textbook (Page 148 #4, Page 149 # 9, 10, 11, Page 150 #1, 2, Page 151 #11, Page 152 #1, Page 153 #11)



January 17

To Memorize, or Not to Memorize?

When it comes to multiplication facts, I’ve often heard…you just need to memorize them.

Over the years, I’ve had students who knew their facts backwards and forwards, and others who just couldn’t remember them. It has always been my goal to find ways to help my students learn their facts. Should I be giving time to just practice and memorize in class? Should I teach them different tricks for each set of numbers? Is there another way I don’t know about?

In May 2019 I attended the OAME (Ontario Association for Mathematics Education) Conference here in Ottawa, and focused my sessions around building better fluency. One session I attended, led by Melissa Peddie, Chrissy Chabot, and Laurie Clayton, said that true fluency happens when three things are present: Efficiency, Accuracy, and Flexibility.

Repeated addition, or skip counting, is a great strategy to use when we are first learning multiplication, but these presenters believed that come grade 4, students should no longer be using skip counting as a strategy. We really want students to think about what they are doing, and how numbers relate to each other. “Add a zero” when multiplying by ten is a common trick students are taught. Let’s look at an example and put it through the fluency test.

12.2 x 10

If students were thinking of the trick they had been taught, they would simply add a zero to the end for a solution of 12.20

Hopefully, all my grade 5 students can tell you that 1) 12.2 and 12.20 are equivalent decimals and 2) this is not how you multiply a decimal by 10. Therefore, was the strategy efficient? Yes, I got an answer pretty quickly. Was it accurate? No, I did not get the correct answer. And was it flexible? It wasn’t, because the strategy only works for whole numbers.

Pam Harris, from shares the opinion that multiplication facts should be thought about, rather than memorized. I recently attended one of her Facebook Live webinars (I highly recommend watching this recorded version, it’s about an hour long), and she reiterated the importance of having students come up with strategies of their own, breaking problems into more manageable pieces, in order to come to a solution. She offers some great ways you can start helping your child learn their facts at home, by talking about doubles and halves.

In class, students will be spending 10 minutes, three times per week, working on their math facts through Strategy Kits, inspired by the session I attended at the OAME Conference. In these kits, students will make strategy cards for each of the facts they’re working on, play games, and practice with one another until they master their facts.









Some of you may still be on the fence with this and want some good ol’ strategies to help your child learn their facts.

Here are some strategies from a book I got at the Scholastic Book Fair last year, Math Hacks by Vanessa Vakharia (if you follow the link, there are some suggestions for online sites and games for practice)




























I also wrote a post about strategies here and here, with links to some online practice sites.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this. Keep talking math at home 🙂


November 18

Once a Problem Solver, Always a Problem Solver

Call me weird, but I’ve always loved a good multi-step math problem. There’s something about seeing the path from an unknown to a solution that is so rewarding. I know that not everyone shares the same love, but can we agree that problem solving in math helps develop skills for problem solving in real life?

  • listening or reading carefully;
  • making meaning and analyzing;
  • researching and finding more information where there may be gaps;
  • being creative with solutions;
  • communicating our ideas and thoughts to others;
  • making a decision and taking a risk;
  • reevaluating if necessary.

These are all skills that are not unique to math.

And so, this week we will begin our Problem of the Week homework. Every Tuesday, students will come home with a new math word problem. They will not all be getting the same one, as they are all individuals with different skills and subject area that they need to focus on. They will have all week to work on these problems, and should bring them back on the following Monday (or sooner). I’m hopeful that by personalizing the problem to the student, they will be able to solve these problems independently, but it may take some time to find those “just right” problems.


I am going to ask each student to do two things:

  1. Attempt to answer the problem on their own and show all their work.
  2. Give themselves a rating at the bottom of the page according to this scale:

If your child needs support from you to understand what the problem means or how to solve it, and still does not  understand what to do, that would be a level 0.

If your child needs support from you to understand what the problem means or how to solve it, and understands a little, that would be a level 1.

If your child needs support from you to understand what the problem means or how to solve it, but then can solve it independently, that would be a level 2.

If your child can understand the problem on their own and solve it, but can’t completely explain how they know what to do, that would be a level 3.

If your child can understand the problem on their own, solve it on their own, and explain what to do in their own words and why, that would be a level 4.


The reason for the rating scale is to help me ensure students are getting problems that are challenging, yet solvable for them. That is why students do not get the same problems each week. These problems are not meant to be stressful or to bring tears. If a problem is too challenging, it is my job to adjust for the next week. Same goes if a problem is not challenging enough. Students can always leave me a note in addition to their rating.

As we start this new system, I’m asking that you check in and make sure that your children are completing their homework, and giving an honest rating. Your feedback is always welcome!

PS – this will only begin tomorrow, so if you don’t see a problem today…don’t worry!


October 7

Math Video

I have created a math tutorial video, reviewing everything for the test tomorrow. There are other videos to watch on EdPuzzle if you’d like more specific details on a particular topics, however this one covers it all!

Go to

Click login

Select Login as a student

Then select login with Google and sign in to your school email account. You will find the video, Ch.2 Test Review, there. It’s a long one…but it’s worth it 🙂