Friday, September 30, 2016

Chocolate Bar Arrays

A Student Works on His Persuasive Letter!

My 3rd graders were sooo excited when I told them that the CEO of a major chocolate company was craving a redesign of his most popular chocolate bar. Their challenge was to create a new design for the company using their knowledge of arrays.

First they came up with three different arrays that amounted to a total of 24. Then they chose their favorite array for the chocolate bar. Finally, they had to write a letter persuading the CEO to choose their design, arguing why their design was the best.

I love how this project encouraged them to think critically about which designs would be good for a chocolate bar. It also connected our work in math with our work in language arts and persuasive writing. They had to be able to effectively communicate the reasons why their design should be chosen. Some of my favorite explanations included "this makes it easy to share" and "it's very unique!" The students got creative and redesigned the packaging of their chosen chocolate bar array. They renamed and described their ideal chocolate bar. Personally, I can't wait to try the "hint of mint!"

Thursday, September 29, 2016

Million Dollar Math

In fourth grade, students are taught how to multiply multi-digit numbers using a variety of strategies – place value model, partial products method and the area model.  Usually it is lots of practice of solving equation after equation- sometimes a little boring.  To spice it up, I created trips that I would pretend to take with my students during track out.  First, I told my students that I had won the lottery and was the luckiest person in the world.  They knew from previous place value that I had a million dollars (“7” digits in the number.  We took a trip to Disney World, Craters of the Moon National Monument and Preserve in Idaho, Busch Gardens, and Space Camp in Houston, Texas.  Each lesson, we found the websites for purchasing entry tickets, found the distance from Holly Springs, NC using Google maps, YouTube videos and plane ticket prices.  We found that when we were purchasing tickets for Disney and Busch Gardens, we had to pay attention to the ages of the students because the ticket prices change when students turn ten years old.  I found that as we were completing the lessons that the students were very engaged. At the beginning of my class, the students were asking, “Where are we going to today Mrs. Stewart?”  As we were solving math problems for each trip, we also were reviewing other math objectives.  The students knew how much money I had left to spend at the end of each lesson. 

Here’s what some of the students had to say:

“I liked that I got to multiply three-digit by one-digit numbers in a fun way”.  –Bryce

“I thought it was cool that we acted like we were really going somewhere and planning a trip to Disney!” –Ally

“I can use this when I grow up and want to take my family on a trip.” -Adlee

Monday, September 19, 2016

Cary Unity Walk

The Cary Unity Walk is an event to celebrate citizens working together to support local first responders and create a safe, unified, and nurturing community for our youth and our future.  This event will also benefit two non-profit organizations that serve many needs in our community.
  • The 200 Club of Wake County provides immediate financial help for the families of police officers, sheriff deputies, firefighters, EMS squad members, and North Carolina highway patrol serving in Wake County who lose their life in the line of duty.
  • Read and Feed gives low-income elementary school children an appetite for reading by strengthening their literacy skills.  Using mobile classrooms, Read & Feed provides meals to eliminate hunger, mentors to help children learn to read, and books to build home libraries.

This event will kick off with a walk from Downtown Cary to WakeMed Soccer Park. At the park there will be a festival with exhibits from local area responder agencies and fun activities for kids. Fit & Able will also stage a 5K and 10K race.
For more information visit:

Wednesday, September 7, 2016

Spicing Up Our Math Work

My students worked on finding partners using math manipulatives. They started with the total and then broke up the partners by color. When they were finished they wrote the equation on the table! This is was by far their favorite part! :)

Science Experiments Galore

In fifth grade, our students our learning about cells and the human body systems. Here are a few examples of what we've been up to:

*Recording our heart rate before and after exercise to see how the cardiovascular system works during exercise
*Exploring REAL organs from sheep during our Science Fun for Everyone time
*Learning about how vertebrae protects the spinal cord
*Using the Icell app to explore the similarities and differences between animal, plant, and bacteria cells

First Grade is STEAMing Ahead

First Grade students think that STEAM is AWESOME!!! What is exactly is STEAM? STEAM education is interactive and focuses on a student-centered learning in a collaborative environment. The students engage in questioning, problem solving, collaboration, and hands-on activities. The students love digging deeper and learning about Science, Technology, Arts, Engineering, and Math!

Holly Grove Elementary's Parent Math Website

Need extra math enrichment or help at home? Holly Grove Elementary has created a webpage designed for parents with many math resources organized by grade-level.

Please take a look!  You can find the site by clicking the parent tab on the main page or following this link:

Writer in Residence

4th grade is extremely excited and anxiously waiting for Tony Peacock to come back to Holly Grove next week for our Writer in Residence program.  He is a phenomenal teacher who engages the students in creative ways to organize and use the writing process to tap into their imagination and compose magnificent pieces of writing.  Tony comes into the classroom for about an hour a day and instructs and shares his experiences as a professional writer.  At the end of the week he treats the students with a performance of his award winning hog hollering.  So if you hear hollering this Friday afternoon then you will know what it is.  

Flexible Classroom Seating

Flexible classroom seating can be found all around Holly Grove Elementary this school year!

What is flexible classroom seating?  Flexible classroom seating is allowing students to "ditch the desk" and learn in a way they are most comfortable and where they will complete their best work.

How is it being implemented around Holly Grove?  Teachers around the school have started using standing tables for students that like to stand, kneeling tables for students who would rather kneel.  Teachers are allowing students to sit in various places with clip boards.  Some classrooms have tents for reading activities and wobble cushions/stools.

What are the benefits of flexible classroom seating?
  • Students are empowered to take control of their learning and how they learn.
  • Students are more on task.
  • Students are less distracted because they are able to move from peers or things that distract them.
  • Less redirections for leaning back in chairs.

Articles about Flexible Classroom Seating: 

Friday, September 2, 2016

Chicka Chicka Boom Boom

Our class has been working really hard to learn all of our letters and sounds. This week, we read Chicka Chicka Boom Boom (which we LOVED)! 

After, we choral read the sentences on the poster, shown below, while practicing touching each word, reading in the reading direction, and naming each letter. 

Then we got to make our own mini versions of the poster so that we could practice reading the sentences and identifying our letters. We read with a partner while pointing to each word.