New Heights

One of the reasons I decided to make the move to elementary was due to my strong partnership with a kindergarten teacher.   When my coaching position was dissolved, I had the choice of heading back to middle school.  However, she convinced me to teach 6th grade at her school (and literally across the hall from her).    I really do like having a broader range of students to access.  At my school, we have 700 TK through 6th grade (ages 4-12).  

In being the new addition to the school, I was eager to collaborate with other grade levels.  Mrs. Z (kinder teacher) and I took advantage of our proximity and became “kindergarten buddies.”   My 6th graders partnered up with her kindergarten students.  At first my students would mostly read books to her students, but as the year progressed we started doing some very cool math stuff.  We learned how to make any activity work for her kindergarten math standards as well as my 6th grade standards!!!  It was pretty amazing (they’ll be more blog posts about other activities—I’m so behind in blogging).  

November —

Mrs. Z wanted to do a height activity that she’s done with her students before.  She asked me if she could get assistance from my students.  This involved taping the heights of her students (as well as mine) on the outside of our classrooms for the whole school to see.  This would actively engage the students in her standard  K.MD.A.2 – Describe and compare measurable attributes. Directly compare two objects with a measurable attribute in common to see which object has “more of”/ “less of” the attribute and describe the difference.  

Day 1. We started off asking them who was tallest, Mrs Z or myself (Mrs. A).

We figured out which teacher was tallest.

Day 1—6th graders mark/taped the kindergarteners’ heights.

Day 2 – 6th graders mark/tape their own heights using painters’ tape.  6th grade also measures their heights in inches.  Kindergarten proceeds with discussing who’s taller/tallest/the same height.


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Day 3/4—-  Now you might be thinking that 6th grade should be way past this kind of stuff.  Little did my students know, this would be valuable information for one of their standards.  

6th grade standard – 6.EE.B.8 Write an inequality to represent a condition in a real world or mathematical problem.

Before we started this unit, I told the students that they were going to Knotts Berry Farm.  Thanks to Robert Kaplinsky, we used his lesson “Which Ride Can You Go On?”   After 6th grade found their heights (in inches), they ran across the hallway and measured their kinder buddies’ heights.   Then they figured out the inequality for each ride and figured out if they or their buddies could go on the ride.  

Our principal didn’t know what was going on, but she saw engagement.  Other kinder teachers soon followed suit asking us what we doing (same goes for my 6th grade colleagues).  Kindergartners really enjoyed quality time with their 6th grade counterparts.  And of course, Mrs. Z and I completely played off each other (as per usual).

Here’s what we learned….

  • Always use painters tape, however don’t leave it on too long as the sun will melt the adhesive and make it quite difficult to peel off the walls.  
  • pre-tape/section off where students will measure themselves.  Mrs. Z made name stickers, while my students wrote their names somewhere using Sharpies.
  • 6th graders still need practice using a ruler.  I didn’t even dare to ask them to convert inches into feet.
  • This activity has the potential to be noisy.  Warn the classrooms around you….But remember…this is great learning.
  • Loved that my students got a more conceptual understanding of what inequalities are and a real world connection.  Ironically, we actually went to Knotts Berry Farm months later and they still remembered this lesson!

This wasn’t the end of our unit.  This was only part 1!!!!  Part 2 was done in the spring and will be written as a separate blog post.  Coming soon…..

Until next time,


Create your own clothesline

For the past few months, I’ve been completely sidelined with another project that required my full attention and writing skills.  Luckily, the project is finished and now it’s the waiting game.  SO my apologies for my disappearance.  However, I have a few blog posts that I’m going to catch up on in the next few weeks.

As most of you know, I’m a clothesline math enthusiast.  Love the routine.  Love the conversation surrounding it.  Love that it creates student engagement.  As a matter of fact, some of you might have seen this.  Chris Shore wrote a full book about it and gave me and my school an acknowledgement.  Super cool.




When it was time for my fractions, decimals, and percent unit, I was thrilled to use the clothesline.  I wanted my students to see the interconnectedness between each of the concepts.   After I taught them the skills needed (how to convert fractions to decimals, decimals to percents and fractions to percents), I broke out the clothesline.  This time, instead of pre-designated cards, I had my students design their own.  With the use of a hundreds grid, my kids got to design color in as many squares as they wanted.  From there, they collaborated with their table groups and figured out the fraction, decimal and percent of the grids colored in compared to 100. 


Once they put them on the clothesline, we had a discussion about percentages less than 1% (and what they would look like).  We also had a discussion on 200% and where that would go in comparison to 100%.  Big math argument.  One student put 200% to the right of 100%.  Other students were arguing that it should be equally spaced compared to where 0-100% was placed.  100%-200% should be the same distance.





The lesson was a success.  But I had a revelation about clothesline.  Rather than me choosing with fraction, percents, decimals to, did I increase student engagement with having students create their own?  Is there more ownership with student-created clotheslines?  More importantly, how could other grade levels create their own clotheslines?

This sparked a new category of clotheslines.  I tried out my idea with a kindergarten intervention group.  The students were enthusiastic about it.  They liked seeing how many different ways we could create a certain number.  I saw the potential of using blank tens frames.  Kindergarten also creates their own with the use of the names. (see here)



Here are my latest additions to the clothesline world.  I’ve created blank templates in hopes that our students can take ownership of their own clotheslines.




Fraction Decimal Percent


Until next time,