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The Asked & Answered department shares excerpts from discussion threads on the online MyNCTM community. In this issue, featured threads highlight responses to members' questions regarding 1st grade number sense, multiplication and division of fractions, issues of definition and precision related to circles, and the value of rationalizing denominators.

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5 Ways to Improve Children's Understanding of Length Measurement

These activities can support elementary school teachers in building students' conceptions of measurement.

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Problem: Rocket Ship Exploration

Exploring how many pattern blocks will completely fill the Rocket Ship puzzle, students are challenged to use the most and fewest number of blocks possible. They have the opportunity to explore the composition and decomposition of shapes and generalize ideas about the relationship between the size of the pieces and the number of pieces. Each month, elementary school teachers are presented with a problem along with suggested instructional notes; asked to use the problem in their own classrooms; and encouraged to report solutions, strategies, reflections, and misconceptions to the journal audience.

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Clocks: For more than telling time

Postscript items are designed as rich “grab-and-go” resources that any teacher can quickly incorporate into their classroom repertoire with little effort and maximum impact. In this article, classroom clocks are used as an effective tool to support student understanding of basic number, fraction, and geometry concepts.

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Learning Mathematics through Minecraft

The Common Core State Standards can be taught with Minecraft, an interactive creative Lego®-like game. Integrating Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (iSTEM) authors share ideas and activities that stimulate student interest in the integrated fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) in K—grade 6 classrooms.

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Tinkering with buoyancy

The goal of the project this month is for students to design and build a tinfoil boat that is capable of carrying the maximum weight with the least expense, learning the scientific concept of buoyancy; incorporating the technological tool of TinkerPlots; applying engineering principles to designing and building a boat; and using mathematical knowledge of area, graphs, and data analysis. Integrating Science Technology Engineering in Mathematics (iSTEM) is the venue for ideas and activities that stimulate student interest in these integrated fields in K–grade 6 classrooms.

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Pattern-Block Puzzlers

Postscript items are designed as rich “grab-and-go” resources that any teacher could quickly incorporate into his or her classroom repertoire with little effort and maximum impact. The current article shares ideas for using Pattern Blocks to increase students' creativity and problem solving skills while extending their understanding of geometric reasoning and number sense.

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We are growing

Math by the Month is a regular department of the journal. It features collections of short activities focused on a monthly theme. These articles aim for an inquiry or problem-solving orientation that includes at least four activities each for grade bands K—2, 3—4, and 5—6. In this issue, the problems capitalize on the natural curiosity of children to explore measurement.

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Can Kindergartners Do Fractions?

Do prekindergarten students describing and illustrating their attempts at fair-sharing tasks exhibit a spontaneous understanding of fractions prior to formal instruction? This researcher shares her findings.

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Mathematics in Kindergarten Classrooms

This department publishes brief news articles, announcements, and guest editorials on current mathematics education issues that stimulate the interest of TCM readers and cause them to think about an issue or consider a specific viewpoint about some aspect of mathematics education.