From the Desk of Mrs. Anderson

PACT and Prime Time News


In an effort to communicate with families and staff regularly to keep everyone updated on what students are learning when they come to my class, I will be sending an e-newsletter like this one every 3-4 weeks addressing all classes I am teaching at the moment.

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Hi! For those of you who don't know me my name is Casey Anderson and I am the PACT/Prime Time teacher this year at your child's school. This is my seventh year teaching PACT and Prime Time. For the past several years I've taught at Hiawatha and Grant Wood but this year have transitioned to Johnson, Nixon and Truman. It was a big transition, but things have gone very smoothly and I am enjoying working with these schools very much.

My husband and I live in Cedar Rapids and have two children who both attend the CRCSD school district. One is in elementary school and one is in high school. Needless to say, with the age spread their different activities keep us very busy.

When I'm not teaching or hanging out with my family, you can find me reading, writing, discussing books, or fangirling. I recently published a Young Adult (13+) SciFi/Fantasy book, which is the first in a series. Parents, if you would like to read my book, please email me and I will send you a link to a free download for Kindle and/or other eReaders or I can sell you a physical book for the price it costs me to buy them. If you are curious, you can check out Also, I will be signing at Barnes and Noble here in Cedar Rapids along with some other SciFi/Fantasy authors next Thursday, October 15th from 6:30-8:00. If you are not busy, I would love to see you there. It's a great opportunity for your family to meet authors!

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I've split my time equally between all three of the schools I work with for conferences. Stop in and see me if one of the following dates/times coincides with when you will be in the building with your student(s) for conferences. The dates and times are as follows:

  • Tuesday, October 20th - Johnson 4:00-6:45
  • Thursday, October 22nd - Nixon 4:00-6:45
  • Tuesday, October 27th - Truman 4:00-6:45
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Mindful Math - Prime Time

We use the book by Edward Zacarro called Challenge Math for all of our lessons. Then students work on problems in their workbook or work on an activity that I present to them. I love teaching this class because it really has kids solving non-routine math problems and gets them to try different ways to solve problems.

So far we have made it through the first chapter called "What's the Next Number" which is all about sequencing and patterns. The work is leveled 1, 2, 3 and Einstein. As you probably guessed they start easy and get harder. Einstein is very challenging and I will most often work out these problems with the students.

This past week I introduced them to the Fibonacci Sequence, which is also called the golden mean or golden ratio. (If you haven't figured it out yet I'm a big nerd and love this type of thing). After figuring out the pattern (0, 1, 1, 2, 3, 5, 8, 13, 21, ...144 *ask your student about this) we used graph paper to make squares corresponding to each number. Next, we arranged them according to the pattern growing and creating a spiral(like we see in nature).

Here are the two videos we watched in class:

Awesome Math

Awesome Math is a continuation of Edward Zaccaro's Challenge Math book. It is similar to Prime Time but the concepts are more advanced. We started out working with fractions and once finished we will move on to decimals. Ask your child about the challenging "pizza problem" they worked out.

Math Olympiads 5th Grade

The students were introduced to the types of problem solving on Math Olympiads contests. We have been working on Math Olympiads past tests as a group and I have assigned some of them for homework for them to try on their own. (It's fine if they get help at home, BTW).

Through the past contests we are able to learn vocabulary, pull out key concepts to extend on, and solve challenging and sometimes mind bending problems by learning/using a strategy. Keep in mind this class is meant to be exceptionally challenging and may very well cause some students to feel frustration with math because these problems are not quick to solve. Part of this class is learning to persevere and stick with a problem until it is solved to the best of their ability.

  • Key concepts we have focused on so far are finding the average and finding/using prime numbers.
  • An example of one of the problems from our work is:

Group A has 10 numbers with an average of 10. Group B has 20 numbers with an average of 20. Group C has 30 numbers with an average of 30. Group D has 40 numbers with an average of 40. The four groups are put together. What is the average of the combined group?

Problem Based Learning - Mystery River

"This unit introduces students to a serious problem—the fictional town of Hopewell’s prized freshwater mussel population is dying out, and the town’s leading citizens cannot figure out why. Your students will take charge of the situation as they join a task force dedicated to solving the problem."

The first two classes were spent doing deductive reasoning and logic activities as a warm-up for the type of thinking students will need to use to solve the problem. We started the challenge during our last class. Ask your student to tell you about what they know so far about the problem.

To find out more about Project Based Learning (PBL) watch the video below.

Project Based Learning: Explained.

United Nations

The students in this class have been introduced to human rights and have watched several informational videos at It's been surprising to learn that there are places all over the world that do not have basic human rights we take for granted. Watch these videos with your child and have discussions regularly. These are tough issues to learn about and some children are very sensitive. Talking about these issues will help them process this information.

Additionally, students have been assigned a country to research. Eventually they will take on the roll of a UN Ambassador and represent that country at the Mock United Nations Summit in December.

Story Writing

This class is learning all about writing a book from start to finish through participation in the NaNoWriMo Young Writer's Program. (NaNoWriMo stands for National Novel Writing Month). They each have a planning packet from NaNoWriMo and during the month of October will be working on the packet during intervention/extension time on the days I'm not there and then receiving instruction from me on a specific part of the writing process on the days I'm there. We also have a Skype visit coming up with Christina Benjamin, Children's author of the Geneva Project series. Students will ask her questions they come up with in advance about being an author and her books.

Here is a link to the NaNoWriMo Young Writer's Program website as well as Ms. Benjamin's website.



  • Story Writing - a parent to work with me and head up a couple of other volunteers (as needed) to help with the entire process, a launch party, and keep parents in the loop of what is going on with the nanowrimo contest.

  • United Nations - One person to help organize things for the event.


  • Mystery River - A person to organize the final presentation.


  • Someone who would want to update my website.

  • Any ways you want to help me? Ideas you have for incorporating into the math classes or any of the classes? Send me an email.

If you would like to help with any of the above, please email me. Thanks!