To reward your students, try smellys. Students love smellys. Smellys are when you put a happy face on the back of a child’s hand using scented chapstick or the like. If you have several flavors of chapstick, students will want all of the flavors on their hand. For example, if you have banana, cherry, and chocolate, students could progressively gain all of the scents during a day for their good behavior to accumulate the scent of a banana split.
One of my favorite math games for elementary math students to play is “Close to 100″. This lesson and game can be found in TERC math Investigations books for third grade. The game instructions, number card blackline masters, and score sheets are in the unit Mathematical Thinking. In this game one student of a pair draws six numeral cards (0-9) without looking from a deck and selects four cards to use. With these four cards students are to build two two-digit addends to find a sum as close to 100 a possible. The player’s score is how far away from 100 the sum is. For example if the sum is 102, the score is 2. If the sum is 95, the score is 5. Each player totals up his scores at the end of the game, and the player with the least score wins. What I like so much about this game is that students are practicing facts, learning place value, buildingnumber sense, adding, and subtracting while they are engaged in cooperative learning. The only quibble I have with this lesson is that the only assessment to be gathered is informal teacher observation. To make up for the lack of assessment provided in the lesson, I recommend that after playing the game to give students a scenario in which they draw six cards. Have students write about which of the cards they would chose to use to get as close to 100 as possible. To differentiate this lesson, struggling students can pull only 5 cards and choose 3 number cards to make 20 (First grade Mathematical Thinking book), or advanced learners can pull 8 cards and choose 6 to build 1000 (Fifth grade Mathematical Thinking book).
See an example of this game here: http://www.pearsonschool.com/live/images/custom/investigations/Investigations_widget1.html.
This idea comes from the Calendar Math curriculum and it evolved with other teachers’ ideas. Allow your students to estimate the length of placing a foot on your floor or wall every day of the month (usually about 30 feet). Allow students to put their initials on masking tape and mark where they think the 30 feet will stop. About midway through the month, allow students to change their predictions based on how long the line is. Offer a reward for the closest estimates. You will have to use legal sized paper to copy inch squared grid paper with 12 inches for a foot. Although it becomes messy, allow students to tape these down. They become more engaged in the activity. Copy the foot strips in two different colors to alternate them on the floor so that each foot will stand out.
After students answer multiple choice questions during testing review, get a quick assessment by having students stand to their feet or raise their hands if they picked A, B, C, or D. You will be able to quickly see what most students chose and whether you need to reteach the concept. This also keeps students alert and engaged during review because they are curious what their friends picked and want to know if they are wrong. The quicker you call out A, B, C, or D the more honest your students will be about their answers because they won’t have time to look at whose hands are in the air for each letter. This testing review will especially reach your kinesthetic learners if you choose to have them stand up for their answer choice.
One of my favorite lessons to teach comes from comes from Marilyn Burns’ Lessons for Algebraic Thinking, Grades K-2. This lesson is called Two of Everything. While this lesson is very wordy to read, as are most of Marilyn Burns’ books, the heart this lesson is very valuable. In this lesson the teacher reads to the students the book called Two of Everything by Lily Toy Hong which is about a couple that drops items into a magic pot and they double (excellent book). This book provides an solid foundation for students to conceptually understand input/output tables because items are being put into a magic pot (input) and items are being taken out of (output) a magic pot. Then students create their own magic pot patterns on their own input/output charts. When teaching this lesson, I like to get students attention for guided practice by bringing in a magic container of my own and already having some items stowed inside to pretend its magic as I show them other possible inputs and outputs for the table. In this lesson students do work on blank paper and draw their own pots and t-charts. However, I like to have prepared sheets for students to use especially when I have limited class time. Math wire happens to have a sheet that fits perfectly with this lesson–just follow the link.http://www.mathwire.com/algebra/magicpotworkmat.pdf.
If your students have difficulty counting coins a few things will help. A few things I have tried work well.
- Practice adding 10 more and 10 less on the 100′s chart with any number so that students recognize the patterns when adding 10 to a number. Discuss these patterns.
- First, begin counting money values with students without coins. For example, add 25, 5, and 10 randomly on the board and discuss with students how they decided to add the numbers and relate this to money. Some students may see 25 and 10 make 35 and then add 5 to make 40. Others will add 25 and 5 to make 30 and then add 10 to make 40. Having the class discuss the ways students add numbers and the most efficient ways strengthens students’ abilities to add coin values. (from Van DeWalle’s Elementary and Middle School Mathematics)
- Use coin antennas for students who struggle with counting. Antennas are the marks you make on each coin that stands for a value of 5. A quarter would have five antennas, a dime would have two, and a nickel one. If students struggle too much with number sense, then they can count by 5′s after they mark each coin. (from http://www.mathwire.com/money/money.html)
Is AT&T your mobile phone provider? If so, save money on your next phone bill. AT&T offers a 15 % discount off your mobile phone bill. You can call your store location and show your teacher id or pay stub to receive the discount. The store will give you a form to fill out which they will then fax to their business office. If you would rather not go into the store location, they can email you the form and you can fax it yourself. The discount may take a few billing cycles to take effect. Some states may not participate in this discount, but most do.
I watched Waiting For Superman last weekend, and I couldn’t stop thinking about it for days. The well informed movie documents public education failing in America through personal interviews, history, animations, and statistics. While poor teachers continue to hold teacher credentials and ruin children’s chances at success, quality education stands imprisoned by “the system” which is guarded by teachers unions with their own selfish interests. When someone comes along with a passion to change the system to make education better, teachers’ unions silence them. Several urban and suburban families are pictured with children who want quality education but are unable to afford it for their children . These families are hanging in suspense hoping for a chance at a slot in a charter school for a better education. Waiting For Superman leaves you thinking…if something isn’t done to reform education in America, what will happen to our nation?
I have personally witnessed two teachers use this in their classes and it works exceptionally well. The novelty will wear off after time, but it works well for students at this point in the year when summer break and friends are all that is on children’s minds.
- Buy a feather boa.
- Tell your students to put their heads down on their desks and close their eyes.
- Tell them when you pass by and touch them with the feather boa they can line up.
This seems to have a magical effect because feathers are quiet and those who are in line are in suspense waiting to see who will be feathered next.