I happened across this teacher’s blog below and it has some amazing out of the box ideas to make math learning fun. To name a few of his ideas…He has students to bring in a photo to display a mathematical equation using food for extra credit. Students build a clock using other ways to make numbers such as 3 could be represented on the clock as the square root of nine or 12 could be represented as 6×2. There are many other great ideas to see. Students also create birthday cards using their age as a variable x and then writing equations inside the card with the variables. This blog is ideal for sparking the creativity of 5th grade, middle, and high school math teachers.
I just read a fabulous article from the periodical Teaching Children Mathematics (March 2011 issue) about the effectiveness of teaching subtraction with regrouping. A group of students was given a pretest beforehand and scored about 16% proficient at subtraction with regrouping from the instruction they had received the year before. The teacher showed students examples of the error patterns they were making. Next, to teach students about the errors they were making, the teacher gave students magnifying glasses and investigator hats so that they could become investigators to find a particular error pattern. Students relished the idea of finding the mistakes. As a result, the post test revealed a dramatic–more than 60% increase in proficiency of subtraction with regrouping. This article is not available for free online, however you can purchase it at http://www.nctm.org/eresources/toc.asp?journal_id=4&Issue_id=973 or your library may have a copy.
Teachers, and librarians, remember to ask for an application to receive a teacher discount next time you visit Borders bookstore. Borders discount dishes out a hefty 25% discount at their bookstore for books and music. When you sign up you will have to show proof or documentation of your profession. Signing up is completely free. For more information, visit the following link: http://www.borders.com/online/store/MediaView_teachingzone-teacherbenefits#.
America muddles through education reform, No Child Left Behind, and endless testing all the while still flailing globally to be ranked one of the top effective education systems. We should stop to take a look at someone who has walked in our shoes–Finland. Today Finland is ranked as the top educational system in the world. They were not always so highly admired. In the early 1970′s they struggled with education reform similar to the U.S. Today, they are doing several things which have produced amazing results. Teaching is an honored profession–only 10 percent of teachers applying for an education degree are accepted. Finland has a national common curriculum which is closely adhered to. They emphasize creative problem solving. Struggling learners are assigned tutors for remediation. Because a number of students in grades 7-9 begin to struggle, more time and money is spent with these students. Having the bottom 10 percent of the nation dominate students from any other nation in the world. The world should take the time to study the strategies of Finland’s educational system especially because the lowest 10% of their students exceed other students globally.
This has proven to be an effective method to have students put their names and dates on their papers. Before taking up papers each time say, “Class, put a smiley face beside your name, and put a star beside your date.” Students all want a smiley face and a star at the top of their papers, so they will all put their names and dates on their papers. You will no longer have to tell students to put their names and dates on their papers in a frustrated monotone voice because they will do this. When students get accustomed to putting smiley faces and stars, you can change what you ask them to put beside their name and date and associate it with something they are learning. For example, have students put parallel lines beside their name and perpendicular lines beside their date if your class is studying geometry.
Do you throw away your weekly sales ads from the paper and other junk mail? Think twice before trashing your next set of sales ads…especially if you are teaching combinations. Combinations in math naturally lend themselves to teaching about the number of possible ways you can put sandwiches together. Capitalize on this idea and show students something that will make a connection to their real lives such as fast food restaurants– McDonalds, Arby’s, or Burger King. Discuss the number of ways that students could order a Big Mac, Whopper, or roast beef sandwich–different buns, cheeses, or other toppings. Clip pictures from these type of ads and use them to show students and to embellish your bulletin board. I have included a picture of a bulletin board that I created using an Arby’s slogan to stimulate student’s interest in combinations. The pictures on the board were clipped from a weekly sales ad. The papers on the board are student work about combinations of Arby’s sandwiches. To download the student sheet on the bulletin board, click Combinations Arby’s.
While I am a fan of the Teachers Pay Teachers website because of the opportunity they give teachers to make extra money, I have no where come near the earning potential that this teacher can boast. Deanna Jump has 78 materials listed on Teachers Pay Teachers and many of the materials are Kindergarten and 1st grade thematic units. She has a 3.9 out of 4 rating for the quality of her materials which has earned her $44,000 in one quarter. The income she has made from selling her materials on teachers pay teachers beats the salary of $54,000/year she is making as a classroom teacher. This can only encourage one to sell more of her own materials. You can find Mrs. Jump’s blog at http://mrsjumpsclass.blogspot.com/.
I happened across this bulletin board when I visited another school for professional development. I couldn’t resist snapping a picture of it because of the clever flip flops that the children made. They wrote simple sentences on them, however they would make nice places to write a published piece of short poetry about summer or spring time.
Washing DC public schools are ranked 51st in the nation. Only 14% of students are proficient in reading by the 8th grade, and only 55% graduate high school. Because the schools were failing, the Opportunity Scholarship Program was initiated which gave 3300 low income students a scholarship to attend a private school and to escape the failing DC public education system. The results from this voucher program were astounding. Ninety-one percent of the low income students graduated who obtained a voucher as compared to the 55% of students who attended the DC public schools. Sadly, although the program had amazing success, Sen. Dick Durbin (D-IL) in 2009 decided against allowing any new students into the program. President Obama was also not in favor of giving funds to this program and claimed the scholarship had not shown successful results. To read more about this …http://blog.heritage.org/2011/03/31/morning-bell-an-opportunity-to-throw-kids-a-lifeline/
In the busy school day, papers can easily be placed haphazardly on your desk and other surfaces. To help keep papers organized, make files for each topic you teach. If you run off extra copies instead of throwing them away, keep the extras in your files. You will be able to use them for students who need extra practice, to lend to another teacher, and to use next year. Making a file for each month when the year starts will allow you to place seasonal worksheets, ideas, or bulletin board supplies in an easy to find location. If you happen to find a Valentine’s Day activity in November, you can file it in your February file and easily find it when the occasion approaches. Also, create a binder for professional development handouts, newsletters, and memos so you may easily refer to them when needed. Keep student work separated in paper trays by subject or class and immediately clip them together or put them in a folder before removing them to keep them from getting mixed up. In order to maintain organization of paper flow, make sure to set up your file system before the school year begins so that each paper will have a place. If the school year begins without a filing system, you are most likely not going to take the time to create one in the midst of the flurry of school activities, and your paper piles will rival Mt. Everest.