After designing a lesson for students to discover pi and trying to collect many sizes of circular containers, I happened across this The Pi Hoop in the ETA/Cuisenaire catalog. Since I order all of the math supplies for my school, I thought, “Wow! At only $4.95 I could order a whole class set”. So I did. When the hoops arrived I was excited since this alleviated having to find multiple containers to teach the discovery pi lesson. On showing them to some teachers at a common planning meeting, I was dismayed to find that the cheap plastic cracked when trying to fold down the ruler part that creates the radius of different circles. If you are gentle with the pi hoops, the concept of the hoop is great because it allows for a discovery lesson–however if an adult was able easily to break the plastic, imagine a class full of kids with the pi hoops in hand. In my opinion, save your money–they may come out with a sturdier version later on. Collect containers for now. An assortment of containers most likely will engage your students more than a plastic hoop anyway.
John Kline the chairman of the Heritage Foundation recently discussed federal legislation which is on the horizon. This legislation will eliminate federal funding programs that do not allow school systems to spend money in the areas that they most need. Right now federal education funds are dispersed in different categories. For example, a school may be brimming with interactive whiteboards (smart boards) and other technology, however what the school really needed most was an additional interventionist to help struggling readers. Federal funds may not be allotted for this particular need, and so the school continues another year with their need unmet—but with plenty of technology! The good news is that educators can now look forward to legislation that will counteract this pitfall in federal education funding. View John Klein\’s Video
Happy Memorial Day!
We recently acquired a new fourth grade teacher at school who took another teacher’s place. This new teacher is brimming with innovative ideas. She has redecorated her classroom and one of the items she had posted was a Monopoly like game board. However, instead of the word Monopoly, the 35 inch game board read “Homeworkopoly”. Out of curiosity I had to ask about this. Each time students turn in homework, they get a chance to roll dice and land on one of the Homeworkopoly spaces. Just like Monopoly each space is labeled with different opportunities. Some spaces allow students to turn over a chance card, others allow students to gain a reward such as a free homework pass, eat lunch with the teacher, and so forth. Students are motivated to turn in homework so that they can play the game. Homeworkopoly makes an attractive addition to a bulletin board, and the best part—it’s completely free. (I asked this fourth grade teacher if this actually improved students’ desire to complete homework. She said that they were more motivated, and that it increased their desire to turn in homework. You may download this pdf file at the following site with instructions and chance cards. Just click on the following picture.
Marilyn Burns (my math hero) co-authored a book called Extending Division, which has many lessons for students who are in the process of learning division. One of the lessons is called “The Division Game”. In short the students make two decks of cards–a pile of multiples cards and a pile of factor pairs. Students draw one factor pair card and five multiple cards. The object of the game is to eventually gain a hand of multiples cards (by drawing and discarding) that match the factor pair card. During an actual experience with fourth graders, the students needed most of the hour class period to actually understand the game and didn’t have quality time to experience the game in full the first day. Once the students had understanding of the game, they really enjoyed playing. The other quibble I have with the game is the amount of time that students must take to make their own multiple and factor pair cards. While making multiple and factor pair cards is another opportunity for students to become familiar with these concepts, again this becomes a time factor spent making cards when students, in my opinion, could spend their time doing a richer activity.
Lower elementary students must calculate the area of a shape by counting square units. Inch tiles work well for this if students are calculating the area of a rectangular shape. However, if you want to make your lesson extremely engaging give your students Cheez-its or square Starburst candies which measure an exact square inch. Students will eagerly measure their square units using these yummy manipulatives knowing they can munch on them later.
Look stylish while you teach! One of my favorite stores Ann Taylor Loft offers teachers a 15% discount off of their purchases. Just show proof that you are an educator with a pay stub or your teacher’s badge to claim your discount. Unfortunately this discount doesn’t apply to the regular Anne Taylor stores only Anne Taylor Loft participates in the teacher discount offers. To gain even more of a discount, see this link to get additional coupons for your next shopping trip. http://www.bradsdeals.com/stores/ann-taylor-loft-coupons
As a result of the millions of dollars in philanthropy Bill Gates has poured into education many advances in educational technology have been made in the U.S. Some examples of what Gaters has contributed to are as follows. Video games are being developed by Quest Atlantis to help students become proficient in math, science, and literacy. Sal Khan, a former hedge fund manager, began developing You Tube videos to help his younger cousin in school. These videos received much more anticipation that Khan expected. So much attention that Gates’ children viewed them to help them with their math. Google and Gates then both helped Khan develop the Khan Academy. Some teachers are using Khan’s videos as homework for students to watch while they spend class time in a tutoring like atmosphere. Online learning is gaining popularity in India and in Florida as students retain more information with the differentiated one on one instruction a computer provides. Studies have shown students still need adult supervision of their learning in a computer lab, so if teachers are less depended upon for instruction, their title may become intellectual coach or research assistant. For more about this topic, follow the links:
Clink, Clank times twenty-five students can create a deafening noise in combination with twenty- five low voices, so try this to quieten your classroom. There is the obvious use of the less durable, new foam manipulatives. Then there is the option of giving every student a sheet of felt to soften the noise of plastic or wood manipulatives. However, if you use felt, it has a tendency to slide around too much on students desks. Recently a fourth grade teacher shared an idea with me which I had never thought of…use the foamy-type liner (without the peel off sticky backing) that you buy to line your kitchen cabinets. Cut each student a rectangle to use for their desk. This type of contact paper doesn’t slide!
Prepare to be inspired! If you are looking for quality teacher blogs, you will find countless quality blogs at the following link here. The blogs are grouped by grade levels preschool- twelfth grade. Special education blogs are even included. Some blogs are not grade level specific but address a specific content area. Happy reading!
Generally it takes students a few weeks initially to learn division– especially long division with multiple digits. Marilyn Burns’ book Extending Division has several helpful hints within her lessons. In place of the traditional method for division, she shows how to teach students with the ladder method in which students divide a dividend with multiples of ten rather than break the dividend apart like the traditional method. The ladder method helps students understand numbers more effectively because they are estimating and thinking of the dividend as a whole. See this example to gain a better understanding of the ladder method.
Add all of the numbers to the right (the ladder) to find the quotient.