Monday, August 31, 2015

Math Spies: What about the remainder?

Math Spies is my problem-solving website that I have used in my classroom.  What about the remainder is a series of problems where students must make sense of what is happening in the scenario so they can record the remainder correctly.

Here are the seven problems:

Also, I have recently expanded this unit so that students solve the problems and analyze others' mistakes.  In this paid product, I included an answer key and a rubric to assess problem-solving ability.

You can purchase Math Spies Problem Solving: Division with Remainders in my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

Math Spies Problem Solving: Division with Remainders is also available in my Teachers Notebook store.

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Quote of the Week -- August 30, 2015

 Integrity is choosing to do the right thing and not sticking with the wrong decision simply to appear to have integrity.

Simon Sinek

I don't know anyone like this. Nope. No, I don't.

Have a good week,

Friday, August 28, 2015

School Carnival Prize Writing Prompt -- Free Printable Guide

 At the school carnival, you win the ring toss from a lady you have never seen before.  When she gives you the prize, it is a _______________.  Write a short story about what happens next.

To download the writing guide for School Carnival Prize, please click here.

Happy Friday!

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

The Imaginary Veterinary by Suzanne Selfors

One of my students loves animals and hopes to be a veterinarian someday.  She discovered The Imaginary Veterinary series and shared it with me.  What if mythological creatures had their own veterinarian?

Ben Silverstein's cat brings home a wounded dragon.  He and his new friend Pearl Petal bring the dragon to Dr. Woo's Worm Hospital for treatment.  When a Sasquatch is accidentally let loose, the two children set off to find him and return him to Dr. Woo.  This is only the beginning of the children's adventures helping imaginary creatures.

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Monday, August 24, 2015

Five Obvious Observations about Standardized Tests

Last week our local paper did its annual report on the release of state test scores.  They reported such news like some schools scored higher than the state average and some scored lower.  (Really?  I can't imagine that.  Isn't that what average means?)

In keeping up with such spectacular journalism, I want to report my own obvious observations about these tests:

1.  What we test, we teach.

Just type into any search engine the words "test prep."  Go ahead, I'll wait.  Isn't it amazing how much time and energy is spent getting ready for The Test.

2.  What we don't test, gets pushed aside.

I am tired of justifying teaching art, drama, music, etc.  Don't get me started on what we go through to convince an administrator that a field trip is "educationally based."

3.  Important lessons can't be scored this way.

While I want all of my students to read, write, and solve math problems, I want them to care and be creative problem-solvers.  I have yet to find a test that truly tests these skills.

4. Testing is not teaching.

When I am walking around a silent room whispering over and over, "I'm sorry I cannot answer that question,"  I'm not really teaching anything.

5.  Poverty affects test scores.

Poverty also affects some of the other lessons I want to make sure my students learn.  I want them to love to read.  I want them to feel rewarded when they persevere at learning something new.  Most important, I want them to feel that they have options for their lives beyond what they see in their own neighborhoods.

I spent the last fifteen years of my career trying to marginalize the role of test score in my daily practice.  At the end of this year's testing season, I promised my students that we would do all the lessons I love to teach.  Then came the staff meeting where we were strongly encouraged to do some of the interim tests so we could learn how to test better next year.  That was the day I resigned.

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Quote of the Week -- August 23, 2015

 "While we are free to choose our actions, we are not free to choose the consequences of our actions."
Stephen Covey

Have a good week,

Friday, August 21, 2015

A Day at the Amusement Park: Division with Remainders

I have been working on a series of math units I used with my class this year.  This freebie contains the handouts I used for my observation lesson.  Our school goal was math problem solving this year and I wanted to showcase making sense of division story problems.

A family goes to the amusement park for the day and encounters eight situations that require dividing and making sense of the remainders.  I have included an answer key for your convenience.
This forever free six-page product is available at my Teachers Pay Teachers store.

A Day at the Amusement Park is also available in my Teachers Notebook Store.

Happy Friday!


Wednesday, August 19, 2015

The Seven Wonders Series by Peter Lerangis

I discovered a new series this summer that students who like the Rick Riordan books and the 39 Clues series will love.  Four thirteen-year-olds have a genetic condition which gives them extraordinary powers, but will also kill them when they turn fourteen.  They must recover each part of the cure located in each of the Seven Wonders.

I quickly finished the first four books in the series this summer, and I can't wait for the final book in the series which is released March 2016.

For an explanation of my rating scale, click here.
Find me at Goodreads.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Finals Week

As I type this post, it's finals week, and I am shooting for an A+ in accounting.  (When did I get to be such a perfectionist?)

I think it is important for teachers to be learners and experience classes the way our students do.  Sometimes that means sitting through hours of professional development that someone else thinks is important.  Other times, it's taking a class that I have always wanted to take.

This summer, I reversed things.  I found myself analyzing the curriculum and the assignments from the teacher's point of view.  When I took a multiple choice test, for example, I could see what made the wrong answers wrong but close enough to the actual answer.  I felt like I understood the content more deeply because I took time to analyze wrong answers.

I also took a crochet class.  I realized that I had developed bad habits over the years and that I needed to relearn some techniques.  I wish I would have learned how to hold the hook correctly in the first place.  I would be much more efficient.

We want our students to reflect on their learning.  It will be easier to guide the discussion when I have reflected on my own first.

Sunday, August 16, 2015

Quote of the Week -- August 16, 2015

 "It is all one to me if a man comes from Sing Sing or Harvard.  We hire a man, not his history."
Henry Ford

Have a good week,

Friday, August 14, 2015

Using a Buddy Class as a Behavior Intervention

For the last several weeks I have been sharing classroom management strategies I use in my classroom.  Today I want to share with you how I use a buddy class for misbehavior.

First of all I have to say that I have been blessed with excellent colleagues over the years.  We see the students as all of ours and the students know that the adults will support each other. 

For many reasons I rarely send a student to the office for misbehavior.  I reserve that for more persistent or severe behavior.  In the absence of a room dedicated for time outs, I send students to another classroom.  This strategy works well for students that just need to be removed from their peers for a bit.

I have several open desks where students from other classrooms can come and work.  I know that I can send a student from my classroom to another teacher.  I haven't used this form recently, but I created this in the past to better communicate between teachers what is happening with a particular student.

The emphasis is on problem-solving and not punishment.  Most of the students sent to my room liked me, they just wanted to see me under better circumstances.

Happy Friday!


Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Time-Travel with Exceptional Americans by Rush Limbaugh

Yes, that Rush Limbaugh has written a series of books for children.  (I know some of you may unfollow me for confessing I read the book.  I have a diverse audience.)

I read the three books because I am always looking for fiction based on this time period.  Of the three I liked the second one featured above: Rush Revere and the First Patriots.

Rush Revere is a substitute teacher for a middle school history class.  He takes a small group of students time-traveling to sites of early American history with the help of Liberty, a talking horse.  The illustrations include photographs of artifacts from this time period.

When it comes to assigning a ribbon, I would definitely consider the political makeup of my classroom.  There wasn't much about the books that would upset anyone except the name of the author.

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Monday, August 10, 2015

It's all about relationship

Lately, I have been sharing a series of classroom management strategies on this blog.  Today's strategy doesn't come with a handout.  Everything I do in creating the culture of my classroom starts with relationship. 

Recently I learned what happens when I don't have relationship.  For two weeks in July, I taught science workshops at a private school.  I had never set foot on the campus, I knew none of the staff or students, and I was using someone else's classroom.

I had a wonderful time getting to know the people at the school.  It wasn't until I started the second week, that I realized I had a disadvantage.  One of the students started to argue with the others, and when I tried to intervene he ignored me and walked away.  I didn't have a relationship built with him, and I had very new relationships with everyone else. 

For sixteen years I have taught in the same neighborhood.  I have watched families grow up and taught siblings.  I had solid relationships with parents.  When there were conflicts, I could resolve them because everyone knew me as fair.

I did get the support of the vice principal at the science workshop.  I was able to resolve the situations in the classroom.  My experience caused me to appreciate the network of friendships I have had during my teaching career.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Quote of the Week -- August 9, 2015

 " There is no substitute for hard work."
Thomas Edison

Have a great week,

Friday, August 7, 2015

Sentences: A Classroom Management Strategy Part Two

True confession: I really wanted to give this sentence to a couple of my students.  This class was very chatty.

If you didn't read last week's post about how I use sentences in the classroom, click here.  (Hint: they write one for each offense, not a whole chalkboard full.)

After awhile, I got tired of the slips of paper and put my sentences on posters on the wall.  I kept some slips on hand for students who had difficulty tracking, or who needed to complete their sentence someplace else.  For example if two accomplices earned the same sentence, there was no way I was going to send them to the same corner of the room.
To download the poster version of the sentences I use in my classroom, click here.

Toward the end of this year, I decided to create an incentive for keeping a sentence free day.  I gave everyone a half sheet of notebook paper and they made a complete heading.  If at the end of the day they had a sentence free paper, they earned a privilege.  (If you are not familiar with my Privilege and Coupon method of incentives, click here.)

I also collected the sentence free papers and used them to draw for "prizes" the last week of school.  (My "prizes" were teaching materials I bought with personal funds that I knew I wasn't going to use anymore.)

Happy Friday!


Wednesday, August 5, 2015

The Tail of Emily Windsnap by Liz Kessler

My niece loves these books, and on a shopping trip last December, she introduced this series to me.

Emily Windsnap lives on a boat, but her mother wants to keep her away from the water.  Emily struggles to fit in at her school.  During a swimming lesson, Emily discovers just how different she is from her classmates.

For an explanation of my rating scale, click here.
Find me at Goodreads.

Monday, August 3, 2015

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