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Multiplication Tricks

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Telling Time Misconceptions

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Equivalent Fractions

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Math Fact Motivation

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Classroom Management

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I get the cutest handwriting fonts at Fonts for Peas! kevinandamanda.com/fonts

Ms. K

What Will Become of Our Children?

I am starting to see my students grow up. At times they wait on me in a grocery store or they are a waiter etc. Looking at the struggles our current students are having in school and the push of education in a direction that leaves out common sense concerns me.

  1. I had a cashier struggle to count a mix of bills at the checkout. I mean maybe he was stressed from the long line and thereby flustered, but maybe not. With the dependence on a debit card, will children be able to count money? It seems at least in my district that the money standards are pushed all the way to the end of the year. We all know what happens when a topic is pushed to the end…it often gets left out.
  2. I teach some of the brightest students, yet some struggled to tell time. Is this becoming the norm? I had a teacher friend tell me that her grown daughter has to think a minute when looking at an analog clock. The school secretary mentioned that a parent couldn’t tell time from the analog clock in the office. Has our dependence on the digital clock on the cell phone crimped our brain?
  3. I am all about critical thinking and math, but I am hearing teachers comment that children in grades 3-5 struggle with multiplication facts. The leaders of the math department are insisting that it is okay that children arrive at the answer by reasoning from a known fact. That is great that children can do that…but what happens with just knowing it in a second is important. Clogging up your brain with reasoning to get to the answer slows down your reasoning when you arrive at more difficult problems.
  4. This one is unrelated to math. Has Google broken our critical thinking minds? Please say it isn’t so! I assigned a research project recently about planets. I asked some questions such as what kind of clothing would you need on this planet? What kind of food would you need? I had a child tell me they would bring Sonic and hibachi. I asked them if they thought there were drive thru windows in space and if that would sustain them for the years that it would take them to travel to their planet. I had children literally type these questions in on Google expecting that the answer would be there. In other words, they didn’t think I was going to make them think. I gave them a lecture about how Google doesn’t know everything, and that I expected them to reason about the questions.

Maybe I just needed to rant about these things, but I really am quite concerned. Public education needs an overhaul of common sense, but these are areas (especially the research one I am going to work on with my students).

Below are some resources to teach time, money, and multiplication.

Snow Lessons for January

I will be sharing with you my K-2 enrichment lessons for January’s return. All of these lessons revolve around snowmen.

In kindergarten we will discuss what imagination is and read the well loved Snowmen at Night.

After we read this, students will design their own snowman and describe what he looks like, what his favorite food is, his name, favorite games, etc. As we finish, students will share their work, and we will discuss who used imagination and originality.

In first grade we will also discuss imagination and originality. Then we will read Sneezy the Snowman.

After we read this story, I will challenge students to think of a way to create Sneezy the Snowman without using snow since he keeps having the problem of melting. Students will have to think of different spherical shapes they might use for the balls that make up a Snowman. For example, they might use basketballs, globes, beachballs, Christmas ornaments, or the like. It will be fun to se who has the most imagination with this lesson!

With second grade, I will recycle a lesson I have done before and love! We will create six pointed paper snowflakes after learning about snowflakes in the book below. I will link to that post here.

This year, I may change things up a bit as I use this video in lieu of the book.

Don’t forget Super Teacher Worksheets has lots of snowman resources, too, to round out any unit you may be developing!

Happy 2022!

Happy New Year 2022 from teacherblog.co!

Boost Any Unit Study by Doing This!

Are you studying electricity? Invite an electrician. You can even use the people who work for your school district? I have used people who work for the district before. They brought many interesting things for the students to look at such as the wire that goes into the wall. They had circuit breaker switches and many interesting stories. There is nothing to compare to someone who actually works in the field you are studying.

A great capstone to any unit study is to bring in a guest speaker. Right now this is easier than ever before with the ability and prevalence of Zoom. This is a great confidence builder for your children! They can learn interview skills. We discuss how to ask open ended questions. I show them the video of Katie Couric but have to translate some of her advanced vocabulary. We discuss how to ask open ended questions instead of one word answer questions. I then have students practice their interview questions on each other.

Most recently, on a whim I called the local dive shop while we were studying the ocean. Guess what?! I had someone there who actually taught dive classes gladly volunteer to speak to our students. The children were so excited to show off their paintings and creative writing pieces to the dive instructor who had gone on trips ALL over the world. She had even explored a sunken ship!

We will be studying the stock market soon. Be sure I will be inviting a stock market broker in to speak to the children. Last time we studied the stock market I had a parent come to speak to the children. Never forget the resource of your parents!

Merry Christmas!

Two Things We Did to Make Studying the Ocean Fun

We studied the ocean recently and my students really enjoyed some activities I am going to share with you. We estimated and measured out the first ocean layer (600 feet) with a very long tape measure of 100 feet. After each 100 feet we made a mark with chalk so that we could see each distance. I put some children in charge of carrying chalk, yard sticks, and the measuring tape. When we weren’t on a hard surface anymore, we stuck a yardstick upright in the ground to hold our measurement mark. Measuring this ocean layer not only helped children with their understanding of measurement, they were able to relate the expanse of the sunlight layer to the size of their own small bodies.

Secondly, we built ocean layers in a bottle. The children LOVED this! There are many people who post about this activity on different websites. I will tell you how our worked. We made density predictions first. The bottom layer was the trenches. We used corn syrup here and we dyed it with red, green, and blue food coloring to make it brown. The next layer–the abyss–we used Dawn dish soap. This worked out okay since it was already blue. The midnight layer was water that we dyed blue. I’m not crazy about using water for this layer because it blended in with the soap and you couldn’t really distinguish much of a difference. At least the students knew there was another layer even though it blended. Next, the twilight layer was cooking oil. This easily worked, and I didn’t attempt to dye it since I knew the food coloring I had wouldn’t mix with oil. I kind of like that it vividly shows up as a different color though. Finally, we added the sunlight layer. This is a layer of alcohol. Make sure to get 90% isopropyl alcohol so it doesn’t mix. We added one drop of blue food coloring to a tablespoon of alcohol.

The problems and what I liked. The bottom three layers are dark and you really can’t tell the difference in them. I think it is good that we put the layers in there so students knew that there were three bottom layers. Know that it is hard to tell the difference in the bottom layers though.

Next, know that this is messy, and you will be having to wash materials. I had some small plastic cups available so children could mix the food coloring. I also had funnels available. Funnels are useful to minimize messes, and I had the children pour this over a paper plate. I had students work in partners and hold one another’s bottle while the other child held the funnel and poured. This worked well.

Originally, I thought I would have the children make the layers proportional to the size they really are in the ocean, but I realized after making a sample that it would be more reasonable for the activity to make all the layers one fourth of a cup except the top layer which was a tablespoon. I gave the children labels and had them write the name of each layer on them as you can see from the pictures. The whole activity took around 90 minutes after instructions were given. My students are well behaved, and I probably wouldn’t have done this if they hadn’t been. If you want to still do this with students who don’t follow directions well, I suggest only making the top three layers and using smaller containers. Happy “diving”!

Happy Thanksgiving!

Boost Morale Among Your Coworkers!

I just recently started a “Brag Book” I will call it. In this book I wrote something encouraging to one teacher and dated he entry. The teacher that the book was passed to will write something nice about another teacher and so on. At the end of the year, the book will be filled with kind words. Teachers are always beaten down by how they don’t measure up. As if they are the only ones who caused their students to not achieve. Teachers do have something to do with student growth, BUT there are many other factors involved. If a child doesn’t achieve it isn’t always because of the teacher! Teachers aren’t responsible for every aspect of a child’s life and will never be able to replace parents who raises their child with work ethic and values. Take a deep breath teachers! All you can do is your best. After that go home with the peace of mind that you did your best. 🙂

So to continue the story of the Brag Book, I had this idea for a while and only recently put it together. I just began passing it around. Here’s to a more encouraging school year where we lift one another up…it is so easy to tear people down with our words when we get frustrated with the demands of work.

Below you sill see some photos of the Brag Book. You are welcome to copy this idea to boost morale in your own building.

When I made this I was going for quick and easy. I used silver duct tape and some other washi type tape for color decoration. If I was to do it again, I wouldn’t use silver duct tape since I found out it shows fingerprints and smudges. Duct tape did work nicely to cover well. It WAS quick AND easy.

I got these inspirational stickers at Hobby Lobby to stick all over the book. I really like the phrases that were inn them.

I look forward by the end of the year to have lots of encouragement inside one book!

Don’t Throw Out a Broken Clock! You Can Do This

In the current school I work in, we had many broken clocks that wouldn’t keep time. When I discovered some of our smartest students couldn’t tell time, I had an idea! I thought I would use one of these old and broken clocks for a teaching tool. I took it home and broke the hard plastic off the front. Then I ruled off sections on the clock with lines and put circles around the numbers. Each number’s circle color matches the section behind it. The reason for this is to help children know that if they see the hour hand anywhere in the colored section that the hour belongs to the number with the same color. I had a little friend who was very interested in telling time.

If you like this idea for teaching children analog time, you will love the Telling Clock Time unit here! There are these ideas and more used to teach analog time.

Check Out These Fun Fall Activities!

Did you know Super Teacher Worksheets has fun fall puzzles and activities? Check them out!

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