Sunday, January 31, 2010
Toward the end of the quarter, he revealed why he was so mean. Apparently, research shows that people learn better and retain information more when they are feeling an emotion - preferably a strong one. He choose fear. It must have worked because I remembered the lesson, but when I became a teacher I tried to inspire joy rather than fear in my students (though in my bad moments, I am sure I inspired the former).
So, given that research, I would imagine that happy teachers = happy students = better learning. But then that isn't exactly rocket science. Most of us know this intuitively. Just the same, there are plenty of studies and statistics to back it up. Here is just one of many.
Fun Comma Practice
Valentines Day Activities
Friday, January 29, 2010
My Little Moment of Inspiration
I am a lucky person
I'm smart, not extremely bad looking, and what little mental problems I have are not the type that not everyone has when they're my age
I have a mother, father, and sister who all love me, even if my mother and father no longer love each other. I have friends to hang out with, to play video games with, to swap jokes with, or just talk awhile with. I don't have a girlfriend, but hey, I haven't really been trying for one until recently.
I have a good life, and a brighter future than a good majority of people.
But tonight, I cry
I cry not for myself, but for the world.
I cry for those that suffer, those that struggle.
I cry for those who are hated, those who are lonely and unloved.
I cry for those who know true hunger, the subjects of terrible misfortune, and those who had misfortune thrust upon them.
I cry for the dead and the dying, the unknown and the forgotten.
I cry for those in pain, those in sorrow, and those with neither, and only a simple hollowness inside.
I cry for all the banished hopes and unfulfilled dreams.
And most of all, I cry for the victims.
The victims of love, of hate, of ignorance, of uncaring, of tragedy, of death, of society, of humankind itself.
I can never hope to understand what they have been through, I can never hope to know what it is like to be them. But still I cry for them, and I hope that everyone does at some point in their life. I am not a religious person, but I pray to any deity that is listening to help them, to save them.
And as for you, reading this, probably on some blog or internet board: don't condemn yourself. no matter who you are or where you're from, it's never too late to change. I'm not saying that you're wasting your life here on the internet; it's a good place, where everyday people can go and be whoever they want to be for a time; where they can relax for a while, be someone else if they want to. And if that's what you enjoy doing, if it satisfies you, then OK. Don't let others convince you that doing what you're doing is a "waste" of life or intelligence, if you are doing what you want to do, then that's your right and your privilege
But if you're like me, you know that you have a greater purpose. I want to enjoy my life, and sometimes I feel guilty about that; like I said, I am a lucky person. But I feel that if I have enjoyed my life, then that life has not been a wasted one. But I also feel that one should do more than just pray. A single action can change a life, and a single life can change the world. If you made a positive change in just one person's life, if your good deeds outweigh your bad ones, that too is not a wasted life. If you can achieve just one of your life's goals, that is not a wasted life.
And for those who feel they have wasted their life: today may be mediocre. Today may be depression or hate. But tomorrow can be different. And tomorrow you can be a better person. Tomorrow you can take the first steps towards achieving your goals. Tomorrow you can find something that you really and truly love to do. Tomorrow you can do something, anything, to make someone's life just a little bit better. It's up to you.
But for tonight, count your blessings, think of those who lack those blessings and pray for them. Tonight, think of who you are, and what you want. Tonight, think of what you could do for yourself, and what you could do for those around you, and those far away. Tonight, cry with me. And tomorrow, be who you want to be, and together, we just might change the world.
How many children and how many adults were in the group?
Thursday, January 28, 2010
- Send your students on a Dictionary Scavenger Hunt. You can make one up yourself, or get this one for free.
- Play Speed Word Search. Give each student or pair of students a dictionary. When you call out a word, student must find the word as quickly as possible. The first person to call out the correct page number wins the round. This would be a good one to do in teams -everyone has his or her own dictionary, but the winner wins a point for the whole team rather than individually.
- Play Mystery Word To play this game, give a series of clues. As students hear the clues, they look for the word in the dictionary until they have narrowed it down to just one. For Example: I begin with the fourth letter of the alphabet. My second letter is an "o." I am 3 syllables long. I come before "dog" in the dictionary. My last letter is "t."
- Play Dictionary Dig This game is similar to Mystery Word in that you give clues and the students look for a word. The difference is that the clues are broader and many words could be a correct answer. This one is fun because students enjoy finding more than one word to fit the clues and sharing their words with each other. Example: Find a word that begins with "s," is two syllables long, has double letters, and is an adjective. You can get a set of 30 Dictionary Dig Task Cards here.
- Collect New Words Have each student keep a notebook of new words. This is a nice activity to do daily or a few times a week. It is also good for handwriting practice. Each day, each student finds a word in the dictionary that he does not know. She then writes the word, definition, and an original sentence using the word in her notebook. An illustration would also make a nice addition. Have students share their words with at least one other person.
- Make up New Words Ask each student make up a new word and definition. Have each student write his or her word and definition on a post it and put the post it in the appropriate place in the dictionary. Make a class list of the new words and their definitions. Challenge the class to use the words in everyday conversation. This of course, would go beautifully with the book Frindle by Andrew Clements.
- Estimate and Measure Have the students stack all of the dictionaries into
one tall tower. Invite each student to estimate how tall the tower is. Record guesses on the board. Measure the tower and see whose answer was the closest. You could also do a similar activity by lining them up end to end across the classroom.
- Line Them Up Like Dominoes Probably not the best use for your classroom dictionaries...but it would be fun! There is probably some clever way to make it into a physics lesson.
Get more great ideas for working with words at the link up party at Rockin' Teaching Materials!
Wednesday, January 27, 2010
Tuesday, January 26, 2010
And The Carnival of Homeschooling is up at Corn and Oil.
Some terrific posts this week!
Monday, January 25, 2010
Have you ever seen one of those classrooms that is neat in the extreme? Creativity and extreme neatness rarely coexist. Here are some reasons why:
- Ultra neat classrooms look bare. There isn't much in the room in terms of art and science supplies, or even school supplies above the basics. There might even be empty shelves. Extra stuff = more potential for mess. The easiest solution? Don't let that stuff into the classroom to begin with. Students cannot use what isn't there. Often art, science, and other messy subjects are minimized or skipped altogether.
- In the ultra neat classroom, everything, and I mean EVERYTHING has a place and it is put back in its place as soon as it is done being used (if it is ever used at all). Books are alphabetized. Papers are always neatly stacked or filed. Coats and backpacks are always on hooks, never on the floor. Student may be so worried about accidentally ruining something or putting it back in the wrong place that they choose not to use them at all.
- Student desks are not only perfectly aligned, but always to be kept perfectly neat, both inside and out. The floor is immaculate, no scraps, ever. Extreme neatness takes large amounts of time to maintain. Time that could be better spent actually learning something.
- The walls are decorated with perfectly positioned store-bought posters. If there is student work, only the best examples are displayed. This is not at all inspiring for those kids who know that while they might have some great ideas, they have no hope of attaining the ultra-perfect expectation that is required to have their work displayed.
- No one talks during work periods. The students are trained to work in silence. Group work is rare, as the noise level makes the teacher uncomfortable. Most work is done individually by students at their desks. The classroom may look orderly and well-controlled, but students are missing out on the chance to collaborate, learn to work with others, and improve their social skills.
- Neat, grammatically correct papers get higher scores than creative ones, even if the assignment was in creative writing. When teachers value neatness over content, students start to as well. Writing suffers because "big" is easier to spell and write than "enormous." Neat can be boring.
Every other child (child number 2, 4, 6, etc.) is wearing a hat.
Every third child (child number 3, 6, 9 etc.) is wearing mittens.
Every fourth child (child number 4, 8, 12 etc.) is wearing a scarf.
Which children (by number) are wearing all three - hat, mitten, and scarf?
Sunday, January 24, 2010
So, as you may have gathered from my last post, I have been dealing with some personal challenges - nothing life threatening. Just the break up of a relationship. So, I thought that rather than grieve the loss in rainy Seattle while trying to continue with my normal work and life, I'd take a small break and go to a spa near Guadalajara in Mexico for a week (Rio Caliente, if you are interested, and it is wonderful!).
I asked someone close to me her opinion of my plan and she completely trashed the idea. She brought up all the negatives of logistics, caring for the kids, and especially money. Her attack was so strong that for 2 days, I ditched the idea. But in the end, with the encouragement of other friends, I decided to go.
It was such an amazingly great choice. I processed through a lot of the break up stuff while going on beautiful hikes, eating healthy foods, and getting massages and mudwraps. Sunshine was healing and there were plenty of wise and kind people to talk with. Came back feeling refreshed and ready for whatever comes next.
So, the point of this, the part that relates to kids is the huge impact that we as parents and educators have on those little people. How many stories have you heard about people that never sing because in third grade a teacher told them they can't? Or who are sure they can't write because of all the red marks littering their elementary papers. We have amazing power. We can crush ideas - crush spirits without even knowing what we are doing. And at the same time, we can also encourage. How many millions of ideas, discoveries, inventions, causes, adventures, and acts of kindness were inspired by a few words from a trusted teacher?
Just something to think about. Back tomorrow with a more "professional post" and a Daily Brain Teaser.
Friday, January 22, 2010
- fork, plate, spoon, knife
- boot, sandal, sock, slipper
- carrot, cantaloupe, gumball, pea
- shark, paper, sting ray, pancake
- mug, suitcase, Easter basket, shoe
- cat, egg, turtle, peanut
- mosquitoe, kite, needle, bat
- sweater, belt, cell phone, vending machine
- tape, pencil, honey, gum
- TV, computer, map, lock
Thursday, January 21, 2010
Wednesday, January 20, 2010
Good things about this Game:
- The game is easy to learn: Players simply place blocks within the chosen frame until all the blocks have been played. The winner is the person who has the most blocks showing from the top.
- There are many strategies to try - block opponents, cover a lot of space, or play high. I am still not sure what is the best approach.
- There are several different frames, which changes the game significantly.
- Games go relatively quickly - about ten or fifteen minutes each.
- Great for improving spatial skills.
- It is one of those great games that is fun for both kids and adults.
Nonfiction Questions & Projects
Tuesday, January 19, 2010
And The Carnival of Homeschooling at Home School Dad.
Use the clues to find these words that all contain the word "and"
1. In the desert ___ A N D
2. Marching ___ A N D
3. Treat ___ A N D ___
4. Bear ___ A N D ___
5. Place to grab ___ A N D ___ ___
6. Get bigger ___ ___ ___ A N D
7. For light ___ A N D ___ ___
8. Unpredictable ___ A N D ___ ___
9. Roam ___ A N D ___
10. Leave and not come back ___ ___ A N D ___ ___
12. Mother's mother ___ ___ A N D ___ ___
Friday, January 15, 2010
One of the strategies he uses that I like is his approach to multiple test questions. Instead of just teaching students to choose the correct answer, he teaches them to analyze all of the answers to see why the incorrect ones are wrong. In most cases, the wrong answers are what a child is likely to come up with if he makes a common mistake - for example adding instead of subtracting. When a child sees her answer as one of the choices, it increases her confidence that she got it correct, when of course, she did not.
Esquith says that his kids love to discover how the people who created the test try to trip up the test taker with wrong answers. I can totally see that...how cool is it for a fifth grader to outsmart an adult? It puts a fun little twist into test taking. Of course, when there is a time constraint on a real test, analyzing each answer might not be the best strategy, but in many cases, it could be a great way for students to think more critically about the test itself as well as their own problem-solving process.
One way he teaches this is to write a math problem on the board with the letters, a,b,c, and d under it. After the students have solved the problem, he makes the correct answer one of the choices. Then the students suggest what could be used for the three wrong answers, with the reason why each would make a good wrong answer. Creating the questions themselves helps the students to understand how the test is designed on a deeper level than simply taking a test.
Ryan has P.E right before lunch.
He has English right after Drama
Math is not his first class.
He has Science just before Drama.
I especially liked the challenge issued by Math Mama to Write a Kids Poem about Math. There are a couple fun ones in the comments. I wrote one a couple years ago in the form of a picture book, but as of yet, no takers.
Thursday, January 14, 2010
Maybe your child is a little above average. You don't need this post either. It doesn't matter what you do, your kid isn't going to get in to a public school gifted program. If you can affords a private school, you might be able to get him or her into a private gifted program -especially one that is new or struggling. They tend to lower the IQ bar and once your child is in, he or she can generally stay in for the duration without being retested.
But, if your child is quite a bit above average, but not a slam-dunk, this post might help. Your child just needs a few extra IQ points, maybe a small percentile gain. There are things you can do to help.
First, let me be very clear that I am not telling you to push learning on your kid, especially if we are talking about a kindergartner testing into a first grade program. Any prep you do should be fun and your child should want to participate- if your child resists, he or she is probably not developmentally ready. Let it go.
Here are some things you might want to consider:
- Choose a preschool with lots of art, singing, story times, outside play, cooperative games, and imaginative play. Kids pick up so much just by doing these simple activities. They give children a foundation for the academics that come later. Pushing worksheet academics on a three year old is not developmentally appropriate.
- Some gifted programs require children to be reading before first grade. This means you may need to teach your child to read. For most bright kids, this can happen pretty naturally just by reading out loud together. There are programs of course, and if you use one, just make sure it is fun. If your child resists or can't seem to get it, he or she is not developmentally ready to read. Wait a few months and try again. Meanwhile, keep reading out loud to your child.
- Do lots of mental math, puzzles and other spatial activies, sequencing, ordering, classifying, and comapring. These can easily be incorporated into games or playtime. Line up toy cars from biggest to smallest, divide stuffed animals into groups using a specific criteria, list all the ways that an apple is the same or different than a tomato, make up a math story problem while you are waiting in line at McDonalds. Those skills show up on IQ tests. Again, do these things only as happily received by your child.
- Make sure you jump through all the right hoops. Every district has their own set. Get your paperwork in on time. Always be very polite to everyone you talk with in the gifted department.
- If there are several options for testing dates, choose the latest date possible. At this young age, your child is changing daily. A month, even a few weeks of extra time could make a difference. You want your child to be as old as possible when taking the test.
- If you have the option of having your child tested privately, do it. Usually kids are tested for gifted programs in big groups, early in the morning. It is strange, it is stressful. If you can pay to have a psychologist test your child privately, he or she will work with just your child. You can choose someone who works well with kids. You can choose a time that makes sense for your child. The test itself may be different as well. It will likely involve one-on-one activities with the tester.
- Be sure you child gets plenty of sleep the night before test day. Eat a healthy breakfast. Lay off sugar. You might want to skip dairy products as well. Aim for nondairy protein and healthy carbs.
Funny thing about that. My other child, the one who is not even close to testing into a gifted program scored only a few points lower than my gifted child on the WASL (the truly dreadful standardized test given to school children in Washington State) and her grades are better. Giftedness is such an interesting concept. But that is for another post...
200 Question Cards for Kids
Single-Serving Cooking Projects in Pictures
6 socks are red
6 socks are yellow
And 6 socks are blue.
It is dark in Jamie's room. How many socks must Jamie pull out of his drawer to be sure he has a matched pair?
Wednesday, January 13, 2010
Here are two examples:
There are 26 people in the classroom. Each person has 8 fingers (not including thumbs)
26 people x 8 fingers
26 x 8
There are 32 chairs in the classroom. Each chair has 4 legs
32 chairs x 4 legs
32 x 4
Other ideas include
- Clocks x numbers on each clock (if you have more than one)
- Windows x window panes in each window
- Bins x sides on each bin
- Dice x dots on each die
- Kleenex boxes x corners on each box
- Blue triangle pattern blocks x sides on each triangle
- Shirts x sleeves on each shirt
- Doors x door knobs on each door (both sides)
- Cabinets x shelves in each cabinet
- Coat closets x hooks in each closet
- Ceiling lights x Number of panals on each light cover
- Crickets or other classroom pets x number of legs
- Gold Stars x number of points on each star
- Birthday cakes (on birthday poster) x number of candles on each cake
- Dictionaries x number of letter "I"s on the front cover of each dictionary
- Soccer balls x number of black hexegons on each ball
- jumpropes x number of feet in each rope (will take measuring)
- Rulers x number of inches on each ruler
- Geoboards x pegs on each board
- Shelves x books or bins on each shelf (if the are the same)
- Recorders x finger holes in each recorder
- Watercolor sets x number of colors in each set
- Crayon boxes x number of crayons in each box
- Calculators x buttons on each calculator
- Milk cartons x ounces of milk in each carton
- Desks x number of legs on each desk
- children x various body parts and pieces of clothing
- Social Studies Text Book x pages in text
- Computer keyboards x keys on each board
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Red Green Yellow Blue Purple Pink Brown Black Orange Yellow Blue Orange Gray Pink Purple Blue Yellow Green Pink Orange
If you are like most people, this was not an easy task. That is because our brains are trained to see things and then draw an instantanious conclusion.
But what is more real here, the written word for a color, which is really just a symbolic representation of the color, or the color itself? And yet, we automatically process the symbol, equating it with the real thing and do not even notice what is actually real.
For myself, I know that I often have an idea about a how a situation, person, or thing is. I wonder how often I see my own idea and completely miss what is actually there.
200 Interesting Questions to Ask Children
Fun Comma Practice
Brad ate a hamburger for lunch two times each week.
How many more times did Brad eat a hamburger for lunch than Angie?
Monday, January 11, 2010
- At what age is a person an adult? Why do you think so?
- If could change one rule that your family has, what would you change?
- What is something that makes your family special?
- Of all the things you are learning, what do you think will be the most useful when you are an adult?
- Are you a good friend? Why do you think so?
- How would the world be different if animals could talk?
- Would you cheat on a test if you knew you would not get caught? Why or why not?
- If you could grow up to be famous, what would you want to be famous for?
- If you could be invisible for a day, what would you do?
- What is the best gift you have ever given? Why was it so special?
- What is the hardest thing about being a kid?
- If you were a teacher and the kids in your class would not listen to you, what would you do?
- Where is your favorite place in the world?
- If you could give one gift to every single child in the world, what gift would you give?
- If you could travel back in time three years and visit your younger self, what advice would you give yourself?
- What five words do you think most describe you?
- If you could invent something that would make life easier for people, what would you invent?
- When was a time that you felt lucky?
- What do you think would be the hardest thing about being blind?
- If you could make one rule that everyone in the world had to follow, what rule would you make? Why?