Friday, January 27, 2012

One More, One Less Memory

Besides WAR, another game the students love to play is MEMORY.  To change things up a bit, since we've been doing "One More, One Less" in math (addition, subtraction), I changed the rules to MEMORY to incorporate our study. So if a child picks a 4, they can match to either One More (5) or One Less (3).

Another neat thing about using regular playing cards in Kindergarten is that if you lose one, it really doesn't matter.

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

Adding Machine Tape - 2 Math Activities and Art!

As a way to review measurement, we had each child partner up and help cut their height with a piece of adding machine tape. Although it wasn't a completely accurate measurement, it was close enough.

Next, each child put their name on their tape and got to color it.

Finally, we took our tapes outside and hung them up. Then as a class whole we decided how to place them in descending order (from tallest/longest to shortest.) I used clothespins with alphabetical letters to keep the tapes straight and make it easier to determine length. That turned out to be a boon, because we could then differentiate tapes by letter names.

Monday, January 23, 2012

Teachers Pay Teachers Founder Talks About iBooks2

In my Volume 87/January issue of 10 Free Downloads from Teachers Pay Teachers, founder Paul Edelman has a very interesting commentary regarding Apple's jump into the education field with its iBook 2. I'm reproducing it in full on this blog, but you can also view it here.
Dear Teachers,

I'm always a little skeptical when a company claims they are going to disrupt and transform education. This past week, Apple made a hype-filled splash with its iBooks 2, iBooks Author and iTunes U announcement to the news media. What makes it especially difficult for Apple to live up to the hype is that their effort revolves around, um, textbooks.

On my new Twitter account (hint, hint... you can follow me
@TpTFounder) I tweeted, "Every time teachers try to get away from textbooks, they pull us back in!" playing off the famous Godfather 3 line. I mean, haven't we been moving away from textbook teaching and learning for a long time now? No one wants to be that teacher who sticks to the text, even one with fancy 3D images you can pinch and twist. In the end, it's still just content. It's what a teacher does with content that really counts!

The other problem with Apple's claim of transformation is that they have created a closed ecosystem. I don't mind this when it comes to my music or my apps, but in education, it's different:
open is better than closed. (<--VentureBeat article that I was quoted in, the first time a reporter asked me for my opinion!) In Apple's world every student will have an iPad. Yet iPads are really expensive! In Apple's world schools will pay $15 per year/per student for each textbook they download. In fact, that's about the same amount of money schools spend today on textbooks (they buy one school set and then typically use them for 5 years with hundreds of students). So other than having more engaging content that can be updated much more quickly (and there is a lot to be said for both of these benefits, that is, if everyone has an iPad), this will end up being more rather than less expensive. And it still doesn't change very much.

In the end, technology can't transform education, it can only be used as a tool by great teachers to enhance it. Steve Jobs himself once said, "I'm absolutely convinced that [technology] is by no means the most important thing. The most important thing is a person. A person who incites your curiosity and feeds your curiosity; and machines cannot do that in the same way that people can." And that's the way it will always be with or without digitized textbooks.

Teach and be well,

Paul Edelman
Founder, TeachersPayTeachers

Friday, January 20, 2012

The Amazing, Incredible, Handwriting Worksheet Maker

I'm delighted to have found this site, but sorry I didn't have it sooner.  No problem! Check this out! You can make your sign-in and handwriting worksheets here! No font needed to download and install! Included are Print Dot, Print Dash, Print Hollow (super!), D'Nealian, and Cursive! There's also handwriting paper you can create and print! This site is a MUST HAVE on your list. I've also added it to my teacher sites on this blog.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

Time for Musical Chairs!

Our grading system is on the 9-week calendar, and last Friday marked the end of the 2nd 9 weeks/beginning of the 3rd. I've made it a habit to switch the kids around the classroom at the end of every grading period, putting them at a different table with a different group of classmates. It gives them a fresh perspective on things, and helps them make friends with those students they may not have spent a lot of prior time with.

Friday, January 13, 2012

4 Quick and Easy Science Lessons

Three Quick and Easy Science Lessons

Here are 4 lessons I did with water this week with my class.

The first is called "Walking Water". You need 2 cups, paper towel, and food coloring. Very simply, fill one cup with colored water, place the DRY paper towel into it (as close to the bottom as possible), and place the other end of the towel into the other empty cup. Place the full cup ABOVE the other, and as the day goes by check to see what's happening. The water "walks" from the top cup, down to the bottom one, and starts to fill up the bottom cup!

 These next three lessons have to deal with refraction and reflection. All you have to do is place a pattern behind your full glass (must be glass to work). You'll see how the pattern shifts and changes direction. Especially with the arrow below. If you draw the arrow to the right, the water will make it look like it's pointing left!

The 4th lesson involved taking a glass of water and sticking a straw into it, and noticing how the straw appears to be "broken" in half at the water line.

During labs, they often go over and remove the cards behind the glass, then replace them, just to watch the magic happen.

Wednesday, January 11, 2012

Ten Minute Smarters, Con't.

Here are my 5 stations this week for Ten Minute Smarters, to give you an idea of what I do:

1^  These are my teacher guided readers. I introduce a reader they've never seen. We sound out and read through the whole book, then go back and re-read it with better clarity.

2^ This group is playing my Gingerbread Man game that I adapted off of an idea on Pinterest. They each have a playing form. They take turns rolling a die. They take the piece of gingerbread (brown tag) and place on top of the "puzzle". If they roll a number they've already used, they lose that turn. First person to cover up their form wins.

3^  This table is reading their actual readers (from our program). Since we've already been reading from these, they can self-guide by reading as a group, then reading one page or one sentence at a time Round Robin style.

4^  I like to mix math and Language Arts activities, since we do LA in the morning and math in the afternoon, and our Smarters "bridge" between the two.  This is another game I adapted from Pinterest. I made a die from a plain wooden block to match the shapes. The game is called "4 in a Row". They roll the die, then cover that shape on their mat (using the two-sided discs, although you can use whatever you have at hand.) First person to cover up 4 in a row either horizontally, vertically, or diagonally wins.

5^  This is a star pattern from Pinterest. It calls for only 2 players, but I found a table of 5 could do it just as well. Each player gets their own marker. First player rolls the die and then colors that many spaces on the star. (The Pinterest game also has a heart form I'll use later in February.) The sheet goes around the table with each person getting turn to roll and color. Once I call time, the person with the most colored squares wins.

Tomorrow, I'll rotate the games so that each table gets a new one. By Friday, all tables will have done all five "Smarters".

Monday, January 9, 2012

Ten Minute Smarters

I started something new this year. I call it "Ten Minute Smarters", and the class has taken off with it.

Simply said, I take 10 minutes out of each day (usually in the afternoon when the kids are starting to get tired.) The students sit at 5 tables, each one marked a specific "color". There are 5 activities in all, which means each table will get to do each activity by the end of the week.

When I call out, "Time for Ten Minute Smarters!", the children go to a set of cubbies that are marked with their table color, get the activities, and go back to their tables to do them. At the end of 10 min. (approx.), I call time, and the activities go back in their cubbies. All I have to do is move the activities over to the next color for the next day. If there is an activity I don't think the children will self-understand, I introduce it on Mondays prior to breaking into groups.

Here are the activites:

Activity One: small group reading with teacher (usually at the carpet with their readers)
Activity Two: an activity which reinforces letter names and sounds, sounding out and blending words, and sometimes writing these sounds/letters/words
Activity Three: small group reading on their own at their table (I give them a high-interest piece they can manage on their own with little help.)
Activity Four and Five: these are manipulatives and games that reinforce math and other reading skills. I get some of my ideas off Pinterest, and the rest I adapt from other places and workshops. I don't use worksheets unless they are a group effort fill-in or part of a game board.

In the days to come I will be sharing some of the game and activities here, and I'll upload them as freebies for others to download, print, and share.

(P.S. If I had 5 computers, I would definitely use them as one activity, as there are many wonderful sites the kids could visit.)

Friday, January 6, 2012

Great Interactive Site! Nat Geo for Kids!

This is a terrific interactive site you can put on your classroom computers for the kids to access.

Link here.

Monday, January 2, 2012

January Calendar Poem

It's January, everyone!
Happy New Year!
We'll celebrate Two Thousand Twelve*
With lots of good cheer!

(*I use this cheer poem during calendar time every year. Just change the year word.)