Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Making Math Magical Art!

I just love these little guys, don't you!
They're from my buddy Krista 
You can grab them here.

This is our big testing week.  Ugh!
In an effort to lighten things up 
(in a fun and educational way,)
We have been making some Math Art!

Yesterday we made these cute Quadrilateral Robots.
(We just finished up our geometry unit.)

I found them on TPT and knew they would be perfect for this week!

Students chose 3 colors of construction paper,
traced all of the quadrilateral shapes,
cut and glued, to make these robotic creations!

It took them quite a while to trace and cut the pieces.
(Just what the teacher needed to keep them busy!)
All pieces and details had to be quadrilaterals.
I think they turned out cute!

THEN I saw this post from my friend Joey over at
Perfect addition to our Math Magic activities!

They had to create robots that were symmetrical.
Some of them had a tough time with this.

I think hers turned out better than ours
(as they should!)
but ours are cute too!

Not robot related, but we have also been working on this idea 
that I found over at E is for Explore!

Their original idea was for the kids to draw out the designs, measuring with a ruler.
I added my own little twist to it and had them create a template in PowerPoint.
They still had to use the guides and ruler to measure the width of their lines, but they were able to draw and copy the lines, and insert the polygon shapes (all tech skills they need to know) on the PowerPoint page.  Then they saved and printed them.  It took a LOT less time than it would have to draw them out.  They are still working on them, but here are a few of their templates.

Then they chose 2 complimentary colors to create their pattern.
Here is my finished example.

Hope they finish them soon.

What are some fun things you do to break up the stress during testing week?

Here's a fun geometry game you can grab right now on Educents!

Optimizing Student Outcomes in the Home

Today's post is brought to you by Derrek from
Founded more than a decade ago, Mentoring Minds, the Critical Thinking for Life Company, develops affordable, effective learning tools that give students the skills to succeed, not just in the classroom, but in life. Experienced educators create K-12 print and online resources that integrate best practices for instruction, assessment, and learning for students across the nation. For more information about Mentoring Minds and its educational resources, call 800-585-5258 or visit mentoringminds.com.
The Home-School Connection
In order to maximize student outcomes, effective teaching strategies must include the promotion of a fertile learning environment at home as well as in the classroom. While parents will always play the lead role in that effort, teachers and administrators can also help parents. Educators may serve as advisors to families on how they can best shape their homes into places where children are excited to continue their studies once the school day is over.
The classroom is only half the battle
While most students receive an overwhelming majority of their instruction in school, they still only spend about a quarter of their week there. That means there is a lot of time outside of the classroom that must be accounted for in order to ensure that students are getting the most out of their education.
Teachers and administrators can't go home with their students, but they can work with parents to help them better understand some of the things that can be done at home to promote further academic growth. Some of those things are simple, like making sure children get to school on time, while others are a little more complicated. Only by taking an active approach will educators be able to help students and their parents take full advantage of a child's time as a student.
Emphasize good study habits
Sometimes, all it takes to help a below average student catch up with his or her peers, or enable an average student to excel, is preparation. By coming to school each day prepared to tackle the coming lessons, students are already in position to realize their full potential.
Teachers can talk to their students about how to prepare for each day. Do they get up a few minutes early to go over homework from the night before? Do their parents give them short quizzes over breakfast or before going to bed? Was their homework and other school material organized at home in a way that will make it easier for them to access once school is in session?
Those are all simple questions that teachers can ask that should help students at least think about the kinds of things they can do to prepare for each day. They also act as a guide that students can take home with them and discuss with their parents. In fact, drawing up an actual checklist that details these skills and responsibilities, and having parents sign it on a regular basis to indicate everything has been completed, can make it easier for all the parties involved to create an effective home learning environment.
Parental involvement
Parental involvement is always crucial to how well students study when they are at home. However, it's nearly impossible to compel parents to engage in the many different activities that help promote active learning.
Nonetheless, there are certain things parents can do that are more effective than others. One of the best is to encourage parents to read to their children, or have children ask their parents to read to them. It doesn't necessarily take a lot of time--just a few minutes before going to bed or a quick trip to the library on the weekend--but it can go a long way toward improving student performance.
Culture is also an important tool in creating a better home learning environment. Simple things like playing different kinds of music, taking quick trips to a local museum and discussing politics, art and community events at home can open up a world of thought and ideas to children. Teachers should give their students information in the classroom, then encourage them to go home and engage in conversations with their parents about the topics being taught.
What are some things that you do to foster the Home-School Connection?

Saturday, April 12, 2014

How Big is a BILLION?

During tax season H&R Block hosted  a 
“How Big Is a Billion?” contest, 
and they had some great commercials.  
Here's one of my favorites...

You can see the rest of them here.

After hearing from students interested in the math, H&R Block asked teachers to turn the idea of $1 billion into a math assignment by submitting real-life examples to illustrate the concept.
Thanks to the ingenuity of teachers and students nationwide participating in the “How Big is a Billion?" Challenge, we now know that $1 billion would be enough to purchase $20 in school supplies for every public school student in the country, from pre-kindergarten through 12th grade!


Here are a few of my favorite winners...

Love how they showed all their math!

Wish I made this much for just one day!

Check out all of the entries here.

So this got me thinking...
I decided this would be a fun family project to assign instead of homework this week.  
So, here’s the deal…

I read these books to my class.


I was surprised that they kept asking me if that was for real.
See, they really do not understand just how big those numbers are!

More Big Number books...

I showed them some of the videos, 
and a few of the entries from H&R Block's contest,
and sent them home for the weekend to do some investigating on their own.

I gave them this assignment.

You can grab a copy here.
This will be the perfect fun activity for them to work on during our testing week.
Can't wait to see what they come up with!
Stay tuned!
In the mean time,
want to try this with your class?
Have I got a deal for YOU!
You can win a copy of these four books and a $15 Starbucks gift card!

(How many of your favorite beverage would $1 Billion buy?)

All you have to do is take a look at the 
H&R Block Contest Entries here,
and share how you would use them 
to talk about big numbers in your classroom.

a Rafflecopter giveaway

Did You Know?
PLEASE teach your kids about money!
Classroom Freebies Manic Monday 

Sunday, April 6, 2014

Please Adopt Me!

We have been doing a lot of reading and writing lately focusing on perspective and point of view.
For this fun writing activity, I started by sharing these fun books.

I had the kids close their eyes and imagine themselves as a dog in the pound.
(Lots of giggles and "barking" while they did this!)

Then they completed this graphic organizer describing themselves and what they were looking for in a new home.

Then they drew pictures of themselves in their cages at the pound.

Finally, they composed letters to prospective owners trying to convince them that they were the perfect dog for them!

Their letters were so cute!

File includes pre-writing/planning page and final draft pages both with and without friendly letter formatting. 

It was a fun and engaging way to get the kids writing!

And don't forget to check out the awesome anniversary deals at Educents this month!
Lots of great deals and BIG giveaway!
(But hey, if YOU don't enter, that improves MY chances of winning!)

Saturday, April 5, 2014

Opinion Writing - Should Participation Be a Part of Your Grade?

I am finally getting around to sharing this fun writing activity that I did with my class a few weeks ago.

If your class is like mine,
you have a few students that ALWAYS participate,
a few that NEVER participate,
and most of them only participate if they have to!

This topic made for a good discussion 
and writing activity in my class.

We started out by talking about what participation is 
and what it looks like in the classroom.

Then we moved on to talk about whether or not 
participation should be included 
as a part of their grade.

They all pretty much agreed that participation is important,
but were divided in whether or not it should receive a grade.
We made lists of the pros and cons.

We had a lot more pros than cons!

We were ready to begin our week-long writing project.

We covered quite a few standards with this activity!

They started by listing as many pros and cons as they could think of.
(They were also able to refer to our anchor charts.)

From there they chose which side they favored and identified their 3 best reasons.

For each of their reasons, they added at least one supporting detail.

Next they came up with a topic sentence and a conclusion or wrap-up sentence.

Finally they worked on creating a grabber or clincher for their paragraph.

Now they were ready to put it all together and write their paragraphs.

After they had written their drafts, the used this revision checklist to help improve their writing.

We had some really great discussion throughout the week, and they did a great job on their writing.
Here are just a few examples...

I had fun creating the unit, and the kids enjoyed it too!
The file includes lesson plans, all student work pages, and a grading rubric.

How about you?
Do you grade participation in your class?
I will send copy of the unit to the first 3 people to comment below about how you encourage participation in your class.
Don't forget to leave your email so I can send you the file!
If you missed the freebie, you can purchase the file here or by clicking on the images.

And don't forget to check out the awesome anniversary deals at Educents this month!
Lots of great deals and BIG giveaway!
(But hey, if YOU don't enter, that improves MYchances of winning!)

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