Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Spontaneity Brings Math to Life!

By Nyla Phillips-Martin, Guest Blogger

Last week, while in the midst of teaching a lesson on cuboids, I quickly realised that I had to do something drastic to get the attention of my most easily distracted student. I mean, there I was feeling all proud of myself for having everything I needed, I had my examples and non-examples for the students to handle, observe and compare attributes. My classroom was buzzing with excitement; hands were fervently flying up during Q & A time as I selected students to answer questions.

But the hand that I was looking for at the front corner of the class never went up. Justin (let’s call him Justin) just sat there looking away from me, tapping his ruler on the desk. Then he poked another student with his pencil. Now, it is not uncommon for him to be like this because he sometimes gets into trouble in order to avoid class work. What I needed to do was to get his attention without halting the momentum that the other students were having. At that moment, an idea popped into my head.

I walked out of the room, spun around and returned with a silly grin and a cuboid net in my hand. I didn't say a word. I just slowly folded the net into a talking cuboid (like a puppet). Think of a box with the top lid open – that flap became the puppet’s mouth. Anyway, I used the silliest voice I could muster and made the puppet talk.

He introduced himself as Corey the Cuboid and went on to talk about his other siblings and the fact that he feels like the odd one out because he cannot roll like the cylinder or sphere and he’s not as cute as his brother the cube. My fourth grade students were wide eyed and everybody was paying attention – not to me the teacher, but to the cuboid on show.

They all wanted to have their turn with handling Corey the Cuboid and making him talk (including Justin). In fact, they had so much fun making him talk that I videotaped one of my students as she brought Corey to life!


I really enjoyed that cuboid net lesson and it taught me that even with a lot of planning, a touch of spontaneity keeps things interesting. The lesson gave me an idea for their math project – to have them put on their own puppet show featuring different talking 3D Shapes.

If you like the idea of having students create puppets from 3D shapes, feel free to use the patterns from this free assortment of 3D shape nets that I created to save yourself some time! And don’t forget to flip out and be just a tad spontaneous!









Nyla Phillips-Martin, is a young wife, mother, and teacher in the Caribbean. She has a B. Ed Degree in Primary Education and is in her seventh year of teaching. She hopes to show other teachers in her country the power of using technology for use in records, planning and especially in the classroom. To her, education is all about fostering creativity and facilitating hands-on learning. Visit Nyla's blog, Nyla's Crafty Teaching, for more engaging lesson ideas!

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Million Dollar Lottery: Math Lessons and More!

What would you do if you won a million dollars in a lottery? The NC Education Lottery offers winners a choice between the entire amount paid over 20 years, or a lump sum payout of a smaller amount. What are the implications of each choice?

You might be wondering why I even asked the question, so let me explain. Today I saw a news article in the paper about a local man, James Anderson, who won $1 million in the Holiday Millions lottery game. One part of the story really captured my interest. In fact, when I read this part of the article, my teacher brain went into overdrive!
"Top prize winners in the Holiday Millions game have the option of claiming their prize as a 20-year annuity or a lump sum. Anderson chose the $600,000 lump sum, which left him with $408,006 after taxes."
Do you realize that by accepting $600,000, Mr. Anderson gave up $400,000 of his payout just so he could get the money now instead of spreading it over 20 years? Furthermore, the government took such a big chunk that he now has less than half of that million dollars.

Million Dollar Lottery Lessons
As I read this, I immediately saw all kinds of possibilities for million dollar lottery lessons. There are loads of obvious math lesson ideas, but I can also see many opportunities for literacy lessons as well. Here are a few quick thoughts about where you could go with this topic. Please share your ideas, too!
  • Read informational text.  Begin by having students read the article. You can find the article online here on the Fayetteville Observer website.  Then ask them to complete a "What's the Scoop?" graphic organizer to uncover the important facts and details in the news story. You could also use the Current Event Report form in my Social Studies file cabinet to have students write a summary of the important information. 
  • Analyze the math involved in Mr. Anderson's decision. What exactly did it mean in financial terms to take $600,000 now instead of a million paid over 20 years? I called the lottery hotline to make sure I understood how the 20-year annuity worked, and it's basically an option for taking out 1/20th of the money each year for 20 years. So how much money did Mr. Anderson give up? If you received a million dollars in annual payments over 20 years, how much would you get each year? What would that be on a monthly basis? What is the average salary in America? Would you be rich, living comfortably, or just getting by?  
  • Debate the pros and cons of the two payout options. Even though he gave up $400,000 to take out the immediate lump sum of $600,000, it might actually not be such a bad deal if he invests the money wisely. Disregard taxes because taxes will have to be paid on the money either way, and consider what would happen if he invested the full $600,000. What interest rate would be needed to make that money grow to $1 million in 20 years? As a side note, the person I spoke with on the lottery hotline said that the last 5 jackpot winners all took the lump sum payout. I'm assuming they contacted a financial adviser before making that decision, so it may be that taking the lump sum is a better option. But what if you took the money and just spent it? Would you be able to invest it?
  • Explore probability - Discuss the probability of winning money in the Holiday Millions game. You can read more about this particular game on the Holiday Millions page of the NC Education Lottery website. Players can win different amounts; what is the probability of winning each amount? (Click here to download a chart showing the approximate odds of winning.) A lottery ticket costs $20. Look at the odds of winning a million dollars. What if you bought a ticket every day for a year? How much would you spend? How much would you improve your chances of winning?  
  • Research possible purchases. What can you buy with $408,000 (the amount after taxes)? Research the cost of a home in your area, the cost of a new car, a dream vacation, etc. 
  • Discuss the concept of a million. Read the book How Much is a Million, written by David Schwartz and illustrated by Steven Kellogg. Use the ideas in the book as a springboard for discussing just how big a million really is. 
  • Discuss impact of winning a $1 million. How would your life change? Are people with more money happier? What problems might be caused by winning a lot of money? Would people treat you differently? (I've heard that many people who win large sums of money end up broke and unhappy in a few years. It would be interesting to research the facts on this and discuss your findings with your students.)
  • Write an expository paragraph or paper - What would you do if you won a $1 million and had a choice between taking a lump sum of $600,000 or the whole amount over 20 years? How might your life change based on your decision?
These are just a few lesson ideas that came to mind as I thought about the implications of winning $1 million dollars. How would you teach a million dollar lottery lesson? I think we can agree that this topic is a goldmine of rich learning opportunities, no pun intended!



Sunday, October 21, 2012

Presidential Election Teaching Resources


Putting together first-class resources for the upcoming presidential election promises to be a time-consuming endeavor. Yet, preparing students to be engaged in the event will make it significant and memorable.  The election is approaching fast, so now is a great time to get started. To make it easier for you, I came up with a few ideas using resources from my website and added terrific strategies submitted by other teachers.

Start with an Engaging Introduction
I recommend that you first show your students this short BrainPOP video called “How do people get to be President of the United States?” It’s an informational yet fun cartoon about five minutes long and appropriate for upper elementary students. This cartoon features Tim and a robot, Moby.  It covers all the presidential election basics in a clear, concise and entertaining way. In addition, the rest of this BrainPOP page is loaded with free resources that teach students about various important aspects of the election.

Understand the Candidates
Teaching students about the Presidential election can be tricky because kids come to school with pre-conceived ideas based on what they are hearing at home. At the elementary level, instead of debating the issues, you may want to focus on analyzing the character traits of the candidates. I like this approach because it’s personal, educational, and side steps the sometimes controversial and advanced political questions. It helps students understand who these candidates really are, which is factual and central to the election outcome.

Dig into Biographical Details

For upper elementary and middle school students, I recommend a terrific Frontline episode, called “The Choice 2012,” which aired on October 9. It’s two hours long, but well worth it. You might break it into segments and watch it with your students over a few days.  


The program details and contrasts the backgrounds of Mitt Romney and Barack Obama. It lays out in relatively simple terms who these men are and how they’re different. I recommend that you preview it first to make sure that it’s right for your class. If you find it’s too advanced, you may be able to find similar biographical materials for younger students in written or video form.

Analyze Character Traits
Following the Frontline program or after reading articles about the candidates, your students will be ready to study these people in detail. Try these activities:
  • Character Trait Maps – Before the lesson, download this character trait map and a character trait list from my Literature Circles printables page on Teaching Resources. After students watch the PBS movie or read articles about the candidates, have them brainstorm character traits that describe the men. Be sure to have them focus on the positive character traits of each candidate and remind them to jot down supporting details. Then demonstrate how to complete the graphic organizer by adding four character traits their supporting details. Finally, either assign each student one candidate or allow them to choose a candidate and provide class time for students to complete their graphic organizers.
  • Character Bio Reports – Have students write a short biography for one of the candidates based on an analysis of that candidate’s character traits. Using this format ensures that students can’t blindly copy and paste from an online source to create their reports. This structured writing activity is a perfect follow-up to the character trait analysis activity above. You can purchase the Character Bio Report Mini Pack from my Mini Pack Page on Teaching Resources


More Fantastic Election Resources!
The following wonderful recommendations are by my Facebook fans and blog followers. Thank you to everyone who took time to share ideas with other teachers!

Read “First Pets, Presidential Best Friends” 
by Nell Fuqua
Submitted by Donna Young, Grottoes, VA
http://hokieteach.blogspot.com 
Recommended for 3rd to 5th Grades

This paperback picture book is a great springboard for discussing presidents and their pets from any period of history! The fun facts grab students' attention.

Run a Classroom Campaign
Submitted by Kathy Paul, Murfreesboro, TN
Recommended for 6th Grade and Up

During the last election, I assigned children to be a member of the Democratic or Republican campaign teams. Each team had to create a platform, speeches, posters, jingles, and even a meal with their candidate's favorite foods. Budgets were set and teams earned money with good acts or lost money with inappropriate actions. On our "election day" we ate breakfast, heard campaign speeches, debates, and jingles. Later, we ate lunch, and voted.

Hold a Mock Election
Submitted by Mandy Neal, Strafford, Missouri
Recommended for 4th through 6th Grades

Students hold a mock election.  They are assigned to a party in which they will hold a primary election.  Students will then create campaign materials for their nominee.  They will hold a mock election to vote a candidate into office and reflect on the process.

Explore the Youth Leadership Initiative Website
Submitted By Karyn Lewis, Houston, TX
Recommended for K-12 Grades

Another resource you can use for holding mock elections is the Youth Leadership Initiative (YLI) website. All you need to do is register, select an election to participate in, and download resources or lesson plans. This website has it all for all levels! YLI provides paper or online voting options. 


I hope that these materials give you some good ideas on how to lead your students through the process and get excited about getting involved and voting one day. Thank you again to all of those who contributed to this effort! If you have any ideas for teaching about the election, please share them in a comment below. I would love for this blog post to become a growing resource for educators who are seeking ideas to teach their students about the election!








Friday, October 19, 2012

Join Me in Greensboro!

Two Terrific Conferences!


The next few weeks are going to be an exciting time for me, and I hope you'll join me for some of the fun! I'm going to be presenting sessions at two state conferences here in North Carolina, and both of them are at the Koury Center in Greensboro. Next week Ill be presenting at the NC State Math Conference, and during the first week in November I'll be presenting at the NC Elementary School Conference. If you are planning to attend either or both conferences, I hope you'll find me and introduce yourself. The best part about attending educational conferences is having a chance to meet and network with other educators, so don't be shy if you see me around!

NC State Math Conference (October 24 and 25)
The NC State Math Conference is sponsored by the NC Council of Teachers of Mathematics, and I'm honored to have been asked to present a keynote at this meeting. I'm also presenting a workshop the next day. Online registration has ended for this conference, but you can still register on site. Visit the NCCTM website for more information. Here are my session details in case you want to attend one or both of them:
Crafting the Perfect Common Core Math Lesson (Keynote)
When: Thursday, October 25th, 2:30 to 4:00 p.m.
Are you struggling with how to develop lessons that meet Common Core standards? In this session, I'll share how implementation of Common Core standards is more like a journey than a destination, and I promise to keep you engaged as we explore this topic.
Teaching Math for Mastery (Workshop)
When: Friday, October 26th, 8:30 to 10:00 a.m.
This is an updated version of a workshop I've taught before how to use the Mastery Learning approach in math. I've revised it to align the strategies with Common Core best practices Unfortunately, it's limited to 40 participants and you have to sign up for it in advance. However, the session was listed incorrectly as "Mastery Learning" during the registration process and I don't think it's full. You may be able to get a ticket at the registration desk when you arrive. Also, I've found that sometimes people with tickets don't show up for workshops, and you are welcome to attend if there's an open seat at 8:30 a.m.!

NC Elementary School Conference (November 4 - 6)
The NC Elementary School Conference is sponsored by the NC Association of Elementary Educators (NCAEE), an organization that's near and dear to my heart for a few reasons. First of all, it's one of the few Elementary Education Associations in the nation, and it has been sponsoring an amazing conference every year for almost 10 years. I've served on the Executive Board for the past 4 years, and I'm now honored to be taking over as President of the NCAEE for the coming year. The NCAEE Board has exciting plans for the 2012-2013 school year, so if you are an elementary teacher in NC, I hope you'll attend this conference and share our journey. Our theme this year is Growing with Common Core and Essential Standards. We have some wonderful presenters lined up, and registration is still open. You can learn more about the conference and how to register by visiting the NCAEE website.  I'll be presenting the following two sessions this year:


Creating Common Core Lessons with Graphic Organizers 
When: Sunday, 1:30 p.m. to 3:00 p.m.
In this session, I'll share easy strategies for teaching Common Core Reading Standards by pairing favorite read alouds with specific graphic organizers. You'll be able to explore new strategies and collaborate with other participants! Attendees will receive free access to a set of Common Core Reading Graphic Organizer charts for Grades 2 - 6.
Teaching Math for Mastery
When: Tuesday, 11:45 a.m. to 12:45 p.m.
This session is a repeat of the one I'll be presenting at the math conference. I've found the Mastery Learning model to be extremely effective when it comes to ensuring that all students are successful in math. In this session, I'll give an overview of Mastery Learning and explain how you can use this type of instruction to help students meet Common Core standards. We'll also explore a variety of simple strategies for active engagement in math.

Treat Yourself and Enjoy Greensboro!
I hope you’ll join me in Greensboro for one or both of these conferences. If you’ve never been to the Koury Center, you’re in for a treat. It’s a great place to network with other teachers, relax, and enjoy a break from the classroom. Just between you and me, another reason teachers love the Koury is that it’s within walking distance of the Four Seasons Mall in Greensboro! Who could ask for more? Great sessions during the day and great dining and shopping at night! 



Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Equivalent Fraction Pizza Fun

Most kids have trouble grasping fraction concepts at first, so I enjoyed starting my fraction unit with a fun cooperative learning activity called Pizza Fraction Fun. I've created a free teaching packet to share with you that includes the directions and printables you need for the lesson. This activity is designed for cooperative learning teams of four or five, and each member of the team will decorate one blank pizza pattern and cut it into fractional pieces. Those pieces are later used to solve equivalent fraction problems. In fact, I kept the pizza fraction pieces for each team in a manila envelope to use throughout the unit when comparing fractions, adding and subtracting fractions, and so on.

I love to integrate literature with math when possible, so I began the lesson by reading aloud the picture book Lunch with Cat and Dog. Even though the book was a little babyish for them, they loved it! It's is a silly story that introduces students to the importance of equal portions, and it's a quick read. After that, I posed a similar fraction word problem for them to discuss.

You can download my free Pizza Fraction Fun activity from my store on TeachersPayTeachers.com. Click the Follow Me link at the top of the page to be notified when I add more new freebies and items to my page. You can also download it from my Fraction page on Teaching Resources. I hope your students enjoy this activity as much as mine did!






Monday, October 15, 2012

Share YOUR Presidential Election Ideas!


Note: The collection of resources mentioned in this blog post is now available here on Corkboard Connections. Click this link to go to the Presidential Election Teaching Resources article.

With the upcoming Presidential election, early November will be both exciting and historic. I know that many of you have discovered or developed great resources for teaching your students about the election process, and I'd like to invite you to join my latest collaborative project. Let's compile our favorite presidential election teaching strategies into an awesome collection to share with others! In particular, I'm looking for resources like books, videos, or websites that you've found to be effective, as well as activities that you've created for your classroom.

I'm trying to keep the collection process simple, so I've set up a Google Doc for you to enter your activity idea or recommendation. Please keep your description brief and to the point. If you've explained your idea in more detail in a freebie or blog post, please provide its URL so teachers will know where to go for more information. I'm trying to round up these resources quickly, so I'm asking that you complete the form no later than Wednesday night.

If selected, your idea will be featured here on my Corkboard Connections blog and/or in a digital freebie that I'll make available on Teaching Resources and in my TeachersPayTeachers store. If we all work together, we can prepare our students to be actively engaged in this historic event. I'll try to have your awesome resources organized and ready to share early next week. Thanks in advance for your help!


Friday, October 12, 2012

Explore This LiveBinder of Webinar Resources

5 Amazing Web Tools Webinar Collection

On Wednesday I had the pleasure of hosting a free webinar, 5 Amazing Web Tools for Classroom Collaboration. My part of the webinar was easy; all I had to was to introduce the 5 terrific, tech-savvy educators who were the superstars of the session! Joan Young, Suzy Brooks, Erin Klein, Paula Naugle, and Lisa Dabbs were the featured experts, and each one of them shared a favorite (free!) web tool for classroom collaboration. They introduced us to Animoto, Kidblog, ClassDojo, LiveBinders, and how to use Skype in the classroom.

As Lisa wrapped up the webinar by sharing about LiveBinders, an online tool for curating resources, I mentioned that it would be a perfect way to gather all of the links, documents, and videos shared during the session. But just between you and me, I was wondering when I would have time to create such a comprehensive collection.

Imagine my surprise when Peggy George, one of my moderators, emailed me the very next day to say that she had created a massive LiveBinder with EVERYTHING from the webinar and more! Not only did she include all the links related to each of the 5 web tools, she also included links to many of my teaching resources and social networks. When you click to enter the Amazing Web Tools Webinar LiveBinder, you can use the tabs across the very top to navigate to the different sections that include information about each presenter as well as links and resources for the web tool she shared. After she shared this LiveBinder link with me, I asked her to add a tab for Classroom 2.0 Live, a series of webinars that she co-hosts on Saturday mornings. If you enjoy this webinar, you'll love her sessions, too!

You can go straight to the Amazing Web Tools Webinar LiveBinder, or you can start on my Whiteboards and Web Tools page on Teaching Resources where you'll find the webinar recording and other links, including the LiveBinder. If you missed the webinar, I hope you'll take time to watch the session this weekend. I know you'll be motivated and inspired to try at least one of the amazing web tools shared in the webinar.


Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Weathering, Erosion, or Deposition?

Teaching Tips and a Freebie!

Science is one of my favorite subjects, and I've always been interested in geology and landforms. I remember hiking through the White Mountains of New Hampshire as a child, listening to my father explain the geology of the area. He showed me evidence of glaciers that once covered the area, interesting caves and rock formations, and fossils of sea animals that somehow ended up high in the mountains! I still enjoy hiking and other outdoor activities, and I often wonder how certain features of the earth were formed.

I guess those early experiences are why I enjoy teaching students about landforms of the Earth. Hands-on activities and opportunities to explore nature are especially important in this area of study. One of my favorite projects is to have students work in teams to create islands from salt dough, and each island has to include specific landforms. When students share about their islands with the class, they have to explain how those landforms might have been formed. We read books about weathering, erosion, and deposition, and even take walks outside to observe evidence of these three processes in nature. I show photos of pictures I have taken myself and other pictures I've found on the internet to explain how weathering, erosion, and deposition shaped Earth's surface.

Sorting Out the Processes
Yet even with all of those activities, my students still had trouble remembering the difference between weathering, erosion, and deposition. These concepts are very confusing.  So I created a sorting activity with examples that students could read and classify into one of the three categories. They worked in teams for this activity because having time to discuss and debate the placement of the cards was extremely helpful in building their understanding. For each example, when they discussed a card, they had to talk over the action taking place and decide if it was most likely weathering, erosion, or deposition. They took turns throughout the activity so all students had the opportunity to participate equally.

Weathering, Erosion, and Deposition Freebie
If you'd like to use the sorting activity above with your students, you can download this freebie from my Science page on Teaching Resources or from my TeachersPayTeachers store. You'll find complete directions, sorting cards, and definitions of the three terms. By the way, I have to give a shout out to the artist who created the artwork for this freebie. Her store is Ginger Snaps Clip Art and as soon as I saw these land form images, I knew I had to have them! You'll be seeing them again because I'm planning to create a more complete landforms unit in the future. If only there were more than 24 hours in a day!







Monday, October 8, 2012

Off the Wall Westward Expansion Lesson


Guest blog post by Joann Claspill

Every once in a while I love to shake things up in my classroom a bit to keep my students on their toes and engaged. The first time I teach “off the wall” is always an amazing experience for my students, and it turns out to be one for me too!

As many of you may be experiencing, time allowed for Social Studies instruction is often a disappearing act. Since that area is my passion, I purposely find ways to integrate it with my ELA standards on a daily basis. In my fifth grade class this past week, we were learning about the effects of the second Westward movement and the effects that all the new settlers were having on the land and the way of life of the Native Americans. I decided this was a perfect lesson to take “off the wall”.

Off the Wall Lesson Preparation
My students had background knowledge from fourth grade about the Plains Indians and their dependence on the buffalo, so I made this my focus today. I went online and found pictures to print of the new buffalo hunters, the mountain of buffalo skulls that were sold, the buffalo carcasses lying in snow after they were shot, and a painting of the newly built train line running buffalo over with shooters in the train cars. I looked at parts of our textbook that fit the lesson and transcribed them into my own document. I found some other information in a book I had called “Saving the Buffalo” and wrote up some paragraphs that matched the pictures I selected. Everything I wrote included something about cause and effect or making inferences - my two ELA focus areas for the lesson. Last preparatory step was to print everything and create nine pieces to hang on walls in the hall outside my classroom. Each piece had a picture with a paragraph or two underneath and a number 1-8. Total prep time was one planning period of 45 minutes.

Learning in the Art Gallery
After reviewing orally with my students the reasons why settlers moved West, as well as who already lived there, I explained the directions for our Art Gallery (and this is where the magic begins!!) Each student got a clipboard and paper. They needed to have room for 8 answers - some students folded their paper into 8 boxes, others just listed as they went. We reviewed rules for an Art Gallery - quiet, thinking, observant, focusing on the paintings, no touching. I explained that I wanted them to circulate among the paintings, do the reading and answer any questions on their notes. We got into “Art Gallery Mode’ with our clipboards in hand and you could have heard a pin drop! Students were moving around, reading, taking notes, silently nodding at one another, pointing at paintings while looking back at me - good stuff! As I moved around among the students, the inferences and observations I noticed them making were astounding!

Discussing Facts and Inferences about Westward Expansion
As a bonus, I brought a Beanie Baby buffalo and let him sit on the shoulder of students who were being especially observant! Students went through the gallery, self-paced, for about 20 minutes. At that time, we all came together to sit in the hall and talk about what we learned. I went through each painting and had students share out their inferences if facts were not stated, and since I had their undivided attention, I went ahead and told them if their inferences were correct. By the end of the 8 paintings, without me ever “teaching them” the direct effects the buffalo hunting had, or why settlers were hunting buffalo, every single one of my 42 students were able to articulate it through their gallery experience.

Teaching Off the Wall
Sometimes, just moving your classroom outside its 4 walls can create an automatic “hook” for your students. As with any strategy, I only use it sparingly or else it gets as old as just listening to me. I have used the art gallery approach when looking at characters in novels we read, comparing stories or genres, and of course with Social Studies lessons as appropriate. Try teaching off the wall and let me know how it goes!

Joann Claspill is a 5th grade teacher in South Carolina. She has won 2 state Social Studies teaching awards and has been published with a local publisher featuring her integrated ELA and SS work. Her blog is www.fifthisfabulous.blogspot.com.

Friday, October 5, 2012

Common Core Math Problem Solving

I'm a big believer in the importance of daily math problem solving. It's far more effective to integrate problem solving into other instruction than it is to teach problem solving in isolation. For years, I struggled with how to include problem solving lessons in my regular math instruction, and I finally developed an easy plan that takes just ten or fifteen minutes a day. This was the start of my Daily Math Puzzler program, a series of four ebooks with problems on different instructional levels. Recently, several people have asked me if my Daily Math Puzzler program is aligned with the Common Core. The answer is not as simple as it might seem because of the design of the Common Core Math Standards.

Two Types of Math Standards
The Math Standards are divided into two major categories. The mathematical practice standards describe the "how" and the content standards describe the "what" in math instruction. Much attention has been given to the content standards, but it's easy to overlook those all-important mathematical practices. Yet those practices are at the heart of good mathematics instruction. Because it's easy to forget about the practices, I created this Standards for Mathematical Practices chart to use as a checklist to be sure that you are addressing these important areas throughout the week. Print it out and keep it in your lesson plan book. As you plan each math lesson, review the eight Standards for Mathematical Practice to determine which standards you can incorporate into each lesson. If you would like more specific information on what the Standards for Mathematical Practice mean at your grade level, you can find that information in a set of documents called Unpacking the Math Common Core. I have included links to all grade levels K-6 on my Math Problem Solving page.

Daily Math Puzzler Program and the Common Core
Each ebook in the Daily Math Puzzler program includes a variety of word problems integrating different content areas across the various mathematical domains. Because these books are not specific to a particular grade level, it would be impossible to align them with the Common Core Math Content Standards. When students solve problems, they need to integrate content from previous grade levels, so it wouldn't really make sense to align the books with one grade.

However, the entire Daily Math Puzzler program IS compatible with the Standards for Mathematical Practice, the "how" of mathematics instruction. These eight standards can only be addressed by having students solve math problems on a regular basis, use mathematical tools, and discuss their thinking and reasoning with others. If you download the Standards for Mathematical Practices chart above, you'll see that they range from "Making sense of problems and persevering in solving them," to "Look for and express regularity in repeated reasoning." All eight practices can be integrated into math instruction when you have a daily problem solving program in place.

Problem Solving Assessment Freebie
Before you begin a problem solving program, it's a good idea to assess your students to determine how they solve problems. You'll find this free Problem Solving Assessment booklet to be really helpful because each page of the assessment requires students to show their work. You can also require students to explain their answers in writing if you want to gain a more complete understanding of their thought processes. You can download this freebie when you sign up for my Candler's Classroom Connections newsletter. This resource is on the newsletter freebies page.

The Common Core State Standards have definitely raised the bar for all students in mathematics. Incorporating math problems into your instruction on a daily basis is one of the best way to ensure success with the new standards.






Wednesday, October 3, 2012

It's a DonorsChoose Linky Party!


Friends and Family Week: 
October 8 - 15

Laura's Project Link Up: Oct. 3 - 6
Voting for Projects: Oct. 7 - 10
Project Selection Dates: Oct. 11 - 15

DonorsChoose.org is one of my favorite nonprofit organizations, and next week they will be celebrating Friends and Family Week! This means all donations will be matched dollar for dollar when a special code is entered. I received thousands of dollars in classroom funding from DonorsChoose when I was teaching, so now I'd like to join the celebration by donating to TEN classroom projects next week! However, there are so many terrific projects that I need you to help me decide which projects to fund.

Linky Party Details
Here's how it will work. Between now and Saturday, each participating teacher may submit ONE DonorsChoose project to the collection of links at the end of this blog post. Then from Sunday to Wednesday, visitors to this blog will be able to vote for their 3 favorite projects. Be sure to let your friends and family know so they can stop by and vote! After the voting ends, I'll choose 10 projects for my donations. I'll automatically select the top 5 projects according to the votes, and the other 5 will be my choice.

Submit Your Project (Wednesday - Saturday)
To submit your project, add it to the Link Up at the bottom of this page. You may submit only ONE DonorsChoose project to this Link Up. Here's what to do:
  1. Go to your project page on DonorsChoose and copy the URL. 
  2. Click the blue Add Your Link button at the bottom of this post to display the 3 submission fields.
  3. Paste the URL from your DonorsChoose project page into URL block.
  4. For the Name field, write your project title - do not write your own name.
  5. Enter your email address. This will not be displayed but I can use it to contact you if needed. 
  6. Click Next Step, and you'll see a page of thumbnail images. Select an image that represents your DonorsChoose page and submit your link.
Vote (Sunday - Wednesday)
Starting on Sunday, you can send your friends and family to this page to vote.
  1. Each person may vote for their three favorite projects.
  2. Total vote counts are only displayed after three votes are cast. 
  3. After the voting closes on Wednesday at midnight, the projects will be reorganized according to the total number of votes.
Project Selection
I'll automatically contribute to the top 5 projects as determined by total votes. But don't worry if your project doesn't have the most votes because I'll also choose 5 more projects. It may take a while to review all of the projects, but I'll definitely choose them before the end of the day on October 15th so I can use the matching code to double my donations. If you would like more details about how I make my selections, you can read my guest blog post on the DonorsChoose.org blog.

More About DonorsChoose
DonorsChoose.org is a nonprofit organization that makes it possible for teachers to write proposals for classroom materials. The proposals are posted online and donors can choose which classroom projects they would like to help fund. As a result of these efforts, millions of dollars have been given to public school classrooms across America. To learn more about this organization and watch a free webinar about how to get your classroom project funded, visit my DonorsChoose page on Teaching Resources.

By the way, be sure to let your friends and family know about DonorsChoose Friends and Family Week. On my DonorsChoose page, you can find a sample letter to customize and send home after you receive your matching code on Monday. Good luck to all of you! 




Monday, October 1, 2012

New Webinar: 5 Amazing Web Tools

Note: The webinar described in this post took place on October 10th. 2012. However, you can watch a free recording of this webinar on Laura Candler's Whiteboards and Web Tools page.

Collaboration is the name of the game in education, and that's why I'm excited to host this upcoming live webinar! The internet has transformed the way we interact with others, and Web 2.0 tools provide amazing opportunities for students to collaborate with their classmates and even with other students around the world.

Recently I've been learning how many teachers are using web tools in creative ways, and I invited five outstanding educators to share their experiences in a webinar. I'm thrilled that the tech-savvy teachers below accepted my offer, and each of them will explain how to use a favorite web tool to foster classroom collaboration. 

5 Amazing Educators Share Their Favorite Web Tools 
Let's take a peek at the web tools we'll explore and the educators who will share their expertise with us:
  1. Animoto - Erin Klein of the Kleinspiration blog will share how she uses Animoto with her 2nd graders. With Animoto, your students can collaborate to create exciting videos from their digital photos, video clips, and music.
  2. LiveBinders - LiveBinders is a free online tool that's like having a 3-ring binder on the web for organizing and storing resources. Lisa Dabbs, creator of the Teaching With Soul blog, will share how to use LiveBinders with students.
  3. Skype - You've probably heard of Skype, and more than likely, you've used Skype yourself. It's a free video calling service where you can talk to friends and family face to face via the Internet. But have you tried using Skype in the classroom? Fourth grade teacher Paula Naugle will share how she uses Skype to enable her students to connect with other students around the world. Paula's blog is appropriately titled, PLN - Not Just My Initials.
  4. Kidblog - Kidblog is a safe environment for students to blog, and over a million K-12 students have a voice there. Fourth grade teacher Joan Young will share how her students are using Kidblog in creative ways. You can find Joan's blog at Allkidscanflourish.blogspot.com.
  5. ClassDoJo - ClassDoJo is a behavior management tool that teachers and students seem to love! Suzy Brooks of the Technically Invisible blog is a fan of this web tool, and she's going to share how she uses it for more than behavior management in her 3rd grade classroom.

Free Interactive Webinars
I thoroughly enjoy presenting webinars because they're interactive and fun! You'll have the opportunity to ask questions, collaborate with other teachers, and contribute your suggestions using the chat box in Blackboard Collaborate. I invite you to visit my Webinar page on Teaching Resources to learn about the webinar recordings that are available right now for you to watch. 

Have you used any of these web tools in your classroom? If so, please plan to attend and share your ideas with us. If you haven't used them, I know that participating in this webinar will inspire you to give one or more of them a try in your classroom this year!






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