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Monday, March 27, 2017

Monday Math Meet-ups

Have your students taken a benchmark test recently?  Do you have a limited time to review the questions with them before turning in the "secure test materials"? Would you like a different way to review that involves the students as leaders and lets you, "the teacher",  take a backseat? I've got just the thing... Math Meet-ups.  The idea isn't new. It's really the same as stations, centers, rotations, task cards, etc.  The big difference is that a student is in charge of each question and does the models their solution for their peers.
WARNING: This took A LOT more preparation than I originally anticipated. BUT... it was really worth it.

First, I created a short video, in Adobe Spark, that all 5 teachers played for the students in order to explain the process. Second, I created a Powerpoint slideshow with timings to manage the rotations from question to question. (3 minutes per question and 30 second transitions).
Step 3 involved assigning the student leaders to a question that they had correct on the assessment.
Step 4 required assigning each student to the questions that they missed in an order that ensured no more than 5 students were assigned to any one question at a time.  This was by far the trickiest part of the planning!
Step 5 was the creation of a record keeping sheet personalized for each student to write down the notes as each question was modeled.

None of what we did was very fancy.  We put up some posters on the classroom doors so that students would know which questions were being modeled in which rooms.  Each student leader had the question number displayed for students to know where to go, as well.  Student leaders used a dry erase board and shared their strategies. The other students asked questions and reviewed their own work to see where they went wrong.

At first, things were chaotic. After a couple of rotations, the students knew what they were doing and everything was smooth sailing after that.
Once we finished, the teachers each debriefed in their classrooms and the students overwhelmingly agreed that they preferred the Monday Math Meet-up to a traditional teacher led review.  They also gave us helpful feedback to improve for next time. For example the transition time should probably be a little longer to give students who are switching classrooms time to get to their next question.

All in all, this strategy worked out pretty well and we will probably try it again in the future.

Wednesday, September 16, 2015

Playing Chess is Fun

I am going to admit something today.  I never wanted to learn to play chess.  Then a colleague got all excited about the idea that we could both teach a chess unit and get our students together at the end for a real life game of human chess like the wizard chess game in "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone".  I caved in and now I'm learning chess.  Surprisingly, I am really enjoying it.  Not surprisingly, the kids love it.  Here is a quick peek into our classroom today.  

Today was the first day that I had them calling out and writing down their moves.  Before we could do that, I thought it would be a good idea to label our life size chess board and practice calling out some moves on it.  I was being formally observed today because this year is my license renewal year.  I'm pretty sure my lesson was a big hit with the administration too.

Saturday, April 25, 2015

How Does Our Garden Grow - Day 1

The 3rd grade AIG students have just begun a math/science integrated unit thematically centered around gardening.  Our first activity was to determine the perimeter and area of each raised bed in the garden.  We measured the length and width on the outside of the beds to find perimeter and measured the inside edges to find area.  

Wednesday, April 15, 2015

Augmented Reality Cartesian Graphing

My 3rd grade students have learned to use latitude and longitude cartesian points for graphing.  
If you want to view their work and cannot go to our International Night then download the Aurasma app and follow kaiserkids.  Then use your device and the aurasma app to see the finished product.

Disclaimer: We do not claim that the animals can really be found in these locations, although they are African Animals.

Friday, January 16, 2015

What Does the Desk Blotter of an Engineer Look Like?

What does the desk blotter of an engineer look like?  
According to my 5th grade students, it would look something like this...

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Research, Writing, and Engineering

The 4th grade students were asked to choose a structure and conduct research about it.  They wrote about their selected structure and were grouped together based on their selections.  Then began the fun.  Replicating the structure together.

I wish I had thought of this but the credit goes to classroom teachers at New Century International Elementary.  Check out the final products.

Saturday, October 25, 2014


This school year has not gone as planned.  Nowhere in my plan did I leave room for thoughts of doing anything other than moving up to 5th grade with the most wonderful group of 4th grade students I had the privilege of teaching last year.  Thing is, my plan wasn't entirely within my power to control.  Sparing everyone the details, let me just say that after 6 wonderful weeks with my students I found myself moving into a new position.  We were having a great year!  The students had matured and we had fallen into step together as 5th graders.  The quality of their work was greatly improved and everything about our year was going great (in our classroom world).  Suddenly, I was faced with a decision that may not make sense based on what I have said about my students. Unfortunately, this decision couldn't be made solely on the basis of how perfect things were going with my classroom.  

The dilemna: to accept or not to accept a position working as the Academically/Intellectually Gifted Teacher at another elementary school in the district - full time.

My decision: I accepted it for a variety of reasons that I won't bore you with.

The result: I miss my students terribly.  They hold a very special place in my heart and always will.  I hope that we will maintain contact from time to time some way, some how.  That said... I absolutely love my new role! This position has renewed my teaching spirit and I am feeling very creative again.  The liberty that I am able to take integrating enrichment opportunities for students beyond the core curriculum is absolutely invigorating.  I have so many ideas that I cannot wait to share.

In the first two weeks, I have already been able to jump in and wrap up an on-going unit with the 4th grade students.  They were studying archeology and had done a number of research mini projects along with some grid work and imaginary archeological finds.  I stretched it a bit and tied it to paleontology (because I happened to have a T-Rex model fossil simulation) using some empty raised beds behind the school.  The pictures convey better than my words, so I will leave you with some photos.