Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Kids Haven't Changed: Kindergarten Has (must-read article)

Has anyone noticed that new standards seem to move requirements down a grade level? What was once required in 5th grade is now required in 4th. First grade standards are moving into kindergarten. What does this mean?

Are our kids suddenly smarter? More capable? More worldly? More knowledgeable due to all the technology surrounding them each day?  Parents and teachers should read this article...Kids Haven't Changed: Kindergarten Has.

Great food for thought.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Math Monday Blog Hop #8

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Wednesday, May 25, 2011

HUGE $1 eBook Sale - Scholastic

Don't miss the incredible sale on Scholastic Teaching Books. Til May 31st. Over 500 teaching ebooks, 125 tagged "math," most priced over $10 in softcover, are available for $1 each!

Thanks so much to Tricia at The Miss Rumphius Effect for passing on this great deal!

Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Outliers...a must-read book for teachers & parents!

On a forum I saw a recommendation for a book called Outliers: The Story of Success. Since reading about success isn't high on my interest list,  I was very surprised to find this book so readable, enjoyable, and most of all, fascinating.

In Outliers, author Malcolm Gladwell explains how we need to look at what surrounds people if we really want to understand what makes them successful. Success hinges on things like a person's family, birthplace, and birth time/date...not just on innate ability.

He illustrates this with fascinating stories that will alternately encourage or frustrate a lot of parents and teachers. Take the case of a winning Canadian hockey team... Upon close examination of birthdates of the hockey players, one realizes that ability is much less a factor than the month in which you were born. Why?

The age cutoff for eligibility in hockey is Jan. 1. So a player born on Jan. 2 could be playing alongside a player born a year later at the end of December. As a young child, the January player has a much better chance of making a more advanced level team because he is physically more mature. On that advanced team, he gets more playing time, better coaches, and better teammates. Over the years, he is groomed to be a top player while a child born in the last several months of that year is simply given less opportunities, even though his natural talent may be the same or better. When data was collected, the birth month issue proved to be true as in "any elite group of hockey players--the very best of the best--40 percent of the players will have been born between January and March, 30 percent between April and June, 20 percent between July and September, and 10 percent between October and December." The author shows how this is also true of the cutoff date in American baseball and European soccer. The author writes that this "tells us that our notion that it is the best and the brightest who effortlessly rise to the top is much too simplistic. Yes, the hockey players who make it to the professional level are more talented than you or me. But they also got a big head start, an opportunity that they neither deserved nor earned. And that opportunity played a critical role in their success."

The author goes on to tell stories of why one genius succeeds and another fails. Why a certain airline had a horrific safety problem and the steps they took to turn tragedy to success by looking at cultural traditions and the role that they played in communication. (Who would have thought that the way people talked to each other could have such a direct link to airline crashes??) The perfect storm of circumstances leading to Bill Gates' success. And why 10,000 hours is the magic number when it comes to developing professional-level skills..."the closer psychologists look at the careers of the gifted, the smaller the role innate talent seems to play and the bigger the role preparation seems to play."

So what do these fascinating stories mean for the average person? Especially if you're a parent or a teacher? A child does not have to be a genius or hugely talented to succeed. But he needs to be given opportunities. In this day and age, I would guess that the stakes are probably very high when it comes to an individual child's learning environment. Is it well suited to learning? Can she get individual attention when she needs it? Does she have an enthusiastic, curious educator nearby? Is someone giving him opportunities to practice, practice, practice the things in which he wants to succeed? And what's important...preparing for the test, or giving children opportunities to make mistakes as they explore the learning process?

You'll love this book. Put it on your summer reading list. ;)

Monday, May 23, 2011

Math Monday Blog Hop #7

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Monday, May 16, 2011

Math Monday Blog Hop #6

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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

How Many Feet in the Bed? (Math & Drama)

I picked up a cute book, How Many Feet in the Bed?, and thought it would be fun to act out with my 5-year-old. In the story, members of a family of five tumble in and out of the parents' bed on a Sunday morning. As each person comes and goes, the total feet left in the bed are counted.

First, I read the story aloud. Then I grabbed a doll bed and some Counting Bears. As I read the story a second time, we acted it out; my son added bears, counting feet as he went. Later, as the bears left, he counted again to see what remained.

Then we told our own stories. I made up one about Mommy and Daddy snoring in bed, only to be disturbed by one child after another (I named all our kids) who piled into bed on Saturday morning. I took them away as they left to watch cartoons, etc. After my story, my son told his own, adding and subtracting his own bears and counting as he went.

 This story could also be acted out with dolls and a tissue box bed...or even dramatized by a kindergarten class or homeschool co-op group.

Key Words: Math and Drama, Skip Counting Lesson, Teddy Bear Math

Monday, May 9, 2011

Math Monday Blog Hop #5

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Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Fraction Creatures & Creative Writing

After this lesson and reading Picture Pie, we continued our exploration of fractions and art by delving into creative writing. I suggested that my son invent any kind of imaginary creature.  Consider what imaginary creature you might find in the:
  • jungle
  • forest
  • ocean depths
  • desert
  • realms of outer space...on Mars
  • swamp
  • living in the sewers of a big city
His instructions:

1. Pick a location and make an imaginary creature using circle fractions.

2. Write about your creature. Consider:
  • habitat
  • what it eats
  • friends/enemies
  • special characteristics
  • physical description
  • lifespan
  • name and its meaning
3. If using a standard circle (i.e. all the circles were congruent before cutting into fractional shapes), pretend that just for today, the area of a circle = 1. Calculate the total area of your  creature. 

Here's his project:

The Seasaur
by J, age 8
Seasaur lives by rocky and coral places in the Antarctic waters. He eats krill and shrimp and plankton if he has to. His enemies are only humans. His friends are penguins, all whales, crabs and fish.

The Seasaur can grow up to 25-30 feet long, almost as big as Triceratops. Its spikes can grow up to three and four feet long. The blue spikes are only a warning but the red ones are poisonous. He can make the poison go away and has poisonous blood so no animal will eat him, only humans that don't know he's poisonous. His teeth are square, not spiky, because he eats shrimp and krill. He has special lungs and gills so he can go on land and water. Seasaur can live up to 40 years but normally lives 30 years.

Area of Seasaur: 4 5/8 circles.

***My inspiration for this lesson comes from one of my favorite people and mentors, Roger Kukes. He's the one who taught me to think in creative, artistic ways. I love his book, Drawing in the Classroom.

I'm linking up at stART.

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

Children's Math Book Review: Picture Pie (& Fraction/Art Lesson!)

The boys and I found a book that we absolutely love. Ed Emberley's Picture Pie is a circle drawing book. He shows you how to divide circles into fractional pie pieces to create designs, flowers, birds, animals, fish, clowns and a whole host of fun pictures.

We spent hours exploring the book and making our own pictures this morning. Here's how I applied it to two different levels:

5 year old...I traced circles which he cut.  He then folded the circles in half--sometimes in half again to make quarters--and cut them to build parts of his pictures. He made page after page which he said was for his "picture book." Although I could have given him precut shapes, I wanted him to practice cutting and think about what it meant to fold pieces in half. He loved this and would have continued past the several hours we did it. I finally shooed them outside. The visual/spatial practice was valuable. I've watched much older children struggle to figure out how/where to place shapes to replicate something they see.

8 year old...He made his own circles by tracing plastic cups. He cut his own fractional parts and replicated pictures in the book. He had a great time using various colored paper to create different kinds of birds. He numbered them and put the answers (to bird type) on the back. I then had him label the fractional parts that he used for each section of the bird.

We will be spending a lot more time with this book. Later this week I'll post a follow up lesson. (It's here...creative writing addition!) I also want to show the boys Ed Emberley's Picture Pie Two.

Both books provide a great jumping off point for studying shapes or fractions. It'd also make an excellent gift!

I'll be linking up this week at:
Craft Schooling Sunday
Childhood 101
Chocolate, Drool and Kisses
Preschool Corner
What My Child is Reading

Disclaimer: I received nothing for this review. If you order from Amazon through this blog, all commissions go toward foster care through Grace and Hope at no additional cost to you. THANK YOU!

Monday, May 2, 2011

Math Monday Blog Hop #4

It's time for another Math Monday Blog Hop!

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Random.org picked #39 as the winner of the Dinah Zike book:
Jill Stanish said...
We are pretty new to lapbooking. We've never really applied lapbooking to math; would love to get some ideas from the book!

Congratulations to Jill and thanks to all who entered!
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