Friday, June 29, 2012

Blog Slow Poke, Theme Day Pic & Summer Goal

I am a procastinating blogger.  Have no idea how my fav bloggers can be so consistent in their blogging?, so regular, so prolific?  LOL

Yesterday was the last day of school for the kids.  We had been doing a theme a day for the last week, partially because of our field trip fiasco.  I said I would post pics of each theme day but there is one problem . . . I don't take pictures!  My teaching partner did and she has promised to email me some, so that I can post.  I have ONE picture from our Favourite Decade Day . . . but my friend took the picture of 'moi' and frankly, I'm a bit embarrassed to be seen 'reliving' the 80's!  However, I feel it is only fair that,  since I'm not really living up to my promise of providing photos, I should do my penance and put the picture up.

So here it is . . .try not to bust a gut, laughing!
Sadly, I probably dressed like this back in the 80's.
Being the last day of school, I had good intentions to take pictures of the kids.  Alas, it did not happen . . . even with my iPhone burning a hole in my pant pocket.  This is definitely a fault that must be rectified if I'm ever to keep and expand my blog following.  (Am I right?!) What is a blog without accompanying photos? . . . a boring blog, I say! LOL

So, It is my goal to be a much more prolific photo-taker and I am starting with my classroom.  Since stalking following Clutter Free Classroom I have been waiting for the end of the school year to do a major makeover of my classroom.  I've set aside the first week of summer break to organize, coordinate, and decorate my classroom.  Can you tell I'm a Clutter-Free-Classroom wannabee??

And I promise to take lots of pictures and actually share them on Blogger!  Wish me luck!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Field Trip Fiasco and Planning on the Fly

My teaching partner and I were planning to go to our local museum after we realized we were ALLOWED to go on field long as A) the planning was done during school time and B) the actual trip was within school hours.  I should probably EXPLAIN that ALL the teachers in my province (BC) are in province-wide bargaining with our gov't and it IS NOT going well. . . which explains the Field Trip "protocol".  Really, it's been quite annoying!

Unfortunately we WILL NOT be going on the field trip because through a series of unfortunate events . . . Hey, that's a great series of books BTW . . . the lady at the museum that does the school bookings went off sick and somehow our request got 'missed' and the person who took over for her didn't know that we were trying to book a tour and by the time we actually got hold of this person, it was the week before the last full week of school and . . . and . . . that tour didn't happen. . . BUT I was not willing to give up yet! . . . I suggested maybe we could go to our local Heritage Park, where there are neat 'ruins' of missionary buildings and a really old cemetery where the kids could do headstone rubbings . . . how cool is that? (hubby thinks its a bit morbid and would give the kids nightmares . . . he doesn't really know my class of eight & nine year olds!) and maybe we could treat the kids at the little teahouse . . . can you tell I was grasping???LOL  That idea was kiboshed too! (crap!?) . . . no bus available! . . .oh, for cryin out loud . . . really??

So, there we were . . . one of only three classes in the entire school NOT going on a field trip . . . we couldn't do that to our grade 3's . . .could we!??  On to Plan C . . . picnic in the park across the street from the school . . for the whole day (okay. . . most of the day). 

But we were still feeling as if that wasn't going to cut it, so in a moment of sheer desperation brilliance, my teaching partner came up with the idea to do a theme-a-day until the end of the year!  Hmmm . . . what would thst look like . . .let's see, we could do Wacky Hair Day, Pajama Day, Sports Team Day, Favourite Decade Day, Hawaiian Day, Celebrity Day . . . oh yeah, . . . this could work!  why then is my principal giving me that are-you-sure-you-want-to-do-that-for-the-last-week-of- school kind of look? . . .

Oh, the things we do for our students.

I'll let you know how things go.  Tomorrow is Wacky Hair Day :)

Friday, June 8, 2012

Math As A Teachable Moment: Problem Solving

This activity should really be called Problem Solving & Problem Posing because the students do both.
I generally post a problem on the board or on chart paper (if I'm really on the ball).  Students copy down the problem in their Problem Solving books and then try to answer the problem.  The problem is usually based on a concept we are currently working in math such as:  measurement (g, kg, ml, L, perimeter, area), number operations (+, —,  ÷, X ) or time.  Students get about 8-10 minutes to work on the problem.  When they have solved the problem, they write their own problem using the same format.

There's a lot of sharing out and class discussion about HOW we solved the problem (what strategies did you use?)  Students know that they have to show their thinking...not just write down the answer!

Here are some samples of a problem we worked on a couple of weeks ago.  This was a Friday assessment, so it was on a half sheet of paper, rather than in their books.  Most students understood how to solve the problem and I was pleased to see a variety of different ways that students showed how they solved the problem.
This student decided to break down the numbers into tens and ones and then add them together.

This student broke down the digits in the tens place into tens, but then mentally multiplied the ones.

This student multiplied the 20's by 3 (even though he is showing them as 2's) and then added the ones

This student decided she was going to line them up vertically and add them up...the 'traditional' way.  She surprised me because Math and organization are not her strengths, but her work was very organized AND logical! LOL

This students decided to just add the numbers horizontally...the preferred method with many students

This student decided he wanted to be a 'lazy' mathematician and just multiply (his favourite way of adding up stuff)

This is a student created problem modeled after the problem given

Most of my students are very comfortable with this problem solving format, so I decided to switch it up a bit the other day and give them a different type of problem.  This is an example of the problem I gave them:

I am an even number.
I am greater than 20.
I am less than 50.
My digits add up to 11.
Who am I?

Some figured it out fairly quickly, but others balked at the problem.  So we reviewed what good problem solvers do and what strategies might be appropriate to try.  I was surprised that a number of students did not understand what the word digit meant...which prompted a quick mini lesson! And then I reviewed what an even and odd number were to my math challenged students.  I find this particular problem very useful for incorporating the math vocabulary we want our kids to know.

Now, they enjoy creating their own Who Am I? problems and beg me to use their example for the next problem. I think that's a good indicator of the level of engagement these kids are demonstrating.

Lovely Blog Award Recipients!

OK, I have only managed to find 5 relatively 'new' blogs that haven't been awarded the Lovely Blog Award (Granted I haven't been trying extra hard either) with everyone, its been super busy around here...just finished writing end term report cards! Yikes!...only 13 school days left! So here they are in no particular order:
  1. Teacher Idea Factory 
  2. Lessons With Laughter
  3. Daisy Days for Learning 
  4. Working 4 the Classroom 
  5. Obsessively Teaching fourth Grade