Wednesday, July 30, 2014
Tuesday, July 29, 2014
I'm just going to throw this out there, "I love projects". It doesn't matter if it's reading, math, science, whatever--I just love projects. Giving students a large scale (or long-scale) project, seeing them attack problems, deciding where to start, and/or working within a group is one of the best things we can do as teachers (I don't have any data to back that last statement up). Yes, it takes a lot of work to make sure students are progressing and making appropriate progress--but it's what we do.
Let me clarify this a little more: I love projects that take place in the classroom.
I don't always trust projects that go home then come back a little too perfect. Yes, your parents can get an "A" but did you even do anything?
We also need to bring back science fairs!
I'm going to step off my soapbox.
Before you get mad and tell me projects are a hassle let me tell you the positives that happen when they're done correctly:
- Collaboration and Cooperation (two completely different ideas, both equally important)
- Stirs creativity and imagination
- Creates problem solvers
- Allows for immediate feedback from peers and their own self-reflection/assessment
- It integrates technology more efficiently
- Connections to the real-world
If you're looking to incorporate more project based learning opportunities in your class, might I suggest trying out Geometrocity: A City Made of Math. This can be completed individually, within a group, or even as a class project. Your students will literally be designing, planning, and building a city using geometry.
A great luxury of having a daughter in elementary school is that she always wants to try out what I create. She is my quality control. So her and a friend spent an afternoon creating buildings, using nets, to design 3D models of their city.
Geometrocity is broken down into Phases (which the teacher has total control over) and students work through them with each step building on the next incorporating geometry skills to build sections of their city.
One of my favorite aspects is you can differentiate this immediately to students whether it's choosing lower level sections (less vocabulary) or pushing kids to make it to the challenge section.
I've created a nice preview too. You can check it out at the link below:
And is it really a surprise that the first building my daughter made was Target?
Nope. We love Target.
Saturday, July 19, 2014
Welcome to another Bright Ideas Link-Up where bloggers from around the world sharing tips, tricks, and ideas that work for them (and could work for you). Here in the Chicagoland area we're enjoying a pleasant summer filled with almost perfect temperatures. This means a lot of cooking out. That means a lot of paper plates. And that got me thinking about...
These flimsy cardboard plates may not hold a hot dog or hamburger without breaking, but they're a perfect school (or summer) supplement to almost any lesson. The groundbreaking secret is that almost anything can be created with paper plates.
My idea is this: If you're looking to have students create small projects based on lessons you're teaching give them a stack of paper plates and just tell them to create. No rules, no boundaries--just the to craft an idea based on the lessons they learned.
There are 20 step tutorials on paper plates creations and some of them are just incredible--but let's give some of the imagination back to the kids.
Last week my daughters and I spent a couple of hours just making stuff. They came up with so many ideas during that time; frisbee, scuba gear, shield, cat, snake, owl, monsters, and even an ear of corn. I would say a topic and my oldest would tell me something she could make.
I'm not even suggesting using paints or glitter. Just make it quick and easy and tell the kids: scissors, glue, tape, and crayons. That way the clean-up will consist of simple scraps.
Here's some of my kids hard work.
Kids have such a bigger and better imagination than most of us anyway. So let them create. Mine keep asking when they can create that "paper plate magic" again.
I even got into the swing of things and created a Flava-Flav styled clock and then recreated the alien facehuggers from Alien (some of you might be too young or scared for that movie). Look at my imaginations!
If you're interested in seeing some examples, tutorials, and Pinterest boards for more paper plates tutorials check these out:
Try this idea in school or as a summer craftivity. Break the norm. That's it--now I'm off to put some potato salad on a floppy paper plate and wait for it to collapse in my lap.
If you've enjoyed this post (even a little bit) feel
As the summer rolls along sit back, relax, and visit all the other great ideas (probably a lot better than mine) and come up with some ideas to drive the kids crazy when school starts.
Thursday, July 17, 2014
This is a cross-post with A Class*y Collaboration.
Word Cloud Generators have been around since the dawn of the wireless modem (that's a really long time in tech years). Kids and teachers love them because they're quick and easy to integrate and look pretty. That's right, I said pretty.
The only way to make them better would be to put them in an accessible place that everyone could reach. Drumroll, please................I put together a Symbaloo board with 12 world-renowned word cloud generators.
Now your students (or you) can pick which one they'd like to use. Some of these are new to myself, but you've got the classics like Tagxedo, Wordle, ABCya. There's some newbies that you might not have ever heard of--so check those out too.
Take some time, bookmark this for the new year, and get your kids creating.
A couple of ideas for using word cloud generators include:
- Poetry unit: Pick a poem and insert the words.
- All about Myself: Students write words they think will describe them the best (great for beginning of the year, get-to-know-you).
- Adjectives, Nouns, & Verbs: Lot of choices here describe rooms, objects, people, subject areas, and more.
- Character Traits from Novels: Pick a character and write about his traits.
- Parent Gift: Students describe parents/guardian and then print it out (include frame if possible).
- Create class posters
- Class list, let everyone get a copy too.
- Social Studies: Historical characters and their significance.
Here is a quick on I used with Word Mosaic.
I kind of like it. It is pretty (and totally me).
Wednesday, July 16, 2014
Tuesday, July 15, 2014
Normally when we think of the weather we automatically assume that we're talking about science. Or the Weather Channel. And if we're talking about the Weather Channel we're talking about Jim Cantore and THUNDER SNOW!
But we're not.
We're talking' bout MATH
- Weather Wiz Kids
- The Weather Channel
- USA Today Weather
- The Old Farmer's Almanac for Kids
- Your local cable news site (I'm not linking to everyone where that you live.)
- Graphing/charting daily temperatures
- Find the difference between Highs and Lows for that day, week, or month.
- Use temperature, humidity, wind speed, or barometric pressure to find mean, median, and mode.
- Using average rainfall amounts per month and comparing them to other areas all around the world.
- Comparing temperatures around the world and discovering the differences.
- Allow students to create word problems based on weather
- Use the weather map and understanding how the numbers correlate with one another.
- I could add more, but by this time you're probably beginning to glaze over my post.
The opportunities are limitless when it comes to combining math and weather. If we stop and think for a minute we realize that understanding the weather is a real-word applicable skill that everyone needs to know.
How else are you able to predict if you're school will be
having a cold-weather day because of the wind chill--MATH!
Here's a great site for kids to become a Math Meteorologist:
Understanding the concept of Math-Weather is more relevant every single day. And the are numbers inside each one of those concepts. Tornado's, Hurricanes, Floods, Blizzards, Earthquakes; these are all based on mathematical figures too. But we tend to lump it strictly into science--but we shouldn't.
Think about STEM: Science, Technology, Engineering, aaaaaaand Mathematics.
Next time your looking for a little way to spice up you math just turn your attention to the clouds (not the digital kind that no one understands, I'm talking fluffy-cumulus ones) and think about how you can integrate weather into your math with a side of technology.