Monday, February 25, 2013

Mind Soccer...Baseball Style

Don't limit a child to your own learning, for he was born in another time.
Rabindranath Tagore

Being a huge fan of all things baseball, I set out to change up Mind Soccer just a bit. As fun as mind soccer is, once Spring Training begins, so does my itch for my St. Louis Cardinals. After searching to see if anyone had the same idea as I had, I came up empty handed and started on my way to making a new notebook file (I don't know how I would live without my SmartBoard). In appropriate Mind Soccer inspiration the only rule stays the same...Keep the Ref happy.

So the compilation of review questions begins, a notebook file complete, eager students ready to learn the new tweak to their much coveted game, and an eager teacher awaits the first round of Mind Baseball. The game board is a baseball field, the eraser is replaced with a base runner and a six sided die depicts the fate of the team. On the sides of the die are the following phrases: single, double, triple, home run, single out, and all runners out. Students roll the die and advance their runner, if they answer the question correct. If they get it wrong, the other team gains possession of the questions since a wrong answer is a strike out. Next player is up to base and same follows. Three strikes your out rule applies or the role of the disastrous 'all out' changes the team up to bat. Runs scored are calculated with runners run across home. Runners stranded are, we'll, OUT.

Now here is where it gets interesting. While a team is up to bat, if they miss a question and the other team takes possession of the questions, any question the get correct, turns into an out for the team who is up to bat. Once 3 outs are accumulated the teams switch from fielding to batting. And the game continues until time runs out. Since this is a notebook file, each day the students continue to play until the teams play 9 innings (or less, your choice of course).

This is a game we are still in 'Spring Training'. Once we have a few practice rounds, I will post a video to show the fun!

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Multi digit Multiplication

“I’ve tried to incorporate movement as much as possible each day, and the students have responded. To quote a student of mine--This moving around stuff is cool!” — Tim McGovern, Reading Intervention Coordinator, Kemper Elementary School, Cortez, Colorado

This year I am teaching an Accelerated Math Class in 4th grade. This has been such a challenge and many of my students are willing to go the extra mile to learn and have fun while doing just that. I find as a teacher that math is one of my favorite places to add gestures. The students get really into it and it has showing to increase retention of skills in my classroom.

Multi digit multiplication is a skill that is taught in many ways. My students all gravitated to their own method, but many still wanted to know the traditional way. This brought up great discussion about how you move from one number to the next and multiply. Once you have your partial products then you add these together to form your product. In order to make this fun and visual we incorporated gestures and made a YouTube video for you so see!

In the video students describe how you multiply up first starting in the ones column and then multiply over. Once you have multiplied over then you add a zero. So students are moving their arms up and over then make an air zero. Then we move to the second number in the tens place on the bottom and this time you go over then up. Then you add (make an addition sign with your arms) then total (horizontal line with your arms).
SO the chant goes like this:
You go up then over then zero,
then you go over and up then add and total.

Watch the video and you will see how fun this was for all of us. The most rewarding was when I caught them out on the playground teaching other students and their homeroom teachers! Amazing!

YouTube 2 digit multiplication

Saturday, February 23, 2013

Chocolate Math

Super Speed Math:
Why do students struggle in math? Well Chris Biffle has an idea about where we could be going wrong. It's not that students are unintelligent or that teachers aren't doing a great job teaching, it's that students are missing some key components to make them successful. Here are some of the thoughts about why students make silly mistakes:

Too few reps
Error corrected late
Zero fun
Non-motivating rewards

So what do we do? Oral practice of basic math facts using Super Speed Math-2.0. Genius! Here's a rundown of this program with the challenges I have seen.

You pair students up together. Coach B referred to these students a Salt and Pepper. Both students have a copy of the Super Speed Math packet. Salt looks at the math facts without the answers while pepper looks at the answers. This involves both students practicing their facts and receiving immediate feedback or help with answers. No writing on the paper! Only oral answers. The teacher begins a minute timing. Students say the problem including the answer,orally, as fast as they can. DO NOT ALLOW THEM TO ONLY SAY THE ANSWERS. They have to say the entire problem and the answers. If students answer a question wrong or needs help then they put a dot next to the problem and go back 2 problems to review and hopefully get the answer correct and continue until the minute is up. Once the minute is up, student salt circles the last problem correct and reviews with pepper the personal gnarlies. Then the minute timing begins again and salt tries to break their previous record in 1 minute. Once the students switch and pepper goes through the same 2 rounds of timing then students are awarded with breaking of previous goals and setting new goals. New goals are written in the stars at the back of the packet. Super improver stars are awarded and 10 finger woos go flying around the room!
If a student breaks their previous goal they will begin on the line down from their previous starting line. Always start on column A. And this continues so student can make it through all the problems. AMAZING!

Level 2 is FUN! All of the numerical problems have been mixed up and the gnarlies are on top. Yup! You see it. The challenging problems are first!! The same format of 2- 1 minute timings per student remain the same. Coach B suggests for older learners that you do a weekly schedule.
Monday: addition
Tuesday: subtraction
Wednesday: multiplication
Thursday: division
Friday: fractions or gnarlies.

Now, how does Coach B suggest we reward students? Well that goes back to the super improver wall! Each improvement is charted for their personal improvement and students are begging you to allow them to break their personal goals!!

But wait. As it that wasn't enough...Coach B brings in Chocolate Math!
Chocolate math is an amazing way to use a 10 by 10 grid or hundreds chart to PROVE math facts and fractions in a visual way! This method involves the students drawing on laminated copies of the chocolate squares. Coach showed. How to use this for addition, subtraction, multiplication, division, fractions and critical thinking or word problems! Just amazing.

In reflection of these programs I have found Super Speed Math to be an incredible resource for my classroom to use. We follow the suggested weekly plan and on weeks where we don't have 5 days, we double up and do more than one. The only difficulties I have had with this program were management issues on my part. I had printed off level one in a packet and then was going to wait to print level 2. So I had students who were ready to move to the next level when others were not finished yet. Now I am in the troubles of having students finished with level 2 and other students not finished with level 1. What do you do when a student has mastered both levels? In this case I have partners where only one child is doing all the practice on addition and subtractions ( so Mon and Tues the students at level 1 practice a total of 4 times and the other student gets to wear the coach hat! Since none of my students are finished with all of the fact practice pages we continue on with those days the same as we have.
Watch the momentum in your class soar and keep in mind it's all about how you present this to your class! The more excited you are the better they will feel. Every now and then I will add a few seconds to the timer to allow some of my more challenging students to be successful! It adds a little fun and I always have questions if it was a bonus time day. But make them earn the bonus time days by having positive attitudes all week!

Friday, February 22, 2013

Genius Ladder

All I have to say is WOW! Watching Chris Biffle does it again! This time with sentences. He begins with a blah sentence and teach students how change this blah sentence into a topic sentence then finally a paragraph! Every time I watch a WBT video I am left with a sense of urgency to try something new.

This video show students how to begin with a basic sentence including a noun and a verb. He shows students how to change the noun and then the verb in this so called 'blah' sentence. Students taught each other new ways to change the nouns and verbs and each new sentence deserves a 10 finger woo! The next level (the spicy sentence) of the ladder adds in an adjective to describe the noun. Then students teach new modifiers for this new sentence. Once again 10 finger woos around for successful sentences. As this progresses Coach B slowly adds in what a noun, a verbs, and an adjective is using whole brain gestures! He continues this by adding in 2 adjectives and so on so the students make sentences that make sense.
Now for extender sentence... Oh fun! Now we use the spicy sentence and he shows students how to add more to the sentence by adding new words and phrases. Now this is where it gets fun! Watching these students extend their sentences makes me laugh and the students get all sorts of excited when hearing these sentences. With the favorite line 'make it new' Coach B adds a level of challenge to not use any of the same words used before!
Hold your hats as we continue to more to the last level-the genius level. Topic sentences are introduced now so students are able to see how to write a controlled paragraph. He challenges students to create 4 genius sentences building upon the topic sentence!! LOVE IT!
Don't forget the 3 rules: don't start a sentence with and, don't start a sentence with because, if you have 2 sentences next to each other they can't start with the same word. 10 finger woos all around!! Yay for another inspirational video and my next addition to the classroom!

Crazy Professor Game

I have never met a teacher who didn't find reading skills to be one of the most important skills needed to educate a learner. I have also heard countless times about the struggles of engaging all students in their learning. When it comes to reading we see some of the most challenging aspects of teaching. Students are constantly being assessed at so many levels of their ability to read. But reading isn't just seeing words on a page and being able to say them. It involves many skills such as fluency, comprehension, expression, and so much more. As a teacher I find reading to be a challenge but not an impossible mission. After watching the Crazy Professor video, I was refreshed to see how to break down the walls of frustration and make reading fun for the teacher and the students.

Chris Rekstad show his 4th graders completing the mission of engaging and motivating students to read and question text based on the way he delivers the message. Rather than standing in front of the classroom and telling the students to open their book and partner read, he presents a game where students read in partners.

Level 1 of the Crazy Professor game shows students how to read using dramatic voices. This includes overemphasizing their reading, adding appropriate and inappropriate vocal changes and gets students to have fun by making these over expressionistic voices. Each student is clearly engaged in the reading is obviously having fun...reading from a textbook.

Level 2 of this game is to have students read using expressionistic voices and gestures to allow for movement of hands and arms to interpret the meaning of words and phrases. This allows students to be able to build comprehension of the text. My favorite part of this is how students are able to move, we all have those kids who NEED to move, and this adds to their ability to read rather than hindering it. Students who need to move are in fact some of the more talented at this game.

Level 3 of the game is one of the hardest in my opinion to teach my students but his students seem well trained. Students begin to ask each other questions as the other partner is finished reading. The partnership continues to ask questions about the sequence of what they read and the story elements such as characters, setting, and plot. My students will not always dig deep in their questioning so I have to make sure I am walking around and prompting with deeper level questions to model my expectations.

Level 4 is one of my favorite levels to watch. Students remain in their partnership and they orally summarize the story while one student acts as the eager student and the other student acts as the crazy professor giving information along the way. Both students are engaged in the eager delivery of this information but this level encompasses one of the major skills of reading, summarization. The student begs the crazy professor to keep telling them more and the crazy professor adds dramatic voices and deep meaning of text.

As I continue to add more to my classroom I video recorded the students at the beginning of their crazy professor journey and we continue to watch and video more sessions of this game to be able to see how they improve their reading abilities, questioning skills, and excitement for this game.
This is a MUST TRY Whole Brain Game!
Here are the links to the eBooks and Chris Rekstad's incredible video.

Thursday, February 21, 2013

The Beginning of my Whole Brain Adventure

As an educator I am always looking for new ways to inspire learning, promote engagement, and make the classroom a place where I enjoy what I do each day. Most importantly I want  my students to actually WANT to come to school because they find it to be exciting and fun. About 2 years ago a colleague of mine shared her exciting new adventure which then lead to a new fascination in my own classroom. The new fascination...Whole Brain Teaching.
I attended my first conference of Whole Brain Teaching in the summer of 2012. This conference was the beginning to a transformation of my classroom. I had always felt that classroom management was a strength of mine. With student teachers and college observers I had always explained with good classroom management you could teach anything. Without it, you could be brilliant in any subject matter but never fully engaging a classroom, thus the teacher would not be able to teach. Whole Brain Teaching is so much more than classroom management, though.  In its entirety, it encompasses teaching practices, motivational resources,  and ways to assist teachers in dealing with difficult students.
As my teaching experience with WBT grew, I became comfortable and I began to share my teachings and I documented the amazing transformations in my class. One video production lead to a large group of college instructors asking for their college students to come observe my classroom. This lead to a new sharing experience. Well, this sharing has inspired me to branch out to a wider audience and share my wild work in WBT.
My goal during this adventure is to share and continue to push myself as a teacher to try these incredible practices and bring them to life for all to see. My first adventure... Super Speed Reading and Math! Follow the link to view my classroom in action!