Monday, October 29, 2012

Math Exemplars - Gotta Love Them

I have a kinda Love-Hate relationship with math word problems. I see the basic need for the students to be able to attack these kinds of questions with skill. But teaching them to pull a four sentence prompt apart is harder than it sounds.

Exemplars is just a fancy term used to cover math word problems that require the kids to do a lot of thinking to find the answer. They combine reading skills, analysis, computation, reasoning, vocabulary, and writing skills to complete. They are a complete educational package in one! I've been using them twice a week in my classroom as part of our Calendar time.

I print out a word problem that uses their names to increase the participation. The students glue them into their math journals and then use a variety of techniques to complete them for the morning activity. I teach them simple strategies first, such as the CUBES method I found on Pinterest this summer. The kids just Circle important numbers, Underline questions, Box math vocabulary, Explain their thinking, and then Solve the problem.

Getting them to do this every time is a chore reminiscent of pulling teeth. But if you keep after them they will start internalizing the process. After the first quarter of school, I boost it up to the next level. G E P P S. This is more labor intensive but you get a really good insight into how they are thinking and if they can explain their process in a coherent manner. I've uploaded an explanation of this model over at TpT.

You can check it out here: GEPPS MODEL
I also put together my first set of 20 exemplars that start the school year off in one package that includes an Answer Key here: Set 01
I do believe the effort and time is worth putting in with these word problems. It really helps the kids focus on what the questions are asking and not to get tripped up in too much verbage. The BIG TEST is always chock full of these and this is a great way to help prepare them for that day. Have fun!

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Planetary Project - Text Features

I was wracking my brain trying to figure out a project to do with the kids for our Science unit on Planets. I didn't want to be stuck doing the same old model of the solar system and have to grade tons of painted styrofoam balls this year. Flipping through our pacing guide for the second nine weeks, I spy my salvation. Text features!

I know, it doesn't sound like such an inspiring topic. But I began to think of how to make it work for me. Why couldn't I have the students create a research project on the planets that makes use of all the text features I have to teach? Kind of like a first hand experience, eh?

So I came up with this little seven page project that you can print out for the kids. You can pick it up for yourself, right over here: Planetary Project

Let me know how it works out for you!

Planet Postcard - FREE resource

I am so excited to start teaching our unit on Planets tomorrow. One of the first things I plan to do is share the story from Loreen Leedy, Postcards from Pluto. It's a tale of six children that venture out into the solar system and send their parents postcards from their stops. I plan to have my students make their own postcards to hang out on our bulletin board. The front has a spot for them to illustrate their choice of planets. The back has a traditional postcard format for them to write home with some amazing information they've learned on their journey. What's great about this is I am giving y'all the postcard for FREE! Send me a comment and let me know how you plan to use it. Teacher's are always the best at sharing, aren't they?
Planet Postcard

New Venture - TpT

If you haven't already been redirected to the site, TeachersPayTeachers, while browsing educational ideas over at Pinterest, then you are missing out! There are so many incredible resources available for the classroom and some of them are even free! Well, I have decided to throw my hat in this particular ring and give y'all a way to access my AWESOME brain. Actually, bragging aside, it's a way to acquire some really cool ideas and have someone else do all the hard work. So, if you are interested head on over to my 'store' at TpT and pick up some cool resources. Thanks! ScrappyGuy at TpT