Global Learners and New Languages


     Our classes are dabbling in new languages with our Language Board.  I designed the general idea of a "template board" and had a volunteer to lay it out.  All I have to do is insert the correct phrases for the English equivalents. 

     We spend about six weeks on each language, including Spanish, French, and German.  We're fortunate to have students and parents who speak these Spanish and German and can help out. I also supplement with online phrase generators.  Can you think of another language that we might include?
Pat McFadyen
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New Students...or Visitors?


     Wow, what a great science class today!  A parent guest-speaker brought in several live specimens for my students to learn about.  They included a hissing cockroach, a millipede, a ball python, a corn snake bred to a reddish color (hence, his name "Lava"), 2 guinea pigs, and a gecko.
     Our very experienced parent presenter let students touch and enjoy and ask questions.  It was a great day for all of us!   Do you have guest speakers come to your class?  Tell us about it!
Ball python
Millipede

Corn snake bred to a reddish color.


Hissing cockroach










Pat McFadyen
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Where is Worksheet City?


     I've found a way to remind students that I expect certain behaviors during our most active, hands-on activities.  This works especially well when using science equipment or manipulatives.  I begin by reminding them that our manipulatives are "tools, not toys" and are to be treated with care and respect.  I then tell them that anyone who chooses to misuse materials or misbehave will earn a one-way ticket to "Worksheet City". 
     This means that, instead of the fun, hands-on activity we're all engaged in, that person will have to do a boring worksheet or two to learn the same thing.   So far this year, no one has hopped that train and there was only one customer last year! 
     This is meant to be a low-stress, class-joke way of encouraging correct behavior while still having real consequences.  Do you have a similar system in your classroom?
Pat McFadyen
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The "Suds" Experiment...Not What You Think!


    My kids loved this experiment where we asked, "Which dish soap makes the most suds?"  Through discussion, they decided that the most suds was the best cleaner.  Not sure if that's true, but I went with it!
     I put students in groups of four and every person had an empty water bottle.  Their written directions told them to add 1/2 cup of water to the bottle and 2 drops (not 2 squirts) of one of the dish soaps I provided.  I brought in four brands and they had to agree within their group who was using each brand.  They closed their bottle and shook for 15 seconds, then measured the height of their suds.  They recorded the data for everyone in their group for comparison.  I required at least two analysis statements - true statements about their data.  Their conclusion was to answer the original question.


     Yes, we had fun!  We also followed the Scientific Method and it was a real-life product comparison activity.  Who could ask for more???    I found this great, almost free, experiment on Pinterest this summer, but I don't know who to credit...so, thanks to whoever posted this!
Pat McFadyen
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Rules of Divisibility Foldable




It's time to learn the Rules of Divisibility as part of our study of factoring!  We combined what we've discovered into a flip book.  The kids are really referring to it frequently...which makes me happy!  I used the last page to emphasize a "Major Math Concept", which you can see in the picture.  I try to drive home the relationship between factors and divisors.  Who else has used this foldable for math?
Pat McFadyen
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Mentoring Other Teachers


     One of the most rewarding things I've ever done as a teacher is to mentor other teachers.  When my district offered professional development some years ago, I realized it was the "something" that was missing.  It was so exciting to know that I could make a difference in the life of a teacher, and thereby other students, to give help over the rough spots, and make this difficult job more do-able. 
     Does your district have a teacher mentoring program?  How does it work?
Pat McFadyen
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Triple H on Fridays...


     I learned about this idea from a fellow teacher and adapted it for my 5th graders.  I call it "Triple H"- it stands for "Hug, Handshake, or High Five".  Every Friday as the students are lined up to go home and I'm telling them good-bye, each child and I share one of the three gestures - student choice.  OK, we also add in "fist bumps", but that ruins the acronym!   It gives me a chance to let the kids know that, even if we've hit bumps in the road during the week, we are still a family and I care for them.  
     I've always been too focused on getting academics covered in the classroom and I really needed a custom or ritual like this.  I'd heard that the single most important indicator of success for a child is the relationship with the teacher.  Wow!  When I discovered this ritual being used in another classroom, I decided to try it.  I don't think my students "live" for Triple H during the week, but I believe that they appreciate the weekly check-in.  I like that it's not invasive, the student gets to choose, and I have a moment with each individual.
     Do you have a classroom custom like this?
Pat McFadyen
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Order of Operations Readable
     To go along with your lessons on order of operations, here's a short readable history that explains the "big idea" of why we use a common procedure globally.  Order of Operations Short Readable
Pat McFadyen
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Order of Operations: A Global Collaboration Tool



     When asked, "What is the order of operations?",  many of my students answer, "PEMDAS!" or "Please excuse my dear Aunt Sally!"  While this is a way to remember the steps in the algorithm, this is one of those concepts where I want students to fully understand not just how to do it, but why we use it.

     We discuss examples of doctors, mathematicians, and scientists around the world wanting to work together to solve big problems, but coming up with different answers.  It helps kids see that, if everyone is on the same page, we have a common language and we can truly collaborate.

     I really want my students to be able to solve equations using the correct order of operations.  But, I want them to understand its purpose, too.
Pat McFadyen
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The Scientific Process


     Our first science activity of the year was "How many drops of water can you fit on a penny"?   We discussed the steps of the Scientific Method: Set a Purpose/Question, Research, Hypothesize, Experiment, Record/Analyze Data, Draw Conclusion.  Materials are inexpensive and readily available: napkin, dropper, penny, cup of water to share at table. 
 
      I like this activity because it quickly gives students experience with the Scientific Method, it leads to other questions, such as, "Why does the water look like a bubble?  Why does it take so long for the water to spill off the penny?", and because they like it!  Happy Science!
Pat McFadyen
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