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Sunday, December 29, 2013

My New Year's [Teaching] Resolution 2014

As standards evolve and change, textbooks find it hard to keep up. Teachers must find or create more materials on their own. High-stakes accountability tempts us to focus on rote, skill-and-drill learning. 

This year I resolve to focus curriculum on standards, use data to guide instruction, and plan engaging activities for my students. This looks like a job for Superman! 

Photo clip from Warner Bros. Online
Fleisher Studios Superman Cartoons:
"The Mad Scientist"

My first endeavor involves the study of energy. Data indicate that my fourth grade students need to review sound (a third grade standard) before the first state assessment in early March. Since I still need to hit quite a few fourth grade standards before the test, the review must be quick. The answer? Hands-on centers and an interactive website!

These will be field tested in my class during the first week in January. Soon thereafter the complete Exploring Sound unit will be available in my store on Teachers pay Teachers. It will be followed by Exploring Light, Exploring Heat, and Exploring Electricity.

Like other teacher-authors on Teachers pay Teachers, I resolve to make learning more engaging - - - and to share it with you! Be sure to check back here for free and inexpensive materials for your third, fourth, or fifth grade classroom throughout the year.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Integrating Math and Literature

Integrating subject matter makes learning fun! My class has been working on writing longer responses to questions (complete with evidence and citing). They've been making great progress, but constructing responses was getting to be a real drag.

In math, we were just ready to begin perimeter and area. "Why not merge math and literature?" I thought. It was simple, really. I took a common perimeter and area problem and wrote simple scenarios involving characters from our novels, Hatchet and Strider.

Students warmed up with problems from then continued with these novel-based problems. Free graph paper can be generated at (I chose the square graph paper with grid spacing of one line per centimeter.)

Interdisciplinary teaching seems like a blast from the past, but there's no time like the present to liven up literature and make math meaningful.