Sunday, March 10, 2013

Teaching Factoring With Flash Cards

Factoring is one of those abstract concepts that I often find it difficult to teach, and difficult to connect to students' lives.  I have a student now who is preparing for the FCAT, which is Florida's standardized test that is being fazed out with the implementation of the Common Core.  Factoring is one of the concepts he needs work on, and I believe I've discovered a more interactive way to teach it. 

First, I created some multiplication flash cards that contain most of the larger facts with which he still needs practice.  I will give them to him to take home and study.  But before that, I will ask him to carefully look at them, and see if some of them have the same answers on the back.  (Of course, numbers like 24, 36 and 48 will be products on multiple cards).  I will ask him to place like products in piles together.  Then, we will select one, for example, 24.  We will then review the three cards together; 12 X 2, 6 X 4, and 3 X 8.  I can then encourage my student to count out 24 2-color counters, and examine the varying ways that the set can be divided evenly, using the cards as an aid.  As each grouping is created, the student can record the fact on a chart.  I will also remind my student of the principle of multiplying a number by 1, and include that in the chart as well.  After this guided practice, I can introduce the related vocabulary.  If time permits, I can release more responsibility to my student, and let him try another number with multiple products with greater independence.  If anyone has any other fun, exciting ideas, I would love to hear them. 

Take care, and happy teaching. ;)

Friday, March 8, 2013

Using Context Clues Lesson Plan

Hi again, I'm back and feeling so behind. ;)  Here is a mini-lesson plan that I composed that I thought some of you might find useful.  It is designed for a reading workshop setting.  That method is becoming more popular recently, and I'm glad it is. 

Context Clues Lesson Plan

Content area:  Reading / Language arts         Grade level:  K - 2       Date:  Winter 2013

Students will use context clues to determine the meaning of unfamiliar words in a workshop context.

Standards addressed:
·        CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.1.4a Read grade-level text with purpose and understanding
·        CCSS.ELA-Literacy.RF.1.4c Use context to confirm or self-correct word recognition and understanding, rereading as necessary.

·        I Love You, Stinky Face by Lisa McCourt
·        Chart paper & markers
·        Classroom library from which students select their own books

Words to be taught:
·        Ferocious
·        Mend
·        Alien
·        Cyclops

Teacher Modeling and Guided Practice:
The teacher begins the mini-lesson by saying that we can often figure out the meanings of words by looking at the rest of the sentence, or the rest of the page.  The teacher then writes the following sentence on the chart paper or whiteboard:

My sister leaned over and whispered a special kipp in my ear.

The teacher reads the sentence, tracing the words with his/her finger, and underlines the word kipp.  S/he asks, “Can someone explain what is going on in this sentence?”  After someone retells the idea, the teacher asks students to lean over and whisper in their partner’s ear.  Then, the teacher asks for guesses asto what the word Kipp means.  Although the desired response is secret, other possible responses could include story, tale or joke.  The teacher asks, “How could you tell?”  A discussion of the other words should follow.  Then, try this example.

We picked a batch of beautiful fribs from the garden.

Repeat the steps above, focusing on the word fribs.  They could be any kind of fruit or vegetable or flower.  Students briefly discuss the context of the sentence.   Then, introduce the book, I Love You, Stinky Face by Lisa McCourt and ask students for predictions about the content.  The teacher begins to read the big book edition, or places th small edition on a document camera.  The teacher stops after reading the page depicting the ferocious alligator.  Ask students what the word ferocious means, and offer reasons that could include the large teeth, the size of the animal in the picture, or what they know about how alligators catch prey.  Repeat for the page depicting the need to mend the ripped-up sheets.  Ask students if they have had a parent fix clothes that have ripped.  For the words Alien and Cyclops, have students take more control of the process by pointing out the unfamiliar words and thinking aloud. 

Independent Practice:
Release students to read independently or with a partner, books on their independent reading level.  ESOL students may benefit from partner-reading the same book together, discussing each page.  Give each student two sticky notes, and advise them to mark pages where they find unfamiliar words.  Have students use the process discussed in the mini-lesson to attempt to figure out the meanings of the unfamiliar words, and write down thoughts on the sticky notes.  The teacher circulates and conferences with students, using a class checklist to identify students who have used the process successfully at least once.  Note:  some students may need to choose books that aren’t familiar to them so that they will encounter some new words.  It may be advisable to build in some time to select new books before beginning this lesson. 

Closing and Reflection:
After a period of independent reading, bring students back to the large group setting.  Give students the opportunity to turn and talk to a partner to discuss how they used context clues.  Then, invite volunteers to share their sticky notes and explain how they used context clues.  Continue to assess with the class checklist to determine who has used the strategy successfully.Add this strategy to posters or bookmarks containing comprehension strategies, or things that readers do, and continue to use it throughout the year. 

Analysis and Extension
Inevitablly, some students will need to revisit this strategy before it becomes an integrated part of the student’s reading process system.  This strategy would also make a great subject for a guided reading group lesson.  Students of similar abilities who are in need of it can receive reteaching of this strategy in guided reading groups.  Cut-up sentences and picture cards can be used as additional scaffolds for English learners. 

I taught this lesson to the English learner whom I tutor.  I used the above examples containing kipp and fribs for the introduction and guided practice.  Instead of using chart paper, I used cut-up sentence strips.  I would remove the fake word, as we discussed what type of word should replace it.  Since her reading level is a bit higher than the imaginary class presumed in this lesson, I deligated much of the reading to her.  She had difficulty pronouncing words which she hadn’t encountered before, especially the target words to be taught.  This is a conundrum that I encounter a lot with English learners.  There are times when it is appropriate to call on the cuing systems, and there are times when it is more appropriate to simply introduce a correct pronunciation.  I’m not always sure of these decisions.  Despite this, she was able to use context clues successfully in another, easier book which she read independently.  From this evidence, I gathered that the lesson was successful. 

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Teaching for Sustailable Development

Hello all, today, I wanted to share some things with you that I've been reading about lately.  Since I was in undergrad teacher prep, I've belonged to Kappa Delta Pi, an education honors society.  They serve pre-service, as well as in-service teachers, along with administrators and other educators.  They provide a wealth of professional development and other resources to their members. 

This month, I was reading an article by Rosalyn McKeown of UNESCO in The Record, the KDP journal.  McKeown discusses ways to give students a critical consciousness for participating fully in a democracy and a global society.  The goal of sustainable development is to solve problems in a manner that promotes the good of all humanity and life in general.  Sustainable development brings together the environment, society, economics and cultural diversity.  Teachers are encouraged to design multidisciplinary units of study.  For instance, geography and science can be used to explore biodiversity.  Social studies can be used to promote equity among all people.  Mathematics can help students understand very large and very small numbers, such as the PH levels of soil, or parts per million, referring to pollution in water.  There are many videos on the UNESCO website which discuss sustainable development in more detail, and I highly encourage all of you to check them out. 

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Currently March

Hi everybody, I can't believe it's March already!  In addition to my work with students, and Grad school, I'm now teaching a new music class for toddlers.  So, I'm staying very busy.  I haven't posted as much as I'd like to this month, but that will change, I promise. ;)    I so love what I do, and I look forward to coming up with more interesting ways to share it with you.