Posted in Current Posts

Shhh! Don’t Tell! Inquiry-Based Learning

Step One:

Ok. Open your envelopes, sort your numbers and discover how the numbers relate to each other, I said to the 5th grade class. The envelopes contained slips of paper printed with two base numbers and their factors. The base numbers are underlined and each set is in a unique font. I was using inquiry-based learning method with my class.

“Inquirybased learning (also enquirybased learning in British English) starts by posing questions, problems or scenarios—rather than simply presenting established facts or portraying a smooth path to knowledge. The process is often assisted by a facilitator.” Wikipedia

Continue reading “Shhh! Don’t Tell! Inquiry-Based Learning”

Posted in Current Posts

21st Century Classroom

Seventeen years ago, we were preparing to enter the 21st century.

If you’re over 40 you probably remember stockpiling canned goods, bottled water and beef jerky, waiting  for the giant cyber crash, while hiding in your basement (something to do with 100101010 binary computer code stuff I think). It never happened. Continue reading “21st Century Classroom”

Posted in Current Posts

Are You CRA-CRA?

So I’m on day three of being sick and I’ve had tons of time to resear—I mean rest on the couch. While I’ve been resting, I’ve watched video three of Number Sense.  In video 3, Christina Tondevold is teaching about CRA method of presenting information.


Concrete: hands-on manipulatives to represent a number concept or situation such as three red discs and four green discs to make seven discs.

Representational: a drawing or a model made by the child of a number concept or situation such as students draw three red balloons and four blue balloons to make seven balloons.

Abstract: symbols only such as 3 + 4 = 7

So what’s so CRA-CRA about this concept? We’ve been doing this for years, right? The CRA-CRA part is: we need to do these three concepts all at once, all together. Continue reading “Are You CRA-CRA?”

Posted in Current Posts

10 Frames and Rekenreks!

This old teacher loves to learn new tricks!

It’s Martin Luther King Jr. Day and I was talking to a colleague. What else do teachers do on a day-off from school but call each other and talk about school? We were discussing a groundbreaking math webinar on numeracy concepts  to which we both had  just listened.

Between the two of us we have over 45 years of teaching experience. We know all there is to know about teaching math, right?  Wrong!

So what keeps us new? What keeps us fresh? The drive to learn and know and learn some more. Watch on Sunday and we’re trying it on Monday! That’s what I’m talking about. Fearless. In your face kind of teaching.That’s where Christiana comes in.

I don’t know how I discovered Christina Tondevold,

but I am sure it was a God thing. She is going to leave her mark  on this present educational era. Every teacher, administrator, parent, grandparent, teacher’s aid etc. needs to watch Christina’s video series on number sense.

Please click on the link below and view session 1,

4 Early Numeracy Concepts. You just may figure our why, at age 47, you’re still counting on your fingers ; ) ! Me too.

Click on the live blue link below to access the video (the pic is just a screen shot). Don’t forget to leave me comment in the reply section below. I know you will have a lot to say when video is finished!

Video 1: 4 Early Numeracy Conceptsscreenshot-2017-01-16-16-11-23

Thanks for checking in today! Go order your Rekenreks!

By Mary Kay Kane

All rights reserved. copyright 2017

Posted in Resources

The Cult of Pedagogy

Ignore the name.

This website is one of my favs for current educational best practices. Jennifer covers everything from reading strategies, 21st century methods,  back to school activities, to latest trends in education. She will challenge you and open your eyes to what’s tried and true and new and good.

Here’s  the link to Jennifer’s amazing website:

The Cult of Pedagogy

Let me get you started with a Youtube vid on one of my favorite practices: Inductive Learning.

As always, I’d love to chat with you, so leave me a message down in the reply section!

By Mary Kay Kane


Posted in Current Posts, Uncategorized

Projects vs. PBL

We all remember doing projects in school.

Sugar cube igloos… celery sticks in colored water … posters … papier mache stuff (why was this a good idea?). The late nights, the frantic last minute trips to the store for poster-board and tooth picks. The tears. The fits. The frustration. And that’s just the parents.

You know what I’m talking about.

As a parent, the word project struck great fear in my heart. The innocent little word project really means PARENT PROJECT. And science fair meant SUPER PARENT PROJECT.

Projects are an after thought, an add on after the kids have done the worksheets, quizzes and tests. Projects look good in the hallways and they impress school boards, but are they a valuable use of class time?

I admit, I’ve assigned a few projects in my day.

Then I discovered PBL, aka Project Based Learning. Let’s define PBL

PBL is:

  • the main course not the dessert ( John Larmer and John R. Mergendoller  at the Buck Institute for Education 2010)
  • driven by essential questions such as how does the length of an airplane’s wings affect its flight; can taller people run faster than shorter people; or how can we help people who are trapped in slavery?
  • designed to teach core content
  • a learning method that requires collaboration, research, critical thinking and many other higher level thinking skills such as synthesizing, inferencing, analyzing, drawing conclusions, comparing and contrasting.
  • the creation of something ( an artifact, method, product, process) as a result of a learning experience
  • giving students voice and choice in the learning process
  • reflecting  and making changes
  • publicly implementing, publishing or presenting what was learned or created

PBL is messy, risky and noisy. It requires perseverance, grit and determination. PBL takes time, energy and resources, but the pay-offs are huge.

It makes me wish I could go back to school all over again.

Do you have any project memories from school? Please leave me a comment in the reply section below. I’d love to chat with you!

by Mary Kay Kane

all rights reserved. copyright 2016