Posted in Current Posts

Math to Math Connections

As a former classroom teacher, I have studied, taught, lived, and breathed reading connections: text to text, text to self, text to world, and at GCS we have added text to media. Reading material connects with other reading material, people and events. When we help students make  connections, they comprehend and remember more about their reading.

For the last two weeks I”d been busy teaching Math Camp. My kids were struggling with area. We modeled area with manipulatives, we drew models on graph paper, we defined area in our own words, found the area of the ceiling, floor, and walls by counting the SQUARES that made up these pieces,  and we found the area of our white board  (I was  cutting hundreds of little squares at 7:30 am).  But we couldn’t transition this info to real world problems. Continue reading “Math to Math Connections”

Posted in Current Posts

Operation Innovation!

“Mrs. Kane, I’m bored!

There is nothing to do out here,” said a sweaty little sweetie at recess.

I looked in disbelief at the multilevel brightly colored playground equipment. How could she be bored? Yet, I heard this complaint at every recess.

It wasn’t always this way.

A decade earlier, our school did not have a playground. The kids played in a big grassy empty lot at the back of our property (don’t judge). They had a whole “tent town” thing going on. They used sticks, rocks, and abandoned lumber, along with other flotsam and jetsam they found in the grass to build the forts. The only problem we had were occasional turf wars.  They were busy and not bored.

They were innovative.

Innovation:a new method, idea, or product, to make  a beneficial change, to introduce something as if new, teaching/allowing/enabling students to take a new idea, an old idea, someone’s idea and make it better.

I’d like to add my own definition: Innovation is not an isolated project or activity; it is a philosophy or “teaching worldview.” It’s allowing children to use 19th century skills (creating, carving, inventing, crafting, composing, designing) in 21st century classrooms.

Innovation is what we do when we have a bad snow storm and lose power-we become innovators instead of consumers. (Admit it. Your kids invent all kinds of games to play when the power goes out).

How innovative are you?

Innovative Teacher Test:

  1. I try new things in my classroom. I am brave.
  2. I make mistakes and my kids know it.
  3. I am transparent. I ask for help when I need it and admit my mistakes (See number 2)
  4. I use technology as a tool.
  5. My classroom is connected.
  6. I am a lifelong learner. Each day I learn something new about education.
  7. My students have voice and choice.
  8. I am very likely to learn it on Sunday and try it on Monday!
  9. My lesson plans are a living breathing document.
  10. I always have a project going.
  11. My kids talk as much or more than I do.
  12. I am one of several teachers in my classroom.
  13. Failure is ok in my class.
  14. I praise process instead of product.
  15. I share ideas with  others.

If you answered yes to ten or more items, you are on your way to becoming  an innovative teacher! If you answered yes to less than ten questions, don’t get discouraged. Get your growth mindset on, pick an item from the list above and start researching!

Check out my Resource Page for innovation resources!

Do you have another item that should be added to the Innovative Teacher Test? Please leave me a comment below. I’d love to chat with you!

By Mary Kay Kane

all rights reserved. copyright 2017

 

Posted in Current Posts

Gritty Kids

What makes an excellent student?

A thought provoking question that requires a little thought. When I was in grade school, I thought I knew the DNA of an excellent student.

  1. They always finished their work before EVERYONE.
  2. They were fast.
  3. They got straight A’s. Always.
  4. Everything was easy for them.
  5. They NEVER made mistakes.
  6. They effortlessly completed science projects by themselves.

I saw these excellent super-students and I knew I wasn’t one of them. I slogged through my assignments, often the last one done. I wasn’t fast. I never ever received straight A’s. Work wasn’t easy for me—it required editing, rewriting and reflection. Repeat. Sigh.

Then I hit high school, which gave way to college and I witnessed a few of the super students crash and burn. What happened? All the promise. All the potential. Gone.

What were they missing? Some needed piece of knowledge or revolutionary learning method? Nope.

Struggle. Grit. Perseverance. Failure.

They never learned to struggle through hardship to find the elusive answer, hovering just beyond their fingertips. They never had to persevere through writers block or brain cramps. Most importantly, they never learned how to fail and how to get back up after failing and how to grit it out until they finally make it to the finish line worn ragged tired proud.

What makes an excellent student?

Worried parents often ask.

My child struggles. My son has to work hard. My daughter asks so many questions.

Good. They will make it. They are learning what it takes to thrive in real life. So stop trying to make it easy for them. Teach them everyone doesn’t get a trophy. Quit going before your child solving every problem and protecting them from the hardship and struggle that will only serve to make them stronger. Quit using the four-letter “f” word—FAIR. Life is not fair, so teach your kids get up, get going and struggle on.

I’d rather my students be gritty than super smart.

What do you think? What makes an excellent student? Leave me a comment below. I’d love to chat with you!

By Mary Kane

all right reserved. copyright 2017.

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

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-Representational-Abstract

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, 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

http://www.theprincipalsdeskblog.com