Wednesday April 16, 2014
Yesterday's New York Times Review (4/13/2014) had an interesting piece entitled Raising a Moral Child. Surveys have shown that parents across cultural groups are more concerned with raising children who are kind and caring than with focusing on achievement. It's interesting specifically because parents' stated desire often has little to do with the way they are raising their children. They may have a picture of the kind of person they hope their child will be but it has little to do with the kind of child that they are raising.
I read it in part with great interest because my supervisor, in my annual review, gave me high praise for the kind of classroom environment I had created. I had good classroom management strategies in place that supported good behavior and high levels of student engagement and participation. And, she said, "Your students really seem to want to be there." I was pleased, of course, since it meant some highly coveted "4's" on my evaluation. As I read this article, it struck me as more than that: I had a sense of the kind of student I wanted to create, and I do what I need to create them. I also value caring, authentic individuals. Mind you, I don't care for "nice" because "nice" too often leads to that good old Southern "Bless her heart" niceness . . . the "Bless her heart" is usually the prelude to a knife in the back.
At the same time, a flurry of upper respiratory infections left us short of substitutes on a couple of days (Pollen season has been long and brutal this year in Nevada, thanks to our warmer than usual winter.) I sold my prep periods to cover two third grades. I was appalled. The students were mealy mouthed, finger pointing, blaming and generally very unpleasant to their peers. I did my best by stepping up the praise for the behavior I wanted and quickly pointing out the behavior I did not: I put up a smiley face and frowny face on the boards and started Read More...
Sunday April 13, 2014
I have found that the best way to help students with disabilities understand the abstractions of math is to give them lots and lots of hands on experience. I recommend some commercial resources in my article on Rational Numbers, but I think the ones your students make for themselves may be just as valuable, if not more invaluable.
I created some free printable fraction pages with circles and squares. They are the same size, so you can practice making equivalencies using the different fractional parts. I also recommend running them on different colors of cardstock so you students will have "color coded" fractions: all the halves the same colors, etc. The article includes some small group activities you can do with the fraction pieces to support understanding and students success.
Monday March 31, 2014
My students just read "Fun with Fish" in our reader, and it seemed a great opportunity to pull out some old resources. I did an ocean unit at ESY two years ago, and realized that using some of those resources would engage my students and could be expanded to support Nevada science standards, learning to sort animals (ocean animals in this case) by characteristics, make observations and generally learn more about ocean environments.
I put up an article about a "stuffed fish" and a "jelly fish" that I created to hang from the ceiling. They turn the classroom into a lively underwater environment. I hope you might use them to create an underwater environment in your settings, as well.
Sunday March 30, 2014
The new Common Core State Standards have students mastering skills with fractions in third grade: for students with disabilities, the demands are way too much. They are expected to compare fractions, find equivalent fractions and add and subtract fractions. Daunting for general education students, but downright impossible for our students, unless they have a firm foundation of understanding. In a new article, Fractions as a Primary Foundation for Rational Numbers, suggests ways to acquaint and then build skills for students with disabilities.