Wednesday, April 11, 2012

Spring Time Fun in Zombie Land

 It is a Wednesday for celebrating! 

I am officially planned out to the last day of school. Down to the lesson. Only 8 weeks left? Where did it go?

Beautifully warm spring weather has reappeared. American Idol was AMAZING tonight. Plus I scored a DOUBLE STRAWBERRY Starburst pack from my kids' Easter stash! That screamed a blog post right there.

The weather was in fact so nice, that I interrupted our daily bike/walk to take some late afternoon pictures. Yay! Mother's Day presents!!

See, this here is why I rarely waste the time and money to get professional pictures taken. The boys take such nice photos outside when it's spontaneous and the light is just right. And I don't have to waste half a day planning outfits and stuffing chocolate down their throats to get them to behave for a photographer.

 OK, maybe not this one. What a ham.

Ethan actually did enjoy being shoved in a tree. He didn't want to get down.

Maybe he has some Katniss Everdeen spirit in him.

Here's some actual math-related content! My small-group math skills class has all voted that they need to review order of operations most desperately, which flows nicely after the exponents we just finished.

We are making PEMDAS foldables, but a little differently than the usual. Some of my students made them last year, but with one tab for each of the PEMDAS letters. I don't agree with this; it leads too often to students solving multiplication before division, and addition before subtraction. (Note the M/D tab, and A/S tab)

It's actually kind of a funny story... and a little embarrassing to admit... but my first year teaching, I totally forgot about the whole "multiply/divide goes left to right" and "add/subtract goes left to right" part. I taught them to use the PEMDAS order literally in order.  Which led to a lot of the exact backward solving that we want them to avoid!!  I hope I didn't scar their mathematical brains for life :(

D'OH!!! First year teacher gaffe :/  We all have 'em.

ANYhoo... these foldables offer a great visual/graphic organizer to store examples of each type of operation, and extra space under each flap to write related problems and examples. And here's my little twist... I have them sit with a chip or coin on top of the PEMDAS letter that they are on, so they can keep track of each step as they go. Once they complete a step, or if that step is not present, they bump their chip down to the next PEMDAS letter and check their equation again. 

Some teachers prefer "GEMDAS" to "PEMDAS" because the "G" refers to "Grouping Symbols". But I grew up with "PEMDAS" and "Please excuse my dear Aunt Sally", and it's hard to get my brain to switch. So I tolerate either one from my students. Note- I still draw all the "grouping" symbols on the "P" tab of my foldable.

My goal is for students to have a little lunch sack of interactive study materials to take home for state test/unit test/NWEA test review, on their own, just because it's fun. We've also made exponent quilt "squares" with common errors in powers of 2, and exponent "cubes" with common errors in powers of 3. Students chose their own most common errors in numbers 1-10 for both projects, to make them more meaningful. And I'm already seeing improvement in their number/operation skills in under 3 weeks!

Wahoo for Spring Time fun!