Monthly Archives: November 2012

Black Friday Madness

I have heard of the craziness associated with Black Friday and never felt compelled to participate. This year, after thanksgiving dinner at in-laws, I persuaded my husband to stop by a store before we went home. It was on Thursday night, the day before Black Friday. I don’t know why, maybe just to check out the lines for myself, consider the deals, and see if there’s anything I may be missing out on.

We went to Target at 10 PM. It was packed with people, packed like at a concert. Wow, must be some amazing deals, I thought. And yes, they were amazing. Enormous toys were 50% off, games were buy 1 get 1 free, towels, DVDs, socks were very much discounted. But. Yes, this “but” is so meaningful it deserves a sentence all by itself. The line to the register was halfway throughout the store! I am not exaggerating! It wove in one aisle and out the next. I gaped all the way out the store. No deal is good enough to stay in line for several hours.

I can see how it could possibly be beneficial: if you aren’t missing family time, already know what gifts for Christmas you’ll buy, have strong enough willpower to not get sucked into buying all the unnecessary things that are a “good deal”, and have a few friends to keep you company in that long line, then maybe, MAYBE, it could be justifiable.

By the way, I went home, slept, and the next day got some great deals online. Ha!

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+ 1 or -1 : which way are you headed?

Are we stepping forward into growth or backward into safety?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=S829vll1Jn4&sns=em

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Math groups

Teaching whole group has its advantages and disadvantages. For math, the disadvantage is that as the math becomes more challenging, kids start to vary in their levels of understanding. Thus the idea to split math into two groups came to be. Working with a smaller group will allow more individualized instruction and can provide more insight into what each student knows.

Some second and third grade classes have great math centers/groups/rotations going. Since first graders are still developmentally not quite ready for high levels of independence, groups are challenging. I teach the first half of students while the other half are working on a review sheet of what was done yesterday and then move on to a math game, and then the two groups switch. In theory it sounds wonderful! And in reality some days are great! Often times I’m struggling with the first lesson and then teach it the second time around much more successfully.

There is a lot of effort going into figuring out which sheets and games kids can play. Since time is the most valuable resource that is available, sheets and games need to be relevant to the material and objectives being taught in math. If a worksheet or game is too challenging, kids cannot complete it independently, get distracted and cause noise, which reduces the effectiveness of the group concept. I’ve tried introducing DreamBox (an excellent online math program!) as a station for kids to go to as soon as their sheet is done, and it’s been an effective one. Will need to practice doing it more.

So far games the kids are playing are Pumpkin Patch, where they roll dice, add the partners, and move a counter to the total. Another game is five in a row bingo of rolling dice and placing counters. Some games can be played independently: having red/white counters, tossing them, writing down how many white/how many red, writing equation, and solving. Domino addition is fun: write the equation horizontally, then vertically. Plus a few other games that involve using dice, counters or dominos. For kids wanting an extra challenge, double dice are used. I’ll take pictures and insert them here so I’ll remember what the games looked like.

 

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Thanking the Custodians

Last week my first-graders had a descriptive writing assignment. The focus was on thank-you letters. Since the school district had a video of a custodian going about his daily work, that video turned into the opening for the assignment. Kids brainstormed things the custodians did: turned on lights and furnace, vacuumed carpets, mopped floors, cleaned cafeteria and bathrooms, restocked fresh toilet paper, cleaned up playground and sand field, moved in desks into classrooms, emptied trashcans, and took out recycling. The kids were surprised at how much the school was taken care of. After the video, when kids were in the cafeteria they were very aware of the custodian there.

The next day they worked on the final drafts. They erased, added words, corrected spelling, and signed their names. The kids put in a lot of effort into the sentences and especially into the picture at the top. In the afternoon the custodians were invited into our classroom for a quick “thank you party”. They introduced themselves and the kids said thank you. Each child read his or her letter to the appropriate custodian. Afterwards everybody had a cookie and a cup of juice.

It was such a touching, memorable experience. Kids got a chance to really think about things they often take for granted and thank the people who were responsible for their comfort. The custodians were beaming when the kids were reading their letters and handing them over. The recognition they received was unusual and significant and I was so glad to be a part of it!

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