Thursday, January 20, 2011

Measure Man

Measurement has to be one of my favorite topics to teach in math.  This week we've been working on measuring to the nearest 1/4 inch, which can be challenging for students.  We've already had a scavenger hunt and have practiced with standard and non standard measurements, so students got to show what they know with their Measurement Men.

To prepare for this task I precut a large variety of rectangles in different sizes and colors.  (I've learned to make all rectangles of a particular color the same size-this makes grading so much easier!) I like to use about 8 or 9 different colors and try to have a good variety of sizes of rectangles.  Since it is important for my students to be able to measure to the nearest 1/4 inch, I cut several rectangles with 1/4, 1/2, and 3/4 in their lengths, but to modify this activity all of the rectangles could be a whole number in length. 

In this task I have students create a person (sometimes animal) using various rectangles.  Students must design their person and then find the measurement of each rectangle they used for their Measurement Man.  Another modification to the task is to have students measure the length in two different units of measure to see the comparison.

My students had so much fun with this lesson, and I wanted to share some of their creations.

Measurement Cheerleader

What a pretty face!


Sunday, January 9, 2011

Government Project

Before Christmas break we completed our government unit in social studies. This has always been one of those units that I have a love/hate feeling towards. American Government has always been a very interesting topic to me, but I have found that it is a very difficult concept for students to grasp. I think that it is so abstract that students have a difficult time making connections to all of the concepts, and the vocabulary is very difficult for young student-there are some really big words for third graders in this unit!  It has taken me several years of experimenting with new activities and graphic organizers to finally feel like I can teach about government in a way that excites students, and I'm always looking for new fun ideas. One of my favorite culminating activities is the 3 Branches of Government Project, in government pack. In this project students complete a model or some type of display to represent the three branches of government and the levels of government at each level. My students really enjoyed the project, and I was so proud of everyone's completed work!

This student turned his project into an activity where other students had to unscramble the words of each branch of government.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Technology: The Good, The Bad, and The Ugly

My students and I LOVED using our new Smart Board last week.  I can't say that it will greatly change the way I teach, because I've never been a fan of lecturing or worksheets.  However, I was very impressed at how engaged my students were whenever we used the Smart Board.  I am interested to discover if this engagement continues after the novelty wears off.

However, I am quickly learning how many ways 22 8-year olds and 1 uncoordinated teacher can unplug or become tangled in the cords running from the projector, laptop, and Smart Board.  Wow!  I now see the huge need for a ceiling mounted projector.

Now that I've spent hours adapting my mini lessons for the Smart Board for the next couple of weeks, somehow my laptop case has cracked.  This means that I have to give up my laptop (and all of my new lessons I'm so excited to use) for a couple of weeks to get it fixed.  Oh well, such is technology.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Let The Journey Begin

Education is certainly a journey.  Eight years ago today, I began my own journey as an educator.  In those years, I have seen and experienced more changes in education than I ever imagined.   Each year I feel like a brand-new teacher-full of enthusiasm and new ideas, yet apprehensive about what new trends and students might be heading my way.  I am thankful to teach in a school that encourages authentic learning engaging and meaningful instruction.  I am excited to share some of my experiences of my own journey as a 3rd grade teacher.