• Math Activities

    The Amazing Math Race!

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    Reviewing for a math assessment is something I used to dread, both as a student and a teacher.  Completing problems from the textbook can be tiresome, and does not energize students to really learn the material.

    I have tried many different forms of review over the years (scoots, Jeopardy, etc.), but the most successful reviews have easily been from the Amazing Race Series.  This series of math reviews (currently geared towards 3rd, 4th, and 5th grades) combines reviewing math concepts and a physical task.  For example, while “visiting Italy” students are asked to complete four multiplication problems, and then they pretend to row a gondola for 30 seconds.  Or perhaps they are “visiting” the great city of Chicago!  After completing two in/out box charts, students compete in the Chicago Marathon.

    The excitement and competition within the classroom is infectious, and students are SO motivated to accurately complete the math problems.  The teacher also checks in with students after each set of problems to ensure students have mastered the skill before moving onto the task and next concept.  Students finish the “Amazing Math Race” by taking two careful laps around the classroom.  After students have completed the race they can begin to work on the challenge questions, which extend the concepts they’ve been working on.

    To try out The Amazing Math Race series risk free download the Factors, Multiples, and Prime/Composite FREEBIE!  If your students are engaged and finally enjoying a math review, be sure to check out the entire series!  Each review should take students 30-40 minutes, so it is perfect to complete in one class period!

  • Teacher Tips

    5 Tips for First Year Teachers

    Starting off your teaching career is an exciting, yet challenging time.  There is so much to do and learn: new curriculum, new classroom, and lots of names to learn.  The first year will definitely have its highs and lows, but it will all be worth it!  Since the first year of teaching can be such a crazy time, I have compiled a list of 5 Tips for First Year Teachers!

    1. Take time in (and out of) school to get to know your team.
    These are the people you will lean on and learn from over the course of the year.  They know the school, kids, and administration and they can help you navigate through your first year of teaching.  Ask them questions when you are unsure of something, and ask them to come observe you and give you feedback.  AND go observe them!  Some of the best professional development comes from observing your teammates.  It is also important to get to know your co-workers outside of the classroom—grab a drink with them, ask them about their weekend, or join a skeeball league, like a few of my co-workers and I did!

  • Book Review

    Number the Stars

    Number the Stars, by Lois Lowry, is a book I first read when I was in 4th grade.  It is a beautiful story about two girls, Annemarie and Ellen, growing up in WWII Denmark.  Annemarie’s family is Lutheran, and Ellen and her parents are Jewish.  The story follows the two little girls through a heart wrenching time in our world’s history, and displays what the true meaning of friendship is.  To add to the Number the Stars unit each year, my students go on a field trip to the Illinois Holocaust Museum & Education Center.  My 4th graders attend their Stand Up Speak Out program, which helps students, “develop social awareness and skills to demonstrate positive decision-making and responsible behaviors that allow for a deeper understanding of how the core values of respect, compassion, justice, and citizenship can lead to success in school and in life”

    On the field trip my students learned about injustice across the globe and learned how they can make small contributions to their community, which could in turn, result in spreading kindness and empathy across the world.  We also had the opportunity to share with our docent that our school is part of a charity to help build Catholic schools and sponsor children to attend the schools in Uganda.  It was a great concrete connection to what the students were learning about at the museum, and what the read about in Number the Stars.   In a world full of anger and hate, it is important to teach the message of inclusion and integrity.

    To learn more about what the Illinois Holocaust Museum has to offer, check them out here: Illinois Holocaust Museum Website

    And to purchase a copy of the wonderful novel, Number the Stars, click here.