Monday, 24 February 2014

Math Racks

On January 27-28, 2014 Several Hutterite teachers (Sandra from Good Hope and Kathy from Odanah) and I had the opportunity to attend a fabulous math PD at Steinbach, MB.  Cathy Fosnot presented her Mathematics Contexts for Learning to us as well as her Year Long Resources.  All of us came away with a wealth of information, ideas and activities...
To teach early number sense, one of the resources Cathy uses is a Math Rack. Or should I say math racks as she uses three different ones, starting from the 5-bead rack, moving up to 10, then 20-bead rack.
Following is her Math Rack Progression:

5 Rack

  • quick images on part/whole

10 Rack

  • quick images of right side only, privileging the 5 structure 
  • combinations that make 10
  • compensations
  • showing part, determining what's hidden

20 Rack

  • quick image doubles, starting with 5 + 5 as a helper, privileging the 5/10 structure
  • quick  images doubles +/-
  • compensations
  • making tens
  • easy ones and hard ones
  • one addend shown, imaging the other
  • minuend shown, imaging the subtrahend
  • just written problems, imaging the rack

Each  participant also left the session with a 20-bead rack.  Since I wanted to start my class with a review of the 5 and 10 bead racks, I had some locally made.  My sister Sonia had purchased a beaded car seat some time ago, so my mom took it apart for me. Since I had taken a picture of the racks Cathy used for her demonstration.  I showed it to our mechanic and in short order he created 5 and 10 bead racks for me as well as rods for the 20 bead racks.  I took the rods over to our carpenter shop and tada! I had 20-bead racks.
Thanks Sonia, mom, Darren and Don for your contributions.  To quote a character in one of Cathy Fosnot's books, "A real community project!"

After a few 5-10 minute session, my kindergarten students are getting to be quite proficient with  the combinations of 5.  My grade ones are using to 10-Bead rack to learn facts of 10 and my third graders are working on facts beyond 10 with the 20-bead rack.  All told, I find the Math Racks to be very useful tools indeed!


Monday, 3 February 2014

Winter Wonders

During the cold, sometimes blustery month of January, my primary and intermediate art classes created projects to coincide with the weather.  Now our hall walls give one a chilly feeling.

 Winter Trees

My grades 4 - 7 class created winter trees.  We first read about Dutch artist Hendrick Avercamp and looked at an example of his painting as pictured in The Usborne ART Treasury by Rosie Dickins.  Then we created our own versions.   It took a couple of classes as we did the landscape one day and had to leave it to dry.  During the next art class we painted the trees using watery black paint.  We dropped globs of paint on our paper where we wanted our tree trunks to be and blew through a straw, first upwards to create a trunk, then diagonally to create branches, shrubs and bushes.  We didn't always have control of the direction the branches went, so we had some surprises.


The Best Snowman Ever

My grades 1 - 3 art project was inspired by Kathy Waldner's blog (not sure what her blog spot is).  We read The Best Snowman Ever by Margery Cuyler, then proceeded to draw our own snow people with oil pastels on blue construction paper.  The girls' people turned into queens, princesses and the like, while the boys stayed more traditional, with the exception of one snow-soldier.  All of them seem rather happy.


Mosaic Snowflakes

This art class started with a discussion of warm and cool colours and how they make is feel.  I used the book 50 Christmas things to Make and Do by Minna Lacey and Rebecca Gilpin, another Usborne book.  Contrary to it's title, this book has almost as many wintery ptojects in it as it does Christmassy ones.  Beforehand I cut shades of blues and purples into various sizes triangles.  Students were given 12 x 18  pieces of white art paper and the triangles, were instructed to designed snowflakes.  The results are quite "cool" to say the least.

Sunday, 2 February 2014

Mapping Sequence

1) Naming the Continents:

My primary class has been working on mapping skills since coming back from Chritmas break.  After reading Follow that Map by Scot Ritchie, we looked at the world map and went through the continents.  To help us learn their names, we watched "The Continents Song" on YouTube. (Thanks to Kathy at My Spare Moments for the idea.) 

2) Tear Paper World:

Next, I provided each student with a sheet of 11 x 17 paper.  We folded it in half and tore along the fold line.  We put one half aside and folded and tore the second one in half.  We kept folding and tearing one of the halves until we had 7 pieces of paper, the smallest 2 being the same size.

We again looked at the world map and compared and ordered the continents according to sizes.  As well, we took note if the shapes of the continents were tall or wide.  We labeled the pieces of papers starting with Asia as the largest one, down to Europe, one of the smallest ones, being careful to turn the papers either to portrait (tall) or landscape (wide).  E.g. Asia is a wide continent, so we turned the paper to landscape.

Next, we discussed where the continents are situated in relation to the equator.  I provided each student with a metre long piece of yarn, to represent the equator.  Using the world map as a model, they laid out their yarn on there tables and placed their "continents" above, below or on the string as they appear on the map.  We used the direction words throughout the the activity, as well as the continent names.  For several days, at the beginning of each social studies class, my students repeated the above activity, becoming more and more familiar with the layout of the "world", which was necessary for the next lesson.

3) Paper Mâché Globes

I mixed 2 parts water white glue with 1 part water and cut newspaper into 1-2" strips.  My students dipped the strips into the watery glue and covered the balloon with several layers of strips, criss-crossing as much as possible.  It took us 2 classes to get it hard enough with students working in pairs.

4) Painting and Labeling:

The following day, the students again to took out their  "continents", drew the shapes of the continents on them and cut them out to use as patterns.  We traced them on with markers as pencil was difficult to see on the newspaper.  They painted the continents green and oceans blue.
During the next class, they glued labels of the continents, oceans and the equator in the appropriate places.  Finally, we invited one of the taller teachers to come and hang our creations from our fluorescent light.  My students proudly admire their work each time they enter the classroom and eagerly tell all visitors the process of the project.  
Not only do we have the best of both worlds in my classroom now, we actually have the best of THREE worlds, as that is how many paper mâché globes we created!