# And the Survey Says…

One objective of our math curriculum deals with Probability, Graphs and Statistics…uff-da! (a little Minnesotan for ya :) Probability concepts are super tricky for 4th graders! So what is a nerdy teacher to do? When it comes to difficult math topics, hands-on is usually a good approach. Instead of just showing my kids graphs and having them interpret and answer questions, we made our own!

First of all, the kids chose a survey question. Popular ones included: Favorite color, animal, soda, and TV show. They took their surveys to recess, home to their families and I scheduled to visit 2nd and 3rd grade classrooms to gather data. They were so cute and professional with their clipboards:

After we gathered our data, I taught the kiddos how to make a graph in Excel.  Since this was our first adventure with Excel, I decided to make a template that the kids would use to enter their data. (Download template here:  Survey Results) This was my survey about Ice Cream Flavors:

Ok, so we have learned about surveys, and my kiddos understand that data and graphs aren’t just “made up”, but  they actually mean something. Next up, we have to analyze our data! I know, analyzing sounds really boring…but there are ways of making it fun! Here is what we did:

I used my graph to model and explain the different types of questions that are asked when analyzing data:

Informational Questions–Which one got the most/least votes?

Comparing Questions–How many more people liked vanilla than cookies and cream?

Inference Questions–If we asked 100 more people, how many people would most likely choose vanilla?

Then my kids wrote three questions based on the information in their graphs. Having kids write their own math questions is always interesting and requires them to think really critically about the math concept. They also had to solve their own questions so they could make an answer key.

Now the fun begins continues! I put on some upbeat music and a timer for 10 minutes and all the kids used whiteboards to go around and solve the problems (kind of like Writer’s Roundtable). They used the answer key on the back to check their answers. Of course someone asked, “What if we get them wrong?” We added an element of accountability and each kid kept track of how many they got right on their board.

And the survey says: Probability, Statistics and graphs? EASY and FUN!

# Share it Forward: Week in Rap

Oh my goodness, this week was crazy! I felt like every day I went from dawn til dark without stopping…and then, when I crawled into bed I just didn’t have the energy in my tired fingers to type a blog post! (Insert big sigh and whiny voice here :)  But this weekend has cured my sleepiness, and here I am on Sunday morning with a big mug o’ coffee and nimble, rested fingers ready for typing :)

Up first: SHARE IT FORWARD! Yes, my little Sunday tradition where I share something I have read, found, or used during the week. This week it is resources for Current Events.

Social Studies is often sorely overlooked in 4th grade because of all the other TAKS tested subject areas… so recently my team and I have decided to insert a little “Current Event” block into our schedule to keep our kids up-to-date about what’s going on in the world.

Through out the week we use http://www.dogonews.com/ to talk about current events and watch current event videos. Then on Friday we will use Flocabulary’s Week in Rap to look at things that happened around the world here is the Week in Rap from this week:

We watched the Week in Rap for the first time on Friday  and my kids LOVED it. We had to watch it a twice and then we talked about all the events that were mentioned. It was only 10 minutes before lunch, but it sparked tons of good conversation. The Week in Rap is published each Friday and once you start showing it in your classroom your kids will beg you to watch it each week.

Note: Flocabulary also publishes other videos and they are all fantastic! Take a look at this rap about the 5 elements of a short story: Plot, characters, conflict, theme, setting –yes these are the 5 things that you’re gonna be needing when you’re reading or writing a short story that mad exciting! (trust me you will have this rap in your head!)

#### Some Other Awesme Flocabulary Videos:

MLK: Let Freedom Ring (Black History)

Year in Rap

# Wardrobe FAIL!

Yesterday we were back to school after Spring Break, and I certainly started the week off on the wrong foot! As I got out of the car, I spilled  coffee ALL down my shirt…FAIL! (Quick commercial for Tide To-Go Pen…worked a miracle!) Then about half way through morning I noticed there was a general “tittering” around the room. I finally stopped the lesson and demanded what was going on. One of my sweetest little girls raised her hand and said, “Miss, you’re wearing two different shoes.”

“Why yes, yes I am!” Second FAIL! Now, in my defense, I get dressed at about 5:45am, and this was the first day back after spring break so I was rather sleepy. Also, I had on long trouser pants, so when I looked down my feet looked like this:

You can hardly tell, right?

Ei, yi, yi! My kids got such a big kick out of this and I had a good laugh too. We decided that Friday would be mismatch shoe day in Miss O’s class.

Life sure does teach this nerdy teacher not to take herself too seriously!

# You can Haiku too!

Spring has sprung, and every spring we write poetry in 4th grade! We always start out small with Haikus. I love the simplicity or Hiaku poems, with other types of poetry sometimes I feel like I don’t quite “get it”, but with Haikus I always fee like I can be a poet!

We start out our unit with a little reading unit using Grass Sandals: The Travels of Basho by Dawnine Spivak. Grass Sandals is a lovely story about the Japanese poet, Basho and the kids love it. There are Japanese characters and a Haiku on each page and the illustrations are just perfect.

Next we tried our hand at Spring Haikus with very good results! Check out our Spring Haikus:

Go ahead:

write a spring haiku
playing with words and  senses
you know you want to

# Just another video about changing education…

This may seem strange in light of my post yesterday,  but my friend Emily sent me the link to this video, and I really like the visual way that it outlined the history of education in America and highlighted some of the changes that need to occur. So without further adieu… just another video about changing education:

One of my friends on Facebook also linked this article about teachers from the NY Times titled US is Urged to Raise Teachers’ Status…hmmm does anyone else agree?

# What I see.

Confession: I subscribe to dozens of educational blogs…and sometimes I get tired of the “education today is bad…” mantra.

I know as a progressive educator I should be passionately raising my fist in agreement that we have a broken system and fighting to change it. But sometimes oftentimes I get frustrated. So many blogs rag on teachers, “Bad teachers do this…”, “Teachers won’t change…” and I understand where they are coming from. Yes, there is a lot about education and teachers that needs to change, but what those blogs, videos and articles don’t show is that most teachers love their students and their profession and do not intentionally use outdated practices. I experienced this last year when I worked as our campus’ Technology Specialist. I started out the year frustrated with teachers for not wanting to change, but as the year went on, I realized that every single teacher wanted the best for his/her students and desperately wanted to integrate the technology and ideas that I was offering. The problem was they literally didn’t have the time in the day to learn how to teach differently. Some might paint these teachers as unwilling and stuck in their ways, but I saw a different side. I know how the world sees teachers, but I see something different.

### This is what I see:

I see committed teachers who arrive at school early, tutor struggling students for an hour after school (with no compensation), then stay until 6 o’clock planning and preparing for another day.

I see concerned teachers who use their personal resources to make sure their students have all of their physical needs met at school (buying food, clothing and toiletries)–then worrying about them every night.

I see caring teachers who give up their lunch breaks, evenings and weekends to eat with students, go to their basketball games and get to know their families.

I see compassionate teachers who cry at the end of the day because they feel like they still weren’t able to do enough.

I see relentless teachers spend countless hours trying to figure out how to reach a single students and will not give up.

I see  teachers who are putting their blood, sweat and tears into their students and practice, and still fighting an upstream battle.

I will keep on reading all those blogs and articles on education reform, and I still believe that education has a long way to go. I will continue to provide opportunities for teachers in my building to integrate technology and learn how to make their practice more relevant. But I will not talk down on those teachers, because  I know what I see.

# Spring Breaking

So Spring Break is here, and I have no plans! At least no plans in the way that people mean when they ask, “What are your plans for spring break?” I’m not going on vacation or visiting family or friends! Here is my to do list:

-Sit outside and read.

-Buy cowboy boots.

-Get a car wash.

-Finish crocheting blanket.

-Go for a walk/run everyday.

-Get a pedicure.

Yep, I’ve got plans :) I just felt like I needed a big giant sigh and a nap! So I’m spending my days reading and my evenings with friends, and it is wonderful!

I didn’t make it to the library on Saturday to pick up books for my week of relaxation, so on Sunday afternoon I picked up my favorite book of all time, Anne of Green Gables, by L.M. Montgomery to read while I sat outside on the patio.

Confession: I have read the Anne series countless times. (Like way more than 10xs, all 8 books) I used to reread them every summer from about 5th grade through high school. Now I just pick them up whenever the spirit moves. I love Anne. I love her imagination and passion for life. I love that she is always making mistakes and getting into “scrapes”. I think she is one of the greatest characters ever written…and that is a bold statement! The series follows Anne’s entire life from age 11 (about the age that I first read the series!) through motherhood, and as I’ve grown up I have been able to identify with her in different ways. I feel like she has been a friend and companion to me…so here is to Spring Break with my good friend Anne :)

Ps. My plan was to buy a Kindle over sprint break, but after this discussion on Facebook yesterday I’ve decided to wait and save for an iPad, which seems much more appropriate for a Nerdy Teacher :)

**Is there a book that you reread over and over again?

**Do you have an opinion on eReader options?

# Measurement 7: Discovering Capacity

Remember way back when I collected containers to teach capacity? Well I ended up with a GIGANTIC garbage bag full of milk cartons, shampoo bottles, juice containers, and water bottles and we finally used them.  I wish I would have taken a picture of all the containers arranged on my table, categorized  into baskets, you would have been impressed :) I divided my kiddos into groups of 3-4 and gave them a pep talk about this being a DISCOVERY and that they would need to stretch their minds and work together. Whew, they have a tough time with this concept, but in the end they did a great job with this discovery.

First things first, here is the page from the measurement packet:

Here is the activity:

1. Every group started out with a gallon of water, a dishpan to help with the mess factor, and a funnel (they have them 3/\$1 at Dollar Tree right now!)

2. Their task was to try to figure out how many ounces, cups, pints, quarts and half gallons are in a gallon…and then to figure out everything in between. How did they do this? They picked containers from the baskets and tried to figure it out!

3. When they figured out one, they traded in their container and tried to figure out another one.

Turkey baster=1 ounce!

Everyone in the group was important for this activity...and do you see her holding up her fingers to count? There were many do-overs because they fogot to count :)

This was a fantastic activity for critical thinking…my heart warmed when one of my girls ran up to me and said, “Miss, we figured out how many cups is in a quart, so we can just multiply now, huh?” Woohoo!! Did they get all the answers perfectly? No. But did they have a better understanding of capacity and the relationship between units? YES, YES, YES!!

Ps. If you are tired of measurement…an end is in sight because it is SPRING BREAK next week! Who knows what I will find to blog about when I don’t have my little darlings all day long :)

**Check out the other measurement activities here

# Cures from the Classroom

Today is my birthday! So what does a nerdy teacher do on her birthday? Give a benchmark test and clean up vomit!

Yep, today my kids had to take a benchmark math test…all. day. long. Booo. At about 9:30 one of my students raised her hand and said, “Miss, my stomach hurts.”

Confession: I rarely let my kids go to the nurse. I found out very quickly my first year of teaching that kids inexplicably get sick during tests and during any other undesirable activity. Basically, no blood, no vomit, no fever–no nurse pass! (Of course I make exceptions…usually I’m pretty good at dividing the really sick kids from the fakers) To ward of my constant complainers I have a bag of tricks to cure almost any complaint, and it works 87% of the time!

### Cures from the Classroom

Bottle of Lotion: Cures: Itches, redness, invisible skin ailments. Me: Here, put some lotion on it.

Wet Paper Towel: Cures:  “Sprained” [body part],  headache, anything that “hurts”, jammed, slammed or stepped on fingers, itches, redness, invisible skin ailments– can be used with the lotion if necessary.

Vaseline (the tube kind): Chapped lips, can be used interchangeably with the lotion.

Band-aids: Cures: Minor scrapes, paper cuts, or if the previous solutions don’t work.

Drinking Fountain: Cures: Stomach ache,  Sore throat, cough, hiccups, general not feeling good.

“Do you need to go to the bathroom?”: Cures: Stomach ache, general not feeling good

Trash can by desk: Cures: Stomach aches

Cough Drops (Make sure you get the “yucky” flavors: Cherry, original or menthol): Cures: Coughs (duh :)

Lay your head down for a minute: Cures: Any of the above.

**NOTE: If a students clearly is hurt or sick I always let them go to the nurse!**

Ok, back to my story. This student  looked like she felt yucky, so I told her to get a drink and gave her a pillow to lay her head down. A few minutes later…Blaaahhh! All over my pillow, the desk and then in a bucket I had set by her desk! Ewwww.

Our custodian doesn’t come in until noon. It was 9:30 with a classroom full of students trying to take a benchmark. Birthday or no birthday, I had to clean up that vomit. And, sadly it was one of these pillows that I made this summer…Pillow–>Trash. Oh well…

And to close off that kind of gross story, I just have to share this birthday card:

# Measurement 6: Perimeter and Area

We already learned the formulas and math of perimeter and area in math, so for perimeter and area in science, I wanted it to be all hands-on. Here is the page in our Measurement Packet:

There is nothing super special about this activity, except it takes perimeter and area off the paper and lets the kids experience it for themselves.

The really fun activity we did with perimeter and area was Perimeter and Area with Google Earth! If you don’t have Google Earth on your computers you can download it free here. If you haven’t used Google Earth with your kids before, then you will want to give your students some time to just play with it the first time, it is so fun! Since we have already used Google Earth, we jumped right into using the Ruler tool to find the Perimeter and Area of very large things!

The activity starts out with typing in the address of your school and measuring the length and width using the ruler tool on Google Earth:

The kids loved that they could switch between units and figure out how many centimeters or miles our building is!

Next, we flew to the Pentagon:

We used the “Path” tool to find the perimeter of the Pentagon. Since we are not quite ready to find the area of a pentagon, we just found the perimeter of this one, but if you have older students you could definitely have them find the area too!

We also used the path tool to find the perimeter of a very large, irregular shaped location: Lake Superior. Some kids were extremely particular using 20 or more points to make a perfect perimeter, others were more like me… (By the way, Lake Superior is about 63 million inches around!)

The rest of the activity has the kids measure the perimeter of the United States, Colorado, and a state of their choice. This turned out to be a very successful activity, and the kids had to have a very solid understanding of perimeter and area to complete each task.

**Find all my Measurement Packet Activities here.