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DIY: Fraction Mosaic Board 0

Posted on February 19, 2015 by Allison Dyjach

In my math curriculum class in teacher’s college we were tasked with creating our own math resources that we would use in a classroom of our own. It took me a while to choose a concept to focus on, but being the crafty person that I am, I knew that I had to create something with colours and paper and moving parts–something that was exciting and hands on! After doing some research (I mean searching around Pinterest, really) I had come up with the topic that my math manipulative would cover: fractions! Fractions seem to be a tricky concept that start in Grade 1 and continue all the way until the intermediate grades, so I figured that I couldn’t go wrong with creating a math resource that could be tweaked to work with almost any grade and aid in one of the more abstract concepts in math.

So, I present to you…a fraction mosaic board (inspired by this activity found originally on Pinterest)! I loved that students got to have fun and create something and then find the math behind it, so I wanted to make my own reusable version of this project and share it with you! I promise, this board was very easy, affordable, and quick to make. It took me about 1 hour and cost $10. And I swear you can do this even if you wouldn’t call yourself a crafty person.


 

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Supplies:

  • Cookie sheet (can find at almost all dollar stores now!)
  • Stick on magnet strips
  • Construction paper (4-5 colours)
  • Scissors
  • Washi tape
  • Permanent marker

 

  1. Measure the width of the magnet strip and cut one strip of each colour of construction paper to match the size of the magnets.
  2. Cut the magnet strips into 3 inch long pieces (this will help flatten out the pieces and make adhering the construction paper much easier).IMG_0026
  3. Remove the tape from one magnet strip to reveal the sticky side.
  4. Take one strip of the construction paper and line up the end with the magnet strip. Stick the paper to the magnet.
  5. Cut remaining paper off of the end of the magnet strip. Then, cut the magnet into smaller mosaic pieces (I cut mine in about ½ inch long pieces to make squares)
  6. Repeat until you have the desired amount of mosaic pieces in each colour. I played around with the amounts a lot, but I wanted numbers that would be easy to divide and reduce so I ultimately used 16 blue, 12 red, 14 yellow, 10 green, and 8 orange = 60 pieces in total (tweaked a little bit from the picture below).                                                              IMG_0027IMG_0028IMG_0029
  7. Once mosaic tiles are complete, decorate the cookie sheet however you wish. I used Washi tape to create a table and permanent markers to create titles. In the left column, students can store their tiles, in the centre they can create a picture, and on the right they write their fractions that they made with a dry erase marker

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This can be modified and used for almost any grade when looking for practice with fractions. I also created an accompanying “instruction sheet” that I would most likely put right beside this to make it a centre. And then for older grades, I would suggest extending this activity with follow up questions. I created some questions at a grade 4 level dealing with reducing to lowest terms and looking at equivalent fractions. Accompanying questions could easily be made up for adding or subtracting the fractions, multiplying and dividing, and almost any other related fraction task.

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Feel free to send me a message or leave a comment if you would like a copy of the accompanying documents or have any questions about this DIY! If you have any other fraction, mosaics, or cookie sheet activities that you have done with your students, share them below–we always love to hear new ideas!

 

Allison Dyjach is a Faculty of Education student at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. Connect with her on Twitter @AllisonDyjach, or follow more of her Bachelor of Education experiences on Instagram @allisondyjach

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Quick Tip For Tomorrow: Snap Cube Factors 0

Posted on February 09, 2015 by Allison Dyjach

We all know that getting students to learn the factors that go into a multiplied product can be a tricky task, and simply writing out a list, reading it out loud, and trying to memorize it by rote is not going to help a student truly understand what this “factor” thing even is. This past week, I was blown away by this seemingly simple task that my mathematics curriculum professor handed to us. With only a set of snap cubes and a number line, my fellow teacher candidates and I were completely engaged in this problem solving activity.

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Phase 1 complete; all of our factors lined up!

First, each group of 4 was given a bag of snap cubes and a number line drawn out on a strip of chart paper. Then, we hear, “blue cubes represent the number 2. Put a blue cube on every number where 2 is a factor.” Simple enough. Next, we move on to green, which is 3, yellow for 4, red for 5, and so on up to 10. We stack all of the cubes on top of each other to make a bright and interactive representation of all of the factors for numbers 1-24.

Now, here is where the brain switches its function and the real application comes in. We are told to keep all of the cubes connected as they are, but shuffle them around and mix them up for a minute, and then…place them back on each correct space, just as they were. This was a little bit more difficult than anticipated, but eventually by working through each number and finding the relationships between the different colours (as well as some prompting questions from the professor…), we were able to get the model back to its original state.

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Phase 2: time for some problem solving!

After leaving class, I knew I had to share this activity. What a rich learning task for students and a great way to dissect what is actually behind a factor and a product. The only way to truly learn and understand math is to manipulate its components, apply them and problem solve with them. I could see an entire lesson being based on this activity, because if it was able to get a bunch of 20-something teacher candidates’ brains working in overdrive, I’m sure it could be just as engaging in a younger classroom.

Do you have any go-to activities when you tackle factors with your students? Would you use this activity in your class? Share your thoughts with us in the comments or send a tweet our way @RookieTeacherCA!

 

Allison Dyjach is a Faculty of Education student at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. Connect with her on Twitter @AllisonDyjach, or follow more of her Bachelor of Education experiences on Instagram @allisondyjach

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A Rookie Introduction: Our Newest Contributor…Michael Marchione 0

Posted on January 30, 2015 by Michael Marchione

Hey! My name is Michael Marchione, a new Teacher Candidate at Brock University. I’m currently completing the Concurrent Education program with my Bachelor of Education at the Junior / Intermediate level. I am super pumped to join an awesome group of rookie teachers, and I will embrace the rookie name! I have been fortunate enough to meet many great people along my personal journey to making a difference in this world, and I look forward to growing and learning alongside such great communities!

Michael Marchione

Michael Marchione

In the last few years, I began speaking up about mental illness and mental health awareness in our world. Since then, mental health has become a huge passion of mine. As an emerging educator, I fully intend to make mental health education an integral component of my educational philosophy and general way of life. In doing so, my aim is to raise awareness and reduce stigma surrounding mental health and to foster communities of acceptance and safety in our schools and growing communities. You can look forward to seeing and hearing a lot about my experiences with introducing and reinforcing mental wellness and positive spaces in schools – I’m so excited!

On top of being a huge advocate, I whole heartedly desire to live by the values of a life-long learner. I want to continue to learn and grow alongside my students and fellow educators. While I may be my own worst critic at times, I value making mistakes and learning from experience and feel that sharing stories and narratives is crucial to learning as a community. And so, you can expect a lot of storytelling and reflecting from my end, and hope that you share and find value in my experiences as I aim to do the same from yours! Here’s to being a rookie teacher!

Take care everyone ☺

@marchionemv

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It’s that time again, Ontario Teachers! 0

Posted on January 17, 2015 by Natasha

4TIPS FOR WRITING REPORT CARDS

That’s right. Time to get out the assessment and evaluation binders, your anecdotal notes, observation records, and conference guides.  Term 1 is coming to an end here in Ontario, and elementary teachers are going to be hard at work planning and prepping the school day and writing report cards.

This means taking a good look at our kids. How they are progressing in all their academics. But more importantly, their Learning Skills.  Since September, how have they been developing these life long learning skills? From organization to self-regulation, responsibility to collaboration, independent work to initiative, it’s our job to evaluate.

I must admit, this time of year sometimes brings me to an odd place, where I contemplate how we assess — I often find it hard to assign ONE final grade, ONE final “E”, “G”, “S”, or “N.” But alas, it’s our job.

On top of an evaluation, our comments are what truly paint a picture of each student and give families a look into life in Kindergarten to Grade 8.

Thankfully, there are strategies, tips, and tricks to thrive
during report card writing time as a Rookie:

  1. Ask for help. Get in touch with a mentor, teaching partner, grade or division team and collaborate. We talk to our kids about the power of collaboration – so let’s not only talk the talk, but walk the walk. Most experience teachers will have a comment bank that can be tweaked or edited to reflect the current school year. If not, starting from scratch with a team is also an option – after all, 2 heads are better than 1.
  2. Reach out to your PLN (i.e., Ask for help 2.0). If you are involved in NTIP, Facebook groups, or have contacts in the industry – get in touch with them. They can either provide you with some help first hand, or encourage you through this time of writing.
  3. Check for school board or ministry documents. Each year, my school board publishes a great”Guide to Creating Meaningful Report Card Comments.” In this document, teachers are informed about formatting, qualifiers, language, and balancing Strengths & Next Steps.
  4. Search Online. There are other guides available out there.  About a year ago, I came across a site called Student Evaluator. “The Student Evaluator was created by teachers, for teachers. An idea that began over 5 years ago, the Student Evaluator has brought together a team of teachers, learning advisers, web design specialists, and software engineers to create an evaluation tool for teachers. We realized that there had to be a better and more efficient way to accurately assess and create report cards for our students, and so we built software to do just that.” I have used their service to help me create meaningful comments.  


Until the end of January, Student Evaluator is offering our
readers a 20% discount by using the code JAN15.
 

Student Evaluator

Happy Writing, Rookie!
Reach out to the Rookie Teacher Team if you need

someone to talk to about Report Cards or any other EduQuestion.

Comment below, join us on Facebook.com/TheRookieTeacher, or send us
a Tweet @RookieTeacherCA & sign up for our Newsletter!

 

 

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Resource Bank: The Classroom Tourist 0

Posted on January 16, 2015 by Allison Dyjach
Screen Shot 2015-01-16 at 1.10.08 PM

Just some of the wide variety of topics that are addressed on theclassroomtourist.net

Do you ever wish that you could take a week off to tour around schools and explore everyone else’s classrooms? Gather new ideas for seating plans, anchor charts, and bulletin boards? Well, the Limestone District School Board has made that (almost) possible! The Classroom Tourist (www.theclassroomtourist.net) blog is a relatively new project started by the Limestone District School Board K-12 Program Team, which features blog posts filled with innovative ideas and advice for Primary-Junior educators. The group travels throughout the LDSB to interview teachers or teaching teams and literally acts as a tourist in their classroom. They take pictures, ask many questions, and learn all about some of the teacher’s favourite teaching techniques and classroom setups. Also, the site is set up to easily search for tours based on a large set of tags, so you can find classrooms that specifically highlight math resources, new ways to create success criteria, and more.

If you are ever feeling a lack of inspiration or want to try a new classroom setup but don’t know where to begin, I highly recommend going on a few “tours,” they are sure to get the gears moving again.

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Thanks 2014 0

Posted on January 01, 2015 by Natasha

As we head into the New Year, I wanted to take a moment to say THANK YOU!  Thank you to all our contributors: Andrew Blake, Lauren Hughes, Sarah Lowes, and Allison Dyjach.  Thank you for your continuing commitment to the vision that started three years ago.

Thank you to our readers – we are very gracious that you keep coming back to our website, Facebook page, follow us on Twitter & Pinterest.  The Rookie community seems to be growing DAILY.

We are looking forward to adding new contributors for the new year – but you’ll have to keep reading to find out just who is joining our team.

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Survey Says… 0

Posted on December 24, 2014 by Natasha

We are looking for feedback in order to serve you better. Please comment below or on any social media outlet. Thank you for taking a moment to help out The Rookie Teacher Team.

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Making Sense of Mental Math – Number Talks 0

Posted on December 03, 2014 by Allison Dyjach

“All students can learn mathematics and deserve the opportunity to do so.”  -The Ontario Curriculum, Mathematics Grade 1-8

When I ask you to answer the math problem 5 + 7, I’m sure that most of you could come up with the answer of 12 pretty quickly. But, if I asked you to explain the process or steps that you used to get to the final answer of 12, it might take you a bit more time to think about it. This same thing happens when we ask students math questions. They are often able to give us an answer, but when we ask them to explain their answer, describe a strategy that they used, or even just write out their answer step by step, we can be left with something in between a blank stare and a beyond puzzled expression. Although our students may be able to give us a correct answer on a test or worksheet, we may have no idea what process they are going through to get that answer. The same goes for a wrong answer. If a child gives a wrong answer, but we can’t seem to figure out where they veered off course, we won’t be able to guide them back onto the path to success.

During my most recent school placement, my school ran a professional development day on a new classroom tool called “Number Talks.” Some of you may have heard of the concept, developed by Sherry Parrish, but to me this was brand new. The main purpose of a number talk is to dissect a mental math problem with your students, and discuss and evaluate the different strategies that can be taken to solve that problem.

For example, I used a number talk with my Grade 4 students when discussing how to show a specific time on an analog clock. Students were tasked with telling me how they would show 7:35. I emphasized to them that they not only had to give me the right answer, but if they wanted to respond they would also have to tell me how they knew where to put the hands on the clock.

The “Number Talk” response signal. Photo: http://hzn165.blogspot.ca/2012/11/day-38-number-talk-with-1st-graders.html

The Number Talk incorporates another great strategy that can be used not only during these discussions but also as a general classroom management strategy. When students are thinking of their answers, they are not to put their hand up or shout out any answers. Instead, they hold a fist on their chest, and if they can find one way to answer the problem, they simply stick their thumb up. If they find a second way that they can solve the problem, they stick up another finger, and so on. This way, the teacher is able to assess students’ understanding, but other students are not distracted (or discouraged) by their peers’ progress.

After students were given ample time to figure out their answers, we took time to hear different strategies of knowing where the hands should go on the clock to show 7:35, some including counting by 5’s, going straight to 7:30 and adding 5 etc. We listened to all of the different methods that students had used, discussed their effectiveness (eg. counting by 1’s to get to 35 was not found to be very effective by my students!) and talked about which strategies different students preferred to use.

I have to say that as someone who grew up simply memorizing math times tables and addition facts, this was a wonderful concept to be introduced to. I found them to be extremely effective as a “Mind’s On” activity and to get students thinking about how math operations and concepts really work. Although math is generally a subject that allows for very little deviation, this activity shows students that there are often ample strategies that they can use to solve math problems. Number Talks give them that bank of strategies to use for math problems, and it also allows teachers to learn what is really going on in the minds of our students, even if we are asking them “simple’ questions like 5 + 7.

“Number Talks” guidebook by Sherry Parrish. Photo: https://grade2commoncoremath.wikispaces.hcpss.org/Number+Talks

There are some great resources out there for teachers interested in incorporating Number Talks into their classroom. This article written by the Parrish gives a short and simple introduction into the concept and even walks through an example with student dialogue and diagrams.

For further learning, you might want to consider buying Sherry Parrish’s book “Number Talks Common Core Edition, Grades K-5: Helping Children Build Mental Math and Computation Strategies.” Youtube is also a great resource to see some real Number Talks in action. Here is a favourite of mine, but just by searching “Number Talk” you will be able to find many more.

Do you use Number Talks in your classroom? Do you think this is a useful strategy to help kids delve deeper into math comprehension? What are some other strategies you could use to help understand students’ mental math processes better? Let us know what you think below!

 

Allison Dyjach is a Faculty of Education student at Queen’s University in Kingston, Ontario. Connect with her on Twitter @AllisonDyjach, or follow more of her Bachelor of Education experiences on Instagram @allisondyjach

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Teaching from the Thinking Heart 0

Posted on November 06, 2014 by Sarah

Nothing has been more transformational to my teaching practice than my experience with a Tribes certified instructor for my year long Teacher Education/B.Ed year. Though some people come out with a mixed experience when they pursue Tribes certification, it is certainly a course that whole heartedly depends on the instructor. I was fortunate to have someone who deeply understood the Tribes philosophy, a holistic approach to teaching that nurtured individuals, fostered positive social interactions and grew community.  Moreover, I had Gail for an entire year, not just the handful of hours it takes to get the Tribes Basics training.

teaching heart

Not only did Gail have a direct impact on my teaching strategies, she encouraged me to pursue my Masters at OISE and highly recommended a course with Jack Miller, all of which has led to this post. Jack is a leader in holistic education with almost 40 years of experience in the field. In his course, which I optimistically wrote about with the Rookie Teacher here, we practiced meditation daily, participated in various visualization exercises, kept a journal of reflections, gave mini workshops practicing our holistic approaches and had an authentic Chinese tea ceremony, always sitting in a circle. Our final assignment was a reflection piece on Holistic education and our experiences with it thus far. Needless to say, mine centered around my year with Gail. A few months after the course had completed, Jack e-mailed me asking if he could publish my final paper in his next book.

Fast forward 2 years and it’s here: Teaching from the Thinking Heart – The Practice of Holistic Education. I’m obsessed with the cover art. I’m chapter 4: Tribes – A Transformative Tool for the 21st Century. The book itself is also quite innovative for its narrative content. As an academic text used predominantly in courses, it is quite rare to have something written in the first-person. This further speaks to the Holistic approach, validating teachers’ and people’s experiences for what they are, no citations required. As such, this book is very approachable for non-academic readers as it’s not bogged down in scientific or educational jargon.

The foreword by Nel Noddings (so awesome!) speaks to the recognition of our current context of standardized curricula, objectives and evaluations and the stigma surrounding the mere mention of the word ‘soul’. Teaching to the head. But throughout the book you gain confidence and insight into the practice of teaching to the body, mind and spirit. Our students are more than just heads, their humans with emotions. As educators we must find the courage to stand up for Holistic curriculum, nurture the soul and work to make each moment in our students’ lives loving and joyful.

Copies of the book can be ordered from here or by contacting me personally.

 

 

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Thirteen Steps to Easy Long Range Planning 0

Posted on October 20, 2014 by Lauren

[OR: How I Spent My Summer Vacation…]

This summer I knew that I was going to be starting a new job in September. I have spent the past couple of years teaching in a self-contained grade 1/2 class where all of the students had IEPs with at least some curriculum modifications. I was focused on IEP goals. My new job was going to be in a ‘regular’* grade 1/2 class. I needed to figure out what teaching would look the same and what gaps I would need to fill in order to cover the whole curriculum. The following is a glimpse into the madness to my method.

*As a side note, I really dislike the term ‘regular class’, but it is widely used; some schools use the term ‘community class’.

Thirteen Steps to Easy Long Range Planning

  1. Pick a subject area- I started with math because it is one of my favourites and the specific expectations are pretty specific (who would have thought?!).
  2. Get your long range plans ready and know which strands you are going to report on in each term- I already knew loosely what big ideas/ strands I wanted to cover in each month. For K-8 math in Ontario it is expected you will report on 4 of the 5 strands in each term. Some school boards dictate what you will report on, mine does not. I decided on Term 1: Number Sense, Data Management and Probability, Measurement and Geometry. In Term 2 I will also report on Patterning and Algebra, but not Data Management.
  3. Set up a calendar system- I labeled pieces of paper with the months Sept-June and laid them out on the floor. Because I am teaching a split class I also made two columns and labelled them Grade 1 and Grade 2.
  4. Print the curriculum for the grade- I printed all of the math curriculum for grades 1 and 2.  http://www.edu.gov.on.ca/eng/curriculum/elementary/subjects.html
  5. Colour code– I used crayons because it was quick and cheap (no colour ink). I shaded each strand a different colour. Number Sense white, Measurement pink etc.
  6. Cut apart the specific expectations- If you are comfortable with the curriculum then you may want to keep some pieces together.  For example, I knew that I was going to teach the patterning expectations together so I didn’t need to cut them apart. If you teach more than one grade then you will want to be careful the pieces separate.
  7. Start lining up specific expectations with your long range plans- I started with September. I knew that I wanted to focus on reviewing some basic number sense (counting, number recognition etc.) and that the calendar routine would be a big part of the first weeks of school. I found the expectations that fell under these two categories in the grade one curriculum and then matched up the corresponding grade two curriculum directly beside it. This was also a good chance to review the similarities and differences. I moved through the first term and paused.
  8. Double check the term- Does everything make sense? Are there are any other expectations that could go together? Do I have enough material to report on? At this point I found that I still had a lot of expectations left to cover in term 2. Too many? I decided to write the number of weeks available in each month. I needed to be realistic. The first week of school was about routines and relationships so I didn’t count it. The last two weeks of June are full of interruptions and happen after reports are due to the office so I didn’t count them either.
  9. Fill in the second term- I went back to my long range plans and filled in the rest.
  10. Double check again- Again I checked to make sure it was realistic. I knew that addition and subtraction strategies would take a serious chunk of time, but we will probably breeze through 2D shapes. I also checked to make sure the grade 1 and 2 expectations lined up. There are a couple of times that the grade 2s will be working on expectations that the grade 1s don’t even touch on (e.g., multiplication and division), I needed to think about how that time will best be spent with the grade 1s.
  11. Glue the pieces down- I actually used tape so I can keep moving them.
  12. Remember that plans change- I did all of this before I even met my class. We may need more time for some expectations and less for others. I do know that the year will fly by so I need to be aware of the time line.
  13. Keep the overall expectations/ big picture in mind- I got into the really nitty gritty because it made sense for me. I’m not going to lose sleep if we don’t get to every single specific expectation, but I do know exactly which ones I am willing to gloss over and which ones I will slow down for if necessary.

Long Range Math folioPhoto: **Natasha loved the idea — here’s what it looks like for Grade 7**

 

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