Thursday, September 18, 2014

I Love My Job

I am experiencing a new adventure this year. I am co-teaching a third grade class that has an enormous number of students who have been identified for special education services. Yeah, it is exactly how it sounds.

Yesterday, in class, one of my students put his arm behind his head, pulled his sleeve up, and began sniffing and (possibly) licking his armpit. I was trying to teach about rounding numbers to the 1,000s place. Do you have any idea how hard it is to teach on rounding when there is a student licking his own armpit?

I have another student who became very upset at transition time. He was standing in the room, sobbing. The reason he was so upset was because he had a handful of rocks wrapped up in a paper towel. Every time he would try to pick up his book box to leave the room, he would drop some of his rocks. "How can I carry my cubby when my hands are full of rocks? I can't pick up my cubby because I have to hold on to these rocks! I'm not going to be able to leave school!"

Another student was singing "What You Gonna Do With That Big Fat Butt?" in the lunch room. My student with autism told on him and he started to cry.

There is a little boy in my class who can only read 6 words per minute. He stumbles over the simplest sight words. When he was given a reading passage as a part of his PALS testing, he looked at the passage (with the very large print and few words on the page) and said to the teacher, "Are you kidding me? This is a joke, right?" I gave him a story that I wrote using some site word phrases and his response was, "I'll read this, but your story doesn't make any sense."

I also have a student who is extremely sensitive to noise. I gave her a set of headphones to wear because I thought it might cut down on the amount of noise she can hear. Unfortunately, I have created a monster. Now, she wants to wear the headphones all the time and the headphones have to be "plugged in." Oh, and now all the other students want to wear headphones as well. It is like a Daft Punk concert in our hallway.

I love my job.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Pirate Math - Pirates vs. Ninjas!

One of the favorite activities in my classroom last year was a surprisingly simple game that I created to help my students practice comparing numbers. It was called "Pirates vs. Ninjas - The Epic Battle Continues!" The title is a play off of an internet activity where people argued about who would win in a battle, pirates or ninjas. I was amazed how many of my students knew about the activity and how sound their arguments were for each side. Then again, these were the kids who knew every character in Lord of the Rings and "Doctor Who."

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The game came with two decks of cards, one for Pirates and one for Ninjas. Each card had either a 3-digit or 4-digit number. Two students played the game and each one had a deck. Each student would flip over a card from the deck and compare the number with that of his partner. The student with the largest number would collect both cards. After playing through the deck (about 24 cards), the student with the most cards was declared the winner.

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To help promote accountability and to check for understanding of the skill, I provided the students with a recording sheet. The students were to write down their own numbers and the numbers of their partner. They would then use the inequality symbols (<, >, and =) to indicate if their own numbers were greater than, less than, or equal to the number of their partner. I would collect this sheet and look to see if the students had an understanding of the concept of comparing numbers. Obviously, every student page would be different from the next, but looking at the work turned in provided me with a glimpse of how well each of my students understood the concept.

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"Pirates vs. Ninjas!" is really one of my favorite games. Even after we were finished with our place value unit, it was popular during Math Games and Math Centers. I get a lot of feedback on the game and many of the teachers tell me how excited they are to use this game with their boy students. I had girls who loved to play as well. You would do well to add this game to your math classroom.

"Pirates vs. Ninjas! - A Comparing Numbers Game is available in my Teachers Pay Teachers store for $3.00.

For some other great Pirate products, please visit Teaching Momster to see what other teachers are using in their classrooms.