Beat Summer Math Slide: Five tips for Multiplication

bookMastering multiplication facts is a hard-won skill for most students, and they can easily lose it all over the summer.  Here are tips on how parents and kids can work together to keep those math skills sharp.  Everything on this list is quick and easy, and none of it interferes with summer fun.

  1. Start with song: yes, they’re my own work, but the award-winning Best Multiplication Songs EVER! really are the best.  In just eight minutes a day, you can sing all your times tables with tunes you already know.  Slip them into your daily routine—play them in the car, while doing chores, or dance to them for a quick workout.
  2. Flash card drill: stop by the Dollar Store (or any discount store, grocery store, or drugstore) and pick up a box of flash cards.  Then be smart with how you practice.  First, go through the stack and separate facts your child knows from facts your child needs to learn.  Review the “know them” facts daily.  Add about 3 new facts a day, always practicing the old ones.  By the end of summer, your youngster will know the facts cold.
  3. FREE Computer Practice: I have an electronic version of the flash card drill—the FREE customizable Best Times Tables Practice EVER!  Download this program and let kids practice at their own pace: just the fives, just the tens, only the easy sevens, all the hard facts—you name it.
  4. Math toys: visit Amazon.com or a local teaching store like Lakeshore Learning for fun multiplication toys.  Multiplication wrap-ups are eternally popular.  You can also find self-correcting multiplication games and board games like Multiplication Bingo.
  5. Worksheets: Most of my students still need an old-fashioned worksheet to cement learning, and they like a worksheet’s inherent efficiency.  For no-frills practice, print worksheets from Dadsworksheets.com.  Use the Spaceship Math for leveled practice or print conventional one-times-table-at-a-time worksheets.

The best worksheets, of course, come from Best Multiplication Workbook EVER!  From memorizing that first fact to mastering 3 digit multiplication, it provides fun, quality, relevant practice.  Dozens and dozens of real-life word problems highlight the importance of multiplication in our daily lives.  There are certificates for every level, making it easy to track and reward progress.

Posted in Math,Tips for Parents by Corey Green @ Jun 29, 2011

 

Virtual Book Tour: Parenting Responsively for Connection, Day 14

E-BookToday I have the great pleasure of being the host on Day 14 of the Virtual Book Tour for the new E-Book Parenting Responsively for Connection, available from HeartwiseParent.com, written by ACPI Parenting Coaches for Parents to deal with the most difficult task of maintaining connection with the growing child whose behavior changes and shifts.  

Yesterday, the book tour visited Sherri Boles-Rogers at parentingheart.com/another-excerpt/. Visit now if you haven’t had the opportunity to meet all the authors.  Tomorrow’s tour will be the final blog (Day 15) with Irish Barbour at www.mylifemag.com.

In the meantime enjoy the following book excerpt as well as this podcast
featuring author Adina Lederer, Certified Coach for Parents & Families.
Excerpt © 2011 by Adina Lederer

Managing Transitions

      With the school year comes a season of new transitions. Getting off to school, getting into school, leaving school, going to activities, leaving activities and coming home from school can make morning, afternoons and evenings a stressful time for both parents and children.

     On any one morning, if the bus or carpool is running late, the domino effect can create a logistical nightmare for a working mom or dad.

     Fortunately, with a little organization, a back-up plan or two and realistic expectations, we can successfully navigate transition times and prevent bumps in the road from becoming major mountains.

     If we want to establish a healthy, productive rhythm and balance in our lives and maintain close connections and deep bonds with our spouse and children, we need effective strategies that provide strength for us all.

     Effective strategies can help us all successfully navigate transition times, manage household chaos and prevent us from becoming disconnected when our world around us seems to be spinning out of control.

     While fairly simple to implement, these 10 strategies can help everyone manage their responsibilities effectively and cut down on the chaos that tends to surround transitions.

  1. Do what you can the night before.  Prepare lunches, snacks, backpacks, children’s clothing and more.
     
  2. Allow children to be involved in the preparation process.  When children are involved they become vested in the outcome.
     
  3. Create menus for lunches and dinners in advance.  Make shopping lists, go to the store and prep as much as you can over the weekend.
     
  4. Develop schedules for the morning, afternoon and evening.  This includes setting aside time for homework, meals and playtime.
     
  5. Set homework schedules.  Create a schedule for children based on their age and capabilities. If a child needs breaks in between their homework schedule, budget time for those as well.
     
  6. Provide healthy snacks throughout the day.
     
  7. Create a work environment that is conducive to completing homework.  A bright, quiet designated area with supplies readily available works well.
     
  8. Make time for dinner.  Children enjoy family mealtime and children who eat meals regularly with their families are less likely to engage in risky behaviors.
     
  9. Establish nighttime rituals.  A nightly routine that includes a bath and time for reading and talking creates connection and a sense of security.
     
  10. Set alarm clocks.  Waking up the same time each day can help promote consistency and routine.  Be sure to give everyone enough time to get ready in the morning. Wake up 30 minutes before your children to you can take care of your own needs before they awake.

      Throughout my many years of parenting, teaching and coaching, I have learned that with a plan, structure, consistent effort and an understanding of our strengths and weaknesses, we can develop tools that strengthen our lives and allow us to live with more peace and balance.

Don’t miss this podcast featuring author Adina Lederer, Certified Coach for Parents & Families.

Be sure to follow the Virtual Book Tour for the E-book Parenting Responsively for Connection tomorrow for the final blog (Day 15) with Irish Barbour at www.mylifemag.com.  For further information on this E-book and the others in the Heartwise Parenting Series, please visit heartwiseparent.com/e-books/.

Posted in Book Reviews by Corey Green @ Jun 20, 2011

 

Figurative Language with Taylor Swift: You Belong with Me

This is Part 1 of a series about Fun with Literacy: Taylor Swift lyrics

I teach my students dozens of reading vocabulary terms, and I’m always looking for examples of the concepts in our everyday lives. You should have seen the looks on my students’ faces when they saw “Figurative Language with Taylor Swift” on our daily schedule! I felt bad when I realized that they thought T-Swizzle would really stop by later in the day. Still, the class rallied from their disappointment and found many examples of figurative language and literary techniques in this song.

I first got into Taylor Swift songs after judging talent show auditions a few years back. I heard each of her songs many times over. I was impressed with the lyrics. The girl knows how to tell a story, using clever rhymes, similes and alliteration to enhance the effect. There’s a reason she’s a star.

Here is my literary analysis of the song “You Belong With Me” by Taylor Swift from her album Fearless. It’s very good for teaching students how to recognize literary techniques in popular entertainment.

–For Taylor’s story-behind-the-song, click here

Posted in Fun With Literacy by Corey Green @ Jun 13, 2011

 

Get ready for summer reading!

Research shows that kids who do not read during the summer months fall victim to the Summer Slide, in which they lose skills during summer vacation. This is an acute problem for elementary students, because they lose so much, so quickly. We spend the first quarter trying to get students back to the level they were at the end of the previous year.

The bigger problem with the Summer Slide is that it affects the most vulnerable students, those who have the least support at home. Scholastic, PBS Kids and iVillage joined to promote Summer Reading Central for kids and parents. The goal is to get kids to read at least 4 books over the summer to prevent the Summer Slide.

Scholastic’s Summer Challenge lets kids log their reading time in pursuit of a World Record. In Summer 2010, students around the world logged 52,710,368 reading minutes. Scholastic will feature the 20 schools with the most minutes this summer in the 2012 Scholastic Book of World Records.

There’s a 12 page Family Participation Guide online with reading logs, certificates, forms for recommending books to others, and WordGirl definition and vocabulary activities. Suggested Book Lists are posted online for the 2011 Summer Reading Challenge, organized into dozens of categories of interests, also identified by reading level or age.

As for me, I’ll be reading and writing all summer. I love it!

Posted in Fun With Literacy by Corey Green @ Jun 10, 2011

 

The last five minutes of the school year

This is a quick tip for a meaningful (and realistic) idea of how to organize the last five minutes of the school year. We gather our supplies and are ready to leave before we start this procedure.

I gather my class for a fun reminiscing session about favorites from the year. Depending on the age and attention span of your students, you can have individuals share memories, or you can just shout out fun memories and let the kids cheer and talk amongst themselves. I choose the latter method because I know that as a child, I could never have sat through a pensive circle time in the last five minutes of the school day.

My method is more like a speech at a political rally—each sentence punctuated by applause and cheers.

Example:

Well, it’s been a great year in G3!

(Applause)

We learned our multiplication tables!

(Applause)

We had two Teddy Bear Picnics!

(Applause, chatter)

We planted a garden!

(Applause, chatter)

We made a salad from our harvest!

(Applause, chatter)

We learned chess!

(Applause, chatter)

We had two chess tournaments!

(Applause, chatter)

…I keep this up until the bell rings. Then, we all huddle up and say our class cheer: Go us, G3! Then I race to the door so I can hug everyone one last time.

What are your last-five-minutes-of-school traditions?


 

Virtual Book Tour: Parenting Responsively for Connection

E-BookI am pleased to announce I will be hosting a virtual book tour for the new E-Book, Parenting Responsively for Connection.

The E-book contains down-to-earth and easy-to-apply strategies for staying connected to your children as they grow from their early years into the school years.  You’ll learn how to cope with issues from potty training to developing successful study skills. 

Eleven ACPI Certified Parenting Coaches have joined together to bring you the best of their accumulated knowledge and 110+ years of parenting experiences.  You’ll appreciate each author’s sincerity and realism in each chapter of the book.  This is a must-read!  You’ll find out why when you read the excerpts from each chapter as the virtual tour unfolds.  The first excerpt will appear on Wednesday, June 8, 2011 at Heartwiseparent.com, when the official virtual book tour begins.

Can’t wait?  Order the E-Book now!

List of Authors:

Sherri Boles-Rogers, ACPI CPC
Alan Carson, M.Ed., ACPI CPC
Lesa Day, ACPI CPC
Sharon Egan, MS, ACPI CPC
Marcia Hall, CPN, ACPI CPC
Kareen Hannon, ACPI CPC
Adina Lederer, ACPI CCPF
Malini Mandal, OT, ACPI CCP
Sedef Orsel, ACPI CCP
Minette Riordan, Ph.D., ACPI CCP
Jennie Tehomilic, ACPI CPC

Follow the journey of this Virtual Book Tour:

6-08-11 – Day 1 – www.Heartwiseparent.com/blog
6-09-11 – Day 2 – www.yesicanandiwill.com
6-10-11 – Day 3 – www.northtexaskids.com
6-11-11 – Day 4 – academyforcoachingparents.com
6-12-11 – Day 5 – yourparentingquestions.blogspot.com
6-13-11 – Day 6 – www.nannyalliance.blogspot.com
6-14-11 – Day 7 – parentcoachsedef.blogspot.com, (English)  or (Turkish)  cocukluyuzbiz.blogspot.com
6-15-11 – Day 8 – metaphysicsetcetera.blogspot.com
6-16-11 – Day 9 – www.intentionalconsciousparenting.com
6-17-11 – Day 10 – annebabaokulum.blogspot.com – (Turkish)
6-18-11 – Day 11 – www.lifeinaweek.com
6-19-11 – Day 12 – www.heartwiseparent.com/blog
6-20-11-  Day 13 – www.parentingheart.com
6-21-11 – Day 14 – ClassAntics.com (my blog)
6-22-11 – Day 15 – http://www.mylifemag.com/

Posted in Book Reviews by Corey Green @ Jun 5, 2011

 

Teach on the Last Day of School

The last day of school is usually a blur of yearbook signing, room cleaning, and board game playing. I’d like to make a case for teaching something on the last day of school.

Students are about to leave your classroom for a summer of (mostly) unstructured activity. There will be plenty of time to watch movies and play games at home. Time for learning is precious, and sharing a special lesson together can create a lasting memory. Plus, it can only enhance your rep with parents if kids run home and talk about the cool thing they learned in school today.

Pilot Day: This is my traditional last day of school activity. My dad, a retired F-16 and F-4 pilot, puts on his flight suit and teaches the students about being an Air Force pilot. He starts with a simulation of all he’d say as he prepared for takeoff. He brings in his helmet, manuals, patches and insignia. He even shows an Air Force recruiting video about the awesomeness of jet fighters. Question and answer time can last over an hour. Questions about the ejection seat and bird strikes are always popular.

If you don’t have your own fighter pilot to create last day of school awesomeness, consider a lesson with an art tie-in. This way, you teach something cool, and then the kids can create art and chat.

Mythological Beasts: one of my students just loves mythology, and we did this lesson in his honor. He brought in his book of mythological beasts and my class was dead silent as he read it to us. Then, under his direction, we each created our own mythological beast. He wanted us to write a little about it—not too much—since it was the end of the year—and give it a clever name with a Greek or Latin flavor.

Starry Night: I taught students about Vincent van Gogh, and then we watched a slide show of his art while listening to Don McLean’s “Vincent.” Here is my copy of the lyrics (pdf), complete with vocabulary words. I recommend you teach the vocabulary before listening to the song. You can analyze the song for figurative language or simply treat it as a beautiful homage to Vincent. Then, color “The Starry Night” or create your own Vincent-style art.

Even if you teach on the last day, it’s probably good to leave some time for stacking desks and chairs, signing yearbooks and playing board games. Enjoy it, because you know that you also left your class with the impression that something important happens in this classroom—learning.


 

Summer Reading Fun

The key to summer reading is access to books!  Not just any books.  My experience is that many kids self-select books that are too difficult for them, so my best advice to parents is to use AR levels to suggest books for your child.

You can find the AR levels at ARbookfind.com.  You can build a virtual bookbag and take this list with you to the public library.  Alternatively, while you’re at the library, you could use a computer to log on to ARbookfind.com and check right then and there.

Other ways to help your child at the library this summer:
* Plan a reading list and get books from your library
* Schedule regular trips to the library
* Check out books to read aloud, too!

You might like to buy books at garage sales and thrift stores or organize a PTA book swap for summer reading.  Audio books are a great resource.

Have older kids read aloud to younger siblings and friends.  Then turn the tables and let those younger siblings read the same story to Big Bro and Big Sis. (That’s a teaching strategy that really works!)

Don’t expect your child’s online reading to keep his skills honed.  Online reading usually is skimming—kids need to read deeper to develop and maintain skill levels for learning.

Set a time each day for reading. When I was young, we had a “no electronics” rule every afternoon in the summer.  That worked, because we lived in Tampa, Florida—the lightning capital of the world where it rained every afternoon.  The “no electronics” rule applied to all our friends, too: we all hung out reading books together for a couple of hours (often determined by how long the rainstorm lasted).  It was a really popular daily event in our neighborhood!

Posted in Fun With Literacy,Tips for Parents by Corey Green @ Jun 3, 2011

 

Summer Reading: Get hooked on reading a series!

If your child likes one book in a series, encourage him to read all the books in the series.  Your child will feel more like he chose the book and he will be more vested in reading.  Teachers, librarians or booksellers can advise you on a series at the right age and reading level. 

My high readers in third grade loved the Percy Jackson series by Rick Riordan, Children’s Choice Book Award Winner: Author of the Year. Their  enjoyment inspired other students in the class to raise their own reading levels so they could read the five books in the series about Greek mythology set in modern-day America.  More than 20 million copies of the books have been sold in more than 35 countries.

Available at Amazon.com:
The Lightning Thief (Book 1)
The Sea of Monsters (Book 2)
The Titan’s Curse (Book 3)
The Battle of the Labyrinth (Book 4)
The Last Olympian (Book 5)

The Diary of a Wimpy Kid series by Jeff Kinney started on Funbrain.com in 2004, appearing  as blog posts.  Now, the series tops the New York Times best seller lists.  My students love Poptropica, the online game that Jeff Kinney produces during his day job at an Internet company.  There are popular movies out for the first two books.  Share them with your kids!

Available at Amazon.com:
Diary of a Wimpy Kid
Rodrick Rules (Diary of a Wimpy Kid #2)
The Last Straw (Diary of a Wimpy Kid #3)
Dog Days (Diary of a Wimpy Kid #4)
The Ugly Truth (Diary of a Wimpy Kid #5)

And of course, the Harry Potter series and movies are magnificent (available at Amazon.com).  I have read that series countless times, and before each new movie is released, my family watches all the old movies again so we don’t miss anything. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 will be released on July 15, 2011.  I’ll be there! 

A bit of self promotion: my Buckley School Books series has 2 volumes available now.  I plan to write one book for each kid in Mr. Hoker’s class!

Zapped! (Buckley School Books #1)
Brainstorm (Buckley School Books #2)
Double Switched (Buckley School Books #3 coming soon)

Posted in Book Lists by Corey Green @ Jun 1, 2011