What it’s like to be an elementary school teacher – Part 7

A National Board Certified Teacher explains what an educator’s life is really like.  The series is a value-added collection of Best ClassAntics Posts EVER!  Each post explains something about a teacher’s life and links to ClassAntics posts with relevant teaching tips.

Part Seven: We teach kids how to learn

Teaching isn’t enough; education only happens when students makes a concerted effort to learn.  Most students benefit from lessons in how to teach themselves to learn new material.

In my experience, students feel truly empowered once they understand how to study and learn.  I have many tricks and tips for helping students learn how to acquire knowledge.

Teach memorization: before IQ tests, ability to memorize was an important indicator of intelligence.  I think that the two go hand in hand: memorizing builds intelligence, and intelligence makes memorizing easier.  My post on Memorization and Learning offers tips on teaching this important skill and ideas for what your students can memorize.

Teach kids how to remember, recall, and retrieve: memorized information is much more useful if you can call it up when you need it.  I learned a clever way of Teaching Kids to Access Memorized Information.  It helps students discover their own remembering style and learn how to harness their power of recall.

Teach vocabulary: there’s a reason the STAR Reading test uses vocabulary as a predictor of Accelerated Reader (AR) reading level—it works!   5 tips for teaching vocabulary give you ideas on building vocabulary skills during every lesson.

Take a break from trendy teaching: get to real learning with a time-honored technique—the lecture.  Done right, a lecture shows kids that they can acquire a great deal of knowledge by listening to someone who has already taken to the trouble to curate the content.  Lectures Can Be Good! gives ideas on how to harness the power of the lecture.  Check out The Great Courses for excellent examples of engaging lectures.  Click here for my post about The Great Courses.

Mnemonic devices: These time-honored tricks help kids learn everything from musical notes to planets.  Oh You Lucky Duck! for would, could and should is one of my favorites.

Make connections: the joy of learning deepens when we realize that everything we study is connected.  It’s so exciting to realize how complex the world is, and how the academic disciplines are not discrete at all.  Teach kids to make connections between their learning and their world with fun tips about how Making connections makes children smarter.

 Happy learning!


What it’s like to be an elementary school teacher – Part 6

A National Board Certified Teacher explains what an educator’s life is really like. The series is a value-added collection of Best ClassAntics Posts EVER! Each post explains something about a teacher’s life and links to ClassAntics posts with relevant teaching tips.

Part Six: We teach kids life skills

Teachers impart much more than book learning. We try to teach life skills and maybe even a little common sense.

I teach my kids that if they want self-esteem, they should act like someone they can respect. One must have a feeling of competence in order to be truly happy. Teacher to the rescue—we know that Chores Build Confidence. We Set up class jobs right away! Each student has a specific task to do that makes everyone’s life better. We all depend on each other to come through every day. My system for class jobs really gelled when I assigned year-long duties.  If you have a more unwieldy system wherein students change jobs weekly or daily, check mine out. I even give you the Excel spreadsheet we use to organize class jobs. Truly, this is hard-won knowledge and I would love to share it.

We have all sorts of tricks to help kids with their handwriting: some students find that graph paper really helps. You know DMV forms with one square for each letter? Well, that system really helps you write more neatly, and some kids need that kind of structure just so they can turn in something legible. Another creative use of paper: we show kids that Turning Notebook Paper Sideways helps keep math problems lined up.

We teach kids basic table manners: chew with your mouth closed, don’t talk with food in your mouth, and keep your elbows off the table. We teach little tricks like the b-d Method for Setting the Table. Students will never forget where their bread and drink go. (It also helps kids who mix up b and d in their writing.)

Kids lose things all the time, and so we remind our students to  Check the Lost-and-Found before each school vacation. Otherwise, their sweatshirts and lunchboxes will get donated to a child who might keep better track of it.

We spend a lot of time and effort to Teach kids to respect school staff. It brightens everyone’s day when kids make the effort to show appreciation.

Plus—if your students are short on common sense, they might be able to make up for it with charm!


Doodle for Google Contest Ends at Midnight ET March 22, 2013

Calling all artistic students!  Enter the Doodle for Google contest and your art could be on Google’s home page!  You could win a $30,000 college scholarship and a $50,000 technology grant for your school among other cool prizes!

To enter, create a Google Doodle around the theme “My Best Day Ever…”   Be sure your illustration incorporates the word “Google.”  Click here to download the entry form.  The entry MUST be on the official form.  Entries can be submitted by upload through Google or by mail.  Click here for FAQs about the contest.  Teachers can download an educator’s guide, classroom poster, and official pamphlet here.

Judging will be based on 3 criteria:

  • Artistic merit: based on grade group and artistic skill
  • Creativity: based on the representation of the theme and use of the Google logo
  • Theme communication: how well the theme is expressed in the artwork and the supporting statement

Doodles that contain copyrighted images will automatically be disqualified.  Only ONE doodle per artist will be accepted.

The American Museum of Natural History will host a special exhibition of the 50 State Winners in New York City, after the announcement of the National Winner on May 22, 2013 through July 14th, 2013.

Looking for inspiration?  Click here to see past Google Doodles and here to read about the history of Google Doodles.

Good luck!

Posted in Tips for Parents,Tips for Teachers by Corey Green @ Mar 15, 2013


Money Math Games: Kid-tested Favorites from Mrs. Sullivan’s After School Group

This tip comes from ClassAntics readers.  Mrs. Sullivan and her after-school group emailed me saying that ClassAntics posts helped them during their unit on counting money and good saving habits.  The group found an excellent website that provides access to many Money Math resources.

The website is called Wise Stock Buyer: Grow Your Nest Egg.  Much of the site is dedicated to investing tips, but a special section covers Math and Money.  The resources it links to are very helpful.

Click here for the complete list.  Below are some of my favorites:

Dollar Dive: An arcade game where you try to load up your ship with the required amount of money before the Sea Monster gets the ship.  From US Mint.gov, so you know it’s safe and allowed in most districts.

Do You Have Enough Money?  A simple game that asks if you have enough money to buy a certain item.   This site is good because kids need experience dealing with pictures of money, not just money.  It’s not always so easy to tell the coins apart.

Pocket Change: A Moment of Edutainment: This is a really good but simple game that challenges you to make a certain amount of money with a certain amount of coins.  You see this prompt on standardized tests.  The pictures of money are really clear and easy to understand.  Kids will have to get used to the Kennedy half dollar.

Counting Money: This demonstration from Harcourt School Publishers asks students to count money from pictures of coins and type the amount.  This is a good choice for computer lab time or for a whole-class demonstration using a projector.

The One Dollar Store: Drag coins to the box so you can pay for items at the dollar store.   The site has a kid-friendly look to it.

Cash Out: You run a cash register at a store.  Your task is to give change.  Different levels let you choose whether the game gives you hints, or whether you have to figure the amount of change from the purchase price.  If you take hints, the game is basically a test of whether you can gather the right coins.   If you don’t take hints, the game lets you practice the counting up method of making change.

Money Flash Cards: A simple game that has you figure out how much money is there.  This game uses paper money as well as coins.

Thank you again to Mrs. Sullivan and her after school group.  Your tips will help many kids and teachers!

Posted in Academics,Math,Tips for Teachers by Corey Green @ Mar 6, 2013