## Celebrate the Fourth of July with free online games about the American Revolution

In the spirit of the Fourth of July, take a moment to play some fun games about the American Revolution.

American Revolution quiz game: Test your knowledge with multiple quizzes about the American Revolution.  The quizzes cover the revolution up to 1789.

TeachingAmericanHistory.org American Revolution tutorial: This is more like a lesson than a game, but you get to click around.  It combines geography with history as students click to learn about various locales important to the American Revolution.

Liberty! The American Revolution: This online quiz/lesson lets you answer and learn.  It coordinates with the PBS series Liberty! The American Revolution.

Mission US: This is a great site with several exciting missions.  Appropos for the Fourth of July is Mission 1: For Crown or Colony?

The Revolutionary Fireworks Frenzy!  This is a pure-fun game that lets you pretend to set off a whole bunch of fireworks in front of a place that looks a lot like Liberty Hall.  That’s it, but it’s pretty fun.

Colonial Williamsburg Interactive: This site lets you play games and do activities that enhance a visit to Colonial Williamsburg.  It’s lots of fun even if a trip to Virginia is not in your future.

## Tips for teaching order of operations part three: online PEMDAS games

The order of operations is an important concept in math.  It’s also a frustrating concept to teach and learn.  Most students need lots of practice, multiple tips, and a myriad of ways to think about good old PEMDAS*.

Part three: online PEMDAS games

After you’ve taught order of operations until you’re blue in the face, take a break and let some online games have a crack at it.  Your students might find that practice is a little more fun when it comes in the form of a computer game.

Here are a few good order of operations games.  You can paste the links into a convenient place for your students to choose from, or let them work from this blog post.

Kids, let’s have some PEMDAS fun!  This guide is organized to help you find a game that suits your order of operations confidence level.

Good for beginners:

Order of Operations at SoftSchools.com: I like this game because it takes actual calculation out of the equation, so to speak.  Students click on which operation they should perform first.    The program models how to show your work.

Another no-calculation order of operations game: This game also lets you just deal with order of operations, not the calculations.  It’s a good way to build your confidence in knowing what to do first.

Good for practice:

The Order of Operations Millionaire Game: practice PEMDAS in the style of Who Wants to be a Millionaire?  This is a one or two player game.

Leveled order of operations game:  This game provides practice problems that are leveled.  You can choose to deal with parenthesis or just keep it simple.  This is a good game for building your skills.

Connect Four-style order of operations game: This game can be for one or two players.  It lets you solve practice problems, then place your piece for Connect Four.   You can change the level of difficulty.

Rags to Riches: build your virtual fortune as you solve order of operations problems.  It’s fun to think about making money at math practice!

Good for PEMDAS pros:

Funbrain Order of Operations game: This one asks students to place the numbers in order to create an equation that yields a predetermined result.  This is higher-level order of operations thinking.  Good for students who understand the concept, not so great for struggling students.

*PEMDAS: Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally.  Don’t get creative with the acronym.  This is what every math teacher after you will use.

Posted in Academics,Math,Tips for Parents,Tips for Teachers by Corey Green @ Jun 23, 2014

## Tips for teaching order of operations part two: practicing and perfecting PEMDAS

The order of operations is an important concept in math.  It’s also a frustrating concept to teach and learn.  Most students need lots of practice, multiple tips, and a myriad of ways to think about good old PEMDAS*.

Part two: practicing and perfecting PEMDAS

Let students make practice problems.  Kids love to play teacher.  Have them create problems for the class to solve.  You can take a seat with the students and try the problems with everyone else.  Taking the part of a student is good for you, too.  You can feel the anxiety they experience as each new problem goes on the board.

Tell kids that PEMDAS is the default.  Many students get through lessons on order of operations only to disregard them when they see equations a few months later.   Many students don’t realize that they should always use order of operations.  I tell kids that they should always use it unless a problem specifically says otherwise.  (This would be a written mental-math problem on a standardized test.)

Warn kids of the PEMDAS pitfall: you’re just as confident when you’re getting it wrong.  Assuming your students know their basic facts (and that’s assuming a lot), then the math in order of operations problems won’t be hard for them.  Their competence with basic facts might lead them to think they’re doing well, even if they left PEMDAS behind a long time ago.

Warn students that if the math gets hard, they probably made a PEMDAS mistake.  Most practice order of operations problems do not involve difficult calculations and extra-long division.  If your kids find themselves mired in deep calculations, they probably made a wrong PEMDAS turn somewhere along the road.

Find practice problems online.

Math-aids.com has an excellent Order of Operations section with scaffolded lessons to help you give the kids non-intimidating practice.

Dad’s Worksheets has a great Order of Operations section, too.

I highly recommend both sites.  In fact, I have written quite a few blog posts that link to them.  Click for the post about Dad’s Worksheets and here for the post about Math-Aids.

*PEMDAS: Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally.  Don’t get creative with the acronym.  This is what every math teacher after you will use.

Posted in Academics,Math,Tips for Teachers by Corey Green @ Jun 16, 2014

## Tips for teaching order of operations part one: getting started with order of operations

The order of operations is an important concept in math.  It’s also a frustrating concept to teach and learn.  Most students need lots of practice, multiple tips, and a myriad of ways to think about good old PEMDAS*.

Part one: getting started with order of operations

Don’t grade while you’re teaching.  You want to create a risk-free environment for students to learn order of operations.  Give them lots of practice, let them help each other, but don’t assess them.  Not formally, at least.  Don’t grade the homework for accuracy.  Give the kids a chance to learn before you assess them.

Plan at least a week just to get the basic concept.  Years of experience taught me that most students need a lot of time to grasp order of operations.  Students get frustrated as they are learning the concept.  Warn them in advance that most of them will take a while to learn this.

Scaffold the lessons.  Break order of operations into baby steps.  Students will need lots of practice with 3 + 2 x 4 before they deal with more complicated problems.  I recommend that you use individual whiteboards or no-budget whiteboards (page protectors) so that you can create problems that suit what your students need from moment to moment.

Give real-world examples.  One of the most common uses of order of operations is shopping.  Tell students a little story about buying 3 of one item, 4 of another, etc.  Then, add the tax to the whole thing if you think your class is ready for that.  After you’ve told the story, write the equation on the board.  Label each number.  The idea is for students to see why you can’t add the number of bananas to the cost of oranges, just because they happen to be next to each other in your example.

Teach kids to give themselves a checklist.  Model and require your students to write PEMDAS next to each problem.  They can use the acronym as a checklist to make sure they are following order of operations as they solve the problem.

*PEMDAS: Please Excuse My Dear Aunt Sally.  Don’t get creative with the acronym.  This is what every math teacher after you will use.

Posted in Academics,Math,Tips for Teachers by Corey Green @ Jun 9, 2014

## Tips for substitute teachers: find allies ASAP

Substitute teachers are often thrown into the classroom after receiving little or no training.  Therefore, it’s up to the sub to pull things together.  I highly recommend that you enlist allies as soon as possible.

When you check into the school, greet the secretaries and other grown-ups in the office.  Most likely it will be teachers and instructional aides.  Tell them which teacher you are subbing for.  If they offer help, take it.

Once you get to the classroom, find the lesson plans as quickly as you can.  If you can’t find them, talk to neighboring teachers.  They can help you search.  If this doesn’t yield fruit, contact the front office.

If it’s close to start time, don’t read the lesson plan all the way through.  Just glance at the warnings, allergy notices, etc, and first hour or so.  Then go make friends!

Your time is far better spent talking to neighboring teachers.  The next door neighbors and across-the-hall teachers can explain little things at any point during the day.  They are a good first line of defense against unruly children or unexpected problems.

Accept the help of anyone who offers to check on you.  Remember that teachers and administrators know that children are sometimes naughty for substitute teachers.  Don’t feel like they will think less of you if you ask for help.  In most districts, there are not enough substitutes to go around, so they want you to do well.  Turn the tables: tell students that they will be receiving random inspections throughout the day.

You might find allies among your students, but be careful.  That first child who offers you lots of advice is quite possibly the class snitch.  This child will not do much to help your relationship with the other students.  I recommend getting some advice from quiet-but-not-busybody children, and trying to enlist the cooperation of students who seem like they could get squirrely.  Often if you can direct that energy into something positive, the child will be quite helpful.

Good luck!  When subbing for elementary school, if all else fails, read them a story…or two…or three…

Other ClassAntics posts on substitute teaching:

How to build emergency sub plans

Benefits of being a substitute teacher

Posted in Substitutes,Tips for Parents,Tips for Teachers by Corey Green @ Jun 2, 2014