Best Multiplication Workbook EVER! wins Learning Magazine Teachers’ Choice Award

Big news! Best Multiplication Workbook EVER! has won a prestigious award: Learning® Magazine 2013 Teachers’ ChoiceSM Award for the Classroom. Teachers’ Choice is the only award program in the educational market judged exclusively by teachers, and it carries the most weight. Companies like Lakeshore Learning, Disney Education, and TREND vie for it each year. Products are evaluated based on criteria most important to teachers and students: quality, instructional value, usability, innovation and relevance to curriculum.

Here are some comments from the panel:

How did judges use the book?

In the classroom, I used the pages presented in the book as a way to show my students the patterns that are presented in multiplication. I also was able to differentiate my instruction because each fact sheet has a similar look to the others. Therefore the students were able to grow at their own pace because they received sheets specific to their own needs without being embarrassed about their progress.

I used this as my lesson plans, because the book showed the best way to teach the multiplication skills and it gave tips on each of the facts.

The students not only were able to fluently memorize their facts but they were also able to apply them in the word problems presented in each section. The product helped to build self confidence and the students were encouraged to make progress by the fun animal characters.

I love this book! It provides great scaffolding to allow students to master their multiplication facts and then carries through and allows them to apply those concepts in word problems. The best part is that it splits the facts up into four levels of increasing difficulty. It give tips to the kids to help them when answering facts and has several pages to practice each fact. Finally, at the end of a level it provides a comprehensive review and then a test to allow kids to test their fluency.

This product is a great tool to use in the third grade classroom just as it is. No modifications need to be made.

Best Multiplication Workbook EVER!Would judges recommend the book to a colleague?

I have already shared the book with my colleagues and would recommend it to others that are teaching multiplication to their students.

I would recommend this to a colleague because it is teacher friendly and approaches multiplication in a systematic way. It is easy to use to help students. It scaffolds instruction.

I would absolutely recommend this product to other teachers in third grade and beyond. It is perfect for any student who needs to work on fact fluency. The word problems are all real-world problems and the long multiplication would be a challenge for more advance students who could work out of the same book.

I would recommend this product to my coworkers. It’s engaging for students, presents information in several ways which helped to reach my struggling students, and the order the facts are presented helped my students succeed.

Learning® Magazine is brought to you by the same folks who produce The Mailbox, a perennial teacher favorite for ready-to-use activities and ideas. Click here for a complete list of the Learning® Magazine 2013 Teachers’ ChoiceSM Award winners.

Buy Best Multiplication Workbook EVER! now.

Posted in Academics,Math by Corey Green @ Jan 21, 2013

 

Five Hundred Years of Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel Masterpiece

November 1: Five hundred years ago on this date, the public saw Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling frescoes for the first time.  That anniversary definitely merits celebration.  Here are some ways to mark the occasion with your class:

Take a 360° virtual tour of the Sistine Chapel.  It’s beautiful and very well done.  You might want to mute your computer so students can focus on the art, not the choral music.  You can use computer lab time to let each student tour the chapel individually, but I bet the kids will fool around with virtual spinning and making themselves dizzy.  If you are lucky and have a projector for your computer, you can dim the lights and provide a tour for the whole class.

Free coloring pages:Imitating Michelangelo’s artwork is beyond the ability of elementary school students, but coloring pages put the artistic experience within reach.  For added fun, have the students tape the page under their desk or hold up a clipboard and try to color at an awkward angle. (Note: Michelangelo didn’t paint lying on his back.  See his poem below.)

Sistine Chapel Coloring Book (Available through Amazon.com): High-quality pictures for your students to color.  Be judicious about what you give students to color and provide an alternate assignment for students with parents who like to complain.

Literacy tie-in—poetry by Michelangelo:  Michelangelo was an accomplished poet; hundreds of his poems survive.  Share with your students his poem about working on the Sistine Chapel ceiling.  It was not a pleasant experience!  Next to his poem, Michelangelo drew a  picture of himself painting.  You can view the picture here.

The original is in Italian; this is just one of many translations.  I took poetic license and “translated” it again to make it suitable for the classroom.  (Michelangelo’s poem was somewhat crass and I have inserted a few euphemisms for body parts.)  Read the original translation unedited by me here.  The classroom-friendly version in pdf format is available here.

Painting the Sistine Chapel Ceiling
A Poetic Account by Michelangelo Buonarroti

 I’ve already grown a goiter from this torture,
hunched up here like a cat in Lombardy
(or anywhere else where the stagnant water’s poison).
My stomach’s squashed under my chin, my beard’s
pointing at heaven, my brain’s crushed in a casket,
my chest twists like a harpy’s. My brush,
above me all the time, dribbles paint
so my face makes a fine floor for droppings!

My haunches are grinding into my guts,
my poor bottom strains to work as a counterweight,
every gesture I make is blind and aimless.
My skin hangs loose below me, my spine’s
all knotted from folding over itself.
I’m bent taut as a Syrian bow.

Because I’m stuck like this, my thoughts
are crazy, perfidious tripe:
anyone shoots badly through a crooked blowpipe.

My painting is dead.
Defend it for me, Giovanni, protect my honor.
I am not in the right place—I am not a painter.

Read/Watch Mike Venezia’s book about Michelangelo from the series Getting to Know the World’s Greatest Artists: The book and DVD are both available at Amazon.com; the book is widely available at public libraries.  The entertaining format of the book and DVD takes a cartoon approach that stays educational, not cartoonish.  Students will enjoy seeing Michelangelo’s Sistine Chapel ceiling frescoes placed in context of his other tremendous achievements.

Use the Discovery Channel’s excellent Sistine Chapel lessons for grades 9-12.   The lesson is arranged for three class periods and helps you divide the chapel ceiling into panels that students can research.  The lesson plan gives resources that can help you teach.

The Agony and the Ecstasy: Of course, no discussion of Michelangelo resources would be complete without mentioning Irving Stone’s biographical novel The Agony and the Ecstasy.  It is way too complicated for your students, but you might enjoy it.  I certainly did.  The book covers Michelangelo’s entire life; the movie starring Charleton Heston and Rex Harrison focuses on the Sistine Chapel ceiling project.

Posted in Academics,Social Studies by Corey Green @ Oct 30, 2012

 

Book Review: Desert Baths by Darcy Pattison

AR Quiz number 153577/Reading Level 3.3/Point Value 0.5

As National Board Certified Teacher, I know that Desert Baths by Darcy Pattison is highly educational and entertaining.  Students and teachers will enjoy extended study with the activities, printable worksheets, and discussion guides in the comprehensive (52 pages!) teacher’s guide.

Darcy Pattison writes beautifully, but the clever use of figurative language and literary devices does not distract.  Students will enjoy the vivid imagery and description heightened by Kathleen Rietz’s illustrations.  Teachers will be glad to point out the many examples of onomatopoeia, vivid verbs, descriptive adjectives and varied sentence structure.

The information is interesting; it’s not often we think about whether desert creatures take baths, let alone how they do so.  Students will enjoy seeing the different techniques for cleanliness in a dry place.  Kids love animals, so this book is a natural fit.

The book features several activities printed at the end, but there is much, much more in the extensive Teacher’s Guide.  Click here to view or download the 52 page manual.  Many of the resources are a snap to use—ready to print vocabulary lists, Mad-Libs style activities, worksheets, quizzes and more.  Other ideas are more involved, like a STEM activity to build a bird bath or a printable card game to sort desert animals.

Click here for school visit info—everything you need to organize a visit from author Darcy Pattison.

Full disclosure: I didn’t just happen upon this book.  I have followed Darcy’s career since attending her one of her Novel Revision Retreats a few years ago.  If you write, either casually or for publication, check out Darcy’s resources.  Her website is a treasure trove of ideas you won’t find elsewhere, and her books Novel Metamorphosis and Paper Lightning are must-have resources.

Posted in Academics,Book Reviews by Corey Green @ Oct 19, 2012

 

Quick and Easy Classroom Art Gallery

Many teachers have their students do art projects or academic projects with an artistic component. Too often, it seems like only the artist and teacher see each piece. Here is an easy way to fix that:

As your students finish their projects, have them affix them to the classroom whiteboard, either with tape or a magnet. This serves several functions:

It gives slowpokes or off-task students a visual cue that others are finishing.

The students know that others see and appreciate their art.

The students see examples that might influence their work.

The shared exhibit space helps build community—the students can chit-chat and exchange compliments while they display their work, and consolidating the art in  symbolizes community.

If this is a project you didn’t intend to grade (which is likely), then you don’t have to go through the fuss of collecting work, holding it a few days while you “process” it, and returning the work. Just peruse the art, clipboard in hand, and make a few notes, grades or check marks.

If you want a longer-lasting exhibition, have students display their work on a bulletin board or taped to the classroom door.

If you are short on space, students can simply display their artwork on their desks and the class can have a gallery walk. With this method, you lose the benefit of consolidating the art and providing a visual cue that it’s time to wrap up the project.  However, it’s certainly better than nothing. At least the kids know their art was seen and appreciated.

I hope this tip adds to your class’s pleasure in creating works of art.

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Posted in Classroom Management,Tips for Teachers by Corey Green @ Aug 31, 2012

 

A Quick Way to Help the School Librarian

The elementary school librarian has a big job. In addition to managing thousands of books, the librarian teaches hundreds of children everything from how to select books to how to research any topic under the sun.

Instead of just dropping off your students, why not take a minute to help?

When I take my students to library, I facilitate the librarian’s task of checking in books by arranging all the books into several fanned-out piles with the barcodes easily accessible. This way, it’s a snap for the librarian to scan each book. If the librarian lets me, I then load the books onto the re-shelving cart. (Some librarians find it faster to do it themselves than explain their system.)

My students have caught on and take pride in laying out their books so that it’s easy for me to make the little piles.

Incidentally, this trick is also a good way to help another person we meet frequently—the store cashier. When clothes shopping, I even go so far as to fold my clothes after they’re scanned, which helps move the line along and leads to fewer wrinkles later.

There you have it—a teaching and shopping tip in one!

Posted in Classroom Management,Tips for Teachers by Corey Green @ Jan 9, 2012

 

The Comma Method for Reading Large Numbers

Once I developed this tip, my students quickly mastered how to read long numbers.

Take the example 165,247,873

I showed my students that within each comma, the numbers follow the standard hundreds-tens-ones protocol. The comma simply indicates whether you are dealing with millions, thousands or plain old units (the name some people give the hundreds-tens-ones group.)

Each three-digit group can be read as if it were just a hundred. Referring to our example number, you first say “One hundred sixty-five.” The comma signifies millions since you are in the third comma group from the right. Thus, you begin reading the number by saying “one hundred sixty-five MILLION.” (Capital letters added for emphasis—they’re very helpful for students.)

Then, you read the next three-digit group as if it were a hundred: “two hundred forty-seven” and then add the THOUSAND. (I point to the comma as I loudly say “THOUSAND.”

Last, read the last three-digit group as a regular number: “eight hundred seventy-three.”

Thus, your number is “one hundred sixty-five MILLION, two hundred forty-seven THOUSAND, eight hundred seventy-three.”

Once I taught my students this, they understood why each place is important. They had less trouble reading and writing numbers with a zero as a placeholder, such as 207,800. After all, you just read each three-digit group as a regular old hundred: “two hundred seven THOUSAND, eight hundred.”

Ironically, our math book teaches place value only to the ten thousands. I think that’s to save children from that horrifying extra place value that would take them to the hundred thousands. But when I taught to the hundred thousands and even hundred millions using this method, the confusion (for the most part) went away.

Posted in Academics,Math by Corey Green @ Nov 29, 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.


 

Best Multiplication Workbook EVER!

Best Multiplication Workbook EVER!Newly released: Best Multiplication Workbook EVER!
Order now!
Also available from Amazon.com.

I’m blowing my own horn: Best Multiplication Workbook EVER! is a great resource for teachers, parents, tutors and students.

This book is divided into levels, and everything is taught systematically.  The workbook pages are fun for kids to do, and the organizational system helps teachers, tutors and parents know how to guide kids.  If a child is having difficulty with a concept, the parent or teacher will know to go back a level and remediate before proceeding.

> Teachers can use the book for whole-class lessons or to teach small groups.  The scaffolded, leveled system makes it easy to manage many students working on different skills.
> Parents can buy the workbook for use at home.  Kids can do most of the work on their own.  The leveled system makes it easy for a parent or tutor to review a lesson—or teach the next step in acquiring new skills.
> Tutors can use the book to identify gaps in a child’s learning.  Simply proceed through the levels and slow down when a concept seems difficult.  The book lays out a great tutoring program for helping elementary school students.
> Home school parents will appreciate the comprehensive nature of the book, the word problems, and the scaffolded approach to learning.

The workbook contains 260 pages filled with worksheets for skill development, word problems, long multiplication mastery, standardized test practice questions and strategies — everything needed to succeed in learning to multiply.

A student who masters multiplication is ready to take on all the other mathematics challenges in elementary school!

Posted in Academics,Math by Corey Green @ Mar 10, 2011

 

Oh You Lucky Duck! for would, could and should

This tip will help your students spell would, could and should.  Students have a hard time remembering the tricky vowel combination and silent “l.”  Teach them:

“Oh, you lucky duck!” to stand for “o-u-l-d:”  Would.  Could.  Should.  Whether they’re called trick words or sight words or anything else, these words are difficult for most students.

Now, if you could just get them to stop writing “would of” for “would’ve.”  How did students ever come up with that one?  It makes no sense whatsoever!

I have found that assigning students to write “would’ve, could’ve, should’ve” twenty times cures this problem.  Repeat offenders can just keep copying until they get it right.

Posted in Fun With Literacy,Tips for Teachers by Corey Green @ Feb 22, 2011

 

Ticket to Read

Ticket to Read is an awesome online program that functions as a super fun reading tutor for all levels.  You can use it for remediation or as a challenge.  It’s appropriate for grades K-6.

In essence, your child earns tickets for reading passages and answering the questions.  These tickets can be redeemed to play games and to decorate your own personal virtual tree house.

Ticket to Read provides comprehensive reading tutoring.  It really covers everything.  Your child reads the story out loud (fluency) and answers questions that address comprehension and vocabulary.  If your child makes mistakes, the program offers personalized tutoring.  If your child has trouble sounding out words, the program will read to her, and then let her click on words she doesn’t know so she can hear them pronounced.  After all the tutoring, your child tries the passage again.  Many of the passages are nonfiction, which is the most difficult genre for children on standardized tests.  For younger students, Ticket to Read has a phonics component.

The tickets are good reinforcement because your child earns them quickly and constantly.  Every correct question earns tickets.  Reading a story out loud and recording it earns tickets.

It is super fun to decorate the tree house.  Your child can spend tickets on virtual toys such as a drum set or keyboard, buy a virtual teddy bear, and even purchase access to secret passages or a virtual pool.

Individuals can subscribe to Ticket to Read for $29.95.  Classes can subscribe for $249.95.  Schools can subscribe, too—see Ticket to Read for details.  You can get a FREE 14 day trial.

This is a great deal!  You will be so glad you subscribed!  Your child’s reading level will soar!

Posted in Fun With Literacy,Tips for Parents,Tips for Teachers by Corey Green @ Nov 9, 2010

 

Little Critter Workbooks Get Results!

bookI have found a magical teaching tool: Spectrum Publishing’s Little Critter Reading.  It’s a workbook with the perfect format: an engaging story based on the Little Critter books by Mercer Mayer, followed by a worksheet covering comprehension, phonics, and study skills.  Students beg to use it and groan when we put it away.

In my experience, Little Critter Reading improves a reader’s skills by a whole grade level.

You can buy Little Critter Reading at two levels: grade 1 and grade 2.  Grade 2 is appropriate for students in second and third grade.  Grade 1 helps students make the remarkable transformation from reading three sentences on a page to reading several paragraphs—in the space of one workbook.  Grade 1 is great for English Language Learners.

I recommend Little Critter Reading books for the classroom and for the home.  At home, a parent or older sibling can tutor a struggling reader with Little Critter Reading books.

How to use Little Critter Reading:

1.  Read the story to your students.  Very important—think how much better they can read if they already know what it sounds like!
2.  Let the student(s) read aloud with you.  This way, you’re pulling the student along and helping her experience fluency.  For the whole class, choral read the passage.
3.  If time and patience allow, the student can read the story aloud without your help.
4.  Do the worksheet that goes with the story.  You might have to teach a mini lesson on topics such as root words, ABC order, verb tense, etc.  Kids quickly catch on and complete the lesson easily.
5.  Review the lesson.

One caveat: you are not supposed to photocopy Little Critter Reading workbooks.  I applied for a grant and bought a class set of the workbook.  I use it with my third graders at the beginning of the year.  We put a page protector over the worksheet page and write on the page protector with an Expo marker.  We erase with old socks.

Students who behave well get to draw on the page protector for two minutes!

Seriously, I can’t recommend Little Critter Reading highly enough.


 

How to work with special area teachers

This is part of a series of posts about special area teachers, whose subjects include music, art and physical education.  Today I’ll discuss how classroom teachers can optimize their relationship with special area teachers and help their students learn more from every “special.”

It all comes down to respecting the teacher and teaching children to reflect on the day’s lesson.

Before the special area class:

Ask your students what they did during the last session.  What do they hope to get out of today’s lesson?

Take a moment to calm your students, so your students are primed for learning when they begin their special area lesson.  My class usually needs a calming thirty seconds in line before a special area class.  It makes a difference.

Leaving your class with the special area teacher:

Greet the teacher by name.  Smile.  Exchange pleasantries about how much your class is looking forward to the lesson.  Without taking a lot of time, show an interest in what the class will be learning.

Make sure the students are calm and ready to learn before you leave the class with the special area teacher.

Picking your class up from the special area class:

Greet the teacher.  Ask if your children behaved well, and promise to follow up if there were any behavior problems.  Ask one student to recap what they learned.  Remind your students to say thank you.

Special area teachers, do you have any additional tips for classroom teachers?  How can we support you?


 

Special area teachers are EXTRA-special!

This is the first of a series of posts about special area teachers, whose subjects include music, art and physical education.

Teachers of elementary school “specials” —music, art, and physical education— deserve great respect.  Many people don’t know the requirements to be a special area teacher, the work that goes into their professional degrees, or the fascinating extracurricular activities of the teachers themselves.

Special area teachers…
… Perform at Carnegie Hall
… Exhibit (and sell) their work in art galleries
… Compete in triathlons and other prestigious athletic events
… Play in rock bands, jazz bands—all kinds of bands
… Tour Europe with professional music ensembles and acting troupes
… Deserve our respect!

Before I was a full-time teacher, I was a substitute teacher.  When I covered for special area teachers, I was humbled by their curriculum and the challenge of delivering quality lessons to very young students.

I was also struck by how some classroom teachers treated special area teachers with less than professional courtesy.

As a classroom teacher, you have the power to help your students get more out of every special class by teaching them about the talents of special area teachers:
  – Get to know your special area teachers.  Find out what led them to become a music/art/physical education teacher.  You might learn about a childhood spent learning multiple musical instruments, a stint in the minor leagues, or a career in art that led to a desire to teach.
– Communicate this knowledge to your students.  Encourage them to both compliment their special area teacher and learn more from them.
– Communicate this knowledge to other teachers.  You may find that they didn’t know the accomplishments of the special area teachers.

Congratulations, you have made your school a better place!